How was the sikh religion founded? How was the sikh lifestyle formed? It started with one wise man who used his critical sense. He raised questions around the customs in society. He asked why things were like they were. Sikhi started with argumentation. Guru Nanak Sahib ji and the following gurus used argumentation and their critical sense to raise questions – both philosophical and social questions. I talked with a dear uncle of mine who talked to me about this topic, and it appealed so much to me that I wanted to share it with you.
Let me give you an example. At the time of Guru Nanak Sahib ji many people blindly followed customs. It is said that people used to worship the sun by offering water to the sun thinking that the water would reach the sun. Guru Nanak Sahib ji used his intellect and started throwing water the other way and people asked him why he did that. He said that if their water could reach the sun, then surely his water could reach his farm. By asking questions like these he made them realize how their most basic assumption couldn’t possibly be right. Guru Nanak Sahib ji didn’t blindly follow what the other people were doing. He used his critical sense to raise questions against it.
Are we using our critical sense? I asked many kids at camp why we did matha tekna, why we do chor sahib etc. Many kids didn’t know the answer. Why? Because the community is not communicating to our kids that they should use their critical sense. We are just following the traditions blindly, and so are our coming generations. We are not being a role model for the coming generations on how we should use our critical sense.
What will be the consequences if we keep on following traditions blindly? I think the consequences will be fatal. Let me give you an example. Imagine you have a camp in your respective gurdwara. You invite someone from England to host the camp. The host says a couple of things, and one of the things he or she says is that you cannot read Guru Granth Sahib ji if you are not a proper gursikh. What will the consequences of this be if the gurdwara committee follows this blindly without using their critical sense? Or what effect will this have on children attending the camp? The consequences will be division and distance. This will create a wider gap between amritdharis and non-amritdharis. In addition to that it the nonamritdharis will be more distanced to Guru Granth Sahib ji and the sikhi way of life, because they will not be given the opportunity to even get the knowledge.
Another daily example is the first thing we do when we enter the diwan. We are used to do matha tekna and therefore bowing before guruji just become a ritual. We do not have the reason in mind of why we are bowing our heads. We are not thinking that bowing before guruji is actually saying that gurujis knowledge is bigger than our limited knowledge and that we want to leave our knowledge behind and be more receptive to gurujis knowledge. When we are just bowing as a tradition, as a ritual, we are doing what our gurus condemned.
Why are we not using our critical sense? Is it that we think we will become unpopular among the crowd if we raise questions of the customs they and we are following? Among many people Guru Nanak Sahib ji was not popular at that time. Why would a person who didn’t follow the traditions of society blindly, but rather raised questions, be popular?
Are we continuing with the tradition our gurus started or are we following traditions blindly? There must be a reason that we human beings have something that distinguishes us from animals. Our intellect. We have been blessed with the ability to use our intellect, use our brain to take decisions in life and reflect upon what we are doing with our limited time.
One thing we should have in mind is that children learn from elders. When we use our critical sense and ask questions to a person leading a camp, we are demonstrating to the kids that what the leader is saying may not be the right answer. We are encouraging the kids to use their own intellect. To go for their own search to find their truth. What they believe in. What Sikhi means for them. As a Sikh we should be conscious that every step we take, will have an impact on people around us. By using our critical sense like the gurus, we will raise more acceptance in society to ask questions.
PS: You want to be updated for new posts? Like the page “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook.
PS: I know I haven’t written for a long time. This post is dedicated to my dear grandmother who encouraged me to write. She wanted thoughtfulkaur back, and here I am, nanimama 🙂 Love you.