Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih!
ਅਬ ਕਲੂ ਆਇਓ ਰੇ ॥
ਇਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਬੋਵਹੁ ਬੋਵਹੁ ॥
Hey, now darkness has come!
Plant, plant 1-Nam-Identification.
– Guru Granth Sahib 1185
We recognize that in these turbulent times, countless emails and messages may have been sent to you. Though this is far from the first message on the COVID-19 pandemic, this message is for those who may be searching in the wisdom of Sikhi for answers.
Sikhi is not just a personal commitment, it is also a Sangat (collective) experience. Since the time of Guru Nanak Sahib, Sikhs have gathered to listen, sing, and be transformed by Sabad (Infinite-Wisdom). We value cooking, cleaning, and participating in langar — the act of sharing of food — and sharing in Wisdom that exercises the reality of our 1-Ness.
It’s these very practices of Sikhi that are now seen as ways that the coronavirus can spread quickly through communities. This makes coronavirus threatening not only physically, but also emotionally and perhaps spiritually. This crisis is going to test many of our limits as human beings and as a society. As Sikhs, we are inspired to stay in Chardi Kala (ascendant spirits), which helps us to live from a place of fullness, compassion, and courage, when we are pushed to our limits.
Our history tells us that Guru Harkishan Sahib walked and cared for the people of Delhi during the small-pox epidemic, and we as Sikhs of the Guru yearn to emulate our Gurus.
At the same time, public health officials have strongly recommended that we put distance between ourselves and others so that we may be able to contain the virus. Our first reaction may be that “social distancing” is against Sikh practices, but we must listen to the medical experts. In our daily Ardas (supplication) we pray for Sarbat Da Bhala (wellbeing of all). That means we need to refrain from doing anything that might put other people’s lives at risk. We need to do everything in our capacity to help stop the spread of the virus, particularly to protect our at-risk elderly and immunocompromised community members.
The medical experts advise us that the best ways to avoid the virus are truly simple:
- Wash hands often, for 20 seconds, with soap and water.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Stay away from people who have been in contact with the virus.
- Avoid interaction with the general public or attending social gatherings.
- Don’t share makeup, food, dishes or cutlery.
We have a responsibility beyond practicing personal hygiene. We also have a shared responsibility to support and find programs that protect the vulnerable and care for the sick. A responsibility to support our health care workers putting themselves at risk caring for those who have fallen ill. For those who are healthy and trained, the need of the hour is to join the effort in eradicating this virus. Many continue to risk their lives caring for those with the coronavirus. Our civic and moral duty is to support all the efforts that are being put in place to stop the spread of this virus.
Those in our community who are accustomed to spending significant time in the physical space of a Gurduara (Sikh place of learning) may feel a sense of loss or separation. Through Guru’s wisdom, we can always experience the 1-Ness of IkOankar (1Force), bound by no physical space and no amount of physical distance.
During this time, most of us need inspiration. Many of us may be in self-isolation to stop the spread, or in a self-quarantine due to the contraction of COVID-19. Regardless of your current circumstance, we would encourage you to become an explorer of Sikhi from the comfort of your own home:
- Online Courses: Gurbani-focused
- Resources: articles, research reports, and webinars
We truly believe that you will find inspiration and the connection to sangat that will be most helpful at this time. We can continue to emotionally connect and be there for each other. Faith is not always a feeling. It can be a whisper, a flicker, a small step. Let’s rise above the fear and feel ourselves broaden. We have it in us, we can do it with wisdom, love, and grace.
The SikhRI Team