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Ishna's Comings And Goings Part 2


Following from Part 1

But things started to get complicated. Firstly, Ishna had married a man who, while very understanding and supportive of her faith, was still fond of the western standard of feminine beauty. He did not like body hair, or the idea of a turban. Ishna found herself with a profound sense of wanting to provide her husband with the best married life she could as was her duty as wife, but that meant sacrificing her religious observance. And she wanted to dwell in love with God, as part of the community, and become an initiated, khalsa Sikh. But she couldn’t have both of these things. When love for God was intense, she felt guilt that she may be neglecting her marriage. But when she focussed on her marriage, she missed God and felt she was missing her only chance (this life) to meet It.

Secondly, Ishna, perhaps due to her introverted nature, struggled to integrate into the Sikh community, despite years of trying. She had no Sikh friends apart from people she would regularly chat with on the internet, which just wasn’t real enough for her. She was profoundly aware of being the only white convert at the Gurdwara, and had never met another one in her entire country. The aunties at the Gurdwara were lovely. They gave her suits, some would hug her when they saw her. But for reasons Ishna never fully understood, she didn’t connect spiritually with any of these people. There was rarely a sense of spiritual community, of sangat. There was some recognition, people knew who the “gori” was, but as far as talking about god or Sikh lifestyle, it just wasn’t there.

Ishna also realised she was taking the religion unusually strictly, when the majority of her Gurdwara-mates were cutting their hair and lucky to have a chunni on their head in any part of the Gurdwara other than darbar sahib, Ishna was wearing an undercap so her head was always covered chunni or no, and she wasn’t removing her hair, to the detriment of her marriage. A couple of times people were excited to meet a convert with long hair, looking the part. The would say they were inspired by it. But more often Ishna was asked if she was at the Gurdwara with her (non-existent) Punjabi husband.

Occasionally she would have periods of doubt where she would explore other religions. She researched Islam, Baha’i and atheism, and each gave way to Sikhi after a short period of time.

However, all of this came to an ultimate point around 2014. A cascade of things occurred, a torrential rain fell upon the spiritual ground of Ishna’s spirit and washed away the earth and the plant and left nothing but rocks behind. First, her marriage ended and the current of lust returned. Second, she became disillusioned with the Gurdwara when priority was given to purchase something she felt was misguided with Gurdwara funds. Thirdly, she was seriously struggling to pronounce Gurbani, or the Punjabi alphabet. A kind person from the Gurdwara tried to help her pronounce the letters but gave up in frustration. Lastly, topics online were more frequently about cultural appropriation and the rape of India by the British. At one point, perhaps as a joke by a joker who didn’t realise her tipping point was so close, suggested she get out of a Sikh chatroom and go back to Britain.

At that point, Ishna decided to walk away from the Sikh community and find a religion more culturally appropriate to her. She realised her options were Christianity or Northern European pre-Christian paganism (Heathenry). She explored both of these, Heathenry more than Christianity. But Heathenry brought back the same issues from her earlier pagan days; lack of scripture, lack of tradition, and the invention of practices essentially overnight out of necessity, but mostly well-meaning people. There is hardly anything left of Northern European indigenous religions - not much was ever written down, and what little was, was likely tampered with by Christian scribes. Furthermore, the only Heathen group operating in her local area was aligned to the political far-right, and Ishna didn’t like the idea of associating with them.

Heathenry required Ishna to consider her own heritage and history, her own ancestors and living family. Ishna had been disconnected from this during her time as a Sikh. She read about Punjabi and Sikh history, learned about those customs and celebrations and neglected her own family traditions and culture. Ishna realised that this loss of tradition meant her family bonds had been compromised, and she ought to put more effort into participating as a member of her own society instead of hopelessly trying to assimilate into another one. And while many of her societies customs and celebrations had ultimate roots in Northern European pre-Christian holidays, those celebrations were intrinsically seasonal. Living in the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are inverted, so a Heathen’s version of Christmas is actually in June or July, and not December, when everyone else is enacting those rites.

So, all of this brought her back to Christianity, since the culture surrounding her was nominally Christian, and the traditional family activities revolved around Christian holidays. She visited some churches with her Catholic friend, and had an intense spiritual experience while receiving a blessing from a priest. She also had to laugh inwardly though as she read the Bible, realising that it, too, was describing another culture and people (the Israelites) in another time rooted in history. So she put Christianity down in ultimate frustration and gave up on religion entirely.

To be concluded in Part 3

swarn bains

hi ishna jee. nice heartful feelings. but the religion tries to bring the lost mind to the code of conduct which we were born with and lost in worldly desires etc. but the spirituality starts where the religion ends. so do not give up on your endeavor and thinking and practices you found so far. good luck
I was married to a Christian for 22 years. The first couple of years weren't bad, as far as religion was concerned. He accepted that my beliefs were different from his (Christian) beliefs and even accepted my hairy legs. Then his attitude changed and for the next 20 years, he was determined to Christianize me. For the sake of my marriage, I tried, but in no way could I relate in a loving way to the Abrahamic God. He seemed capricious, violent, bigoted, and just plain evil, demonic even. I could easily fear him, but not even mildly like or respect, much less love him - and make no mistake this God is definitely a "he." Even today, when Christians ask me why I'm not a Christian, I must decline to tell them since my reasons are the rankest sort of blasphemy. Your God is more evil even than the Devil! See, Sikhi doesn't permit me to say such things to believers in other religions, so they just think I'm stubborn or something and have no real reason. I hope I can be safely frank here; I realize I am blaspheming three different religions. I'm a baaaaad girl.

Oh, damn! Ishna, I apologize that I've gone off on a tangent here.

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