1999 - Is it all over? I certainly hope not, for there is so much more we, as a community,
need to do to increase awareness of what Sikhism and the Khalsa stands for. The Vaisakhi
celebrations are just the beginning of the Decade of Sikhism. For on Vaisakhi 1699 Guru
Gobind Singh Ji revealed to us the Spiritual Body of the Sikh Nation, the Guru Khalsa
Panth, it was not until 1708 that Guru Gobind Singh Ji bestowed the title of Guru to the
Guru Granth Sahib, the Eternal Soul of the Guru Khalsa Panth. So Vaisakhi 1999
commemorated 300 years since the revelation of the Body of the Sikhs and in 2008 we shall
commemorate 300 years since the completion of the work of the ten living Gurus. The Gurus
taught us that we each have a personal relationship with Waheguru and we do not need any
other mortal to act as an intermediary. Sikh history over the last 300 years has seen good
and bad times, but the message and teachings have always remained the same.
This Vaisakhi we have seen and read much about the history of the Sikhs in the media, but unfortunately very little about the teachings of Sikhism. From now until 2008 let us spread the message of God as the Gurus did in a kind-hearted fashion. A message that applies to everyone no matter which religion, colour, nationality or gender.
|C O N T E N T S||
Published by Sikh Spirit a project of
Incorporating the Fauj Bulletin
The shabad this month is written by the Ninth Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji on p.219 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This shabad tells us to keep free from the five vices; pride, lust, anger, greed and attachment.
Guru Ji begins the shabad by referring to Saadhus. Saadhus are holy people, or ascestics, who give up a worldly life and practice extreme acts of devotion. For example, I recently watched a TV documentary about such a Saadhu in India who rolled on the ground all the way from his home village to the shrine of Vaishno Devi (a Hindu place of pilgrimage). He eventually made the 2000 mile journey without getting up from the ground, but his body paid the price in cuts, bruises, blisters and a lot of lost blood. He undertook such a pilgrimage to show his humbleness, he did not want to rise above the floor on the journey. But Guru ji believes that by undertaking such acts of asceticism only builds up pride and Ego in the mortals mind. So how does this relate to us today? We are not likely to roll on the ground from our homes to the Gurdwara, but today we may build up our egos in other ways. If you achieve a great result in an exam or complete a business deal, it is often at this point that we forget the supreme Giver, and feel that we are better than others. We do not realise that without God's blessings we would get nowhere. It is also at such times that we make mistakes, or may hurt the feelings of others. Guru Ji then advises us to beware of the companions of ego, sexual desire, anger and to avoid the company of evil doers.
In the next stanza Guru ji describes a person who realizes the true essence (God) in the world. Such a person does not distinguish between joy and sorrow. Such a person (a Gurmukh) trusts in the Will of God and does not let ego build up in times of happiness nor does that person get depressed if things do not go in their favour. Guru ji advises neither to seek praise in times of joy nor to try to blame others in times of sorrow, but instead seek the true path towards true realization, the state of bliss.
Finally Guru ji says that this is a difficult game and it is only a few enlightened Gurmukhs who realise this true way.
Throughout the Guru Granth Sahib, we have such wonderful advice, it is up to us to take advantage of it. It is a difficult path, but with the help of the Sangat and the blessings of Waheguru we have the opportunity to realize the beauty of Life.
It is a fashion today to come out very strongly to deny the authority and Guruship of the Guru Khalsa Panth Ji. But this is nothing new as many people have also denied the Guruship of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and still consider themselves Sikhs. There were, and still are, many who even denied the Guruship of Guru Angad Dev Ji, Guru Amardas Ji, and Guru Arjan Dev Ji. We have had various individual based cults in Sikhi starting from the Udasis who followed Baba Sri Chand, the son of Guru Nanak rather than accept Guru Angad Dev Ji. There have been the Pirthias who followed Baba Pirthi Chand, Naamdharis who follow their own 'satguru' Ram Singh, Narankaris and Radhasoamies. Today, those who deny the Guruship of the Guru Khalsa Panth Ji include the sant deras and other individual based groups.
We all know that Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Guru. We also know that the community of Sikhs who has surrendered completely to the Guru is called the Khalsa. But who is Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji?
The Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji was created by Waheguru and revealed to the world by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. When he bowed before the Khalsa on Vaisakhi day in 1699 at Anandpur Sahib and asked for amrit, he declared the Khalsa Panth as his Guru Sahib and he himself as the Guru's first disciple. "Wah Wah Gobind Singh aape gur chelaa". In his own words Guru Ji bestowed Guruship on the Guru Khalsa Panth by declaring "Khalsa mero Satgur pooraa".
Guru Ji further said that "atma granth wich, sareer panth wich". He was again telling the world that spiritual Guruship is henceforth bestowed in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the physical Guruship is bestowed in the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji
It is interesting to note that Guru Ji gave Guruship to the Guru Khalsa Panth Ji in 1699, and Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib Ji in 1708, i.e. about 9 years and 6 months later. He needed to make sure that the Guru Khalsa Panth had understood its role as Guru Sahib and was able to guide the world. He bowed before the decisions of the Guru Khalsa Panth Ji even when he himself felt that the decision was contrary to his own wishes. For instance, Guru Khalsa Panth Ji directed Guru Ji to leave the fort at Chamkaur Sahib when Guru Ji had stated his wish to die fighting in that battlefield along with his Sikhs. Testing Guru Khalsa Panth Guru Ji also accepted tankhah (discipline) given by the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji for going against a tenet of Sikhi when he saluted the tomb of the saint Dadu with the tip of his arrow. (Sikhs are not supposed to worship the dead. Muslims of the time commonly prayed at the tombs of saints. Since many Sikhs were converted Muslims he wanted to stop them from this habit).
But today many of us would want to deny that, because then our own individual cult is not possible or we cannot follow the interpretation of our chosen individual spiritual leader. If the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji is right, then our leader must be wrong. And if our leader says the same thing as the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji, then there is no need of him. So the best way to get around this is to say that Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji has no right to interpret Gurbani. Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji must be wrong compared with the interpretation of our leader.
Some people feel that sometimes the Guru is giving us two sets of teachings. One that says you can do this and another that says you cannot. The truth is that the Guru gives ONLY ONE set of teachings. The Guru is perfect. But the individual person is not. Her/his understanding of the MESSAGE of Guru Ji can be faulty or inaccurate. Consider the many varying interpretations of the message even amongst the very highly spiritual Sikhs. Guru Ji knew that the individual can be afflicted by ego no matter how spiritually high s/he may be. He thus delegated all authority and responsibility to the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji, which is operationalised through the system of panj pyaras. And these panj pyaras are not permanent appointments for if they were, then ego can afflict them too. The panj pyaras are selected from the congregation of the panth for a particular decision, and as soon as the decision is made, the panj pyaras become ordinary Sikhs again.
Can the Guru be wrong? Because of our limited understanding, we can be led to believe that the Guru is wrong. When Guru Ji told one of his sons to shake a tree and 'mathiaee' (sweets) would fall from it for the sangat, his son believed Guru Ji was wrong. When Guru Ji asked for a head, many believed he was wrong and went to complain to Mata Gujri Ji. Yes, there can be many doubters. Even today, many of us are making the same mistake that Baba Sri Chand did. He refused to accept Lehna as Guru Angad Dev Ji. They see the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji as a group of men and women and refuse to accept it as the Guru. They therefore refuse to accept decisions and edicts of the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji as binding upon them. The irony is that they claim to accept and live according to the hukam of Guru Gobind Singh Ji but still refuse to accept that Guru Ji has given full responsibility and authority to Guru Khalsa Panth sahib Ji to guide the world.
Another ploy to deny the panth is by those people who say or believe that the Khalsa
can be an individual. The Khalsa is the whole panth and as the whole panth it is the Guru
Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji and thus able to make decisions for us. An individual, even though
s/he may be called 'Khalsa', cannot replace the panth. Denying the Guruship of Guru Khalsa
Panth Sahib Ji or claiming that the Khalsa can be an individual is betrayal of the Guru.
My prayer is that we
Let us rededicate ourselves to the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji and decide whether we want to follow our own individual 'masters' or the Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji. All 'masters' will honestly tell us that they are linking us to Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The test of their sincerity is whether they are also linking us to Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji. The test of our submission to Guru Granth Sahib Ji is also whether we equally submit to Guru Khalsa Panth Sahib Ji.
Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj successfully held its 1st International Jamboree held at Anandpur Sahib from 8th to 15th April 1999. Participants came from India, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, and Australia. There are 2,500 members in these countries and the United States.
The new programme and structure of the Fauj was officially launched at the Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib through an Ardas performed by the Jathedar of the Takht. The Fauj colours (flag/penchant) were then handed over to five Fauj representatives who represented the Fauj Units in UK, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. These five Sikhs then returned to Camp and in a colourful ceremonial parade, presented the flag to the Fauj.
On the 12th, the Fauj participated in the Khalsa Fateh March. We had a position just behind the Singh Sahiban and the 300 Nishanchis. The colourful uniforms of the Mighty Khalsa, Miri Piri, Sant Sepahi and Raaj Jyog Brigades captivated the crowds. Our very own Akaal Akhara performed gatka feats to thrill the crowds. The Malaysian Fauj in its own uniform added another dimension. Our contingent was the most photographed and personally visited by all the Singh Sahibans and other dignitaries.
Fauj Officers also discussed the Fauj constitution and the setting up of the International Council. It was unanimously decided to set up an Interim International Council for a one-year term with a mandate to get the constitution approved. The office bearers appointed are: International Commander Autar Singh - Malaysia; Deputy International Commander Capt (R) Piara Singh - India and Council Members are National Commanders from all member countries.
13th Southall also took part in two special events. The Scout section helped in the celebration at the Royal Albert Hall organised by the Network of Sikh Organisations at which HRH the Prince of Wales, Chief Rabbi, Bishop of London, William Hague, Jack Straw, Simon Hughes, and Patwant Singh spoke. They also worked as volunteers during the fantastic gatka display by the Baba Fateh Singh Akhara who also showed their skills at the Fauj National Scout launch last May. Navleen Kaur who has been helping the 13th Greenford and plans shortly to start a new group sang kirtan with her group very beautifully. She has also contributed to the exhibition of Sikh arts at the Victoria and Albert Museum by assisting in the setting up of a help desk. The Venture section of the 13th Southall have helped people the desks.
Members of the 101st Reading took responsibility for the changing of the flag at Reading Gurdwara this Vaisakhi and also took part in an interfaith event with other Scouts in Berkshire. They previously organised an exhibition at the Gurdwara last year.
Various Fauj members helped with media presentations and clips on Channel 4, Zee TV, BBC World Service, Radio 5 Live, and Spectrum Radio. Letters from "Sikh Spirit" influenced reporting in "The Times" and "The Daily Telegraph". Members from 13th Southall went on Punjab FM. The 101st Reading went on SMTV Live, which is the biggest Saturday morning TV show in the UK. Many thanks to the SMTV team for their kindness.
The Fauj Amrit Sanchaar Jatha have performed five Pahul ceremonies this Vaisakhi, including one in mainland Europe. They organised around ten amrit sanchaars last year, including accompanying Singh Sahib, Professor Manjit Singh in Europe. This year they pray to increase that number. Since the receiving of Khande-ki-Pahul is very important for a Sikh, we salute their sewa for their success.