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Trouble - Becoming a Sikh

Discussion in 'Sikh Youth' started by HannahBanana, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. HannahBanana

    HannahBanana
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    Well, I am almost positive that I want to become a Sikh. I was subtlely talking to my mother about Sikhism and she said "Can't you choose something else?"

    Some people disown their childeren for choosing things they don't want them to, and I thought "My mother cares about me and would support me if I'm happy." I'm not saying she's going to disown me, but I'm afraid she'll think of me different. Is it bad to hide it from her? I know hiding anything is bad, but what do I do when I believe in nothing, then I'm not a daughter, just an empty shell!

    Anyone have any advice for me?

    Thank you.
     
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  3. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Re: Trouble

    dear hb try to explain your mother about sikhism.may be she has heard that sikhs wear turban and they are like bin laden.thats why she is afraid.try to educate her about sikhism.btw in which country you are living are there any gurdwaras near your.
     
  4. skeptik

    skeptik
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    Re: Trouble

    What are your reasons for wanting to become a sikh? If you share them with us, we might be able to understand your perspective better.

    What things were you talking about, to your mother, when she said, "cant you choose something else?"

    What is your background, if you dont mind me asking?

    Becoming a sikh is something one ought to do with a clean impassionate conscious. If you jump in because it 'feels right', or something like that, you might become quickly disillusioned as your world collapses in a mass of contradiction. What i mean to say is, there are many people who hype up the sikh religion with false promises. Young people can get caught up in such currents of passion, but this can blow up badly.

    i want to give you the most honest advice possible, but i really need to know more about your situation. answering the above questions should be enough.

    good luck dear
     
  5. HannahBanana

    HannahBanana
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    Re: Trouble

    Okay. Well, I am half Brazilian, and half Italian and Swiss. My mother was born to a Catholic family, and she is unpracticing now, but she still believes in it. She raised my sister and I not teaching us anything about religions at all. All I knew was just God. So when I was about 12 or so I started researching religions (people had been asking me what I was, and I couldn't say Catholic because by then I had read about it and didn't agree with it). I spent a long time studying one religion at a time. First Judaism, then Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and then from there I learned about Sikhism. The first thing that attracted me was gender equality. Then I read about the ten gurus and the Guru Granth Sahib. Everything about Sikhism fascinated me. At first I was only studying, but then I started to want to be a Sikh and follow their ways. I spent more time studying and listening to online Hukamnamas and their translations. Believe me, I am not jumping in anything. I always look thoroughly before jumping. Thank you for answering, skeptik Ji. And I will appreciate any advice you can give me.

    kds Ji- Oh, well maybe I shouldn't have done this, but we saw a Sikh in a natural foods store and she asked me if I knew anything about Sikhs later on(because I study religions) so I told her about the 5 Ks and she kind of got a little weird when I told her about the kirpan. She knew I respected Sikhs and she said "Can't you choose something else?" Maybe I should have told her a different aspect of Sikhism, to get an "oh that sounds nice" reaction first.

    Thank you
     
  6. skeptik

    skeptik
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    Re: Trouble

    Hanna, thanks for the information. You remind me, somewhat, of myself, when I was fourteen. Now I was no convert, and had genuinely fallen in love with Sikhi through personal experience growing up, going to gurdwara and hearing Sikh mythology, and so on. These 'nice' community things about Sikhism still exist for me, and they remain a great source of pleasure and proof of 'goodness' of community.

    Around your age, I started reading b00ks, some websites and pamphets about Sikhism, and was at once taken in by the nicer things asserted about Sikhism. I took them on face-value, but its important to realise how this can lead to great frustration. What happens is that you read about how 'Sikhism believes in equality', and then when you compare that to what you see in ordinary sikh communities, you rarely see it existing. Actually, Sikh societies are never equal. They've never really been equal either. But this isnt the full story: for you'll find there is little in Sikh philosophy which forces injustice on certain people. For example, while in Islam, the female is obviously treated as inferior to male, you will not find such things in Sikhism. In sikhism, women are to be accorded the highest of respect for the services they render to society. If one is to summarise Sikh philosophy on equality it must be something like this:

    While there are many differences in any given society, there will be many inequalities, and many who have much, and others who have little, this by itself is not a problem. But for the stronger to act or think injustly of the lesser, is to commit a fundamental moral error.

    This means in practise that good Sikhs in general are against treating their daughters and mothers as inferior. You'll find that Sikh families give their daughters all the opportunities to achieve highly in school; they encourage them to have careers, and to be successful. Sikhs regard daughters as precious; and expect very highly from them. They are to be chaste: pure in sexual conduct, clean from drugs and alcohol, and honourable. These expectations may seem restrictive to us in the west, but if they are satifisfied, they also elevate the worth of the female to great heights. Put simply, a girl who meets the above criteria is considered by Sikhs very highly indeed. Ofcourse these are cultural norms, demanded by good society everywhere, and found in many other cultures throughout the world. There is hardly anything uniquely Sikh about them, but such traits are a part of good Sikh society.

    But the point to note is that, while the above imply inequality of gender, because Sikh society restricts the freedom of Sikh women, it is, arguably a sensible restriction. Equality in Sikh society means quite simply, again injust descrimination. As long as there is no injust descrimination, and I believe, there isnt, in the above, then existing Sikh society is true enough to its ideals. In particular, a woman who is chaste and honorable is not being unjustly descriminated against. It is simply an expectation of her from society, which if she satisfies, she is most acceptable to it.

    So here is what i think you should understand before you decide to become a Sikh: You might not find in Sikh community, the equality you desire. You will find in reality that sikh societies do not actively oppose inequality of gender. Indeed you may find that to most Sikhs, the idea of equality is bizarre and alien: they might never have even imagined it. If you suggest it to them, they might think you are crazy! This is what you should understand then, that Sikhs as they exist throughout the globe, often do not even know about equality of gender, and once they hear about it, they are going to think it is a joke, and hardly something to take seriously. Infact the reason for this is simply that, those who write about Sikhism have a different idea from most sikhs about sikhism, so what we read about Sikhism is inaccurate at describing Sikh society.

    By saying the above, I wish to save you from the rather wasteful experience of getting into Sikhism for the reason of gender inequality, finding that Sikhs in general do not even know about inequality, and do not care for it, and certainly do not practise it, then becoming frustrated with Sikhs, and thinking, All is doom and gloom: that sikh society is ruinous because it fails to adhere to the principles of equality, and then giving up on Sikhism, because you've had enough of Sikhs who fail to live properly.

    I wish to save you from such a fate, because it is completely avoidable. If you maintain realistic expectations of Sikhism, then you wont be dissapointed, but if you instead become a sikh from unrealistic expectations, then you will invariably become dissapointed and will quickly lose interest in Sikhism.

    This is what i propose then: ask yourself what equality means to you. Articulate this to us. We'll tell you if what you expect from Sikhism is realistic and reasonable. If it isnt, then you need not waste years of your youth in needless frustration.
     
  7. HannahBanana

    HannahBanana
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    Re: Trouble

    Thank you skeptic Ji. I merely stated that as one of the reasons I was first attracted to Sikhism. I never said I hadn't read anything since. I also never said that I wanted to convert based only on gender equality. It is nice, but certainly not the best reason to convert. I agree on that. I may be 14, but I have been researching religions for a long time, I know what I'm getting into.

    Thanks again,
    Hannah
     
  8. skeptik

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    Re: Trouble

    Good for you Hannah. Your approach to all of this is infinitely better than mine. I am against religious conversions in general, but wish you all the best, all the same. Whatever you do, dont jump into the deep end by taking Amrit, straight away. Wait till you are in your twenties before doing that. I made that mistake because i simply wasnt prepared, and I had all the wrong ideas about Sikhism in my head when I did. Plus i was looking for a "fresh-start", but life it seems abhors quick-fixes, and treats them with just as much disdain as they deserve. Honesty is important, (sorry for the generic advice), and one can never fool himself, though fooling myself was certainly a big part of my youth. Sikhism and idealism are a potent mix, and easily took away my (limited) grasp on reality. Though it seems you are grounded and rational, so it should not affect you too much.
     
  9. HannahBanana

    HannahBanana
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    Re: Trouble

    Thank you for saying that. But are you saying that you are not a Sikh anymore?

    And of course, I will be waiting a while before I take Amrit. I want to be sure.


    Peace,
    Hannah
     
  10. Dimitri

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    Re: Trouble

    Hannah
    To live in an identity if a Khalsa (5 k’s) is definitely a big step. A Sikh we all are, we are all learning.
    Guru Granth is spiritual food for me. I love its devotion to God, The Truth.
    In my opinion you attraction towards Sikhism should be the Guru Granth and history of sikh gurus not sikh community or any society as essentially any community is made up of people so you gonna meet Good, Bad and the Ugly.

    Gender inequality isn’t a big deal in the developed world, school, higher education, career paths they are open to all. One can pursue whatever path they want to follow but we (our communities) suffer from other problems – stereotypes, ignorance. I was reading this article about attacks on Sikhs after 9/11, murder of Mr Sodhi and very recently stabbing of another sikh male by his neighbour, because he wanted to take out one of the Taliban.
    So look don’t rush into anything and just keep on doing what you are. Only thing I will encourage you to do is try to learn Punjabi when you have time. It’s a big task but its worth it. Guru Granth is beautifully written.
    ciao
     
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  11. HannahBanana

    HannahBanana
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    Re: Trouble

    Oh I intend to learn Punjabi. When I first heard of Sikhism, that is what interested me. I have not said that nothing else did after I learned more. The history and the GGS Ji are the main reasons why I decided that I would stick to studying Sikhism.
     
  12. drkhalsa

    drkhalsa
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    Re: Trouble


    Dear Friend ,

    After reading your post I felt like wroting something.

    I agree with you that the eastern sikh socitey is not true represantative of Sikh Ideals . And it would be not be wise to think that in any setup IDEALS could be met 100% that pretains to Utopis or Perfection .

    In western Sikh Society ( White Sikhs ) all these so called disparieties does not exist as for my Knowledge about their communities .

    About gender equalty in complete sense does thi means that mean that Females get the inferior share for what ever the criteria be and so need to be elevated on all fronts ?

    Making all exactly equal both males and females alos appears to be illusionary and not desirable by even females
    for example then it might also includes the desparity done by Nature itself in means of appearance , physical strenghth , age, indurance desparity ( most of them are more favorable in females except the strengh.)

    So in short my respect for sikhism roots in Principles and Ideals of it and not neccasarly the current expression in form of society.

    As far as your personal expeeirence are concerned then I dont thinkit would be wise to interpolate it to make general syatement or guidines about sikhism



    Jatinder Singh




    Jatinder Singh
     
  13. skeptik

    skeptik
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    Re: Trouble

    drkhalsa, my experience is varied and deep. I've directly experienced a number of different sikh communities around the world. I've talked to people, all over, about their experience too and thus formed a fairly well-informed opinion of Sikh society. I'am aware of points you raise, and have long made such considerations to my judgement.

    Further, I understand fairly well how certain sikhs behave in their direct communities. Those who originate from Panjab directly have certain prejudices and attributes which they bring with them to the communities they belong to. Then there are the second, third and even fourth generation sikhs who've lived only in the West, and they too share some similarities with the Panjabis. Infact this is hardly a deep observation: since most sikhs today tend to be of originally Panjabi origin, one can characterise sikhs in general fairly well. To the extend to which Sikhs fall away from these generalisations is also well understood. Depending on the exposture to western prejudices and ideals, parental upbringing, education and so on; these factors can be taken into consideration to approximate a given sikh's attributes fairly well.

    You speak of the American Sikhs, the followers of 3H0 and Yogi Bhajan, and the like as true followers of Sikhism, because they do not have the prejudices of ordinary (panjabi) sikhs. This may be true, that they hold very closely to the (neo-sikh) ideals of utopian society. But these ideals are not Sikhi ideals: they are modern day liberalism ideals projected on Sikh philosophy, history, and society.

    It may well be that these american sikhs are on the right path, and are admirable people to be regarded highly for their egalitarian society. They may be inspired by Sikhism to achieving this, but what they practise then, is not Sikhism, because it is distinct from conventional Sikhism, in that, it gives rise to vastly different societies. Then the approach, goals and successes of 3H0 society cannot be meaningfully compared to ordinary Sikh society, because the latter simply does not have those goals, and those approaches in sight. Thus too, will ordinary sikh society, probably, fail to achieve the same results as 3H0.

    This is not a problem to me, for 3H0 members can probably meet their needs in running their society according to their ideals; and ordinary sikh societies can also do the same, but with different ideals, and there is no conflict, in so much as, they are different societies, with different needs, with different means, and different cultural backgrounds.

    Culture can not be sensibly divorced from religion, for they are inextricably joined. It is not my opinion that ordinary Sikh society is in jeopardy: and that 3H0 society is close to perfect: I happen to disagree utterly with such a view. I hold that 3H0 ideals are wrong and misguided: and that ordinary sikh society is far from perfect: but that is quite alright, for it is mostly good enough. This is a seperate issue though, that we can discuss elsewhere.

    I disagree most strongly with you, when you say that current Sikh society is so far from good Sikh society: for i do not believe this to be the case at all. It is true that current sikh society does not measure up to the ideals of 3H0 sikhs: but this is not a reasonable comparison to make, in order to judge current sikh society. Instead judge it against sikh societies in the past, sikh societies in recent history. The comparison will not always be favorable: but it wont be as bad as you seem to think. In any case, those past sikh societies never had anything remotely resembling 3H0 ideals, and so they too would fall short of the mark.

    It doesnt seem worth mentioning, but it was ordinary sikh societies that survived history and achieved successes and failures: they did so with all their flaws and all their limitations which we judge so lowly today because they fail to meet liberal ideals. Let 3H0 survive for a few hundred years, let it suffer the hardships, and then we can start to compare it to ordinary sikh society. Until then, 3H0 is only a new shop, that opened yesterday: lets see how it copes with time. I do not wish to slight 3H0, but only point out the aburdity of claiming 3H0 is 'ideal sikh society', when it has only been around for a short time, and has not been subjected to the experiences of orthodox sikh society.
     
  14. drkhalsa

    drkhalsa
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    Re: Trouble


    I apprectae that your study might me deep but still it is limited in many expects from where I see.
    I have also live in various sikh communities . I was Born in Amritsar and have live in all the three main divisions of Punjab ( majha , malva , doaba) I got Chance to live in so called most advanced city chandigarh , Delhi and then in Europe in England Scotland Ireland and also very short period in US and I think such background made me fully appreciated your views even in one other topic about this but still your concept about Sikhism needs to be developed further as I think and I might be wrong. so excuse me if that’s the case.






    about the above quote I never said that , may it is what you interpreted from my post .

    I said I don’t take inspiration from Current Sikh society as whole but from the Indivdual Gursikhs that exist in socirty

    Also My personal understanding tells me that Sikhism is not typical kind of religion in other words it exist in different dimension as I was born in Sikh Family and always thought I am sikh and part of sikh society but it was only until I really serched for religion and again arrived at Sikhism that I realized that I have met it for first time.

    So basically no one one is borned sikh instead to to serch and reach for it and the Sikh society you are talking about consist majority of Sikh just happen to be sikh by birth .The majority even don’t know the basics so in my deination they are not Sikhs but have potential to be one

    About 3HO the dofference lies here , almost all of them have found Sikhism personally in their life and their next generation is quite free to choose it or not. So that is what I define as sikh society and such society do exist in Punjab where stillmajority Sikhs lives but it is scaesely distributed.

    I you know the Sikhs dynamics in Punjab then you will find that majority of Sikhs here especially rural are sikh just thy efeel singh is king ideology so is very superficial convienience for people to choose it and even are unkown to them .

    O if somebody wants to commnt on sikh Ideals then I don’t agree that it is right.

    When you talk about sikh society in past there is big defference
    The sikh society in past before ERA OF RANJIT SINGH OR SIKH RULE becoming a sikh was tough and formed dissicion as sikh were invariably presecuted in those times so they really know the SIKHIwhen they were entering it and so is their history.

    After the SIKH Rule or Ranjit SINGH Era there ocuured mass conversions and population of sokhs swelled up and many of thenm just entered it without knowimg fully about it.

    For example currently I am in MALWA Belt of Punjab and I can sa with quite surety that about 90 % od sikh in these villages don’t know the basics about what Sikhism is and so you cant just go there and make statement about Sikh ideals and sikh society


    And One more important thing about sikh ideals . SIKH Guru never worte any book on Sikh ideals or did any documentation about that . Reason being they very well knew that they are bound to changed as sikh take the command of their religion and then decide what is good for them with the guidance of their everlasting SHABAD GURU.

    Even Tenth Master Gave this Gurgadi jointly to GRANTH AND SIKH PANTH

    So just trying to justify OLD Sikh ideals which you can frame based on sikh history can be changed by awakened SIKHS themselves with the SHAD GURU guidance

    And I feel that Sikhs in estern SIKH society ( Punjab) still are not awakened enough and so the other like wetern Sikh have taken the lead to incorporate Liberalism into SIKH IDEALS which is absolutely alright and this again makes the SIKH Religion Atypical as it not dead religion for whom ideals have been already fully fixed by some book and canyt be changed




    Jatinder Singh
     
  15. skeptik

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    Re: Trouble

    Its not productive for every individual of society to spend effort determining which way he ought to live his life. Most people should just accept what they were born with, and go on with being good members of society. I wasted my youth on sikh idealism and I will tell you now it was a complete waste of my time. In fact i havent made any progress since i was the age of 6, and having gone through all of that, I am back at that stage, which thankfully I have now come to appreciate.

    In any case, if 3H0 strikes you as being perfect because the gora-sikhs get to choose, since they are starter-sikhs and not born into the faith, then what happens in a couple of generations when they have children? Will this lessen the value of their society to you? Its a flawed way of looking at things.

    So i think taking religion too seriously is a waste of time, that most people ought to just stick with the prejudices they were born with (unless good reason compels them otherwise and even then to think it through carefully), and this is perfectly in line with sikhi thinking, for it does not require of a person to choose the Right path, only a good enough one, and do a honest job at it.
     
  16. trilochankaur

    trilochankaur
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    Re: Trouble

    Are you half brazilian? From wich part?

    My husband is a brazilian sikh converted.
     
  17. HannahBanana

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    Re: Trouble

    Well I would ask my father but I'm not living with him so I have no idea.
     
  18. Dimitri

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    Re: Trouble

    No way!
    I was born in a family where God was never mentioned, never talked about. Never talked about this matter with my friends/society. But reading Guru Granth Saheb i believe in God/Waheguru/Allah what ever the name. Sikhism is a way to spirituality for me and for lots of other people.
    The idea that i should live rest of my life without ever thinking about the Creator cause God wasn't mentioned to me by parents or friends is ridiculous.
     
  19. skeptik

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    Re: Trouble

    how has it affected your life?
     
  20. Dimitri

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    Re: Trouble

    For starters I say i have progressed a lot from being a munmukh. i get up in the morning with the thought of God in mind. i pinch my self, is it me. my approach to God was i don't care if it exists or not. let he/she/it do its stuff i just go about my life without much thought of God.

    Its a realization, how can we describe bliss for example or being happy....just like that this realization i can't describe but hv i experienced it-YES.

    I don't read Guru Granth to learn moral values or how to be a better citizen. I know plenty of atheists agnostics who are good day to day citizens of the society.
    For me Guru Granth has been a way to spirituality.
     
  21. skeptik

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    thats good to hear dimitri. it sounds like you got a nice thing going for you but make sure you arent fooling yourself into believing false things. romance deceives, flatters, and conceals. if your romance is taking you away from being a good and productive citizen, then thats reason for caution.

    The reason im saying this is because i was once so in love with Sikhi and that didnt last because its just hard to sustain being in love for long. You fall out of love, and then what do you do? After a few years of that stuff, luckily for me, I was able to figure out where i went wrong. Its possible to be a good sikh without being too passionate, without being in love. For me, its better that way. Spirituality is something one shouldnt talk about. Its too vague a thing, too easily abused, too easily misunderstood, and too easily misleading. As far as i know, its a 'feel good' thing, which most people have, over different things in their lives. There is no virtue to it, by itself; I think spirituality should be the end, not the means. If you try to 'be spiritual', then you have no limits - just your imagination and what is possible. And if its feelings you are after, well there is drugs and sex, and nothing can match those vices in sheer feeling alone.

    I guess to me, being a sikh is mainly about having discipline to stick to it, being honest with yourself and not trying to be something you are not, not fooling yourself into thinking false things, and just trying to be a good person. If having done that pretty well, you got a high from it, and you call it spirituality, well great. But to find the spirituality first without doing those things, then you've erred. Thats just my personal opinion though, but i think its a good one.
     

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