400.The Man in Blue – Do we respect our sisters ?

This column follows up on last week’s column on the Sikh Awareness Society (SAS). Let’s first look at definitions.

A Sikh according to the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM) is someone who beliefs in The One, in the teachings of the Gurus/the Guru Granth Sahib and in the Khande di Pahul given to us by Tenth Guru. We are not Sikh girls, boys, men or women because we belong to the Sikh ‘tribe’, but because of our beliefs and practices.

A girl according to the dictionary is a ‘female child’. The issue here is not about children, but about young women of Sikh background.

Sikhs (as defined by the SRM) should be the servants of all, and extend their care to all people of whatever background who live and work in Southall and surroundings without having the required visas. Because of where most of us come from we can speak and understand the languages of those that come from the subcontinent, which makes it practical to mainly work with them.

But let us not denigrate young women by calling them girls and let’s recognise that all, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, faith, nationality have a right to make their own mistakes.

If a ‘Sikh’ woman wants to have a relation with somebody from a different community it is none of our business. If a woman, regardless of her background, works as a prostitute we can offer help, but we have no right to force her into anything.

If ‘Sikhs’ and others, male or female, are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling we should offer help (Guru has the perfect cure !), but if addicts are not committed to change even Guru can’t help.

Sikh parents should show by example how blissful it is to be with God, how God gives us strength and happiness. But when adult children decide to follow a different path, even Guru Nanak had to let his sons live according to their own lights.

We do not own our family; we do not own our daughters, sisters, wives. Respect means that if they do things that we think are wrong, we can talk to them in a loving manner, but if they insist we have to accept it.

Real Sikh young women can, with the help of God, look after themselves. Real Singhanís and Singhs will make mistakes, and should be given all help and comfort when they realise that they did make wrong choices. Bad people have power over our ‘Sikh’ women because they rightly belief that after making bad mistakes they cannot go back to their family, their friends and their Gurdwara. Shame on us for this lack of compassion, shame on us for our lack of true respect for our sisters ! 

Published in: on December 27, 2009 at 7:54 am  Comments (1)  
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399.The Man in Blue – The Sikh Awareness Society

I met some SAS activists at the Havelock Road Singh Sabha in Southall. The activists were handing out leaflets outside the Gurdwara. I refused to accept one of their leaflets in a rather unfriendly manner, which put our conversation on the wrong footing from the start.

I have seen SAS activists in the company of people who are well known to support violence against people who disagree with them and I suspect that SAS members have been involved in such violence, but I cannot prove it.

But even if I am wrong about possible involvement of SAS activists in violent attacks, I still have some very strong reservations about the notions that SAS men/boys have about ‘Sikh girls’ and Muslim men.

Two issues were mentioned during our ‘debate’ outside the Gurdwara. The first one is that ‘illegal’ Sikh girls work as prostitutes for Muslim pimps, the second that Sikh men/boys have to escort their Sikh sisters to protect them against Muslim men/boys.

I do not know anything about prostitutes and pimps in Southall but I am not at all surprised to hear that women arriving in this country without the required visa end up as prostitutes. These are not Sikh women, but they might be of Sikh background.

A true Sikh might be an ‘illegal’ in time of war, persecution or uprising, but most people arriving here these days are just looking for a better life. This is of course legitimate, but trying to settle in a country in a dishonest manner, cannot be justified for a Sikh when you are not a refugee.

I think that the UK and EU immigration laws are trying to prevent globalisation of people movement, while promoting globalisation of goods, which makes no sense at all, and will not work. But if you settle somewhere illegally, it will make you vulnerable to exploitation by employers, and you risk ending up making a living in a thoroughly illegal manner.

This does not mean that we should not offer support to young women of whatever background who get trapped in prostitution. But remember that while nobody should be pressurised into prostitution, equally we cannot force anybody to leave the ‘profession’.

The statement that Sikh girls/young women in Southall need to be escorted begs the question whether we have brought up a generation of young women who are incapable to look after themselves. The young Sikh women I know are usually more clued up and more committed to Guru’s teachings than young Sikh men. Is this an example of Sikh men not respecting their sisters ? In the next column I will explore this issue further.

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 8:03 am  Comments (2)  
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398.The Man in Blue – Ashutosh Maharaj, Sant Rama Nand, Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh

With great sadness have I heard about the Sikhs in Panjab being involved in yet another row with a bogus ‘God-man’. It shows that the Sikhs are part of the problems of Panjab, and not part of the solution.

The worst of it is that many think that this is the Guru’s way, that getting into fights with followers of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, Sant Rama Nand or of Ashutosh Maharaj is similar to Guru’s struggle for freedom against the Mughal authorities of his day.

Why do Sikhs get excited when some idiot says that he is the incarnation of Guru Gobind Singh and/or Jesus Christ ? Why not concentrate on teaching Sikhí to the Sikhs and to all others who are interested ? Why not teach that we should follow ‘The One’ and our ‘Eternal Guru’, the Guru Granth Sahib ?

Why do we not break our links with the self appointed holy men of the ‘sant samaj’ ? Why do we not formulate a policy that will finally implement a practical model of ‘Guru Granth – Guru Panth’ ? Why do we not abolish the present rule by politicians, pradhans, jathedars and babe ?

Why do we not explain to the world-wide panth that Guru never waged war on dodgy god-men and that Guru would condemn useless practices anywhere ? Guru would condemn our present rituals and rules that are neither based on the Guru Granth Sahib nor on the Sikh Rehat Maryada.

Why do we not explain that the Guru Granth Sahib says that ultimately the test is whether a person has Godly behaviour, and that running amok in the streets of Panjab, forcing shops to close like a bunch of hooligans is neither Godly nor Sikhí behaviour.

Of course the Panjab Police was totally out of order firing on the demonstration, even in India there is no death penalty on being in a demo. But I do not understand why the people killed are called shahíds.

Was the demonstration about protecting the oppressed ? Were the demonstrators fighting against injustice ? The answer to both questions is no. Being killed, even being killed unjustly, does not make you a shahíd. This is what ‘Baba Dhumma’ had to say : “We are against Ashutosh as his followers popularise him as a reincarnation of Guru Nanak Dev, Lord Rama and Jesus Christ. We cannot buy this.”

Well ‘Baba Dhumma’, you do not have to buy this, nobody is forced to follow any of these idiotic sant-babas. The fact that so many people, Sikh and Hindu, follow these idiotic ‘religious leaders’ shows you the poor state of both the Sikh and the Hindu dharm in Panjab.

397.The Man in Blue – Inspiration or Dictation

I have started to do katha in English on every last Friday of the month in the Hounslow Singh Sabha. This is aimed at younger members of the sangat but everybody is welcome.

During my first session I spoke about the definition of a Sikh as found in the Sikh Rehat Maryada, on the 27th of November I started talking about Rahras, beginning with So Dar.

During this katha session I told the sangat that the So Dar appears three times in the Guru Granth, first as pauri 27 of Japji Sahib (pana 6), then as the opening verse of Rahras (pana 8) and finally under Rág Asá (pana 347).

The version in Japji Sahib is slightly different from the one found in Rahras and Rág Asá. The main differences are that Japji Sahib is not in rág and that   ‘tudhno’ appears as ‘tuhno’. I think that the slightly different words give a better rhythm to the text and make it easier to sing.

Rahras is a compilation of sabads that all can also be found under their own rágs (Asá and Gujri). It includes 5th Guru’s sabads which makes it likely that the Rahras was compiled by him when Guru Arjan compiled the Ádi Granth.

It is possible that Guru Nanak wrote two versions of the So Dar, or that it was Guru Arjan who made the changes. The important thing to keep in mind is that whoever made the changes did not in any way change the meaning.

This is where a Singh who daily does seva in the Gurdwara took exception, and although I did initially not understand his objections, I now worked out what is issue was.

This Singh thinks that the Guru Granth Sahib has come about by divine dictation, the Guru’s mouth spoke God’s words, the Guru’s hand wrote God’s words. And I agree, based on my understanding of the Guru Granth.

But I think that God dictated meanings, not the actual words. Guru writes about humans not being able to describe God. He writes that even if we had hundreds of thousands of lives and all the paper, all the pens in the world, we still would not be able to describe God.

In other passages in the Guru Granth Sahib, Guru (the collective of all authors of the Guru Granth), describes the same using different images, different words. The ideas are from God, and were absorbed by our Gurus and Bhagats whose minds and souls were very close to God. From these wonderful human beings blessed by God, come creative images to make us understand God’s message. Our ultimate Guru is God and God is in the writings of the Bhagats and the Sikh Gurus, in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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