His staunch stature, echoing voice, and busy schedule kept me distant from him.
Fearful of his strictness, I never felt comfortable with him.
I would rather piss in my pants than ask him permission to use the bathroom.
But then 1984 happened.
Those same huge hands and size 13 feet protected me from the mob on the night of November 1, 1984.
He used his sword, a gift from Guru Gobind Singh Ji, to fight off the mob.
A couple years later, we moved to the United States.
My father worked three jobs, seven days a week, to provide for the family.
He never let me work and insisted that I focus on my studies.
When I needed braces, he arranged for $1000 to pay for them, even though it was a month’s salary for him. Thus, began my real relationship with my father.
When I turned 16, he gave me a credit card to utilize judiciously, which further grew my trust in him. With this limited financial freedom and an environment which encouraged growth, I was able to explore the world outside and within.
Although I was developing my relationship with my birth father, I was not ready for the same with my Spiritual Father, Guru Gobind Singh. His strict discipline of both political and spiritual nature was not for me.
I always had excuses: no time for Path, don’t know Gurmukhi, studies are too much already, etc. Furthermore, who has time for “truthful living?”
I just wanted to live and have fun.
I excelled in academics and had “fun” during my college years. Somehow, I began to reflect on the meaning of life and what’s my role was in the world.
Turning to philosophers only led to intellectual exercises so I finally looked within.
There I found my conscience and began having a dialogue with my Spiritual Father – who taught me the Essence of Living.
Individual goals of financial and career advancement is NOT enough. One also has to contribute to community development and empowerment through eradication of suppression and discrimination while creating programs which encourage innovation, justice, and harmony.
I learned the meaning of Spirituality. It was not some outward, disconnected, physical gesture; it was and is a relationship one has with one’s surrounding.
Traveling on this path, my Spiritual Father carried me during the turbulent times of my personal and public challenges.
My Spiritual Father showed me how to prioritize. If my Spiritual Father could send his father and sons to embrace death, then I should then prepare myself to do the same for the ideals of Freedom & Justice.
As a father myself, I hope to provide a learning and nurturing environment for my children as both of my fathers have done for me.
Feeling loved on this Father’s day!
Pritpal Singh serves on SikhRI’s Board of Directors. He is a physician executive with Cigna and lives in Dallas with his family.