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What to Talk of an Expert?
By Balbir Singh Sooch, Advocate, Ludhiana

No-doubt, the posture, proper dress with covering head, bowing with hands folded or held together before Sri Guru Granth Sahib, though such postures may be looking like a part of rituals to some extent and may not of primary importance in the Sikh faith. But, these may also be considered important when you are in any gathering or otherwise and especially while paying respect to Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

In nut shell, your approach in life, not at the time of approaching only to your superiors, but in general also, should not be defective or insulting for anyone by your act and conduct.

Ajit Singh Sahota is true to write in his article, ‘Ask the Religion Experts’ that if there is no humility or devotion in the heart, then bowing etc is meaningless and Sri Guru Granth Sahib does, however, warn against such postures during prayer becoming an empty ritual or show of hypocrisy. His articles seem written based on logic religiously and without any malice.

But, these postures, “That having been said, true devotion can and often does manifest itself though posture. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, is treated as God's word and so when Sikhs approach Sri Guru Granth Sahib, they kneel and bow. Bowing has a very deep meaning for Sikhs. Sikhs only bow before God or Guru and it is symbolic of inner submission and acceptance of the word.

Similarly, when performing the Ardaas -- supplication or congregational prayer -- Sikhs stand with their hands folded or held together. This posture is reflective of respect and supplication. Finally, during congregations or during langar -- the community meal that all share in together -- everyone sits together on the ground. This reflects humility as well as equality of all, regardless of creed, colour, class, gender or ethnicity. These postures and positions can make the experience of prayer more rich and significant”.

As in a very proper form, nicely and rightly, Sahota explained the postures in his article. For a layman, the postures were only a minimum test of any individual to judge his own sincerity, humility or true devotion in the heart for God or God’s words i.e. Guru Granth Sahib.
What to talk of an expert, I never claim rigidly till today of following a true Sikh way of life, but I do claim humility and devotion in the heart for Guru Granth Sahib.

Many a times, I pose a question to myself as to how far you are a true Sikh?

I console in answer to that that I do have humility and devotion in the heart for Guru Granth Sahib.

About 40 years ago, my friend in service was from my faith and also like me in appearance. Then, he was disbeliever in faith, thrown a coin carelessly before Guru Granth Sahib without following proper posture. I thought he did so to undermine me religiously, may not be to Guru Granth Sahib. I seriously questioned him and on my reaction, he agreed with me and never repeated again the act. Our friendship remained intact and continued. After a long gap, now also, I remember and wish to meet him as a friend respectfully.

The seriousness with a friend was only my sign or the spirit of my sincerity and devotion in young age for Guru Granth Sahib.

To further clarify, I quote Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi. So far, I recollect, Godse said that Gandhi used to read ‘Kuran’ in Ram temples, but never dared to read or recite ‘Geeta’ in Maszid, citing as one of the reasons of killing him. According to Nathuram Godse, by the act, Gandhi was undermining all Hindus. Godse was not repentant at all for killing Mahatma Gandhi.

On the similar lines, for hurting the sentiments and the feelings of entire Sikh community and for committing the unpardonable crime, Indira Gandhi was murdered by Beant Singh and Satwant Singh.

But, whoever differ with me religiously, I never consider them odd even if they are from my faith now, but learn a lot from them to justify myself to be religious.

Though, the religion has to and must be a personal subject to follow or not to follow for each individual as a faith, but, at the same time, we should not hurt others by considering it so personal in any manner like Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi.

March 6, 2010
For reference:
Ask the Religion Experts

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Copyright © Balbir Singh Sooch, Chief and Spokesperson, Sikh Vichar Manch, Ludhana, Punjab (India)