412.The Man in Blue – A Sikh is …. (II)

Normative Definition: A Sikh is someone born to Sikh parents. A person may also convert to the Sikh faith, and feel himself/herself a Sikh, if accepted by the Sikh Panth. Such a person must change his or her name by deed poll to Singh or Kaur as the second or last name. If desired such a convert may accept Amrit and join the Khalsa Panth as defined in Sikh Rehat Maryada. Sikh faith does not encourage conversions. It is not a proselytising religion. All religions are equal in Sikh ideology.

In Sikh faith, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, the religion of the father decides the automatic faith of the offspring, but a Sikh mother may decide to bring the child as a Sikh and follow the naming ritual as in Sikh faith. The Sikh Panth will readily accept such a child as a Sikh.
The Sikh Courier, volume 56 No 108, page 11

In the first of the two articles on the above definition of a Sikh I discussed it in more general terms, this time we will have a look at the detail.

Being born of Sikh parents does not make you a Sikh. Not only is this against the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM), but it is also not true. Guru Nanak’s father was not a Sikh, Guru Nanak was a Sikh, Guru Nanak sons’ were not Sikhs. In the 2010 UK sons and daughters of real good Sikhs follow a different path, and not so wonderful Sikh parents have very good Sikh children.

I do not think you convert to Sikhí, and Sikhí is not a faith but a dharm, a way of life. How you get accepted by the Panth I do not know.

Only when you want to take amrit (undergo Khande di Pahul) you have to add Singh or Kaur to your name and adopt a first name that starts with the fist letter of the Vaak taken. Changing your name by deed poll is only possible in countries that have adopted the Anglo-Saxon law system.

People are very welcome to join the Sikh Panth, but we do not believe that you go to hell if you do not become a Sikh or do not take Amrit.

The sentence about various religions and fathers makes no sense, and neither does the second part about mothers bringing up children as Sikhs. This sentence is based on South Asian cultural practices, not on Sikhí.

You are not a Sikh because your parents were Sikhs, you are not a Sikh because you come from Panjab, and you are not a Sikh because you have a brown skin. Sikhí is about some very basic beliefs (like One God, One Humanity) and practising Guru’s teachings in your daily life. From the Sikh point of view it makes no difference whether you were inspired to become a Sikh by your father or mother, by other family members, by friends or by the Guru Granth Sahib.

411.The Man in Blue – A Sikh is …. (I)

Normative Definition: A Sikh is someone born to Sikh parents. A person may also convert to the Sikh faith, and feel himself/herself a Sikh, if accepted by the Sikh Panth. Such a person must change his or her name by deed poll to Singh or Kaur as the second or last name. If desired such a convert may accept Amrit and join the Khalsa Panth as defined in Sikh Rehat Maryada. Sikh faith does not encourage conversions. It is not a proselytising religion. All religions are equal in Sikh ideology.

In Sikh faith, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, the religion of the father decides the automatic faith of the offspring, but a Sikh mother may decide to bring the child as a Sikh and follow the naming ritual as in Sikh faith. The Sikh Panth will readily accept such a child as a Sikh.
The Sikh Courier, volume 56 No 108, page 11

Since I became a Sikh I read many articles on the definition of a Sikh. Most people taking part in these discussions agreed that being a Sikh is not about being born into a Sikh family, being a Sikh is about beliefs and behaviour.

The controversy in the discussions was the status of the Khande Di Pahul initiation ceremony, about being a Mona, Keshdhari or Amritdhari. It is clear that the above ‘normative definition’ is wrong, is against gurmat.

The Sikh Guru speaks to all, regardless of caste, creed, race or nationality, the Sikh Guru does not favour people with certain names over those with other names, the Sikh Guru does not favour uncut hair over shaven heads.

The definition of a Sikh in the Rehat Maryada could do with some more clarity but it does have the basics right. It talks about believing in One God, believing in the ten Gurus and the Guru Granth Sahib and about believing in the Khande Di Pahul of Guru Gobind Singh.

Anybody is welcome in the Gurdwara, anybody can be a sikh, a student of the Wonderful Bringer of Light into darkness, and you do not have to change your name to be such a sikh.

I heard Guru’s call, and wanted to give my head. I changed my name, I adopted the 5 Ks and the turban and I seriously try to follow Guru’s teachings in my daily life. I am a Khalsa.

I think that we should admit that ‘sikh’ as used by Guru is a general term which applies to all who are true ‘students’ of The One. We could introduce three different terms: sikh, Sikh and Khalsa. The sikh is anybody who follows the general principles laid down in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh is somebody who is working towards undergoing Khande di Pahul, and the Khalsa are those that have undergone Khande di Pahul.

374.The Man in Blue – From whom do we receive ‘Khande di Pahul’ ?

This article was inspired by something I was told, but which might not be true. According to my source one of our leading Gurdwaré flew over Sikhs from Panjab to be the Panj Piaré for the Vaisakh Khandé di Pahul ceremony.

This reminds me of how various swamis and other charlatans whisper your own personal mantr in your ear. Those that read the Guru Granth Sahib know that our Guru does not give us a mantr, Guru wants us to keep ‘nám’ in our minds, and act there on.

You can learn to see ‘nám’ (Godly essence) in nature, you can find it in Guru’s sabads, in words like Vahiguru or in what I have heard call Guru’s signature, Ik Ongkar Satguru Prasád (or Ik Ongkar Sat Nám Satguru Prasád / Ik Ongkar Kartar Purkh Satguru Prasád) or in the full nine descriptions of God starting with Ik Ongkar and ending with Gur Prasad.

These are all gifts from God, part of the Divine Understanding that comes to us through Guru’s sabad. This gift is there for all, this gift is not owned by Jathabandis or Deras, this gift is not owned by Sikhs, it is God’s gift to all.

Similarly ‘Khandé di Pahul’ is Guru’s gift. It is a contract between the individual and Guru. Our part of the ‘bargain’ is to offer our heads, to commit ourselves to living a Sikh life, a life of service, a life of honesty, humility. We are weak, we keep making mistakes, but we keep trying.

Guru’s part of the ‘bargain’ is that because you stop living for Maya, stop looking for fulfilment through having more, more and more again, because you start looking for inner peace, inner joy instead of joy given by artificial stimulants, you will become truly happy.

In the process of taking Amrit the Panj Piaré represent Guru and that makes it important to find people who are truly committed to following Guru’s way. They do not need to be perfect (I am 62 years old and so far have not met any perfect persons). They do not need to be part of any particular group within Sikhí. They should be seriously committed to living Guru’s life.

But more important is the commitment and understanding of the person undergoing the Khandé di Pahul. If you are seriously committed to follow the teachings of the Guru Granth, if you are truly committed to living a Sikh life, it does not really matter all that much who the Panj Piaré are.

The practice that Panj Piaré can impose their own rules, or the rules of their dera or jathabandi, on people undergoing Khande di Pahul is just not right. We should follow Guru. If our Panj Piaré think that they or their dera or their sub-group has the authority to change Guru’s teachings they are badly mistaken !

Published in: on June 1, 2009 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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