The Guru’s roop is not a spare tyre

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karam dhharam sagalaa ee khovai
He forfeits all the merits of his good deeds and religion.
hukam n boojhai aavan jaanae
He does not understand the Hukam of the Lord’s Command, and so he continues coming and going in reincarnation.
paap karai thaa pashhothaanae
He sins, and then regrets and repents.

– Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 676

It’s a known fact how our youth (now even the older generations) are doing away with the Sikh roop blessed by the Guru, many considering it as ‘out-dated’, or for the ‘religious’. Many even become enraptured with the desperation to ‘move forward’ in the world – jobs, matrimony and other material advancements which they consider the Sikh roop as an impediment in achieving those goals. For others, it’s a show of ego, even if they may choose to keep their kesh, and even become Amritdhari – just to show ‘their’ Sikhi to the others and are uet still as empty within. These are all referred to as ‘Pakhandi Sikhs’ or those that keep the Sikh roop or do away with it simply for their own selfish aspirations. Little do they realise that such a mistake may never get the opportunity to make amends with. We need to realise that Sikhs have been blessed with the roop to achieve all that they aspire to, and that the roop is not an impediment. Yes, the Sikh form does present more challenges for the Sikh, but it is never a hurdle.

The past weekend, I bumped into a stranger at a mall in Nairobi. He was wearing a hastily tied red turban and had a stubble on his face. From a distance, he looked like any other relatively typical wayward Sikh youth. Probably attracted by the Sikh roop, he asked me for help and explaining that he was stranded in Kenya after the tour agent that brought him into Kenya on their promised route to Mexico had tricked him and his other 4 friends. The tour agent, he narrated, had given them the slip and escaped into a neighbouring country, leaving the 5 friends stranded, with their visas expired and no money to get them back to India. They approached every single Gurudwara in Nairobi to seek help in raising the money they required to get them back to India, but without success (most probably because their motives seem suspicious). The Indian High Commission in India extended their visas for a month longer in which time they need to raise the money needed to renew their return tickets.

Showing me his passport, he lamented how it was the first time he got himself a passport after his father raised about US$3,000 to send him off to Mexico which his tour agent promised to get him a job there. The agent, based in New Delhi, brought the 5 friends into Kenya and literally abandoned them. From his passport, I learnt of his name – Jatinder Singh, a 25 year old from Delhi. He told me that the only option to help himself raise the money needed was to ask the Sikhs around for whatever they could help him with. Hanging out at the mall (which is very popular with Sikhs here), he said he had managed to raise a few thousand Shillings and was still hunting for the remainder. I told him that as I was headed to the Bank, I would return to him and see what I could help him with.

I kept thinking whether he was a con – because his very Sikh roop was tampered with . . . how could I trust such a person who has little or no respect for the Guru. Yet my heart was bleeding, pondering over his plea. Whatever his case, genuine or a con, the Sikh roop I have (which is what attracted him to seek help) obliged me to consider his plea. If it was a genuine case and thinking he was con, the image in his mind would have been created that he returned empty handed when he approached a fellow Sikh. If he was a con, and not genuine as I would have believed, he would have to bear the burden of conning a Sikh who helped him the name of the Guru’s roop.

On my way out from the mall, he approached me again and asked me if I was able to help him. I asked for his passport and asked him many questions after which I thought I could finally help him in whatever capacity I could. Then I nailed him on what he had done to his Sikhi roop. I remarked that from his passport, his picture showed him to be wearing a beautiful Indian Sikh turban with his beard untouched by any cut. ‘What have you done?’ I asked him. The answers he gave me reflected the common reasons others like him usually give – that he did it to find passage into Mexico and get a job. I further asked him how he thought that by turning his back on the Guru, he could even remotely think it would help him get what he wanted. He nodded in agreement, saying that he regretted cutting his kesh as he realised that is why he was now stranded in Kenya. He explained that he’s going to now grow his hair again and not make the same mistake. I would like to believe what he said, so I asked him for his father’s name and his telephone contact so that I could make a follow up with him (the father) about his son. With that, we parted.

There are thousands like Jatinder who are misled through ignorance that to achieve worldly success, the Sikh roop is an obstacle – that it would discourage his entry into a foreign country and would deny him job opportunities. I remember asking him what makes him think so, citing myself as an example – telling him that living in African country, I’m still able to have a respectable job, married to a GurSikh girl and living with everyone around me who would be possibly hitting on me for one reason or the other simply because of my Sikh roop. I told him that he can get whatever he wants in this world, but only through trust in the Guru. Having compromised with the Guru’s gift, he can now see that the Guru himself would have nothing to do with one who’s disrespected the mark of Guru Nanak’s Sikhi.

Jab Lag Khalsa Rahe Niara, Tab Lag Tej Dioon Mein Sara. Jab Eh Gaye Bipran Ki Reet, Mein Na Karoon In Ki Parteet.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Nanak, who sealed the final identity of a Sikh (Khalsa), speaks in clear words and can be taken as a warning to those that do not place their faith in his bachan – that for as long as his Khalsa’s rehat (code of conduct) remained complete and intact, only then would he dwell his full powers in him/her. But if the same Khalsa began to go astray and forfeit the way the Guru’s instructions, he would have nothing to do with him/her. Cutting off one’s hair and doing away with the beautiful dastaar and disfiguring one’s face by trimming the hair amounts to ‘bipran ki reet’ which Guru Gobind Singh Ji warned us against. Foolishly taking lightly the instructions of the Guru, the Sikh no longer remains a Sikh –he condemns himself/herself to cutting himself/herself off from the Guru and thinking that he would succeed in life. Like the well-known parable in the Christian faith about the Prodigal Son who demanded his share of the father’s wealth to seek his own world, only to return having gambled away everything and in complete regret. Forsaking the Guru’s roop amounts to that prodigal son’s mistake. One may find worldly success (the Guru does not deny anyone) by forsaking the Guru, but will have lost the Guru in the gamble as the selfish being is all on his own wit and the Guru lets him on his own.

Many Sikhs keep their turbans but still think there is nothing wrong with grooming themselves to please the opposite sex. They mistakenly think they will look older if their grow their beard and will cause unwanted personal attracts from non-Sikhs (and these days from their own fellow Sikhs!) so they compromise. In western countries, simply because there are cases of mistaken identities and racial profiling, the weak in faith do away without their roop, without considering that the roop is what initially defines a Sikh. To them, worldly success may not fail them, but they care little for drifting away from the Guru. What a way to treat the the Guru’s roop – to use it as a spare wheel, keep for as long as you need it and do away with it when not useful. This is bringing down the greatness of the Sikh roop to the level of usefulness, when Sikh roop is filled with love for the Guru.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji says:

shhodd jaahi sae karehi paraal
You shall have to abandon the straw which you have collected.
kaam n aavehi sae ja(n)jaal
These entanglements shall be of no use to you.
sa(n)g n chaalehi thin sio heeth
You are in love with those things that will not go with you.

and further adds:

janam padhaarathh khoe gavaaraa
The foolish mortal wastes this precious human life.
saach dhharam nehee bhaavai ddeet(h)aa
He does not like to see Truth and righteousness.
jhoot(h) dhhoh sio rachiou meet(h)aa
He is attached to falsehood and deception; they seem sweet to him.
dhaath piaaree visariaa dhaathaaraa
He loves gifts, but he forgets the Giver.

What we do to collect those less important straws and forfeit all the merits of good deeds and religion! False is all that we achieve and collect that separates us from the Guru. The Guru’s judgement is final – we will eventually have to abandon all that we have achieved upon departure from this mortal existence and ultimately wasted away this precious human life, probably never to be blessed with it for thousands of life-forms. For the greed of jobs, money, spouse and worldly happiness, we get blinded and turn our backs on the Guru. Of what use is that human birth which is lived in selfish pursuits, out to impress those that are already broken away from the path of religion and Godliness? What a gamble! Just to please a girl, we take off our turbans and clear away the beard. For the sake of pleasing a man, the girl shaves away ‘unwanted’ hair on her face and limbs. For a job, the desperate one clears away his Sikh identity. To ‘escape’ taunts of the ignorant world, we distance ourselves from the Guru. All this, and how long will it last? The Guru, who’s taken the entire responsibility of taking care of you in this world into the next, is forsaken as we consider ourselves wiser than the Guru. In the end, when we fail to find satisfaction from what we were in endless pursuit of, we blame our destiny and blame the Guru and then rush to His Sanctuary to make amends . . . what a way to treat the Guru!

But one can only love the Guru’s gift if he/she loves the Guru. It’s easy to say that one loves the Guru and choose to follow only that what we agree with and ignore what our fickle mind does not agree with. Being choosy in the Guru’s instructions amounts to nothing. Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bachan will remain ever true, that only he who has loved will realise God. Likewise, only he who has followed the Guru’s instructions and teachings and accepted all as good for himself, will be able to live in His Hukam (Will). Love is above everything. There is no love in keeping a turban and not maintaining the complete roop of the Guru. If one loves Bani, it should lead to Bana too. And if one loves the Bana, it should lead him to Bani. A Sikh is complete only when he/she accepts respects the sanctity of both the Bana and Bani. That is the whole concept of Sant-Sipahi roop of a Sikh of the Guru.

For all those that use the Guru’s Bana and Bani for their selfish goals, can rest assured that they may have the weapon, but no power to use it. Only if we could learn to trust the Guru in all His wisdom and follow what he instructs, worldly success would not fail that Sikh, for in return worldly happiness would fall at the feet of the Sikh who has himself first surrendered himself at the Feet of the True Guru.

this gurasikh ka(n)o ha(n)o sadhaa namasakaaree jo gur kai bhaanai gurasikh chaliaa
I bow forever in deepest respect to that Sikh of the Guru, who walks in the Way of the Guru.
Guru Amar Das Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 593

 

 

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