Breaking Barriers – Harpreet Kaur - Sikh Research Institute

Breaking Barriers – Harpreet Kaur

Breaking Barriers


Fear and Confusion exists

Questioning am I ready?

Who will be able to teach me?


It’s hard to read

I can’t comprehend

How will I break these mental barriers?


Questioning, questioning my intentions.

Something IS definitely stirring

Eliciting a need, a desire, a calling.


Sssh! says the voices

The mind will never comprehend

Answer the call

within the heart.


Now Trust!


The emergence of Ang-Sang Vahiguru has surfaced,

Awaiting to immerse the blossoming heart.



This poem captures the state of my wavering mind leading up to Sidak 2018. Despite making the decision to pursue the track Gurbani 101, I was nervous and truly questioning whether I would be able to break through the barriers of self-doubt. In her opening speech, Inni Kaur reflected that the very purpose of Sidak was to support us to connect with Guru - Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Hearing this soothed my mind as I knew I was going to be supported to begin this journey. 

In the early days of Gurbani 101, led by our facilitators Surender Pal Singh and Jaspreet Kaur, we reflected on our understanding of the evolvement of Sabad Guru. We studied the contributions by the various Gurus and learnt how the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was structured to enable us to read Bani. We met the challenge of learning to correctly pronounce Gurbani. This was one of my biggest challenges, thinking I had learnt to read and was fluent, learning instead that there was an intentional reason why Gurbani was written and structured in a way for recitation. This insight did however add further doubt to my wavering mind. How I was ever going to get to understand the Guru’s message if I was still struggling to read correctly?

The emphasis on experiential learning in Darbar encouraged Sidakers to not only listen but recite and begin to interpret the meaning of Sabad-Guru and relate it to our everyday life. So, I was reminded that once again I had to bow my head and connect from my heart to be able to hear, feel and connect with the Guru’s Hukam. As we were invited to participate in diwan, I asked Surender Pal Singh to show me how I could respectfully take the Guru’s Hukam for the sangat. The devotion of my facilitator to support me to connect with the Guru, enabled me to surrender the fear I had about ‘reading correctly’ to sharing the Guru’s message with the sangat.

As we progressed in our track, one day for homework I found myself transcribing and attempting to translate a Sabad. In this few short days, we had learnt the importance of understanding the ‘context’ plus developing a common vocabulary of words used in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I was able to rely on appropriate resources, to help me look up words I didn’t know the meaning of, but also know the limitations of the resources I was using. This development in my learning was accorded to a workshop we had that was led by Harinder Singh that enabled us to understand the different perspectives of translators and how we needed to be mindful of this when choosing resources to help us with our translation. Most of all I was learning, that translating Gurbani did require a commitment and dedication to ‘learn the language’ and to be able to decipher the metaphors our Gurus used to describe their relationship with the Divine.

Further workshops led by Gurpreet Kaur and Jaspreet Kaur enabled us to learn the common terms that the Divine was referred to and how metaphors such as the ‘soul-bride’ and her relationship with the Beloved is contextualised within the ‘Lavan’ to describe a yearning to merge with the Divine. The understanding that was slowly ‘becoming’ was relating to my own journey – a desire, a calling to relate to the Guru’s message.  I began to ‘trust’ the unfolding of Gurbani now that was surfacing at a pace that I could slowly relate to.

My favourite workshop throughout Gurbani 101, was a workshop led by Inni Kaur where she encouraged us to write our own poetry to realise how the ‘written word’ is an active dialogue with the Divine. As we each shared our poems with our fellow Sidakers, I was reminded about the important role that sangat plays in promoting our self-growth, to be able to illuminate our individual self-doubts and to relate to the Guru’s message with our universal consciousness.

Ultimately, I learnt through my experience in diwan and in participating in Gurbani 101 track, at Sidak 2018 that connecting with Sabad Guru, involves a loving heart. The kind of love that permeates the heart through forging a connection with the Guru. The kind of heart which by taking affirmative action, to not only show up at Sidak but with the desire to learn, allows the messages to unfold at their own pace. The engagement with Gurbani 101 track has therefore actually sparked ‘the emergence of Ang-Sang Vahiguru’- which continually awaits to immerse the blossoming heart.’


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