Happy Bandi Chhor Divas and Diwali!

For the Sikhs, have a wonderful Bandi Chhor Divas, and celebrate the time when Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was released from prison after being wrongfully convicted, but only after he made sure the other 52 prisoners were released as well.

And for the Hindus, have a wonderful Diwali, and remember that goodness triumphs over evil.

And for those who simply celebrate it, enjoy it, too.

This February I was at Darbar Sahib and looking back at the pictures I took its hard to imagine that 33 years ago on this day this complex would have been unrecognizable.

Where sangat throngs today, sangat would have been laying dead. Where the Nishaan Sahib stands, there some of the biggest leaders of our faith would be laying shaheed. The Akaal Takht that stands tall today proclaiming the political sovereignty Guru Hargobind Sahib gave unto us would have been reduced to rubble. This may be a scene that would have demoralized a people, but Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Khalsa has always been different in this sense.

When the attacks began on Darbar Sahib, kirtan inside the Sanctum continued. Even when the Akaal Takht was reduced to rubble, that did not stop our qaum. Guru Granth Sahib Ji was Prakaash on the thharhaa (foundation platform) and the singing of the Lord’s praises continued in defiance to the oppressive powers at hand.

The Sikhi that was attempted to be stamped out flourished. Worldwide in Canada and the U.K. people received Amrit by the thousands and became new members of the Khalsa Panth. The Sikh community that had up until this point tried hard to assimilate to the West found pride in their identity and unapologetically took to the streets in the tens of thousands in protest. We became visible and began celebrating the creation of our nation on Vaisakhi out in the public, which today have become even bigger than some celebrations in Punjab.

The faith they tried to suppress flourished and grew. The fact that we simply exist today is an act of resistance. This isn’t the first time we have seen something like this and it likely won’t be the last. However, what I do know is that the Guru’s Panth will always remain resilient and will flourish.

Guru Sahib Ji Khalsa Panth nu hameshaa chardi kala bakshan. ❤🙏🏽

ਇਹ ਬੋਲਾ ਹਰਿਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕਾ ਸੁਣੋ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਬੀਰ ॥
This ‘Bola’ is of Guru Hargobind, listen Khalsa warriors!
ਫਤਿਹ ਪਾੳ ਮੈਦਾਨ ਮੈ ਪਕੜ ਹਾਥ ਸ਼ਮਸ਼ੀਰ ॥
Attain victory on the battlefield holding a Shamshir (scimitar). - Brahm Kavach

Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji with his newly formed Akaal Sena (Timeless Army) at Sri Harimandir Sahib

The Homophobic Lifestyle is not Compatible with Sikhi

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

A LOT of you have been asking me to give you my thoughts on the videos regarding homosexuality (particulary this one and this one) published on the YouTube channel “Basics of Sikhi.” Here is my line-by-line critique on what they have to say:


“We shouldn’t be discriminating against people who are homosexual.”

Yes! We are off to a good start!! A1!

“Someone who is amritdhari, can only marry the opposite sex.”

…and that excitement was short-lived. Here we go.

“Someone who is an amritdhari cannot be a practicing homosexual.”

This confuses me. Practicing homosexual? Are you serious bhaji? 

“They must decide to be celibate for the rest of their life, and that’s the price they pay for Amrit.”

Woahhhh there. Hold up Mr. Jagraj Singh. Are you the Tenth Guru? Are you Guru Gobind Singh Ji? No? Well, then you can’t decide the “price of Amrit” for another Sikh. That’s absolutely absurd. Guru Sahib has asked for my head and my allegiance and those are at His Lotus Feet. My Guru criticizes the sadhus for restricting sexuality, and you are doing exactly that.

“…a lot of the sants were, a lot of the mahapurkhs were [celibate], so that’s fine.”

Yes, they were, and they DECIDED to be celibate. They were not systematically oppressed and FORCED to be celibate in the manner you are telling people to be. You are essentially denying a Sikh the right to matrimony, one of the most important five sacraments of a Sikh’s life.

“But the key principle is no discrimination…they can do all the normal things that a Sikh can do.”


disˈkriməˌnāt/ 1. recognize a distinction; differentiate. 2. make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people or things. Regarding the definition above, that statement you just made is hypocritical. You cannot preach non-discrimination and claim us to be unequal to heterosexual Sikhs in the rights to marriage.

“Somebody who’s gay is not a pedophile or someone who’s trying to exploit somebody else.”

Where credit is deserved, I shall give it. Thank you for making that statement and emphasizing consensuality.

“The Sikhs have been given the hukam of bandi-chhor from Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.”

Exactly. We are commanded to help those subjugated by an oppressive majority, like people who are barred equal opportunities in life due to a trait they have. Sound familiar?

“You know what, let’s park this issue. Let’s go and serve all the people that haven’t got food, feed them, let’s give clothing to people that haven’t got clothing, let’s give medicine to the people that haven’t got medicine, let’s free those people that are under slavery, let’s just go and destroy and kill all of the tyrrants in the world, and then at the end of that, maybe the Panth can come together and decide what their position will be on [presumably gay] amritdharis.”

Forgive me, but it seems that brushing off your gay brothers and sisters to pursue a crusade of charity, donation, and tyrrant-killing, and THEN seeing what people think of us is a slight hint that we should be treated as second class Sikh. You know, we don’t matter, so we don’t have priority to have our problems solved. Oppression IS a problem that Sikhs need to address, especially when some Sikhs have themselves become the oppressor.


Bhai Jagraj Singh:

“I guess most people would say avoid that question [about gay amritdharis]. *laughter*”

That’s the issue with our community, we ignore these questions, or feel uncomfortable about them and perpetuate the stigma LGBTQ Sikh feel on a day to day basis, and this even elevates said stigma.

“It’s not for me to sit here and judge them and say that ‘no no, you’re wrong, you’re not born with it.’”

Again, due credit here. Thank you so much. :)

“We have to accept them in the sense that we can’t discriminate against them…they can come into Gurdwara, they do seva in the Gurdwara, they can read paath, they can sing kirtan…”

We can’t discriminate them in this way…

“[According to Akaal Takht maryada] Anand Karaj is only between a man and a woman.”

….but we can discriminate them in that way.

“If you plan on taking Amrit and realize you are homosexual, then you are going to have to accept a life of celibacy. That’s the price that you pay for Amrit.”

Again, it is not up to a human being to determine “the price of Amrit.”

“Some people decided they are not going to live in grihst.”

Again, key word DECIDED, not forced.

“[insert rehearsed romanticized bit of feeding poor killing tyrrants] and our Panth needs to think long term.”

Giving a whole population of people equal rights is not a short term thing. It IS long term. It will mean no Singh or Kaur will ever have to suffer the way my brothers and sisters do today. It means people will not have to choose between being true to themselves and being adherent to their beloved faith. 

“Our mission is really big, and this thing doesn’t really affect our mission.”

Not only are we second-class Sikh, but we are miniscule in importance too. Great!

Bhai Balpreet Singh:

“Just to go on the record for that one, and I do feel like I have to go on the record for that one, I also believe that there’s no room for discrimination against homosexuals…but that having been said, I don’t believe the homosexual act, and the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with Sikhi.”

Okay. Let’s pause there a moment. You are not discriminating, yet you believe your sexual act is permissible, and mine is not….that doesn’t add up.

Furthermore I am tired of the use of the term “gay lifestyle.” What do you mean by that? Drinking? Straight people do that too. Sleeping around? Straight people do that too. Clubbing? Drugs? Vanity? All that is present in straight people too. Highly hypocritical of a person against discrimination.

A gay Sikh lives the lifestyle of a Sikh; waking at Amrit Vela, praying on time, etc. etc. etc. Only difference, he or she likes the same sex! Mindblowing eh?

“Homosexual marriage is certainly something that is not permitted in the Panth.”

Bhai Balpreet Singh is a prominent member of our community as a member of the World Sikh Organization of Canada. He’s done amazing work with them and I commend him on that, but I have to raise one point.

In 2005, when the Civil Marraige Act was legalizing gay marriage, the WSO came out in SUPPORT of the legalization. While I commend and celebrate the stance the WSO made, I am very disappointed in the hypocritical statement Bhai Sahib made in this video. 

What hurts most is that this channel is made to reach out to youth and many young people DO watch this channel. This means that there is a high possibility that a gay Sikh youth watched these videos and climbed further into their inner shell.

Sikh youth already feel like they have to choose being out or being religious and can’t be both from societal pressures. We don’t need Panthic people to further push them to the brink, especially when they claim to be spreading the message of Guru Nanak.

My Guru Nanak was there to uplift the oppressed, not pereptuate their inequity.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

-Clandest Singh

Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji Maharaj - the first Shaheed in Sikh history.

In Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s memory, the following is a short overview of Guru Sahib’s shaheedi.

Seeing how Guru Arjan Dev Ji had won over devotees from different faiths including Islam and Hinduism, the Muslim and Hindu leaders were alarmed at the growth of the Sikh Panth. Realising that their own power base was disappearing rapidly under the influence of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the powerful Hindus joined the Muslim scholars in their attempt to influence Jahangir - a Muslim emperor, to arrest Guru Sahib. Jahangir, under the influence of his own jealousies, quickly obliged the enemies of the Guru and placed many baseless accusations on the Guru and his Sikhi. Jahangir ordered Murtaza Khan to arrest Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Guru Sahib was imprisoned at Lahore Fort, where he was severely tortured for several days.

On the first day of torture, Guru Ji was not given anything to eat or drink, and was not allowed to sleep. Guru Arjan Dev Ji bore all this calmly and remained immersed in Simran, repeating “Vaheguroo, Vaheguroo, Vaheguroo…” and sang shabads from Gurbani.

The next day, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was made to sit in boiling water in a cauldron. This scalded Guru Ji’s body, but he sat calmly and felt no pain as he remained absorbed in the sweet remembrance of Vaheguroo and repeated “All is happening, O Vaheguroo, according to Thy Will. Thy Will is ever sweet to me.” 

On the third day, Chandu Shah ordered his men, “make some sand red hot in iron pans. Seat the Guru on boiling water and then pour the red hot sand over his head and body.” Despite everything, Guru Sahib remained calm and again felt no pain or anger. He continued doing Simran and repeated “ ਤੇਰਾ ਕੀਆ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਾਂਗੈ ॥੨॥੪੨॥੯੩॥ Your actions seem so sweet to me. Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord. ||2||42||93||”  

On the fourth day of torture, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was made to sit on an iron plate which was heated from below. Burning red-hot sand was poured on his body but Guru Ji kept calm, with his mind fixed on Vaheguroo. 

On the fifth day, Guru Sahib was allowed to take a cooling bath in the Ravi River where thousands of people watched Guru Arjan Dev Ji enter the river - light blended with light, and the physical body of Guru Arjan Dev Ji was never to be seen again. 

Before his execution, Guru Arjan Dev Ji instructed his son, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji to take up arms; changing the character of Sikhs to courageous Saint Soldiers. 

Guru Arjan Dev Ji sowed the seed of martyrdom which flourished after him and became the heritage of Sikhs.              

Why Sikh Celebrate Diwali - Myths and Gurmat Itihaas

Happy Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas everyone! As promised, here’s why Sikhs should observe today with utmost reverence.

Myth: Celebrating Diwali is purely cultural and has nothing to do with Sikhi.

Gurmat Itihaas: The celebration of Diwali in the Sikh Panth originated loooong before the Bandi Chhor of Dhan Dhan Sri Guru hargobind Sahib Ji Maharaaj. Sri Guru Amar Das Ji gave hukam on this day that all Sikh should gather together on this day and spend it as a day of sangat and remembrance of God. This was not a recommendation, it was a hukam. So when you whine about going to the Gurdwara on Diwali seeming ritualistic, well, actually, it’s not! It’s hukam. :)

Myth: Today has little importance in Sikh history

Gurmat Itihaas: Not only was this a day of obligation for sangat, but many important events occured on this day. We all know the Bandi Chhor story; Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was wrongfully jailed by the Mughal regime due to religious persecution. Eventually, after seeing the overwhelming amount of pressure being put on them, the Mughals allowed Guru Sahib to leave, but Guru Ji refused. He said, I will leave only if you allow these 52 other Hindu kings that you have kidnapped to leave with me. The jailor laughed and said, “You can take those many kings who can grab hold to the hem of your robe.” Guru Sahib then sent for his Sikh to sew him a special robe with 52 tassels. Each king grabbed onto one, and they all left the jail in Gwalior and arrived home in Amritsar. 

On this day too, Sai Mian Mir, a Sufi Muslim who was very dear to Guru Sahib, laid the foundation stone for Sachkhand Sri Harimandir Sahib (colloquially known as the Golden Temple) under the grace of Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaaj, and the architecture of Baba Buddha Ji. It is one of the holiest temples in Sikhi, and holds a special place in the hearts of Sikhs worldwide.

Also, if Diwali wasn’t important, why would Bhai Mani Singh sacrifice his life to celebrate it? Bhai Sahib was martyred by being cut joint by joint as a result of him gathering at Harimandir Sahib to celebrate Diwali against the wishes of the Mughal regime.

Myth: Lighting lamps is not a Sikh practice, and it is completely meaningless. 

Sikh Itihaas: When Guru Hargobind Shaib returned to Amritsar, he was greeted with aatishbazi (fireworks) and a big deep utsav (festival of lights). You have to understand that his return was more crucial than we think it is, because he didn’t leave by himself, but rather he broke the shackles of oppression for the other 52 kings. The light of our world came back to our world on this day. Why not celebrate with light? Yes, we don’t light lamps for Ramchandr or Lakshmi, but we light them for our Guru.

Bhai Gurdas Ji writes in his Vaaraan about the lighting of lamps and how it is an alangkaar (symbol) of the shortness of life. Why are lit, we burn as the years progress, eventually the oil of our breath runs out and we are extinguished. This isn’t talking about not celebrating Diwali.

At the end of the day, today is day of joy. With no joy in our lives, with nothing to look forward to, we are left with a boring life, and that’s not what Sikhi is about! Stop turning into a Western orthodoxy. Have fun. Light lamps. Stuff your face with gulab jamuns. Enjoy your day.

Happy Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas!!!

INDIA, Amritsar : An Indian Sikh priest ® carries the Sikh holy book during a procession from the Sri Akal Takhat at the Sikh Shrine to the Golden Temple in Amritsar on April 8, 2015 on the eve of the 394th birth anniversary of the ninth Sikh Guru, Teg Bahadur. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the youngest of five sons of Guru Hargobind, was born in Amritsar in 1621 and was executed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi in 1675. AFP PHOTO/ NARINDER NANU                        

sathigur ba(n)dheeshhorr hai jeevan mukath karai ouddeenaa||
The True Guru is giver of freedom from bondages and makes the detached ones liberated in life.

Today we remember the day that Guru Hargobind Sahib Jee Maharaaj returned to Amritsar after freeing Themselves from imprisonment under the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Holding onto Maharaaj Jee’s robe, 52 innocent Hindu Rajas were also led to their freedom.

May Maharaaj Jee free our minds from the chains lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego, and may they light the candle of wisdom within us. Let us remain forever attached to the hem of Maharaaj Jee’s robe, and may we, too, be led to our freedom.

Wishing you all a very joyous and blessed Divali and Bandi Chhor Divas!

anonymous asked:

Sikhs are not political people. You "Sikhs" that engage in the dirt of politics marr our image.

Hooooooold up. Hun, you seem in need of a little history lesson.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji: Challenged the caste system, and openly criticized Brahminical elitism; challenged the ban on music in Baghdad while OPENLY doing kirtan in a city square; confronted the first Mughal emperor, Babur, for the war crimes he committed, and as a result Guru Sahib was thrown in jail: POLITICS.

Guru Angad Dev Ji: Denounced artocities committed by upper class intellectuals, created a movement and created a new alphabet so EVERYONE would be able to read and write: POLITICS.

Guru Amar Das Ji: In essence, the most feminist religious leader known to the world; banned the practice of widow-burning (Sati), and other cultural traditions that decreased the status of women to a mere piece of property: POLITICS.

Guru Ram Das Ji: Created a new set of vows to be read at Sikh weddings to distinguish the Anand Karaj from other acts of union, contributing to the autonomy of the faith: POLITICS.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji: Openly condemned Akbar’s son Prince Salim (later to become Jahangir) and openly advocated for Prince Khusrau to become the next emperor of the Mughal Empire due to his equity and righteousness, he faced Emperor Jahangir due to this and was executed, becoming the first martyr in our Panth: POLITICS.

Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji: Established the concept of the Saint Soldier, to make sure Sikhs are trained in diplomacy and combat as well as being devout in worship and lifestyle; the Akaal Takht, the centre of Sikh decision-making is built in the complex of Sikhi’s spiritual heart, Sri Harimandir Sahib (later to become known as the Golden Temple): POLITICS.

Guru Har Rai Ji: Used Sikh battalion to protect Shah Jahan’s son, Prince Dara Shikoh, and help him escape from the attacks of his own brother, the new Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb; gave succession of Guruship to his younger son, due to older son Ram Rai’s ill intent to mislead the community: POLITICS.

Guru Har Krishan Sahib Ji: Showed people that age does not matter, constantly proved ageist biases against the Child Guru as false: POLITICS.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji: Heard the plight of Brahmins being persecuted under the hand of Aurangzeb; travelled to Delhi to confront the Emperor, and in doing so was publicly caged, forced to witness the torture, burning, sawing, and boiling of his companions, until he himself was publicly beheaded for the sake of a community other than his own: POLITICS.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji: Further perpetuated the concept of the Sant Sipahi (Saint Soldier), and ran the fort city of Anandpur as an independant self-sufficient city-state of the Sikhs; established a nationhood within the faith with the revelation of the Khalsa on the Vaisakhi of 1699; waged war against the oppression of Aurangzeb; engaged Aurangzeb in diplomacy as he wrote his most famous work, the Zafarnamah; declared 52 commandments before he passed on, one of them being STUDYING AND ENGAGING IN POLITICS: POLITICS.

Politics has been a part of Sikhi from day one, and anyone who says anything contrary to that needs to re-examin their knowledge of their deen. 

Sikhs are NOT pacificists. We are activists against oppression, no matter which community is being oppressed. It is silence that marrs our image, not activism.


Aurangzeb WAS a tyrant, look into Sikh history.

Babur WAS extremely violent, read Guru Nanak Dev Ji'a Babur Bani.

Jahangir WAS NOT the peaceful empires people make him out to be- he executed Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

Shah Jahan WAS NOT simply a lovey dovey romantic, he was also a petty ruler who waged wars against Guru Hargobind Sahib for no good reason.

Calling out the Mughal regime out for its oppressive actions is not Islamophobic. Blaming Muslims at large for a medieval emperor’s actions is stupidity, but so is glossing over the oppression that the Mughals were responsible for just because they shared the same faith as you.

Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas 2015 - Reclaiming the Light

The countdown to the Festival of Lights has begun, and many people will begin making preparations to ring in the holiday- which falls on the 11th of November this year.

However, with what’s been happening in Punjab, to many people the light of this holiday seems to be overshadowed by the dark clouds of suppression that have covered our motherland- with Punjab becoming a paramilitary state. As a result, some people are calling for Sikhs to observe a “Kaali Diwali” and skip the observance altogether.

While I understand and sympathize with these sentiments, I think by doing so we can lose so much potential that this occasion can bring. 

First of all, since the day has become more of a cultural observance, we need to understand WHY we celebrate Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas in Sikhi. The day was first instituted by Guru Amar das Ji as one of the three days of the year, the other two being Vaisakhi and Maaghi, when it was Hukam for Sikhs to gather and do satsangat with Guru Sahib. When the Sarbat Khalsa was established, Diwali and Vaisakhi became the two holidays where the Sarbat Khalsa would analyze the goals they set in the past half of the year, see where the Panth has come since then, and then make new goals and decisions. It is a time for us to reflect on our collective action and to make resolutions for the upcoming months. 

Furthermore, we also commemorate Bandi Chhor Divas on that day, when Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji Maharaaj lead 52 captured kings out of Mughal imprisonment at Gwalior. On this day we contemplate Guru Sahib’s role as Bandi Chhor, the Breaker of Enslavement.

This enslavement has plagued our Panth for several decades now. Partition was done to quell our grandparents’ voice, 1984 was done to quell our parents’ voice, and now the current situation is in place to quell our voice.

However, we must not be defeatists and stop observing the Purabs of our Guru Sahibaan. I would like to remind you that Bhai Mani Singh Ji laid his life on the line so Sikhs could observe Bandi Chhor Divas- an act for which he was executed by being dismembered joint by joint.

Don’t let them silence you, and do not distinguish the light of inspiration that this holiday brings. Reclaim it. Turn it into a day of action. Talk about the situation in Punjab. Make resolutions for how YOU can help. Pray that Guru Sahib gives us strength to overcome this as nothing is possible without Their blessings.

Reclaim the light:

“There is a fable that when the Sun was setting for the first time, … light was decreasing … and the signs of Darkness were appearing … Darkness set its foot on the earth, but it is said — far away, in some hut, one little Lamp lifted his head. It proclaimed, ‘I challenge the Darkness. If nothing else, then at least around myself, I will not let it settle. Around myself I will establish Light.’ And … watching that one Lamp, in other huts, other Lamps arose. And the world was amazed that these Lamps stopped Darkness from expanding, so that people could see. Now I believe that today when darkness, with all its strength thrusts itself over the truth, if not anything else I will say Ankhila Punjab is the light that will challenge it and I pray to the Guru who identifies with Truth to keep this light lit." 

-Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra

On this day, Guru Hargobind Sahib freed 52 captive kings from Mughal tyranny in Gwalior jail, showing that his Panth is one that does not stand by watching injustices happen.

Today, our Panth is fighting to break the shackles of tyranny in Punjab, on top of that Kashmiris in the north continue their resistance, and Syrian refugees are struggling to escape the grips of war, trauma, and xenophobia.

Let us use this day as a day of action to mobilize around these issues so that one day these shackles may be broken, and the light of justice may break through the dark clouds of injustice.

May you have a blessed Bandi Chhor Divas and Diwali. <3

Happy Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas!

Today we observe two special days in the Sikh calendar: the day of Diwali (as instituted by Guru Amar Das Ji- as a day of sangat and seva), and the day of Bandi Chhor Divas (when Guru Hargobind Sahib liberated 52 political prisoners out of Gwalior Jail).

We observe Diwali with much fervor and excitement, but let’s not forget Bandi Chhor Divas. Let us remember how despite being a political prisoner himself, Guru Sahib conditioned his liberation on the liberation of all the other 52 kings locked up with him by the Mughal Empire.

Our community is constantly facing many challenges, but let us remember that despite these challenges it is our duty on our Guru, and above all on humanity, to break the shackles of inequity and injustice around us.

Spend this day with family and friends, but also spend it in contemplation thinking about how we can be allies to others. Today our black brothers and sisters face mass persecution. Our indigenous brothers and sisters are being brutalized for standing up for Mother Nature at Standing Rock. Think about how you can help these efforts, but also think about the injustices you yourself contribute to.

We all contribute so much to sexism, racism, xenophobia, and basically the hatred of everything that is not within what we see in our narrow mindset. This is not the Guru’s Sikhi and we must always be vigilant and challenge ourselves when these thoughts arise.

Let us all pray that every physical and figurative shackle of injustice be broken.

Satgur Bandi Chhor Hai ❤️