Tuesday, August 18, 2015

South Shields Gurmat Camp 2015

From Thursday 6th August to Monday 10th August, a Gurmat Camp was held at Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khaas Gurdwara in South Shields. This was the first time I attended a camp at South Shields Gurdwara. The local Sangat is very blessed and has lots of pyaar for one another and for the visiting Sangat.

The Gurdwara Sahib is unique in that it runs on the sewa of sangat alone. The Gurdwara Sahib has no golak, no paid granthis, raagis, committee, or any employee. Since 1984 the Gurdwara Sahib has a place for continuous Jaap of Simran where Sangat participates. Another wonderful thing about the Gurdwara was that they have especially made rooms for Sangat to stay and purpose made shower and wash facilities. The accommodation, showers, toilets and generally the whole Gurdwara were so clean and well maintained that it showed how much pride the Sangat takes in the Gurdwara and values seva.
Sangat

 Ardaas by young camper

 Young campers' group

 Gurmat vichaar with Bhai Surjit Singh jee

 Langar

 Activities


Activities


Activities

Activities

Questions and answers session

 Eldest group

Keertan to commemorate Sri Guru Har Krishan Sahib jee's Gurpurb.

 Younger campers presenting a Gurmat based drama on the theme of learning Gurbani and the benefits of listening and reciting Gurbani.

Younger campers presenting drama

 Children's presenting poems to the Sangat.

Dhan Guru, Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gurbani's perspective on the environment....

 
Gurbani & the EnvironmentAuthor: Bhai Atma Singh (UK)
 
 
ਪਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਧਰਤਿ ਮਹਤੁ || 
pavan guroo, paanee pitaa, maataa dharat mahat.
"The breath/air/atmosphere is The Enlightener, water is the father, earth the great mother."

This Panktee (sentence) that begins the very first Salok (short self-contained verse) that appears within ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ (Teachings of The True Enlightener) can be interpreted to be referring to the human body.

In this sense our Pavan/breath is ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ (The True Enlightener) as it leads & modulates the experience of ਨਾਮੁ (Vibration of, emanation of & means of absorption into The Oneness).

Our body is mostly composed of Paanee/water & it comes into being partly via the liquid sperm of our father.

It is earth via everything our human mother eats & absorbs that gives rise to & then forms our physical body.

As the Salok continues it also details how this planet is a Dharamshaal (place of righteousness/spirituality/the true Gurdwara), how our actions determine our spiritual state & then it ends by telling us how to become Gurmukhs (students of The Enlightener) & reach Chauthaa padd (the 4th place) i.e. True Spiritual Equipoise & fulfilment.

It may be worth mentioning 4th place is beyond the 3 major qualities/attributes that ultimately prevent yet are mistaken for spiritual perfection & human fulfilment i.e. rajo/accumulation of wealth, tamo/desire for pleasure, power & control despite innumerable negative consequences & sato/religious-inspired rituals, practice, charitable actions.

In this way the paradigm of human life is detailed, as well as the means by which to realise the vast & ultimate potential of it.

Let us consider another interpretation. ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ is infinite after all.

Pavan - The atmosphere/air/gases which continuously contribute towards creation/evolution as per Hukam/Command/Ordained Laws/Cosmic Will are ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (The Wondrous Enlightener).

Without Pavan's existence there is no chance of life & Pavan is mostly 'invisible' yet we totally depend upon it for our existence. Likewise, without ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ there is no existence, no spiritual life & therefore no true spiritual sustenance & fulfilment.

Paanee - Water, the 'magical ingredient', the father of creation, which scientists firmly believe is crucial for gross material life to exist - to the extent that when looking for life elsewhere on other planets a major indicator they look for is the presence of water. Interestingly it is believed by some scientists that water gradually arrived upon this planet via icy asteroids & comets hitting earth & literally impregnating it.

Maata Dharat Mahath - Earth the great mother that gives birth, sustains & then destroys all things. When we die our mortal frames fully return to her in the form of decomposing flesh or ash & bones. She continuously recycles this gross material into new life forms.

Incidentally in this sense even in terms of gross matter there is no 'coming or going'. Everything simply changes form, with matter never lessening or increasing in mass. The same goes for energy too, which matter is of course simply a gross manifestation of. Now this is until the universe returns to singularity i.e. From current Sargunn ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (infinite attribute form of The Wondrous Enlightener i.e. Post-creation) to reabsorption/retraction into Nirgunn ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (zero attribute form of The Wondrous Enlightener i.e. Pre-creation). Chaupai Sahib & Sukhmanee Sahib (ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ compositions) provide much detail regards the subject of creation & cosmology as per Gurmat (Teachings of The Enlightener).

But why is there such a focus within ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ upon nature, natural phenomena & often cosmology?

One reason for this is because ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ can only be known through attributes & nature provides us prodigious insight into these attributes.

Creation is the purest example of ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ's Sargunn form...ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ's self-expressed nature. Nature is after all everblossoming, self-sustaining, onward, evolutionary perfection, balance & harmony. Whilst this material universe exists, & of course this beautiful planet exists, we will receive infinite inspiration & spiritual teachings.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ constantly & directly refers to a vast range of plants, birds, & animals, as well as a multitude of natural phenomena within ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ. Vastly more so than any of the world's religious scriptures & traditions in fact.

To name but a few instances, we hear about migrating flamingoes leaving their young behind to be sustained despite their parents' absence, of deer hungering after hypnotic musk totally oblivious to it's location within their own bodies, of spiritual impostors in the white yet carnivorous garb of cranes, of pure white swan-souls floating silently atop crystalline, still lakes, of weeping peacocks reflecting the sombre ambience of a weeping forest in spring, which itself is a mirror for the separated soul suffering intense pangs of spiritual separation, even as it wanders unknowingly into the 'season of rejuvenation' & unknowingly reaches achingly close to ultimate spiritual consummation.

Bhai Gurdaas Jee also constantly refers to flora, fauna & natural phenomena when delineating Gurmat principles & practices in his Vaars/verses e.g. Like a fruit tree hit by stones, the Gurmukhs often return positivity even in the face of outright hostility.

Yet we are in a position where rampant unregulated capitalism which by default is the creation of dualistic, psychopathic, Hau(n)mai (ego-driven human desire), is rapidly murdering our creator, sustainer & destroyer i.e polluting & destroying Pavan, Panee & Dharat.

Our sense of separateness from our ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ, from earth & all her other beings is the very precursor to the situation we find ourselves within. Should we therefore be surprised that we remain un-compassionate?

Notably the meat & dairy industries, which are in fact one & the same, are major culprits regarding the rape, torture, pillaging & destruction of our mother & her beings. Simply put - in the modern climate a lacto-vegetarian diet can be called anything but compassionate.

As Gursikhs & as citizens of mother earth this presents a major Yudh (battle) for us.

What to do in the face of almighty ignorance, one of this dark age's greatest warriors?

The weapon of Dayaa (compassion) is the most crucial & powerful weapon:

ਧੌਲੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਾ ਪੂਤੁ || ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਥਾਪਿ ਰਖਿਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਸੂਤਿ ||
dhaoul dharam, dayaa ka poot. santokh thaap raakhiaa, jin soot.
"The mythical bull is righteousness/spirituality, the child of compassion.
[It is this] Contentment that holds the earth in it's place."

To be honest this Dupanktee (couplet) found within JapJee Sahib (1st composition within ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ) is absolutely mind-blowing, as are the lines that follow. It totally defies singular translation & interpretation, but let us take one particular inference from it:

Spirituality/righteousness is THE CHILD of compassion.

Ponder upon that intensely & you will realise the potential of your dietary & consumer choices to inform & impact upon your spiritual Jeevan (life) & practice. Without compassion there is simply NO spirituality.

Let us not pretend that by only Japping (chanting/meditating/harmonising with) ਨਾਮੁ, whilst remaining blind to the horror of what we are currently & explicitly being shown during our earthly sojourn, is some sort of amazingly spiritual, compassionate & ethical choice.

Remember that ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ in the earthly form of a young child went & told the Siddhs (spiritual adepts), who were sat atop their inner & outer mountain of detachment, that all around and beneath them the world was 'in spiritual flames' at their very feet, begging for mercy; whilst they simply sat there, like stones, consumed only within themselves.

Some amongst us will say that Siddh Gosht (conversation with the Siddhs) is primarily a ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ composition regards inner spiritual import, however Gursikhs take all import to be of use - Peeree & Meeree (spiritual & temporal).

Simply put the times have changed. Humans are now threatening earth with physical annihilation - literal & figurative flames of ignorance & destruction abound. Now that is or certainly should be of major concern to Gursikhs as well as every other human.

The question is: Do YOU really want to help save the planet & all it's beings?

The single biggest thing you can do besides harmonising with ਨਾਮੁ is to adopt a vegan lifestyle, as this is the only dietary & consumer lifestyle that our mother earth will now accept as truly compassionate. This can be proved in a multitude of ways & frankly it should be patently obvious to you.

We must also begin to use the weapons of our tongues, pens, keyboards & cameras to ensure that we as Gursikhs do not abandon the battlefield of environmental campaigning, action & awareness. In fact it is us who should be at the very vanguard.

I totally believe that the presence of The House of Guroo Nanak upon this battlefield has great potential in terms of Parchaar (altruistically spreading Truth) - the best kind of Parchaar in fact: by our very presence & example & beyond mere words.

Sadly at the moment we are almost nowhere to be seen. Yet make no mistake; this is the biggest battle that this planet & it's beings have ever faced. Sargunn ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ is counting upon us to wield the sword of Meeree. May ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ bless many humans & the Gursikhs in particular with this Sevaa (altruistic service), which will come only if we are deemed truly fit.

In this spirit let us ponder upon the lifestyle espoused by ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ:

ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ||੫||
"
Truth is the highest virtue;
Yet higher still is truthful living."

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Sikhi in light of the Bible...

An American evangelical preacher, Pastor Steven. L Anderson, posted a video of his lecture discussing Sikhi. In his lecture he makes insulting and derogatory remarks in an attempt to undermine the Sikh religion based on baseless and inaccurate information. Bhai Simerneet Singh from Chicago gives a thoughtful response in light of the Bible in the video below. Please listen and watch carefully.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Kundi...

A short movie by Bhai Satdeep Singh:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Letter to send your local MP if you live in the UK...


As British Sikhs, sending a quick simple email to our local MP to raise questions about human rights violations of Sikhs in India with the Foreign Office and Indian High Commissioner, is the least we can do for the cause of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa.

Letter template below:

 
Dear (Insert name of MP)
As a resident in your constituency, I am deeply concerned about the continued human rights violations of the minority Sikh community in India.

Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa is an 83 year old grandfather, who was an American resident that travelled  back to Punjab, India to support the campaign to free political prisoners languishing in Indian jails, many of whom have served years beyond their terms. As part of a non violent protest he took up a Hunger strike on 16th January 2015 and is now over 160 days and counting.

The Indian authorities are more focused on trying to end Bapu Surat Singh's protest by forcibly arresting him and feeding him against his will in hospital, than addressing the real issues and concerns of the wider Sikh and human rights community worldwide.

This humanitarian cause highlights the plight of many minorities in India that are treated secondary by both the legal and political system, despite India calling itself the world’s largest democracy. Whilst this campaign has had huge support on social media, the mainstream media and international western governments have remained quiet, and their stance on Human Rights violations unclear and compromised.

The matter was raised in writing with the Foreign Secretary by the Sikh community on 21 May and a request made for a meeting. Nearly six weeks later the Sikh community has had no response. As my representative in Parliament, I request and urge you to contact the following to raise my concerns and ask specific questions regarding their understanding and actions in relation to Bapu Surat Singh and his campaign.
  1. Write to the Foreign Secratary to determine the UK Government position & actions to date with India
  2. Write to the Indian High Commissioner in London to ask how India are dealing with this serious issue
  3. Consider other initiatives, interventions or public statements that you and the UK Government are able to take concerning this matter

 Please send me a copy of any letters you write and any subsequent responses.

 I look forward to receiving your reply in due course.

Insert your Name
Address & Postcode

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Birmingham Annual Akhand Keertan Smaagam 2015...

A



Birmingham Annual Akhand Keertan Smaagam
19th - 25th July 2015
Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, Birmingham,
West Midlands, B66 3AP

Accommodation throughout Smaagam in Hall No.5/6
Sunday 19th July
Akhand Paath Arambh

Wednesday 22nd July

6.30pm - 9.30pm: Akhand Keertan

Thursday 23rd July

5.30am - 9.00am: Aasa Ki Var
6.30pm - 9.30pm: Akhand Keertan

Friday 24th July

5.30am - 9.00am: Aasa Ki Var
6.30pm - 10.30pm: Akhand Keertan

Saturday 25th July
5.30am - 10.30am: Aasa Ki Var
6.30pm - 5am: Rainsbaaee Keertan


For more information, contact:
Bhai Bhupinder Singh (Birmingham) - 07725 973836
Bhai Sanjovanpreet Singh (Birmingham)-  07938 633653


Thursday, July 09, 2015