In the words of Prof. Puran Singh: “Bhai Vir Singh is an epoch in himself. He sits under the tree of life in maiden freshness like his Guru. His song is vital and he imparts most of his joy to his poems. His art is of the eyewitness; he writes what he sees; draws his poems from the melody of his soul. This silent poet makes the rivers cry and sets the hills on fire by the touch of his emotion. He remains behind the scenes, invisible, with his flute ringing in the loneliness of a dark midnight.”
Please join us in celebrating the life of Bhai Vir Singh.
Speakers: Nikky Guninder Kaur, Harinder Singh, Inni Kaur, Peter Kirn, Jasbir (Jesse) Kaur, Rajdeep Singh
Music: Amrita Kaur Dang
Jasbir (Jesse) Kaur, Emcee
Bio: An author, lawyer, and civil rights advocate, Jasbir (Jesse) Kaur is an Assistant Law Professor at Howard University School of Law who specializes in legal writing, appellate advocacy, and racial profiling. Kaur currently focuses her research on racial profiling and surveillance. She served on the Board of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) for three years. She is the mother of twin boy-girl eight year olds and has found SikhRI to be an incredible resource in her quest to develop the spirit of a Sikh in her children.
Dr. Nikky Guninder Kaur: "Bhai Vir Singh's Cosmic Symphony and its Poetic Resonance"
Bio: Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur holds the Crawford Family Chair in Religious Studies at Colby College. She has published extensively in the field of Sikhism, including books entitled Of Sacred and Secular Desire: An Anthology of Lyrical Writings from the Punjab (IB Tauris 2012), Sikhism: An Introduction (IB Tauris 2011), Cosmic Symphony (Sahitya Akademy, 2008), The Birth of the Khalsa (SUNY 2005), The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (CUP 1993), Sikhism (Facts on File, and translated into Japanese, 1993) The Name of My Beloved: Verses of the Sikh Gurus (HarperCollins1995; Penguin 2001) and Metaphysics and Physics of the Guru Granth Sahib (1981). She has received many honors from the Sikh community for her distinguished scholarship. Her views have also been aired on television and radio in America, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, India, and Bangladesh. She was born in the Punjab, and received her BA in Philosophy and Religion from Wellesley College, her MA from the University of Pennsylvania, and her PhD from Temple University.
Summary: Her paper explores Bhai Vir Singh’s early and final lyrics from his respective anthologies Trel Tupke and Mere Sainyan Jio. The images and themes important to Bhai Vir Singh early on in life replay in amazing beauty years later in his final poetic discourse. Together, they provide valuable insights into the poet’s vast psychological and mystical world. Through the profound simplicity of his language and the intensity of his emotions, Bhai Vir Singh creates a cosmic symphony that is both magical and practical. My paper analyzes the aesthetic power of his poetry that continues to resonate in the psyche of his readers. How exactly does his artistic pen inspire intellectual vigor and moral responsibility?
Harinder Singh: "Bhai Vir Singh: Vision & Leadership"
This presentation will survey details of Bhai Vir Singh’s life. It will attempt to present Bhai Sahib’s life story, highlighting various aspects of his Sikh and Panjabi life. Intimate details of his spiritual experience, language and politics, and institution development will be presented. Some questions like these will be answered: Why is he known as the ‘Sixth River of Panjab’? How did he inspire masses by transcending divisions based on education, religiosity, and geography? What are his contributions in literature and community building? It will conclude with his lasting impact in theology and poetry.
Inni Kaur: “My Pitaji”
To the world, he is Bhai Vir Singh, the “Sixth River of Panjab.” To me, he is simply Pitaji. There are no family or blood ties, but there is a bond that transcends time and space. He used to say, “the ones who want to meet me, can meet me through my writings.” I met him through his verses. His monumental work, Guru Nanak Chamatkar, brought everything to life for me and I learned about the First Nanak through his eyes. His expositions of the Shabds, kindled within me the desire to experience the fragrance ofNam. This talk is about my journey of discovery, and falling in love with Sikhi, through Pitaji’s inspirational writings.
Peter Kirn: “When We Get Fixed on Things We Look At”: Bhai Vir Singh and Re-Focus in the Poetic Eye
Bio: Peter Kirn works on a 56-acre raw milk dairy in southern Maine. He earned his MFA in poetry from Drew University in New Jersey. His poems appear or are forthcoming in The Normal School Literary Journal, Organs of Vision & Speech, Otis Nebula and Upstairs at Duroc. His first collection of poetry, the intimacy with which stone combusts & praising the nervous life, will be published this winter.
Summary: The work of Bhai Vir Singh arrived in my hands at precisely the right time. In his work I found & continue to find a voice & worldview which is ecstatic but not inhuman, serious but not overly dramatic. I found love poems in which the love is requited and unrequited at once—the speaker’s love & attention simultaneously assuaged and left lingering; and speakers who often arrive at a place of peace with struggle without finding its end. His work continues to: transform my worldview, rattle my certainties, and renew my capacity for wonder, clarity & openness. This presentation will look closely at several of Bhai Vir Singh’s poems as a study of exactly how his work performs the tightrope walk of clarity and nuance in the face of ecstasy, wonder and intense desire, and ultimately investigate how & why his work can always be relied upon for guidance & focus “[W]hen we get fixed on things we look at.”
Amrita Kaur: “Main Beemar Rag At Bhaaree” in Raag Ramkale
Rajdeep Singh: "Bhai Vir Singh Niwas Asthan Darshan"
Bio: Dr. Rajdeep Singh is a practicing neurologist in Charlotte, NC. He was brought up in Amritsar in a family who was heavily influenced with Bhai Sahib's writings. His parents have been involved with local committee of Sadan Trust helping in the maintenance of Bhai Vir Singh's Niwas Asthan since 1980s. His mother is carrying on the tradition of taking flower bouquet from Bhai Sahib's Niwas Asthan to Darbar Sahib every morning. She also leads the effort for celebration of Bhai Sahib's Birthday and Barsi on December 5th and June 10th in Amritsar. Rajdeep currently lives with his wife and 2 children. He has also introduced Bhai Sahib's writings to the children of Gurmat School in Charlotte.
Summary: A presentation of rare photographs that will give you a glimpse of Bhai Vir Singhji's residence onBhai Vir Singh Marg (Lawrence Road) in Amritsar. His home has been converted into a Museum-cum-Library. Donated by his younger brother Dr. Balbir Singh, the house is being managed by the Bhai Vir Singh Sadan Trust.