Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539) was the founder of Sikhism and the first of 10 Sikh gurus. Sikhism is a religion that was born out of the need to reform an increasingly hardening Hinduism in the face of Mughal Rule in 15th and 16th century India.
Guru Nanak is said to have taken 4 major journeys in his lifetime. During each journey, Guru Nanak gathered followers with his unique style of down-to-earth and experiential teaching. There are many stories known as "sakhis" that have been told to generations of children by family members to keep alive Guru Nanak Dev's teachings through the centuries. This is one of my favourites:
Nanak and his two disciples Bhai Mardana and Bhai Bala came to a small village. The villagers were very respectful and hospitable. They invited the guru into their homes, listened to his sermons with attention and fed and feted him with all the honour due to a visitor and guest.
After spending a few very restful and pleasant days in the village, it was time…
Do you know William Blake’s poem about the tiger? It starts with
“Tyger, Tyger burning brightIn the forests of the night..”
If you haven’t read it yet, ask your teachers or parents to get you a copy of the poem and perhaps even explain it to you. It really describes the awe-inspiring, scary, beautiful tiger very well. Of course, you must remember that were never any tigers in the United Kingdom, where Blake lived. Blake’s poem is based on his own imagination and what he had learnt from other writings and legends about the tiger.
But for the agricultural people of the Sundarbans and of South East Asia, the tiger is a real presence, a fear to be faced and out-witted every day; a natural force that they are both in competition with and admire.
The tribals of Sundarbans, for instance, live off the same land that the tiger claims as its own. On a daily basis, therefore, they have to contend with the tiger’s awe-inspiring presence.
To ward off the tiger, they worship a god named “ Dakhin Rai” (k…
In a world growing increasingly simple and mono-tone-ous, separated by neat, geometrical borders of us and them, I proudly unfurl my soul, peacock-wise, far into the sky, baring its glorious confusion to all who would see and hear in all the cities I bear.
My ever-expanding, patchwork soul
is made up of so many cities and stories and people and voices and faces and food and houses and animals and jungles and oceans and mountains and rivers and waterfalls and clouds and sand and stones and driftwood and messages in bottles...
It grows willy-nilly, in shifting
patterns of tongues that mix and colours that run and leaking motifs that sometimes
clash and sometimes blend. Amidst all the cities, there is
one that formed the weave of my fabric: the Calcutta of my youth. This chameleon city taught me to see the glory of chaos. Why be one when you can be all? Why choose
when you can gather? Why be sure when you can ask? Why know when you can
debate? Why follow straight lines when squiggles are s…