JOURNEY WITH THE GURUS, Volume 2, by Inni Kaur, Illustrated by Pardeep Singh, Edited by Manjyot Kaur. Sikh Educational and Cultural Foundation, USA, 2012. English, hardcover, color illustrations, pp 180. ISBN: 978-0-9827224-1-1.
My eight year old nephew whom I lovingly call Sher Singh has been impatiently waiting for the Volume Two of Journey with the Gurus. “Maasi is it here yet?” has been the question that I have endured every time we’ve met at family gatherings for almost two long years.
At each meeting I would share with him the progress of Volume Two. “Right now, Inni Aunty is working on discussion points of Chapter 5” or “This week all the illustrations are being correctly placed,” or “It has been printed and is on its way to the USA.”
His anticipation grew at each step.
His journey of falling in love with Guru Nanak ji started with Chapter One, nay, with the poem in Volume 1. On his birthday, we shared a story night. He along with his older brother snuggled in bed and we read the poem of Guru Nanak’s coming. He was in awe. And when he held the majestic hard bound book, in his two little hands, I knew from the spark in his eyes, that a relationship had begun.
I wasn’t sure if the book would be read to the children with the same dedication as the first night. But, my fears were unfounded. The children made sure that it was. All ten chapters of Volume One were read to them over and over, again.
Up until that time, my nephew had only a vague idea of who Guru Nanak was. But thanks to Volume One of Journey with the Gurus, Guru Nanak has become one of his closest companions.
“Will you take me to Batala?” he questioned me the other day. “Why Batala?” “Guru Nanak ji got married there,” he replied. I was stunned.
Journey with the Gurus, Volume Two, is now being read to him every night. He is so excited to read all about Guru ji’s travels.
Journey with the Gurus, Volume Two covers the life and teachings of Guru Nanak from the start to the mid of his first sojourn by the way of nine stories. These stories are inspired by Guru Nanak Chamtkar of Bhai Vir Singh. They have been lovingly retold by Inni Kaur who has been involved in educating Sikh children for decades.
A map at the beginning of the book marked with important places covered in the stories helps visualize Guru ji’s travel at the global context. Little fingers can easily follow the route that Guru ji took centuries ago. Fifty-five beautiful original illustrations in rich, vibrant colors make the stories come alive.
One feels like one is traveling with Guru ji. Whether it is celebrating Guru ji’s homecoming in Talwandi or saying good-bye standing with the sangat in Saidpur or Haridwar. One can also easily identify with Pir Khan, a good man who forgot his virtues when he became powerful or with Bhai Lalo whose joy knew no bounds when Guru ji embraced him.
And, at times one becomes a traveler.Walking the pathways that Guruji and Bhai Mardana traversed – enchanted by the flora and fauna that adorns the landscape, resting under the starry nights full of music and magic. My toddler daughter often comes to this book not only to marvel her “Baba Nanak” but also to see the parrots, rhinos and peacocks.
Each story is woven in an easy to understand language – the dialogue between the subjects captures the imagination of young minds and permeates them with Gurmat concepts in a non-preachy way. For example, when Mata Tripta ji asks, “Will you stay with us for a while?” Guru ji replies, “I am here with you now.” In the story of Sajjan’s transformation, when, Mardana wonders why Guru ji bothered to risk their lives in order to make a good man out of Sajjan, Guru ji replies: “Mardana, do you think it is important to change a dirty, smelling pond into a clean water spring?”
The dialogues between Guru ji and Mardana remind me of loving conversations between a father and his child. Life-lessons are being imparted in a loving manner.
Because this book is dialogue oriented, it helps in transporting the children to the time and space of Guru Nanak. Each chapter ends with discussion questions. These questions provide a framework for meaningful conversations. They help in connecting the dots from the past to the present. The children can relate Sikhi to their everyday life.
The book includes an extensive glossary of all native terms that children may be unfamiliar with. It ends with a lovely poem written by Bhai Vir Singh which is translated by the author. This translated poem is sung by Jamel Kaur(daughter of Dya Singh of Australia) and her group. The song can be downloaded from www.journeywiththegurus.com.
This hard-cover book is printed on heavy museum quality paper and has been designed to be passed from generation to generations. These volumes are irreplaceable, and are a timeless addition to our homes, history and our psyche. They are perfect for a Sikh family’s evening activity or to be read at bed-time. They are a great fit for Sunday Gurmat schools as well. They make ideal gifts for the children’s elementary school libraries on the occasion of Gur Purabs or Vaisakhi day celebrations. In fact, I believe every Public library in the United States should have these books.
Where Inni Kaur’s retold stories are the soul, the illustrations by Pardeep Singh are the heart of this charming series. Perfected by Manjyot Kaur’s editing, this team has created nothing short of magic.
To read a chapter and download songs, please visit www.journeywiththegurus.com