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Sikhi da pehla asool

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by ActsOfGod, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. ActsOfGod

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    Writer SPNer

    Aug 14, 2012
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    I have been told by various Sikhs that Sikhi da pehla asool ("the first principle") is to honor and respect your parents. According to most traditional families, in Punjabi culture this encompasses obedience to parents in all things. But what do you do when cultural differences exist, for example if the parents were born and raised in India but the child was born and raised in a Western country. That is to say, the child grew up valuing things like individuality (as opposed to conforming), questioning things you don't understand (so as to learn), etc. And the child has grown now to an adult, and naturally there are differences in opinion about how they want to live their life and which behaviors they want to adopt and which they don't.

    Typically, traditional Punjabi parents do not tolerate questioning (which can be seen as an affront to their authority), or perhaps the individualism that is typical of Western society and culture. Depending on how enlightened such parents are, the reactions can range from quiet disapproval to very painful and melodramatic displays accusing the child of abandoning the parents/the heritage/culture/being an uncaring individual/not fulfilling the responsibility (as son/daughter, etc.)/not following Sikh values/not being a "good" Sikh, etc. etc.

    All the guilt trips and manipulation notwithstanding, how can one reconcile his or her commitment to Sikhi if they find themselves in such a situation? Maybe it was a simple disagreement or a genuine misunderstanding, but the parents (knowingly or unknowingly) took it all out of context, put on the guilt trips, complained that you had fallen out of the culture, implied that you were not fulfilling your obligations, lamented about how much they were hurt by your action/inaction/speech/words/etc. The message being: if you don't listen to/obey your parents, and they are upset with you for whatever (XYZ) reason, then you are somehow letting them down and are not a good son/daughter. And therefore if you can't do seva of your parents and keep them happy in their old age, then how can you serve your Guru and be a good Sikh? i.e. implicit in the argument is the presumption that in order to serve your Guru, you must first serve your parents and they should be happy with you. If you have displeased them in any way, then that is tantamount to being a "bad" Sikh, or a "bad" son/daughter. Or, at the very least, some kind of hypocrite, because how can you claim to be a good Sikh and serve the Guru if you can't even do right by your own parents, who sacrificed so much to bring you into the world, to clothe you and feed you, educate you, raise you, etc. And now in their old age you are not caring for their feelings, or that they are upset, etc.

    Just to clarify, the question is not regarding those individuals who go to extremes like taking drugs or ruining their lives by committing crimes and ending up in jail, or those that abuse their elders. This is about the adult children of traditional Punjabi parents who have mostly followed stayed out of trouble, have gone to school, graduated, even gotten married (maybe even an arranged marriage), and had children of their own, etc.

    Here is one scenario: What if the parents get angry at the adult child if he doesn't follow something they expect (take a domestic issue for example, if there is a conflict between his wife and mother), and if he supports his wife, and his parents react negatively, then they put on the guilt trips or complain that their son is now "lost" etc. etc. and thus, the parents are not happy. If he can't do seva of his parents, and they are angry/upset with him, and they distance themselves from him emotionally and/or physically for an indefinite period of time, how will this affect this guy's practice of his faith? Would he have to necessarily reconcile with them (in some cases an impossible, lifelong task), before he can think and feel secure that he's following Sikhi principles? If he believes the best thing is to go on with his life, can he with a clear conscious live his life as a Sikh, even when the community is condemning him for being an "uncaring" son?

    I would like to hear everyone's opinion and experiences on this topic.

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  3. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Jul 4, 2004
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    PEHLA ASOOL HAI hukm razaii challnna.......(Naam jappnnna meaning Following His HUKM..His Natural laws..His Laws....
    Second asool Haak halall kamaai....HONESTY IN EVERYTHING
    Third asool..WAAND ke chhaknna - sharing the fruits of the SECOND ASOOL.
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