SikhNet was launched on the World Wide Web on Vaisakhi Day – April 13, 1996.
Here is an excerpt of an article written by Gurumustuk Singh in 1998, describing the early years of Sikhnet:
Ever since I can remember, I have felt that I have never been able to get my hands on enough information about Sikhism, nor had I ever found a way to interact with Sikhs from around the world. I have had a constant yearning to learn more about Sikhism and to understand what it means to live as a Sikh both spiritually and scientifically….
From early on, my parents instilled in me the values and practices of living as a Sikh. We would get up early in the morning, take a cold shower (which I dreaded at the time), and then get together with many of the other Sikhs in our area to recite Japji and practice Kundalini Yoga (to stretch and exercise our bodies). After the yoga we would do about an hour of meditation to various mantras from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, followed then by Gurdwara. This started our day by giving 2-1/2 hours to the Guru……10% of our day.
I studied in India for about 11 years (1983 – 1994), during which I developed many different interests and passions, including photography, computers, wood carving, electronics, basketball, fixing and making every thinkable gadget, Kundalini yoga and meditation, singing, and understanding the mind, body and spirit.
From a young age my parents taught me to tune into my innerself to experience God. I feel very privileged to have been raised this way. I have always been interested in knowing how/why things work. I have asked questions constantly in search of learning more. I have read book after book wishing there was more information and better resources on Sikhism. I have always been enthralled with the science of Kundalini Yoga and have practiced often when I felt down or when I was going through hard times. It has been one of the things that has kept me going and tuned into my inner self. Our minds can can become so cluttered. If we do not do a little “house cleaning” we can not function properly. Our emotions get out of hand, we become reactive, and do not think as clearly.
I am a strong believer in taking control of our lives. We can either let life take us where it wants (like a person floating aimlessly on a river) or we can take control and make our lives fruitful and full of happiness. You never know what could be ahead of you. There could be a waterfall right up ahead! Do not confuse “taking control” with, letting the Guru guide and take care of your affairs. I try to give all my problems and affairs to the Guru, knowing that it will be taken care of. BUT….I do not just sit around doing nothing expecting the world to come to me.
It is very hard in this new age to grow up in a western world living as a Sikh. We stand out so much and attract a lot of attention, so you are always feeling like you are “in the spotlight”. I can understand why many young people have a hard time. There is a feeling of separation… and longing to belong with peers. Wanting to “fit in” and be “normal”. I know this because I , myself, went through it and it was not easy!! Even the most well-raised and spiritual person is subject to the Maya of the world. What I discovered was that you really have to have an experience of being a Sikh to value it.
When I hung out with friends who were “devoted Sikhs”, I stayed more focused, practiced, and remembered what this lifestyle (Sikhism) was all about. But on the other hand, if I was with people who did not have a spiritual practice, it dragged me down, and the more I was with them, the more I lost touch with why I was a Sikh. Remain in the company of the Holy!
Many parents are not able to explain to their children why they are Sikhs and can not (or do not) teach them how to have an experience with the Guru. Because of this there is a lot of doubt in young Sikh children’s minds. Whenever I was confronted with a situation that would compromise my Sikh beliefs it would be like a battle going on in my head. Doubts of why I did certain things would flood my head (why I grew my hair, wore a turban, dressed in bana, etc. etc.). It was a balance scale in my mind. Trying to justify doing things. Questioning all of my Sikh beliefs and not really understanding. It is kind of like believing in God. God cannot be explained… but only experienced. The same way with Sikhism; we can give all the intellectual and scientific reasons… but Sikhism can still mean nothing unless you practice and experience living as a true Sikh. This was the hardship that I and many friends have gone through while constantly asking, why we do “this” and why we do “that”. Many of my friends are no longer Sikhs. I understood their situation, and love them just the same. We all have to choose our direction in life. I feel happy and very lucky that the Guru has given me this path. We are given this life as a gift. What we do with it is our choice. We can waste it away, or experience it to the fullest. The Guru has given us the gift of Bana, Bani, Seva, and Simran. He has crowned us like kings and queens!
My hope with Sikhnet was to reach out to people and help them interact and share information, knowledge and experiences. It is the Sikh-Network: networking Sikhs around the world. I feel that it is my duty to share and try to provide what I always wished I had when I was growing up. This was my driving force as I built Sikhnet over the last 3 years. Many, many long nights sleeping in the office on the floor (during the weekend), because I did not have a car to drive into the office (and no computer at home). I only had nights and weekends to work on the web site….so I had to get as much done as I could. There was so much to do! I was feeling the creative flow and wanted to go non-stop. That was all I wanted to do, but I knew that I had to work and make a living too….
Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa
August 29th, 1998
Española, New Mexico