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The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) formed an International Sikh Advisory Board (ISAB) in October of 2022. Established to resolve issues and grievances of Sikhs living in countries outside of India, the board also intends to support Gurdwara management committees around the world in activities and efforts at Dharam Prachar, (to preach, proclaim, or publish, the principles of Sikh faith). Sub offices directed by SGPC & ISAB established in various countries are intended to make direct communication with Sikh communities easier.

In October, 2022 the ISAB had a membership of 13, with representatives from countries around the world. In late January of 2023, the SGPC decided to increase the membership of the ISAB, by six, to a total of 19 members. Of the six new members, four represent the USA, and two represent UK.  The new American members include Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, Raghbir Singh Subhanpur, Master Mahinder Singh of New York, and Karamdeep Singh Bains of Yuba City. 

Global Population of Sikhs 

There is an estimated worldwide population of Sikhs is over 26 million. A census of 48 countries based on a variety of factors which may, or may not, include religion specified, or Punjabi language spoken, totaled 26,300,661 Sikhs living in the world by 2022. 

Estimate of 5 Countries with the Largest Sikh Populations: 

  • India – 20,833,116 
  • Canada – 771,790 
  • England – 520,092  
  • United States of America – 472,498 
  • Australia – 210,397

Estimate of 5 Countries with the Smallest Sikh Populations:

  • Faroe Islands – 3
  • Iceland – 100
  • Bangladesh – 100 
  • Afghanistan – 140
  • Trinidad – 150

Necessity of ISAB in Question

With so many Sikhs living around the world, there would seem to be a clear need for global organization. Not every one agrees. Some Sikhs feel the ISAB is politically motivated, and question whether anything much will get done, and wonder if when incidents arise, would it be best for local governments to take charge. 

However, in January 2023, an incident occurred resulting in 74 saroops of Siri Guru Granth Sahib being forcibly removed from homes and gurdwaras in the Sindhi community of Indore, citing violations of Sikh Rehit Maryada (SRM). The SGPC saw the need to support the Sindhi community and create an outreach team to teach the tenets of SRM, the Sikh Code of Conventions & Conduct which outlines the protocol for proper maintenance and handling of Siri Guru Granth Sahib, to those who have accepted, and resolved to adhere, to Sikh traditions. Following the incident, SGCP made the decision to increase the ISAB membership with a goal to furthering such education in the international Sikh community.  

Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Ji to Lead by Example
The SGPC President, Harjinder Singh personally congratulated Bibiji Inderjit Kaur for her appointment to the International Sikh Advisory Board, expressing a desire for her insight into International Sikh community relations. 

Mata Bibiji has fostered American Sikh converts since the early 1970s, and is very much beloved by them as a spiritual mother and guide. In her new capacity as, quite possibly, the only female ISAB member, Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa ji has the unique opportunity to lead by example, with a focus on Dharma Prachar teachings that uphold the sacred tenets of Sikhi while promoting proper protocols as outlined by SRM. 

When asked if she had any specific or particular new approach to Sikhi Prachar for educating American Sikhs in tenets of Sikhi and protocols of SRM as per the goals of ISAB? Mata Bibiji replied: 

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!

Sat Nam, thank you and blessing to you and the Sikhnet global sangat.
Guru Ram Das Ji has given us his Hukam to guide us in all that we need. First comes our spiritual sovereignty, individual and in unison, and from spiritual sovereignty all blessings flow, freedom, justice, and prosperity to all.  Let us remain disciplined in the world as Guru Ji instructs us and identify ourselves in that light and grace, so that we have the power to uplift and serve others.

ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
gur satigur kaa jo sikh akhaae su bhalke utth har naam dhiaavai ||
One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise
in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name.
ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥
udam kare bhalke parbhaatee isnaan kare anmirat sar naavai ||
Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself
in the pool of nectar.
ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ ॥
upades guroo har har jap jaapai sabh kilavikh paap dokh leh jaavai ||
Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord,
Har, Har.  All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased.
ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
phir charhai divas gurbaanee gaavai bahadhiaa utthadiaa har naam dhiaavai ||
Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or
standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name.
ਜੋ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਧਿਆਏ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵੈ ॥
jo saas giraas dhiaae meraa har har so gursikh guroo man bhaavai ||
One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food,
that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind. SGGS Ang 305 – 306 

I am grateful to Sikhnet for giving us a platform to grow in our unity, in education opportunities, and to chant together in unison around the world, so we continually uplift each other to our highest potential to serve humanity.

 

Sat Nam

 

Bhai Sahiba Bibiji Inderjit Kaur, Ph.D.
Chief Religious Minister Sikh Dharma International

Going Forward in Consciousness as a United Panth

There are perhaps as many individual expressions in the practice of Sikhi as there are Sikhs, yet all are part of one Panth, a nation sheltered under the umbrella of Siri Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh Rehit Maryada. The ISAB is an international extension of Panthik unity offering support to Sikhs countries around the world, inspiring the consciousness to set aside politics and serve each other wherever there is need for Dharam Prachar.

 

Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa

Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa

Sukhmandir has written hundreds of articles on topics related to Sikhism and has co-written and and edited several books on the Gurmat teachings and Naam Simran meditation. 

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