Losing Our History?

Today I was reading an article on SikhNet that was written by Amandeep Singh on the topic of Yoga and Sikh Dharma. It was quite interesting to read and think about his descriptions of how there used to be connections with Yoga and Sikhi. I know some might think this is "propaganda", since many Sikhs have little understanding of Yoga and think of Yoga as something "against sikhi".

Different things in history have changed how we as Sikhs live and the things that we do. In the video titled "Women and Turbans by Shanti Kaur" she talks about how Sikh women used to wear turbans and possible reasons why this stopped. In the same way in more recent times during the British Rule of India HUGE things were changed. (Our bana, our bani, practices, etc).  In those times Sikhs were commonly considered a sect of Hinduism, which caused Sikhs to discontinue and stop any types of things that might be considered Hindu related. If you have been to Hazur Sahib (Nanded, South India) some of these practices have not changed with the rest of India, and you’ll notice that they do some things very different then you are used to.

Another thing which I think has been affected and changed is our bani. During the time of the British rule some of the banis were shortened and cut. For a Sikh, bani is his/her strength, so by taking/changing bani from us it is a way to reduce our "power". Just as keeping our uncut hair gives us more "energy", by cutting your hair you loose this "tool".

 My friend Gurujot Singh started a web page about Chaupai Sahib being cut short and some information related to British influence on the Sikhs. He even provides some templates that you can print ot to include the missing part of the bani in your nitnem gutka.

A similar issue is how it has become practice to skip from the 5th pauri of Anand Sahib to the 40th pauri at the end of Gurdwara, as if the whole bani has been completed! This must have been done out of impatience to make things go faster. This is another one of those things that happened during british rule.

In addition to this I have always been frustrated how just about every nitnem I pick up has a different version of the banis. There are so many different versions with all kinds of other bani mixed in. I sometimes wonder what the original bani was?

All these questions and situations make me realize how little we all know about our past, and how so much is being lost.When we forgot our past and stop knowing the history and meaning behind it, that is when things eventually become ritualistic and narrow minded. When I look at our path as Sikhs I see such a beautiful and open path. Yet somehow people find ways to make it into a very dogmatic "religion" instead of an open lifestyle. I think some of this is the result of loosing touch with the heart of being a Sikh.

This reminds me of the state of the world now, how more and more people have become lazy, non-active, and less informed. We get our information from fewer and fewer sources, so it is so easy for those that control the media to control what we know and stay in power. People in this power can then influence people based on their own personal agenda, without necessarily showing the "truth". This is why it is so important to do our own research. Find out different perspectives and sources to try to uncover the whole picture and then decide for yourself.

17 Responses to “Losing Our History?”

  1. sundeep singh says:

    Excellent post on an extremely important issue.

  2. gurdev kaur says:

    I agree that research is One’s own responsibility and each to their own.  Sikhi has become VERY dogmatic and I would say even more so by those who do tend to follow what is called “puratan” practices, because they seem to believe that by following older traditions that they are always RIGHT, but Sikhi is not stagnant and stuck in a time warp, Sikhi is always in the NOW and each and every soul will interpret according to their own knowledge and their own personal history.  What is right for some doesnt resonate with others and thats ok.  In years to come, we are going to be the history, we cant change history, we cant predict the future, we can only change the present, and by changing the present the future of history can be a very different picture.  Its easy to blame British and Indian Government or whatever, but Guru Granth Sahib still exists, still speaks to us and still forms and moulds the current wave of souls in the Dharma.  Sikhi is not stuck in the past, Sikhi is very much present, culture changes but the Dharma doesnt.  So why worry, past is past, present is what we are and history is what we are making!

    Dhan Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj

    Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

  3. S Singh says:

    Great post! I agree with alot of what you have written. But I wanted to make a point about the topic of “shortened banis” as there seems to be a common misconseption going around recently. Before the SGPC standardised version of Rehras Sahib which was done after the Gurdwara reform movement, the Panth had many Rehras Sahibs. We had the Sampradayak Rehras Sahib popularly known as “Taksali” Rehras Sahib, the Buddha Dal Rehras Sahib, the Hazoori Rehras Sahib which is read by Hazoori Sikhs, Hazoor Sahib, Nanaksar, Tarna Dal. The point to note is that all these Rehras Sahibs are different and each group calls it “sampooran” and will even give historic evidence to prove their case. The longest version is the Buddha Dal Nihang version.
     What the SGPC tried doing is that they wanted to standardise Rahras Sahib by including all the Shabads that are common to all the various versions in the Panth while the Shabads that were not common to all Rehras Sahib were not included in the standardised version.
    The truth is, only the Rehras Sahib that is contained within the Guru Granth Sahib Jee was the original Rehras Sahib. But the Gursikhs of olden times would get alot of rass by reading more bani, so they would add more shabads to their afternoon Rehras Sahib. This continued happening after each passing generation, eventually over time additional Bani like the Choupi Sahib, some extra Dasam Bani, Anand Sahib, Mundavani Shabads became integral parts of Rehras Sahib which were not there in the original 300 yrs earlier.
    Aside from this point, I do however agree with you on the other points. Alot Hindu phobia has crept in within the Panth since the British colonial era started. But we see it all reversing in front of our very own eyes.

  4. khushwant says:

    a very excellent point made.sikhs should be more open to healthy discussions and debates and understand the essence of sikhi.i fully agree with amandeep singh about yoga and sikhism.

  5. Tevdeep says:

    Yoga is clearly not being lost from sikhism. It is my opinion that it is being forced into sikhsim.

    Inner cleansing techniques, channeling the energy to raise the Kundalini to the Tenth Gate,

    inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath by the force of the mind –

    by empty hypocritical practices, Dharmic love for the Lord is not produced. Only through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad is the sublime, supreme essence obtained.

    From Ang 1043 Page 1043 of the SGGS

  6. Miss Kaur says:

    Sikhs have lost a lot of history and one of the reasons for this is that in Punjab, the students who are punjabi aren’t even taught much about thier own history. I just recently came back from visiting Punjab and the education system there teaches kids about western history and some ‘indian’ history and it just showed me how much of an influence the british rule had. India itself is so diverse and the history that Punjabis in india usually learn about is the culture of the majority and elites (hindu brahmins) or the western world and they dont learn much about thier own cultures. I have cousins in Punjab who were using the exact same textbook that I used in grade 7 (im from Toronto, Canada) for thier history class and that was kind of shocking because you would think that India is soo far away and they have thier own history textbooks but they were using some textbook published in england and from what i remember it only mentions india in the british history chapter where the brits go to india for ‘spice.’    

  7. Tevdeep, your message only shows that you know little about Yoga. I suggest that you open your mind a bit and try to learn more. The quote you gave can be interpreted in many different ways, and you have to look at it in the context.

    Too often people quote from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib to try to prove some point, but miss the context, or look at it in a black and white way. In the Siri Guru Granth there are more lines like this, but that doesn’t mean that Yoga is bad. The lines are generally talking about getting caught up in things like this to attain powers, taking one’s self away from society, getting caught up in it as a sole end.

    Myself and other Sikhs who use Yoga have it as one tool to assist on this life parth. God has given us many such tools and you can use them or not. You may not agree, but that is your choice.

  8. BTW….Tevdeep Singh the email address (in the blog comment and your email to me) isn’t valid. Emails to you are bouncing back.

  9. Ishtmeet says:

    It is interesting to see lot of pointers to Maryada in Hazoor Sahib, as i studied there and kind of agree that maryada being followed there is one untouched by time and events in Punjab. However there are some practices which are questionable like Jhatka ( Slaughter of animal in one action) in Hazoor Sahib compound on special events and cleaning of ‘Shastars’ with blood of that animal. Also in one of the Gurudwaras in Nanded ( Gurudwara Banda Ghat) MahaParshad (meat) is served on a paticular day in Langaar. I also dont know if Aarti was perfromed the way it is done today during Guru Sahib’s time or it creeped in after Guru Granth Sahib was installed. Just wanted to point of couple of things I noticed during my 4 years in Hazoor Sahib.

  10. Gurinder Singh says:

    Excellent post Gurumustuk Singh. Yoga is the bomb, anyone who doesn’t have yoga in their life is missing out big time. It’s like me saying that working out is not apart of sikhi so we shouldnt be working out. Sikhs should be doing anything and everything to stay fit and keep our mind and body in shape. I agree that reading bani can do it alone but Yoga is such a excellent tool that helps you in every way or form. Gurumustuk Singh, are there any nitnem bani translations we can purchase from sikhnet in english?

  11. harmanpreet singh says:

    i agree with gumustak singh ji , sikhs should be more open minded, if yoga enhance meditation ,it can be performed  but i also want to quote guru nanak “defination of yoga”

    ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੧॥
    Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world – this is the way to attain Yoga. ||1||

    ਗਲੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥
    By mere words, Yoga is not attained.

    ਏਕ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਕਰਿ ਸਮਸਰਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੋਗੀ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    One who looks upon all with a single eye, and knows them to be one and the same – he alone is known as a Yogi.

    ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਭੇਟੈ ਤਾ ਸਹਸਾ ਤੂਟੈ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਵਰਜਿ ਰਹਾਈਐ ॥
    Meeting with the True Guru, doubt is dispelled, and the wandering mind is restrained.

    ਨਿਝਰੁ ਝਰੈ ਸਹਜ ਧੁਨਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਘਰ ਹੀ ਪਰਚਾ ਪਾਈਐ ॥
    Nectar rains down, celestial music resounds, and deep within, wisdom is obtained.

    ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੩॥
    Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world – this is the way to attain Yoga. ||3||

    ਨਾਨਕ ਜੀਵਤਿਆ ਮਰਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਐਸਾ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥
    O Nanak, remain dead while yet alive – practice such a Yoga.

    ਵਾਜੇ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਸਿੰਙੀ ਵਾਜੈ ਤਉ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥
    When the horn is blown without being blown, then you shall attain the state of fearless dignity.

    ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਤਉ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੪॥੧॥੮॥
    Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world – this is the way to attain Yoga

    fateh bhul chuk maaf jiyo

  12. Thank you Harmanpreet Ji for another great example of where Guru Ji describes a true yogi and instructs us to "practice such a yoga."

  13. Canuck says:

    Dear all,

    It is prudent to understand this one important thing. As much as Sikh community feels the blunt end of the bat in history, realise we are the most visible community in the world comprising the mere 2% of 1 billion of the India, and are of the South Himalayas (source of Faith, not culture). It is through our struggles (against British and Mughals) that we have been spread to all 4 corners of the world. Think about it for a moment. Sikhs are not fighting the Mughal wars of past, but we are certainly fighting the Mughal ideals of modern times (assimilation, restriction of freedoms) within all our respective countries. Through the trials and tribulations of the past the Sikh Spirit has survived. In a century where the atomic bomb threatened to create Nuclear Holocaust of all Humanity, Sikhism spread to the Corners of the World to spread the Song of Hymn into the soils of the home nations where the Shabad Guru now takes Eternal Reign. The past is perfect, because the purpose of our ancestors and the previous generation is served. They gave away Punjab, and now it is not even Dujab (two rivers), and the Sikhs were plundered. They gave away their king (Ranjit Singh’s son), and when he realised his demise by accepting the English way, returned to his Sikh spirit in his end of days. The Sikhs having fought along the British, have made numerious numbers in the UK. The Sikhs made efforts to settle in the Americas over 110 years ago, and they are significanty in their efforts of peace and sewa in the New world full of animosity and hate.
    Guru Kai Bachai! Wake up, do you not see the wonder of this play? You are the reincarnation of the Gurmukhs past, and within the whole community is a new awakening. The past generations sustained the Sikh message, and spread it to the corners of the world. Like a crystal vase that has shattered, all pieces are being claimed to be the one that holds it ALL together. Yet, within these communities, a unity is taking place. Lies, cheats, and slanderers are washed away as Truth is the Unity of the Sikhs from all 4 corners of the world. We are coming together after such turmoil has jarred our Spirits. In the coming years, we will share with each other the pieces of this puzzle, and once looking inside the Vase will discover the answer ‘within’ that we were needing all the time. The combination of the Sikh diet, the Sikh practice of martial arts and exercise, the Sikh saroop most eloquently displayed by the Western Sikhs, the Sikh practice of meditation and mind-body exercise (household yog in the kaljug), the Sikh ethos of love, sewa, simran, vand shakana. All such values are like the drop of water to the thirsty song bird.
    Wheresoever the Shabad Guru’s Praises are sung, there is the vast and immenent arising of Sikh Spirit, of Saint Spirit. The Awakening is the dawning of A global Truth, an escape from human Ego that has been revealed by the Saints. Kabir Ji says “People believe this is just a song, but it is the meditation of the Lord”. The Truth is within us, God Dwells within the Heart. The time for Spirit is Now.

  14. BTW….”Tevdeep Singh, Jaspreet, Hardeep” or whatever your name is….

    It appears that you have been posting negative comments under lots of different fake names and emails on this site over the past month, and don’t have the guts to even take responsibility for what you say.

    It’s easy to hide behind a computer and say what you want very rudely. If you are going to stand for something…at least have the courage to do so publicly by taking responsibility for your words and actions. If you don’t like what you read or see on SikhNet or MrSikhNet that is your opinion and you can go elsewhere. Just because you think something is wrong doesn’t make it so.

    I will not allow you to use this website as a way to spread your negativity and hate. There is enough of that already going around, and what we really need more of is compassion and understanding. So, please don’t bother posting any more comments unless you have something uplifting to say.

  15. Singh from Canada, eh says:

    I think yoga is fine to do for health benefits etc.  As for it being a part of Sikhism…i have not come across one sakhi (story), historical document, or anything else that even mentions it.  I listen to alot of Katha by many different learned and respected scholars, and have never heard about yoga being mentioned.   We have so many different texts (Sooraj Parjkash, Janamsakhis, old books etc.) and they mention so many different stories and information about the past, but I personally have never heard anything about yoga.  Why does the Sangat think this is?  (I’m not saying that what i’m saying is fact, i may be wrong…has anyone heard of anything from the past about yoga?)

  16. surender singh says:

    Even i have no knowledge of sikhi and yoga but when i stood in ardas and heard about
    (hathiyan , japiyan , Tapiyan) then i often thought that may be hathiyan means the person
    who has practice the Hath yog a part of yoga , is the part of sikhi .
    This is also true that the power of “Paath” cannot be compared with any yoga or Hath yoga
    .This the power of ” Paath” by which the normal sikh have become martyr willingly and happily

  17. Bharat says:

    A Hindu/Sikh Organization named Jhatka Org is fighting for JUSTICE TO JHATKA, it's official website http://www.jhatka.org explains the whole scenario.Mr. Ravi Ranjan Singh on behalf of the Organization has filed a Petition to Parliament of India, for proper display of Logo of Jhatka or Islamic Halal at every selling point and product.