Thursday, July 20, 2017

Loving Tribute to Bhai Jagraj Singh (Basics of Sikhi)...

Today our brother, Bhai Jagraj Singh from Basics of Sikhi, left his earthly body and was sent summons by Akaal Purakh. It is a great loss for the Panth. Veer Ji showed great dedication to sharing Sikhi with the world. Where most of us drown our lives absorbed in WhatsApp, Facebook and selfish pursuits, Veer Ji showed us to get out of our comfort zones and recognise our duty and responsibility bestowed upon us by the Guru to share the bliss, happiness and peace that Sikhi offers the world.

Veer Ji was the founder and CEO of Basics of Sikhi. With Guru Ji's Kirpaa (Grace), Basics of Sikhi has revolutionised Sikhi Parchaar, and Veer Ji's contribution to this Seva will be remembered when the history of Sikhi in the 21st century is written. Guru Ji had blessed Veer Ji with inspiring many with his style and approach to Parchaar. He showed courage and boldness in beginning street Parchaar and reaching out to the wider public in sharing Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sikhi, engaging in debates with other religions' speakers, making Sikhi accessible on YouTube, and systematically teaching Sikhi via Sikh courses throughout the country and world. Most importantly, with Guru Ji's Grace, he has inspired others to step up to the mark to share Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sikhi with the world. A Parchaarik course has been started, and more and more young Sikhs from the West are pursuing a life vocation of Parchaar of Sikhi.

Bhai Jagraj Singh doing street Parchaar on the streets of UK
Bhai Jagraj Singh delivering the "Why Guru?" course, introducing Sikhi for beginners.

Veer Ji will be greatly missed. I hope his inspiration continues after his death, and countless generations will be inspired to get up and do something for the Panth. May we all live and die as the Khalsa as Veer Ji mentions in his speech in the above video.

Friday, July 14, 2017

(Video) Wake up call: The role of Sikh women...

Below is a motivating and moving speech by Dr. Harshinder Kaur. Dr. Harshinder Kaur reveals the unbeliveble crimes being commiting against women and how today a woman is not safe in her own home. Dr Kaur goes on to explain what the Khalsa Panth is and using Sikh history explains the true role of Sikh women. A must listen speech.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Food cleanliness and vibrations...

 A food vendor in India caught urinating in the jug used for serving food

Nowadays, awareness of physical cleanliness regarding food has increased. Countries in the West have even made laws and regulations in regards to standards for acceptable and unacceptable food hygiene. However, even still, a lot of people believe "ignorance is bliss" and "what you don't know, won't hurt." Most people would rather not think about the people cooking their food when eating outside of their home, knowing in the back of the mind that there is a chance that someone has probably picked their nose and served the burger, wiped their sweat before serving the gol gappe, or not washing their hands after going to the toilet 

In accordance to Gurbani, just by the fact of "not knowing" or "not thinking about it" does not mean that it doesn't have a physical effect on this. This is what science says as well. If someone doesn't cook in a hygienic environment, adhering to hygiene rules, whether it is a restaurant, your own house, or the Gurdwara Sahib, it is inevitable that there is a high risk of the eater falling sick or not feel well after eating. Gurbani says:
ਜੋ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਭਾਂਡੇ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਸਾ ਨਿਕਲੈ ਕਿਆ ਕੋਈ ਕਰੇ ਵੇਚਾਰਾ ॥
"Whatever You place in the body-vessel, that alone comes out again. What can the poor person (now) do?"
(Aasa M:4, 449)

So, being conscience of what you eat, who cooks it, where it is cooked, and how it is cooked, plays a role in your physical well-being. However, Guru Sahib goes one step further, and says, spiritual cleanliness is just as important in order to preventing one from falling spiritually sick or unwell. Gurbani says:
ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
"O Baba! The pleasures of all other foods are false, eating which the body is ruined, and negative thoughts and vices enter into the mind. ||1||Pause||"
(Siree Raag M:1, 16)

Gurbani tells us that food devoid of Naam, i.e. spiritual vibrations, is cursed. This means that our thoughts, our vibrations, go into the food when cooking it. Practitioners of health and spirituality state that cooked food becomes sensitive to vibration. Whoever handles it imbues it with their vibration. In a house where there's affection, that will go into the food and that will nourish the people's minds. But in a hotel or a restaurant, there's nothing like that. Eating fast food, will make the mind wander fast. For this reason, Gurbani says:
ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਚੇਤਨੀ ਤਿਨ ਧਿਗੁ ਪੈਨਣੁ ਧਿਗੁ ਖਾਣੁ ॥੧॥
“O Nanak! Those who do not contemplate on Naam, the Name of the Lord – cursed are their clothes, and cursed is their food. ||1||”
(Sorath M:3, 646) 
ਚੋਰਾ ਜਾਰਾ ਰੰਡੀਆ ਕੁਟਣੀਆ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ॥
ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕਾ ਖਾਣੁ ॥
ਸਿਫਤੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਵਸੈ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥

“Thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps (i.e. immoral people) make friendships with the unrighteous and eat the food prepared from the unrighteous. Those people do not know the value of the Lord’s Praises (i.e. their internal Naam Jaap stops), and Satan (desires, anger, greed, emotional attachment, and ego) takes residence in the mind.”
(Soohee M:1, 790)

Bhai Chaupa Singh's Rehatnama gives instruction to choose one's chef wisely, and choose a spiritually-disciplined individual.
ਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ ਸਿਖ, ਸਰਦਾਰ ਹੋਵੈ, ਸ਼ਾਹੂਕਾਰ ਹੋਵੈ, ਮੁਸਦੀ ਹੋਵੈ,
ਆਪਣੇ ਲੰਗਰ ਰਸੋਈ ਵਿਚ ਸਿਖ ਰਖੇ ॥
ਹੁਕਈ, ਟੋਪੀਆ, ਭਾਦਣੀ, ਚੋਰ, ਯਾਰ, ਜੂਏਬਾਜ਼, ਕੁਰਹਿਤੀਆ ਨਾ ਰਖੈ ॥
“A Sikh of the Guru, whether a leader, wealthy or educated, should keep only a Sikh in their langar and kitchen. Smokers, hat-wearers, those who shave their hair, thieves, gamblers, and those who commit any of the cardinal prohibitions should not be kept”
(Rehitnama Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji – Piara Singh Padam, pg. 85)
Each person's thoughts, words, and deeds play an important role in the differences in vibrations. When we go to some places we get a good feeling and there is a good atmosphere, whereas other places make us want to leave as soon as possible. This depends on the thought vibrations of people who live there. This is why we feel a divine presence in the Saadh Sangat that brings calm, whereas the atmosphere where there is meat and alcohol is confused and tense. For this reason, Gurbani tells us to avoid the company of the faithless. This includes eating food cooked and served by the faithless:
ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਦੂਰਹਿ ਜਾਈਐ ਭਾਗਿ || 
ਬਾਸਨੁ ਕਾਰੋ ਪਰਸੀਐ ਤਉ ਕਛੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਦਾਗੁ ||੧੩੧||
“Kabeer, do not associate with the faithless; run far away from them. If you touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot will stick to you.”
(Salok Bhagat Kabeer Ji, p. 1371)
ਜਾਕੀ ਰਹਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਨਹੀ ਚੀਤ ||
ਉਨਕਾ ਭੋਜਨ ਖਾਇਕੈ ਬਿਸਰਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤ ||

“One has no Rehat (spiritual discipline) and doesn’t contemplate on the GurMantar (given by the Panj-Piaare). Eating from such a person you will forget the love of God.”
(Rehatnama: Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji)

According to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, in Mahan Kosh, he describes this commitment to conscience spiritual living in accordance to the guidelines instructed by the Guru as being called 'Bibek'. He writes, a 'Bibeki' is one who reflects Gurmat on all aspects of their daily living, and firmly strives to live to Sikh principals. 'Bibek-Daan' is something we pray for everyday in our daily Ardaas. We pray for the gift of able to discriminate what is good and bad for our spirituality in all aspects of our life.
ਤੈਸੇ ਖਲ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਮੈਂ ਅਸਾਧ ਸਾਧ ਸਮ ਦੇਹ
ਬੂਝਤ ਬਿਬੇਕੀ ਜਲ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਮਾਈ ਕੈ ॥੫੯੭॥
"Similarly, in the eyes of a foolish person, spiritually good and spiritually bad people are seen the same; but a Bibeki knows how to separate milk from water like a swan. They have the ability to distinguish between the two. (597)"
(Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Vaar 42)

As spiritual-beings we have to live and contribute to society. It is inevitable to come across people with both negative and positive thoughts, and those spiritually intuned and those spiritually disconnected. Gurbani lays down the principal that a Sikh, whilst intermingling with others, remains distinct. Gurbani says:
ਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਰਲਾਇਆ ਨਾ ਰਲੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥੨॥
"Those humble beings who are filled with 'Bibek-Beechaar' (divine wisdom and contemplation to analyse)-even though they intermingle with others (that are false or unrighteous), they remain distinct and do not conform. ||2||"
(Siree Raag M:3, 28)

This distinctiveness that safeguards our spirituality and mind, encompasses distinctiveness in physical dress, they way we speak, the way we eat, the way we conduct ourselves, and the principles we adhere to. This is called Rehat, or code of conduct, which is given to us when one commits to the Guru by taking Amrit.
ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਦਾਨਾ ਰੂਖਾ ਸੋ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਧਾਨ ||
ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਸਾਕਤ ਛਤੀਹ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਤੇ ਬਿਖੂ ਸਮਾਨ ||੨||

“The dry bread from the (homes of the) Gurmukhs is equal to all treasures. The thirty-six tasty dishes from (the home of) the faithless one, are (known to be) just like poison.”

(Bilaaval M:5, 815)

ਊਤਮ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਊਤਮੁ ਹੋਵੈ|| ਗੁਣ ਕਉ ਧਾਵੈ ਅਵਗਣ ਧੋਵੈ ||

“In the uplifting society, one is uplifted. He chases after virtue and washes off his sins.”

(Aasa M:1, 414)

ਨਾਨਕ ਕਚੜਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਤੋੜਿ ਢੂਢਿ ਸਜਣ ਸੰਤ ਪਕਿਆ ||

“O Nanak! Break away from the false, and seek out the Saints, your true friends.”
(Maaroo M:5, 1102)

Monday, July 03, 2017

Exposed: Fraud and deception in the name of religion...

Sikhs respect all religions, and everyone's freedom to practise their religion. Guru Teg Bahadar Ji, the ninth Guru, gave their life for this freedom for all to live with respect and dignity. If someone freely chooses to convert from one religion to another, there is no objection. However, the objection is when deception, manipulation, greed, and fear are used to coerce someone to convert their religion, even if the individual is made to "feel" or "believe" they have converted out of "choice".

I have come across cases where young individuals from nominal Sikh families have "chosen" to convert to another religion. Again, there is no objection if someone actually knows what they had "given up" in order to embrace something new. When questioned why they wish to "abandon" Sikhi, they replied, "Sikhi is not a true religion... It has not answered my questions.... it is a false religion..." They further said that they had now found the true new religion.

Now, the first issue is, before you drop something, did you even try it? I asked if this person actually read Gurbani, done Nitnem, practised Naam-Simran, been involved in Seva, woke up at Amritvela, or followed Rehat. The answer as you can imagine was, "no." I asked how much knowledge they had about Sikhi. They didn't even knowthe names of the Ten Gurus, let alone accurately describe Sikh history. They claimed Sikhi was not divine, and that Gurbani had no answers, yet they have never learnt Gurbani, studied the meanings of Gurbani, and nor read Gurbani with an open heart and mind from beginning to end.

Lets imagine that someone goes to a restaurant and publicly proclaims, "This restaurant is awful, I am never eating here again. This restaurant should be closed down. From now on, I am taking my business to the restaurant across the road, because they cook awesome food." Now, knowing that the individual has not eaten anything at the restaurant that day, knowing that they have never before seen or tried the menu offered, and never ever sat down on a table in the restaurant ready to eat. It doesn't make sense. I am sure everyone would agree that the restaurant owners and staff would have the right to question the individual and his motivations or understanding behind his choice to go to another restaurant, and make such a bold public statement.

How can someone abandon Sikhi, when they never had Sikhi. What is Sikhi? A name badge? Just a uniform? No. Sikhi is a way of seeing the world, a way of living your life, and a path of complete submission to the Guru. If someone did everything as the Guru prescribed, and said, "Hang on guys, this is not my cup of tea!" Furthermore, they  allowed Gursikhs to talk to them, but were not satisfied and still convinced they wished to walk another path, then one would accept that they have a free choice to do as they please.

Some years back there was an article on a Christian website (now taken down) about the Christian missionary (in photo) who wears Sikh dress and seeks Sikhs converts, dreaming one day to convert Sri Darbaar Sahib into a cathedral.

Recently, issues regarding some Christian missionaries in Punjab actively seeking to convert Sikhs to Christianity through deception and greed has surfaced. A video went viral of a Punjabi Christian sister trying to evangelise and proselytise to seek Sikhs, using flimsy and cringe-worthy attempts to justify her objective by misquoting Gurbani and telling Sikhs what Sikhi is. Thank you, but no thanks. Many Sikhs around the world, including myself, didn't appreciate someone outside of the faith, who has little knowledge of Gurbani and Sikhi, dictating to Sikhs what their religion is by using false statements, and it the end stating that their false representation was "elevating Sikhi to a higher status".

Then I saw on the Internet, how some Christian "Faith Healers" in Punjab are targeting the Sikh community with claims of, able to cure cancer and other diseases. Desperately ill people, seeing such staged dramas become drawn in with the hope that they can get better. However, how real are these "faith healings"? Below, is a clip from a documentary that came on British television a few years back. The documentary was called "Miracles for Sale" (the full documentary is on the link given below the video). The presenter, Derren Brown, analysed the claims of healing in the Bible belt of the USA, and proved that an actor can do the same thing as these apparent faith-healers were doing in a public display to lure converts. Genuine healings would not be publicised and misused in such a manner, and used as a cheap selling tool to gain vulnerable converts.

To watch full documentary: Miracles for Sale 

I was listening to one discussion debate on a news channel, where one Punjabi Christian Minister refuted claims that deception, greed and manipulation of vulnerable people was used by some missionaries in Punjab for converting Sikhs. The response to the Sikh panelist was, "We provide free education to the illiterate, clothes to needy, food to the hungry, jobs to the jobless... what crime is there in that. We are helping humanity. Our religion teaches us to love one another. When we show compassion to humanity, we are accused of converting others using greed and deception."  

Sikh institutions provide free education in Punjab, and every Gurdwara provides free food to the hungry etc, however never will you find that a non-Sikh eats Langar at the Gurdwara with the condition that they must now attend a Sikh prayer session or religious seminar every week. Never has an example come forward where a poor person from another religion has been given a job on the condition that they have to come once a week to the Gurdwara to read and understand Gurbani. Never has an example come to light, that a Sikh has offered a loan to poor person on the condition that they don't have to pay back the loan as long as they attend the Gurdwara every week to hear a lecture on Sikhi. 

A poor Sikh who converted after being offered free hospital treatment which he could not afford in return for becoming a Christian.
On the other hand, there are numerous examples of other religions that are actively seeking to convert others to their religion, where vulnerable people have been targeted with jobs, food, education and generosity with a clause. This "compassion" is with strings attached, and being done with an agenda.  When organizations like Khalsa Aid, United Sikhs and Self Relief provided humanitarian aid to disaster zones in parts of the world where there are no Sikhs living there, they do so with the sole aim of helping humanity. There is no agenda that if we help them then they will convert to Sikhi.

A philosopher once said, “History is reflective of a religion, its race and their actions in love of their faith.” I am proud to be a Sikh. By analysing Sikh history, one understands what Sikhi is about. A Sikh doesn't necessarily need to talk about compassion to others, fighting for justice and freedom of others, and helping others... our history says it all. There are good and bad individuals in all religious and non-religious communities. However, in the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no race has been slaughtered. In the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no rape has been committed. In the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no individual or race have been made into slaves. In the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no one has been seen and treated as an inferior race or religion. In the name of Sikhi or Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no nation has been subjugated. In the name of Sikhi or Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no non-Sikh religious place of worship has been destroyed or attacked. 

I would welcome all to read Gurbani, read Sikh history and truly experience Sikhi by "living" it, before commenting or supposedly denouncing it in search for something they think is "better."

Sikhs love all humanity and people of all religions. Sikh history bares witness that the Gurus and Sikhs following them, gave their lives to protect people of other religions and their right to live freely without discrimination. Everyday, a Sikh prays for the prosperity of all humanity. Whilst a Sikh firmly holds that the Sikh path is the complete truth and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Saviour of humanity, a true Sikh will never insult or degrade any religion to hurt anyone's feelings. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, was once asked by Bahadar Shah, the Mughal Emperor, "which religion is the best?" Being a perfect example of a stateman and champion for all humanity, Guru Ji replied, "Just as your religion is the most beautiful for you, my religion is the most beautiful for me."

May we all live in peace and respect one another, whilst denouncing those elements of any community that use deception, hatred, fear, greed, manipulation and lies against others.

Related web articles:

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Oxford University 1984 Sikh Holocaust Memorial Event...

On Saturday 10th June, a 1984 Sikh holocaust memorial event was held at Oxford University. The event was organised by Bhenji Gurpal Kaur of the Oxford University Sikh Society. I was invited to deliver a talk on the events of the June 1984 holocaust. The event was mostly attended by non-Sikhs who showed great interest to know about genocide committed by the Indian State against Sikhs.

The talk was followed by a minute's silence and candle-light vigil. The candle lights had nicely been arranged in the shape of 'Ik Oankaar'. Bhenji Gurpal Kaur explained to those attending what the meaning of 'Ik Oankaar' is. 

The lighting of the candles symbolised that the memory of those who became martyrs and cause for what they stood for is still brightly shining today in our hearts and minds, and is something that will passed down to the future generations.

Near the end of the event, a Gujarati Hindu brother who attended the event approached me. He asked many questions regarding the Sikh freedom struggle and the Sikh demands for sovereign rule, as well as other questions. After a lengthy polite discussion, the young man asked, "Would you mean, if you tied a turban on me?" He said that he had wanted to have a turban tied on him for attending a final leaving event as part of a cultural dress, however after hearing the talk on 1984, he realized how having a Dastaar tied on was a very befitting tribute to the martyrs of 1984. In June 1984, Sikh pilgrims had their Dastaars removed and dishonoured, and in November 1984 Sikhs had their turbans removed before being killed in cold blood, and today a Hindu brother wanted to honour those who had died and been martyred by wearing a Dastaar.