We can wrangle and preach for religion, fight for it, die for it; do anything but live it. I had heard these lines long and always related it to the situations happening in real life. We turn the pages of newspapers or click any TV channels; we find examples of people doing so. We see the people fighting, killing and dying in the name of religion. Then there are celebrity preachers doing spreading all good things with Pomp and Show. We also see debates on the subject but there are very few examples of people practising it.
Our Sikh religion is like a huge structure made with foundation stone of sacrifices of our Gurus; especially of our Tenth master Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji and further followed by Lakhs of men, women and children sacrificing their lives to save self-respect, religion, country and society as a whole. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the final authority that gives shelter and assurance that binds Sikhs under one roofs. Gurbani teaches us to how live but most of us seem to be interested in reading it only.
I would like to share a personal experience with all my brothers and sisters and hope it explains what I want to say or put across in above lines;
It was on 28-09-02, I left for Punjab in Shane Punjab in the morning. At around 12.15 PM the train stopped at Phillour railway station. It was declared that the train might not leave for a long time as some political party workers had started “Raasta Roko Andolan” As the coach, I was travelling stationed near a tea stall on platform; I could see lot of people discussing the grievances meted to commoners due to such Andolans of political parties. I enjoyed company of a group of 4 sikhs of my age who were discussing religious issues and also seemed to have very good knowledge of Gurbani.
At around 2.30 PM, I noticed a disturbed lady, whom I had seen earlier travelling in my coach, with a weeping child of around one year enquiring here and there and also from the group of Sikhs, I had met earlier. On enquiry, I came to know that she urgently required some hot-milk for her hungry child as no pantry car was attached. She said that the Tea stall owner was doing brisk business and was not interested in her woes and even the utensils may not be hygienic. I took the bottle from her and asked her to care for my briefcase. Though it was in air that the train would leave anytime but my internal strength and faith propelled me to do something for little innocent soul.
I jogged out of station and at a tea stall; encountered the same problem of unhygienic utensil. I sighted an emptied steel Tiffin-box of the owner and washed it with available ash in Tandoor. I offered Tea-stall owner, also a Trim-Bearded Sikh, money for the milk but he refused to take. I rushed toward the train after crossing over-bridge. As I reached my compartment, so many people who had noticed me leaving with milk-bottle came nearby and the lady was so thankful that she could not utter words in anxiety. I too recalled that “One should not expect thanks for the things one should be doing”. She went in the coach and I joined my religious brothers in discussions.
Suddenly a Sikh with trimmed beard passed and one of them commented that such Sikhs have tarnished image of our community. I said I agreed with him but was it enough to condemn him as what they as a bearded Sikhs were doing when they saw a lady with a weeping child in distress as she approached them. This is not what our religion teaches. How can we talk of reaching “PARMATMA” when we are not in a position to interact or listen to woes of an innocent “ATMA” weeping in front of us ? Let those tarnishing image do what they have to but we so called “PURAN-SIKHS” must also do good deeds to improve image of our community and tell the world true meaning of SIKHI. We must not merely condemn a wrong but we must act as the situation demand to make others aware of true meaning of Sikhism. Who would the lady have found to be true Sikh if the trimmed bearded Sikh had helped her and in what grade should I put the Tea-stall owner outside; who refused to take money seeing it was for a child? Discussing Gurbani is good thing but if we are not acting as per teachings to tell the world what it means, it may not help to community.
Finally, as the train had given its signal, they people invited me to join them in their coach but I took it as it was signal of Waheguru to end talks. I was sure that I would be no match for them in discussions; being aware of lack of my lack of knowledge of Gurbani to their status, I feared of uttering something, I should not have.
The train left Phillour at 3 PM. I could see the lovely child playing with its mother. “I did not know to which religion she belonged but I was sure that whatever I had done was what my religion taught me.” I was going to Punjab for a purpose and was in stress lest it was not fulfilled but this incident had smoothened my soul so as I had already fulfilled the purpose of my visit.
I always love listening to Gurbani & Kathaas but for one thing I am more than sure that if the revered preaching is not to be implemented in day to day life, we may become good humans but will never be in a position to convey the world what Sikhism stands for. The community members who pray for SARBAT DA BHALA daily in the morning must do some good acts so the society as a whole come to know for what we stand and the misconceptions about our Sikh religion, spread by vested interests (Anti-Panthic Forces), are also removed.
This experience is the first writing of the author.
Source: The Sikh Review (India)