Seva in Sikhism: Background information when reading The Year of the Runaways

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Year of the Runaways

A novel

by Sunjeev Sahota

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota X
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2016, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2017, 496 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Seva in Sikhism

This article relates to The Year of the Runaways

Print Review

In The Year Of the Runaways, most of the men are Sikhs as is Narinder Kaur, the only woman character. Sikhism (see Beyond the Book for A Moment Comes) is an integral part of Narinder's life and it is through practicing one of its central tenets, service or "seva," that she comes to be Randeep's wife.

While most religions encourage service of some kind, seva is a necessity to be a Sikh. It is one of the two main anchors of the religion, the other being "simran" or remembrance of the gurus' words. Guru Nanak, considered the supreme leader of Sikhism, strongly advocated the concept of seva and believed that a person's actions speak louder than any words. Seva is divided into three different types in Sikhism.

The langar, the first of its kind started by Guru Nanak, is a kind of soup kitchen, which is open to all and serves vegetarian food usually every day or at least once a week. Seva of the "tan" (body) is what is needed to participate in a langar, either through cooking and serving of the meals or catering to the needs of the congregation or sangat, the good people. At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism's most famous religious institution, 80,000 people are served everyday at the langar. You need not be a Sikh to eat for free at a langar. In The Year Of the Runaways, Narinder travels to India to take part in such seva.

The two other types of seva in Sikhism are of the "man" (mind), where you share knowledge and other skills; and "dhan" or wealth, where a Sikh is expected to donate ten percent of his or her income to charity. The Guru Granth (Sikh holy text) preaches that the mouth of a pauper is the mouth of the Guru; in other words, feeding the poor is like catering to the Supreme one.

According to Sikhism's holy text, true seva must be done without expectation of rewards and must be executed with purity of intention and humility. As per a quote from the Guru Granth Sahib, "A place in God's court can only be attained if we do service to others in this world...Wandering ascetics, warriors, celibates, holy men, none of them can obtain moksha (salvation) without performing seva."



The video below captures the spirit of the langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India:



Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Poornima Apte

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Year of the Runaways. It originally ran in April 2016 and has been updated for the February 2017 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Vape
    Big Vape
    by Jamie Ducharme
    In Big Vape, TIME reporter Jamie Ducharme studies the short but inflammatory history of Juul. Her ...
  • Book Jacket: Love and Fury
    Love and Fury
    by Samantha Silva
    Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for being an early advocate for women's rights and the mother of ...
  • Book Jacket: Walking on Cowrie Shells
    Walking on Cowrie Shells
    by Nana Nkweti
    The stories in Nana Nkweti's dexterous debut collection examine the raw alienation of being ...
  • Book Jacket: The Personal Librarian
    The Personal Librarian
    by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
    The Personal Librarian drew a robust positive response from our First Impressions reviewers, ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The War Nurse
by Tracey Enerson Wood
A sweeping novel by an international bestselling author based on a true World War I story.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Temple House Vanishing
    by Rachel Donohue

    A modern gothic page-turner set in a Victorian mansion in Ireland.

  • Book Jacket

    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    by Kristin Harmel

    An evocative coming-of-age World War II story from the author of The Book of Lost Names.

Win This Book!
Win Gordo

Gordo by Jaime Cortez

"Dark and hilarious ... singular and soaring ... Hands down, top debut of 2021."—Literary Hub

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

N Say N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.