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A Dilemma and a Question!

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Miranda, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Miranda

    Miranda
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    Sat Shri Akal,

    My dilemma:
    I am a high school girl who wants to convert to Sikhism. My mom (although not extreamely religious herself) gets upset whenever I tell her that I do not wish to follow the Christian faith. I have not told her that I have a desire to be Sikh forfear of what her reaction may be. So, as of a few weeks ago, I have started keeping kesh. My mom has noticed but does not know WHY I am not shaving, and has said that my legs look “gross" and “manly". She has gone as far as to threaten consequences if I do not shave them. Should I just wait to do Kesh until I am out of the house, or tell my mom and risk her trying to stop me?

    My question:
    With the above mentioned circumstances, I find it hard to pray in the morning, afternoon, and night. These prayers always seem to uplift me, however, so I plan to continue doing them. But, is it okay to do them later than at dawn, so my mom won't see the light on in the morning and wake up? On a side note; why are those specific prayers required daily for Sikhs? I understand why the prayers are needed, but why those exact ones every day?

    Much, much thanks for reading this and any help would be greatly appreciated! :)
     
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Miranda ji

    The best thing I read in your comments above is that you have discussed these matters with your mother. Too many young people leave that step out and their actions seem quite mysterious to their parents ... who naturally and logically become alarmed.

    Now you will be getting lots of advice I suspect. Would you promise yourself that a change of faith is a big step and perhaps something that needs to be pursued in stages, even if there is no parent in the picture to pose questions and concerns?

    Keep the dialog going with your parents. But keep it calm and try not to be defensive. It is hard to be a parent and harder to know how best to guide an young adult into full adulthood. Think of some things that you don't have to do right now, but can do a few years from now without any damage to your sense of inner worth. Think of some arguments that you don't have to win right now. I always worry about these kinds of conversations because parents are right to care; sometimes they care too much.

    Now I will be quiet and let's see what answers you get.
     
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  4. Ishna

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    Bhenji

    Sikhi is as much in your heart as it is in your actions, and in your particular situation I suggest working on your inner Sikh while you're still at home and under your mum's protective wing. I suspect it's not that she doesn't want you to find God and be happy, but she wants to protect you from what she doesn't understand which is perfectly normal for those of us with conservative parents.

    My own mum isn't particularly religious either but anything other than Christianity must be wrong in her opinion, even though she consults her tarot cards every morning along with her horoscope and visits psychics as often as she can. My search in my early teens took me to Wicca and Neo-Paganism, which she was very much against and upset about, to the point of telling me it would bring evil into the house and blaming me for some of the things which went wrong. At the time, being a teen and very much attached to my mum, it hurt my ability to connect with Paganism, and even when I left home and was on my own I still carried that fear of Paganism with me. I thank my lucky stars that I didn't pursue Sikhi at the time instead of Wicca, or else my fear would be of Sikhi.

    Keep your Sikhi private, there is no cosmic scorecard counting how many japji Sahibs you recite before dawn or deducting points if you shave. My mum got upset when I refused to shave my legs or armpits, saying "You worship a Goddess, why can't you be more feminine then!" and my reply was "I'm feminine just the way my Goddess made me!" :grinningkaur: Typical 17 y/o reply hehe.

    Study, do what you can, but above all keep the peace with your mum at this stage. She will hopefully come around when you're a bit older and she respects your decision. At the moment she might be thinking that you don't understand what you're getting in to, and it's just a phase. She might be concerned that you'll get yourself into something and not be able to get out of it, like some converts to Islam try to get out of Islam and are punished in some way by the community. In my country, a man converted to a strict sect of Islam and they found out he had been drinking alcohol so 3 of them broke into his house in the middle of the night and whipped him with electrical cabling. These sorts of stories can get into parents' minds and when they don't understand what it is you're studying their fear for you can make them a little fruity.

    So study all you can about Sikhi, do what you can privately, keep the peace, and when you're old enough you can restart the conversation with your mum and with luck she will be more receptive.

    :kudihug:

    Yes, you can do them later than dawn. You can also listen to them instead of reading them, so you could download them and listen to them in the dark through headphones if you wanted to.

    The "prayers" required daily are specified in the Sikh Rehat Maryada, Section One Chapter III Article IV: http://sgpc.net/rehat_maryada/section_one.html

    The absolute minimum three banis have been placed at the beginning of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: Japji, Rehras and Sohila. This to me is clear indication that Guru Sahib intended them for particular use.

    Here you go, you might find this interesting: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/37828-nitnaym-the-daily-grind-3.html
     
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    #3 Ishna, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  5. Aisha

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    Miranda Ji,

    I do not know if others will agree with me or not, but my advice would be to focus less on the exterior and more on the interior. By that I mean, far too often I have seen non-Sikhs interested in Sikhi, and the very first thing they get told is that they need to start keeping their hair (kesh) and get the remaining 4 K's to go along with it. And that's fine really, I think every Sikh should work towards one day getting baptized into the Khalsa Panth, but I don't feel it is the best place to start.

    Sikhi is a very "deep" faith, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji can often be difficult to understand, and because it is poetry, it will have different meanings for different people.

    What I suggest is for you to put the kesh on hold, if your mom is fine with it, great, go ahead and keep it. But don't fight her on it if it is something she strongly disagrees with, you are 15, in 2-3 years you will be out of there and can do whatever you want. Use this time to instead read and understand Gurbani, get into the Sikh Gurus' minds and try to figure out what they wanted to achieve, what they fought for, what they believed etc...

    It is one thing to read the English translation of the Sikh prayers, it is another thing entirely to actually comprehend what the underlying message the Guru wanted to communicate is.

    I would suggest that you worry less about doing all your prayers on time, and instead focus all your time and energy solely on japji Sahib. It is the very first prayer in Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and most people agree that it is the most important too. Before you read anything else, you should read Japji Sahib. Before you try to understand anything else, you should try to understand Japji Sahib. It is sometimes called the "key" to unlocking the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. That's because if you can figure out what the Japji Sahib is all about, you will really be able to appreciate the rest of the holy text, the words will have meaning, they won't just be empty vessels that you are reading for the heck of it.

    This might help you: http://forum.spiritualindia.org/japuji-sahibwith-meaning-t22915.0.html

    scroll down and have a go at it.

    I'd try to learn at least 3 Pauris (stanzas) a week if I were you. Listen to the audio in Punjabi to pronounce the words properly. Have the Punjabi and English translations next to each other. Try to read it in Punjabi, and use the English to figure out the meaning. Eventually you'd wanna be able to read the whole thing in Punjabi and have the meanings for each pauri memorized.

    Good luck :)
     
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    #4 Aisha, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  6. Ishna

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    Yes, some good advice from Aisha ji there. :mundabhangra:

    I would also recommend having a read of the late Dr Baldev Singh's essay 'Nanakian Philosophy' which you can read at The Sikh Bulletin January-February 2009 edition here.
     
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