Monday, November 30, 2015

Gurmat Vichaar - Derby Gurmat Q&A...

Sikh Question and Answer 18/10/15 @ Singh Sabha Gurdwara Derby UK:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let’s reflect on what Guru Nanak means to us.

On the joyous occasion of the Prakaash Divas of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji I wished to share a short write-up on the Gurpurb by Sikh Research Institute (SIKHRI):
Let’s reflect on what Guru Nanak means to us.
Amid pitch darkness in ignorance-era, he rose like an illuminated sun.
- Balvand & Sata, 968
Guru Nanak Sahib awoke the populace from the slumber of ignorance, upon his arrival. Revealing the message of all-pervasive one Divine, he proclaimed everyone’s right to dignity and justice. He stood by the oppressed and held their hand, imbuing their being with Divine love and awareness that enabled self-liberation.

Among the lowest of the low, I am the lowliest of the absolutely low.
Nanak seeks their company, why would one compete with those above?
Wherever the lowly are cared for, there is the glance of Your Grace!

- Guru Nanak Sahib, 15

He broke off the shackles of the priestly class’ influence and established dharamsal in every home and heart [ghar ghar andar dharamsal]. The sangats thus created formed the nucleus of the Khalsa that was to be formally institutionalized later; a democratized form of a free collective (sangats) directly connected with their beautiful beloved Sovereign - Ik Oankar - with no intermediary.

Over centuries, sangats have kept alive, this collective spirit of assembly and deliberation upon issues of Panthak significance. We witnessed the same spirit of self-expression and defiance, with a wish to free Sikh institutions from the state influence, in the recently held Sarbat Khalsa, no matter how flawed the process of calling, collecting and deliberating in it may have been. People collected with sheer enthusiasm from far off places, just in love of the Guru, for no one individual but for the Panth.

Today, as we celebrate the Guru’s “illumination” (parkash), let’s keep this sovereignty, and the will to affirmative action alive. But, lest we forget that the center of Sikh activism is solely the Guru’s word (Sabad), that guides its every action to a pure selfless act of service and sacrifice, for we are sovereign only as long as the Guru radiates in us.

In whose heart Nam radiates, that person alone is a great King.
- Guru Arjan Sahib, 1155

Monday, November 23, 2015

Different views on Meat: Reflections on Kuttha, Jhatka and Halal Meat...

The Sikh Rehit Maryada states the following four actions for a Sikh is a 'Bajjar Kurehit' or cardinal prohibitions that result in a Sikh becoming a Patit or apostate:
1) ਕੇਸਾਂ ਦੀ ਬੇ-ਅਦਬੀ ।
(Dishonouring the hair)

2) ਕੁੱਠਾ ਖਾਣਾ ।
(Eating 'Kutthaa')

3) ਪਰ-ਇਸਤ੍ਰੀ ਜਾਂ ਪਰ-ਪੁਰਸ਼ ਦਾ ਗਮਨ (ਭੋਗਣਾ) ।
(Intimacy with a man or woman other than your spouse)

4) ਤਮਾਕੂ ਦਾ ਵਰਤਣਾ ।
(Using tobacco)

Kuttha – Does it mean meat or halal meat?  
There is disagreement within the Sikh Panth on the meaning of the word ‘Kutthaa’. At some point in history, some Sikhs began to eat meat and as a result this has led to differences in interpretation of what Kutthaa means. 
  • Position 1: Kutthaa means that meat killed according to Muslim rites”

  • Position 2: Kutthaa means meat slaughtered in accordance to Muslim rites, however eating meat is prohibited in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and one has to pay Karmic debt for killing and eating meat. In a situation when one is fighting for the Panth and all other food has been exhausted and not available, in order to survive to fight for the Panth, one can eat Jhatka meat. 

  • Position 3: Kutthaa means any killed meat, regardless of the method, which includes a prohibition of fish and eggs. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji prohibits eating meat and eating meat would excommunicate someone. 

Position 1: 
The origin and basis of Halaal method of slaying animals by Muslims may have been sacrificial. However, by the time of the Sikh Gurus, it had just become a "Muslim method" without any consideration of its sacrificial origin. The original practice had become professionalized and commercialized and remains so even now. 

So, according to the generally prevailing idea as advocated by Sikh scholars holding this viewpoint, the main reason for imposing this taboo of not eating Halaal meat is not that it is sacrificial or even religious. Rather this taboo had been imposed primarily to liberate the Sikhs from mental slavery of the then rulers of the Muslim faith who had banned by law the slaying of animals by any method other than Halaal. If this interpretation is accepted, then the following points arise:
  1. With the changed times now, when there is no longer such coercion from any quarter, there should be no need for continuing this taboo in the list of the four taboos because the reason for the imposition of this taboo no longer exists.

  2. It implies that the four Bajjar Kurehats (cardinal prohibitions) which, which are of fundamental importance, may not necessarily be conducive to spiritual enhancement of the soul through Naam-Simran; their objective being merely to create a spirit of moral, and, according to some, physical strength to face the unjust and tyrannic rule of the then rulers. Obviously, this cannot be the situation as the main and the only objective of Guru Ji was and is to implant the Holy Naam firmly in the minds of the Sikhs through Holy Amrit (Khande-Ki-Pahul). One cannot imagine the All-knowing Guru imposing a prohibition of such basic importance which has no relationship with, or which does not help his Sikhs in the achievement of the Spiritual Bliss.

  3. Is it okay to eat meat killed in accordance to Hindu or Jewish rites? Wouldn’t eating meat in predominantly Christian country according to their culture, be a form of accepting mental slavery of the West or Christians?

  4. If one is allowed to meat, then what is the method to slaughter the animal and why is not mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, other religious scriptures or the Sikh Rehat Maryada itself?

  5. How would we classify fish? Is it Halaal or Jhatka?
    Fish being killed

  6. This position contradicts the Hukamnama of Guru Hargobind Ji found at Sri Harmandir Sahib, Patna Sahib (published in Hukamname, edited by Gandha Singh), which states:
    ਮਾਸ ਮਛੀ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਆਵਣਾ ||
    "Do not come near (i.e. consume) meat and fish."

  7. Halaal means lawful. If Sikhs cannot eat Halaal meat, then suggests Sikhs can eat the opposite, which is 'Haraam' (unlawful). This doesn't make sense.
Some other viewpoints are have come across that are used to support the prohibition being interpreted as "eating meat slaughtered according to Muslim rites" are:
  • It is a cruel method of killing animals. Sikhi advocates compassion and mercy.
    Isn't killing period cruel? If compassion and mercy for animals is such an issue then why kill them in the first place for food when there are plentiful of 'compassionate' and 'merciful' options for food, i.e. vegetarian and vegan foods.

  • Sikhs are forbidden from eating 'ritually killed meat'.
    Anything can become a ritual. Brushing your teeth can be a ritual. Why would ritually killed meat be banned? The method of slaughtering animals by pro-meat eaters called 'Jhatka' practised at places like Sri Hazoor Sahib is no less a ritual than any other religious tradition's method. In fact, the ritualism surrounding 'Jhatka' by those Sikhs who practise it, resembles very close the rituals associated to Jhatka practised by Hindus.

  • Sikhs are forbidden from "eating meat of an animal killed with prayers."
    For those who believe in the Jhatka tradition, it is requirement to say "Sat Siree Akaal!" (God is True) when killing the animal. What makes this any different to saying  "Bismillah, Allahu Akbar!" (In the name of Allah - God is Great) before slitting the throat like Muslims? Gurbani actualy tells us that any action done without prayer or remembrance of the Divine, is cursed. So the fact that it seems wrong to kill animals with prayers, would suggest not to kill animals at all.
    ਸਭੇ ਵਖਤ ਸਭੇ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਲਾ || ਖਾਲਕੁ ਯਾਦਿ ਦਿਲੈ ਮਹਿ ਮਉਲਾ ||
    "Always, at every moment, remember God, the Creator within your heart." (Maaro M:5, 1084)

Position 2:  
  1. It is myth to believe that Jhatka meat (i.e. meat killed with one stroke of the sword) is the Sikh method of slaughtering because the word Jhatka does not appear anywhere in the Sikh Rehat Maryada nor Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Historically in India, Jhatka was the Hindu method of killing animals for consumption and ritual sacrifices. During Durga Puja and Kali Puja, it is a requirement for Hindu worshippers of Shiva (Shivaites) to have Jhatka meat.
    Jhatka of a Buffalo by Hindus for Durga Puja
  2. There are many examples from history where Gursikhs have had been deprived of food whilst fighting for the Panth against tyrants, but yet they have not relied on eating meat. During the siege of Gurdas Nangal in 1715, Baba Banda Singh Bahadar Ji and the 7-800 Sikhs were forced to eat grass, leaves and bark as the food rations finished, but there is no documentation that they ate meat. In June 1984, the Singhs fighting against the India Army, fought non-stop for days with no food supplies.

  3. A true Gursikh relies on the support of Naam:
    ਜਨ ਕੀ ਭੂਖ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਹਾਰੁ ||
    “Your Name is the food to satisfy the hunger of Your humble servants.” (Soohee M:5, 743) 

Position 3: 
The word ‘kutthaa’ appears in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji a number of times. Kutthaa can have two meanings: either to butcher, kill or destroy or alternatively, it can mean meat (the product of killing, butchering, destroying). The root of the word ‘kutthaa’ is ‘kutthaar’ or axe. 
ਗਾਵੈ ਜਮਦਗਨਿ ਪਰਸਰਾਮੇਸੁਰ ਕਰ ਕੁਠਾਰੁ ਰਘੁ ਤੇਜੁ ਹਰਿਓ ||
"Parasraam the son of Jamdagan, whose axe and powers were taken away by Raghuvira, sing of Him.” (Bhatt Kall Svaiyye M:5, 1389) 
The question that immediately comes to mind is, if kutthaar is the root of kutthaa, when has an axe ever been used in halaal meat? A sharp blade is used, but never an axe. An axe is used to give swift blows whereas in halal, the knife or blade is used to slice the throat. Looking at how ‘kutthaa’ has been used in Gurbani we have the following example:
ਇਕੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਾਉ ਦੁਯਾ ਕੁਠਾ ||
“The One Immaculate Lord is pervading everywhere; He destroys the love of duality.” (Gauree M:5, 321)
If we replaced the translation of the word ‘kutthaa’ as “destroys” instead with “Halaal”, then the verse would mean that the love of duality will be “halaaled”? Clearly it can only mean to destroy or kill. Halaal would not make sense here. The act of killing or butchering will produce something butchered (meat). It is illogical to suggest it will produce “Muslim meat”. 

The example often used to suggest that kuttha refers to Muslim meat is: ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਬਕਰਾ ਖਾਣਾ || ਚਉਕੇ ਉਪਰਿ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ || (Aasa M:1, 471). Rather than support kutthaa meaning halaal, this line is strong proof that kutthaa means only meat. If kutthaa meant ‘halal meat’ then there would have been no need or reason to qualify it with “ਅਭਾਖਿਆ ਕਾ ”. Abhaakiyaa refers to the Muslim Kalma which is recited when butchering animals for halaal but is “un-utterable” for Hindus as it would convert them to Islam. If kutthaa means halaal then this translation would be “Kalma-Halaal meat.” That’s completely redundant as Halaal is by definition with the Kalma. But because kutthaa is just ‘meat’, it required ‘abhaakhiyaa’ to show it's a reference to Muslim meat here. 
Conclusion on meat 
Rehat is supposed to be supplementary to Gurbani and not to be read and followed in isolation. Irrespective of what ‘Kutthaa’ means, Gurbani clearly does not advocate the eating of meat and instead forbids one from eating meat, regardless of opinion on whether one thinks eating Muslim meat or any form of meat is the cardinal prohibition that results in apostasy. 

The following guiding principals are outlined in Gurbani, which clearly forbid the eating of meat, fish and eggs:
  1. Guru Ji instructs to eat simple and to eat little. (Eating meat goes against this):
    i) ਖੰਡਿਤ ਨਿਦ੍ਰਾ ਅਲਪ ਅਹਾਰੰ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੋ ||੮||

    “Sleep little, and eat little; O Nanak, this is the essence of wisdom. ||8||” (Raamkalee M:1, 939)

    ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਦਾਨਾ ਰੂਖਾ ਸੋ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਧਾਨ ||
    “The dry bread of the Saints is equal to all treasures.” (Bilaaval M:5, 811)

    iii) ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪੈਨਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਡਾਈ ਹੋਇ ||੧||

    “Amrit is their food, and Amrit is their clothes; O Nanak, through Naam, the Name of the Lord, greatness is obtained. ||1||” (Goojree M:3, 511)

    iv) ਖਾਤ ਪੀਤ ਅਨੇਕ ਬਿੰਜਨ ਜੈਸੇ ਭਾਰ ਬਾਹਕ ਖੋਤ ||

    “(Forsaking Naam,) one who eats and drinks countless delicacies is no more than a donkey that carries a heavy load.” (Kedaara M:5, 1121)

  2. Be kind towards all beings. (Cruelty and murdering animals for one’s appetite and food goes against this):
    i) ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਗਲ ਪੁੰਨ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ||
    “Be kind to all beings-this is more meritorious than bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage and the giving of charity.” (Maajh M:5, 136)

    ii) ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ ||
    “Do not cause any being to suffer, and you shall go to your true home with honour.” (Gauree M:5, 322)

    iii) ਮਨਿ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਰਬ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ||
    “Let your mind be content, and be kind to all beings.” (Gauree M:5, 299)

    iv) ਹਿੰਸਾ ਤਉ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਨਹੀ ਛੂਟੀ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਲੀ ||
    “Cruelty has not left your mind; you have not cherished kindness for other living beings.” (Saarang Bhagat Parmanand Ji, 1253)

  3. Don’t kill for the pleasure of one’s taste and appetite.
    ਰੋਜਾ ਧਰੈ ਮਨਾਵੈ ਅਲਹੁ ਸੁਆਦਤਿ ਜੀਅ ਸੰਘਾਰੈ || ਆਪਾ ਦੇਖਿ ਅਵਰ ਨਹੀ ਦੇਖੈ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਝਖ ਮਾਰੈ ||੧||
    “You keep your fasts to please Allah, while you murder other beings for pleasure. You look after your own interests, and so not see the interests of others. What good is your word? ||1||” (Aasa Kabeer Ji, 483)

  4. Religious people are not supposed to butchers of meat:
    i) ਜੀਅ ਬਧਹੁ ਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਅਧਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਤ ਭਾਈ || ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਸਾਈ ||੨||

    “You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? You call yourself the most excellent sage; then who would you call a butcher?” (Maaroo Kabeer Ji, p. 1102)

  5. Vaheguru’s Light is within all beings. (Unnecessarily killing animals and intentionally given them pain goes against this):
    i) ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ||੧||
    “You say that the One Lord is in all, so why do you kill chickens? ||1||” (Prabhaatee Kabeer Ji, 1350)

    ii) ਘਟ ਘਟ ਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਜੂ ਬਸੈ ਸੰਤਨ ਕਹਿਓ ਪੁਕਾਰਿ ||
    “The Dear Lord abides in each and every heart; the Saints proclaim this as true.” (Salok M:9, 1427)

  6. The pleasure and appetite of meat is spiritual hindrance:
    i) ਰਸੁ ਸੁਇਨਾ ਰਸੁ ਰੁਪਾ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਰਸੁ ਪਰਮਲ ਕੀ ਵਾਸੁ || ਰਸੁ ਘੋੜੇ ਰਸੁ ਸੇਜਾ ਮੰਦਰ ਰਸੁ ਮੀਠਾ ਰਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ || ਏਤੇ ਰਸ ਸਰੀਰ ਕੇ ਕੈ ਘਟਿ ਨਾਮ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ||੨||
    “The pleasures of (accumulating) gold and silver, the pleasures of women (i.e. lust), being caught in the pleasure of fragrances, the pleasure of (riding) horses, the yearning of luxuries of palaces, being caught in the pleasure of tasty sweet treats and the pleasure of meat – If the human body is attached to these numerous pleasures then how can Naam, the Name of the Lord, find its dwelling in the heart?” (Siree Raag M:1, p. 15)

  7. Grain and vegetation is the diet of the spiritual seeker:
    i) ਆਦਿ ਪੁਰਖ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਅਨਾਦਿ || ਜਪੀਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਨ ਕੈ ਸਾਦਿ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ||
    “Grain comes from the Primal Lord. Only with the energy generated by food grains in the body, can the recitation of the Naam be possible.” (Gond Kabeer Ji, 473)

    ii) ਦਾਲਿ ਸੀਧਾ ਮਾਗਉ ਘੀਉ ||
    “Lentils, flour and ghee - these things, I beg of You.” (Dhanaasree Dhanna Ji, 695)

    iii) ਨਿਤ ਰਸੋਈ ਤੇਰੀਐ ਘਿਉ ਮੈਦਾ ਖਾਣੁ ||

    “Your kitchen always has ghee and flour to eat.” (Raamkalee Satta and Balvand Ji, 968)

  8. Committing tyranny or using force to obtain food is unlawful. (Killing animals uses tyranny and force):
    i) ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੀ ਕੀਏ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਹਲਾਲੁ || ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਾਂਗੀਐ ਤਬ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ||੧੮੭||

    “Kabeer, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it legal. When your account is called for in the Court of the Lord, what will your condition be then? ||187||” (Salok Bhagat Kabeer Ji, 1374)

    ii) ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀਅ ਜੁ ਮਾਰਹਿ ਜੋਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਹਤੇ ਹਹਿ ਜੁ ਹਲਾਲੁ || ਦਫਤਰੁ ਦਈ ਜਬ ਕਾਢਿ ਹੈ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ||੧੯੯||

    “Kabeer, they oppress living beings and kill them, and call it proper. When the Lord calls for their account, what will their condition be? ||199||” (Salok Bhagat Kabeer Ji, 1375)

  9. Vaheguru has given humans the thirty-six types of food that are labelled ‘Amrit’ for us to eat (which doesn’t include fish, eggs, and meat):
    i) ਛਤੀਹ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਜਿਨਿ ਭੋਜਨ ਦੀਏ || ਅੰਤਰਿ ਥਾਨ ਠਹਰਾਵਨ ਕਉ ਕੀਏ || ਬਸੁਧਾ ਦੀਓ ਬਰਤਨਿ ਬਲਨਾ || ਤਿਸੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕੇ ਚਿਤਿ ਰਖੁ ਚਰਨਾ||੪||
    “God gave you the thirty-six varieties of tasty foods; He gave you a place within the body to hold and digest these foods; He gave you the earth, and things to use; enshrine in your consciousness the feet of that Lord and Master.” (Raamkalee M:5, p. 913)

    ii) ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਦਿਤਾ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਲੈਣਾ|| ਛਤੀਹ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਖਾਣਾ ||

    “Everything we receive is a gift from Him -(For example) the thirty-six delicious foods to eat.” (Maajh M:5, p. 100) 

  10. The metaphor of eating a ‘murdaar’ (dead body) is used for negative and condemned behaviour:
    i) ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ਖਾਇ ||

    “Telling lies, they eat dead bodies (i.e. meat).” (Maajh M:1, p. 139)

    ii) ਲਬੁ ਕੁਤਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਚੂਹੜਾ ਠਗਿ ਖਾਧਾ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ||

    “Greed is a dog; falsehood is a filthy street-sweeper. Cheating is eating a dead carcass.” (Siree Raag M:1, p. 15)

  11. One will have to pay the karmic debt for eating meat.
    i) ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ || ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ||੧੮੮||

    “O Kabeer! The dinner of lentils and rice is excellent, even if it is (just) flavoured with salt. Who would cut their throat, to have meat with their bread?” (Salok Kabeer Ji, p. 1374)

    ii) ਕੁਹੈ ਕਸਾਈ ਬਕਰੀ ਲਾਇ ਲੂਣ ਸੀਖ ਮਾਸੁ ਪਰੋਆ|| ਹਸਿ ਹਸਿ ਬੋਲੇ ਕੁਹੀਂਦੀ ਖਾਧੇ ਅਕਿ ਹਾਲੁ ਇਹੁ ਹੋਆ|| ਮਾਸ ਖਾਨਿ ਗਲਿ ਛੁਰੀ ਦੇ ਹਾਲੁ ਤਿਨਾੜਾ ਕਉਣੁ ਅਲੋਆ||

    “The butcher slaughters goat and its meats is salted and strung on a skewer. Laughingly, the goat says while being killed that I have come to this condition only for grazing leaves of akk plant. But what will be the plight of those who cutting the throat with knife eat flesh (of animal).” (Bhai Gurdaas Ji: Vaar 37, Pauri 21)

  12. Eating meat destroys acts of Dharam:
    i) ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ || ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ||੨੩੩||

    “Kabeer, whoever consumes marijuana, fish and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. ||233||” (Salok Kabeer Ji, 1377)

    ii) ਜੇ ਕਸਾਈ ਉਧਰਿਆ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ਨ ਖਾਈਐ ਭੰਗਾ ||

    “If Sadhana, the butcher, got across (the world ocean), we should not put ourselves to harm by killing others.” (Bhai Gurdaas Ji: Vaar 31, Pauri 9)

  13. Eating meat makes our mind impure:
    i) ਜੇ ਰਤੁ ਲਗੈ ਕਪੜੈ ਜਾਮਾ ਹੋਇ ਪਲੀਤੁ || ਜੋ ਰਤੁ ਪੀਵਹਿ ਮਾਣਸਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਿਉ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਚੀਤੁ ||

    “If one's clothes are stained with blood, the garment becomes polluted. Those who suck the blood of human beings-how can their consciousness be pure?” (Maajh M:1, 140)
  14. Eating meat is unhealthy for the mind and body (See article):
    i) ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ
    || ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ |||| ਰਹਾਉ||     
    “O Brother! The pleasures of those foods lead to ruin; eating which, the body becomes diseased (i.e. unhealthy), and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind. ||1||Pause||” (Siree Raag M:1, 16)

  15. Meat production is harmful for the environment (See article):
    i) ਪਉਣ ਪਾਣੀ ਧਰਤੀ ਆਕਾਸੁ ਘਰ ਮੰਦਰ ਹਰਿ ਬਨੀ ॥ 
    ਵਿਚਿ ਵਰਤੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਪਿ ਝੂਠੁ ਕਹੁ ਕਿਆ ਗਨੀ ॥੨॥੧॥
    "Air, water, earth and sky - the Lord has made these His home and temple (to reside). O Nanak! He Himself is pervading everywhere. Tell me: what can be counted as false? ||2||1||" (Tilang M:4, 723)

    ii)  ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਵਸਿਆ ॥
    ਤੇਰਾ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ਲਖਿਆ ॥੧॥
    "I am a sacrifice You, the Creator, who pervades within the creation. ਰਹਾਉ ॥  Your limits cannot be known. ||1||Pause||" (Aasa M:1, 469)

Guru Ji used to go out and hunt and provide the hunted animals with liberation. Sikhs cannot use this as an excuse to eat meat. How can we liberate someone else, when we do not have the ability to make ourselves liberated? 
…ਛੱਤੀ ਪਦਾਰਥਾਂ ਦੇ ਹੁੰਦਿਆਂ ਜ਼ਬਾਨ ਦੇ ਸੁਆਦ ਵਾਸਤੇ ਮਾਸ ਖਾਣਾ ਬਿਲਕੁਲ ਵਿਵਰਜਤ ਹੈ; ਮਾਸ ਖਾਣ ਨਾਲ ਬੁੱਧੀ ਪਸ਼ੂ ਵਰਗੀ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੈ | ਬਾਣੀ ਪੜ੍ਹਨ ਤੋਂ ਮਨ ਆਲਸ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੈ | ਬਾਬਾ ਦੀਪ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਨੇ ਕ੍ਨਚੇ ਬੇਰ ਖਾ ਕੇ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਚਾਰ ਸਰੂਪ ਲਿਖੇ ਸਨ ਜੋ ਵ੍ਨਖ ਵ੍ਨਖ ਤਖਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਬਿਰਾਜਮਾਨ ਹਨ | ੮੯ ਸਾਲ ਦੀ ਉਮਰ ਵਿਚ ਜੰਗ ਕਰਕੇ ਜ਼ਾਲਮਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਨਾਸ ਕੀਤਾ | ਉਹਨਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਨਾਮ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਦੀ ਸ਼ਕਤੀ ਸੀ | ਇਸ ਲਈ ਕੋਈ ਮਾਸ ਖਾਣ ਦੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੈ |“...Eating meat for one’s own taste buds is forbidden when we have been blessed by Vaheguru with thirty-six varieties of foods. Eating meat makes a person’s intellect become animalistic. The mind will become lazy from reading Bani. Baba Deep Singh Ji lived off eating unripe berries and wrote four saroops (copies) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji which are present at the different Takhts. At the age of eighty-seven he went to battle and destroyed the tyrants. They had the power of Naam, Bani and Amrit. For this reason there is no permission to eat meat.”
(Gurmat Rehat Maryada, Giani Baba Jarnail Singh (Bhindranwale), p. 29)


Important:  Individuals interpret the Sikh Rehit Maryada and Gurbani with differing levels, which leads to small differences in observance of Maryada within the Panth. There are certain controversies in the Panth where different Sikhs have different opinions and ways of looking at things. However, it is important to remember we are all the children of Guru Ji and part of one family - the Khalsa Panth. 

One thing all Sikhs have in common is love Vahiguru and Guru, and striving to live a life that pleases the Almighty. It is important that non-meat eaters show respect, tolerance and love to meat-eaters, and vice-versa. Although we have our own religious convictions, the Guru has showed that vegetarianism alone will not get one salvation. Practise of Naam-meditation, along with Godly-virtues, such as compassion, kindness, and humility etc, is the Path of enlightenment, and all religious disciplines are spiritual aids to help us keep on the Path and prevent us from falling.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Gurpurb - Information to Share with Non-Sikh...

Below is a very brief write-up made with the help of Gursikhs and existing articles on the Internet, which you could use to share with colleagues at work, school or college class fellows, or with the local media:

 Sikh Festival – Celebrating the Birth day of Guru Nanak

Nankana Sahib - The Bethlehem of Sikhs
Today is the Gupurab (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Sahib, the first embodiment of the Divine-Light or Guru of the Sikhs, will marked and celebrated by many millions of spiritually inclined people around the world. Guru Nanak was the founder of the Sikh religion and one of the world’s great champions of equality and tolerance.

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in town today known as Nankana Sahib in Northern India, which is now in Pakistan. Guru Nanak dedicated his life to interfaith dialogue, focusing his energies on reconciliation and peace. He categorically rejected caste or social discrimination, fought tirelessly for women's rights and preached that no one has the right to enslave another. In one of his first sermon's he said, "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim" – highlighting that God isn't interested in our various labels but the truth that lies in our hearts and our actions.

At Guru Nanak’s time, spirituality was considered to be something you do by separating yourself from the world and waiting for the afterlife. Whereas, the Guru’s approach to spirituality was that God created the world and God resides within creation. Spirituality and experiencing God is not something we must wait in the afterlife, but must experience while alive in order to live fulfilled life. We have a potential to live a life experience the Presence of God in our lives and staying connected through meditation, divine-remembrance, and reflecting and living the scriptural teachings that he revealed.

Guru Nanak brought a universal message of peace, love, unity, mutual respect, service and dedication to all of humankind. He turned people from being destructive to peaceful; he transformed tyrants into compassionate beings; and he changed oppresive societies into blissful communities. People of all faiths listened to his message open-heartedly and all gained from his wise and sacred words.
For many, this sacred time is a profound time to reflect on Guru Nanak’s vision of Oneness — the oneness of the Divine and the oneness of humanity — and his message: “No one is my enemy, and see no one a stranger. I welcome everyone,” If we begin to see the world in this way, it inspires an unending flow of love and compassion — and also a commitment to spiritually grounded selfless service.

The essence of the Sikh faith, where God — termed Vahiguru — is shapeless, timeless, and whose divine-light shines within all creation, can be summed up by these words of Guru Nanak: “The Divine Light is within everyone; You are that Light.” A truth that when truly understood and appreciated, will result in hate, malice and divisiveness being replaced with universal love and respect for all.

Before Guru Nanak left his earthly body in 1539, he had travelled not only throughout India's north, south, east and west, but also far beyond into Arabia, modern day Iraq, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Turkey, Burma and Tibet; new records now show even as far as Europe, in particular Italy where he met Pope Leo X, and parts of Africa.

Guru Nanak was revered by both Hindus and Muslims and even today many, outside of the Sikh faith, revere him. It is related that as he lay dying, his followers some formerly Hindu and others formerly Muslims argued whether his body should be cremated as Hindu tradition dictated or buried as in Islamic tradition. It is said that when they removed the sheet which had covered the Guru they found only beautiful flowers. The Hindus burned theirs, the Muslims buried theirs.

There are over 26 million people identify themselves as Sikhs worldwide, of every race and nationality, making it the world’s fifth largest religion. Guru Nanak touched the hearts of Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sufis, Buddhists and Christians, amongst others, during his five journeys around the world. His birthday, therefore, is a worldwide celebration.

Good wishes and blessings to all on this happy occasion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"I wish my children grow up as Sikhs..."

Two weeks ago I came across a young Somalian man. He said, "Mr Singh, I really respect Sikhs. You give free food in your temples. I have eaten many times." I smiled back. He then said, "You Sikhs are the one's who have come to rescue the world. You are special." I was bit taken aback by his remarks. 

He ended with, "I pray that when I have children they wear turban, have long uncut hair and wear a kirpan like you. I would like them to wear the 5 Ks and have the same beliefs as you because you are good people and come to the rescue the world. But not everyone is blessed to be one."  

A very short but moving conversation.

Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Banbury Gurdwara mentioned in local News...

It is very good of my town's local newspaper, Banbury Gurdian, to publish that Sikhs marked a 'Black Diwali' and covered the issues taking place in Panjab. Please see article below:

Banbury Sikhs hold 'Black Diwali' in ppposition to unrest

Published Friday 13 November 2015

For the first time in more than 20 years, Sikhs from Banbury withheld from lighting candles or divas and use of fireworks to celebrate the Sikh festival of Bandi Chhor Divas (The Day of Liberation).

The event coincides with the Indian cultural festival and holiday of Diwali and celebrates the release of the sixth Guru of the Sikhs from prison along with fifty-two other political prisoners whose release was secured by the Guru’s refusal to leave prison without them.

The Sikh community of Banbury, have had a ‘Black Diwali’ to mark the recent continuing deliberate acts of desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the holy Sikh scriptures which to Sikhs is the embodiment of their living Guru.  

It also follows on from the lack of adequate action and heavy handed treatment of peaceful protestors by the authorities in Punjab, northern India.

Banbury town councillor Surinder Dhesi said, “The desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is extremely hurtful to Sikhs. The desecrations are continuing to happen in so many places across the state of Punjab in northern India, and this seems to indicate an organised campaign to hurt the sentiments of Sikhs.

“The Banbury Sikh community decided to stand in solidarity with the majority of Sikh communities around the world choosing to mark not to light candles or use fireworks this year when celebrating Bandhi Chhor Divas.” 

In recent weeks in Punjab, the homeland of Sikhs, there have been a growing number of cases reported of desecrations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In protest at the lack of action from the authorities to trace and bring to justice the perpetrators of these attacks, Sikhs peacefully protested across Punjab. 

These tactics resulted in two protestors being killed and hundreds more being injured.

Manvir Singh, a Sikh Educationalist, said, “Banbury Gurdwara will celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas through the established Sikh ways of singing hymns, sermons, prayers and sharing of free communal meal this Sunday. 

“However, the Sikh community are pained with the human rights violations in India and how the minority Sikh community in India is being treated. The Indian PM, Mr Modi’s visit to the UK this week is of concern to Sikhs, Muslims and Christian communities due to increase intolerance and attacks on India’s minority communities.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Today: Shaheedi Day of Baba Deep Singh Ji...

Today is Baba Deep Singh Ji's Shaheedi Divas. In honour of Baba Deep Singh Ji's Shaheedi Divas (martyrdom day) and also the other Singhs who became Shaheed (martyrs) while fighting alongside Baba Deep Singh Ji in protecting the sanctity of Sri Harmandar Sahib, I have written an article on Baba Ji's Jeevan (life):

Childhood and meeting Guru Sahib
Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji was born on January 20, 1682, in the village of Pahu-vind, district Amritsar. His father's name was Bhai Bhagtu Ji. At the age of twelve, Baba Deep Singh Ji went with his parents to Anandpur Sahib to meet Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru. They stayed at Anandpur Sahib for several days, doing sewa (service) with the Sangat. When his parents were ready to return to their village, Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked Baba Deep Singh Ji to stay with him. He humbly accepted Guru Ji's command and began serving him. Baba Deep Singh Ji used to do seva of cleaning the Sarbloh utensils of the Sangat. Once, when Guru Ji asked Baba Ji what he was doing, he replied, "I am cleaning the filth of my mind."

Training & knowledge
From Bhai Mani Singh Ji Baba Ji began learning reading and writing Gurmukhi and santhiyaa (exegesis) of Gurbani. As well as Gurmukhi he learnt several other languages. Guru Gobind Singh Ji also taught him horseback riding, hunting and Shastar-vidiyaa (weaponry). At the age of eighteen, on the Vaisakhi of 1700, he received the blessing of Khande-di-pahul, Amrit, from the Guru-roop Panj Piaare, which include Guru Gobind Singh Ji serving as one of the Panj Piaare. As an Amritdhari Sikh, Baba Deep Singh Ji took an oath to serve in Akaal Purakh's Fauj (the Almighty’s army), and that following the way of the Khalsa one is to always help the weak and needy, and to fight for truth and justice. Baba Deep Singh Ji soon became one of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's most beloved Sikhs. During this time countless spiritually elevated souls were residing in Anandpur, doing Sangat with them and with the Guru's blessings, the Sangat recognised the young Deep Singh Ji as a "Baba" (wise person) and gave him this title.

Return back home
Baba Deep Singh Ji stayed in Guru Gobind Singh Ji's service for about eight years. At Guru Ji's request, he returned to his village to help his parents and he got married. Guru Gobind Singh Ji met Baba Deep Singh Ji at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo in 1705. Here, he learned that two of the Guru' sons, Baba Ajit Singh Ji and Baba Jujhar Singh Ji, had become Shaheed (martyred) in the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. Guru Ji also told him that his two younger sons, Baba Zorawar Singh Ji and Baba Fateh Singh Ji, were cold-heartedly bricked alive and attained Shaheedi (martyrdom) at Sirhind under the orders of the governor Wazir Khan.
Sent Message to meet Guru Sahib at Damdama Sahib
In 1706, Guru Gobind Singh Ji placed Baba Deep Singh Ji in charge at Damdama Sahib, while Bhai Mani Singh Ji was made Head Granthi of Sri Harmander Sahib in Amritsar. After Guru Sahib left for Delhi, he took up the duty of preparing copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and carried on the sewa blessed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji of managing this Sikh Centre. ‘Taksal’ means a minting factory. Sri Damdama Sahib, had become a factory where Sikhs would come to mint and prepare their shastars (weapons), as well as mint their minds and enshrine Gurbaani within their hearts through learning the correct pronunciation and grammar of reading Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. As a result this centre of education and weaponry was known as “Damdami Taksal”. Baba Deep Singh Ji spent many years at Sri Damdama Sahib preaching Sikh values and teachings and doing sewa of the Sangat. He was always ready to serve those in need and to fight for justice.
The Khalsa delivers justice to the Tyrants
In 1709, Baba Ji joined Baba Banda Singh Ji Bahadar in punishing the tyrants of Sadhaura and Sirhind. Baba Deep Singh Ji killed Wazir Khan, who was responsible for bricking alive the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Baba Ji fought so bravely without care for his life, that Baba Banda Singh Ji Bahadur entrusted Baba Ji with the title "Jinda Shaheed" (living martyr). Since that moment Baba Ji was called "Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji". It is noteworthy that Baba Ji wasn't called "Shaheed" after he died, but during his own lifetime. In 1733 Nawab Kapoor Singh Ji, the commander of the Khalsa forces, appointed Baba Ji as the leader of one of the jathas (groups) of Dal Khalsa (a united and collective body of groups of Khalsa divided and dispersed across Panjab). On Vaisakhi day of 1748, when Dal Khalsa was reorganised into twelve misls, he was entrusted with the leadership of Shaheedaa(n) di Misl.

News of sacrilege at AmritsarIn April 1757, Ahmed Shah Abdali, after his fourth invasion, was returning to Kabul from Delhi with precious booty and young men and women as captives. Singhs made a plan to retrieve the valuables and set the prisoners free. The jatha (squad) of Baba Deep Singh Ji was deployed near Kurkhetar (also called Kurukshetra). His squad freed large number of prisoners and lightened the burden of valuables of Abdali considerably. While departing from Lahore, Abdali appointed his son Taimur Shah, the Governor of Lahore and told him, "Try to finish the Sikhs". In Accordance with his orders, Taimur Shah started demolishing Gurdwaré and filling the sarovars (pool tanks) with debris and alcohol. When Baba Deep Singh Ji came to know of this beadbi (violation of sanctity) and demolition of Sri Harmandar Sahib, he narrated it to the Sangat (congregation) of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, and said, "Diwali will be celebrated at Amritsar this year." Five hundred Singhs came forward to go with him. Baba Deep Singh Ji offered an Ardaas (pray) before starting for Amritsar, "May my head fall at Sri Harmandar Sahib."

Baba jee leaves for Amritsar
Although Baba Deep Singh Ji was seventy-five years old, he still had the strength of a young warrior. He gathered a large group of Sikhs and advanced towards Sir Harmandar Sahib. By the time they reached the Taran Taaran, about ten miles from Amritsar, the number of Singhs had risen to about five thousand. At this time, Baba Ji drew a line on the ground with his Khanda (double-edged sword), and asked only those who were willing to fight and die to cross the line. Those willing to die for the Guru and give up their attachment for their homes and families crossed the line eagerly. Baba Deep Singh Ji then recited the shabad:
ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥
ਇਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੈਰੁ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥20॥
“Those who wish to play the game of love (follow the Guru‘s path), come to me with your head in your palm. If you wish your feet to travel this path, don't delay in accepting to give your head. 20”
(Ang 1412, SGGS)

Clash with the Mughals
At the news of the approach of Singhs, the Governor of Lahore sent one of his generals with an army of twenty thousand to face them. His army took up position six miles north of Amritsar and waited for the Singhs there. Both the armies clashed near Gohalwarh on the 11th November, 1757. Baba Deep Singh Ji fought with his 'khanda', double-edged sword, which weighed 32lbs (15+ kg). Despite his old age, he carried the strength of a young warrior. Fighting bravely, the Singhs pushed the army back and reached village Chabba where Attal Khan came forward and fierce battle ensued during which Attal Khan inflicted a blow on Baba Deep Singh Ji severing his head from his body. Baba Deep Singh, more than seventy-five years of age at that time, started to lose his footing under the impact of the blow, when a Sikh reminded him, "Baba ji, you had resolved (Ardaasa soddhyaa see) to reach the Parkarma of Sri Darbar Sahib." On hearing this, an inhuman energy suddenly took over, and Baba ji placed his head on the palm of one hand and with the other hand moved his 15+kg Khanda (double-edged sword) with such ferocity and strength that enemy soldiers started running away in panic. Thus, Baba Deep Singh made his way to the Parkarma (circumferance) of Sri Harmandar Sahib where, due to the severe injury, attained martyrdom.
Baba jee lays to rest at Harmandir Sahib
The Singhs celebrated the holiday of Divali of 1757 in Sri Harmandar Sahib. The place where his head had fallen is marked by a stone and the Sikhs go past this place on their way to pay obeisance in Sri Darbar Sahib. It reminds them that the way to Sri Darbar Sahib is paved with the sacrifices of people like Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji.

Baba Deep Singh Ji's shaheedi incited the Sikhs to continue to fight against oppression for many years. Even today, his life serves as an example for all Sikhs on how to live and die with dignity, and never stand or tolerate the beadbi (violation of sanctity) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji or Gurdwaras. This is a message, which we can all learn from and aspire to follow, and ensure that Gurdwaras and individuals upkeep the respect and dignity of Gurmat and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, something which has been highlighted by the recent sacriligious acts committed against Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in various places in Punjab.

Dhan Guru, Dhan Guru Piaare.
Dhan Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji.
ਧੰਨ ਉਹ ਧਰਤੀ ਧੰਨ ਉਹ ਬਾਪੂ, ਧੰਨ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਮਾਈ ।
ਢੰਗ ਜਿਉਣ ਦਾ ਜਿਸਦਾ ਪੁੱਤਰ, ਦੱਸ ਗਿਆ ਸਦੀਆ ਸਾਈਂ ।
“Blessed is that land, blessed is that father, blessed is the great mother. Who’s son has shown the way to live, for centuries to come.”