oung minds starting to walk the path of Sikhi often ask questions about whether a Sikh should go to bars or clubs even if they do not drink. Is it fine to wear a turban and go to such places? Bhai Jagraj Singh Ji shares some personal experiences while answering this question.
Reflect before you Act
The first question you must ask yourself is if you actually want to go or if you go because you feel obligated. Sometimes, you get this sound of guilt-tripping from friends, "Oh, you're better than me now. You became more religious and spiritual. You can't go with me to a pub and drink as we did before. You changed!" If they say something of this sort, then I would say, "Okay. I'll come with you to the bar tonight and then tomorrow you come with me to the Gurdwara and meditate for an hour or two." Then they'll be like "You know what? Forget it!". We get obligated to do what they want us to do, but we don’t make them do what we want.
You are Different for a Reason!
Looking different helps us to stay different because if we look like everybody else, we might start doing what everybody else is doing. Through our appearance, Guru Sahib reminds us that we're different, we've chosen a different path: a spiritual life. So let’s have the courage to stand out. When you see yourself looking different in the mirror, it reminds you of what you chose for yourself at your highest level of consciousness. But when you go into a bar and you sit there, your consciousness will most likely drop. Whether we like it or not, it is going to drop. By seeing other people drinking alcohol and doing silly things, like swearing, we might start swearing or start looking at women in the wrong way. The lust comes in because we're in that environment.
Guru Sahib Ji gave us this appearance because they knew that we will feel weak. We will go back to the world of Maya (Illusion) and forget the path of purity. The Sikhi appearance is designed to help us.
Be Aware of Your Company
Guru Ji asks us to be careful of bad Sangat (Company) and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Guru Ji says that if you pick up a pot full of soot, at some point you're bound to get some marks on your clothes as well. Similarly, you're bound to absorb something from the environment you stay in. If you have just started to walk this path of spirituality, falling off is really easy. Like a little seed which is growing, rain can come, and a horse can come and step on it. So many things can happen to a little sapling. But when it becomes a big tree, giving us shade and fruit, not much can happen to it. You could even kick it, hit it, a storm can come but it survives. Guru Ji is trying to get us to that level.
When you sit in a bar or a club, you would never feel like you are having a great conversation with your friends, because the conversation can go on to topics where you might feel excluded. If you're sitting with your friends, they might be drinking or they might be having just a normal conversation with you and socializing, it's all fine. But then the conversation can go the wrong way. You stand there, and you're thinking- “This is not for me. I don't want to talk about women or about some of this stuff they're talking about.” You might find yourself uncomfortable. Instead, you can ask them to just go for a coffee together, go for a walk or go somewhere else because you are going to have a much more meaningful discourse then, than after that first beer. When you're in a crowd, the conversations are different from when you're by yourself with people. So, you have to make your own decision about that.
Through this form, we represent the Guru. And what we do, doesn't just reflect upon us but it affects the whole community. If we do something great, for example, a guy in Australia used his turban to save a kid knocked over by a car. You might be like Balpreet Kaur, who was criticized so heavily about having facial hair and she just responded with a nice courteous message. It became so big that she ended up getting the Huffington post's Religious Person of the Year award for responding to somebody politely, who criticized her and made fun of her on Social Media. With this form, if you do something great, you won't just bring honour to yourself, you bring honour to the whole Sikh community. But if you do something wrong, then you bring dishonour upon a bigger community as well. This is the power of this form.
The Final Call
In the end, you have to make your own mind up about these things. According to the Sikh teachings, especially if someone is Amritdhari (initiated Sikh), then they have a bigger responsibility to uphold the Guru's traditions because now they're part of the Guru's own body. In that sense, we would say to an Amritdhari (Initiated Sikh) that he shouldn't be in a Guru's form, especially wearing the Baana, and going to such places. We have a lot of respect for the Baana, so we don't go into places like that wearing the Baana. You have to make your mind up about these things and your mind will change over time as well. Be open to that. A lot of people shut down their intuition, a little voice inside you that says something and we ignore it thinking "I don't want to be fanatical, I don't want to be hardcore, I shouldn't listen to that." But actually, that's a higher consciousness speaking, we should listen to it to become stronger.