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I am Sikh – so what ? September 7, 2013

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 I am Sikh – so what ?

I know this comes out little too aggressive and it’s meant to be . because that’s the mood  I am in ..

I am underwhelmed with the media and what’s being said after Wisconsin shootings. I was shocked and felt how stupid media can be for labeling this act of crime as “mistaken identity” rather than calling it as “domestic terrorism”. Thanks to Valerie Kaur for being first one to raise this concern via her article “Let’s retire mistaken identity“.

And now 2 weeks later when we are still coming out of shock and getting back  to normal routine I am surprised all the awareness programs being created around states to spread information about Sikhs. Though I am proud to know that Sikhs are on lime light finally and people are getting to know us but it makes me think what about other minorities? Do we really need to go and teach people “Don’t kill me because I am so and so, and my values resonate with American values” . There are all sort of articles being written on how Sikh values are same like American values and how we all are Sikhs (students) but I beg to differ and ask “Really ? Are we ?”

I am not against people learning about each others’ faith, little bit of education never harms but I would like to see more talks about humanity going along with it. Wadge Page didn’t just kill people because they were Sikh, he killed them because these innocent lives were different to him and somewhere he was raised with hate against OTHERS. He would have walked down a mosque, a temple or any other worship place and killed anyone who didn’t look White.

It’s hard for me to comprehend what one must feel to get to the level and become ignorant enough to kill another human being. And to me teaching you about my Faith in order for me to make you feel at home and not be afraid of me is stupid. I rather see people teaching their kids about Humanity and how each life is important no matter what faith they choose. This will do better in making sure there are no Wade pages who grew up in hatred and feel threat towards “Others”.

If I have to teach you – I rather have you learn Humanity

If I have to teach you – I rather have you know Love

If I have to teach you – I rather have you know compassion

I can teach you about Sikhi and how Sikh values relate to American values but I rather you learn some humanity and respect humanity to make sure tomorrow we don’t have to about  faith to anyone’s faith to accept them.

Just my view..

 

Beliefs – don’t let them CLOSE you !!

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 3:44 pm
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ImageFew years ago I was traveling on a short flight to LA and picked up a conversation with a man, probably in late 50s sitting in seat next to me. He was probably curious about my faith and we began to share our beliefs and talk about religion.

As we were talking I remember telling him that in Sikhi we believe God is everywhere and in everything .. even in You and Me – God is within US. As I finished my sentence and looked at him, I could see discomfort in his eyes.  He said he doesn’t believe God is in us and then mumbled  a bit .  Then he said “It’s probably sin to think like that” and then he went silent.

Few minutes later he got up, picked his stuff and went back. And I realized he changed his seat because he couldn’t handle my views and probably thought it was even sin to hear it.

It was weird for me too but I guess that’s how strong beliefs can be…  Once you believe in something with total faith – you shut your eyes/ears to everything against it.  i just hope I always have strength to hear and eyes to try seeing things from other people’s view, even when I don’t believe in them..

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This can’t be my Waheguru !! December 18, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 3:12 pm

Before I write what I want to write, I want to put a disclaimer that I am not an expert, scholar or researcher on the subject. This writeup is purely out of my life experiences, learning and beliefs I have grown up with. I can be right or wrong and honestly I am not bothered. I am just going to express something I strongly feel about.

There has been quite a few times that I have been into discussions with friends over the topic like “Is there something like destiny?”, “Is our fate already written?” and more often than normal group has agreed or semi-agreed that our fate was already written before we were born.  I somehow was never convinced either way (whether it was already written or we control it).  And this question has always been on mind. I have tried to find logical explanation, tried to find the answer from Gurbani ( you have to understand that my knowledge in Gurbani is limited) but there was never something more convincing than the recent events.  Be it event of shooting at Wisconsin temple or shootings at Sandyhook or more tragic gang rape in Delhi (capital of India). When I look at these events, it makes me wonder how can someone go to that level of hate where one not only kills the people he doesn’t know but he also kills himself.  That is really deep for me to understand. But what I can make out of all these events is that my Waheguru (your God, Allah, Jesus -whatever name you give) can’t plan/write something like this for anyone. I used to say “I am not the DOER – HE is the doer, God has already planned it, God is the force behind everything” . but not anymore. I can’t worship, pray someone who can write put this as destined plan for anyone. One may argue with me that Life, Death, Good and bad its all in our mind – but I won’t go there. All I know is the ONE upon whom I put my faith is neither the planner nor the doer of such horrific acts. We have to resolve and accept these actions are our own doings. We can’t just play the game of whatever good I do it and whatever bad blame it on God.

I feel sad for the victims, may Waheguru provide them strength to deal with the brutal realities of life.

 

 

Saanjh – an Experience !! March 1, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 1:07 pm

This post has been probably long due as it’s been over 6 months now that I went to Saanjh 2011 retreat. But what if I said memories are still fresh and beautiful in my mind and I am still reaping from the seeds that were sowed during the event.

I went to the retreat with intention to learn Gurbani and connect more with Guru. Before I go further with the experience I have to admit that this was second time I registered for the retreat. Though I cancelled my 2010 registration because I didn’t have courage to go alone and I was probably not ready. However 2011 was a big year that brought huge changes in my life and yes I did finally go to the retreat. If you ask me what made me go, simple answer – I was ready and looking to learn and connect with the Guru.

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Retreat took place in beautiful woods around Santa Cruz (CA) where huge trees welcomed you into fresh, chilly and sensational nature. On arriving there was warm welcome by the volunteers. As I interacted with the people I realized Saanjh wasn’t just about the organizer but about the people who attend it.  It was Saanjh where for the first time ever I actually tried to understand and make meaning out of Gurbani. It was amazing to hear the different views and perspectives on the same shabad[s]. I was amazed to experience how multi-dimensional Gurbani is and how each individual develops his/her own relationship with the Guru.  Apart from the knowledge of Gurbani, listening to amazing experiences, learning history, rang manch/games the most beautiful part were the morning and evening diwan.  It was blessing to be able to get up in morning and not only do collective banis with Sangat but listen to amazing kirtan and all that sitting in a glass hall, right in middle of woods. It’s an experience that can’t be described in words, it’s something to experience.

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To end I will say only this, I went alone but when I came back – not only I had better understanding of Gurbani, our History and current affairs of Punjab but I actually came back with a Saanjh family – beautiful memories, beautiful people and beautiful Sangat.  As I planned to move back to India, only thing that I knew I was definitely going to miss and didn’t want is the sangat and beautiful people I met during Saanjh.  I may miss the Saanjh events but the “Saanjh” I was able to develop with the sangat and the Guru, it’s going to go on with me forever. That’s what Saanjh is about…

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Here is a short clip on some of the moments from Saanjh 2011 – enjoy :-)

http://vimeo.com/29033359

 

 

An act of cleaning or An act of disbelief February 16, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 6:53 am
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Few months ago I came across a video that was going viral on internet. I saw countless number of people post the same video on their Facebook and I believe countless people admired it too.  A lot of people felt “Wow” watching the video and may be few like me just didn’t like it. The video was unseen footage of Harmandir Sahib and it showed the cleaning process of the diwan(main) hall. This is the cleaning process that is said to be followed every morning. Since it was “unseen footage” I was really curious to see it. But when I saw the video I ended up questioning the process and I couldn’t believe it was happening. Basically part of the process is to clean the hall with Milk. Buckets and buckets full of milk are thrown onto the floor of hall for cleaning all in the name of purity and then floor is cleaned again with water. Thereby making floor pure and holly. The pity is that in a world where so many people die of hunger everyday, there are buckets and buckets of milk drained in the name of holiness, cleanliness and faith. As I watched the video I felt like as if we haven’t really learned to live our Guru’s teachings. As uncomfortable and displeased I was watching the video, I didn’t know what to do about it.

Obviously the reason I wrote this blog is that somewhere I still hope that one day this will change. The least I can do is at least share and try to bring awareness among us. I beg to remind us that Guru taught us against blind faith and myths and if we still continue to perform such acts then are we really obeying our Guru? It’s like we worship, we listen and do all the other nine hundred and ninety nine things but we forget the most important thing, that is acting on it.

I will end this blog with a Shabad by Bhagat Ravidas Ji, where He talks about the various methods that were being used to clean and please God during those times. Let’s introspect if we are caught up in such acts even today or did we really learn to listen and practice what our Guru taught? I do want to thank Sarabjit Singh Dhunda (gem of a Sikh preacher) for enlightening with this Shabad in his katha and guiding us Guru’s way:

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Bhagat Ravidas – Ang 525

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ਗੂਜਰੀ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਕੇ ਪਦੇ ਘਰੁ ੩
Gūjrī sarī Raviḏās jī ke paḏe gẖar 3
Goojaree, Padas Of Ravi Daas Jee, Third House:

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik▫oaʼnkār saṯgur parsāḏ.
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

ਦੂਧੁ ਤ ਬਛਰੈ ਥਨਹੁ ਬਿਟਾਰਿਓ ॥
Ḏūḏẖ ṯa bacẖẖrai thanhu bitāri▫o.
The calf has contaminated the milk in the teats.

ਫੂਲੁ ਭਵਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਮੀਨਿ ਬਿਗਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥
Fūl bẖavar jal mīn bigāri▫o. ||1||
The bumble bee has contaminated the flower, and the fish the water. ||1||

ਮਾਈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਹਾ ਲੈ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥
Mā▫ī gobinḏ pūjā kahā lai cẖarāva▫o.
O mother, where shall I find any offering for the Lord’s worship?

ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਫੂਲੁ ਅਨੂਪੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Avar na fūl anūp na pāva▫o. ||1|| rahā▫o.
I cannot find any other flowers worthy of the incomparable Lord. ||1||Pause||

ਮੈਲਾਗਰ ਬੇਰ੍ਹੇ ਹੈ ਭੁਇਅੰਗਾ ॥
Mailāgar berĥe hai bẖu▫i▫angā.
The snakes encircle the sandalwood trees.

ਬਿਖੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਬਸਹਿ ਇਕ ਸੰਗਾ ॥੨॥
Bikẖ amriṯ basėh ik sangā. ||2||
Poison and nectar dwell there together. ||2||

ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਹਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥
Ḏẖūp ḏīp na▫ībeḏėh bāsā.
Even with incense, lamps, offerings of food and fragrant flowers,

ਕੈਸੇ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਹਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਦਾਸਾ ॥੩॥
Kaise pūj karahi ṯerī ḏāsā. ||3||
how are Your slaves to worship You? ||3||

ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ ਪੂਜ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥
Ŧan man arpa▫o pūj cẖarāva▫o.
I dedicate and offer my body and mind to You.

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੪॥
Gur parsāḏ niranjan pāva▫o. ||4||
By Guru’s Grace, I attain the immaculate Lord. ||4|

ਪੂਜਾ ਅਰਚਾ ਆਹਿ ਨ ਤੋਰੀ ॥
Pūjā arcẖā āhi na ṯorī.
I cannot worship You, nor offer You flowers.

ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਕਵਨ ਗਤਿ ਮੋਰੀ ॥੫॥੧॥
Kahi Raviḏās kavan gaṯ morī. ||5||1||
Says Ravi Daas, what shall my condition be hereafter? ||5||1||

 

Puta Mata Ki Asees December 12, 2011

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 1:03 am

This post comes out of a beautiful moment from last year around this time. On my birthday we had Sukhmani Sahib Paath and Keertan session at my home  to Thank Waheguru for all the blessings and life. Though you don’t need any special day or moment to be Thankful but I guess one’s birthday is another reason to be thankful. During the Keertan time I over heard my Mother requesting Kirtan Jatha to sing “Puta Mata Ki Asees” Shabad.  At that moment I didn’t remember the Shabad and neither did the Jatha so they sang some other shabad and day went on. Few weeks later when my Mom had already left for India, I somehow remembered how she wanted to listen to this Shabad and so I kind of ended up playing the Shabad and listening to it. As I listened to Shabad and later read the meaning, I just left me in a complete “Awe” and a moment full of Love. I was so touched by the meanings, purity and the history behind the Shabad. When Guru Arjan before He became Guru  was asked by His father Guru Ramdas Ji to go and attend to a wedding at a far away place and to teach Sangat, Guru Arjan Ji was filled with great pain of separation and His mother gave Him this blessings. It was really beautiful to know my Mom wished the same blessings for me. Just reading the following lines I was in state of pure bliss:

O son, this is your mother’s hope and prayer,
that you may never forget the Lord, Har, Har, even for an instant.
May you ever vibrate upon the Lord of the Universe. ||1||Pause||

Anyways without saying anything further I just want to share the Shabad and you would know why it was so special to know the meaning ..

You can listen to the shabad by Chardikala Jatha at following link:

http://www.sikhnet.com/audio/puta-mata-ki-asis

 

O Nanak where have your Sikhs gone ? November 8, 2011

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 4:55 pm

Every now and then when I meet a fellow Sikh person for first time, I get asked “What’s your caste?” and most of the times person asking happens to be our older generation.  I have always felt unpleasant talking about it.  As a kid, I didn’t like discussing castes because I feared that kids will make fun of my caste as the name sounded funny. But as a grown up man, I find this question more disturbing.  More than 500 years ago Guru Nanak Dev Ji started the fight against discrimination, caste-system and gave us the concept of  “EK ONKAR”  meaning “ONE GOD”.  And over 300 Years ago Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave us title of Singhs and Kaurs. But today we are proudly known as  Rajputs, Jatts, Ramgarhia, Labana, Ramdasia, Khatri, etc. etc. and then we add a subtle suffix “Sikh” at the end to make it as “Jatt Sikh”,  etc. It almost seems like an oxymoron to me. Because first part denotes “division” while second part is supposed to be the one who believes in ONE. Our Gurus didn’t believe in inequality or division. They believed in ONE and they only taught us ONE. I may not know a lot about Sikhi and still learning but this is one thing I really know and believe that Guru Nanak Ji was against any kind of discrimination and division and He believed in equality in all aspects.

As I started search for my spouse questions like “What is your caste/sub-caste?” started to come my way more often (I will refer to these questions as “the question” here on). My response back in days to the question used to be “I am Khatri”. The interesting thing is that even though all my life I have grown up listening to  “Ek Onkar” but in very subtle, unaware mind I became the part of the problem by identifying me as Khatri. Thanks to the rejections that came my way due to my so-called caste that made me sick listening to the question and whole caste differentiation. I used to ask these questions in my mind “O Nanak where have your Sikhs gone? How can we call ourselves Sikhs, if we still practice casteism”. But the funny thing is that even at that time I was not looking at myself, I was rather pointing fingers and blaming people for practicing caste system and not adhering to the basic principle taught by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. And as it always happens,  one day it dawned upon me that even though I don’t like whole caste system and I don’t practice it but I was part of it – the minute I said “I am Khatri”.  The minute I identify myself as any other Sikh, I falsify my Sikhi.  So with this realization my answers changed as did the outlook towards the question. I have tried answering to the caste question as “I don’t believe in caste system” but I guess it didn’t feel like much of impact.  Recently I have started to say “My caste is same like Guru Nanak Dev Ji” – go figure and if nothing else it makes me giggle inside for throwing this puzzle back at the people.

As I finish this blog I just hope that WaheGuru gives us enough wisdom and awareness that we can come out of these little differences and follow the path of Guru – away from discrimination and caste system. 

 

 
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