Doing The Daily Banis

The past 3-4 months I have been spending more time and energy on my daily sadhana (spiritual discipline). It has been an up and down cycle for many years as I struggle to stay consistent. The normal day to day work and happenings tend to try to squeeze their way into my time and force my spiritual practice out. Some days I might feel lazy, tired…or just want to do something else…and before you know it I’m out of time or am really tired. When it comes down to it, it really has to do with what is most important and priority in your life. You make the important things happen and have a choice. Like most of you I am on this path as a Sikh and have to work at it. Having discipline in one’s own life takes commitment and is not always easy.

When I was 5 years old in Amritsar I took Amrit. Looking back at all the things I have gone through since then I realize that it was too early for me, since I did not really understand the commitments. In my teen years I went through some major challenges trying to fit in with western society and "finding myself" as a Sikh. These experiences are what I always try to share with other youth that may be going through similar things.

So, even though I have lived as a Sikh and followed the Rehat most of my life, I never really consistently did ALL my banis and wore a Kirpan/Kanga as an Amritdhari. I guess I never really remembered taking Amrit so it was as if I hadn’t made that commitment. However, I have always had some sort of spiritual practice in my life since it is the thing which keeps me "tuned in" and happy in life.

This past year, writing on my blog and sharing things with you all, has made me go much deeper into myself and feel the call of my soul (As well as being a parent and trying to set an example for my son). Even though many of you might learn from the things that I post on the blog, SO AM I! Many people think of me and SikhNet and assume I am an expert in Sikhi and must be "perfect". I don’t claim to be an expert or perfect person and am on this journey of life as you all are. We all have things to share and learn from each other and should support each other along the path, rather than judging or criticizing what you think they should or should not do. God has given each of us gifts to share and it is up to us to see those things and share them. I try to be real and not have some false outside persona. You can look like something on the outside and put on a show…but if it doesn’t match the inside than it’s no use and won’t carry you. People will eventually see beyond this "mask".

Here is one quote which sums up my experience about learning and teaching:

"If you want to learn something, read about it.
If you want to understand something, write about it.
If you want to master something, teach it,"
Yogi Bhajan

So..If I have learnt anything from this past year it is that you don’t have to be an expert and may not even realize the gifts that you have to share with others. We shouldn’t limit ourselves or be afraid to share something because you are not "X,Y,Z".

In the past I used to just do Japji Sahib and Kirtan Sohila, and even then I was not always regular. I remember seeing friends of mine who were really dedicated and did their banis every day and lots of seva. I don’t think I fully related and had this experience like they did. Or at least I never enjoyed it enough to make it a priority to do EVERY DAY.

The past 6 months or so I have been really feeling the need for a regular practice and have worked at it. I am building slowly and steadily which is good for me and is working!

Recently I have felt some major changes and have really gotten into doing banis and doing more seva and meditation. I started with my normal Japji and Kirtan Sohila…and as soon as I added Jaap Sahib it was like a lighting bolt hit me. I have always been intimidated with Jaap Sahib because I didn’t know the bani well and the few times that I did it I found it hard to read with all the difficult words. Now, after doing the bani I am just powered up and energized. It’s an amazing experience every morning! Then I just want to keep doing more banis. I am really starting to feel the power of bani. If you haven’t already seen the videos, there are some great ones with Guruka Singh talking about banis in the Video Archive.

When I wake up in the morning I start with a yoga set which helps get my body going and gives me the daily "tune up" I need. This has kept me healthy in spite of working 14-15 hours every day. I normally get sick in the winter and even though my family got really sick (and many people around me too)…I have felt really good. I then sit for about 20 minutes and do a few meditations and then start doing banis.
Another thing; I used to always wonder what the 5 banis were since I kept reading different version of the "5 banis", and then I realized that it is not really just 5 banis…but more like 8! (Correct me if I still haven’t gotten it right – Japji Sahib, Tav Prasad Swayia, Jaap Sahib, Shabad Hazare, Benti Chaupee, Rehiras, Anand Sahib, Kirtan Sohila). So…I have a ways to go :)

This post is getting really long so I won’t go on…but I really just wanted to start to share my experiences and what I am going through now. I hope that you will take a chance and push yourself to do more to experience the Gurus bani. I just want to encourage those of you to not feel pressured to make a huge leap that you cannot sustain and take on too much. The method which has worked for me is building slowly and steadily. So…start with one bani…and when you are ready…build on this to do more. Or if you REALLY can’t do one bani…then start with a certain number of pauris from a bani and continue reading till you finish and then start over.

I think the experience of the bani is more important and crucial, rather than just speed reading as fast as you can through. You may notice your mind wandering off onto this or that thing and not even be aware of yourself reading the bani. It is good to try to get into the meaning of the bani too (which I am starting to learn more of now). You might try a few times a week doing a bani really slowly, reading the Gurmukhi line first and then the translation after. Bottom line is you want to have an experience of the bani. So, find what works for you and gives you that connection to the Gurus who wrote these most divine words. These words teach us about life and beyond and can be a guiding light you.

More tommorow on banis….