Making an Impression – A True Story

In early 1900 till around 1950’s there used to be a much different culture in America. People used to be more family oriented, close together, respectable, mannerly, good natured etc. Over the past 50 years these good parts of American culture have slowly seeped away. This very same thing is happening all over the world as this "western / modern" melting pot has slowly eroded away on all cultures.

Many of us have heard about the valor and bravery of Sikhs in the World Wars, along with many other events in history since the times of the Gurus. I sometimes wonder how this erosion has affected the Sikh character that historically we are so well known for (Bravery, courage, honesty, service, dedication, spiritual, etc). Would your average Sikhs of today go out of their way to save someone’s life in the face of danger? When I see pictures of the Sikhs in the armies of the older times (1900’s) there is a certain feeling that I get which looks different from what I see in most Sikhs today. I think we as Sikhs have great potential for these good qualities to come out, yet in this more peaceful and prosperous environments we tend to get lazy and over time loose our identity. It’s important for us all to recognize how much Sikhs sacrificed before us to bring Sikhi to us today and to keep the Gurus mission alive within ourselves and our children.

In 2005 an American woman wrote a letter on the SikhNet Question & Answer forum sharing some things that I thought you might like to read.


 “First, I would like to say Hello to everyone here and wish you all the Peace of God in your lives. I am a Christian who came here to learn about Sikhism, and I have never posted before, but I would like to do so now, as I have recently read some posts from the young people here about the difficulty of keeping hair, beard and turban in a western country.

“I am not young, I am 44 years old. The reason I wanted to learn about Sikhism is that during World War II, in Italy, my favorite, and very loving uncle was an American soldier. At the battle of Cassino, he was wounded, could not walk, and was buried so deep in the mud that when the American troops went by, they thought he was dead. When my uncle regained consciousness, he thought he was finished, and began what he thought were his final prayers. After some time, he saw the legs of soldiers, and he cried out in a weak voice "water". A Sikh soldier came to help him. He carried him over two miles on his own back under heavy gunfire to a medical aid station. If it was not for a Sikh, I would not ever have had the opportunity to know my Uncle Danny, who was very special to me. Uncle Danny did not know what a Sikh was, but he was very thankful for being saved. Before the Sikh soldier left him at the medical station, he asked him what his name was, all the soldier said was ‘Singh.’

“Uncle Danny wrote from the hospital to his sister, my grandmother, about this soldier over 60 years ago, in a letter. He also wrote to his commanding officer to tell him that this man should get a medal, but all he knew was that his name was ‘Singh,’ and he could never locate him.

”Way back in 1965 when I was 5 years old, Uncle Danny took me to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia because everyone else in the family was tired, and I was the ‘baby’ of the family, and his children were already grown at that time; he volunteered to keep me quiet:-) Well, when we were downtown at the parade, a man with a turban, beard and the biggest moustache I had ever seen walked by, and I asked my uncle to pick me up because I was frightened of him. Uncle Danny picked me up and said, ‘Elena, don’t be afraid of him. He is a ‘Singh’, and ‘Singhs’ are the bravest and kindest people I have ever known. They come from a far away country called India, where I know there are a lot of brave people, but they are the best.’

“Uncle Danny died of cancer in 1977, when I was in my first year in college. Before his death he was the father of two daughters, and grandfather of four children, not to mention loving uncle to my mother and all of us. If it were not for a Sikh, he would not have come home to us.

“Although I have known Sikhs in the past, and was friendly with several especially during my college years, I became interested in understanding their beliefs because of two incidents; the first being the hate crimes committed against Sikhs after 9-11, and the second was inheriting the family photos and papers when my grandmother died in December 2003, three weeks away from her 92nd birthday. When I went through the box of papers and photos, I found the letters Uncle Danny had written to her during the War about the ‘Singh’ who saved his life. At the time I found the letters, I also recalled that Thanksgiving Day when I first saw a Sikh. The Sikhs I had known in the past were also very upstanding and decent people who would help anyone, of any faith, or race, and I became interested in what their religious teachings were, as I thought it may have something to do with the way they behave towards others. I also wanted to learn about Sikh beliefs because I live in an area where there has been a lot of prejudice after 9-11, and if there is anyway that I can help by teaching people, or even just saying something positive about my Sikh neighbors when I hear ignorance, I wanted to be able to tell them more than just, ‘they are not Muslims.’
So please, to all the Sikh youth out there that are considering giving up your hair, beards and turbans, I would ask you to reconsider, and keep your identity. Practice your faith, as it is very beautiful.

“Although I am a Christian, I am of Middle Eastern back ground, so I know what prejudice can do; I also belong to a Christian group that believes in head coverings, and after 9-11 it was frightening for a while. I really wanted to take off my headscarf, and look like everyone else. After much prayer and soul searching I came to the conclusion that God and my belief in my path to Him was the most important thing, not the opinions of others.

“All you need to do is to be a faithful Sikh, and let people get to know you, and the wonderful person you are, because you are faithful.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you, and I wish you all of God’s blessings in your life.”

22 Responses to “Making an Impression – A True Story”

  1. Christine says:

    Super great story of kindness and sacrifice.  Agree that times have changed, and hope that it is all to bring a new state of consciousness that is being prepared for.

  2. manvir singh says:

    Times have indeed changed, today a Sikh will see you on the street and consciously look away, avoid your eyes, and walk along as if nothing happened.United we stood, Divided we fall, falling, fall all over…

  3. simran says:

    I am 27 years old.Times have changed.My Sikhi is goneValues have eroded.Their heads were highThey lived others and died practicing their faith.Their bond were of divine-love deeper than kith-kin or friendship.Us Sikhs have standards so high we need numerous places of worshipCall it Ramgarhia, Jatt, Bhapa, Ravidasa, or Guru Ram Dassa.Are we in really in love with the humanity and just can’t handle people our faith?I live my life to satisfy myselfGone are the days of thy, thine and thyself.What about the war? poverty? homelessnes? or the world in much pain?I worry about vacations, house debt, new cars, more money & things mundane.It’s the end of the world if I miss a meal or don’t check my email.Look! How did I manage to miss-out of on such a big sale?My life has excessive TV, media exposure and negative repetitions.Forget about Samagams, Solstice retreats, Nitnem or meditations.I am more concerned about the Democrat vs Republican agitations. Guru lived a life of example and I’ve seen my parents practice since birth.I complain about the stock market, high gas prices, inflation, state of the economy and eroding future net-worth.I sleep, eat, watch TV, shop and go to work.I live the American dream life like an ignorant, lazy, stupid Jerk.I am an American but am known as a Sikh Indian.When I go to India, they say "here comes an American"I know how the world feels about AmericansI know nothing defines me being called American or Sikh Indian.If you were to ask me I am an aspiring self-employed comedian.

  4. Amrita Kaur says:

    This is so inspiring! I believe there is hope for youth of tomorrow, especially when we are blessed with so many resources that my parents weren’t. This blog is an example of such a fountain of knowledge!! :DI’m forwarding this to my friendsWaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

  5. Simran Singh Ji,I always thought you were a pretty funny dude. Seriously though, you are making efforts and that’s what a good Sikh does. It’s hard to escape the consumerism that is so rampant amongst us. In my case I unplugged the antenna to my t.v. last year and I’ve been pretty happy about it since. I hardly watch any t.v. any more and its influence on me seems to now be negligible.  I highly recommend it. :-)

  6. Balbir Singh says:

    Very nice article.Sikhs used to be known for their bravery,honesty,integrity and kindness.I know my father used to tell that during Britishers time the statement given by a sikh in a court was considered to be right and all court decisions were based on that.It was considered that a Sikh will never tell a lie.Also people used to send ladies with the sikhs and felt that they will be safe with them.
    Where have those sikhs gone? Now sikhs are indulging in corrupt practises.They are after MAYA.Doing politics in Gurudwara management.They are power hungry.They have left sewa of langar ,Joda Ghar etc.May Waheguru bless them and we again become what a sikh ought to be.
    Waheguru ji Ka Khalsa!
    Wahegur ji Ki Fateh

  7. Jaskooner Singh says:

    Thats beautiful. I am so glad such a good impression was made by the first Sikh you met.We are as human as everyone else with the same share of positive and negative points. I don’t know if you can born with the Sikh qualities and "find you way home" to  Sikhism, or through nature and nature be molded into a Sikh.I would like to say to all young Sikhs now especially in the UK that we are now well settled and belong to these countries, at least as much as "Ulstermen belong to Ireland", so there is now no excuse through poverty etc to lose your identity.If it helps try to think of Guru Arjun Dev sacrificing himself for your right to life, to be here today.

  8. Sikh guy says:

    What can i say, this story has just hit a nail right into my head. I keep my turban, beard I am not yet Khalsa but hoping the day will come that Guru blesses me into the family. Why is it such a struggle for us to live in the shoes of our Guru’s? I can say the only thing which will keep us alive is ekta, its sangat and nothing else. When you are in the wrong company, you will become like that, and that’s what I have sadly experienced. Sometimes the sangat isn’t there, that’s when Guru tests you to see if your love for him is true or not. I guess its all his will and its his hukam which guides us to the path of truth- thinner than a hair and sharper than the sword. It’s sad when our own community hates each other, shows no love and expresses hatred towards each other. Seeing this is what made me detach from my own kind of people and go in search into the company of others. I have learnt love exists even deeper in other communities, be it white, black and other asian communities. For this reason, I have seen the reasons why people are leaving the community, its evident and right in front of us and yet we tend to act shocked when we see someone cut their hair or go down the wrong path. Its the sangat and only the sangat that can will allow us to help each other and teach each other the life of a Sikh. As Sikhs we have been bought up in a monotonous society and our teachings are monotonous, its become all ritual and routine, what about experiencing the teachings?

    Sorry for my rambling, this is just something that’s been on my mind. I can see only we can help each other, only we as a collective community can help each other up from the hole we dig ourselves in everyday. I wish I had sangat, my heart is dieing for good sangat, sangat that can serve the world, sangat that can teach me and show each other love. The local gurdwara doesn’t seem to be interested, it’s all routine, routine, routine and routine. The amridharis stick to themselves and the rest go on wandering not knowing where their house is! Amritdhari’s and Khalsa, its your responsibility to pick up manmukh’s like me and majority of the sikh community and embrace them! Why can’t we all learn ekta and practice this oneness that Guru Nanak starts of with in the mul mantar! It’s a sad state of affairs and as much as sakhis give me the inspiration I wait for the day Guru’s sangat embraces humanity and brings rest of us into the house of Nanak and live the life of a Khalsa.


  9. Jagjiwan says:

    Singh is King and King holds the qualties of a very Good Man. In my view every Singh has these qulaties, acts of kindness is in Singh’s blood and it will take centuries to wash away this habit.
    Even if ur not a Singh but are a Sikh leave good never forgetting impressions on people so that Singh is remembered forever in their hearts & minds.

  10. ujjalbir says:

    It is petinent the write up in this blog . It is appropriate that Sikh net is featuring such articles . But for the apprehension of offending some I can only submit that Punjab is a great place but those great people who made it so have gone . also the people who followed Sikh values are difficult to  find. The manifestation of this can
    be seen the rapidily declining numbers of youth in Punjab who wear a turban. To be candid I would find it difficult to adjust in Punjabi society despite being A sikh and wearing aturban . The views of Simran are indeed an awakening call. There is so much to say but perhaps it is already known . It is unfortunate that  instead of emulating the standards being set by the American Sikhs some chose to categorise them May GOD BLESS ALL .

  11. sim says:

    This is a great story.   Our challenges today are so "not really a challenge".   Sikhs lived in the Jungles but were rulers of people’s heart.  How else did less than 2% of the population remain a popular rulers. 
    My grand-uncle was telling me that when the his Uncles were asked their father’s name by the British recruiting officer over 500 of them replied "Guru Gobind Singh" place of birth "Anandpur".  They were true brothers in spirit and didn’t think of terms "Jatt, Bhapa, Ramgarhia,…" were ever meant for them.
    Today, we cannot serve in the army of United States with a Turban on or go to French/Beligan public schools. 
    Other than that our distance from the Guru is the only reason why the story like the one above is not a common identification of our "to be forever in Chardikala & altruistic" character.
    I gonna go watch some TV now.

  12. This article ripped my heart from my chest. I could not help but cry. To see how we look from someone else’s perspective and to see our beauty reaffirmed is so incredibly beautiful. Now we face our most challenging sadhana: remembering why we do what we do and why it is so powerful. Hopefully we succeed. Don’t fret if you’re not living up to every standard. As Sikhs I think it’s good to hold ourselves to a high standard, but i don’t feel we should fault ourselves if we don’t meet those standards. Love you all. Sat Nam

  13. Himmat Singh Khalsa says:

    Very inspiring story. What a great writer!Thank you Gurumustuk,Fateh to you and your family!

  14. SHANU says:

    Last week I probably would have jumped on the bandwagon and agreed with most or your posts but actually this weekend changed my thoughts forever. I think we need to be more positive in our approaches and BE the change we wish to see in others.
    In slough last week – a bunch of naujawan organised an Akhand Paath (for prosperity of all especially Sikh youth) at our local Gurudwara (and despite interferances from Committee members) it ran amasingly smoothly, after the Bhog the group went to a local school to set up a special camp to try and introduce more youths into Sikhi. It was beautiful. Sehjdhari, rehtdhari, amritdhari even agnostics got together with Ekta; all happily taking part. Even after all of this, we moved back to the Gurudwara again for a Kirtan Darbar.
    Things are changing again. Youth are looking for a change yeah but now they’re making the changes themselves.
    I saw kids happily staying up all night making pizza for hungry sangat members, doing JapJi Sahib roal seva, cleaning, even kids stapling literature packs together. Everyone played a part.
    I saw so much Ekta, it put a lump in my throat.
    So stay positive people!


    Wahe guru ji ka khalsa wahe guru ji ki fateh
    The life coould be same if only we stick to the basic teachings of our panth i.e.
    1.Awgun sabh visar ke par upkaar karo
    2.Aape beej aape hee khaao(jeha beeje teha lune baba ye duneeya karam khet)
    Trust me you will never fail if you strictly follow these principles,our life will be always happy.Trishna/agan sabh bujh jaaegee

  16. projectnaad says:

    I just cried when I read this article. I thank God and Guru that Sikhs played such an important role through history and the great World Wars so that we may also have inspiration to live this life with courage, honesty and committment to Sikh Dharma.

  17. SSN says:

    Gurmustuk jee

    You have an amazingly ability to share something so subtle yet so dynamic! I usually go through your blog when i’m free for few minutes in my office. I shared some of the photos of sikh soldiers with my cubicle mate. Awesome pictures and how we have changed. I guess it would be difficult to find a good group like them again. Especially now, as you rightly point out, when over the years we have become procrastinators and liteally forgotton our proud past.

    PS1: One suggestion though, the news portal has links to different news bytes. And people comment over there on the post. Is it possible in any way that we form some kind of a group(of course responsible/Knowledgeable people who have the capacity/reach to take power decisions) which can communicate through emails/portal to discuss and try to reach conclusion on topics affecting young sikhs today (I am 25 and have ambitions and above all the veracity to help)! Is it possible?

    PS2 My cubicle mate, a non-sikh is married to a sikh :)!

  18. Gurpreet Singh says:

    Truly amazing story. A real inspiration for todays Sikh coming from the outside world. Today, when people are apprehensive about donning the Sikh identity, stories like these can prove to be a great inspiration.

  19. Kabir Singh says:

    This story was very touching.  But do not let the image of an average sikh today make you believe that there aren’t any brave sikhs left.  Also remember that not too long ago, in 1984, thousands of brave hearted sikhs died.  It was a time when many sikhs, especially living in the western world, stopped drinking, cutting their hair, etc., and became true sikhs because the horrific attack made them realize who they really were. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale is perhaps one of the bravest Sikhs to have ever lived (obviousy he comes after the gurus and sikh fighters before the 19th century). How he took on a whole army, was betrayed by corrupt politics and did not shy away or get scared from tanks and gunfire, is just mingblowing. He became a martyr and was struck by 70+ bullets.  But most of the world does not even who he was, what he did and what he was fighting for.  The indian government labelled him as a terrorist and completely shut off Punjab.  Countless protestors were tortured, beaten and killed by indian security forces. When I hear about whats going on in Tibet right now, it reminds me of Punjab in the 1980s. Obviously the media has changed today and catching the police doing horrible things can be done much more easily since everyone has a camera phone and can just upload pictures and videos on to the net for the whole world to see.  There are countless stories of brave sikhs from the late 1970s-early 1990s that people have no clue about because it is usually hidden and manipulated by the indian goverment and intelligence agencies.   

  20. amarrama says:

    this is so beautiful . truth is so powerful . and God is a truth .

  21. Balbir says:

    I noticed Yogi Bhajan touches on this matter in the video ”Awakening to leadership” by Gurumustuk.

  22. waheguru ji ka khalsa .waheguru ji ki fateh

    the post really touched me…

    please ….this is my request to all sikhs keep that respect of sikhism alive…

    god bless all.