Tuesday, March 03, 2009

31. Being a Sikh

The Sikh way of life is unique. The Sikh lives a disciplined life even as a householder or a worldly person and at the same time is ever growing spiritually inward. To find God and be with God the Sikh does not wander around. The Sikh way of living, known as Sikhee, is a lifestyle designed by the Guru and intends to keep the Sikh spiritually focused and live a prosperous worldly life.

The creation of the Sikh panth started with Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Guru and reached the fulfillment during the time of Guru Gobind Singh ji the tenth Guru. The Spiritual Guruship was then enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahebji.

The Spiritual path that Sri Guru Granth Sahebji lights up is one of discipline and effort. It is unique in that it gives freedom in the exercise of intention to pursue the path. The path is based on the tradition of Guru-Disciple relationship. The word Sikh means a disciple and the intention to be a Sikh who enters into relationship by accepting the Guru is of paramount importance in Sikhee. The Sikh accepts Sikhee voluntarily at any time during his life and enters into a well crafted spiritually disciplined life.

The spiritual wisdom of Sri Guru Granth Sahebji is for all the humanity. The message is same for all the communities and castes. The Gurdwara is open to all, what so ever be their beliefs, religion, status or position in the society. They may be innocent or full of guilt. They may be thieves or victims. The Guru sees everyone in the same light. The message is same for all and easily accessible. The path is easy to see and look at. Who so ever hears and sees the Guru is by divinely touched.
The Guru is not coercive. The Guru is silent and understanding. The Guru’s presence and hearing of Gurbani is a solace to all. The Guru is ever forgiving and patient.

The choice to enter the Sikh fold and embrace Sikhee is a personal one. Even a person born to Sikh has to exercise this choice. To be a Sikh is to accept and surrender your ‘own’ mind before the Guru and to live life wisely shaped and directed by the Rehat (Code of Conduct and Conventions) in daily life with growth of inner spiritual life closer to God. This choice is like entering a school. It is just like going to an institution.

The first thing that a person does who joins a school is to wear a dress and reports in the school for learning. He or she then is in the fold of culture associated with that institution. This culture is imbibed consciously as well as subconsciously to the major extent. A person who lives in a clan imbibes its culture. This is true and easily seen in the life around us. The group we associate with or the place we live in has an affect on us. The culture in which we are raised reflects in our values, attitudes, and behavior. There are many aspects of our lives that we take for granted are in reality based on cultural influences which can be appreciated only when we visit someone from a different culture, or go abroad or even talk to others. The way we dress, the music we listen to, the ways of living together, the relationships between parents and children, the food choices , attitudes in business , etc are all a result of cultural influence. The Sikh panth has a similar influence. This influence is reflected in the way the Sikh lives life, in the way the Sikh conducts business, the way responsibility is accepted and duty done, the way situations in life are met. The whole approach to life of a Sikh becomes different when the Sikhee is embraced by him or her.

The choice of willingly accepting the Sikh symbol’s is the first one that a Sikh exercises, while embracing Sikhee and to enter the Sikh panth. This choice is reflected by first keeping unshorn hair and thereafter sealing of the relationship with the Guru through a ceremony of Amrit Sanchar. The Sikh chooses to be like his Guru.
The Sikh symbols make a Sikh unique and protects from other cultural influences.
The five symbols of Sikh identity are
1. Kesh - Uncut hair and beard and head is covered by a turban. Hair with a tied turban and beard is a highly visible symbol of membership of the group. Hairs indicate the perfection of God's creation - naturalness. Hairs are also a spiritual aid connected with subtle energies. Devout Sikhs who do regular Simran observe heat on top of the head.
2. Kanga - Wooden comb for hygiene and maintenance of the Kesh.
3. Kara - Iron bracelet worn on the hand. Physical reminder that a Sikh is bound to the Guru and the Sikh has to earn his living in a fair manner. The Kara is a reminder of self esteem and strength of character.
4. Kachera - Specially designed cotton underwear which gives natural comfort and is dignified. The Kachera is reflective of modesty and high moral character.
5. Kirpan - A Strapped sword, usually small in size. It is worn as a reminder to protect the faith. It is meant not to show bravery, nor is a mere weapon but is a reminder to protect the weak and to stand up to injustice.

When the Sikh accepts the ‘Amrit’ from the punj payaras in an ‘Amrit Sanchar” ceremony it seals Guru-Sikh relationship. The amrit gives strength to the spiritual life of the Sikh and a shift occurs within him. A Sikh scholar compared it with a person standing in a queue being picked up and placed ahead. The spiritual change after this ceremony is more profound. This starts the Sikh, also now called Khalsa, to move through worldly life in a path with a new attitude and approach. The Simran gives the Sikh power to walk through worldly issues and situations with an ever inner connection with Waheguru ji (God).Sikh knows that Waheguru ji is ever accessible and always with him. Sikhs effort is to live life in a pure way and ever strive to live life of Simran. All along he is a worldly person with a check on five passions. The five passions a Sikh knows are kept in check by Guru’s grace only.

The Sikhee is devoid of any rituals in spiritual life. The focus all along is to develop inner life and find the God within. The spiritual wisdom of Shree Guru Granth Sahib ji is a guide from the early stage to a stage of deep spiritual living. The Guru is puran – meaning complete. The Sikh need not look towards any other source. The tradition of recitation of Gurbani, Kirtan (singing of hymns from SGGSji), Katha (explanation of Hymns from SGGSji), and discussions of with Gurmukh Sikhs and their writings is sufficient to clear doubts and a source of inspiration.

When looked closely at Sikhee, one is amazed to see that it is designed to make the follower to achieve and live a life of success, happiness, and fulfillment. The life of Simran connects the Sikh with higher power within recognized as Shabad Guru within. All a Sikh has to do is pray. All his thoughts are taken as prayers in fact and the higher power guides him to make the correct decisions in your life. The higher power is his protector and guide

So why do so many people fail to achieve success, happiness, and fulfillment? The answer is simple: not following the Guru’s Guidance. The wrong self willed methods would definitely lead to wrong results.

The persons who live a ritualistic life although accepting SGGSji as Guru without embracing the Amrit are like those who are standing at the bus stop and yet to start a journey.
The persons who keep unshorn hair (by birth in a Sikh household) and call themselves Sikhs are like those who are taking trial classes in an institution but not yet taken admission. They have yet to seal the Guru- Sikh relationship by partaking Amrit.

The persons who visit Gurdwara and so also have faith in other Gurus or Gods/Goddesses are like those who have feet in two boats. Any pain and struggles in their life is thus a result of following self willed path in their worldly life.

The people do have rights of choice. The Sikh thought does not encourage enforcing of choices but at the same time requires others not to temper with Sikh way to suit their own choices.

The Guru advices Sikhs not to follow blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc. The Guru teaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal and teaches the full equality of men and women.

The first teaching of the Guru is that there is oneness in the creation with only One Creator God. All the people are the same. The goal of life is to lead an exemplary existence while maintaining a balance between spiritual obligations and temporal obligations so that one may know and become Jyote Swaroop (the same light as the creator). The Sikhee which is Sikh way of life makes possible the living of life as a householder, earning an honest living and avoiding of worldly temptations and sins.

The Sikhee starts with voluntarily embracing of the Sikh Symbols and Amrit Sanchar to seal the Guru- Sikh relationship. The Sikh then advances further in experiencing the nature of Shabad Guru as a higher power. The Gurbani recitation, Gurbani Kirtan and Simran then takes a new dimension taking the Sikh to a new level of spiritual experience.

The base of Sikhee is Simran on the ONE and Sewa ( self-less service ).
The three pillars on which it stands are :
Kirat Karna – Earn an honest livelihood
And carry out good deeds
Naam Japna – Is the remembrance of One God .
By repeating and focusing the mind on His name
through Guru Mantra -Waheguru .

Vand kay Chakhna - means to share ones wealth.To contribute at least
10% of their wealth/income called Dasvandh to the
needy , to distribute in Langar (free Kitchen) or to
a worthy cause.

The Sikh is associated with Truth and strives for truth in living.
The Sikh the ONE pervading everywhere and is ever Humble.
The Sikh sees HIS Hukam (Will) in operation and is compassionate
The Sikh enshrines love for HIM and so loves HIS creation.
The Sikh with Guru’s grace checks the Anger, Lust, Attachment, Greed and Ego.
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