361.Nám

Cháchrí Chhand Tav Prasád

GubindéMukandé Udáré Apáré (94)

Haríang Karíang Nirnámé Akámé (95)

 

Many Sikhs think that they are the followers of a God called Vahiguru. In reality our eternal Guru teaches that God has no name and that the many names of God are given by humans who speak different languages and who are of different faith and cultural traditions.

 

The God of the Jews (Jhvh) is the same as the God called Allah by the Muslims, or by the 99 names of God discussed in Al Qur’an. The names of God mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib, in the Hindu tradition or in any other religion or language are all names for The One.

 

In the Guru Granth Sahib God is often called Har or Rám but also Aláh and every possible other name you can think of from the South Asian tradition. God, Aláh and Jehovah (or Yahweh) are generic words for God without a specific meaning. In our tradition, in the tradition of the Guru Granth, most of the ‘Names’ used are descriptions of aspects of God.

 

Vahiguru is the Wonderful Bringer of Light into Darkness, Har the One who makes things bloom, and if we look at verse 94 and 95 of Jáp Sahib (see above) Gubindé is the World Nourisher, Mukandé the Liberator, Udáré the Biggest Giver, Apáré the Limitless One, Haríang the Destroyer, Karíang the Creator, Nirnámé the One without Name, Akámé the One without Lust.

 

All these are names for God, all are valid and all try to describe God.

 

Nám as in Nám Simran is what confuses especially many AKJ followers most. As the Jáp Sahib says, God is Nirnámé, without a name, so what is it that we are meditating on ?

 

As a theological concept Nám is similar to the ancient Greek concept of ‘Word’ (Logos) which is also used in the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible and by the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza who calls it ‘Substance’. What I think it stands for is the essence of God, or possibly all the qualities of God put together.

 

And that links it to the sort of Nám that you find in the ‘Gurmantr’, the ‘Mulmantr’ or in Jáp Sahib. All these manmade Names trying to describe aspects of God, qualities (guné) of God, put together might just get near the essence of God.

 

That makes Nám simran the thinking about aspects of God, and through the simran understanding the multi-faceted and indescribable nature of God, understanding that God is the cause of all and present in all. 

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Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 9:31 am  Comments (1)  
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360.The Man in Blue – Yatra to the West Midlands II

Walsall, Lozells, Sparkbrook, Small Heath, Highgate and Balsall Heath

On the second day of my yatra I got up later than normal as I got to bed later than normal too. But although I was up later than some, I was up earlier than most. After breakfast I walked to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara on West Bromwich Street, where I liked the new building and liked listening to the Akhand Path, but was shocked to find a table and chairs langar.

 

After that I was met by the nephew of my friend and we went to the Nanaksar Gurdwara in Pleck. This is the only Walsall Gurdwara that I visited before. Since my first visit it has acquired an impressive new entry although mostly the sangat uses the old entry. Here the Akhand Path had progressed a bit more and we listened to the bhog.

 

I got a lift to Wheeler Street in Lozells, paid a quick visit to the divan of the  Dasmesh Sikh Temple, took pictures of it, the Panjabi school and the Prajapati Sabha. Does anybody have more info about this community ?

 

I walked from there to Constitution Hill where I got a bus to Digbeth and from Digbeth a bus to Stratford Road and Showell Green Lane. Sangat was still in the dismal divan and langar at the back of the old building but the new Gurdwara on Stratford Road seems to be almost finished.

 

I part walked and part bussed from there to Small Heath where I soon discovered the third Ramgarhia Gurdwara of my two day yatra, housed in an old church and right behind the Central Jamia Masjid. As I was running out of time I just had enough time to take pictures of the Gurdwara, the community hall and the neighbouring Masjid and to take a bus to Moseley Road.

 

I first walked north to see the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Bhatra Singh Sabha in High Gate. From there a frequent bus took me south down Moseley Road to Balsall Heath and the two last Gurdwaré on my list for the day.

 

I first walked (carefully due to snow and ice) to the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara Mary Street, where I was just in time for ardás but too early for langar. I took pictures inside and outside and walked (carefully) back to Moseley Street to photograph the last Gurdwara of the day.

 

Guru Ram Das Singh Sabha is in a converted private house. I have no further information about this Gurdwara, does it serve a particular community ?  

 

Many of the pictures of this trip are already on my blog, and pictures of all the Gurdwaré visited will appear on my Flicker account from the 1st of March. If you have any additional information on Gurdwaré mentioned or not mentioned, please contact me !  

Please click on the link underneath
to visit my Flickr account
for more Gurdwara pictures

http://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/3115632920/in/set-72157611278213681/

359.The Man in Blue – A Yatra to the West Midlands I

On my blog you can see some of the pictures that I took during my trip to the West Midlands on February 7 & 8. I took pictures of 14 Gurdwaré and also some of the Wolverhampton tram. Together with those I made when I was working for the Sikh Times I have now pictures of all but 5 of the West Midlands (excluding Coventry) Gurdwaré.

I went from Marylebone Station to Snow Hill in Birmingham by Chiltern Railways, which takes about 2½ hours and cost me only £ 5.00 ! From Snow Hill I took the Wolverhampton tram to Smethwick and a local bus from there to Walsall. I stayed too long with my friends (we enjoyed talking to each other) and got to Wolverhampton later than planned.

 

I first went to the Ramgarhia Sabha in Newhampton Road East (next to the Wolverhampton Wanderers Stadium) and the Ramgarhia Board and Temple in Westbury Street. Do not ask me why there is a need to have two Ramgarhia ‘Temples’ so close to each other, do not ask me why we have these caste based Gurdwaré, they are there and I took pictures.

 

I decided to leave the Cannock Road Gurdwara for my next visit, as it is well outside central Wolverhampton. So off to Upper Villiers Street taking a bus that dropped me just outside the Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara. It was amazing to see how many people attended on a Saturday afternoon, just around the corner from one of the biggest Gurdwaré in the UK.

 

The Guru Nanak Sikh ‘Temple’ in Sedgley Street is not a massive building like the new Singh Sabha in Southall, but I think that the total floor space in the Sedgley Road Gurdwara is bigger. Here no money has been wasted on costly building material, it is mostly ordinary bricks and mortar.

 

My final call in Wolverhampton was the Guru Nanak Gurdwara on the Lea Road. This is a house converted to a Gurdwara, with a grumpy young man on the ground floor reading a Panjabi Newspaper and upstairs a nice looking older man reading from the Guru Granth Sahib. I bet their Akhand Paths are a bargain compared with what the big Gurdwaré charge.

 

From Lea Road I took a bus to the Wolverhampton Bus Station, from where I took a bus to Walsall. I got off in Willenhall to take some pictures of the Guru Nanak Parkash Gurdwara, designed by the same architect that designed the Guru Nanak Gurdwara on the West Bromwich Road in Walsall. 

 

Although I did not enter all the Gurdwaré I saw, my yatra was very enjoyable. You get a feeling of what happens in Sikh communities when you visit the areas where the Sikhs live and where the Gurdwaré are. By the way, I saw many open beards in Wolverhampton and Walsall.

Click on the link to see my collection of Gurdware pictures !

http://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/3114814579/in/set-72157611278213681/

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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358.The Man in Blue – Sanskrit is not the Mother of all Languages

This is not a scientific linguistic paper; I am just trying to contradict the false claims by the Hindutva walas and other Indian ultra nationalists. 

Once upon a time there lived a group of people somewhere on the southern end of the Ural, who spoke something that we shall call proto-Indo-Germanic. Some of these people started moving to the east and other started moving west. Wherever they settled in sufficient numbers, they and the original population of the area ended up speaking some kind of mix between proto-Indo-Germanic and the local lingo.    

 

This movement of peoples was not a linear event of groups moving at a steady pace and all the time. One generation might move a hundred miles and then settle. Some of these settlers might take up sticks again in the next generation, the generation after that or the one after that.

 

If these people were hunter-gatherers or cattle herding nomads, they might be on the move most of the time, moving to and from areas with good grazing, good overwintering etc, and if this was not available locally they would move more to the west or more to the east.

 

Do you get the picture ? In this way those that went west ended up in Europe, as far as Ireland and Iceland, and eventually substantial numbers also settled in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand and Southern Africa, enough to be either in the majority or to be the ruling class.

 

This article concentrates on the groups that ended up on the South Asian sub-continent. Most of the people that they met upon arrival were probably Dravidians who earlier had reached a high pinnacle of civilization in places like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, but whose culture was past its prime. The vigorous cattle herding Indo-Germanics might have been less ‘civilised’, but they conquered the Dravidian states.

 

The Indo-Germanic languages, based on Sanskrit or whatever it was that proto-Indo-Germanic had evolved into by that time, still dominate the north of the sub-continent, while in the south Dravidian languages are spoken.

 

These ‘relatives’ of the Dravidian language(s) of thousands of years ago of the north west of India have been influenced by Indo-Germanic languages.

The modern sub-continental languages of the north of India like Hindi, Panjabi or Gujarati have been influenced by the ‘Dravidian’ languages.

 

Summing up : Sanskrit is an ancient language, but it is not the mother of all languages. Dravidian languages, most languages spoken in China or South East Asia, the Amerinder languages, the Basque language all are most definitely not off-shoots of Sanskrit or of any other Indo-Germanic language.  

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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