Rare painting of Dasmesh Guru

Every artist has his/her interpretation of a subject and the Sikh Gurus have been painted by artists from from various religious backgrounds, no wonder the sometimes extremely strange depictions – just like the one of Guru Gobind Singh Ji below. The overly exagerated kalgi, green clothing and seating posture comes as a completely different image of the Guru that we are relatively accustomed to. Nevertheless, the painting is indeed beautiful. Because Sikh Gurus never encouraged the painting of the their portraits during their lifetime, admirers and devotees were left to put to canvas the image conjured through years of folk-lore, imagination and fond stories. That’s why almost all artists depict the Sikh Gurus differently – they painted them with what appeased their imaginations. At least through their interpretations, we get a glimpse of just how our Gurus may have looked like, though the images do not necessarily depict the exact picture – no one can actually paint the true ambiance of the Guru for that can only be done in the conscience of the true admirer and devotee. And the conscience can never be put to words or pictures, it can only be experienced by the blessed individual.

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Lost innocence of the Punjab

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The land of our Sikh Gurus is no longer what it used be since the times of the Gurus, through the centuries and into the 21st Century. In the name of modernization,the Sikh Nation is losing both their cultural and religious heritage. Gone are the days when the Punjab was known as the land of plenty – close-knit community, chardikala Gursikhs, golden wheat fields, the glowing faces of the Punjabi peasants and their sugar sweet maboli, the sound of tractors filling the soft air, and the nights of bhangra and gidda on the onset of Vaisakhi, the harvest season. The good old days seem to have gone for good, forgotten in the dark corners of our memories. Today, Punjab can no longer be recognised – gone are the gullible Sikh folk, the colourful turbans, the flowing beards, the tractors driven by hefty and strong Sikhs . . . the youth are deserting the land of their Gurus for the land of Dollars and Pounds and giving away their identity in return. Families tend to find themselves ‘entrapped’ in the land of the Five Rivers and seek to forfeit their agricultural might for settling in the cities which offers more promise. In place of the lovely folk music, television stations have opened their bars to corrupt the innocence of the simple Sikh by transmitting images and sounds of vulgar versions of their own folk music while their own claim it as their new heritage.

The peoples of the Punjab have changed – amidst the few of those that still maintain their culture and religious values, the majority can hardly be recognised any longer. What was such a beautiful culture and religion has now been polluted with escalating apostasy, bipran ki reet (castes, fasting, astrology, following fake babas and gurus, inter-marriages, drug and alcohol abuse . . .) and apathy of its heritage and history. The Sikhs freed another faith from the clutches of slavery, now we have been made slaves of the very peoples our Gurus sacrificed their all to set free from tyrants. What a slow death of a beautiful and colourful heritage and the tragedy is that only a handful few care to do anything about it. With images like the one below, it’s sad to note that such aspects are getting confined to what was.
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But the struggle to keep our heritage alive is being fought by the awakened, but the real difference will be made by you and I. We need to teach our children and our children’s children on what the heritage was and that it should live on because it was made nor for a single era, but for centuries more to come.

As for now, my heart bleeds for Punjab to see it shred from a beautiful coat of innocent folk dances, maboli, singing fields of wheat and sarson da saag, to a tattered one of apostasy, filthy television channels, vulgar music and filled with vermin that continue to nibble at the roots. O GuruJi . . .

At the feet of Guru Nanak

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charan gehae guradhaev kae sath sabadh dhae mukath karaayaa
Those who have caught hold of the feet of the Guru have been liberated through the true Word.
– Vaars, Bhai Gurdas Ji

Guru Baba Nanak travelled thousands of miles – much of them on foot. He trekked through heat, cold, rain and thunder. Spent nights under the blanket of stars and slept under trees in the thick of dark nights. With only a few clothes strapped to his shoulder, we cannot even begin to imagine how Baba went through these journeys not once, but three times over. He spent his entire life in travel, preaching the Word of Akaal Purakh. Welcomed by some, rejected by most, he nevertheless kept walking and kept meditating. Any mortal like ourselves would have collapsed under the strain of walking and mostly shelterless cold months. As I look at the painting below, I wonder, those blessed feet must be tired and sore, and yet his visage was aglow with the Divine Grace. Had I been there where Baba Nanak decides to take a breather by the roadside, I would have fallen at his feet and washed them with tears of a love he inspired. O my Nanak, had I been there, could your slave be blessed with the seva of washing your feet and soothing your sores? You have walked miles and miles on end, for me, to deliver me from this dark age and enjoin me to the Name of my Husband Lord . . .

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sunee pukaar dhaathaar prabh gur naanak jag maahi(n) pat(h)aayaa
The benefactor Lord listened to the cries (of humanity) and sent Guru Nanak to this world.
charan dhhoe rehiraas kar charanaamrith skhiaa(n) peelaayaa
He washed His feet, eulogised God and got his Disciples drink the ambrosia of his feet.
paarabreham pooran breham kalijug a(n)dhar eik dhikhaayaa
He preached in this darkage (kaliyug) that, saragun (Brahm) and nirgun (Parbrahm) are the same and identical.
chaarai pair dhhara(n)m dhae chaar varan eik varan karaayaa
Dharma was now established on its four feet and all the four castes (through fraternal feeling) were converted into one caste (of humanity).
raanaa ra(n)k baraabaree pairee(n) pavanaa jag varathaayaa
Equating the poor with the prince, he spread the etiquette of humbly touching the feet.
oulattaa khael pira(n)m dhaa pairaa(n) oupar sees nivaayaa
Inverse is the game of the beloved; he got the egotist high heads bowed to feet.
kalijug baabae thaariaa saathanaam parrh ma(n)thr sunaayaa
Baba Nanak rescued this dark age (kaliyug) and recited ‘satinam’ mantr for one and all.
kal thaaran gur naanak aayaa
Guru Nanak came to redeem the kaliyug.
-Vaars, Bhai Gurdas Ji

Stop feeding the black dogs

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asa(n)kh malaeshh mal bhakh khaahi
Countless wretches, eating filth as their ration.
-Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 4

Reading through a new book I picked up from a book store over the weekend, I was attracted to much of its content, which relates a lot to what anyone of any religion faces. This book is a Christian one, but I’ve replaced the Christian terminologies to Gurmat ones so that as Sikhs we can relate to the message. I found the folling passage extremely enlightening because it speaks indirectly and none of us can actually say we didn’t understand.

‘A man asked a wise Indian sage shy he always seemed to make the wrong choices. Even though he knew what was right, he chose to do what was wrong. The old sage looked at him and replied, ‘My son, there are two dongs inside you, a black dog and a white dog. One is good and one is evil. They are constantly at war with each other, fighting to the death. ‘Which one is going to win?’ asked the tormented man. ‘The one you feed,’ the wise man replied.

To satisfy a growling, growing stomach, and having no patience to wait, we reach out to those deep-fried junk food to dance deliciously across the taste buds and seductively make their way down to the stomach. I don’t know is many of you are willing to admit any of this. This hunger, I mean. Many os us are addicts with crazy cravings and a hunger we just can’t seem to fill. Secretly, we’re fat. Although we might not wear it on the outside, God sees it. And I think it makes Him sad.

Let’s be honest. Many of us wait until it’s too late to meet our needs in any other way. We wait so long that no one can see it and say, ‘There really is a better way.’ There in the hollow of our hunger we start our spiral down. And in the hollow of our hunger, it’s not long before we drown.

There in the darkness of yoru secret you pass a parade of junk food before your craving eyes. It may not even be intentional at first. You sit down to do some work and you realise that research couldn’t hurt. So you log on. Read the rest of this entry »

Why some Gurudwaras are failing

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The Hindus have their Mandirs, the Christians their Churches, the Muslims their Mosques and the Sikhs their Gurudwaras. All these congregational centres were meant to unite people of faith and help each other grow in spirituality and stick together in times of trials, tribulations and joy. Though Gurudwaras began to be built much after our Gurus, they have nevertheless played a great role in becoming centres of Sikh teachings and in bringing communities together. Over th past few years, however, an unfortunate trend has begun to come to the fore-front. Majority of Gurudwaras around the world no longer inspire new Sangat, mostly because of the wrong people with incorrect ideas are put in charge of the House of the Guru.

There was a reason why our Gurus did not establish Gurudwaras and the foresight of Guru Gobind Singh Ji was spot on. Guru Ji’s decision to pass the Guruship to the Word of God (Guru Granth Sahib Ji) has saved the Panth from destruction at its own hands. Even today, one can witness the number of sects, deras and self-professed gurus that continue to grow in the same attempts that were made in the times of our Gurus by Prithi Chand, Ram Rai, Dhir Mal, Dattu and the massands. Our Sikh Gurus were appointed by Akaal Purakh to lay the foundations of the Sikh faith and that is why when Guru Gobind Singh Ji, as the last human Guru of the Sikhs, installed Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the final and eternal Guru of the Sikhs, we need to understand the reasons behind that decision and Hukam. Read the rest of this entry »

Sundar Gutka, on the go

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har kathhaa parreeai har naam suneeai baebaan har ra(n)g gur bhaaveae
Read the sermon of the Lord, and listen to the Lord’s Name; the Guru is pleased with love for the Lord.
-Bhatt (Baba) Sundar Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 923

I just came across a link where you can download 23 Banis, which includes the 7 daily Nitnem ones. This is the perfect collection to carry along with you on your iPod or portable mp3 player and listen in to the recitation as you go about your worldly duties. Or simply find a quiet field and lie down on the grass, jog or walk and lose yourself in the Word of the Guru . . .

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Impressions from Kenya’s Sikh Youth Camp

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This year’s Sikh Youth Camp in Kenya was held this August at the historic Gurudwara Makindu Sahib, which is located about 160 miles from the capital city of Nairobi. The camp, a purely Kenyan Sikh initiative and effort, was organised by iSikh (formerly known as Sikh Students Federation, Kenya). Besides the visit of a lecturer from the UK (Dr.D), the rest of the lectures were delivered by Kenyan Sikh youth. Below is a sample of the impressons from the highly successful camp.

makindusahib.jpgkenya-camp-04.jpg Read the rest of this entry »

Nanak the Saint, Nanak the Warrior

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Many Sikhs like to draw differences between Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh, citing that Nanak was peaceful, while Gobind was violent. In the first place, there was nothing violent about Guru Gobind Singh Ji – he was a warrior that fought without anger (that begets violence). How can a Guru, who was the 10th Nanak, go back on his own word on kroadh (anger)? He fought with determination, not anger, to conquer the tyrant rule of the Mughals. But today’s Sikhs still argue on the facts of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Khalsa Rehat – Khande-Di-Pahul, maintaining unshorn tresses, and the way of the warrior. Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the same, let there be no doubt about that. There was no contradiction between the message of Guru Nanak and the action of Guru Gobind Singh. If we study deeper into Shabad Gurbani (Guru Granth Sahib Ji) and our history, we will discover that it is indeed true that Guru Nanak’s spirit passed from one Guru to another and now resting in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The bodies of the Gurus were mortal, but the spirit (of God’s Word and Message) was the same and ascending from Guru to Guru, until Guru Gobind Singh Ji sealed the final image of Nanak’s Sikh – in the form of the Khalsa. Now, Guru Nanak’s Sikh (student) was complete – both in Bani (Guru Granth Sahib Ji) and Bana (Khalsa roop).

Firstly, Ganjnama declares that fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji was indeed the 10th Nanak. Ganjnama, composed by Bhai Nand Lal Goya (one of the 52 poets in the court of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) renders homage to the Sikh Gurus whom the poet recalls in his deep personal devotion and veneration. The poet calls Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the supreme dervish and all his successors being One with him in spirit, embodying the same message. Bhai Nand Lal Goya’s poetry was blessed with the supreme status of having been instructed to Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh Ji that it could be sung along with the compositions of Bhai Gurdas Ji as with the Shabads of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In that respect, Bhai Nand Lal Goya’s writtings are considered as true as Gurbani and accepted that if he vouched that fact of the spirit of Nanak being the same in all the successor Gurus, then it is our loss if we do not believe his word as it was approved by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Read the rest of this entry »