Chardi Kala, the art of living in High Spirits

One of the central teachings in Sikhism, that in my mind signifies a really deep philosophy in just one word,  Chardi Kala which literally translated means “high spirits”. Our daily prayer ends with Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, teraa bhane sarbat da bhala. “Nanak, with Naam comes Chardi Kala and with your blessings, peace for everyone”.  Sikhs consider Chardi Kala as the central attitude on how one should live their life. Chardi Kala, also meaning “the positive attitude” is an equivalence of a mind that never despairs, never admits defeat and refuses to be crushed by adversities. In Punjab and among some Sikhs in particular, if someone greets a person asking how they were doing the usual reply is “Chardi Kala wich hainji” or “In High Spirits of the Lord”.  All our Gurus repeatedly emphasized in their teaching, poems, songs and lectures that one should always work towards Chardi Kala, be joyous and playful mood even in the time of adversity and despair. At some level we had to, there was no other way as history kept giving the Sikh people a lemon and we had to remember to always make a lemonade out of it. It translates into our language, culture, music and dance. We are known for our upbeat Bhangra music world over and it is really popular in Bollywood movies. Have you ever observed children, how care-free they are? Regardless of whatever happens, they are mostly always joyful, mischievous and happy. Even if they fall down and get hurt they may cry about it a little but then quickly forget it and move on with life. There is very little despair and brooding over the past as they are always looking for the next game or experience.

Our Gurus encourage us to be like children and remember always that we are all children in the metaphorical eyes of the divine, the one Universe. It is not just the Sikh Gurus but Masters or varied faiths and philosophies talk about it. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.“. Osho says that the first thing we should all do in our lives is to learn how to live joyfully. In his Meditation Centers, people even have mandatory dancing classes! Swami Rama says, “Never get sad. Be happy and take care of your happiness. Jump in joy without worrying for the future. Why remain serious?”  Rumi has the following beautiful poem on it:

Come, come whoever you are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if your vow a thousand times.
Come, Come yet again. Come.
Be Happy. Don't Worry.
Be Happy. Don’t Worry.

I was watching a video on Ted.com on the Hidden Influence of Social Networks,  while they mean real Social Networks however it can easily be applied to how people interact online on Facebook. Nicholas Christakis presents the chart below that is really enlightening as it reaffirms what we have sometimes felt. The dots on the chart stand for people and with the yellows being happy people, greens being the not so happy ones and blues are those who are well, blue.  The interesting thing is that happy people are usually found in groups, who are then surrounded by their not so happy friends and family who are in turn connecting with the people who are sad or gloomy in life. So it confirms that we have a profound impact on our fellow human beings and their attitude towards life. We, each one of has the power and energy to affect each and every other living thing on this planet!

Happiness Clusters. Yellow is Happy.
Happiness Clusters. Yellow is Happy.

Now we can try to just surround ourselves with just happy people, but I fell that each one of us gets sad and gloomy at some point in our lives. Even if few of us make the effort and say that no matter what comes my way or how I’m treated by others, I would strive to spread love, bliss and joyful thoughts and words to everyone we can make things better for everyone around us. Yes, there are times when as adults we have to worry about issues and problems but let’s try to shake it off sooner than later and not be gloomy for too long, not brood over the past and worry about the future. At the same time lets find compassion for each and everyone one that we come in contact with and help them in whichever way possible. I would like to sign off with one of my favorite songs:

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