, Will take up the issue of permission for women to perform Kirtan inside Sri Harmandr Sahib, says Akal Takht Jathedar

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 10 November 2019. Commenting on the recent resolution passed by the Punjab assembly seeking permission for women to perform Kirtan inside Sri Harmandr Sahib, the acting Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has said that the issue pertains to the code of conduct of Sri Darbar Sahib and it needs to be deliberated in the light of Gurmat.

“I have not received any communication in this regard from the Punjab government. But once I receive any communication in this regard, I will take up the issue,” he said while adding that this issue can’t be concluded in a single line.

SGPC’s chief secretary Dr Roop Singh has said that the code of conduct (Maryada) in Sri Harmandr Sahib was different from other Sikh shrines. “This issue should not have been raised from a political platform,” he added.

Favoring the Punjab assembly’s resolution, SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur has said that the women should be allowed to perform Kirtan inside sanctum sanctorum Sri Harmandr Sahib as there is no place for discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, social status or gender in Sikh philosophy.

Kiranjot Kaur is absolutely right, there cannot be discrimination in any gurdwara, but I am afraid that these jathedars without jatha still live in the middle ages.
Man in Blue

532. The Man in Blue – Should we follow the messengers or should we follow God ?

Recently when travelling to Hasselt by bus I met a man who had served in a major Roman Catholic Monastery on the Dutch-Belgian border. And on the return trip from Hasselt to the Sangat Sahib Gurdwara I met him again.

He was friendly and open-minded. We agreed that the problems that face the Christian churches these days have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus. Most of the Christian churches have emphasised too much on their structures, their hierarchies and neglected the inclusive spiritual message of Jesus.

On the way back he asked me what role Jesus played in my life. My first reaction was that that I now understand Jesus and his teachings better than before I became a Sikh. I see Jesus as a great spiritual teacher, whose teachings mostly agree with the core teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib.

I love reading the ‘dharmic’ stories (the parables) that Jesus used to teach his disciples (chelé), which like the Guru Granth emphasise Godly behaviour rather than complicated belief systems.

But I also said that I first and foremost believed in God, who is the source of the power, the insight of the great spiritual teachers. I hear God speak through the Sikh Gurus, through the Bhagats, through the Guru Granth Sahib. Similarly I hear God through Jesus and through other spiritual teachers.

I am now staying in Iver, in between Hillingdon and Slough, and I brought a small picture of Guru Nanak which is on the little press next to my bed. So I have a connection with Guru Nanak, and with the Nanak who signs off the shabads by the Gurus in the Guru Granth Sahib.

But the Nanak that speaks to me in the Guru Granth Sahib is the conduit through which I can hear the One, the All-Powerful, Omnipresent.

Many Sikhs do hero worship, and I try to avoid that. Our Guru and famous personalities from Sikh history were heroes, but they were heroes because they walked in God’s way. Their power comes from God, the words they spoke or wrote come from God.

The Guru Granth Sahib stresses this again and again. Be with God, listen to God, try to understand God’s word and apply it in your delay life. We should not follow people, we should follow God. Guru Gobind Singh also explicitly told the sangat not to worship him. Respect for the Guru leads to love for God.

This is what gives me strength, this is what keeps me happy. This is what makes me, in spite of being an ‘old age pensioner’, return from a comfortable life in Belgium to new challenges in the UK.

I also came back to enjoy the beautiful Kirtan that you can daily hear in the Southall Gurdwaré, and which help me to stick to the path, that is as narrow as the cutting edge of the sword, that leads to God.

520.The Man in Blue – Benti Chaupaí

According to the Sikh Rehat Maryada we should as part of our nitnem daily read Tav Prasád Svayé, Jáp Sahib and Benti Chaupaí. These are texts that are found in the ‘Dasam Granth’.

I think that Tav Prasád Svayé and Jáp Sahib are in tune with the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, but I feel uneasy about Benti Chaupaí.

In this article I will highlight words or phrases in Benti Chaupaí that I do not understand. I hope that others will help me to come to a better understanding. I would prefer a dialogue about facts over a debate on opinions.

I will restrict myself to the discussion of the 25 verses that are specified in the Sikh Rehat Maryada as being part of the nitnem banis.

Hamré dust sabhai tum ghávho – Destroy all my enemies – 1st line of verse 2
Does dust mean wicked and ghávho stab ? Stab all the wicked ?

Sabh bairan ko áj sanghriyai – Destroy all my enemies today – 2nd line of verse 3
Sanghriyai = companions ? Bairan = alien ?

Chun chun satr hamáré máríhi – Kindly kill all my enemies after singling them out – 4th line of verse 4

The above translations are by Harban Singh Doabia. I am not convinced that he has translated correctly, and I wonder about these ‘enemies’ and the ‘killings’. These verses, whether they are written by Guru Sahib or not, date from the period when the Mughal regime saw the Sikhs as their enemies.

But Gursikhs see God’s presence in all, and have no enemies. Of course when those that see us as their enemies attack us or other communities we have not just the right, but the obligation to protect ourselves and others.

But even then, as the Bhai Ghanaya story illustrates, we keep seeing those ‘enemies’ as our fellow human beings.

Another way to look at these quotes is to consider the enemies as the five ‘thieves’ that steal away our balanced state of mind. Please let us know what you think.

I am not interested in a debate on whether these verses have been written by Guru Gobind Singh or by person or persons unknown.

I want to come to a better understanding of Benti Chaupaí, and want to establish whether it is in tune with the Guru Granth Sahib.

As we all should know it is Guru Gobind Singh who emphasised the key role of the Guru Granth as the eternal Guru of the Sikhs.

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Published in: on August 10, 2012 at 9:12 am  Comments (1)  
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519.Man in Blue – The Sikh Identity

I am an Amritdhari Sikh and wear the five Ks and a turban. I do this because the Guru asked me, and because I believe it is a useful part of my spiritual discipline. My turban and beard make me a recognisable Sikh, but that does not mean that I am a Sikh because I look like one.

I am not a Sikh because I took amrit and I am not a Sikh because my parents were Sikhs (they were not). The definition in the Sikh Rehat Maryada is quite clear : the main element of being a Sikh is following the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib and the example set by the Gurus through their Gursikh way of life.

The SGPC is rarely able to do anything that is in line with Guru’s Teachings. But this time they have been caught by their own foolishness. Under pressure of the Badal Dal the union government issued a notification saying that only those who have uncut/unshaven etc hair can vote in the SGPC elections.

The 2011 SGPC elections were held on that basis, but have since been successfully challenged by another un-Sikh outfit : the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation. I do not think that the Supreme Court has ruled on the merits of being Keshdhari or Sehajdhari, but on the grounds that a law should not be changed by a notification.

The Sikh identity is defined by behaving as the Guru taught us. Live in the world, but do not be ruled by it, see God’s presence in all, be ready to serve all, make an honest living, think about God with all you do, recognise that there are people in all traditions who are true Students of the Teacher of Teachers etc, etc.

I know too many ‘Keshdhari’ Sikhs who practice none of the above and a good few moné who do quite well. It is impossible to make a relevant voters list of ‘Sikhs’ based either on the status of their hair or on who their parents were.

Looking the part without living the part is useless. If you call yourself an athlete but do not train and do not have a disciplined way of life you are living a lie.

The Gursikh that we should all try to be, regardless of being amritdhari, keshdhari or mona, is like a spiritual athlete. Some of us might reach to Olympic level, others play in the local league, but all should try to get nearer to God by following Guru’s teachings. Going by the Guru Granth Sahib (our eternal teacher) this way of life is not defined by the length of your hair, the length of your kachhera or by any other outward sign.

Walk in hukam, walk with God, be her/his humble child; if you do not see God in all you will not see God at all; be different and look different, these are the kind of  things a Gursikh should practice.

If you wear all or part of the Sikh uniform but have no Sikh behaviour you are like an empty shell. Sikh or Khalsa behaviour without the uniform does has value. Just like good the Muslims and good Yogis that Guru writes about can attain to God, so can good moné. But being ‘pure from outside and dirty inside’ means that you are a hypocrite, and Guru does not like hypocrites at all !

517.The Man in Blue – Sikhí VI

If you go back to my previous column you will notice that I have not given any specific reasons for having uncut hair, steel bangle, cotton boxer short or wooden comb. This is because authors of books about Sikhí all give different reasons for wearing these 4 Ks, which do not seem to be based on authentic pronouncements of Guru. The Kirpan of course stands for the fight against injustice.

To me the main reason for wearing my 5 Ks is because Guru asked me to offer my head and wear the 5 Ks and the turban. I also see the value of being a visible Sikh. It reminds me that I have committed myself to Guru’s path, and is a signal to others that here goes a Sikh who promised to serve all.

Many religious traditions have rules about not cutting or shaving all body hair, part of the body hair and also of course about having bold heads or shaving part of the head. To me all these have in common that they are signs of commitment.

Rings or bangles are often symbols of unity, unity within marriage, within a group, with God or with God and all humanity.

Guru’s fighters often wore a number of heavy steel bangles from their elbow to their hand to protect the sword arm.

Cotton boxer shorts are very comfortable when worn underneath a traditional long wide shirt (chola), underneath an Indian style pijama or any wide type of trousers. Cotton clothes keep you warm in winter and cool in summer and absorb perspiration, which avoids prickly heat (rash) during the monsoon time.

The wooden comb is useful to comb your hair and pulls out less of it than modern western combs. If you tie you hair in a topknot, as many Sikhs do, you can stick the comb in your topknot, which helps to stabilise it.

The outer five Ks and the turban should go together with a Sikh way of life. The way of life is often associated with the five qualities. They are: Sat (Truth), Santokh (Contentment), Diá (Compassion), Nimratáh (Humility) and Piár (Love).

God is Truth, and Her/His followers should strive to live in Truth. We should be ‘content’, we should accept what is given to us and not constantly look for more, more, more. We should have compassion and care for the poor, the discriminated, the ill etc and we should also be willing to forgive those that have hurt us.

Humility is very important for a Sikh, and even more for an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh. It is so easy to become proud of the fact that you wear the 5 Ks and have given up habits that most people take for granted. Pride leads to ego and where there is ME there God is not !

Just like God is Truth, God is also Love, real Love, unconditional Love. We who claim to be God’s followers should try and nurture this Love, also when those we try to truly Love do not respond with even ordinary human love.

If you thought walking in God’s will would be easy I have to disappoint you, God puts many challenges on our way, but also gives us the strength to overcome them.

Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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515.The Man in Blue – Sikhi IV

Kám (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachment) , Ahankár (ego). These are the five vices or the five ‘thieves’ of the South Asian spiritual traditions. These vices are all based on natural inclinations.

My understanding is that we should not suppress these, but that we should recognise them and give them a positive direction.

The vices should not rule us, we should rule the vices.

Kám (lust). Sikhs are to live a natural life and having a sexual relationship with husband/wife is part of such a life. But a relation that is only based on sexual attraction will not last. A sexual relationship should be embedded in the mutual respect and true love between wife and husband. We often use the word love when we mean sexual attraction !

Krodh (anger). Anger damages you more than it does those you are angry with. Anger turns against you. But when a Sikh sees injustice she/he should feel anger and use the energy of the anger to take action against the injustice.

Lobh (greed). Greed is like human needs that get out hand. We need food, we need clothes, we need housing and we need a life partner. But we should not eat huge rich meals all the time, we should wear practical, modest clothing, no need to pay over the top for ‘branded’ stuff or for products of the Paris fashion houses, and one life partner is more than enough for us.

Moh (attachment). I think this is a key teaching of the Dharmic religions. To fully understand this we have to start from the notion that both being too wealthy and being too poor leads to an obsession with ‘maya’, with worldly goods.

I think the right way is the middle way. Have enough for a comfortable life. Be not attached to your worldly goods or to your family and friends. You cannot take these with you to your next life or to the All-Soul when you merge with our Mother/Father.

We should also be able to live on when relatives or friends die or when we have to spend less because of the economic malaise that has been with us since the 2008 banking crisis hit us.

I live a simple life and even with that I have to be careful because I should not be attached to my simple life or to my blue chola and big kacchera.

Ahankár (ego). Ego and pride are close companions. I am Harjinder Singh, I am a product of the culture and family I come from. I have good qualities but also not such good ones. Learning to understand myself and accepting both my good and bad qualities was part of my spiritual path.

But being egoistic, only living for me, me, me is not spiritual. Feeling satisfaction when you achieve something is fine, as long as you realise that we cannot achieve anything without God’s blessings. Where there is ME, God is not !

Published in: on June 8, 2012 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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511.The Man in Blue – I am a Sikh

The ‘I’ mentioned underneath is not Harjinder Singh – man in blue. The ‘I’ represents Guru’s teachings, which I am trying to follow in my daily life.

I am human, I make mistakes, but in spite of my foolishness I receive many blessings.

I am not a gora (white) Sikh or a kala (black) Sikh
–    I am a Sikh

I am not a mazbi Sikh, a jat Sikh or a ramgharia Sikh
–    I am a Sikh

I am not a doaba Sikh or a malwa Sikh
–    I am a Sikh

I am not an AKJ Sikh or a Taksali Sikh
–    I am a Sikh

My Guru is the Guru Granth Sahib, not the Námdhari satguru, not the yogi who called himself the leader of the Sikhs in the western hemisphere, not the Soho Road (Birmingham) spiritual leader of the Sikhs in the UK, nor any other self-appointed holy man, pardhan or jathedar
–    I am a Sikh

I try to see God in all, regardless of race, faith, nationality or caste/social class
–    I am a Sikh

I am an initiated (amritdhari) Sikh, but I do not look down on those who are not
–    I am a Sikh

I wear a turban and keep the 5 Ks, but I do not look down on those who do not
–    I am a Sikh

I do not drink alcohol, do not smoke tobacco, do not use recreational drugs
–    I am a Sikh

I do not eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs, but do not condemn those who do
–    I am a Sikh

I wear ‘bana’, traditional clothes associated with Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa, but I know that I will be judged on my behaviour, not on my clothes
–    I am a Sikh

I do not cut my hair or shave, I wear a kirpan, kachhera, kara and kangha, but do not think that those who do not are bad people
–    I am a Sikh

Published in: on April 30, 2012 at 5:56 am  Comments (1)  
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Sikhí in one Picture

I think I found this image on Sikhnet. It sums up most of what you will find in this Section on Sikhí, plus the 5 ‘thiefs’ the five qualities that steal your spiritual balance : Lust, Anger,  Attachment, Greed and Ego.

Inside the circle are positive qualities :  Love, Humility, Compassion, Contentment, Truth

Underneath that the ‘pillars’ of a good, positive life style :  Kirt Karo (honest work), Nám Japo (meditate, think about God), Vand Shako (share with others)

Read the articles below to get a good understanding of Sikhí

Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sikhí is :

A spiritual way of life

Many Sikhs do not like to talk about the Sikh religion, because we are not like the three well known religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Sikhí has a number of core principles, but it does not have a comprehensive system of doctrines. The emphasis is much more on our way of life. In the Sikh principles article we try to explain the core principles of Sikhí, and even that goes quickly from ‘what to believe’ to ‘what to do’. Most Sikhs believe that the soul travels through various existences and when it reaches the human stage it will strive to be reunited with God. But in whatever way you look on these matters, if you do not seriously try to live a ‘Godly’ life, it is all rather irrelevant. 

A religion

Sikhí is a religion, but the emphasis is on the way of life, and not on doctrines.

An ethnic group or a nation

Sikhs, regardless whether they are of Panjabi background or not, have been recognised by the UK Law Lords as a separate ethnic group. Many Sikhs consider themselves to be a nation. But the Sikh Nation, or the Sikh Ethnic Group is part of the one Humanity, as we are all God’s children, regardless of our religion, ethnicity or nationality. And regardless of our ethnicity or nationality, according to Guru’s teachings Sikhs should make a contribution to the countries they live in. They should be loyal but critical citizens of their countries of residence.

Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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The 5 Ks, pictorial

01.Topknot, Kangha
Kesh – Uncut hair
Tied in topknot
Kangha – Wooden Comb

Kara – Steel Bracelet
Kirpan – Small Sword
Kachhera – Cotton ‘Boxershort’

Khalsa woman
Pag ~ Pagri ~ Dastar = Turban
Kirpan  – Small Sword

Khalsa Man
Pag ~ Pagri ~ Dastar = Turban
Kirpan  – Small Sword

Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 8:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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