Monday, December 05, 2016

Please pray for Bhai Jagraj Singh...

Most of the Sangat will now be aware that our dear brother, Bhai Jagraj Singh, has been diagnosed with stage four advanced cancer that has spread to his liver and is inoperable, after an announcement was made last Wednesday. Veer Ji is the founder and CEO of Basics of Sikhi. The Everythings 13 team that runs Basics of Sikhi and other Sikh initiatives announced that Bhai Jagraj Singh might only have a few months to live.

With Guru Ji's Kirpaa (Grace), Basics of Sikhi has revolutionised Sikhi Parchaar, and Veer Ji's contribution to this Seva will be remembered when the history of Sikhi in the 21st century is written. Guru Ji has blessed Veer Ji with inspiring many with his style and approach to Parchaar. He showed courage and boldness in beginning street Parchaar and reaching out to the wider public in sharing Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sikhi, engaging in debates with other religions' speakers, making Sikhi accessible on YouTube, and systematically teaching Sikhi via Sikh courses throughout the country and world. Most importantly, with Guru Ji's Grace, he has inspired others to step up to the mark to share Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sikhi with the world. A Parchaarik course has been started, and more and more young Sikhs from the West are pursuing a life vocation of Parchaar of Sikhi.

Bhai Jagraj Singh speaking to Arise TV about the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Bhai Jagraj Singh answering the questions of a Muslim preacher, Dawah Man.
Bhai Jagraj Singh doing street Parchaar on the streets of UK
Bhai Jagraj Singh representing Sikhs on BBC's Big Question show
Bhai Jagraj Singh and Bhai Baljit Singh doing informative shows on Anand Karaj on Akaal Channel
Bhai Jagraj Singh doing Katha on weekly English divaan at Park Avenue Gurdwara Southall
Bhai Jagraj Singh delivering the "Why Guru?" course, introducing Sikhi for beginners.

When announcing to the Sangat last week, Bhai Jagraj Singh shared the following message with the Sangat:
“Only SatGuru Ji can give or take life away and they are never wrong, only perfect. In all the Seva that Guru Ji allowed me to do of his beautiful Panth, I’ve made many mistakes and I ask forgiveness from the Sangat. If the Guru’s message has touched you and you feel it’s the truth, I urge you to follow that truth and become a GurSikh as none of us knows how long we have left. Please do Ardaas that Guru Ji gives me a place in his Charan and keeps my family and the Panth in Chardi-Kala. May the Panth flourish, even if I am finished, this is pure joy for me.” 

Bhai Jagmeet Singh and family with Bhai Jagraj Singh and his 2 children
Bhai Jagmeet Singh, who did Seva with Basics of Sikhi, made a post on the Internet that really touched my heart. He wrote that he went to visit Bhai Jagraj Singh with his wife and baby days before he got the diagnosis for cancer. When discussing possible outcomes and death, Bhai Jagmeet Singh writes that "with a beautiful smile, "Singh, don't worry. I already died 16 years ago. This has all been borrowed time." The glow on his face was incredible when he said this... Jagraj Singh bhaji's mission in this life is to help liberate others and attach them to the Charan of Guru Sahib Ji. I know many of us feel powerless at this time and wish there is something that we can do to help. There is...Pray."

Globally the Sangat has been doing Ardaas for the Chardi-Kala of Bhai Jagraj Singh and his family. On Sunday 4th December, a special programme was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha Southall, where Sangat did Chaupai Sahib Jaap and Ardaas for Veer Ji. Thousands of Sangat gathered for taking part in the Ardaas for Veer Ji. Sangat attended from across the country, and there whole Gurdwara was fully packed out. Over the weekend, I was in Spain for Seva, and the Sangat in various Gurdwaras in Spain did Chaupai Sahib Jaap and Ardaas for Veer Ji.

On Sunday Bhai Jagraj Singh did a moving speech at the end of the Southall programme, in which he asked Sangat: "Don't do Ardaas for me to have a long life, but that I remain in Maharaj's Charan (Holy-Feet), and that my family, the Khalsa, prosper..."

I do Ardaas that Satguru Ji blesses us with more sevadaars like Bhai Jagraj Singh who can help change the world for better. Veer Ji and his family is all of our thoughts and prayers.

Bhai Jagraj Singh and his family

Friday, December 02, 2016


…what would happen if Guru Ji really turned up at a venue to find Sikhs dancing, drinking alcohol, eating meat and listening to vulgar music? | 
ਅਰਦਾਸ ਤਾਂ ਕਰ ਲਈ ਪਰ ਜੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਸੱਚਮੁਚ ਆ ਗਏ ਫਿਰ ਕੀ ਬਣੂ ? | 
26.11.16, Ambala Diwaan | Dhadrianwale | MUST WATCH and READ… 

The Anand Karaj (or ‘Ceremony of Bliss’) is the actual and only matrimonial rite for the Sikhs. However, either out of ignorance in thinking it is wrongly ‘Sabhyachar’ (culture), or simply due to influence in imitating the modern west, many misguided Sikhs are more focussed on the so-called ‘after wedding’ parties. The majority of such parties go against Gurmat by their very nature and activity, and set dangerous examples for youngsters and future generations. 

In India, the guests assemble from morning at the “wedding palace” whilst only a handful of family members go to the Gurdwara Sahib for the Anand Karaj. In other countries, for example Canada/USA, they have the so-called “wedding reception” on either the evening of or the day after the Anand Karaj. In the UK, it is the afternoon party immediately following the Anand Karaj in what they refer to as the “banqueting hall”…and so forth. 

What’s concerning is the trend of the Granthi Singh doing an Ardaas for the family after the Anand Karaj requesting Guru Ji to give their blessings for the remaining activities to follow. “Maharaj Ji the Anand Karaj has taken place, please bless the newly married couple, and now by being present with your Sevaks give your blessings for the completion of the remaining activities” – this is often heard during the Ardaas at the Gurdwara Sahib after the Anand Karaj is complete. These so-called “remaining activities” they often refer to are the anti-Gurmat after-party functions. In fact, there are now said to be many instances where before these so-called wedding parties commence, they actually ask for blessings from the venue stages before the dancing and partying gets going. 

The question that needs to be asked from those who foolishly do such an Ardaas is whether they want Guru Sahib Ji to actually come and dance with them? They ask for Guru Ji to be present with them, but IF Guru Ji were to really be present with them at these parties, what would Guru Ji think? What would our father Guru Gobind Singh Ji think looking at a venue full of Sikhs partaking in anti-Gurmat activities? Are the disgraceful activities of dancing, eating meat, drinking alcohol, watching singers and listening to vulgar music the actions of the Guru’s Sikhs? Are such actions what the great revolutionary Guru Gobind Singh Ji had taught? 

The Guru’s teachings were for the betterment of society – regardless of race, creed or religion. Sikhs were wise, intellectuals and fighters for righteousness, but they were certainly not Bhangra and Gidda dancers nor were they alcoholics. Why are we joking with our Guru? We are we cheating and practising hypocrisy. In effect, why are we doing Pakhand with Ardaas? The anti-Panthic agencies are undoubtedly at play in employing their deep-rooted schemes to damage the nation. However, the agencies are not the ones forcing us to go and book banqueting hall palaces, dancers, singers or DJ’s. This part of our spiritual and social downfall is a result of our own misguided decisions and lack of intellect in accordance to Gurmat – perhaps at least this much is something we as Sikhs need to control ourselves. 

Let’s start bringing awareness to our own and wider families and friends circles. 

ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਪਾਖੰਡ ਜੋ ਦੀਸਹਿ ਤਿਨ ਜਮੁ ਜਾਗਾਤੀ ਲੂਟੈ ||
Karam Dharam Paakhandd Jo Deesehi Tin Jam Jaagaatee Loottai || 
"The religious rites, rituals and hypocrisies which are seen, are plundered by the Messenger of Death, the ultimate tax collector."
(Soohee M:5, 747)

The following clip of Bhai Ranjit Singh Khalsa Dhadrianwale is taken from the 26 November 2016 Diwaan that took place in the city of Ambala (Haryana).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Can a Gursikh use bad language and slang?...

ਤੈਸੇ ਮੁਖ ਮਧ ਬਾਣੀ ਬਸਤ ਨ ਕੋਊ ਲਖੈ, ਬੋਲੀਐ ਬਿਚਾਰ, ਗੁਰਮਤਿ, ਗੁਨ ਗਾਥ ਜੀ ॥630॥
taisse mukh madh baannee basth na ko-oo lakhai
boleeai bichaar, gurmat, gun gaathh jee ||630||
"So long as our thoughts remain within our mind or mouth, they are fine but once our thoughts come out in form of words, they cant be controlled, so speak after thinking, speak according to Gurmat and speak only good qualities (of others)."
(Bhai Gurdas Ji)

Everybody wants to hang up photos or posters of great Gursikhs, listen to songs of their glorious sacrifices, and share their photos on social media, but when it comes to looking carefully at our lifestyles we sometimes fall short. It is easy to tie a Dastaar, wear a large Kirpan or same style cholaa as the great Gursikhs we hold as role models in our hearts, but the greater challenge is earn Sikhi like they have and make Gurmat a part of every single aspect of our life, including the way we speak and the words we choose to say.

Growing up, most people are surrounded by people at school who swear, use bad language and use slang. Even though some may try to avoid speaking such profanity, the words their ears are exposed to sadly stick in one's mind. From a young age I have always found swear words as disgusting, and swearing with Guru's kirpaa was not part of my daily language.

When I was younger and not yet an Amritdhari, I thought it was unthinkable for an Amritdhari to swear or use bad language. Why? Because they love Guru Ji and those that love Guru Ji try to behave in the way Guru Ji showed and expects from us. However, alarmingly I am seeing more and more Amritdharis use very lowly language like "sh*t", "f**k", "p*ss", "tw*t" etc.  It makes you wonder, does this reflect the language and speech of a Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh Ji?

Bad language, regardless of the level of rudeness or insult,  is a product of Maya. A lack of patience, poor coping skills, constant complaining, not thinking before speaking, attachments to dialogue in movies or dramas, and copying negative behaviour of friends or people on the streets can make people swear. People can use bad language either in anger (krodh) or ego (hankaar). Gurbani says:
ਸਲੋਕ ਮ: ੩ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਬੋਲਿ ਨ ਜਾਣਨ੍‍ੀ ਓਨਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ॥
ਥਾਉ ਕੁਥਾਉ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਚਿਤਵਹਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥
ਦਰਗਹ ਲੇਖਾ ਮੰਗੀਐ ਓਥੈ ਹੋਹਿ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ॥
ਆਪੇ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਉਪਾਈਅਨੁ ਆਪਿ ਕਰੇ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਕਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਖੀਐ ਸਭੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਆਪਿ ਸਚਿਆਰੁ ॥

"Salok, Third Nanak: The self-willed manmukhs do not even know how to speak. They are filled with sexual desire, anger and egotism. They do not know the difference between good and bad; they constantly think of corruption. In the Vaheguru's Court, they are called to account, and they are judged to be false. He Himself creates the Universe. He Himself contemplates it. O Nanak, whom should we tell? The True Lord is permeating and pervading all. ||1||"
(Saarang M:3, 1248)

Gurbani clearly states that speaking foul language and negatively, will have an effect on one's mind and body. When we speak, we let out vibrations. According to the words we speak and the tone we speak we let out negative or positive vibrations. It is a fact that those who swear, use bad language or speak negatively let out negative vibrations in the environment surrounding them. The negativity and anger they speak effects the tranquillity and harmony of their mind, which then entails negative effects caused on the physical body as a result of stress and tension.
ਅਸੀ ਬੋਲਵਿਗਾੜ ਵਿਗਾੜਹ ਬੋਲ ||
asee bolvigaarr vigaarreh bol ||
"We are foul-mouthed; we spoil everything with our foul words."
(Siree M:1, 25)

ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਵਣੀ ਬਹੁ ਵਧਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ਰਾਮ ||
koorr bol bikh khaavanee bahu vadhhehi vikaaraa raam ||
"Speaking falsehood, one eats poison, and the evil within increases greatly."
(Vaddhans M:3, 570)

ਨਾਨਕ ਫਿਕੈ ਬੋਲਿਐ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਫਿਕਾ ਹੋਇ ||
ਫਿਕੋ ਫਿਕਾ ਸਦੀਐ ਫਿਕੇ ਫਿਕੀ ਸੋਇ ||
ਫਿਕਾ ਦਰਗਹ ਸਟੀਐ ਮੁਹਿ ਥੁਕਾ ਫਿਕੇ ਪਾਇ ||
ਫਿਕਾ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਪਾਣਾ ਲਹੈ ਸਜਾਇ ||੧||
naanak fikkai boliai than man fikkaa hoe ||
fikko fikkaa sadheeai fikke fikkee soe ||
fikaa dargeh satteeai muhi thhukaa fikke paae ||
fikaa moorakh aakheeai paanaa lehai sajaae ||1|| 
"O Nanak, speaking insipid words, the body and mind become insipid. He is called the most insipid of the insipid; the most insipid of the insipid is his reputation. The insipid person is discarded in the Court of the Lord, and the insipid one's face is spat upon. The insipid one is called a fool; he is beaten with shoes in punishment. ||1||"
(Aasa M:1, 473)
As a Sikh we aim to base our behaviour and actions on the perfect role model behaviour shown by the Gurus. If we take the example of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, his two elder sons were martyred in the battlefield fighting against the Mughal tyranny, and his two younger sons were cold-heartedly bricked alive by the Mughal regime. However, Guru Ji didn't swear or curse Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh Ji didn't get angry or hot-headed. Instead of cursing, swearing and getting angry, Guru Ji wrote the 'Zafarnaama', literally meaning, the 'Letter of Victory'. Guru Ji expressed the truth of the situation in the letter and the horrific crimes that Aurangzeb had committed, however the letter had a tone of triumph, truth, and honour. For this reason, when Aurangzeb heard the letter, he died of shock. 

Our language reflects our mind. If we want to change our foul language and vulgar use of words, then in accordance to Gurbani, we have to connect back to the Guru. When we give the Guru space in ourselves, then those words will come out that are willed by the Guru. Gurbani says:
ਸਚੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਚੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਜਾ ਸਚਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ||
sach baanee sach shabad hai jaa sach dhharre piaar ||
"When you love the Truth, your words are true; they reflect the True Word of the Shabad."
(Siree Raag M:3, 33)

Gurbani says that words are so powerful. Words have the power to make or break relationships. The Word (Shabad) can take us to Sachkhand, and words (spoken in ego) can take us to Hell (separated from Vaheguru). By beginning to speak like Guru Ji would speak, will surely build love between us and Guru Ji, and hopefully change our mind to become Guru-centred. Gurbani says:
ਗੰਢੁ ਪਰੀਤੀ ਮਿਠੇ ਬੋਲ||
gandd(h) pareethee mitthe bol ||
"There is a bond between love and words of sweetness."
(Maajh M:1, 143)

ਬਈਅਰਿ ਬੋਲੈ ਮੀਠੁਲੀ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਚੁ ਕਹੈ ਪਿਰ ਭਾਇ ||
be-eear bolai meet(h)ulee bhaaee saach kehai pir bhaae ||
"O brothers! That soul-bride, who talks sweetly and speaks the Truth, becomes pleasing to her Lord-Husband."
(Soratth M:1, 637)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

BBC Documentary: The Selfless Sikh Faith on the Frontline

BBC documentary following Bhai Ravi Singh, a Sikh charity worker who, inspired by his Sikhi principles, puts his life on the line to help people in need. The programme follows Bhai Ravi Singh's journey to northern Iraq, where he provides aid to Yazidi families who have fled their homes to escape the brutality of Islamic State. The film reveals the teachings of selfless service at the heart of his Sikh faith.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bhagat Puran Singh Ji on Seva...

"When doing Seva never get fed up, and never get tired."
(Bhagat Puran Singh Ji)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

FINAL ASSAULT (Documentary): Save Punjab's Waters...

Final Assault is a controversial and fact-driven documentary about the water crisis in Punjab. Policies have been put in place for the past several decades that inhibit Punjab’s ability to use its’ natural resources for state revenue. Final Assault looks at the bias of the Indian government towards the Punjab state and its’ citizens through accounts from former military officers, historians, and professors. Since India gained independence from Britain in 1947, Punjab has been unsuccessful in getting their deserved freedom. Government planned military operations such as the attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib, named by the military as 'Operation Blue Star', and the Sikh Genocides in 1984 are a few examples of this oppression. Director Sukhdeep Singh aims to educate the public on the ongoing crisis, which if left neglected will result in the final assault for Punjab.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Smethwick Gurdwara: Lareevaar Saroop Parkaash...

Last week, I was invited to Guru Teg Bahadar Sahib Ji Gurdwara Leicester to do a talk on the importance and history of Lareevaar. Lareevaar is Gurbani written in continuous form, with no breaks in between the words. The opposite is Pad-Chhed, which is a modern invention of Sikhs in the early 20th century to break up the words and make it easier to read Gurbani. The Pad-Chhed Saroop is the most common form of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji printed nowadays and most Gurdwaras have Pad-Chhed Saroop parkaash.
All forms of written Gurbani are worthy of worship and respect. However the original written form of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was in the distinctive written form of Lareevaar, which was the same method of writing that Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Bhai Mani Singh Ji, Baba Deep Singh Ji and countless Gursikhs up until modern history scribed as per the traditions set by the Gurus. 
Sadly, nowadays, to have Darshan (a holy glimpse) of a handwritten Lareevaar Saroop you have to visit Sri Harmandir Sahib or any of the other Takht Sahibs. Most historical Gurdwaras controlled under the SGPC have Lareevaar Saroops. However, over time many Gurdwaras and even religious schools and centres have opted to change from the traditions set by the Gurus and have Pad-Chhed printed Saroops for Parkaash and Akhand Paaths.
On a positive note, the biggest Gurdwara in Europe, Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, last week on 13th November, announced that in the main Darbaar Sahib a handwritten Lareevaar Saroop will be Parkaash from now on. This is a great step by the progressive and active Gurdwara Committee in restoring the original traditions of the Gurus and preserving Khalsa heritage. Derby Singh Sabha Gurdwara has been doing Lareevaar Saroop's Parkaash during the weekdays for some years, and for some time Bradford Singh Sabha Gurdwara and Bradford Guru Nanak Gurdwara had Lareevaar Saroop Parkaash in the main Darbaar Sahib.
Going forward the Gurdwara Sahib sevadaars will be beginning with doing Parkaash and seva of this saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji during the weekdays, whilst building up capability of the Sangat to read Gurbani and then begin Akhand Paaths from the Lareevaar Saroop also. Classes will be provided to the Sangat so that they can also learn how to read Gurbani in this form, and so that we can all play a part in keeping the Maryada and traditions of the Guru alive, without change.
Dhan Hai Guru! Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!