Sunday, September 23, 2012

"It's okay, it's not tobacco..."

Once I went to the town market and came across a market stall with two Sardaars standing there. I was so happy as seeing a Sardaar is not a usual sight where I live. As I looked closer I realised that they were selling tobacco! Actually most of their stock was tobacco related products and there were big signs on the side of the stall saying "TOBACCO PRODUCTS SOLD HERE." 

Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee states:
ਪਾਨ ਸੁਪਾਰੀ ਖਾਤੀਆ ਮੁਖਿ ਬੀੜੀਆ ਲਾਈਆ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਚੇਤਿਓ ਜਮਿ ਪਕੜਿ ਚਲਾਈਆ ॥੧੩॥
"Those people who eat and chew "Paan" (nicotine betel nuts), and smoke tobacco (meaning that they those who in indulge in intoxicants),  and, do not contemplate or do Simran of Vaheguru - (the cycle of) Death will seize them and take them away (to become entangled in the cycle of reincarnation)."
(Ang 726)

Guru Gobind Singh jee states:
ਸੁਣ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਕੀ ਰਹਿਤ ਕੋ ਤਜੇ ਤਮਾਕੂ ਸੰਗ ||
ਮਰਣੀ ਮਰੈ ਤੌ ਅਤਿ ਭਲਾ ਜਗਤ ਜੂਠ ਨਹਿ ਅੰਗ ||
(ਭਾਈ ਨੰਦ ਲਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ)
"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)

Kavi Santokh Singh (1787-1853), the infamous Sikh poet and historian, writes in Sooraj Parkash Granth:
ਤਨਕ ਤਮਾਕੂ ਸੇਵੀਏ ਦੇਵ ਪਿੱਤ੍ਰ ਤਜਿ ਜਾਇ ॥
ਪਾਨੀ ਤਾਂ ਕੇ ਹਾਥ ਕਾ ਮਦਰਾ ਸਮ ਅਘ ਦਾਇ ॥ 22॥
ਮਦਰਾ ਦਹਿਤਾ ਸਪਤਿ ਕੁਲ ਭੰਗੁ ਦਹੈ ਤਨ ਏਕ ॥
ਸ਼ਤ ਕੁਲ ਦਹਿਤਾ ਜਗਤ ਜੂਠ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦਹੈ ਅਨੇਕ ॥ 23॥
"Those that consume even a minuscule amount of tobacco are disowned in the afterlife by their ancestors and drinking water from such a person is similar to drinking alcohol. By drinking alcohol seven generations are exterminated and by consuming Bhang/marijuana the body is destroyed. The person who consumes tobacco exterminates one hundred generations and many generations go to hell because of gossiping."

I shared Guru's Fateh and then said, "Sorry, as a Sikh of the Guru I am compelled to ask why you are selling tobacco? As Sikhs it looks very shameful to earn such a living." The elder Sardar replied, "Bhai Sahib, it's not tobacco. We know not to sell such things - we are Amritdharis". Waheguru! Shock horror! It felt like a scene from 'Only Fools and Horses' (an old comedy programme). I replied, "Bhai Sahib, it is clear you are selling tobacco because firstly you have a huge sign up on the side and secondly nearly all the stock is labelled with big lettering "Smoking kills you...." - so why would they label it with smoking signs when it is not tobacco?" 

I was taken aback with the confidence and lack of sharam the 'Amritdhari' market stall owner spoke with. He replied, "Veer jee. We are from an Amritdhari family. All my family are Amritdhari. We know not to sell tobacco. Instead we sell tobacco related products. These products don't contain tobacco. It is up to the individual what they do with it." Sat Naam, Vaheguru! It's like me selling needles on the street in a drug prone neighbourhood and claiming I am not contributing to drug taking. 

Gurbani says:
ਕਬੀਰ ਦੀਨੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਦੁਨੀ ਸਿਉ ਦੁਨੀ ਨ ਚਾਲੀ ਸਾਥਿ ॥
ਪਾਇ ਕੁਹਾੜਾ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਗਾਫਲਿ ਅਪੁਨੈ ਹਾਥਿ ॥੧੩॥

O Kabeer! a human loses his 'faith' for the sake of the world, but the world shall not go along with him in the end. (In this way) the idiot strikes their own foot with the axe by their own hand (meaning they are doing their own harm). ||13||
(Ang 1365)

I decided to walk away from the stall and not continue the discussion with the Sardaar. It is very sad that the impressionable public who are non-Sikhs that walk by the stall will associate tobacco to Saabat Soorat Dastaar wale Singhs. Guru Gobind Singh jee's horse had more wisdom than us. Once when Guru jee was travelling, the horse stopped. When the Sangat asked why, Guru jee replied that the field ahead was a tobacco field and the horse does not wish to touch tobacco. Vaheguru!

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