Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Grandfather’s Sikhism, My Simple Life Philosophy

by Rayman Mathoda - December 06, 2008

I consider myself spiritual but not very religious and don’t have much patience for the bureaucracy of most religions including my own. I just don’t see the need to have middlemen translate the teachings of my religion to me; my grandfather did a fine job of this during the times we spent together on vacation in Punjab, India while he was alive.

He taught me that our religion was about substance not form, that what matters is how you act in real life not whether you visit the Gurudwara (temple) everyday, and that the basic tenets of life and religion are simple. What’s difficult is actually living them fully and consistently.

My family are Sikhs, followers of a religion that I consider more a spiritual philosophy than a religion, and which originated about 500 years ago largely due to the friction between Islam and Hinduism in Northern India when the Mughals (who were Muslim) ruled over the largely Hindu populace.

I love and live by the version of Sikhism my grandfather taught me. It was mostly shared via a bunch of stories about the 10 Guru’s who created and propagated the religion. Tales of their courage, honesty and philanthropy; how they stood up for what’s right even in the face of death…again and again.

He told me that being a good Sikh was simple. All you had to do was live by 6 simple words: “Kirat Karo, Naam Japo, Vand Chako” (Kirat Karo: earn your livelihood by the sweat of your labor; Naam Japo: meditate on the name of God; and Vand Chako: share your earnings with others).

And he told me about “Chardi Kala” (which literally means “Rising Spirits”), the undying spirit of the Sikhs and a mindset and way of being I find myself returning to regularly even today. Here’s what had to say about Chardi Kala: “Chardi Kala indicates the elation or high spirits of Sikhism. Chardi Kala, meaning ‘the positive attitude’ is an equivalence of a mind that never despairs, never admits defeat and refuses to be crushed by adversities.”


thank you for such wonderful truth your grandfather taught you. Religion can be and usually is very different than authentic spirituality. We (as in humanity) have been told what to believe for eons but never been told how to discern that which is true for ourselves and certainly not that we have the right to communicate directly with Source ourselves without any middle person. The native americans believe in what is called the BEAUTY WAY. A way of life as you described your grandfathers teachings. That is what I find most noble, virtuous and of good report. And what I teach those I speak to, to seek.

Thank you again

Lily Finch