Friday, September 14, 2012

Learning from a Sikh

Taking a moment for tolerance, a hundred or so students and professors at California State Northridge listened to a lecture on "Who are the Silks, and why are they being targeted?"

Dr. Gurinder Singh Mann, professor at UC Santa Barbara, spoke with spectacular photos and maps from Sikh history.

What I learned: Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, though its home is in the Punjab area now dividied between Pakistan and India.  (It's not part of Hinduism.)

It's the world's 5th largest religious group (25 million people) and began around five hundred years ago. 

Its three central beliefs are:
--divine immanence  (God present in all beings and all bits of creation)
--humans making a social commitment
--humans living in purity.

Also interesting: the current Prime Minister of India and the Commander in Chief of the Indian Army are both Sikhs, though this group is a small minority in India. 

I was moved by the gentle voice and presence of Dr. Mann. He's the opposite of macho.

In fact, I felt that meeting him was probably like meeting Mahatma Gandhi, if I had ever had the opportunity to do that.

A gentle man. 

In a week when religious hatred and violence dominates the news, I'm grateful for an interlude of peace and unity in listening to the voice of history. 

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