Sikhs and Yoga

 Dear friends,

I am a Sikh who bows to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as my spiritual teacher. I regularly read Guru’s bani and I regularly sit with sangat. I work to change my habits in life to the healthy, wise, and kind principles shared in the Guru’s word. One of the ways that I help calm my mind is by sitting, controlling my breath, and with each inhale, I meditate on the word “Sat”. Sat means true or truth. On the exhale, I meditate on “Nam”. Nam means name or identity.

When I meditate on Sat Nam, as directed by my guru, I also assume postures like veer asan (on one knee with the rear sitting on the heel), as Guru Gobind Singh Ji often sat and is depicted as sitting, or Sukh Asan (Simple cross legged position in which all Gurus are depicted). I also stretch the body that beloved infinite Waheguru gave me. I stretch it in thanks to the Guru of Sat Nam that it may be in good mental, physical, and spiritual health that it may serve.

 Every picture you see of people doing Kundalini Yoga, they are silently or out loud doing Nam Simran of Sat Nam. Nam Simran means constant repetition of the Name of Truth. Sat Nam.

I have grown up in the community of Sikhs that was borne of Siri Singh Sahib (Yogi Bhajan) leading my parents and their peers to the feet of the Guru. He learned yoga from his teacher, Sant Hazara Singh, who was considered a saint in his time and a great warrior and Gursikh. Yogi Ji introduced yoga and meditation to my parents and their peers. Included in that yoga is breath control, posture, but above all: Nam Simran.

Kundalini yoga, in my opinion, has been highly mis-characterized. It is meant to support the principles and practices that we work towards as Sikhs. It is meant to help us control our emotions and transform them into higher actions. It is meant to help us ward off the five thieves of lust, anger, greed, pride, and attachment by using Nam Simran and posture and breath control to create new, positive habits in lieu of destructive ones that come when the aforementioned factors motivate our thoughts and actions.

Sikhs from this community do not worship idols. While you may see photographs of individuals from this community bowing to statues of, say, Baba Siri Chand, I think it would be wiser to ask those individuals why they are bowing to those statues than to write off a whole community as “idol-worshipers committing beadbi, or offenses toward the Guru.”

You may see photos of Sikhs from this community sitting around a haavan or hom. Again, I would ask those Sikhs, if I were you, their thoughts behind that action. They clearly do not seem embarrassed or negative representing themselves in that way. It is my guess that those individuals were invited by Hindu communities who were somehow hosting them, be it at an interfaith gathering or the like, to participate in a practice that is important to them as Hindus. Being tolerant and respectful Sikhs of the Guru, they joined in.

I have been in similar situations. I have been hosted by Muslim families on Ramadan and was present while they did namaaz. I bowed towards mecca with them, remembering that my Guru is everywhere in all things. I have sat with Zen Buddhists for meditation and discourse. When they inclined their heads towards the statue of Buddha, so did I. I did so in reverence of their ideals and principles remembering that my Guru is Truth and that in the Truth of Buddha there can be no separation from my Guru. I have walked at Mandirs before statues of Ma Durga. I, like Guru Gobind Singh Ji does in Durga Di Vaar, remembered the exellence of Ma Durga and what she represents and that all of these things, these ideas, these high principles, these strivings towards human exellence are all Waheguru.

So I bow always to my Guru in all things great and pure. Please do not get caught in the hype of one facebook page’s claims. Why do you think Bhai Balbir Singh Ji, Baba Nihal Singh Ji, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II, and so many other great holy people shared such mutual respect and love with Siri Singh Sahib Ji (a title given to him by Akal Takht as well as Panth Rattan, Jewel of the Sikh Panth)?

Because they saw that his intention and action sought to bring people closer to their highest consciousness through introducing them to Sikh Dharam, Shabd Guru, and gave them the tool of Kundalini Yoga. All with his head inclined to the Guru.

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