Sunday, April 23, 2006
I can say for sure I met some "people of the spirit" in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro. It started with my co-workers. As you all may know the strife and suffering caused by nationalistic corrupt leaders led to a brutal civil war and eventual break up of the former Yugoslavia (including NATO intervention). There was a time when the price of a cup of coffee would double in one day because of super inflation. The overall life systems were a mess. But now, the hard working younger educated generation have dreams and want to make things work. There is a silent technological and entrepreneurial revolutionary fervour among the masses. Well, this conference was organized by a friend of a collegue of mine who had emigrated during the recent war to North America (one to Canada and another to the US). Now that the political and economic climate is right, they are back and working on rebuilding their nation. I was just a small part of the speaking agenda and was simply promoting WLAN systems for enterprises and service providers.
The "people of the spirit" I met were essentially people on the street that said hi, were concerned and worried whether I was enjoying my time in Belgrade and just exhubed "hope". I was quite humbled. I had a memorable encounter with the shuttle driver from the hotel to the airport. He was 22 years old, just started working at the Hyatt as a shuttle driver and shared with me his aspirations to study Hospitality sciences and rise up the ranks in the hotel industry in Serbia. We talked about food, geography and dreams.
The Danube is the main river that cuts through Belgrade. Because of its location and the presence of the river, Belgrade (and Serbian region) has been subjected to wars, invasions and internal strife for centuries. My encounter with the people and very very brief encounter with their history (as told by the people) reminded me of the land where our Gurus laid their holy feet. Because of the strategic location of Panjab and its centuries of invasion, war and strife, the people of that area naturally transformed into "people of the spirit". And a common attribute among people who have been through such strife is "HOPE". The only difference between the Khalsa which was developed in Panjab and today is spread around the world, and the people of Belgrade is our "hope" is manifest and fulfilled within the context of the Grace of the Guru. I wonder what sustains their hope.
Anyway, I travel a lot for business. This was one of the first times that my business travel was transformed into a a spiritual reflection. I don't do that as often as I should. So - Thank you Belgrade!
Here are a few of pictures of Belgrade.
My collegue and his wife.
Famous war hero who fought for the independece of Serbia from the Ottoman Empire.
We went for a stroll in a park on the banks of the Danube. The park is built within an ancient fort.
View of the Danube.
Anyway, this is a test post to see if comments have been re-enabled. Thanks Angad Singh.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The Gospel of Guru Nanak has yet to be taken out of its ecclesiastical and theological atmosphere, to be used as a text-book of the Science and Art of life and worked into the daily life of the whole world. The human spirit it invokes is universal. The English, the Americans, black and white, all must receive it in full measure. Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh are theirs, the Sikhs may adore them as they choose, but they are truly the Prophets of the Future. Men gathering on the banks of the Ganges, the Mississipi, the Thames, and the Seine, will be reborn in the spirit of the Guru, with no past history to recount, but with the new and future Glory of the Nam inspiring them. (Taken from essay - the Sikh Nation, Prof. Puran Singh).
Also, here is what Principal Teja Singh said about it atleast 50 years ago (maybe more). He first describes Guru Nanak as a missionary par excellence:
Then, talking about the prevelant times (mid 1900's) he says that the "so called educated Sikhs", need to realize that it is their duty to propagate their faith (first among the community, then beyond):
Guru Nanak was a missionary in the truest sense of the word. His whole life was a message. He traveled over a greater part of land than any prophet has ever done in the world. And when we consider the difficulties of moving about, the hard times, and the diversity of political, social and religious regions through which he had to pass during his travels. We cannot but marvel at the energy and patience with which he adapted himself to the ever-changing forces of his time.
I would advise those wanting to understand the missionary (ambassadorship) aspect of Sikhi to read Principal Teja Singh's article titled "Guru Nanak and his Mission" available here.
Even among the educated there is a small class of men, whose hearts burn for the advancement of Sikhism, but being hard workers in their professions and finding with difficulty sufficient time to learn about the complicated problem. They can but turn to those for assistance who are set apart and maintained as their theological trustees, the Granthis and preachers. In the general scramble for the Government Service, it goes hard with them to think of self-sacrifice and to make a bold jump for the Guru themselves.Now it is clear that the chief work of missionaries lies with the Granthis and preachers, and for years to come it will have to be done through them alone. Until the educated people also realize that their indifference is fatal to the progress of Sikhism and that the later they come into the field, the harder the task will be against the contending forces
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Second, I have the urge to provide information about "The Greatest Sikh of the 20th century" according to a referendum and nomination process that swept the Panjab villages 5 or 6 years ago. I am urged to do this based on a posting of a dynamic Sikh blogger-sangat member - Prabhu Singh - who was nominated Sikh Youth of the Month on www.sikhsangat.org.
In order to understand the great Baba Jarnail Singh who hailed from the village of Bhindran, it is important to read (or listen to) his speaches. Fortunately, we don't have any excuse any more that we cannot understand Panjabi because almost ALL his talks were recorded in a book. Please hunt down, purchase and read - Struggle for Justice: Speeches and Conversations of Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale, by Ranbir Singh Sandhu, Sikh Educational and Religious Foundation, P.O. Box 1553, Dublin, Ohio. 1999, ISBN 0-9672874-1-3
In the preface to the book, Ranbir Singh quotes Khushwant Singh (who we all know is a psuedo-moderate Sikh academic, more of a proficient fiction writer who according to Vahguru's Magnificent Drama took birth in a Sikh family, who clearly stated in his early life that he is agnostic and only has association with the Sikh community, not the Sikh faith...anyway, I digress.). This is what Khushwant says
'On a later visit to Amritsar I got an inkling into the reasons of Bhindranwale's popularity. I will narrate two incidents to illustrate this. One day a young girl came to see Bhindranwale. ..... She clutched his feet and sobbed out her story of how she was maltreated by her husband's family for failing to extract more money from her parents and of her husband's unwillingness to take her side. Bhindranwale asked her name and where she lived. "So you are a daughter of the Hindus," he said. "Are you willing to become the daughter of a Sikh?" She nodded. Bhindranwale sent a couple of his armed guards to fetch the girl's family. An hour later a very frightened trio consisting of the girl's husband and his parents were brought to his presence. "Is this girl a daughter of your household?", he demanded. They admitted she was. "She tells me that you want money from her father. I am her father." He placed a tray full of currency notes before them and told them: "take whatever you want". The three fell at his feet and craved forgiveness.'Every time I read that...I choke-up...I pray for an ounce of conviction like that.
Also see, for a good background of the post-colonial Sikh history and a brief history of Babaji - http://www.sikhcoalition.org/SantJarnailSingh.pdf
Also see one of my previous posts "I knew not then". The mention of Baba Jarnail Singh there is a result of my personal encounter at a Sikh youth retreat with an eye-witness of the battle of Sikh vs. Indian Army, June 1984 (I don't like calling it by the Indian hegemonistic name of Operation Bluestar).
There are tons and tons of information about Babaji, some very confusing that may potentially cause for distraught. But over the years that I have been a cognizant Sikh and becoming aware of our scripture, history and discpline, I am convinced that he was indeed the greatest Sikh of the 20th century. And for the popular media that didn't take heed to the nomination process and referendum in Panjab...he was nominated by an overwhelming majority.
I end with the the famous motto of Baba Jarnail Singh which is so apt even today
Friday, April 14, 2006
Principal Teja Singh describes what the value of an intense relationship between Guru and Sikh results:
A Sikh, a pure-hearted Sikh, who follows the teachings of his Guru is a great power in himself; but when such a Sikh gets into himself the dynamic personality of such a perfect exemplar as Guru Gobind Singh, his powers acquire an infinite reach and he becomes a super-man. He is called Khalsa, the personification of the Guru himself. “The Khalsa” says the Guru, “is my other self’ in him I live and have my being.” A single Sikh, a mere believer, is only one; but the equation changes when he takes Guru Gobind Singh into his embrace. He becomes equal to ‘one lakh and a quarter,’ in the Sikh parlance. This change occurs not only in his physical fitness, but also in his mental and spiritual outlook. His nature is so reinforced in every way that although hundreds may fall round him, he will resist to the last and never give way. Wherever he stands, he will stand as ‘a garrison of the Lord of Hosts,’ a host in himself - a host of one lakh and a quarter. He will keep the Guru’s flag always flying. Whenever tempted, he will ask himself, “Can I lower the flag of Guru Gobind Singh? Can I desert it? I, as Budh Singh or Kahan Singh, can fall; but can Guru Gobind Singh in me fall? No, never.” - Outline of Sikh Doctrines, Principal Teja Singh
On this day, let us make the pledge that we will not let our internal and external image of the Guru fall. Let us realize the importance of Vaisakhi day of 1699 CE. It was the inauguration of the Khalsa. Some (even our revered writers) call it the "Creation" of the Khalsa. An inauguration is the opening of something that took preparation and time. It took a total of 200 years (1499 to 1699) for the development of the community to reach a level that the Sovereignty of Divine Wisdom could be bestowed upon them. And that is exactly what was manifest by Nanak X - the Plume Adorned True Sovereign, the Rider of the Blue Steed, the Holder of the Royal White Hawk - kalgidhar sace patshah, nila ghora vale, citian bajan vale.
As Harinder Singh mentioned - on this day Sikhs remember the Divine awesomeness - vismad - because the Khalsa is the embodiment of the Divine:
Amrit, (sometimes incorrectly mentioned as Sikh baptism) made, the basis of this holy organization. There was no room left for any wavering on the border-line. All who wanted to serve humanity through Sikhism must join it seriously as regular members, and receive its Amrit as the initial step. All must have the same creed, which should be well-defined and should not be confused with the belief and practices of the neighboring religions. - Principal Teja SinghCongratulations and celebrate the Divine in the unique Sikh way.
jagat jot japai nis basur...
One who keeps alight the unquenchable torch of truth, and never swerves from the thought of one Vahiguru;
One who has full love and confidence in Vahiguru, and does no put faith, even by mistake, in fasting or the graves of Muslim saints, Hindu crematoriums, of Jogis’, places of sepulcher;
One who only recognizes the one Divine and no pilgrimages, non-destruction of life, penances, or austerities;
And in whose heart the light of the Perfect Once shines,-- that one is to be recognized as a pure member of the Khalsa.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
“In this infinite abundance of service in the Name of the Beloved, lies the secret of equality of men and women and their complete social emancipation from the thralldom both of the false religions and false systems of social thought … The alterations of the outer conditions of life, even political revolutions cannot secure the equal distribution of land and wealth and labor; they cannot transmute human nature. Unless the change be wrought within, the volcanoes will burst forth again, and the lava shall flow as before, and all our leveling of conditions will be in vain! The Guru visualized this and leaving the outer surfaces of human nature untouched, changed the inner springs of action.”
On Vaisakhi day of Nanakshahi 231, ‘The Rider of the Blue Steed’ inaugurated a highly dynamic personality – the Khalsa – a community whose ‘Light of Life’ ceaselessly radiates glory, justice, and love.
Vaisakhi is a reminder to all of us to reflect on the Guru’s vision of personal and community development, revive the spirit of Carhdi Kala that changed the destiny of South Asia and beyond, and respond to the critical issues and challenges, both internal and external.
Vaisakhi is a time to reconnect with the roots. For the ‘tillers of the soil’ of Panjab, it is the celebration of the harvesting festival. For the Guru Khalsa Panth, it is the bestowing of sovereignty by the Tenth Nanak. The Sikhs worldwide salute the Awesomeness, vismad, in religio-cultural celebrations.
May you feel inspired, creative, and liberated!
Sikh Research Institute
Preserve. Celebrate. Inspire.
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.sikhri.org
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Source: Tribune Chandigarh. April 4th.
Rare manuscripts of Prof Puran Singh missing
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 4
Certain important archives related to the late Prof Puran Singh, respected Punjabi poet and prose writer, seem to have disappeared from the library of Punjabi University, Patiala. When did this happen, no one knows.
The way Prof Puran Singh described the Punjabi identity, temperament, image and mood in his poetry, no one has been able to match till now, say critics. He was a multifaceted personality.
“We are trying to locate the manuscripts of certain important works of Prof Puran Singh,” said the Chief Librarian of the university when contacted by The Tribune on the phone this morning. “I have put the officials concerned on the job of tracing the manuscripts,” she added. “It will take some more time for me to say something definite on this issue”, she said.
Sources said that the manuscript of a novel, “Bhagirath,” extracts of which were published long ago in a Punjabi University journal, “Puran Singh Studies,” is also missing. Another important missing manuscript is that of “Spirit of the Sikh”. The publication wing of the university had published it some years ago. It was edited by the late Prof Gurbachan Singh Talib, eminent scholar.
However, there were a number of printing mistakes in the publication. Another professor at the university, who felt the work required to be re-edited and republished after removing the mistakes, tried his best to find the manuscript. However, he was unable to locate it. " The Spirit of the Sikh" was perhaps published from a typed manuscript. That is what had been stated by Professor Talib in the book, said the Chief Librarian.
The family of Prof Puran Singh had donated the library of the writer to the university in 1966. " The archives of the writer were handed over to Prof Kirpal Singh Narang of the university by Raminder Singh, one of the sons of Prof Puran Singh", said a UK-based Punjabi writer, Amarjit Chandan. There was photographic evidence to prove this, he added.
Born in the North-West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan, on February 17, 1881, Prof Puran Singh did his higher studies in applied chemistry from Japan where he also published a magazine, " Thundering Dawn," dedicated to the freedom struggle of the country.
He was a close associate of Lala Hardyal and also lived in Patiala for some time. Prof Puran Singh was sent to jail because of his active participation in the freedom struggle. He died on March 31, 1931, at Dehra Dun, where he had earlier served in the Forest Research Institute. Unfortunately, no one has tried to organise a function to remember the legendary personality even this year, the 125 year of his birth and 75th of his death anniversary.
Prof Pritam Singh, a well-known collector of manuscripts, says that he wanted to donate his huge collection of rare documents to Punjabi University." But I changed my mind when it took six months for me to locate certain matter related to 'Ahiyapurwali pothi' from the library of the university", he said.
However, the Chief Librarian said that she had tried her best to preserve the rare archives and manuscripts in a scientific manner. As many as 48 eminent persons, including men of letters, had donated their libraries to the university in the past four decades." It is a difficult task to handle such a huge collection of works," she said.
And I am off to Belgrade, fmr. Yugoslavia tomorrow for a conference which I am speaking at.
Will post pictures soon. I have been slacking on reading as well, but now that spring is here I promise to catch up.
Spirit Born People quote:
The Gurus have altered our ideals of inner self-realization. "Know Thyself", is only partially right. The true artistic consciousness or religious consciousness blossoms in its own inner beauty when the inner self of man and the outer self of nature unite. Both partake of Reality which is but a cosmic phenomenon of life. Those who sat in caves, and meditated and found God in their soul, the so-called Yogic idealist, the Zens of Japan, were not truly spiritual; they were still intellectual, the abstractionists, poor moralists who set themselves, in pride of intellectual abstraction, as gods. On the other hand, those who rejected the subjective realities and saught Truth only in the outer objects and their beauty as realized by the senses, the so called Realists, also were intellectual. Their art too, wholly intellectual, touches in its ratre flights the spiritual. There is thus no difference between the Greek ideals of old and the Art-ideals of the East which are based on metaphysics....This was an excerpt from "Notes on Art and Personality from the Sikh Viewpoint". This essay of Prof. Puran Singh gives us a glimpse into the inspiration of art and culture within the Sikh context. The essay starts with the famous line: "First, life. Then, its expression". Its a fascinating line. Now its time to delve in the Guru Granth and realize its import.
Hence it is that the Gurus do not consider artistic expression which needs must be intellectual. They insist first on artistic life and most on artistic inside, on the flame of inspiration burining within at the centre. The rest must follow. According to the Gurus, the spiritual expression of personality can only come thourgh feeling born and bred in the human flesh. Human flesh is the imperfect medium though which the Gurus wish to express the perfect. Beauty is neither outside, within the reach of the realist, nor inside, within the reach of the idealist, as both are seeking an intellectual abstraction. It (Beauty) is beyond intellectal abstractions, in hte actual subjective spiritual union of the spirit of man with that of the universe or Nature.