Friday, July 21, 2017

Miri Piri Divas

Currently we are celebrating Miri Piri Divas at the Gurdwara Sahib. There will be kirtan every evening from 7-9 pm. This is the celebration of when Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji (our 6th Guru) wore one kirpan representing Miri (temporal authority), and another representing Piri (spiritual authority) at the Akal Takht Sahib. Miri comes from Amir meaning ruler/prince, and therefore signifies wordly/political power. Piri comes from Pir meaning saint, and therefore represents a spiritual power. Guru Ji was emphasizing that there is both spiritual aspect to life and a physical aspect to life.

Now more on Guru Ji’s life. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was born June 19, 1595 to parents Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Mata Ganga Ji in Guru Ki Wadli, Amritsar. At the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s martyrdom, Guru Ji sent a Sikh to tell 11 year old Hargobind “let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his capacity” (1). This was necessary given the injustice and oppression at the time. The Guruship was bestowed on Guru Hargobind on June 11, 1606, when he asked Baba Buddha Ji to give him two swords representing Miri and Piri.  Guru Ji possessed 700 horses, and his army was trained in martial arts and weapons training. This came into use, as they fought and win 4 battles against the attacking Mughals. He also built a fortress at Amritsar called Lohgarh.

Guru Ji built the Akal Takht in 1606. Akal Takht mean’s God’s throne. Again, as the Harmandir Sahib represented spiritual authority, the Akal Takht represented wordly authority.  Guru Ji also founded Kiratpur. He travelled to share knowledge about Sikhi, as did Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He even created an instrument called the Taus, which sounds like a peacock. It is unclear how many times Guru Ji was married. It appears some sources state that he was married once, but his wife changed names after marriage as was common in punjabi culture. Some sources state that he was married three times due to the circumstances- that three Sikhs rose simultaneously in sangat to respond to Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s request for a wife for his son. In those days, once it is offered, you cannot refuse or the girl goes unmarried.  The names of his wives are given as Mata Damodari, Bibi Nanaki and Bibi Mahadevi. His children were Baba Gurditta, Bibi Veero, Ani Rai, Teg Bahadur, Suraj Maal, and Baba Atal Rai.

Among the individuals against Guru Ji were Prithi Mal (his uncle), Chandu Shah, and Saikh Amad Sirhandi, who all went to the emperor Jahangir and made him fearful. Once meeting Guru Ji, however, he was taken aback by his charm. Guru Ji even saved Jahangir’s life when a lion attacked him. Remember, it was Jahangir who ordered Guru Hargobind Ji’s own father (Guru Arjan Dev Ji) to be tortured. Eventually Chandu Shah came up with a new plan when the emperor fell ill, and told an astrologer to say said that only a holy man praying for the emperor can save him, and thus Guru Ji was imprisoned for a year at Gwalior fort. When he was released, he said that he would only leave if the 52 rajas imprisoned with him could leave as well, and thus this day is called Bandi Chorr Divas (Diwali). Guru ji passed on the Guruship to Guru Rai Ji in 1701 and merged with the supreme light.


Old picture of Punjabi Class

Yesterday I found this old photo. Before the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara was built on Davis Rd, we used to rent out a space. I don't remember a whole lot about it, other than the general layout. Here is a picture of sunday punjabi class.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sab Sikhan Ko Hukam Hai, Guru Maneyo Granth

If I was to give a gift, it would be to impart the understanding of Gurbani. Such a gift could heal the physical, mental and social aspects of a person’s life. It transforms us in every single way. I know for me personally, all the energy I used to exhaust in anxious thoughts have been converted to multiplying my good qualities- I'm more passionate and creative for example. Yesterday I watched a katha about Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which has opened my eyes and deepened my relationship with Guru Ji. In the katha, Bhai Manvir Singh talks about how Bani is Guru (the shabad is Guru) and how Guru is God (Vaho Vaho Bani Nirankaar Hai). He gave examples of how Guru Ji is very powerful (for example power to heal, power to change our lives), how Guru Ji hears our ardas and speaks to us via a Hukamnama, and how Guru Ji is always with us.

It was a really inspiring katha for me because truthfully, I had never understood my relationship with Guru Ji in this way. I’ll give you an example of what it used to be like for me. When the Hukamnama was being read as a kid, I used to find some loose thread or something on my suit, and start playing with that. All of my attention was on that little thread. I even see that a lot nowadays with little girls sitting in the Gurdwara. When I got a bit older I realized that I should at least APPEAR like I’m paying attention, given the fact that everyone else’s heads are bowed down. I tried to look the part so I would sit still, but I didn’t understand why to listen, how to listen, what to listen for. Older still, I tried to listen but my mind was lost in thoughts. Over this last year now I tried to read the translations by searching up the Hukamnama on igurbani. At least now I understand the meaning. At the same time, most days my mind says “what a lovely hukamnama” and two minutes later it is forgotten. After hearing this katha, I’m going to really try to apply what I learn from the Hukamnama. Even in Ardas, I think a lot of times we don’t share what is really on our minds with Guru Ji. We should ask our questions with honesty and we will get an answer. So this morning when I did Ardas, I asked what was on my mind, I took a hukamnama from Sikhnet  which I read carefully and eagerly, and I got not only the answer to my questions but some guidance to carry me forward. I think it just helped me to more fully understand how to speak to Guru Ji, and how to listen. 

P.S. In channeling my creative energy, I added a drawing to my recent post about weddings!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Those of you living in BC already know that the wildfire situation has caused thousands of people to evacuate their homes and our province is in a state of emergency. In Prince George our community has started up a lot of efforts to help out the fire evacuees, including inviting people for langar being served at the Gurdwara Sahib. May our thoughts and prayers be with the families affected, and with the first responders who are there right now trying to manage the situation. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weddings Continued

While we are on the topic of weddings, check out this katha about modern day Sikh weddings: 

This one is different than the topic covered about laavan in my previous post. I would encourage you to watch it with your families as well because it definitely starts conversations. I watched it with my mum and we both definitely learned a lot and had some good laughs. Bhai sahib explains about where the background of our modern day wedding rituals come from, starting from when the couple meets. He will make you laugh within the first 10 minutes of the video by giving lots of examples to probe our thinking a little bit about why we do the traditions that we do.  I was very interested to hear about our traditions because I had never heard of some of them since I have only really attended the Anand Karaj itself and not everything beforehand. I like that Bhai sahib doesn't tell us what to do or not do, but tells us where things come from so we can choose informatively what traditions we practice at our weddings. So that you aren't thinking "such and such" ritual MUST be performed for luck. 

One of the more serious and important messages that Bhai sahib emphasizes is that should definitely be discussed is that as Sikhs we really do need to stop serving alcohol at any of our wedding events.  It really saddens me to see so many young people drinking and then teaching the generations to come to do the same. Alcoholism is a serious problem in our community and we need to think about our own roles in how we are encouraging the younger generations to drink through things like peer pressure at weddings/parties and punjabi songs. Let us be leaders in changing this part of our culture. Particularly if you are a man in your 20s/30s, the influence you have of being a positive role model to other young Sikhs by not drinking alcohol is huge. Please think about it! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017


“They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies.” (Ang 788 Guru Granth Sahib Ji).

I wrote a post last year about the meaning of Anand Karaj. Even after reading the translation of the laavan there is always more to learn. In the last four days I have listened to Veerji’s (Bhai Harinder Singh Ji of Nirvair Khalsa Jatha) katha on Anand Karaj. I learned a lot from the last few days and I would encourage all of you to go to the facebook page for the Nirvair Khalsa Jatha and listen to the kathas on Anand Karaj if you missed them. So far they have only posted the first day, but will be posting all of the kathas soon. Remember, the Anand Karaj is not just about physical marriage, but also about the marriage of the mind to God, which is the purpose of all of our lives.

In the katha, Veerji explained the meanings of each of the Laavs. In brief summary, the first laav is about making Guru Ji our guide, making efforts to do naam japna and understanding Gurbani. The second laav is about making the inside the same as the outside (being truthful) and removal of ego. The third is about filling the mind with love for God. The fourth laav is about sehaj (patience). He explained each in the context of the marriage of the mind with God and as well in our relationships.

In my last post about Anand Karaj I focused on the marriage of the mind to God. In this post I’m going to talk a little bit about our physical marriage. (Of course when we merge our mind with God any relationships we have will be easier.) It’s important particularly for those who are yet to be married, what a married life means, what the Anand Karaj means, what we need in a partner. When we are younger we think that a life partner is someone with a list of qualities. Ask my 11 year old cousin and she will tell you a husband needs to know how to cook and that’s most important. What we don’t realize in our youth is that skills are learned and therefore people can learn them later- there are more essential things to a relationship and we can’t and shouldn’t reduce people to a list. In particular it’s become common to get caught up in superficial things like last names, jobs, birth dates (astrology), skills, etc. Yet some people without any education at all have may have more understanding of God than someone with a million-dollar paying job. So let’s try to focus instead now on what Guru Ji tells us in the Anand Karaj.

Veerji explained in his katha that the married couple should make Guru Ji the center of their life, which is why we do parkarma during the Anand Karaj. Both partners should try to understand Gurbani and apply it to their lives. I was reading in Bhai Sewa Singh Ji’s book, Kiv Koodhe Tutay Paal, that we have arguments and fights in our relationships (ex. Families) because our thoughts are being pulled in different directions by maya. When we meditate on God and learn to think alike, the fighting ends. It’s important for us to apply our understanding of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji to our lives so we can learn to live in anand. 

The second laav explains that we should be truthful and honest with our partner. Veerji said don’t be afraid to lose relationships over truth. I used to think that being truthful was somewhat magical. They kind of tend to show that on TV- like you are honest and life is really amazing. I’ve lost friendships over truth though and it’s hard because you sometimes think well if I hadn’t been honest then I would still have that friend. Truthful living is the basis of Sikhi though, and you shouldn’t have to hide the truth to have someone stick around. As the third laav explains, we should fill the mind with love. 

Lastly, as the fourth laav explains, we should be patient with our partner, have full faith in them, and not get angry over small things. This forms a relationship of equals who respect and trust one another, who are supportive of each other. Everybody has their own marriage advice and you can find thousands of articles on how to find a partner, but we should trust the advice that Guru Ji is telling us! Let’s all apply what we have learned about the Anand Karaj to our daily lives- in our physical relationships and in our spiritual life.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jatha Visiting from UK

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
The Nirvair Khalsa Jatha is here this week from the UK. Their programs are particularly helpful for youth because they also explain in English and they are very interactive with the sangat. Please invite as many people as you can to attend. Veerji was explaining the meaning of the 4 Laavan in the Anand Karaj, starting with Laav 1 today, and will be continuing over the next few days. Join us at the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh temple tomorrow evening.

Check out their live feed and past programs (if you missed from Wed and today):

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Remembering our Origin

I heard this shabad in the Malton Gurdwara Sahib:
“Who is our mother, and who is our father? Where did we come from?
We are formed from the fire of the womb within and the bubble of water of the sperm. For what purpose are we created?
O my Master, who can know Your Glorious Virtues?
My own demerits cannot be counted (Pause).
I took the form of so many plants and trees and so many animals.
Many times I entered the families of snakes and flying birds.
I broke into the shops of the city and well-guarded palaces; stealing from them, I snuck home again.
I looked in front of me, and I looked behind me, but where could I hide from You?
I saw the banks of sacred rivers, the nine continents, the shops and bazaars of the cities. Taking the scale, the merchant begins to weight his actions within his own heart. As the seas and the oceans are overflowing with water, so vast are my own sins.
Please shower me with Your Mercy and take pity upon me. I am a sinking stone- please carry me across!
My soul is burning like fire and the knife is cutting deep.
Prays Nanak, recognizing the Lord’s Command I am at peace, day and night.” (Ang 156, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.)

I am awe-struck at how Guru Ji explains the game of life. In this shabad, Guru Ji explains everything from our origin (God), to the 8.4 million reincarnations in which we lived as different life forms, and the paaps committed in them. Then Guru Ji explains that by coming into Hukam we clean the mind of these past deeds and fulfill our purpose. One of the Gurmukhs I met explained how Naam is the food for the mind, and just like we work to earn food for the body we do naam japna to earn food for our minds (Naam). Giani Sant Singh Maskeen Ji explains that singing God’s praises is not God’s need but ours. Unlike people who get a really inflated sense of ego from praise, God does not grow any greater or lesser from our praise. Gurbani says, “Even if everyone were to gather together and speak of Him, He would not become any greater or lesser (Ang 9)”. We sing to clean our minds, to be at peace, and to be one with God (Jeevan mukht).

“Why should I come into the world again? Coming and going is by the Hukam of His Command; realizing His Hukam, I shall merge in Him.”

Since we have forgotten our origin and we have forgotten the game, we need to remind ourselves why we are here. Last night I attended Bhai Yadvinder Singh Ji’s jatha’s final program in Canada. Veerji said that by sitting in sangat we remember and find who we are again. This is an extremely powerful statement if we reflect on it. I know for me, sitting in sat sangat over this last year and being more involved has really helped me remember my origin and the game of life. This whole process has made me comfortable in my own skin and confident to a degree that I never was before, which feels really good! Loving yourself is not really possible if we don’t understand our real origin is Waheguru. Life feels more joyful, blissful, and just “lighter” the deeper the remembrance goes. I feel like a plant that was wilting and suddenly got watered.

“If only someone would come and introduce me to Him, the Rejuvenator of my breath of life. I cannot survive without seeing my Beloved. My eyes are welling up with tears.”

Typically when we go to the Gurdwara we sit but we let our mind wander and then we go home. Some of the experiences I have had over this last week really emphasized for me how collectively speaking together and singing in sangat keeps our mind inside, from wandering away (in addition to keeping your eyes closed or focused on reading Gurbani). While we were doing simran together I think it was the first time I actually felt everyone collectively breathing in and out at the same time for saas-graas simran and I really connected to the fact that this life breath comes from Waheguru. Tears were running pretty much continuously down my face the whole time, because it was the most intensely beautiful experience of simran that I have had. We should all allow ourselves to have these experiences. Gurbani tells us over and over that the feeling that you get is indescribable in words- you have to experience it for yourself. This is what we came to this world for. The pleasures of maya cannot parallel such an experience. We should get together in our own families and at our homes and Gurdwaras to sing kirtan and do simran together and invite others to join us.

Last year, I wrote about my experience at the Sarab Rog Ka Aukhad Naam camp. Similarly, at that camp the entire sangat sings shabads together (and shares experiences about how the treasures in Gurbani changes lives). For many people who are attending, it’s a life-altering experience because it becomes a starting point to learn more about Gurbani and people experience for the first time an understanding of the power of sangat and the basics of keeping the mind focused inwards. I know for me, from the time I went to camp last year, my knowledge and love for Gurbani has increased exponentially. My appreciation for the gifts God gives us grew a thousand fold just when I was sitting in sangat those three days- my appreciation for being born into a Sikh family, for having the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as our guide, for having had the chance to listen to kathas, meet Gurmukhs, and learning (remembering) how this game is played! Some people spend their whole lives not remembering the rules of the game God sent us in, not understanding our purpose. We are so blessed that we have our Guru Ji as our guide to remind us of our path. So I think the main points that I really wanted to pass on from the beauty of my own experience is that I wish the same for all of you. I wish I could spread the love I have in my heart to each and every person. Each of us should share our knowledge about Gurbani and experiences with other people. For example I have been taking my family to simran, reading books to them, having discussions etc. It helps to ask and answer questions together. That allows us to collectively learn and grow towards our purpose. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is for all of humanity, so let’s learn and spread the knowledge from what we learn. Let’s do simran and sing kirtan together, and most importantly remember our root at all times, Waheguru.

Here is a link to Bhai Yadvinder Singh Ji’s program from yesterday.

Lastly, reminder about the Rainsbhai Kirtan at the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Sahib on Saturday night!

Sarah Rog Ka Aukhad Naam camp: