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Discussion in 'Essays on Sikhism' started by Bhajneet, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. Bhajneet

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    Nov 24, 2004
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    As I arrived in India, I began feeling my wisdom teeth irritating me. I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled a couple years before and I still had two more. I decided to go to the dentist in India and get them pulled.

    The dentist I went to does a lot of dental work for non resident Indians. He is the dentist that most of my family in India goes to and they all have nothing but compliments for his work. He numbed my gums and pulled out my two teeth. I hardly felt a thing. I was happy that finally the annoying pain that I was feeling would go away. The dentist gave me some antibiotics and 5 days of painkillers. He advised me to take the painkillers for at least the first night, then evaluate the pain and determine whether or not they were necessary.

    I left the dentists office at around 3 pm and my gums were numb for about an hour after I left. Then the pain started coming in slowly but fiercely.

    I am the type of person who does not believe in homeopathic medicine but also believes that allopathic medicine is a last resort. I am a strong believer in allowing the body’s immune system to overcome any foreign annoyances that come its way. I also believe that the mind, if focused in the right direction, can overcome/ignore pain. By 5 pm I was struggling to move as the pain was eating away at me. Of course, I did not take the painkillers because of the above mentioned reasons.

    As an attempt to distract the pain I watch a movie with my cousin, Harbani. Somehow as a reaction to the pain I develop a fever of about 103 degrees while watching the movie. Harbani calls my Chachi and she tells me to take some Tylenol as it will help the pain and lower the fever. I tell her I will, but deep down I know I will not take the Tylenol. The pain is pretty bad, but I am determined to struggle through it. I begin to think about my Grandfather. I remember going to the hospital to see him immediately after he had open heart surgery. I remember the smile on his face when I walked in. I remember my father’s ability to put mind over the disease that he was diagnosed with 10 years ago. I assure myself that I am not going to take painkillers and that I have the strength within me. It’s now 7 pm.

    I somehow manage to make it until 8 pm when my family arrives home from the office. I struggle to walk to the dinner table, have a seat for about 5 minutes when I realize that it is too difficult for me to even sit there. I decide to go upstairs to bed.

    I lye down on my bed thinking if I can just get myself to fall asleep then I won’t feel the pain anymore. I begin doing Japji Sahib as my way of asking the Guru to help me through this situation and also just because that is what I do when I can’t fall asleep. I make it to about the sixth pauri when I give up as the pain and fever feel like they are exponentially increasing.

    I begin thinking of my history. I reflect upon Guru Arjan Dev Ji. I think of him being tortured to death and I think of his reaction. “Tera Kia Meetha Lagai.” I think of Guru Tegh Bahadur, I think of the Panj Piare, I think of the Chaar Sahibzade. I reflect upon all of Ardaas and the torture that the Sikhs have gone through without giving up.

    Now at this point, I feel it’s necessary to mention, in no way do I feel like avoiding painkillers is a form of religious righteousness. I do believe that the pain I was going through could be tamed by understanding my history. I believed that this experience didn’t have anything to do with religiousness, but rather with strength of character. Just as my family and history had proven their strength I was determined to prove mine.

    I began trying to think of positive experiences, trying to smile. This may sound easy, but smiling while in excruciating pain was impossible for me. Guru Arjan Dev Ji smiled while being tortured, I only got a couple of tiny teeth pulled out and I was unable to smile. I begin thinking of the Sikh who told the executioner that his limbs do not begin with his finger joint, but rather at his first knuckle. I think of 7 and 9 years old Sahibzade. I think of their Jakarai as they are being bricked alive. Why don’t I have the strength to endure this pain?

    By around 10 pm the pain is worse and breathing is more pain than I can handle. I acknowledge I am not strong enough and take the medicine. The medicine begins working about 15 minutes after I took it. For those 15 minutes I continually told myself that in another 30 seconds the pain would be gone. Right as the medicine began to take its effect, I realized what I had done. I kicked myself for taking the medicine, for being so weak. I wanted the pain to come back, I wanted another chance to not take the medicine. The pain was slowly decreasing, but I felt worse than I did prior to taking the medicine.

    Last year at Camp Gian I remember asking the youngest kids; “if you could give one gift to Guru Arjan Dev Ji, what would you give him?” Many kids responded by saying they would give the Guru toys, or a car, or they would do path for Guru Arjan Dev Ji. I remember 8 year old Arjan Singh's response, “I would give my life to Guru Arjan Dev Ji.” I remember thinking young 8 year old Arjan's response was naïve and euphoric because how can he understand what it is like to give your life. My response to this question has always been the same naïve response.

    I have stated many times that in order to maintain the value and significance of Amrit, I will take Amrit when I feel like I am strong enough to be the first one to answer Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s call for a head. What would happen if Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked for a head today? What would happen if we were being persecuted? What would happen if we were forced to live in the jungles? As I look in the mirror through this experience and think of these questions, I feel nothing but shame.
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