Sat Nam. What follows is a response to a directive received by ACT (Akal Committee Thirteen) to provide documentation that fulfills the required protocols for presenting a Motion for consideration by the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma.
.) What problem(s) does this Motion address?
.) What solutions are proposed? Provide relevant background info/available research to support the motion and provide relevant context.
.) Who is responsible for implementation?
.) What is the projected time line for implementation?
.) Who and or what is affected and/or impacted by the Motion?
.) What are the anticipated costs?
.) How will the costs be covered? Identify responsible parties; propose a budget and outline the method of accountability. Read on.
To the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma:
Sat Nam. ACT, Akal Committee Thirteen, is of the one mind that our best and only course of action going forward is to acknowledge the current and almost spontaneous worldwide trend to address the twin issues of Equality, i.e., Diversity Sensitivity, and Social Justice.
In the most recent monthly Rotary Magazine, 75% of the issue is about People of Color, especially African, and African-descendant people, many of whom are Rotarians themselves. It's a first... so overboard that it appears the publisher has suddenly awakened to this worldwide trend.
And in the same time frame, we see Sikh (Punjabi) organizations opening up in their dialogue with other religions and peoples, and an outpouring of connections to African and African-descendant peoples. It's astonishing. It's a paradigm shift. It's a new Age.
And so, it's with a sense of urgency that our Dharma needs to get on board with this global trend...needs to be a leader of this trend. Reflecting on all that the Guru’s have proclaimed about equality and inclusion, Sikhs are the natural and appropriate organization to rise to the occasion. It's Sikh Dharma's destiny.
Khalsa Council must understand that time and change is of the essence. Khalsa Council needs to rise to the occasion, now. But first, our leaders need to clean their own house, i.e., the majority of our legacy family is older and 'colorless', i.e., senior and White, many with histories, experiences and mind set that may not take kindly to 'coloreds', i.e., non-Whites – try as they might. So, the situation is tantamount to the Kundalini Yoga teacher needing to first experience a kriya before teaching it. ("Teach what you know. Don't teach what you don't know." Yogi Bhajan)
3HO/Sikh Dharma has its issues with Diversity Sensitivity, i.e., multicultural competency, along with just about every other worldwide organization. It’s part of an evolutionary and revolutionary learning curve. We need to understand going forward that Sikhs must rise to this occasion, this opportunity, or be left behind. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, invested too much effort and sacrifice. We must move forward with Guru's and Yogi Bhajan's teachings. We have to become 10 times greater. According to the Master, we must become Masters in order to maintain the Golden Chain, unbroken. Diversity, Inclusion, Equality for All is our frontier. We own it. And we need to step right up to the Diversity Sensitivity line and go beyond. Read on.
.) The problem we need to address concerns our getting on board with the worldwide trend before we get left behind. The issue of People of Color not perceiving their inclusion in our organization is shared worldwide. We have been designated by Yogi Bhajan to be teachers and leaders. We need to step up to the issues of Diversity Sensitivity and Inclusion now (see Definitions), so we are not left behind. Sikh Dharma is unique in so many ways, but not unique on the issue of Inclusion. In order to be leaders, we need to fix this. First, we need to clean our own house, so we can be pure of mind and spirit, going forward. We can then deal with issues evoking more genuinely the Word of Guru and the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, and resolve to lead, teach and carry humanity forward into the Aquarian Age. These times demand it of us.
.) Inclusion is everywhere. Rotary International has started a sincere campaign for equality and peace. Magazines of all sorts are honoring, profiling and uplifting People of Color. Organizations everywhere are getting on board, now. When KRI, Kundalini Reseach Institute, put (Black) Krishna Kaur on the cover of a women’s yoga manual recently it was a total success. People everywhere long to belong in their hearts. Just step out the door, turn on the TV or read a newspaper or a magazine. There has been a sudden, quantum, paradigm shift. There are plenty of indications the old is hanging on. We all know the Piscean Age will not die peaceably. But die it will, and 3HO/Sikh Dharma needs to genuinely get on board with Guru Nanak's mission.
.) At this point Diversity Sensitivity implementation is only discussed within a committee. But it needs to have a permanent place in the agenda at Khalsa Council meetings where it is openly discussed. It's being discussed elsewhere, as well. We are not alone. There needs to be space to: (a) implement; (b) empower Diversity 'Sensitivity Summit' to become a movement; (c) create a teacher's module so it becomes something every KRI teacher is taught, and teaches; (d) then build a certification protocol whereby Kundalini Yoga teachers, Sikh Dharma ministers, and others are certified to teach Diversity Sensitivity to governments, businesses and educational institutions; (e) possibly, be a source of income. See 8 Things White Need To Understand About Race. Also see Why Do Millennials Not Understand Racism?
.) The time line is Summer Solstice 2015. A lot of people have an interest. We have people of African descent who have lived through experiences in the world community and within 3HO/Sikh Dharma that need a voice so that everybody can truly understand the issues, and then working together, we can come to solutions. We have people in the Dharma who have first hand experience and will kindly share with us their deep convictions about what needs to be corrected within our organizations and the consciousness of many peoples of the Earth. What an opportunity Guru has presented us. 3HO/Sikh Dharma has brilliant People of Color, i.e., people of African, Asian, Native American, etc., descent, who feel comfortable in the presence of spiritual family to express the truth that can help us discover our collective center of compassion so we can teach, even become certified to teach Diversity Sensitivity, something so needed, so desired, and so important. The time line is critical. To identify our own issues and get them out in the openness of our consciousness, and move on quickly so we can stay on the leading edge of the blossoming trend. (Suggested reading for Khalsa Council members and the Sadh Sangat... Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? ) See Video.
.) Who is this affecting? The very consciousness of the planet, and the very essence of spirituality? The next frontier for complete spirituality is the implementation of equality for all. This message began with Guru Nanak, it was solidified by Martin Luther King. It is spreading right now. And we need to teach it. Our biggest gift to the planet is the words of Guru Nanak that all are equal, no matter what. It’s the essence of Sikh sacrifices, taking up the sword, and laying down lives for others, even those in opposition to our views. It is the message of the Aquarian Age.
.) Anticipated costs? Does that mean what it will cost to do, or what it will cost if we don’t? I believe the cost will be so much higher if we don’t. Our very existence may depend on it – too high a cost. Cost will include listening to our own voices within the organization, finding solutions, listening further and further outward until we know what is really going on, and then finding solutions within the context of teaching and serving, going back to the Guru and the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, and creating the Diversity Sensitivity Certification. At that point the costs reverse themselves – even to the point of profit. So, if it takes $100,000 to research, analyze and find solutions within, it will yield millions on the other side when we teach. It is an investment in the future of the Dharma so generations to follow can earn a living teaching how to be Conscious Humans. And isn’t that what the Siri Singh Sahib taught all along? This is the fulfillment of the teachings. What is that worth?
.) How about a $10,000 grant to start research and development? Once Diversity Sensitivity opens up to discussion and people come forward with their stories, we will need to create a clearinghouse of these stories, which starts the training and opening our own wounds to heal. Ultimately, the initial investment could reach as much as $100,000 over a 2-year period. If the Kundalini Research Institute and/or the Sikh Dharma is going to administer the ultimate Diversity Sensitivity Certification program, a fair amount of the dollars could come from these two entities. It should first be a Dharmic entity since it deals with consciousness and teaching. But we should get it started in any way possible. Funding can come from private, Dharmic, business, organization or perhaps even government, if we develop an outstanding program. Diversity Sensitivity is a worldwide trend. And being on the leading edge of this trend will yield profit. Investment is required in order to create profit.
"From today onward we will neither live with each other or
at each other, but honestly, before God and Guru we will
live for each other." Sikh Dharma Minister's Vows
"Khalsa Council embodies the sovereign, spiritual, status of the Sikhs.
In action it is the parliament of the Sarkar e Khalsa. It is the leadership.
It is a body that lives in the divinity, nobility, and grace of God. What
comes through the Khalsa Council is simply projective kindness,
compassion, divinity, nobility, and grace. It is the very embodiment
of grace, radiance, lifestyle and projection of Guru Gobind Singh." Siri Singh Sahib Harbhahan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, Dec 28, 1991
"People of Color who remain silent enable White people to remain culturally
illiterate. It is incumbent on those who know to teach those who do not know.
Bottom line is that the 3HO/Sikh Dharma community must hear from people of
color, i.e., people of African, Asian, Native American, etc., descent, as to their
perception of the organization, as it is, today. Given the history of human nature,
Sikh Dharma can avoid creeping into exclusivity by monitoring the perceptions of People of Color. Sikh Dharma is an inclusive as opposed to an exclusive path.
Sikh ministers need to practice what we teach." MSS Hari Singh Bird Khalsa
*NOTE -- Cultural Competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) Cross-cultural skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. See Recommended Reading. See Required Reading. More.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
WHEREAS Guru Nanak Devji founded Sikh Dharma as an inclusive pathway of service whereby ALL people may prosper by God's grace;
And WHEREAS ALL people refers to an intrinsic diversity, inclusive of all the people of planet Earth sans distinction as to race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, culture, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic status, political, psychological, philosophical persuasion or any other Earthly distinction;
And WHEREAS Guru Nanak Devji's mission requires Sikh Dharma to serve according to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib's teachings that requires Sikhs to maintain and to teach a keen appreciation for the God-given and unique assets of each individual, in honor of the diversity of ALL people;
And WHEREAS Sikhs may encounter challenges arising from inadequate sensitivity whilst serving, teaching and interacting with people that represent the races, ideas, beliefs, lifestyles, religions, orientations, demographics and customs that differ from those of their upbringing or current Sikh communities;
And WHEREAS People of Color in the 3HO/Sikh Dharma community of teachers, students, practitioners and friends, desire the opportunity to present their unique perspective as People of Color representing the 3HO/Sikh Dharma organizations to the world community, and give the organizations a treasure of sometimes unheard voices to more fully understand their experience and view of these important issues;
And WHEREAS the Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji called upon us to follow the direction of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib in that ALL people are creatures of the One Creator, Ek Ong Kar, and therefore deserve all honor and respect by virtue of their having been created by the One Creator;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma shall convene at their next meeting a newly authorized biannual 'Sensitivity Summit' each Summit to include 'Light on Diversity' conversations with members of color in joint session with the Siblings of Destiny. More.
My Sikh Sense
SatHanuman Singh Khalsa
Nam. Here's an article I found by an unknown author. It has been edited for the sake of clarity. Read on.
The Dastaar And The Sikhs
Dastaar (turban) is a very important part of the Sikh religion. For Sikhs the Dastaar is much more than what the crown is to a king or a queen. The Sikh gurus showed great respect for the turban. But today many people think the Dastaar is meant only for men, and women are not intended to wear a turban. The following missive articulates why Sikh women need to wear the Dastaar.
First, kindly permit me to quote from Guru Granth Sahib, "Saabat Soorat Dastaar Sira". "Let your total awareness be the turban on your head," (page 1084). This makes clear that a Sikh is to live a natural life with unshorn hair. To protect and keep the hair clean he/she must wear a Dastaar. The quote does not make any exception or exemption for women. The Sikh gurus recognized equal rights of women. Men and women are given the same message. It applies to both sexes equally. If we call ourselves Sikhs of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, we must wear the Dastaar. It matters not if we are male or female.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Rehat Maryada make it very clear about women wearing the Dastaar. Guru Gobind Singh Ji said, "Jab Lab Khalsa Rahe Niara, Tab Lag Tej Diyoon Mein Saara". "As long as Khalsa preserves its uniqueness and follows the path of the true Guru, I will bless them with all of my powers."
This clearly indicates that Khalsa must have its uniqueness, which means a Sikh must wear a Dastaar on his/her head. Furthermore, when Bhai Jait Mal Ji presented the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Guru Ji said, "I will give my Sikhs a distinct and unique appearance, which allows them to be recognized even while standing among millions."
Sikh identity happens almost exclusively by way of the Dastaar so everybody can easily recognize them by their appearance. Guru Ji did not say that he wanted uniqueness for men only. When Guru Ji referred to 'Khalsa', he meant both men and women. Guru Ji gave the same Rehat Maryada, same uniqueness, same message, same symbols, same religious Bana (dress) and same equal rights. Then how can women exclude themselves from wearing Dastaar. Guru Ji made no distinction and referred to men and women equally as Khalsa instructing them to wear Dastaar. In above quote, the word "Niara" clearly means 'different' from others. It means wearing Dastaar. It doesn't mean only men must be "Niara".
Furthermore, Guru Gobind Singh Ji said, "Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khaas." "Khalsa is my own self image." Again, Khalsa means men and women. Guru Ji did not create two different Sikhs or Khalsa. There is only one kind of Sikh. There is only one kind of Khalsa.
Women make different hair styles, color their hair, and tie their hair up in the back. Sikh women, sans turban, do not project Guru Gobind Singh Ji's image. Guru Ji always wore a Dastaar. Not only Guru Gobind Singh Ji, but all of the other nine Gurus practiced wearing Dastaar. So how are women who dye their hair the "Roop" (expression) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji?
Guru Ji represents one identity not two. Guru Ji kept his hair unshorn and wore a Dastaar. Women without Dastaar do not express his identity. When these women look in the mirror, do they see Guru Gobind Singh Ji? I don't think so.
The Dastaar is a sign of dignity. Sikh men have their identity/dignity but where is Sikh women's identity/dignity? Sikh women have lost their identity/dignity to fashion. Not many Sikh women wear Dastaar today, but fortunately turban-wearing women numbers are growing. Even Caucasian Sikhs, men and women, now wear Dastaar.
Women must wear turban as instructed by Guru Ji especially in these times because this is what gives them their unique identity in the image and likeness of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. --
Sikh women wearing turban
"Given the positive and growing public awareness about Sikhs,
Sikh women manifestly express their parity with Sikh men when
they wear turban, thereby advocating gender equality. Without
the turban the perception persists that Kaurs are not true Sikhs. Singhs are perceived to be the genuine, even dominant gender.
Women wearing a turban makes gender equality more apparent. Sikh women make a powerful statement about gender equality
when they tie turban. It is a graceful and effective way of putting Sikhs
and other communities on notice. It says, "We are who we are in support of
everyone's human rights irrespective of their gender." DualityOptics.com
My Sikh Sense
Bhai Angad Singh
The Sikh turban is a piece of cloth. But, consistent with its shape, it is a diamond, a compression of years of suffering, of tumultuousness, of pressure and change, and resistance to enforced conformity. We put it all into the turban: hacked limbs, redcoats, river water, blood lust, eyes gouged, free kitchens, the Spring, and boundless mercy. It is the manifested soul of a people. In it we openly smuggle the soul of our people through the fire of history, century after century. It wraps around despair, boa-like. It's beauty, it's resistance, it's triumph and confidence. The swagger of a red turban is like walking a tightrope: things can go wrong, but not for the one to whom the turban belongs. You are never alone wearing a turban. When you look into the morning mirror, millions look back at you. It is a crown bought and paid for. It is the outsider on the top of the mountain. It is a reminder that death can come for one of us but never for all of us.
Whence The Rot Set In Isn’t it time to say, enough?
Like most Sikhs, we too have attended oodles of discussions on and about Sikhi over the years. The attendance is often heavy with both young and old Sikhs, and we parse issues that confront us, our colorful history, and our direction forward.
The primary purpose: to engage both young and old in an inter-generational conversation. Quite expectedly, the narrative often highlights the nobility of Sikh teachings and ideals, and our slipshod practices. Some speakers aim at our silly ways and rue the inevitability of the times. We often condemn others: often Hindus or the British for the debasement of Sikh practices. And that’s where the story usually ends until we meet, to revisit similar themes again.
And we wonder: Surely, as adults, we Sikhs have some meaningful role in this inevitable decline of Sikhs and Sikhi, or don’t we?
Hence this diatribe. The past often appears rosier in retrospect. We won’t overlook the times of Sikh glory – the worldly triumphs we had while remaining reasonably connected to our religious roots and practices.
True that in the period of the Gurus and immediately afterwards, there were hair-raising battles with both Mughal rulers (Muslims) as well as the Hindu majority. The third way (Sikhi) was not acceptable to either of the two larger religions in India. There was often a hefty price on a Sikh’s head if he openly lived with the markers of his faith. Sikhs and Sikhi were then perceived as threats to the philosophy and power of the establishment — Muslims and Hindus.
But within decades after Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhs had fought their way to triumph. They established Sikh governance in the greater Punjab, even extending into Tibet and Afghanistan. The outstanding Sikh General, Hari Singh Nalwa, was able to command and control Afghanistan. Much of India, too, tasted a degree of independence as Muslim dominance collapsed. The larger India returned to several quasi-independent nation-states. For much of this we credit the over two-centuries of Sikh struggle, largely in Punjab and other pockets.
These historical realities along with the struggle for independence shaped north-western India – largely Punjab and Punjabis. Until the British and French came by sea, all traders, invaders, conquerors, Greek hordes and early Aryan settlers entered India via the Khyber Pass through the northwest corner that connects Afghanistan to Punjab. (Now half of Punjab constitutes Pakistan, the other half is part of India.) This prolonged hybridization of Punjab enriched its genetic pool, resulting in greater vigor. We find similar enrichment in the Balkans and the United States as well.
It is not surprising then that Punjabis (primarily Sikhs) led the fight to seal the Khyber Pass to every wannabe conquistador. Such a transformational shift is not attained in a day or even a year. Early results, however, were evident within decades of the post-Guru period (the times of Banda Bahadur.) It took the Sikh message about 240 years and 10 generations of Gurus to become realized.
The next 50 years were the Golden Age for Punjab; Sikhs ruled the greater Punjab, justly and sagaciously; land reforms were established. All three religions – Hindus, Muslim and Sikhs – were treated justly and equally, and lived in peace. The ruler then was a Sikh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
In the meantime, the British had entered India by sea and conquered almost all of India. A hundred years later the British annexed Punjab in battles where non-Punjabi Indians sided with them against the Sikhs. It is true that the British won by perfidy and betrayal by some of the non-Sikh commanders in the Sikh army.
We usually mark this as the time when Sikh values, teachings and practices began their downward slide; today the rot continues.
Why and how?
Centuries of immigration and hybridization shaped the Punjabi mindset. They are a pragmatic people. In the British-Sikh wars Hindus and Muslims aided the British. The British won the battles but learned to value and respect Sikh skill, will, strength, dedication and determination in war. So, they preferentially recruited Sikhs into the army, and opened many English-speaking schools – in fact, they made allies of Sikhs and encouraged them as faithful friends. At one time 40% of the British-Indian army officers were Sikh. More significantly, the British encouraged, nay required, that Sikhs maintain their articles of faith while serving in the army. The Sikhs saluted the Guru Granth at their recruitment. Thus, the British ensured Sikh loyalty.
This was very shrewd of the British, we would say. It is equally obvious that Sikhs (the ruler Ranjit Singh, his statesmen and generals of the time) lacked the foresight to look beyond their own lifespans. Coming to terms with our own shortcomings is never easy but such are the necessary lessons here. Perhaps Sikhs put aside their times of struggle too readily and forgot to remain vigilant! Did they forget that those who do not remember their history live to repeat it?
How did the pragmatic Sikhs see the new reality emerging in front of their eyes? Clearly, their new world would be ruled by the British. The British led Indian army provided them a semblance of Westernization and dignity. This shaped their reality and the nature of their future. The Sikh connection to, and reliance on, their primary traditional institutions, particularly the gurduara, lessened. The gurduara and its granthi were transformed and, in fact, dramatically down-graded, largely by these changed ground realities.
Engrossed in their new realities, expectations, standards of living and behavior, Sikhs increasingly delegated the responsibilities of their religious institutions and education to granthis, who effectively became caretakers of gurduaras rather than specialists in education on Sikhi.
Look around: The granthi, often the most educated person in the community, whether in the village or even in the best Indian urban setting has now become somewhat of a "gofer." (Before you take umbrage at our blunt assessment, we ask you instead to look at the reality.) At the gurduaras around you, how often do you see scholarly exchange or extended vichaar to improve your connection to Sikhi? Our officer-corps, whether civilians or from the armed services — largely Sikhs in the latter — are some of the most westernized Indians. But the British insisted that the turban and long unshorn hair of the Sikh soldier be maintained. They strongly enforced it.
This is how the British won the loyalty of the Sikh servicemen and the Sikh community. The British-led Indian army necessarily created a hybrid Sikh culture. The Sikhs responded positively to the respect and consideration they sought. Even the rural Sikhs saw that token westernization would be a powerful path to material and worldly success. No surprise then that the gurduara inevitably became more symbolic than meaningful to the Sikhs. As we said, life had made Punjabis and Sikhs into a superbly pragmatic people.
How well had Punjab evolved in only 240 years or so, with 10 Gurus? Sikh ascendancy and rule had been quick, efficient and effective. But it disappeared even faster. Why? Genetic hybridization had created a very pragmatic people. How they saw the future? How the British saw the Sikh talent pool? How they came together in mutual respect!
The British played a shrewd, measured and winning hand. They courted and won Sikh friendship, even though in India’s’ struggle for independence fully 65 to 68 percent of all freedom fighters who were hanged by the British or sentenced to life imprisonment were Sikhs. The Sikhs were a minority as they still are — barely two percent of India’s burgeoning billion. The larger Indian society gave them little support then, and offers even less today.
Under the British, 40% of the officers in the Indian armed services were Sikh, but this is not true anymore in free India. Sikhs remain a minority but they did not get swallowed up by Hinduism, as Buddhism and Jainism did. We think the independent Sikh identity saved them from Indian mythology’s Boa Constrictor embrace. Hinduization still impacts us, often passively, because of large Hindu numbers, cultural misinterpretation and miscegenation.
Our cultural habits have become largely secular in an attempt for the minority to merge with the mainstream. Think back: What are the early lessons — essential advice — drummed into the head of Indian children and adolescents irrespective of their religious identity? They begin and end with: study hard, get good grades, get a good stable job and marry well. Isn’t that a fair summary of what was drummed into our heads? Where is Sikhi in this truly secular message? Sikhs essentially did what a pragmatic people would do.
In fact, our relationship to the two languages critical to us changed dramatically. Competence in English defined our proficiency at work in the new world. Skill in Punjabi defined us within our community. We never saw the need to pick up a book on poetry, history or philosophy in English because it would likely not be work-related, and we didn’t pick up a book on philosophy, history or poetry in Punjabi because Punjabi had become increasingly limited to social banter and easy, crass humor.
Ergo, the life of the mind became increasingly unexplored in English or Punjabi.
In this mixed and sometimes sorry tale, Sikhs too have a responsibility for their place in contemporary Indian society. Let’s sketch it briefly.
Free India’s policies today disrespect the Sikhs in history, in religion or in their place in society, in fact India seems to be on a path that ignores Sikhs entirely while Sikhs are too busy to even notice. For a minority, as Sikhs are, the drive for material success outweighs Sikh teachings and values. But where is accountability?
Just look at Bollywood, often seen as the culture of modern India! Sikhs are a presence there, but as buffoons, for the cheap joke and easy laugh, without a thought about the damage to our image in the larger society. Punjabi music, catchy as it is, promotes liquor and drug culture and we don’t notice. Why don’t we produce good literature, wholesome entertainment, great music (remember music is in our blood) and movies for the mainstream population for meaningful impact on society rather than following the rotten Bollywood path? Do we have shortage of talent or skills, or is it common sense that is missing?
We need some introspection and we need to own our responsibility rather than shifting the blame to the British or Muslims or Hindus or the Indian government, gurduaras, granthis and management.
We need to be proactive rather than being retroactive in damage control. We need to rediscover what Gurbani means to us, and what we want for and from Sikhs and Sikhi. Just repeating lines of Gurbani – parrot like – won’t work (Dithae mukt na hovaee jitcher sabd na karay vitchar, Guru Granth p. 594.)
Our focus needs to shift from more and expensive vestments (rumalas) for the Guru Granth, or gold and marble in gurduaras to our own community and its education and understanding, so that we become a more progressive people. We need to learn lessons from Jews!
Our downhill slope is not the invention of the British, Muslims and Hindus alone; we, too, have collaborated mightily along the way. An equal place at the table of this or any society should define our goal.
T.S. Eliot reminds us of “the cunning passages and contrived corridors of history that deceive us by vanities.” Stay in touch with Sikh history and you will become an optimist – multi-layered and incredibly complex.
The rot set in more than 150 years ago; it continues today. Isn’t it time to say, ENOUGH? It’s for us to define and construct the cure. The buck stops with us. -- Source.
Since the beginning of Sikhee, like other religious groups [tribes], we too have the capacity of finding reasons to become disagreeable with each other.
I decided to start a ‘list’ to gauge how ridiculous we are as a community when it comes to our practices, rituals and general living as a community. This list was prompted by the sometimes very silly disagreements, sometimes turning to violence, of the recent and current ‘Dasam Granth’ (DG) issue.
So we shall start with that. That itself is not one issue but leads to other sub issues. If someone does not pick it up right away, I am putting all this down as a form of ridicule. And I shall only list ‘some’ of the issues with the DG. There are many!
Is there an authentic Dasam Granth?
Was it compiled by dhan dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji?
Are the banis in DG authentic or are at least some of the banis in DG authentic?
Can we have a DG parkash alongside the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), maybe a few inches lower than the Guru Granth Sahib Ji?
Should we sing ‘Deh Shiva’?
Should we remove all banis of Guru Gobind Singh Ji because none are in SGGS? On DG itself, O yes, there are many more issues!
Where does Mool Mantr end?
What segments of Gurbani must be included in evening nitnem (daily prayer) of Rehras Sahib?
Should tables and chairs be allowed in langgar halls of Gurdwara Sahibs?
When should kirpan bhet be done for deg/parshaadh and what should the ritual be?
Should a separate kauli be set aside with parshaadh presumably for the Granthi Sahib so that he does not miss out?
Should chair seating be allowed in Darbar Sahib?
When should langgar ardaas be done?
Should a special plate full of langgar first be brought before SGGS for Ardaas before
langgar can be served?
Must one have a pela around one’s neck when doing Ardaas?
Should a golak be right in front of SGGS?
The list of course is not exhaustive. You can keep adding to it ad infinitum.
My point is that the most important virtue in Sikhee, as I learnt, is nimerta (humiliity) which is developed with sincere sewa, leading to Naam. Having a good time comes a close second!
I am amazed at the rift that has occurred not only amongst friends, even families, on these differences, even here in my homeland Malaysia, especially on this Dasam Granth issue. And interestingly, anyone who professes a status quo is ostracised by both sides! The two opposing sides have themselves in some instances come to blows, beard ripping and unturbanning of each other.
So, I am proposing an official third ‘party’ – the status quo party. If it was OK with Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji and his Malaysian team of Granthis, then it is good enough for me.
Yes, with new information and learning, our procedures can evolve. It does not happen overnight. Let me cite you an interesting example.
To convert from oil divas to electricity, in Darbar Sahib (Amritsar, Punjab), going back to the late 19th century, took 11 years of bickering and sometimes violent opposition! We like to believe that we have matured from then. But, not so. We have not learnt how to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
I believe time has come for us to be able to practice our faith as we sincerely wish to, and allow each ‘group’ to practice as each feels comfortable. We cannot change that nor enforce ones will upon the other.
I shall write further on this/these issues in my usual light hearted manner within my own shortcomings and limited knowledge. But I was virtually born in a Gurdwara in Malaysia, to a savant and a qualified Granthi Sahib and during the wonderful life and times of Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji. So some of that Sikhee has rubbed off on me. And I feel I can pass it on to the younger generations who are sometimes left completely bewildered with our behaviour as a Quom. -- Source.
Malaysia-born Dya Singh, who now resides in Australia, is an accomplished musician and a roving Sikh preacher. The Dya Singh World Music Group performs full scale concerts on ‘music for the soul’ based on North Indian classical and semi-classical styles of music with hymns from mainly the Sikh, Hindu and Sufi ‘faiths’. -- See 'Mixed faith marriages should be banned in Sikh temples'.
An integral part of the Guru Granth Sahib, is ‘rahao’ – threshold, pause, a silent moment – asking Sikhs to pause, contemplate and integrate. Rahao is a point when consciousness should return, when one should connect the Guru’s teachings with the Sikh way of life.
The word ‘rahao’ is derived from ‘raha’ or ‘therau’ in Punjabi which means ‘to remain’, ‘to fix’, ‘to be there’. It always appears at the end of a stanza of Gurbani. The line or stanza containing ‘rahao’ presents the central theme of the Bani. Rahao extols Sikhs to recite (or listen to) the Bani, then to pause and reflect on the message that the gurus enshrined in the Bani.
Bani Guru Guru hai baanee vich baanee amrit saare.
Bani Guru, Bani is the Guru, in the Bani is all the nectar.
‘Rahao’ was added by the gurus with a purpose. The Bani is not to be recited mechanically. The way of the Guru does not lie in any magical mantra, uttering it blindly without submerging oneself in its inner meaning. Shabad, the Word, is to be internalised and applied in everyday life. Integration of the spiritual with the mundane brings peace to disciples. The Guru says, ‘bhagat janaa kai man bisraam. Rahao’ – 'Then there is peace within the mind of the devotees. Pause.'
Rahao is a spiritual thread which gives direction and explanation as well. Sometimes the word ‘rahao’ appears with the numeral 1 (One). The Ongkar Shabad, composed by Guru Nanak, presents the main theme in rahao verse. The Guru says, ‘Hey Pande, if you want to write anything, write the divine Name’. Fifty-four verses contemplate on the Supreme. Everything originated from Ongkar, Wahe Guru, the only power. Then why to discriminate and divide the world? Guru Nanak writes, ‘Were I given a hundred thousand tongues instead of one, /And the hundred thousand multiplied twenty-fold, /A hundred thousand times would I say, and say again, /The Lord of all the worlds is ONE’.
Guru Nanak asks followers to destroy the icons of superstition, caste system, meaningless rituals, detect and avoid fake gurus and so on. He prefers to be on the side of the poor and vulnerable. He says, ‘Lowly among the lowliest, the lowliest of all, Nanak is with them’. He was all for equality, love and devotion. Above all, seva (service) and charity form the main pillars of his philosophy. [See Guru Nanak's Message.]
In ‘Japji Sahib’, Guru Nanak describes the virtue of sunana, listening, and manana, implemention. By listening to the Word, man tries to emulate the one he follows. He becomes wise and nirbhau, fearless; and courageous, contended and without any feeling of enmity towards others – nirvair. The devotee learns truth and all his fears are dispelled. This stage encourages followers to live a truthful life. Hence, listening leads to understanding the ways of God, develops consciousness and helps one attain salvation.
‘With contemplation on the Guru in the heart, with the tongue repeating the Guru’s name, with the eyes beholding the true Guru, saturated with the love of the true Guru, one attains place of honour in Sachkhand, the Lord’s home’, writes Guru Nanak. There should be total harmony of internal and external aspects of Nam-Simran which can happen only with reflection and contemplation, that is, rahao.
In anticipation of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations in the coming year, let’s pause, reflect and internalise his teachings in a true and honest manner. As the Guru says, ‘I live His teachings. One who follows Him knows himself and is submerged in Truth’. -- Source.
Bani Guru Guru hai baanee vich baanee amrit saare.
Bani Guru, Bani is the Guru, in the Bani is all the nectar.
"The most courageous, and pious act of a human is to be with another human,
because we are like stars in the sky, born at one time and space, to be ourselves.
Everybody is our neighbor. All we have to do is say, "I am with you." When you
start being one with everybody, then you are actually with God, because if
you cannot see God in all, you cannot see God at all." Siri Singh Sahib
"People like to see whether you wear white, or you are white;
whether you look holy, or you are holy." Siri Singh Sahib
"It is time to convene a biannual Sensitivity Summit for the
purpose of promoting the inclusion and treatment of all people
equally and without prejudice irrespective of race, color, national
origin, gender, age, disability, culture, religion, ethnicity, sexual
orientation, marital status, social or economic status, or political,
psychological or philosophical persuasion, or any other Earthly
consideration or distinction." MSS Hari Singh Bird Khalsa