Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Babas, Sants, and Mahapurakhs


I already know just by the title of this blog that some people are not going to be too happy with this piece. But I've been meaning to write it (and there is no other better time than now).

Maybe it's because I've from a different culture. Maybe it's because I use to be Agnostic and skeptical of everything. Maybe it's because I was raised in the West.


But when it comes to saints, babas, etc., I admire them for what they've done for Sikhs/the Sikh community, but I don't follow them. Why? Here's why.

Division Within the Panth

Now, let me just say that they are not doing this on purpose. They are just preaching what they consider to be the ultimate truth. But that's the problem. The people who follow them consider what they say to be the ultimate truth as well. This then leads to the formation of jathebandies (groups). And we know how having jathebandies has affected our Panth. "Well, you're not a real Sikh if you don't or do xyz." "Well, if you don't follow what Baba XYZ says, then you're going to hell. He's a mahapurakh." You get what I'm trying to say.

It's great to have different interpretations of a religion (which is something that happens in every faith), but when it gets to the point that people are completely discounting others based on minor differences in belief, then there's a problem.

The only way we are going to get Ekta (Oneness) within the Panth is if we have these different viewpoints but DON'T push yours onto your fellow Sikh brothers or sisters. Your rehat is your rehat. My rehat is my rehat. We are both Sikhs/Amritdharis at the end of the day. So chill.

Side note: Now that I think about it, it's really sad that Sikhs can coexist with other religions at the end of the day but not with each other. Like, really think about that.

Contradictions



Oh boi. So if all of these people are supposed to be on a higher spiritual plane (or in tune with Ik Oankar), why is it that they all have different answers regarding different subjects within Sikhi? Like, for real? Because the reality is that what they are teaching is not THE truth, but their interpretation of Truth.

Which at the end of the day, our beliefs (well, for some of us) are based on our interpretation of the material we are reading. It is also based on how we were raised, were we grew up at, and what we currently know. We could all be right. We could all be wrong. Either way, I will never say, "My words are the truth and the ONLY truth" or even give that impression to someone. Don't be lazy and do the research for yourself. This leads me to my next point.

Sources

Baba: "Sikhs should not do xyz"

Me (In My Head): "Um, where exactly does it say that in Gurbani? Better yet, where does it say that in any of the authentic rehitnamas, Granths, or the puratan janamsakhis?".

That goes to say DON'T be a blind follower. If someone says something (and they don't give a source on where it comes from), automatically a red flag should go up. And no, stories of the supernatural do not count as a source for me. Why? Because supernatural events literally happen to people in every religion (supporting their confirmation bias). And even if they give you a source, make sure they are using an authentic one or are not twisting it. Some people (especially jathebandies) will twist a line in Gurbani to mean something that it does not. Or they take the line completely out of context.

This is honestly why I prefer to learn about Sikhi through academic sources rather than through parchariks or Sants. Authentic sources (for the most part) don't have bias. Parchariks and Saints do. Hell, I do.

Gender Imbalance

Now, go type into Google images "sikh saints". How many women do you see? Maybe one or two. You cannot tell me that there are not more "enlightened" Sikh women out there. It is so embarrassing to me when Sikhi is the dharam that teaches gender equality, but faiths such as Hinduism and Christianity have more women saints (or generally preachers) than us (and it's seen as the norm).

Oh, that's right. Women should just sit down and shut up (as Singhs have told me on the internet).


At the end of the day, do not tell me what Sant "so and so" says or what Baba "so and so" says or what Yogi "so and so" says. Tell me what my Guru Says! Don't tell me what I should do because of what mahapurakh "so and so" says. Tell me what I should do based on what Gurbani says or on what our history shows! 


But you know what, I'll be honest. I'm proud of my generation of Sikhs (and most present-day Sikh converts as well). Because some young people have realized that "Hey, some of what we were taught (or what our parents/grandparents were taught) might not exactly be rooted within Sikhi." And when it comes to the converts (well, the ones who aren't following a certain person), we tend to question everything. I believe this will only lead to the betterment of the Sikh community.

Serve the Saints. Serve humanity. Jap (chant) Naam with the Sadh Sangat. But don't blindly follow anyone.

Forgive me for my mistakes.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji ki Fateh.





Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Check Your Privilege Ji


"How could you leave Sikhi?! You shouldn't leave Sikhi because of people. Only follow God and the Guru."

This is the phrase some people have not only said to me when I've been in the valley
but SEVERAL people who I have either seen leave Sikhi completely or who have thought about leaving Sikhi. It honestly infuriates me when people from a place of privilege try to tell others how they can feel and how they can't feel. "Gurpreet Kaur, what do you mean by 'from a place of privilege' ?" Ok, ask yourself the following questions:





Do you come from a Sikh family (regardless of where they are on the religious spectrum)?

Do you speak/write/understand Punjabi, Hindi, and/or Urdu?

Do you look like most of the people at your Gurdwara? Are they of your same background or ethnic group?

Do you live near a Gurdwara?

Are you a male (which unfortunately is a question I have to ask regarding the Sikh community)?

If you can answer yes to most of these questions, then you are privileged. Now, what does that have to do with what I'm going to discuss? People born into Sikhi (for the most part, Punjabi people) have to realize that for those coming into the faith the hurdles are 3x that of someone who was born into the faith.


"But Gurpreet. My family is made up of all monas who drink and smoke and blah blah blah." Listen, at least your family still associates with you (and probably gives you a roof over your head and food). For most converts, their relations with their whole family is either strained or non-existent. On top of that, when you say phrases like the one above, you are directly or indirectly downgrading another person's struggles. Basically, it's like you're saying, "I go through stuff as well so your stuff is actually not that bad." Non-empathetic and not very Sikh like.


"Well, I could never leave my Guru." Well, thanks lil 'Preet. I'm happy to know that your faith is vastly stronger than the majority of people's. Can you please sit down for a second and realize that not everyone's faith is up to par yet? Or, you know, a mahapurakh? Thank you.

Realize that when someone comes into Sikhi, their support system is gone. They have lost all connection with their previous religious community. They have most likely lost a big chunk of their friendship circle (with some friends who start to actively harass them to come back to their previous faith). Looking at Christian people here. And in all honesty, they are starting over. For some, they are not near a Gurdwara or do not have access to physical saroop of the Guru Granth Sahib. And for most, the language barrier can be quite irritating.


All this wouldn't matter though if Sikhi was an individualistic faith. But that is FAR from the truth. Let's look at what Gurbani has to say.

"Join the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy; vibrate and meditate on the Jewel of the Naam." ~ Guru Arjan Dev ji

"Still, without the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, he will not feel satisfied. Without the Name, all suffer in sorrow." ~ Guru Nanak Dev ji

"Join the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation, and find the Lord. The Gurmukh embraces love for the Lord." ~ Guru Nanak Dev ji

"O most fortunate ones, join the Sangat, the Blessed Congregation; purchase the True Word of the Shabad." ~ Guru Arjan Dev ji

"The waves of greed are rising up within him, and he does not remember God. He does not join the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, and he suffers in terrible pain through countless incarnations." ~ Guru Arjan Dev ji

There are countless more verses that I could use. And let's be real for a second. If the Gurus meant for this to be a 'stay at home and don't bother with other people' faith, we should go ahead and tear down all the langar halls and Gurdwaras across the globe. Because if you're a Sikh, you most definitely will be dealing with other Sikhs in one way or another. And Sikhs can be...I'm not even gonna go there.


Humans need interaction with other humans. The effects of being a loner are very bad in the long run. Please watch the following video explaining the side effects of loneliness.






So what is the correct (and honestly, Gursikh) response when someone says they are thinking about leaving Sikhi? It's simple. I will give you an example.

"I'm sorry ji to hear that you are having such a rough time. I know that our community can be a lot to deal with. Is there any way that I can help you or is there any problem I can assist you in solving?"

Not only does this response not downgrade their feelings, but it shows that you care. And for some people, that's all they need.

If we want to fix our community, we must begin to work on ourselves first. That means if several people are saying that our community is full of racism, sexism, ego, exclusivity, lust, etc., we must step back and make sure we are not contributing to this ourselves. To see the change, we must be the change.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

P.S. Be on the lookout for my next post "Babas, Sants, and Mahapurakhs: Hurting the Panth?". You won't want to miss it