A True Servant Of Sikhism Makes Gurbani Readable For The Blind

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AMRITSAR – He could have been like any other ‘raagi’ after his retirement in 1998 from the Golden Temple, where he worked for 30 years. But Bhai Gurmej Singh had a wish: Being blind, he wanted many like him to read the holy Gurbani.

He was 12 years away from his dream project. Today, Bhai Gurmej Singh is proud of having transliterated Guru Granth Sahib into Braille. Singh said the Braille copy has 2,153 pages in 18 volumes. It has a page size of 11 x 12 inches. “It isn’t possible to get the entire work in a single volume due to technical difficulties,” he said.

He has already prepared three copies of the holy book, the first of which he presented to the visually impaired children studying at Central Khalsa Orphanage in Amritsar, where he spent his childhood.

He plans to prepare four more copies of the holy book, of which he would present one each to an old-age home for the blind near Phagwara, a home for blind at Anandpur Sahib and the Golden Temple.

“I would keep the fifth copy for myself,” he says. He also wants to present the digitised form (CD) of the book to either the Central Khalsa Orphanage or SGPC which may utilise it for facilitating its printed copies. A printed copy can cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000.

But before that, he wants to ensure it’s error-free. “Getting the first copy in Braille was very difficult as we had a tough time zeroing in on a printing facility before finally reaching the Helen Keller Institute for Deaf and Deaf-Blind in Mumbai. The institute offered its help on a “no-profit-no-loss basis.”

It took him almost two-and-a-half years to get the first copy. “I received volumes of the holy book for proof reading from Mumbai one by one. It consumed a lot of time. Moreover, those involved in the printing work could not decipher corrections made by me. Later, my nephew Jagjit Singh came to my rescue. He joined a Sikh institution in Ropar to learn Gurmukhi especially to help me out. We both then went to Mumbai where we finished proof reading during our stay,” he said.