Call of the Gurdwara...

November í97

Let me introduce myself. I am a thirty-one year old Australian computer support officer with a keen interest in Indian culture and history. I have been employed by TAFE for some eight years now, and love the varied nature of work in an educational institution. In March / April Ď96 I made my first trip overseas and to India. In July / August / September '97 I returned to follow up my interests in religion and to see some good friends.

I grew up steeped in the traditions of the Christian Church of England. In my teenage years I began to question my faith and entered into the Baptist Church of Australia. In the past fifteen years I have moved even further from my religious roots and have spent time in a personal quest into the religions of the world. My views have been shaped not so much by learned works or great books, but by people that have taken the time to speak with me. Although I must admit that I enjoy reading Khushwant Singh.

Over the years I have gained something of a grasp of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Norse, Shinto and Sikh, religions. Of all these, I have heard the words of the Guru most clearly in my heart.

My second journey to the sub-continent took me through Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. I visited sites of Sikh and Buddhist importance. Aside from the Central Gurdwara in Singapore, I spent some time in the Gurdwaras of Bidar, Nanded, Patna, Amritsar, and Lahore.

In all of my travels I found the Singapore Sikh community to be the most welcoming. Truly warm and caring. Educated, questioning, and open. The feeling in the Central Gurdwara is one I have only felt once before, in a Christian church. I felt that this was a house of god, and that he was dwelling within.

I was most pleased to see that the Singapore Sikh community has an active youth, something lacking in other Sikh communities. I donít wish to jump up on a soapbox, but the future is in the hands of the young. Equally important in these uncertain days is technology. As a computer support officer, I understand the difficulties this poses. The efforts and outstanding results that have been made in the Central Gurdwara are fantastic. CyberSikh is a forum that is a real joy to be a part of.

While visiting Amritsar, I had Punjabi Sikhs comment on the high quality of The Sewak and the varied activities of the youth wing.

The matter of ritual comes up in all religions. I feel that some ritual, in the form of traditions and valuable teachings, is required. Excessive ritual is useless and distracts one from the goals that are really important. Religion should help us come to know ourselves and support others on the life journey.

I have one saying that has held true for me, and it is this, with thanks to Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

So many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind. When just the art of being kind is all that the sad world needs.

Special thanks must go to Nirmal and Gursewak in Australia, Jasmail and Prabhjit in Singapore, and Khushwant Singh in print.

Phil Wild Wombat Gray.