Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Are You a Buddhist?"

I thought its about time for light-hearted post.

Today I was thinking about an incident, which happened with me at the beginning of my second year of university (it always put a smile on my face thinking about this). I was living in Halls of Residence, and had moved in earlier than everyone else because I employed as a Senior Student. All that meant was that I worked for the Residence Office to help and support the students at Halls and conduct weekly inspections of the building block. No one had moved into Halls of Residence yet apart from about ten people, including myself, who were working for the Halls of Residence.

I knocked on the doors in my corridor to double-check if anyone had moved in. However, no reply and I couldn't hear anyone. So I thought, "Great! I can do my Paath and Simran without having to worry that I am too loud or disturbing someone's sleep." So at Amrit-Vela I woke up and had a shower while loudly singing "VaheGuroo" (Bhai Niranjan Singh jee Simran tune). Afterwards I sat down on my bed and started Naam Abhiaas (meditation). While I was doing Simran I could hear moans and groans but thought to myself either its my stomach or water is stuck in my ears as no one else has moved into Halls. So I loudly continued to do Simran.

Afterwards I began reading morning Nitnem Banian (daily prayers) and I heard banging. I thought "O Mind! What's happening? What am I hearing. No one has moved in. Perhaps its a structural problem in the building." I continued reading Baani with full force. Eventually I had very loud banging on my door. I thought "Hai, Hai ! Wonder who that could be." I opened the door to find a half asleep foreign bald skin-headed man (he reminded me a Buddhist monk). He looked baffled, stunned and bit annoyed. I said, "Hello". He just stared at me gob smacked and then I realised perhaps he hadn't probably seen a Singh before, let alone a Kachheraa and Kirpaan. He then managed to say "What are you doing man!" "Ermm... Doing my morning meditation and prayers". "Do you know what time it is! I am trying to go to sleep." "Sleep? Where do you live?" He replied "Next door." I said "Sorry, I didn't realise anyone had moved in". And then he staggered back to his room.

I continued my Nitnem ("trying" to keep it as quiet as possible!). I saw the man again sitting on the counter-desk of the Residence Office. I said, "Hello" to him and apologised for disturbing him as I didn't realise anyone had moved in. He said that he was from Brazil and works for the Residence Office.

He looked at my Kirpaan and with a horrified face said, "What's that?" I explained that its called a 'Kirpaan' which is an Article of Faith part of the Saint-Warrior uniform, which a Sikh wears. He then said, "So, you are a Buddhist?" "Buddhist?" I replied. I thought to myself "Do I look like a Buddhist! He said, "Yeah, You are Buddhist?" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! lol. "Ermm… No, I am Sikh." He looked at my Dastaar and me and said, "So, you not Buddhist?" I couldn't believe this bloke! Him being seriously just added to the live comedy! I've heard "Are you are a Hindu?", "Are you from Afghanistan" or "Are you a Muslim", but never "Are you a Buddhist!"

I then explained, "You never heard of a Sikh? Never seen a Sikh - people who have uncut hair and tie a turban on their head?" He said "No." I had to give a quick low down of Sikhi and explain its origins lay in Panjab and not in Tibet or China :)


Singhstah said...

LOL, people have thought i was a buddhist too! i really have no idea how they make that connection!

paramjit singh said...


a buddhist ? that is the doo dallyiest thing ive ever heard.

hope all is well.



Lakhvir singh said...

It's okay now. He'll call the next turbaned guy a Sikh, because he's seen one now. Next, he might call a Muslim and/or Buddhist a Sikh! He's learning, it's okay. ;)

Anonymous said...

It's a shame you didn't use this change accurance to explore the our relationship with Buddhists.
There are striking similarities (and also of course major differences) between Sikhi and Buddhism. For example the term sangat is used in both religions, the emphasis on the middle way and repression by Bramhins of both of us.

Anonymous said...

Nice story veerji.

A quick low down on Buddhism, it originated in India not Tibet or China.