Khalsa : its ROLE IN THE 21st CENTURY
Harbhajan Singh Yogi
The world as we have known it, has ended. Using fifteen years of satellite data, geophysicists have determined that the axis of the earth has shifted twelve degrees, causing a slower rotation. Weather patterns are changing, causing severe droughts in normally verdant areas, devastating flooding in normally dry areas, winters so temperate that the world petroleum reserves are up because there was less need for heating oil, and record breaking cold in areas unprepared for such dramatic drops in temperature.
Further, we are witnessing dramatic shifts in the earth itself. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves and tsunamis, uncontrollable wildfires, avalanches and rising water levels are frequently noted in the news. Large areas of land are no longer inhabitable, whole cities have been destroyed and thousands of people have died. In the central part of the United States one city that was established more than one hundred years ago simply packed up and moved to higher ground, after several years of flooding had destroyed the city and discouraged the population.
Recent research also shows that the earth’s atmosphere is penetrated hundreds of times a day by “cosmic snowballs” made up of frozen gases and other matter compacted into balls of ice hurling in from space. From space, these balls of matter are sucked into the earth’s atmosphere. They have proven to be harmless, but some astrophysicists believe that a meteor or comet could impact the earth within the next ten to twenty years. As recently as 1995, a large asteroid came within six hours of actually hitting the earth. In the distances of space, six hours is considered a very close call.
Consider that the atmosphere of the earth is like water. Whatever hits it produces a ripple effect that will be felt, sometimes at great distances. Physicists have proven that events that occur in one part of the universe affect events in other parts of the universe. Whatever happens on the earth itself also produces effects that are felt at great distances from the point of the event. The shift in the axis of the earth and the slowing of its rotation has an effect on the electromagnetic energy of the planet. Simply stated, the aura of the earth is changing, and we who walk upon it, are being affected by this change with every heart-beat.
It is not difficult to see how humans are being affected. Around this ever shrinking globe are hunger and disease, depression and suicide and senseless, brutal violence. Substance abuse in its various forms plagues every society on the earth. In the United States, 248 children are arrested daily for some type of violent criminal act. They have shot and killed their teachers, classmates and even their parents. In Chicago, two boys, aged seven and nine, have been charged with killing, then sexually molesting an eleven year old girl, an honour student, because they wanted her bicycle.
Parents cannot control their children because they are unable to control themselves. They don’t give their children basic values for living because they lack those values themselves. And make no mistake: this is not a problem that is found only in America or only in the West. Alcoholism is prevalent throughout the world. In fact, there are few countries outside of the U.S. that even have a minimum age law which attempts to prevent the consumption of alcohol by the young.
Throughout Asia, child slavery and child prostitution are commonplace. Families sell their daughters into slavery and prostitution, turning their backs to the future and well-being of their young. We should bear in mind that when the grace of a woman falls, civilizations fall.
The spread of disease is as great now as it has ever been. Sexually transmitted diseases are eating away at the population of every country on earth. In some African and Asian countries, it is estimated that as much as 40% or more of the population of those countries are HIV positive. Cancer is on the increase. Tuberculosis, which was believed to be under control, is now spreading along with new and more virulent strains of viruses, immune to most known medicines.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy, though, is the rampant spread of depression and hopelessness. The pace of life, along with the acceleration of technology, have left many people feeling isolated, depressed and lonely. This century has witnessed more advances in technology than the previous nineteen centuries combined. These technological marvels have extended the average lifespan and made the process of living easier. Yet, depression has increased to the point that it is the single most common medical complaint. In essence, though the world has become slicker, faster and cooler, we who inhabit it, have become fundamentally dysfunctional.
With the advent of the computer age after World War II, life on earth began to change. We have moved from the Jet Age through the Atomic and Rocket Ages and into the Information Age in less than fifty years. Now, we know more about things we don’t want to know about than our grandfathers forgot. Still, we aren’t happy.
The Internet is considered to be one of the world’s greatest technological advances. Now, people from all over the world can be connected and communicate with ease. Access to information that would have taken days of research five years ago can be achieved in minutes today. Businesses depend on the Internet for their success, and our ever-shrinking world is growing steadily closer and more intimate.
Or is it ? A recent article in The American Psychologist, the peer reviewed monthly journal of the American Psychological Association, reveals the startling results of a two-year research study. Researchers found that participants in the study, who varied between frequent and occasional users of the Internet, experienced pronounced and markedly higher levels of depression, loneliness and an increased sense of alienation from their families and peers. Cyberspace is proving to be as cold, dark and lonely as intergalactic travel.
Based on the results of the study, people who spend as little as an hour a day on the Internet showed increased levels of depression by 1% or more and a loss of 2.7 members of the subject’s social circle. While these numbers may not seem substantial to a casual observer, they are highly indicative of a deterioration of social and psychological life. In the USA alone, there are more than 70 million people who use the Internet. On the World Wide Web that number is more than doubled, with users in every country. Like any computer virus, this is spreading with increased and prolonged use.
For years we have complained about TV, the idiot box. It changed the family dynamic. From the dining table, families often watch TV instead of engaging in the traditional mealtime conversation. Later in the evening, the family would gather around the TV and watch programmes together. Though they may have interacted less, at least the family was together in some form. Now, with the Internet, family members go off to drift in their own private cyberworlds, loosing all contact and relevance with the real world.
What we are faced with is an information overload resulting in new clinical diagnoses known as InfoDementia Syndromes. We live in an ever shrinking world where the non-reality of www.com has caused people to drift ever farther from their stability, and a substitute reality has diminished the capacity of normal people to manage the ongoing reality of their lives. The quest for fulfilment and meaning in one’s life is perpetually unfulfilled, leading to escalating frustration and disappointment.
The shifts in the earth’s axis and magnetic field also have an impact on the individual. The fundamental frequency of the mind is changing, bringing increased sensitivity and depth of perception. This change first began to occur in the middle sixties, and millions of young people, who were more sensitive to that energy, revolted against the established societies world wide. These changes mark a shift in the evolution of mankind, bringing forth a new age of awareness, action and reaction. It is the Age of the Shabd Guru.
It is these very changes that have allowed the advance in technology to take place. Those changes in the earth’s magnetic field are opening the sensitivity of the mind, allowing us to grasp the concepts of design for the new technology. Now, those minds need a technology for surviving, for balancing the psyche and opening the doors of perception they need a technology of the mind.
This is an information age with few mysteries, only anomalies. Spaceships have penetrated the heavens, yet they have not found God. We have dug to the core of the earth, yet we have not extinguished the flames of hell, for heaven and hell only exist within this three pound glob which rests between our ears. Faith does not satisfy anymore, because the expanded capacity of the mind will not accept what it cannot experience. Again, the technology of the mind is needed so that we and the children of the future can use the full capacity of our minds.
The mind will function differently in the 21st century because the psycho-electromagnetic energy that comes to bear upon the individual is different. Scientists have proven that even the most gifted person only uses about 10% of his mind. With this change in the earth’s magnetic field, the capacity of the mind will be enhanced. Where previously “I believe” was enough, in the next millenium “I know” will be the requirement. The role of the Khalsa in the 21st century will be to show mankind the way to have the experience of the Supreme Self through the technology of the mind. And that is the Quantum Technology of the Shabd Guru.
It is for the benefit of mankind in its advanced age that the Shabd Guru has come, and it is to serve the Shabd Guru that Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa in 1699. Never before, in the history of mankind, has such an act taken place. In the beginning was the Sound or Shabd, which our Christian brothers call the Word. And it was the power of that Shabd which Guru Arjun Dev instilled in the Adi Granth, directing that it should be translated into all languages so that the Word of the Guru could spread across the world like oil upon water.
Yet, it was Guru Gobind Singh who returned the Guruship to the Word by placing the Adi Granth upon the manji and bowing before it as the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. To serve that Shabd Guru and those whose longing of heart and soul brought them before the Guru, Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa, to stand true and pure as a shining example for all mankind.
The reality is that Khalsa exists to serve the mission of the Guru. It has always been the key to Sikh Dharma that we do not proselytize, but we do inspire and we do teach. The power of the Khalsa is its presence, because a true Khalsa represents the Guru, the Shabd Guru, and it is that presence which touches the heart and inspires the soul to its excellence. The rise of the Khalsa in the West is living proof of the power and reach of the Shabd Guru. Those hippies of the sixties are now Singhs and Kaurs.
There was no Hippie University of America that told them to grow their hair and learn about meditation. It was the subtle changes that began taking place at that time and which are magnified today, that have facilitated the long arm of the Guru. It is the demand of the times and the change in awareness that has brought the Word of the Guru to the West. This is a trend that will continue throughout the world until we stand united 960,000000 strong.
In truth, the role of the Khalsa has never changed since that Vaisakhi Day of 1699. One who has taken amrit and who keeps the Rehit of Guru Gobind Singh belongs not to himself but to the sangat of the Guru. It is the role of the Khalsa to serve the needs of the sangat, to protect those who are incapable of standing for themselves, to be the first to sacrifice and the last to leave. Above all, to lead and inspire by the example of their commitment, their confidence in the Guru and the strength of their presence.
In the 21st century, the mind will be the battleground upon which this war will be waged. Religions have failed to deliver to the individual the experience of consciousness, which brings stability to the psyche and balance to the personality. The mind has changed, the consciousness has changed, but the longing of the individual to be One with his God will never change.
To be Khalsa is to lead by example. It is to inspire others at a time when inspiration is a rare thing. To be Khalsa is to bend and uplift those who are unable to stand, who have been defeated by the circumstances of Time and Space. Upon the battlefield of the mind is a vast army of darkness which, if not stopped, will overtake the individual and cut him down.
At the time of Guru Gobind Singh, just the sight of a single Khalsa lancer on horseback would uplift entire villages and make them feel secure or inspire them to fight, if required. Just so, in the 21st century, the sight of a single Khalsa, keeping the sacred form given by the Guru and radiating the penetrating projection which comes through one whose heart and mind are with the Guru, can uplift people all over the world.
In this ever shrinking, highly mobile world in which we live, the need for inspiration is great. The average person who simply goes through the rigors of day-to-day living cannot survive in this changed world without a clear identity and a stable foundation in life. The first rule of the Khalsa is : ‘identify yourself’. Nam Japna is the sequential process of the individual identifying himself before his Guru and to God Himself. That identity is then manifested by the distinctive dress and projection of the Khalsa.
This is a time for action, not philosophy. It was the mission of Guru Nanak to free mankind from the shackles of organised religion by giving us the key to our own souls. He carried this into the daily lives of the Sikhs and was known as much as a social reformer as a man of God. Guru Gobind Singh, by creating the Khalsa, formed an active body, which would carry on the mission of Guru Nanak. Today, as much as in 1469 or 1699, there is a great need for social and political reform.
There are few countries in the world that are more polluted than India. India is one of the largest producers of environmentally harmful emissions in the world. This is also found in Thailand and other Asian countries. In those countries live many who consider themselves to be Khalsa. One of the missions of the Khalsa in the 21st century must be to rid the world of the environmental, life threatening dangers. This can begin at a grass-roots level, where we voluntarily begin to clean up our own environments and work together to reduce the harmful emissions. From every Gurdwara this message should be carried and once again Khalsa will lead the way. Each village can begin a clean up campaign, and those who live in the more developed areas can organise and participate in saving our global environment.
Guru Nanak spoke openly about the equality of women, and during the time of the Guru women had equal status to that of man. They were respected and protected. Still, in every nation of the world women are mistreated, abused and sexually assaulted. Now is the time that the Khalsa should rise up and fight for equal and fair treatment of women all over the world. If the grace of a woman is allowed to be tarnished, the decline of the civilization is imminent. It is for the survival of our civilization that this should be done, beginning in each Khalsa home and promoted in each community.
Perhaps one of the most serious problems facing the world today and into the next century is the problem of substance abuse. History has recorded that every great civilization has fallen because of drugs or alcohol. China fell because of opium. Egypt fell because of peyote. India was conquered because of marijuana. Rome fell because of alcohol. Now, in every country, all of these and other more debilitating drugs are widely used, destroying our collective future. Khalsa must lead the way in the 21st century to heal people of the diseases of alcoholism and co-dependency.
Why have so many people turned to drugs ? The change in the electromagnetic field of the earth has brought increased sensitivity and a changed functioning of the mind. The accelerated technology and seduction of cyberspace fail to give people the experience of consciousness that they crave. To try to fill the void, people turn to drugs and enter into a downward spiral of frustration and disappointment. It is here that the Quantum Technology of the Shabd Guru and the sacred science of Raja Yoga, practised by the Gurus themselves, can turn tragedy to triumph.
Guru Gobind Rai, by the grace of Akal Purkh, created the Khalsa. The Khalsa then appointed him as their Guru. Yet, Guru always said that Khalsa was his life. Even more significant, he declared that Khalsa mero Sat Guru poora, “Khalsa is my True Guru.” It is this authority and grace that has been instilled in the Khalsa. Every Khalsa, who looks in the mirror each morning and sees the reflection of Guru Gobind Singh is a living Sat Guru. It is disturbing that 300 years after the creation of the Khalsa we are questioning our identity and our role.
Never before, through all the Ages, has such a body, such a path and such a beautiful form been given to humanity. We hold the secrets of the Ages; we hold relief for the suffering of the world; we are the hope and answer to the prayers of all mankind for all Ages. Yet, we have failed to act. We have failed to deliver to the world this sacred trust we hold. And we failed for one reason only : our lack of unity.
A British journalist of the nineteenth century once remarked that when the Sikhs are at war they fight like lions and when they are at peace they fight like dogs. Still, it was the Sikhs who united India for her independence and it was to the Sikhs that the other religious leaders of India came for help. The 10th Master prophesied that Khalsa will rule the world – Raj Karegah Khalsa. Yet, without a united Sikh Panth, how can Khalsa rule ? Are we to continue to fight like dogs or shall we unite and fight like lions, to bring honour to the House of the Guru and to serve mankind as Guru directed us to do ?
Khalsa are warriors and we come from a strong martial tradition. It is time to apply that warrior tradition to those forces in the world that would destroy the human spirit. Guru Tegh Bahadur gave his head for human rights. Guru Gobind Singh raised an army to defend them and thousands of brave warriors gave their lives for others. In the 21st century, our commitment to righteousness should be no less. Being a warrior is not about combat, nor mastery of arms. The warrior of the 21st century will carry the true warrior spirit, which is master of the self, unyielding in the face of unrighteousness, with the penetrating projection of victory. And he will engage the enemy fearlessly upon the battlefield of the mind.
We, as Khalsa, must lead the way to understanding, religious tolerance, equality and human rights, prosperity and fulfilment, relief of human suffering, and to world peace. The time is now to rise up as a single body and call on the citizens of the earth to join us. This is when Khalsa will truly rule the world.
In the West, we are already engaged in the fight for world peace. Each year at the annual International Peace Prayer Day in New Mexico, thousands of people join us to pray for world peace and to celebrate tolerance and understanding. In 1998, we awarded $60,000 in peace grants to organizations dedicated to promoting peace and understanding and conflict resolution. Still, this is only a start.
When we are organised and focused on common goals, as Guru Gobind Singh proved, we can overcome all odds and be victorious. Yet, when we are bifurcated and focused on personal gain and individual goals, then defeat is certain, as history proved after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The question for the 21st century is simple : Shall the sacred gem of the Khalsa remain hidden or shall it be exposed to the world so that the radiance of the Guru can illuminate this Kal Yuga ? Though it is clearly visible for many, Khalsa does not exist outside of the Punjab. Shall we allow it to remain there when the world is crying for help ? Are we so deaf that we cannot hear the suffering of mankind ? Are we now, after 300 years, unable to rise up and win the fight ?
By the 6th century, the essence and divinity of Christianity was lost and the domain of the Church prevailed. The Gnostics, who most closely followed the teachings of Jesus, were declared heretics, hunted down and killed so that the absolute domain of the Church of Rome could not be challenged. Much of the world is blinded by religious fundamentalism, which has bred intolerance and fear. Will we allow this to happen to Sikh Dharma ? Shall we hide ourselves behind intellectual discourse or shall we rise up and prevail ?
To present a paper in such respected company is truly an honour. Everyone has something meaningful to say. In the end, though, these are only words, and as we say in America, talk is cheap. So we pose this question : Do we intend to act or simply to listen ? The world has changed; it will not change back. Are we going to meet the challenge of the Times or are we going to dissipate our resources through lack of organisation and our inability to unite?
Let us resolve not to leave this conference without establishing an action plan and a working body, which will identify a strategy for defining and implementing the role of the Khalsa in the 21st century. If the world wide Khalsa Panth can collectively dedicate itself to promoting world peace, to ending the toxification of the environment, to bringing understanding and tolerance where human rights are violated, to relieving poverty and hunger, to upholding the honour of women, and to sharing with the world the Quantum Technology of the Shabd Guru, then our time here will have truly been valuable. Without such a plan, our time, while enjoyable and enlightening, will have been in vain.
May we all awaken now from the sleep of apathy and isolation. May we rise up now and truly radiate the spirit of Guru Gobind Singh, with a selfless attitude of gratitude, to the One who gave us his all so we can live fearlessly and with dignity. And may we sincerely and truly unite with an unwavering commitment to serve the mission of Guru with honour and humility, for all our generations.