| Book Review | Malaysia | 12 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |
Book Title: SIKH-ING: Success and Happiness
Author: Dya Singh, World Music Group, Adelaide, Australia
Publisher: Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi
Year of Publication: 2016; Price: Rs. 395; Pages: 192 (Paperback).
By Hardev Singh Virk
The title SIKH-ING of the book under review is as unique as its author Dya Singh, who is well known for his World Music Group and his concerts to preach Sikhi in a unique way. I wonder why he has used Sikh or Sikhi, a noun, in the form of a verb ‘Sikh-ing’ in the title of his book. I will like to call it: “Sikhi: A Guide to Success and Happiness”.
The author has clearly defined the motive and purpose of writing this book on page 9 as follows: “This book is for those who like to read something uplifting and inspirational and helps them on the path to success, fulfillment and happiness; those who know me as a Sikh musician and want to know what keeps me happy; those who feel down in life and need upliftment; those who want to know the basics of Sikh kirtan, etc. etc.” The author also claims that this book is meant for Sikh youth and non-Sikhs alike, who might wish to know the secrets about the Sikh way leading to success and happiness.
In his foreword, Dr Bhajan Singh of Singapore calls Dya Singh a World Traveller and a Messenger of the Truth. He further writes: “Dya Singh is sharing a profound message of a futuristic and universal Sikh value system, what he calls the ” best kept secret of this planet”.
The contents of book have been covered in 13 Chapters. In the opening Chapter, Dya Singh gives his background and goes on to define Happiness in a unique way: “Happiness is not the final reward, rather it is the engine that powers success, and even good behaviour and positive results.”
In Chapter 2, he writes: “I believe that Sikhism has plenty to offer in the quest for world peace and harmony between peoples from different parts of the world and of different religions.” The author laments that the Sikh community does not have a country of its own but he does not consider it as a handicap, rather he claims that Sikhs are the genuine ‘global citizens’ of the world today. Dya believes that the inspiration to write this book is given by a divine force (cosmic energy) whom he calls ‘Waheguru’ and he likes to say “Thanks Waheguru”.
Third Chapter is on ‘Mun’ (Mind) and ‘Muth’ (Intellect) and it is most difficult to comprehend for readers who are not familiar with Eastern thought and its ethos. Dya tries to clarify as follows: “The ‘mind’ is actually divided into ‘Mun’ and ‘Muth’. The mind as described in western terms is actually the ‘Muth’ – the intellect, and the other part of the mind is the ‘Mun’ – emotions, or feelings. It is the ‘Mun’ that affects the heart.” He lists the attributes of ‘Mun’ and ‘Muth’ in a tabulated form. He writes on page 29: “The doorway to the soul/spirit is through infinite ‘Mun’ because it feels, NOT the finite ‘Muth’ because the ‘Muth’ feeds on tangible proof. Then he tries to explain roles and functions of ‘Mun’ and ‘Muth’ on pages 33-34. Let me tell the author that there are many ‘twists’ due to these definitions. My examination of this entire text of the book reveals that author has taken liberty to use ‘Mun’ as ‘heart’, as ‘soul’ and also as ’emotional brain’. It may cause some confusion among Sikh and non-Sikh youths who are trained in the western system of education.
In Chapter 4, author defines his take on ‘God’ as ‘Good’: “God is the epitome of ‘love’ and ‘truth’. God is a universal consciousness, a cosmic library, so to speak, of universal intelligence. It is an energy source, which pervades all existence, and into which we, humans, can tap into, if we are open to that through mindful meditation, which we call simrin.” In fact, Mool Mantar provides a wholesome interpretation of author’s take on God. What is meditation? It is the time one spends in His company, awareness of His reality. For a Sikh, this is Nam Simrin. The author beautifully illustrates his findings with quotes from Sri Guru Granth Sahib: “Jo brahmanday, soi pinday jo khojai so pavai.” What is our relation with God? “As the seed of God, the soul (atma) is within us, we human beings are ‘Gods in embryo’ – a microcosm within a macrocosm.”
In Chapter 5, Dya Singh introduces the concept of Happiness based on his personal experiences of life. In Chapter 6, he introduces the Sikh way of Happiness as Santokh (contentment): “Contentment should not be a deterrent for one’s loftier aspirations. It should not be a consolation for non-attainment but a positive powerful force – a launch pad for further progress and success.” The Sikh way of Happiness is unique as given in SGGS: “Nanak Satgur bhetiyai, puri hovai jugt. Hesendheyan, khelendheyan, painendeyan, khevendheyan, vichai hovai mukt.” The author quotes research findings of Harvard: “If one is happy, one’s work is of a better quality”. Happiness produces greater wealth, not the other way around. To enjoy happiness, one must be carefree.
In Chapter 7, the author further elaborates the practice of Sikh way of Happiness which is based on three pillars of Chardhi Kala, Amritvela and Anand. He goes on to define Chardhi Kala as a mental state of ongoing optimism. According to author, Amritvela is that period just before the sun comes up (but in Sikh parlance it is one pehar (3 hours) before the sun rise). Anand is a state where there is no happiness, nor despair, nor sadness. It is a state of serene acceptance of Hukm, the Divine Law. Author quotes Gurbani to prove that it is joyful to be in the company of a Gurmukh who radiates ‘anand’.
In my view, Chapter 8 “Meditation Magic for Happiness” is the most important as the author elaborates three techniques of meditation, namely, Saas Simrin, Dhyan Simrin and Padh Yatra. Saas meditation, via breathing, is simple and effective for all generations. It helps to re-align the mind, body and spirit – the ultimate sense of wellbeing. The author has given tips to perform Saas meditation along with the hints for the ecstatic states to be experienced by the practitioner. From this description, one can easily conclude that the author has experienced these states himself during meditation. Classification of thought waves representing various states of mind are described under headings: Beeta, Alpha, Theeta and Delta. Theeta represents a deeper state of relaxation and is highly suitable for meditation. What is meditation? The reader will find all answers to his queries in this section on pages 93-94. For illustration, I shall like to cite the following:
i) Meditation is constant. It is a technique unique to each individual.
ii) Meditation is not separate from daily life. It is part and parcel of life.
iii) Meditation requires undivided attention to whatever we are saying, doing or thinking.
iv) True meditation does not depend on a particular posture or attitude.
v) Meditation reaches its climax when you can experience timelessness, i.e., eternal NOW.
The other two techniques, Dhyan Simrin and Padh Yatra ( Meditation while walking) also find a mention in this Chapter. Author narrates his experiences of both these modes of meditation for the benefit of readers.
Chapter 9 and 10 are devoted to “Mindful Visualization of Success and Happiness” and “The Five Vices & the Ultimate Path to Happiness”, respectively. The five vices listed in Sikhism are Kaam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachment) and Ahangkar (ego). The author has given the Sikh recipe based on Gurbani to conquer these vices. The purpose is not to kill these vices, which are essential for a human, but to keep them under full control through Sewa and Simrin. In Sikhism, “Sewa is an expression of our love for others. That love can only arise when we have contentment and humility”.
Chapter 11 presents author’s views on East versus West; he himself is a product of both cultures. The Western values are diametrically opposed to Eastern values. Hence the author concludes: “The absence of these Eastern virtues and Western excesses have brought us to brink of disaster, hence we need to become proactive to remedy the wrongs that we have committed in the past for the sake of future generations”. The author highlights the problems of Old Age, Living with Parents and Marriage in the West vis a vis East.
The author seems to be at his best in Chapter 12 “Detachment as a Tool for Happiness” while explaining the Sikh way of detachment. “To detach yourself from the reality aspect of this life, you need to find attachment to some higher purpose – a nobler ideal. What one needs is a mission in life which must be beyond our selfish personal interest. Internal detachment comes with time, spiritual contemplation, reflection, and a higher purpose”. According to author, the crux of the problem is: “Detachment is rather subtle to understand and even more difficult to practice”. He is conversant with the Sikh way of detachment as illustrated in SGGS by the example of Lotus flower: “Jeo jal meh kamal alpeto vartai, teo vichay greh udas”. What a unique definition by the author? “Detachment is a state of unattached involvement”.
In the Epilogue, author sums up his ideas: “My heroes have always been my ten Sikh Gurus”. I have discovered, for the first time in the Sikh literature, the new definitions of prayer and meditation: “Prayer is when you speak and Waheguru listens and meditation is when Waheguru speaks and you listen”.
There are 3 Supplementary Chapters after the Epilogue as useful introduction to Sikh History, Devotional Music as Meditation, and Naam Simrin, the essential trait in the life of a Sikh. The author writes: “Simrin is not an endless repetition but about self improvement.” Referring back to Chapter 8, he recommends the use of WAHEGURU, SATNAAM and MOOL MANTAR for Saas Simrin and refers to implications of Naam Simrin with reference to a meeting of Gurmukh Singh, author’s elder brother, with Bhai Randhir Singh of Akhand Keertan Jatha (AKJ). Glossary of Sikh-orientated words used in the book is a useful addition for comprehension of text for readers unfamiliar with Sikh lore.
Before I conclude, I must refer to some salient features of this book as follows: It is highly original in its approach and presentation; it is not a theoretical treatise but based on author’s practical experience; each chapter is followed by Exercise to put the ideas of author into practice; it derives its food for thought from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee; and it promotes Sikh way of life and Sikh Simrin at global level.
I wonder why author made a blunder in Supplementary Chapter I: “Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikhi was born in Kartarpur, now in Pakistan”. It shows that the Editor failed to correct this mistake as Guru Nanak was born in Rai Bhoi Di Talwandi, now called Nankana Sahib but he left his mortal frame in Kartarpur. This may be due to author’s oversight.
[Dr Hardev Singh Virk is a Visiting Professor at the SGGS World University, Fatehgarh Sahib, India. The review first appeared at Gurmat Learning Zone, the largest Sikh email-based discussion group. More on the reviewer here]
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