Sunday, 26 August 2012

Guru Nanak Dev Ji & Maskeen

On one of his travels Guru Ji came to a town and stopped at the house of an old Sikh called Chundhwadi. He was very poor and was in a fluster as to what food to place in front of Guru Ji. He went to the local town not knowing what to do. While he was there he saw a gathering of people and went to see what was happening. 

It was a wrestling match and the local Nawab was parading his champion. Now, the champion was called Maskeen and was tall and muscular and was undefeated. He stood while the proud Nawab challenged all the town if there was any person who would take on his champion. Maskeen strode into the middle of the large circle flexing his muscles. No one dared step forward for fear of serious injury. When Chundhwadi heard that the prize was 50rps he thought that if he could get the money he could use it to buy provisions to place in front of Guru Ji. He stepped into the ring and declared his intention to wrestle Maskeen. All fell about laughing, how could such an old man who was just skin and bone take on the mighty Maskeen? 

As the two opponents came close Maskeen asked “What are you doing old man? You have no chance against me, what possesses you to fight me, you are going to get seriously hurt” 
Chundawadi said “Oh champion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is coming to my house today and I have no food to place before him, my only chance is to beat you and use the prize money.”

Maskeen fell into thought, “I have heard of Guru Nanak” he said “they say he is Khudha himself. I would also like to meet him.” After much soul searching he said “Old man, if I let you win will you take me to see Guru Nanak?”

“Yes” said Chundawadi “but what will become of you? If you lose, and lose to an old man your patronage will end and what will become of you?” But Maskeen did not hear this, all he could think about was meeting Guru Nanak. 

So it happened that after a few moves Maskeen fell to the ground with a thump and as planned the old man put his foot on his chest and claimed the prize. 

There was pandemonium, there was a riot, the proud Nawab was humiliated and disowned his wrestler. Maskeens reputation was ruined, he knew that he would be turned out of his house. His family were even more livid, when they heard what had happened they planned to do away with him. They hastily dug a trench under his munja and stuck in spikes and covered the whole thing with large palm leaves, they planned to murder him and then plea with the Nawab to let them stay at the house. 

As Maskeen finally got away from the crowd he could not find Chundawadi in all the commotion and wondered home. His favourite daughter met him on route. She had seen what was happening and told her father. But Maskeen was a broken man, he did not care what happened to him, he shuffled to his house and went straight to the munja and lay on it fully expecting the whole thing to collapse into the hole underneath, but nothing happened. His little daughter ran to him and peered underneath “Papa, I can see a man in robes holding up your munja” she shouted. He knew, he just knew. Maskeen jumped off the bed and before he knew it Guru Nanak Dev Ji stood before him. He fell to his knees placing his head on Guru Jis feet. Guru Ji sat him down. “Oh Maskeen, you were willing to lose everything for me, I am now here for you” 

Guru Sahib Ji blessed him and said that he would be remembered for always. 

Fifth saroop, Guru Arjan Dev Ji adds Maskeens name to the 15th Sloke in Sukhmani Sahib Ji – “ Sukhi vasay Maskeenia aap nivaar tallay, wudday wuddy hunkarian Nanak garab gallay. 

Elisabeth Meru - The Journey Home

June 13, 2012 by Guruka Singh - Elisabeth Meru 

Posted ImageElisabeth Meru is a very unique individual. She was born in Hamburg, Germany and now lives in Munich. She has written short stories, journalistic pieces and poetry for radio stations and several newspapers and journals.
The Guru's miracle manifested in her life after 24 years spent searching for God when she visited the Gurdwara in Munich, Germany for the first time and first heard Gurbani Kirtan. 
In this moment she knew: "I'm coming home."

Years of listening and seva followed. She converted to Sikhism (after 7 years) and in collaboration with other Sikhs, wrote her first book about this religion.
Elisabeth Meru taught herself Gurmukhi. She also has a knowledge of writing, reading and talking Hindi.

The book "From the Heart of Sikhism - Guru Nanak Dev Ji - In your quiet rose garden" was written by Elisabeth Meru for Guru Nanak Dev Ji's 540th birthday. This book contains legends about the ten Gurus, their wisdom and teachings as well her own poems, fables and a fairytale in German style.

For her book "Sikhs und Sikhismus, Religion, Riten und der Goldene Tempel" ("Sikhs and Sikhism. Religion, rites and the Golden Temple", 2006) she worked together with other Sikhs living in Germany.

On November 13, 2009, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, in Amritsar, Punjab, India, bestowed the Siropa on Elisabeth Meru in recognition of her work and her service to Sikhism.

In her own words....
The Rainbow Road 
During my long search (24 years) for GOD I found Sikhism by myself, just as I adopted the Salvar Kamiz, my favourite clothes even when I am in Germany, without anyone influencing me. When I became a vegetarian more than twenty years ago, Indian cuisine was the logical thing to turn to. Among my favourite dishes are Mattar Caval, Makkhan Parantha and Alu Parantha. As I absolutely love sweet foods, my favourites, apart from German chocolate, are Jalebi, Kheer, Kulfi and a sort of small yellowish globules, whose name I keep forgetting.

Once I turned to Sikhism, I regularly went to the Gurdwara. There I met a Sikh and we married. I taught him German and built a new life for him. Without either of us being aware of it, his immense knowledge made him my teacher in all things related to Sikhism, and I introduced much of what I learned from him into my first book, "Sikhs and Sikhism, Religion, Rites and the Golden Temple." But before I could write this book, almost seven years passed also with Seva. While I was still working on the book together with other Sikhs, my husband left me. Fortune will run its course, but I kept part of my Sikh-family in the Punjab and still have a home there. After I had finished my book, I parted ways with the Sikhs.

I was on my own after that, but my heart kept crying steadily for Guru Nanak Dev Ji – maybe this was the reason that I was allowed to write the book "From the Heart of Sikhism – Guru Nanak Dev Ji – In your quiet rose garden."

While looking for suitable illustrations I asked some Sikhs from the Sangat for help, without much success. After a long time I finally found all the pictures I wanted in the fantastic libraries of our Munich University. My book contains over thirty pages with full-colour illustrations, among them Wood and ivory mosaics in the Golden Temple, and Front Elevation of the Carved Door in Amritsar, Gates from the Punjab (17th century), flowers and birds. The oldest picture dates from 1749. Also included were many smaller illustrations.

There is no market in Germany for books on Sikhism, and there is hardly a publisher that will invest in Sikhism. Therefore my mother, a good friend and her mother bore the expenses for my small team of collaborators, for the graphic design, the printing (the German version was printed in offset) and everything else related to my book.
When my book "From the Heart of Sikhism – Guru Nanak Dev Ji – In your quiet rose garden" was published I got a wonderful flyer from my graphic designer.
Posted Image
After that, I wrote my book "Sikhism – Wellspring of Love." This book also was paid for by German friends and with the help of an unexpected amount of money, but when I turned to the Sikh Sangat with my wonderful flyer, I received a surprising amount of help. In the end, two Sikhs sponsored illustrations.

Then something incredible happened: A Sikh living in Germany had read my last two books and contacted me to offer me financial support for writing a new book on Sikhism. This book should be addressed to the young Sikh generation living in Germany who are cut off from their roots as a growing number of them speak only little Panjabi, cannot read Gurmukhi and can hardly speak enough English to be able to read good books on Sikhism. Thus I could write the book "Guru Granth Sahib Ji Essence and Sikh Terminology from A to Z", which I had already been working on but lacked the money to publish. My Sikh sponsor, who prefers to remain nameless, is not rich, and I asked him for money only for my small team and for costs related to the book, but not for myself. What could I have taken for work that lasted months? This book as well I regard as Seva.

But the positive things kept coming: As I turned for help to the Sikh Sangat, the resonance was huge and a Canadian Sikh Institute translated about 600 names and religious terms from Sikhism into Gurmukhi script, as I wanted to give all these terms correctly. This was a huge amount of work. I then prepared everything for my friend, an Indologist who is fluent in Punjabi / Gurmukhi, but cannot check her translations. I should also mention my team, among whom are another Indologist, a translator with a Ph.D. in English Literature, a linguist, a musician and some students of Indology.

But let me get back to the Sikh Sangat. I found the cover picture for "Guru Granth Sahib Ji Essence and Sikh Terminology from A to Z" via a Sikh Heritage. The important thing about this picture was that it did not pander to clich├ęs, but I left the final decision to my Sikh sponsor.

The next thing I want to work on is a book on Sikh martyrs, whose structure is already clear to me. Some of the chapters from this book have appeared here on SikhNet.