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Simarjeet Kaur Sandhu

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a young man who wanted to interview me on Sikhism. It was truly an honor, as many people do not know who Sikhs are, why some Sikh men and women cover their heads in a turban, or why young boys and girls have “balls,” or wrapped hair, on their heads.

People also wonder about whom Sikhs follow or who our spiritual leaders are. One of the questions that was asked by the young man was, “Who are spiritual leaders to Sikhs?” I looked at the question and pondered this.

Sikhs don’t have spiritual leaders in the human form; rather, we have one spiritual guide, which is the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, our holy book. Sikhs had spiritual leaders from 1469 to about the 1700s, but following a human spiritual leader was brought to a halt, as Sikhs were directed to follow the guidance of the holy book.

I answered his question rather quickly, but there was so much more to say. I had to provide him with some details about the spiritual guide we followed. I needed to explain that the Sikhs’ spiritual guide is the holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Sadly, during the time I was interviewed, sacrilege was committed to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. The Golden Temple is where the original Guru Granth Sahib Ji rests. The original Guru Granth Sahib Ji contains the actual handwritten hymns of those who contributed to the holy book. Sacrilege to the original Guru Granth Sahib was done in 1984, when Prime Minister Indra Gandhi ordered the attack on the Golden Temple.

Visible burn marks can still be seen on the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. However, this time, the sacrilege was attempted and stopped. The attempted sacrilege committed in the Golden Temple rattled Sikhs across the globe. Here I was explaining the importance of the Guru Granth Sahib to a ninth grade student interested in learning about who guides Sikhs, and half-way across the globe, the spiritual guide was being disrespected. What timing.

Sikhs are a minority group not only in the United States but in India as well. The oppression of Sikhs in India has been going on for centuries and includes acts of sacrilege to their holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Unfortunately, over the past five to six years, sacrilege has become more prominent. The Sikhs’ holy book and spiritual guide, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, has been the target of sacrilege in various parts of India. Those committing sacrilege include adults and children who are paid by various national groups. Committing sacrilege to Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not just a crime, but for Sikhs, it is an attack on their spiritual guide.

When, where and how did the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji emerge? Around 1604, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was compiled by the Sikhs’ fifth spiritual teacher, Guru Arjun Dev Ji in Amritsar, India. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was not written solely by Guru Arjun Dev Ji, rather, it was written by the gurus who came before him, those who came after him, and other God-intoxicated souls, including Hindu Bhaktas, Muslim Divines and Sufi poets. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji included hymns written in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Persian and Arabic. The 1,430-page Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji began leading Sikhs to a righteous path of living, which is to extinguish the ego or self.

Sikhs had 10 living gurus or spiritual teachers, and the 10th spiritual teacher, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, stated that he would be the last living spiritual teacher, and that the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji would be the everlasting spiritual guide to all Sikhs. He stated, “Sab Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo granth,” which translates to, “All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as their Guru.”

When the young man approached me about the interview, I was humbled. I didn’t know what the questions would be, but the questions were timely and allowed me to spread awareness about the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The timing of the interview by the young man was a coincidence but led to me being able to paint a picture for those who probably have no idea about whom Sikhs follow and the oppression that Sikhs in India still go through. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is not just a holy book, it is our guide through life. It is our lifeline.

Simarjeet Kaur Sandhu is a graduate of Hood College and an English as a Second Language teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools. She is the author of the Simran and Sehaj book series that is geared toward raising awareness for the Sikh community and creating more multicultural books for classrooms across the U.S.

(1) comment

DickD

Your holy book, does it contain anything like the Ten Commandments? Are there holy rights and do you attend religious services?

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