Seva: Sikh secrets on how to be good in the real world by Jasreen Mayal Khanna is a tiny book ( Juggernaut Books). Packs quite a punch. It delves into the heart of what it means to be a Sikh or observe “Sikhi”. The author, Jasreen Mayal Khanna, is a journalist who bore witness to the incredible work her community did during the pandemic. From the free oxygen langars to the free dialysis camps to setting up dispensaries giving free medical advice and medication to patients to distributing free food to the migrants walking home, the Sikhs have been admirable at the constructive support they have offered to the afflicted. It is a selfless service, seva, that many in the community believe in. Khanna is very aware that not everyone in their community has a tendency to do good, they too have their fair share of nasty folks. Having said that, it is obvious that they are driven by their faith to do the good that they do. It is these principles that Khanna decides to investigate. What propels Sikhs in this daily ritual? She identifies them as:
Rule #1: Help Someone Every Day
Rule #2: Embrace Joy
Rule #3: Be Brave
Rule #4: Say Thank You Daily
Rule #5: Learn to Laugh at Yourself
Rule #6: Practise Equality at Home
Rule #7:Work Harder Than You Pray*
Rule #8: Live in Chardi Kala ( “Eternal Positivity”)
Each chapter is a mix of analysis and personal anecdotes with a few interviews with prominent Sikhs. To understand how everyone balances their life and work and finds peace.
During the pandemic, hanging on to messages of hope and being offered positive ways of thinking and changing one’s life, is very welcome. It is a far cry from the positive toxicity that continues to abound on social media platforms. Self-help books like “Seva” are meant to be read, imbibed and shared. It is a philosophy of living that cuts across religious boundaries and affects every individual. To use a cliche, but it works well here, it is an uplifting book.
*This is very similar to the Protestant Work Ethic.
1 August 2021