The Sikh Way - A pilgrim’s progress

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Dr. I. J. Singh Paperback
190 pages The Centennial Foundation, Toronto
ISBN: 1-894232-09-7

As the youngest and fifth largest amongst the world religions, Sikhism has a visible presence all over the globe. The religion–inspired yet logical, practical yet mystical–incites considerable interest and attention.

This volume, a second in series of similarly thoughtful essays, tackles further issues that also impact on everyday life. As a Sikh who has lived much of his life in a non-Sikh milieu in North America, Dr I. J. Singh continues to challenge Sikhs and intrigue non-Sikhs.

Following up on the success of the earlier book, which has now undergone two editions and three printings, this volume will prove as well to be of special interest to Sikhs everywhere who are young enough to be inquisitive and questioning about their heritage. It will also serve those who seek to further understand the underpinnings of their Sikh way of life. It will be of particular value to specialists in Sikhism, world religions, comparative religion and culture, interfaith dialogue, and the Sikh diaspora.

Editorial Review ‘The Sikh Way: A Pilgrim’s Progress’, by I. J. Singh

Deshdeepak Singh Tue April 24 “A subtle yet bold foray into Sikhism through the mind of a postmodern thinker, ‘The Sikh Way’ is I. J. Singh’s second such collection of essays. He leaves little on the table within, most of the current big questions concerning Sikhism are addressed, some with brilliant success and all with an almost surgical aplomb. Ranging from commentaries on the notion of sangat in cyberspace to questions on modern bioethical issues such as abortion and cloning answered from the Sikh world-view, the author is at his best when he is most provocative and he is certainly at his most provocative when tackling the big questions.

A scientist by training yet discreetly imaginative, Dr. Singh avoids the repackaging of oft-used cultural cliché in his essays; to wit, his elaborations on the distinct nature of the Sikh world-view present fresh and often brutally honest vistas to readers accustomed to reading uniformly laudatory paeans on Sikhism by Sikh authors. Dr. Singh, moreover, avoids being overly reductive while, at the same time, accounting for the complexity that is inherent in a discussion dealing with the nature of history as it pertains to Sikhism or in a commentary on what may be learned from the idea of miri-piri in a United States led by a President who supports a greater interaction between the two.

However, I. J. Singh’s ultimate goal as a writer is not to provide answers– something that he acknowledges is often not possible–but rather to catalyze discussions that promote the use of “critical thinking” in a progressive search for answers. In such a way, even disagreement can be a step in the appropriate direction as long as “one does not become disagreeable in the process”.

Written in a prose style that is conversational yet precise, Dr. Singh’s take on Sikhism in the postmodern era is 21 movements of finely orchestrated observations that are, at once, hopeful yet honest. Faith must be married to reason; energy in the form of discussion must be constantly generated if we are to grow as a community; controversial issues must be met with critical thinking and tradition honored unless unequivocally discredited; these are some of the thoughts one is left with at the end of the last essay. The Sikh Way indeed heralds the presence of an important essayist among the Diaspora Sikhs. His music is welcomed and needed.

Writer-poet Deshdeepak Singh is currently a science major at Columbia University in New York City. Deshdeepak believes that this is the only logical option for any Sikh informed of their history and the events over the last 20 years within India.

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