469.The Man in Blue – Why do I wear Guru’s uniform ?

A remark made as part of the discussion about the ‘sabat surat’ shabad was : if what you say is true why do we have to wear the turban and the 5 K’s ?

The answer is very simple : Because 10th Guru asked us, and those of us who love Guru cannot refuse him.

I cannot remember the full wording but Guru also said something about looking different and being or behaving differently. In other words, Guru’s uniform is connected with different, better behaviour. This is also relates to Guru’s saying that he would serve the Khalsa that serves all.

For me the turban and the 5 Ks are a constant reminder that I have committed myself to the Sikh way of life. I do not wear my blue chola because I think myself better than others, but because I want to be seen as part of Guru’s army. I try very hard to stick to Guru’s narrow road, but obviously I do make (too many) mistakes.

As a Khalsa I have to be always ready to help others, therefore it makes sense to wear a uniform : people can see that I am a Sikh, a Khalsa, and should know that they can come to me for help.

Can I just repeat with Guru Gobind Singh : the Khalsa is there to serve all. We are not a Sikh self-defence organisation, or as many Hindus believe, an organisation with the sole aim to defend the Hindus against the ‘evil’ Muslims.

There is another aspect to this : I have written before about the young man who told me that it was so difficult to grow your hair. He expressed himself badly, as on the surface this statement makes no sense. Our hair grows without any assistance from us, it is more effort to keep it short than to let it grow.

But I do understand what he meant, it is difficult to have long hair where most people have short hair. But if we cannot go against the cultural bias against uncut/unshaven hair, how will we have the courage to behave in the Khalsa way, which is a far bigger challenge.

Wherever we are on the path to God, whether we are ‘mona’, ‘keshdharis’ or ‘amritdharis‘, whether we are following this or that spiritual path, we all face the challenge of not being ruled by maya, not be ruled by the five ‘thieves’ and to be a force for the good. Like the Buddha who told his followers to replace bad and useless thoughts by good ones, which then leads to better behaviour.

We must always remember that the Guru did not say : ‘wear the 5 Ks and the turban’. Guru asked his Sikhs to ‘offer their head and wear the 5 Ks’. Outward signs do not make you a better person, outward signs are only meaningful if they go together with the Sikh, the Khalsa way of life. Please fellow Sikhs, practise humility and do not think that we are better because of the way we look.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 7:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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468.The Man in Blue – Maru M 5, Guru Granth Sahib P 1083/84

O slave of the inaccessible Lord God Allah, forsake thoughts of worldly entanglements. Become the dust of the feet of the humble fakeers, and consider yourself a traveller on this journey. O saintly dervish, you shall be approved in the Court of the Lord ||1|| Let Truth be your prayer, and faith your prayer-mat. Subdue your desires, and overcome your hopes. Let your body be the mosque, and your mind the priest. Let true purity be God’s Word for you ||2|| Let your practice be to live the spiritual life. Let your spiritual cleansing be to renounce the world and seek God. Let control of the mind be your spiritual wisdom, O holy man; meeting with God, you shall never die again ||3|| Practice within your heart the teachings of the Koran and the Bible; restrain the ten sensory organs from straying into evil. Tie up the five demons of desire with faith, charity and contentment, and you shall be acceptable ||4|| Let compassion be your Mecca, and the dust of the feet of the holy your fast. Let Paradise be your practice of the Prophet’s Word. God is the beauty, the light and the fragrance. Meditation on Allah is the secluded meditation chamber ||5|| He alone is a Qazi, who practices the Truth. He alone is a Haji, a pilgrim to Mecca, who purifies his heart. He alone is a Mullah, who banishes evil; he alone is a saintly dervish, who takes the Support of the Lord’s Praise ||6|| Always, at every moment, remember God, the Creator within your heart. Let your meditation beads be the subjugation of the ten senses. Let good conduct and self-restraint be your circumcision ||7|| You must know in your heart that everything is temporary. Family, household and siblings are all entanglements. Kings, rulers and nobles are mortal and transitory; only God’s Gate is the permanent place ||8|| First, is the Lord’s Praise; second, contentment; third, humility, and fourth, giving to charities. Fifth is to hold one’s desires in restraint. These are the five most sublime daily prayers ||9|| Let your daily worship be the knowledge that God is everywhere. Let renunciation of evil actions be the water-jug you carry. Let realisation of the One Lord God be your call to prayer; be a good child of God – let this be your trumpet ||10|| Let what is earned righteously be your blessed food. Wash away pollution with the river of your heart. One who realizes the Prophet attains heaven. Azraa-eel, the Messenger of Death, does not cast him into hell. ||11|| Let good deeds be your body, and faith your bride. Play and enjoy the Lord’s love and delight. Purify what is impure, and let the Lord’s Presence be your religious tradition. Let your total awareness be the turban on your head ||12|| To be Muslim is to be kind-hearted, and wash away pollution from within the heart. He does not even approach worldly pleasures; he is pure, like flowers, silk, ghee and the deer-skin ||13|| One who is blessed with the mercy and compassion of the Merciful Lord, is the manliest man among men. He alone is a Shaykh, a preacher, a Haji, and he alone is God’s slave, who is blessed with God’s Grace ||14|| The Creator Lord has Creative Power; the Merciful Lord has Mercy. The Praises and the Love of the Merciful Lord are unfathomable. Realize the True Hukam, the Command of the Lord, O Nanak; you shall be released from bondage, and carried across|| 15 || 3 || 12 || 

This is a pretty decent translation of the shabad in Rág Maru that in the 12th pauri contains the words ‘sábat súrat dastár sirá’. Between this translation and the original everybody can now make up their own mind about the meaning of the shabad.

Just looking at four words in isolation very rarely leads to a correct interpretation. Shabads like this addressing Muslims, often use words based on Arabic and Farsi, which does not make understanding of the shabad any easier.

Previous columns on this issue :

446.The Man in Blue – Sabat Surat, Maru M 5, P1084 

457.The Man in Blue – Khalsa Principles, Turban & the 5 Ks

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467.The Man in Blue – Khalsa Principles, Turban & the 5 Ks

The spiritual source of the Khalsa, the order of those who put themselves directly under God’s command, is the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa does not need any justification from other sources.

Guru Nanak received God’s light, and that light was passed on to the subsequent nine Gurus. That light is also present in the Guru Granth Sahib, both in the verses written by our Gurus and in those written by bhagats, bhatts and gursikhs.

Guru Gobind Singh had to rewrite the Ádí Granth compiled by Guru Arjan, in order to insert the verses of ninth Guru. Otherwise he did not change a word, nor did he add any of his own writings. He also did not make any changes to the ‘nitnem section’ on the first 13 pages of the Guru Granth Sahib.

In 1708 Guru declared the Guru Granth to be the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, and the Guruship passed to the Guru Panth (those on Guru’s path), acting on the teachings of the Guru Granth.

Guru Gobind Singh did not change the Sikhs into professional soldiers in an army based on blind obedience. The behaviour of Guru’s Saint-Soldiers must be based on high moral principles, not fighting in anger and not taking what was not theirs.

The Saint-Soldier follows the concept of Simran and Seva. Simran means meditation, thinking of God, and this thinking of God leads to service to all in this case standing up against injustice and defending the oppressed.

Guru Gobind Singh loved the Guru Granth Sahib and his life was guided by its teachings. The Guru Granth Sahib is a flexible Teacher. There are no detailed instructions on how to live your life, which easily get outdated by changes in society. The Guru Granth Sahib teaches the underlying principles, simple values that are of all times and of all ethical systems.

Many Sikhs look for a justification of wearing the turban and the 5 Ks in the Guru Granth Sahib. These Sikhs make two mistakes 1) we do not need to justify the turban and the 5 Ks, the Guru asked us, and if we love Guru we obey 2) the Guru Granth Sahib, as I explained above, is the book of principles, not of detail. The verse that mentions ‘sábat súrat dastár sirá’ addresses Muslims, not Sikhs (P.1083).

If you want to offer your head, if you want to totally commit yourself to the Sikh way of life, start adopting the turban and the 5 Ks as a sign of that commitment and work towards becoming an Amritdhari Sikh.

It is possible to be a good person without wearing the 5 Ks, and wearing the 5 Ks does not make you a better person. But the combination of the commitment to a Gursikh jivan and wearing Guru’s uniform does make a difference as long as you  see God’s presence in all, are the servant of all, and have humility.

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 8:52 am  Comments (1)  
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466.The Man in Blue – Jah is my Keeper

King of Kings, hallelujah; Lord of Lords, hallelujah;
King of Kings, hallelujah; Lord of Lords, hallelujah

In the beginning was the word; And the word was with Jah; And the word was Jah
In the beginning Jah created the Heaven and the Earth
He then created man of his own likeness and image
He gave unto man wisdom, knowledge and understanding

Jah is my health and my strength, So who shall I fear
He’s a shield upon my right and my left hand, So whom shall I be afraid [of]
Jah is my Keeper

Jah is my light and my salvation, So whom shall I fear
He’s my guide throughout this creation, So whom shall I be afraid [of]
Jah is my keeper

Jah is my guide in my resting and my rising, So whom shall I fear
He’s my guide when I step out and forward in, So who shall I be afraid [of]
Jah is my keeper

Jah is my guide when Philistines come down upon me, So whom shall I fear
He’s my guide when my enemies come before I, So who shall I be afraid [of]
Jah is my keeper

Jah is my guide from the pestilence of darkness, So who shall I fear
He’s my from the vampires of Hell, So who shall I be afraid [of]
Jah is my keeper, Jah is my keeper

Jah is my health and my strength, So who shall I fear
He’s a shield upon my right and my left hand, So who shall I be afraid [of]
Jah is my keeper

This is ‘Creation’, a hymn sung by Peter Tosh, Jamaican and Rastafarian. For me he is the number 1 Reggae singer, and the above text, based on the Bible and Christian hymns, truly moves me.

In column 463 I referred to this text. This is a meditation, this is thinking about the qualities of God. Jah, Jahweh, Yahweh or Jehovah is our keeper, Har, Rám or Vahiguru looks after us, Allah gives us strength.

When I started reading the Guru Granth Sahib I was confused by references to stories I did not know, and ways of saying things that I was not familiar with. If you are not familiar with Biblical English this text will equally be unfamiliar to you. But I think that what Peter Tosh sings here is in tune with the Guru Granth Sahib, is part of the True Word.