Thursday, February 19, 2015

"I will die, but not touch tobacco..."

Bhai Jai Singh 'Khalkaat' was a honest hard working Sikh living in the village of Mughalmajra about 5km on the Patiala to Sirhind Road. He was a loving humble Rehitvaan Gursikh and had great love for the Guru.  One day in 1753 Bhai Jai Singh jee was doing Naam Abhyaas (Practising the Divine-Name) in the fields when Muslim Governor Abdul Samund Khan passed by. Bhai Jai Singh jee didn't get up or salute Samund Khan as he was not even aware of his presence. His Second in Command kicked him awake and ordered him, "Wake up! Carry the Nawaab's baggage!" At that time such free labour was conscripted to carry baggage from one village to another. 

Bhai Jai Singh jee replied, "Can you please tell me what is in the bag that you have asked me to carry?" Bhai Sahib suspected from the smell that it might be hooka and tobacco. The Mughal admitted that it was indeed tobacco and hukka of the Nawaab. Bhai Jai Singh jee refused point blank to touch the bag and said, "It is my Guru's Hukam (order) that I cannot touch the tobacco, let alone carry the bag containing it." 
ਸੁਣ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਕੀ ਰਹਿਤ ਕੋ ਤਜੇ ਤਮਾਕੂ ਸੰਗ ||
ਮਰਣੀ ਮਰੈ ਤੌ ਅਤਿ ਭਲਾ ਜਗਤ ਜੂਠ ਨਹਿ ਅੰਗ ||

"Listen to the Rehit of a Gursikh who comes in contact with tobacco - it is better to die than to touch the world pollutant drug (tobacco)."

(Rehitnama Bhai Nand Laal Singh jee)
Hearing this defiance, the Mughal arrested Bhai Sahib jee and also his family. After continuing to refuse to give up his Sikhi principals and compromise with the Guru's Hukam, the Mughal order for Bhai Jai Singh to be hung upside down from the nearest tree and skinned alive.   

Bhai Sahib was dragged to the nearest tree and his feet were tied to the branches, with his body hanging downwards. Using sharp blades they peeled off the skin from Bhai Sahib's entire body, starting from the feet. Within minutes his whole body and the ground become red with blood. All along this barbaric torture Bhai Sahib was repeating "Vaheguru... Vaheguru.... Vaheguru...", with his surtee (consciousness) in Akaal Purkh. 
ਮਨੁ ਨ ਡਿਗੈ ਤਨੁ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਡਰਾਇ ||
ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਚਿਤੁ ਰਹਿਓ ਸਮਾਇ || ਰਹਾਉ ||

"My mind was not shaken; why should my body be afraid? My consciousness remained immersed in the Lotus Feet of the Lord. ||1||Pause||"
(Bhairo M:5, 1162)
Despite the attempts to frighten Bhai Sahib and hope he would surrender his Sikhi to the demands of the Mughals, he remained in Anand (bliss) of Naam.   
ਆਸਾ || ਕਰਵਤੁ ਭਲਾ ਨ ਕਰਵਟ ਤੇਰੀ || ਲਾਗੁ ਗਲੇ ਸੁਨੁ ਬਿਨਤੀ ਮੇਰੀ ||੧||
ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਮੁਖੁ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਿਆਰੇ || ਕਰਵਟੁ ਦੇ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
ਜਉ ਤਨੁ ਚੀਰਹਿ ਅੰਗੁ ਨ ਮੋਰਉ || ਪਿੰਡੁ ਪਰੈ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਤੋਰਉ ||੨||
ਹਮ ਤੁਮ ਬੀਚੁ ਭਇਓ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ || ਤੁਮਹਿ ਸੁ ਕੰਤ ਨਾਰਿ ਹਮ ਸੋਈ ||੩||
ਕਹਤੁ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਰੇ ਲੋਈ || ਅਬ ਤੁਮਰੀ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ||੪||੨||੩੫||

"Aasaa: I would rather be cut apart by a saw, than have You turn Your back on me. Hug me close, and listen to my prayer. ||1|| I am a sacrifice to You - please, turn Your face to me, O Beloved Lord. Why have You turned Your back to me? Why have You killed me? ||1||Pause|| Even if You cut my body apart, I shall not pull my limbs away from You. Even if my body falls, I shall not break my bonds of love with You. ||2|| Between You and I, there is no other. You are the Husband Lord, and I am the soul-bride. ||3|| Says Kabeer, listen, O people: now, I place no reliance in you. ||4||2||35||"

(Aasa Kabeer Ji, 484)

After Bhai Sahib's martyrdom, the Nawaab order for Bhai Sahib's wife, Mata Dhan Kaur, his sons Karaka Singh and Kharak Singh, and daughter-in-law Bibi Raj Kaur, to be mercilessly killed. Bhai Jai Singh and his entire family attained Shaheedi (martyrdom) maintaining Sikhi and Rehat. When the Khalsa heard of this great tragedy they attacked the village of Mughalmajra and attacked the barbaric Mughals. 

Today in the village Baran stands a Gurdwara in memory of this forgotten sacrifice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Anti-Sikhi Parchaar (Part 5): Topic - Amritvela

I was recently watching a video of a Prachaarik who was talking about Amrit-vela at an event. The Prachaarik first claimed to follow, support and propagate the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada. Then the Prachaarik went on to talk about Amrit-vela and to attempt to justify his own practice (or non-practice) in the name of Gurmat. Rather than share the video and scrutinise the individual, I would rather discuss and analyse what was said and reflect upon it using Gurbani and the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada, and use it as an opportunity to to highlight the importance of Amrit-vela in accordance to Gurmat.

The Parchaarik said the following:
"I do shift work and thought I cannot be a Sikh and do work. But then when studying Gurbani I came across "Amrit Vela Sach Naao Vaddiaaee Veechaar." I was [at first] relating Amrit-vela from 3am to 6am. But when I say "Sach Naao, Vaddiaa Veechaar"; that means my whole day is Amrit-vela. Give me a break! My Amrit Vela is when I am talking to my manager! My Amrit Vela is when I am talking to people working for me on the floor! My Amrit-vela is talking to my mother! My Amrit-vela is when I am talking to my children! This my "Amrit-vela" - when "Amrit" comes out of our mouth. When I don't say "Oih", say "Shut up", don't say anything bad, and don't swear at anyone - this is my Amrit-vela Saadh Sangat Ji. That is what Gurbani says and that is what the Sikh Rehat Maryada says. 
What do you see? Amrit-vela in accordance to Gurbani and the Sikh Rehat Maryada(!?!?!?)

So from then onwards, I realised that and then started to study Jap, Jaap, Svaiyye. I studied Sodar. I studied Sohila. When I study it, I say - My God! What I read in Jap, I read in Sohila. So what is Naam then? So it goes on. It's the same message in the same Bani. Every line in Guru Granth Sahib Ji has the same message so why bickering whether I am reading 5 Banian, I read 10 or 11. Well done! Good for you. But the one I read, it says 'I read all the time', it becomes my habit, it becomes my life, it becomes my swaas (breath). So pick a point of that. "Amrit Vela Sach Naao, Vaddiaaee Veechaar." Do Nitnem, surely do it, but you don't have to tie your schedule to it in a way that you going to get entrapped. Do it in your time, when everything is right. Every time is right."

Is anyone confused whether this person is in favour of Amrit-vela Nitnem or against? Seems like a lot going round in circles. Similarly, the heretic and excommunicated Gurbakhsh 'Kala Afghana', wrote in his anti-Gurmat writings:
“There is no Shabad in Gurbaani in which we can determine or sense any importance or relevance of the late hours of the night or the early hour of the morning which is indicative of any special powers to transform a person who recites Baani at that time. It does not make anyone immortal.
             In those hours a farmer goes to the farms, for the military personal it’s a strategic time to go for the kill and to kill innocent people who are sleeping. The policemen are also trying to catch thieves in those hours, people who capture birds and animals for a living are active in those hours . Its also the most beneficial hours for dacoits, murderers, anti national elements and characterless people. After deliberation of the above there is no doubt that such a time can never be “AMRIT VELA”. 
(Taken from:

Guru Gobind Singh Ji and his Sikhs doing Amrit-vela at the River Sirsa despite Mughal forces pursuing them.

#1. "Is Amrit-vela between 3am to 6am, or is the whole day Amrit-vela?" 
RESPONSE: Terms can have a multiple meanings in different contexts. Amrit-vela literally means, the time of Amrit or the time when Amrit is experienced. So, in theory this could be any time that one connects to Vaheguru. However, in accordance to Guru's Maryada or the way of life instructed by Guru Ji, it is specified that Amrit-vela in terms of daily spiritual discipline is the last part of the night before sunrise. Gurbani says:
ਝਾਲਾਘੇ ਉਠਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਸਿ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਆਰਾਧਿ ॥
"Rise early before dawn, and chant the Naam; worship and adore the Lord, night and day."
(Gauree M:5, 255)
The word 'ਝਾਲਾਂਘੇ' here means early morning, or what is also known as 'ਪਿੱਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ' in Gurbani:   
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਪਿਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਗਿਓਹਿ ਜੀਵਦੜੋ ਮੁਇਓਹਿ ॥ "O Fareed! If you do not awaken in the early hours before dawn, you are dead while yet alive."
(Salok Fareed Ji, 1383)
Furthermore Gurbani says:
ਉਠਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਪਰਭਾਤੇ ਸੋਏ ਹਰਿ ਆਰਾਧੇ ||
"Rise in the early hours before dawn, and take your cleansing bath. Before you go to bed at night, remember to worship the Lord."
(Basant M:5, 1185)

In conclusion, the Sikh Rehat Maryada clearly states that Amrit-vela is three hours before sunrise (i.e. the last part of the night):

੧. ਸਿੱਖ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ (ਪਹਿਰ ਰਾਤ ਰਹਿੰਦੀ) ਜਾਗ ਕੇ ਇਸ਼ਨਾਨ ਕਰੇ ਅਤੇ ਇਕ ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਦਾ ਧਿਆਨ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੋਇਆ 'ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ' ਨਾਮ ਜਪੇ |...
"Sikh should wake up in the ambrosial hours (three hours before the dawn), take a bath and, whilst concentrating their thoughts on Akaal Purkh, repeat the name of ‘Vaheguru'."

(Sikh Rehat Maryada)

#2. "My Amrit-vela is being a nice person and not being rude to people when at work. This is what "Amrit Velaa Sach Naao Vaddiaaee Veechaar" means." RESPONSE: In Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev Ji instructs us:
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ||
"In the Amrit-vela, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness."
(Jap Ji: 2)

The Sikh Rehat Maryada states:

ਨਾਮ ਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਅਭਿਆਸ
੧. ਸਿੱਖ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ (ਪਹਿਰ ਰਾਤ ਰਹਿੰਦੀ) ਜਾਗ ਕੇ ਇਸ਼ਨਾਨ ਕਰੇ ਅਤੇ ਇਕ ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਦਾ ਧਿਆਨ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੋਇਆ 'ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ' ਨਾਮ ਜਪੇ |
੨. ਨਿਤਨੇਮ ਦਾ ਪਾਠ ਕਰੇ | ਨਿਤਨੇਮ ਦੀਆਂ ਬਾਣੀਆਂ ਇਹ ਹਨ:- ਜਪੁ, ਜਾਪੁ ਅਤੇ ੧੦ ਸਵੱਯੇ ('ਸ੍ਰਾਵਗ ਸੁਧ' ਵਾਲੇ), ਬੇਨਤੀ ਚੌਪਈ, ਅਤੇ ਅੰਨਦੁ* - ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀਆਂ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ ਪੜ੍ਹਨੀਆਂ |
"Meditating on Naam (the Divine-Name) and Bani
a. A Sikh should wake up Amrit vela (three hours before the dawn), take a bath and, concentrate his/her thoughts on One Akaal Purakh, repeat Divine-Name of ‘Vaheguru’. 
b. He/she should recite Nitnem (daily routine prayers) every day. The Nitnem is the following Banis (scriptural compositions): Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Ten Svaiyye (beginning “sraavag sudh”), Benti Chaupai and Anand Sahib* in the morning..."

(Sikh Rehat Maryada, *in accordance to Sri Akal Takht Sahib Hukamnama dated: 28-4-1985)

The Sikh Rehat Maryada clarifies that the True Name or Naam is 'Vaheguru'. It is definitely not having a friendly worldly conversation with a smile on one's face and saying "please" and "thank you." Then the question arises what does it mean by contemplating on Vaheguru's Glory and Greatness? Through Gurbani we discover the qualities and praise of Vaheguru. Therefore, a Sikh recites and contemplates on the Nitnem Banian (daily prayers) every day. The more Bani one can read and contemplate, the better it is for the individual. It is clearly stated Nitnem is to be done in the early morning and not whenever one feels like it, unless I suppose one has special circumstances.

#3. What is the benefit of waking up Amrit-vela to do Naam Simran and Nitnem?"
The reason this time of the day is known 'Amrit-vela', is because this is when the Amrit (Divine-Nectar) showers as one lovingly repeats Naam. We should remember and meditate upon Vaheguru all day, however the early morning hours is the time for the soul-gym, where the mind and spirit practice Naam to be prepared and equipped for the day.  The spiritual exercise and practice in the early morning hours has greater blessings and gives us a spiritual boost for the rest of the day:
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਰਾਤਿ ਕਥੂਰੀ ਵੰਡੀਐ ਸੁਤਿਆ ਮਿਲੈ ਨ ਭਾਉ ॥
ਜਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਨੈਣ ਨੀਦ੍ਰਾਵਲੇ ਤਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਮਿਲਣੁ ਕੁਆਉ ॥੮੦॥
"Fareed, musk is released at night. Those who are sleeping do not receive their share. Those whose eyes are heavy with sleep - how can they receive it? ||80||"
(Salok Fareed Ji, 1382)

Fundamentally, waking up Amrit-vela is the Hukam (instruction) of Guru Ji. Guru Ji goes as far as saying that someone who does not wake up Amrit-vela, i.e. the early morning hours, to chant Naam, cannot be called a GurSikh.
ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ
ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥
ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ ॥
ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥...

"One who calls themselves a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, they are to bathe, and cleanse themselves in the pool of nectar. Following the Instructions of the Guru, they are to chant the Name of Vaheguru. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased. Then, at the rising of the sun, they are to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name.
(Gauri M:4, 305)

Giani Sant Singh Ji Maskeen said,
"You can remember and repeat Vaheguru's Name whenever you want in the twenty-four hours of the day. But why has importance been given to Amrit-vela? It is because there is a time to do everything and correct method. For example, when wheat is grown, it is grown in a particular month, not the whole year. It also ripens and grows ready for harvest in a particular month, not all the time. Similarly, Guru Ji says that humans too shall meditate upon Vaheguru at a particular time. What should that time be? That time should be that time when it is neither night nor day, neither full sun nor full moon. For this reason Guru Ji has blessed us with two sets of time for Bhagti (devotional worship). One is early morning of Amrit-vela, at which time there is neither full night nor full morning. The other is evening time for Rehraas. At this time too, neither is the sun (fully) nor the moon. So in other words, any time is a good time for devotional worship and praise of the Guru, but the importance of Amrit-vela is some folds greater."

Bhai Kulbir Singh (Toronto) writes:
"Amritvela is the last pehar (3 hours or so) of the night, which is highly productive time for Naam Japna. The whole world is sleeping and Gursikhs find this time very peaceful to concentrate on Naam and contempla te on the qualities of Vaheguru listed in Gurbani. Gurmukhs who have reached high spiritual states say th at at this time there is a shower or rainfall of Amrit. For this reason, one can effortlessly concentrate on Naam and achieve the spiritual aim much faster."

#4. "If Amrit-vela is the early morning hours, then I cannot do Amrit-vela because I work night-shifts."
RESPONSE: Working a night shift could be a blessing in disguise. It means you are awake during the early morning hours before dawn. To my understanding, in one of your breaks you could do Panj Ishnaana (wash face, hands and feet) and do Naam Simran whilst working. Depending on the job situation, if you have memorised the Nitnem Banian then you could recite Nitnem or listen to them on some earphones whilst working or during a break (most employers are very accomodating if you ask them). The other options are reciting Nitnem when arriving back home, or if you are too tired you could have a sleep, then have a shower then recite Nitnem before eating anything. Either way, you would have remembered and meditated upon Akaal Purakh in the Amrit-vela hours. You can do Naam Simran loudly or discretely depending on the job environment and situation.

#5. "How can you call a particular time of the day Amrit-Vela when so many evil things happen around the world at that time."
RESPONSE: Because Guru Ji says so! It seems people with such views are desperate to justify themselves enjoying sleeping through Amrit-vela and not wishing to wake up! What next, "I cannot read Gurbani or do Simran during the day because this is the time when most of the world lies and commits fraud." Then "I cannot read Gurbani or do Simran in the evening because this is the time most of the world is drinking alcohol and getting into brawls." Vaheguru help us! It is only problem what other people in the world are doing if we are going to join in with them. 
ਕਬੀਰ ਲੂਟਨਾ ਹੈ ਤ ਲੂਟਿ ਲੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਹੈ ਲੂਟਿ ||
ਫਿਰਿ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਹੁਗੇ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਜਾਹਿੰਗੇ ਛੂਟਿ ||੪੧||
"O Kabeer! If you must rob and plunder, then plunder the plunder of the Lord's Name. Otherwise, in the world hereafter, you will regret and repent, when the breath of life leaves the body. ||41||"
(Salok Kabeer Ji, 1366)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Is it True Love?

Talk by Bhai Vijay Singh (Luton), Bhenji Baljinder Kaur (Bradford) and Veer Gurpreet Singh (Bradford) at Singh Sabha Gurdwara Bradford, Kaurs Corner class:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Gurbani Kantth - Memorising the Guru's Word

ਦੁਹੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਮੇ ਬਾਨੀ ਜੋਈ ਚੁਨ ਚੁਨ ਕੰਠ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਤ ਸੋਈ ||
“Read the Guru's Bani daily and pick out Shabads and memorize them by heart.”
(Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh)

Bhenji Daljeet Kaur, local Sevadaars and children from the Gurbani Kantth class

Author: Daljeet Kaur (Leicester, UK) 

Gurbani kantth karnee or memorising Gurbani is the Hukam (order) of Satguru Ji. There are many benefits of memorising Gurbani, which includes an improvement in concentration, increasing of one's memory, helping one to remove one's bad habits, help to enjoy the sweet taste of Gurbani, helps one's mind remain positive, it helps you in the world after, Gurbani is readily available to help one in any situation or need, and leads one to become interested in the knowing the meanings and develop understanding of Gurbani. Most importantly one will get the blessings of Satguru Ji when memorising Gurbani.

Gurbani Kantth started as a means to get my boys back on track. My father was very passionate that my siblings and I, as a bare minimum, knew our full nitnem by heart. He would always encourage us to learn and recite to him all the shabads we knew and would be extremely happy when we learnt some additional banian (Prayers).

I had always taught my children paatth through the method of repeating but as they got older I left it with them to memorise banian themselves. Unfortunately I began to realise that when I left it to their own devices my boys made very little progress. My encouragement, bribery or threats were having no affect!

Teaching in a boys’ school, staff are educated on the ways and techniques that boys learn best. Overwhelmingly the research always brings back competitiveness as the number one motivator for boys. I needed some willing competitors to help in my quest to get my boys memorising paatth! I approached a few of my Amritdhari sisters who were also mothers to children of a similar age to my children. They instantly bought in to my experimental idea and consequently, the Gurbani Kantth class started!

Using an App on the Ipad called 'IDoceo' I began my class. I firstly created a register of the students with their age and name in the first column, and then in the headings of the separate columns I put in the different banian. We agreed to meet for two hours, twice a month, where turn by turn I would listen to the students recite their learnt paatth and track it in the App. I give a Romanised printout of the paatth to each student to memorise and I make a note on the App what their target is. At each class the target is replaced with a new target and slowly but surely the students began ticking off whole banian. Regardless of how much paatth each student has learnt, at each session I give all of them lots and lots of praise and encouragement, individually and as a collective, to carry on and continue to memorise paatth. I will always acknowledge what each student has achieved as opposed to what they haven’t. I think that is very important – to keep everything positive!

There are a number of strategies that I find work with the students:
  1. Competitiveness - is definitely number 1. This works by sharing how the class as a whole is progressing. When a student sees a green smiley face, they know that they have completed a bani. It's quite clear using this colour coded method for students to work out who is their competition. This is not based on age or gender, but instead down to individual effort and attainment.
  2. Prizes - Making an effort with a prize works as a very good motivator. After six months I awarded a prize to all students and the top student was given an additional something extra (£££). I had customised key rings made for all students and packaged them in little organza bags with chocolate coins. This extra effort meant that a student could not simply 'buy' the prize but had to make an effort! After six months the second sets of prizes were given. The prizes were customised pencils and a book packaged in a nice gift bag with a big bag of chocolates! Prizes are given in a prize giving ceremony. Someone special is chosen to give the prizes to the children. In the first prize giving ceremony we invited Aunty Surinder Kaur to give the prizes and her asees (blessing), and second time we had Bhai Tarsem Singh Ji, who also quizzed the students.
  3. Personalised learning - Giving students the tools to memorise paatth is crucial to help them. Each student is unique and has a different method which will work for them. Finding that method and establishing it is a journey each student will need to take. One suggestion could be for them to either record themselves or their parent reciting the bani, in order to memorise it by listening to the recording as often as possible.
  4. Repetition - Repeatedly repeating the bani out load twice a day.
  5. Writing - Writing out the paatth a few times (in Romanised English if the child doesn't know Gurmukhi) in order to memorise it. I give the students a printout of the next part of the bani to memorise and have suggested they have to keep it handy and read it whenever possible e.g. walking home from school etc.
  6. Change - Sometimes a student's enthusiasm has dwindled or they've become disheartened at how much they are left to learn, so I have move them on to a different bani e.g. stop Jap ji Sahib and try Svaiyye. What I find is the motivation returns with more gusto. We then go back to the earlier bani to complete, and by this time the student finds it much easier to memorise.
So I am sharing this little experiment with everyone as it successfully worked for my children and for all those whom attend the Gurbani Kantth Class. The hope is that perhaps other mothers and fathers may want to start a similar approach to get their children reciting gurbani by heart, either as a group or just as a family.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Khalsa Darbaar, Southall, UK: Bhai Paramjit Singh Khalsa Ji

Kathaa by Bhai Paramjit Singh Khalsa Ji from Khalsa Darbaar, Southall, UK: 

ਸਲੋਕ ॥

ਬਸੰਤਿ ਸ੍ਵਰਗ ਲੋਕਹ ਜਿਤਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਵੀ ਨਵ ਖੰਡਣਹ ॥
They may live in heavenly realms, and conquer the nine regions of the world, 

ਬਿਸਰੰਤ ਹਰਿ ਗੋਪਾਲਹ ਨਾਨਕ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਉਦਿਆਨ ਭਰਮਣਹ ॥੧॥
but if they forget the Lord of the world, O Nanak, they are just wanderers in the wilderness. ||1|| 

ਕਉਤਕ ਕੋਡ ਤਮਾਸਿਆ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵਸੁ ਨਾਉ ॥
In the midst of millions of games and entertainments, the Lord's Name does not come to their minds. 

ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋੜੀ ਨਰਕ ਬਰਾਬਰੇ ਉਜੜੁ ਸੋਈ ਥਾਉ ॥੨॥
O Nanak, their home is like a wilderness, in the depths of hell. ||2|| 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Isn't it Strange?

Isn't it Strange

Isn't it strange how a 20 pound bill seems like such a large amount when you donate it to the Gurdwara,
but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Isn't it strange how 2 hours seem so long when you're at the Gurdwara,
and how short they seem when you're watching a good movie?

Isn't it strange that you can't find a word to say when you're praying,
but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

Isn't it strange how difficult and boring it is to read one Bani from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji,
but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel?

Isn't it strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games,
but they do whatever is possible to sit at the back of the Gurdwara?

Isn't it strange how we need to know about an event for the Gurdwara 2-3 weeks before the day so we can include it in our agenda,
but we can adjust it for other events in the last minute?

Isn't it strange how difficult it is to learn a fact about Waheguru to share it with others,
but how easy it is to learn, understand, extend and repeat gossip?

Isn't it strange how we assume whatever the news channels are telling us is the truth,
but we question the divine words in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji?

Isn't it strange how we believe  the weather forecaster says and prepare accordingly,
but we make no effort to act upon the signs and warnings given by Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji about our life and death?

Isn't it strange how everyone wants their soul to go to a nice place after dying,
but they don't want to believe, do, or say anything to get there?

Isn't it strange that we can spend hours upon hours on Facebook try to get know a complete stranger that we have made our 'friend',
but we cannot spend an hour to read Gurbani and Sikh history to get to know our Guru and make him our friend?

Isn't it strange how difficult it is difficult to do Rehraas Sahib on time or at all,
but how easy it is to drink a protein shake on time or watch a favourite television drama on time?

Isn't it strange how we send jokes on WhatsApp and they are forwarded right away,
but when we are going to send messages about Waheguru, we think about it twice before we share it with others?


Sunday, February 08, 2015

Gurmat Vichaar: Mine (ਮੇਰਾ) Vs. Ours (ਆਪਣਾ)

Author: Bhenji Daljeet Kaur (UK)

A Gursikh told me many years ago that there are many ways to defeat your ego through the words you use. One of which is never using the word mera (my) when you are referring to a possession. We should never say mera ghar or my house, or my car instead we should use apnaa ghar (our house) or apnee gaddee (our car). 

The only things we should profess to have should be weaknesses. My weaknesses belong to me, they are mine and my own doing, however any qualities I have belong to you. 
ਤੁਧੁ ਗੁਣ ਮੈ ਸਭਿ ਅਵਗਣਾ...
tudh gun mai sabh avganaa...
"Virtue is in You, O Lord; I am totally without virtue."
(Soohee M:1, 762)
In the same way anything we achieve should be accredited to Vaheguru (Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh). Many Gursikhs who achieved something will often say it happened because of 'Guru di Kirpa' or with the blessings of Vaheguru. Gurbani talks about how nothing belongs to us anyway, including our achievements or our possessions. 

Bhai Gurdas Ji says:
ਕਰਿਕੇ ਨੀਚ ਸਦਾਵਣਾ ਤਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਲੇਖੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਪਾਈ ||
karkay neech sadaavanaa taa prabh lekhai andar paaee.
"If somebody now, in spite of being a doer, erases from his self this sense and prefers to be called lowly, only then he can remain in the good books of the Lord."
(Vaar 1, Pauri 16)
When we do a good action, we should not boast about it and remain humble, then that action is registered in our destiny. Naam kamaaee (earning the profit of Naam) makes this all second nature anyway as it will lead us on a path of humility to defeat ego. By adopting these few basic strategies we can try to live the message of Gurbani a little more.