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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"Golf Digest" Magazine made Guru Arjan Dev Ji into a Golfing Guru.

Recently the good ol' family was in town for my Cousin's wedding, which were good times had by all. I always enjoy times like this as it allows for all my uncles/aunts and cousins to get together and just forget about our worries. I especially enjoy watching my Parents interact with their brothers and sisters, as they too in ways become like children again enjoying each others company.

However, I was presented one worry during this time that I was totally not expecting. And this worry came from the weirdest place of all… the May 2008 Golf Digest magazine.

My Masi Ji's son, Harjit Singh Sandhar, presented a thought to me after he landed in the DC area from his air trip from Tulsa. While killing time on the plane ride, he decided to open up the latest addition of Golf Digest as he is an avid golfer. While flipping through the pages, he started to read one article called the "Golf Guru." This article allows for readers, like Harjit, to write and pose their various golfing questions. Then the authors then answer the various questions as if they are the gurus to the game of golf, hence the whole "Golf Guru" article a play on

However at the conclusion of the "Golf Guru" article on page 66, Harjit noticed something strangely familiar but couldn’t figure out what. As seen in the scanned image below of page 66, the pictorial image of what is suppose to represent the "Golfing Guru" seemed strangely familiar:

Page 66 of the May 2008 Golf Digest magazine.
Page 66 of the May 2008 Golf Digest magazine, at the conclusion of the “Golf Guru” article.

A closer look…
A closer look…

Harjit and I kept thinking that this image was familiar from somewhere. If you took away the golf club and the golf glove it appeared to represent a Sikh Guru, but we could not pinpoint which one. Harjit kept thinking the image was of Guru Ram Das Ji, but I wasn’t convinced.

So after some thought, I started to think as if I was part of the graphics art team of Golf Digest. Here’s an article on the “Golf Guru,” and they want me to make an image for it? Hmmm… maybe Google images can help out?

With that thought in my mind, I went to Google images and did a search on “guru.” After doing a search, take a look at the far right most image. It appears to be a “guru” like character, as seen in the image below:

Something looks fishy…
“Hmmm, that looks like a guru to me,” thought the graphics arts department at Golf Digest.

However when you click on the image, it becomes very clear where Golf Digest got their inspiration for the “Golfing Guru.” It is none other than the Sikh’s Fifth Religious Prophet, Guru Arjan Dev Ji:

Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the Fifth Guru of the Sikh Religion.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who is not a “Golfing Guru.”

And for fun, let’s just do a side by side comparison:

Desecration of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
Sorry Golf Digest, you are guilty.

So clearly Golf Digest didn’t do their homework when selecting an image of a “guru” for their article. They went with their stereotypical gut of what appears to be a “guru” like figure without doing any homework to who Guru Arjan Dev Ji is.

If they had done their homework, they would have realized that Guru Arjan Dev Ji is a major figure for the Sikh religion. They would have realized how he stood for civil and human rights for all people regardless of faith, creed, or gender. They would have realized that Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the principle architect for both the city of Amritsar and Harimandar Sahib, which is popularly known as the Golden Temple. Furthermore they would have realized how he was the Sikh Guru who created the first compilation of Sikh scriptures known as the Adi Granth, which laid the foundation for its current compilation known as the Guru Granth Sahib (the 11th and immortal Guru for the Sikh faith) and consists of almost half of his teaching. Furthermore if they did their homework, they would have realized that Guru Arjan Dev Ji compiled a special prayer known as Sukhmani Sahib which calls for universal world peace.

And finally if Golf Digest did their homework, they would have realized that Guru Arjan Dev Ji was martyred for his beliefs that worked to benefit all of society, whether it was a Sikh or Non-Sikh.

But they didn’t do their homework. So what do we get? A doctored image of Guru Arjan Dev Ji as a “Golfing Guru.”

Totally pathetic and sad.

Unlike followers of Islam, Sikhs have allowed for artistic works to represent their Gurus and major historical events. It allows for their adherents to remember the message of Sikhism through artistic portrayals. But unlike some other religions who may verbally scold individuals for doctoring their faith (like Kanye did to Jesus on Rolling Stone), Sikhism has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to desicration of their religious figures. Anyone remember that idiot Gurmeet Ram Rahim?

Sorry Editor in Chief Jerry Tarde of Golf Digest, looks like you got a whole lot of hurt coming your way.

Oh yeah, you can email Jerry here.

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Blogger Harkiran Kaur said...

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh!

Maybe I'm just stupid (well I am for sure haha)...but there's no such as a picture of Guru Ji...

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this article and also for the brilliant writing style you employed.

May Guru Sahib bless us with the ability to prevent people disrespecting our faith or anyone elses!

I will be writing to the editor.

thanks again veerji


10:20 PM  
Anonymous PJ said...

Relax, it's just a harmless picture.

1. The authors obviously did not have malicious intent.
2. "There are no pictures of our gurus"
3. Even if you could show this picture to maharaj, I'd like to think he'd have a nice laugh.

Seriously, Chill. Stop leading my religion down the path of fanatacism.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guru Arjan Dev ji (1581-1606)

3:41 AM  
Blogger Gurumustuk Singh said...

I think the issue is another reminder of how little people know about Sikhs and how much work we all have to do to talk and interact more with our fellow citizens. Last week it was "Burger Singh", this week it is this, what will come next week? I'm not one to like to join the "complaining club". Change will only come if we act, and do something to contribute to resolving these problems in our own community.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, if we think about it, the Gurus never allowed for pictorial portrayals of themselves, let alone encourage or mislead people with "pictures of the Sikh Gurus".

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Sirivishnu Singh said...

Why don't you write an instructive article to Golf Digest that they can consider posting about Guru Arjan Dev, it can become a human interest story that they can entertain their readers with while giving them an education about Sikhism. Perhaps the most surprising thing to many Americans will be that Guru Arjan was martyred by the ancestors of some of the same people that they currently fear so much: The Islamic fanaticism that continues through the ages.
You should also realize that there is no intention to desecrate anything sacred here, but to use an image that clearly represents wisdom to impart some knowledge about a game/sport. It does respect the very concept of a Guru as a wise teacher.
I can tell you as an avid golfer that the golf course is a great place to educate people about Sikhism, and there a lot of influential people who read Golf Digest and play golf.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Tejpal said...

Dear Singh ji,

Thanks for making us aware of this cheap act.

I have registered my protest with the magazine.

I understand that our gurus have no fixed photos, however, its symbolic representation which they have used in their magazine without properly investigating the theme of the photo used.

Tejpal Singh

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Bal said...

Interesting post, however I'd Just like to add my thought. This pictures that represent the guru's are just that. In fact they aresome one's imagination, that has nothing to do with what the guru's really look like. Acctually they can even be damaging on how we form our view's of sikhism. In typical paintings Guru Nanak is overweight, downed in robes and beads and looking very bored. I always imagined Guru Nanak a figure of physical and spiritual perfection, crossing vast lands on foot, with humour and laughter. Not a typical looking 'Sant Baba' from India.

By drawing the Gurus we bring our own cultural and personal ethos into our interpretation of what they stood for and then pass that on as the real image of the Gurus to other sikhs.

I think we should chill out yo

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Harmeet Singh said...

That isnt a picture of Guru Ji, thats just an artists impression.

I dont understand why anyone gets offened over trivial matters.

Pictues, statues, idols, rock etc.. have no significance. if they want to use a picture of man whoes appearance some artist has imagined up, then let them.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unlike followers of Islam, Sikhs have allowed for artistic works to represent their Gurus and major historical events."

While out of respect Muslims will often refrain from replicating their Prophets and history as representational art (Realism, etc), MANY have done so and there is a HUGE tradition of Islamic art both calligraphic and representational.

It's not like you have to look far:


So, please, followers of Islam both support and love the arts and arts that represent their faith. There are also Muslims who are skeptical of reducing history and prophecy to an icon on an air freshener. Like all traditions, there's a healthy dose of both.

As you critique writers for not doing their homework, I thought you might like a heads up on this.

In Love, Light, and Peace

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with B

Respect and get respected

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of you people who dont get it and continue to live in your little bubbles are STUPID!!! if someone drew a picture or their "perception" of your mama and then defamed it somehow wouldnt you be pissed?? its about the fact that those pictures are still respected because they give an insight and illustration into what possibly could have been during the times of the gurus and we can imagine it as a reality and a part of our history. its how we teach kids our history by showing them pictures and illustrating stories so that they can relate images to the stories they hear from their elders. grow a pair people.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous kaur said...

I think "srivishnu singh" had the best idea. The problem is that most people have no clue who we are, and a sentence or 2 about our guru in Golf Digest may very well be the right module.
Even though it's "just" a picture, we should still be reminded of the ignorance of people out there. I doubt the editors studied the sikh religion to the point of finding out the insignificance of pictures for us. I could be wrong, but we should still write to them.
In this day and age, we need to use all modes of visibility and education about our religion to other people.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Resh said...

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh!

I agree with Harkiren.... Guruji lives in the Bani and not in some paintings... To be honest I ended up smiling because of the picture.

Look... there is nothing to get upset about over this picture, the picture is just a representation of Guru Arjan Devji but not Guruji at all.... there is no picture of Guruji.

Please forgive me if I offend anyone with my comments but this is where I stand.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guru fateh,
Although there is no place for picture or idol worship in sikhi, we cannot just laugh this act off. We do not need to get angry or upset either but take this as another oppurtunity to teach people about who we are and what sikhi is.So be thankful to waheguru for the oppurtunity and write a constructive feedback to the editor.

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there were never any pix of the gurus, except for one which got destroyed, but all the ones we have today are just someone's imagination...i dont think the pictures ppl have painted of the gurus shouldn't actually be considered as the gurus...

8:10 PM  
Blogger Dee Sidhu said...

..I have to agree with a good chunk of the comments.. there are no actual pictures of our Gurus. And Christ, Buddha, etc have ben drawin in many comics and articles before you dont see other religions in an up roar...

The Blog is stupid and a waste of time ..and its gone as far as to bring more unwanted attention to the sikh community. The old farts from the east cost are going to push this till they have something from the Golf Digest. Its JUST A PICTURE !! THATS WHAT COMICS DO !!!

Get a life.. !.. this website is built by a jackass who thought hmm let me set this culture back another hundred years ..so that every indian is labeled as a cry baby 7 11 .. camel jockey.

You live in the United States.. u dont have to conform thats the beauty of the states.. if you live in the USA.. take off ur indian bumper stickers, and start showing RED WHITE & BLUE Pride.. ur american now.. live it.

Stop pleas stop with the all this crap. If you want to truly make a difference fight for things that make a differnce not a modified image of a persons perception of what our Guru looked like.

I cannot wait till the day that this older generation farts out.. so that we can fix how bad you F**ked up our image in this country.

We allowed u to build us proper gurdwaras but u failed at that.. u bring us up to the lime light with your nonsense and bickering !!

.. im ashamed of all of you !!


9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of the Sikh Gurus portraits are authentic. These are artist’s impressions that allowed their imagination to run wild. Our Gurus were simple men and certainly did not wear such gaudy clothes. Sikhs are not idol worshipers and hence should not pay obeisance to such images or believe that they are images of our gurus.

These portraits are not of that period - our Gurus certainly did not sit and pose for such gaudy portraits.

As regards Golf Digest, I beleive it does harm to Sikh identity image. The picture could be deemed to look like a muslim.

Do you pay obeseiance to portraits of Gurus done by artists?


6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is no picture of any Guru...so it better if sikhs are educated not to hang such pictures in their houses.

8:56 PM  

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