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I leave my body as the kirtan reaches my ears and rushes through my veins. The human in me dies every time I listen to a verse from the Guru Granth Sahib, and for that moment I dissolve into the infinite. Nothing matters, I am free and unbound by the fake facade of maya, the materialism, around me. The presence of an infinite creator overcomes my consciousness and I merge with content. My soul reaches a state of equilibrium and for that moment, there is no need to strive for anything else. All hunger dies. I listen with my ears not to mere words, but sacred truths revealed through the vibration of cosmic love. There is no language that can translate the ecstasy which overcomes my being. I am a Sikh, a learner, of the true source of creation, God.

I believe in the hukam, will, of Waheguru and pray for His grace and mercy in the lives of all. I am not perfect, but I strive to be a more understanding and compassionate soul. I try to listen and recite the Japji Sahib, Rehiras Sahib, and Kirtan Sohila daily. I understand the importance of implementing the teachings transcribed in the Guru Granth Sahib into my everyday life. I try to gain more knowledge regarding Sikhism by referencing Sikh history, movies, documentaries, and books. I listen to Katha from great Sikhs like Sant Giani Maskeen Ji for inspiration and understanding. I do not intoxicate myself with alcohol or drugs of any kind, and I am a student in medical school with an intent to help others in their time of need. However, some may say that I am not a true Sikh. I have short hair and a trimmed beard. I am not Amritari.

We went to dinner at Uptej’s dorm suite today, and we were joined by another Sikh medical school student, Bhavneet. Uptej is an Amritari Sikh woman who keeps her hair neatly wrapped in a dastaar. Bhavneet also keeps her hair covered and has been waiting to take Amrit for many years now, because she believes it is the most important part of Sikh Rehat, discipline. However, she went a little further saying that only an Amritari Sikh could claim Sikhism their path, because without Amrit a follower is not a true Sikh. However, the Gurus believed that all are created equal and that there is no such thing as a Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or Jew because all life is One. Many Hindus and Muslim saints are also included in the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib further illustrating that all humanity is one regardless of race, religion, caste, or creed. We all come from one divine light.

Sikhism is based upon the universal oneness of the universe and its creator, God, who is infinite and without form. No mortal has the tongue nor the ability to fully describe the intensity of God’s power, benevolence, and beauty within every single atom of the universe in which His grace resides.

Avil Alh nUru aupwieAw, kudriq ky sB bMdy ]

“First God created the Light; by His power he created all people equal.”

eyk nUr qy sBu jgu aupijAw, kaun Bly ko mMdy ]1]

From One Light came the entire universe. So who is good, and who is bad? ||1||

logw Brim n BUlhu BweI ]

“O people, in doubt wander not, my brothers,”

Kwilku Klk Klk mih Kwilku pUir rihE sRb TWeI ]1] rhwau ]

“Creation in Creator, and Creator in Creation, Totally filled in all places. ||1||Pause||”

mwtI eyk Anyk BWiq kir swjI swjnhwrY ]

“The clay is the same, but various ways by the Fashioner.”

nw kCu poc mwtI ky BWfy nw kCu poc kuMBwrY ]2]

“Nothing is wrong with the pot of clay – nothing is wrong with the Potter. ||2||”

sB mih scw eyko soeI iqs kw kIAw sBu kCu hoeI ]

“The One True Lord abides in all; by His making, everything is made.”

hukmu pCwnY su eyko jwnY bMdw khIAY soeI ]3]

“Whoever realizes the Hukam of His Command, knows the One Lord. He alone is said to be the Lord’s slave. ||3||”

Alhu AlKu n jweI liKAw guir guVu dInw mITw ]

“God is unseen; He cannot be seen. The Guru has blessed me with this sweet molasses.

kih kbIr myrI sMkw nwsI srb inrMjnu fITw ]4]3]

“Says Kabeer, my anxiety and fear have been taken away; I see the Immaculate Lord pervading everywhere. ||4||3||”

I understand the importance of the Sikh Rehat of Guru Gobhind Singh Ji and the vital attributes of the Khalsa brotherhood. The Khalsa kept Sikhism strong through the Mughal raj when there was a small bounty for the head of a Sikh. The sacrifice of Guru Gobhind Singh Ji’s sons who would rather die than lose their faith and convert to Islam at such young ages. Sikhism has sacrificed thousands upon thousands of lives for justice, freedom, tolerance, and understanding of God. I cannot even begin listing all the sacrifices in Sikhi. Baba Deep Singh once said, “Sir jaave ta jaave, mera Sikhi sidhak na jaave” (If my head is severed, let it be, but don’t severe my Sikh way of life). These sacrifices cannot be forgotten for the love of God was so strong in these souls.

During the volatile contextual history of Guru Gobhind Singh Ji, it was highly important to distinguish a Sikh from a Muslim or Hindu. If the religion and the message of Sikhism were to survive, a new identity of fearless warriors was to be created known as the Khalsa. However, in a new world of globalization and cubicles that identity is becoming harder to keep especially in Western countries. One must make a harsh decision now, either live and assimilate in the West or keep the roots of the Khalsa and its bana with prejudice. Does Sikhism reside so much in the look or is it more concentrated in the heart and faith of the mind? I personally know the attachment I have to Sikhism in my heart and the relationship that I hold with Waheguru in high regards. There is a very powerful and intrinsic love I have for my people, religion, and faith. If the time ever came to shed my life for  a greater cause, I can most certainly say that Sikhi would be the infinite force behind my passion for justice and truth. No matter if I do not have a pugh or a long beard, in my soul I am a Sikh of the Gurus. I know my relationship, what is yours?

Many Sikh youth question the religion they have inherited, and see it as beautiful but too restrictive. Too many black and white rules, rehats, guidelines, and strict regulations. The passion dies inbetween the thirst for God and the rules and regulations laid by panthic associations such as the SGPC. The relationship between a human soul and God is an extremely personal and inner one, because God is indeed within all creation. We are apart of His divine glory, so who can tell us that this is the way and that is not. The Gurus understood the unbiased lens of spirituality and thus expelled all notions of this way and not that. We are a people lost in a world of trial, and God is the only hand that can guide us but is everypresent if we just take the time to look. I am not going to let society, organized associations, or any giani tell me that my Sikhi does not follow the rehat when indeed my love is only growing for Waheguru everytime I utter His praise or contemplate His glory. No one can take my faith from me, so I follow the path of the Gurus who understood my desperation to surrender. Everysingle atom is Khalsa by birth, and so everyone is joined by a brotherhood blanketing all creation. A Sikh is one who is supposed to understand when he recites, “Nah Koi Bari na he Beganna,” (There is no stranger or enemy).

Guru Nanak believed, “Truth is HighHigher Still is Truthful Living”. In the Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak says that God only understands the language of love and that comes from the heart with true devotion. We must not branch, divide, and corrode the message of compassion in the Guru Granth Sahib but instead we must unite and accept with love all who walk the path of the Guru and those who do not. Sikhism has many enemies like the RSS, and many fear that a more liberal perspective of Sikhism will create dangerous Hindu influences, but we must not forget that the journey to God is a personal voyage and not a political one. In terms of spirituality and personal growth, we must stand united as a sangat to different views and accept the appeal of the Gurus who opened the door to oneness without a need for rituals, superstitions, castes, creeds, and such. They understood Waheguru’s depth so they were open-minded for they comprehended the vastness of His creation.

Every human reaps what he sows within the reason and will of Waheguru’s will. Those who do good will be taken care of in this life and that after, no matter if the person is a Sikh, Muslim, Christian, or Jew. All men are created one and all the labels that have been created just build more walls hindering the light of divine’s present within the heart and mind. We must learn to see the stars we lay under as everyone’s all the same. I make it a spiritual practice to respect every soul no matter the view or the ideals. Within all resides His creation, so who am I to judge.

Sikhism should no longer be exclusive but rather all inclusive as it was meant to be. Maryada is a must, but tolerance which preaches righteousness and truthful living is more important. Let people follow the path as they will without judgement, lest you be judged by your own actions. Lets stop dividing and instead begin uniting as humanity with justice, valor, integrity, courage, and love within our hearts.

What do you think? Who gets to be a Sikh? What if someone is not ready for Amrit? Many shaheeds during 1984 came from the West with cut hair and died in the fields of Punjab for justice, were they any less brave or Sikh? Will loosening the definition of a Sikh make Sikhism weaker as a panth? How do you see the future of Sikhism? How do we prevent secluding Sikhs without kesh by current Sikh definitions?

I believe these questions must be answered in a changing world desperately in need for the words of the Guru Granth Sahib appealing to a universal truth. Ek Oankar, God is One.

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