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Interview with Prabhu Khalsa

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Astroboy, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
    Writer SPNer Contributor

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    Interview with Prabhu Khalsa


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]Please tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with including your hobbies, interests, your school and memberships?

    My interests are anything and everything Sikh. I am a drop of water who wants to understand even a little about the ocean. I have many hobbies; just about everything I've ever been exposed to have become hobbies at some point. My favorite hobbies are the Sikh related hobbies. I enjoy learning raag kirtan, gatka and shaster vidiya (though I don't often get the opportunity), meditating, reading Gurbani, discussing Sikh Dharma with other inspired people, and living this Dharma. I grew up learning western music with many instruments and I still enjoy that. I really enjoy sports and play as often as I can. I was a gymnast for 15 years and then I was into weight lifting for a long time. I love being in nature and preserving nature. And my passion for life (other than Guru ji) is to do seva.
    Who is your role model? Who has been your main source of inspiration, past and present?
    Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj! I think about Guru Gobind Singh all the time and just wish I could be any bit like him. As far as people I've met (in the physical body) I would say the Siri Singh Sahib, Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi ji. He is the reason my parents learned of the Guru and brought me to bow my head to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib from the time I was born. His teachings have given me more than I could ever explain and have helped me to connect with this Dharma and the Guru stronger than anything anybody else has ever taught me.
    Its common practice in Punjab that whenever non-Indian Sikh appears in market or anywhere in the society, they divert their 100% attention toward non-Indian Sikh and they continuously keep looking at him/her as if he/she landed from outer space. How you feel about this? Do you get irritated after some time? What is your opinion on this? Is it that those people took hard to accept the fact that even Non-Indian can join the mainstream of Sikhi?
    This is kind of funny. There are moments when I get annoyed, but it happens so often when I'm in India that I have to just get used to it. My friends in India who are used to seeing ethnically diverse Sikhs forget sometimes and get annoyed at all the stares when they are with me. What annoys me more than any thing is that people try to hustle me a lot. Even some guys were joking and making fun of Americans because we trust people. Before my first trip to India when I was 21, I had never been treated poorly by any Sikh before. It was and is really disappointing when a man in a turban and beard cheats you or does anything else that we generally trust Sikhs not to do (drink, fight, discriminate, etc.).

    I have had interactions with very many Indians (Sikhs and non-Sikhs) in my life that just have a hard time understanding that Sikhi is separate from Punjabi and somebody can be a Sikh and not Punjabi. On my recent trip to India I noticed a lot more tourists at the Hari Mandir Sahib and I also noticed that they didn't get stared at nearly as much as me or other non-Indian Sikhs. At times I literally had hundreds of people staring at me. I try to keep my posture straight and stand as a son of Guru Gobind Singh. Sometimes I would be walking and people would stop right in front of me to stare. At the end of the day or at the end of a trip to India all I can do is laugh. It's just something that happens and most people aren't doing it to be offensive.
    Many people argue on discussion forums regarding the issue of Yoga, Sri Yogi Bhajan and 3HO. Do you face these issues often? Do such people interact with you in person regarding this issue? How do you manage to answer such queries? What will be your message to those who continue to seek the wall between sangat in New Mexico and others?
    I face these issues often on the internet but rarely in person. I'm one of the few people who have engaged with others on the internet. People think that the slander written on the internet is true and that they are some kind of authority. When I first began hearing rumors and slander about the Siri Singh Sahib and people associated with 3HO I decided that I wanted to know the truth. I have talked to many people on all different sides of dividing lines. In the end, the Siri Singh Sahib taught me more than I can explain and I never heard him slander anybody.
    People like to create controversies and divides. My parents taught me that I am a Sikh. Nobody I know considers themselves a '3HO Sikh,' that is a label somebody else created to try and categorize us as different from them. I grew up believing that Sikhs were such great amazing people. I knew and know so many great amazing people within my hometown Sangat. With the internet I got the opportunity to interact with Sikhs around the world. It was very exciting at first, and I learned some things really fast. First I learned that, although there are millions of Sikhs, it is a minority that have the Sikh Dharma as their main focus in life. Then I learned that some of the 'committed' Sikhs, who I thought would be people I could relate to, had a lot of animosity towards me and my community. Both of these things were kind of shocking to me. I wasn't used to Sikhs cutting their hair and drinking and I wasn't used to Sikhs slandering other Sikhs because they do things a little differently. I believe as Sikhs that we are supposed to be kind to all people and regard all people as our equals.
    [​IMG]
    The reality is that anger and hate come from within. If we are upset about something we shouldn't slander and try to harm the other person, we should first understand why it makes us upset.
    My advice for people creating a wall is that it needs to stop. If you don't understand the people here, either make an attempt to understand us, or just understand that God's infinite creation is diverse and we, as finite beings, cannot fully understand it all. We can, however, understand that nothing is separate from God (including the huge diversity of people on this planet and amongst Sikhs). If you notice there is so much slander against us on the internet, and for what? Our whole purpose is to do good things for the world. We get slandered and do we slander others? I have not seen it. We have a great Dharma and this is our focus. I have made attempts at defending my community on the internet, but some people are not interested in peace. I think most of my community is not aware of the multitude of slander and petty arguments and divides amongst 'Sikhs.' I think much of my community would be shocked to find out that people slander us, despite our only intention being to live better. The 'new' Sikhs would be extremely shocked to read some of the stuff that I read daily on the internet. Most of the new people who come to our community are very inspired. Like I was as a child, most of them have only seen positive and inspiring things from Sikhs. Many people who come to our community adopt the full rehit and become Khalsa, but others don't and we are still nice and inviting to them. You cannot force inspiration on anybody.
    From your blog, we read that you decided to wear chola full time. What inspires you to wear Khalsa bana full time even at job?
    I had been thinking about wearing bana for a long time. When I went to India I got the chance to get a lot of clothes. I didn't want to wear bana on some days and western clothes on other days, so I had to wait until I had enough bana to wear every day. I wear kurtas with churidars as well as cholas.

    I really want to be the best Sikh I can be and I feel like bana helps me to achieve that.
    Where do you go to get information on anything related to Sikhi? When did you develop the serious relation with Waheguru sahib (Sikhi) ?

    I first learned from my parents. I also learned a lot and continue to learn a lot from the lectures of the Siri Singh Sahib. I learned a lot participating on Sikhnet (and other internet) discussions. For many temporal things, such as Sikh itihas and current Sikh news and events I use the internet. For answers to questions of my spirit I ask the Guru.

    My whole life I felt aligned with the ideals of the Khalsa. I didn't (and still don't) understand why we can't be peaceful and provide justice for all. Many things made sense for me. However I was also influenced by my surroundings. I didn't know many Sikhs growing up (the sangat here didn't start to grow until my teenage years). Always being an outcast, always being ridiculed, always facing abuse was really hard for me as a child. I wanted to be accepted and understood, I thought that 'being cool' was important. Though it didn't matter what I did, I was never 'cool' when I was in school.

    The only time I really felt peace was when I was in the Gurdwara. Everything seemed to melt away, and it still feels that way. When I was 22 I went to the winter solstice sadhana camp. I spent the whole camp doing yoga and meditation and when I left the camp there was a shift. The outside world felt so different after leaving the camp and I realized what I did there was really powerful. I realized that I couldn't continue to 'not meditate.' I started at that point with a small sadhana including reading japji Sahib everyday. I gradually added more banis and meditation to my daily sadhana and after only a few months I felt ready to receive Amrit. My whole life has been an attempt to be a better Sikh since that time.
    [​IMG]
    There are a lot of "jathas" around the world and recently, there has been a lot of talk for panthic ekta (unity). In the state of affairs now, is ekta possible and if so how can it be achieved?
    [​IMG]Ekta is possible and it is real. Ek Ong Kar, there's no deviation really. It is the most fundamental teaching of our religion that we cannot be different from the one-ness and the unity that is God. There have always been jathas, I don't belong to any jathas, but at the same time I am a member of every single one. It is only our mind that allows us to believe that we are separate from anything. God is unlimited but the limitations of our mind cause us to label things as 'right' and 'wrong.' These labels can help us to live a dharmic life, but they can harm us when we apply them to others. As I wrote earlier, we cannot force inspiration on anybody. Likewise it is damaging to insult the inspiration (religion) of others. For us, our inspiration led us to Sikhi, for others it leads to other things. We are not the architects of destiny. We cannot determine what inspires somebody or what causes someone to act differently. We can only have compassion and understanding and realize that the other person is also us.

    Ekta starts in the mind. 'That jatha' or 'those people,' who you think are wrong or different, are exactly the same as you.
    What do you think about issues that we should be more concerned while dealing with the Sikh youth?
    I think we should concern ourselves that all youth have their basic necessities taken care of and that they are not being abused first. Then, as with all youth, we should concentrate on education. If we want the Sikh youth to carry forth Sikh values, we should teach it to them, and most importantly – in a way they can understand. "Because I said so," is not a paradigm that works in the modern age. We have to lead by example.

    As far as Sikh youth who are grown, I think we might need to remind people that our Guru is our ultimate guide. Often times Sikh youth will ask questions and people will gladly answer, or they will instruct to ask 'a Cherdi Kala Singh (what about Kaurs?).' I think the instruction should be to get in touch with our intuition and ask the Guru. We cannot separate ourselves from our minds, Gurmat is attuning our minds to the Guru, it's not shutting off our minds.

    We heard about the S.E.V.A program that you and your friends started back in your town. How do you operate to run this program and how successful it is? What inspires you guys to run such a nice volunteer based program? It will be great if you can tell us about the program.

    [​IMG]Last summer a group of Sikh youth were sitting together discussing ways in which we could reach out to our community. Most people throughout Northern New Mexico are used to seeing Sikhs, however many still know very little about us, or that we are even called Sikhs. Just like on the internet, assumptions are made about our community, which are often times surprising to hear. On a couple different occasions with a few different people we discussed this issue.

    We decided to have a meeting. From this meeting we formed a board so that we could continue to have meetings. We met weekly and discussed ideas. A couple members had experience with a previous group that dissolved. That group was started with the vision of one Sikh whose ideas for seva were pretty specific. Other people who came to the meeting liked those ideas and wanted to take them in different directions as well. There were many leaders, no common goal, and no common structure. There were no arguments or anything bitter that came from that experience, but it just naturally dissolved. With this in mind we decided to limit our weekly meetings to the board. That way we could easily discuss ideas and decide on a certain project and our approach. Our board is currently five members, and as individuals we often times have different ideas and approaches. However, with 5 people everybody's idea and everybody's approach can be heard and we can still be productive. So that we are not exclusive we have open meetings monthly. We try to keep the sangat apprised of our activities so that they can help with any or all of it.

    Someday we plan to become a non-profit, but we are not there yet. We have had a few donations which have helped. For the most part we have funded the activities ourselves. I think most of us put aside 10% of all money we receive. My practice is that I put aside 10% of every paycheck I get into a separate account so that I always know what I have available for doing seva.

    I feel that the Sikh Española Volunteer Association is successful. We have successfully carried out each seva project that we have planned and we have been pleased with the results. All the feedback we have received has been positive and I think this indicates that people appreciate what we're doing.

    Our inspiration for this comes from our being Sikhs and knowing that service to humanity is one of the foundations of our lives. Also we see the need for service and we see the need for people to be educated about Sikhs.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the above questions,
    and we hope you can continue to carry the torch of Sikhi and inspire others alike.
    UnitedSikhs.com Team
     
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    There is a lot of energy, optimism, and positive feeling in this interview. NamJap, thank you for posting it.

    Prabhu I think is the brother of Gurumustkh, Web Administrator of SIKHNET.

    Consider how much this young person has accomplished, and how far he will go because of seva to the Guru. I really do salute him. He is part of the legacy of Yogi Harbhajan -- that legacy is huge -- it has changed so many lives. And Prabhu is a good spokesman.
     
  4. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
    Writer SPNer Contributor

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