I was wandering in the wilderness of this dark and depressing age, I was feeling alone and down and crazy at being the odd one out. Everywhere I went I felt like something was wrong. Everyone was drinking, dancing and singing their worldy song. But I am a Sikh, and that means something … although I wasn’t sure what. So many years passed like that, wandering in the wilderness, running this way and that. Then one day, one fine sunny, splendid glorious day I saw the poster for a Sikhi Camp. "Hey! That’s great" I thought. "Only 30 pounds!" I smiled as I wrote the cheque and counted the days till I’d meet young, energetic youthfull Sikhs, my long lost brothers and sisters.
We drove north to an army base near Manchester. It had been a long time since I’d seen so many young Sikhs together in one place. Their happy, smiling faces welcomed me as I stepped off the coach. There were about 150 people staying in Army dormatories. It was great to live, breathe and eat a wonderful diet of Sikhism that week. Surrounded by nature I felt at home. The green hills hugged us like a mother. We meditated twice a day in the laps of day and night. It was great to see young Sikhs serving each other, making langar, working together and washing up into the early hours of the morning. Guru Nanak Dev jee must have been smiling to see that he served the Holy Hindus as a child, and now on the other side of the world, more than 500 years later his tradition of Sharing, Meditating and Working was still being practised.
Each morning there was a short lecture followed by a healthy hour and a half for group discussions. This was great for getting everyone to talk and learning at their own speed. It was also a good way to make new friends. In the afternoons there were lots of fun activities, archery, tug-of-war, kabaadi, football and even a nature trip one day.
Guru Nanak Dev jee certainly was smiling, his grace beamed down upon everyone and he blessed the camp with the prescence of the Great and Wonderful Guru Granth Sahib Jee. Twice a day the young Sikhs, male and female would sit as sangat and sing the divine words of joy and happiness through Kirtan. It felt so wonderful surrounded by nature, you could say that the hills were truly alive with the sound of music!
Guru Granth Sahib jee teaches us that even the god Shiva searches for the one who knows the Supreme Being, “BrahmGiani Koe Kojeh Mahesar.” The one who knows God is called Brahm-Giani, and on the week of the camp Guru jee blessed us with the presence of great souls like Bhai Rama Singh jee, Bhai Jeevan Singh Jee, Sant Mani singh Jee and Baba Maan Singh Jee. These radiant flowers shining in the light of the All-Bright God, glowed like suns and moons in a dark and depressed world. They shared their fragrance, their sweet smell of Sikhi, in their own special way. Bhai Rama Singh jee stayed for the whole week and his silent ardas, his smiling face, his love and his mere prescence was inspiring to all that met and saw him. Bhai Jeevan Singh jee sung songs of love and devotion, filled with humility and grace, the whole sadh-sangat felt God inside their heart in that magical, mystical hour. Sant Mani Singh answered difficult questions very humbly and sincerely. He said that just as on a cold, grey morning the windows become frosty preventing us from seeing the world, in the same way the frost of ego covers our eyes and prevents us from seeing the All-Pervading Lord. When the raindrops fall on the window, they cut through the frost, and in a similar way when we win the Guru’s Grace our ego dissolves too. Baba Maan Singh sung kirtan and explained the sikh way of life. He said he was overjoyed at seeing so many young Sikhs following the path the Guru’s had carved out. All of these blesssed souls gave their blessings to the youth. Blessings which the whole world searches for.
Guru Nanak Dev Jee has planted the seed of the Name of Truth in this world and the tree of spirituality is growing and growing. It is still young yet, but it is spreading its canopy to give shade to all four corners of the whole world. Camps like this go a long way in helping the youth to plant the seed of Naam inside themselves by giving their head at the Guru’s lotus feet. May Guru jee always and forever guide and protect us, his ignorant and innocent children.