I just got news that Bhai Avtar Singh Ragi, has passed away peacefully at about 10.50 PM (IST), November 24th, 2006. At 81 years, he was at his residence, with his whole family.
A few months back I had heard that he had Leukemia and possibly didn’t have much time to live, but sometimes with these things you just imagine that their life will go on in spite of it. It somehow seems unreal.
I remember as a young child in Los Angeles listening to Kirtan by Bhai Avtar Singh. He used to come to our Gurdwara from time to time and we listened to the recordings from these Gurdwaras often at home too. In more recent years he would come to Espanola, New Mexico with his family/jatha every year to teach Gurbani/Raag to the Sangat. It was always so nice to have him and his family.
As I think about his passing It reminds me of how many Sikh leaders and elders have moved on in the recent years. It makes me think about how time and life passes away fast, and how we need to not let the precious life go wasted. One should not leave this earth without leaving a lasting mark.
I also think about how the Sikh community is changing. Eventually our elders, parents, leaders, etc will pass on and it will be the responsibility of the younger generation to carry on the mission and lead. Many of us complain about problems in Gurdwaras and Sikh leadership. Changing these problems is of course up to us all, and we all have to take responsibility if we want to make some change.
Bhai Avtar Singh spent his whole life devoted to Gurbani and spreading the musical knowledge that was passed down to him from the 10 previous generations. Let us all remember his life dedicated to Gurbani, and use this for inspiration to do something in our own life to better humanity in some way. Guru Nanak taught timeless wisdom on all aspects of life, which has been passed down to us from generation to generation. Bhai Avtar Singh’s passing is just another reminder for me of how important these gifts are and how we must treasure and keep them alive.
In memory of Bhai Avtar Singh I have picked out a few live audio recordings that were from our Gurdwara in Los Angeles, from when I was just a child. These were recorded when Bhai Avtar Singh and his brother, Bhai Gurcharan Singh used to play together. They have always have been a beautiful family and I have always seen them as a whole family doing Kirtan and carrying on this musical tradition.
Recordings of Bhai Avtar Singh with
his brother Bhai Gurcharan Singh
Gobind Preet Lagee
Prabh Jee Ko Naam Japat Man