Harinder Singh is the Co-founder and CEO of the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI). Singh, who believes education is a fulcrum for social change, ensures that SikhRI’s primary mission is to provide educational resources to Sikhs to lead a Guru-inspired life.
- Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in UP speaking Hindi, raised in Kansas speaking English, returned to Panjab to learn Punjabi. Currently, my residential address is in New Jersey, USA. My career was in aerodynamics; my real vocation is in human dynamics. I read books and watch movies avidly. Sikhi remains a very personal conscious choice, yet I take my public responsibility of its apt and relevant doctrinal stances little too seriously. Panjab has a very special place in my universe.
- What inspired you to co-found the Sikh Research Institute?
It seems Sikhi, like other world faith, religions, or traditions, is being hijacked by dogmas, rituals, and self-appointed zealots. Guru Nanak proclaims the biggest weapon you can carry with you is knowledge. We, at SikhRI, want to equip every Sikh who wants to be foot-soldier in Guru Nanak’s revolution with Guru’s wisdom, devoid of any hero worship or factional allegiance. Sikhs changed the destiny of South Asia, a new world is waiting to be borne in all access points of this globe. Our work is cut out!
- What would you describe as SikhRI’s biggest accomplishment?
To connect almost half a million Sikhs globally with the wisdom of Guru Granth Sahib. People who thought who had no space in Sikhi, assuring them they do because they are also full of divine potential. From board rooms to gurduaras, from creative spaces to universities, from families to organizations, SikhRI is creating safe spaces to facilitate dialogue on anything and everything, nothings is sacred or profane.
- Could you tell us how SikhRI contributes in keeping the Sikh heritage and culture alive?
By having people fall in love with Sikhi! That happens for some while they are developing a particular skill set like learning the language of Gurbani, for others while they are witnessing the powerful narrative of journey of Sikh nations from 1469 onwards. And yet for others, it is when having a dialogue on what ails Sikhs or the global community. Essentially, SikhRI is helping people connect to their roots, and become active agents of the glorious heritage, here and now. And doing it in a way that respects dignity of each person regardless of their religious observation level, and confronts gender and racial bias. After all, Sikhi is a game of love, not a spectator sport!
- Tell us about SikhRI’s educational programs. How can individuals benefit from them?
Each program is designed for a given target audience with themes, psychological development, and language relevance in broadly three areas. There’s the K-12, Parents & Teachers which includes: curriculum, lesson plans, kids interactive session, parenting workshops, teacher’s trainings; Adults Services include a leadership program, on-demand presentations, courses, trainings, webinars, consultancies, guest lectures and appearances.
We also provide books, primers, archives and articles. The work is to provide educational options for self-development, and as a by-product, community development based on the Gurmat (Guru’s Wisdom). It will propel a paradigm shift!
- Your digital library project has been hailed as a global success. Could you tell us more about it?
The mission of the Panjab Digital Library (PDL) is to locate, digitize, preserve, collect and make accessible the accumulated wisdom of the Panjab region, without distinction as to script, language, religion, nationality, or other physical condition. PDL is dedicated to:
addressing heritage loss due to environment, ignorance and destruction; saving invaluable treasures to enrich the present and enlighten the future; and connecting people globally by providing continued free online access. It is already the world’s largest online repository on Panjab, with more than 11 million pages digitized from over 100 collections.
- What project is the Sikh Research Institute currently working on?
Sidak: 2-week intensive leadership development program for 18-40 years old
Saneha: 1-day theme based workshops for personal development
Kultar’s Mime: 1984 play to initiate conversations on the human suffering
Guduara Governance: Trainings to revive the real purposes of Gurduaras
Thank You, Vahiguru!: A bi-lingual kid’s book
- How does SikhRI plan to celebrate Vaisakhi?
By reviving the spirit of Vaisakhi via Nash doctrine in the communities we serve, stressing the policies introduced by Guru Gobind Singh.
We will be soft launching a new project called Sikhia. It an online platform to engage high school and college students. It uses both crowdsourcing and crowdfunding models to distribute Sikhi education. SikhRI will curate content, while its delivery will be done by creative Sikhs at large.
- What are your long-term goals for SikhRI?
To enable access to Guru Granth Sahib for all 30 million Sikhs globally; training centre on Sikh-related courses, videos, literature, creative arts, etc; theological seminary to train future thought leaders such that they can provide meaningful contribution to issues affecting the world; and, establish The Sikh Library for there is none in the world.
- How can locals in BC get involved with SikhRI?
- Sidak 2015 is being hosted in BC in July. Individuals can register for immersive experience.
- Have your children attend our Sojhi after school program once a week.
- Attend SikhRI programs, details at www.SikhRI.org.
- Host or sponsor an event for your network of families and friends.
- Volunteer and donate to promote Sikhi education.