1469-1539 Guru Nanak was born.
1604 Sikh scripture was compiled by Guru Arjan.
1699 Khalsa was created by Guru Gobind Singh.
1708 Guru Gobind Singh made the Granth the Guru for perpetuity.
1799 The Sikh Empire was established by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
1849 The Punjab was annexed by the British.
1873 The Singh Sabha Movement was launched.
1919 The Jallianwallah Massacre took place.
1947 The Punjab was partitioned.
1984 The Golden Temple was stormed.
2012 The massacre at the Sikh Gurdwara in Milwaukee occurred.
The word Sikh means “disciple” or “student” (from Sanskrit shishya, Pali sekha). With their spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship skills, Sikhs have migrated from their homeland — Punjab, the land of the five rivers — throughout India and around the globe. There are today 25 million Sikhs. Evolving historically and geographically between South Asia and West Asia,
Sikhism is currently the fifth-largest world religion. Its origins can be traced to Guru Nanak
(1469-1539), and it developed through his nine successor Gurus within a rich pluralist environment of northwest India. Sikhs believe in one Divine Being. Their sacred space is called the Gurdwara. Their sacred text is the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the center of all their rites
and ceremonies. Both Sikh men and women keep the five symbols of their faith given by their tenth Guru, Gobind Singh (1666-1708), popularly called the “the “five k-s” (see below, “the Khalsa”). Sikh men can be recognized by their colorful turbans and beards, and Sikh women
by their neatly braided and styled hair, by their long shirts (kameez), loose trousers (salvar),
and flowing scarves (dupatta). The marker of their identity is the surname “Singh” (for men)
and “Kaur” (for women). Sikhs greet one another (whether hello or goodbye) by joining their hands, and saying Sat Sri Akal (Truth is the Timeless One).
Sikh religion began with the birth of its founder Guru Nanak in 1469. Though there is not much historical documentation, we learn about his life from the Janamsakhis (birth stories), which were orally circulated sometime after the passing away of the Guru in 1539. Similar to the narratives of Buddha and Christ, the Janamsakhis show Guru Nanak as divinely configured, whose knowledge and inspiration were able to create a new religion. We hear about how most dangerous elements of nature protect him (such as a cobra offering its shade for the Guru to sleep), and are even controlled by him (Guru Nanak stops a boulder hurled at him with the palm of his hand). When he passed away, the shroud that should have been covering his body was simply hiding a bed of flowers, which both Hindus and Muslims then carried away to cremate or bury, depending on their respective death rituals (Harbans Singh 1969:63-99).
From his birth to his death, the Janamsakhis portray Guru Nanak as rejecting the prevalent confines of caste, gender, religion, and ethnicity only to underscore that all human beings are equal. As a little boy he refuses to go through the rite of passage reserved for upper caste boys in his society. Instead of an external thread worn on the bodies of the twice-born Hindu males, he proposes a thread made of the inner fiber of compassion for everybody. In words enshrined in Sikh scripture, he even condemns the customary practices that subjugated women — purdah (the segregation and veiling of women), sati (upper class widows obligated to burn alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands), and taboos associated with menstruation and childbirth. Criticizing the prevalent “dos and don’ts,” Guru Nanak opens the way for celebrating an egalitarian and just humanity.
The Janamskahis recount his revelatory experience of the one Divine. After that, he travels widely with his musician companion, who was a Muslim. As Bhai Mardana plays his rabab, Guru Nanak bursts into powerful verse exalting ultimate reality, literally, Ikk Oan Kar (One Being Is). His usage of the numeral one affirms the Divine shared across religions. On his long journeys, Guru Nanak not only meets holy men from different cultures and religions, but also has meaningful conversations with them. Once he climbs up a mountain where a group of venerable holy men are sitting in a circle. Their shaved heads, lengthened ear lobes, long earrings (kan-phat, “ear split”), and ash-smeared bodies indicate their arduous Hatha yoga practices and ascetic ideals. Guru Nanak begins to discuss with them their human responsibilities. He urges them to return to the normal social life, and perform their civic duties. Wherever he went, people were impacted by the content of his message, and the simple style of his communication. Many began to call themselves his “Sikhs” (disciples.).
Guru Nanak eventually settled on the banks of the river Ravi. The first Sikh community grew in this beautiful landscape with Guru Nanak at the center. Men and women came to hear the Guru’s words and practice the values of equality, civic action, and inclusivity. Engaged in ordinary occupations of life, they denied monastic practices and affirmed a new sense of family. Their pattern of seva (voluntary service), langar (cooking and eating together irrespective of caste, religion, sex, or status), and sangat (congregation), created the blueprint for Sikh doctrine and practice.
The Tenth and final Guru, Gobind Singh, established the Khalsa (Community of the Pure). Through a radical choreography of socialequality, he concretized the Sikh ideal of the One inclusive Divine. For the new-year celebrations of 1699 in Anandpur, he invited men and women from far and near. He prepared a drink by stirring water in a bowl with his double-edged sword while reciting sacred hymns. His wife, Mata Jitoji, added sugarpuffs, mixing the strength of steel with the sweetness of sugar. The first five who took this amrit drink constitute the founding members of the Khalsa family. These initiates came from different classes, geographic regions, and professions, but they sipped amrit from the same bowl. This was a spectacular enactment of their spewing out hegemonic structures and pledging to fight against social oppression and injustice for the sake of liberty and equality. (Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh 2005:35-67). In Sikh memory, the Guru also revoked the oppressive patriarchal lineage by giving the surname “Singh” (meaning “lion”) to the men and “Kaur” (meaning princess) to the women. In the new family of the Khalsa everyone was to share the same name and worth. Their strong sense of identity was amplified by the five external markers:
* Kehsa , uncut hair that denotes the way of nature (men don a turban).
* Kangha , a comb tucked in the hair to keep it tidy, in contrast with recluses who kept hair matted as an expression of renunciation.
* Kirpan , a sword symbolizing self-defense and the fight against injustice.
* Kara , a steel bracelet worn around the right wrist. The steel of the bracelet represents spiritual courage, and its circularity reminds the wearer of the unity, infinity, and proximity of the Divine.
* Kaccha , short breeches worn by soldiers at the time of the Tenth Guru, stand for chastity and moral restraint.
Just before he passed away in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh performed a unique phenomenon in the history of religion: he identified the sacred book as the living Guru, and so the Guru Granth Sahib has been venerated for generations.
Due to internal battles in the Punjab, and external invasions by Afghans and Persians, the period following Guru Gobind Singh was fraught with enormous hardship for the Sikhs. However, by the middle of the eighteenth century, they became a major political force, and at the end of the century, they established a State of their own. In 1799, Ranjit Singh, the nineteen-year-old leader of a Khalsa band, peacefully seized power in the city of Lahore. Guided by his mother-in-law Sada Kaur (1762-1832), he integrated twelve warring Sikh bands into a sovereign state, and was crowned Maharaja in 1801. Known as the Lion of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh ruled for forty years. He created a formidable army, and added Multan, Kashmir, and Peshawar to his kingdom. His court represented unparalleled pageantry and brilliance. He wore the world’s largest diamond (the Kohinoor) on his right arm. The Maharaja remained a devout Sikh who built and renovated many shrines. Even his foreign employees had to live by the Sikh code: they had to wear their beards long, and refrain from eating beef and from smoking tobacco. After the Battle of Waterloo, several soldiers who lost their employment with Napoleon — including the Frenchman Allard and the Italian born Ventura — came to work for Ranjit Singh (Harbans Singh 1985:130-67). But just a decade after Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death, Sikhs lost their enormous kingdom to the British. For a short period, his wife Maharani Jindan (1817-1863) served as regent for her son. She was famous for her sharp intelligence and acute statesmanship, and the British were in awe of her. Eventually they imprisoned her, and her young son Dalip (1838-1893) was converted to Christianity and exiled to England. The Maharaja’s diamond was cut down to fit Queen Victoria’s crown (Axel 2001:39-78). Generations of heroic Sikhs began to serve the British Army, valorously fighting in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Sikhs formed a major part of the imperial army in World War I.
After World War I, the amicable Anglo-Sikh relationship underwent major changes. These took place in colonial India, but they were compounded by forces ignited oversees. The shabby treatment and the racist policies inflicted on Sikh immigrants in Canada in the early twentieth century disillusioned the loyal sons of the Empire. Simultaneously, there was a revolutionary awakening against British colonialism brought about by the Ghadar movement that had its genesis on the West coast of the New World. The revolutionary ideas shared through communication networks over the continents, fueled the sentiments of the Sikhs in colonial Punjab.
April 19, 1919 was a critical moment in the transformation of Sikh attitude towards the Raj. For their Baisakhi celebrations Sikhs as usual had come to their sacred Golden Temple. Right next to the shrine is an enclosed garden with high brick walls, called the Jallianwallah Bagh. Here a large crowd assembled for a peaceful public gathering, despite the ban on such meetings by the British authorities. When the British Indian Army officer Brigadier-General Dyer found out about it, he brought in his troops. Standing at the narrow entrance of the compound, he ordered his men to fire at the large gathering of unarmed innocent men, women, and children. According to official estimates, nearly 400 civilians were killed, and another 1,200 were left wounded with no medical attention. Dyer, who claimed his action was necessary to produce a “moral and widespread effect,” felt no remorse. Baisakhi 1919 intensified the urgency for India’s independence. Sikhs changed from loyalists to ardent nationalists. They wanted the British to quit India. Twenty-one years later, a young survivor of the massacre named Udham Singh, went to London and assassinated Michael O’Dywer at Caxton Hall. O’Dywer had been the governor of the Punjab at the time of the Jallianwallah Bagh tragedy.
The homeland of the Sikhs was partitioned along the Radcliffe Line hastily drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe in 1947. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs together had fought for their country’s independence from British rule. But as the movement gathered momentum, the political leaders could not agree on how their new power was to be shared. The Muslims who had ruled India till the British took over, demanded their own state of Pakistan. The Sikhs were for a united India. But if Pakistan were to be conceded, Sikh leaders expressed their demand for a separate Sikh state with the right to federate with either India or Pakistan. From the time of Guru Gobind Singh, the concept of a sovereign Sikh state has been imprinted on the Sikh psyche; “raj karega khalsa” (the Khalsa will rule) is remembered in the daily liturgical prayer. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had concretized their aspiration. Now that the British were leaving, they felt the Punjab should belong to them again. If there was going to be a “ Pakistan” and a “ Hindustan,” there also had to be a “Sikhistan” (at times called “Azad Punjab” or “Khalistan”). On the eve of British departure, Muslim-Hindu-Sikh divisions gained enormous force. The colonial policy of “divide and rule” came to a horrific finale. Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs were seized by a mad communal frenzy. In that blind rage, countless innocent men, women, and children were murdered; their bodies, their psyches, their families, their homes, and their shrines were brutally dismembered.
The year 1984 experienced the violent conflict between the Sikh community and the Indian State. During the first week of June, 1984, Indian troops stormed the most sacred shrine of Golden Temple under the orders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This started a chain of events that led to Anti-Sikh riots, taking the lives of three thousand innocent Sikhs. The community is expecting the construction of a memorial on the premises of the Golden Temple to remember the militants and devotees killed during Army’s “Operation Blue Star” in 1984.
On August 5, 2012, an avowed white supremacist rampaged through the sacred space of a diasporic Sikh community gathered for worship in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee. He shot innocent worshippers, killing six and injuring several others. Blinded by racism against the “mud colored” and numbed by “hatecore” music, he could neither see the richness in diversity nor hear the universal melodies playing in the Gurdwara.
In the face of every tragedy, history documents a renewed commitment amongst the Sikhs.
Just before he passed away, Guru Nanak handed his compositions to his disciple Lahina, and appointed him as his successor. In this way the message and mission begun by the First was carried through Ten Living Gurus. Concerned about the needs for his expanding community, the Fifth Guru (Arjan) compiled the scripture in 1604. This 1430-paged volume includes not only the voice of his predecessor Sikh Gurus but also that of the Hindu and Muslim holy men, many of whom were harshly discriminated against only because of their biological birth into a low class. By including diverse voices, the Sikh sacred book offers a paradigmatic expression of the collective human spirit. Its universality is the hallmark of Sikh identity.
Poetic in its form, the Guru Granth Sahib expresses the spiritual longing for the infinite One. Rather than the languages of Sanskrit
and Arabic that had been used by the Hindu and Muslim religious elite, it uses the vernaculars accessible to the masses. Guru Arjan’s goal was to provide a deep insight into the nature of the Divine and how one might come to attain and live with this understanding. He put most of the verses into musical measures to enhance their aesthetic beauty. The artistic technique channels the metaphysical Divine into the deepest human recesses. Sikh scripture begins with Guru Nanak’s celebration of the infinite One. It ends with Guru Arjan’s analogy of the text as a platter, which holds three dishes: truth (sat) contentment (santokh), and reflection (vicar). Thus the Guru perceived the volume as something accessible and necessary for everybody: it holds knowledge of the universal Truth, brings emotional sustenance to each reader/hearer, and promotes social interaction with fellow beings through mutual reflection. The ingredients were to be savored and absorbed — not merely eaten or repeated like parrots — so that their literary nutrients would create a peaceful mode of existence for his community and for future generations. Literature, like all art, has profound influence in shaping worldviews, attitudes, and behavior. In order to bring about a moral transformation in their discordant society, the Gurus offered their sublime verse, the gurbani. They did not give any rules or prescriptions. In aesthetically uplifting rhythms, their lyrics evoke love for the Divine and inspire people to act morally towards their fellow beings.
Sikhs believe in the One Divine Reality (Ikk Oan Kar) permeating each and every finite creature, and simultaneously transcending all space and time. The primary numeral One with its soaring geometric arc is a universal modality that everybody can tap into. This infinite One is beyond gender. It is named Truth, and is the creator of all beings. But more important than the belief in the One, is the living of Truth. Consequently, there is no division between the sacred and the secular, nor between religion and ethics.
Without prescribing rules, Sikh scripture teaches readers and hearers to stay attuned to the universal Truth every moment. Such a consciousness naturally produces ethical behavior. Morality is not fostered in some distant cave or once a week in a religious space, rather it is practiced in the everyday nitty-gritty acts, within the immediate world of family, classes, sports, and profession. Human life is precious. The world is good. Rather than shift attention to a heaven or eternity after death, Sikh scripture draws attention on actualizing moral, aesthetic, intellectual, and spiritual potential within this ordinary temporal and spatial world. The common Sikh exclamation “Waheguru” surges with the wonder and magic (wah+guru) of the Divine proximity felt here and now.
Five psychological propensities are deemed harmful to the human race — lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride. These are so called robbers residing within, who steal the precious morality with which humans are equally endowed. Their root cause is haumai, literally, “I-myself.” By constantly centering on the selfish “I”, “me”, and “mine,” individuals are split from their Divine core; they are split from people around them. This is when inequities and hostilities take over.
These are overcome by hearing about the divine One (that is why scripture is so important), keeping that One constantly in mind, and loving that infinite One (Guru Nanak articulates this triple process: sunia, mania, man kita bhau). Love opens emotionally clogged arteries and fosters respect for and joy with fellow beings. The Sikh theistic perception is relevant today: only when we get a real feel for that oneness we all share will we be able to live responsibly, and implement our social, political, economic, and environmental policies. If we align ourselves with That One, we will take constructive steps towards equality, healthcare, education, and ecosystem for our global community.
Whether in shrines or at home, the holy volume is the centre of Sikh worship. It is treated with the highest respect. It is always draped in silks and brocades (called rumala), placed on quilted mats, and supported by cushions. A canopy hangs over it for protection, and a whisk is waved over it by an attendant. Such cultural symbols as the whisk and the canopy for royalty affirm the sovereign status of the scriptural Guru. Men and women remove their shoes and cover their heads before they come in its presence. Every morning the sacred book is ceremoniously opened, and in the evening folded together, and then carried to a special place for its nightly rest. Religious practices include seeing and bowing before it, and sitting in its proximity (darshan); reading the passage that it randomly opens up at as the personal message for the day (hukam); singing its verses (kirtan); remembering historical moments and making wishes for the future while standing up before it (ardas); and savoring in its presence the warm dish made of flour, sugar, butter, and water (karahprashad).
Sikh sacred space is the Gurdwara (literally, door/dwara to the Guru) with the scriptural Guru as the focal point. In India and in
diasporic communities, Gurdwaras serve as resources for information, assistance, food, shelter, and fellowship. The Golden Temple emerging out of a shimmering pool in Amritsar is the most popular Sikh shrine. Its four doors symbolically welcome people from all classes, faiths, and ethnicities. The view of the building merging at once with transparent waters and radiant sunlight sweeps the spectator into a sensory swirl. A visitor to the Golden Temple gets a feel for Guru Nanak’s vision of the infinite One. And its kitchen puts his perception into practice. About 80,000 visitors daily eat meals prepared by enthusiastic volunteers, and over weekends, almost twice as many are served! The New York Times calls it the “world’s largest free eatery.”
The four rites of passage mark significant events in Sikh life. As always, the Guru Granth Sahib is the presiding agent.
* Name-Giving . Children are named in consultation with the sacred text. While its spine rests on cushions, it is reverently opened at random, and the child receives a name that begins with the first letter appearing on the left-hand page.
* Amrit Initiation. This is the Sikh initiation rite, which essentially reenacts Guru Gobind Singh’s historic birth of the Khalsa. It marks devotion to the faith and ideals of equality and justice. According to the Sikh Ethical Code (Rahit Maryada), “Any man or woman of whatever nationality, race, or social standing, who is prepared to accept the rules governing the Sikh community, has the right to receive amrit initiation.”
* Wedding. The Sikh rite of marriage is called Anand Karaj (“bliss event”). No words or gestures are directly exchanged between bride and groom. As the wedding hymn (lavan) is read from the Guru Granth Sahib, the couple circles it four times. After each circling, both bride and groom touch their foreheads to the ground in unison, a gesture of their acceptance of each other with the textual Guru as their witness and constant companion. During the fourth round, the congregation of family and friends showers the couple with petals.
* Death. Sikhs cremate their dead. The body of the deceased is carried on a stretcher by the closest male relatives and family friends to the funeral ground. Following ancient customs, the eldest son lights the funeral pyre. The ashes and bones (called phul, “flowers”) are collected by relatives and immersed in the flowing waters of a river or stream. In the home of the deceased, family members take solace from the reading, hearing, and the physical presence of the Guru Granth Sahib.
The inspiring gurbani provides sustenance for the Sikhs. The Gurus were prolific. A segment from each feeds the community on a daily basis. Below are a few examples.
* Guru Nanak’s Japji is the morning hymn. It is recited at the break of dawn when the mind is fresh and the atmosphere is serene. Described as the ambrosial hour in the Japji, dawn is considered most conducive to grasping the singular Reality named as Truth at its outset. The hymn launches readers into a deeper intensity through the realms of Dharam, Gyan, Saram, Karam and Sach — Earth, Knowledge, Aesthetics, Action, and Truth. This fivefold journey is not an ascension into some higher regions beyond life and the world, but rather, a pulling of the Divine into the human situation. That One is known by refining moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual capacities. Thus life is lived in the truest sense — freely and expansively — as it would be in Sach Khand, the Realm of Truth. The Name of the Absolute is no different from experiencing Truth. This first prayer in the GGS encapsulates the fundamental philosophical and ethical beliefs of the Sikhs.
* Guru Angad’s Shalok at the end of the Japji is recited several times during the day by the devout. It is found on p. 8 and p. 146 of the GGS (the term divas changes slightly to dinas in the latter). It presents a memorable scene in which the “entire universe” (sagal jagat) with its variegated and complex multiplicity “plays” (khele) in the lap of “day and night, the two female and male nurses” (divas rati dui dai daia). The Japji hymn constitutes a remarkably organic textual body: while its prologue introduces the infinity of Be-ing, its epilogue resonates humans and nature cozily nestled together on the Body of the metaphysical One. It also exemplifies how the different Gurus become a unanimous voice, inspiring readers both with spiritual joy and with the motivation to interact truthfully — in tune with the One Truth, their creator.
* Guru Amar Das’ first five and final stanzas of Anand Sahib are recited during every ceremony and rite of passage, and also incorporated into the daily Sikh evening prayer (Rahiras), enabling each Sikh to refine their inner dynamics. “Anand” means bliss, and “sahib” denotes its revered status. The full Anand hymn has 40 stanzas, which constitute pp. 917-22 of the GGS. Both individually and collectively, the Anand Sahib plays a crucial function in Sikh life. Guru Amar Das shares his blissful experience in order to motivate others. Indeed, the Anand hymn is intended to reach out and transform his community. The Guru invites his contemporaries: “come beloved saints let us talk about the ineffable One — avaho sant pirario akath ki karo kahani” (#9). The poetic expression is the revelation of the unfathomable One. The sacred word (sabad or bani) is the fusion of content and form. The glittering Truth is the Divine, so is the true verse (sachi bani # 23). And just as “the Divine itself is diamond, itself jewel (ape heera rattan # 25)), “the Guru’s word is a jewel studded with diamonds — Guru ka sabadu ratanu hai heerai jitu jarau” (# 25). The dazzling joy of the Guru is an effect of the aural brilliance. Guru Amar Das artistically conveys that the language itself is the Divine subject and the very source of his ecstasy. Overall, the Anand hymn makes the reader/hearer sensitive to the sensuousness of spiritual poetry and inspires them to re-experience the full physicality, dynamism, and elan vital of the Gurus’ words. The music the Guru hears is delivered from anahad — the “soundless sound!” This subtle self-producing sound, or what is called “unstruck sound,” vibrates constantly in the universe. But one becomes aware it of by hearing (sunia) the sacred melodies. The Guru’s verse raises human consciousness and evokes the desire for the Divine.
* Guru Ram Das’s verses are also part of the evening prayer Rahiras and the nightly Kirtan Sohila. The fourth Guru extends the message of non-egotistical love: “sakat hari ras sadu na jania tin antar haumai kanda hai — the deluded do not know the taste of the elixir of love, they are pierced by the thorn of ego.” The selfish “me” and “mine” not only prick the individual like a thorn but also injure relationships with others.
* Guru Ram Das’s Lavan composition is also compelling. It solemnizes wedding nuptials in Sikhism. Here the Guru expresses the union between the couple as a passage into higher and higher circles of existence. The four stanzas of “Lavan” (meaning “circle”) describe a journey that begins with the resolve to do righteous action. In the second circle the mystical melody is heard within the depths of the self. In the third circle, that feeling surges higher and the self becomes fully absorbed in the Divine love. As the fourth round commences, the divine sweetness begins to pervade the entire self and unites the individual with the Infinite Self. The union between a couple is endowed with macrocosmic significance.
* Guru Arjan’s Mundavani is the finale to the GGS. Part of daily liturgy, it envisions the Granth (as discussed earlier), as a platter with three dishes: truth, contentment, and reflection. Tasting is vitally important to the cognition and experience of the Divine, and to the development of individual morality.
* Guru Arjan’sSukhmani, a composition almost 2,000 lines in length, is artistically superb as well and very popular. Sukh means peace and mani could be either pearl or mind (from the word man), so the title can be translated as Pearl of Peace or Mind of Peace. The entire hymn extols the importance of Name.
* The Ninth Guru’s shaloks come towards the end of the GGS. These 57 couplets were composed shortly before the Guru’s execution in 1675. They are prominent in the bhog ceremony with which each reading of the GGS concludes. Like his predecessors he too praises those who enshrine the Divine in their selves because “Between the Divine and them, there is no difference!” (43) The ninth Guru’s usage of animal similes is very effective: “worship the divine single-mindedly, just like the faithful dog” (45); but “when there is pride in the heart, pilgrimages, fasts, charities, and other acts are as futile as an elephant’s bath” (#46). Guru Tegh Bahadur’s poetry is touching in its brevity and simplicity.
* Guru Gobind Singh’s Jaap is recited in the morning and is an essential part of the Sikh initiation ceremony. It is a poetic offering to the Divine. In 199 couplets, it is a spectacular profusion of divine attributes that flashed on Guru Gobind Singh’s artistic consciousness. Interestingly, the Guru ends at couplet 199 rather than at a round figure to signify that there is no culminating point. The outpouring of words saluting the Infinite Reality is extremely quick. The Guru exalts the animating and life-generating One who flows through and interconnects the myriad creatures: “namo sarab dese namo sarab bhese — salutations to You in every country, in every garb” (Jaap:66); again, “ki sarbatr desai ki sarbatr bhesai — You in every country, in every form” (Jaap:117). Like Nanak’s Japji, Guru Gobind Singh’s Jaap rejoices in the presence of the Transcendent within the glorious diversity of the cosmos: “You are in water, You are on land — jale hain thale hain” (Jaap:62); “You are the sustainer of the earth — dhrit ke dhran hain” (Jaap:173), and repeats with a slight variation, “dharni dhrit hain — sustainer of the earth you are” (Jaap:178). Like his predecessors, the Tenth Guru recognizes the One as the universal vocal and kinetic rhythm: “You are the language of all languages — samustal zuban hain” (Jaap:155). The poetry of the various Gurus is an aesthetic medium for absorbing the infinite Being brought forth in Guru Nanak’s Japji.
In keeping with its egalitarian philosophy, there is no priesthood and no established class of clergy in Sikhism. Under the British, the overall governance of Gurdwaras passed into the hands of the Mahants (clergy cum managers), who did not care much for Sikh sentiment. Misappropriation of funds and deviation from Sikh norms became common practice. The Sikhs wanted to free their Gurdwaras from the recalcitrant Mahants so they could manage them collectively and utilize their incomes for the education and well-being of the community. The Sikh Shromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) was constituted on November 15, 1920 with 175 members to manage and reform Sikh shrines. The removal of Hindu images, icons, practices, and ideologies was crucial for the SGPC. Sikhs fought battles against the Mahants and the British administrators to take control of their gurdwaras and re-establish the Sikh essentials in their sacred spaces.
The SGPC consists of elected representatives of the Sikhs. This statutory body continues to manage Gurdwaras in the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, and Chandigarh, and serves as the liaison with Sikh organizations and Sikh communities around the world. It collaborates with the Shiromani Akali Dal, a political party representing the Sikh masses. The SGPC also manages schools and colleges, runs free kitchens, manages agricultural farms on gurdwara lands, promotes research and publication on Sikh religion and history. It arranges visits of Sikh pilgrims to the historical shrines in Pakistan. It presents Sikh interests or grievances to the government. (Harbans Singh 1985).
Gurdwaras abroad are autonomous entities administered by the local congregation. An executive board is elected in each gurdwara. Under legally approved constitutions, trustees are appointed along with management committees. Members from the congregation volunteer to serve the gurdwara with their individual talents. The Sikh Ethical Code (Rahit Maryada) provides the necessary guidance to conduct their religious, social, and community affairs.
Staring with the founder Guru who travelled widely from his home in the Punjab, a dynamic movement to and from the homeland has been a vibrant aspect of Sikh history. In general the phenomenon of Sikh migration is traced to the British annexation of the Punjab in 1849. Sikhs were privileged because of their loyalty to the Empire, their martial strength, and their religious values, including their condemnation of tobacco (Ballantyne 2006:72). The first Sikhs to be recruited by the British for the police force came to Hong Kong in 1867, and until 1952 they continued to serve in the Island’s police and security forces. The first Gurdwara in Hong Kong, designed by an English architect, was built for Sikh soldiers in 1901. At that time, the largest Gurdwara in Southeast Asia was built in Penang during the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897) and was named after the Queen. Thousand of Sikhs had come to Malaysia as employees of the British or as workers on the Malayan rubber plantations and dairy farms. From Hong Kong and South-East Asia, Sikhs started to migrate to Australia in the 1880s, and across the Tasman Sea, to New Zealand, and lured by stories of sugar-cane fortunes, still farther to Fiji (McLeod 1997: 251-62). They came to Australia to work as hawkers and sugar cane cutters. In recent years however the number of Sikhs in Australia has grown considerably: teachers, doctors and computer software professional are arriving at a quick pace. The Sikhs who migrated to China, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines left few traces, but significant groups remain in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Following the same pattern of army recruitment, Sikhs migrated to various colonies and protectorates of East Africa. Many were hired in 1895, when the British established the East African Rifles, a military base force with its headquarter in Mombasa. Two years later, more Sikhs were brought over by the Empire to put down the mutiny by Sudanese troops. Sikh men constituted a large proportion of the labor imported from the Punjab for the construction of Uganda Railways project during the late nineteenth century. Most of them were artisans. They built their first Gurdwara in East Africa in Kilindini in 1892. Once Kenya gained Freedom in 1960, many Sikhs—even second and third generation—were forced to leave due to the “Africanization” policies. There was a major Sikh exodus from Uganda after Idi Amin gave his orders for an immediate expulsion of 80,000 Asians in August, 1972.
Ironically, Sikhs migrated to other parts of the Empire before coming to the Mother country. The exiled Maharaja Dalip Singh (1838-1893) is said to be the first Sikh settler in Britain. Since Britain had that special place in the colony’s imagination, other Sikh Maharajas, travelers, writers, students, soldiers and even some workers came to the island. The majority of them were visitors. The first Gurdwara in Britain was founded in Shepherds Bush in 1911. Besides the transient group of princes, soldiers, and students, the Bhatras were the earliest Sikh presence on the British Isles and also the first to settle permanently. Expert in their traditional occupation as hawkers, they spread to northern England and Scotland, going from door to door, selling clothing in remote areas. They filled the need created by the migration of Jewish peddlers from Europe to the U.S. With their commercial success, Bhatras today are prominent owners of market stalls, shops, supermarkets, and wholesale warehouses. The community is credited with the building of many Gurdwars. Wartime labor shortages in Britain opened up doors initially closed to people of color, and Sikh pioneers immediately took advantage. The harrowing Partition of their homeland in 1947 when countless Sikhs lost their lives, homes, jobs, and land, pushed them to search employment elsewhere. The British Nationality Act of 1948 passed in response to India’s independence gave the citizens of the commonwealth the right to settle and work in Britain. Sikh men flocked to work in foundries and textile mills, providing cheap labor in a depressed postwar economy.
The census of 2001 listed 336,179 Sikhs in Britain, and they are influential in all spheres of British life. Many have firmly established their roots, as the community is now in its third and fourth generations. 56.1 percent of the Sikhs are British born. In the rest of Europe there are about another 100,000 Sikhs. Germany has the largest community with 25,000, followed by Belgium and Italy around 20,000 each. Ukraine, Greece, France, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, have a few thousand each. (For these population statistics, see Singh and Tatla 2006:32.) Sikhs come to Europe primarily to work and earn money, and each time they visit their families and friends in India, their suitcases are bursting with expensive gifts. Their success stories seduce others to make their way to the West.
The discovery of the vast oil reserves and the sudden wealth it brought to the Middle East in the early and mid 1970s opened up another front for Sikh migrants. The new infrastructures and construction projects attracted thousands of Sikhs. From laborers to high skilled engineers, off they went to work in Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iraq. Though exact figures for Sikh migration are unavailable, it is estimated that currently there are 60,000 to 175,000 Sikhs in the Gulf States. The numbers may have been higher earlier. The Middle East has frequently served as a stepping-stone for migration to the West or the Far East.
The first Sikhs to visit the New World were Sikh Lancers and Infantry in the Hong Kong Regiment who came to Vancouver, British Columbia, after celebrating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in London in 1897. They were lured by the farming opportunities of the New World, and dreamt about settling here. While a severe famine in the Punjab drove them out, advertisements by steamship companies and recruitment to work on the Canadian Pacific Railroad attracted the first “passenger” Sikh migrants to the North American Continent. They usually came by boat through Hong Kong, and disembarked either in Vancouver or Angel Island (the Asian equivalent of Ellis Island on the West Coast). Since India and Canada were both British dominions, visa was not required for travel to Canada, so Vancouver was the preferred destination. Along the way, they would stop in Hong Kong, receiving support from the local Gurdwara. Upon arrival, the migrants rapidly moved to Southern California to work on farms throughout the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Imperial valleys, or settled in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia to work on lumber industries and the Pacific railway. The new immigrants were hard working and accepted lower wages. There was an influx of Sikh migrants between 1905 and 1908. They were able to build their first Gurdwara in North America in 1909 in Vancouver, followed by another in Victoria.
The local population was threatened by labor competition from the robust low-paid newcomers. In 1908, Canada passed the Continuous Voyage Act, barring people who could not travel on a continuous voyage from their native land to Canada. This law put an end to migrations from the Punjab. Nevertheless, a group of determined Sikhs tried to fulfill the legal obligations, and chartered a Japanese ship, Komagata Maru. Collecting 376 passengers from Hong Kong and Shanghai, they arrived at Victoria harbor, but with the exception of just a handful, the Canadian Immigration Officials would not allow them entry. After a protracted legal battle, the Komagata Maru was forced to return home, only to be met by a hostile police upon their landing in Calcutta. This incident of the Komagata Maru charred the psyche of the proud British subjects. Acclaimed film director Deepa Mehta is presently making a film on the tragedy of the Komagata Maru.
American papers also started to report on the tide of “Hindu invasion.” Unfamiliar with the distinctive faith of the Sikhs, they gave them the generic “Hindu” designation. Those who wore the turbans, the marker of their religious identity, were called “Rag Heads.” In 1907, there were racist riots (“anti-Hindoo” violence) in Washington, California, and Alaska. Sikhs were included on the list of enemies of California’s Asiatic Exclusion League, formed in 1907. The United States laws were repressive and discriminatory. In May, 1913, the California Alien Land Act restricted the right to register land only to American citizens. In 1917 Sikhs were barred from entering the country. In 1923, they lost the right to become naturalized. In the oft-quoted Bhagat Singh Thind Case, the US Supreme court ruled that Asian Indians were not ”free white persons,” and therefore could not become American citizens. It even took away the citizenship from Sikhs who had already been naturalized. Asian immigrants could not vote, they could not own land, they could not become U.S. citizens, and they could not sponsor their family members.
The land of their dreams had turned into a nightmare. Disgruntled with discrimination and exclusion from basic individual liberties, many began to leave the new world. The Sikh population dwindled. Indians on the West Coast started organizing for India’s independence. In 1913, the revolutionary Ghadar Party was formed, and lots of Sikhs joined it. The first issue of the Ghadr paper was published from the University of California in Berkeley declaring its manifesto for a free and independent India with equal rights for all its citizens. The Party published several magazines and pamphlets, and organized demonstrations and lectures to raise public awareness against British Raj. Sikhs on the East Coast lobbied the White House to pressure Britain to accord freedom to India. While many were actively engaged in such activities, several Sikhs returned home to join the Freedom Movement.
Those who continued to stay in the U.S. were severely isolated from their families. They lived like “bachelors,” even though some had been married back in India. Their expected temporary absence from the Punjab often became a lifetime spent abroad. There were barely any Sikh women in this early group of immigrants, and the Sikh men often married Spanish-speaking women on the western rim. Since couples applying to the county clerk for marriage licenses had to look alike to be of the same race, it was the Hispanic women who met the requirement. Thus they created a bi-ethnic community erroneously termed “Mexican-Hindus” (also “Mexidus”). Some of their descendants today are amongst the most successful farmers, owning huge orchards of walnuts, peaches, plums, and other fruits . The film Roots in the Sand by Jayasri Majumdar Hart offers a multi-generational portrait of these Punjabi-Mexican pioneers.
Since the relaxation of immigration laws after World War II, and especially after the elimination of national quotas in 1965, there has been a dramatic surge in the Sikh population, both male and female, all across North America. This includes highly educated Sikh men and women professionals. Political crises in India have also impelled the increase in migrations over the last few decades. In the 1980s, the Sikh quest for an independent Khalistan led to a tragic political situation, driving many young Sikhs to North America. Another set is the case of the “twice migrants” who were initially settled in Uganda, Kenya, and Iran, but due to political turmoil in their adopted countries, families were forced to migrate, and many settled on this continent.
There are about 250,000 Sikhs in the United States, and the numbers are even higher for Canada. In British Vancouver they constitute 2.3 percent of the population. Although the Punjab-like terrain of California still attracts the Sikhs (Yuba and Sutter counties form the largest and most prosperous Sikh farming communities outside India), recent Sikh migrants are highly urban-
based. History was made when the first Asian American won a seat in the United States Congress in 1956. A Sikh, Dalip Singh Saund, came to do graduate work in mathematics at Berkeley, and eventually became a successful farmer in the Imperial Valley. However, he fought numerous discriminatory laws against his people. In 1949, Indians finally earned the right to become U.S. citizens, and in 1956, Saund was elected to Congress. In 2004, Ruby Dhalla made history as the first Sikh woman to be elected to a national parliament in the western world. She was a Liberal Member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale ( Ontario, Canada). There are several other North American Sikhs now in the forefront of Canadian and American politics. Sikh women arrive in the New World not only on visas for wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, but also independently to pursue education or enter a variety of careers. Like their male counterparts, they are energetic and enterprising, and highly successful in their professions.
Clearly Sikh migrations have followed unique patterns in different parts of the world, and have differed greatly depending on the historical moment. The different “pull” factors from the host country and the different “push” factors from home have been contingent on the shifts in world economy and politics. The personality and talent of each individual migrant contributes greatly to the Sikh community’s diasporic experience. Indeed, Sikhs have made their homes in extremely different cultural and religious landscapes. The recent revolution in communications—travel, electronic mail, telephones, and skype—has eased the homesickness factor. With satellite television from India, they can enjoy their films and shows. Star and Alpha Punjabi are available in several countries. In metropolitan centers, community members host radio and television programs. With their boundless energy, hard work, entrepreneurship, and cheerful attitude, Sikh men and women have been highly successful. They are a part of the transnational community that promotes domestic social, economic, political and religious networks. Consciously or unconsciously, they live out their ethical maxim: “kirat karni, nam japna, te vand chhakna—work honestly, remember the Divine, and share the goods.” Wherever they go, they adapt their distinct Sikh norms and values to new challenges.
While providing exciting opportunities, the global presence of Sikhs generates complex challenges as well. To begin with, the distinctive items of Sikh faith are often at odds with the legalities of the host countries. In the early 1960s, England imposed a ban on wearing turbans at the workplace, and so the large population of immigrants working in buses, trains, and the police force were not allowed to maintain their formal identity. In the U.S., the Army in 1981 banned “conspicuous” religious articles of faith for its service members, and after 9/11/2001, the transit authority required workers wearing turbans to either perform duties where the public would not see them, or place an “MTA” logo on their headdress. In France, the Law adopted in 2004 bans the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in state schools, which includes the wearing of turbans. Several Sikh boys were expelled from schools in France for defying the ban. In Canada in June, 2012, a Montreal-based soccer league banned turbaned and Patka-wearing Sikhs from playing soccer. The Sikh symbol of the ceremonial sword has been a matter of grave concern in schools and at airports. Sikhs have been prevented from working at places that require clean-shaven appearance for food safety reasons. Wearing the kara has also been problematic for restaurant food preparers.
But with their commitment, sincerity, and tireless efforts, Sikhs are sensitizing their host countries to their items of faith. And they are succeeding. In 1969, Britain overturned the ban on the wearing of turbans. In 2009, Queen Elizabeth II entrusted two Sikh soldiers in turbans to guard her, which is applauded by the Sikhs as an acceptance of their articles of faith. In France, Sikhs have reached a compromise, which allows them to wear the keski, a smaller version of the turban. In the U.S., Sikhs have regained the
right to wear turbans in the Army (National Public Radio 2010). Capt. Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, a doctor, and 2nd Lt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, are successfully serving in the US Army with their turbans, and unshorn hair and beards. On May 16, 2012, Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department announced a decision to allow Sikh-Americans to serve as full-time, uniformed officers while keeping their articles of faith. New York City now also allows Sikh traffic officers to wear turbans and beards – the turban has to be blue in color as the MTA uniform. The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), a national civil rights and educational organization based in Washington D.C. and the Sikh Coalition that immediately came into existence in New York after 9/11/2001, are vigorously taking up the issue of wearing turban in the workplace, carrying the Sikh symbol of the sword in public schools, and the religious rights of Sikhs during travel at airports. This young generation of Sikhs is committed to ensure the civic rights of diasporic Sikhs in the land of liberty and equal opportunity.
Internalized stereotypes and prejudices pose an even bigger problem. Sikhs have been victims of hate crimes and mistaken identity on U.S. soil since the late nineteenth century when they first arrived to work on the railroad, lumber industries, and farms. In 1907 there were racist riots against these early immigrants in Washington, California, and Alaska. As mentioned earlier, under anti-Asian laws, they could not own land or marry white people. Those who wore the turbans as a symbol of their religion were called “ragheads.” As recently as 2010, Senator Jake Knotts made a remark against South Carolina State Representative and Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, daughter of Sikh migrants: “We’ve already got a raghead in the White House, we don’t need another raghead in the governor’s mansion.”) Anytime there is a national tragedy, like the Iran hostage crisis, the Oklahoma City bombing, or 9/11/2001, Sikhs are immediately mistaken and targeted. With their beards and turbans they are confounded with
those terrorists seen in the media. After 9/11 more than two hundred Sikhs became victims of hate crimes in the U.S. In that first week of backlash, a bearded and turbaned Mr. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh petrol pump owner in Phoenix, was murdered in blinding rage. Sikhs have been bullied in schools, profiled at airports, barred from workplaces, and targeted in hate violence – including the brutal massacre on August 5, 2012. Mainstream Americans continue to be unfamiliar with the Sikhs.
For decades, enterprising Sikhs have been promoting the knowledge of their faith in the West. The Sikh Foundation of America was established in 1967 by Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany. It has created Punjabi studies programs, and permanent Sikh Chairs in several prestigious American universities, as well as the first Sikh permanent art gallery at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum in 2003. It is heartening to see second generation Sikhs pursuing the academic study of their heritage. The recent tragedies have brought about a profound awakening. Men and women are initiating numerous projects in the areas of advocacy, education, and media relations. The process of healing for the Sikhs has been to empower themselves and their community. Organizations and institutions like the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, the Sikh Research Institute, the Kaur Foundation, the Sikh Art and Film Foundation, SikhLens, Chardi Kala, the Jakara Movement, and the United Sikhs are relentlessly working to increase awareness and understanding of the Sikh religion. Another vital organization, the Sikh Feminist Research Group, seeks to promote and sustain Sikh feminist research, praxis, and activism. It collaborates with academic institutions to raise awareness about the egalitarian values of the Sikh Gurus and seeks ways of putting it into action. Likewise, the EcoSikh movement brings a Sikh perspective to the challenging environmental issues facing the globe. In various contexts, diasporic communities are organizing workshops and conferences, and producing books, visual materials, and films. While they are raising awareness about their religion, history, culture, and tradition, they are simultaneously working to make our world a better place for all of us.
As we are witnessing, their concerted efforts are steadfastly producing results. In 2010, the Texas State Board of Education unanimously passed an amendment to its curriculum to include information about Sikh culture and religion in social studies and history syllabi. In California, the history and social studies framework for schools will include teaching about the religion, history and culture of its Sikh immigrants. Sikhs and non-Sikhs are doing innovative research in a variety of areas: literature, history, philosophy, gender studies, post-colonial theory, performance theory, popular culture, art and architecture. Sikh and non-Sikh communities are coming together. After the Milwaukee tragedy, deep empathy poured out for the Sikh community. The media showed great sensitivity. Rather than the excitement of Olympics or that of Rover landing on Mars, CNN continuously covered the tragic happenings in Oak Creek. Newspapers, radio, and TV across the nation tried to circulate information about the Sikh faith. Sikhs and non-Sikhs together offered their condolences to the families of the victims, and prayed for the speedy recovery of the wounded. They joined together in candle-lit vigils all around the country. Sikhs celebrate major events of their host countries. Over Thanksgiving, food is cooked in Gurdwaras and then distributed to the hungry and the homeless.
Sikhs confront inter family and inter-community challenges as well. How to maintain Sikh identity in the new world? In a society where everybody dresses alike, speaks the same language, and values individualism, it is difficult to keep the Sikh format, maintain Punjabi language, and prioritize traditional cultural values and behavior. It is admirable that for their faith little boys in braids or buns withstand teasing from their peers. Parents have to work hard to convey, preserve, and transmit their legacy in a new dominant culture. Volunteers at Gurdwaras teach Punjabi language, Sikh history, and kirtan. The goal is clearly articulated by the Khalsa School program at San Jose Gurdwara: “to instill love for Sikh religion, its beliefs, values and customs among young Sikh children.” Many Gurdwaras organize youth camps, which provide religious knowledge, social bonding, and athletic training. These camps are remarkably transnational, for they bring together children from North America, Europe and India. Here prayers, kirtan, langar are combined with canoeing, horseback riding, and chats over marshmellows around bonfires. Sikh camps have played an integral role in creating and maintaining strong social networks.
The diversity in the Sikh population itself complicates the picture. In the early days when the number of Sikh immigrants was small, they attended the same Gurdwara. It did not matter whether they were young or old, pioneer or newcomer, clean-shaven or amrit-initiated, communist or Akali in their ideology. Often the weekly gathering would take place in a home or in a rented place. The first Gurdwara in the United States was built in Stockton, California in 1912. It was not only a religious hub, but also a storm center for political activities of the Ghadar Party. Today there are about 40 gurdwaras in California alone! The San Jose Gurdwara overlooking the Bay is the largest in North America. When there were few immigrants, a potentially disparate group of Panjabis would be spontaneously bonded. But today even minor differences within the burgeoning Sikh community tend to produce major factional conflict. Divisions pertaining to class, clan, education, politics, and economic structures from the sub-continent get easily transported into the new land and get rigorously reinforced. As Inderpal Grewal (2005:26) exposes, transnational connectivities have their own devices and power assemblages to foment differences.
Whether in the Punjab or abroad, Sikhs are not homogenous by any means. Differences in education, age, profession, gender, beliefs, practices, (some keep their external symbols, some do not), political and social interests, reflect their manifold diversity. The social environment of their host country has its own impact. But there is a fundamental Sikh spirit that is shared by all. The transnational ties and social networks keep that spirit alive and link their practices. Entering a Gurdwara in Patiala ( India) is the same as entering the one in Richmond ( Virginia). With the same hymns, language, langar meal, Sikhs spatially connect with their communities everywhere, and even temporally with their past and future generations. The liturgical patterns remain uniform as they follow the Sikh Ethical Code. Recent history documents a very important and interesting moment: a nineteen-year-old Gursimran Kaur and two other women in a youth slate of 18 were elected to the management committee of one of the largest Sikh gurdwaras in North America (the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia). These visionary youngsters plan to develop programs to combat drug use and gang violence, and hold workshops on Sikh scripture and ethics in English so that the younger generation can understand their heritage. At the top of their agenda is gender equality and fighting domestic violence (Matas 2009). With such an enterprising younger generation, Sikhs will fully live out their Gurus’ egalitarian principles.
To conclude, there is a new confidence amongst diasporic Sikhs that empowers them with an identity that is equally American, British, or Canadian as it is Sikh. Musicians, novelists, short story writers, fashion designers, film makers, are exploring their Sikh heritage as well as creating new arabesques with other cultures they encounter in their lives. Sikhs are proud citizens who celebrate their traditions with great jubilation at numerous cultural and academic venues. And they are making new ones. The air is especially abuzz with excitement around Baisakhi, the Sikh New Year (in the spring), and for Guru Nanak’s birthday (in the autumn). Huge Sikh processions with colorful floats carrying the Guru Granth Sahib, and depicting different aspects of Sikh life, are becoming a familiar sight in metropolises all over the world. On November 16, 2009, Guru Nanak’s birthday was celebrated in the White House for the first time. Sikh sacred music was performed by ragis, who were brought in from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and hymns were sung by two American Sikhs from the Happy, Healthy, Holy (3HO) tradition. For the Sikh community it was a powerful affirmation of their own identity and of their presence in the United States of America. In their religious processions, Sikhs confidently carry both the Nishan Sahib and the Stars and Stripes—symbolic of their simultaneous allegiance to their faith and their new country. Sikh men and women have become significant players on the global field. Their home is now in their new countries; they no longer have the myth of returning to the Punjab. Securely settled in different regions of the globe, they are making vital contributions to their adopted countries; simultaneously, they are funding educational, medical, and business infrastructures for their fellow Sikhs in India. Their regional religion from the Punjab has indeed become a World Religion.
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For an accessible, gender-neutral translation of Nit Nem, the daily Sikh retinue, see Nikky- G.K. Singh, The Name of My Beloved: Verses of the Sikh Gurus (Penguin, 2001).
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh
20 January 2013