Saturday, 12 November 2016

Guru Nanak’s Jyot and Jugat

Guru Nanak Sahib working at his farm with Bhai Lehna (later Guru Angad)
(Image credit:

The Sikhs believe in One Guru Light, the Jyot *.
(*or Joth where th is pronounced as in think.)

In the Bhatt Savaiyay in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) Guru Nanak Sahib is referred to as the embodiment of the Jyot as follows: 

ਜੋਤਿ ਰੂਪਿ ਹਰਿ ਆਪਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਹਾਯਉ
Joth Roop Har Aap Guroo Naanak Kehaayo ||
The Embodiment of Light, the Lord Himself is called Guru Nanak.
SGGS Ang 1408. 

The same Jyot was in the nine Guru-persons after Guru Nanak. Thus, the start of the Guru-succession process is described as follows: 

ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤੂ ਲਹਣਾ ਤੂਹੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਅਮਰੁ ਤੂ ਵੀਚਾਰਿਆ
Naanak Thoo Lehanaa Thoohai Gur Amar Thoo veechaariaa ||
You are Nanak, You are Angad, and You are Amar Daas; so do I recognize You.
(SGGS Ang 968) 

According to Sikh belief, the Jyot now resides in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Shabd or Word Guru.

Together with the divine concept of Jyot, the idea of Jugat is also introduced in the  Guru tradition.

Jyot and Jugat go together.  From this twin- track approach has emerged a whole-life socially active system which is the miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) heritage of the Khalsa Panth.

Jyot can be conceptualised as a divine Source of Light which shows the way to the ultimate Reality or Truth (Sacch).  Jyot, the Light, shows the path to God-centred love (through bhagti and Naam meditation). It leads the way to the understanding and loving acceptance of the Divine Law or Hukam Razaaee. It leads to inner detachment from this life which is a passing phase, and attachment to the Timeless, Eternal Reality, the Truth (Sacch).  

For the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Sahib is the embodiment of Jyot as Jyot-roop Guru capable of removing the duality, the illusion of world-play, in his Sikh. Also, the Jyot-roop is extended from the Guru to the Sikh as from one lamp is lit another and countless others. In the Sikh tradition, the emergence (pragteo) of the Khalsa is seen as the outcome of that (Guru-Sikh or Aapay Guru-chelaa) process.

There are references in SGGS of Har jan becoming one with Har i.e. when the devotee of Waheguru meditates on the Qualities of Waheguru he or she merges with Waheguru. The duality of seeing the Creator as distinct from creation is removed. Jyot teaches us One-ness of the Creator Being and the created: to see God in all.

Ultimately, the Jyot is Waheguru, the Timeless and Wondrous Enlightener described by Guru Nanak Sahib in his founding creed, the Mool Mantar.

So, what is Jugat? Literally, Jugat means the way or the method. What is the jugat of doing or achieving something?  It refers to the process. Following inner freedom from self-centred attachment, Jugat, re-engages a Sikh with this life in the Guru’s way. It is the way or method of living shown by the Guru.

Jyot frees or disengages the Sikh from the duality of life due to self-centricity (haomai) and then, in that free state of mind of inner detachment,  Jugat re-engages the Sikh through social activism to serve the Creater and the created.

Jyot and Jugat twin-track approach to Sikhi living is a unique gift of Guru Nanak Sahib.  

It was through the process of Jugat that the Khalsa was revealed in the Guru’s own image by Nanak X, Guru Gobind Singh. That was the high point of Sikhi tradition on the Vaisakhi day in 1699.

Jugat has to do with practical Sikhi and the related processes and procedures.
The ten Guru persons were the embodiment of both, the Jyot and Jugat:  

ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ
Jyot Oha Jugat saae Seh kaaeiaa faer palatteeai
The Guru-persons shared the same Guru Light and the same way (method); only the King [Nanak] changed His body. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 966)

Sometimes, due to lack of clarity of Jugat, divisions are created amongst the followers of the same path (or panth) of  Sikhi.

Today, there is need to remind ourselves what Guru’s Jugat means.  There are some who ignore this essential component of Sikh living, either through ignorance or by design. For most, there is no problem with the Jyot aspect of Guru Nanak, but for some, the Jugat aspect of the Guru, passed on to the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh, causes problems.

The Jugat and Jyot linked miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) tradition symbolised by the institution of Sri Akal Takht Sahib becomes politically inconvenient for some. The Sikh Reht Maryada – the Code of Sikh Conduct and Conventions – evolved by the Khalsa Panth, causes problems also.  

Without a study of the lives of the ten Guru-persons who represented the same Jyot-Jugat of Guru Nanak and who progressed the Guru’s mission, it is not possible to interpret the divine Message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is both, universal and also specific to the Sikhi way of life evolved over the centuries. In the Sikh tradition, the lessons taught by the ten Guru-persons through own lives regarding Jugat (lived Sikhi) cannot be ignored.   

Any study of Sikh ideology and tradition would be incomplete without understanding the inseparable Jyot-Jugat attributes of The One Guru. Reference to the Word Guru, the SGGS, for guidance also requires reference to the Jugat for practical interpretation. This was taught in simple steps by the ten Guru-persons up to the revelation of the Khalsa Panth, the high point of lived-Sikhi tradition. 

When the teaching period of the Jyot-Jugat Guru through ten Guru-persons was over, the Jyot passed on to the Eternal Shabd-Guru, Sri Guru Grath Sahib, while the Jugat resided in the collective body of the Khalsa Panth, which became Guru Roop Khalsa in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. That was the final Command of Nanak-Jyot, Guru Gobind Singh.  

The Jugat resides in the Khalsa Panth. The Jyot in Sri Guru Granth Sahib guides individual and collective Sikh living through the Khalsa Panth. That is the twin track approach to the Guru, when seeking guidance.  

Any other approach would lead to multiple, and sometimes conflicting, interpretations of Shabd Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. We see that happening today.

There are obvious practical implications of the above Jyot-Jugat approach to Sikhi living. When we feel that we have lost our way then we seek guidance from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. However, Guru Gobind Singh ji’s injunction is that correct guidance or interpretation of the Shabd Guru is only possible at collective Khalsa level. There are those today who would ignore or even deny that injunction.

The ray of hope is that there are others pursuing the Sarbat Khalsa tradition of collective decision making to revive the Khalsa processes for the future guidance of the Panth.

The Guru’s Jugat was taught over more than two centuries from 1469, the year of the arrival of  “Jyot Roop Har Aap”, Guru Nanak Sahib. The lessons taught by the Jyot-Jugat Guru-persons over that period as part of Sikhi tradition, cannot be ignored.

The Panthic Sikh Reht Maryada The Code of Sikh Conduct and Conventions
– is the Jugat derived collectively by the Khalsa Panth from Sri Guru Granth Sahib as interpreted through the lives and teachings of the Guru-persons from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh. The definition of a Sikh in the Sikh Reht Maryada includes belief in the “Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib” and “The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus”. 

Sikh tradition is based on Simran or constant God awareness through meditation on the Jyot, which leads to the desire to serve the Creater Being by serving His creation.

It leads to the objective of halemi raj, a just regime in which no one inflicts pain on another. It leads to willing sacrifices to oppose tyrannical regimes. Today it is leading Sikhs to care for the environment and the planet, the Mata Dharat Mahat – the Great Mother Earth – and to responsible world citizenship.
The Sikh tradition is derived from Guru-Jugat or way of living. Understanding of the Jyot-Jugat Sikhi approach is a pre-condition to the interpretation of Gurbani when seeking guidance from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

Gurmukh Singh OBE
(Principle Civil Servant ret’d)

© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.) Please acknowledge quotations from this article
Articles may be published subject to prior approval by the author.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Radicalization & Confused Government Policy

Radicalization is a loaded expression which lumps together Islamic radicalization at one extreme and social activism at the other.    

According to one definition, radicalization is a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo.

So, if any individual or group of people who wish to bring about a change or support a cause, but adopt extreme methods e.g. through violence or terrorism, then one can argue that they have been radicalized

However, some would argue that any form of progress or change would “undermine status quo”. Those wishing to return to their roots and stable societal values would be regarded as the “radicals”. 

It would seem that radicalization of young people from well established minority communities in Western countries is a complex issue and can be misunderstood or exploited.

As for “extreme methods”, the other condition for “radicalization”,  that too becomes rather subjective. Young Sikhs disagreed with Gurdwara managment at Leamington in the UK and started a protest. It is not clear at what stage that protest – hopefully an invitation to talk - became “extreme methods” in the management’s view so that armed police were called in when responsible community leaders could have settled any disagreement about the Sikh Reht Maryada (The Code of Sikh Conduct & Conventions).

On 14 September, a Shashank Joshi wrote about the Leamington Gurdwara incident in The Telegraph and linked Sikhs to Muslim extremism. His headline reads, "We cannot let religious conservatives poison our society  - whether Muslim or Sikh."  From his angle and that of some on Sikh forums, conservatives  are the radicals.

Therefore, these conservative Sikhs have been radicalized and are “poisoning our society”! But surely, if they have been radicalised then they cannot be conservatives. If they are truly conservatives then they are the ones trying to preserve religio-cultural values which give us stability.

It is becoming popular to say that young people are being radicalized by extremist ideologies. Yet many of these young people are simply trying to re-discover their roots and return to established religio-social values. Therefore, for the purpose of Government policy “extremist ideology” needs to be defined more carefully and on the basis of better education about communities. 

I quote a senior colleague with appreciation, “The term radicalization is rather loaded and implies some sort of deliberate brain washing and then utilisation by some forces for ulterior motives. People often associate this term to what is happening within the Islamic community when it conjures up certain images. The protestors in this [Leamington Gurdwara] case have widespread community support as they are quite simply raising the issue of violation of the Rehat Maryada and at other times protesting at injustices towards Sikhs in India.”

He goes on to clarify, “I am not in support of activities that bring adverse media coverage towards Sikhs , covering of faces during protests etc but do think it is dangerous to start using terms like radicalisation of the Sikh youth as it has many unintended consequences .”  I agree.

Individuals and groups questioning the current state of affairs, are sometimes  regarded as a threat by the establishment. They are seen to be “undermining status quo”. Too readily, they are then branded as radicalized when they protest.

Instead of understanding the reasons for activism in many fields, and appreciating it and giving it a positive direction and support by passing just laws when needed, generally, the establishment – the politicians, the media and vested interests e.g. international trade - tends to oppose it.  The activists resort to protests and, at some point, there is even breakdown of law and order.

Depending on the wrong perceived or suffered, some resort to violence and start earning the qualification, radicalized .  Political and religious issues can be easily exploited by preachers of hatred to radicalize young minds. This is referred to as the “slippery slope” to radicalization even in fields not normally associated with violence to begin with. For example, even environmental issues and charity work in the field in war-torn zones can lead to radicalization.

The media plays a prominent role too by either resorting to hype in the headlines or totally ignoring issues and concerns e.g. those of minority communities. Investigative journalism can help but it is time consuming.  Shoddy journalism is cheap and looks for sensational headlines.  To quote a colleague, “We all need to be wary of unscrupulous and sloppy journalism that seeks to play on stereotypes and to sensationalise; this is what improves ratings and sells newspapers and perhaps we get the journalism we deserve.”    

In case of Sikh youth, the careless approach of the mainstream media continues to be a matter of grave concern. Western media has done hardly anything to educate itself and the public about the Sikhs even after the Sikh killings in the US due to mistaken identity.  To quote a report, “Since 9/11, the Sikh American community has had to face repeated harassment over basic tenets of their faith, such as wearing a turban and keeping a beard. “ Identity Sikhs are profiled as terrorists. Youth resentment and protests against such treatment is to be expected.

The impression gained is that radicalization of youth in the plural British society is a term used too conveniently to lump together all types of activism and just grievances. Radicalization of youth does not happen overnight. There is a reason or a provocation and extreme positions are adopted incrementally. Matters are made worse when the establishment turns a blind eye to the real issues and concerns. 

Yet, a desire to bring about change towards a just society is a legitimate human goal. It is central to Sikh teaching.  Social activism is not a threat but a welcome sign of a vibrant and healthy society. Activists in social, religious and political fields should understand that change for the better in society takes time.

It is possible that, rather too hastily, youth movements are branded as radicalized  without a careful study of the underlying causes and possible remedies at national and international levels.

Gurmukh Singh OBE
(Principle Civil Servant ret’d)

© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.)Please acknowledge quotations from this article
Articles may be published subject to prior approval by the author

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Martyrdom (Shaheedi) in Sikhi Tradition

-         Self –immolation or suicidal terrorism is not martyrdom

The world is increasingly becoming a dangerous place. The so called Islamic State (IS) claims as its own, the suicide bombers and gunmen going for civilian soft targets. These would-be martyrs have almost unlimited number of ways and means for destroying human lives. The use of a civilian vehicle as a weapon to kill or maim many innocent helpless people is just one recent example..

Misinterpretation of a religious ideology, which also gave birth to Bhagat Farid (sanctified in Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and Saint Mia Mir, hail these suicidal mass murderers as martyrs.

With various claims to martyrdom, ranging from self-immolation to suicidal terrorism, I wonder sometimes if we ourselves understand what is true martyrdom and who is a true martyr in the Sikhi tradition.  

Many years ago, I read Sirdar Kapur Singh’s Saachi Saakhi. He started with the background to Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom and concluded with S. Darshan Singh Pheruman’s sacrifice (October 1969) for the sanctity of Araas (Sikh supplication). The  background to the latter incident was the so called agan kund (literally “containers for sacrificial fire”) erected at Darbar Sahib – a chapter in the history of sacred Sikh martyrdoms, best forgotten.

In 1999, the Pingalwara at Amritsar published an essay by S. Narain Singh with the title, “It is the man and his cause that make him martyr.”  To quote, “...dying in itself is not a worthy aim to be extolled. Human life is a precious gift of God, not to be thrown off purposelessly.”

Recently, I recalled these thoughts in the context of the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur as I continue to collate evidence from many sources about the life and unique martyrdom of Guru ji. In fact, so far as the underlying principles are concerned, the martyrdoms of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Arjan Dev are the same even though the apparent causes at the time were different.

Martyrdom is a consequence of the struggle between the forces of evil and the invincible warrior for good, who remains unconquered to the end, because, he or she, has already conquered self (is already a mar-jeevra – the reborn).  The would-be martyr does not bow to the will of evil but abides by the Will of the Creator Being (Bhana) while remaining true to conscience to the end. The ultimate victory is that of death-defying truthful conduct, justice and the righteous principle being upheld.  

Life is given for the cause regardless of the form of torture, but the just cause is not compromised or surrendered. 

The lessons taught by the two Guru martyrs, Nanak V, Guru Arjan and Nanak IX, Guru Tegh Bahadur,  need to be remembered in the context of the true Sikhi tradition of martyrdom, which is  distinct from the earlier Greek and Semitic traditions. Both Guru Sahibaan opposed oppression and bigotry. In both cases, a  saintly soul (a pavittar atma) revered by all, led the cause and confronted the evil of bigotry to uphold the principle of religious freedom: own faith (Guru Arjan) and that of another (Guru Tegh Bahadur) – the ultimate martyrdom.

For only the martyrdom of such a person would awaken the spirit of righteous conduct and freedom in the ordinary people. Death was not pre-meditated, but was  the inevitable consequence of the struggle (sangharsh) between good and evil.

Inspired by the same fearless spirit, the same cause and dharma (principles), the hundreds who follow such a true martyr also achieve martyrdom. In this regards there are parallels between the Christian and Sikhi traditions. Self-immolation to end own life, or acts of terrorism in which own life and many other innocent lives are lost, cannot be regarded as martyrdom according to the Sikhi tradition.

We meditate daily on the martyrdoms of hundreds of Shaheed Singh-Sighania,  because they followed in the footsteps of the Guru Jyot in Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur. Either as active warriors with a sword in hand, or as passive captives, they stood rock-firm in their faith for their cause. Death was not premeditated or self-inflicted, but death was a consequence.

They too broke the earthen pitcher (human body), the ttheekar, on the heads of the oppressive tyrants in the same mode as “ttheekar phor Dilhees sir” – as did Guru Tegh Bahadur, cast off his bodily vesture on the head of the emperor of Delhi (to quote Guru Gobind Singh)

As a last resort, the just cause decided by the call of conscience, is regarded as more important than life by the martyr. Death is not pre-meditated but a price which is willingly paid when the time comes. Thus, the oppressor fails to achieve own evil objective and is defeated.

Ultimately, all, no matter how powerful, have to face their own conscience, as did emperor Aurungzeb when reminded of his evil deeds by Guru Gobind Singh in the Zaffarnamah. Such ignoble death can be more painful than the physical demise of a martyr who is already detached from the mortal body and attached to the just cause as dictated by own conscience and dharma (sense of responsibility).

The torture and killing is done by the oppressor while the martyr stands firm without compromising the just cause. These days, there are a variety of claims to martyrdom: by those who threaten to take own life, or by suicidal bombers, or gunmen who kill innocent people, or even by some truck driver who mows down dozens of children, women and old people.

None of these are martyrs according to the Sikhi tradition of martyrdom.

Guru Tegh Bahadur thought deeply about these issues. He reflected on  the right leading person to take up the just cause of religious freedom in India? Young Gobind Das had no hesitation in assuring Guru ji that he himself carried Guru Nanak’s Jyot and indeed was the true pavittar atma in all India to confront the bigotry of Aurungzeb, so that others would follow in his footsteps.

The struggle between the bigotry of Aurungzeb and the righteous cause taken up by Guru Tegh Bahadur, was one in which Aurungzeb could not win.  For, “Whereas the emperor could use the power of the state in support of his policy, the Guru could rely on moral courage inherited from a long line of illustrious predecessors to defend the claims of conscience.” (Dr J S Grewal)

Guru Tegh Bahadur’s unique martyrdom defeated the designs of Aurungzeb and, eventually, the evil empire collapsed.

We need to tell the world about the true Sikhi ideal of martyrdom as exemplified by Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur, as we research and re-discover it ourselves.

Gurmukh Singh OBE
(Principle Civil Servant ret’d)

© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.)Please acknowledge quotations from this article
Articles may be published subject to prior approval by the author

Sunday, 19 June 2016

EU Referendum in the UK: To Opt-in or Opt-Out (Brexit)?

We have received Poll Cards for the “Referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.” The polling date is Thursday 23 June 2016.
There are about 700,000 Sikhs in the UK and the Sikh vote will count, even if we are not counted or monitored accurately as Sikhs under the current unsatisfactory system based on rather a vague concept of ethnicity. The Sikhs are in a position to influence the outcome of the referendum and the senior politicians are well aware of this. Some have argued Sikhi universal principles to support staying in the EU. I shall pick up this point later in this article.

There are 28 countries in the European Union (EU) with a total population of just over 508 million (Eurostat population on 2 January 2015).  EU area of  4,381,376 compares with 3,287, 263 sq km of India with a population of  1,254 million. So, EU is larger than India, much richer, but with less than half the population of India.
In the early 1980's I worked closely with a European Economic Community (EEC)  team on two major projects - the "Single Document" for movement of goods across the EEC and the Harmonised System for tariffs in preparation for the World Trade Round (the 8th round of multilateral trade negotiations which started on 1986 called the Uruguay Round.). 

The fact is that the original arguments for creating a “common market” – a trading block – in which there would be unrestricted movement of labour, goods (using a Single Document) and capital, are no longer valid due to the enlargement and creation of an unwieldy hotchpotch of 28 states with very diverse economies.
UK joined the European Community in 1973 when there were nine western European countries. These were Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and the UK. These were developed and comparable economies  to some extent so that movement of capital (finance and companies), goods and services, and labour (migration) was expected within these countries in a balanced sort of way and not in any one direction. They also undertook large scale shared projects because all could contribute financially and technically. The Airbus and the European Transonic Wind-tunnel projects are example based on personal experience (I retired from the Aerospace policy division of Dep Trade & Industry in 1996.). 
In due course, such a trading block protected by one tariff system negotiated with the rest of the world would require harmonization in all areas to ensure a level playing field e.g. in areas such as laws, rules and regulations, standards, minimum wages, monetary policies and so on, the list is long.
The inevitable move would be towards some sort of political union through a supranational government structure with transfer of powers from national parliaments and governments  to the centre i.e. to the European Commission and the European Parliament in the case of the EU. Some would argue that that is a good exchange in return for access to a much larger market.

The whole balance began to be disturbed when middle and eastern European countries joined in. Surely, this would have been expected. 

Companies, people and goods would move to the richer countries not those in eastern Europe, some of which were part of the failed communist state. The counter argument can be that companies would move to areas where there is cheap labour, but then labour would move to countries where there are higher wages, a welfare state and better education! Where there is a good system of administration, law and order and better human rights record. UK is certainly one such country and we should not at all be surprised that there is large scale migration of labour from EU’s eastern European countries like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and countries of former Yugoslavia. Border controls by UK can slow down this trend but only up to a certain degree due to political influences. On the top of that there is the world refugee crisis.

Over the decades, there has been continual power transfer from the UK Parliament and Ministers to Brussels’ bureaucrats. The amount of waste through some policies e.g. agricultural policies and subsidies, and resultant waste of farm products, has been on a mind-boggling scale due to short-termist trade-offs between government negotiators.
At local level there has been a shift of representational accountability from the Member of Parliament (MP) to the Member of European Parliament (MEP), while the latter is not accountable to the same extent as the local MP. Many do not even know the names of their MEPs! So much for local accountability.
The shift of power from the national Parliament to EU institutions was the prediction of those who were working close to the EU establishment and institutions in 1973 when UK joined the EU, and that is precisely the direction the EU is taking. common economic market cannot work without harmonisation across all fields and that must inevitably lead to the creation of a super-state.
In any case, the idea of an exclusive trading block goes against the ideals of free trade on fair terms – the main objective of World Trade Rounds. The ultimate objective is global prosperity, not the enrichment of some trading block of the richer countries by removing internal tariffs only and subsidising internal products while taxing those from poorer countries by a common tariff. The argument put forward by some UK Sikhs that the Sikhi universal principles would support staying in the EU does not make sense to me even though there are strong economic reasons for remaining within the EU.

The population growth rates of the poorer countries are much higher than EU countries while the economies and the socio-political environments much less secure. Human rights situation in many countries is quite appalling. So, the fact is that whether the UK remains in the EU or gets out of it, the problem of legal or illegal immigration and asylum seekers will have to be faced by the UK.  They will come by air or by sea from neighbouring mainland Europe or even directly from north Africa,
Leaving aside the extreme right agenda, the immigration issue is now perceived even by some moderates as a sort of uncontrolled invasion which can unbalance the social, health, educational and welfare systems in the UK. It is also seen as a security risk due to the mixing of terrorists amongst genuine immigrants and asylum seekers.
There is no easy solution to the flow of immigrants from poorer to richer countries, except perhaps global solutions to such global problems. Cheap IT – e.g. mobiles with Web audio-visual facilities in the hands of the poorest young men and women give many one aim in life: to somehow reach a Western country. Most of us were motivated by economic and better education arguments to come to these countries. Those who wanted to return within 5 or 10 years are still here with their grandchildren! The conditions in the countries we come from have not improved significantly.    
Free movement of labour is a founding principle of the EU’s “common market”. It continues to be a form of discrimination along white and non-white lines. For British Sikhs, it is not a freedom of movement in the EU, because Sikh identity continues to be challenged in Europe.
If UK remains within the EU, over a period of time and in stages, non-whites, now flooding into Europe in large numbers from many directions, for many reasons and by various means, would qualify to come over to the UK for work. So, one can argue that in the longer term, more non-whites will also enter UK via Europe if UK remains in the EU. Actually, the vast economic disparities within the EU, and the massive migration of labour from the EU’s poorer and economically mismanaged countries to the richer Western European countries, will remain linked. For the same reasons, the single currency idea made little sense and UK saw this in a timely manner and kept out.
One clear impression gained from the referendum debate is that UK is caught up in a most difficult Catch-22 situation. If UK gets out of EU, the immediate and middle-term damage to the economy can be considerable while new deals are being negotiated. Yet, to stay in would mean that the present unsatisfactory situation will continue and probably become worse, more so if other eastern European countries like Turkey, join in. 
Gurmukh Singh OBE
(Principle Civil Servant ret’d)

© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.)
Please acknowledge quotations from this article 
Articles may be published subject to prior approval by the author

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Family milestone: photo-speak in progress

OBE Investiture at Windsor Castle 13 April 2016.

Related news links:

(Request: I would welcome contact from anyone living in Taiping, Perak or Raub, Pahang, Malaysia.
Gurmukh Singh  E- mail:

More images in the next few days as they are received from Palace photographers. 
Family & Friends party photographs by Amrik Singh Ahdan

Click on image for full image and other pictures 

Photographs by Amrik Singh Ahdan (blue turban)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Vaisakhi 2016: Relevance of the Khalsa Today

Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539) meditated on the human condition and the future of humankind. According to Bhai Gurdas[i], the Guru saw a “burning world”. Like the authors of the Earth Charter, five centuries later, Guru Nanak also saw the need for “a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.” (Earth Charter[ii])

He revealed his vision and mission for the New Age. His mission, as it unfolded over the next two centuries guided by the same Guru Jyot (Guiding Light) in 10 Guru-persons to 1708, laid the foundation for the Order of the Khalsa, the Khalsa Panth.

There were three stages of Guru Nanak’s mission: firstly to contemplate on the qualities of the Creator Being; secondly to interpret these qualities to reveal a God-centred being, the Khalsa[iii]; and thirdly, to show the temporal-spiritual (miri-piri) path of social activism for the Khalsa to follow.

Guru Nanak meditated on the qualities of the Creator Being and described them as: The ONE, all-pervasive  Creator of all universes, with eternal virtues, who does not fear or favor any one/thing, is not against any one, is the embodiment of timeless-ness and deathless-ness, does not take physical life form/does not incarnate, is self-existent; may be known with the guru’s grace/guidance.[iv]

Khalsa is a manifestation of certain God qualities through God-centred beings. The Khalsa is revealed when the illusion between the Creator Being, His creation and His true devotee is removed. The Guru and His Sikh as the Khalsa, become one and the same. Serving God and His creation becomes the pre-condition for reaching God’s holy presence[v].

Thus, like the sculptor who reveals the beautifully proportioned statue from a solid block by chipping away the bits which conceal it, the Khalsa was finally revealed (pragteo Khalsa) by Guru Nanak in His tenth human form as Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) on the Vaisakhi Day in 1699. (The day is celebrated on 14 April each year.). The Sikh Sangat (congregation) of Guru Nanak, had reached institutional maturity.

Guru Nanak set out to create a benign regime of love, humility and justice, the halemi raj, in which no one inflicted pain on another.  The path shown was that of  Khalsa Panth[vi]. The sacrifice demanded for treading the path of God-love and truthful conduct was to accept death while living: complete surrender of ego-centric self [vii].

As a corollary to fearless and truthful behaviour expected of the Khalsa, the Guru prescribed a disciplining and distinct identity for the Sikhs, as well as principles and a code of conduct as constants in a changing world, to provide spiritual stability.

The Khalsa keeps unshorn hair (kesh) symbolising a saintly disposition and completeness of the human body and soul (hair to be covered by a dastar - Sikh turban); wooden comb (kangha) to keep the hair tidy; a steel bangle (kara) representing the God quality of infinity and symbolising discipline and allegiance to the Guru; a sword (kirpan) reminding a Sikh of his duty to  defend the weak, human dignity and honour; and a pair of shorts (Kaccha)  to cover human nakedness, to allow agile movement and symbolising chastity.

The Khalsa provides for all, promotes equality and sharing, sees the human race as one, defends the human rights of all, and defends diversity in a spirit of global unity[viii].  Thus the responsibility of the Khalsa as the  “Army of the Timeless Being” (Khalsa Akal Purakh ki Fauj) was clearly and laid down by the Guru. The Khalsa is taught that: “The Creator Being created the air and the environment, which created water and brought life on earth. Nights, days, seasons, wind, water, fire and nether worlds, therein he created limitless diverse species with interdependent modes of life. In the midst of these He established the earth as His temple. The Earth is the sacred place where we practise righteous conduct (dharma) to achieve the ultimate purpose of this life, which is nearness to the Creator Being. We must not desecrate this temple of God." (Quote from the author’s interfaith presentation at Windsor Castle, “Common faith in our future” on 14 November, 2006.)

The same concepts have a peculiarly modern ring when we read the UN Charter, The Earth Charter and international human rights treaties and instruments.

The Khalsa’s  responsibility to face today’s challenges faced by humankind derives from the egalitarian Khalsa tradition of sharing and serving enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and evolved over many centuries.

Gurmukh Singh 
(Principal UK Civil Servant ret’d)
© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.)
Please acknowledge quotations from this article 
Articles may be published subject to prior approval by the author

[i] Bhai Gurdas (1551 – 1636) Highly respected scholar and first scribe of Guru Granth Sahib.
[iii] Khalsa: Literally, the word means either “King’s own land”, or “pure”. In the Sikh tradition the word means Sikhs (singular or plural usage) directly linked to the Enlightener, the Guru.  Thus, the first part of the Sikh salutation Waheguru ji ka Khalsa  means “Khalsa of the Wondrous Enlightener”. From the earliest Hukamnamas (orders) of the Guru’s, it is clear that the word was used mostly in the proprietary sense; while purity of thought and deed,  truthful and fearless conduct and constant God focus, are the main qualities of the Khalsa. Khalsa is a being with direct bond of love with the Creator Being and needs no mediator.  That is also the sense in which Bhagat Kabir first used the word in Gurbani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
[iv] Edited from
[v] Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 26 (Vich duniya sev….)
[vi] Panth stands for order or sect, as well as for a path followed by adherents of a specific ideology.
[vii] Guru Granth Sahib Ang 1412 (Jao tao prem….)
[viii] Khalsa “Degh Tegh Fateh” maxim refers.