By Manvir Singh Khalsa
During the summer holidays before I started university, I was looking
forward to starting university. I had been brought up and lived in an
English area and not been exposed to a large Sikh community or presence.
Therefore I was excited to go to Kings College London because
it was known for having a large number of Sikh students and it had the
largest Sikh Society in England. I heard people call it Singhs
The days get closer and closer and soon I was to move to Halls and
start university. The day which I had to move into Halls or residence,
my family had a wedding to attend to. So we decided to drop my stuff
at Halls on Saturday and move in properly on Sunday after the wedding.
My brother was going to drop me off in London.
On the Sunday going back to Halls I didnt know what to accept.
The day before, I didnt see many people or really get a feel of
what it would be like. So I wondered how many Singhs I be living with
at Halls or how many Sikhs I would get to know on the first day.
My brother and I arrived in London in the evening. He dropped me off
and came inside with me. No-one was around and I wondered where everyone
had gone. The place looked dead. My brother suggested that we should
go to the student union bar or something similar to get to know people.
I felt nervous, as I was not used to going to bars, clubs or pubs.
Across the road from the Halls of Residence was the Kings Waterloo
Campus. We decided to see what was happening there. At the Student Union
Bar everyone from the Halls of Residence had got together as an opportunity
to socialise. I felt out of place and struggling not to breathe in cigarette
smoke from some people standing around.
I could see no Sikh, no person wearing a pagh and no person, which
looked Panjabi. I thought Waheguru, where am I? This wasnt
what I was expecting. Trying to mingle people and introducing myself,
I felt out of place and not comfortable in the smoking and drinking
environment. My brother left a little while after. I was thankful for
him that he at least helped me by coming with me to the Student Union,
by myself I dont know how I would have coped.
I got to know some people. But I didnt get to meet any Panjabis.
The next day I got to know all my flatmates. All of them were nice and
easy to talk to. During the week I felt bit let down and shocked that
I didnt see any Panjabi or Sikh. Was this Singhs College?
I was the only visible Sikh in the whole Halls of Residence.
One of the people who I was sharing a flat with asked me to go to a
student club night. She said that all of the people from our flat were
going and perhaps it would be a nice place to meet people. You
dont have to drink and perhaps you might see some Sikhs there,
she said. Feeling bit low and lonely, I thought might as well go clubbing,
despite not feeling comfortable with the idea considering I have never
been before and that I dont like a smokey environment.
I bought a ticket for the student club night from a boy selling tickets
at the Halls reception area. Getting the ticket I walked back
to my room, I opened my door and I looked straight at Shaheed Baba Jarnail
Singh Ji Bhindranwales photo, which I had in my windowsill. It
dawned to me, why am I doing this? Why am I doing something, which I
am not comfortable with? Why dont I have faith in Waheguru? Waheguru
will make me meet up with Gurmukhs and Sikhs when He wishes to do so.
I felt guilty for buying a ticket.
I walked back to the reception and asked the boy whether I could get
a refund. He said he usually doesnt do refunds but because he
said he would make an exception for me. I thanked him.
That night, it felt as if everyone had gone either clubbing or down
the Student Union bar. The Halls or Residence looked dead silent. I
didnt know where to go or who to meet up with, without having
to go to place where there is alcohol or people smoking. I got out my
vaaja and did simran that night.
I thought and meditated on Guru Gobind Singh Jees shabad, Mitar
Pyaare Noo, Haal Mareedaa Da Kehnaa. Tudh Bin Rog Rajaayeeaa Da Ohdann,
Naag Nivaasaaa Da Rehnaa. Sool Saraahee, Kanjar Pyaala, Bing Kasayeeaa
Da Sehnaa. Yaarre Da Saanu Sathar Changa, Bhat Kherriyaa Da Rehnaa
tell the dear friend - the Lord - the plight of his disciples. Without
you the use of rich blankets is like a disease for us and the comfort
of the house is like living with snakes. Our water pitchers are like
stakes of torture and our cups have edges like daggers. Your neglect
is like the suffering of animals at the hands of butchers. Our Beloved
Lord's straw bed is more pleasing to us than living in costly furnace-like
This beautiful shabad was written by our Father, Guru Gobind Singh
Ji. He composed this divine shabad, at a time when he had lost his wife,
children, family, home, wealth and disciples. Walking barefooted in
the jungle of Maacheewala, with thorns pricking Guru Jees feet,
no pillow to rest on, and no four walls to give him shelter, Guru Jee
composed this uplifting hymn.
Thinking about Guru Gobind Singh Ji and this shabad, something dawned
upon me. Looking around I realised that I was blessed with four walls
and a roof around me to give me shelter. I was blessed with a bed, pillow
and a nice place to live. I was blessed with an opportunity to go to
university. The realisation was that I was blessed and that I should
be grateful about all I had and not feeling sad or disappointed.
With the grace of Waheguru, I met with Sikhs through Sikh Society.
It was great. The people I met at Sikh Society were like a family to
me. I met so many people. I then became familiar where Shepards
Bush Gurdwara was and found out the way to get to Southall Gurdwara.
Once or twice a week I would go to the Gurdwara. I felt so happy. I
had made Sikh friends, I had made friends with people who I could share
Sikhi with and I could relate to. This is not to say that I wasnt
friends with the people who I lived with or the people who were on my
course. However, I had never had Panjabi or Sikh friends at school or
Sixth Form, it was great to be able to socialise and do things with
friends who could appreciate Sikhi and do Sangat with them.
Sometimes people I would see around at university or Halls would say,
come out tonight with us. However I would kindly say no
thanks and that I had other plans. I had to make sure that no-one thought
I was being judgemental about people going clubbing or looking down
upon them. Because I wasnt. However, I didnt personally
feel comfortable being a Sikh of the Guru and going clubbing or sitting
at the bar.
Some people would ask me, do you think going out clubbing is
wrong? I would answer them, Whatever you do in life, imagine
Guru Gobind Singh Ji watching you and with you. If the Panj Pyaare who
gave you Khande-Pahul Da Amrit saw a CCTV video of you being somewhere,
and the same video was shown to the Sadh Sangat in the presence of Guru
Sahib, you must ask yourself, would you feel embarrassed, or comfortable
with that idea? If you would feel comfortable with Guru Jee, the Panj
Pyaare and the Guru Pyaaree Sadh Sangat knowing where you have been
socialising and hanging out then all the best to you and may Waheguru
bless you. However, if you would feel embarrassed, even a little bit,
then you must ask yourself, why are you at that place and is it worth
being there? Who I am to tell someone not to clubbing or to clubbing?
I enjoyed university so much. The Sangat, going to the Gurdwara, meeting
knew people, making friends, the Sikhi events across London and the
various universities and the pyaar which people have one another as
Sikh brothers and sisters.
This year I am living at Halls again. I had to move earlier than everyone
else because I a Senior Student. All that means is that I help out with
the Residence Office to help and support the students at Halls. The
first day back at Halls this year, I felt a little bit low because I
missed my family. That night the Residence Office had organised an evening
out for Senior Students and Staff to socialise and to get to know one
another. On the form it said that we were going Super Bowl. So I thought
I would go along and socialise as well.
Arriving at reception I met up with all the Senior Students and introduce
myself. They all seemed nice and we chatted. Everyone was ready to go
out now. The person who had organised the evening said, right
we are going to the pub for a couple of pints and then well head
down to the restaurant. I thought, Hey Waheguru Ji, Eh Ta
Pub Nu Jaan Lage
O Waheguru, theyre going to the pub!
I thought to myself how could I say to them that I dont want
to go the pub without sounding odd or unsociable. Everyone was about
to walk outside and then said, sorry, I wont be able to
go to the pub. Its because of religious reasons. Sorry, hope you
dont mind, but I dont mind meeting you up at the restaurant.
They smiled back and said thats fine and that theyll meet
up at the restaurant in about an hour or so.
Going back to my room I felt a bit isolated and awkward. My friends
hadnt gone back to university yet and no-one had moved into Halls
of Residence yet apart from about ten people, including me, who were
working with the Halls of Residence. I recited my evening Rehraas Sahib.
Then I did Ardaas. The Ardaas has power. I am not talking in terms of
Waheguru answering your prayer but just by looking deep into the meaning
of the Ardaas which we read.
The Ardaas starts (using English translation to explain), There
is one God. All Victory belongs to God. May the dynamic power of God
help us. The Vaar (poetic verse) of Sri Bhagauti, composed by the tenth
king. Having first involved the dynamic power of God, call on Guru Nanak.Then
on Angad Guru, Amar Das and Ram Das, may they ever protect us. Then
call on Arjan, and Har Gobind, holy Har Rai and on Har Krishan, whose
sight dispels all sorrows. Then remember Teg Bahadur by whose remembrance
the nine treasures come hurrying to ones home. Be ever with us O Masters.
May the tenth king, Guru Gobind Singh be ever on our side. Let us now
turn our thoughts to the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, the visible
embodiment of the ten Gurus and utter, O Khalsa Ji, Vaheguru (glory
be to God).
In the Ardaas first we invoke the power and blessing of Waheguru, then
the Ten Gurus, and the Living Spirit of the Ten Gurus enshrined in the
teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
The Panj Pyaare (Five Beloved Ones), the four Sahibzaade (sons
of the tenth Master), the forty emancipated ones, the martyrs, the true
disciples, the contemplators of God, and those who remained steadfast
on the path of Dharma, remember their glorious deeds and utter O Khalsa
We then seek power and strength in remembering the glorious deeds of
the Panj Pyaare who surrendered their heads for Guru Ji, the
four Sahibzaade the eldest two sons of Guru Ji valiantly fought
and died in battle defending righteousness. The youngest two sons were
bricked alive for refusing to give up their Sikhi at the age of 5 and
7yrs old, and till their last breath they kept in high spirits and cried
the slogans of Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akaal. We remember
the Chaalee Mukte, the forty Singhs who deserted Guru Gobind Singh Ji
but then returned to die fighting for him. Remembering all glorious
actions and deeds of such pure devotees we get strength. We get a feeling
of wow these people are great, they are inspiration
and source of strength for us; hence we say, Vaheguru (Wonderful
The Ardaas continues with, Those Singhs and Singhnian who offered
their heads at the altar of Dharma (justice and righteousness), were
cut up limb by limb, skinned alive, boiled or sawn alive, but did not
utter a sigh nor faltered in their faith, kept the sanctity of their
hair until their last breath, sacrificed their lives for the sanctity
of Gurdwaras; who did not give up their faith and kept their long unshorn
hair til their last breath, remember their glorious deeds and utter
O Khalsa Ji, Vaheguru.
If we think we have problems or that we face suffering, then we should
think again. Reciting this verse of the Ardaas we are reminded of the
courage, determination and supreme faith of the Sikhs such as Bhai Mani
Singh Ji who was cut limb by limb yet he never gave up his faith, Bhai
Taru Singh Ji had so much faith and a spirit of courage that he refused
to have his hair forcibly cut and instead had his scalp removed. Bhai
Mati Daas Ji who was sawn alive on refusing to comply to the demands
of the Mughal rulers to convert and to abandon the Sikhi of Guru Tegh
Bahadar Ji. We share the strength of these brave Singhs and Singhnian
we remember them and we realise that we are blessed, we are lucky and
that we are here because of them and that we should always be in a state
of mind of victory.
Reciting the Ardaas and contemplating on it, I realised that I was
worrying about trivial matters. Finishing the paat, I went to the restaurant
we had a meal. Half of the people afterwards went back to the pub and
half of them went back to Halls. I went back to Halls and rested for
the night, knowing that Waheguru and my Guru were always with me.
By realising the big picture, we realise how the issues in our lives
can be so trivial and small. From my experiences I have learnt to always
have 100% faith in Waheguru and always take the support of the Shabad
Guru. Gurbani has all the answers and can answer all our problems.
During the summer, Sikh Student Camp took place. At the camp students
had an opportunity to take a personal hukamnama (taking an order or
instruction for guidance from Guru Ji) with the help of a sewadaar.
You wouldnt believe it but the people who took part in taking
a personal Hukamnama realised that Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not ink and
paper. But that Nanak Guru Gobind Singh Ji had spoken to them. Their
heart and soul was touched by the personal message from Guru Ji to them.
This is the power of Gurbani.
Realising that Waheguru is always with us, we have nothing to fear.
Realising that Waheguru does everything for the good of us, we realise
that our stumbling blocks become our building blocks of life.
Realising that Waheguru is everything and that I am nothing, we become
everything, we realise everything is Waheguru and we enjoy the power
and glory of the Supreme Being.
Be inspired and inspire others.
May Waheguru bless you.
Manvir Singh Khalsa