Monday, September 26, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

THE SIKH WAY OF LIFE
BY RANBIR SINGH

The advent of Guru Nanak

Sikhism is a religion taught through Guru Nanak in' the form of the ten Gurus

1. Guru Nanak
2. Guru Angad
3. Guru Amar Das
4. Guru Ram Das
5. Guru Arjan
6. Guru Har Gobind
7. Guru Har Rai
8. Guru Har Kishan
9. Guru Tegh Bahadur
10. Guru Gobind
1469-1539
1539-1552
1552-1574
1574-1581
1581-1606
1606-1644
1644-1661
1661-1664
1664-1675
1675-1708

Guru Nanak, upon his advent, found the masses steeped in the darkness of ignorance, The tyranny and oppression of the rulers of the day and domination of the people by the priestly class had led to their demoralisation and degeneration. What passed for religion contained more of husk than the kernel. The spirit of Truth was buried under heaps of senseless dogmas, meaningless rituals and blind superstitions.

The popular religion about the time of Guru Nanak's birth was confined to peculiar forms of eating and drinking, peculiar ways of bathing and painting the forehead, and such other mechanical observances.The worship of idols, pilgrimages to the Ganges. The springs of true religion had been choked by weeds of unmeaning ceremonials, debasing superstitions, the selfishness of the priests and the indifference of the people.

Sir Dr. Gokal Chand Narang)

The chaotic conditions prevailing in India at that time have been aptly described by Guru Nanak himself in the following verse :-

Kal kati raje kasai

This dark period is like the knife,
The kings are the butchers.
The Dharma hath taken wings
And can be seen nowhere.
Yea, it is the dark night of falsehood
And Truth, O where is the Moon of Truth?
One is bewildered in this vain search,
No path is visible in this darkness.
The people are in the grip of egoism
It causeth them anguish and makes them bewail
Say, O Nanak, how can they be saved.
(Guru, Nanak : Slok Var Majh:, Stanza 16 page 145) Translated

The First Thing

The need of the hour was to first restore the faith of the people in One God and to extricate all that hindred man's relation with God.
Nanak placed first thing first. J.~Ic exhorted the people to forget all supposed agencies of creation, sustenance and death. :-

They suppose that Maya, the mythical goddess,
Mysteriously conceived and gave birth to three deities:
Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Brahma, it is said, is the one who creates,
Vishnu the other that sustains it
And Siva, they say, is the destroyer
That controls and sits on judgment.
But no, in reality it is God,
Who directs the world according to His Will
And no other.
The thing that astonishs the people most is
That while He sees them ever, they see Him not.
All hail to Him! All hail unto Him!
Who is the Primal Being, Immaculate,
Without beginning and Ever Changeless
The same from age to age.
(Guru Nanak: Japji) Translated

He thus restored their faith and undivided loyalty to One God, as source of all creation. The religion that Guru Nanak preached, was strictly monotheistic, requiring belief in none other than the One Supreme Being only. Sikh scripture begins with the numeral 1. Words may bear or may be made to yield different interpretation but not numerals. Their meanings is fixed once for all. To denote the Oneness of Ultimate Reality Guru Nanak used the numeral 1.

Seek The Support & Shelter of One God Alone

The Guru, in his profound wisdom, has ordained that the true Sikh shall seek the support and shelter of one God alone, Who is the Creator, Sustainer of the entire creation, and Who is the source of all life, knowledge and wisdom.To such benevolent God, one must surrender his entire 'self'.
Thus Speaks Guru Nanak:

If a man sings of God and hears of Him
And lets love of God sprout within him,
His all sorrow shall depart, And in the soul,
God will create abiding peace.
(Guru Nanak : Japji) Translated

At another place he says: - -

Everyone seems worried and care-ridden;
He alone gets peace and becomes care free,
Who cherisheth but One God in his heart.

dhar jiare ik tek tu lahe bidani as

Lean only on the support of One God alone,
Forsaking the hope of help of any other.
And, dwell thou on Nam (Divine Spirit),
O Nanak, That thy object is achieved.

(Guru Arjan: Gauri Bawan Akhri.) Translated

tajoh sianap sur-janoh sirnroh har har rae

Give up thy cleverness, O goodman
And remember and ever remember God, the Lord Nanak trust in One God alone -
That thy sufferring, fear and doubt hay depart

(Guru Arjan: Gauri Sukhmani),Translated


The Guru, thus exhorts us, in clear words, to abjure reliance on all other props and to have unshakable faith in One God, Who alone is infallible He alone is capable of providing relief against all sufferings.

Meditate upon One God alone,
And The- One- alone do glorify. -
Remember, ever remember, O man, the One,
And him alone do ever in thy heart enshrine
Sing, yea, sing the excellences of this One,
The excellences that have no end.
With thy heart and soul contemplate upon the One Lord alone
This one ! The all in all! Perfect & Supreme One,
He prevadeth all,Yea full & brimming by Himself
Many an emanation from this One have overflowed
remember Him, this Holy One, 0 man, all thy sins shall go
When imbued with the love of this One, within & without Then by the Grace of the Guru, the Blessed one is found.

(Guru Arjan Sukhmani. l9-8)Translated

Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru Nanak, supports the same idea when he says:
"bin kartar na kirtam mano
adi ajoni ajai abinashi tih parmesar jano"


('Shabad Hazare)

That is to say , 'Do not be misled into recognizing any one of his creations as the creator . the Creator alone was true in begining and true in primal ages. true He is and true He shall ever be. He is not incarnated. He is the eternal Lord and is the True Enlightener. To such omnipotent God alone one must supplicate.

And Guru Gobind Singh, in continuation, stoutly enjoins upon his followers to observe strictly the doctrine of 'belief in One God' alone when he declares :

Jagat jot japai nis basar ek bina man naik na anai

He who constantly keeps his mind
Intent upon Ever Awake Living Light of Consciousness,
And never swerves from the thought of One God;
And he who is adorned with full faith in Him
And is wholly steeped in the Love of the Lord,
And even by mistake never puts his faith in fasting;
Or in worship of tombs, sepulchre or crematoriums,
Caring not for pilgrimages, alm, charities,
Penances or austerities; -
Or anything else but devotion to One God;
And in whose heart and soul f he Divine Light
Shines forth as the full moon
He is known as Khalsa, the purest of the pure.
(Guru Gobind Singh: Swayas) -- Translated

All Men are the Same

When the Divine call came to Nanak, the words that were-first on his lips were : There is no Hindu, no Musalman meaning thereby that there is to be no distinction between man and man.' Hindus and Muslims are their different faiths. But behind the faith is Man. Nanak realized the unity of Hindus and Muslims in the Man universal. The emphasis in was not on rituals and rites, ceremonies dogmas, but on life, on love of God and right actions.

Nanak rose above philosophy and metaphysics, above rites and rituals, above creeds and conventions, above all nation-cults and all race-cult to a vision of the deeds of love.

God will not ask man, said Nanak, Of what race and religion he belongs to. He will but ask him What have you done ? Deeds, not creeds, is what Nanak asked of his disciples. He preached a religion for which men would live, a religion which would illuminate lives, a religion of love, service and sacrifice.

Guru Nanak and the nine Gurus who succeeded him set a wonderful example in the art of living spiritually. In an age when class distinction was very rigid, when the bonds of caste in India had strictly divided the people, Guru Nanak taught equality and brotherhood. In an age when the inferiority of women was taken for granted, the Guru spoke out against the custom of purdah and Sati and gave women equal status with men.

According to Sikhism, the whole humanity is one family and every man must be honoured not in terms of his birth or his caste or creed or colour but as a man. Caste, country, creed or colour could have no place in God's scheme of things. Guru Gobind Singh,the Tenth Nanak , says in Akal Ustat:

Mans ki jat sub ek hi pahchanbo

All men are the same
It is only through error
That we see them different.
All men are endowed with the same eyes,
The same ears and same body
They are built of the same elements.

more to come.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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