A creative journey into Sikhi The arts provide an opportunity to express the mind’s inner longing and life in it’s true form in a visual platform which can be shared. My art work as a student and currently reflect the stages of my own growth both spiritually and evolutionally of thought process throughout life. My […]
A creative journey into Sikhi
The arts provide an opportunity to express the mind’s inner longing and life in it’s true form in a visual platform which can be shared. My art work as a student and currently reflect the stages of my own growth both spiritually and evolutionally of thought process throughout life. My art begins with sketches of family and then ends with working with sangat working together to magnify the glory of our living Guru Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This evolution of spiritual growth is personal and reflected in my art.
One of my very first sketch was of my older four sisters when I was 15 years old. I drew this sketch when they all got married and left me alone. They had cared for me and helped to bring me up. We all had a very close and cosy relationship. The picture below of my sisters, is more of a reminder of them being together with me. It was my little creation as a child of the four women who shaped my future in many ways.
Studying the Arts
I loved studying the arts, the beauty of the written word. I moved to sixth form college and met new friends and went to a new school. Amongst the mayhem of college, for me poetry provided an expression of truth that was lacking everywhere. I began my longing and search for truth in poetry. I came across the ‘Jap Ji’ when I read the ‘Jap Ji’ by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. I was overwhelmed by it’s beauty, power and simple expressions of containing universal truth.
Thus began my journey into Sikhi. I drew a painting of Guru Nanak Dev Ji when I was 18 years old. The painting was from Shohba Singh’s painting it was for me a pillar of strength and connection with the universal truth. It provided me with the strength to deal with challenges of life. University friendships were easy and simple and still exist in the form of strong bondage that can never be broken.
Life Takes Over
I got married, had a family, worked hard in my career in high profile roles. There came a time when I was working hard, running a family and had no time for myself, years had a gone by and I was nothing more than a machine . I felt the need to connect once more with the universe. I took a break of 4 weeks to learn yoga in New Mexico. I felt all my being had been cleansed. I experienced amazing beauty in the desert, my eyes where opened to the real world. I was not just another clog wheeling the system of contradictory ideologies. I had the opportunity to be separate from this and teach people how to be more relaxed . Never had I been in this position before and I liked myself far more. In New Mexico it was the first time I had experienced doing Jap Ji at Amrit Vela. The first time I saw the beauty of the night time stars, the brilliance array of stars in the clear skies is one of the most beautiful experiences ever. The creator creating the most beautiful scenery in existence. Guru Nank Dev ji in ‘Kirtan Sohila’ cites the entire universe including the stars as working in harmony in the praise of its creator.
‘The sky is the salver; the sun and the moon the lamps; the stars, with their orbs, are the studded pearls’
Coming back I cared for newborn, dying relative and young son and was made redundant. When existing doors close, others open, I began stone carving.
Stone Carving Yoga Poses.
While my son was a toddler I started carving in stone, each strive with the hammer released all my emotions and made me calmer, it was very thearuptic. I hammered and hammered away for years, slowly creating my yoga poses that will last a lifetime.
However, I was to discover the the hammered into nature was not always what nature wanted. Sometime nature is its own beauty. A yoga student wanted me to carve into volcanic glass a relief of a peacock. However, she could not find the stone, eventually she found the stone, it seemed the stone was hiding. The volcanic glass would have need heavy machinery to cut into the glass as volcanic glass is often used to cut other heavy materials including diamonds. I struggled to cut it, but felt the stone looked more beautiful just as it was, with natural erosions carved into it’s being to show it timeless beauty. The dust of the stone had settled into my lungs and made it difficult for me to breathe. My nurse promptly gave me cocktail of drugs which made me worse. I was not hospitalised but did go to the hospital. The whole time I was totally calm and collective and was dismissed almost dismissed as ‘worried well’ patient. Until they did the tests, it took me a while to recover and when I recovered I thrived. I was fitter and healthier than I had ever been in my life.
I wanted to help others as I knew I was not alone, I was one of the lucky ones that had escaped death, I realised 3 people a day die unnecessarily. I escaped purely because I was totally calm and collective throughout the whole process. I setup breathing courses and compiled an audio to help people breath better.
My calmness was due to my increased prayers and voluntary work I was doing. I was involved in setting up a new Sikh complex, I helped primarily in the kitchens and listened to prayers. It was through this simple process and with a sangat the revered the Guru Granth Sahib has our living Guru that I too saw that our living Guru Sri Guru Granth Sahib was the supreme light on earth. I felt inspired to carve God’s name in stone.
Creativity with the Sangat
In addition to this I was active with the sangat and worked with ladies to help them flower arrange in temples. I taught many women flower arranging. However, as an art and art as an reflection of reality of my experience. I felt compelled to share that in this world the creator existed in the words of Guru Granth Sahib. The creator as a healing force as an embodiment of light. The words Guru Ka Shabad Rattan He Heera Ji Jaaro’. This means that Gurus words are like jewels and one should wear them like diamonds. One can create an illusion of beauty with make-up and stone diamonds, but the real beauty within you is one you connect with Gurus shabad and allow the diamond within you to shine. After this there is no need ever to wear artificial jewels because there is no comparison. When I took Amrit I was told sternly never to wear jewellery, I was upset because although I never too interested in jewellery I did enjoy looking at it. But I came to the realisation that the jewels of Guru’s shabad are far greater than any diamonds. They shine with beauty bringing constant joy and happiness with them because within them they contain the creator. This is why we treat the Sri Guru
Granth Sahib as a living Guru.
I felt inspired to create and share that experience. With the sangat, a group of ladies devoted to cleaning and cooking in the Gurdwara, we worked together to design brightly and with tiny little diamonds the words ‘Guru Ka Shabad Rattan Ja Heera Ji Jaaro’ onto glass so that the sangat could see the beauty and jewels of Guru’s Shabad. Some of the diamonds were falling apart and with the help of Ilford Building Supplies, I have been able to redo the glass design this time using stain glass paint that shines even more than tiny diamonds. The glass design could not have been undertaken without the support of Ilford Building supplies who brought the materials, with the ladies of the sangat and the men who agreed to put up the glass design. It was a collective effort in joining and recognising the light in Gurbani. If the Gurdwara is my true home then the sangat is my family who have supported me in the evolution of experience to understand simple Sikh concepts as a reality of being.
The actual glass design is very big and above the Guru Granth Sahib. The new glass is still waiting to be installed into the building.
Sikh art in the community.
I was described as a ‘nobody’ by a Sikh art historian. However a ‘nobody’ can still grasp firmly on the hems of a greater force and claim that they have every right to a freedom of expression to create on a visual form the spiritual experience. Now I view the title of ‘nobody’ as a compliment because when you are a nobody you are also everybody and do not have a label. A nobody can absorb all the forces and become everybody and a nobody at the same time. Just as the carving of the soapstone in mediation.
Another Sikh stone carver refused to work with the Sikh community. He described them as having the ‘mentality of football hooligans’. This may be due to the fact that largely the Sikh community came from farming backgrounds and when subsistence living and survival takes priority, art was a distraction to survival, therefore to be avoided. In addition to this creative expression deviate from the norm and creates its own beauty. In a regimental Sikh conservative culture, art is viewed with caution, because it represents deviation and all deviates are usually violently opposed, until they are finally accepted. However, with growing middle classes and the innate need to connect with a higher truth, young professionals are more open and appreciative of art. While doing all the art work and painting I have been 100% self-financed with no support from anyone, other than my partner who pays for my living expenses. I have not sold any of my art work other than the stone peacock. The support needed to continue ends, for me it is my personal journey and the experience priceless. The joy and pleasure in expressing my spirituality in art has been a privilege.
The journey ends
The journey pauses and ends. I seek no more longing for the universal truth, when I find it in the waves of the sea, the waves do not go up in isolation but in harmony with others, and everything that goes up will come down with in harmony with the other waves. My journey has been a lonely one, as many doors shut on my face I dwell further into seeking solace from the creator. Yoga now consists only of connecting with the wind as it brushes past. The journey of seeking ends with the realization that out of all the places my peace is only in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. There is no more seeking, the expression has unfolded and ends in the written words of Gurbani which is the creator of nature and life itself.
~ By Gurmit Kaur
~ Source: Sikhnet.com