Archive for the ‘Guru Granth Sahib Ji (and me!)’ Category

since beginning this path, i’ve been wanting to receive the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. although i’ve been able to read the daily hukamnama, as well as portions of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji online, there’s something about being able to touch and to dive into the actual physical form of the Sacred Word that i’ve been craving.

at first i searched in used bookstores, mainstream outlets, as well as online stores. this was before i knew that only an approved publisher printed the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and that it’s transport and installation in a home needed to follow some basic guidelines.

one thing that i realized during this search is how little information there is out there about Sikhi. even my favorite spiritual/religious book haunt had not a single book on Sikhi!! (on a subsequent visit it was discovered that they did have one introductory book, and one on yoga written by a member of the 3HO community).

next, i began to call gurdwaras in my area to ask for advice on where to find the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and was eventually directed to a store.

i called ahead of time to discuss the possibilities of transporting the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. the volunteer on the phone was very friendly and supportive. as i don’t own a car, he explained that another volunteer would be able to drive the Guru Granth Sahib Ji to my house for me!

when i arrived at the store, following the directions of the signs posted, i removed my shoes and covered my head. i went into the main area…but no one was there. i took my time, taking in all of the texts, the surroundings. i felt unaccountably – nervous? overwhelmed? it felt like such a tremendous step, and i was filled with anticipation. this was the first time i was openly exploring Sikhi in the real world (as opposed to on my own, or online), and i think that accounted in part for what i was feeling.

as i continued towards the back of the store an older Singh came out, and quickly moving past me, he said ‘hello,’ as he continued to the front of the store. once i made my way back to the front again, i asked him about receiving a version of the Sacred Nitnem (which is a compilation of the daily prayers) and also of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji which had both transliterations and english translations. i was aware of a tension between us at this point. however, after showing me two copies of Nitnem, he wrapped the one i selected.

i then asked again about the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. and he said ‘no…you just work on these prayers for a while.’ i didn’t know what to say. i don’t even remember if i did say or do anything besides nod. i wanted to somehow express my intention, to tell him that i had made all the appropriate arrangements to receive the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. but i felt that all i could do in that moment was totally accept his decision. i also became keenly aware of the differences between us – of age, gender, and racial divides. i wondered how it must have appeared to him, seeing me there. of perhaps feeling cautious about sharing the final Guru with someone who looked like me.

after my visit, i wrote down some of the following thoughts:

it’s not up to you how this moves, grows, becomes integrated into your life…
you’re joining a community and the needs of the community (including the needs of the individuals in it) are involved in everything that happens to you in sikhi…

there is nothing wrong with integrating slowly through time. of testing this way of being, these commitments, this Truth against my body, my life, my rhythms, my experience of relationship with others in the world. this is a life long way of being. i’m okay to wait a couple of weeks (or even months) for the next piece. although, i feel so hungry for that piece, that is how it should be.

although i felt disappointed, i also felt very strongly that despite what i thought i was ready for, that perhaps this wasn’t the time for me to receive the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. and so, in addition to the disappointment, i also felt an acceptance towards the situation.

this experience encouraged me to commit all the more to the daily prayers, to learn them as well as i can before receiving the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. to do whatever justice i can to their presence in my life. i have my whole life to continually encounter God through Sikhi – i can certainly wait as long as needed before the Guru Granth Sahib Ji comes into my life more formally.

this experience has also caused me to reflect further about what it means for someone like me to be Sikh. i think that it is so essential for those of us who are entering into Sikhi from the ‘West’ to know as much as we can about the history of Panjab, and of Panjabi culture. and to be very careful and humble about whatever interpretations we bring to the table. like any minority community, many members of the Sikh community are rightly protective of their religious traditions.

ardas has been a powerful tool for me in this respect, because it allows me to observe a daily homage to the peoples, the individuals, the saints and the Gurus who nurtured and carried this wisdom through histories of persecution. in this way, i think it offers the potential of preventing the Nitnem from becoming a disembodied knowledge, one that is extracted from where it came from without acknowledging: this came from a particular time, from a particular place, through particular peoples. it allows me to honour their sacrifices in the best way that i can, through sadhana and hopefully, through my actions within the community as my sangat grows through time.

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