ੴ ਸ੍ਰੀਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕੀਫਤਹ ॥
Lord Singh jeeo,
Firstly I would like to take the opportunity to applaud you for all of the positive work that you have done for the Sikh community residing in England. Guru Sahib has done much Kirpa on you to put you in a position to help Sikhs living in England live with dignity and be able to voice their concerns in the Houses of Parliament of Great Britain. Your support of the request for transparency in regards to Britain’s involvement in 1984 left us feeling pride in your achievements. Sadly, reading today’s article in Sikh24 left me wondering why you decided to take the stance that you did. Please note that this is not an attack on your beliefs but a letter to urge you to reconsider your stance. My Benti is as follows:
“In his response, Lord Singh rejected that Sikh scriptures support such dietary beliefs and branded them “superstitious” and “totally contrary to the whole thrust of Siri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings.” He continued that the dietary practice of Gurpreet Singh has nothing to do with Sikh teachings, and that adherence to such practices is directly contradictory to the letter and spirit of Sikhi” – Sikh24, July 24, 2014
In the above passage you have branded the dietary requirements of Veer Gurpreet Singh as “superstitious” and have said that this goes against the “letter and spirit of Sikhi”. My question to you is, on which basis have you made this argument?
If this was an innovation of Veer Gurpreet Singh, or was a modern phenomenon only followed by a fringe group of Sikhs then your argument may hold some ground, but this is very far from the case. The Rehit of Bibek has been coming since the time of Siri Guru Nanak Dev jee, when Guru Sahib only accepted food from Bhai Lalo rather than Malik Bhago on the basis of Bhai Lalo’s food being in accordance with Bibek, and Malik Bhago’s food going against Bibek.
To the ordinary eye there is no difference between the food of Bhai Lalo and Malik Bhago, but Guru Sahib showed that the spirituality of the person making the food directly affects the food that is made. Bhai Lalo was living a life in accordance with Sikh principles and therefore his Parshada produced milk, whereas the Roti of Malik Bhago, who was not living in accordance to Sikhi, produced blood.
In this way Guru Sahib laid the foundation of Bibek, which is that a spiritually aware person should be mindful of the food that they put in their body. Food directly affects our mind and spiritual state, as per Gurvaak:
ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
O Baba, the pleasures of other foods are false.
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Eating them, the body is ruined, and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind. ||1||Pause||
– Sri Raag, Ang 16, Guru Nanak Dev jee
Guru Nanak Dev jee warns that eating food devoid of spirituality is harmful to the individual’s mind and spirit.
Secondly I would like to contest your argument that these practices are against the “letter and spirit of Sikhi.” I will do this by making my argument in two parts.
Letter of Sikhi in this case would require Bibek Rehit to be supported by quotes of scripture, namely from Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee. There are many different places within Gurbani that could be quoted, but for the purpose of this letter I will limit myself to one quote.
ਚੋਰਾ ਜਾਰਾ ਰੰਡੀਆ ਕੁਟਣੀਆ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ॥
Thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps,
ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕਾ ਖਾਣੁ ॥
make friendships with the unrighteous, and eat with the unrighteous.
ਸਿਫਤੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਸਦਾ ਵਸੈ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥
They do not know the value of the Lord’s Praises, and Satan is always with them.
– Guru Nanak Dev jee, Ang 790
From the above quote it can be seen that the “letter” of Sikhi does support Bibek Rehit, because the above Panktis warn against eating from those who are living an unrighteous life, i.e. a life against Sikhi.
To prove that Bibek Rehit is supported not only in “letter” but also “spirit” we look to Sikh history which shows that majority of the Khalsa Panth, regardless of Jathebandi used to keep Bibek Rehit. An example comes to mind of the great Sikh reformer and freedom fighter Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh.
In the fight for independence from British rule of India, Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh was sentenced to life imprisonment in the famous Lahore Conspiracy Case. Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh was an adherent of Bibek Rehit and had to go through many hardships during his jail sentence including going without food or water for 40 days to preserve his Rehit.
It should be dully noted that the British Government made allowance for Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh to be able to cook his own food and that of the other Sikh prisoners during his time in jail.
During one of the hunger strikes of Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh fought for the right to make his own food, word got out to Punjab that Bhai Sahib was protesting to be able to keep his Bibek. At this occasion, Kar Seva was being started at Harmandar Sahib and during the Ardaas to begin Seva, Ardaas was done at Akal Takht Sahib for Chardikala of Bhai Sahib as well.
This shows that Bibek Rehit is not a “superstition” but is an integral part of Sikh Rehit. It goes beyond a doubt that Bibek Rehit is fully inline with Siri Guru Nanak Dev jee’s teachings, and is justified in the letter and spirit of Sikhi.
Lord Singh jeeo, I urge you to revoke your statements to Chaplaincy HQ and to come out in support of Veer Gurpreet Singh’s right to follow Bibek Rehit and to be allowed to cook for himself.
Guru Sahib Kirpa Karan,