Friday April 28, 2017 12:35 PM EST

Obituary: Khushwant Singh - Cassandra With News Good & Bad

Khushwant Singh, modern India’s defining man of letters has never been easy to define. Was he a good Sikhs deeply steeped in its tradition, history and literature as many Sikhs and non-Sikhs think of him or was he more in league with the devil, or at the least a self-hating delusional man not on the side of the Sikhs?

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 | 09:29 PM

Bullying and Harassing

Matters like adhering to one’s identity or integrating without assimilating are not always the reasons for the tension between a people and the strangers around them. Stress lines between communities are both universal and also inevitable.

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 | 03:25 PM

BOOK REVIEW - Badshah Darvesh: Guru Gobind Singh as Bhai Nand Lal saw him

It is significant that he has now focused on Bhai Nand Lal’s writings because his conversations with Guru Gobind Singh form a Rehat Nama that constitutes perhaps the most significant source document on the underpinnings of the modern code of conduct (Rehat Maryada) of the Sikhs.

Friday, Dec 06, 2013 | 06:18 PM

Hukamnaamaa Against Having Alcohol in Homes with GGS

What can one say of such rigidity in the name of religion?

Monday, Sep 23, 2013 | 10:53 PM

Adversity Breeds Resilience

I present you historic parallels of the Jews and the Sikhs in the fond hope and prayer that Sikhs don’t need 2,000 years in the diaspora to learn the lessons.

Friday, Jul 26, 2013 | 01:08 AM

Guru Arjan and 1984

The title caught your eye? Good.

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 | 07:08 PM

Sadda Haq (Our Right)

Punjabi movies are dime a dozen. They often come and go unnoticed, and we can count on the fingers of one hand with room to spare those we have seen – and even less those we have admired. “Sadda Haq” is different. It deserves thoughtful examination.

Monday, May 13, 2013 | 08:47 PM

SIKH REHAT MARYADA: The Code That Defines Us

Does spiritual awareness mandate a code of conduct?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 | 10:44 AM

Vaisakhi of the Sikhs: Remembrance, Restoration and Continuation

When we talk of Vaisakhi, we miss a fundamental aspect of the occasion. We recognize the finality of the 1699 message, but hardly note any changes to our structural framework, mission or message over time.

Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 | 11:01 PM

This Cat's Nine Lives

This nugget of old wives' tales hit home just weeks ago. I had ended up in a hospital emergency room on a really minor matter when...

Monday, Apr 08, 2013 | 03:32 PM

Guru, the Word

The word guru has now morphed into so many applications that it becomes confusing. Common usage equates the word with any expert. Gurus are now dime a dozen.

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 | 11:55 PM

Lessons From A Dead White Guy

Jacques Barzun died last week. He was 104 years old. The New York Times published a full-page obituary by Edward Rothstein that began by labeling him a distinguished historian, essayist and a cultural gadfly.

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012 | 11:36 PM

Delhi of the Sikhs

Though I grew up in India, I never lived in Delhi or Mumbai. When people asked about my impressions of them, my dismissive response was that Bombay was a plastic town – a celluloid reality like Las Vegas – while Delhi had a sense of history, much like my own hometown of New York.

Thursday, Oct 18, 2012 | 10:47 PM

Running Along

I often compare the march of Sikhi to a marathon. Thousands enter the race. Some will complete the distance in record time while others will finish but never win a medal. Many more may never finish the race. Some runners will be gold medalists, for they look and live as Sikhs. But many will be limping across the finish line, for they are deficient in either their meeri or their peeri.

Saturday, Oct 13, 2012 | 03:37 PM

Silver Linings In Wisconsin Tragedy

Tragic as the event was, I insist on mining it for some light and hope. Guru Granth Sahib speaks of "Dukh daru sukh roag bhaya, p. 469,” meaning that where a life of ease becomes an ailment, suffering and pain may be the panacea.

Friday, Oct 05, 2012 | 12:05 AM

History Says... Or Does It?

Bhai Gurdas, the noted Sikh savant who worked closely with Guru Arjan and was present at the time of the martyrdom, barely refers to it in his influential writings. Would this mean doubt about the martyrdom or its importance in Sikh history?

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 | 12:49 AM

Sarbat Khalsa and Gurmata: Its History and Relevance Today

In the popular Sikh mind, the concepts of Sarbat Khalsa and Gurmata are inseparably intertwined, and with good reason. Together, they provide Sikhs with an enlightened instrument of management that depends on participatory self-governance, accountability and transparency in decision making.

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2012 | 07:37 PM

Granthis and Gurdwaras

A granthi at a gurdwara was caught in a vortex – a psychologically downward spiral of loneliness, depression, alcohol abuse and hopelessness – so severe that he recently committed suicide.

Thursday, Jul 05, 2012 | 11:53 PM

A TEENYBOPPER’S ANGST

I have heard of granthis at their job interview being told by gurdwara management committees that they should not preach or speak about the requirement of Kesh, long unshorn hair, as markers of Sikhi because in this modern society such matters have no relevance.

Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 | 12:26 PM

Infinite Courage: Sikhs as Warriors

If anyone knows anything at all about Sikhs it is their martial antecedents. It is usually the first and often the only topic that Sikhs and non-Sikhs touch upon when the subject is Sikhs or Sikhi.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 | 02:24 PM

What Should India Now Do With Rajoana?

My suggestion: The government could quietly and tacitly, if not openly, support a campaign for the abolition of death penalty in India, with Punjab taking the lead.

Thursday, Apr 05, 2012 | 11:32 PM

Balwant Singh - Courage of Conviction

Beant Singh's assassin, Balwant Singh Rajoana, is to be hanged on Saturday, rules the court. But the jail authorities are reluctant to do it.

Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012 | 10:57 AM

SIKHI: The Global Vision That Was

Sikhi, to me, is a message that is unique, universal, timeless, and a thinking person’s way of life. But today we seem to have reduced it to Sikhi by inheritance and limited to Punjabi culture, cuisine, music and ambience.

Friday, Feb 10, 2012 | 05:58 PM

Talent: Arrogance and Modesty

The pursuit of plumbing is not necessarily inferior to the pursuit of philosophy. If that were the case, a society would have neither good plumbers nor good philosophers. For such a society, neither its pipes nor its ideas will hold water.

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012 | 10:48 AM

NIT NAYM: The Daily Grind?

At a gathering of some young and not so young Sikhs, Ruchie Kaur, a bright young woman -- a doctoral candidate in education no less -- piped up: “Why does the Sikh Code of Conduct (Rehat Maryada) demand the daily grind of reading ad nauseum pages upon pages of gurbani?”

Wednesday, Jan 04, 2012 | 04:40 PM

A Tale of Two Cities: Manhattan and Anandpur

Many readers would look askance at my exploring parallels between the mega-polis that is Manhattan and the sleepy village of Anandpur. They might prefer the history, gold and glitter of Amritsar that has seized our imagination to fill that spot. But I am really caught up in the disparity between price and value.

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 | 05:50 PM

Betwixt and Between Good and Evil

Like clockwork every year, November occupies us with both or one of two realities: either the Gurpurab (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak who was born in 1469 half a millennium ago, or the horrendous and ineptly attempted genocide of the Sikhs in India by mobs and hooligans of the Indian government.

Saturday, Nov 12, 2011 | 10:28 PM

Walking Away From Power

What I find absolutely mind blowing is that, ignoring the claims of his own sons, when Guru Nanak handed the torch to his successor, Guru Angad, he also directed him to move his center some miles away to a different township. This makes it a very modern process of transfer of power and authority.

Thursday, Nov 10, 2011 | 07:49 PM

THE SOCIAL CONTRACT: A Way Forward

Let’s cut to the chase via a hypothetical case: An amritdhari Sikh, holding a responsible office within the community’s gurduara, gets arrested for drunk-driving. The facts are clear and can’t be denied. The law will surely take its course.

The question for us: How should the local Sikh community respond?

Friday, Oct 21, 2011 | 04:57 PM

Of Naysayers and Quibblers

How many people were at Anandpur on Vaisakhi 1699? Hard to say! Do you really think the number was only in the hundreds?

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011 | 12:49 PM

What is a Just War, and How to Fight One

The Gurus were not pacifists, nor are the Sikhs, but Sikhi exemplifies certain conditions for rebellion and war. A moral revolution precedes resistance, rebellion and war. Non-violent methods of conflict resolution must be exhausted. You do not go looking for war. It must be thrust upon you.

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011 | 12:05 PM

Fissures and Fractures

I, like many Sikhs, also rue the news that we often make about the operations of gurduaras, particularly in North America. I won’t dwell on this but surely readers will acknowledge that many of the 200 North American gurduaras are significantly dysfunctional. The key issue appears to be purely a management dispute that often gets couched in the language of loyalty to doctrine, tradition and definition of a Sikh.

Monday, Jul 11, 2011 | 10:41 PM

June 1984 Beckons... Yet Again?

It’s that time of the year again that I wish I could forget. I wish someone would cancel the month of June – just erase it out of memory and existence. Someone would then also have to wipe out a decade or longer of modern India’s history.

Friday, Jun 03, 2011 | 08:00 PM

Camping, Like Saw Sakhis

The world was supposed to end 23 hours ago but no one really knew exactly how. How did we get to exactly when? Because the prophecy was made by an 89-year-old Christian radio entrepreneur, Harold Camping, but how did he arrive at such a suspiciously precise day and time?

Sunday, May 22, 2011 | 10:26 PM

My Head Covering is Downright Sikh

By day an Internet consultant, as most young Sikhs seem to be in this country, Vishavjit Singh is a talented cartoonist. But in indulging this passion he wisely runs away from the slapstick.

Friday, May 13, 2011 | 11:59 PM

Now That Osama is Dead

We would need to be vigilant and proactive in our communities and in liaising with local police and authorities. Any preventive measures we can initiate would be more useful than a bunch of protests and copious hand-wringing after the fact.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011 | 07:58 PM

NITPICKING ON 1984: The Topsy-Turvy World of Lord Haw-Haw

Lord Haw-Haw was the nickname given to several announcers on the English language propaganda radio programme, Germany Calling, broadcast by Nazi German radio to audiences in Great Britain on the medium wave station Reichssender Hamburg and by shortwave to the United States, during the entire duration of the Second World War. [Wikipedia]

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 | 12:09 AM

Same Sex Unions

In recent weeks, Sikh sites on the Internet have fostered an energetic discussion on same sex unions. I enter this debate with a great deal of trepidation. The conversation is necessary, hence this essay written a few years ago.

Monday, Feb 28, 2011 | 05:16 PM

Mubarak! Mubarak! Victory of The Young & The Wired

Mubarak: congratulations, felicitations, blessings, good wishes
[Punjabi Dictionary]

Saturday, Feb 12, 2011 | 12:01 PM

Unholy Bargain

What makes a good bargain and what doesn’t?

I start with two of the finest minds among the Sikhs that I have met. First I will tell you that they are superbly well-honed intellects. Then I want you to know that they are Sikhs who seem to want to practice Sikhi, and are satisfied that they do so. The question is: How well do these two virtues intermesh in real life?

Tuesday, Dec 07, 2010 | 10:42 PM

Cheevan Dhariya: Beyond Bolllywood

I had always thought of Punjabi cinema as the stepchild of Bollywood – illegitimate, unacknowledged and existing on the morsels cast from its super-rich table. Until recently that is.

Sunday, Sep 26, 2010 | 11:20 AM

Dastaar Bandi - The Way and the Wayfore

Just days ago, a Sikh of my acquaintance went through the rite of Dastaar Bandhi wherein a young lad dons a dastaar (Sikh turban) for the first time. We know, as do many of our neighbors, that a dastaar commonly defines a Sikh male.

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010 | 10:39 AM

Who's Sorry Now?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India has been making the news again and not always for the good that he might attempt.

Wednesday, Aug 04, 2010 | 12:00 AM

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