Monday, October 31, 2005

..let all the paths be illuminated!

Happy Diwali to all :)

Soee pyaare meil, jinna milyan tera naam chitt aave
Nanak Naam chardi kala, Tere bhane sarbatt da bhala!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Utopian Dream

Utopia is never produced through educational reform
at the institutional level. Utopia resides in subtle,
one-on-one relationships between individuals.
~ Robert Fuller
Robert Fuller, president emeritus of Oberlin College and chairperson of InterNews, presents an important insight for anyone concerned about real change, anyone who passionately desires a new vision of the world. While the Utopian longing usually begins with our institutions, true change is always based on our personal connections with others. A better society, while influenced by benevolent regulation and governmental progress, depends on developing trusting relationships between individual people. When people settle into trusting relationships, they are open to vision, to dreaming together to change larger systems. In trusting, enthusiastic relationships, new models are born because people are open to larger understandings. Even more than thinking up great schemes for change, such people simply become open to new ways of being together, the fundamental substance of a true utopia.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
p.s.//Is Khalistan a Utopian dream? I could never find my stand on the want for Khalistan question...but I wonder if we are capable of fulfilling this dream?And now can you have one nation for a religion so diverse. Sikhism is now a world religion! What part of this earth can be called Khalistan and yet give a fair opportunity for its Sikhs from over the world to seek home in Khalistan? Or is it that Khalistan needs to be the home in the hearts of all Sikhs, like the home that keeps all the siblings intact, irrespective of where they choose to live on this earth?
Are we all truly together? Will we be able to become so? If we are, shall be sustain the test of time? How and when shall dreams become realities?
Until I find my answer...I shall keep my Utopian Dream in the making!

Gurudwara Panja Sahib and the Muslim administration (in reference to Pakistan quake victims)

As I researched on the progress in helping the Pakistani victims of the recent earthquake on October 08, 2005, I landed on
  • this
  • article, which has mentioned the large number of inmates taking shelter at the mighty Panja Sahib Gurughar, in Pakistan. And a very long time ago I had read about this whole debate of whether the administrators of our Gurudware should be a Muslim. Anyhow, as I read this article, I was happy that the precious Gurudware were saved and that so many people found shelter in the house of the Guru, until I read this statement by Khalid Mehmood Hashmi, deputy administrator of the gurdwara:

    “The staff of the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust, which administers the affairs of Panja Sahib, welcomed the families. "I have instructions from my Government to attend to the needs of those who have taken shelter here. My response would have been the same even without instructions. After all, it is my duty as a human being and follower of Islam," Khalid Mehmood Hashmi, deputy administrator of the gurdwara told visiting Indian journalists.”

    …duty as a follower of Islam? What is this duty – to use the Sikh Gurudwara for providing shelter and seva and referring gratitude of guidance to Islam. I never wanted to bash any religious beliefs on my blog…but this definitely hit my nerve. I think Mr. Hashmi, should have housed the residents in a mosque and served them with all the amenities/resources available at the Gurudwara, and then made the statement that he made.

    ...provides me a stand on that debate, that I previously mentioned. I know our Gurus never seeked publicity for the religion. A Sikh Gurudwara supporting humanity (irrespective of any differences with people of that community from the past), I think deserves the right acknowledgement for the purposes of awareness, respect and most importantly justice!

    Waho Waho Gobind Singh!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Life and Death

    While browsing through other journals, I landed on this image titled "Life and Death". The first emotion: We are all biased! (Quite a generalization, huh?) But trust me...it might fit in for all. I was surprised that as much as I repect "old" and the "maturation of life towards the destined dying"...I hardly shower a kind eye on the dying flowers that I had hugged and appreciated all the time before in their prime.

    Copyright Immortal Light Studios
    This picture is especially interesting because it includes both the bud and the dying/dead flowers...depicting the eternal truth: It all exists in here...all the same plant (the earth) and we shall have to welcome and appreciate the new life while not forgetting the ones who are leaving behind an unsung legacy.
    ... salutation to all the unwitnessed lives and deaths!!!

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Hukamnama Today

    RAAG DHANAASAREE, THE WORD OF DEVOTEE KABEER JEE:
    Day by day, hour by hour, life runs its course, and the body withers away. Death, like a hunter, a butcher, is on the prowl; tell me, what can we do? 1 That day is rapidly approaching. Mother, father, siblings, children and spouse  tell me, who belongs to whom? 1 Pause As long as the light remains in the body, the beast does not understand himself. He acts in greed to maintain his life and status, and sees nothing with his eyes. 2 Says Kabeer, listen, O mortal: Renounce the doubts of your mind. Chant only the One Naam, the Name of the Lord, O mortal, and seek the Sanctuary of the One Lord. 3 2
    Sunday, 9 Katak (Samvat 537 Nanakshahi)
    (Page: 692)
    p.s.// I just love when Waheguru is answering your questions, queries and all doubts so subtly, so smoothly. (muaah!)

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Death and Cremation

    · Sikhs believe that the soul is eternal and subject to a continual cycle of birth, death and reincarnation until liberated from the mortal cycle and reunited with God.
    · The family and friends of a dying person attend the deathbed when possible to pray and to console the dying person and each other.
    · Mourning for the deceased is discouraged.
    · Autopsies are avoided except where legally required.
    · The remains of the deceased may be taken to the family home or to a funeral home for a wake before cremation.
    · The body is washed and dressed with clean clothing and, for baptized Sikhs, the five Ks.
    · After the wake, the remains are taken to a crematorium for cremation, with family and friends in attendance. In India, cremation would be done on a funeral pyre.
    · Prayers for the salvation of the deceased precede the funeral. Where possible, the eldest son or other family member should start the actual cremation.
    · Ashes are disposed of by immersion in the sea or other body of water. Some families may take the ashes to the Sikh homeland in Punjab, India.
    · Where cremation is not possible, the body should be buried at sea or in another body of water.
    · After cremation, the family and friends gather for the Bhog ceremony, usually in the temple, for prayer, hymn singing and ceremonial serving of karah prasad. The ceremony also includes a complete reading of the Scriptures by the family, either in the temple or at home. The reading may take up to 10 days.

    http://www.forces.gc.ca/hr/religions/engraph/religions31_e.asp

    Can the cycle of rebirth be completed in this lifetime itself?

    Sikhs believe in reincarnation after death - as do Hindus and Buddhists. However, Sikhs believe that by living a life according to Gods plan, humans can end the cycle of rebirth already in this life.

    When death approaches, friends and relations are called in to be together with the dying person, and recite from the holy book Guru Granth Sahib. Death should not be a sorrowful occasion. It is "forbidden" to cry:
    Death of which men are afraid, gives me nothing but joy! It is through the gate of Death that one may unite with the Lord of Bliss. (Saloka from Guru Granth Sahib p. 1365)

    In Norway will a dead Sikh be washed at home or at the hospital, clothed in clean clothes and placed in a coffin ornamented with flowers and wreaths. If the deceased has fulfilled the baptismal ritual Amrit¸ five symbols of Sikh membership will also be included in the casket: Kesh (unclipped hair), Karra (iron bracelet), kachera (a special type of undergarment), kirpan (sword) and kangha (comb). Friends and relatives drive in procession to the crematorium. The cover is removed from the casket in order to give everyone a last view of the deceased. The dead person is carried into the crematory chapel, where the poem Sohila is recited. A male relative then follows the dead person into the cremation room in order to turn the switch that lights the cremation oven. The ashes are later collected for spreading in running water. The family normally sends the ashes to India, but the funeral law of 1996 allows the spreading of ashes in Norway when the Regional Commissioner has given permission.
    The mourners assemble after the cremation at either the gurduara temple or privately for recitation of the poems Ramkali Sad, Anand Sahib and Ardas, as well as the distribution of parsad, a kind of bread/pudding which is a symbol of Gods blessing.
    For ten days after the death, Guru Granth Sahib will be read or sung regularly in order to ease the sorrows of the family. The soul of the dead person needs no further assistance, though, as it is already together with God.

    http://www.harpweb.org.uk/external.php?url=http://www.ukm.uio.no/utstillinger/farvel/sikh-eng.html&harpid=250

    Antam Sanskar - The most Comprehensive guide!

    To a Sikh, birth and death are closely associated, because they are both part of the cycle of human life, Ava Guvan, which is seen as transient stage towards Nirvana, complete unity with God. Sikhs thus believe in reincarnation. Mourning is therefore discouraged, especially in the case of those who have lived a long and full life. The death ceremony may be split into two parts; Saskar, the cremation and the Antim Ardas, the final prayer at the end of the Bhog ceremony.

    At a Sikh's death-bed, relatives and friends read Sukhmani Sahib, the Psalm of Peace, composed by the fifth Guru Arjan Dev Ji, to console themselves and the dying person. When a death occurs, they exclaim 'Waheguru', the Wonderful Lord. Wailing or lamentation is discouraged. For cremation, the body is first washed and dressed with clean clothes complete with the Five K's (in case of baptized Sikhs). If the death occurs in a hospital, the body is taken home for viewing before the funeral. In Punjab, body will be burnt on the funeral pyre, but in Western countries crematorium is used. A prayer is said before the start of the funeral to seek salvation for the departed soul. On arrival at the crematorium, a brief speech about the deceased is generally given the Sohila, bedtime prayer is recited and the Ardas, formal prayer is offered. The eldest son or a close relative generally does the cremation. Where cremation is not possible, disposal of the dead body by placing it in the sea or river is permitted. At the end of the cremation the member of the funeral party return to their homes.

    The ashes are collected after the cremation and later disposed of by immersion in the nearest river or sea. Some families, living outside India, prefer to take the ashes to Punjab. Sikhs do not erect monuments over the remains of the dead.

    The second part is called Antim Ardas, the final prayer during the Bhog ceremony, which includes a complete reading of Guru Granth Sahib either at home or in a Gurdwara. This is called a Sahaj Path, and is usually completed within ten days. If the family can read, they must take part in the reading; if they cannot, they must sit and listen to it. The reading is meant to provide spiritual support and consolation to the bereaved family and friends. During Ardas, the blessing of God for the departed soul is sought. The Gurus emphasized the remembrance of God's Name as the best means of consolation for the bereaved family. Sikhs are always exhorted to submit to and have complete faith in the will of God, called Bhana Mun-na.

    Generally, all the relatives and friends of the family gather together for the Bhog ceremony on the completion of the reading of Guru Granth Sahib. Musicians sing appropriate hymns, Salokas of the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur are read, and Ramkali Saad, the Call of God, is recited. After the final prayer, a random reading or Hukam is taken, and Karah Parshad is distributed to the congregation.

    If the deceased person is elderly, food from Guru's kitchen, Langar, is served. Presents are distributed to grandchildren. Donations are often announced for charities and religious organizations. Sometimes, at the end of the Bhog, eldest member is presented with a turban and declared the new head of the family.

    a. The body of a dying or dead person, if it is on a cot, must not be taken off the cot and put on the floor. Nor must a lit lamp be placed beside, or a cow got bestowed in donation by, him/her or for his/her good or any other ceremony, contrary to Guru's way, performed. Only Gurbani should be recited or "Waheguru, Waheguru" repeated by his/her side.

    b. When some one shuffles the mortal coil, the survivors must not grieve or raise a hue and cry or indulge in breast beating. To induce a mood of resignation to God's will, it is desirable to recite Gurbani or repeat "Waheguru".

    c. However young the deceased may be, the body should be cremated. However, where arrangements for cremation cannot be made, there should be no qualm about the body being immersed in flowing water or disposed of in any other manner.

    d. As to the time of cremation, no consideration as to whether it should take place during day or night should weigh.

    e. The dead body should be bathed and clothed in clean clothes. While that is done, the Sikh symbols-Kangha, Kachha, Karha, Kirpan-should not be taken off. Thereafter putting the body on a plank, Ardas about its being taken away for disposal be offered. The hearse should then be lifted and taken to the cremation ground. While the body is being carried to the cremation ground, hymns that induce feelings of detachment should be recited. On reaching the cremation ground, the pyre should be laid. Then the Ardas for consigning the body to fire be offered. The dead body should then he placed on the pyre and the son or any other relation or friend of the deceased should set fire to it, The accompanying congregation should sit at a reasonable distance and listen to kirtan or carry on collective singing of Shabads or recitation of detachment-inducing Shabads. When the pyre is fully aflame, the Kirtan Sohila (prescribed preretirement night Scriptural prayer) be recited and the Ardas offered. (Piercing the Skull half an hour or so after the pyre has been burning with a rod or something else in the belief that will secure the release of the soul-kapal kriya-is contrary to the Guru's tenets). The congregation should then leave.
    Coming back home, a reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be commenced at home or in a nearby Gurdwara, and after reciting the six stanzas of the Anand Sahib, the Ardas, offered and Karhah prashad (sacred pudding) distributed. The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be completed on the tenth day. If the reading cannot, or is sought not to, be completed on the tenth day, some other day may be appointed for the conclusion of the reading having regard to the convenience of the relatives. The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should he carried out by the members of the household of the deceased and relatives in cooperation. if possible, Kirtan may be held every night. No funeral ceremony remains to be performed after the "tenth day."

    f. When the pyre is burnt out, the whole bulk of the ashes, including the burnt bones, should be gathered up and immersed in flowing water or buried at that very place and the ground levelled. Raising a monument to the memory of the deceased at the place where his dead body is cremated is taboo.

    g. Adh Marg (the ceremony of breaking the pot used for bathing the dead body amid doleful cries half way towards the cremation ground), organised lamentation by women, foorhi (sitting on a straw mat in mouming for a certain period), diva (keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death in the belief that that will light the path of the deceased), Pind (ritual donating of lumps of rice flour, oat flour, or solidified milk (khoa) for ten days after death), kirya (concluding the funeral proceedings ritualistically, serving meals and making offerings by way of Shradh, Budha Marna (waving of whisk, over the hearse of an old person's dead body and decorating the hearse with festoons), etc. are contrary to the approved code. So too is the picking of the burnt bones from the ashes of the pyre for immersing in the Ganga, at Patalpuri (Kiratpur), at Kartarpur Sahib or at any other such place.

    Human life is the most important gift given by God to unite with the Ultimate Reality. It is upto the mortal to end the continuing journey of births and deaths by meditating on the Name of God.

    Death is the cessation of life. It is the ceasing of all functions of life. Death is a fall of mechanism of body by:
    illness,
    accident or
    old age or natural death.

    It is the extinction of body and the sense organs. After breathing, heart beat and brain activity stops, the life-force gradually ceases to function in body cells. Death is the antithesis of life. It is recognized as the last passage in the journey of life which is followed by wailing, funeral and mourning with the bereaved to console them.

    All normal human-beings know that they will die someday but death is a great mystery. Death is reality and it comes to all whether young or old, rich or poor. Whosoever is born must die. There is fixed time for death. Human being is combination of body, mind and soul. Body is alive if soul is there. If soul is there, the mind, intellect and breath is there. If soul is gone, body is dead. Death can destroy the body but not the soul.

    No one knows what death is like. The only thing we know is that death is not like sleep. When we sleep all our bodily functions are active but when a person dies, all bodily functions become inactive.

    Guru Nanak Dev says,
    "Every one asks for long life and no one wishes to die".
    bhuqw jIvxu mMgIEY muEw n loVY koie
    (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.63)

    Death may occur due to various diseases and disorders but life cannot continue without the supply of oxygen to the body. Death may be natural or accidental. No body knows how death takes place and what direction the soul goes.

    Death is terror for an ordinary person but people who know true living, do not fear death. Lovers of truth, find bliss in death as it would unite them with the Supreme being.
    According to Sikhism, death is the name of forgetting God.
    Guru Nanak Dev says,

    “If I remember Him, I live; If I forget Him, I die".

    Sikhism stands infallible for the concept of human liberty, equality and fraternity. This concept gave birth to a new thought against privileged heirarchy of elite. From this thought erupted the immense consequences of civil liberties against human oppression in the world. It gave birth to new changes that the sovereignty rested with the people and that the government is merely agent of the people and for the people. The Sikhs felt pleasure in dying for a good cause.

    Have these Sikh bravos died ? No, they are eternal martyrs.

    Death Comes to All Nobody is an exception

    "Death is the great secret of life. Don't cry for the dead, their agony is over".

    The whole world is under the sway of death. Death comes to all. Who is born, must die but there is difference between deaths. Death of a Gurmukh results in union with God while the death of a Manmukh puts him in the unending life cycle in the shape of different species.

    Whosoever is born shall die and depart. All shall take their turn.
    jo EwieEw so clsI sBu koeI EweI vwrIEY (474)

    All human things are subject to decay
    And, when fate summons, monarchs must obey.
    Mac Flecknoe. 1.1

    Whosoever is born, is destined to die.
    jo phucY so clxhwru (789)

    Whatever is seen, that all shall vanish, like the shadow of cloud.
    O’ slave Nanak, he who knows the world to be unreal abides under Lord’s protection.
    jo dIsY so sgl ibnwsY ijau bwdr kI CweI jn nwnk jgu jwinA imiQEw rihA rwm srnweI (219)

    Guru Tegh Bahadur says,
    “Whosoever is born, he must perish today or tomorrow.”
    Jo upjio so binas hai paro aj kai kal Nanak har gun gai le chhad sagal janjal.
    jo aupijA so ibnis hY pro Ewju kY kwil (1429)

    The sultans and kings, the rich and the mighty, have marched away in succession.
    In a moment or two, we shall also depart.
    O my heart, understand that you must go as well!
    sulqn Kwn mlUk aumry gey kir kir kUcu
    GVI muhiq ik clxw idl smJu qUM iB phUcu (64)

    The inevitable must happen.
    Why do you worry, fret and fume.
    Trust in God and be at ease.
    With whom should I make friendship, the whole world is to perish.
    iksu nwil kIcY dosqI sBu jgu clxhwru (468)

    Rama, king of Ayudhya is gone, Ravana is gone and gone are their families.
    Nothing abides, nothing lasts for ever, the world is but an vacuous dream.
    Ram gaio Ravan gaio kakao baho parwar kaho Nanak thir kachh nahi supne jio sansar.
    rwm gieA rwvnu gieA jw kau bhu prvwru
    khu nwnk iQru kCu nhI supny ijau sMswru (1428)

    Death comes to all and all must suffer separation.
    sBnw mrxw EwieEw vyCoVw sBnwh (595)

    Guru Nanak Dev says in Japji Sahib,
    "Human being does not have strength to take birth and live as he desires and he does not hold power to die.
    Birth and death is in the hands of Almighty Lord".
    joru n jIvix mrix n joru (7)

    All shall go to their bridegroom’s house and all shall have ceremonial permanent departure after marriage.
    sBnw swhurY vMWxw sB muklwvxhwr
    nwnk DMnu sohwgxI ijn sh nwil ipEwru (50)

    We are men of but one breath and know not the appointed time and moment of death.
    hm EwdmI h~ iek dmI muhliq muhqu n jwxw (Dhanasari M 1, p 660)

    Bhagat Ravi Das says,
    "The day which comes, that day shall pass off.
    Man must march on, nothing remains stable.
    Our companions are going, we too must go.
    You have to go far off.
    Death is hovering over your head.
    Awake thou, O silly man, why art thou asleep ?”
    jo idn Ewvih so idn jwhI
    krnw kUcu rhnu iQru nwhI
    sMgu clq hY hm BI clnw
    dUir gvnu isr aUpir mrnw
    ikEw qU soieEw jwgu ieEwnw .... (793)

    None of the kings and nobles, nor any of the poor, the rich and beggars is to stay here.
    When comes one's turn, then no one remains stable here.
    Everyone has to leave this world.
    rwxw rwau n ko rhY rMgu n qMgu PkIru
    vwrI Ewpo EwpxY koie n bMDY DIr (936)

    We know that death comes to all but why we are so much for saving our life which must end one or the other day.
    When death is end of everything why should not a mortal overcome it through Nam Simran.( meditating on the name of God)
    He must leave everything which is meaningless and attain ultimate goal to seek unity with the Supreme Soul.
    Remember that death is awaiting you at every moment.
    Never fail to fulfil your duties.
    Have pure conduct so that you are welcomed in the divine court.
    Why you say, “this is mine, that is mine”.
    Seek the Lord who gave you.
    You must assuredly die and leave behind a hundred thousand and millions of money.
    myrI myrI ikEw krih ijin dIEw so pRBu loiV
    srpr auTI clxw Cif jwsI lK kroiV (50)

    The mortal come naked, they depart naked and in between they make ostentations (Pompous display).
    Ewvih nMgy jwih nMgy ivcy krih ivQwr (1238)

    Guru Nanak Dev says,
    “Profitable is the dying of the brave persons, whose death is approved by the Lord”.
    mrxu muxs~ sUirEw hku hY jo hoie mrih prvwxo (580)

    Why death comes prematurely

    Guru Arjan Dev says,
    "Just as the peasant sows his crop and harvests it whether ripe or unripe, in a similar way the sickle of death does not care for a human being at any age, whether old or young".
    jYsy ikrswxu bovY ikrswnI kwcI pwkI bwiF prwnI (375)

    Who owns our Soul and Life?

    The soul and life is owned by God and why should we forget Him.
    ijs ky jIE prwx hih ikau swihbu mnhu ivswrIEY (474)

    Philosophy of Death

    It is story of a woman in ancient India whose son had died. She walked from place to place wailing, crying and weeping; asking for help to bring her son back to life. Arriving at place of a saint, she asked the saint to help her out who said, "Don't worry, leave your son here and go out and find a mustard seed from a house that has not experienced death. When you bring it back, I can help you". The woman searched from house to house, but each had experienced death. She finally realized what the saint meant. She turned to religion to find answers to her questions. She understood, " Death is natural, whosoever is born, must die".

    Mourning and Wailing after death is not appreciated in Sikhism

    After the death, the near ones weep and cry. There is Siapa. The Gurmat does not favor the decoration of the pyre of dead body, burning of Chandan wood and performance of un-necessary rites and rituals.

    According to Sikh Reht Maryada, when some one shuffles the mortal coil, the survivors must not grieve or raise a hue and cry or indulge in breast beating. To induce a mood of resignation to God's will, it is desirable to recite Gurbani or repeat "Waheguru".

    After death wailing, crying and fainting are common. Excessive show of grief is contrary to the Sikh teachings. Weeping, crying, Siapa or wailing is prohibited in Sikhism. However, in certain cases weeping, crying or wailing is seen as an expression of grief. Sometimes it is considered to be therapeutic as it prevents internalization of grief.

    Grief is expressed across various cultures in differing ways keeping in view age, sex and socio-economic status. Males cry less than females in all cultures. Biologic differences including hormones, cognition and the structure of the lacrimal system in each sex can account for different levels of grief and its expression. Sikhism recommends that spiritual and emotional consolation in grief must be found through singing or listening of Shabad Kirtan and by reciting Gurbani. The emphasis is made on Nam Simran (meditation).

    Death Ceremony

    Whosoever is born must die. one day. This is the universal principle. Death is sorrowful for an ordinary and worldly person but it is a bliss to a Gurmukh in Sikhism.

    Kabir says,

    "the death which frightens the world, gives me bliss.
    It is the death which is blessed with the supreme bliss and it is in death that one can unite with God"
    kbIr ijsu mrny qy jgu frY myry mn EwnMdu mrny hI qy pweIEY pUrnu prmwnMdu (1365)

    In Sikhism , weeping, crying, lamentation and breast beating is prohibited as it is considered to be against the will of God.

    If it is apprehended that a person is not likely to live, the family members are notified of the serious condition. On death of a person in the family, friends and relatives are informed of the mishap. In India, where there is no arrangement for treatment of miasma of the dead body, it is cremated as early as possible so that dead body does not stink. At other places, the day, time and place of funeral is fixed and all the concerned are advised to join the cremation ceremony.

    There is no prescribed ritualistic ceremony to be performed on death. However hymns are recited after the death. On the day of funeral, the dead body is bathed and dressed in new clothes. It is wrapped on the wooden frame named Arthi and taken to funeral ground (Shamshan Ghat) in a procession. The sacred hymns are sung in the procession. Ardas is performed in the Shamshan Ghat before pyre is lit. According to tradition, the eldest son or other nearest relation of the deceased shows fire to the pyre. The congregation sits and recites hymns. Kirtan Sohila is recited and Ardas is performed. The ashes are collected later on and disposed of in water. There is a rare tradition in some cases to flow the dead body in running water.

    The ceremonies are normally performed to mark the event and ease the family way for the fhe family to deal with the loss, emotional pain, tragedy and sufferings. The berieved family is sometimes not prepared to deal with the loss of death of a loved one.The ceremonies enable relatives and friends to share their grief and sufferings with each other and thus the ritual becomes meaningful also.

    In Western world, crematorium is booked and the dead body is offered to electrical or gas crematorium oven.

    After funeral, the congregation goes to Gurdwara for supplication. Sometimes, the congregation goes to the house of the deceased to console the family. People continue pouring into the house of the bereaved family for condolence. Akhand Path or Khullah path is performed in memory of the dead person. Kirtan is performed after the Bhog and free langar is offered as per practice and tradition. The donations are made by the family for community purposes.

    According to tradition, if the death is of the head of the family, then eldest son is recognized as the new head in presence of the community by having a turban tied on his head. Shradhs are not permitted in Sikhism.

    After the death of Guru Amar Das, his grandson Sunder Das wrote an account about the death ceremony:
    “In the end the True Guru said, “after me, sing the praise of Pure Lord, alone. Call in only saints of the Lord of beauteous hair, instead of Pandit and read God’s gospel instead of Puran. Read only the God’s gospel, hear only the God’s Name. The Guru likes the Lord’s love, instead of lofty bier, barley rolls, food on leaves, Hindu funeral rites, lamps and throwing the bones into the Ganges. The True Guru spoke, as it pleased God and he got blended with God, the Omniscient Lord.
    EMqy siqguru boilEw mY ipCY kIrqnu kirEhu inrbwxu jIau kyso gopwl pMifq sidEhu hir hir kQw pVih purwxu jIau hir kQw pVIEY hir nwmu suxIEY bybwxu hir rMgu gur Bwvey ipMfu pqil ikirEw dIvw Pul hir sir pwvey (923)

    This was a clear departure from the Hindu social practices. There is no doubt that if the Guru had desired the Hindu practices to be continued at the time of his own death, he should have suggested them during his life time, to be followed by his Sikhs as well.

    Is it possible to conquer death?

    Death has been interpreted in different ways. According to the general concept, death is the extinction of the body and the sense-organs. According to Sikh Gurus, death is the forgetting of God. Guru Nanak says: "If I remember Him, I live; when I forget Him, I am dead." It is this forgetfulness of God which makes man enter the cycle of birth and death. Sikhism was re-born under the shadow of the sword. Guru Gobind Singh, at the time of the creation of the Khalsa Panth, called Sikhs who were prepared to lay down their lives. The acid test of the Khalsa is his readiness to give up his life. The Khalsa covets the best type of death, death in battle, while fighting for the poor, the needy or the oppressed or his Faith.
    According to Sikhism, physical death is neither painful nor terrible. All must die because the physical frame is subject to decay. But there is something like an art of dying. There is a joy at the prospect of a coming death. Even the worst tortures causes no fear to the devotee. Look at the Sikh martyrs. It is no joke to be cut joint by joint, to have the skin peeled off, to be sawn alive, to be blown away at the cannon's mouth, or to be crushed under the wheels of a railway engine. Martyrs are the real conqerors of death.
    Those who know the art of true living also know that of true dying. True living is dying to self, the ego, and living up to God. True dying is the privilage of the brave who die for an approved cause. Aimless dying, for no cause, helps nobody.
    To conquer death is to merit salvation. Death has a terror for ordinary mortals. They are afraid becasue they have not made any progress on the spiritual plane. They feel worried for their sins and fear of punishment for their misdeeds. A 'True' devotee, welcomes death as friend and as a benefactor because he looks forward to a union with the Supreme Being. He knows that it is through the gate of physical death that he will be able to embrace his Beloved Lord. Death is nothing but a gateway to Divinity and Eternity. This mortal coil may be shaken off an opportunity is there, to don the robe of God's bride.


    http://allaboutsikhs.com/mansukh/041.htm

    The funeral ceremony

    In Sikhism death is considered a natural process and God's will. Any public displays of grief at the funeral such as wailing or crying out loud are discouraged. Cremation is the preferred method of disposal, although if it is not possible any other method such as burial or submergence at sea are acceptable. Worship of the dead with gravestones, etc. is discouraged, because the body is considered to be only the shell, the person's soul is their real essence. The body is usually bathed and clothed by family members and taken to the cremation grounds. There hymns are recited which induce feeling of detachment are recited by the congregation. As the body is being cremated, Kirtan Sohila the nighttime prayer is recited and Ardas is offered. The ashes are disposed of by immersing them in the nearest river. A non continuos reading of the entire Sri Guru Granth Sahib is undertaken and timed to conclude on the tenth day. This may be undertaken at home or in the Gurdwara. The conclusion of this ceremony marks the end of the mourning period.

    http://www.sikhs.org/fest.htm

    Starting from the end

    In preperation to creating my own understanding of mortality, I have been looking for resources trying to explain Death, dying and end of life, in terms of Sikhism. So, the next several posts will be references for myself to check back on and possibly use and understand well.

    Naam chitt Aave!!

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    torn

    crying over and over again...

    yet enthralled in mistakes...

    so sad, so true...

    her life so blue…

    ’tis a trap tight...

    missing the divine light...

    mistakes she makes...

    how long will it take?

    the trap is tough...

    love unrealized...

    needs courage enough...

    to suffuse all the doubts...

    ...

    to commit eternally...

    for once, for ever...

    to the Guru

    who loves and has loved

    unconditionally...

    however, forever!

    This is written in reference to:
    http://forums.waheguroo.com/index.php?showtopic=12176&view=findpost&p=102769

    new wings for flights of fantasy

    Today was my first day at training to be a certified Hospice caretaker...It was wonderful! Even though the work hasn't begun, the feel is great. I really hope I'm able to complete this training, and start on with this work, considering how many hurdles have come by just getting to this point...
    Oh well, it looks like an exciting new journey...probably the most significant one ever :):):)

    Satnam Waheguru!

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    A blessed day

    Among all other great things, the most wonderful was the evening Kirtan Darbar that me and my sister attended together this evening. For the first time I realized the exubertaed energy flow and Chardi Kala that families can experience by joinging together in prayer and Naam Simran. I mean everyone pays their reverence at their own times, in their own ways. But if families come toghether to share some part of each day together, in close vicinity and try to join Waheguru - the bliss attained is of exponential nature. I'm sure there are innumerable people who are blessed to experience such divine bliss, but as for me...
    ...I'm Looking forward to several more of such experiences :)

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    tHe EtErNaL sEaRcH

    My little brain is perplexed tonight
    A little piece of it intrigues a thought in spite
    Of all my efforts to keep it adrift
    Back it returns with amazing a swift

    It wonders when will it I find
    Gain that most precious thing and leave all else behind
    The one thing my soul has yearned forever
    But has put it behind and moved however
    To things world deemed more esteemed
    While crying tears of blood and breaking unredeemed

    Days and nights pass by in haste
    Yet slow they seem when I hit the chase
    For every dream lost in vain
    Of not having attained that one thing I had aimed
    For I wanted nothing more
    But a piece of my mind tells me my score
    Of all the lost time
    And that one thing I throughout put behind
    Is what I could not find
    Is my lost peace of mind

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    wrong dreams

    Dreams are a virtual entity. And something that does not exist in real life is not bound by laws of ethics. Yet, I realize how I nourish wrong dreams at all times. Well, rules are mine, just like the dreams, and both virtual. But somehow I come to real grounds when evaluating even the virtual entities. Dreaming of worldly pleasures, I don’t attain them. I dream of You, Satguru, and they all come rushing. They overflow and overwhelm my little mind. And then the mind creates and feed dreams of something else – something made of atoms. I love all dreams and I hate to see any of them break. Yet I build on tacit dreams. Only if the roads were smooth and ‘the’ path clearly laid out. There is yet another wrong dream that I alwasy breed of knowing the future – I may not enjoy when it happens because I know it already…but I shall find peace – something I’m dreaming of right now…

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Wabi Sabi

    I'm soon going to redo my room's interiors and while I was browsing for ideas, I came across this style of aesthetics, called Wabi Sabi. The main idea is to let the room stay simple (poor would be an inappropriate word considering that this forlornness is usually consdiered sad, but here we are talking about voluntary dismissal of the comforts of life, as a hermit does, or used to in the past.) And although Wabi, literally means poverty - the only difference is viewing it as not the lack of material possessions, instead seeing it as a "non-dependence" on these material posessions. And its striking to realize:

    "The self-imposed isolation and voluntary poverty of the hermit and ascetic came to be considered opportunities for spiritual richness. "

    Sabi, tries to hint to the naturlness of life and earth. It involves using only required furniture or items inside the home. These articles are either naturally or consciously given irregular shapes and are made of wood, stones, or some natural source, without polishing etc. to indicate the transient beauty of these objects indicating at the irreversible flow of life, both physcially and spiritually.

    In conclusion,
    "Wabi-sabi is an intuitive appreciation of a transient beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an understated beauty that exists in the modest, rustic, imperfect, or even decayed, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things."

    The task of life

    The fact that our task is exactly as large as
    our life makes it appear infinite.
    ~Franz Kafka
    In this brief saying, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), the Czechoslovakian novelist and existentialist, explores what he regards as our task. His observation is in lines with the old saying in the Christian tradition that considers the heavy tasks God gives us: "The Lord fits the back for the burden." We are limited by our human perception, yet we remain responsible in shaping our being and becoming what we feel we've been called to become. In this matter, we have great freedom. Our task is coextensive with our lives and so appears to us as endless or infinte. The purpose each one of us has is not merely a mission external to us, but has a lot to do with unfolding and developing our gifts, especially who we are in our capacity for mercy, kindness, and love, the cultivation of which is an essential part of the task of life. Let each of us have the courage to embrace our task.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    p.s.// Is task doing the daily mundane duties, looking for a divine purpose, cultivating dreams, sustained consciousness or is it the illusion of thinking of something as a task, while that illusion if the main task?? If, or and when i think too much of it, i find this whole mystery around the 'task of life' very frustrating. And when you realize that the task is so extensive, irrespective of its intensity of demands, the bruden doubles and lingers hard. But does the problem lie with the task, finding it, evaluating it or is the main problem none of this, but just thinking about it?? Some days more than others, no amount of hard work or rest brings peace to you and the sheer yearning breeds anxiety and so much wasted energy, life and meaning....taking farther and farther away from peace, life and probably farther from its main task...

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Hukamnama - Oct 12

    God is the creator of the body-vessel. In the Society of the Saints, the dye is produced. Through the word of the Lord's Bani, one's reputation becomes immaculate, and the mind is coloured by the dye of the Naam, the Name of the Lord. The sixteen powers, absolute perfection and fruitful rewards are obtained, when the Lord and the Master of infinite power is revealed. The Lord's Name is Nanak's bliss, play and peace; he drinks in the Ambrosial nectar of the Lord. Maroo Sohlas, Fifth Mehl: One Universal Creator God. By the grace of the True Guru: You are my Lord and Master; You have made me Your servant. My soul and body are all gifts from You. You are the Creator, the cause of causes; nothing belongs to me. When You sent me I came into the world. Whatever is pleasing to Your will, I do. Without You, nothing is done, so I am not anxious at all. In the world hereafter, the Hukam of Your command is heard. In this world, I chant Your praises Lord. You Yourself write the account, and You Yourself erase it; no one can argue with You. You are our father, we are all Your children. We play as You cause us to play. The wilderness and the path are all made by You. No one can take the wrong path. Some remain seated within their homes. Some wander across the country and through foreign lands. Some are grass-cutters and some are kings. Who among these can be called false? Who is liberated, and who will land in hell? Who is worldly and who is devotee? Who is wise, and who is shallow? Who is aware, and who is ignorant? By the Hukam of the Lord's command, one is liberated; and by His Hukam, one falls into hell. By His Hukam, one is wordly, and by His Hukam, one is a devotee. By His Hukam, one is shallow, and by His Hukam, one is wise. There is no other side except His. You made the ocean vast and huge. You made some into foolish self-willed manmukhs, and dragged them into the hell. Some are carried across, in the ship of truth of the True Guru. You issue Your command for this amazing thing, death. You create all beings and creatures, and absorb them back into Yourself. You gaze in delight into one arena of the world, and enjoy all the pleasures. Great is the Lord and Master, and great is His Name. He is the great giver, great is His place. He is inaccessible and unfathomable, infinte and unweighable. He cannot be measured. No one else knows His value. Only You Yourself, oh immaculate Lord, are equal to Yourself. You Yourself are the spiritual teacher, You Yourself are the one who meditates. You Yourself are the great and immense being of Truth. For so many days, You remained invisible. For so many days, You were absorbed in silent absorption. For so many days, there was only pitch darkness, and then the Creator revealed Himself. You Yourself are called the God of Supreme Power.
    Page # 1080

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Child-like...

    …innocence, curiosity, thrill, hopes and happiness. This and much more is experienced by all on their birthdays. As a kid, I didn’t like birthdays too much, for the excessive attention they brought with them. It flipped by a 180 degrees as I grew older for the very same reasons :)

    Today I wanted to see why and how this tradition of celebrating birthdays began. I found this interesting web page which tries to convince us of meaningful reasons that made this day important. “The ancients celebrated not because some edict said, "celebrate," but because of practical everyday experience, like all astrological lore. The wise men (and women) noticed that when the sun hit the same spot in the heavens (against the zodiac backdrop) that it held on a person's birthday ... well, that day turned out to be extremely fortunate. This lucky pattern brought joy, and thus the birthday person wanted to celebrate."

    It goes further to state that:
    “Savvy astrologer buffs know that starting to do anything of major importance on a birthday has the extra solar boost of a once-a-year infusion of universal good will and luck. So before you celebrate, use this day to your advantage, then in the evening celebrate all the good things you did or set into motion.
    Here's a three-part plan for the truly ambitious to use this day:
    1. Decide to ask the universe for one thing this year. Be specific.
    2. Graciously accept gifts and congratulations on this day. (Why? Because you will then set into motion a karmic pattern that intensifies your wish.)
    3. Spend at least 20 minutes alone, revitalizing your body. That means taking a soothing bath, having a massage or just lying down listening to beautiful music. Remember this is a day to "tune-up" the body just as you'd do for a car after 50,000 miles. Ask your body to repair any mental, physical, emotional or spiritual damage that was done to this amazing vehicle (you!) and you'll make each year better and better."

    Who actually knows the truth behind this all? But for once I’d like to believe it. It seems to revitalize every part of ones’ being. I have always loved “a new chance” and “new beginnings”. Thank God for deeming some of the days important, thus enforcing on us the notion that we do still have the chance to a fresh start, those ideal beginnings...

    And like most of my birthdays in the past, I will want to wake up early tomorrow, take shower and immerse in Waheguru’s simran. Thank Him for everything and more than everything He bestowed upon me and (hard to skip) ask for his Gracious presence in my life forever and ever and ever :D

    Also...
    'Soyi pyaare mel, jinna milyan tera naam chitt aave
    Nanak Naam chardi kala, Tere bhane sarbat da bhala!"

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!!!!

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Prabhat Pheris

    Comes mid-October and begins the beautiful phase of Prabhat Pheris. A few days ago I read on Shanti’s (another blogger) msn that it is the Annual Amritvela Day. I could not confirm that fact, for I had never heard of that day before. But it does make sense, now when I’m thinking of it, for it hints on the beginning of Prbhat Pheris.

    Prabhat Pheris are the early morning processions where Sangat gets together and sings hymns walking from one locality to another and gathering more people on their way. Finally, they complete such sessions at a local Gurudwara and go there to say prayers together. Some devotees serve these people by offering sweets and hot tea to the Sangat.

    I remember my parents used to participate in these processions every now and then. But somehow, we were always left at home..ha. It gets pretty cold in these months in Punjab. And my siblings like me are such late risers. But even with all the shut windows and doors, it was a divine bliss that would wake people up – I mean if it could wake us up…it has to be a big deal! But it wasn’t just us, everyone shared that blessing.

    A large group of people walking together through small streets and big, being led by a man carrying the Khalsa flag. A man with prassad closely follows him and gives it to all the people who come out of their homes to pay tribute to Guru’s Sangat. I remember that just coming out to witness a Prabhat Pheri used to be the day's delight and the beginning of a delightful day.

    Prabhat Pheris also hint at the upcoming Gurupurab. ...Now looking forward to Guru Nanak Dev ji’s birth anniversary… and missing the Prabhat Pheris of Amritsar.

    The Olympic Tower and the ariel view of the city of Montreal



    Yes, we actually did go to the top level....yikes!




    Here you can see how all the roofs appear to be flat and this place gets worse snow than Toronto. So, the secret is that it is an optical illusion. Every roof has a slant, which is unnoticeable to nakes eye!
    Oh these buildings were cool....from the top they appear to be a number of stairs ust leading upto the top...real sweet :)

    The Biodome

    This biodome is divided into four regions: the four main ecosystems of the world: The Tropical forest, the Laurentian forest, The St. Lawrence MArine Ecosystem, and the Polar Ecosystems. The most delightful thing was the immediate difference you feel while passing from one ecosystm to another: the temperatures, humidity, trees and all surroundings. Pretty neat!

    This monkey was tinyyyy.
    These were the replica of the prop roots of the Tropical forest


    This is the first porcupine that I've seen and unlike the pictures from books, it does not appear to be that pricky or dangerous :)

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    The Botanical Gardens - Montreal

    The Botanical Gardens of Montreal rank second in importance worldwide. It has 21000+ species and varieties of plants from the world over. It is divided into several section: the Chinese and the Japanese Gardens, the Apline garden, rose garden, lilac gardens, several greenhouses and a huge insectarium, which is the only one of its kind in North America. Its said to house a prestigious collection of several thousand insects from every corner of the earth. But secondarily (lol) due to the lack of time and primarily 'cuz insects creep me out, I did not visit that section :)
    These are the serene Chinese gardens. Not only were the plants unique the architecture and design was very unique to the area as well.




    Well, if I aint wrong this was from the Alpine gardens and as msingh (another blogger) once recommended the use of Macro function on the camera, i couldnt find it but i loved the candlelight image i received :D
    Oh this was a very interesting section. Two designers called Hodgins and (I don't remember) created the view of a master bedroom by using only grass, cement and stones. It was beautiful! Highly admirable!



    Lastly for the white lotuses, which I like. The interesting thing to note is that most of swamps (the ones i saw at least) had white lotus, while in India, pink lotus is the only one known to the common man!

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    The mightyChurches d'Montreal

    Montreal is home to some gorgeous churches. The three that I have added below are world renowned and they truly earn it, either due to the architecture, design and history (for people like me) or the astonishing miraculous accomplishing powers (for the others) :)
    This is the Notre-Dame Basilica. This is a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture.
    The interior decoration is magnificent. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the world!
    This is St. Joseph's Oratory - my favourite church so far! It is on the top of the Mount-Royal and is one of the world's most visited shrines. The basilica's huge dome reaches 97 metres and is the second only in height to Saint-Peter's basilica in Rome.
    This is St. Joseph. It is said that from a very young age, he was an enlightened being. His extraordinary intelligence was a fear to many and so he was denied education. He was considered "crazy". He finally got the job as a doorman in the church in front of this basilica. He got so renowned in those 30 years as one close to God that his fame grew like fire. People would ask him to say prayers for them, and each one was reclaimed to have been fulfilled. He was immensely religious and had built a very small domed one-room house (now a Church) on the right side of this basilica to say his prayers. It was only through donations that he built this mighty oratory.
    The building has 273 steps. And as you can see the stairs are divided into three sections. The one in the middle is made of wood for a special reason. St. Joseph believed that all men and women should be allowed to receive their desired gifts irrespective of their faith in Christ. He acclaimed that if someone goes on his/her knees for the first 90 steps, their wishes are fulfilled! These people use the wooden part of the stairs. However, my friends from Montreal feel that although they have never done that, their wishes were fulfilled even by lighting candles in there. But again - it's belief system. The God we blv in I think always submits to an honest desire and wish. I love Waheguru :)

    This was yet another beautiful church with statues of all significant saints on the border of the church...but I have forgotten the name of it :(

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    2 things missed...

    I missed on the Montmorency Falls in Quebec: These mighlty falls are 83m. high waterfalls that are 1.5 times that of the Niagra Falls.


    This is the "Lover's Island" in the Laurentian Mountains. It was cute and little. The reason it is called so is because they say it cannot hold more than 2 people, cuz of space and also the approximate weight as estimated by professionals.

    Quebec

    Quebec city is the only walled city on the continent. This is the most beautiful city that I have ever seen. There are so many historical landmarks which makes this one of the most prominenet world heritage sites.

    Hotel Chateau: This is the world's most photographed hotel! It had amazing wood work inside.
    This city has preserved every single old buildings ranging from the the 17th and 18th century. The rule there is that the buildings can be renovated from inside but the exterior must not change.
    This was one of the paintings in the Place Royale, which is the birthplace of French civilization in North America. This painting represents the complete picture of Quebec. It is painted three-dimensional, contains the four main seasons view, contains the portrait of every single important man in the history of Quebec.
    This wall was kinda wavy, and just to avoid the expense of rebuilding it at that time, but it worled for the best. That factor makes this painting so much more realistic.
    The city of Quebec is so historic that graffitis are not allowed anywhere else in the town. Therefore, the government of Quebec has allowed this small area for the students to practise all sorts of arts. I found this really spectacular. It is some real nice work.

    On the route to Montmorency Falls there were several different smaller falls. It makes the view very pleasant.
    This is Ship Marie 2 with a capacity of 4000-7000 people. It comes once every month to every port. Luckily it was on shore, the day we went.

    The Laurentian Mountains

    Extending from southern Quebec to the shores of the St. Lawrence River, the Laurentian Mountains are a majestic presence on the Quebec landscape. In addition to this mighty mountain range and its highest peak, Mont Tremblant, the region is also home to an abundance of immense lakes, wandering rivers, dense forests, rich agricultural plains, and foothills dotted with picturesque villages. There is no shortage of interesting activities for tourists in this region. History buffs can explore the region's heritage buildings and churches, while those with an appreciation for fine food can take advantage of the province's thriving agrotourism industry and its gourmet cuisine. And of course, the great outdoors awaits with a plentitude of activities, from skiing, dog sledding and ice skating, to whale watching, golfing, mountain biking and kayaking.
    This perfect intro is taken from the woroldweb

    Laurentian Mountains are the oldest chain of mountains in the world!


    We went on cruise on the lovely Lac des Sables in Ste-Agathe. This shoreline included a splendid view of 7 islands, famous homes of people like Bruce Willis, Robert Di Niro, Celine Dion etc. etc.


    This view was taken from the Hotel Mont Gabriel, which is one of the highest ski peaks around. This is located in the village of Ste-Adele.
    This is the church in the old town, Saint Sauveur. This Saint Sauveur village is a resort municipality nestled in the mountains. This village had some houses called, "Barbie houses", which were very small, old style, structured like boxes. They are cute and government is trying to preserve 'em.

    The gap

    I have not made any additons to this journal for more than a week now. But that was 'cuz I went for an unplanned trip to Montreal :D It was lotsa fun!! I know this journal is exclusively for my religious endeavours. But I would love to share how gorgeous Montreal, Quebec and Laurentian mountains were :)