Festival of Life & Democracy

Nowadays, both the Festival of Life (a period of spiritual introspection for Sikhs), usually celebrated around the 13th April, and Democracy, are a catastrophe crammed into ubiquitous kitsch-deluded masculine grandiosity, positioning so-called virtue. However, both fall well shy of their own original and exacting standards.

Vasaakh:

Is a period within the cycle of a season of a hemisphere. It is the second month of the traditional earth calendar in the northern hemisphere. The first month began around the 12th /13th of March. Traditionally, there were 13 months in one year cycle, where some months had 32 days, and others less than 28 days. These months approximately correspond to what is now known as the astrological calendar. Indeed the astrological calendar also had 13 divisions, of which one was particularly short in duration.

Vasaakh represents the regeneration of the northern hemisphere, as it emerges from its winter hibernation into new life. It indicates the same, at a different point in the calendar, in the southern hemisphere. Vasaakh happens twice on our planet. Once in the northern, and then in the southern, hemisphere.

For Sikhs of the northern hemisphere, Vasaakh at a very rudimentary level refers to introspection, awakening, deeper consciousness, and overall spiritual repose, lived within full secular responsibility. For Sikhs of the southern hemisphere experience this psychic-spiritual sensation, and inner introspective regeneration, the festival of Vasaakh has to take place at the appropriate point in the seasonal cycle. Regeneration on the cusp of autumn/winter would be nonsensical, obviously.

Given the epithet of soldier-saint, circulating since the time of Guru Arjandevji, it is fitting that Vasaakh should also represent a moment of reaffirmation of our secular responsibilities (as much as of spiritual regeneration). In this regard, we pledge anew to be conscientious, trustworthy, reliable, dependable, and accountable through the five Ks; to protect lives, even those of enemies (and especially at the first time of engagement), and including those of every species occupying our own geographical zone (without becoming pedantic about the unseen life form).

Vasaakh is the second month of the Arya calendar. Remember, Sikhs, when they occupied Europe and especially the northern countries of Europe were then also known as Sikhs, Arya and Khalsa (Khalsa is another very ancient name, which at that time meant merging into the One. It retains the same meaning today but is usually confused with a word derived from the Aryan-influenced region north of Persia).

However, for a Sikh who advances and exalts into the Khalsa, the responsibility is even more exhaustive, meticulous, comprehensive, thorough, detailed, and exacting.

For me, at my own personal level, my white turban including the Five K’s represents that I am duty bound to protect the right of my enemy to take my life.

However, as a Khalsa, protection of life is my basic fundamental duty.

Therefore, while my enemy may want to take my life, protecting my own life takes priority for me as well as safeguarding his life. If he persists, then I must (without flinching) put him to rest, and say a prayer prior throughout. And I must bear no hatred towards him or his community for his actions against me. In fact, I must locate his immediate family and offer my on going assistance for the vacuum left by the slain.

As you can see, being a practicing Sikh, and then evolving into the fully fledged Khalsa is not as easy as many Sikhs seem to think. Simply being born into a Sikh family does not mean that you are a Sikh. The fundamental requirements of being a Sikh are a tad difficult; and elevation into Khalsa is well nigh impossible.

The most telling point of Vasaakhi is that Life has to be celebrated. A celebration steeped not in wanton drunkenness or salacious behaviour, but characterized by an inner audit of the preceding year and setting parameters for the coming year. The idea is to protect Life, thus allowing Life to give life to Life.

Hence, Vasaakh, the second month of the earth (northern hemisphere) calendar is the Festival of Life.

Democracy:

Is control and governance of an organisation or country by the majority of its eligible members.

The original idea was to put aside quarrels that escalated from verbal abuse to physical violence, armed attack, ultimately to death. Thus, wise men (no, not women; remember, women were/are inferior and unclean due to their menstruation) devised a holistic means to conduct their tribal clan’s mechanization. This included the involvement of the soothsayers, medicine person (they were both female and male), and then the formal ritual brigade, some of whom evolved into formal religious heads. Religious heads, ritually excellent, and had an intricate understanding of ancient medicine and alchemy, in tandem with psychic ability: this then allowed them hands-on responsibility and a veto in debates about communal care.

Over the past fifty years, political communities in certain cultures have distanced the influence of the religious order, and endeavoured instead to promote an isolationist-secular schema.

Nevertheless, the voting minority still suffers. Seldom was/is a single item of their need addressed. Promises and pledges are seldom kept by those in power.

We have a prime example of the role and fallout of pledges in the blatant lies peddled by politicians in the run-up to Brexit in the United Kingdom. The liars, far from being criminally charged, went on to hold high office, as in the case of Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary.

Interestingly, if a man leads a group of women along a romantic path, while securing large sums of money from them, he is criminally charged. Yet we, the cattle-voting-class, are repeatedly told that politicians cannot be hauled into a criminal court, since they only offered pledges.

Such pledges, to revert again to Brexit in the United Kingdom, included the insistence – nay, assurance – that the monies saved from not being part of Europe would help turn around the failing National Health Service. But neither Boris Jonhson nor Nigel Farage (then leader of UKIP) can be prosecuted for their ‘pledges’ on the matter, because these have since been defended merely as suggestions and not promises to the electorate they deliberately misled.

This, guys, is democracy.

A con-artist who makes pledges to several women, only for the latter to find out they’ve been duped, would feel the full wrath of the law. But in democracy, liars (read: politicians) actually benefit from their lies, amassing financial and political advantage.

Many an English politician is therefore a criminal, as well as a recipient of bribes who then takes full advantage of his political position… as is the standard charge leveled at the average Indian politician. The difference is that in the English political system you ‘donate’ officially in order to buy your MPs support and protection; whereas in the Indian political system the donation is unrecorded. But the same bribery takes place across both systems.

This is democracy.

One example is from the mother of Parliamentary democracy and the other is from the world’s largest democracy.

So, is there a better system?

Yes indeed. And, no, it is not proportional representation.

The first cast-iron surety we need to put in place is that elected officials who lie during election are to be dismissed from office, criminally charged, and their ill-gotten gains confiscated.

Then, to equally reflect the minority racial or a religious group, a consensus of the population establishes in order to attributes a ratio to each voting group. This means that the minority under the ratio formula will have exactly the same power to their vote as the majority. Thus, now we have governance with consent rather than governance of the numerical votes cast. Numerically, the majority will still cast the larger share of the votes cast; however, due to the ratio formula, the minority voter will have an equal say in the actual outcome and politics.

The ratio formula outstrips the dated, inflexible, and unaccountable voting system termed democracy, and the new outcome would in its truer sense be democracy in earnest.

This system would have enormous positive impact globally, especially in many artificially-constructed countries by the Europeans, as in the case of the Ottoman Empire, in Africa, and across each and every country/landmass that came under the race-European empire.

Yes, it is up to us, the voiceless cattle-class-voter, to demand the fairer ratio vote.

And at this junction, just past, namely that of the spring equinox, in alignment with Vasaakh and the ‘Festival of Life’ that is Vasaakhi, why not push for and establish this fair voting system?

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Genesis of Khalsa

It is a noble culture, as well as an intellectual utopia to build on the unseen, that intangible consciousness-architecture where showmanship is put aside and one faces the odds with confusion, chaos, complications, and contradictions while attempting to unravel the unfathomable.

Let’s start unraveling…

A cosmic-psyche has a tangible presence. That presence is consciousness. There is a separate consciousness template for each species. Any given consciousness is the lower manifestation of its governing cosmic-psyche. And each cosmic-psyche has a specific role to fulfill in creation.

The consciousness of a particular cosmic-psyche fulfills the requirements of the noble culture mentioned in the opening paragraph. Globally, we call the material manifestation of that consciousness Sikhism.

In this essay, I intend to share knowledge about Sikhism which Sikhs themselves have difficulty grasping and explaining. Events central to Sikhism fly in the face of widespread assumption that it does not give credence to mystical happenings and manifestations called forth by individuals. In fact, as I will go on to show, Sikhism has at times pivoted on mystical incidents expressly engineered by several of the ten Gurus.

One such example, which I have been writing about for almost forty years, centre on the events at Anandpur Sahib in 1699.

Various political and ruling factions have been able to hide evidence relating to this event that was once openly available, including the suppression of eye-witness accounts from the time, which the old-fashioned Sufi could still share if they wished.

The tenth Guruji was tasked with delivering a dutiful and responsible race that would provide global protection, and keep the Light of Balance from going out. So, at the end of March 1699, he invited Sikhs to a meeting at Anandpur Sahib.

What transpired at the meeting was shocking. To this day, Sikhs are unable to explain it, unable to reconcile in their minds what happened with what they think possible in the world. They have therefore conjured up lies and created a mytho-logical account of the event which presents the tenth Guruji as a trickster and a showman, a mere stage performer – all of which traits are antithetical to the very essence of Guruship.

The story goes that Guruji asked for Sikhs to step up who would be willing to give up their heads for the Guruji; that he whisked them away one-by-one out of sight of the congregation, and that he reappeared each time with blood dripping from his kirpan, asking for the next Sikh to pledge himself. The moral of the story is much like that which Kahlil Gibran writes about love, namely, to follow the Guru, lay oneself at his feet, though his ways may be incomprehensible. A similar interpretation is found in the Jewish Torah regarding Abraham’s sacrifice of his son.

Here is what actually happened in March 1699 at Anandpur Sahib….

On a stage and immersed in a deep, practical-samadhi, the tenth Guruji asked for a Sikh who would be willing to give up his head for his Guruji. A Sikh came forward, offering himself humbly. He walked on to the stage, and was directed to kneel down and bow his head execution-style, and with one swift move of Guruji’s sword he was decapitated. His body slumped, his head rolled around, blood spewed everywhere.

Guruji asked for another Sikh to step forward. Another decapitation followed.

In total, five Sikhs were decapitated on the stage at Anandpur Sahib that day.

Afterwards, Guruji moved towards a large metal bowl containing fresh water and recited invocation prayers. During his recitation, Guriji asked his second wife (he had three wives, and two of them bore him his four sons known as the Chaar Sahibzaade) if she had anything she wished to input. Accepting the invitation, Guruji’s wife added dried pure sugar to the water.

The fact of being a Guruji, and the creation-authority conferred upon such beings, combined to transform the sugar-water from simply being an object to having agency. This agency manifested in its authority over Death to stay the execution of the individual until their duty-responsibility has been fulfilled.

Guruji then knelt on the stage, and fused a head with the body lying nearest to it – not the body from which it had been originally parted. He administered the sugar-water – the material object infused now with life-giving agency – to the newly reconfigured body. The dead Sikh gained consciousness and recovered from his ordeal. He was now Pure, born of neither blood nor flesh. He was now Khalsa.

The procedure was repeated five times in total. When all had recovered, they were escorted off stage to wash and change their clothing. The five earlier decapitated, now reconfigured and breathing Sikhs, reappeared on stage in the now famous saffron attire of the Panj Piyare (the five Pure ones), wearing the five Ks of Khalsa.

[Note: please scroll down to the end of this essay for definitions of the five Ks and other terms, such as Guru, Sikh, Singh, Kaur, Khalsa]

Now came the turn of Guruji, Guru Gobind Rai, to kneel before the Panj Piyare and ask if they deemed him worthy to receive the sanctified authority of the sugar-water. They in response asked him what he would be willing to sacrifice. He agreed to four sacrifices; but these were deemed to be insufficient. It was only upon the offer of the fifth sacrifice that Guruji was administered the sugar-water by the Panj Piyare. And only then was he, like the Panj Piyare, accorded the name assigned to those bearing duty-responsibility: Singh. Guru Gobind Rai thus became Guru Gobind Singhji.

Whereupon, the sugar-water was renamed Amrit, its agency in conferring duty-responsibility to those consume it confirmed and thus sanctified. This means that whosoever takes Amrit is embarked upon the journey of becoming and thus fulfilling the role of a global protector. This was not understood by the masses gathered at Anandpur Sahib that day in 1699. Indeed, many thousands of men and women took Amrit that day, but they did so in the belief that it was an elixir and would liberate them. They did not fully comprehend the duty-responsibility which consuming Amrit would imbue them with over time.

The events at Anandpur Sahib that day in late March 1699 spread like wildfire.

The birth of the Khalsa, its foundation in life-revival – which as the facts related above illustrate was not strictly or only the case, though it was a significant part – spread fear in the minds of India’s Moslems.

Sikhs publicly abhor (white/black) witchcraft, and indeed any type of psychic ESP environment and practice. However, Sikhism has at various crucial moments pivoted on the psychic manipulation of matter, bending the rudimentary rules of creation applicable on this planet.

Islam on the other hand is rooted in awe of psychic machination, and values ESP more than divinity. It hones in on and beseeches psychic intervention, deeming it godly, Allah. However, Islam relies on anger mismanagement and ego-laced arrogance, and its adherents justify their actions as scriptural. But it must be remembered that the Koran mimics and mirrors the Torah, which in turn is not scriptural but is a set of guidelines which its own adherents regularly discuss and debate.

In order to counter the absolute value that Islam places on the psychic, over and above divinity, the Gurujis at critical moments employed the very principle of psychic environments to make a point. However, they never used the facility to protect themselves or cheat death, even though they had dominion over death. However, this changed, to a degree, as a consequence of the events that took place at Anandpur Sahib on the new moon in the last week of the month of March, now celebrated on the 13th or 14th of April.

Despite their fear, the Moslems were in awe of the Khalsa. And in war, when they were sure of death, they would seek out a Khalsa, to die at their hands. They did so in recollection of the indication by their Prophet of a coming race which he referred to as angels. These were the Khalsa.

Incidentally, I had the opportunity once of sharing these facts with a Japanese world war two veteran. He told me:

“We feared the Gurkha of course, but it was the Sikhs who evaded death time and again. We could never understand how at the very last moment a Sikh would evade death until, once his duty was accomplished, he could be killed. We put it down to kismet, luck, something like that; but we also viewed and accepted it as a form of zen shogun.”

Hazrat Mohammad, the prophet, the originator of the more fanatical version of the Hebrew faith, now called Islam, stated that a warrior-honest race will evolve to root out evil and protect goodness. He said, they will keep untrimmed beards, and untrimmed hair. Unlike seers, however, they will comb their hair not backwards but by bending forward at the torso and combing from the back of the head towards the forehead. They will be known for their honesty and truthful lifestyle. They will be seers from an arena above divinity, and they will have the consciousness termed duty-responsibility to protect them as and when needed. (Note – death itself is answerable to duty-responsibility, as the events of Anandpur Sahib described above testify to). They will suffer for their responsibility, a responsibility exercised for the greater good of the masses. and holding a grudge will not be in their makeup.

Old Islam resembles the Europe of today. We see Europe on its way to becoming an Islamic caliphate, choosing to wage endless and traumatic war upon the people of the Middle East, while supposedly showing their compassion by allowing the refugees it creates through such war to settle in Europe. Old Islam – or Mohammedism as it was then known – carried out a similar unceasing war on Aryadesh (now called India). The brutality re-invoked and re-established a protector race that in previous times had occupied the landmass of Europe (all but forgotten now except for the language influences it left behind). That protector race with its ideology of graciousness has, in current times, as in the olden times of its existence, come to be called Sikh.

Guys, the Sikh as a people have not yet delivered on their duty and responsibility. In times to come, when humanity faces certain extinction, the Sikhs will stand alongside others to defend against this but it will be the Sikhs’ contribution that will be the linchpin, that will allow humanity to survive.

People from three other races also hold this cardinal knowledge. Those races live in lands conquered and occupied by Europeans. For the safety of humanity, governance of those lands must revert back to the indigenous races. After that happens, it will take seven to ten generations for their psyche to realign with their past identity and knowledge, and they will be ready to share the Sikhs’ global responsibility and avert this planet from being wiped out. Only a release from the bondage of the present will provide the essential elements for the Sikhs, and then the Khalsa, to manifest a mechanism for our survival.

You cannot all become Sikh, let alone become Khalsa.

Meditation leads to samadhi.

Samadhi leads to practical-samadhi.

But none of this progression is possible without grace.

And grace? Well, it has to be earned.

To earn grace, you have to throw yourself upon the mercy of a Sadhu. You relinquish your life to a Sadhu at each birth. They may be vile, arrogant, whatever; but you must not judge them. An unseen authority will notice your sacrifice; and will send a divine mentor to teach, guide, and honour you with grace. The obstacles are unbelievable. You are set to fail. But it is not the passing or the failing that counts. The telling point is humbleness. Truth will only take you so far. It will not set you free. Humbleness will set you free.

The journey begins with humbleness.

Avtar

…………………….

Here are deeper definitions of Guru, Sikh, Khalsa, and the meaning of the five Ks.

GURU:

First, it ought to be clear from the fore-going depiction of events at Anandpur Sahib in 1699, and of Guruji’s actions there, that a Guru is not a teacher or an enlightener. It is an insult to Sikhs and to India more generally to apply such secularist descriptions to any guru, though these people and many others besides are daft enough to use the title – in its ridiculously false definition – and hope that the person thus conferred the name of guru will deliver them from the cycle of life and death… but as you may have guessed, there’s no chance of that actually happening.

What is more, secular people who refer to each other as guru inadvertently establish an ongoing bond with them whereby the one on the pedestal is obliged to drag the other into the unfathomable. Sounds good, right? But what it really means is that both are tied into to a contract where whenever one of them fails and falls down the selection-progression ladder – from human to animal or insect – the other will accompany them down there.

Call another a guru or jockey yourself into a position to be called a guru, and both of you will seriously inhibit your progress towards being free from the bondage of life and death …so, do not call another person a guru, and do not allow yourself be tagged guru either, is my advice here.

Having clarified what a Guru is not, let’s clarify what it is. Guru is an entity by whose intervention they who are at the apex of divinity attain moksha, albeit the lower level thereof. Guru at this junction is unseen, a sense-teaching entity, beyond the sound-light conundrum. One cannot meditate into moksha, as one can with divinity; one accesses and advances into moksha by invitation, or more usually by recommendation (what we otherwise call grace), hence the need for an intervening entity – the Guruji.

SIK-KH:

Sikkh is the actual and correct spelling for a Sikh when written in English. However, I will use the spelling Sikh for ease of comprehension.

Sikh is an analyser, scrutiniser and improver of every aspect of life, from the secular to the divine…yet they remain humble throughout.

Sikh, despite all the things you may have heard it described as, also refers to a realm above that of the divine. One of the tests of divinity is to be born and live one’s life in a secular household environment. The divine undergoing secular tests are currently born into Sikh households. Sure, divinity can be attained by the recluse – often thought of as the ultimate detached individual – but the more difficult test to be mastered is that of maintaining one’s stature and status while navigating the quotidian and mundane everyday tasks of the householder. Those of my position have seen many a person’s hard-won divinity unravel in such trying circumstances. It is not easy.

SINGH/KAUR:

Singhs and Kaurs are those who have chosen to practice a Sikh lifestyle in conjunction with the secular environment, and who do so without flinching from the challenges the secular may impose on their Sikh way of life. It is the ultimate test of detachment. Singh denotes male-energy; Kaur denotes female-energy (energy – shakti). Shakti itself has many layered definitions. As of course do Singh and Kaur.

KHALSA:

What about Khalsa? Well, it is not a name or label given to baptised Sikhs, as is universally thought. You cannot baptise the baptised. Rather, the consumption of Amrit, symbolic authority made material, confers upon the Sikh a duty-responsibility – which manifests in their new identification as Khalsa – which might more appropriately be thought of less as baptism than investiture. Baptism, insofar as it relates to Sikhism, refers for its part to the attunement of a being with Sikhism which then readies them for birth as a Sikh. Though it ought to be remembered (and this contradicts the previous statement to some degree), that being born into a Sikh family does not automatically indicate one’s attainment of Sikhism; though for the most part, being part of a practising Sikh household is a step in one’s progress towards awakening.

The Five Ks of Sikhism

Note: each of the following has multi-layered, more expansive, and deeper connotations and significances than those offered below. But the following will give you a basic initial insight into the five Ks of Sikhism.

KESH:

Tangled hair symbolises the emotional tangles of the mind that hinder one’s divine progress. The hair is detangled by the act of bending one’s head forward and combing the hair from that position, and thus symbolises the reminder to detangle the mind and it emotions. The movement of bending forward also lowers one’s head, and thus constitutes an act of humbleness too. Only detached humbleness untangles emotional entrapments.

KANGA:

The comb the Sikh wears in their hair. The teeth of the kanga signify, and remind one to use the mind’s thoughts to excavate for deeper and refined awareness from within one’s own antrkarna (soul) using the Atma. The Atma, as I have stated elsewhere and numerous times, is not the equivalent of the soul. The soul is the harmonised cooperation of the body’s internal organs to clear obstacles and allow for ever-increasing awareness, taking one from the lower disciplines of religion, rite-ritual, spirituality, and dharma into divinity and onwards into Sikhism.

KARRA:

The steel bangle, as it is universally referred to, the karra signifies deflecting the emotionality that hinders divine clarification. Once again, one uses humbleness to format a path from one to the other.

KIRPAAN:

The kirpaan has dual symbolism: forgiveness at the point of killing one’s foe, and the cutting edge of refined thought that is the basis from which one progresses into divine awareness.

KACHHA:

This signifies the refined, discriminating, and tranquil expression of all sexual emotions, that lead into higher realms of divinity.

Meditation, Fighters, Warriors, and Khalsa-Warriors

This is an introduction to the next essay… which I promise will be both deep and shocking.

What is a warrior?

According to popular news, media and entertainment programmes, warriors are armed forces personnel who sit in helicopter gun-ships and shoot-to-kill at distant crowds that pose zero personal threat to them. These are the so-called warriors championed in the western media, whose acts are celebrated as brave and heroic.

We, from our background, do not deem such behaviour as warrior-like, at all.

It is worth briefly focusing on the classifications of fighter, warrior and divine warrior that sometimes get jumbled up together using examples most of us know…

The Knights Templar were an immensely wealthy, politically powerful, west European, Christian military order. They were religious rather than spiritual. They were fighters, not warriors.

The Shogun are an example of warriors. As are the original Sufis. Prior to conversion to Islam many centuries after the founding of Mohammedism, Sufism was a spiritual movement and therefore at a higher level than mere religiosity.

The original baptised Sikh – the Khalsa – were, until they diverged from their founding tenets in the 1950s, divine warriors.

Now let me clarify each of the three classifications of fighter, warrior and divine warrior.

Old-fashioned fighters never actually picked a fight. They defended. Trained in armed warfare, they also maintained and continued a tradition of working in the family business. Their readiness to kill or be killed turned on split-second emotions. They reacted to situations, but were proactive in that reaction.

Old-fashioned warriors were thoughtful protectors of life. More often than not, they ate humble pie. Humiliation was not a reason or justification for them to pick up arms or kill. Occasionally, they acted as consultants, intervening to defuse disputes and find face-saving solutions for all concerned parties. With the passage of time, however, the traditional value of responsibility diminished, and these warriors transmuted into mercenaries.

The Khalsa – referring to a state beyond divinity – were warriors with a difference. They had awakened perception. They were a movement comprising advanced Sadhus who were ordered to immerse themselves in family, business and secular life while simultaneously maintaining their divine ethos. Similar to the Shogun and Sufi strata, they were protectors of life; what set them apart from that strata of warrior was the fact that they had to protect another’s right to kill them. In war, they sought not to kill their foe, but to disarm them and thereby allow them to return to their families. If foes persisted, after at least three times of such magnanimous behaviour, they were killed.

Only those steeped in meditation can fully comprehend the ramifications of death and killing.

So, you see, unlike the poster-boys of the contemporary so-called warrior-class described at the beginning of this essay, a divine warrior would never deign to press buttons from a distance, raining death upon whoever happened to be there.

This is a prelude and companion to next week’s essay about Sikhism, Vaisaski and Khalsa….

How not to conduct elections in places of worship

(This is a letter sent to Southall Gurdwara UK, regarding their 2014 elections)

This letter applies to persons associated with, standing for, and campaigning until 28th September 2014 at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Committee elections in Southall.

I listened in to the radio interview between various party members.

Each and every one of you should be congratulated on your earnest expressions, heartfelt pleas and emotionally charged accusations in a perfect, well-illustrated exposé: on mature men who are nothing more than spoilt little children throwing temper tantrums in order to make their point.

And on top of that, with haughty pride it was claimed that ex-Prime Minister Blair adjudicated between warring parties and that the gurdwara had paid this mass murderer £100,000. This beggars belief.

Sevadarjis, understand one thing. Not a single one of you or your families has an iota of a chance of getting into nor even realising in which direction lies the much sought after ‘suvaarg’. Petty, angry, spoilt, egotistical people do not even get to a point from which directions can be given for their onward purity process.

Last time, I was saddened during the ongoing debacle and infighting during the elections at Shepherds Bush Gurdwara, London, UK. The rest is history.

Please, I implore you that in future all involved conduct the election with mutual appreciation, as all concerned want the best for this institution and its congregation. We all have a common concern, regardless where a Sikh resides globally. We all want a smooth transition of sevadars willing to spend time doing the thankless and routine tasks of running such establishments.

Yes, it is all too easy to mock, find faults and belittle the sevadars who put in voluntary hours in all global religious institutions. However, that is not an excuse to behave like irrational, accusation-throwing, spoilt little children, now, is it?

Furthermore, I am sure none of you behaved in that manner when you were in fact little children. I am also sure all of you were dutiful and well-behaved kids. So what happened once you grew up and learned to wipe your own nose?

I hope all of you are equally ashamed for your behaviour. Rest assured, I certainly was, listening to the broadcast. We are humans. We have a difference of opinions. That does not permit us to accuse each other of actual or (mis)perceived transgressions in a vile and degrading manner.

What, in fact, you are saying is that you are a better judge of the activities of your opponent than Akal-Purkh, who created that Being to behave in that manner and ordained from birth.

Please do seva.

Do not accuse.

No one is a thief.

No one amongst you is a saint either.

Count yourself lucky that you are moved enough and have the time to be involved in seva at a gurdwara.

Remember, for whom-so-ever wins: we are all winners.

Satsiriakaalji

Avtar

Sikh Mystic

Sikhs are caught in a strange paradox. A paradox without parallel in their history. They are hurtling towards a pattern of behaviour inimical to their very being; where once they lived not merely in alignment with, but expansively beyond, the samurai code which Takaharo Kitamura defines thus:

“The samurai must maintain his faith in his beliefs, even as the social or political climate shifts and alters. He must be patient, must act in a manner that may at times seem irrational or illogical, must resist the temptation of instant gratification, and must work towards fulfilling what may seem to be an impossible idea. As a result, the samurai is often sometimes an outsider, a rebellious figure because he refuses to conform to the habits of the day.”

Whence the stupendous fall from grace of the Sikh mystic? Why are Sikhs going, not into the mystic, but resolutely away from it? To answer this question, we need to explore the death of Sikh humanity – that quality of being humane and benevolent, of eschewing judgement in favour of empathy. Okay, ‘death’ may be a tad overwrought – but certainly Sikh humanity defined in this way has entered a period of ruination equally ruinous to the existence of the Sikh mystic.

Now, I have absolute empathy with that age when PhDs were conferred only once a student had accomplished mastery of, and successfully defended their theses on, no fewer than eight subjects. An age when PhDs were attained well beyond the age of 40. Today of course, entry into just one PhD programme is difficult enough, and mastering just the one subject is a life-consuming venture for four years or more. – but to master eight subjects?! I’ve nothing but admiration for that kind of feat – a norm among PhD students in a long-ago age, and one in which the Indian universities excelled, welcoming students from across the world.

What the Sikh mystic did however, was to extend the scholarly curriculum, to revolutionise the armchair-debating speciality of Aryadesh’s scholars and the subject-focused study of their research students. Sikh mysticism deepened the scope of education and expertise, integrated this to extend to body as well as mind. Thus, while an erstwhile research subject included mastery of war – Sikh mysticism required that this have a physical component, a practical counterpart to learning about strategy and tactics. It was a radical departure from a theory-only curriculum, and from the kind of mystic enquiry that limited itself to fathoming the unseen – Sikh mysticism brought to the table a pragmatic imperative; knowledge for the sake of dealing with life’s everyday problems.

If pragmatics had been valued enough, it’s possible that the morning on which the Mohammedans (the original name of followers of Islam) conquered north-west Aryadesh for the umpteenth time might never have come to pass. Indeed, one young mystic – following a householder’s lifestyle rather than that of a recluse or ivory-tower theoretician – pleaded with his senior mystics that they take a physical role in defending and repulsing the invading army. The response was along the lines of “We will sit and meditate, and materialise a sheet of mirror to confront and blind the invading army as it marches across the desert along the north-western frontier.” Meditation did not transform sand into a mirror with blinding properties. North-west Aryadesh was conquered.

And the young mystic? He is now known universally as Guru Nanakdevji. The founder and first guru of the Sikhs. (I’ll write more about what a guru is in a future post).

Guru Nanakdevji was a reformer. He jettisoned reliance on subjective and ethereal knowledge alone. He believed that the human world would be governed by those who master technology – which is where this sentence ends from the European (including American) perspective – and harness it for the benefit of people, animals and the environment. This is written into the Sri Guru Granth Sahibji, along with other of his observations, such as the imperative of strenuously tackling, confronting and improving circumstances to effect a more balanced state rather than meekly accepting karma.

The ‘knowledge-and-action’ based humanity of Guru Nanakdevji thrived through the other nine progressive Sikh Gurus. Hence, pragmatics – Guru Ramdassji (the fourth Guru) encouraged horsemanship as well as the mastering and carrying of arms, in a legal environment forbidding this – shared the limelight with scholarly pursuit.

Consequently, Sikhs were not exactly flavour of the day. Challenging ages-old traditions of Vedantic and Vedic philosophy, with their mass following and off-the-mark translations of Sanskrit scriptures (before Hinduism came to encompass everything in a hazy amorphous mass), was – and this is too often understated if explored at all –unpalatable to the mystical elite.

Yet, as with all reformist movements, the earliest adherents to Sikh mysticism comprised disaffected scholars and elites from within the ruling but increasingly defunct system – the rationality of their argument in favour of Guru Nanakdevji attracting more followers in turn. Yet, Guru Nanakdevji’s wasn’t Aryadesh’s first reformist movement by any stretch of the imagination – Bhagat Kabir and several others before him had tried and failed. What marked Guru Nanakdevji out was his born-enlightenment quality – that advanced divine awareness of his that came from birth, and gave him absolute abilities in exposing weak arguments and won him acclaim within the highest echelons of the Divine community of his age.

To put this into context, Gautaum Buddha was a self-enlightened; while Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed of Makkah were taught-enlightened. At a pedestrian level, these strata of enlightenment are unseen, exchangeable with and inextricable from each other – what is necessary is to extrapolate the individuals involved; at an advanced spiritual level, the enlightenment forms are distinguishable but understood to more importantly comprise part of a cosmic continuum in which the bio-signatures of the individual are irrelevant categorizations.

So, we have a born-enlightened reformer espousing knowledge-action based humanity that integrates mental acuity, physical prowess, and pragmatic action – a figure in the form of Guru Nanakdevji who is a superior dialectician, unraveling the confusions of the Vedic norms and the ambiguities of the Mohammedan edicts, and joined by many an interlocutor won over by the rationality of his equal and balanced lifestyle argument.

And while this followership expanded to the masses, the source of Sikh mysticism’s initial attraction was the elites – the educated. (This social constructivist basis of group identity is well-documented within anthropological research – including the role of elites in setting the agenda, and articulating the symbols and ideology that attract the masses into believing, or in this instance cleaving to reform).

To a huge degree, however, Sikh mysticism was its own PR. It’s access to, and explanatory value and practical importance for Aryadesh’s lay population, came at the moment of its unveiling on the global stage – when Guru Gobind Raiji presented the Mystic-Warrior Sikhs formally at Vaisakhi at Anandpur Sahib and thence was baptised under their auspices as Guru Gobind Singhji.

But it also came in response to the Sikh mystics’ successes in battle – those demonstrations of power and prowess that speak volumes to a mass population excluded from the exercise of esoteric knowledge that is the elite’s domain. Mohammedan warriors sought out Sikh mystics in battle in order to die at their hands, such was the blessing and aura connoted with being a Sikh mystic.

Together, these attainments combined to attract many fame-seekers, excited by the prospect of the adrenalin of battleground victories and of becoming Sikhs – Singhs – in the process. At its apex Sikh mysticism was venerated as itself being at the apex of all dharmas and religions; and the achievements of the Sikh mystics, ordinary householders who mesmerised the population, were legendary. With the passing of the tenth Guruji, crucial adjustments leveled out the equally crucial distinctions between dharma and religion, and the criteria for becoming a Mystic-Warrior Sikh – the triadic cornerstone of mental acuity, physical prowess, and pragmatics in the service and advancement of humaneness and humanity – were relaxed to an unprecedented level.

Consequently, the baptism ceremony to become a Singh resembles a ‘conversion job-lot’ and I am unyielding in my opposition to this. For me, Singh and Kaur denote, for men and women respectively, “a Sikh mystic who is deeply and thoroughly educated but has chosen a hands-on, warrior-secular lifestyle, committed in their refusal to let truth be humiliated – even if they have to stand alone and must give up their own life in protecting truth” (Avtar).

But what I witness is angry people unable to command their own emotions being encouraged into baptism as Singhs, as if there is a contest to see who can secure the most conversions. And they take place several times a year, year in, year out – across the globe. It’s an absolute nonsense. I would even support the conversion of these manipulated innocents if they were, at the very least, entered into a stream of education that would result in their inner awakening. But they’re not and, so, I shan’t.

Think about it, the criteria for becoming a Singh are: a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, a promise to wake up early and do two sets of prayers, one in the morning and one in the evening, not cutting their hair and wearing the five kakkars.

You may as well put out a call inviting everybody who’s ever been told by their doctor that for the sake of their health they need to eat a vegetarian diet and give up alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs; and who, on top of that, don’t get around to trimming their hair… convert to being a Singh, you tick most of the boxes already.

If only it were that easy to become a Sikh mystic!

Vegetarianism has always been a mainstay of the Indian diet; keeping hair untrimmed has always been the choice of those seeking inner awareness…these are hardly edicts of an advanced dharma, then, but merely extrapolations of long-held local practices, and not a whole lot to crow about, after all.

Sikh mysticism is a tad more complicated, and yes, I would revert to some strictness about who may take the next step in their inner development with respect to initiating them into Sikh mysticism. Remember the prescriptions of mental acuity (to the level of scholarship), physical prowess, and pragmatic resolution of life’s everyday problems? Entwined with the qualities of humanity – truth, protection, empathy?

In all of this, there is no place for arrogance; and I would strip that out of any wannabe Singh by asking them to précis their knowledge of current scientific and philosophical research; prepare and formally defend doctoral theses on four subjects of their choice; demonstrate recall of all the world scriptures, and be able to extrapolate the theological differences between them. Fail in any, and you fail totally. Please pass “Go”, you don’t have what it takes. You cannot become the Khalsa.

What you actually see happening, however, is open baptism season, accompanied by a lot of venom and anger and utilization of media platforms to see who can shout loudest. Of the oft-quoted Kahlil Gibran phrase “Rest in reason; move with passion”, only the second half seems to resonate and even then without qualification or balance or temperance. And the newly baptised then fragment into social cult groupings, their fealty occurring at the cost almost of Sikh unity.

One inspirational Sikh took a more outlandish path to inner awakening and gained mystical status as a result, only for this acolytes to follow the method without achieving what he had; it was a case of ignoring the interplay between an individual’s bio-signature and the method of self-awareness suited thereto, and thinking that fervently rocking and atonally and loudly repeating a mantra would allow you to reach the heady heights of enlightenment though your bio-signature requires a different method altogether. Ask the acolytes, however, and they will, to a man, deny that they haven’t advanced spiritually.

The mesmerised are never taught the simplest truth of all: which is that you must find what works for you. I can’t emphasise this enough – focus on your aim not on the individual who appears to have reached it.

Few can become mystics. Weakening the pool through mass, emotionally-charged conversion doesn’t help anyone. While there is nothing to fault in the initial fervour of the newly converted, eventually the veneer peels off and they come to see the ultimate aim/objective with the naked and dispassionate eye, and in all its unattainable reality.

For example, almost everybody misses the point of being a warrior: it is to find every conceivable way to get out of a fight. A Mystic-Warrior must first try to create an environment which allows both sides to save face. Only when all attempts at this are rejected does the Mystic-Warrior move into the phase of shielding the weak, protecting the vulnerable, and disarming the aggressor. If the latter raises arms and takes aim, then it is permissible to put them to peaceful rest. A Mystic-Warrior does not sit in judgement, but accepts human frailty and ignores ambition.

Yet, to see the veins practically popping out on the foreheads of the baptised Sikhs, who huddle together on the Sikh television channels here in the West, creating a frenzy of argument and anger, clenching their fists in demand of their wants, substituting freedom of speech for the freedom of thought that is already theirs by right… well, Mystic-Warrior Sikh is not the first description that comes to mind; nor is Sikh, let alone Singh.

There is genuineness in their desire to see justice fulfilled as they regard it, but while admirable, they remain demeaning examples – all too widely emulated – of that which fully and truthfully is the Sikh Mystic-Warrior. As Rumi writes: “It is not thunder that grows flowers, but water.” 

It is nigh on impossible to be a Sikh Mystic – but for all that, it is neither unattainable nor unlivable as a lifestyle.

Sants, Svamis, Sufis

Everybody it seems is an expert on the boundaries that a leading Dharmic light must confine him- or herself to – but these opinionwalas and their conjectures aren’t ‘expert’ at all, they’re mostly emotion-led attitudes that acquire acceptance by sheer force of everyone else’s emotional musings on what Dharmic responsibility should look like. It is a little known fact that Dharmic hierarchy is very strict and punishes those who transgress or abuse the system.

Opinionwallahs wouldn’t for one minute judge the teachers, lecturers and professors who teach guide, mould and instruct our children. The social condemners know nothing of the sexual orientation, lifestyle, politics, marital status, or position in the education system of these educators. So, why attack the leading Dharmic light who provides succour and teaching to the average person – a person who manages life and its obstacles sufficiently well for themselves yet who seeks some additional comfort?

Why not leave seekers and their preferred Dharmic light alone – leave them to their isolated, self sustaining group communion, leave them to develop inner awakening at their own pace.

We are, after all, not talking of groups involved in mass intoxication or criminal activity.

Who among us has card-carrying authorisation to act as the Creator’s agent on earth? Not one of us. Yet up rises a mass emotional outcry, declaiming the hypnotic, cultish, subjugating hold that a mesmerising leading Dharmic light has over his or her group. The experience is never tested or studied; it is simply challenged, and blame apportioned to the shepherd. Yet the sheep are implicated in a contract of protection by the shepherd – and it is precisely this vital, valuable aspect underpinning the entire relationship that judgmental opinionwallahs fail to appreciate.

In education, each teacher is different from the next. Their commonality is their remit to impart information to their students for digestion, consideration and improvement. Dharmic leading lights play a similar role. Think back to your schooldays…you didn’t like or get on with all your teachers, but this did not stop them from being teachers, from fulfilling their remit as teachers.

Dharmic leading lights ought to be considered in the same vein. But, and the difference is significant here, whereas teachers learn and train to impart information and knowledge about specific subject-matters, Dharmic leading lights’ engagement is samskaric and dovetails with their previous births. Their disciples and followers are the schoolchildren of the classroom.

So the key learning here, and my suggestion, is that everybody ought to observe, study and learn before articulating disapproval – become the expert you seek to critique – and if a ‘student’ seeks your assistance then support them without attacking and vilifying their Dharmic leading light. Let the secular justice system take that individual to task if so needed. You should remain opinionless in the matter.

A Sikh does not judge or condemn based on emotion.

Khalsa negotiates a given problem without casting blame, while protecting the weak and the victim of injustice, doing so at personal cost to themselves if need be.

Khalsa’s path is protection of others through compassion for all.