By Sohan Singh and Jaswant Singh | OPINION
Some people will contend that Charhdee Kalaa is a very difficult standard to live up
to. It asks one to recognise that whatever pain, sorrow, hardship that one
encounters in life must be taken with good grace as divine will or law of nature.
It is easy to talk or even write about abiding by laws of nature – to transcend
negativity or duality – and bring one-self into harmony with the ebb and flow of
life but difficult to live it:
ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ਕਹਨੁ ਕਹਾਵਨੁ ॥ ਤੇਰਾ ਬਿਖਮੁ ਭਾਵਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
suhaelaa kehan kehaavan. taeraa bikham bhaavan.
It is easy to speak and talk, but it is difficult to accept Your will. – SGGS, 51
It is a tough challenge to be able to treat both happiness and sorrow as the same
side of the coin. Normally one leads to exhilaration and the other to depression.
So is it humanly possible to live by the concept of Charhdee Kalaa?
First of all, let us try to understand the concept of Charhdee Kalaa in the Sikh faith.
The Meaning of Charhdee Kalaa
To live in Charhdee Kalaa is to accept with grace whatever life has to throw at us.
Charhdee Kalaa is the absence of pretence and performance to please others.
Its internalisation and practice gives our actions greater power because they
emanate from our core beliefs – belief in the Divine and cultivation of spiritual
In Sikh tradition, Charhdee Kalaa stands for high morale though some writers assert
that it also stands for high spirits.
Spirit is associated with an emotional state: exaltation and dejection. ‘In high
spirits’ implies that a person is exalted, i.e. extremely happy and the same person
can also then be in low spirits, i.e. dejected. There is no consistency in this
Charhdee Kalaa is something to be aimed at in life as a hallmark of our character:
to be in a perpetual state of certitude of eventual success, not to be downcast in
The concept of Charhdee Kalaa is great and can benefit the modern society plagued by
anxiety and depression, but Sikhs have not fully grasped its significance or
succeeded in explaining it to the wider society.
How can we ensure that Sikhs and non-Sikh benefit from this concept?
Please do read ‘Living in High Morale (Charhdee Kalaa)’ and feel free to express
your views. We need initiatives and innovative ideas to promulgate the concept of
Upon reading the book, discuss your ideas with your friends – Sikhs and non-Sikhs.
Have seminars, debates, etc. and promote the concept as much as possible.
Stay in Charhdee Kalaa, and share your successes and non-successes with us.
[Sohan Singh and Jaswant Singh are authors of Living in High Morale (Charhdee Kalaa. They are both team memebrs of A Word A Thought’ (AWAT), a free, daily email service on the wisdom sourced from the Guru Granth Sahib]
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