image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE and Picture: Sikhi Seva: Khalsa Aid during Somerset (UK) floods 2014

Naam Japna & Sikh Social Activism

      As we continue to celebrate 550th anniversary of the arrival of Guru Nanak Jyot, I propose to touch on various aspects of the revolutionary Nirmal Panth of the Guru from time to time. In the meantime, saffronization (bhagwan-waad) of Sikhi continues unabated. There seems to be a rush to assimilate Sikhi into the Hindutva fold by next year to coincide with the completion of 550th Guru Nanak Parkaash celebrations.

The topic this week is prompted by a discussion about Naam Japna in Sikhi. In a book review (see link at footnote**), I wrote:- Naam is the main theme of Japji and it is important to fully grasp what Naam means in Sikh thought. Is Naam japna just inactive parrot-fashion repetition of some holy Word or is it suggestive of a life of Sikhi activism&hellip.The author clarifies that living by Naam means emulating Divine virtues/attributes and living by divine commands []]Hukam].

Let me digress slightly. Ravinder Singh, popular as Ravi of Khalsa Aid, has a favourite expression which I often recall. When he comes across a dedicated Sikh sevadar, he would say: Oh bahut chardhi kalaa waala Singh hai! For Ravi, Chardhi kalaa waalay Singh are dedicated to Sikhi social activism. They recite the True Naam taught by Guru Nanak and do Sikhi seva in the wider community. Such seva leads them to spiritual satisfaction. They utter Waheguru as they serve Langar to the needy in disaster areas in the Name of the Sustainer of the Universe. That, in practice, is remembering and emulating the Qualities of Akal Purakh (Harjan ayisa chaahiay jaisa Har hi hoay). So, while Naam Japna should lead to seva in the wider community conversely, Sikhi seva leads to Naam Japna in the true Sikhi sense.

Waheguru recitation should bring to mind the Qualities of the Creator described in the Mool Mantar. Naam Japna &ndash at home or in Sangat &ndash is meditation on the Qualities or Virtues (Goon) of Waheguru and not just repetition of a mantar/word. It is by such, Ik Akal Purakh da dhian karda hoyaa, that a Sikh should recite Waheguru (Sikh Reht Maryada).

Otherwise, Naam Japna becomes mindless mantra repetition Bipran style. It is in that context that Sardar Rawel Singh wrote in his book, Understanding Japji Sahib: Simran is not []]just] chanting the word Vahiguru. In other words, it is vadiyaee vichaar i.e. conscious meditation on the Qualities of Akal Purakh and the Hukam Razaaee.

Sikhi seva organisations formed by Chardhi kalaa waalay Singh serve community needs in different fields: Sikhi education, welfare of the needy and care of vulnerable (e.g. the work of Sikh Awareness Society), charity work, and Panthic advancement. Thus, SEWA (Sikh Education Welfare & Advancement) is also the acronym for own mission in retirement: to serve with diverse organisations as required.

Sikhi has been defined as: Sikhi sikhia Gur vichaar - khoj or research/contemplation of the Guru Word. The precondition of Sikhi for successful living is: Wich dunya seva kamaiyay ta(n) dargeh baisan payiay. Seva in this world takes priority. Bipran style practices lead us back to the Vedic fog (dhund) from which Guru Nanak Jyot delivered us.

(Book review: )

(Note: This is the view of the writer. Column space does not allow translation of Gurbani quotations.)