Kids Corner

Talking Stick

Some Musings On The Talking Stick





This week, we return to the Talking Stick Colloquium after a brief hiatus.

I wish we could have avoided the interruption, but too many distractions and a trip to India made that impossible. The absence did cause me to reflect on this column - its inception, our goals and the delightful cyber-sangat we have created.

When we launched this colloquium over two years ago, (how time flies), the Talking Stick was seen as a new feature on, one that aimed to facilitate a dialogue around the spiritual message of Sikhi.

With's self-declared focus on Art and Culture, the magazine had initially skirted around delving directly in gurbani, leaving it to be tackled headlong by other excellent sites serving the community.

By introducing this new feature, however, we hoped to accomplish a two-fold objective: one, to forge an authentic community of seekers (albeit a virtual one, in cyberspace) who had together embarked on a spiritual quest; and two, in the process, to capture a sense of the sacred in our daily lives through an idiom that is modern and offers greater meaning and immediacy.

Over the years, I have come to realize that leaving gurbani and its interpretation to the granthis in our gurdwaras was a sure way to loose touch with it. Not that granthis or gurdwaras don’t have a role to play; indeed they do. But ultimately, gurbani is every Sikh’s business. Guru Nanak's message is universal and timeless. But it will remain alive only if successive generations revisit, review and reinterpret it through the filters of their own knowledge and experience.

Else, the dust and grime of time will soil it, depriving us of its life-changing potency and degenerate into an empty ritual.

Our approach took into account the need of the younger generations of Sikhs - across the diaspora as well as in our mother-ship, Punjab -  who are increasingly shaped by western modes of thinking, particularly a scientific-cultural temper that emphasizes dialectic and discussion.

For tradition to remain relevant and alive, it must constantly build upon itself to accommodate the constant challenge of new realities that come from fields like genetics, neuroscience, biotechnology and cosmology.

Our narratives must incorporate new perspectives.

The Talking Stick was designed as an alternative to the pontificating sermon of the gurdwara that relied on homespun homilies being passed off as the ultimate Truth.

Through interaction and dialogue we have sought to establish true kinship which, Guru Arjan reminds us, must be the ultimate goal of a sangat. True fellowship, he underscores, is possible only when a melding of the minds occurs, when our ego dissolves and we bond to bring about a larger - and collective - spiritual flowering:

Meeting is not a meeting,
Unless one bonds together
In harmony of spirit
.  [GGS:791]

Dialogue was the also the mode of communication that Guru Nanak adopted, as is evidenced from the pattern of his travels and engagement. What struck me was that Guru Nanak travelled for close to thirty years in order to have a dialogue with gurmukhs. Today we don’t have to leave the comfort of our homes.

All of us should feel pretty good about having forged a cyber community, engaged in a personal quest but anchored in sangat. I feel especially gratified that we have taken a leaf out of Siddh Gosht in the way we have conducted our exchange - it has been just as polite and courteous as the exchange between Guru Nanak and the Yogis.

Thank you.

For me, personally, this has been a great education. Inexplicable are the ways of the Guru. The challenge of having to choose a suitable topic for conversation; crafting it so as to evoke a response and the delight of hearing the collective wisdom of the Talking Stick family - all these elements have been a source of much joy and learning.

In the weeks to come, my hope is that we can turn our attention to gurbani once again.

I would welcome your thoughts.


March 26, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 26, 2012, 12:59 PM.

To read gurbani yourself and share your thoughts is the best way to better yourself through an extraordinary ideology like Sikhi. Technology is now our ally ... anyone, anywhere on earth can now be part of this sangat!

2: Chintan Singh (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), March 27, 2012, 3:03 PM.

Welcome back, and look forward to reading the weekly topics and posts.

3: Prakash Singh Bagga (Indore, India), March 28, 2012, 4:10 AM.

Gurbani brings grace to all, irrespective of the level of wordly education one has acquired. Therefore, its interpretation should be shared with great patience, without involving any if's and but's.

4: Gurdev Singh Bir (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), March 28, 2012, 10:37 PM.

Just as food quells our bodily hunger, gurbani is the supreme food of the soul. We are so fortunate that our Gurus have given us this priceless ruhaani nourishment. It is unfortunate that certain taksaals, deras and babas have made it their mission to pollute and desecrate the original message for personal gain. This cyber dialog should hopefully keep us on the straight path, with the Guru's blessings.

5: Gurdev Singh Bir (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), March 28, 2012, 11:02 PM.

Everytime we engage with the Guru Granth, who could ask for better company than, and not be awed by, the Gurus and Bhagats, all guiding us and conversing with us.

Comment on "Some Musings On The Talking Stick"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.