At the age of 12, Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught the world what the true bargain is by feeding the saints and the poor without wanting anything in return. When Guru Ji’s father sent him to do some business, Guru Ji ran into some saints that had been hungry for days and he spent the money on feeding and clothing them. Upon returning from feeding the Saints, Guru Ji’s father asked him about what business he had done. Guru Ji’s reply was that he did ‘sacha sauda’ (true business), where he feed the hungry saints. This deed of helping those without expecting anything in return is something we teach our children every time we read this Sakhi to them. But how can we expect our children to learn from this sakhi, when we haven’t? What message do we send to our children when we give saropa for every little thing, want a plague for acknowledgment and bragging rights.
Sikhs honor good deeds with presenting a Saropa to the doer of the good deed. Did Guru Nanak Dev Ji receive a Saropa or something similar for serving the poor? No, Guru Nanak Dev Ji did not receive nor expect to be honored for doing seva. At the Gurudwara Sahib while through Kirtan and Sakhis we teach our children to do selfless service, we act out a completely different scene. At almost any Gurudwara Sahib you can see people being presented Saropas for even the smallest deeds. Some Gurudwara Sahib Ji’s will present anyone a saropa if they donate enough money, pay for Akand Path Sahib to be held, or just about anything that brings money into the Gurudwara Sahib. We show our children though we preach selfish service we truly practice boosting sangat’s ego and making them selfish for praise so we can encourage them to do more good deeds.
If it was not enough to get a saropa for even the smallest of deeds, the tradition of putting up plaques have began. Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught us that everything is Waheguru Ji’s by giving free food to the poor by saying ‘tera’, ‘tera’ (yours, yours). Today when we give anything we make sure to let the world know its ours. We put up signs saying who donated what. Lists are posted of the Sikhs that donated the most at some Gurudwara Sahibs. While we preach to our children that everything is Waheguru Ji’s, we ourselves show them we only preach, not believe.
The saropa, the plaque, we use everything as bragging rights to show off our good deeds. Where has humbleness gone? After doing the Sacha Sauda had Guru Ji gone home and bragged to his father about the ‘Sacha Sauda’ he had just done? No, then why do we make sure everyone is aware of our good deeds? This need for instant gratification from the world, has killed the long run benefits for the soul. Instead of marking it as a good deed for our soul, we mark it as a good deed on our tax write off. Sacha Sauda wasn’t about bragging, it was about selfless service and that is why we need to stop making everything about us.
Gurudwara Sahibs around the world have to stop putting emphasis on the people that do the deeds and instead put the emphasis back on the deed. No more saropas unless the person really did something that he couldn’t have easily done. Like when a person overlooks his business and helps others in need instead. Saropas should only be given when the service is truly extraordinary and selfless for the person receiving the Saropa. Plaques should not be put up period, everything is Waheguru Ji’s and it should remain that way. With the Gurudwara’s preaching and showing the real sacha sauda, the bragging will disappear on its own.
May Waheguru Ji bless Sikhs to partake only in Sacha Sauda.
Authors Note: Please contact me before copying this article at firstname.lastname@example.org or sikhsangat admins.