Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My niece

She's still as adorable as ever :-)

These are some pictures from when we went to the amusement park in Albuquerque.
Here she is on the Ferris Wheel.
With her Mataji and brother.


Anonymous said...


I came upon your blog by accident and was reading it with interest. As a member of a different religion (I am Buddhist) I have some questions.

I know that Sikhs have distinctive dress and other characteristics like uncut hair. However, knowing that you are all born in the US and your primary language is English I am rather confused about other aspects of your lifestyle. For example, why do you call your parents 'Mataji' and 'Pitaji'? 'ji' is an honorific used in Indian (and Punjabi) cultures and Sikhism did originate in India, but as a follower of a religion that also originated in India we have a big distinction between religion and culture...for us it is okay to say 'Mom' or 'Dad'.

Does converting to Sikhism mean that one becomes a sort of pseudo-Punjabi in terms of your culture?


Prabhu Singh said...

Thank you for your curosity, you may email me with further questions if you wish. My email is prabhublog @ gmail.com

I will answer your questions from my perspective, keeping in mind I can't speak for all Sikhs :-) First I will say that I didn't 'convert' to Sikhism, I was born a Sikh. Also I would like to say that it isn't a religion where one can simply 'convert.' Sikh-'ism' was invented in the West. In the East it is the Sikh Dharma. Dharma is righteous living and being a Sikh requires that. One of the main points of the Sikh Dharma is to move away from dogma and ritual which bogs down most religions. Everything should be done from inspiration. Any worship, any ceremony, any prayer, any action without sincerity and inspiration is meaningless. Religion is filled with do's and don't's and filled with rituals, but the Sikh Dharma is about living everyday in righteousness.
Another fundamental part of our way of life is our belief that all people are equal and that all religions are equal. This is why Sikhs don't try to convert people. Amongst those Sikhs who honestly follow the Dharmic path laid out by the Gurus you will see that men and women have totally equal status and that there is no distinction amongst any person for any reason, be it race, caste, religion, culture, etc. God is within all of us and there is no need for intermediaries.
Parts of the Punjabi culture are very complimentary to the Sikh Dharma and some parts aren't. In the time of Guru Nanak, the same was true. He came to a society divided by caste and religion and taught the unity of God.
As a broad generalization I would say the prominent features of Punjabi culture that clash with Sikh Dharma are pride and divisiveness. The more ubiquitous cultural aspects of serving, giving, and a zest for life, found amongst Punjabis surely compliment the Sikh Dharma.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Sikh Guru. His Guru was the "shabad," the word of God. He was brahm gyani, the knower of God. When Guru Nanak Dev Ji passed from this earth he passed his light to Guru Angad Dev Ji, and this continued until Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who was the tenth Guru in the "roop" of a human. When Guru Gobind Singh Ji's time on this earth was over, he passed the eternal Guruship back to the "shabad," the word of God. The shabad Guru, is contained in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. The Siri Guru Granth Sahib contains both the writings of the Sikh Gurus in human form as well as the writings of other saints and sages from other religious traditions. We regard these scriptures as our Guru. When recited or sung or heard, the "shabad" (the word) is our living Guru.
Our Guru is written in the language of Gurmukhi (meaning from the mouth of the Guru). So all Sikhs try to learn and understand Gurmukhi better. Ji is a respectful term which I use to address most people. Though at my job and outside the "sangat" (congregation) people generally aren't familiar with the term. I use the term Ji to let people know that I both respect them and also that I relate to them at the level of their soul. That we all are "Ji" (meaning soul) and there is no difference amongst any of us. Guru Nanak wrote in the opening "bani" (hymn) of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib: "Sabhnaa Ji-aa Kaa Ik Daataa" meaning, "All souls come from One Giver."

I hope that's useful, feel free to ask any more questions. To simply answer your question: No, Sikhs do not have to adopt the Punjabi culture. The Sikh culture of discipline, charity, and meditation is sufficient for living the life of a Sikh.

Anonymous said...


I was just wondering what religion your niece and nephew belong to?

I read your blog every day... its a very good blog....

Merika said...

Thank you, Prabhu. That was a very beautiful and enlightening explanation. I appreciate it very much. I will email you if I have more questions - and I probably will : )


Prabhu Singh said...

I couldn't really say what religion my niece and nephew belong to. I guess they'll decide when they get older. My sister, who is their mom, was raised a Sikh, and my sister's husband, was raised Jewish. Both my sister and her husband are very loving and disciplined towards their children. So the children are gaining the values of discipline and morality, which is the most important. If I had any say, I would ask them not to cut their children's hair, but that's not my place. I'm pretty happy with the way they are being raised and they get some influence from two religions.

Anonymous said...

Dear Prabhu ji,
That was an amazing response from you, to dear Merika's comments/questions regarding Sikhism. You write sooo well.

Do you have any write-up about, 'Who is a sikh' or about 'Sikhism', that I could share with my son's class? He will be moving back to the US from India soon. When he was in Elementary school I used to go and talk to the children and teachers about sikhism, but now I am not sure if I can do the same with High Schoolers.
Any suggestion will be welcome.
Guru Rakha

Prabhu Singh said...

Poonam Ji, I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner, it slipped my mind. If you would like to email me prabhublog @ gmail.com perhaps I could write something up for you.
I hope all is well.
Sat Siri Akal!