It is our privilege to immerse ourselves into the sound current of Japji Sahib. Growing up, I wasn’t aware of how much of a privilege it was. I was born into a Sikh family, born in New Delhi, India and moved to Canada at the age of four. Being raised in the Sikh tradition, I was always encouraged by my parents, uncles, aunts and our Sangat members to start reading Japji Sahib everyday. Unfortunately, it felt like a very tedious chore, rather than an experience of elevation.
As a teenager, I was confronted about my identity often. Friends and teachers would frequently inquire about what it was I wore on my head and why I wore it, why I would let the hair on my face and head grow and left uncut and so forth. I would repeat the same reasons I was told growing up by my parents and Sangat, like a trained parrot. I felt that even though I dressed and maintained the image of a Sikh, I didn’t really feel like one. Everything felt like a ritual to me up to this point, without my heart and soul behind it. And I never liked to commit to anything, unless I felt the full force of my heart and soul behind it. All this culminated to a crossroads moment at the age of 16, when I seriously contemplated removing my Turban and cutting my hair. I decided I did not want to be in duality anymore. I either wanted to live a life without Sikhi or to be totally immersed in it, but to no longer be in-between.
I decided to do some community service (Seva) and I felt that this would help me discover myself and make the best decision for my future. It just so happened that where I was doing this Seva, I met a teacher of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan — an older Caucasian man with a full Turban and beard. I was moved and inspired to learn more about the religion I was born into from someone who had made the decision to become a Sikh. He invited me to come to a Kundalini Yoga Class and at the end of the very first class, I made the decision that I would leave my hair uncut and continue to dress in the image of a Sikh. I was determined to start Sadhana (morning meditation and practice) the very next day.
As the weeks continued and my Sadhana became more practiced, my meditation brought forth to the conscious mind many unresolved issues and I started to become very depressed. I felt like I was doing everything I should be, but still, I couldn’t feel the strength of the Soul within me. I became more isolated from friends, communicated little with family and gave up the extra-curricular activities which I had previously enjoyed so much. I felt a thirst growing inside of me every day — like a tree in an arid climate that had not tasted water in what felt like years to my mind and heart.
One day a thought came into my mind, ‘read Japji Sahib’.
Then I began to read Japji Sahib every morning with my Sadhana. I listened very deeply to every sound of the Bani. I meditated on the sound of every syllable, as I read it out aloud in its entirety. In between stanzas, I would read the English translation and this changed my understanding of life and spirituality, giving me a new perspective on how to serve our Guru. And very quickly, over the next few weeks, my heart began to warm. The depression vanished like the darkness in a room when a Jot (light) is lit. What felt like a dried up tree, became lush and blossomed forth in greenery. I felt love and happiness, from the naad (sound current) of Japji Sahib, that I had not felt in a very long time. The process of reading Japji Sahib every day felt like receiving the blessing from our beloved Guru, to take a fresh start in life again as a Sikh (student) of Guru Nanak. Except this time, I felt the Soul behind this change — the soul of Japji Sahib.
Dr. Harsimranjeet Singh Khalsa
Dr. Harsimranjeet Singh lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife. He practices Naturopathic Medicine with a special focus on Reproductive Health and Fertility, helping couples from many corners of the world trying to conceive and providing treatments throughout pregnancy. He is also a certified teacher in Kundalini Yoga.