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Re: Traditional Sikh Prayer Before Meals, restating the Question
Posted by Yuktanand Singh Send Email to Author on Wednesday, 6/02/1999 11:02 AM MDT
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

It seems that a Sikh may recite any number of Shabads before a meal, if this is what he or she feels like. Those, who revere and respect this Sikh or "Sant", will follow the same practice for generations. This is how some traditions become established inside the smaller groups. If some group becomes popular, their traditions become popular also.

I see nothing wrong as long as these traditions do not eclipse Gurmat. As S Serjinder Singh Ji has described, there have been various practices among various groups. Such practices must arise from a perceived need for a more concrete routine among children and others that could not comprehend abstractions.

Every now and then, I try to think about solutions for the Millenium. We can see above that what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander! Trying to impose the same rules on everyone is probably, a mistake. But, that is a whole new topic.

We all agree that, according to Gurmat, there is no such thing as a "before the meal" prayer in Guru Granth Sahib. We cannot expect children to understand the abstract notion of praying through the entire meal, which also demands minimal talk. This would also mean no TV during meals. This is the Sikh way, but how many families can practice this all the time?

In my opinion, the Sikh way is to do the best you can, inside your own heart. Various social situations will require different behavior. Being a Sikh does not mean that you become an eccentric. Teach your children as much as they can assimilate easily. Remind them of Guru's teaching whenever you can.

It is good to teach the children some routine before the meal, something that would remind them to continue their Simran all the time. But, do we really want to regress to the "Brahmin" practices, reciting some home made poetry, or, adopt a Western tradition of thanking God for the meal etc. and then eat, forgetting Simran, satisfied that we have prayed and 'sanctified' the food?

All this discussion is useful in supplying perspective on this issue. However it still does not answer the original question, because, as already said, there is no real answer. I my opinion a few moments of silence, repeating Waheguru silently, thanking our Father and praying that He would enable us to carry out this Simran all the time, would be sufficient. If we must repeat a Shabad, there are a couple that I can think of.

1. "Thakur Siyu Jaaki Bann Aayee", page 390.
2. "Jih Parsaad Chhateeh Amrit Khahe", page 269.

Yuktanand Singh

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