Monday, July 17, 2006


To be a Sikh, a follower of teachings of Ten Sikh Gurus which are incorporated in one and only Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, means to do Sewa - care for others selflessly. Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji says (SGGSJ p1342)

Selfless service and intuitive awareness come by reflecting upon the Word of the Shabad.
Chanting, intensive meditation and austere self-discipline come by subduing the ego.
One becomes Jivan-mukta - liberated while yet alive, by listening to the Shabad.
Living a truthful way of life, one finds true peace. ||7||

With Guru’s apaar Kirpa; I possess reasonably good health for my age and the amount of work load I carry on my shoulders. Well some of the health problems just are part of all moms. So I was not spared; after years of living with this problem; I decided to take care of it once and for ever. So I decided to go under the knife this last Friday. The pain was sharp; so sharp that I learnt why it is called ‘pain in the butt’ for excruciating pain. I looked at my face in the mirror & could tell that it is visible in my eyes.

Now I had two options – take a Viccodine and sleep it off on the weekend or take my mind off the pain…somehow. The other day I was telling my friend; who is first-time pregnant and is afraid of injections; “Waheguru da dhiayaan dharo; dard mehsoos nahi hovega”. Now it was my turn to take my own advice….for sometime I was so tempted to open that prescription bottle and take it down the throat; but then looked at my chidlren’s faces whom I promised to take swimming just a day before, without realizing that I will be in so much agony. I took a deep breath, thinking still about the above advice and began Simran in my mind; nonetheless it did not relieve any pain immediately …. I continued with this one remedy I knew of…picked the children from Summer Day Camp; gave them snack while I prepared the swim bag & off we went swimming.

It was one and a half hour lesson for three of them. I sat beside the pool, watched them play in water; listening to their instructor that how good is my older son who can be a winner on swim team; watching the middle one, my daughter; doing successfully breast stroke and crossing the pool, the younger daughter bubbling with pride as she dived to pick ten rings from the floor of the spa; enjoying the breeze by the pool while temperature was still three-digit outside….I almost forgot my pain.

When Singh Ji came home, he was little upset; knowing that I put myself through unnecessary pain; when things can wait….but I had learnt that taking my mind off my pain through Sewa and Simran; is the only remedy for me…so I continued with regular chores for my family…that night and then on the weekend. Did I give in to Viccodine? Yes, when it was too hard to fall asleep at night in the hot, muggy weather along with excruciating pain, when there was nothing else I could do but lie down and do simran (not a best position to concentrate & quiet the mind).

During the day, through caring for others, I forget myself; my pain. I realized we are never left all alone to care for another (do SEWA). Waheguru cares. Waheguru’s concern for the other person’s well-being was there long before I became interested. Waheguru’s care is stronger, wiser, and more enduring than ours can ever be. But people often understand and experience Waheguru’s care most deeply when it is transmitted through caring human beings. The loving Waheguru cares for us all. HE healed me not only physically but also in my heart where I learnt the new meaning of SEWA. Waheguru calls us and empowers us to care for others.

Dad's Brownies

Do you remember telling you teenage 'No' and loosing the battle? If so, please read the following, this may be another weapon that you can use next time. Good Luck!

A father of 3 teenage kids had the rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His teens wanted to see a particular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. They asked friends & some members of their church to find out what was offensive in the movie. They made a list of pros & cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.

The cons were: it contained 3 swear words, the only violence was a building exploding (& you see that on TV all the time), & you actually didn't "see" the couple in the movie having sex, it was just implied sex, off camera.

The pros were: it was a popular movie, a blockbuster. Everyone was seeing it. If they saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story & plot. It had some great adventure & suspense in it & some fantastic special effects. The movie's stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of the members of their church had seen it & said it wasn't "very bad". Therefore, since there were more pros than cons, the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on this 1 movie & let them have permission to go see it.

The father looked at the list & thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time & thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; "Now we've got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!" So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the father called in his 3 teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. Like the movie, the brownies had pros & cons. The pros were that: they were made with good chocolate & yummy walnuts. They were moist & fresh with chocolate frosting. He had made the brownies with an award-winning recipe & by his own loving hands.

The brownies only had 1 con: He had added a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well; they probably wouldn't be able to taste it & he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a "little bit of crap" & not be affected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with "just a little bit of smut" & not be affected. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies & the smug smiles were gone. Now when they ask, permission to do something he opposes, he asks, "Would you like me to bake some brownies?"

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Look Who Is Watching

I didn't know Banni was paying close attention to me one ordinary evening. I did know that nothing slipped past my bright, inquisitive second-grade daughter. Like all mothers, I bragged about my child's brilliance, but once again I was caught off-guard by her insight into adult behavior.

From the time I picked my munchkins from after-school day care at 4 pm after my work, that particular Tuesday evening until after our family dinner, she observed me prepare a snack for her , her older sister and brother, comb their hair into beautiful braids and Joora, help them with their homework, cook dinner, wash dishes, and sweep and mop the floor. And I began the daily laundry routine during all these chores. When her dad walked in the door from his day's work, she observed him stretching out on the sofa, checking mail, watching television, eating dinner and retreating to the backyard to play catch with her brother.

"Ummm," Banni wondered what was wrong with this picture. In her mind, the score wasn't quite even. She decided this issue demanded immediate resolution.

As I checked a load of clothes in the dryer, Banni approached me with a puzzled look.

"Mom, is it hard being a mommy?"

"No, dear," I moaned as I trotted to the family room with a load of hot sheets and towels to fold. "I love being a mommy."

"You do?" she asked in amazement.

"Yes, I do, sweetheart," I moaned again, as I gathered up a pile of smudged play clothes to start yet another washer load.

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, to me, it looks like mommies get all the hard work and daddies get all the fun."

"This is what moms do. It's part of my work. You didn't see Dad working hard all day at his office. Now it's time for him to relax and have fun with his family."

"Oh, okay," Banni conceded. "So, when is it your turn to have fun?"

Good question. I wondered if I had a good answer. Before I replied, my son called for Banni to come outside and play ball. As I folded and stacked towels, it occurred to me that as Banni observed me that evening, she didn't see a contented mother, happy to be home and care for her family by maintaining an orderly home. What my daughter watched was a stressed woman frantically rushing about the kitchen preparing meals. She witnessed an impatient woman who thought the story in the second-grade reader would never end. She saw a weary woman who seemed to prefer scrubbing sticky pots and pans to skip jump rope in the backyard.

This wasn't the picture of motherhood my daughter needed to model. She deserved better. (I deserved better, too!) She needed not a picture of perfection, but one of joy and contentment in a mother doing the same old household chores again, and again and again.

In her daddy, Banni noticed a man who took time out for himself and his family. It was my turn to try that approach to life as well. I decided immediately that the laundry could wait to be folded. I joined my family by the swing set. My relaxed, new and improved outlook on life paid immediate results. My family watched in amazement as I started counting at jump rope….ek…do…tin….char….panjaah….aassii….sau……...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Setting Boundaries

Have you ever seen the signs "Dog contained by invisible fence." in the neighborhood and wondered about this incredible invention? I did and found out more about it.

The fence company dug a narrow four foot deep trench around the perimeter of dog owner’s yard and bury a small wire. This wire is attached to a control box mounted mostly on garage wall. A dog is then fitted with a collar sporting a special little box with two small prongs that rest against her skin. The dog trainer then places white flags all around the yard, marking where the underground fence was buried. As The Dog nears the flags, she hears a quiet warning sound clicking from the box. If she kept going and crossed over the boundary marked by the flag, she gets a shock and came back.

These white flags decorating the perimeter of of dog owner’s yard do not stay forever. So, you might wonder, how does The Dog know where the boundary is? It is simple. For the first week, white flags line the boundary of the yard. On the second week, every other flag is removed. On the third week, more flags are removed and the process continues, until eventually, they are all gone. We don't see the flags, but The Dog remembers where the boundaries are. She also learns that the warning clicking sound is her friend and keeps her from getting in a “shocking” situation.

I've realized that the flags are great picture of the boundaries we set for our children. When they're young, we mark out clear boundaries, and as the child matures into adolescence, we begin pulling up those flags, just a little at a time. As they graduate from high school and move into college, most of the flags marking the boundaries are gone, and we pray with all our might, that they remember where those boundaries are.

Just like when The Dog hears the warning sound when she move too close to danger, I believe that Waheguru taps on our children's hearts, and warns them not to cross the boundaries set by their parents. Sometimes they will proceed and cross the boundary anyway. That's when the shock comes in. It might be in the form of discipline and it might be in the form of living with some very unpleasant consequences. When they are young, we have to spell out the boundaries for our children and point them in the right direction. But as they head off to adulthood, we desire that the boundaries will be written on their hearts and they won't find themselves in shocking situations.
And what about for our own lives? Yes, God has set boundaries for us, just as we have set boundaries for our children. Guru Sahib called it Sanjam (self-discipline).

jath sath sa(n)jam sach kamaavai gur poorai naam dhhiaavaniaa ||3||

Celibacy, chastity, self-discipline and the practice of truthfulness are obtained from the Perfect Guru, by meditating on the Naam, the Name of the Lord.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Page 129

sach sa(n)jam karanee so karae guramukh hoe paragaas ||1|| rehaao ||

Practicing truth, self-discipline and good deeds, the Gurmukh is enlightened. ||

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Page 26

The self-discipline in Sikhi can only be practiced with both inner and outer-rehat side by side. Inner-rehat helps us become Gurmukh that Guru Amar Das ji talks about, and outer-Rehat (Five K’s) helps us preserve our inner-rehat. They both go hand in hand; without outer rehat, inner rehat is like a ripen crop without a fence. Let us pray for His Bakhshish to bless Panth with outer-Rehat of a 'Khalsa' while strengthening our inner-rehat day by day.