Thursday, August 06, 2020

ਕੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਕੋਈ ਰਚਨਾ ਹੈ ਜਿਸ ਨੂੰ 'ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਰਮਾਇਣ' ਕਿਹਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ? । Does Guru Gobind Singh Ji have any writing called 'Gobind Ramayan'?

Yesterday on 5th August 2020, during an event at the site of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, said in a speech that "even Guru Gobind Singh Ji wrote the Ramayan which he called 'Gobind Ramayan'". 

So did Guru Gobind Singh Ji really write 'Gobind Ramayan'?

There is no writing of Guru Gobind Singh Ji that is titled 'Gobind Ramayan'. Guru Gobind Singh Ji wrote 'Chaubis Avtar', which means 'The Twenty-Four Incarnations (Avtars)'. This composition is made-up of compositions describing each of the twenty-four incarnations of Vishnu. It is noteworthy that they are not incarnations of Akaal Purakh (Timeless God), but Vishnu. Within this large composition, there is a chapter titled, 'Ram Avtaar' in which Guru Gobind Singh Ji re-tells the story of Ram, the son of King Dashrat, along with his commentary.

Two verses make-up the epilogue (closing) of the chapter of titled 'Ram Avtar'. These verses are read daily by Sikhs when they pray (except for the last line, which is specifically related the composition of 'Ram Avtar'). The epilogue reads:
ਸ੍ਵੈਯਾ ॥
Svaiyya (poetic verse):

ਪਾਇ ਗਹੇ ਜਬ ਤੇ ਤੁਮਰੇ ਤਬ ਤੇ ਕੋਊ ਆਂਖ ਤਰੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਨਯੋ ॥
paa-e gah-e jab te tum-re, tab te ko-oo aa(n)kh tar-e nehee aanyo.
O Lord! Since I have held on to Your Feet, I have never looked at any other person (for their support).

ਰਾਮ ਰਹੀਮ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਕੁਰਾਨ ਅਨੇਕ ਕਹੈਂ ਮਤ ਏਕ ਨ ਮਾਨਯੋ ॥
raam raheem puraan kuraan, aneyk kah-ai(n) mat eyk na maanyo.
The Puraans and the Quran, deities like Raam and the Prophet Raheeem preach various beliefs, but I do not follow of any of them.

ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਬੇਦ ਸਭੈ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਦ ਕਹੈ ਹਮ ਏਕ ਨ ਜਾਨਯੋ ॥
simrit shaashtr beyd sabh-ai, bahu bheyd kah-ai ham eyk na jaanyo.
The different Hindu scriptures (Simritis, Shastars and Vedas) show different religious approaches. But I do not recognise any of these different approaches.

ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਸਿਪਾਨ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਤੁਮਰੀ ਕਰਿ ਮੈ ਨ ਕਹਯੋ ਸਭ ਤੋਹਿ ਬਖਾਨਯੋ ॥੮੬੩॥
sree as-paan kripaa tum-ree kar, mai na kah-yo sabh tohi bakhaanyo. (863)
O Lord of the Sword! This is all Your Grace. It is You who has spoken all of this, not me.

ਦੋਹਰਾ ॥
Dohra (couplet):

ਸਗਲ ਦੁਆਰ ਕਉ ਛਾਡਿ ਕੈ ਗਹਯੋ ਤੁਹਾਰੋ ਦੁਆਰ ॥
sagal du-aar ko chhaad kai, gah-yo tuhaaro du-aar.
Having abandoned all other doors, I have chosen to come to Your door.

ਬਾਹਿ ਗਹੇ ਕੀ ਲਾਜ ਅਸਿ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਦਾਸ ਤੁਹਾਰ ॥੮੬੪॥
baahi gah-e kee laaj as, gobind daas tuhaar. (864)
O Lord! Holding my arm, protect my honour; for Gobind (Singh) is Your servant (alone).

ਇਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਰਾਮਾਇਣ ਸਮਾਪਤਮ ਸਤੁ ਸੁਭਮ ਸਤੁ ॥
et sree raamaa-enn samaap-tam, sat subam sat.
This is the end of the narrative (about the) Ramayan.
(Note: The last line of the epilogue is not read as part of Nitnem.)

From the above it is clear that Guru Gobind Singh Ji's objective of writing 'Ram Avtar' is not to worship or venerate King Ram. The beginning verses of Chaubis Avtar composition, further re-emphasise that Guru Gobind Singh Ji in no shape or form believes that these incarnations of Vishnu are God nor objects of worship.
ਜੋ ਚਉਬੀਸ ਅਵਤਾਰ ਕਹਾਏ ॥
jo chau-bees avtaar kahaa-e.
Those who are called twenty-four incarnations (of Vishnu); O Lord!

ਤਿਨ ਭੀ ਤੁਮ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤਨਿਕ ਨ ਪਾਏ ॥
tin bhee tum prabh tanik na paa-e.
They couldn't realise You, even in the slightest.
(Chaupai 7, Chaubis Avtar)

It is interesting how the Indian Prime Minister, leading Hindu figures and even the judges in India in favour of Ram Mandir are attempting to legitmise the claim to building the Ram Mandir through distorting Sikh history and scripture in the absence of archaeological proofs. Sikhs must remain alert of such attempts and remain true to the teachings of the Great Gurus.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Gurbani Vichaar - Life's a roller coaster

Gurbani (scripture) tells us that ‘Dukh’ (suffering) and ‘Sukh’ (happiness) are a part of life. Good and bad things are going to happen; life is full of ups and downs. In short, life’s a roller-coaster! Gurbani (scripture) says:
ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਪੜੇ ਪਹਿਰਹਿ ਜਾਇ ਮਨੁਖ ॥ 
sukh dukh du-e dar kaprre, pehi-rehi jaa-e maanukh. 
“Pleasure and pain are two garments received from the Court of the Lord that humans wear when they are born.” 
(Guru Nanak jee, SGGS – Ang 149) 

So while we chase after things that we expect will make us happy, what occurs is according to His ‘Hukam’ or Divine Will: good fortune, bad fortune, ups and downs.
ਜਤਨ ਬਹੁਤ ਸੁਖ ਕੇ ਕੀਏ ਦੁਖ ਕੋ ਕੀਓ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ 
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੁਨਿ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੋ ਹੋਇ ॥੩੯॥ 
jatan bahut sukh ke kee-e, dukh ko kee-o na ko-e. 
kahu naanak sun re manaa, har bhaav-ai so ho-e. ||39|| 
“People make all sorts of efforts to find peace and pleasure, but no one tries to earn pain. Says (Guru) Nanak, listen, O my mind: whatever pleases God comes to pass. ||39|| 
(Guru Teg Bahadur jee, SGGS – Ang 1428) 

Our emotional state bounces around with the ups and downs that life hands us. One moment you are promoted at work, and you are all excited and on top of the world. Then, you go home and have a fight with your wife, and you feel terrible. 
ਕਬਹੂ ਜੀਅੜਾ ਊਭਿ ਚੜਤੁ ਹੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਜਾਇ ਪਇਆਲੇ ॥ 
kab-hoo jee-arraa oobh charrat hai, kab-hoo jaa-e peyaale. 
“Sometimes, the soul soars high up in the skies, and sometimes it falls to the pit bottom.” 
(Guru Nanak, SGGS - Ang 876) 

That is life – we are constantly tossed about on the stormy ocean of life that Gurbani (scripture) calls “bhav-jal”, an ocean full of the waves of “Maya” (material existence). We think our happiness or suffering is caused by external events or situations, and that is what we try to control. But in reality, it is how we react and handle these situations that determine our emotional state, much more than what happens to us. 

Now is the time to equip ourselves to handle life in such a way that we don’t drown in a life’s situation, but learn to swim and rise up so that we come out as a more beautiful soul. This is only possible through reaching out to the only true stability and constant in life – that is God! Through the wisdom of the Guru enshrined with the holy words of Gurbani (scripture), meditation, prayer, and living life as instructed by God we can begin that journey and ensure that life’s roller coaster ends with us having a smile on our face and successfully reaching our final destination.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Question: If God makes everything happen, then why do we have to be held account for our Karma?


Question: If God makes everything happen, then why do we have to be held account for our Karma? 

Answer: This is a very good question and requires a deep answer. The account of one’s Karma is not just based on our actions but the intentions and thoughts behind those actions. For example if someone looked at or touched a woman in a lustful way their action leads to sin. However, if someone unintentionally touches the hand of another woman or looks in her direction without feeling of lust, then there is no sin. So this tells us that sinful actions are based on one’s intention behind the action, not the action. 

Someone caught up in their own ego does actions thinking that they are the creators of their own Karma. For this reason he or she would have to give account for their actions. 

On the other side, if someone lovingly recites the Lord’s Name and achieves a high spiritual stage and gets rid of the ego within them, and then they no longer remain as the creator of Karma. Instead they live life like spectators and treat God alone as ‘Kartaa Purakh’ or the Creator of their karma and destiny. Such a person does not have to give an account for their Karma. Gurbani (scripture) says: 
jab eh jaan-ai mai kichh kartaa. tab lag garab jon mehi firtaa. “As long as one thinks that they are they are making everything happen with their own strength, until then such a person remains stuck in the reincarnation cycle due to creating their own ego-based separate identity (as supposed to identifying with God).” (SGGS – Ang 278) 

We can understand this topic with a simple analogy: There is a soldier called ‘Manjinder Singh’ who goes with the army to fight in a battle. During the battle he kills 4 or 5 people. However, no legal action is taken against him because he didn’t act as ‘Manjinder Singh’, but rather he acted in his capacity as a soldier employed by the government. 

However, if he goes home on holiday and then kills someone, then legal action will take place against him. This is because he acted in his personal capacity as ‘Manjinder Singh’, not as a soldier. We can try to understand the soul this way. If the soul accepts God as the Creator and he/she accepts themselves to be a spectator, then there Karma is not held to account. One has to give an account for their Karma if they act out of ego. However, to accept oneself as spectator before God’s play, rather than as a creator, is not an easy task. This requires extreme spiritual effort through lovingly reciting God’s Name, meditating, praying, and living a life of a Gurmukh (Guru centred person).

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Question: Why does not someone like Guru Nanak come to earth in this time to stop all the bad things happening?


Question: Why does not someone like Guru Nanak come to earth in this time to stop all the bad things happening? 

Answer: It is good to know that many of you wish someone like Guru Nanak to be with us and guide us on the right path. Fortunately, not only Guru Nanak but all the Gurus and the other chosen Holy Saints (Bhagats) are here with us today. We have only to “meet” them and “listen” to them. Lessons given in the sacred Gurbani (scripture) are the ‘Guru’ (the spiritual guide). A disciple, who obeys Gurbani (scripture), will surely achieve the goal of human life. 

Gurbani (scripture) is the Guru. Reading Gurbani is talking to the Guru because the words were actually spoken by the Guru. Whatever the Gurus and Bhagats told people were recorded by them in written form for the benefit of whole humanity. Now, it is for us to take advantage of Gurbani, recite it, sing it, understand it, and live it so that we can enjoy it and take benefit from the directions given to us to live a perfect life. Let us begin to make a beginning in our own life and we will find the Gurus standing by us and guiding us on the right path.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Story of Louis Singh Khalsa

On 4th July 2020, during the passing out parade for new inductees into in the New Zealand army, a unique sight was witnessed. Among the 63 new soldiers, what caught everyone's attention was a 23-year-old white man wearing a green turban and smartly turned out with a light brown beard. The name of this young man is Louis Singh Khalsa, who is an Amrithdhari (initiated) Sikh. Before becoming a Sikh, his name was Louis Talbot. 

This is an amazing story of a young man who received Amrit (baptism) at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib and then went on to join the New Zealand Army. An interview, the first question put to him was how come he adopted the Sikh faith so perfectly in just 5 years when it takes many people a lifetime. 

Khalsa said he belongs to Timaru, a town in Canterbury in New Zealand and completed his college education at Christ College, Christchurch. “In 2015, I met a Sikh boy named Tejinder Singh at a friend's house. I asked him about Sikhism and he told me to visit the Gurdwara in Christchurch. When I went there I felt a different kind of calm,” Khalsa said. 

He then started visiting the gurdwara every week where he met Sukhpreet Singh, Kamal Singh, Dilraj Singh, Kanwaljit Singh and Rajwinder Singh who inspired him to follow the Sikh way of life. In June 2018, Khalsa went to Punjab and lived with a Sikh family and became Amritdhari (baptised) at Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib. 

He started learning Gurmukhi (the Sikh script) and reciting Bani (scripture) and then he visited Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple, Amritsar) where he practised Punjabi by reading signboards on the streets. Later, when he returned to New Zealand he learned to play tabla (traditional Sikh drums) and kirtan (musical worship). 

Khalsa’s mother is from England while his father is from New Zealand. He has an older brother and a younger sister. 

The story of Louis gives inspiration and motivation for those born in Sikh families but lack knowledge of the faith and cannot read Gurbani (scripture) that it is never too late to learn and connect with your spiritual roots. With sincere intentions, trust in God and making an effort, we can learn and allow our lives to become beautified by God.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Story with a nice message

“No charge” 

My little boy came into the kitchen this evening while I was fixing supper and he handed me a piece of paper he'd been writing on. So, after wiping my hands on my apron. I read it, and this is what it said: 

"For mowing the grass, £5 
For making my own bed this week, £1 
For going to the shop, £10 
For playing with baby brother while you went shopping, £10 
For taking out the rubbish, £1 
For getting a good school report, £5 
For raking the garden, £4" 

I looked at him standing there expectantly, and a thousand memories flashed through my mind. So, I picked up the paper, and turning it over, this is what I wrote: 

"For the nine months I carried you, growing inside me: No Charge. 
For the nights I sat up with you, doctored you, and prayed for you: No Charge. 
For the time and the tears, and the cost through the years: No Charge. 
For the nights filled with dread, and the worries ahead: No Charge. 
For advice and knowledge, and the cost of your college: No Charge. 
For the toys, food, and clothes, and for wiping your nose: No Charge. 
Son. When you add it all up, the full cost of my love: No Charge." 

Well, when he finished reading, he had great big tears in his eyes. He looked up at me and said, "Mum, I sure do love you." Then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: 

It is our indebtedness to this supreme sacrifice of mothers that the word mother is attached to all that we hold precious like the one who gave birth to us, ‘Mother Earth’, ‘Mother-Tongue’ and most importantly God is also referred as our ‘Mother’ in Gurbani (scripture). Always remember and be thankful to your parents, and most importantly remember and be thankful to God for all that we have been blessed with without any charge!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Questions: Do Sikhs have caste and why are there caste based Gurdwaras?


Question: Does the caste system exist in Sikhi? 
Answer: There is no such thing as a caste system in the Sikh religion. The caste system is an ancient belief of India that pre-dates Sikhi. The Sikh Gurus gave no value or importance to the ancient Indian tradition of the caste system. Rather, they spoke up against dividing people as high or low on the basis of one’s birth. Gurbani (scripture) many times criticizes those who have an ego because of their man-made caste or social status.
ਫਕੜ ਜਾਤੀ ਫਕੜੁ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਇਕਾ ਛਾਉ ॥
fakkar jaatee fakkar naa-o. sabhnaa jee-aa e-kaa chhaa-o.
Having egotistical-pride in caste and egotistical pride in personal glory is useless. In reality, the One Lord has created all the same.
(SGGS – Ang 83) 

Guru Sahib reminds us to rise above such temporary and man-made labels, to distinguish and recognize that all souls are equal. Gurbani (scripture) clearly states that one is not high or low because of a family one is born into (i.e. caste), rather we become high or low due to our actions.
ਜਾਤੀ ਦੈ ਕਿਆ ਹਥਿ ਸਚੁ ਪਰਖੀਐ ॥ 
jaathee dai kyaa hathh, sach parkheeyai.
There is nothing in social class and status, for the Lord will judge you for your truthfulness within. 
(SGGS – Ang 142) 

Question: If the caste system is not part of religion, then why are some Gurdwaras named after castes? 
Answer: A very good question! A Sikh looks for a Gurdwara that belongs to his Guru. Someone stuck in the ego of which family they were born into or who their ancestors were (i.e. caste), looks to make a Gurdwara that belongs to their caste. 

So in short, the answer is that any Gurdwara named after a caste is because of lack of understanding of their own faith, lack of knowledge of Gurbani (scripture), strong cultural beliefs (which conflict with their faith), an excuse for someone to make their own Gurdwara if they can’t get into the management committee in the other, and to fuel their ego (which is exactly the opposite of Sikhi!). However, with greater awareness and understanding, some Gurdwaras have either changed their names now or in villages where there are four Gurdwaras based on caste they have closed three and decided to work together by sharing one Gurdwara. 

The main purpose of a Gurdwara is not to have a feast, meet family and friends, or make a name for yourself, but religious and spiritual education and awareness. Gurbani (scripture) says:
ਗੁਰੂ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਹੋਇ ਸੋਝੀ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥
ਏਤੁ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਧੋਇ ਹਛਾ ਹੋਇਸੀ ॥
ਮੈਲੇ ਹਛੇ ਕਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ਆਪਿ ਵਰਤਾਇਸੀ ॥
guroo-duaarai ho-e sojhee paae-see.
eyt duaarai dho-e hachhaa hoe-see.
mail-e hachh-e kaa veechaar aap vartaae-see.
Through the Gurdwara one obtains spiritual understanding. Washing the impurity of mind at the Gurdwara, one becomes pure. The Lord Himself gives us the understanding of being able to differentiate between the good and the bad. 
(SGGS – Ang 730)