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DAAN AND SIKHI – GURBANI BASED PERSPECTIVE ਦਾਨ ਦਾਨੁ ਦਾਨਿ DR. KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON

 

Daan in Gurbani.

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD

The word DAAN appears in Gurbani multiple times in three different versions ਦਾਨ (44 times) and ਦਾਨੁ (234 times) and ਦਾਨਿ (7 times). The difference is meaning between these 3 versions is provided at the relevant portions of this essay.

A study of these verses, their context and usage provides the following conclusions.

 

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ARE OUR GURDWARAS DYSFUNCTIONAL- PART 5 DR. KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON(COMPLETELY REWRITTEN )

Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional?

PART FIVE: Do we need to build more Gurdwaras?

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

Editor’s Note: This is the Final Part of a FIVE Part Series that looks into a wide variety of issues concerning the Gurdwaras. The overall objective is to answer the question “Are our Gurdwaras serving the purpose for their existence. Part ONE establishes the position of the Gurdwara in the life of a Sikh. Part TWO outlines the intended roles and functions of our Gurdwaras and Part THREE assess them. Part FOUR Examines the root causes of Gurdwara dysfunctionality. This FINAL part provides a critical answer to the question “Do we need to build more Gurdwaras?

 

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Are Our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional ? Re-edited New Version Dr. Karminder Singh Dhillon PART 4

Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional?

PART FOUR: The Root Causes.

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

Editor’s Note: This is Part Four of a FIVE Part Series that looks into a wide variety of issues concerning the Gurdwaras. The overall objective is to answer the question “Are our Gurdwaras serving the purpose for their existence. Part ONE establishes the position of the Gurdwara in the life of a Sikh. Part TWO outlines the intended roles and functions of our Gurdwaras and Part THREE assess them. This Part Examines the root causes of Gurdwara dysfunctionality. The FINAL part provides a critical answer to the question “Do we need to build more Gurdwaras?

There is no denying that the dysfunctionality of our Gurdwaras is deeply entrenched and widespread.

There can also be no denying that the root causes are varied and there is enough blame to go around.

Yet it cannot be denied that the primary responsibility for resulting distortion and corruption of Gurdwara roles and functions must be shared equally by three guilty parties – those who (mis)manage our Gurdwaras – namely parbhandakhs; those who failed miserably to impart Gurmat and Gurbani enlightenment to the sangats at large, namely our Granthis, Ragis and Parcharaks; and finally the sangats themselves who took a lackadaisical attitude to the dysfynctionality all along.

 

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ARE OUR GURDWARAS DYSFUNCTIONAL ? DR KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON PART 3

Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional?

PART THREE: The Assessment.

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

Editor’s Note: This is Part Three of a FIVE Part Series that looks into a wide variety of issues concerning the Gurdwaras. The overall objective is to answer the question “Are our Gurdwaras serving the purpose for their existence. Part ONE establishes the position of the Gurdwara in the life of a Sikh. Part TWO outlines the intended roles and functions of our Gurdwaras and this Part assess them. Part FOUR Examines the root causes of Gurdwara dysfunctionality. The FINAL part provides a critical answer to the question “Do we need to build more Gurdwaras?

The question is: Are our Gurdwaras dysfunctional? To argue otherwise would amount to an exercise in deception.

By and large, our gold plated structures, sprawling marble-adorned complexes, modern architectural constructs and beautiful buildings (and even their humble variants) are just that – physical structures that are admirable; are able to attract occasional large passive crowds and chalk up substantial incomes in the form of donations.

A vast majority of our Gurdwaras do little more than organize weekly diwans that constitute kirtan by professional ragis, akhand path readings by professional pathis, the occasional katha or sermon also by a professional and conclude with the serving of langar.

With few exceptions, these “professionals” are largely disconnected from the sangats they serve and thus oblivious to the spiritual challenges facing their congregations.

Their primary motive is to earn a living through their “professional” activities and so long as the sangat “enjoys” their “musical presentations” and gives them sufficient bheta, they are content.

A vast majority of our Gurdwaras have no primary function other than acting as a venue for the conduct of Anand Karajs, Antim Ardas and other functions where the sangat has no role other than passive and reciprocal attendance – we go because we fear that if we didn’t, then others will not come to our functions.

Yet the strongest evidence that our Gurdwaras are dysfunctional is that they are steadily emptying out of Generation Y and Z Sikhs; that our youth are become increasingly alienated from our Gurdwaras; and our children are beginning to disconnect from Sikhi by the hordes.

The root cause of such dysfunction lies in our wilful neglect of the original and rightful functions of Gurdwaras, as intended by our Gurus. An assessment of each of these seven functions may be worth conducting. 

 

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Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional- Re-Edited New version Dr Karminder Singh Dhillon PART 2

ARE OUR GURDWARAS DYSFUNCTIONAL?

PART TWO: The Roles and Functions of a Gurdwara.    READ PART ONE HERE        http://www.sikhivicharforum.org/?p=1046

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

Editor’s Note: This is Part TWO of a FIVE Part Series that looks into a wide variety of issues concerning the Gurdwaras. The overall objective is to answer the question “Are our Gurdwaras serving the purpose for their existence. Part ONE establishes the position of the Gurdwara in the life of a Sikh. This Part outlines the intended roles and functions of our Gurdwaras and Part THREE assess them. Part FOUR Examines the root causes of Gurdwara dysfunctionality. The FINAL part provides a critical answer to the question “Do we need to build more Gurdwaras?

The objective of this Part is to discover the original and rightful functions of Gurdwaras, as intended by our Gurus and based on the philosophy as enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Put together, these roles and functions would then become the raison d’ taire – the most important reasons for the existence of the Gurdwara. They would also become the Key Performance Measures for an analysis of whether our Gurdwaras are indeed dysfunctional and not achieving the intended outcomes.

No one has researched the subject as has Sikh scholar cum historian Bhai Kahn Singh Dhillon of Nabha. He lists the following seven functions..

 

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Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional ? Re-Edited New Version Dr Karminder Singh PART 1

ARE OUR GURDWARAS DYSFUNCTIONAL?

PART ONE: The Position of a Gurdwara in a Sikh’s Life.

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a FIVE Part Series that looks into a wide variety of issues concerning the Gurdwaras. The overall objective is to answer the question “Are our Gurdwaras serving the purpose for their existence. Part ONE establishes the position of the Gurdwara in the life of a Sikh. Part TWO outlines the intended roles and functions of our Gurdwaras and Part THREE assess them. Part FOUR Examines the root causes of Gurdwara dysfunctionality. The FINAL part provides a critical answer to the question “Do we need to build more Gurdwaras?

NOTHING excites a lay Sikh more than news that a new Gurdwara is to be built or an existing one renovated. After all, a vast majority of Sikhs consider the Gurdwara to be a Guru Ghar: literally the “house” of the Guru.

There is no reason therefore for the abode of the Guru to not be as magnificent and splendid as possible.

Such thinking is most likely the reason behind the assertion that there perhaps is no place on earth where a group of Sikhs reside but have not constructed a Gurdwara.

From gold plated structures, sprawling marble-adorned complexes and modern architectural constructs to a variety of humble variants in rented premises – our Gurdwaras have become the core institution of the Sikh way of life.

But thinking Sikhs – especially those who are Gurbani focussed – would agree that constructing magnificent Gurdwaras and THEN ensuring they function in accordance with their intended roles are two starkly different things.

For such Sikhs the two basic questions are “what constitutes the magnificence of a Gurdwara – its physical structure or its ability to achieve its intended objectives?

Secondly what determines the key performance measures of a Gurdwara – the number of programs and volume of attendees, or the level of Sikhi that is disseminated?

Thinking Sikhs would also agree that a Gurdwara has to do lots more than merely organize Sunday diwans that constitute kirtan by professional ragis, akhand path readings by professional pathis, the occasional katha or sermon also by a professional and conclude with the serving of langar.

In the minds of such Sikhs, these activities run on “auto pilot.” There is a fixed template for these programs that run every week, month and year. The only thing different from the previous program is the name of the sponsor. It’s on auto pilot because not much thinking goes into asking what, if any, are the outcomes of such activities.

Concerned Sikhs would argue that as an institution a Gurdwara has to be more than a place for the conduct of Anand Karajs, Antim Ardas and other functions where the sangat has no role other than staggered, passive and casual attendance.

Staggered because one could come at one’s convenience and not miss out on anything major; passive because they have no role other than being spectators and casual because there is no real outcome of the entire process.

Rarely is a Sikh heard lamenting that he or she has missed a great deal because of non- regular attendance. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to hear Sikhs say that they have to attend a Gurdwara function because it is sponsored by someone important (blood relation, wealthy, influential or high on the social ladder).

Put plainly, given the investments of money, time and our collective energies that we Sikhs have put into our Gurdwaras, do we get adequate Returns of Investments (ROI) in terms of spiritual, social, and gurmat measures?

This question becomes critical as our Gurdwaras begin to steadily empty out of Generation Y and Z Sikhs; as our youth become increasingly alienated from our Gurdwaras; and as our children begin to disconnect from Sikhi.

The same questions become even more grave as educated Sikhs begin to realize that the Gurdwara is not the place that they can count on to help them inculcate Gurbani based Sikhi into their lives and that of their children.

 

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IS POMP AND SPLENDOR RESPECT?

IS POMP AND SPLENDOR RESPECT?

 

The Story of Three Fathers

 

One member from the Hindu community and another member from the Muslim community complained to a judge asking him, “Why is a Sikh father respected more than our fathers?”

The judge replied, “We need to find out, but can you please bring your respective fathers with you tomorrow?”

Next day, the judge asked both of them, “Have you brought your father with you?” Both the community members replied “Yes.”

The Judge said, “Present them to me.” The Hindu pointed out his father to the judge saying he is here right next to me. The Muslim told the judge “My father is also right here.”

The Judge looked at them but he remained silent so after a while, both community members asked the judge, “Why are you silent?” The Judge replied, “I am waiting for the Sikh and his father.” 

A little while later, there was hustle and bustle outside.  A very well decorated van arrived. When it stopped, a few people immediately laid a carpet outside the van leading to the court’s entrance door.  

The Sikh man came out of the car escorting his father whilst his brother came out holding an umbrella canopy high over the father. Another brother was bowing all the way and a sister sprinkled rose petals on the ground. Another sister led a chorus “our father is the best, our dad is magnificent….”

Whilst this was going on, other members of the Sikh family entered the courtroom and set up a high cushioned seat for their father. 

The father was then brought in total respect to sit on the high chair. Here all the family members bowed in deep reverence one by one before their father and then said in unison, “Dear father you are the greatest.”  

The Judge looked at both the Hindu and Muslim members and said, “Now have you got your answer to why a Sikh father is so respected? 

Without a word, both stood with their heads held low.

Suddenly the Sikh father spoke up.

Sikh Father: Honourable Judge, may I please address the court?

Judge: Yes, you may. You have earned the right to do that. 

Sikh Father: You see, respected judge. My family has put up a great show of respect. They do that everyday. Sometimes even twice in a day. The eldest does it thrice daily. It’s a magnificent show.

Judge: Please carry on. 

Sikh Father: You see, that’s what my family THINKS respect and reverence is. That’s how THEY want it to be. 

Judge: Please explain.

Sikh Father:  But they have never ONCE asked ME how I want to be respected. 

Judge:  Don’t stop. Please continue. 

Sikh Father:  They DON’T LISTEN to me. They DON’T want me to SPEAK.  They DON’T OBEY me. They DON’T FOLLOW my instructions. They DON’T DO what I want and DON’T CARRY OUT what I ask them to do!

Judge: Is that so?

Sikh Father:  It gets worse. Most of the time they do the EXACT reverse of what I say, the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I want. When I say “don’t do this”, they go about doing just that.

Judge: Oh my! 

Sikh Father: See judge, my family is very happy THINKING that’s all there is to respecting their father. And that in this pompous show they have utmost respect for me. The other communities are envious seeing the way I am treated on the outside. The whole world has been taken in by the grand show of a ritual they just put up for your court to witness. 

But I am CRYING deep within me. The unlucky father is one who is never listened to by his own family. Unluckier is the one whose advice is ignored. Unluckiest is one who is NEVER obeyed but subjected to the GRANDEST show of POMP and SPLENDOR for the whole world. 

Judge (wiping tears): Do you have any last words?

Sikh Father: Yes, I do. But will my family listen to me? They NEVER have.

The Implications

Have we ever asked OUR GURU how HE wants to be respected?

Have we been misled to treat OUR GURU only externally?

Do functions like processions reflect respect for OUR GURU?

What is TRUE RESPECT for our FATHER GURU?

Some responses from our Sikh Brothers and Sisters

  1. The value I derived from the story is that the externalities shown (rumala, chaur etc) are NOT signs of respect. Personally, I would do the external acts of devotion too, out of sheer love, but it is the message of God that I seek and crave for. However I feel that the message in the story was incomplete /unsaid. Does our Father’s message to us mean as much as his presence alone? I know the answer to that is apparent, however, are the next steps apparent? Are we leading ourselves in the right direction? Are we making ourselves competent enough to understand our Father? These questions hovered in me today. We each need to take steps to move in the right direction to understand and imbue Gurbani in us. Then only we can say ‘I do listen to you my darling Father. I don’t just cherish your physical form.’
  2. Our little minds can never know how best to serve our guru, how our guru can be pleased, how we can obtain the guru’s blessings but Gurbani can show us the way. Via gurbani vichaar we can get the gist of that knowledge. We can discuss and analyze without any malice towards those who disagree with us. Our intention will be to accept Gurbani messages by comparing and matching with our own life experiences.
  3. Guru ji does not need to be pleased. We can try to please Guruji all we want but he isn’t pleased unless we shine in our conduct using his messages. The Guru has given us the guidelines and by‬ accepting these revealed guidelines, we can do our best via righteous actions and ultimately achieve inner peace.
  4. Using techniques of akhand paths etc does not please. Let’s follow Gurbani revelations, put them into actions and try not to stray from the revealed path. It is actually quite simple although people like to make this complicated by adopting useless rituals.
  5. I personally would agree to listening to one’s conscious voice but I somewhat struggle with rational thinking. Sometimes I feel that I am adding or subtracting to what the inner or conscious voice dictates. We have seen from many life experiences that when we do something wrong a clear voice keeps troubling us. But when we do something noble or inspirational that truly benefits others rather than ourselves, we find an immense sense of joy that we cannot express. So clearly the Creator’s presence within us is interacting with us. What remains is whether we CHOOSE to listen or ignore that voice. ‬
  6. I believe every action of Guru Nanak is defined by the Creator’s direction. Guru Nanak is the vessel of the Creator’s thoughts and direction and the wisdom was offered via him and he has made himself so transparent that what others see is the Creator’s manifestation through Gurbani.‬
  7. Although everything is in the Hukm, our ability to align to Hukm assures us an inspirational journey of growth. Engaging without listening, not seeking to understand and not accepting our limitations curbs our experience of our inner true potential.
  8. I believe the Shabad Guru helps us internalise Hukm’s interaction and this enables the connectivity within us to a level where we can engage at an intuitive process. Wisdom offered is through internalizing the whole process of sunnai and manna it is not mine but the Creator’s inspiration flowing through me. ‬
  9. It gets complicated when we invoke our uncontrolled emotions together with the knowledge and intelligence that we would have gained from a society that is as lost as we are. I feel that finding our way through this web of experiences is complicating indeed. Hence the need to read and understand Gurbani.
  10. If Shabad Guru as our guide, then ‘sunnai’ and ‘mannai’ would suggest that we use intelligence on our journey into seeking answers. As the shabad at other places too suggests, akli sahib sayviay.’ Serve your master with intelligence/wisdom.  And wisdom can only be obtained through intelligence – knowledge plus life experiences. Both are necessary. That’s how rational thinking would then play its role.

Some Insights from Gurbani

(SGGS Rag Gauri M : 4)

ਸੇ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਜਿ ਤੁਧੁ ਧਿਆਇਦੇ ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੀਐ ॥

Se Vadbhagee Je Tudh Dheyandey Jin Satgur Milieh ||

Those who have met the God-connecting Guru and who seek to realize You are very fortunate.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਬਣੀਐ ॥

Satgur Kee Banee Sat Saroop Hai Gurbanee Banieh ||

The Guru’s Bani is the embodiment of the Creator; we realize Him by becoming Banee (inculcating the messages of Gurbani).

(SGGS 314 Rag Gauri M : 3)

ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਜਿ ਦਿਤਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਸਿਖੀ ਕੰਨੇ ॥

Updes Je Ditha Satguru So Suneya Sikhee Kaney ||

The Sikhs accept the Teachings imparted by the Guru.

ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਭਾਣਾ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਚੜੀ ਚਵਗਣਿ ਵੰਨੇ ॥

Jin Satgur Ka Bhana Maneya Tin Charee Chavgan Vaney ||

Those who accept the Guru’s instructions get imbued with Love of the Creator.

ਇਹ ਚਾਲ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ ਗੁਰ ਦੀਖਿਆ ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨੁ ਭਿੰਨੇ ॥੨੫॥

Eh Chal Niralee Gurmukhee Gur Dheekheya Sun Man Bhiney ||25||

This is the unique spirituality that emanates from the Guru’s mind – listen and accept it to obtain spiritual joy. ||25||

(SGGS 963 Rag Ramkali M : 5)

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਣੀ ਅਮਿਉ ਰਸੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ॥

Amrit Banee Ameo Ras Amrit Har Kaa Nao ||

Gurbani provides eternal spiritual life that is embodied in the virtues of the omnipresent Creator.

 

ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਹੁ ਸਚਾ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਆਉ ॥

Updes Suno Tum Gursikho Sacha Eyhai Suao ||

Listen to these Teachings, O Sikhs of the Guru. These messages link us to the Creator.

 

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REALIZATION: THE TRUE PATH OF SIKHI

REALIZATION : THE TRUE PATH OF SIKHI

THE MEANING OF NAAM

Has any reader experienced being told in a gurdwara ‘Kintu Prantu Na Karo’ (DO NOT QUESTION) just say ‘Haanji, Sat Bachan, Sat Bachan’ (YES, YES JI)?

But wait a minute, didn’t Baba Nanak write his Q & A discourse (Sidh Ghost) after his journey to search the path of truthfulness by QUESTIONING? So in fact, Gurbani encourages CRITICAL THINKING. By asking, a Sikh LEARNS faster.

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AM I ON THE RIGHT TRACK? SEEKING ANSWERS FROM GURBANI

AM I ON THE RIGHT TRACK? SEEKING ANSWERS FROM GURBANI

The unclean soul vessel

(SGGS 728 Rag Suhi M :1)

ਭਾਡਾ ਧੋਇ ਬੈਸਿ ਧੂਪੁ ਦੇਵਹੁ ਤਉ ਦੂਧੈ ਕਉ ਜਾਵਹੁ ॥ Bhanda Dhoy Bes Dhoop Devo Tau Dhodhey Ko Javoh ||

Cleanse the vessel (mind), sun it; only then set the milk for yoghurt.

ਦੂਧੁ ਕਰਮ ਫੁਨਿ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਮਾਇਣੁ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਰਾਸ ਜਮਾਵਹੁ ॥੧॥ Dhoodhh Karam Fun Surath Samaaein Hoe Niraas Jamaavahu ||1||

Add the starter of good consciousness to the purity of good deeds, and it will surely curdle. |1||

ਜਪਹੁ ਤ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮਾ ॥ Japahu Th Eaeko Naamaa ||

Realize the virtue of the One Lord.

ਅਵਰਿ ਨਿਰਾਫਲ ਕਾਮਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Avar Niraafal Kaamaa ||1|| Rehaao ||

All other (spiritual) actions are fruitless. ||1||Rahao||

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