Kids Corner


My Visit To A Gurdwara





About a dozen years ago, I pitched a story to a now-defunct magazine, a story which mostly involved asking religious leaders one question:

Why do you believe in God?

Shockingly, the editor gave me the green light, and I suddenly had the privilege of interviewing a variety of Christian (including the now late Cardinal George), Muslim and Jewish leaders. I couldn't believe my luck!

I thought by writing the story I would gain some insight from these leaders, whom I saw as the most direct line to God I was ever going to find. While every one of the leaders was gracious and kind, in the end, the following is what I came away with:

1   None of the leaders actually heard the voice of God talking to them in their ears. (Naively, I thought some of them would tell me they did, and boy, did I want to know what God had to say.)

2   It wasn’t easy, but the leaders did finally reveal to me the reason they believed in God. The answer: It was all about having faith.

I came away appreciative and somewhat enlightened but also slightly disappointed. As someone who was (and is still) searching for spiritual meaning, I expected the experience would result in some deep, profound, aha! moment for me.

It didn't happen. Still, I moved forward with my life, continuing on my trek, seeking my own personal truth wherever I could find it.

Fast forward to last week, when I attended an interfaith event at a Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, sponsored by the Palatine Public Library.

The gurdwara where the event was held is beautiful, and if you haven't been to one, you need to go and see one for yourself. (The Sikhs I met were very open to outsiders visiting.)

Leaders from many faith communities were represented -- -Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh. They spoke briefly about their scriptures to a crowd of about 100 people.

There was one central theme I heard from these religious leaders:

We should live in peace and harmony.

The Sikh leader put it another way, a way I found very meaningful:

Don’t say my way is the only way. There’s wisdom on the other side.

While all the leaders' speeches were interesting, I found myself on the verge of tears (of joy as well as sadness) throughout much of the event, not so much because of what they said, but because of what was left unsaid.

That this event was a lovely idea and lovely experience. That as I looked around, I saw the gathering as representative of what America is really all about: a wondrous, intriguing, marvellous melting pot.

The Sikhs couldn't have been more open and welcoming. After the speeches, they hosted a delicious vegetarian meal, during which I had the opportunity to learn more about Sikhism from a couple of young adult Sikhs.

One of them was from North Carolina, an executive of a pharmaceutical company. Even with a turban on his head, he was as American as apple pie.

I asked, and he politely answered some difficult questions such as: Was it hard growing up as a Sikh in America, especially in the South? He told me that he couldn't deny that he encountered racism. But for every racist he came across, he had met a thousand decent people.

I can’t say I walked away from the event with more religious faith. But in spite of some of the awful goings-on in the world today, I left the gurdwara with much more faith in mankind. For now, that's enough.

[Courtesy: Chicago Now. Edited for]
June 2, 2016

Conversation about this article

1: Kuldip Singh (Patiala, Punjab), June 02, 2017, 12:14 PM.

These words of wisdom are from my mentor, a wise Sikh gentleman: "Many years ago, I asked my Spiritual Master, "All the chaos in this world, who is responsible for it?" The Master replied, "Two classes of people who live by the principle of divide and rule. One is politicians and the other, preachers." We need to find people who are neither politicians nor preachers to run this world. These leaders would have to be truly spiritual. A Muslim lady asked my mentor, "What is the difference between Islam and the Sikh religion?" He replied, "There is no difference." The lady was astounded at this reply and asked, "How can you say this?" He replied, "My daughter, I say this simply because the Truth is One. It is only our form of worship which is different." Only the paths are different between all religions. Once again according to my mentor, the biggest sin a human being can commit is to hurt another human being.

2: Kuldip Singh (Patiala, Punjab), June 03, 2017, 8:04 AM.

Pictures of Sikh men serving rooh afza milk to fasting Muslims in Peshawar is winning hearts in Pakistan | The Indian Express

3: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), June 03, 2017, 3:29 PM.

Vis-a-vis spirituality, we believe in One God and One God alone. In worldly matters, we believe in equality and equality alone. Our Gurus wanted to address social, economic and political issues on the basis of equality. One God and Equality define the message of our Gurus ... and that is the message we find in our gurdwaras.

4: H Singh (Delhi, India), June 04, 2017, 7:50 AM.

Kuldip Singh ji, if you read Guru Gobind Singh ji's Bacchitar Naatak, Guru Sahib himself explains why he was sent into this world - in essence, all those faith leaders who had preceded him ended up having themselves worshipped, instead of Akal Purakh. Hence, Guru Sahib's strict hukam to us is to worship only the Akal Purakh and no one else. In Jaap Sahib, Guru Sahib has elaborated on Akal Purakh and some of his properties. While we all stand for humanism (not hurting creation as the Creator lives in all), etc., we must never lose sight of our Guru Sahib's hukams with respect to other faiths.

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My Visit To A Gurdwara"

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