Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another article

Ek Niwas - A Young Singh's Account of Police Disrespect
I did not feel easy reading this article. I think it shows a mentality that we could all work on. We are bringers of peace first and we should act from intuition, intelligence, and humility.

What I didn't like about this article:
"a Singh worthy of holding the Nishaan sahib came and stood next to me"
I dont know what this quote means, but all people are equal, and anybody who shows respect to the nishaan sahib should be allowed to hold it. Not just people deemed 'worthy' and not just 'singhs.'
"I scanned the crowd before hand to see who the Guru had brought to the battlefield"
This shows a war mongering mentality that seems prevelant amongst 'Sikh' youth. Not everything we go through is a battle. We are supposed to be soldier SAINTS and raise the sword as a LAST resort.

From the perspective of the police officers, the only wrongdoing would be the excessive use of force. They can't all be expected to be experts on the Sikh religion. They gave him the option of respectfully removing the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and instead he had to have it his way. If this individual would have looked beyond his narrow scope, he would have been able to maintain the rehit, the respect deserving of the Guru, and not escalate the situation. It was not necessary that the officer refer to Guru Ji as more than a book, how can he be expected to know better? We can't force him to know better!!!! Furthermore, sukhasan can easily be done by one person, which would have avoided the whole scuffle. Lastly if he would have communicated with the officers with humility the situation may have been avoided. It's great to continually recite bani, but even the Guru's spoke up when necessary! If there was a clear communication with the officers and an effort made to show them some kind of respect the individual involved may have gotten some respect from them in return.
That said, I appreciate people's attention and efforts to bring respect to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. However, we should remember to remain humble in our actions and think about how we can approach situations whereby excessive conflict, tempers, anger, and violence can be avoided. Perhaps before Sikhs decide to protest they should pledge in front of the sangat that they will not show any anger and will not use violence and perhaps pledge to show respect to individuals of other opinions.

4 comments:

Hari said...

I agree completely with what you said and how you said it. As someone who personally believes that fanaticism does and will always do more destruction to Sikhi than apostasy, there has been something irking me about the "Respect for SGGS" campaign from the beginning. Yesterday I read this article and I thought to myself that there were definitely parts of the story I didn't like, but I also related to the parts that exhibited valor and devotion on the battlefield. Despite relating to the story I was left with a bitter taste over what felt like fanaticism, but I was confused.

By proposing that this should have never been characterized as a battle, it clears things up for me. All of us who relate so strongly to the sacrifices the Guru made and have had to endure hardships and struggles in our lives are ready to go to battle for just causes. Someone being violently interrupted by the police while doing bani and waiting on a punj, certainly gives the appearance of injustice and trying to ensure "respect" for the guru also seems like a just cause.

Looking deeper, however, you realize that this is a case of manmat. There need not have been a battle, and the Guru is capable of determining what is "respectful". Letting the Guru determine where the Guru wants to be is Gurmat, determining that the Guru is being disrespected is MANMAT. It's just that simple. Just as you cannot police the actions of all people with all books, neither can you police the action of all people with the SGGS. There could be some illiterate somewhere using pages of the SGGS as toilet paper and no one will ever know. Does this illiterate incur a heavy karma, No. Why? Because he was not purposefully or knowingly disrespecting anyone or anything.

The Guru puts the guru where it is needed. Let’s remember that the Guru put himself on the boiling plate and gave his head for religious freedom. The Guru never said "Start a battle" or "Go to battle for me". The Guru said "when ALL methods of redressing a wrong have failed then it is pious and just to raise the sword." The Guru also said (I'm paraphrasing): Fight oppression not the oppressors and not their religion. So with so many other available options for a resolution present in this scenario, why did this series of events escalate to the extent that it did? Because of fanaticism and Manmat.

You may find this opinion controversial especially the part about the illiterate. If this part made you steaming with anger then you should exam why that is and what is the use of this anger and what ask yourself if you would be considered the saint the Guru asks you to be when seen with this much anger. I would also like to ask your viewpoint about the Guru being destroyed in disasters such as fires and floods (only one of the Birs of the SGGS survived in New Orleans). Also what would happen if the most devoted and pious person you knew was moved to tears by the Guru’s message during an akhand path and accidentally smeared tears all over the bir to the extent that portions of it were no longer legible. Would that person be guilt of disrespect? Should they be violently confronted? Should a crowd gather and protest that an akhand path was held, because it gave the opportunity for this “disrespect”? If this post angered you than I urge you to please answer these questions.

Also from a philosophical perspective I have to ask “Is the Guru present in a SGGS that has illegible portions? And is this different than asking if the Guru is present in a translated version of the SGGS? And is this different than asking if the Guru is present in a machine printed (not hand written) bir of the SGGS? Could it be possible that the Guru is not confined to the birs and could thus not be disrespected with mismanagement/corruption/destruction whether intentional or not, yet present in all of them at the same time?

To answer these questions, I believe you can consult the Guru which informs us how to act in relation to worshiping and devoting ourselves to physically confined (material) objects. We show respect to the SGGS because we know it is the Guru. --It is not the Guru because it is confined to book form, but because book form allows a method of transmission and dissemination of the Guru.--

Prabhu Singh said...

Ek Niwas - A Young Singh's Account of Police Disrespect

A friend reminded me of a story that is very similar to this article. A man was in the river drowning and a boat came and the person in the boat said "Let me help you, you are drowning." The man in the water said "No thanks, God will save me."
This happened again with two more boats and the man refused twice more. The man drowned and when he met God he asked, "Why didn't you save me?" God said "I sent three boats!!"
This account shows somebody who had ample opportunity to be respectful to the Guru and the police and denied the opportunity. As a Sikh I wish the best for this young man, but I cannot condone his actions and I do not feel outrage by the actions of the police.
Again, Guru is our protector, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Hari the toilet paper is a bad example to use. You really need to review your thoughts before you put it in writing. Also I think you guys are forgetting, this young man did what he thought was the best for the situation. Not everybody will respond to such situation with peace and calmness. The officers also reacted to this incident as they were trained. The result of this incident was that the religious sentiments of the Sikhs were hurt by untrained officers, who weren't equipped for this kind of incident. We need to educate people about the maryiadda.

Hari said...

I do review my thoughts before putting it into writing. The toilet paper example is a perfect example, because most people couldn't think of a more disrespectful thing to do to a book, any book. This example is intended to elicit a strong response, so that those who read it can examine if their response is appropriate or based in fanaticism.

There is an expression that says "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". This is said to illustrate that sometimes people can have good intentions but do things that are seriously wrong. It's true that not everyone will respond with peace and calmness, but that is our duty as soldier-saints, to know when to fight and when not to. This person clearly displayed ego in this incident as he did in the article, by applying the word "worthy". So when someone has good intentions, but they're actions are based on ego, then the worst result can happen as did here. He abused the officer's trust by refusing to leave when they asked him.

BTW, what maryada do we need to educate people about? The true maryada of the Guru, which has never been written down accurately, or the politicised SGPC maryada which is sexist?