ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕਾਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ॥ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕੀਫ਼ਤਹਿ ॥
Reflect, Reset, Renew
We’ve hit Week 4 and, as hard as it may be to believe, Spring (Basant) is almost here. It’s also the last month of the Bikrami year – Phagun.
If you’ve been to any of Vichaars on Fridays in the last couple of weeks, you know we’ve been going crazy about trees and greenery, but I want to point one particular shabad Bhai Amandeep Singh highlighted during his talk with us: Mera Mann Loche Gur Darshan Tai, composed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. I’m not going to rehash the specific sakhi behind it, but one pangti (“line”, for lack of a better term) in the shabad has stayed with me since the event:
ਚਿਰੁ ਹੋਆ ਦੇਖੇ ਸਾਰਿੰਗਪਾਣੀ ॥
Chir Hoaa Dhaekhae Saaringapaanee ||
It’s been so long since this rainbird has had even a glimpse of water.
Water quenching “thirst” is one of the oldest, most universal ideas in the history of theology: Islam talks about the ‘Pond of Abundance’, a body of water that’ll dehydrate chaotic, passion-filled souls; the Hindu Vedas tell us to purify our ego, remaining content and unaffected, just like ‘pure water poured into pure water’; and, in the Bible, Jesus offers his followers water which will ‘become in [them] a spring of water, welling up into eternal life’. It’s the same idea, just told in different ways.
It also reminded me of — brace yourself for the most out-of-place reference ever — Kendrick Lamar’s “LUST.” I’m not about to compare a rap lyric to a shabad, but I think it’s more helpful to understand Bani through what we know than the heady, “God The Great Male Lord did this” kind of explanations that we’re used to. Kendrick’s song is cold, blunt and, above all else, relatable. For him, lust isn’t just sexual desire — it’s about feeling like you’re stuck in the routine of life:
“Time passing, things change
Reverting back to our daily programs,
stuck in our ways.
It might feel like it’s been ages since you’ve had a glimpse of “water”. A glimpse of something genuinely nourishing. A glimpse of fulfilment. It’s especially hard to feel that way when, as always, the world seems intent on dragging us down. Last week, stories, pictures and videos emerged of a twenty-year old Sikh woman being dragged, tortured and gang-raped in the streets of a Delhi village. Her hair was cut and her face was blackened.
Why does it matter that she’s a Sikh? Where it suits the Indian state’s narrative, identity is at the forefront; when it concerns the perpetuation of cultural genocide, we’re told to keep it stepping. “It’s a village thing”, they say. The reality is, women are not safe in India, and being a minority woman, be that a Sikh, a Muslim or of a scheduled caste, is tantamount to a death sentence. Until we confront this, similar patterns of behaviour will continue unabated.
A message was left outside the attacker’s home. It read, ‘the Sikh Kaum is still alive, and it will get revenge’. Why was it written in Panjabi, when the attackers were Hindu? It wasn’t for them to read — it’s a reminder to ourselves. Whether we’re confronting the socio-poltical injustices of the world or the inner dissatisfactions that leave us feeling ‘stuck in our ways’, Sikhi is there. All we have to do is reflect and reset.
“Any daughter/sister, no matter her caste or religious affiliation, who is molested, abused, or in danger, must be protected. The culprit must pay for his action. Whether the culprit is a policeman, a bureaucrat, or even the president or any high official, he must not be allowed to escape from his deserved punishment” — Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, 1982
Navjyot Kaur, ‘The Sikh Quam is Alive’, Baaz (https://www.baaznews.org/p/sikh-quam-is-alive-delhi-gang-rape)
Hannah Ellis-Petersen, ‘If you saw her body, you will never sleep again’, The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/06/i-dont-see-anything-changing-despair-india-rape-crisis-grows)
‘India’s forgotten rapes: the story of Amandeep Kaur’, World Sikh Org (https://www.worldsikh.org/india_s_forgotten_rapes_the_story_of_amandeep_kaur)
Videos & Podcasts
‘Guru Hargobind’s prayer before battle’, Suraj Podcast, ep. 194
‘Mindset Series’, BoS TV, ep. 1
Kirtan & Dharmik Geet
Basant Raag Rensabai Kirtan by Bibi Priti Kaur & Jatha
G.S. Nawepindiya, City of God (2022)
Gopal has been leading a revival in Dharmik geet in the last couple of years, regularly releasing dedicated to our history that is of a consistently high-standard. His last album, City of God, features includes seven tracks produced by Trugg — both Gopal and Trugg spoke at our conference on music & the arts in Feburary 2020.