Freedom From Agony

In the last few weeks, the story of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and his hunger strike have become a focus for many people within...

In the last few weeks, the story of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and his hunger strike have become a focus for many people within the Sikh community. A hunger strike is a time-honored tactic of non-violent protest, meant to bring attention to political or human rights issues. All I know of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh is what I have read in the news, or heard through social media conversations.

The issue that he is protesting, the long term imprisonment of Sikh men without the benefit of due process in India, is a topic that I need to learn more about. It seems like a complicated situation, with roots that date back more than a generation. But when the heart of a man takes such a step, to put his own life on the line in the name of an issue he cares about, then it is something that requires a response.

Sitting in my own home in New Mexico, literally on the other side of the world, the question comes: what can be done from here? What solidarity is there to offer? Perhaps many Sikhs  who are not on the ground in Punjab feel the same way. Some young Sikhs in the UK are doing a five day hunger strike of their own, to bring more awareness to the issues. But hunger strikes are not something that can be done by everyone. That is neither practical nor effective.

This week, Harijot Singh and I did some research, and we found a Shabad that is traditionally said to, "bring freedom from agony and pain."

Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Raag Gujri, Ang 500 Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

View/Print this shabad (Gurmukhi + English)

View/Print this shabad (Gurmukhi + English + Roman)

All Shabads are special, but this particular Shabad was written by Guru Arjan Dev ji in gratitude for the protection of his son, Guru Hargobind. This young boy would grow up to establish the Akal Takhat, and to create the principles of Miri and Piri - the Sikhs as sovereign in the heavens and on the earth. Guru Hargobind also had a destiny as Bandi Chhor, the one who liberates the prisoners. The Creator formed Guru Hargobind, laid out his path and gave him these victories. I sincerely believe that if we sing and meditate upon this Shabad as a sangat, it can help resolve the pain and the issues that have sparked these hunger strikes in Punjab.

I was not born a Sikh. I came to the Sikh path later in life, and the doorway for me was the Sound Current of the Shabad Guru. I have experienced how Gurbani has the power to change things, even to create deep and lasting transformation. To rewrite the destiny. Because the power of the Guru’s Light exists within the Shabad, when we chant it with love, we activate that Light within ourselves and for others.

I do not know Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, nor do I fully understand what he is fighting for. But I am committing to meditating on this Shabad every day into the New Year to pray for healing, to pray for the release of those who are unjustly held, and to pray for an end to the pain.

If you, like me, are watching this story unfold and searching for a way to be of help, perhaps you will consider meditating on this Shabad with me.

May the hand of the Guru protect the community and guide us to our destiny, as a unified people of love, who bring healing and peace to the world.

With Divine Light,

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

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