If my journey through the volumes of Gurbāni Sangeet is a road trip from sri rāg to rāg jaijāwanti, then I have taken a month-long detour along a side road that took me to India and London where I met other kirtan travelers and hopefully picked up some more tools during the kirtan retreat at the Qila in Sultanpur Lodhi that will be useful for the travels.
Back home, back to the rest of the family, back to day-to-day routines, back to work, it’s also good to be back in my little room, to enjoy time alone, to resume a regular practice and to get back on the road where I left off with rag āsā. I’m realizing that it is a winding road, a circular path, and revisiting the songs, new ones and those previously learned, enriches the journey. A straight path is simple, predictable and saves time, but the twists and turns of a non-linear route have an irresistible appeal. The self-imposed time-line may be more like a spiral and we will see how it fits inside a one year cycle.
This weekend we took another little side trip and hosted a one-day camp for Sikh children in Tucson, sharing with them the legacy of the Gurus, the Sikh martyrs, the institutions and traditions remembered every day in Ardās. While the children met with their guides, we had a conversation with the parents. What was life like for the great souls we remember? What was the state of prayer for them? How do ordinary people come to do extraordinary things? How does a conquered people remain undefeated? How do we achieve the inner victory? How have the Sikhs maintained cherdi kalā even while remembering unbearable atrocities? What are the modern-day challenges to the spirit of the sarbat khālsā? We pray for victory and we pray that our memory, traditions and institutions will prevail for all time. What have we already forgotten? What has already been lost? What will we give the next generation to carry forward?