10 Reasons why I am a Sikh

why-sikh.jpg

These ruminations came to me as I contemplated whether I found my spiritual path or my path found me. It really doesn’t matter, but the “why” does.

Extracted from Kundalini Yoga Yogi’s Blog

01 It is the first religion I have ever encountered that is named after me and not its founder.
Let’s face it, you can probably count on the fingers of one hand (maybe two) the number of people who get a spiritual path named after them. I am proud to be one of the elect. “Sikh” or “Sikhi” means student or seeker. I know that. And I know that I have been a seeker or student of spirituality since before I became a Sikh.

“Sikhism or Sikhi, as Sikhs prefer to call it, is different. The name of the religion has nothing at all to do with the names of the founders or Gurus of the movement. Nanak was the first Guru, but I have never heard this faith called Nanakism.”
-Inder Jit Singh, Professor of Anatomy, New York University.

 

It is a matter of fact, or belief, or faith, that all nine human Gurus, who followed the first, to the tenth, Guru Gobind Singh, were simply varied exemplars or enlightened manifestations of the divine and cosmic energy or wisdom or strength of the first, Guru Nanak. There was no differentiation made between any of them. That is exactly why they all acted in the name of Nanak, and used the eponym Nanak in all of their writings. For my purposes, the word “Sikh” says exactly who we Sikhs are and how we should see ourselves. This word is of Sanskrit origin, meaning a student. Do we have any other purpose on this Earth than to be students of life and seekers of truth, pursuers of the divine? Our path lasts as long as we do. It is endless, just as a true learner should be always seeking the truth. Our lot is to study “God” both within ourselves and in ALL of those that we meet. Our work is never done. The journey becomes the destination.

02 As a Sikh I am forbidden to proselytize.
There are no missionaries in Sikhism. A Sikh does not search out people to “convert” to his or her way of thinking. A true Sikh accepts all religions and spiritual paths as valid and true. Attempting to convince another of the value and rightness of the Sikh path would be tantamount to saying that my religion was somehow better than theirs. I do of course entertain respectful curiosity and am happy to do so by answering any and all questions if they are put politely. I once had an acquaintance who was Mormon. He was hard working, cheerful, and serious about his spiritual life. He was also in that time of his life when it was his job to be a missionary for his faith. He understood why I was a Sikh and respected me for it. But he also felt he had to make the attempt to convert me. I remember how uncomfortable or even “guilty” he seemed to be as he gave me a copy of the book of Mormons. His words were to the effect that, “I know you’re probably one of the last people who might convert, but here’s the book we give as part of our missionary work.” I felt as though he were doing it out of a sense of obligation or duty to his own faith and not because he knew I would somehow see the light the way he saw it.

03 Part of Being a Sikh requires that I get up early (every morning).This is something that made so much sense to me since the very first moment I found out about Sikhs. It is, in short, something I have always done. I was the first person awake in my family just about each and every day of my childhood. It is as though I were meant to be a Sikh from the moment I was born (at about 4 a.m. in the morning). A Sikh rises two and a half hours (approximately) before the Sun to devote one tenth of the day to worship consisting of reading prayers, singing the hymns of the Gurus and meditating on God.

04 I save money on visits to the barbershop, on razors, shaving cream and after shave lotion (which, by the way stings).
Even when I was doing it regularly, shaving has always seemed a barbaric act. Pressing a sharp sliver of metal against my face and throat in an effort to scrape off something (hair) that will inevitably and immediately begin to grow back seemed, even under societaql pressures, ludicrous! Not only is it mildly dangerous (bleeding does happen) but I also found it quite irritating, inducing rashes and other outbreaks, both mild and serious. And since the hair always makes the attempt to grow back, it was thus quite pointless to shave it off! Simply put, Sikhs believe that since God gave us hair, there must be a good reason for it other than some evolutionary hangover. So shaving and haircuts, I submit, contradict God’s will. This dictum to not cut or shave hair on any part of the body applies to women as well as men.

05 I enjoy wearing a turban-it helps to keep my head together!
No, honest, I’m not kidding. Everybody knows that the skull is made up of 26 bones that move and slide against each other like cranial tectonic plates. Well, a turban exerts subtle pressures to keep these bones in their proper place giving my brain all the room it needs to function properly without constrictions.

06 There’s not a whole lot to remember about what a Sikh believes.
A Sikh believes in the The Mool Mantra, which follows:
Ek Ong Kar – There is but One Creator
Sat Nam – God’s Identity is Truth
Karta Purkh – God is the Doer of ALL Things
Nir Bhao – God is without anger, and revenge
Nir Vair – God is without fear
Akhal Moort – God is Undying
Ajooni Sai Bhang – God is Unborn and Self-illumined
Gur Prasad – By the Grace of the Guru
Jaap – Meditate upon this O my mind!
Aad Sach – It was true in the beginning
Jugaad Sach – It is true for ALL of creation
Hebhi Sach – It is true even now
Nanak Hosi Bhi Sach – O Nanak, it shall ever be true

And that is it! Brief, to the point and if you believe in God as a Supreme Being, undeniably true. These are the first words of the Sikh scriptures, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. And all the beautiful words that follow, 1430 pages full are merely exposition upon them. In different ways and by different means, the Gurus that followed Nanak as well as a number of Muslim and Hindu holy men expound on the truths contained therein. But the truth remains, reflected in a thousand different beautiful ways as light projected through the many dazzling facets of a perfectly cut diamond.

07 If you are a Sikh, it’s OK if you want to go dance with the Sufis, meditate with the Buddhists, and sing hymns with the Christians, read the Koran with the Muslims and so forth.
This is one of the most enjoyable things about being a Sikh. You may experience the uplifting aspects of any religion or religious practice without violating your Sikh beliefs. A Sikh is bound to respect any and all religions and their practitioners. (And it’s OK to participate in any or all of them.) No matter what our creed, we are all travelers to the same destination and a Sikh’s true desire is that we all achieve the oneness that is our birthright and beliefs.

08 I enjoy being a vegetarian. (I don’t have to be, but I want to!)
Not all Sikhs are vegetarians. Those who have taken the Amrit (Khalsa vows) choose this dietary option. To be honest, I was a vegetarian before becoming a Sikh. So this part was easy. It also had the advantage that this was something that made perfect sense to me. Like rising early (#3)and not shaving (#4), this seemed to point me in the direction of Sikhism even before I ever knew what a Sikh was.

09 Wearing a turban and beard really helps me to be a better Sikh and a better person.
The turban and beard (for men) are simple outward manifestations of our spiritual path as a Sikh and a Khalsa. They (and three other Khalsa requirements-the 5 K’s) were instituted by the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, so that we would be readily identified as Sikhs. There’s no going into a bar or adult movie theater for a Sikh. We are too obvious. Also, since Sikhs are morally bound to defend the defenseless, it is easy for the persecuted to find a defender. Since my appearance is so much a part of who I am, who I am then also represents who I must be.

10 Drugs (recreational), alcohol and tobacco ARE bad for you; I think almost everyone can agree to that.
As a Sikh I am proscribed from using them. Intoxicants of any kind, whether they are hallucinogenic, inebriants or addictive change us into something we are really not. They alter our personality, or our chemical makeup without improving either in any substantial or permanent way. We might temporarily feel good or different but there always seems to be the come down or hangover that deals a counter blow to the previous high. Sikhs, as do many other religious paths prefer to elevate themselves or “get high” worshipping, praising, repeating or reading the word or words of God.

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10 Comments

  1. anildev_malhi said,

    July 19, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Dear Lakhvir,

    Your explanation on the turban, and its’ effects in stabilising the cranial plates is indeed remarkable. This is the first time im hearing such an explanation.

    As for being able to worship with followers of other faiths, i feel that Sikhs should draw a line. For example, bowing/prostrating (metha-taik) towards any object except the SGGS is forbidden. Therefore, we cannot bow to Krishna Maharaj or even to the Kaabah, as Muslims do.

    The Sikh Rehat Maryada does not forbid meat, only consumption of meat cut in the Muslim fashion is unlawful for amritdharis.

    Your blog posts do indeed enligthen me. Keep up the good work,

    Rab Rakha.

  2. lakhvir said,

    July 19, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Dear Anildev,

    Thank you for your feedback and ecnouragement, much appreciated. The author of this article intended to state that for a Sikh, he is not a fanatic as those of other faiths when it comes to respecting faiths besides his own. For example, were I to be invited to a mosque to pray, I would (like Guru Nanak Dev Ji also accepted an invitation) but would pray to the one Formless Waheguru and recite the Words of Prayer as instructed by my Gurus. If invited to a Mandir, I would not bow to the idols, for I know that it is forbidden for a Sikh. Whether a Hindu chooses to bow down to Guru Granth Sahib Ji when invited to a Gurudwara, is really his choice too, depending on what he has been instructed by his faith. Even Guru Nanak Dev Ji went to the Kaaba, but not to offer his prayers in the Muslim way, but simply to put Truth to test for the Muslims. Sikhs have their Rehat Maryada to follow, but at the same time, we are blessed with the unique gift of inter-faith fellowship (like the Guru Granth Sahib which is filled with verses of Hindu and Muslim saints alongwith those of the Sikh Gurus). When invited to any other place of worship, we will worship only the One Lord Waheguru, but can share and learn with people of other faiths about each other’s beliefs and practices so that all can reach further understanding about the self and the others.

    Guru Rakha.

  3. anildev_malhi said,

    July 20, 2006 at 5:18 am

    Dear Lakhvir,

    Thank you for clearing the air on the issue. Our Gurus have indeed taught us to respect every faith, irrespective of whether they comply with our beliefs.

    On a separate issue, we need to address the negative aura that Bollywood is creating about us. They portray us as fools, as people who go to Mandir’s and worship deities. The movie ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’ made a mockery out of Sikhs and our Bani. Being NRI’s, we need to form a plan of action, something concrete to stop them from painting us in a bad light (since Sikhs in India dont seem to be doing much). I’m too young to initiate something like this, but perhaps you and your peers could do something about it.

    Rab Rakha.

  4. Sikh Speak said,

    July 23, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Dear Lakhvir SIngh Ji!

    Excellent reading….been doing my blog rounds this morning – And AnilDev I have written an article “Sikhs in Bollywood” which should appear in the OCTOBER issue of sikhspeak.

    Gufateh!
    Editor@SikhSpeak.Com
    SikhSpeak.Com
    http://www.sikhspeak.com/blog

  5. Jasvinder Singh said,

    July 25, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Dear Lakhvir Ji,

    Thanks for posting a great article. I am going to copy paste this with your blog address on some other groups. I hope you will permit me on this.

    Dear AnilDev Ji,

    Regarding being vegetarian or Non Vegetarian please see a great article I read sometime back:

    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php?title=Vegetarianism

    Warm regards,

  6. lakhvir said,

    July 25, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Dear Jasvinder Singh Ji,

    Go right ahead, veer ji, no copyright on Sikhi inspiration!

    GuruRakha.

  7. anildev_malhi said,

    July 26, 2006 at 12:03 am

    Thank you for the link, Jaswinder Ji.

    The ‘vegetarianism’ question has sparked many debates. I feel that the SGPC should revise the Rehat Maryada and make it compulsory for the Khalsa to abstain from meat.

    Looking forward to the article in Sikh Speak.

    Rab Rakha.

  8. Jasvinder Singh said,

    July 26, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks Lakhvir Singh Ji.

  9. Abid Mushtaq Wani said,

    June 9, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa Waha Guru ji ki fateh i am abid from kashmir india from the core of my heart i also have become a sikh but living in a conservative muslim society and because of duty towards my mother i am reluctant to keep kesh i can only wear a kada and keep some beard and follow Shabad Guru and Rehat to my utmost Sat Sri Akal

    • Mohsin Khursheed said,

      January 1, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Abid was just joking. I know him. He is a humanist.


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