At the very end of the Ardás we find this wonderful phrase ‘Sarbat da Bhala’, usually translated as ‘welfare for all’.
The aim of every Sikh, should be to be the servant of all, regardless of caste, faith, ethnicity, gender or any other human category. Sikhs should go beyond giving handouts, Sikhs should help people in need to look after themselves. We should come up for the rights of victims of discrimination or persecution and we should fight against injustice.
All the Gurus followed this way of life, culminating in Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificing his life to protect the pandits of Kashmir, and Guru Gobind Singh’s struggle with the Mughals and the Hilly Rajas for the rights of all to follow the religion of their choice.
The Guru campaigned against purdah (hiding women from men behind the purdah=curtain) and sati (cremation of widows with their deceased husbands), the Guru asked the emperor to lower land taxes for farmers during a period of bad harvests, the Guru made everybody eat together in the langar to demonstrate the oneness of humanity, and included low caste Bhakti Bhagats in the Guru Granth Sahib because of their brilliant spiritual poetry and to demonstrate the equality of all.
One of the reasons why I am not quite happy with the present Ardás is that there is so much text on our history, our institutions, and that only at the very end we pay attention to what Guru said was the main business of the Khalsa, the welfare of all, in what is admittedly a powerful one-liner.
I live in Southall, and feel mostly very comfortable here. But I am not here because I am hiding from the non-Sikh world outside. I hope that as long as my mind and body will sustain me, I will go out into the wider society and be an ambassador for Sikhs and Sikhí and a servant to all.
This is not always easy, there is lot of ignorance and prejudice out there. But Guru does not mean our life to be easy. Living in Amritsar and spending most of my time in or around Harmander Sahib and other Gurdwaré, it was easy to concentrate on things spiritual. When I moved to Chandigarh it became more difficult. Here in the UK, where most people, including most Sikhs, firmly worship Maya and my lifestyle is seen as eccentric, you are under even more pressure to conform to this Maya worship.
I live a simple life, and am very blessed earning about £ 1000 (before tax) a month doing work which contributes to better understanding between people of different ethnic and faith backgrounds. I am no spiritual genius, but I try to make a contribution to make society a better place for all. We should all make a contribution, just being law-abiding is not good enough.