Virtual Vaisakhi: How a Sikh is celebrating differently during lockdown

This Vaisakhi has been an opportunity for quiet reflection. The time during the current lockdown has provided space and time away from the usual daily routine to connect with the divine in nature (kudrat) in numerous ways.  Observing  the beauty of blades of grass on the lawn, listening to bird song with the luxury of just listening and noticing a finch perching on the edge of a plant pot to take a drink of the rain water that is filled the void in the once empty vessel we can really feel connected to each. The warmth of the sun has also brought renewed gratitude for the aliveness one feels bathed in the sun’s rays and the privilege of having an outdoor space in which to sit, eat and move in. This year Vaisakhi has been a wonderful opportunity to just be without the pressure to do and race to the next thing. It has brought home that each breath is indeed a precious gift and a reminder that nothing is certain. As it seems the world has slowed down, I have been able to use fluctuations of the mind to return back to the seat of centeredness, to connect with the atma, the soul, the true self, the Sat Nam that is beneath all the mind chatter, feeling the vibration of the divine flow within, around me and in all beings. Simply slowing down and observing I’ve been reminded that nature is indeed to be revered. I am reminded of the awesomeness of nature captured in the final salok of the  Jap ji sahib, a Sikh prayer, that appears at the beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib (the scripture of the Sikhs). The Japji sahib was composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji the founder of Sikhism. The Jap ji sahib is recited in the early morning in what is called the Amrit Vela – the ‘ambrosias time’ where we drink in the nectar of the connection with the divine, while the outside world is in stillness. The final salok (verse) reminds us daily that nature is divine:

Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, and Earth is the Great Mother of all.

Day and night are the two nurses, in whose lap the entire universe is at play.

In this time of quiet reflection, I am reminded again and again to stop labelling events and situations as good or bad but to keep returning to a place of acceptance of what is. Again, the final salok reminds us:

Good deeds and bad are announced in the Presence of Lord Dharma.

I am reminded that nothing we do is done in isolation of the bigger impact; that the way we present ourselves in the world through our thoughts, words and behaviours impacts far greater than we could imagine and we must take personal responsibility for each deed be it a thought, words written or spoken and behaviours.

According to their own actions, some are drawn closer, and some are driven farther away.

Again, I am reminded of the ebb and flow of human actions and the impact of each action on the soul’s journey to merge back with the divine, the universal self.

And of course I ask myself for a moment that had I been in the crowd on the day that Guru Gobind Singh Ji creates the Khalsa panth (the community of pure one) asking who was ready to surrender fully to the guru, how would I have responded? With fear? Or with complete acceptance and faith? Would I, in that moment have risen above the mind’s chattering and connected with the words of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the Jap Ji Sahib to live without fear (nir pauo) and the divine words of Guru Arjun Dev ji, the 5th Sikh guru ‘Tera kiya mitta lagey’-Your doing tastes sweet. And beyond that, how can I cultivate these two qualities way post lockdown and live the spirit of Vaiskhi in each and every moment so that I can respond to life’s challenges with the spirit of a saint soldier ‘Sant Sipahi’ undertaking each action mindfully, from a place of selfless service, ‘sewa’, rather than personal gain.

Jasmine Sodhi