by SS Guru Simran Kaur Khalsa, Espanola NM
For the last several years I have been organizing the “Food 4 Kids” program here in Espanola. This program provides food to local children who do not get sufficient, or even any, food to eat on the weekend. The school system provides qualifying children with free breakfasts and lunches during school days. However on the weekends and during school breaks these kids, 6-12 years of age, are on their own.
As Sikhs of the Guru we feed people with langar. However these kids do not have the means to come for langar. Our local program provides over 200 children with a few healthy food items every week.
Here is my personal challenge: When collecting donations for this program I sometimes hear comments like: “Why don’t those parents get their act together and, instead of spending money on their addictions, take care of their kid(s)?”
Now some of these parents are unemployed and yes, others have drug, alcohol or gambling addictions, while still others have mental health issues, prohibiting them from really caring for their children.
But whatever the circumstances, the child ends up suffering for it. This judgmental attitude makes me think of Guru Har Rai.
An Example of Love
Guru Har Rai had such an exceptional approach to this attitude. The Moghul Emperor of that time, Shah Jahan, had been the mortal enemy of the Sikhs, of both his great-grandfather, Guru Arjan, and his grandfather, Guru Hargobind.
The Emperor had a son, Dara Shikoh, who got extremely sick and was about to die. Shah Jahan was desperate to save his son’s life. Nothing worked. Finally he pleaded: ”Doesn’t anyone know of anything which might save my son?”
Someone said there was a very rare herb which might help, and that Guru Har Rai was the only one known to possess it. Shah Jahan said: ”This is the one person who will not help me. After all I have done to the Sikhs and their Gurus, no way is he going to help me.”
But the Emperor was told that the Guru was extraordinarily compassionate. So a letter was sent and the Guru immediately gave all the necessary herbs. And the Emperor’s son lived. The Guru’s compassion towards the father of this child is one of the greatest examples we have of unconditional love and compassion.
The question is: do WE have that compassion? Can we go beyond our judgments and opinions here in this day and age to help like the Guru did? Can we, despite the shortcomings of these parents, give help to these children?
Known for Love
Once I asked the Siri Singh Sahib what was the first thing that came to mind when he thought of Guru Har Rai. What was Guru Har Rai known for most of all? He said that he was known for his love. He said that Guru Har Rai was the very best example of “nirvair” — no vengeance.
Love, the Siri Singh Sahib taught us, is unconditional, without judgment, without limits. And that is certainly shown to us by Guru Har Rai and how he helped that child as well as his father, enemy of the Sikhs.
The Siri Singh Sahib told us we need to be known in the community for our service — otherwise we will be persecuted. Giving to Food 4 Kids is just one of the myriad ways we can be known for our service in our community. Here we have a golden opportunity to practice true kindness and compassion, following in the footsteps of Guru Har Rai.
Click here to learn more about Food 4 Kids.
About the Author
SS Guru Simran Kaur Khalsa is an ordained Sikh Dharma Minister. She began the Food for Kids program in Espanola as part of her participation in the Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma course. The Espanola sangat helps to provide weekly food bags to elementary school children. Guru Simran Kaur has served as the custodian of the Siri Singh Sahib’s Ranch in Espanola for many years. She is also a volunteer with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and is on the board of the Rio Arriba Adult Literacy Program.