I would submit that every person who is troubled by the arrival of the bus should dig a little deeper and be able to articulate why they feel the way that they do. I would also submit that there are no clear-cut “right” or “wrong” answers to some of these questions.
Some have articulated their opposition to the presence of Guru Sahib in homes. Some have articulated their opposition to anymore Saroops coming to North America, period. Some have said that all Saroops should only be handwritten and in lareevaar (continuous text with no space between words). I have sympathy with all of these concerns. However, I wouldn’t think to impose my belief in these areas on the sangat at large. Saroops in houses are accepted in the Panth. Printing press and padh chedh (separated words) saroops are also accepted in the Panth. Lastly, the availability of Saroops outside of India is also accepted in the Panth.
Who am I, as an individual, to impose my will otherwise? At the end of the day, a lot of good will come from this. Many more people will get Darshan of Guru Sahib and more frequently. Much more Gurbani will be read. More people will develop a closer relationship with their Guru.
So the question is, how should we make Saroops available to sangat here? Because if Saroops aren’t available, members of our community will make them available through other means. Saroops coming in suitcases is much more common than many people think. And this is also a form of transportation that is universally or at least almost universally rejected in the Panth. Its rejection does not make it stop happening though.
Some have suggested that the only viable alternative is Saroops via Airplane. This sevaa was done once by Toronto Sangat and never done again because of the prohibitive cost involved. It would likely cost upwards of half a million dollars to arrange for a chartered plane today on such a trip. Some may even question whether Guru Sahib would want that much money spent on such a Sevaa (instead of being invested in infrastructure for the panth or help for the needy) – a question that I would say has no right or wrong answer. There are other problematic aspects with this option as well. For example, planes contain alcohol, meat and other such substances which are constantly consumed on planes. People sit on the chairs in the planes and I would only imagine that the seats are covered in a lot of filth. Yes, much of this can be cleaned but it would be less than ideal. Another problem with transport on planes is that the Saroops are quite likely to be inspected by officials upon landing. This is a situation that could easily lend itself to a lot of disrespect of Guru Sahib because it would likely be done by non-Sikhs with very little knowledge of Sikhi. With the bus that arrived now, this process of inspection was avoided completely as the Bus cleared customs and was not inspected on the inside before clearing, thus avoiding the prospect of such disrespect.
There are some other things I can address such as the slanderous lies about how this was somehow a private-profit scheme but it’s best not to engage with that type of nonsense. There will always be people in our community who are completely unhinged from reality.
The honest truth is that any option that involves bringing Guru Sahib from India to North America on such a long journey will have issues (hence the need for a printing press in North America). I know that Khalsa School, who did the Sevaa in this instance, is always open to hearing feedback on how to address those issues. There was a public meeting held this past weekend to get feedback from the sangat. Due to the feedback that was received, the Saroops were brought here much earlier than anticipated because of pressure put on the port. Sevaa can always improve and be conducted with more love for Guru Sahib. Instead of working in a collaborative way, too many in our community rush to act in ways that are plainly unhelpful and reactionary. Guru Sahib Bhalla Karan.