Sikh Golden Rule Perspective / Stories

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No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend

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 -Guru Arjun Dev Ji, 5th Guru, Guru Granth Sahib, P1299

Painting by Saru Rana

Balbir Kaur:

“Guru Arjun Dev Ji, as with the other Gurus, stressed that all mankind is equal in the eyes of God. We obtain salvation by loving our fellow human beings and God. Compassion, mercy and religion are the support of the entire world. Guru Arjun Dev ji said that minds are like precious jewels. Use the mind to love everyone. If you love God then you will not hurt anyone but will love them as though they are God as well. If you don’t see God in all, you don’t see God at all.” 

Artist Statement

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Did you know?

Kanga, a small wooden comb used by the Sikhs to keep their hair tidy and free from tangles means that as we are untangling the hair with the wooden comb, so we untangle our mind through Simran (meditation on the name of God) and keep our lives tidy and organised. The wooden comb is kept under the turban by the men in their hair.

Born to a Sikh father and a mother with a Muslim background, and currently married to a white Australian, I was never exposed to any discrimination towards other cultures, religions or castes. Glorifying multiculturalism within the family, I have been blessed with celebrating and understanding various faiths, beliefs and festivals. 

For an artist, there is a language to shapes and colour that is potent, powerful and hugely complex. Colours carry messages that are often culture-specific. My artwork potrays bold geometrical shapes, and the significance of colours from the Sikh religion. The use of circles, intersecting each other forms a ‘common’ thinking of ‘The Golden Rule’ for Sikh followers. The big square that takes most of the canvas shouts out ‘to think outside the box’ suggesting “love for all and hate for none”. The rough visual texture of the background depicts the ‘raw – not fully worked out’ theories of people about various religions that cause conflicts within the society. Patches of squares, are added to mend and strengthen our religious rigidity, in order to spread a message to have ‘one’s mind full of love, to overlook deficiency in others and accept them wholeheartedly as a product of God.’ 

A Chandoa Sahib (The canopy which is placed over the Sikh Holy Book), is displayed as an installation over my artwork. 

For me, personally, this project was an aesthetic means of exploring the wider experience of spirituality entailed with the visionary imagining of contemporary artists. With other artists from various cultural, religious and ethnical backgrounds, I am joining hands to share a conversation about faith, spirituality, religion, hope and humanity, and send a strong and positive message to society. 

By implementing Golden Rule projects in schools we can challenge students to investigate ideas and issues, and engage peers in positive conversations surrounding the role of spirituality and religion in a contemporary world 

Sikh Interfaith Stories

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 Langar Seva (Free Kitchen)

The three tenets of Sikhism namely; Naam Japna (meditate on the name of God), Kirat karna (honest living) , and Vand Chakna (sharing with others) are the corner stones for all Sikhs. Out of these, Vand Chakna, sharing with all, has been extended into the institution of Langar, something unique to the Sikhs. 

Langar means a Sikh communal meal. The first Guru, Guru Nanak started this tradition by feeding the holy hungry men. It was a free meal to be given to all, regardless of their background. Guru Nanak Devji wanted to uphold the principles of equality, regardless of religious background, caste, creed, colour, age, gender or social status. 

The 3rd Guru, Guru Amar Dass, took it further and made it an institution. Food was to be cooked in a common kitchen and distributed to all sitting on an equal footing, no matter what their background. It is said the great King Akbar had to share the meal with the common people, sitting amongst them. No special privileges were given to him.

Langar is usually cooked by volunteers in a common kitchen, with donated ingredients. It is vegetarian so does not encroach on anyone’s religious or personal beliefs. Langar is served in all Gurdwaras across the world, as it has become an integral part of their life. Anyone is welcome to partake of the meal. Today it has gone beyond the Gurdwaras. Now volunteers take Langar wherever it is needed, especially to disaster areas or to a community in need. Being vegetarian it is accepted by all. This to show the “oneness of all humankind”

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Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718) Inspiration for the formation of the Red Cross

Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718) Inspiration for the formation of the Red Cross Bhai Kanhaiya was a disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur the 9th Guru of the Sikhs. He was a devout and peace loving Sikh and saw everyone as equal in the eyes of God. He would go out to serve anyone who needed his service in whatever capacity he could give. His biggest service was to serve the wounded and sick on the battle fields. During his time there were invariably battles and wars going on, he would go to these places not to fight but to give water to both friend and foe. He tended to their wounds and made sure they were comfortable. He did not see any difference between them. To him they were all equal and he saw God in all of them. Having the compassionate heart that he had, he treated them all equally. Even though there were complaints against him that he was tending the enemy as well, all he said was that he saw the Guru in all of them and he had been taught by the Guru that all were equal in the eyes of God, so therefore, he did not see any difference between the enemy and friend. As far as he was concerned, they were all men of God and he needed to look after all of them. So he treated and fed both the enemies and friends alike. It is said that he was the inspiration for the present day Red Cross. He kept “the light of God in all hearts” as his motto and served all.

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Pingalwara and Bhagat Puran

Singh Pingalwara, a charitable organisation was started in Punjab, India in 1947 by Bhagat Puran Singh (1904-1992). Pingalwara, literally means a home for the crippled. Today it has hospitals and homes all run by volunteers for the homeless, poor, the sick, the maimed and terminally ill. It houses thousands of inmates suffering from various diseases, but are too poor to avail themselves of the mainstream services. Largely they are women who have nowhere to go and need protection because of their medical condition, and harassment from their families and society. Pingalwara, started by Bhagat Puran Singh, a Sikh, his motto “selfless service of humanity” based on the Sikh Scriptures is still being carried on. They provide shelter and medical facilities to the poor and homeless regardless of their colour, creed, religion, sex or community. He also said that “dignity in dyeing is the birthright of each living being” and this legacy of his is still being carried through by the Pingalwara Charitable organisation. They look after the cremation or burial of the deceased of those who have no one to claim as their own and are homeless. Even though Pingalwara, started by a Sikh and is a Sikh organisation, its beneficiaries are mainly non Sikhs. Bhagat Puran Singh’s selfless work of tending to the sick, dyeing and homeless is still being carried on by the organisation till today.