We need to listen to the message of Japji intently to get a vivid glimpse of our destiny: the Guru-centered (gurmukh) is to remain connected via musical (naadang) and cognitive (vedang) dimensions, integrating the left and right halves of the brain. And then, effortlessly, “Listening, the fear of death departs.”
Thirty years ago, 1984 saw the gathering of destructive powers of the Indian state, resulting in thousands of lives lost, millions looted in art, literature and property, and unknown number of raped, lives converted or lost in oblivion.
This past June was the reminder of how three decades ago Punjab was sealed, invaded, and violated.
This November is a reminder how three decades ago in the rest of India Sikhs were targeted, hunted, violated and murdered. According to the well-documented evidence by human rights organizations (Amnesty International, Ensaaf, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, etc.) for the two decades that followed, similar outrages continued with impunity.
Fortunately, people around the world began to demand real and substantial answers from the Indian state. From Vancouver to Toronto, San Francisco to New York, London to Paris, Amritsar to Bangalore, Melbourne to Auckland, Singapore to Malaysia, there are a growing number of global Sikhs who are talking to their communities about the urgency of the times, working together to support solutions, and demanding action from their leaders.
Already, Sikh work and the work of non-Sikh supporters, is beginning to pay off. Major Sikh diaspora sangats are committing to reducing their in-fights and investing in developing the Sikh commonwealth.
Moreover, the rapid spread of much cheaper technology is empowering Sikhs to dream of and assert their sovereignty: mentally, physically, and monetarily. These factors, combined with an inspired group of emerging Sikhs, are opening the next chapter of Sikhi.
However, we are still at crossroads: Guru-granted Sikh values are now taking a back seat at the cost of being ‘liked’ by the local establishments. We have entered a new period of assimilation, but we are also now entering a new period of revival.
The Sikh identity crisis is a continued struggle. It will not be resolved overnight, but it can be solved and we will solve it. We have no choice. Our very future depends on it.
The Sikh world faces big challenges related to identity and character, but challenges present opportunities for action and innovation. Together, we can create a better future for all 30 million Sikhs.
So, let’s get started.
Sikh living means doing things that are good for the Panth and humanity. For example, feeling secure in your identity, being aware of how you spend your capital (physical, intellectual, and financial), and the people you identify with, and issues you support. All of these seemingly small choices and decisions – essentially habits – can have great impact. Our actions have an impact on humanity and generations to come.
Going the Sikh way can be difficult or overwhelming, especially at first. But little changes can have a big impact.
Get involved at local as well as panthak levels, find out what the community’s concerns are and then work to make positive changes to solve (not temporary fix) the problems. It is no exaggeration to say our future is at stake as our value system is being replaced or diluted.
You – wherever you reside on this planet Earth – are much more powerful than you may think. Act now as an ambassador of Sikhi and connect with the Sikh commonwealth to strengthen the Panth!
The next phase is about reviving the Sikh character. Our forebears joined the Sikh revolution not because it was popular, but because it freed them from age-old oppressions. The Sikh spirit, for them, meant going against the grain, identifying with the disenfranchised; it was not a public relations exercise or philanthropy.
So, what was in their DNA?
It was inspirational life borne out of Ik Oankar, translated into action in daily life.
We must develop clarity based on a gurmat-rooted worldview where our goal is to achieve justice at home, in the community, and for the world. We need consistency in our behavior that visibly demonstrates our commitment to Sikh values of dignity and respect. And, we need to be current by being relevant to the issues the world is facing today, ranging from the geo-political to the eco-theological.
“The devotee of the Divine needs to be just like the Divine,” proclaims Guru Granth Sahib.
The Guru chisels us to become divine-like, and that is entirely feasible by becoming Guru-centered in our thought and action. We are ruled by Guru’s doctrine of Love and Justice, free of vengeance and hatred.
May our blessings guide us and help channelize our gifts of strength, integrity, commitment and resolve and transform the experience of 1984 into the promise of 2084!