This past weekend, a bus arrived in BC carrying over 400 Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This bus has also gone before to Italy, Australia and Malaysia. When visiting those 3 countries, the bus prompted the sangat in those places to come together and celebrate the arrival of Guru Sahib in their countries. The celebrations went off without a hitch and were a unifying event for those sangats. The reaction here in BC has been different. Why is that? Do Gursikhs here have more pyaar for Guru Sahib? Something to ponder over at least.
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.
Unhinged from reality? Seriously? I think it’s the other way around buddy. I can’t even begin to describe how infuriating I find your stance on this whole issue. I know you state that there are no right or wrong answers but it is obvious from the undertone in this letter what you truly feel.
1. First and foremost-Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is to be treated with utmost respect and above and beyond all. When you wouldn’t think of transporting humans in such a way (stacking one upon the other in a confined, close, dark space) why Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji? Would the organizers of this beadbi, you yourself, or anyone else for that matter like to travel in this way?
2. You claim this method has been celebrated by sangat in other countries- Just because something is accepted somewhere does not mean its right and others must accept it as well. There are laws in certain countries which are clear violations of human rights and while they are the “norm” for such regions-does not make them right and does not mean we should accept them.
3. Prohibitive cost involving the airplane method- You clearly speak of economics and then claim the ‘for profit’ idea has no credibility..yeah that makes a lot of sense. It’s not as if you would have had to pay out of pocket-try asking sangat for donations and I’m sure there would have been more than enough money raised.
4. The SGPC has issued a statement that the only acceptable form of transport is airplane-why go against it if it is something accepted by the Panth?
5. You speak of the condition of the airplane-Did you ever think of the state of that bus? The shipping container, the rough seas, the possibility of the container being lost at sea? Did you ever see how much respect and care was provided when Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s saroops were brought by plane?
6. The bus avoided any disrespect that may have occurred through inspection due to non-Sikhs inspecting it. Excuse me, but I think it’s worse to have Sikhs themselves disrespecting Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in this way. Shipping Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji like a commodity is not respect in my eyes.
I could go on and on with how many problems I find with this but at the end of the day
I really hope one day everyone involved in this will see what is WRONG with this. This both disgusts me and breaks my heart…