I remember doing seva in langar as a kid, while doing it the only time you looked at another persons plate was to see if it was if it was empty and if it was you made sure it was filled but if it was filled you never took it away. While I don’t spend as much time there, nor am I as religious that particular concept always resonated with me. That governing belief I have carried throughout of my life in that the only time you should look at others to see if they have enough, if not, see to it they do.
It seems to many that Sikhs in politics is a brand new development a product of the 21st century, with our recent migration to the west. I frankly disagree with that assessment. We are Sikhs, to the word Sikh means to learn, and only the way to learn is to question, to question those in power and their beliefs is very a political act. Sikhism from its very foundation with Guru Nanak in questioned the logic of the caste system when in his eyes all humans were the same, the idea that women are equal and that money should be earned honestly or not at all, ideas radical then and in many ways still are now. These challenges to power formalized after the execution of the Fifth Guru Arjan, his son Guru Hargobind set aside the seli topi (caps of holy men) asked for a sword i and the kalgi of a king instead. He was given one but it was put on the wrong side, so he asked for another as well. Those two swords would represent Miri and Piri, the need to be powerful in the spiritual world so as to know injustice, and the physical world so as to have the means to actively oppose it. With that Sikhism challenged the might of the Mughal empire and opposed the religious intolerance of it. Time and time again our faith challenged those that sought to oppress whether they were the Afghan kings or the British empire. To say being political is in conflict with our beliefs would ignore that long history of active opposition to injustice and oppression. No, to be political is a consequence of who we are, where we come from and what we believe.
What right the Sikh have to live this life in willful ignorance? He who bows to a book, calls his almighty the teacher and himself the student, to which his relationship is one based upon his own enlightenment and not his own enslavement.
So today is the day of Diwali, a day of celebration marked millions of Hindus and Sikhs worldwide. While it is widely known for themes of family get together’s, going to religious and the setting off fireworks. Sikhs however we should not neglect the history behind it. For today marks the day marks the release from prison, the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind. He was wrongfully imprisoned by the Intolerant Mughal empire of India, along with him were 52 innocent Rajahs. Eventually the Emperor had a change of heart and allowed that the Guru be released. The Guru refused unless others were freed as well, the emperor conceded saying that however many Rajahs could hold his coat could leave with him, in the knowledge that this would limit them to a few. The Guru instead had a special cloak woven with 52 corners, and proceeded to lead all 52 Rajahs out of the prison to freedom. I believe in that spirit of freedom and opposition to tyranny and injustice is what Diwali should be about. Such an act was necessary then as it now for tyranny and injustice still continue to this very day, as is the need to stand against it. So instead of people spending money on sweets which are not only bad for health as Punjabi community continues to struggle with diabetes and heart disease, I propose that we ought to use that money and donate Amnesty International. an organization that’s symbol is a lit candle an organization whose motto is “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” not unlike the purpose of the lit divas of our faith, but most importantly it is a group that perpetuates the fight for the rights of the wrongly imprisoned, stand opposed to injustices that our fellow human beings continue to face. Its good that we celebrate the greats deeds of our storied past, rather than merely celebrate we ought to be a reflection of that in our present, and build upon that foundation laid so long ago rather than merely admire it.
So I have been perusing facebook recently, I have seen people parading this around like Sikhism has achieved something, like this is something to be proud of.It is not. What I have seen here is not the promotion of our faith, but the prostitution of it. This woman Harmeet Kaur Dhillon has saw fit to whore out our beliefs, whore out words to raise her own profile all for a party.Faith and politics ought to remain separate for the sake religious tolerance.But since she already gone there. I feel it is only right to address the unsuitability of her actions. Our faith has always opposed the tyrant, not crawled into bed with them. She used the words of a faith whose Guru believed it was better to lose his own head than to allow followers of another faith face persecution, and whose son then preceded to wage war on the empire that pursued such police, for the party believes that all Muslims must subject to special restrictions. She used our words for a party that does not believe that women have the ability to control their bodies and supports a leader who has time and time again disparaged women. How can standby when our founder way back 1400’s raised the status of women by saying “from her kings are born”. How dare she claim our ardass for a party that fails to recognize the barbarity and savagery in not allowing free healthcare , to sentence people to death for the crime of not being able to pay. To not allow cheaper education or higher wages so people can lift themselves out of poverty. How exactly is the concept “sarbat the bala” pursued by them? Our gurus opened the 4 doors our of holiest shrines so that all may enter, gave food free of charge so that may none face hunger, broke the caste system so that allow may live free of judgement. We broke barriers between people while the republicans fight to raise them. We bled and died fighting tyranny while they gather to inflict it upon others. This women has made a mockery of Sikhism, and this is not praiseworthy,
Normally I have a pretty liberal attitude with how I believe people should worship and stuff, but there is something that has been bothering me of late. What I don’t like these days is the practice of bringing of catering to the Gurudwara or doing special arrangements. I find the practice abhorrent and in congruent with the principles of our faith. Sure it is your big day and everyone wants it to be perfect, but that doesn’t trump the principles of equality we have espoused through out the ages. It is guru ka langar not village of india langar or brar’s langar. It is supposed to be simple food that its very core, an act of bring people of different backgrounds to sit on the floor together as equals, It was Guru Amar Das that made the great Mughal King Abkar sit, before granting him an audience, regarding king and beggar alike. So who are we to challenge that institution when the emperor of India could not. Yeah in the age of social media, with Facebook, Instagram etc. In Brampton especially among Punjabis its become a dumb hedonistic and materialistic competition to one up each other with extravagant weddings all for likes, go ahead do it at the engagement, do it at the reception. But that attitude of one man upmanship has no place in the Gurudwara, and that should be respected.
Its not a question of if Sikhs are going to be political in this nation, that is inevitable, in that being duty bound to be involved with and serve the community, there are going to be some that will see fit to lead it. and they will and they have. Those that do however should not make common cause with conservatives. In doing so he must give up either being a Sikh or give up being conservative, that simply cannot co-exist without a person choosing one or the other. For it does not make sense to sit on the floor among as equals in langar on Sunday, yet sow further division among those same people the other 6 days of the week by cutting public services. Nor can he claim pride in the openness of his golden temple while working to close his nation to those in need of refuge from terror and strife. Nor can he claim to follow great man of past who opposed religious tyranny, yet seek to impose his own views on society, only replacing another’s religious philosophy for his own. Such people will claim their faith and heritage to gain votes, yet such people cannot be trusted for running with so they are either betraying one philosophy or the other.