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A Privileged Life





Sometime in the next few days, it will be a blessing to finish my first sahaj paatth of Guru Granth Sahib.

It has definitely been a journey.

I started this sahaj paatth over seven years ago, after buying and moving into my home.

It never occurred to me that it would take so much time to finish.

But then, I never felt particularly pressured to rush through the experience. Every once in a while, when the spirit moved me, I would sit down and read a few pages here, a few pages there. I developed a habit of considering the last shabad that I read in a sitting to be the hukam for the day.

Back in May, however, something inside whispered, "You really need to finish the sahaj paatth this summer."

So I did the math, with the hope of completing it by the end of August. I set a goal to read a certain number of pages every day. Even though I did not finish exactly on time, now, I only have 10 pages left to go.

Getting close to the end has become a very humbling experience. I think about what it took for this moment to happen.

It took centuries for the Sikh Gurus and their contemporaries to write this beautiful spiritual poetry, that opens the heart and guides the mind to the Ultimate Reality.

It took 250 years for that poetry to come together in one compilation.

It took another couple of centuries, at least, before the Guru Granth Sahib could be printed and distributed widely.

And here I sit, in my cozy little home, enjoying the blessing of the legacy that all those centuries, and all that sacrifice, created.

It strikes me how special it is to be a woman who has the opportunity to do a sahaj paatth. In a world where a woman living in grace and dignity is a dream more often than reality; where so many women are subject to the whims of men and to the insanity of war; where there are still so few spiritual paths that completely honor and respect the soul of the woman, I feel the blessing. That the Guru lives with me here and now, and here are absolutely no barriers between us. No one who can control my access to the Guru Granth Sahib. No one from whom to beg permission to read.

I am a woman, free to explore the depths of that spiritual wisdom, whenever I wish. All I have to do is make the time.

Then there is the gift of reading Guru Granth Sahib in the original Gurmukhi.

I started learning Gurmukhi in my 30's, strongly encouraged by Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Yogi. My pronunciation, of course, continues to need work. Every year, I try to develop myself more by refining my understanding of the alphabet. But I love reading the original Gumukhi.

Reading Gurmukhi, I feel like I am receiving the Guru's darshan.

Three aspects all at once: having the Guru Granth Sahib in my home; being a woman who has access to the Guru; and the gift of reading in the Guru's own tongue.

It is a very privileged life.

When I meditate on Sikh history, this personal relationship between the Guru and the Sikh is such an important aspect of the culture. The Guru did not come to create secrets and inner circles. The Guru did not come to hide wisdom, but to share it.

People keep other people from learning, out of fear. Out of a need to control or exploit.

But this manifestation of the Guru's Light gives every Sikh a divine right to become learned, within his or her own home, according to his or her own time.

We just have to sit, read and be with it.

When I moved into this home eight years ago, I thought of it as "my" home. And "I" set aside a room for Guru Granth Sahib. But over the years, doing this sahaj paatth, my perspective has changed. This home belongs to that power, that guiding light, that supervising consciousness, who speaks to me when I take the time to meditate on the Word. I get it now. I did not get it then. I am under the protection of that Light. It is His home, really. And I just get to live here.

Whether or not I ever undertake another sahaj paatth again, I cannot say. But I am grateful that I have done it once in my life. I feel like it is the answer to a prayer from many many lifetimes ago. Whatever happens next in my journey, wherever the road of the universe leads, I deeply appreciate this time and this space where I could meditate so completely on the Guru's form.


September 11, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Jasbeer Singh (India), September 11, 2013, 9:45 AM.

Congratulations to you, Ek Ong Kaar ji, on your effort in starting and reaching completion of a "sahaj paatth". Guru Sahib blessed us all with an average age of around 60+ but people don't seem to have even a few minutes a day to complete a paatth in their entire lives.

2: Charandeep Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), September 11, 2013, 1:11 PM.

Your efforts is commendable. You rightly said that Guru Granth Sahib is the compilation of teachings/poetry of 250 years. People from all walks of life have contributed to it. Sikh Gurus have given a place to numerous saints - the Bhagats Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev, Dhanna, Sheikh Farid ... While one was a cobbler, another was a farmer, still another a weaver -- castes and occupations that were shunned by the so-called Hindu 'high-castes'. I bow to the great Guru Gobind Singh for having conferred Guruship on Guru Granth sahib - 'Guru Maaneo Granth'!

3: Kirpal Singh (Wellington, New Zealand), September 15, 2013, 3:00 AM.

According to gurbani: "Those whom He inspires to chant, do so in His name. / Those whom He inspires to sing, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord." [GGS:270] The author writes: "Reading Gurmukhi, I feel like I am receiving the Guru's darshan." You are indeed blessed for being inspired by divine grace.

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