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Dilemma for Westerners: A Second Look

Discussion in 'New to Sikhism' started by Admin Singh, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Taken elsewhere from internet...

     
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  3. Admin Singh

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    This thread is copied from an existing thread Dilemma for Westerners. There is no redirect. Narayanjot Kaur
     
  4. harbansj24

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Aman Singh Ji,

    Gurfateh

    These are my personal views:

    With Sikhism becoming global, it will have to adopt different languages especially English to spread Guru's message. In India for a very long period Hindi and Urdu have been used for this purpose so what is the problem if English and other languages are used? And right now are we not using English?

    Even within families residing outside Punjab, the language of communication is often Hindi or English.

    Dress has never been a problem. Men generally wear European dress along with a turban and beard neatly rolled up and pressed. They look pretty smart and women wear jeans, skirts, slacks or whatever even in Gurudwaras.

    The only problem appears to be Kesh and that too for men only because they need to be covered. Women do not cover their head in India other than in Gurudwaras or in presence of Granth Sahib as as a mark of respect. Turban and beard seem to be the only problem for men. Perhaps this problem also could be resolved with time.
     
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  5. ja58ir

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Wahaguru ji ka Khalsa Wahaguru ji ka Fateh
    Having born I a Sikh family I had to go through the hard time in the 1960’s but found that if you want something then it they for the taking.
    As for the thought of have to keep your beard then that is not any problems as in the America they are many Sikhs how have transferred they religion for the better side.
    To learn to wear the turban they are Sikh Gurdwaras all over the USA just go to them and explain that you wish to learn to tie a turban they will help you with all your needs.
    As for your family they can and will see that Sikhism is not only a religion but a way of life.
    As for read the Nitnam you can do that in English as you wish to praise the lord it dose not matter in what language it is prayed. It is how you feel about the prayers and not the way you say them
    :welcome:
     
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  6. harbansj24

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    ja58ir ji,

    What the anonymous person met was, that a white American wearing a wearing a turban would be queer sight in America and he would not be accepted among his peers in America both socially and at work place. And if does not wear it then he will not be accepted in local Gurdwara and by the Sikhs. That is the dilemma.

    This appears to be the only problem. As I have said earlier that this problem also with Guru's Grace would be straightened out with time.

    I guess this is a sort of brainstorming. So as a temporary measure can this suggestion be feasible?:

    The the man in his social interactions and at workplace can keep open hair or in a pigtail or in bun just like Sikh women do and the beard can be suitably be set and pressed just as Ragis do. I do find many foreign tourist in India with this fashion statement! When in a Gurudwara or with Sikh friends he can put on the turban.

    Will this be acceptable?
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?


    Harbhansj ji

    I like the idea of brainstorming about this topic. It is doubtful that we ever brainstormed about this in the past.

    But I do have 2 reactions. The dilemma of a turban is not such a dilemma once a person decides - OK, this is what I am going to do -- tie dastar. It is one of those dilemmas that evaporates when the individual decides to take a stand one way or the other. There are many white Sikhs who decided just that, and in spite of whatever problems come their way, persist with dastar, going about their business at home, at work, and in the community. The question of who thinks what about someone's choice to wear a turban tends to become insignificant for them. They just resolve the dilemma in terms of their personal conclusions about keeping hair, and to be consistent with the image of unshorn hair and turban that identifies a Sikh. I don't have statistics -- but there have to be more "white" Sikh males in turbans, than not in turbans, because along with a beard it is the primary way of signaling that you are a Sikh.

    A thought on the side. Who started this "white" Sikh label? It has a life of its own any more. My guess on this is that just about every one who is a Sikh is on a continuum from very pale to very brown. Or am I in denial :D?

    My other reaction goes to your question "will this be acceptable?" No matter what the choice a person makes it won't be acceptable to someone. For example, if a man wears a turban it may please his sangat; but if his wife wears one there will be members of the sangat that think she is making an unacceptable statement.

    So your original idea of using the thread to brainstorm about these dilemmas is the more fruitful way o generate interest and ideas-- as long as various readers don't miss the point -- it is about listing experiences and suggestions.
     
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  8. harbansj24

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Narayanjot ji,

    I like your enthusiastic support for for a Sabat Surat Sikh with a turban or Dastar. I was just thinking as a way out for the problem of the anonymous Sikh in Aman Singh jis mail.

    Now I will quote the experience of a distant cousin of mine who had emigrated to America in 1989. He is a talented and hardworking professional. He is a strict Sarab Lohi who knows Nit Nem and sukhmani Sahib by heart and recites these every morning. On reaching America he posted 100s of CVs over the next 3 months and got quite a few interview calls by the not a single offer. His brother who had sponsored him told him that his kesh and turban was coming in the way. His brother had shaved off his kesh. But this guy then chose to return to India and kept his kesh. It was a great struggle those days. He was without a job for a long time. Those days the economy was not good and they were days of peak insurgency and Sikhs were looked at suspiciously. But with persistence he got a job and is now well off.
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Harbansj ji

    Forgive me if I seemed like an extreme example of an optimist. There are some stumbling blocks in my experience and they don't quite show up in my response earlier to you.

    Not everything has a rosy color -- that I will admit. And I did not want to seem as if I was ignorant of the prejudice faced by Sikhs in dastar -- because I am not. My point was only that the dilemma is a dilemma as long as a person allows it to baffle them. Then decisions have to be made if a person wants to end the bewilderment and suffering.

    There are Sikhs who came West from East who have shaved and don't wear turbans. That was the way they solved the problem of "fitting in" and getting a job. There are Sikhs from the West who are still Western (but born in Punjabi/Sikh families) who have solved the problem too. Either they keep kesh and tie dastar or they don't. And there are Western Sikhs who converted, who for the most part keep kesh and wear turbans, as I said above, mostly the majority of this group keep kesh and wear turbans.

    Each decision has its advantages and its disadvantages. There is no perfect solution. But the trials and tribulations of the "dilemma" go away once you decide --- This is it! I am going to do __________! You make a choice and understand the consequences. Keep your eye wide open. Make the adjustments that are needed. And then move on. Yes it may mean moving from West Virginia to New Mexico or California. Or it may mean working in one area of business rather than another. It may mean you go to a different gurdwara than the one you have attended for years. Or it may mean some other kind of adjustment is necessary.

    But making a decision and then moving ahead in life takes much less energy than continual worry about whether other people accept you or do not accept you. And making changes is an option. That is all I can say for now. Once we put these problems behind us then we can move on to some much bigger dilemmas that face Sikhs in the West that cross national boundaries and also religious ones.

    Thanks for a good discussion.
     
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  10. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    I know two Die hard taksali sikhs sarb lohis and all....who migrated to Canada/Germany..didnt get job offers as banna wearers...decided to shave off...still didnt get any jobs..waited around...trying to justify theur fall from grace....and FINALLY....came back to Malaysia..resumed their banna !!! A third such sarb lohi...stayed behind ONLY because he got a job as GRANTHI in a Canadian Gurdwara..( he is an accountant)..shaving OFF didnt help him get a job based on his Accountancy Degree either )
    SO ALL this...is a MIRAGE....Kesh or no KESH..it all HIS HUKM. People may think..i got the job because i am bald..i am tall.. i am white.. i am black..whatever...but its all in your own mind...and in the mind of the one who hired YOU !! WHO put that idea to hire YOU in "his/her".. MIND ??????????????????:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
     
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  11. Tejwant Singh

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Sadh Sangat,

    Guru Fateh,

    Allow me to pitch in with my take on this topic. I see this topic taken from the Internet a fake and someone who is anti Sikhi, perhaps not even an ex catholic.

    Let us dissect this article:

    To make it easier, let us assume that the person is a male. No offence to females intended.

    The writer starts with a great input and shows how impressed he is with Sikhism and the qualities it presents:

    One wonders, why wouldn't he give reasons of his leaving Catholicism and what does he mean by early teens? At 14, 15, 16?What made the person leave the religion at this early age and how did his parents take it?

    Now comes the sledge hammer of his true intentions. He refuses to talk about the dilemmas of his own faith that he has claimed to have left in this early teens but here he finds faults in Sikhi where there are none. Let's delve into his article a bit further.

    So far so good. Nice way to sledge hammer Sikhi comes after this wonderful true side of Sikhi


    The above statement is utterly false. SGGS is universally centered. How can a universal message of love, compassion, fraternity, brother/sisterhood and Sarbhat da bhala can be ethnic and region- centric?


    Sikhi is still a very young religion. The jealous forces in India which included the Mughals, Turks, Afghanis and Hindus tried to crush and eliminate Sikhi even before it was fully evolved as a way of life. The sacrifices of our Gurus and other Sikhs and the price paid by the head of our young lads and lassies are the proofs how the dogmatic religions of the time were scared, envious and jealous of the universal way of life which taught people to embrace all as the children of ONE GOD, none belonging to any lesser god.Sikhs were very busy defending the innocent women being abducted and raped by the fiends who called themselves religious. And due to the absence of any kind of hierarchy which was the great novel vision of our Gurus, it will take longer than other religions to have the right interpretations in other languages. We are progressing slowly.

    The writer fails to understand, hence unable to appreciate that this is the beauty of Sikhi and its biggest asset. Centralised power in other religions have led to all kinds of abuses, which included crusades, invasions, murders, rapes and last but not the least molestations of young boys and girls.

    The above statement is again finding faults where none exist.The writer ignores the facts that Orthodox Jews are the main diamond and gems dealers in New York and other parts of the world. The Amish have chosen their way of life and seem happy in their way but eventually they have to change their ways with the world.

    The comparison of these two not only show the naivete of the writer but it also show the lack of any kind of understanding of Sikhi. Sikhs are very adaptable, that is why a Sikh can be found in any part of the world with the Baana.

    The poor writer either has no idea that there are half a million Sikhs from Indian origin are raising their families here or he is pretending to be what he is not. As he has shown his knowledge of Sikhi, he should know that people from any race, creed, hue and faith are welcome in any Gurdwara and if they are willing to learn, they are helped in learning about Sikhi without any preconditions. Secondly, an "ex- catholic and then an atheist" will never use the word CLEAN SHAVEN.So, the last part of his above statement has exposed him from his burrow. It is nothing but provocation.

    Here he goes again flaunting his ignorance laced with arrogance with his taunts about the Sikhi Baana. What discrimination is he talking about? Does anyone have any idea about it? Hasn't he seen Sikhs of non Indian origins with Baana or has he ignored them for some reason only known to him?

    I have no idea where he got the above from.

    .
    The writer has shown nothing but bias, bigotry and flaunted his ignorance in the article, hence should not be taken seriously. We get many people like him on SPN trying to undermine Sikhi and are dealt with in the right manner.

    I would request Aman ji, to find the name of the author and let us invite him here so we can have a direct interaction with him.

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  12. Tejwant Singh

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Harbans ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    You write:
    I am sorry to know about your cousin, but I do not know anyone in my family, my relatives- close or distant who have come to the US with baana have found it difficult to get jobs as professionals. My nephews who are born here, some do not even tie their beards and are working professionally. One even worked for the Gap corporation and used to make 65k a year at the age of 24 and got promoted faster than non- Sikh Americans who had been there longer. His older brother was a public defender and now he working for a famous law firm in Los Angeles. One of my other nephews still works at a famous brokerage company which was bought by Bank of America when most of his colleagues who were not Sikhs were fired. I have many more examples like that.So, I have no idea what is the reason of your cousin not getting the job but I am certain that Baana is not to be blamed for that.

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  13. spnadmin

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    The author of the article seems to have originated on the {url not allowed} discussion forum. The name of the poster was "karakara." The question Dilemma for Westerner(s?) was posted almost a year ago in that forum. I will see if it is possible to locate the individual, however, on sikhnet as here, personal email addresses would not always be public information.

    Dilemma for Westerner(s?)

    by karakara on Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:02 pm



    You can read the ensuing discussion at the link posted above. If you are a member of Sikhnet and have an account id and a password there, it is possible to view the profile of karakara. It reveals very little.
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Tejwant ji

    The original author of Dilemma for Westerners (karakara on Sikhnet) expresses concerns that "westerners" have expressed before. I have even heard "easterners :rolleyes:" Sikhs born into Sikh families and into Punjabi/Sikh families, express similar concerns. There have been articles written about how the exclusive use of the Punjabi language at gurdwaras has alienated the younger generation, and marginalizes the newcomers to Sikhism, etc. etc. etc. So the complaints voiced by karakara are not new.

    One thing any convert, newcomer, or individual attracted to Sikhism (from eastern or western cultures) should consider is the age old problem of pointing your finger at someone or some group in blame only to discover that 3 of your fingers are pointing back at you ( :eek: pardon this tired, old cliche, but it is true).

    All someone has to do to overcome the blaming syndrome is to sit alone, quietly and give some thought to the questions that perturb them. Ponder the questions. For example: there must be a reason why there is no organized clergy. Could it have been deliberate on the part of early Sikhism? How did it come about? Why has it persisted for all these hundreds of years? Maybe it actually is working out to be a positive thing about Sikhism.

    In other words --- take the question seriously. Assume that the "Sikhs as a group" might have made a conscious choice to act in such a stubbornly illogical fashion (according to you). Brainstorm why they did what they did. It is amazing how when we suspend judgment for even a short period of time we can actually see how the patterns described and decried by karakara might just make sense. One could even take some time to Google the situation and get some answers from Sikh web sites, or even talk about these perplexing things with a "real live Sikh ;)."

    The answers are there. Personally, the worry I have when I read these questions is that we are hearing from someone who wants Sikhism to change for him/her according to his/her perspective of what Sikhism must do to be the ideal. karakara does not seem to think that he/she should be the one who changes or be molded by Sikhism.

    That is why I said, these so-called dilemmas evaporate once a person just makes a decision one way or the other. The real dilemmas in life never evaporate because they rarely lead to a clear-cut solution and are about moral choices that require some sacrifice of self to resolve. So far I haven't read any dilemmas here. Only difficult choices that require some personal sacrifice.

    Maybe we could list some real dilemmas for Westerners in the coming days. :)
     
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  15. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Tejwant Ji, Gurfateh Ji.

    THANK YOU for putting the RECORD STRAIGHT.
    Sometimes people who fail find scapegoats where there are none...and the "banna" is one such scapegoat.

    Once my younger brother was sent to the KLIA to welcome an American CEO of a large American Company who was due in Kl to negotiate a Large Defence Contract. My bro who is a Banna wearer was at the airport anxiously looking out for the typical White Gora..when all had departed..only one was left..He was GORA but in White Banna with long flowing beard and he had been slightly delayed as he had to go collect his Kirpan from the Airline counter....as he looked around..he approached my bro and after exchanging Fateh mentioned to him that he was expecting someone to be waiting for him..and when they exgnaged names..my bro realised he was the CEO he was waiting for..what a pleasant surprise...I am sure all the Top Brass at the defence Minsitry would also been even more surprised to see a "White Banna wearing Sikh" accompanying my brother when they were expecting a suited booted westerner..

    As susual people hide their own INADEQUACIES..under headings of Banna, long hair, beard, kirpan etc...and most of these are Punjabi Sikhs who want all the best of Both worlds...BLEND IN wioth the Majority and also "STAND OUT" as "SIKHS"..so they claim they are CSS - Clean shaven..sikhs !! what a joke. One can be just a SIKH. period.:happy:
     
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  16. AusDesi

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    I think I agree with the view that its all in your mind. If you really have the will to achieve success then your religious beliefs should not matter.

    One of the ways you can tell its in the mind is when people from India move over to the states. Even if they don't have a turban they still feel something is holding them back. Some change their names. Some change their religions to fit in.

    The problem is that they might have had a physical journey but they haven't had a inner journey. They feel that a turban or a name or a religion is just an accessory that is attached with them. Anyone who realises that these things make them who they are will never change them.
     
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  17. spnadmin

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    Aus Desi ji

    I agree with what you are saying. Change is something that we can choose or something we can fight. Too many times I see people who choose another religion or ethical path, or make a similar choice, and they continue to want to be the ones who move the chess pieces around on the chess board. There is more to this dilemma problem than can be summed up in what a person is wearing.
     
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  18. Huck_Finn

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    <<But should anyone have to justify the decision to convert or continue to be an adherent of any formal religion? Why should someone have to do that just because someone else feels that being part of an institution is a waste of time? I don't know if you do see formal religion in that way.>>

    ji

    i absolutely agree that by denouncing religion, i am actually building another institution :)

    and i agree, everyone makes personal choices.

    I amply made it clear that am not make a stand of superiority. Just my opinions.

    <<Beyond that observation --- the thread is about the dilemmas faced by westerners who are considering converting to Sikhism. How does asking "Why be part of an institution?">>

    it absolutely is

    the convert needs to ask himself/herself

    whether they are going to follow Sikhi or be a part of the institution that Sikhism is ?

    well, even those born in families who live in the institution need to introspect.
     
  19. Huck_Finn

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    <<How are you defining "institution?">>

    i could write an essay

    later for sure :yes:
     
  20. spnadmin

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    OK then Huck Finn ji -- I would like to return to the thread's basic themes. The thread explores dilemmas encountered by "westerners" in particular one who was considering becoming adherents of Sikhism.

    Aus Desi ji, With your indulgence -- You have made three very interesting observations about change. I want to turn them into questions that may continue discussion about dilemmas faced by "westerners."


    Questions for anyone who is interested to consider.
     
  21. Huck_Finn

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    Re: Dilemma for Westerners?

    ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥
    सिरीरागु महला १ ॥
    Sirīrāg mėhlā 1.
    Siree Raag, First Mehl:

    ਭਲੀ ਸਰੀ ਜਿ ਉਬਰੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੁਈ ਘਰਾਹੁ ॥
    भली सरी जि उबरी हउमै मुई घराहु ॥
    Bẖalī sarī jė ubrī ha▫umai mu▫ī gẖarāhu.
    It all worked out-I was saved, and the egotism within my heart was subdued.

    ਦੂਤ ਲਗੇ ਫਿਰਿ ਚਾਕਰੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਵੇਸਾਹੁ ॥
    दूत लगे फिरि चाकरी सतिगुर का वेसाहु ॥
    Ḏūṯ lage fir cẖākrī saṯgur kā vesāhu.
    The evil energies have been made to serve me, since I placed my faith in the True Guru.

    ਕਲਪ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਬਾਦਿ ਹੈ ਸਚਾ ਵੇਪਰਵਾਹੁ ॥੧॥
    कलप तिआगी बादि है सचा वेपरवाहु ॥१॥
    Kalap ṯi▫āgī bāḏ hai sacẖā veparvāhu. ||1||
    I have renounced my useless schemes, by the Grace of the True, Carefree Lord. ||1||

    ਮਨ ਰੇ ਸਚੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਭਉ ਜਾਇ ॥
    मन रे सचु मिलै भउ जाइ ॥
    Man re sacẖ milai bẖa▫o jā▫e.
    O mind, meeting with the True One, fear departs.

    ਭੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਕਿਉ ਥੀਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    भै बिनु निरभउ किउ थीऐ गुरमुखि सबदि समाइ ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥
    Bẖai bin nirbẖa▫o ki▫o thī▫ai gurmukẖ sabaḏ samā▫e. ||1|| rahā▫o.
    Without the Fear of God, how can anyone become fearless? Become Gurmukh, and immerse yourself in the Shabad. ||1||Pause||

    ਕੇਤਾ ਆਖਣੁ ਆਖੀਐ ਆਖਣਿ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥
    केता आखणु आखीऐ आखणि तोटि न होइ ॥
    Keṯā ākẖaṇ ākẖī▫ai ākẖaṇ ṯot na ho▫e.
    How can we describe Him with words? There is no end to the descriptions of Him.

    ਮੰਗਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਕੇਤੜੇ ਦਾਤਾ ਏਕੋ ਸੋਇ ॥
    मंगण वाले केतड़े दाता एको सोइ ॥
    Mangaṇ vāle keṯ▫ṛe ḏāṯā eko so▫e.
    There are so many beggars, but He is the only Giver.

    ਜਿਸ ਕੇ ਜੀਅ ਪਰਾਣ ਹੈ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਐ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥
    जिस के जीअ पराण है मनि वसिऐ सुखु होइ ॥२॥
    Jis ke jī▫a parāṇ hai man vasi▫ai sukẖ ho▫e. ||2||
    He is the Giver of the soul, and the praanaa, the breath of life; when He dwells within the mind, there is peace. ||2||

    ਜਗੁ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਬਾਜੀ ਬਨੀ ਖਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਖੇਲੁ ਖੇਲਾਇ ॥
    जगु सुपना बाजी बनी खिन महि खेलु खेलाइ ॥
    Jag supnā bājī banī kẖin mėh kẖel kẖelā▫e.
    The world is a drama, staged in a dream. In a moment, the play is played out.

    ਸੰਜੋਗੀ ਮਿਲਿ ਏਕਸੇ ਵਿਜੋਗੀ ਉਠਿ ਜਾਇ ॥
    संजोगी मिलि एकसे विजोगी उठि जाइ ॥
    Sanjogī mil ekse vijogī uṯẖ jā▫e.
    Some attain union with the Lord, while others depart in separation.

    ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਣਾ ਸੋ ਥੀਐ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕਰਣਾ ਜਾਇ ॥੩॥
    जो तिसु भाणा सो थीऐ अवरु न करणा जाइ ॥३॥
    Jo ṯis bẖāṇā so thī▫ai avar na karṇā jā▫e. ||3||
    Whatever pleases Him comes to pass; nothing else can be done. ||3||

    ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਵੇਸਾਹੀਐ ਸਚੁ ਵਖਰੁ ਸਚੁ ਰਾਸਿ ॥
    गुरमुखि वसतु वेसाहीऐ सचु वखरु सचु रासि ॥
    Gurmukẖ vasaṯ vesāhī▫ai sacẖ vakẖar sacẖ rās.
    The Gurmukhs purchase the Genuine Article. The True Merchandise is purchased with the True Capital.

    ਜਿਨੀ ਸਚੁ ਵਣੰਜਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਸਾਬਾਸਿ ॥
    जिनी सचु वणंजिआ गुर पूरे साबासि ॥
    Jinī sacẖ vaṇaṇji▫ā gur pūre sābās.
    Those who purchase this True Merchandise through the Perfect Guru are blessed.

    ਨਾਨਕ ਵਸਤੁ ਪਛਾਣਸੀ ਸਚੁ ਸਉਦਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੪॥੧੧॥
    नानक वसतु पछाणसी सचु सउदा जिसु पासि ॥४॥११॥
    Nānak vasaṯ pacẖẖāṇsī sacẖ sa▫uḏā jis pās. ||4||11||
    O Nanak, one who stocks this True Merchandise shall recognize and realize the Genuine Article. ||4||11||
     

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