What is Simran?

Simran in Panjabi means the word ‘yaad karna’, to remember. Therefore you can do simran about your parents, simran on your house, or simran on Vaheguru. 

When we remember someone, the relationship between that person and us remains alive. When we forget someone the relationship dies. There are some people who you would have gone to school with or studied at college with. Those people who you remember or they remember you, then the relationship remains alive. However if you forget them or they forget you then the relationship falls apart.  

Simran, remembrance is very powerful. So powerful, that sometimes when I am at university, I feel the presence of my mum and feel her near me. Feeling this, I ring my mum just to say hi. Answering the phone my mum says, “I was just remembering you, and then the phone just rang”. This is power of remembrance, the power of simran.

When Guru Nanak Sahib Ji was on his journeys with Baba Mardana Ji, Guru Nanak Sahib Ji told Baba Mardana Ji: “Sister Nanaki is remembering me, perhaps we should head back home and see the family again”. Bebe Nanaki Ji’s simran of her beloved brother Guru Nanak Sahib Ji was felt by Guru Ji and Guru Ji couldn’t resist but go back home from his journey.  

Nowadays we communicate to people through mobile phones and by text messaging one another. It is expected that if you send a text message to a good friend, that he or she will reply to your text message. On sending the message you would receive a delivery report on your mobile phone when the other person receives the message, stating: ‘message received’. Now if we text messaged Vaheguru, then we would expect Vaheguru, who is our friend, our companion or beloved, to text back.

Simran is a form of text messaging on a spiritual level. If we text message God, then God will definitely text message us back. However, our message can only be received to the person we are sending it to, if we have reception. If our phone doesn’t have any reception, then despite how many text messages we send, the recipient will not receive any of them. Similarly if we have no ‘pyaar’, love for Vaheguru Ji, then our Simran will not be counted for.  

Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji states in Swaarag Swaiye, “Saach K’ho Sun Leho Sabhai, Jin Prem Kiyo Tin Hee Prabh Paayo…. Listen everyone I speak the truth, only those who have love will experience Vaheguru, God.” 

Without love, we have no reception. But when we have love, when we have reception, and then we send a text message, then the person on the receiving end will for sure receive the message. Depending on whether they are your friend or not, they will reply. Vaheguru for sure would reply to our messages if we do ardaas (petition prayer) or Simran (remembrance) with love. 

Communicating with Vaheguru is not impossible, though some people make it out to be. Vaheguru is manifested in the creation and sometimes God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes Vaheguru works through his creation, through his people to communicate to us. In Jaap Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh Ji state, “Anek Hai, Phir Eik Hai – Vaheguru is many (meaning that he is manifested in various different forms), yet He is One.” 

There is a beautiful sakhi, story about Baba Ishar Singh Ji, which I read on the Internet. Baba Ishar Singh Ji was a very spiritually enlightened Gursikh of the twentieth century.  Baba Ishar Singh Ji would go traveling. In particular he would like traveling to graveyards, because they are very quiet places and reminds one of death, which in away puts a perspective on our life and makes us realize reality of life that maya, our worldly possessions will not accompany us when we die. 

On one of his travels, Baba Ishar Singh Ji came across a village graveyard (belonging to Muslims). Usually graveyards are somber and a bit dull because it is overshadowed with death and sadness. However this particular graveyard was different. The graveyard was well kept and looked more like a garden of life than a cradle of death. It had shady trees and beautiful flowers.  

It was mid-morning. Baba Ishar Singh Ji started looking closely at the tombstones and the graves. On each stone is stated the person’s name, the year of birth and instead of when they died it said how many years they had lived. He was astonished to find that most of the people buried in the graveyard had only lived just under twenty or so years. No stone could be found which displayed more than thirty years of life. There were some gravestones, which displayed ‘zero years of life lived’.  

Baba Ishar Singh Ji was curious. He thought he would explore this ‘village of children’. The village must be full of all old people. The children must have either died of disease, or mass killing or something. However the village had young people, old people and people of different ages. The villagers looked very respectable and friendly people and carried a heavenly glow on their faces. 

Baba Ishar Singh Ji approached some men. He asked: "Respected gentlemen, I have seen many places and many people. But even at the most holiest of these places I could not find the life and love that pervades this place. Perhaps I am in a dream…" They all smiled. Baba Ji then continued, "I would very much like it if you would kindly explain this rather strange place. I was also very intrigued by the graveyard at the entrance of the village. Is it where you bury your young ones?" 

After a short pause, the most elderly man spoke: "Traveler, you look like a man who would benefit much from the story I will tell you. Listen carefully and it will change your life." All the men around sat attentively. All the villagers within earshot came and sat to hear the old man speak. He began, "My grandfather was the Kazi of this village. Each morning, well before sunrise, he would call out to the people and to the heavens with his namaaz (Muslim call to prayer). One such morning he was in midst of his prayer, when he heard music from the outskirts of the village. He was a devout Muslim and was quite horrified to hear music at such a holy hour. He immediately sent some of his followers to put an end to this paganism. But to his surprise, none of them came back. The music meanwhile continued. After a long wait he himself decided to put an end to this unholy activity. So, quite angrily, he strode towards the music. But the closer he got, the more he realized that it wasn't his anger that was responsible for his hurried strides, rather it was the exquisite beauty in the music. 

Finally when he got close enough to see the music makers, not only did his body lose the ability to move, his mind too stopped the madman's dance it had been doing since his birth. He literally stood rooted to a spot for the duration of the recital. The music cast a spell on him. He travelled inwards to subtle places he had read about only in the scriptures. He would often look back at that moment and dreamily acclaimed, "I drank life to the fullest during those hours".

There was a long pause during which the storyteller and the story listeners let the stillness of the story enter the depths of their beings. The elderly man continued: "The music makers were the great Guru Nanak Ji and his companion Mardana Ji. I am sure you have heard of him." I meekly nodded and mumbled, "I have, but haven't had the grace of meeting any of his followers". 

"That is perhaps why, my friend, you are here," the man prophetically said. "At the end of the recital, my grandfather and all the others present simply surrendered themselves to the Guru. This was largely just a symbolic act because the moment each of them had seen the Guru they had lost themselves to him. Guru Nanak Ji graced this village for three days and three nights. My grandfather named those days the "stillness days" because he said it was during those days that he and others learnt about the One, which can only be found within the stillness of the mind. We observe those days like others observe their birthdays. 

Indeed those days were the birthday of the village's inner life." He chuckled, "If you are impressed with the village now, you should see the love of the villagers in those fine days." 

"But, as is the nature of the human mind," the elder soberly continued, "it wasn't long after Guru Nanak Ji's departure that the village started returning to its normal numb and dark existence. This greatly troubled my grandfather and others like him who had become Guru Nanak's and Guru Nanak's only. They tried very hard, through teaching and preaching, to keep the message of the Guru alive. Finally, after all normal means failed they came up with the following village tradition: Each villager keeps a diary. 

It is mandatory that each night before sleep, each person makes an entry in the diary. Even children and people who cannot read or write have to get this entry made. The entry is simply the amount of time during the day that was spent in Simran (remembrance of the Lord) or in Seva (selfless service). At the end of the person's life, the entries are accumulated and that, my dear traveler, is the 'years of life' entry you see on the tombstones."

The storyteller paused to let the magnitude of what he had told Baba Ishar Singh Ji sink into him. He continued, "It is perhaps that which allows us to be free with our love. We are reminded each and every day what real life is. The time spent in Simran or Seva is the only life we consider as been worthy of been called life."

 Let us ask the question how much Simran of Vaheguru do we do? How much Seva do we do? Do we remember the One who created us, provided us with the Sun we use to grow our food, the Air we use to breathe and a blessed life?

Guru Nanak Ji offered a simple formula for peace and happiness: Naam Japna (remembering the Dear Lord), Kirat Karni (living and earning an honest living) and Vand Shakna (sharing with others, whether that is your time, love, money or food).

Be inspired and inspire others.

May Vaheguru bless you.

Manvir Singh Khalsa