Congratulations on being selected the youth of the month, please tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with including your hobbies, interests, your school and memberships?
Were you brought up in a gursikh family? How do you feel your family, friends, and sangat have impacted you looking at yourself now?
All these experiences taught me so many things. Firstly, I developed a strong distaste for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, bars and the like. To me, they are the symbol of pain, broken homes and hearts. This saved me from bad company and situations many a times.
In my later childhood, I went under the custody of my father. This changed my life completely. He taught me respect by respecting me. He taught me gentleness, by never yelling or calling me names. He taught me acceptance by laughing with me when I made a mistake, and saying "no one is perfect"... Today he is not only my father, but a dear friend. I used to ask him questions about God, and why we are on the Earth, why do we suffer, and what's the purpose of life... very patiently, he would try to answer them the best he could. This became the seed of my spiritual life, and I continue to ask questions, learn and try to understand.
As for Sangat ... Without sangat, I would never have heard about and learned about Sikhism. I would never have made it to that first and special samagam. I would not have had the courage to walk the path. I would not have met, and been able to look up to the role models before me, in awe and wonder, and secret jelousy which made me all the more thirsty, seeing their radiant faces... I would not have found my real kindred family, and I would not have been able to join them... singing the songs of Gurbani... Without them, I would not be where I am now... and to them, I am indebted a thousand times over. May Waheguru Ji bless them with His grace and Name.
What inspired you to get on the path of Sikhi? What interested you? Was there any one thing that kept your motivation and faith sky high?
The profound experience of pain, made me question why we are on Earth and why do we suffer. Pain brought me on the journey of seeking out the Truth of human existence. For over 10 years, I searched and searched in all directions. I looked at so many religions, and tried many things and ways of life. Nothing stuck, nothing felt right, nothing belonged to me. I didn't know anything about Sikhism, and perhaps I would have never heard of Sikhism if it wasn't for God's grace that one day 3 years ago a sikh lent me a copy of Jap Ji Sahib Ji.
"One Universal Creator God" ----- long pause ----- my mind was enraptured, yet trying to grasp the meaning. The words took life and mesmerized me. Only ONE God? God is All there is? Permeating everywhere and everything? ----- "THE NAME IS TRUTH" ----- I stared at the words in shock, surprise, stung by its purity and truth. It did not say God's name is Allah, Ram, Jehovah, Yahweh... It said God's name is (the essence of) TRUTH. About 10 minutes passed in this way. I read the rest of the Mool Mantr. I can not describe how I felt... but it was like suddenly finding that 'thing' that was inside you all along, this truth that didn't have a voice, was so bluntly, and simply infront of me in written word. And it was at that moment that I met and fell in love with Gurbani.
From there, I learned more about Sikhism and started reading more Gurbani. Some road blocks appeared here and there; doubts, questions, and misunderstandings... But with time, education, discussions, help from sangat, and Gurbani, I started to grasp what Sikhism is all about, and how it is practiced in daily life. If ever any doubts remained, then Gurbani washed it all clean. Slowly, with Guru Ji's kirpa, I decided that I will live the life of a Sikh.
Many things keep me on the path, with faith, and hunger. The stories of the lovers of God, saints and bhagats who've thirsted for and have been blessed with the jewel of Naam. The lives of our Gurus and of Gursikhs. Sangat in it's various forms; inspires and uplifts me, reminding me of the way. And above all, my ultimate companion, sangat and inspiration; Gurbani. Bani is so mystical and deep. It is the poetry of the lover who yearns to merge with the Lord...it is a vast and endless ocean of Truth and peace. Infront of the embodiment of Truth, my small problems become quite insignificant. Infront of the embodiment of Truth, I become even more thirsty for merging... in that thirst, there's no more questions, no more doubts, only LOVE and Melting.
In your opinion, whats the best way for youth to learn about Sikhi and to encourage them to take amrit and follow the path of Guru jee?
The best way to learn about Sikhi, is to take the dive. Even if you don't know anything at all about Sikhism (as I started off), ask questions, and find answers. Read as much Gurbani as you can, and find the Guru-ward sangat.
As for Amrit... the only prerequisite is love and thirst. Don't think about if it is convenient for you or not. Don't think about "what others will think". Don't think "later". Remember Vaisakhi - when Guru Ji asked the thousands present "Who will give their head to me"?... Guru Ji asks this very same question on every occasion where there is an Amrit Sanchar. What will you say to Him? "No Guru Ji, not now... maybe later... I'm not ready yet". What kind of love and devotion? Become His now... and He will make you ready, and He will arrange everything for you, He will find ways to teach you what you have to know.
There are no bounds to the joy, bliss and peace that comes from taking the Sacred Amrit, and being soaked in the Lord's love. Pray that Waheguru Ji may give you this rare opportunity in this life, and don't turn back if given the chance.
When did you get blessed with Amrit and what was the reason you wanted to give your head to Guroo Maharaaj? How did being blessed with Amrit change your lifestyle? How were your family with this?
Sunday, September 4th, 2005. It was about my fourth visit to a Gurdwara, and my first samagam. By the miracle of Guru Ji's grace, I was blessed with Amrit, and was named Amrit Kaur. Remembering that day brings me back to that time and place, and all the emotions... it still feels like yesterday.
The reason? Logic is useless, when Love prevails. I was sitting in sangat since the very early morning, listening to simran and kirtan, and something happened inside of me. Memories of all the wrongs I've committed, things I regretted, were flashing in my mind. I was acutely aware of my demerits, my faults, my blunders and sins, my filth and foulness. My stench of a being. But, at the same time... I was also very conscious of the miracle and mercy Waheguru Ji was bestowing upon me, having that chance of sitting among the sangat and listening to His Praises. My soul melted. How could God, be so forgiving, so merciful, so loving... to a dirty blackened sinner like me?! I felt Him calling me, and asking me... if I will give myself to Him. If I would die for Him. I could not say "no" to Guru Ji and I drank the Amrit... I can't tell you my emotions... it is by far the most beautiful day of my whole life...
After Amrit, my life changed. I was living on clouds for many weeks! And I had to get used to the 5k, and other rehit. Keeping my hair wasn't too big of a change for me. I never liked cutting my hair, and shaving seemed pointless. I was already vegetarian since some months because of ethical and ecological reasons, but after Amrit it became set in stone. Just being strict vegetarian is a huge challenge in this society and in my family. It generated a lot of discussion, and my father often got frustrated that I would not eat the same thing as him. Most French Canadians can not even imagine that a vegetarian diet could keep you alive... But now after 2 years, even my father occasionally eats vegetarian meals with me.
Only my father and friends know that I am Sikh. My father accepted that I am sikh, but could not understand the kirpan. It was a very big issue for a long time. To him, it was clearly a weapon and nothing else. I hid it under my clothes the best I could, as to not upset him. Now he is somewhat ok with it, I haven't hurt anyone yet, haha. Covering my head is also a very big problem in my house. I wore bandanas, but my father would call me "pirate" and give me cold looks. One day I wore a turban in front of him. He jumped back, taking a big inhale of air, eyes dilated in shock, horror and fear. It hurt me, because I care for him, he is a really good person, but he doesn't fully understand Sikhism. It is only recently, after all the stories and explanations that he's starting to understand Sikhism, and that it's not related to Islam or Hinduism, and that Sikh women have rights. All this made me realize how uninformed and/or misinformed most westerners are about Sikhism. I, myself didn't even hear the word Sikhism until I met a Sikh who told me. I think it is high time that sikhs realize the importance of connecting with and opening up to the community at large to spread awareness on Sikhism and Sikhs.
Despite the little difficulties, Sikhi is my path, my breathe, my life, and hope of life. And I will continue to follow it, with Guru Ji's Grace.
There seems to be an ever growing battle in the western world to tackle the vices which can seriously affect our Sikhi. What would you say can help overcome these in our day to day life?
With every action, you have a choice to 'do' or 'not do'. Before engaging in anything, ask yourself if it will bring good in the end. If not, don't do it. Don't plant even a seed, though it may seem innocent, but can grow into an opportunity for any of the five vices. Learn to say "No" to situations that can deviate you away from Sikhi and good conduct. Don't let your mind control you no matter how it tries to trick you, you have to control it!
In Sikhi, we are taught to become Saint-Warriors. We must use that Warrior aspect, on our own minds to tackle the five vices. They are our real enemies, they perpetuate duality. How to destroy them? Use Truth as the Sword of your mind. Stay determined and do not waver; keep your mind sharply focused on the Truth - which is found in Gurbani, the Truth that is sharper than a razor blade, straight and hair-thin as the edge of the Sword. In this way, whatever thoughts or impulses that are false will be destroyed.
We must also use the Saint aspect. How? The measure of our success in this world, is Love. If we are thirsty, and melting in love for the Lord, then we know we are on the true path. On the other hand, if we don't have love and thirst for God, then we should reconsider what we are doing, and how we are living. You will know you are on the right path, when love and thirst for God well up to overflow inside. Without the Name and Love for the Lord, everything is false. The falsehoods only bring pain, emptiness, and shame. Realize that these vices, in the end only bring excruciating pain - they eat at us from the inside out. If you don't believe me, test it, see that it is not real happiness. Youth, money, reputation, popularity, 'beauty', and material possessions... the more you care about them, the more they will hurt you in the end. It is only till we turn to God, and become Guru-ward, become the saint-warrior, live a life of sadh sangat, seva, simran (true congregation, selfless service, remembrance), and Gurbani... until we live in the world but become dead from the world... that we will find peace from the burning fire of the vices.
What are your views on Today's youth?
They are full of potential! They are the future of the Sikh Panth! They have the power to revive the spirit of Sikhi, and inspire others to follow on the path. They have the power to unite the Sikh Panth, by realizing that a Sikh is a Sikh is a Sikh. They have the power to bring peace, by realizing a human is a human is a human. They have the power to change the world, through the teachings of the True Guru - and by doing Seva for the Earth, animals, and all humans irrespective of religion, caste, creed, gender, language and country of origin, so that other communities my be inspired to do the same. Today's youth, by the grace of the True Guru, have the potential to become Khalsa, and True Devotees of Waheguru Ji, soaked and drenched in the love of Naam.
May the youth realize this potential, which can be easily forgotten amongst the nitty gritty of everyday life...
And may they act upon it...
What is your message to Sikh youth reading this interview right now?
You have the opportunity to follow the path of Sikhism! Realize your luck! There are millions of truth-thirsty people on the Earth, who would be amazed at the Truth of Gurbani, if only they had the chance. Don't forsake the most beautiful and priceless jewel! Realize your luck!
The time is Now! Don't wait till your old age to begin to jap (chant and meditate) on the Lord. Don't wait till your death bed to remember Him and get thirsty for Naam and Merging. Pray to Waheguru Ji! Who knows when we will have to leave this Earth?
Take the Dive!
Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh!
PS: Please forgive me for anything that I may have said that is inaccurate or incorrect. I am still just a student in Sikhi, grasping for the Truth.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the above questions,
and we hope you can continue to carry the torch of Sikhi and inspire others alike.