There is a passage in the Ardas that strikes me deeply: “…but never gave up their faith and determination to live according to Sikh Dharma, with all their hair, to the last breath. Meditate, O pure ones…” Our Sikh history is full of examples of extreme sacrifice to carry this faith forward. The Ardas speaks of this heritage. It is a daily reminder of our roots and what qualities help us overcome the obstacles and challenges in our lives. It can serve as a reminder to keep up.
As a therapist, I must utilize the neutral mind. The Siri Singh Sahib would say, “Be personally impersonal.” I have worked with individuals who lived this lifestyle for many years, then cut their hair, stopped wearing Bana, and started eating meat.
It was very important to them to let me know that they still pursued a spiritual quest even though they gave up the form and this particular path. They would be upset that others in the Dharma said they had “left the Dharma” when they cut their hair. Yet, as I contemplate that line in the Ardas, I think, how could they be upset when in fact they did sever their connection to this path by cutting their hair, giving up Bana and eating meat? They chose to pursue spirituality differently. They certainly were free to do so.
“The swings in the mind are there to give you experience and let you discover the You within you. For all those who will praise and recognize you, there may be equal number who want to slander you. That balance and swing lets your standard be tested. You cannot hold to something external. You must find your own depth and test it, confirm it.”—The Siri Singh Sahib
However, Sikh Dharma requires more. People would give me the common rationales for stopping wearing Bana: “I am more easily accepted in my professional life.” “I like seeing my hair.” “The turban confronts people and separates me from others.” “It is just form, etc.”
It made me think of my time as Assistant Dean of Students at the University of California, Berkeley. Yes, I was wearing Bana. Another administrator told a student: “Go see that lady in the Dean’s office who wears white and a turban. She will be able to help you.” Guru’s Bana spoke for me. It made me distinctive and memorable.
I am grateful for the courage to be willing to stand out, be seen, be accountable and be different from the norm. Are there times when I would rather “blend in”? Sure. However, I know the consciousness that Bana requires and the gifts that come from living this lifestyle.
Yes, this is a demanding path. At the same time, it is powerful, uplifting, and truly transformational. We are very blessed and I am grateful to those who sacrificed their lives so that we might live this Dharma today. As a Minister, the next time you read Ardas, you might want to read it in English and be reminded of what has come before us and what an incredible legacy we live.
SS Dr. Sat-Kaur Khalsa, Secretary of Religion
About the Secretary of Religion
SS Dr. Sat Kaur Khalsa has served as Secretary of Religion since 1991 and was ordained as a Sikh Dharma Minister in 1975. As Secretary of Religion, Dr. Sat Kaur oversees and is ultimately responsible for the delivery of the functions of this Office. Dr. Sat Kaur is a long-time member of the International Khalsa Council and the Khalsa Council Executive Committee. Dr. Sat Kaur maintains a full-time psychotherapy private practice in Santa Monica, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico. She counsels individuals, couples, and families to support their personal and spiritual growth. She is a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, facilitates White Tantric Yoga®, and is a published author.