One of Those days…

All I can say is that today was one of “those days”, if you know what I mean. Some days go smooth and some days all kinds of things “hit” you during the day. I guess it’s just part of the ups and downs in life.

I have to say one of my biggest challenges is dealing with negativity from people (criticism, slander, anger, hate, misunderstanding), especially related to 3HO/Yogi Bhajan/etc/Yoga/etc. (I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record in posting thoughts like this). My challenge is to be so meditative and non-reactive that the things people say do not effect me and I can respond from a neutral space without reacting. The challenge is harder because the more you get hit with it, the easier it “pushes your button”. It can be like a raw wound. It is so easy to let your emotions take control and react, which only makes things worse and brings you to their level. It can be so time consuming and draining to deal with these things. It’s as if some people try to “feed” themself or their inner pain…by putting people down and judging others.

I have learnt a lot over the years and have definitely worked a lot on myself, but there is always more to improve in oneself.

I’m in a very strange mood tonight because of all the different things that happened today at work and at home. The work stuff is just every day stuff that all happened in one day…so won’t go into that.

I feel a bit hesitant to share some personal things, since this is a very public forum, but for some reason feel the need to express myself.

Tonight was relatively normal evening to start. I picked up my son Narayan and brought him home. We played a bit and then I started to cook some dinner because Arjan was feeling really tired. I am at the stove cooking tofu and vegetables and Narayan comes up to me and says something like “Look papa…My hair doesn’t go up any more it goes down”. I didn’t quite understand what he was saying and just smiled at him. A few minutes later I go in the bed room and he says to me and Arjan, “Look….I cut my hair!”. He was just smiling and didn’t seem to think much of it. When I looked at him I realized the situation. He had taken some scissors and cut off quite a bit of his hair around the front and sides. Me and Arjan tried stay calm and talk to him about why he did that. As soon as he detected that he had done something that he “wasn’t supposed to do”…he got angry and stormed out. After things cooled down a bit I sat down with him to try to explain why we keep our hair and the history of sacrifice that the Sikhs before us made. I am not sure how much he understood, so tried my best to make sure he understood that it was not a small thing to just chop off your hair. I know there was no agenda…he said he just liked to cut things and the hair was in his face. After this there was lots more discussion, thinking and processing for us all.

Narayan SinghOn one level I am totally fine with this and know this is a learning experience for us all. On the other hand it also makes me feel a bit sad. Narayan is not even 5 years old too. It is like there is some emotion that cannot be expressed by me. I feel some deep connection with Gurus and the sacrifices that people made before us. I can’t really explain the emotion.

For some reason I feel sad and like crying. Narayan is such a beautiful child and has such innocence. It is definetely a unique experience being a father and raising a child.

It is an odd feeling seeing a friend or family member that you have known your whole life one day be there with beard/turban…and the next day shaved off and short hair. It’s like they are a totally different person.

God gave us the gift of this Kesh (hair) and it’s good to know that his hair will grow back. It just really caught us by surprise. I wonder if other parents have had similar experiences like this with their children at a young age. More for me and Arjan to think about and process as a result of this experience. I hope that we made an impact on Narayan enough to understand what happened and not take cutting his hair so lightly.

If you are someone local in Espanola reading this, please don’t mention anything to Narayan. I don’t want him feeling self concious of this, since this is a bit private. I probably shouldn’t be posting this up on the blog. I know Arjan will probably be irritated that I did. I just felt that maybe others might have experiences in this area and can share. To me everything in life is an opportunity to learn and work on one’s self. I try not to hide much in my life and show who I am at the surface. It’s just a matter of conciousness as to whether we can learn from the situations or not.

I try to do things from a place of love and understanding and hope that others will do the same. Hopefully with each generation we are improving and not carrying on the issues given to us by our parents. My prayer is that my openness, honesty and vulnerability will allow others to learn WITH me and hopefully help in some way in their own life. It’s not easy putting your life out for the public to see.

Ok…enough said for tonight. Wrists are hurting so much get off the computer.

41 Responses to “One of Those days…”

  1. GS says:

    Dear Gurmastak,
    It is surely an uninteded mistake on the part of Narayan. He is still a child and perhaps does not fully understand the full importance of Kesh and perhaps just cut it rather innocently. I think he is in great hands of Gurmastak and Arjan and will fully understand as he grows and will become an excellent Khalsa.
    Just keep your cool and pray.

  2. Shan Singh says:

    WJKKWJKF
    Hello! Don’t worry about you child, he is too young. When I was around his age, I did that once or twice. But now I am 14, and do not cut my hair. Just keep teaching him, and stay strong. One thing I would suggest is to get other people to show him that he should keep his hair, people he looks up to or likes. Let him hang around with his uncles, and let them mention it once or twice in a causal way to him. I just thought that a persepctive of a kid like me would be useful. Thanks

  3. Lotus says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and opening your heart. The Guru surely know’s that Narayan is an innocent and intelligent being. Children are so close to the “source” that they know that any physical trapping does not keep them from this universal love. More than anything, as you stated, it’s your reaction to this event that will effect Narayan. Love him, enjoy his unabashed enthusiasm for life, and he will know that no matter what he has your support.

  4. Guruka Singh says:

    Yes, Gurushabd Singh cut his hair at school this year. His hair was tangled and a mess, and he had an impulsive moment. He actually grabbed his joora and a scissors, lifted his hair up and cut off his joora. It was one of the best learning experiences of his life! He has had all his hairs since birth (he was 15 when he did this) and he got to feel what short hairs feel like and he hated it. It really ”woke him up” and made him resolute about never doing anything like that again. One of the jethadars called me from school to tell me what had happened and then he put Gurushabd Singh on the phone to talk to me. I could hear fear in his voice. I listened to his account and I could tell that he expected me to be angry at him. I simply said, ”Well, don’t worry. God is smarter than you. It will all grow back.” He relaxed and laughed and the moment passed. I agree with Lotus’s comment. It’s your reaction that will make the imprint on him. Just be loving and neutral, explain with compassion and don’t react. Kids experiment. It’ll all grow back.

    All love, …..G

  5. Sukhdev Singh says:

    I grew up having a lot of hair on my head and my mum always had problems tying the loose ends and when my father decided to cut the edges to make it “neater”, i was tormented and cried all day….i must have been about 8. That made me value my kesh so much that nobody can take it away from me. Guruka’s son seem to have induced it himself but the end effect is the same….we realised how much the kesh meant to us. Hopefully,narayan (although still young) realises what he did and will grow to love it as much as we all do.

  6. Simran says:

    I think this first time ever I am commenting on your blog. I can sense that you are feeling very sad about the situation. I do understand the emotions that you were feeling when you realized Narayan has cut his hair. As parents we are always here to understand, love and provide safe environment to grow for children. So please stay calm and love your child. I will suggest later please let Naryanan explain his feelings about why he want to cut his hair. It is very important that we let our children explain their feelings. Otherwise, later they just learn that their feelings are not worth explaining.

  7. Waheguru.

    I felt emotional and heart moved by reading this post. Gurusmustuk Singh Bhaji, I am glad you shared this topic because it RAISES THE CONSCIOUSNESS of other Sikhs to the issue of children wanting to cut their hair, cutting their hair or not understanding the value of Kesh.

    Just imagining how you must have felt and still feel is unthinkable for any Gursikh. Bhaji please use this stumbling block as a BUILDING BLOCK. Through this difficult experience with Guru’s Kirpaa both Naryan, your family and the Sangat reading the article can become STRONGER and APPRECIATE their Sikhi and God’s Gifts (i.e. the body and wonders of Nature) more.

    It seems you have handled the situation well. I have come across parents who have reacted negatively and ended up ACCEPTING the trimmed-hair of a young child and eventually end up taking the child regularly to the Barber Shop. When I ask them – “Why?” They reply “O he cut his hair and wants short hair”.

    I think this is ending up to be a long comment. I will end here. I have put my thoughts about a related experience in an article on my blog – here’s the link if anyone wants a read:
    http://manvirsingh.blogspot.com/2006/04/baba-jujhar-singh-jis-birth-day-our.html

    Guru Rakha.

  8. inderpreet singh says:

    I am not a parent so feel somewhat hypocritical sharing any advice to parents. But consider this to be me sharing my experience. While growing up my parents somehow instilled, via osmosis maybe, in me a “loving fear” of damaging my hair.

    For example, playing with scissors unnecessarily was an absolute no no. Lest they accidently damage any part of my bodily hair, use of scissors was “continuously discouraged” by my parents. It was easy to relate this to a child and say scissors are dangerous and could hurt you and are very very dangerous things. It is not easy nowadays because schools use creative arts programs for education and it is necessary to use scissors, glue and the like. But I remember distinctly this warning from my parents and till this day whenever I pick up a scissor I am very careful never to bring it near my face.

    Whenenver she tied my jura, my mom demanded I recite whatever Japji Sahib I memorized. When I was learning to tie a dastar my father insisted that I matha tek to Guru Granth Sahib before tying it – he said it would come out neat and clean then I would stop complaining…:-). Also, my parents just simply did not appreciate that I go out of the house without my head covered (even our back yard)….patka when I was small and dastar during high school etc. Plus I am convinced about my parents’ concern about my hair – they would always present many extra rupees to the maids (ayas) at St. George’s College who were responsible for the hair of Sikh students. The ayas were vicious when they combed our hair (not gentle like our mothers) and we would cry from the pain of the comb/brush getting stuck in the tangles – but the ayas would never show respite or say anything close to discouraging us from keeping our hair intact. (In fifth grade I was a pretty tall kid and my kes touched the ground…so I was a special case I guess).

    I hope you get my point. The developing years of childhood are the molding years of the child’s personality. The kes and dastar and my external articles of faith has never been for me a concern in society or public as I am now an adult. This is what is a result of parents as well as connection/relationship with bani. What only the Guru can instill is the internal steadfastness of faith which is the ultimate goal and develops by Grace alone.

    All the schools, gurduaras, online forums, kirtan darbars, creative web sites like ratemyturban, film festival etc. are of no avail to encourage “sabat suratness” unless at the same time the parents and relatives of children maintian a deep clearcut faith (almost blind faith) in the sanctity of the kes. This was indeed the way of the past and it is high time it become the way of the present and future Sikh Panth.

    Final thoughts – it is the parents’ responsibility to revive the “Dastar bandi” and “Charni lagna” life cycle rituals which are not rehat mandated, but have been traditionally Sikh family riturals. Dastar bandi – when your child (male/female) donns the Dastar for the first time in front of Guru Granth Sahib and sangat. Charni lagna – when your child reads the first 5 pauris of Guru Granth Sahib and embarks on their first sehaj path. I don’t care if you celebrate your child’s major birthdays or other festivals and spends thousands of dollars on them. But make it a big big big deal when your child dons the Dastar for the first time or even when the child learns to tie their jura for the first time. It doesn’t take too much money and its effects are a thousand fold more beneficial.

    Gurmustak Singh – the Guru always has unique and creative plans. Because of the popularity of your blog, it is possible that this episode in your personal family life will be an eye opener for you and Arjan Kaur but more importantly the virtual blogger Sikh sangat. Thanks for sharing, such a thing is not easy to do I am sure.

  9. HARPAL SINGH says:

    “NANAK DUKHIA SAB SANSAR”
    Everyone has gone or goes through period of DUKH, there is hardly anyone who has not. Take it as an experience. There is a saying that if a small child is naught now, when he grows up he will be a good man or the either way round. Please do not worry – He will be a fine and good child when he grows up. Waheguruji knows how to take care of him.
    I was 5 years old and single child in my family like Narayan Singh. Like Narayan, I did a bad mistake – picked a cigarette bud and smoked. On the spot I was caught by my dad’s Sikh friend got beating from him and then my dad – with his police rifle belt. I did not know about SIKHI at that age, and not guided or taught by my parents – what was right or wrong. Until today I remember my mistake.
    It is a misconception by people that when a child will learn everything when he grows up. A small child (about 3years) take more input than an adult. It is best to teach him now rather than later years.
    I agree with Bhai Sahib Guruka Singh. Some children learn their lessons through practical – how much we advise them- they won’t listen. When it happens then only they realize, what wrong they have done.
    Hope for the best & everything will go fine.

  10. Singh says:

    while reading ur words i truly could feel ur pain, it brought a tear to my eye, it made my heart sink heart did sink, maybe because when i was very young i too cut my kes (but it was not very noticeable), even tho i was young i do still recall it vaguely.

    Ur words truly show the amount of respect you and your wife have for kesh.

    my only suggestion is to maybe keep Narayan Singhs kesh is a joora at all times, so if the kesh don’t go in his face, the thought of cutting a slice of them won’t come up

  11. co says:

    In response to GMS
    What difference does it make whose name one invokes in starting your prayers ?
    As sikhs we have ben taught to disregard these petty matters and concentrate on “Learning”.
    If a large number of Sikhs are not accustomed to this kind of Sikhi, then it is their problem and they have to enlighten themselves,and stop staying in the past ages ,narrow minded and rigid. The beauty of Sikhism is that it is not a rigid religion and it allows one to think.
    By the way North Indians come within the Caucasian race!
    Just my 2 bits.
    Furthermore just because a sikh cuts his hair ,does not make him a lesser sikh.It may detract from his Khalsahood but to say that it lowers him in the eyes of God is being very subjective. If one UNDERSTANDS the book rather than repeat it aimlessly ,to me he is the better sikh.
    Religion comes from within and not from without.It comes to different people at different times , and Narayan will find his own direction provided he is steered towards it…just like a ship in a storm.

  12. gurukasikh says:

    dear brother, wat can i say? even i also cut my hair little bit last year in a foreign country. but since then i didn,t cut my hair. that was the first and last time for me. i was a big fool and 26 years of age then. but your kid is naive. he will learn more when he grow up. guru nanak ji says ” its not depend on us to think right or wrong. only the god himself give u the wisdom”. i will go back to india very soon. you are a true sikh my brrother. even most of the sikhs in punjab allow their children to cut their hair. so sad is the situation. our gurus says that all people are brothers. if we followw our guru path we will never cry and sad in our life. now i do japji sahib daily after bath. i thinks its must be mine first duty to read japji sahib. people can remember god by any name. we all are same in his eyes whether we are christians, muslims, hindu or sikhs. all are same for him. but i want to thank god that he made me sikh. i want to die again and again and want to be sikh again and again. so dont be sad. but its our duty to notice our child activities. and i think u are a very good parent. bye and always be happy.

  13. Gurmeet Kaur says:

    My daughter was in Kindy (also about 5 years old, she’s 8 now) & had her hair in one plait. We were getting ready to leave the house for school/work. Suddenly, I noticed that there was an unusual amount of hair on the carpet. I still recall the shock I felt when I realised that she had snipped off part of her plait. Just when I had recovered from it all, about 3 months later, I discovered her with a fringe on her forehead! My little girl was already being ‘influenced’ at school! Anyway, it hasn’t happened again since & she’s become a very sensible & considerate individual in whom I feel I can trust to carry out lots of useful ‘tasks’ around.

  14. Sat Nam ji. I understand how much you and Arjan Kaur feel distressed by this innnocent action of Narayan Singh’s, but you’re right, he’s just 5, he lives very much in the moment and at that moment his hair was bothering him. He didn’t have the background knowledge or the developmental ability to connect that cutting his hair meant a great deal more than “I’m getting it out of my way!” So, ultimately, as Guruka Singh says, it will grow back, and it’s been a learning experience for your whole family. You did the right thing by not yelling but trying to explain calmly to him that it’s not what Sikhs do.

    I know how very difficult it is to help young children keep their hairs neat and under control – with a boy it’s a bit easier because of the boy-style patkas. If your baby is a girl, watch out! :-) (said with love) because it’s a lot harder once they get out of the cute-baby-bonnet stage and into toddler-hood. I often thought, when my daughter was little, it would be a smart thing to try to figure out how to make a girl-style patka that could help keep their hair out of their way. There is a young family recently moved into the Millis ashram with a tiny boy and a toddler girl; they’ve started helping their daughter use boy patkas tied in a very feminine-look manner around her rishi tied more towards the back of her head. Looks nice and helps with all those issues. It works because daughter wants to have what son has!

    I’ll finish up this long ramble with a quick story about my daughter and hair-cutting. When she was seven, she attended a 4-H camp being directed by her then-Montessori teacher. She wasn’t really old enough to properly care for her hair herself, and it’s always been very easily tangled. She got a HUGE knot in her hair that every counselor and staff member worked diligently at all week to try to work out (they all knew cutting was out of the question). Ultimately, I did have to cut out the last little bit of the knot as there was just no way to get it without tearing and damaging her hair. But I took the emotional and spiritual responsiility for that, as it was my decision. She’s always loved her hair and even still, at 18, often says she does and would never cut it. I’m so happy for that!

  15. East Coast Sikh says:

    Gmustuk Singh –

    First and foremost – I would like to say, that as a 17 year old born and raised in the USA, I know how hard it may seem to be to keep your kesh throughout school and all forms of peer pressure. However, one pattern which I have seemed to notice time and time again is that the overbearing, over-demanding sikh parents are generally the ones whose children cut their hair. Without any exxageration, I have seen atleast 8-10 teens in their lifetime cut their hair, especially when they feel that their parents are ruining their life because of it. Of course Sikhism should be a big factor in their life – however, I feel that as long as you dont force it into Narayan, rather, let him soak it in on his own, then you will be fine. Let him spend time around other kids with their kesh, and let him receive some positive peer pressure.

  16. “Nanak dukhia sabh sansar.” Harpal has the exactly perfect comment on this.
    Everyone has to have a problem or you wont learn effectively enough to “know rather than “think”.
    I myself wasnt born into Sikhi but at 11-13 I wanted to keep all my hair {dreadlocks} and I didnt even know about Sikhi untill I was 18 or 19. I had a feeling to look totally different than anyone. Its kinda irrelevant to this but I didnt want my hair also to get in the way so I naturally let it clump/dread together. I was the only male in school with long hair and took a beating for it but that made me want to keep it even more. I even was ridiculed from all my family, friends, neighbors, besides my mom and dad. I think it ultimately equaled to succumb to me becoming a Sikh later on in my life.

    Your son is a child learning to see what you say, others say and what it is like to be on the other side of kaysh. He knows what its like to keep his Kaysh but never knew what its like to have his kaysh cut. I personally would let him keep it or cut it making his body his own choice. If he keeps his kaysh then that would be his total decision and he wouldnt have been forced to cut or keep it. That I think would be the best way for him to think independently for himself. If someone while I was a kid forced anything I would do the opposite just because I hated being forced anything{ If someone forced me to eat green beans I would’ve rather threw them on the floor and get grounded rather than go along with being forced }[that makes me feel that is another reason I am a Sikh]

    Gurmustuk, you are very fortunate that your whole family is a Sikh of the Guru. Jessica isnt even a Sikh so we have debates over whether or not my 11 month old daughter will be a Sikh or not.{ I will teach her Sikhi but will not force anything, if she becomes a Sikh then she will have chose it herself which would make her a real Sikh rather than a puppet Sikh{{{not saying anyone elses kids are but thats my sitch}}}} I wish Jessica would be a Sikh but I would rather have her be a real Sikh for her own good rather than having her do it for me, because its for your own liberation and not for anyother human on Earth. So I just set an example of a Sikh. Being a good example is the very highest form of educating anyone about anything. People tend to look up to people and make a decisions, whether that person{s} is good or bad. Just be a good example for all Sikhs not just your family. Only Waheguru knows if things will work out for me and my family or for your son, but thats something that we have no control over. We can only have emotions for it. Your doing a good job being a human and a husband and a father. Its a completely different story of life as soon as you become a parent. You wont know until you actually have kids who look towards you for guidance and protection. Dont worry about anything he’ll figure out if he wants full Kaysh or not and let him make his decision with your support.

    And for these 3ho/yogi bashers, SHUT UP! You are people who dont understand anything about 3ho! You just “think” you know! IM NOT EVEN A 3HO SIKH, BUT I AM A SIKH! They wont say anything to you because it is a ” I know you are but what am I ” debate, So I will speak up against these stupid comments.
    They dont summon up YogiJis spirit before prayers or anything like magic.He also isnt mixed up with Gurbani or Gurus. YogiJi taught the 3ho Sikhs how to be good Sikhs and look at the Ashram, everyone wears a turban, reads banis, does sadhana, Seva, and educates the community while doing service to the community. Nothing wrong with 3ho in my books. If anything they seem to be more dedicated to Sikhi in everyday life unlike alot of Sunday Sikhs. Its pretty week to say that some Sikhs in the U.S are Sikhs only on Sunday for a few hours. I dont think Im better than the next but dont go around researching for 5 min and debating for 5 hours. I know alot of Pujabi Sikhs who are real and see a huge percent of Indian Sikhs who dont even care about Sikhi. Yes there are millions that really really care but alot dont. To love the Guru you must listen and follow the Gurus instruction. Keep Kaysh is just one tiny hukam besides being kind and reading banis. If you justify that you can cut your hair then to me you ignore Dhan Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj and thus insult his command so to me you are not a real Sikh, but thats my opinion{Im just a worm}

    Just love your kid{s} because that the strongest form of bonding with them. My parents messed up big time by not supporting my decisions and made me rebel against everything they taught me. Tell him in Ardas we recite “Sikhi Kesan suasan nal nibahee tinhan de kamaee da dian dhar kay bolo Ji, Waheguru” or” Kes daan “. We actually pray for people to have the courage to keep their hair intact.

    Send me hate mail and not any 3ho Sikhs at [email protected] I dont care, tell me what you truelly think, dont hide anything.Be courageous. Id rather hear your bogus crap than have them see in your emails what you dont understand.

    “Jinhaan milian tera naam chit avvay Nanak naam chardikala teray bani sarbatt da bhalla”
    SatNam
    Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh!

  17. Prabhu Singh says:

    Bhai Gurumustuk Singh Ji has a heart of gold and it is very sad to think of how he must have felt when this happened. Also it is sad that so many people like to criticize and direct their negativity towards Gurumustuk. I just don’t understand how anybody can consider themselves a Sikh and decide that it is appropriate to treat others badly, no matter how different there beliefs are.
    A lot of people who criticize don’t even have an ounce of understanding any way. There is so much propaganda and confusion about the people associated with the Siri Singh Sahib or 3HO. There was an error in this thread. Sikhs that were taught by Yogi Ji do not invoke his name before prayers or banis. I don’t even know where this idea came from. While he was alive we prayed for him in our ardas and since he has passed we honor his memory in our ardas. Many people ask for money and success and list names of people who make donations during ardas, so it is clear that people’s ardas’ are different. Guru Nanak didn’t teach religion, he didn’t teach dogmatism, he was against that, he taught Dharma, righteous living. Only somebody corrupt would tell others how to pray, or force their religion on others. Religion/Dharma is personal inspiration. If something is done without inspiration, it becomes dogma. If you pray without heart, but because somebody told you to, then what are you acheiving? When you use your full heart and your full mind to pray to God with full sincerity, then you know what prayer is. I think most of us have had those moments where we just beg God to allow us to always remember his presence. In those private moments when you are in communication with God, can you then stop and think ‘I better do it a certain way or it won’t work.’ Or ‘uh-oh I can’t pray to God because my kacheras are an inch too short.’ Can God ever leave us? Does God ever leave anyone or anything? What right do we have to judge the actions of others? It is all a part of God’s play and is a gift for us just to be a part of.

  18. Sarib Singh says:

    Hi Gurumustak,

    My sisters did something similar to each other when they were 3 and 4. I remember seeing my mother cry a little bit alone on our back porch. My wife and her sister did the same thing at that age. They just didn’t understand what they were doing or why they shouldn’t.

    I know you know that Narayan will one day fully understand and value what his hair means to him as a Sikh. This is an opportunity for him to learn and grow up a little bit.

    I’m glad you posted this story because other parents can talk to their young children about it and avoid this happening; where they otherwise might not even think of it with children so young.

    ___

    By the way “astron_genus”, invocating Yogi Bhajans name before doing Japji Sahib or Kirtan? There is no such practice. I have never seen or heard of any such invocation for any thing, let alone what you mentioned. And I have been around the American Sikh community for 34 years since birth. You can go ahead and keep “being hurt a great deal” if you want to but it’s your own negative thinking and imagination. Or you could open your heart, your ears and your eyes.

    You may not like Yoga; you may not like jogging or weight lifting either; but Sikhi and Yoga/Meditation (particularly as taught by YB) are not mutually exclusive. You clearly know very little about it, as is always the case.

    You are so insecure about anything even remotely “Hindu” that you chuck out the entire legacy of ancient India, the good and the bad. If you can truly open your eyes and understand Sikhi, Sikh history, and Sikh culture from a secure and confident position you will not be upset about certain positive aspects that are shared with what may now be considered “Hindu” but was then a common heritage.

  19. Taj Singh says:

    Dear Gs

    I am sorry to see you are hurting and you were very brave in sharing this story and Like Arjan says you probably did not need to share it. However I believe your son and other children whom excess Sikhnet have the best example of a Gursikh in yourself, your commitment and Seva. The critcs you mention only receive attention by you mentioning them, do not give them any space or time on your web!! No Gursikh whom adopts the full Sikh way of honouring the 5 k’s and never failing to rise early in morning for pray with a commitment to seva could ever be a critic of your work.. If so, they are only reflecting their own ignorance and misunderstanding… Again I say it and I have said it before the work you are doing for Sikhi will be remembered by all types of Sikhs from now and into the future and by your children.. Waheguru Satnaam my good friend and may your journey take you far and beyond…

  20. I really appreciate all the outpouring of stories and suggestions. This is definitely a learning experience for myself and the rest of my family. I think in the larger sense it is an opportunity for us all to learn and share with eachother.

    I had thought that Narayan had “got it”…and after breakfast he zipped away to his room. I found him under his quilt. I thought he was playing…but then realized he wasn’t when he had a sour look on his face. He said he wanted to wear a braid to school (we put his hair in a braid at night). So then I talked to him again about the royalty of wearing a turban and told him the stories of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons who were bricked alive. I did my best to help him understand why we cover our head and wear our hair up. He then changed his mind after the stories and seemed to relate.

    I took him to school and when I got there I told the teacher what had happened (she is a Sikh) so that she would be aware of the situation. She then told me that last night another girl (who isn’t a sikh) cut her hair too and was in some trouble as a result. She already has cut hair…but she cut it really short. This could be where Narayan got the ideas and the “hair in my face” part. It just makes me realize how much they pick up at school and from their surroundings. how they want to fit in and be like other kids. Narayan is not the only Sikh in the school and has quite a few other Sikh friends there. He has awsome uncles and always wants to tie a dhumalla like them for Gurdwara. Who knows why this all came about…but we will never stop loving Narayan and do our best to train him and help him understand why we are Sikhs. I just never imagined I would be dealing with this issue when he is so young (4 years old..almost 5). I guess better now…then later on.

    I encourage any of you who have stories or experiences to share with us all. It helps us all heal old wounds and educate parents such as myself.

  21. Mohinder Singh says:

    Hi Gurmastak:

    I feel the pain you feel.
    Its a challenge communicating the emotions we feel about principles we love.
    Narayan is a child, experimenting. As others have mentioned, this seems like an unintended mistake .

    My cousin ( who is 34 and not 5) recently cut his hair to comply wth job requirements ( refinary industry). I felt miserable that I could not communicate to him the love I felt for Sikhi and our heritage and influence him to change his decision.

    I am sure Narayan will come to understand and Value Sikhi the way you and Arjun do. My wishes are with all of you.

    Mohinder

  22. I think kids learn from their parents somewhat and from their surrounding at school and apply what they feel is logical in their mind. What their peers think at a young age also affects their feelings like when they come home crying because someone called them a name or was mean to them.

  23. Just to jump back in one more time, about the influence of the other kids – that is a definite issue, and one of the many reasons why it’s good to consider sending the kids to Miri Piri Academy – I have heard endless stories of children who started refusing to wear bana-type clothes, or wouldn’t wear turbans, or who, in whatever way, wanted to fit in with their schoolmates. It’s a natural and normal impulse on their part. But that doesn’t mean we want to encourage it, of course!

    When Amrit was in first grade in the Millis schools, her papaji created a short slideshow of me tying her hair up and putting a turban on, and included some slides of her sitting behind the Guru and other ashram activities. We got permission to make a presentation to her class – this was public school, you understand! no “promoting” religion :-) – and it really went a very long way toward helping the other children understand why she “wore her hair the same way every day” (in a rishi knot, covered) and who she was. She felt a lot more comfortable.

    We did a similar thing later on for Hargobind Singh at the charter school they both attended (first grade for him as well); we printed out a series of pictures of a little boy having a turban tied as a handout for the class, and at his class we actually took his hair down and showed them how he did his hair and patka every day. They loved it!

    Perhaps that’s something you can consider doing at Narayan’s school too?

    But at MPA, there’s no question of what peer group they are going to both influence and be influenced by – it gets them through some tough years in that regard!

  24. Gurukaram…thanks for sharing those very valuable ideas. Those are good things that as parents we can help educate other kids at school. I remember my mother doing something similar…but more in the area of diet. You can read the story on “Eating Worms” from a previous blog entry.

    I am also thankfull that I went to school in India and did not have to deal with the same type of peer pressure that kids do here in the America and other countries.

  25. Manjit Singh says:

    Gurumustuk,

    thank you for sharing! I was going to post something here about Sikhnet and how your site (and some others) has and continues to be a platform for learning for me and how Waheguru has brought me to the point where I am today. But…, the post got really long, so I decided to post it my blog.

  26. Gurukarm has an excellent idea of how to educate students at school. Other kids at school would be fascinated with pictures of him/her {your child} behind the Guru Granth Sahib and with other Sikhs with turbans. They almost would want to be their friend because they have something unique that they could only know if they did it themselves. I think that would be the very best way to relieve pressure from their peers.

  27. Sat Nirmal Kaur says:

    Sat Nam Guru Mustuk Singh ji:

    Do not worry – God is so great, that even if we make a mistake and cut our hair, it grows back!
    I am very proud of you that you had the courage to put this on your blog. Many parents and children go through these issues – we need to help each other more.

    I am one of your first ‘aunties’ – I babysat for you right after your 40 days. You were a beautiful son and now you have a beautiful son.

    These Aquarian children are old souls – they look like little kids, but they are way ahead of us and everyone else. Be straight and honest with him – tell him your own experiences and feelings. He’ll love it. He’s not too young to understand.

    Love, Sat Nirmal Kaur

  28. Manjit Singh says:

    Gurumustuk Ji,

    I forgot to mention in above post how Khalsa Youth Camp in Espanola has inspired my kids life! That was the main point of my post but got carried away! Here is the last paragraph of the post:

    Last year I along with my younger sons (11 and 8 yrs) drove to Espanola to attend the Khalsa Youth Camp in Espanola for two out the three weeks. It was my and kids first time to any Sikh camp in a Western or Indian Sikh environment. My daughter had signed up for a summer course at school before I found out about the camp so she and my wife could not go. All I can say is that you just have to check it out yourself and make your own conclusions. Personally, we all loved it even though the youger one was starting to miss mom. The kids were able to learn mool mantra, stories of Gurus, song of teh Khalsa and other songs, gatka, Bhangra and other activites that I could not get them thru their brain in the last 6-8 years I had been trying myself. Both of my sons became vegetarians without me pushing it on them. The older one has not cut his hair since camp. He does not wear a jhoora or patka yet, but he does not want to cut it. I am just going to leave it up to him. The camp is a great experience for any kid. And, now a Sikh Film Festival for kids and by kids. Who says, Sikhnet, Yogi Bhajan or 3HO has not impacted Sikh lives all over the world. I look at this way, a lot of us follow all kinds of life quotes by various non-Sikh politicians, writers, CEO’s, Lincolns, Gandhis, Kennedy’s etc. in Western and Indian media, but can’t follow a few quotes from one of our own Gursikh who impacted so many lives. I would not be the same if Sikhnet had not become part of my life learning, Sikhnet would not here if Yogi Bhajan Ji had not become part of western Sikh’s life learning, and Yogi Bhajan had not been a great Gursikh if it was not Guru’s kirpa and blessing.

  29. Hari Singh says:

    Gurumustuk Singh Ji, WKWF

    Sikhi is all about love for the Creator and His Creation – a small child innocently cutting his hair does not impact on the deeper connection with the Guru. So my brother – I accept it is a sad thing to witness, but this naïve act has no real meaning or long term relevance. At most, it is perhaps an early warning from the Guru to stay alert and focussed on the need to constantly attend to the younger generation.

    We cannot at all times be at the side of our kids and monitor their every move – All we can do is give them guidance and familiarise them with our Sikhi principles. Rest it up to the Almighty!! I hope you will be able to quickly put this behind you and re-focus on your family’s beautiful Sikhi life.

    I hope you agree that long term, we cannot in any event be fully in control of what our children decide. Sikhs will not “force” their children into any one path – It is every Sikh parent’s wish that their kid choose to remain a Sikh – but it cannot be guaranteed! And if they do not become Sikhs, we should not love them any less or treat them differently!!!

    With Waheguru’s kirpa, all will be well. Remain always in Chardikala!! Ardas to the Guru is in order. das, Hari Singh.

  30. sahilla khalsa---the pure ones are successful says:

    It reminded me when I was 14 and my hair was tangled….I got really angry with my Dad and yelled I want to cut and get rid of this messy hair…haha my father slapped me on both my cheeks and i went crying and locked myself up…cried for hours but din’t cut my hair…am glad to this day din’t cut it but can understand how “kids” get frustrated over tangled hair…Hair IS EXTRA RESPONSIBILITY in addition to hormones running wild at teenee age

  31. a non-sikh parent says:

    I follow your blog because it’s quite interesting. I’m not a Sikh but am a parent, so do have a few other suggestions to add to what’s already been posted. It’s right not to make a big thing about it – the more you react, the bigger deal that you make, may have a negative impact. Not to detract from your devotion to your faith, I understand that. Also, there is going to be a HUGE change in Narayan’s life soon! *laughs* He will no longer be the only child!! (the laugh is because it’s going to be a big change for all of you!) But that may have something to do with this. Children go through so many changes, sometimes even day to day; remember that toddler stage when NO seems to be the only word they know?! It’s all part of them becoming who they are–and sometimes that means testing how far they can push their parents.

    For what it’s worth, you and your wife are doing a wonderful job, especially with spiritual guidance. Stay the course … only try to remain as calm as possible. :)

  32. Blessings to you all with your sharings and insights. I must say that Inderpal’s suggestion about having a special event where you celebrate the tying of the first turban with the Guru.

    Creating and observing meaningful rituals add such beauty and depth to the experience of the child as they grow into adulthood. We, parants have talked occasionally about creating more events to celebrate different points in the life of our Sikh Children. This would be a very good time for our Espanola community to get inventive and have a special Ardas done at Sunday Gurdwara to honor all the 5 year olds….and so on….have their turbans tied and give them spiritual gifts relating to their turban…a Khanda, another turban, kanga, a comb, a mirror and so forth.

  33. Dear Gurumustuk Singh Ji,

    It doesn’t mean that a child born in Doctor’s House will become a Doctor; It doesnt mean that a child born in Engineer’s House will become a Engineer; And It certainly does not mean a child born in Sikh’s house will become a Sikh. In order to acheive certain Title you have to work your way up hard. Its only the Sikh religion where sikh’s dont Baptise their children until they fully understand Sikhism. With Nararyan’s case he’s only a child and he doesnt understand Sikhism. Gave him some time and try to talk to him.

    Even my self writing this note feel ashamed to my self that i’m 24 years old and still cut my hair and does not follow Guru’s way and got dissolve into western culture. But i’m trying hard and listening to Guru Ji’s words and trying to find the right path.

  34. Gurpal S. Cheema says:

    Dear Veer Ji,
    Don’t worry about Narayan’s. We all went throught those times. I personally never understood why i kept my hair from my birth until the day i cut my hair. That was turning point in my life when i realise what it means to keep the hair and be a sikh. It all came back to me as i went throught sikh history and learned the meaning of being a sikh and keeping the kesh. I been coming to your sikhnet website ever since you started it and i have gain lot ot insit from the effort you have put into it. I regually visit your site. This is my first time ever writing to lift your spirt up. This is what is called sikhi !!! you learn from your mistakes and become a better person in life. I’m sure Narayan is walking the same path and guru is always their to guide his sikhs. You have done alot of seva in life, and guru is much aware of that. he knows what is in your heart. But sametime, he test his true sikhs faith. Think of this as test of your faith. :) be strong! and happy, just watch what waheguru brings :)

  35. Puja says:

    Gurmustak ji, very touching post. i dont know much about Sikhism or the importance of Kesh, neither do i know u or ur family that well, but i just want to say that i think u r a great gursikh, a great father and husband and a wonderful son of The Guru. ups and downs are a part of life and as u say may times, we must learn from them. i hope that The Guru’s dayaa mehar is always showering upon u and ur family.

  36. Anildev Singh Malhi says:

    Dear Gurmustuk,

    Just recently, one of my friends cut his hair, apparently because he could not take care of it. And that’s after 28 yrs of keeping hair.

    I have only started to keep my hair since 2003. I do realise its importance, and never under any circumstances would i cut it.

    Let Narayan experiment around. The decision to keep kesh must be his alone. He might be way too young to decide now, but at one point he has to make up his mind.

    I feel that you should constantly try to imbibe Sikh values in Narayan’s mind. Once that point in his life approaches, he should have the necessary information to make the right choices.

    I don’t think that he will have any trouble, as you are an excellent role model, not only for him, but to all Sikhs.

    WJKK WJKF

  37. Manjit Kaur says:

    Dear Gurmustuk,

    I met you when you were in Singapore, and I do feel your sadness now. Growing up in a non sikh envoironment, we were afraid of our children being influenced by the outside world. One of the ways we tried to make them understand the importance of our hair was to speak to them of how beautiful our hair is, and hair, being a gift from our Gurus, to treasure and cherish it, from the time they were very young (about the time they started learning how to talk, although they could hardly understand it at that time). From what I see, they seem to understand it as they are growing up (presently they are 16, 14 and 12 years now). But believe me, my fears are still there. All we can do is to give them the knowledge. As they grow older……….they make their own decisions………

  38. Dear Gms g,
    SSA! I had done the same thing that Narayan did but, I was proud of my hair and instead of cutting my hair, I cut my sister’s hair! Then that day my dad was pretty angry for the first day but hen the next day he was cool. So cool down! It happens to everyone.
    SSA

  39. singh says:

    Hi Gurmustuck, i just read your post and boy did it bring back memories. I can’t remember how old i was but must have 10, i remember looking in the mirror, in my bedroom and seeing the hair stick out on the sides, i picked up a pair of scissors and just cut it off.

    The next day, my Grandma picked on it and when she asked me, i blamed my mum. I can still remember my dad sitting down with me and having a go at me for doing it. I think it’s difficult for young kids to understand the importance of hair at such a young age. I went through stages when i just wanted to be ‘normal’. I’ll be honest i was sooo close to shaving of my beard to those trendy styles u see, as all my mates and family had.

    Im nearly 20 years old, and its only in the last couple months that iv began loving my hair and my beard. I look at myself sometimes in the morning and jus think “kwoaaaa, look at you you’re Guru Gobind Singh man!!”

    Don’t blame yourself or Narayan for what he done, he’s at that stage in life when nothing matters. Your Sikh influence will slowly slowly start to change his life and he’ll realise the power of hair.

  40. Dharam (bro) says:

    My first comment on your blog…
    I think with Narayan, he needs to understand that our hair is our identity, and there is an element of pride in keeping our hair and being Khalsa. It may be as simple as expressing your own feelings on that to him… it’s too bad he can’t read your blog posts. I am happy that you did not get too upset with him, because that might encourage him to do it later to upset you again (something I have witnessed numerous times with my generation).
    I also really want to recognize your courage to consistently share the events of your life with your blog readers. Honesty is such an important quality these days and I feel like your blog gives a lot of people the inspiration they need to keep up. So… Keep Up!

  41. NiyaraKhalsa says:

    That means cerimonies like “kes gundan” and ” pagree bandhan” done for kids in the gurdwara are in a way good for the kids .
    Earlier I used to think that we are just trying to create cerimonies…But yes these will remail blind rituals if we are not aware of ther benifits and we use to just get gifts .
    Gurmastak ji, keep your cool. Narayan will grow up to be a better gursikh than all of us !!! after all he has so many gursikhs to take care of him.