Honoring the life and legacy of Guru Gobind Singh
I was fortunate to share the following recently in two Sunday Gurdwara programs in Massachusetts USA in April around the time of Baisakhi 2023. One of them in Westborough, where they are all Punjabi and many are friends and acquaintances, there were 200+ folks.
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa ~ Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh – we were taught a nucleus meaning of that which is: I am the divine - so my attributes and so my actions. For me this is both an acknowledgment and a prayer. I would bet that some, if not many of you sitting here have stood up in defense of others in one way or another in your lives, it's almost like it's in our DNA as Sikhs if we are fortunate, and you may have even encouraged your children to stand up in this way.
Today we celebrate the life and legacy of the 10th Master of we who are Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh – as well as the founding and continuation of the Khalsa – the pure one’s who endeavor to stand, worship and fight, if necessary, to establish and maintain dignity, grace and honor for All.
Many throughout the world who embrace living as Sikhs are proud to be associated with this inspirational legacy. One of the Guru’s many notable attributes that resonates deeply for me is that he constantly stood up for others who were being marginalized in any way.
So how these days can we honor this noble legacy we have been left? The Saint soldier is a much-needed presence today, which Guru Gobind Singh modeled for many 300+ years ago. It will serve well for any who consider themselves to be Singh’s, Kaur’s and/or Khalsa to embrace and train to more likely be able to embody this much needed capability to best serve our world. This is also one reason why we make the excellent kirpans we produce sharp. What good is having or carrying a kirpan that is not??
I am grateful, in my 51st year living as a Singh and a Khalsa, to have this stalwart figure as inspiration for my life. After being bullied in my early teens, I began embracing learning how to protect myself when I went off to university to study art and metalsmithing. In addition to embracing yoga and meditation which was being offered there, I found enriching and still is, I was finding Japanese karate empowering. Since that time, 50 years ago, I have embraced several systems of martial arts. I continue to value its capacity to help me move towards fearlessness, provide a very practical skillset and instill self-confidence. For women and teenage girls, it can be a tool to insure that no one can ever take advantage of them.
I believe the 10th Master, in his now subtle essence, would smile broadly if greater numbers of our constituents were learning how to protect themselves, so that more of us could be standing up for others who struggle to stand up for themselves. I also believe that if practiced in a very respectful setting this can become a sacred endeavor from which blessings may appear. Waheguru whispered to me in meditation some years ago, that we can leave up to 70% of our fear through training intensely in ‘practice fighting’. I’ve found this wonderfully therapeutic over decades and among the most empowering things I have as part of my regular schedule. Adding a weekly disciplined routine through classes, as one can manage, can serve well. The system/style of martial arts training is secondary to the caliber and character of the teacher.