From My Six Senses

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Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

For a few drops of tears

It is said ‘’It is easier to name an emotion than define it’’.

During my visits to the Harimandir Sahib in late 1990s when I was studying at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, I often came across a very familiar scene – Inside the sanctum sanctorum, sitting opposite to the ‘kirtaniyes’, a man in his 30s, in a sense of extreme gush, mesmerized and actuated by the euphoria of the keertan, physically detached from the World around him, his eyes closed with tears flowing down his cheeks and drenching his black flowing beard.

Something conspicuously different from what others were doing- hurling their way towards the sanctum sanctorum, making their own space to bow down and offer their respects, very cautious of the positioning of the cameras, telecasting live images around the world.

Wow! I used to say every time I saw him. I thought, this is what one needs in order to attain a humane connection with that place and the environment. But I also realized that this was something inveterate, which would only come with time, filled with love for the Guru and Gurbani…
hau rih n skw ibnu dyKy pRIqmw mY nIru vhy vih clY jIau]
I cannot survive without seeing my Beloved. My eyes are welling up with tears.
(M4; Pg 94; SGGS)

But I was also a bit puzzled. Why this melancholy? It is said, ‘’how but through a broken heart can Lord enter’’. Was it the environment, the shabad or something else? It was all-in-one I guess. Sitting with crossed legs, closed eyes, listening to the ‘dhur ki baani’ written by our Gurus – this reaction is inevitable if we really concentrate on the shabad, its meaning and environment.

Also, is melancholy a reflection of the Sikhs’ perception of ‘man neevan’ which they utter daily in their prayer, ‘man neevan; mat uchee’? (humble mind and exalted wisdom). It’s such a unique combination of the ‘man’ (mind) being humble but at the same time the spirits being high.

But these unique combinations are not new to Sikhism. Since its initiation Sikhism has been infamously shredding the conventional beliefs and norms. The time when those who ruled the kingdoms (sipahi) and those who ruled over spirituality (sant) came from a totally different social backgrounds, who in his senses would have thought of a personality ruling over both of them?

Though the foundations of such a personality were laid down by Guru Nanak Sahib and later groomed by Guru Hargobind Sahib; Guru Gobind Singh Sahib completed that mission formally – declaring the Sikhs to be ‘Saint-Soldiers’, having full control over the temporal as well as spiritual authority. A saint, if he is only a saint and not a soldier would be incapable of defending his beliefs and other’s faith. On the other hand a soldier, if he is only a soldier and not a saint would be brutal without morality and ethics. And history has proven this to be right on many occasions. The horrific images of the current wars transmitted daily all around the World on the TV screens reiterate this.

Where else can one have an image of a person who has a sword buckled to his waist and offering water and medicines to the injured enemies? Bhai Kanhaiya wearing the robe of a Saint-Soldier laid the foundations of such humanitarian organizations which would only be formally accepted by the World after three hundred years of his initiating efforts.

Sikhs attacked Delhi 17 times, but not even on a single occasion in the history they brutalized the people. There were no instances of women being kidnapped and houses being looted. Where in the history can one find similar examples of warriors with such a high morality?

Again the concept of ‘Saint-Soldier’ can’t exist without the notion of ‘humble mind and exalted wisdom’.

If we talk of the practical ‘advantages’ of religion Sikhism stands on the forefront.

The concept of ‘man neevan; mat uchee’ also beckons religious tolerance. Where in the history would one find the foundation stone of the most pious institution of a religion being laid by a leader of another faith? That norm was shattered when the fifth Master Guru Arjan Sahib invited Muslim Saint, Mian Meer for the foundation of Harimandir Sahib. This is akin the foundation stone of the Vatican being laid by the Dalai Lama and that of Mecca being laid by the Pope. How digestible is it in today’s World, where religious hatred guides most people’s beliefs: where there is more noise of crusades and jihads and less of love and peace.

Sikhi didn’t only invite leaders of other faiths in ceremonial occasions. Sikh Gurus even sacrificed their lives for the beliefs of others, the beliefs which they themselves had strongly rejected.
‘’tilak janjoo rakha prabh taanka’’. It was indeed ‘’keeno bado kalu mai saaka’’. (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib in Bachittar Natak)
But these sacrifices were made not for mere religious symbols but for the right of freedom of belief and expression. How many of us can dare to think about such a sacrifice in today’s World.
"Through whom (Guru Tegh Bahadur) the Lord saved the tilak and sacred thread of these people (Hindus)
For the sake of God's saints, Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life.
His head was severed, but not a groan did he utter.
For the sake of righteousness he enacted this tragic episode.
He gave up his head, but not his persistence to do the right...............
No one can excel the pure loftiness of what Tegh Bahadur did;
The world of men was in grief when he left this earth.
But the world of gods was filled with the joy of his great triumph."
(From Bachittar Natak. Translation by Prof. Puran Singh)

Many aspects of Sikh history revolve around the concept of ‘man neevan; mat uchee’. There cannot be something more potent than this which keeps the human psyche in a balance. A warrior who has just returned from the battlefield, adrenalin running very high, now sits in the sangat and listens to the keertan being played in ‘raagas’, and after a while gets so drenched into it that he gets physically detached from his surroundings and all the worries, to be recharged for his next move in the battlefield.

Indeed Sikh history is full of unique examples of morality, tolerance, equality, faith and belief. But is that sufficient? Can we just go on cashing on these events of our history, or do we need to add some new jewels in the necklace.

But how many of us attain this level and dose of ‘humble mind and exalted wisdom’?...Most of us proudly claim to be crème de la crème Sikhs for whom Sikhism serves no more than a status symbol and has become a mere Sunday affair.

Our love for Sikhi has been indurated by the sciolistic writings of the contemporary Sikh ‘scholars’ who see Sikhi in ‘black and white’. Love for Sikhi in grey shade needs to be revived. We need writers of the kinds of Prof. Puran Singh and Bhai Veer Singh – the pantheons of Sikh writings reflecting unchallenging love for Sikhs and Sikhi.

Our individual ‘rituals’ at the gurdwaras do not help in anyways to achieve this. What to wear? Whom to meet and whom to ignore, seizes most of our concentration which otherwise would help us to think something about the keertan, the shabad and the Guru. Not to say that this doesn’t mean that Sikhs should not wear good clothes and drive fast cars.

They should, as long as they can balance this with love and humility.…with a pinch of ‘humble mind and exalted wisdom’.

Divided We Stand

There are two kinds of Sikhs in the World, Kattarhs (radicals) and cutters (liberals)

If there is any room for generalization which can be applied to the types of ‘groups’ which have appeared among the Sikh circles, following the Panthic issues of the recent past, this can be considered to be the closest one. The various issues, ranging from the authority of Sikh Rehat Maryada to Maryada of Langar to issues concerning writers like Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana, have seen these two ‘groups’ locking horns.

The analyses of these groups, apart from being interesting, help to understand some of the issues and their consequences.

The first (Kattarhs) are those who want Sikhi to be followed and propagated in a traditional way, not questioning the Scriptures, and abiding by the authority of Akal Takhat Sahib, the highest Temporal and Spiritual Seat of the Sikhs.

The other group is the one which wants Sikhi to be propagated in a more ‘’modern’’ and ‘’contemporary’’ form; accepting every claimant to be a Sikh, irrespective of whether he falls into the definition given in the 'Sikh Rehat Maryada'. The first salvo, by this group, is fired on the age old traditions and even the Scriptures which have become part and parcel of the Sikh brotherhood. This group regards the Sikh traditions as ''brahminical rituals'', as were prevalent during Guru Sahibs, and which they condemned, and hence they try hard to convince people to get rid of them. Infamous ex-communicated writer Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana is an example.

Sikh Rehat Maryada

The first issue of debate between these two ‘’groups’’ is the ‘Sikh Rehat Maryada’’, the constitution of the Sikhs accepted by the Sikh panth in 1945, after more than 13 years of deliberations where comments were invited from the Sikhs from all over the World. The first group respects it as a word-of-law, and considers it as a hard fetched document which the Sikhs got after so many years of struggle. For the second group ‘’Sikh Rehat Maryada’’ does not hold any credibility. According to them, because it is not the word-of-the-Guru, it can be changed, and even trespassed. Sometimes they go a step further in criticizing it. The reason for rejecting the 'Sikh Rehat Maryada' is straight. Once this well accepted document is rejected and made void, it will be easier to attack the Sikh scriptures and Sikh traditions. The head of a state getting immunity from legal procedures was heard; but deliberately rejecting the law before breaking it, is somewhat absurd. Reprobating the Maryada would be like un-knitting a well designed framework of rules and regulations accepted by the panth in the most democratic possible way. Kulraj Singh, the English translator of Sikh Rehat Maryada, writes in the Preface, '' The Sikh Reht Maryada, as the ensuing preface to the original Punjabi text will show is the product of collective Panthic wisdom. What is more, some of the greatest Sikh scholars and savants of all times contributed to it and deliberated on its contents. So this work should take precedence on any sectional beliefs and preferences. In a wider context, the contents of the Reht Maryada should be taken as the final word as to the matters they deal with. That will foster panthic cohesion''.

Sikh Traditions and Customs

Another point of disagreement between the two groups is the concept of ‘’faith’’. What is seen as ‘’faith’’ by the first group is sometimes considered as ‘’blind-faith’’ by the second. That’s how the Sikh customs and traditions are perceived differently by the two groups.

This difficulty in differentiating ''faith'' and ''blind-faith'' is not new to the Sikhs, especially to the youth, for whom Sikhism is, and has to be, propagated with utmost rationality. It is understandable because there is a very thin line which separates the both. Once, while sitting at the Gurdwara in the University in Amritsar, I was asked by a new comer, what I thought about Sikhs taking the 'charan dhoor', 'kissing the manji', 'bowing in front of the Guru Granth Sahib again and again' etc. That was a genuine question, which concerned a lot of youngsters; and hence needed a genuine answer. And not getting a reasonable reply made them stay away from Sikhi. The only answer which I could think of, at that moment, was based on 'the expression of love' [shardha]. I told him, we all love our mothers, but the intensity and our ways of expression are different. Some prefer to hug, others kiss and hug again and again and some others just refrain from either of these. Similarly we have to see everything which we do and which others do in the Gurdwara with the eyes of 'expression of love'. Once love goes out of our expression and greed comes in, a 'faith' becomes a 'blind-faith', and everything converts to ritualism and superstition.

''Revolutionary'' writers?

Frustrated by the pathetic state of Sikh polity and its inability to guide the Sikh masses in the important issues, followed by a constant fear of the ''big-brother'' intimidating and hitting on the Sikh identity, some of the Sikh writers take extreme steps. For them everything they see in Sikhi, be it Sikh traditions, customs or even scriptures, is adulterated. And without considering the consequences of their writings, either on the psyche of the ordinary Sikhs or on the organizational institution of the Panth, they do more damage than mending any of the prevalent issues. The writings of Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana, followed by the uproar among the Sikhs and various Sikh Organizations; leading to his ex-communication, is a latest example. Again these two ‘’groups’’ are divided on this issue. The second group considers these writings to be ''revolutionary'', and ones which instill the essence of rationality among the Sikhs. For the first group these writings are blasphemous and slanderous and an attempt to demolish ones own house in the guise of constructing a wall with the neighbor's house. For them these writers, in Sikhi saroop, but with the same ideology as the communists, are doing more damage. According to them the communists talked of filling the sarovar around Darbar Sahib and growing grain in it, and these writers talk of the same thing but with a different tone. Again the confusion between the 'faith' and 'blind-faith' drives these writers. Without giving a second thought they reject all Sikh traditions, just because, for them everything they see is a deliberate attempt by the ''enemy'' to diffuse the identity of the Sikhs. But they fail to understand that Gurbani is the ultimate source of educating the Sikhs of the values of Sikhi. Gurbani teaches us to be rational. Following the path of Guru’s rationality is Gurmat. But today Sikhs take this liberty from Gurmat and define rationality according to their own beliefs [Manmat]. If we need any guidance Gurbani is there to help us out. But the attempt by these writers to highjack the Gurbani, and misuse it in order to harm the very structure of Sikhi is unacceptable. We also have to consider the fact that in Sikhism there is emphasis on the concept of organizational institution [panth]. If it has to be kept in a proper network, then we will have to respect the way an institution is run; which means that no one as an individual should comment on, or criticize any aspect of Sikhi, be it traditions or scriptures, which has found a firm ground among the Sikh masses.

Sikhs have suffered a lot in the recent past. They have been deceived by the panthic ''leaders'' again and again. They need to be lifted. The youth is confused. The absence of Sikh media has forced them to be attracted towards the Western culture. The absence of teaching Sikh history in a larger level in the schools has made them less interested in Sikhi. They question the importance of religion in general and Sikhi saroop in particular. They need to be rejoined to Sikhi. The ''revolutionary'' writers and their writings will not help. They will add oil to the burning fire in them. Love for the Gurus and love and faith in what they achieved and bestowed upon us [Sikhi], love and pride in the traditions [Maryada], has to be instilled in the youth. Love and faith are the strong and firm foundations on which the huge structure of Sikh rationality can stand. Rationality alone, wearing the robe of atheism and apostasy, is already knocking at our doors.

The story of a Gurdwara

The morning alarm, at 4 O’clock, rang. It was Jasjot’s turn today. Commonly known as ‘susti’ by the closest around him, he, in his University hostel room, was wrapped in his most lovable ‘rajaee’ with all the corners tucked under his body. Still he took less than a second to slap the small button on the head of the clock and made it silent. This happened every Friday morning, the day of Jasjot’s turn. But his love and determination towards his duty were unquestionable, given he came out of this dormant stage from his cocoon.

Suddenly there was a knock on his door. It was Prabhpal. He had returned from the campus gurdwara after finding it closed. Jasjot was supposed to open it today and do the seva and the parkash. It was a gurdwara of its own kind in the whole world. There was no granthi, no ragi, no sevadaar, and yes, no pradhaan and no secretary. In fact everyone was the granthi, the ragi, the sevadaar, the pradhaan and the secretary.

Yes this was the small gurdwara in the campus of Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar. And the story of its installation is also very interesting and inspiring. It is said that the University, in late 80’s, constructed a septagon shaped building which was supposed to house the student center. In the center of the building there was a septagon shaped hall which could be reached by going down a few steps. And this hall was surrounded by rooms with glass walls facing the center. A kitchen housed in the north-east of the building. Later the law faculty started holding its classes there.

There was a general disappointment among the students that there was no gurdwara, in the University named after Guru Nanak Sahib. And when they saw this small building in the middle of the campus being constructed, the idea of the perfect place for the gurdwara struck their mind. Though it was a perfect building for the gurdwara, at that time of heightened tension in Punjab, making such a demand was not less than a challenge. And as it was expected, the University administration outrageously rejected the students’ demand for the establishment of the gurdwara in the campus.

But that era of heightened tension in Punjab also meant excessive determination among the Sikh youth to struggle for their just cause. And this desire of having a gurdwara brought no exception to their determination. In the middle of a night in April 1986 some students took the saroop of Guru Granth Sahib and did the parkash in the building. This incident was followed by some arrests by the police, but finally the much awaited dream came true. The parkash was done, the nishan sahib was erected, the kitchen started running and thus the gurdwara was established inside the Guru Nanak Dev University campus under the spirit of ‘Deg Teg Fateh’!

But this didn’t lead to the thawing of relations between pro-gurdwara student activists and the university administration. For ten years there was no official recognition to the gurdwara by the administration. Even the university shied from mentioning this building on its published official maps.

No support from the administration meant students using their own dasvandh for running the gurdwara. First they constructed a small podium in the center hall where Guru Granth Sahib was installed. The hall and the rooms were carpeted. The two rooms, one on the left and the other on the right, were reserved for the sangat. A library was made in the room behind the podium. In one small room the place for sukhasan was made and another small room was reserved for gurdwara’s management.

And now, every year in February, the students celebrate the foundation day of the gurdwara on a big scale. All the seva, ranging from making langar for thousands to doing the keertan is managed by the students. On this day professional ragis, dhadis and katha-vachaks also join the celebrations.

This gurdwara has become a source of inspiration for many. And what better place it could be than in the University campus where thousands of students come every year to attain knowledge (gyan).
The gurdwara has also served as a gurmat school, where many students have learnt to do keertan, ardaas, take vaak, do parkash, perform sukhasan and prepare karah parshaad from each other. In the absence of a granthi this gurdwara also takes the credit of being one of the very few gurdwaras where men and women stand shoulder to shoulder in performing any kind of seva.

This gurdwara also serves as an example of harmony, selflessness and team-work, where the students volunteer to do seva, which they take from the senior students and in turn pass, what they have learnt, to the newcomers.

Every year new students come to the University, some of them, like Jasjot and Prabhpal get involved in the seva; and thus this holy cycle continues.

Faith vis-à-vis Rationality: A Sikh perspective

Do faith and rationality go side by side? Can a person be believer and rational at the same time? Faith stands on love, trust and complete submission, and is a ‘’firm belief in something for which there is no proof’’ in dictionary terms. Rationality, contrary to this, stands on reasoning and asks for evidence.

The basic concepts of ‘Faith’ and ‘Rationality’ look so distant that ‘religion’, the expression media of faith, becomes hostile to those who keep a fundamental rational approach.

It was the transcendent vision of the Guru Sahibs that in addition to making Sikhism to be perceived with the traditional approach of faith and belief instilled the highest level of rationality into it. With the advent of this reformation, the way religion was perceived and practiced in the society was changed. Religion was freed from the clutches of those who claimed to be the only authority over it; it was no more a fantasy accessible through the hands of the ‘care takers’ of the religious institutions, but was a direct relationship of the creation with its Creator.

Introducing such a revolutionary concept to the society was no less than a war, the price of which was paid by Guru Sahibs with their own martyrdoms. The philosophy instituted by Guru Nanak, was constituted by Guru Arjan in the form of Adi Granth, and later organized and inscribed by Guru Gobind Singh by the formation of Khalsa [Panth]. This evolution of Sikh faith beckoned a lot of traditions and symbolisms. Seeing everything superficially, to a lay eye these traditions might look indistinguishable from those rituals which Guru Sahib themselves fought against, but there is a core difference between them.

Recently I had a two hour interactive session with Danish kids about Sikhism, in a school here in Denmark. I showed one overhead slide where it was written 'Guru Nanak rejected ritualism'. Then in another slide I showed a picture of a Sikh woman carrying Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) on her head. A student asked me a question ''Isn't carrying SGGS on the head a kind of ritualism?''. I was impressed by his question and his level of critique. I told him that there is a lot of symbolism in this. If this woman is carrying Sri Guru Granth Sahib on her head, she is actually giving respect to those 37 contributors to this holy book, from different social, religious and economic class, some of whom didn't have any place in the society. So it is a symbolism of equality. Of course if this woman thinks that just by carrying the holy book on her head, she would get place in 'heaven', then that is a blind-faith.

Another guy interrupted me when I was talking about the Amrit ceremony. He wanted to know if this was also not a kind of ritual. I could understand their curiosity and told them that these traditions, started by Guru Sahibs, were not meant to engulf the Sikhs into any kind of ‘rituals’, but were used as media to give strong messages of social equality to the masses. Amrit ceremony is symbolic of the concept of ‘Sant-Soldier, it is symbolic of social equality. Whereas Guru Nanak broke the ‘barrier’ between the Creator and its creation, Guru Gobind Singh went a step ahead in bringing the ‘teacher’ and the ‘student’ on the same platform [Waho Waho Gobind Singh Aape Gur Chela]. These were some of the unusual steps towards social equality which Guru Sahibs took at that time.

Today the Sikh youth is also not spared by the hue and cry for utmost rationality. It is a good sign; but we have to be very cautious if we are not being carried away by the same philosophy and definition of rationalism which the communists and atheists talk about. Acceptance of rationalistic view should not be in the expense of our traditions and heritage, for these traditions are the gifts of our Guru Sahibs, who themselves rejected rituals which were based on blind-faith. But of course the youth has to be considerate that they do not astray from the true essence of these traditions, because this is the point when these traditions will be converted to mere rituals and faith won’t hold any credibility.

This reminds me of an incident at the Gurdwara in the University in Amritsar, where I was asked by a new comer, what I thought about Sikhs taking the 'charan dhoor', 'kissing the manji', 'bowing in front of the Guru Granth Sahib again and again' etc. That was a genuine question, which concerned a lot of youngsters; and hence needed a genuine answer. And not getting a reasonable reply made them stay away from Sikhi. The only answer which I could think of, at that moment, was based on 'the expression of love' [shardha]. I told him, we all love our mothers, but the intensity and our ways of expression are different. Some prefer to hug, others kiss and hug again and again and some others just refrain from either of these. Similarly we have to see everything which we do and which others do in the Gurdwara with the eyes of 'expression of love'

In Sikhism faith and belief has its foundation on 'trust' and Shardha. This expression can neither be defined nor controlled. When we love someone to an extent, we also start loving everything which relates to that person, even some materialistic things. But it is not called superstition. There might be a thin line differentiating faith from blind faith, but it is very much visible. If we love our Guru, we might do everything to express it, but these are personal decisions, hence not written or defined anywhere, and neither a way to any kind of ''moksha'' or reward. But once love goes out of our expression and greed comes in, a 'faith' becomes a 'blind-faith', and everything converts to ritualism and superstition.

It was because of belief, faith and trust in the Guru that five Sikhs stood up and offered themselves on the Visakhi of 1699. We can’t see this with the eyes of 'rationality' alone. The 'rational' view of Bhai Taru Singh's martyrdom, when he preferred to part away with his scalp instead of his hair, would be his cutting the hair while in custody and growing it again when released.

Similarly Guru Sahib asked us not to go to pilgrimages and bathe in rivers and ponds. But still Guru Sahib constructed Sarovars and boulees. To an ordinary eye this might look like hypocrisy. But again we have to understand the teaching which we are getting out of it. There was one place where people were not allowed to bathe in the same place because of their different social status; and here Guru invites them to come and bathe in the same pond irrespective of their social class. This is the highest level of equality which the society could have been bestowed upon by the Gurus at that time.

If it was only rationality and rules which Guru Sahib wanted to talk about then they would have written these rules in few pages very specifically. Having written 1430 pages in the forms of hymns was, in itself, a message that there was a lot more in Sikhism that rationality alone which Guru Sahibs wanted to preach. Sikhs are not critical about rational view, but they are also not willing to accept a totalitarian view of rationality which does not have a base in love and faith, and which does not respect Sikh traditions and heritage.

But again the onus is on us, the Sikhs, to interpret our philosophy and traditions correctly. It’s our responsibility to inculcate the heritage, bestowed upon us by the Guru, in our coming generations. We can’t just reject the traditions either because we fail to understand the essence of them, or because of the phobia of some other faith.

Letter to an apostate friend

Dear Mandeep,

Guru Fateh!

How are you? Hope you are in 'Chardi Kala'. Mandeep, I feel my duty and most importantly my right to comment on what I was a witness of, when I met you last. That moment really shattered me. And this happens only when you experience something unexpected. I don’t know under which circumstances you took this step; but believe me this is really very unfortunate.
When we call ourselves Sikhs then why not be one. Every fruit is tastier in its ripe form. Unripe fruit never beckons. It has become a natural tendency that we forget our past as we move on in our lives. Our lives has become like concentric circles rather than a spiral. Isn't it possible that we proudly possess our heritage, culture as we move-on? We can be engineers, doctors, diplomats, executives; and with all these we can also be 'Puran Gursikh'.

The heritage that we are now possessing cannot be valued. It is a gift to us by our Gurus. It is a gift by those gurus who sacrificed their whole life, their families for us. This is gifted to us by that person who gave us the status of guru and addressed us by saying:

‘’khasla mero roop hai khaas" and "khalsa meri jaan ki jaan"

After the death of four Sahibzadez, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib wrote a letter of victory, 'Zafarnama' to Aurangzeb. In that letter he wrote:

"How does it matter if you have killed my four sons. My Khalsa is still there to challenge you".

"If you think you have done a great job by diminishing four candles; beware, the fire (Khalsa) is still there".

This was the kind of trust that our Tenth Master had on us. Aren't we becoming ungrateful and discourteous by turning our backs at him.

Justifying our sins on medical grounds is like ridiculing the sacrifices of Guru Arjun Dev Ji, Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, Baba Banda Bahadur, Bhai Taru Singh, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Dass, Bhai Dayal Dass, Bhai Subeg Singh Shahbaz Singh and many others whose number runs in millions.

Daily in our Ardas we remember those who proudly possessed 'Sikhi' with their ‘kesh’ intact till their last breath.

"sikhi kesan swasan naal nibhai"

Then in our Ardas we ask for the courage to possess these ‘kesh’:

"baksho; sikhaan nu sikhi dan, kesh daan."

After doing such an act will it be possible to attend the Ardas? Will it not be an act of hypocrisy?
Saying that these five 'Ks' have no value today is really an irresponsible act. We cannot be so ungrateful by viewing his gifts in a practical human utility. These are the gifts of love from our father. Can we value love? Is there any standard on which love can be measured? Is there any machine on which love can be weighed? No. Indeed love can be expressed. We can express our love by possessing these gifts. These five 'Ks' may have some significance in the past, but now these are a necessity. Do we throw a gift given by our beloved when it is not in use?

Mandeep, we should be proud to be a part of that religion which is an amalgamation of science, philosophy, psychology, theology and most importantly universal humanitarian principles. Our Ardas does not end unless we say "Good for all" ("sarbat da bhala")

The Scientific principles which were proved later had already been postulated by the Gurus:
About gaseous cloud before the Big Bang:

arbad narbad dhundookara ; dharan na gagna hukum apaara" (Guru Nanak Sahib ; pg. 1033, SGGS)

About other galaxies and planets:

paataala paataal lakh aagaasa aagaas" (Guru Nanak Sahib ; pg. 5, SGGS)

About the expansion of the Universe:

"kai baar pasreyo paasaar ; sada sada ik ikankaar" (Guru Arjun Dev Ji ; pg. 276, SGGS)

About the origin of life:

sache te pawna bhaya pavne te sach hoey ; jal te tribhavan sajeya ghat ghat jot samoe" (Guru Nanak Sahib ; pg. 19, SGGS)

An inevitable question now arises. Can't we be Sikhs from our heart? Why to show it externally? What we look from inside should be a reflection of our heart. If one is a true Sikh from inside, it will automatically be reflected from his outlook. If it is not; won’t it be an act of hypocrisy again? Didn't the younger Sahibzades have Internal Sikhi? What was the purpose of sacrificing their lives for these ‘keshas’?

This issue really needs attention. We can't ignore the past and ostracize the sacrifices made by thousands of individuals just for our own selfish interests.


Ripudaman Singh

The Lost Identity

Once I also had an opportunity to witness a scene which no one would expect and even like to see. A policeman looking like a Sikh, with the hair of his beard just allowed to come out of the roots, was puffing a ‘bidi’ inside the train. A sense of uneasiness wriggled into my body. After a few seconds some 5 to 6 sturdy, tall, uniformed Nihangs, decorated with traditional weapons, entered the compartment. The policeman hardly took any time to throw the half puffed ‘bidi’ out of the window. All the jawans of 'Guru Ki Fauj' settled beside him. All of them had long flowing beards with their moustaches touching their chins. I could see a sense of complex in his eyes.

He started pulling his, hardly seen, moustaches in a scope of proving something impossible. Maybe he was trying to find his lost identity!