In the spirit of Sarbat Da Bhalla
Great message. In reading the Granth, I have seen so many wonderful things. In talking to friends who were raised in Sikh households, I have often heard this comment about those who wear the five k's are the "real sikhs" that really follow the faith, not much attention to how those people actually live their lives. But is it not strange that within the Sikh culture that those who are unbaptized and choose to cut their hair or dress in a more western way are called "slow adopters"? why is this? Does being "khalsa" equal being a good sikh? It seems that many who are "more western" are equally following the way of life set out by the Granth. I really wonder about this, being white, why would i need to join the Khalsa to be a "real sikh"? Would not my peers see me as being trapped in outward religious rites and symbols, if I were to dress like a Khalsa Sikh? Yes they would. And if I were to do so, would I not be contradicting the core of Guru Nanak's message? I feel that I would. I feel I cannot talk to Sikh's about this because they seem so passionate about their culture. It seems like the culture and the faith have been so deeply tied together that it is very hard for people to see the distinction. In reading Jaswant Zafar's "Nanak" poem, in reading between the lines (as he clearly wishes people to do), I see that there are some Sikh's that see many of the ritualistic behaviours that have developed in Sikhism are contrary to the spirit and message of the founder of the faith. It's not the rituals themselves that would be the problem, but the idea that they are of such a high value. If we judge others based on how they conform to outward shows of religion, dress and ritual, this seems to be going in the wrong direction. Please understand that I write these things not to argue, I write these things because the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is one of the most powerful spiritual books I have ever read. It has often brought me to tears with its beauty and simplicity of describing the spiritual path. I would love to be in connection with people who really try to walk on the path that is recommended in it. The Sikh faith as described in it, is a powerful force for good in this world. A shining light. Christianity (where I came from), has become too narrow-minded and exclusive for me. I think that many people here in the west feel this way as well. The Granth is a breath of fresh air. But who is willing to stand up for the true messsage contained within it? Anyway, thank you for your great article, I really like the picture as well. Very meaningful image you created. Keep up the good work!
Dear AnonymousThank you for your comment and I am really happy that you enjoyed reading this post. I appreciate you taking out the time to share your thoughts and comments. It is unfortunate that your Sikh friends are not open to discussions. Challenging and questioning one another is how we grow. I think I wrote a bit about what you are discussing in one of my older posts (“Living Behind a Mask”). I believe that we should create a love for Sikhism inside our hearts not just pressure people to look a certain way outwardly. I do respect the dedication it takes for a Sikh to become Amritdhari but our job is not done just at our outward appearance. The teachings of Sikhism include respect, honesty, love for each other, forgiveness, compassion, standing up for what’s right, etc. and a lot of people who would appear to be more “western” follow this way of life. I don’t think we can call one person a good sikh or another one a bad one-“Tell me, who should I call good or bad, since all beings are Yours?” (p. 383 SGG Ji). I would agree with you that we cannot say that since someone is more outwardly appearing to be a Sikh they are following the teachings and values more than someone who is more western. But also, just because you do choose to be Amritdhari does not mean you are just trapped in appearances. There are lots of those who have been baptized that really are truly following Sikhi teachings inside. We have to be careful not to judge by appearances either way. The knowledge in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is meant for all of humankind. We can all benefit from changing our ways of thinking even if we do not change the ways in which we dress or appear. From my conversations with gurmukhs this summer I learned that anyone can achieve the purpose of life in Sikhism (which is liberation from the cycle of birth and death through meeting God)- You don’t have to be a baptized sikh to do it. Their way of looking at it was change your inside first because it is most important. It says many times in the Guru Granth Sahib, it is rare to find someone who truly walks that path and understands. I wish you the best of luck in finding people to share this path with you :)
and i'm glad you enjoy my artwork!