SIKHS IN AMERICA – A CONTEMPORARY SIKHS & SOCIETY SPECULATION

We all have the good fortune to meet some people in our lives, who use few words, in thoughtful cryptic pauses, but are able to communicate a complex mission outline to a mind trying to be attentive. I have had my share of such experiences, more specially as I engaged in Management Consultancy and had to define the boundaries of the changes we could attempt to make an organization move forward a step or two.

Had lots of experiences with excellent CEOs, visionaries, who set the foundations of a new and vibrant, yet unwieldy, society that waking India has turned out to be. There are limits to change and growth that we can handle without disturbing the even tenor of societal dynamic.

This ancient wisdom has distilled into our minds and while we venture, we all think in terms of what Guru Nanak persuades us to do  – aisaa kaam moolay n keechaee jith anth pachhoteeai – attempt not any errand that ever may end up in remorse. [M III, p. 918] Profound divine guidance is there all round us. We as if live in an envelope of such illumination, somnolently, in a half state of wakefulness.

My own reverie was broken a couple of times by Dr Rajwant Singh, great mini communicator – a subject line email from him and I went searching for two of pressing contemporary issues, we felt might hit us out of the blue – the closet LGBT among us Sikhs and the Sikh dilemma over carrying of Arms in the US, in the light of our robust religious armed tradition.

Though his real contribution is in environmental awareness among us. We would be the onlyfaith group that has Akal Takht designated Sikh environmental daycelebrated every year.

We were able to explore it and are now a more self assured community of believers, not straying, causing embarrassments, but living in the guidance of divine urgings as these come and our moorings remain unaffected, almost as stable as when the thoughts of the change did disturb our equanimity.

His third nudge was on the ethnic tick box – the UK Sikh controversy but my good friend Gurmukh Singh  had me so well informed that I could respond to Rajwant’s subject line with a subject line response. He obviously agreed. Sikhs in the US did get to it with no noise or commotion.

We have grown. We are engaged and creating space for ourselves. Americans are good people. Like us they think of the common good. We have still to go a long way but it may not seem as daunting.

WHEREFROM, SAY THAT NOW!

The Pandemic has played havoc into the whole lot of 2020 urges and the world is topsy turvy. A miniscule microbe has challenged human ingenuity and in a manner of speech has has assumed sovereignty over us all – play of divine will! Go to India, poor have no work. The mothers cannot find small jobs and buy some food. There is fear of an infection we cannot understand.

We need infrastructure for health delivery but how to create the brick and mortar places that can give us some semblance of providing support. Even for our prayers, we need to bring together sangat to sing praises of Wahiguru. If we want to come together to share our angst, our love, our homages to the departed, we have to think hard. But many of us are doing it. We have moved to the virtual space – we sing praises, we share greetings, we let the young feel part of it and a new, less cumbersome, more economic and internally engaged paradigm is getting formed.

Societies adjust to challenges. People make supreme sacrifices when needed. That stems the tide of vice and humanity needs it. Sikhs have done that but when we have to buckle up and stand for Sikh Resolute Compassion for the common good, we make the choices that answer to the call.

In a week from now we will be celebrating the 551st Parkash Utsav of Nanak, Guru of the Sikhs and a host of Hindus. Likewise many Muslims in Pakistan rever him as their Pir and Baba. Around Kartarpur, where now the largest Gurdwara has been built by the people of Pakistan in their country.

It is not virtual structure. It is real but so is the echo of blessings that will rise from the ramparts of the Gurdwaras. That Baang-!- Daraa – the call of heaven will beckon us all as we lean in our homage to the Great Guru.

The pain recedes, hope rises, Satgur thinks always of the well being of one and all.

Enjoy the spirit of bonhomie in this festive season – man rae kyon chhotae bin pyaar – oh, my fickle mind, how can thou ever get across this wild ocean without love in your heart! [M I, p. 60]

ooo0ooo

Nirmal Singh,

West Palm Beach, FL

November 23, 2020

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