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If you’re the lucky winner of the iPod through the Idea Contest, you can try upgrading to an iTouch so that you can load it up with iSikhi, a Gurbani search application!

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iSikhi allows you to search the Guru Granth Sahib and view shabads line by line with English translations, much like sikhitothemax. It would be nice if one could quickly look up the Panj Banis though. I’ve also had some trouble with the search function, but maybe that’s because my Gurmukhi needs some tuning up. I’m incredibly happy with the availability of the product and look forward to updates and new features! You can find the download on their home page here.

The Sikh Spirit Foundation is hosting an Idea Contest for brainstormers and reformers! A well thought out two paragraphs on how to improve Sikh education or our gurdwaras may win you an iPod, start the breakdown of unhealthy groupthink, and propel our community towards exciting directions.

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Maybe I should submit my The Most Fabulous Gurudwara Ever Would list!

More about Sikh Spirit Foundation: it serves to promote Sikh values through education and support innovative projects and organizations in various areas of Sikh community development. Current grantees include Ensaaf, Sikhnet, Sikh Coalition, and Sikh Research Institute. Interested in submitting a proposal? The first cycle opens on April 20, 2009. Check out their website for more details.

Before a beaded string of musical melodies lies a riddle. This riddle, composed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, provides much clarity and purpose when revealed.

Mundavani, one of the final hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib, is sometimes translated as “riddle.” It precedes Raagmala, “the beaded string of musical melodies.” Mundavani is also described as Guru Ji’s “closing seal” of the Guru Granth Sahib as this composition served to authenticate and preclude any apocryphal additions to the bani (sikhiwiki.org). Like most of you, I have been in touch with these six lines since I was a wee little Sikh. And yet for years I only listened. It was only recently that the riddle of light shined within my mind, heart and spirit.

ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
Mundavani, Fifth Mehl:

ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ
Upon this Plate, three things have been placed: Truth, Contentment and Contemplation.

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥
The Ambrosial Nectar of the Naam, the Name of our Lord and Master, has been placed upon it as well; it is the Support of all.

ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥
One who eats it and enjoys it shall be saved.

ਏਹ ਵਸਤੁ ਤਜੀ ਨਹ ਜਾਈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਰਖੁ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰੋ ॥
This thing can never be forsaken; keep this always and forever in your mind.

ਤਮ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਚਰਨ ਲਗਿ ਤਰੀਐ ਸਭੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪਸਾਰੋ ॥੧॥
The dark world-ocean is crossed over, by grasping the Feet of the Lord; O Nanak, it is all the extension of God. ||1||

The ਥਾਲ or plate that nourishes us consists of three items: ਸਤੁ or truth or Naam, ਸੰਤੋਖੁ or contentment, ਵੀਚਾਰੋ or contemplation. The three items can be found in the plate of Gurbani. Mindful thinking and critical analysis of His creation and wonder sustains our being. This food for our soul must not just be eaten; let us savor them and allow our palates to absorb each of its distinct flavors.

Naam is an essential ingredient of this plate because it is through Naam that the items are uncovered. The riddle is only unraveled through understanding of the bani and with Waheguru’s kirpa. Once the riddle is grasped it should never be ignored. Rather, it should be enshrined in our heart at all times. Through our devotion and love for Waheguru we are given the strength and fortitude to to swim across the dark world ocean, the sea of fear and ignorance, and the sea of endless cycles of birth and death.

May we always remember the origin and key to this riddle. May I always remain humble when I reflect on this revealed knowledge. May I always be grateful to those who have taught me these lessons. May we swim through our personal obstacles and hurdles with Waheguru’s guidance. May we swim together through the dark sea of hate and intolerance as an enlightened sangat and panth in tune with the melody of the shabad.

You can hear more of Manpreet Singh here. Even better: listen to his entire album “Take It All.”

Open the Boston Globe today and you’ll see an article highlighting the attempts of various immigrant communities to maintain and preserve ties to their traditions and cultures. The Sikh and Indian generational experience is exemplified through little Sufi Kaur’s growing connection with the shabad and her interest in playing the harmonium under her mother’s instruction.

In Acton, a 7-year-old Sikh girl, accompanying herself on a harmonium under the direction of her mother, sings a hymn to the lord of light in the Punjabi language… With gentle encouragement from her mother, Sufi plays the harmonium, pumping with one hand and pressing the keyboard with the other, as she sings a Sikh devotional song.

Most of us are familiar with the harmonium and tabla, and teachers of the two instruments can be found nearly everywhere. The rubab, saranda, taus, saranda, sitar, and dilruba are also beautiful musical instruments through which the shabad comes alive. However, they are exceedingly rare to hear and appreciate as its musicians (and subsequently its teachers) are sadly few and far between.

Some are being taught arts common in their homes; others are learning skills that their parents never had a chance to study. Some youngsters are pushed by their parents; others have pushed their parents into finding teachers and classes for them.

Can we ensure that our language, music, and culture will survive the pressures of globalization and assimilation? Is it possible for “the ancient and the modern [to] blend seamlessly into a uniquely American lifestyle?” As long as we continue as individuals and a community to view this as our obligation to future generations, share our historical and spiritual knowledge with each other, and dedicate resources to doing so, I believe it is.