Two Different Journeys, One Destination (A Book Review)

With the blessing and a request from the author, today I will be giving my opinions on the written piece called "Sikh Spiritual Practice: The Sound Way to God". Before I even opened and read the book, I decided to take a quick glance at a few of the reviews that it had already garnered. Let's just say that they're very..antithetical. "Oh god", I groaned. "I really hope I'm not getting into something that I don't want to." But in spite of what people were saying, I drove to the lake, picked up the novel she had sent me, did a quick skim of the table of contents, and began to read.

The first few chapters were an excellent read. She covers the basics of Sikhism pretty nicely, discloses on her own journey into Sikhism (which by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed), and discusses the beauty of the Shabad. There's even one concept she created and that I found in there and have come to like called "shabad yoga". Shabad yoga is basically picking a shabad that you connect to and practicing it a certain amount of times each day. Not only do I think this practice will help Sikhs implement Sikhi into their daily routines more, but it also will have a positive effect on their psyche.

She then goes on to elaborate about Sikh practices and traditions (including Nitnem, the Amrit Ceremony, the protocols of attending a Gurdwara, etc), while incorporating her own personal stories and the stories of other Sikhs into the narrative. Out of all the stories, there was one in there (that comes from an article called "A Miracle During World War II) that I am somewhat skeptical of, but at the same time, I can't totally discredit it. The rest of the stories I think any normal person can easily relate to.

One thing that I find very respectable about this book that I have not seen in the majority of other Sikh novels is that she constantly pushes having respect towards Gurbani. For example, it is heavily advised that the reader should cover his or her head before we chanting any of the multiple shabads found in "The Sound Way to God". This is something that even some Gurdwaras have seem to stop implementing and that needs to start being pushed again.

Now, there are a few sections in this book geared towards people who practice Kundalini Yoga or who are a part of the path of Sikh Dharma (the organization). For those who don't fall under these two categories (including myself), you have two options. Either you can skim through those sections to get a better understanding of what people who have followed that path believe (which is what I did) or completely skip over them. That solves a lot of the "issues" that people have had with the book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who might be new to Sikhi or interested in knowing about the Sikh way of life. I think that it would even be a good read for those who were born into the faith, since I've heard over and over again about how a lot of born and raised Sikhs weren't taught the "why" or even "what" behind things. I can tell that Mrs. Siri Kirpal Kaur Khalsa really did put her full energy into writing, and for that, she deserves some recognition.


How to Be Tyar bar Tyar in the 21st Century (Also Book Release!)

As a religious minority and a racial minority living in the United States, I sometimes wonder why Sikhs in America do not think it's important to know how to defend themselves. Some say it's because they don't want to be or appear as "extremists". Others have told me that the US is safe and that there's no need to bring any of THAT over here. In either case, this is not a good attitude to have.

As Sikhs, it is important that we balance ourselves by being both sants (Saints) and Sipahis (warriors). Yes, you can fight injustice and oppression with the pen, your words, and your actions. But with the steady growth of mass shootings and terrorist attacks across the globe, this is not the time for Sikhs to be putting our shastar down. Quite the opposite. In the Lone Star State, we have this saying: "In Texas, we don't call 911." And I personally believe that as Sikhs, we shouldn't completely depend on the police for protection, because we are meant to BE the police ourselves.

So for those "extremists" who haven't closed out the browser yet, here are some ways that not only you can physically defend yourself but defend others as well.

1. Enroll yourself and your family in a self-defense class 

Our body is a complex machine, and if tuned right, can become a weapon. Learning how to defend your body from harm is never a waste of time (especially for Sikhs). We have seen several cases of Sikhs across the US being physically assaulted and beat up for who they are. On top of that, we have seen several Sikh children being physically bullied for who they are. Now let's think about this for a second. Do you think little "Johnny" would hit little "Manvir" if he knew little "Manvir" could hit back? Probably not. Same goes for adults. If someone knows you aren't defenseless, the threat of them attacking you does not completely go away but significantly decreases.

2. Be armed 

Now, keep in mind that I'm a citizen of the United States who lives in the state of Texas. Texas has some of the most lenient laws in the whole country when it comes to weapons. But I know I have some readers reading this who live in countries that have huge restrictions when it comes to weapons (including the kirpan). If so, you have a valid reason for why you definitely might not want to be armed and should just look at number 1 and 3.

For those to whom this doesn't apply, I encourage you to look up what as a citizen of your country you can legally carry on your person. For example, in the state of Texas, carrying swords in public is completely legal (except for a few places like hospitals, government buildings, etc.). And as long as you have an LTC (license to carry), you can carry a handgun.

"Why do we need a gun? Isn't that a bit excessive?"

I'll tell you why. Read the title again. This is the 21st century, and in the 21st century, the weapon of choice to use (for good and bad) is the gun. Even Guru Gobind Singh ji  himself owned a gun. Wouldn't you rather bring a gun to a gun fight than a knife, or even worse, nothing?! And even in a knife fight, most people's kirpans are 100% blunted or completely unusable, so what then? It's sad that this is the reality we face, but again, it is reality.

P.S. For good kirpans, I would highly recommend ordering from Khalsa Kirpans. And for good, usable swords, I would recommend buying from Cold Steel.

3. Security 

Most Gurdwaras as they are are totally unprepared for a crisis, therefore making the Sangat sitting ducks. After accidentally coming across one of the videos showing the shooting in New Zealand, I saw first hand what happens when you have a bad guy with a weapon wanting to hurt defenseless people. It's not pretty.

Since then, there has been a call for Muslims by Muslims around the US to take up arms in order to protect the mosque (American Muslims Contemplate Taking Up Arms In Self Defense (HBO). I think it's time for Sikhs to raise the alarm and pressure their local Gurdwaras into hiring some type of armed security or enlist volunteers. Either that or getting an action plan in place. The Sikh Coalition has done a great job when it comes to jumpstarting this effort. Their resources can be viewed below.

National Gurdwara Security Preparedness


At the end of the day, as Sikhs, physical aggression is our last choice. But we must not be naive about what is going on in the world around us and acknowledge that for ourselves and for the innocent, it would be irresponsible for us not to be tyar bar tyar. But then again, what do I know? I'm just a little ole girl from Texas.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji ki Fateh.