by Susan Leem, associate producer
Prakash Utsav birthday celebrations in Sikh temple for Guru Gobind Singh. (photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)
The number of Sikhs in the world is approaching 20 million adherents. Most live in India, and many are settling in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Italy (where they were recently credited with saving Italy’s struggling dairy industry). Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of India and Pakistan. It is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak and his nine gurus, and is distinct from Hinduism or Islam though comparisons are often made. The tenth and last Sikh guru in a sacred lineage is Guru Gobind Singh. He made a distinctive contribution to the identity of Sikhs with particular teachings about ethical behavior, hair, and headdress. And Sikhs celebrate his birthday, Prakash Utsav, annually. Based on the Nanakshahi calendar, the annual celebration of the Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s birthday takes place on the twenty-third day of Poh (ਪੋਹ), which coincides with January 5th.
The Sikh scripture is a book called the Guru Granth Sahib, and a building that houses the book is called a Gurdwara (Gateway to the Guru), and functions as a place of worship primarily on Sundays. According to the BBC, “The most important thing in Sikhism is the internal religious state of the individual.”
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals. Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in heart and mind at all times, live honestly and work hard, treat everyone equally, be generous to the less fortunate, and serve others.
The turban is an important symbol of Sikh tradition and identity to represent commitment to God, their values, and promote equality. It also places a very publicly visual responsibility on them to represent Sikhism. The U.S. Army even made a special exemption last year for their first Sikh enlistee to be permitted to wear his turban and facial hair during active duty.
Capt. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi is an Army Emergency Room Physician and the first Sikh in the U.S. Army. Photo by: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
The official order to wear the turban and to never cut hair for all baptized Sikhs is credited to the Tenth Guru, Gobind Singh. He created the Khalsa order and Khalsa Code of Conduct for baptized Sikhs which also prohibits tobacco, alcohol, or any intoxicant use, and adultery.
Most definitely! There are two books I’d definitely recommend reading.
The first is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Writings Selected. It’s edited by the religious scholar Ursula King, who is a guest voice in our podcast on “Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘Planetary Mind’ and Our Spiritual Evolution.”
This book is a good introduction to Teilhard’s spiritual thinking and biographical notes. Ms. King writes a beautiful summary at the beginning that gets at the heart of Teilhard de Chardin’s spirituality, which “creatively welds together science, religion, and mysticism in one unifying synthesis.”
Ms. King doesn’t just write about him and selectively quote from his writings. This is a good thing. She pulls healthy sections from some of his most notable works — including Writings in a Time of War, The Divine Milieu, Heart of Matter, and The Phenomenon of Man — which allow you to imbibe the sensibility of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his own words. The translations are passionate and very readable, thank goodness, because we’ve come across other translations will make you feel like you’re eating week-old bread with nothing to wash it down.
I’d also recommend reading Amir Aczel’s The Jesuit and the Skull. Mr. Aczel is a superb storyteller and popularizer of great scientific minds and finds. For devotees of Teilhard, Mr. Aczel may not do enough, but his focus on the French Jesuit’s role in the discovery of Peking Man in 1929 gives the reader a sense of Teilhard as scientist who is trying to reconcile his religious beliefs with those of the Catholic Church.
Teilhard de Chardin’s struggle is at the heart of Aczel’s book. It’s an adventure story too, trotting the reader all over the globe, introducing us to countries and cultures of the day that speak to our own ongoing wrestling match about evolution.
Whereas, Ms. King’s compilation will force you to read slowly, think deeply, and savor Teilhard’s passionate langue and ideas, The Jesuit and the Skull lets you buzz through with a liveliness and vitality of a good summer vacation exploration.
Hope this helps!
Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Unfortunately, this doesn’t sound familiar. But, if you ever find the source, please send it my way because poetry and disco is a match meant for this blog… I think.
Recently I heard a wonderful program on National Public Radio about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I was struck by one of his quotes: ‘Some are guilty, but all are responsible.’
I pray for the victims and families in Newtown and Aurora and Virginia Tech and Red Lake and Columbine and Minneapolis and Norway and Webster and all the other lesser known atrocities — and for my country.” —
—John Patrick Egelhof, lead FBI agent of the Red Lake High School massacre, from his excellent if not challenging commentary in the Star Tribune. Read it.
The NPR program to which Mr. Egelhof is referring is On Being with Krista Tippett, which is the radio program I’ve edited and produced for the last nine years. The show he’s culling from: “The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel.”
One of the most gratifying aspects of working on this project is seeing this type of practical impact. Many times it’s difficult to quantify the influence our work is having in the world; seeing a key law enforcement official who has faced unbelievable tragedy use these pearls of wisdom to inform his own thinking and being breathes new life into the work that I do. It’s all the thanks I need.
From our senior editor Trent Gilliss’ Tumblr:
“In my world, the wronger something feels the righter it is. So too waste this much time on something this stupid… that felt good to me. “
A superb five-minute short on how Jerry Seinfeld writes a joke from The New York Times.
Seinfeld’s take on wasting time might just be the polar opposite advice given by Jon Kabat-Zinn in our podcast for this week.
—Daniel Goleman, from Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships