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Why I chose Sikhism?

Discussion in 'Sikh Youth' started by Astroboy, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Inspiration through Sangat


    Growing up.

    Growing up i was the typical punjabi kid you see out there. Had his hair but has no idea why. Just kept my kesh cause my parents made me from a child. Having kesh never really stopped me from being in the "bad crowd". In fact I was usually amongst the leaders of the "bad crowd". I had no sikhi love in me at all. I used to go to gurdwara at least a couple times a week, but only to play hockey, or talk to my friends. I remember numerous days in the diwan hall just confused and bored waiting for these raagi's to do anand Sahib so i can go eat.

    Any how, Highschool came around and i got into an even more bad crowd. When i was 14 most of my friends were 18-19, into doing weed, drinking and skipping school. I quickly became just like them, and in grade nine i took up smoking, weed, drinking and skipping school. When I was 17, I cut my kesh. I always wanted to cut my kesh but i never had the guts to do it infront of my parents. One day i called my best friend and i asked him to cut my kesh. He replied "you always say that man, u sure this time?". I replied yes. SO he came over and cut my kesh. At the time, I didnt feel bad at all. I really didnt know how great Khalsa is and how great Guru sahib is, remember i was just a typical punjabi kid.

    I still remember I was too scared to go home after i cut my hair that i stayed away from home for 2 days, and only told my dad on the phone that i cut my kesh. Surprisly my dad wasnt really upset he told me "you made a mistake, and you'll eventually realize how bad of a mistake you made". I came home after 2 days expecting my dad to tell my mom. But he purposly didnt. I still remember the look on my mom's face, so much pain and dissapointment.

    Looking back now, I remember everytime my friends got into "big" trouble, like jail time, charges, heavy fights, or anything really huge. I was never there. I started to not like what my friends were doing, but i couldnt break free from them totally. they were my "boyz".

    The turning point.

    I heard some good singhs tell me, that when you get into sikhi your mind just thinks different. Sikhi things makes you happy, and other things just seem so bad. I wanted to quit smoking. Most smokers know its bad, but they dont have the will power to quit. Well one day I just decided that I dont want to smoke anymore (5 years being a smoker). I dont know where this came from, but i did a form of ardaas to vaheguru to help me quit. I just got a feeling of so much love and i got addicted to this pyaar. I quit smoking, and weed almost instantly.

    I still drank though. But every time I drank and got drunk I would talk about Guru Gobind Singh Jee, and sikhs and khalsa. My friends all used to hate drinking with me, cause i would ruin the "buzz" by talking about religion. Every time we went out i would talk about religion, sikhi, everything. I used to tell them in a drunken stuper, "im gonna keep my kesh man, im gonna stop all this stuff", they would laugh and say "YOU!? hahaah..yeah right guy,you neverrr". I knew at that time that i wanted to keep my kesh. I was so determined. I didnt want to just keep kesh though and keep doing bad things. I wanted to be clean first then keep kesh. At this point i tried to change my sangat to more positive sangat.

    The turning point was when I was asked by a Singh to play in a basketball tournament. It was some "baba deep singh" team. At the time I had no idea who Baba Deep Singh was. During practice I met young gursikhs in bana and kirpans and daamaala's. I admired them sooooo much. I never really met a true singh before, and i was soo happy to see them, that i didnt want to leave their side.

    Around that time, I was chatting with some girl I knew on the phone and she wanted to meet up with me. She asked me to come to gurudwara to see her at night, becuase her parents are religious and they go to these all night keertans. She only wanted me to come to kinda hook up. I replied "i'll come to gurdwara, but im not gonna talk to you there. I always knew it was wrong to pick up girls at gurdwara. My manmukh self knew this much at least. At the time i was staying at my chachee's house who is amritdari, and i asked her if shes going to this "all night keertan". Shes told me yes. so i went. I walked into the main hall. it was FILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEd with Guru khalsa. I had no idea about this stuff. I sat down And started listening to keertan. from about 10 pm to about 12 am I sat there. My cuzins walked over to me and said they are leaving and told me to get ready. I couldnt leave the keertan I wanted to stay so bad. I just told them to go without me and I'll come home with my chachee. I think i was the only Mona in the whole Hall! At the end of the reansabayee My chachee brought me over to meet an old gursikh. (it was bhai Jeevan Singh) He smiled and gave me a fateh. After that day i really liked sikhi.

    I downloaded Keertan from the internet and used to listen to it night and day. Rap music, other music wasnt appealing to me. Only keertan.

    Going away from home.

    I got acceptance to University Away from my house. I wanted to go away so i accepted it. This was a great turning point in my life. I finally was broken free from my friends in my area who were drinking and what not. I was starting new and fresh. My first year of university I met good sangat. I quit drinking about 2 months into my first year, and I started keeping my kesh. It was funny. A bearded guy with a football tuke on walking around campus. Eventually my singh friends at university told me its time for me to put on a dastaar. They came over. My closest singh friend took off his daastaar from his head and tied it on me. when i looked in the mirror I felt sooooooo goood. I looked at myself my kesh my daarree and i felt so proud. I remember my old self when i was a kid, who used to hate my kesh and resent it, and now im looking in the mirror and im soo proud to display kesh. It was an amazing feeling.

    Soon after I knew i was gonna take amrit. I had a very close friend and we both knew we were gonna take amrit but we were just getting ready. I prepared for about 2 years, used to do as much paat as i could, hang out with khalsa only, stopped going to clubs, stopped listening to music, just those things never appealed to me anymore.

    The incident.

    There was a very big incident that happend in my life that really got me close with some Singhs. It was a tough time and I went everywhere for help and assistance but everywhere i turned I couldnt get help. Eventually some upstanding singhs came into the picture and totally helped out. This was the main thing that pushed me over the edge. I now knew where i wanted to take amrit. I wanted to be just like those singhs. So i decided to take amrit at the next amrit sanchaar they held. I soon realized that what they do is khalsa gurmat, and everything made sense to me.

    Weekend of Amrit Sanchaar.

    I came to Gurdwara dressed in Bana, to listen to akhaand paat sahib before amrit sanchaar. I remember the bibi on roll sewa was such an amazing paaati and i admired her big daamala and blue chola. I listend to as much of the akaaand paat sahib as i could. It was there I got darshan of Gursikhs that i admire to this day. They gave me so much love and support, I think they could tell i was nervous about taking amrit. The amrit sanchaar was unbeliveable. There are many many things that happend inside with panj and during amrit sanchaar that i wont go into. But after taking amrit my life completely changed. I was reborn. Words cannot describe the power of amrit and naam. I urge anybody who hasnt asked for amrit from panj to do so as soon as possible. Your life will never be the same after. The pyaar that i feel inside with other Guru khalsa is unexplainable.

    Presently.

    currently im trying my hardest to remain in sangat, have rehit, keep amrit vela and jaap as much naam as i can. When i look back into the past, I cant believe how i lived without Guru Sahib.

    (Source: Why I Chose Sikhism)
     
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  3. Sherab

    Sherab
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    great life account, thank you!
     
  4. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    USA: Female Cabbie, Convert to Sikhism, Behind the Wheel in NYC

    Unorthodox Cabby on a Path Less Traveled

    Tanzina Vega (NY Times)
    September 4, 2007

    It isn’t every day that New Yorkers take a yellow cab with a woman behind the wheel. It is even less frequent when the driver is an Italian-American woman who converted to Sikhism. In a New York accent, the cabdriver, Brooklyn-born Maria Singh, 53, likes to joke about how she ended up quitting her office job four years ago. “I took the final Punjabi step,” said Mrs. Singh, who wanted to escape the drudgery of working as a car service administrator…
    … Mrs. Singh said … she has … had to face the rigors of a taxi driver’s life, including long hours (she typically drives from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays) and a hostile passenger who once pulled at her head scarf, thinking she was a Muslim. She no longer wears the scarf, called a chunni, while she works.
    Interesting story, and too bad that Mrs. Singh has felt she had to forego her headcovering because of the harassment of ignorant people.
     
  5. Astroboy

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

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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    Why I Embraced Sikhism - Georgia Rangel
    Ms. Georgia Rangel (now Jivanjot Kaur) was born in a Christian family. Afterwards she embraced Judaism. Many years later she came into contact with some Sikhs and this gave her an opportunity to get acquainted with Sikhism. After she had studied and explored Sikhism she was convinced that her quest for a fully satisfying religion had come to a close. But she did not adopt Sikhism on the spur of the moment. Rather it was after spending 7-8 years that she decided to be baptized in 1994. A letter by her had appeared in the October issue of the Spokesman. A few days later she herself called our
    office. We present some excerpts from our talk with her.

    Ms. Jivanjot Kaur Khalsa talks to The Spokesman:

    Q: Ms. Jivanjot Kaur how were you acquainted with Sikhism?

    A: I was born in a Christian family. I left home at the age of seventeen and visited various churches associated with every sect of Christianity. I saw that even in some of the liberal sects of Christianity there were some questions that they did not allow to be questioned. I was not satisfied. Then I came into contact with Judaism. I became a *** at the age of twenty two and continued to remain the follower of this religion for thirty years. During the last twenty five years of these thirty years I also remained a member of one Jewish temple. The Sikhs started coming to the United States in large numbers only after 1965. That is why I was acquainted with Sikhism very late.

    Q: How (were you acquainted)?

    A: The Sikhs used to attract attention because of their distinct appearance. I also saw such Sikhs who reached the US in the Sikh form and would soon be bereft of their long hair. But then there were others who would maintain their identity. Three such Sikhs lived in my neighborhood. The mother of one of these Sikhs became unconscious and went into a coma. That Sikh requested all of his friends to reach the Gurdwara and participate in the prayer service. All prayed together and the mother of that Sikh friend regained her consciousness and recovered. He had this firm belief that the collective prayer by all of us had been heard by the Almighty. Then he got the Kirtan performed at his residence. This is how I was introduced to Sikhism.

    Q: Did you make some more efforts to know more about Sikhism?

    A: Yes, I used to take interest in religion since my younger days, but there arose some questions in my mind which could neither be answered by the Christian nor by the Jewish religion and philosophy. However, when I started reading about Sikhism it seemed that Sikhism had answers to those questions. Sikhism is an all embracing religion in which there is no place for misconceptions, fallacies and rituals. Only one God is the Father of all human beings who are like a single family. I started deriving a sense of peace and equipoise from Gurbani.

    Q: Did your relatives, friends etc. dissuade you from embracing Sikhism?

    A: My daughter was annoyed the most of all. She would ask me how could I change my religion. I said, "I have not changed my religion. Even earlier I believed in things which were neither Christian nor of the Jewish religion and philosophy. When I went through the Sikh philosophy, I was greatly pleased to find my thoughts and feelings matching with it. This was exactly what I used to think about. The fact is that right from the beginning I believed in the tenets of Sikhism without having been introduced to it. After embracing Sikhism I felt that I had ultimately reached my home." At first my daughter would not understand me but after meeting many of my Sikh friends she was convinced that Sikhs were good people.

    Q: Now you tie your hair and also wear a small turban. Are you a follower of Yogi Bhajan?

    A: No, I'm a follower of the Guru alone. I do not believe in anybody except Guru and God. Yogi Bhajan has done a good thing that he has introduced Sikhism to the Americans but like many sants in Punjab he is also a sant with a separate following. Some of his followers have left him (and not Sikhism) while many remain with him. I never knew Yogi Bhajan. I worship the one God. In Christianity only Christ is worshipped and many Christians regard him as God. That is why Sikhism appeals to me very much. I do not give importance to sants. My tying of hair and wearing a turban has nothing to do with Yogi Bhajan.

    Q: Do you live in the United States?

    A: For six months I live in the US and for six months in Punjab. In a way Punjab has become a second home to me. I am suffering from a certain disease and my body cannot bear too much of cold. That is why I come to Patiala in winters. Here the climate is conducive to my health and I also get treatment
    for my ailments.

    Q: How do you feel by remaining amongst the Punjabi Sikhs?

    A: The Sikhs of Patiala are very good and love me a lot. Earlier I had also lived in Amritsar. I got an opportunity to live in the homes of some Sikhs. I noticed that despite being Sikhs, they believed in Hindu customs, rituals and beliefs. While living with one such family I was asked not to wash my hair on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays because by doing so their only son was likely to meet with some calamity. This superstition went against the tenets of Sikhism. Now that I live in Patiala, I am free to wash my hair on any day of the week. I also know a Sikh in the United States who has done the 'prakash' of Guru Granth Sahib at his home and has also made an alcohol bar there. I have noticed that many Sikhs do not have adequate knowledge of Sikhism. They are more under the influence of brahminical customs and fallacies. There is a need to tell them about the principles of Sikhism.

    Q: You must have realized by this time that Sikhs are not so enthusiastic about the necessity of propagating their religion. What is your opinion?

    A: The task of preaching is lax because you have not appointed good granthis in the Gurdwaras. They are often uneducated or semi-educated. Their salaries are meager. They do not study books on their religion. If you appoint properly educated and devoted granthis (who have genuine love for Sikhism) in the Gurdwaras then the task of preaching will automatically be accelerated. I have noticed in the US too that if a granthi does not know English, he cannot reach the new generation.

    The granthi of the Maryland Gurdwara that I attend was a 23 year old young man when he went there. He did not know English and requested me to teach him how to read and write that language. I agreed to teach him provide he taught me the Punjabi language. He has now become well versed in English but I have lagged behind in learning Punjabi. Well, after learning English the granthi of the Maryland Gurdwara can now impart good information about Sikhism to the youth and several Sikhs have been baptized. You should also appoint educated and well paid granthis in the Gurdwaras here (India). The propagation of Sikhism will automatically be speeded up.

    Q: What more have you felt after becoming a part of the Sikh society?

    A: The Sikhs quarrel amongst themselves unnecessarily and over trifles and thus waste their energy. They present their respective cases to me and ask me if I agree with them. I simply smile at them. I find their squabbles quite meaningless. The Jews also quarrel among themselves but in the event of some common calamity they are all united. The Sikhs, on the other hand, continue with their mutual strifes even in times of adversity. They should evolve some methodology by following which they can settle their disputes once for all by sitting together and abide by the decision. This would naturally augment the Panthic power. For the last few years I've been hearing the Sikhs say that the Panth is passing through a grave crisis. But during these very years I have also been watching them indulge in serious disputes over the commonplace matters and frittering away their energy. Some way has to be found out for unanimous solution to the disputes regarding matters concerning the entire Panth.

    Q: What, in your opinion, is the future of Sikhism?

    A: The future of Sikhism is very bright. It is a wholesome and animate philosophy. You only need to take it to the people. It can attract everybody. But you should not give preference to conversion. Your primary concern should be to educate them about Sikhism. I, myself, spent 7-8 years in the study of
    the Sikh religion before I became Amritdhari. Send good missionaries, good granthis and good Sikh literature abroad. But don't send the "bata" (vessel) containing "amrit" (nectar) till the people themselves ask for it. Good Sikh magazines, newspapers and books can influence the minds of people. Of course the oral preaching can help where the people are unlettered. All the methods of preaching should be employed. But the real propagation of Sikhism depends upon the way the Sikhs spend their lives as per the tenets of their creed. Only those Sikhs can prove to be real missionaries who lead the
    pure Sikh way of life.

    Q: Do you know something about apostasy which is on the increase amongst the Sikh youth?

    A: Yes, I do. But it is not limited to the Sikh youth alone. The condition of the youth in other religions is the same.

    Q: You mean there is not much to worry about?

    A: Did I say that? If we're not concerned about the youth how shall we bring them back to the Sikh fold. But one thing must be borne in mind that by laying too much emphasis on the outer form will be just like making an ordinary man wear the army uniform without giving him the training. Will he become a good soldier simply by wearing the uniform? No. First of all the army spirit has to be infused in him. Exactly like that Sikhi shall have to be instilled in the minds of the Sikh youth. They will then automatically start loving the Sikh appearance. In order to arouse the love for Sikhi we shall have to adopt, as I have already mentioned, different and appropriate methods for different kinds of situations. I believe that since the Sikh philosophy is a very strong and robust philosophy, it is bound to leave its impact if it is presented in the right manner.

    Q: Would you like to comment on the status of Sikh women in the present society?

    A: I would rather like to ask something. Have you ever seen a Sikh lady included among the panj piaras? Surely not. Yes, you can find them in the jathas in the US. Why not in Punjab? The Gurus had given the status of equality to men and women; why don't the Guru's Sikhs accord them equality? A
    mother bearing daughters is considered inferior to one bearing sons. Dowry is demanded from the parents of the girls. Ultrasound tests are conducted to determine the foetal gender and abortions are performed for gender selection. The woman is burnt for bringing inadequate dowry. the Sikh society has adopted all the ills of the Hindu society. How shall woman be seen as equal to a man? So long as men do not understand true Sikhism they will not allow women to attain an equal status. Sikh women are not permitted to the Darbar Sahib sewa because they are considered impure during part of their monthly cycle. How can a Sikh woman expect justice from others if the things contrary to the Sikh
    tenets are said in the greatest and loftiest of the Sikh holy places?

    Q: Would you like to serve as a granthi in a Gurdwara?

    A: Rather I am keen to see other women performing services as granthis.

    Q: Did you participate in the World Sikh Sammelan?

    A: Yes, I did.

    Q: What were your impressions?

    A: As a show of unity, by getting many factions of the Panth together, it was a positive step. In fact, the Sammelan did not seem to me to result in very serious thinking. In the seminars people would express their views and go on their ways. Sometimes several people would start speaking simultaneously. Nobody seemed to be interested in reaching some consensus. No profound deliberations seemed to have been undertaken to pull the Panth out of a critical situation. You cannot achieve anything by simply gathering crowds. The Panth should be clear about its targets and also about the time and the manner in which some achievements for the Panth can be made. If the Panth is really passing through a critical phase, only very serious deliberations should be made. There is a different time and occasion for spending money on mammoth conferences and processions.

    Q: There is a plethora of sants in
    Punjab and their number is believed to be 357. Would you like to say something about their role in the context of the present situation?

    A: The sants might have played a major role in the spread of Sikhism in the past but what I'm seeing today is that Sikhi is being harmed more by santdom. Today many sants have also become partners in frittering away the wealth and energy of the Sikhs. They have their own maryada which is different from that of the Panth and every dera has got its own rahet-maryada. This tendency could prove fatal to Sikhism. These sants have also invented different methods of administering amrit and it is not the Gurus' Sikhi but their own Sikhi which is being preached in their deras. The innocent Sikhs become their devotees and gradually move away from Sikhi. Some of them even start equating these sants with the Guru. A great effort is required in order to convert 'sant-sewa' into Panth-sewa'.

    Q: You were saying a while ago that the Sikhs should find a way out to settle their disputes. How do the Jews resolve their disputes?

    A: The Jews ask for summoning the 'bait din' i.e. 'the house of justice' or a meeting where the learned rabbis hear both the parties and give their judgment. These rabbis are known for their impartiality and profound knowledge of the Jewish laws and are totally disinterested in the dispute of the parties. They pronounce judgment only on the basis of the Jewish law and traditions. Both the parties give a pledge in advance that they would abide by the decision given by the bait-din. The Christians also have some such arrangements for the settlement of disputes. The Sikh have yet to evolve an arrangement and have to accord recognition to it. The arrangements made so far have not helped much in resolving disputes.

    Q: At present Christianity and Islam have spread far and wide and a race (seems) to be going between them to surpass each other. What type of missionaries do these religions have?

    A: Don't try to prepare the missionaries of Sikhism by looking at them. Both these religions preach that only they possess the truth and those not reposing faith in their creed shall suffer eternal damnation. Nothing of this sort has been claimed in Sikhism. We have to think differently in order to prepare the missionaries. The Sikh missionaries are needed not for others but for acquainting Sikhs with Sikhism. The suggestion given in the October issue of the Spokesman that the Singh Sahibaan should divide the 12,000 villages among themselves and should reach the people by taking groups of wise men and women with them, seems to me to be more appropriate. You first make the Sikhs firm in their faith. Increase their knowledge about Sikhism. By giving up the idea of converting others to Sikhism, simply let the message of Sikhi reach them. Those who are not satisfied with their religious
    beliefs, like me, shall come running to Sikhism because it has something which can give satisfaction to all those who cannot find it elsewhere. If more Sikhs understand the objectives of Sikhism, many evils including the santdom shall be removed. Only the Sikhs who understand Sikhism can attract the non-Sikhs. I have seen that you have often written in the Spokesman that many Sikhs in the villages of Punjab don't know anything about Sikhism and they do not even know the names of the ten Gurus. It is they who need awareness about Sikhi. As I have already said, the best missionary of Sikhism is the Sikh who leads a Sikh way of life. I was also attracted towards Sikhism by observing some such
    Sikhs.

    Q: Any method to preach Sikhism?

    A: Let the Dalits be shown affection as was done by the Guru. They will embrace Sikhism. The Sikhi can offer them a better life but your behavior towards them should be like a good friend. Having been born and raised in a non-Sikh and non-Indian milieu, I may not understand the entire thing completely. You can think better according to your circumstances.
     
  6. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    Cornelis Heule - Harjinder Singh
    FROM AMSTERDAM TO AMRITSAR
    Harjinder Singh

    After hesitating for two years and last minute refusals to face the reality that
    I had given up my apartment, my job, my life in Amsterdam, and at least
    for one year all those who I love and care for, even those who I took for
    granted until I realized how much I would miss even my favorite barmaid,
    I left Amsterdam.

    And what is the program, what is the plan? One year in India, and at least
    for that year no drinking, no smoking, a year of thinking about me and
    the rest of my life. Go to Amritsar and find about those intriguing Sikhs,
    go to McLeod ganj and find out more about those Tibetan Buddhists.
    Go to the Himalayas, hire a donkey, a horse or a combination of the
    two and go on a long trek. Will that fill a year, will I be happy, will
    I really be able to give up the booze? Will I be able to live with the
    Indians who never leave one alone? Will I not go completely
    bonkers and crawl up against the wall after one month? And what
    about my health, and what about my friends, girlfriends?

    But I'm going, I'm going to do it, I am going to show them that there
    is still life in this old body and not-so-old mind. To hell with them and
    their 2-3 children, their second motor car and their rat race. I am
    different, I do not need a wife, a God, a job, stability. I am strong
    and independent, and above all I do not need God, and I can give up
    the booze without any help. Or can I?

    And thus we land at New Delhi airport on the morning of January 10, 1996,
    only some 4 hours later than scheduled. It is bright and sunny, and
    rather cold. I pay far too much money for a cab to a far too expensive hotel.
    In spite of being exhausted I go out for my first walk and meet my
    first "sadhu", meet my first Kashmiri hawker, get an unwanted but
    unrefusable ride into town by some dodgy fellows, walk around Connaught Place
    and get an auto scooter back to my hotel. There is a real shower with hot
    and cold in the room and a television, this is going to be the last room
    like that in a long time! Next day to Pahar Ganj, to a hotel off the main market,
    first 300 rupia for a three bedded room just for me, with windows and
    attached bathroom, then 200 rupia for two bedded same without windows
    and finally 200 rupia for two bedded with windows and excellently positioned
    opposite the flat roof where they keep the dogs that bark all night. I can also
    hear the horns of the diesel locomotives at New Delhi station, all night long.

    Things are wonderful and very rotten. Wonderful because I enjoy the lepers,
    the cows, the hawkers, the elephants, the soothsayers, the Hindu mandirs,
    the camels and the down and out Western hippies. My heart is pinched
    by seeing kiddies doing very unhealthy looking jobbies on the pavement
    next to an overflowing drain and crores of smelly two-wheelers, old cars,
    trucks and buses passing by, but still I love it. Rotten because I have
    the big one: spending loads of time in the loo with a bucket of water
    in front of me. Going for a meal and after being served and eating two
    bites leaving in a hurry because I get the feeling of vomiting
    (as the Indian doctor put it). But with the help of the nice Kashmiri
    boy I find the aforementioned doctor, get antibiotics and get cured.
    And I take a very serious haircut, because in this hot climate and
    insufficient hygienic facilities I might as well.

    I get myself out of Delhi and go to see this Golden Temple. And do not
    sleep very much, and am rather speedy without the drink. A non-drinking me,
    Dutch by birth, Irish by choice, can it be done?

    Of course I pay way too much for my train ticket to Amritsar and get
    unwanted luxury. We only arrive 30 minutes late and I am abducted by
    a cycle rickshaw-wallah to a crummy hotel, charging 150 rupia + 10% tax
    and not offering too much in return apart from drunks that gather
    in the dining room every night. The light is beautiful, the days are very clear,
    the air is of an almost transparent light blue that in NW Europe only
    appears on very rare winter days.

    And on January 19, 1996, Cornelis Heule, a mere 48 years of age
    makes his first appearance on the parkarma of Harmandir Sahib.
    And I am bowled over. The music that is broadcast from the
    gold top building in the middle of the square pond ("sarovar")
    that surrounds it, is divine. The beautiful light is there,
    the marble walkway ("parkarma") around the sarovar, the white
    buildings around that. I spend 4 hours just sitting there, not
    going into the actual temple at all. And day two I come back for
    more, and again spend 4 hours, drinking in the atmosphere.
    Babaji speaks to me, the man who I will get to know very well later,
    and he points out the four open doors of the temple, welcoming
    everyone from all creeds, castes, directions. And I decide to leave
    my hotel and move into the (free) Ram Das Niwas (guesthouse)
    of the temple itself. And thereby seal my fate.

    In the far corner of room 43 in the dormitory of Guru Ram Das Niwas
    was a heap of bed clothes, and underneath those was Audrey, Dutch,
    black, Christian. She took me to the temple, she took me to the
    ceremony of bringing the Sikh holy book into the temple, and
    she took me for a Christian as I was reading the Bible. We got on
    very well and drank in the atmosphere of the place, told each other
    that the Sikhs were great and got intoxicated on the good vibes.
    We went for a meal, and we went and talked, and I was speedy and
    could not sleep. But I was winning. After Audrey there were the
    Germans, Stephan and his wife, their friend Peter from Tienen in
    Belgium, John from the North of England who had given up the
    drink too and was busy cycling from the North Cape to England
    going the long way around, Elizabeth from Anchorage, the reformed
    drunk from Ireland (does not even take a sweet containing
    liquor in future) and I talked, went to the temple morning and
    night, was speedy and could not sleep.

    Some nights I fell asleep utterly exhausted only to wake up after
    a few hours, and thoughts would start milling through the head again.
    Sometimes I was awake all night until at dawn I fell asleep, exhausted.
    And what went on in my mind was incredible, images from the past
    I hoped I had long forgotten, images from yesterday and even those
    from tomorrow. There was no stopping it, there was no stopping me.
    I talked, talked, I talked at a hundred miles an hour, and I could not sleep.
    I went to the temple at 5 am for bringing in the Guru Granth Sahib
    (Sikh Holy Book) and at night at ten I took it to it's room again.
    And why? Did I believe in God? There was no need to believe in God,
    whatever God is, I felt the presence in me and around me from day one.
    Was I a Sikh? No, but I was becoming one.

    One day I was sitting behind the temple, and all of a sudden I started crying,
    and felt great at the same time, and the next day it happened again.
    And whenever I felt those massive copper bars of the "palki" in which
    we carried the Guru Granth Sahib on our shoulders I felt something
    like an electric current going through me. And finally one night after
    fervently praying (me! praying!) and asking for peace of mind I walked
    back to the dormitory and was suddenly overwhelmed by the ultimate
    heebee jeebees. I had to drink, I had to smoke. All the devils from the
    seven hells were shouting at me: drink, drink, smoke, smoke. And I ran,
    I ran to find my friendly Babaji, who of course was not in his room,
    I ran back to my room and there was no one there, I went to the room
    next to me and flung myself on an American (imagine!) who was great,
    did not say much, but just was there. And after 30 minutes I quieted down,
    and that was it, the final act. I was not a drunk anymore and I knew that
    something, someone was out there, playing games with me, and nasty
    ones at that, but, I was cured.

    Still I knew nothing about Sikhism, and I definitely did not know what God is.
    I started reading Sukhmani Sahib, a part of Guru Granth Sahib, I started
    reading Guru Nanak's Japuji Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh's Jap Sahib,
    and through their meditations on God learned that even the Gurus,
    who were so close to God, were more sure of what God is not, than of
    what God is. And I learned about meditation. I learned that this
    indescribable, un-understandable God was everywhere, in waters, on land,
    in you and me, in a worm and an elephant, that God was definitely not
    an old man having a long white beard living in a place called heaven, that
    God was One, that God is not linked to any religion, country or nation,
    that God has no family, that we cannot make any pictures or portraits of God,
    and that whatever we do, we should keep God in mind. And there is no use
    in retiring from the world and contemplate your navel. Live in the world but
    be not ruled by hunger for money or sex, be not ruled by anger and
    pride, and recognize all humans as your brothers and sisters, all of the universe
    as His manifestation.

    Everyone is welcome in the temple, everyone has the right to believe in his
    own way, but if you want to be a Sikh you will have to wear the 5Ks,
    as ordained by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. First I thought that if that is
    what it takes I will do it, although I do not see why. Later I discovered
    that having to face the world as a very recognizable Sikh, you will have
    to live up to the Sikh standards: be honest, be fair, be compassionate,
    and traveling to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and facing
    all the Muslims successfully, does add to your self confidence.
    Do not have personal pride, but be proud to be a Sikh. And, we
    cannot be like St. Peter, we cannot deny what we are, and have
    to face the questions and sometimes the mockery. Does you the world of good!
     
  7. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    What's in a Name?
    by MANJYOT KAUR (formerly, Laurie Bolger)


    Since my very childhood, I have been fascinated by given names and their meanings. So, naturally, once I knew I had passed the "point of no return" in my journey of becoming a Sikh, I wanted to learn as much as I could about Sikh names: what they signify and how they are derived.
    Devoting time and thought to selecting the name that would be mine when I formally embraced Sikhi, through taking Amrit, turned into a source of great satisfaction and enjoyment for me. The process was indeed an illuminating one - not only did I learn a lot about the Punjabi language, but also about the ideals of my chosen faith and what becoming an Amritdhari Sikh means to me.

    As the absolute core of Sikhi, Guru Granth Sahib is given utmost primacy in all matters of Sikh life. So it was not at all surprising for me to learn that Naamkaran, the ceremony whereby a Sikh name is chosen, revolves around deriving the name's initial letter from taking a Hukam, or Vaak: opening the sacred scripture at random and using the letter from the first word of the Shabd at the start of the upper left-hand page (or the page before that, if the one turned to is a continuation).
    It seemed tremendously meaningful, and totally appropriate, that Guru Granth Sahib, as our eternal and living Guru, would occupy such a position of centrality in the important process of name selection.

    It deeply impressed me that almost all elements that make up Sikh names are derived from Gurbani. Some refer directly to God, the Lord of all, through a variety of names, in a uniquely Sikh approach to the Ultimate Deity - such as "Brahm", "Dev", "Har", "Inder", "Ishar", and "Prabh". Many others describe attributes of the Divine: for example, "Amar" - immortal, "Deep" - light, "Ik" - one, and "Jit" - victorious.
    Yet others speak of actions or qualities we would do well to cultivate in our human lives on Earth, like meditation on God ("Simran"), love ("Preet"), virtue ("Gun"), and humility ("Nimarta").

    Two other major characteristics of Sikh names were also of great interest to me. One was their unique unisex nature, reflecting the gender equality inherent to Sikhi. Traits such as bravery or beauty that, in most other cultures, are deemed to be specifically masculine or feminine become, quite rightly, applicable to all people, regardless of sex. The presence of "Singh" for males and "Kaur" for females is almost always the only way of determining the gender of a Sikh name.

    The second was their compound composition: the fact that the vast majority of names are constructed with combinations of two or more segments. Sometimes, these elements can act as either prefixes or suffixes. For example, "Inderdeep" and "Deepinder" both mean "Light of God".

    I know that many Sikh children are not named right away. After the name's initial letter is determined by the Vaak, Sikh parents often take considerable time to choose what they believe would be the perfect name for their son or daughter, consulting books and websites designed specifically for this purpose, and deliberating at length with family and friends. It seems quite safe to say that newborns are unaware of this time lapse, and retain no conscious memory of ever having been nameless.

    As an adult, however, I felt this option was not the right one for me. I knew I wanted to possess a Sikh name immediately upon formally converting to Sikhi. Even though more than one person told me, "Get your letter first; why have the burden of needing to find a name for every letter of the alphabet?", I nonetheless welcomed and relished the research and reflection this task would entail.

    So the linguistic challenge began. First, I tried to familiarize myself as much as I could with the Punjabi alphabet. Coming to the conclusion that I could disregard letters (such as "jhajhaa" and "njanjaa") that do not commonly occur at the beginning of words, I figured out that I would need to find names starting with 27 of Punjabi's 35 letters (40 letters, if one counts the 5 added to accomodate the sounds of "loan words" from Urdu), in order to feel reasonably secure that my list would cover every eventuality.

    A concept inherent to Sikhi that immensely captivates me is the idea of Jot, or Divine Light. I firmly adhere to the fundamental tenet that the first Sikh Guru, Nanak, was not only himself imbued with Jot, but also that the very same Light was transferred to all of his nine human successors, and that it now dwells perpetually in Guru Granth Sahib. Moreover, I believe that it pervades the entire universe, including within us mere mortals - that there is nowhere that Divine Light does not reside.
    So right away, I knew I wanted to include "Jyot" (with an added "y" for the sake of easier phonetic pronunciation) in many of the names on my list. More than a dozen names that made the final cut fell into this category.

    I then thought I would like to come up with some "wishful thinking" names. Don't all parents want their offspring to be happy, intelligent, attractive, strong, and so forth? Of course, they do!
    But, being that I was choosing a name for my own self, I decided that many of these types of names might come across as boastful or pretentious.
    Therefore, appelations like "Pargat" (one who blossoms forth into fame), "Kuldev" (the Godlike person in the family), "Jagmohan" (one who captivates the world) and "Anokh" (extraordinary and wondrous), while splendid names in their own right, seemed like they might be more than just a bit excessive, at least in my very humble case. So, I decided some serious self-introspection was in order - what quality am I now sorely lacking that I would most like to have?
    That is how I came to add "Bachint" (without worry) and "Sehej" (patient and equipoised) to my candidates.

    Some letters of the Punjabi alphabet do not often start words - like "ghaghaa", "chhachhaa", and "phaphaa" - but, wanting to be as assiduous as possible, I thought it unwise to leave them off the list completely. So off to the dictionary I went. I was relieved to find one word for each of these unusual initials that I felt would work well as a name.

    Finally, after much revision, I ended up with a list of more than forty names I really loved. I showed it to two of my dearest friends, who both gave me "thumbs up" on my choices. Then, I was ready to face the big day. Whatever letter Guru Granth Sahib would bestow upon me, I knew I would have a Sikh name I would feel immensely honored and privileged to carry for the rest of my life. (I have taken the liberty of including all these names at the end of this piece. I hope readers will like them.)

    Through the Grace of the Guru, I was infinitely blessed with the incomparable gift of Amrit on the day before Vaisakhi this year. The Vaak that provided my initial letter was a beautiful Shabd, but then, what Shabd is not beautiful?
    It began with the line:
    Man tan prabh aaraadheeai,
    mil saadh samaagai.
    "Worship and adore God in your mind and body,
    Join the company of the holy".

    So now, I am Manjyot Kaur - "light of the mind".
    I truly hope and pray that I will always live up to the gift of my new name.

    (Source: sikhchic.com | The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | Article Detail)

    Also read:
    Exploring Sikhi, By LAURIE BOLGER, The Sikh Times, Apr. 10, 2006
    A review of The World According to Sikhi by I.J. Singh.
     
  8. Huck_Finn

    Huck_Finn
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    namjap ji


    why did you choose sikhi?
     
  9. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism

    For emotional balance. This in itself enhances right thinking and right action.

    Sikhism has all the elements of good religious practice without the fear factor involved into accepting its tenets. It is a religion allowing individual space for self analysis and critical review of dogma which is a widely accepted phenomena.

    After all that has been said and done, it challenges a householder to seek his/her higher self out of the box, out of the rat race.

    Sikhism has high rate of survival. Just like quotes from Greek Philosophers have become inspirational guides to people of the world, so will quotes from gurbani be of such importance to people of the future.

    I feel complete and confident as a Sikh. People around me feel happy and satisfied with my company.
     
  10. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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  11. pk70

    pk70
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    Re: Why I chose Sikhism


    namjap ji

    Amazing stories including yours. It took me 25 years to know that I was practicing Sikhism as a hypocrite. A friend of mine from India sent a gift( as I used to send to him) ) for me. It was Guru Granth Darpan by Dr. Sahib Singh. I started reading it every day. I would some time prefer to spend 4-5 hours on reading it than going to Gurdawara. Every thing fell apart within me. A battle began within me. I read translation after translation of Gurbani, interpretation after interpretation of Gurbani. For a decade, the search of getting closer to Guru went on. Approach towards every thing changed. Once, I lost a lot of money, it was Gurbani that kept a smile on me. A close friend of mine who is a *** asked me how I could take that big loss so easily. My answer was that it was because our my Guru's guidance. If you see a Sikh crying over a loss, he/she hasnt understood Sikhi. Still he talks about it among his friends. It took me years to find out that various shabadas of Satguru NANAK are interpretted in various shabadas. Still inpiration is going on. Every day for me is to do a search, no end of it. Your thread has taken me into an ecstasy.
    Thanks.
     
  12. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Nothing Like Gurmat
    Everything I have written here is the Truth. The wonders never cease coming from the Guru. The Guru lends a hand to His bhagat along this spiritualm path. One receives amrit after living many lives. Khande ki Pahul Amrit has been depreciated by some. Pride of intellect and cleverness impede progress. One who goes with a clean heart and humility in front of the Guru to receives this wonderful gift is sure to grow and accomplish the spiritual tasks set forth by the Guru. Anyone out there who has love for the Guru will leave his or her 'mann' at the door and give it all to the Guru.

    (Full article : Why I Chose Sikhism)
     
  13. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    A Mexican Sikh
    Sat Siri Akal,
    Xalapa is located in Veracruz state, Mexico. There are 391,000 people living in that city. Only three persons wear turbans there, that's me and my two kids (12 and 4 years old). I have two jobs like most Mexican people, both as a web designer in the local government and in a newspaper. I converted to Sikhi 12 years ago while I was a student.

    Everyday I hear people yelling at me (osama, aladdin and many many others). I really don't care 'cause I'm sure what I am. Everyday people ask about my turban and my beard. To me, is completely normal, part of my routine.

    Things turned a little ugly right after September 11th, some people stare at us and you can see the fear in there eyes, we just smile and act normally. My oldest son is about to finish his "primary school" (as we call it here), he wears a patka everyday and his friends, of course, are non Sikhs. But they accept him as he is, the patka is very normal to them. We have had little problems with teachers, and parents. But we solve it by talking calmly and educating.

    Next September he will go to the "secondary school" and will face a whole new environment; new friends, new teachers. Here in Mexico, if you want to study in a good government secondary school you have to have some requirements like good notes, your papers in completely order and pass a test. So you have to make a line since 5:00 in the morning outside the school and if you are lucky enough, you will get a "ticket" at 12:00. That "ticket" is extremely important; without it, you are not allowed to fill your test.

    So, we made that line, we stand out there for seven hours like everybody else, but my son didn’t get his "ticket". Why? 'cause he wears a turban. We lost the whole morning there for nothing. We tried to explain about Sikh religion, but they didn't listen. So we went to the State Human Rights and explained the situation. "You have to call National Human Rights" they said. We call, and then faxed a complaint.

    After three weeks we received their answer: "go to State Human Rights". You see, here the things are completely different. We don't have a Gurdwara or community to go to. The nearest Gurdwara is five hours away. No body else is Sikh here. The authorities don't care, for them, there is no problem. It's so easy, he just had to remove his turban and cut his hair...

    We don't want that, so we will keep looking for somebody to help us and will fight for our right to be Sikh.

    You are so lucky; you have each other there, wherever you are. You have Gurdwaras, you have a Sangat to go with. Your children are able to see more turbans, not only their own.

    I’m happy I found this forum, by reading your posts I feel kind of close to you all and feel I'm part of a community. I hope you value each other and get aware of all the blessings you have.

    See you later.

    Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa!
    Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!!

    (Source: A Sikh life in Mexico)
     
  14. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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  15. spnadmin

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  16. Saint Soldier

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    Sat shri akal,:)

    <Deleted personal elements of the debate>

    To this date every religion has been used by humans for self benifits and other purposes and sikhism is no exception to this and maybe thats the reason i dont call sikhism to be my religion and i thank Guru Nanak to save me

    <deleted statement bashing Sikhism>
    from following something as foolish as religion people ask me what is your religion and i reply "neither a hindu nor a muslim":)and im happy with it:yes:

    btw best of luck if anyone of you can prove me wrong;)

    ~~sainty~~
    ~~Wald Guru Nanak~~

    Sainty ji -- the topic of the thread is Why I Chose Sikhism? The thread is not about why you disagree with formal religion or agree with the statement, There is Neither Hindu Nor Muslim. Thread content needs to be consistent. It also does not help the discussion to be so critical of the choices various converts have made in good faith. This can be interpreted as a personal attack on converts in general. The decision to change one's religion is a very significant moment in one's life. Why would converts, after reading so harsh a criticism of a decision to become a Sikh, want to continue to be part of SPN? So responses here need to be relevant to the thread topic. And we need to avoid hostilities toward other religions, toward Sikhism and toward forum members.
     
    #15 Saint Soldier, Dec 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2008
  17. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    • Like Like x 1
  18. spnadmin

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    Re: Moved from Why I Chose Sikhism? More Problems with an Excess of Krod

    "btw best of luck if anyone of you can prove me wrong;)"

    Sainty ji, Why would someone want to prove that you are wrong? All a convert would want to demonstrate is that Sikhism has an incredible capacity to fill in the missing pieces in their hearts, minds and souls.
     
  19. Saint Soldier

    Saint Soldier
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    Sat shri akal,:D

    Deleted ... please debate the issues

    and my gun point was never on converts,Hindu's or Muslim's all humans are my brothers and sisters and they are free to do what they want to i was only criticizing religion(every) to the extreme level.:p

    deleting my post is not the solution don't have guts to answer it?:confused:
     
  20. Interested

    Interested
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    I would just like to add here that all your recounts are so inspiring! I thank you all for sharing them. I came across Sikhism while teaching and as I started reading, my interest grew. It is funny, I do admit that I get caught up in any good read, but this was so different. I felt a whole fulfillment, a elonging to the words. A fewdays later I met a Sikh who guided me to a book about the philosophy of Sikhism. I never put them down!! Every break at work, the books would come out and I was lost in them. One day, I went sight seeing in an area of London and came to Southall. I wanted to go and see a Gurdwara. We asked for directions and the person was kind enough to take us AND explain it. I did not at this time understand the importance of Guru Granth Sahib but desperately wanted to read it. One day, long after, I walked into an old book store and there on the shelf was guru Granth Sahib. It is funny, because although I know my house is NOT worthy to shelter, I pick it up (well one) and read from it daily.
    I read above about Ms Jivanjot Kaur Khalsa and I can relate to her! It is so warming to hear about those that have been through the same situation. Waheguru really does have our path for us to follow.
    Finally, I just wanted to add that being in teaching, opens your eyes to a lot of "in house" religious affairs. Above all, Sikhism is respectful to others! I think that this is something that is often forgotten. Guru Nanak was about all people embracing God. All people being worthy. Many roads travelled to God. This is the truly wonderous message of Sikhism!
     
  21. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    Thank you Interested Ji for your breath taking view. I came across a passage while reading a pdf about Enlightenment

    "...............when you experience enlightenment magical things will
    not suddenly begin to happen in your life. Instead, you will become aware of the
    magical things that are already occurring in your life."
     

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