Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Yes, Even We're Not Perfect

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh! I'm up late tonight writing this, so if I sound incoherent during some parts, that's why. But who knows, maybe this is the best time for me to flex my writing muscles. Anyways, let's get straight into it.


Oftentimes as converts, we come into the Sikh community thinking that everything will be 100% perfect and that we have joined the most perfect community on Earth. But after a few weeks of being around our fellow Sikh brothers and sisters, we come to a rude awakening. That is, that this community is farrrrr from being perfect. To some, this revelation can be shocking. For others (including myself), it isn't surprising at all. What are some of the shortcomings we might see within the community? Let's discuss.


1. Sikhs and Their Businesses

I find that there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs and businessmen within the Sikh community. And as a business student, this is inspiring. But not all businesses follow what some Sikhs would consider "Gurmat". Some Sikh owned stores sell alcohol and tobacco. Some Sikh owned restaurants might serve halal or kosher meat. Some Sikhs might even have a marijuana business. To newcomers in the faith, this can be shocking. But we must realize two things: 1) Some Sikhs feel justified to do this since they themselves are not partaking in the act of drinking or smoking and 2) not everyone who claims to be a religion follows it. The same way you have Muslims who eat pork and Jewish people who don't observe the Sabbath (like, at all), there are Sikhs who don't follow all the principles of their religion. But does that mean we should judge them? Absolutely not. Because I can bet a lot of money there are certain things we all should be doing as Sikhs on a daily basis, but we're not. So let's all work on ourselves before trying to work on our neighbor.

2. Gender Inequality 

Update: I've gotten a lot of heat because of this section. Unless you want to have an actual conversation about it, don't message me saying  "Stay in your own role stupid girl!" That makes you look bad. 

Sikhi is a religion that promotes full gender equality. So why is it that women can not sing at Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple) or be apart of the Panj Pyare? In the words of Emma Gonzales, "I call BS!". The reason women can not do kirtan at Harmandir Sahib is really stupid and I'm not even going to discuss it here. But I can say with confidence that almost all of the Sikh community agrees that this goes against Sikhi. Even petitions have been started to get rid of this rule. But until the SGPC and the Akal Takht change their minds, all we can do is talk and raise our voices against this injustice. Now, when it comes to the Panj Pyare situation, I know I am walking onto a landmine by discussing it. Basically, from what I've been told, people who don't support women being apart of the Panj Pyare say that "Historically, the Panj Pyare was all men. So we are trying to replicate history." Ok then. If ya'll are really trying to copy history, let's do this. From now on, all the Panj Pyare have to have been born in Northern India. They must either have the names Dhaya, Dharam, Himmat, Mohkam, or Sahib. If you don't qualify, oh well. Sucks for you. Say what now? You think that's dumb? Oh, I thought we were trying to be "historical" remember? Please find a better excuse then to why women can't be Panj Pyare. Thank you.

3. The Gurdwara Setting

I've kind of already touched on this in a previous post or two, but some Gurdwaras can be flat out uninviting to outsiders. I mean most here in Texas are friendly enough, but there's a few that give me really bad vibes. And I honestly feel lucky to have loving Sangat from all over the state of Texas, because some of the nightmare stories I've heard from other converts across the US make me wonder how Sikhs could conduct themselves in such a bad manner. Here's the usual scenario I hear:


New Sikh:


*Goes to Gurdwara thinking it's gonna be such an enlightening and warm experience*


"I can't wait to go to the Gurdwara! Sikhs are so welcoming and loving and blah blah blah."


*Walks in*


*Either everyone stares (not in a good way) or completely ignores the newcomer*


*New Sikh starts to feel uncomfortable and goes and sits down in the Darbar hall*


*Attends the service, but has trouble following along because there are no English translations displayed and nothing is said in English*


*Heads to langar hall afterward*


*Nobody talks to or approaches that person. Sits alone*


*Person goes home devastated. Contemplates whether or not to go back to the Gurdwara*

This is just a basic outline of what I typically hear from new converts. The stories vary though (and not in a good way). This is why I urge all Gurdwara committees, presidents, and Sangats to PLEASE reach out to new attendees. It doesn't take but 5 seconds to say "Hello. We are glad you attended our service today. Please reach out to us if you need any help." That simple.

Drama:

You would think that people coming into the religion would know there's a lot of drama within the community, but surprisingly some don't. And when they discover it, oh man, it can be hard for them to comprehend. You see, they don't understand that there's drama between Gurdwaras, drama between people on the Gurdwara committee, drama between people in that one Sangat, etc. etc. It's a normal thing that occurs. There's drama between the jathebandies (AKJ, Dodra, Sikh Dharma, SGPC adherents, etc.) and drama within the jathebandies. There's drama on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on all of social media. No matter where you go in this community, you will find drama. My advice to everyone would be DON'T participate in it.


So yeah, that's the blog for this month. Could say more but think this is enough. Thanks to those who recommended I talk about this topic. This one is dedicated to ya'll. Anyways, good night and I'm out 😴

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh!


*Picture is of students visiting a Gurdwara. Just fyi



10 comments:

  1. About keertan for women at Darbar Sahib-
    There was a time when sikhs were only in few thousands. Because they resisted the invaders, there was a bounty on their heads. 80 rupees in those times for a head of a sikh. The ruler was Zakriya Khan. Sikhs lived in jingles for almost 100 years till the time they got into groups- 12 misls.
    During this period Darbar Sahib and other major gurudwaras were taken care by Mahants as requestez by sokhs becaise they were not Amritdhaari and didn't had bounty on their heads.
    Before these Mahants took over women did keertan. General Jassa Singh Ahluwalia's mother used to do keertan at darbar sahib. It is recorded in history.
    After the Mahants took over, they mpstly implemented the rules that were brahmanic. Even people of low cast were stopped from entering, tobacco shops were near the premises. Even they placed idols of hindu gods in the premoses like you will see in most of hindu temples today.

    It was during british period that sikhs started non violent movement to get control. But these mahants had kept pathan guards and had properties named after them which belonged to Gurudwara. Their family lived in these places like prince and princes.
    When sikhs non violently went to discuss this at Nankana sahib, birth place of Guru Nanak, they were opened fired at, tied to trees and burnt alive.

    Ot was after loosing many lives and spending months in jails, a sensible governor from British raj, seeing the jaols filled with sikhs, passed order to hand over the management to sikhs. Then those idols were removed from darbar Sahib and changes were made slowly. Keertan allowed for women is one change pending.

    You will see many posts from hindus thst Darbar sahib was hindu temple and idol of krishna was kept inside. And sikhs converted this temple into darbar Sahib :)

    I request you to read Jaito Morcha, Nankana Saka. Sikhs in 100's used to do ardaas at Amaal Takhat and used to protest non violently. When these 100 were beaten unconscious, next 100 took there position. There is rare video of american journalist who captured this beating.

    When there was bounty on sikhs. Please read-
    http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/lakhpat_rai.html

    Guri ka bagh morcha-
    https://youtu.be/mnaQnrz0ww8

    Jaito morcha-
    https://youtu.be/XqngCsFutI8


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    1. I like your refrence to Jathedar Akali Nihang Jassa Singh ji Aluwahlias, Mother having performed Kirtan at Harimandir Sahib, but the historicity of the rest of your post is more than questionable and you must be very carefull when spouting fact, use schoalry sources as apposed to websites. The Mahants you refer to were actually the Udassis, of the Udassi Sampardaya - founded by Baba Sri Chand Ji, after the Ghalugharas, the seva of the asthaan returned to the hands of the pujaris of Harimandir sahib. The Udassi were persecuted in the polemic debate started by the so called "Tat-Khalsa" Singh Sabha with its protestant and puritanical views - and became the dominant manifestation of Sikhism because it was backed by the British givernment - and thus rightfully called "colonial Sikhism". The Idols you talk about were actually the Icons of Baba Sri Chand from the Brahm Buta Akhara Bunga, unique to the religious practise of the Udassis. That out of the way, it must be agreed, women will be the first to Sing kirtan, when the Takht Sri Akal Bunga, comes back under the control of the Panjwa Takht, Budha Dal Gur-Khalsa

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    2. Great dialogue guys! This is the kind of discussion we need to see in the Sikh community! Not the back and forth of people going at each others throats

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    3. Spiritual Journey ji, Udaasi and Nirmala teachers and learners, played a major role in giving santhiya and making sure sikh women learned Gurbaani while their men were resisting the invaders and being hunted. They walked bare foot from house to house from one village to another taking food from one house and at the same time giving santhiya of 1 PAURI of Japji sahib etc. This continued for days. Their contribution os immense.
      But i have to say that the mahants had become corrupt to the core ( not all of them), had huge properties in their names and started discriminating based on cast and gender. Prime example is Mahant Narayan Das who died of sexually transmitted disease because of his immoral life. There were differences in thought of Bandai Khalsa and Tat Khalsa. Especially because of the instructions not followes by Banda Bahadur as given by Gurujj. He fell to the beauty of muslim women and marries her, started sitting like Guru on a takhat. Though He roared in the court of emperor that the empire doesnt has the power to catxh him. It is only because i failed in following my Guru that i have been caught. I personally disagree to many the Tat khalsa views like meat eating and others.

      And we can see that sikhs are peacefully protesting the Mahants and they being beaten mercilessly by British. So i disagree that tat khalsa was backed by british. Infact british were bent on polluting the sikh core. Even were willing to put sikhs as hindus. They were quite successful in bringing Many paths to hinduism lile the lingayats, etc. It was easy for them to do census and admin work apart from other reasons.
      They failed doing this to sikhs because of big opposition from sikh leadership.

      I would agree thst many mistakes were made but the Mahants almost became like masands.
      And i personally have done company of Nirmale and Udasi saints. There is a place near my hometown, where an udaasi saint wrote entire Guru Granth Sahib on the banks of Godavari. The hindus consider that Granth Sahib as their lord. Whenever there are floods in Godavari, the water never rises above the lever where Giru Granth Sahib is kept. The committee tried to take the Guru Sahib saroop but the village panchayat and other local leaders dont allow it. It's quite old and it's pages need restoration. Been there long time back. Every 1st Sunday of January there is big samagam. You can search DOMAGAON, MAHARASHTRA.

      I types from my cell, kindly ignorw the typos.

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  2. This is great, but regarding the issue of not being greeted or talked to at the gurdwara, even if you are a Sikh Punjabi, people generally don't come up to you or greet you unless they already know you such as friends or family, so there is no reason to take it personally. Besides, we don't go to gurdwara to make friends but to worship God. If you end up knowing some nice people, that is just icing on the cake. However, you comment on the drama is great. I needed to be reminded that it is just human drama and not a reflection on Sikhi itself, as I just got pulled into some drama and was very distressed by it.

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    1. I have been told that several times by people born into Sikhi. Either way, it's not good. And it's true that we don't go to Gurdwara to make friends, but to be with Sangat. Sangat is a big component of the Sikh faith and Gurbani talks about it alot. If we didn't need Sangat, Guru Nanak wouldn't have established Dharamsals and such.

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  3. A wonderful insight- Thank you for this, please keep it coming!

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