Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Incident with Veer Balpreet Singh

Seems like this is a good opportunity for Sikhs to secure their Kirpaan rights in Canadaa.


A University of Ottawa law student is accusing VIA Rail of treating him like a terrorist and smearing Canadian Sikhs after he was ordered from a train twice in one month for wearing a sheathed ceremonial sword known as a kirpan. Balpreet Singh, 24, said yesterday he felt angry, humiliated and very much like a secondclass citizen after the latest incident Friday afternoon when VIA officials escorted him off a Toronto-bound train because he was wearing a kirpan. VIA officials took the action after someone complained. Mr. Singh claimed his explanation — that the kirpan is not a weapon, but a religious artifact worn as part of his faith — was ignored. The officials said weapons are banned from the trains, and no exceptions are made for religious symbols. Mr. Singh, who is in his first year at the university, said he has taken the bus, travelled on Toronto’s subway and the GO Train with hundreds of other Sikhs, and there has never been a problem until the incident with VIA. He said what irked him even more was that after they took him off the train, officials made no alternative travel arrangements for him, and he had to abandon a trip to Brampton where he was heading for a congregational service and teaching assignment. Mr. Singh said the incident follows a similar one last month in Toronto. He said that after the first incident, he’d been assured steps would be taken to ensure it never happened again. Now, he said, he is considering a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “I was born and raised in Canada, but I don’t feel that I am treated like a Canadian. It was absolutely humiliating, what happened to me. They led me off the train as if they captured some big al-Qaeda terrorist. Because I don’t look like everybody else, they treat me differently. “What happened doesn’t do much for my image, and it reflects horribly on my community. Twice a Sikh is led off the train and the impression people get is these people are dangerous.” VIA spokeswoman Catherine Kaloutsky said yesterday officials were acting in the larger interest of public safety and security when they took Mr. Singh off the train. VIA’s baggage policy bans weapons, which are defined as including “collectibles, antiques and those of a ceremonial nature,” she said. No exception could be made for Mr. Singh, because he was carrying a weapon that fell into one of the categories. “Any passenger who is in possession of this type of weapon — collectible items, antique items and knives, such as in this instance, that are recognized as of a ceremonial nature — will be denied boarding,” Ms. Kaloutsky said. “We acknowledge, we respect an individual’s culture and religion, but our priority has to be safety and security of all those who travel with us. It is not targeting any individual.” Transport Canada spokeswoman Vanessa Vermette said after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the federal government banned the carrying of knives and “knife-like objects,” which includes kirpans, from airplanes. But there is no policy on trains, and each company is left to make its own decision. There are about 300,000 Sikhs in Canada, about 15 per cent of whom wear kirpans. VIA’s policy suggests, in effect, that the 45,000 orthodox Sikhs who wear daggers as an article of faith cannot travel on the national rail carrier. The incident involving Mr. Singh is likely to resurrect the debate on individual rights and the balance between religious freedom and public safety. Orthodox Sikhs have worn sheathed kirpans strapped to their chests since the 17th century as a symbol of strength and willingness to defend the weak and fight for justice. The daggers are one of the five articles of faith of the religion and range in length between 15 and 30 centimetres. However, their use in countries like Canada and the United States has been marked by controversy, because some people consider them weapons. While Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta permit them in schools, Quebec prohibits them.

In April, the Supreme Court reserved judgment in the case of Gurbaj Singh in which the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a lower court decision and banned the wearing of kirpans in provincial schools. Acknowledging that the ban on the kirpans was indeed a limit on freedom of religion, the Appeal Court nevertheless said it was a reasonable limit in light of public safety concerns. Manjit Singh, a spokesman for the Canadian Sikh Council, called VIA’s action “deplorable,” saying there is no excuse for it. “I don’t want to accuse people of being racist or xenophobic, because name-calling like this doesn’t help. Sikhs have been in this country for over 100 years and as a Crown corporation, VIA should know better,” he said. Meanwhile, Mr. Singh said he can understand why someone unfamiliar with Sikhism would be concerned about the kirpan, and he would have been happy to explain what it is. But he said nothing justifies the behaviour of VIA Rail officials in Ottawa, especially after his first encounter with the company in Toronto last month. On Sept. 18, he was in his seat on the train when an official took him aside and said someone had complained about the kirpan and felt intimidated by his presence. After he was taken off the train, Claire La France, VIA station manager in Toronto, apologized for the incident, called her head office and was advised to let Mr. Singh continue with his journey on the next train. She assured him that the issue would be resolved once and for all. Three days later, Ms. La France told Mr. Singh in an e-mail that she had referred the matter to senior VIA officials. “I know that our Chief Operating Officer has been made aware of the circumstances. I expect it will be a topic of discussion at the meeting of the upper level executives this week. There has been much interest in your specific case by many parties,” she wrote. Mr. Singh said he was shocked and distressed Friday when he was again taken off the train, in full view of other passengers. He said a VIA official who, he said, would only give his name as Yves, and his employee number 300015, was rude and offensive. He considers the official’s behaviour as blatant discrimination, and said he doesn’t understand how a Crown corporation can allow it. “I’ve taken public transit in Toronto and Ottawa dressed like the way I was on the train, and there’s never been a problem. Navdeep Singh Bains, the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, is a Sikh and he wears a kirpan into the House of Commons and there is no issue. So why is VIA doing this,” he said. “If I can’t wear the kirpan on the train, next they will say ‘you can’t wear it on the bus, you can’t wear it in the mall.’ Where is it going to stop? What they are really saying is, you can’t follow your religion and live here in Canada.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Opening the Dasam Duaar

Rare are the ones that reach the abode of the Tenth Gate located in the Human Body. Jogees and Siddhs have a yearning to open their Dasam Duaar, however, all their attempts are futile because they do not meditate on VAHIGURU. When they open their Dasam Duaar they do not get Darshan because the Swaas of Vahiguru Simran do not reside there, and therefore all their efforts go in vain.

One must note that opening the Dasam Duaar is just another thing on the path of Naam Japnaa - it is by no means the goal of simran. A true Gursikh should never do simran in order to achieve a certain spiritual state; they should only do it because they have Prem (love) for Vahiguru. When the Dasam Duaar does open with Swaas of Vahiguru Simran residing there then there is a flood of light, which is unbearable, infact this is God himself. Dib Drishtee (3rd eye) also opens and then one starts living in the Spirit world also.

Many Gursikhs have queried with Daas that they feel a pressure on the head whilst doing Simran. This is infact your Dhiaan (concentration) at a high avasthaa and if the concentration is kept up their then the Dasam Duaar will open.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The will

It is extremely hard to accept the sweet will of God. BhaaNa (the will of god) is what makes a person a Gursikh, whether one can accept everything as his will is a great test of God. Everything that happens to us in this life is a result of our past actions, Guru Nanak Dev Ji himself says in Siri Japjee Sahib - 'Hukamai andhar sabh Ko Bahar Hukam Naa Koe' - No one is outsideVahigurus will, everthing happens because he does it. The hard part is accepting it and moving on.

When Daas' parents didn't let Daas ever go to Sat sang Daas used to cry and argue with them, but Daas realised that we should become Bhagats and Jap Naam, then Naam will lead us wherever we desire. It so happened that Daas wanted to go to Sat Sangat one day and Daas' parents rejected, instead of arguing Daas just accepted it and did Ardaas to Mahaaraj to help me accept it - it really did ache my heart not to be in the midst of the holy.

Accepting BhaaNaa makes one stronger and helps us to Jap Naam.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Love for Singhs

Daas read a topic on the Gurdwara Siri Tapoban Sahib with the above title. It was written by a Veer who has cut hair, it deeply affected my heart and told me what the state of the Panth is in. In Praatan times (olden times) Singhs would shower their love and affection on everyone regardless of there avasthaa. A smile makes a big difference, a very big difference - do not underestimate the value of a genuine smile.

Gursikhs that are constantly Japping Naam already develop such a natural smile on their cherai (faces). Gursikhs that are always smiling create a beautiful aura around themselves and everyones soul feels attracted to theirs. The Gursikhs soul becomes almost like a magnet. When Daas was also not on the Sikhi Path, but starting to tread on it, Daas had many encounters with Gursikhs, but only very few will make the effort to smile. This is the difference between Naam ABHIYAASEES and Naam RASEEYAI Gursikhs. Naam Abhiyaasees will always be reciting Naam, rather vigorously and will not speak to anyone - always with their head down doing Abhiyaas. [Note: This is not a bad thing, Daas is the Charan Dhoor of anyone who Japs Naam in whatever way they may do it]

Whereas, Naam Raseeyai Gursikhs are something else! Naam Raseeyai will be Japping Naam in Sehaj avastha all the time with their head up smiling. One will always notice a golden hue on their faces, because they shower the Prem Ras (Love) on everyone they meet affectionately. It does not matter whether one is black or white, Sikh or Muslim, Hindu or Christian or Jewish etc etc - the point is everyone has a soul.

The best present a Gursikh can give to someone is a smile. Inner tranquilty also dawns upon us when we smile because it is an emotion which triggers certain chemicals in our body. Daas must point out, it is a genuine smile we are talking about and not a counterfeit one. One can always notice a genuine smile on the faces of those Gursikhs that Jap Naam.

peeou amrith naam amolak jio chaakh goongaa musakaavath 1
I drink in the Invaluable Nectar of the Naam, the Name of the Lord. Like the mute, I can only smile - I cannot speak of its flavor. 1


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