What is the future of Sikhi?
The Sikhs in glorious past have had long periods of persecution and suffering. Their faith in the Gurus and God, and an awareness of the need for voluntary community service made them face cheerfully, many ordeals. The 18th century witnessed the genocide of the Sikhs, particularly at the two holocausts of 1746 and 1762 called Chotta Ghallughara and Wadda Ghallughara respectively, from which the Sikhs rose like phoenix from the ashes. Their martyrdom has inspired successive generations of Sikhs to the cause of the Panth and their belief in Chardi Kala, Dynamic optimism.
Again during the last century, the Partition of India in 1947 divided their homeland and dealt them another catastrophic blow, physically and economically. Again they never lost the courage and will to survive. Many of them migrated to the truncated Punjab, others went to foreign countries and established themselves. In the new state of the Punjab, they brought in the Green Revolution (in agriculture) and the White Revolution (in milk) production. Now Punjab has the highest per capita income in India. Though affluence has brought in some evils, the Sikhs have managed to maintain their vitality and leadership in both the economic and political fields by hard work, sociability, resourcefulness and optimism.
The world today is torn by strife and suffering. Even the affluent countries are not free from the fear of war and the dilution of their quality of life. Man has progressed materially but not intrinsically. Disparities in income, the poverty of two-thirds of the world’s population, the maldistribution of resources and the exploitation of the weaker sections of humanity, have divided the globe into the North and the South – the industrial nations and the Under-developed nations. The Gurus showed a way forward to the removal of inequality through justice, equality and freedom. Sikhi is not just a religion that be theologically studied but it is “Dharma”, a complete way of life in balance with mind, body & soul. Dharma in its true sense is not of ritual, but of fellowship and self-discipline. Hypocrisy and double standards corrode our character and hinder our progress. A Sikh’s recognition of the brotherhood & sisterhood of all ordinary people is illustrated in Sangat (congregation) and Pangat (Free Kitchen). The Gurus’ love of humanity made them recognize the universal truths that underlie all human endeavors.
Sikhi is the only complete and total religion that has a concept of Sach Khand (Realm of Truth) and Jeevan Mukti (Liberated whilst alive). Guru Nanak Sahib Ji is the Perfect True Guru who revealed the Light of Truth. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Living Word that embodies the Divine Spirit, provides the A-Z map of how to live the total, complete and perfect way of life that is spiritually balanced. Only through accepting and practically living the Guru’s teachings, and through the love and Grace of God, the Sikh of the Guru can experience the Sach Khand whilst alive and the soul unites with Eternal God in spiritual bliss and eternity after death.
Although Sikhi does not preach that all religions are the same (i.e. pluralism), it is unique by the fact that it does not condemn others to Hell or say if you are not Sikh you are eternally damned. Rather a Sikh prays at least twice daily for “Sarbat Da Bhallaa”, meaning the good and prosperity of all Humanity regardless of religion, belief or faith. All faiths will get what they work towards. All good actions, humanitarian work and human endeavors are rewarded by God irrespective of religion, gender or race.
Today we witness a revival of Sikhi all over the world. Sikhs are discovering the truth of the Gurus’ message by studying Gurbani. Non-Sikhs are being influenced by the zeal and dedication of Sikhs to projects of community-welfare and voluntary service. More Sikhs are taking Amrit as they try to become Guru Gobind Singh’s saint-soldiers. The growth of Sikhi in the United States of America is a testimony to the relevance and vitality of the Gurus’ teachings in this day and age. Not only there is great increase in the number of Sikhs, but also a new enthusiasm to follow the teachings of the Gurus in daily life. Despite countless holocausts, genocides and termination of Sikhs throughout the history of Sikhs, Sikhi is now a World Religion that has a great part to play in building bridges of understanding & friendship between the different nations of the world and in the promotion of global peace.
Russell had this to say about Sikhi: “That if some lucky men survive the onslaught of the third world war of atomic and hydrogen bombs, then the Sikh religion will be the only means of guiding them.” Russell was asked that he was talking about the third world war, but isn’t this religion capable of guiding mankind before the third world war? In reply, Russell said, “Yes, it has the capability, but the Sikhs have not brought out in the broad daylight, the splendid doctrines of this religion which has come into existence for the benefit of the entire mankind. This is their greatest sin and the Sikhs cannot be freed of it.”
The Sikhs have been blessed with a priceless religion, a perfect Guru and a peace-loving, humanitarian & practical lifestyle. It should be every Sikh’s responsibility and sewa (selfless service without seeking recognition) to propagate and lovingly share the Guru’s Wisdom, principles and the Sikh lifestyle with one’s neighbours, the wider community, and the whole world. Through sharing the love, practicality and humanitarianism of the Sikh faith the world there would be less hatred, religious fanaticism, and spiritual discontent that we see evident in today’s modern society.
—– QUOTES FROM WESTERN PHILOSOPHERS & SCHOLARS —–
Rev. H.L. Bradshaw of the U.S.A., “Sikh Review”, Calcutta:
“Sikhism is a Universal world Faithâ€¦a message for all men. This is amply illustrated in the writings of the Gurus. Sikhs must cease to think of their faith as just another good religion and must begin to think of Sikhism being the religion for this New Age.”
Dorothy Field in her book, “The Sikh Religion”:
“Pure Sikhism is far above dependence on Hindu rituals and is capable of a distinct position as a world religion so long as Sikhs maintain their distinctiveness. The religion is also one which should appeal to the occidental mind. It is essentially a practical religion. If judged from the pragmatic standpoint which is a favourite point of view in some quarters, it would rank almost first in the world (emphasis by the author). Of no other religion can it be said that it has made a nation in so short a time.”