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May 312015
 

VICHAAR

ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ

GuruGranthSahib.107220330_large

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Study Group Brought to you by The Chardi Kalaa Foundation, IGS Now and Sikh Gurdwara San Jose.

Date: Sunday June 21st, 2015
Location: Sikh Gurdwara San Jose – Sahibzada Fateh Singh Room in the Khalsa school area.
Time: 11:00 AM
Duration: 2 Hours
Format: Conference Room
Medium: English

Program:

Sdn. Jessi Kaur will complete the discussions on Japji Sahib by talking about the Khands (or spiritual realms) in pauris 34-38, and the final salok.

For the last three and years we have delved into the depths of Japji in an attempt to understand the core message of Sikhi. We have now reached  its conclusion where Guru Nanak Sahib describes the the  realms of spiritual consciousness that each soul passes through before reaching Sachkhand, the final abode. The five khands have been the subject of intellectual discussions  and debates by many Sikh scholars and kathakars. The journey through the five realms or spheres is essentially experiential. Each one of us has to  traverse through them alone. In the final Vichaar session on Japji, let’s try to gain some insight into the soul’s journey through these spheres.

 As always, we look for active participation by the Sangat in an environment that encourages interactive discussion.

 Posted by at 7:09 pm
May 192015
 

Nirankar – Sdn. Eileen Kaur Alden and S. Supreet Singh Manchanda

Vichaar – May 3rd, 2015

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Abstract:

“In this presentation we will ask the question “What are the implications if Akaal Purakh has the quality of Nirankar?” We will discuss 10 examples of how the quality of Nirankar can help us understand other important Gurmat principles and how it can be helpful for our relationship with Akaal Purakh in our daily lives.”


Video of Session


Slide Presentation

 Posted by at 6:31 pm
May 182015
 

This program has been cancelled. Watch for announcement of next Vichaar program

VICHAAR

ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ

GuruGranthSahib.107220330_large

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Study Group Brought to you by The Chardi Kalaa Foundation, IGS Now and Sikh Gurdwara San Jose.

Date: Sunday May 31, 2015
Location: Sikh Gurdwara San Jose – Sahibzada Fateh Singh Room in the Khalsa school area.
Time: 11:00 AM
Duration: 2 Hours
Format: Conference Room
Medium: English

Program:

Prof. Jaspal Kaur Kaang will speak on “Application of Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Solving Human Problems related to Modern Way of Life”.

Prof. Kang is  chairperson of the Guru Nanak Sikh Studies department at Punjab University,  Chandigarh in India.

An abstract of her presentation follows.

 As always, we look for active participation by the Sangat in an environment that encourages interactive discussion.

Abstract:

1.      HISTORY

The sacred Granth of Sikh faith was first compiled by Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru in 1604 C.E.

The original compilation called ‘Pothi’ included verses composed by five Sikh Gurus and 30 other saintly personages.

Later, the compilation came to be known as “Adi-Granth”.

2.      THE COMPILATION

Guru Gobind Singh added Guru TeghBahadur’s verses to it and the revised version came to be known as “Damdami Bir”.

Finally it has come to be revered as “Sri Guru Granth Sahib” (S.G.G.S.).

3.      THE PRESENT BIR

Present Bir, running into 1430 pages, was adopted from the hand-written Birs prepared in the 19th century C.E.

Taken together all the verses are called “Gurbani”.

4.      CONTENTS

The main theme of Gurbani is to elevate the moral self of human beings through faith in God.

Ultimate aim of Gurbani is to enable human beings work for the cause of ethical humanism

5.      U. G. C. PROJECT

U.G.C, India (University Grants Commission) sanctioned two-years major research project for 2012-2014 on the subject of teachings of S. G. G. S.

Aim of the project was to study the impact of teachings of S.G.G.S. in solving human problems related to modern way of life.

6.      PROBLEMS OF MODERN LIFE

Two types of problems have been identified: first psychological and second physical.

Both types of problems are the outcome of similar situations arising out of the modern life-style adopted by human beings.

Many types of diseases can be grouped under physical and psychological problems.

7.      PROBLEMS BEYOND INDIVIDUAL SELF

Human beings in modern times face problems at levels beyond individual self as well i. e. at social level, at national level and at international level.

8.      QUOTES FROM GURBANI

Innumerable quotes from Gurbani can be cited to relate its teachings to modern way of life.

9.      TECHNIQUES APPLIED FOR STUDY

Various techniques were employed to study the impact of Gurbani on human behaviour such as interviews, lectures, surveys, camps etc.

10.    THE EVALUATION PROCESS

The evaluation process use of evaluation techniques such as DASS, questionnaires on daily routine and psychological tests.

11.    RESULTS OBTAINED

Results obtained indicate highly positive effects of exposure to Gurbani in individual development, solving various ailments, bringing about harmony and bliss and establishing world peace.

 

 Posted by at 11:01 am
Apr 192015
 

Gurmat Perspectives on Maya – S. Pritam Singh Kohli

Abstract:

The Term Maya occurs in SGGS hundreds of times which enables one to explore its various aspects, dimensions, features, functions, and roles etc.
    The Presentation will explore interactively with Saadh Sangat some of the important issues listed below along with those likely to be raised during discussions.
1.     What is Gurmat’s conception of Maya?
2.     What is the metaphysical thought on which it is based?
3.     Who created Maya?
4.     What was the purpose for Maya’s creation?
5.     Did Gurus used the term as in earlier traditions?
6.     If not, how did they expand its application and enriched the concept?
a.     Use of metaphors and specific expressions?
b.     Linkage with other metaphysical concepts?
7.     Through which means does Maya function?
8.     which are its malignant influences?
9.     How to escape or dispel those influences?

Slide Presentation


Video of Session


 Posted by at 7:14 pm
Apr 082015
 

VICHAAR

ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ

GuruGranthSahib.107220330_large

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Study Group Brought to you by The Chardi Kalaa Foundation, IGS Now and Sikh Gurdwara San Jose.

Date: Sunday May 3, 2015
Location: Sikh Gurdwara San Jose – Sahibzada Fateh Singh Room in the Khalsa school area.
Time: 11:00 AM
Duration: 2 Hours
Format: Conference Room
Medium: English

Program:

Sdn. Eileen Kaur Alden and S. Supreet Singh Manchanda will lead a discussion on “Nirankaar”

“In this presentation we will ask the question “What are the implications if Akaal Purakh has the quality of Nirankar?” We will discuss 10 examples of how the quality of Nirankar can help us understand other important Gurmat principles and how it can be helpful for our relationship with Akaal Purakh in our daily lives.” [See here  for the story of Eileen’s amazing path to Gurbani]

 As always, we look for active participation by the Sangat in an environment that encourages interactive discussion.

 Posted by at 12:07 pm
Mar 102015
 

VICHAAR

ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ

GuruGranthSahib.107220330_large

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Study Group
Brought to you by The Chardi Kalaa Foundation, IGS Now and Sikh Gurdwara San Jose.

Date: Sunday March  29th, 2014
Location: Sikh Gurdwara San Jose – Sahibzada Fateh Singh Room in the Khalsa school area.
Time: 11:00 AM
Duration: 2 Hours
Format: Conference Room
Medium: English

Program:

S. Pritam Singh Kohli will speak on “Gurmat Perspectives On Maya”.

Abstract: The Term Maya occurs in SGGS hundreds of times which enables one to explore its various aspects, dimensions, features, functions, and roles etc.
    The Presentation will explore interactively with Saadh Sangat some of the important issues listed below along with those likely to be raised during discussions.
1.     What is Gurmat’s conception of Maya?
2.     What is the metaphysical thought on which it is based?
3.     Who created Maya?
4.     What was the purpose for Maya’s creation?
5.     Did Gurus used the term as in earlier traditions?
6.     If not, how did they expand its application and enriched the concept?
a.     Use of metaphors and specific expressions?
b.     Linkage with other metaphysical concepts?
7.     Through which means does Maya function?
8.     which are its malignant influences?
9.     How to escape or dispel those influences?
 As always, we look for active participation by the Sangat in an environment that encourages interactive discussion.
 Posted by at 11:01 am
Mar 062015
 

Haumai – Sdn Leena Kaur

Abstract:

We will look at the concept of Haumai in Gurbani. The basic need is to first familiarize oneself with one’s Haumai (often translated as Ego) and then work on getting rid of it to attain realization, as Haumai is the only blocking factor for Grace to occur and to be seen in one’s life.  In the light of Gurbani, how can we get rid of Haumai?


Slide Presentation


Video of Session


Japji p. 33 – Aakhan jor chupai neh jor

Video of Session

 Posted by at 11:22 am
Feb 222015
 

Gurmat Perspectives on Jeevan Mukt (liberated while alive) – S. Pritam Singh Kohli

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Abstract:

The presentation on Jeevan mukta as an Ideal Sikh person will explore several direct references in the Sikh canonical literature to the jivan-mukta.These references help us in defining the concept, its pre-requisites, determining its characteristics-spirtual as well as Ethico moral  , his role and relevance to society, and the higher place in the Sikh religious thought to the jivan-mukti vis-a-vis the videh-mukti.
Reference will be made to other synonyms used for the jivan Mukta such as:Gurmukh or the Guru oriented as against the manmukh or the self-willed, giani(j knower or enlightened,brahmigiani (brahmanjanani) or the knower of Brahm, Sachiara or the knower of Truth, Panch or Elect Khalsa and jodh maha bal sur with the implication of this heroism being exclusively moral and spiritual.
The significance of other related terms like “Jeevat Marna” and “Sabdey Marna” will be examined.
Sikh Theology and Philosophy of liberation will also be explored interactively.

Slide Presentation


Download Slide Presentation


Video of Session


Japji p. 32 (Jessi Kaur)

Video of Session

 Posted by at 8:16 pm
Feb 192015
 

Is Sikhism Turning Into The Superbowl?

February 3, 2015 by I.J. Singh

I. J. Singh

A SPECTATOR SPORT

I.J. Singh

As a moderately devoted fan, each season I spend many a fruitless hour in front of the TV watching American Football.

It is not a game I play at all or understand all that well.  I have been watching it sporadically for better than five decades, but have made little attempt to learn its intricacies.  Even the fundamentals mystify me; then why do I watch it so incessantly.

The television culture promotes spectator sports.  Get your bag of popcorn or potato chips, a six pack of beer or soda, with the remote in hand plop yourself in a comfortable chair in front of the tube, and let your fingers do the walking.

It doesn’t have to be an addiction to football. Other pastimes that I can personally pursue with a modicum of skill and pleasure, such as tennis or squash, would do just as well.  I can then survive or pursue anything or any activity – from the debacle in Iraq and Syria to the “American idol” without moving a major muscle or possessing any measurable skill.  A minimal engagement is demanded of the body or mind.

Wouldn’t it be reasonable then to label such a life largely “a spectator sport?”

What higher duty defines citizenship than participation in the political electoral process of his or her neighborhood, city, state and country?  But news reports tell us that citizen participation continues to decline, while the numbers of so called experts and talking heads on the tube proliferate exponentially.

In a nation of believers, what clearer calling can there be than to participate in matters of one’s religion?  Again, statistics tell us, church attendance keeps falling even while the numbers of those who profess a belief in their religion keep climbing.  There is a growing abyss between professed belief and its practice. So, both our religious as well as civic life may be on the irreversible path of becoming not much more than a spectator sport.

I am embarrassed to admit that my “aha” moment that life was being inexorably reduced to a spectator sport happened not because of some talking heads on television, but while sitting in a gurdwara listening to a pretty good sermon.

I can see that complex ideas are at the core of our civic and religious lives.  It is not difficult to discern how the complex administrative hierarchies of religions evolved and that they exist to assist the followers in their voyage of self-discovery. But haven’t the professionals of religions reduced the disciples to the role of passive followers, nay, spectators of their own faith?

Let me draw my evidence largely from my own faith — Sikhi – though I believe that most of the older established religions are not much different in this matter.  The longer they have been around more is the rot that seems to have set in.

Most people visit their favorite places of worship, sit through the sermon and liturgy, pay the requisite donation, and come home feeling smug that, once again, they have been absolved of their sins.  The visit next week will wash away whatever new grime we/they accumulate over the week.

When good Christian friends of mine argue that the return of Latin mass would be good, I wonder what they mean, because they understand not a word of Latin.  When they insist that only an ordained priest can consecrate the bread at Communion or say the Mass, I wonder if it further diminishes the ordinary follower.

In these matters, Sikhs are no different.  But it was not always thus.

Not so long ago, a Sikh religious service at someone’s home was put on hold for several hours because the performing granthi had been inordinately delayed, and a pastoral alternative was not easily available.  I suggested that we could function just as well without one, and that there was no function that only the clergy could perform while a lay Sikh – man or woman — could not.  But people looked at me as if I had committed blasphemy or, at the very least, a grave social faux pas.

I remember that, not so many years ago, in small community gurdwaras, particularly, outside India, the entire service was conducted by lay people; there were no professional granthis or ragees available.  Now I see that speakers and ragees (liturgical singers) at gurdwaras are, more often than not, professionals.  They do their job and the congregation sits through another day of service.

I wonder if many in the audience (I hesitate to label them a congregation or sangat) remember even one line of a hymn that was sung, or the theme of the sermon!  Sometimes I am tempted to poll the outgoing congregation at the end of the service and ask them exactly such questions.  But my friends wisely dissuade me from such foolishness.  Also, I wonder how I would answer, if the questions were asked of me, and that stops me cold.

However, the gurdwara thus becomes the domain of the granthi and no longer a place of the people.

Sikhism tells me that a gurdwara comes alive into existence when Sikhs of the Guru collect to have a conversation with the Guru — perhaps once in the early morning and once in the evening nearer supper time, sometimes more often.  Joining a Sikh religious service then becomes and remains an inner dialogue of the mind and heart, but one that surely changes a Sikh’s persona.

Remember that where Guru Granth provides the treasure trove and the direction, the keertan (liturgical music) and kathaa (discourse) provide the technology for a Sikh’s path.

But I look around in our modern gurdwara and many in the congregation sit silently.  Are they lost in their own thoughts and travails or is it that they may not understand what is being sung or said.  Perhaps they do not speak the words, for they know not the language or what the words mean.  Predictably then, the mind wanders elsewhere. How then can there be dialogue and engagement with the Guru?

The only aspect of the Sikh religious service that has not yet gone the way of a spectator sport is the community meal (langar) served at the end of each service; it is still largely prepared by volunteers.  But the volunteers are few — far fewer than the number of the attendees — and in many affluent gurdwaras, I see a growing trend of catered meals.

Also, our gurduaras mostly function by a management model that solicits or encourages minimal, if any, input and participation by the sangat.  For the average gurduara goer, matters of gurduara management remains a black box – better left unopened.

In the 1960’s there was great turmoil in the Roman Catholic Church.  Prior to that period, the Mass was always in Latin.  Clearly, for the average believer there was more magic and mystery than understanding to the Roman Catholic rites.  The result was the emergence of the Mass in the vernacular.  That was the doing of Pope John XXIII. Then came the time of Benedict XVI who preferred Latin and thus majesty over understanding.

Are we Sikhs going to wage similar battles, between the immigrant-Punjabi Sikh who viscerally rejects the use of any language but Punjabi in the gurdwara, and those who have grown up outside Punjab or are from varied ethnic backgrounds?  This might seem shocking, but it is true.  I have been at the receiving end of such edicts and demands at many gurdwaras in North America: they brusquely commanded that only Punjabi be spoken within the gurdwara premises during services. (I hope to deal with this another time.)

Come to think of it, ordinary Sikhs in the modern gurdwara have very little to do.  Most Sikhs never even learn the names of the Gurus in sequence, nor do they know how to recite the basics of our liturgy and service or its purpose.  The reason is simple:  every meaningful activity is performed by the clergy and the average Sikh just sits as a silent spectator, hardly ever a participant.  And all this is happening in a religion, which has no formal requirements or need of an ordained clergy because it is indeed a religion of lay people.

Since any religion is, in the final analysis, a way of life, it is self-evident that it has to be a “Do It Yourself” model of activity. The onus, thus, is on the follower.  Whence all the ministers, priests rabbis, mullahs, granthis and pandits – shamans all?

Though born a Hindu, Guru Nanak was equally tolerant of Hinduism and Islam, and just as equally dismissive of the foibles of both.   Had there been a sizeable distribution of followers around from other faiths like Christianity I am sure his attitude would have been equally inclusive or dismissive of their ways as well.

A widely told parable from his life speaks of a time when Guru Nanak was challenged by a Muslim Qazi to prove his open-mindedness by participating in Muslim prayer at the local mosque.  Nanak agreed, but at the stipulated time during prayer declined to stand with the local satrap and the Qazi.

When asked to explain, Nanak’s response blew his questioners away.  He reminded them that their minds were not on God – one was rehashing in his mind a business deal for the purchase of some Arabian horses, the other was preoccupied with the fate of a newborn calf at his farm who might have wandered off near an unguarded well.   To them, like to many, religion had become a ritual and a spectator sport.

Watching someone else run a marathon is not going to endow anyone with the skill or the fortitude to complete the run.

A building does not a gurdwara make; it is people who transform the building into a gurdwara.

How then is ordinary human clay to become a Sikh in our modern gurdwaras?

Now for a bit of tautology:  Religions define a way of life.  When we reduce religion to a spectator sport, what then does life become?

 

February 2, 2015

ijsingh99@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Feb 182015
 

Nirbhau – S. Jagjot Singh

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Abstract:

“Let us do vichaar on the fifth word in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib – “Nirbhau”. What does it mean to be truly Nirbhau in one’s life? How does one attain this state of being Nirbhau? And – what are the benefits felt in daily life of being Nirbhau?”

Slide Presentation


Video of Session


Japji p.31 (Jessi Kaur)

Video of Session

 Posted by at 4:04 pm