Friday, May 26, 2017

New short movie: 'Bhagat Singh'....

Panj Teer Records in association with Heritage Productions presents a Punjabi short movie "Bhagat Singh". The film is based on meeting of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji with Shaheed Bhagat Singh Ji at Central Jail Lahore on the day of release of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji. The episode is recorded by Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji in his autobiography titled in Punjabi ‘Jail Chithian’.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sikhs rally to be of service after Manchester arena attack...

Yesterday I woke up in the morning and switched on the news whilst eating breakfast to see news of the Manchester terror attack outside an arena where there was pop concert. The pop concert was mainly attended by young girls and their mothers. Sitting in the car going to work, I listened to the news on BBC Radio 4. The radio had interviews of teenagers and parent who were in the area of the attack or had loved ones in the area. It made my stomach churn how someone could commit such a crime in the name of God, thinking they could get paradise, prove a point, or get revenge.

In 1520, seeing the terror committed by the Mughal invader Babar on the terrified public, Guru Nanak Dev Ji proclaimed:
ਏਤੀ ਮਾਰ ਪਈ ਕਰਲਾਣੇ ਤੈਂ ਕੀ ਦਰਦੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥ 
There was so much slaughter and people screamed; (O cruel Babar!) Didn't you feel any compassion (committing such an act). ||1||
ਕਰਤਾ ਤੂੰ ਸਭਨਾ ਕਾ ਸੋਈ ॥ 
O Creator Lord, You are the carer of all.

ਜੇ ਸਕਤਾ ਸਕਤੇ ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ ਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਰੋਸੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

If a powerful person strikes out against another powerful person, then no one feels any grief in their mind (because it is an equal fight). ||1||Pause and reflect|| 

(Aasa M:1, 360)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Japji Sahib (the first prayer of the Sikhs) tells us that dharam, the righteous and just path, is based on daya, compassion.
ਧੌਲੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਾ ਪੂਤੁ ||
"It is Dharam that supports the world's existence; this is born from compassion"
(Japji, 3)

Compassion is the basis of the Sikhi, and everything a Sikh does, because God is All-Compassionate. Keeping the above it mind, it was of no surprise that on Monday night, Manchester's Sikh community immediately came forward to help those injured and stranded after the terrible attack. All four of Manchester’s gurdwaras provided free food and shelter to those in the need, whilst Sikh taxi drivers offered free rides to the hospitals to those injured in the attack.

All this compassion came from Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The Sikh Gurus empowered their Sikhs to cultivate an environment of caring and sharing wherever they go in the world, and contribute to the beautification of society. When begin to care, we will share not only our food, but also share one another's suffering and sorrow. 

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, mandated his Sikhs to feed and protect the needy wherever they go is true victory (Degh-Tegh-Fateh). Protecting the needy includes fighting for justice and speaking up against tyranny. This timeless message of the Sikh Gurus is forever relevant for all people, of all places, for all times!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Vaisakhi Talk by Bhai Jagraj Singh...

Bhai Jagraj Singh's delivered a talk at the Trafalgar Square Vaisakhi celebrations. It was a short and concise message that summed in Sikhi really well. I would recommend all to watch:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How should we deal with people we disagree with?...

ਸਿੰਘ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਰ ਸ਼ਸਤ੍ਰ ਨ ਕਰੇ | ਜਾਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਤੇ ਡਰੇ |੪੩|
“A Sikh should never attack another Sikh. He should recognise others as the Guru Khalsa and should remain fearful of them.” 
(Rehatnama: Bhai Desa Singh Ji)

It is very sad and shameful to hear about the incident at Frankfurt Gurdwara that took place on Sunday 14th May, where a Parchaarik (preacher) was physically attacked and his Dastaar (turban) removed by an angry mob that had come to oppose him, followed by a clash by followers of both parties. Watching the video footage, you can see people opposing the Parchaarik swearing, using obscene language, and quite frankly acting like hooligans, which resulted in the Police entering the Gurdwara Sahib with their shoes on.

On analysis of Rehatnamay (Sikh codes of conduct), Guru Ji clearly and firmly condemns such acts against other Sikhs. The Tankhaahnama of Bhai Chaupa Singh  Ji mentions that those who commit such acts, become Thankhaiya (liable for religious disciplinary action, including socio-religious boycott).
1) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ, ਸਿੱਖ ਦੇ ਦਾੜ੍ਹੇ ਹੱਥ ਪਾਏ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ।   
"A Sikh who pulls another Sikh's beard is a Thankhaiya."
2) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ, ਸਿੱਖ ਦੇ ਕੇਸਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਹੱਥ ਪਾਏ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ।
"A Sikh who pulls another Sikh's Kes (hair) is a Thankhaiya."
3) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਨਾਲ ਹੱਥੋਂ-ਪਾਈ-ਲੜਾਈ ਕਰੇ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ।
"One who gets involved in a physical fight with a Sikh is a Thankhaiya."
4)  ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਨਾ ਗੰਦ-ਜਬਾਬ ਕਰੈ, ਸੋ ਗੰਦਾ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ |
"One who responds to a Sikh with a filthy mouth, is a filthy Thankhaiya." 
5) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਜਾਣ ਬੁਝ ਕੇ ਸਿਖ ਨੂੰ ਦੁਖ ਦੇਵੇ, ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ |
"A Sikh who knowingly gives pain to another a Sikh, is a Thankhaiya."

For the above five you can imagine how many Thankhaiye are out there now. How can we talk about the Chardi Kala of the Panth? The following code talks about one who doesn’t stop the fight even if asked by a fellow Sikh is also a Thankhaiya:
6) ਜੋ ਦੁਇ ਸਿਖ ਆਪਸ ਵਿਚ ਲੜਨ, ਸਿੱਖ ਮਨ੍ਹਾ ਕਰਨ ਅਤੇ ਲੜਾਈ ਨਾ ਛਡਣ, ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਈਏ ।    
"When two Sikhs are fighting amongst themselves and a Sikh tells them not to but they continue, they are Thankhaiye."
Sikhs across the world felt ashamed that people claiming to be defending Sikhi had actually insulted Sikhi and helped anti-Sikh forces and governments that seek to destroy or damage Sikhi. Such things do not help, when countries like Italy, the same week have declared that a Sikh cannot wear a Kirpan in Italy. Such low level behaviour by a minority of people (many of whom had dishonoured their Guru-given Kes and most likely drink alcohol), will surely give ammunition to those who don't understand us, or oppose us, to shut down our Gurdwaras, ban our Kakkaars, and stop future Nagar Kirtans.

To be frank, I am neither in favour of the Parchaarik, nor in favour of those that came to the Gurdwara to fight, swear, and celebrated afterwards the fact that another Sikh's Dastaar was removed. However, all Sikhs I am sure, will agree that mindless violence, obscene language, and hooliganism has no  place in Sikhi or any Gurdwara. This incident highlights a bigger issue of how we should deal with people we disagree with. Do we have to result to violence, obscene language and hooligan behaviour in our Gurdwaras?

Let's reflect on Sikh history. Who did Bhai Ghanaiya Singh Ji give water in the battle-field? To those who had left home with the intention to attack and kill Guru Gobind Singh Ji and his Sikhs. Guru Ji was so impressed, that he gave him a medicine box and instructed him to bandage. And today, there are people in the appearance of Sikhs, taking off the Dastaars of fellow Sikhs and shouting obscenities at them because of differences in interpretation of Maryada and history. Isn't this madness? It is even more strange, that only certain Parchaariks are targeted, and other groups and sections of the Sikh community whom the same people disagree with on matters regarding Maryada are overlooked and instead embraced with brotherly love.

People will often justify these angry mob attacks on Parchaariks and promote violence against fellow Sikhs with differing views on social media, by quoting that Guru Gobind Singh Ji punished the Masands (appointed deputies) with death. However, on reading the historical account given in Guru Kian Sakhian, it is clear that Guru Gobind Singh Ji was asked by the wife of Baba Ram Rai Ji, Mata Punjab Kaur, for help. Baba Ram Rai, had already asked for forgiveness from the Guru for his past mistakes. Mata Punjab Kaur complained to Guru Ji at Paonta Sahib that the greedy Masands had burnt alive Baba Ram Rai Ji in order to take over  power. At the time, Baba Ram Rai was in deep meditation, and knowing this the Masands burnt him alive and forciby cremated him. Hearing this, the Sikhs gathered these guilty Masands and gave them the same punishment they had inflicted on Baba Ram Rai Ji. Similarly, the murderers of the Sahibzaade were punished to death. But sadly, this account of history has been retold with different intentions and objectives and used to argue we can go around and punish to death whoever we like. If this was the case, then why was this a one-off incident? Why didn't Guru Sahib punish to death every single Sikh who went against him, disagreed with him, became greedy etc. It doesn't add up. There are different versions of the Masands being punished provided by different writers, and for this reason, we have to read history in light of Gurbani.

Historically, from the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sikhs have disagreed with a number of people and groups. But never, has it resulted in attacking someones place of worship or assembly, swearing at them and their followers, taking off someones dastaar, or pulling someone off stage with disrespect.

Examples from Sikh history of how to deal with people with people holding opposing ideologies and beliefs:

1) Baba Sri Chand Ji and Udaasis
Baba Sri Chand Ji disagreed with Guru Nanak Dev Ji and followed a different path, contrary to Sikh teachings. Gurbani says:
ਪੁਤ੍ਰੀ ਕਉਲੁ ਨ ਪਾਲਿਓ ਕਰਿ ਪੀਰਹੁ ਕੰਨ੍ਹ ਮੁਰਟੀਐ ॥ 
"The Guru's sons (Baba Sri Chand Ji and Baba Lakhmi Das Ji) did not obey His Word; they turned their backs on Him as Guru."
(Raamkalee Bhai Satta and Balwand Ji, 967)
However, Sikhs never pursued Baba Sri Chand Ji, harassed him, or tried to prevent him from preaching his individual path. Udasis continued to preach their own path, and made their own Deras. J. D. Cunningham writes that Guru Amar Das Ji was "active in preaching and successful in obtaining converts. He found an attentive listener in the tolerant Akbar. He saved the infant church from early death by wholly separating the passive and recluse Udasis from the regular Sikhs" (A History of the Sikhs, p.45).

2) Bhai Datu Ji kicking the Guru
Bhai Datu Ji was the son of Guru Angad Dev Ji. He was angry that his father had appointed Guru Amar Das Ji as his successor, instead of him. When Guru Amar Das Ji was sitting on their throne, Bhai Dattu Ji angrily kicked Guru Sahib. Guru Amar Das Ji did not respond with anger or hate, but rather apologised to him, saying, “Pardon me; my hard bones must have hurt your foot.” Thus reflecting the Guru’s great humility and wisdom. Guru Ji himself, role modeled the behaviour that is needed for the Guru's Darbaar.

3) Baba Prithi Chand Ji and Meene
Baba Prithi Chand Ji, elder brother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, was a key factor in Guru Arjan Dev Ji's shaheedi (martyrdom). He plotted and planned against the Guru, and actively preached against Guru Arjan Dev Ji. However, the Guru allowed him to get on with what he was doing, and Guru Sahib carried on their Parchaar. Yes, Sikhs were instructed to boycott to the followers of Baba Prithi Chand who started their own lineage of Guruship and attempted to forge Gurbani. But the boycott, did not involve verbal or physical attacks.

4) Baba Dhir Mal and Dheer Maleeye
Baba Dhir Mall was the elder son of Baba Gurditta Ji and grandson of Guru Hargobind Ji. He had in possession the original Pothi Sahib (or Aad Granth Ji) that had been left at Kartarpur at the time Guru Hargobind moved his residence to Kiratpur Sahib. After Guru Har Rai's succession to Guruship, Baba Dhir Mal set himself up as a parallel Guru at Kartarpur and appointed his own deputies. After Guru Har Krishan Ji had left his earthly body, Baba Dhir Mall moved to Bakala in the hope Sikhs would be fooled in accepting him as the Ninth Guru. On the appointment of Guru Teg Bahadar Ji, Baba Dir Mall turned against his uncle and conspired with one of his masands (agents), Shihan, who one day fired a bullet at Guru Tegh Bahadar Ji but missed. His men attacked the Guru's house and ransacked it unchecked, which was recovered by Baba Makhan Shah, but then asked to be given back to Baba Dhir Mall by Guru Teg Bahadar Ji. At no point, did the Guru ask the Sikhs to attack, loot, rob or swear at Baba Dhir Mall or his followers. Even now, his descendants, the Sodhis, are in possession of the Kartarpuri Beerh, however, Sikhs have never felt it appropriate to forcibly take it from them or to shout at them insults like 'Gur Nindaks'.

5) Baba Ram Rai Ji and Ramraiye
Baba Ram Rai Ji, the eldest son of Guru Har Rai Ji, disobeyed his father and changed Gurbani. He was turned away by the Guru and his followers were boycotted. However, at no point did Sikhs decide to attack his Dera (dwelling) or stop him from speaking etc. Sikhs carried on with their Parchaar, and Ramraiye carried on with theirs. Yes, Sikhs do not keep social relations with them, do not visit their homes or places of worship, marry into their families, or eat from their hands. However, again there is no verbal or physical abuse involved.

6) Naamdhari
Namdharis are a break away group from Sikhs who claim that after Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Baba Balak Singh was given guruship, and not Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the Khalsa Panth. To this day, Naamdharis have a human lineage of Gurus. They do not accept Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Guru, they are against wearing blue, get married around a fire instead of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and do not wear a Kirpan (but miniature symbol embedded in the Kangha). Now, has anyone heard that Sikhs have decided to attack all Namdhari places of worship, stop their Parchaariks and shout and scream at them? No. They get on with their own religion, and Sikhs get on with their Parchaar.

Within, Sikhs there are differing opinions and practises on some issues. However, at the end of the day, if we believe Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is our Guru, have taken Khande-Di-Pahul from the Panj Pyaare, wear the Panj Kakkaar, and accept the supremacy of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, we are all Sikhs.

If our Nihang Singh brothers in their Dals sacrifice goats, eat meat, and do Parkaash of three Granths together, and another Sikh disagrees with that, does that give them the right to swear at them, or prevent them from speaking at their Dals? No. They have the right to do what they genuinely believe is Sikhi, and the other Sikh has the right to put forward his view to the Sangat in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and educate the Sangat, whilst promoting brotherly love for all Sikhs regardless.

If our Nanaksar brothers in their Deras do not allow married people to sit on the Tabiyaa to do seva, recite from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, do Keertan, or they don't believe in flying a Nishaan Sahib, making Degh, saying "Raj Karega Khalsa" or making Langar at their Gurdwaras, then does that give another Sikh the right to attack them, swear at them with obsenties, or try to remove their Dastaars? No. They have the right to do what they genuinely believe is Sikhi, and the other Sikh has the right to put forward his view to the Sangat in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and educate the Sangat, whilst promoting brotherly love for all Sikhs regardless.

Similarly, if some of our Missionary College brothers do not believe in the necessity of doing Vahiguru Simran for long periods of time, don't believe in reincarnation, and believe having a bath in a holy Sarovar has only social benefits, rather than spiritual, then does that give another Sikh the right to attack them, swear at them with obscenities, or try to remove their Dastaars? No. They have the right to do what they genuinely believe is Sikhi, and the other Sikh has the right to put forward his view to the Sangat in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and educate the Sangat, whilst promoting brotherly love for all Sikhs regardless.

To counteract wrong Parchaar, the best response would be to do positive parchaar. Get the message of the Guru across in a positive manner, and let the Sangat decide what they accept. If we preach the message of Gurbani and Rehat Maryada in a sincere and loving manner, I am sure the Sangat will be able to see through Parchaar done with the intention of creating doubts, stirring needless controversies on Dasam Granth, Raagmala, Mool Mantar etc, undermining Rehat Maryada, and questioning of Sikh history. It is natural, that if the Parchaariks preaching Gurmat in truest form are doing their job well, Gurdwara committees would book them. If we put our point across with love, dignity, and respect, even the opposition would listen one day, and we can only hope that with Guru's Grace they would see the light.

Let's not play into the hands of anti-Sikh forces. Let's stay united, keep our Gurdwaras free from violence, and stop using bad language against fellow Sikhs we disagree with.
ਸਿੰਘ ਸਿੰਘ ਸੋ ਨੇਹੁ ਸੁ ਕਰਨੋ | ਬੈਰ ਭਾਵ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਪਰਿਹਰਨੋ |
“One should always show love towards other Sikhs. Enmity should be removed from the mind.”
(Rehatnama: Bhai Desa Singh Ji)

Message from 2015 Sarbat Khalsa appointed Acting-Jathedar, Bhai Dhian Singh Mand regarding Frankfurt's incident and a wider appeal to the Sikh Sangat:

Friday, May 05, 2017

Online trolls face prosecution under UK legal guidelines....

ਕਰਤ ਬੁਰਾਈ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਤੇ ਛਪਾਈ ਸਾਖੀ ਭੂਤ ਪਵਾਨ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
"The mortal does evil deeds, and hides from others, but like the air, the Lord is present everywhere (watching). ||1||Pause||"
(Saarang M:5, 1202)

Talking to Police recently about how people are misusing the internet to spread lies and harrass people behind the anonymity of a computer. It was good to hear that the UK law was recently introduced which means internet trolls who post lies on the Facebook, fake blogs or sites can get up to 2 years in prison and now they are making more of an effort to investigate and expose the true identies of such individuals.

News link:
"People in England and Wales who breach the regulations by harassing others on social media would be liable for criminal charges. Examples of potentially criminal behaviour include the practice of “doxxing”, publishing someone else’s personal information such as a home address or bank details, and using a derogatory hashtag to encourage more widespread harassment of your victim, or “virtual mobbing”. 

The guidelines also warn against humiliating someone online by branding them as sexually promiscuous or by posting “disturbing or sinister” doctored images of victims on a social media site. This will be a matter of judgment for prosecutors, who have acknowledged that many doctored images were “humorous and inoffensive”..."

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

How to Sit Cross Legged for Long Periods of Time with Bhai Harbir Singh...

Have you ever wanted to know the most effective way to sit cross legged for prolong periods of time? For Simran, Meditation at home or at the Gurdwara. Bhai Harbir Singh aka the Barefoot Doctor gives us some amazing tips and exercises on how we can all increase the duration of how long we can sit on the floor for.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

India Trip: Hola Mahalla at Anandpur Sahib...

Arriving at Amritsar airport with fellow Gursikhs from UK
In March 2017, I had the first time opportunity to visit Sri Anandpur Sahib during Hola Mahalla. Despite cold weather and rain, we eventually got to Sri Anandpur Sahib. On the journey to Sri Anandpur Sahib, Sangats of local villages stood at roadsides offering food and drink to the Sangat passing by foot or cars. There was so much enthusiasm, love in the local people of Punjab and a feeling of wanting to serve the Sangat. Although the people might not know much about Sikhi or have drifted away from Sikhi Saroop and principals, they still had a yearning to serve the Sangat and felt a connection to Guru Sahib. You could feel that that if these loving people had some direction, some guidance, and someone to explain Sikhi on their level, they would be receptive and would most likely eagerly adopt the Guru's Path.

Throughout Punjab you could see the beloved armies of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Nihang Singhs, slowly but surely making their way to Sri Anandpur Sahib. It was admirable that in age of Kalyug where people are lost in the storm of fashion, trends and materialism, the Nihangs have preserved the Guru's tradition of living in Bana (Khalsa attire) and simple living. I asked Bhai Surjit Singh Ji Nadala, "Bhai Sahib what are your views on when will Khalsa Raaj come?" Bhai Sahib replied, "Whoever wears and holds the Siri Sahib, it is their Raaj." Truly seeing all the Gursikhs wearing their beautiful Bana, and wearing their Siri Sahibs, I could feel what Bhai Sahib meant.

Mata Ji and Bhai Sahib from Sweden
Veer Gursharan Singh from Spain
Akhand Kirtani Jatha India hold its annual Hola Mahalla Keertan Smaagam at Sri Anandpur Sahib. Arriving at Sri Kalgidhar Gurdwara Sahib, the morning Keertan was taking place, which ended in the afternoon with the Anand Kaaraj of a Gursikh couple. I was surprised to see much Sangat from different countries attending the Smaagam. It felt like an international smaagam.

Pyaare Gursikhs from Kashmir and Jammu
An important thing that I experienced at Sri Anandpur Sahib is the Pyaar of the Khalsa family. Walking through Sri Anandpur Sahib I met so many Gursikhs of different backgrounds, e.g. Gore Sikh, Sikhs from different parts of India and other parts of the world, Nihang Singhs, Jatha Bhindran Gursikhs, Akhand Kirtani Jatha Gursikhs, Gursikhs from Sukrit Trust (Bhai Jasbir Singh Khanne Wale) and Gursikhs from Sikh Missionary College. Everyone went out of their way to give a friendly smile and share a warm Fateh. 

Rainsabaaee Keertan
Guru Ka Langar
At the Rainsbaaee Keertan held by the Akhandi Kirtani Jatha, it was moving to see so many Singhs of Nihang Dals, Jatha Bhindran, and other Sampardas, coming to enjoy the Keertan and partake in Langar. No one focused or mentioned the small differences in Maryada, and instead showed pyaar. It is sad that when their is so much pyaar in India, why controversies are stirred in the West or social media to create divides between different Gursikhs. Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji has a beautiful family, but importantly we should be remember we are all part of that beautiful family irrespective of our minor differences in vichaar or maryada. It was truly a memorable Hola Mahalla.

Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib