(RNS) — Right this moment, Sikhs world wide are celebrating the delivery of their founder, Guru Nanak, on a day generally known as Gurpurab. Additionally right this moment, People throughout the nation are voting for his or her subsequent slate of leaders on what is understood in the US as Election Day.
As a Sikh American born in the US, I’m carrying each in my coronary heart right this moment, remembering the knowledge and teachings of the previous as I hope for a greater future.
Guru Nanak’s Gurpurab is my Sikh facet, and Election Day is my American facet. Many within the West see these two identities as mutually unique. However I expertise it otherwise. For me the 2 go hand in hand, and what others may see as a break up identification, generally Sikh and generally American, I expertise my life in coherence. I’m each on the similar time, and a lot extra, too.
There’s one other cultural assumption embedded on this expertise: that the Gurpurab belongs to the non secular realm whereas Election Day belongs to the political world. I do know many who stay their lives this fashion, making an attempt to keep up a pointy distinction between their spiritual and secular lives. That’s completely honest. No judgment from me.
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However Sikh teachings lead me to a distinct mind-set, one shared by many individuals world wide and throughout traditions, which says that deep non secular observe results in compassion for the opposite, and this compassion in flip evokes service and justice. On this method our deep non secular observe is deeply engaged on the planet.
Many spiritual interpretations comply with this primary logic, which motivated a few of the spiritual figures who lived as the most effective amongst us.
Once we view faith this fashion, as inspiring self-development and social concern on the similar time, it turns into tough to just accept any try to attract a line between the non secular and the political. Certainly, in Guru Nanak’s view, the 2 are inextricably interlinked.
There are a variety of how during which this outlook shines by means of in Sikh philosophy. One instance is thru the progressive vocabulary of Sikh custom. Guru Nanak and the gurus who adopted him as leaders of Sikhi deliberately introduced collectively non secular and political phrases that might in any other case appear to be at odds with each other. Each Sikh is requested to be sant-sipahi, a saint and a warrior on the similar time. We find out about seva-simran, serving others and sustaining a meditative observe.
And maybe most explicitly, we attempt to preserve a steadiness of miri and piri, participating with the world round us whereas additionally cultivating ourselves internally.
Many who view Guru Nanak’s life from the skin emphasize his distinctive worldview and non secular observe. This is a crucial dimension of this extraordinary man. However to go away out his social and political commitments misses a vital a part of what made him so particular, and sadly, this distorted view of his life and teachings has turn into a part of his story within the West.
In one of many earliest accounts Sikhs find out about Guru Nanak’s life, his father offers him cash to spend on the town, however he offers it away to sadhus — holy males — that he handed by so they might afford the meals they wanted.
One other frequent reminiscence of his life remembers how, when it got here time for him to put on the sacred thread (janeau), he refused to place it on and settle for the privilege of his caste. As a substitute, he overtly rejected the caste hierarchy, though he would have personally benefited from it — after which he proceeded to develop establishments that explicitly challenged casteism.
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Each the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture) and the janamsakhis (early accounts of Guru Nanak’s life) include references to Guru Nanak talking out towards tyranny. When Babur entered South Asia and massacred civilians, laying the bottom for what would ultimately turn into the Mughal Empire, Guru Nanak stood towards him forcefully, calling out his atrocities. If this isn’t social and political concern, I don’t know what’s.
Every of those examples from Guru Nanak’s life, together with many extra, attracts from his primary premise of ik oankar: We’re all linked and so is our well-being. To really discover pleasure and overcome struggling, we are able to’t simply endeavor for ourselves. Life is collective and connective.
In order I sit right here right this moment, in my pores and skin as a Sikh and an American, I’m reflecting on how Guru Nanak’s life and teachings will help inform our social and political engagement. A great beginning place for myself, and maybe for many people, is to replicate on what it actually means to look after ourselves and each other, and the way doing so leads us to a shared dedication — to pursue liberty and justice for all.