Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
What do you do when you’re a Sikh, wanting to learn more and more about your faith, but you live in a fairly isolated community with few other Sikhs and no gurudwara? Especially when you don’t yet speak Panjabi or read Gurmukhi? Three things… at least for me.
The first is my close, dear friend Prithipal. He and I talk a lot about Sikhi. He gives me the names of books to read, websites to visit, videos to watch, and he helps me learn some Panjabi language. He helped me wrap my first turban. We talk about Sikh history. He answered the final questions I had before my decision to convert. In general, he’s an amazing, honest, hard-working, kind and supportive kind of guy, who is learning more himself. He’s become my best friend, not only because he helps me be a good Sikh but also because he’s just a really good person.
The second is not Google. In fact, Google wasn’t all that helpful except it was where I found Everythings 13. They are a charitable organization based in England that does street parchar and provides great introductory courses in Sikhi topics like Gurmukhi, short videos on various topics like “What and the Why Guru course. And – bonus – their videos are offered in English. I don’t have to become fluent in Panjabi before learning more! Great! The name is a play on words so that it also means “Everything’s Yours”.
Their YouTube Channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/user/basicsofsikhi or, in case the link doesn’t work, search “Basics of Sikhi” in YouTube and you’ll find this great charity. I’m working my way through the Why Guru course and the 12 Weeks 12 Gurus course now. They also have videos which explain the Sikh perspective on a number of issues – including Sikh marriage, explanations of the Khalsa, what is the purpose of life and who are the Sikhs?
If you want to learn more about my faith, why I believe the things that I do, why we wear turbans… Everythings 13’s YouTube Channel is the place the start. Of course, you can always read my blog but it really is focussed on what Sikhi means to me and talks about the challenges I encounter in practicing my faith. You’ll find information aimed at a much more general, wider audience at Everythings 13.
The aim of Everythings 13 is NOT converting others. That is not something that Sikhs believe in. The aim is to provide information about Sikhi and to share the wisdom of our Gurus. Most importantly, for those of you that have questions but you’re not asking because you think I may be offended or you’re too shy to ask… you’ll probably find your answer on their channel. Also importantly, if you’re one of those people who have any of the following misconceptions, you can become better informed at Everythings 13:
- Sikhs are the same as Muslims
- Sikhs are the same as Hindus
- Sikhs are terrorists/fanatical/extremists
- Sikhs don’t believe in the same God that I do
- Sikhs people to be afraid of
- I don’t care, Sikhs are different and I don’t want to know…
Finally, I’ve found two books really helpful. Well really the same book in two volumes – A History of the Sikhs by Khushwant Singh. Prithipalji is reading Volume I and I am reading Volume II. We talk about what we’ve read and when we’re done, we’ll switch. I’ll read Volume I and he’ll read Volume II. You can find the books at Amazon.ca and other book sellers.
Khushwant Singh is a little bit controversial, especially around topics like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale which I’ll talk about in future posts but he writes well and he’s put a great deal of research into his work. He was born to a Sikh family early in the 20th century but lived his life as an atheist. He became a famous, if often controversial, writer unafraid to tackle any number of topics including his views of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (for those of you who don’t know the name, he was a central figure in the 1984 attack on the Harmandir Sahib [the Golden Temple] by Indira Ghandi. In fact, the Harmandir Sahib was attacked by the Indian Army, at the direction of Indira Ghandi to get to Bhindranwale, who was living on the temple’s grounds).
Controversial or not, Khushwant Singh’s writings have been incredibly helpful in this journey and I’m so grateful to him for his work.
So now that you’ve been properly introduced, I hope that if you have questions that for whatever reason you don’t want to ask directly, you’ll look to either Everythings 13 or to Khushwant Singh for an answer. Meanwhile, please know (again) that I’m not going to be offended if your questions aren’t meant to be offensive. Ask away and if I don’t have an answer for you I’ll happily either find it or point you to one of the sources above.
Sat Nam Readers!