Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! (Khalsa belongs to God. Victory belongs to God!)
Good morning and welcome to my first day as a Sikh. You’ll have to forgive the tardiness of this post because, as usual, I get virtually NO sleep the night before a new month and it takes me a little longer to get ready in the mornings now…
Yes, that’s a turban. It takes a while to master tying that bad boy on (I practiced for 5 hours yesterday), so no hating on the look. By month’s end, I’ll have it looking sharp!
I’ll get into why Sikhs wear the turban in our next post (The Five K’s), but first let’s get cozy with our new faith this month.
The word Sikh means “student” or “disciple” in the Punjabi language. Sikhism began in the Punjab region of Northeastern India with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 1469 and developed under the inspired guidance of 9 successive gurus. The last mortal guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, finalized the progression of these teachers in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Within is over 1400 pages of hymns that teach about the oneness of God (Waheguru), and provides direction for all human life. The Guru Granth Sahib is consider the living, eternal Guru, and is treated with the utmost respect.
A Sikh is anyone who professes belief in:
- The One, Immortal, Timeless God
- The Ten Gurus
- The Guru Granth Sahib (holy book)
- The teachings of the Gurus
- The baptism (Amrit) introduced by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and who owes allegiance to no other faith.
Pretty simple, right?
As for daily living, there are three commandments incumbent upon all Sikhs:
- Naam Japo: that is, meditation on God’s name at all times. This brings one closer to God consciousness.
- Kirat Karo: Earning a living through honest means. In other words, don’t be a leech on society or steal.
- Wand Chako: Share with others. This also includes selfless service to others.
More specifically, Sikhism is a work of social equality, and all Sikhs work toward the following ends:
- Belief in the brotherhood of mankind. In the eyes of God, we are all the same regardless of sex, age, race, national origin, religion, or any other distinction.
- Men and women are equal. Women can lead any religious service and share all social rights with men.
- Freedom of religion for all. Sikhs recognize that all paths can lead to God and therefore make no efforts to allure or convert others to the Sikh path.
- The right to bear arms and self defense.
The Sikh way teaches that God is ultimately beyond comprehension, imagination, or definition–and yet lives within every one of us–indeed, inside the very atoms of matter itself. My Mentor this month put it this way.
“So, because God lives not someplace in the sky, but in all of Creation, He sees me when you look at me, and he sees you when I look at you.”
The philosophy of the Sikhs regarding Waheguru (God) can be summed up in the opening stanza of the Guru Granth Sahib, otherwise known at the “Mul Mantra”:
“There is One God,
The Supreme Truth, the Creator, Omnipresent
Without fear, without enmity,
a Timeless Reality, beyond birth of death
Known by the Guru’s Grace”
These words are what start’s a Sikh’s day, and so for the next month, my day. Since every Sikh is called to remember God’s Name and meditate on Him, the Mul Mantra is memorized for this purpose. Every morning, Sikhs read the Jap Ji Sahib, a 38-verse composition which describes the nature of Waheguru, the purpose of eternal union with Him, and the uselessness of blind belief and rituals. Apart from that and a few prayers one says in the evening and before bed, a Sikh’s life is one of justice, equality, and remembrance of God.
I’ve long had a facination with the Sikhs. Thier “warrior-saint” status and history is very appealing, at least as far as I’ve looked into it. Living in the South, I can tell you now that this turban is going to turn some heads. I’ve never seen anyone here wear one. The fact that we are approaching the 10th anniversary of September 11th doesn’t help, as Sikhs were murdered in this country, mistaken for Muslims, after the attacks.
Can I handle the pressure? What sort of reception will I get from my neighbors? Will they ask questions (which is good!) or stare with ignorant fear? This should be an interesting month for sure…