Wednesday, January 30, 2019

[Video] Baba Fareed Ji was a Sikh of Guru Nanak Dev Ji...

The below video made by the Gurmat Bibek team sheds light on who baba Fareed Ji in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is. Lots of misunderstandings are rife about Baba Fareed Ji. Some claim that he was from the 12th century while others argue that he was a Muslim, but the fact of the matter is that he was not only a contemporary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, but he was also a very devout Gurmukh. Please watch the video:

Saturday, January 19, 2019

ਕੁੰਭ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰਮਤ | Kumbh (coconut and water ritual) and Gurmat...

I was having discussion about the Sikh Rehat Maryada document with someone. The other person said it was prohibited by the Sikh Rehat Maryada document to place water near to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji during the reading of an Akhand Paath Sahib.
It is common Sikh personal practice, of placing water nearby a place or individual reading Gurbani, in particular when doing Nitnem at home. The reason behind this is that the water will absorb the vibrations of Gurbani and become blessed. 

When someone condemns this practice and states that Gurbani has no effect on water, then they are indirectly questioning the process of Khande-Di-Pahul, known as Amrit, being prepared. Panj Pyaare sit around a Sarbloh Baattaa (iron bowl) filled with water and Pataase, and whilst looking into the water they each recite a Bani and stir the Sarbloh Khanda (double-edged sword). It is accepted that the reciting of Gurbani makes the water into Amrit. Now, if Gurbani can have such an impact on water in an Amrit Sanchaar, then it must have some, even if a little, impact when an individual lovingly reads Gurbani near water either at home or a Gurdwara Sahib.

Now, the Sikh Rehat Maryada document states:
ੲ) ਅਖੰਡ ਪਾਠ ਜਾਂ ਹੋਰ ਕਿਸੇ ਤਰ੍ਹਾ ਦੇ ਪਾਠ ਵੇਲੇ ਕੁੰਭ, ਜੋਤ, ਨਲੀਏਰ ਆਦਿ ਰਖਣ ਜਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਨਾਲ ਜਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਵਿਚ ਕਿਸੇ ਹੋਰ ਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਪਾਠ ਜਾਰੀ ਰਖਣਾ ਮਨਮਤ ਹੈ |
c. It is Manmat, contrary to the Guru’s Way, to place a Kumb (a ritualistic pot), Jyot (a venerated ritualistic flame), (a ritual) coconut etc. during an Akhand Paath, or to read another Paath (scriptural reading) side by side or during the Akhand Paath. 

It must be remembered that the Sikh Rehat Maryada document was written in response to the growing Brahmanical practices and influences of Hinduism in Gurdwaras. The Maryada, is a very basic outline, and does not elaborate in detail on points. This one reason, that sometimes the Maryada document can be misunderstood or read with different interpretations. 

Kumbh ritual in Hindu worship

The Sikh Rehat Maryada document does not state that keeping 'Jal', meaning water, near the reciting of Gurbani is Manmat. Instead the word Kumbh (ਕੁੰਭ), literally meaning a pot, is mentioned. In the context of Hindu rituals, a Kumbh is a pot of water, with its mouth covered usually with a red cloth that is tied around with a red ritual thread called a Maulee (ਮੌਲੀ). Then a coconut, wrapped in red material, is placed on top of it to complete the Kumbh ritual. Hindus believe that a coconut resembles the human head, and therefore a coconut is chosen as a substitute for human or animal sacrifice in religious rituals.

The Sikh Rehat Maryada document prohibits such ritualistic behaviour influenced by Hinduism. Sikhs do not believe in human, animal or any substitute sacrificial rituals. The Guru asks us sacrifice, i.e. fully submit, our mind and body:
ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਲਧਾ ਜੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਰਾਮ ॥
Meeting with the Guru, I have found my Beloved Lord God.

ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਦਿਤੜਾ ਵਾਰੋ ਵਾਰਾ ਰਾਮ ॥
I have made this body and mind a sacrifice, a sacrificial offering to my Lord.
(Vaddhans M:5, Ang 576)
However, coconuts can be donated as fruit offering to the Gurdwara and placed before Guru Sahib for distributing to the Sangat to eat.

In regards to water, there is no restriction in keeping water in a container nearby to where Gurbani is being recited in order for the water to get absorbed with the energy and sound of Gurbani in order to later drink it. Science has now proven that water has memory and words and thoughts can influence its life energy. Many Gursikhs use this spiritualised water for Amrit Sanchaars. However, reducing such practices to mere ritualism or holding the belief that not having water next to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji makes an Akhand Paath Sahib deficient is contrary to Gurmat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Story of Parmvir Singh (Canada)...

Vaheguroo Jee Ka Khalsa Vaheguroo Jee Kee Fateh 

...While growing up I was fortunate enough to have a family that practised Sikhi. As a result of this, I was kesdhari (maintained unshorn hair) for most of my life. My parents did make an effort to educate me about Gurbani, the Gurus, and various other aspects of Sikhi. This continued for many years of my life. However as the years passed by, I began to care less and less about Sikhi. This was mainly because of the sangat (company) that surrounded me. My friends didn't really care much for Sikhi as they either identified themselves just as Punjabis or people who believed in completely different faiths. Naturally they had a heavy influence on me and eventually my views steered away from Sikhi I was basically absorbed in maya (the world-illusion). I just wanted to be cool and "fit in", whether that meant cutting my beard, eating meat and doing many other anti-Gurmat things. And that's exactly what happened when I was in first year of university. I did all of these things in secrecy just so that I wouldn't disappoint my family. It came to a point where I somewhat despised the Sikhi saroop (identity) of keeping kes (hair) and the wearing of a dastaar (turban). 

My life took a quick turn in second year of university when I randomly decided to join the university's Sikh Students' Association. At first I didn't really think much of the religious aspect of the group as I just was looking to put something down on my resume/CV. But as I started to attend more of the programs they held (such as discussions and simran (meditation) programs) I developed more of an interest in Sikhi. One day I attended a youth kirtan program that they held, and I can definitely say that it had an enormous impact on my Sikhi and my life. I had heard kirtan before, but this was the first time when I heard young Gursikhs singing kirtan live. Description in words do no to justice to what I felt. It was nothing short of absolute anand (bliss). This was the first time in my life where the Shabad (sacred hymn) made sense to me. It was as if Guru Maharaaj themselves where speaking to me through the words of Gurbani. Usually I would never make the effort to sing along, but this time I never wanted to stop singing the Lord's praises. Eventually I made many Gursikh friends through the Sikh Students' Association and they suggested that I attend both Singhs Camp and Khalsa Camp British Columbia. My experiences at these camps are ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was here where I made several important realizations: those being the importance of the Guru's bana (dress), Amrit, kirtan in saadh sangat (the holy company), Sikhi saroop (Sikh identity i.e. kes and dastaar). And as I was learning all of these amazing things, I was having the time of life. 

Finally my main transformation towards a Sikhi lifestyle was after hearing on of your kathas (talks), Bhai Sahib. After the camps I was inspired to listen to kirtan only and listening to any online katha. I came across your katha of the story of Bhai Manjh on YouTube. Here was Bhai Manjh, a man who gave up EVERYTHING he had: his mind, body, reputation, health and wealth. All of this so he could love and serve Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaaj. And when Bhai Manjh is then trapped in a well, and is in need of the help, what does Guru Maharaaj do? Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaaj, the King of Kings, comes RUNNING to his devotee, embraces him saying, "I am yours". When I heard this I was practically in tears. There is nothing more beautiful in this world than the idea of surrendering yourself to the Guru in return for Their love. At that point I knew what I wanted in life. I too wanted to be in the arms of Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaaj for the rest of my life. I too wanted Guru Ji to come running to me if I ever needed Them. I too wanted Their love and to be Their servant for eternity. I then thought to myself, if Bhai Manjh surrendered everything he had to gain this, then how is it that I can't give up cutting my hair, eating meat, or anything of these other things? How is it that so many human beings on this earth do not do the things Bhai Manjh did, and follow each and every hukam (order) of the Guru, in order to gain the love of Akaal Purakh Vaheguroo? 

All of this makes me think back to how blessed I was to born into a Gursikh family in the first place. The Guru was already trying to guide me to the right path, but my ignorance took me the opposite way. Even then the Guru still turned me towards Sikhi at the end of the day. I am extremely fortunate that Guru Sahib has blessed me with their Amrit recently, and I am forever grateful for this. I am also grateful for the sangat they have blessed me with, for had it not been for the Gursikhs I met, who knows where I could have been today. I cannot stress how important of a role sangat plays in my life to help my grow as a Sikh. I understand my journey to Sikhi was probably not as difficult as some other people, but I think it's also important to realize how easily one can by swayed away from Sikhi even if people around you practice it (like my family). That's why it's always good to try to grow as a Sikh in any way possible. Whether that entails meeting a new Gursikh sangat that you might be able to relate to (like in my case) or doing other things that help you get closer to the Guru (e.g. reading bani you haven't read before, doing simran, nitnem during amrit vela, etc.). You definitely will not regret it. 

ਮੇਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਕੀ ਕੋਈ ਬਾਤ ਸੁਨਾਵੈ ਸੋ ਭਾਈ ਸੋ ਮੇਰਾ ਬੀਰ ॥੨॥ 
mere har preetam kee koee baat sunaavai so bhaaee so meraa beer. ||2|| 
Whoever tells me the Stories of my Beloved Lord is my Sibling of Destiny, and my friend. ||2|| 

...Vaheguroo Jee Ka Khalsa Vaheguroo Jee Kee Fateh


Note: Thank you to Veer Parmvir Singh for emailing me his personal story and asking it to be shared with the Sangat.

Dhan Hai , Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

ਸੰਗਰਾਂਦ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰਮਤ | Sangraand and Gurmat...

"Sangraand" (ਸੰਗਰਾਂਦ) refers to the first day of a month. The word comes from the Sanskrit word "Sakraant", which means that sun is moving from one position to another. The Bikrami Calendar used in the Indian subcontinent is based on the position of sun and the corresponding twelve months. So, the starting day of each month is when sun moves from its previous place to its new place. 

In Hinduism, Sangraand is a day to worship the Sun, receive good omens, and avoid bad omens or bad luck. People in India consider certain days based on the sun or moon as sacred and on those day performed certain religious rituals and chants in the hope of receiving certain rewards. This is clearly not Gurmat (the Guru's Way). Gurbani teaches:
ਥਿਤੀ ਵਾਰ ਸਭਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੁਹਾਏ ॥
All the days in accordance to the moon, and the days of the week are beautiful, when one contemplates (and attaches themselves to) the Guru's Shabad.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੇ ਤਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ॥
One obtains the (great) reward (of this human life) when one serves the True Guru.

ਥਿਤੀ ਵਾਰ ਸਭਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥
These days in accordance to the moon and days of the week all come and go.

ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਦਾ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਹਿ ॥
But the Word of the Guru's Shabad is only eternal and unchanging. Through it, one merges in the True Lord.

ਥਿਤੀ ਵਾਰ ਤਾ ਜਾ ਸਚਿ ਰਾਤੇ ॥
These days are only auspicious when one is coloured in the love of the Eternal Lord.

ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਸਭਿ ਭਰਮਹਿ ਕਾਚੇ ॥੭॥
Those who are without the Divine-Name wander in delusion due to be spiritually weak. ||7||
(Bilaaval M:3, Ang 842)
Some people, influenced by Hinduism, may think coming to the Gurdwara, offering Parshaad, doing Seva or reading a certain Bani on the day of Sangraand  will bring more reward compared to another day, and help to avoid back luck. However this is not in accordance to Gurmat. But does that mean, Sangraand has no place in Sikhi and we should even avoid mentioning the word? No.

Before calendars, people based their understanding of time on nature, and lived their day to day lives based on this understanding. People didn't exactly have watches, phones or modern technology to help them. So they used full-moon days (pooran-mashee), no moon days (massiya), or the first day of the new month (sangraand), which are all based on the moon and sun, to live their day to day lives. It was practical for Sikhs in the past, to get the Sangat or the Panth to get together for a programme or event on these days. For those who could not make it to the Sangat or audience with the Guru every day, they would go at least once a month, or twice or three times a month, so that they had opportunity to be exposed to the Guru's teachings.

On the day of Sangraand, the Bani of 'Barah Maha' is read and explained in the Sangat. Barah Maha, means twelve months. There are two Banis in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji with this title. One is written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Tukhaari, and the other is written by Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Raag Maajh. Just as Sangraand marks the moving of the sun's position, the Bani of Barah Maha reminds us that we should be spiritually moving forward in our life through Naam Simran and Gurbani. In Gurmat, Sangraand is not about celebrating a special or sacred day or month in hope of good luck, but rather a day used an opportunity to celebrate the Guru, and bring Gurbani into our daily lives in the hope of spiritual growth.