Thursday, September 29, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

22nd September

1539 JOTI JOT, Patshahi First, Guru Nanak Dev Ji (ACTUAL DATE).

First Patshahi, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, left this world for heavenly abode. Today is the actual date of first Patshahi's Joti Joti, though it is observed on a different day by Guru Khalsa Panth.

==> GURU NANAK (1469-1539):
In a world rife with falsehood, sunk in superstitions and plagued by all kinds of inequities and inequalities, Guru Nanak rang in the gospel of truth, universal love and brotherhood. The Founder Guru of the Sikhs and one of the greatest and saintliest of saviours, he redeemed the soul of a moribund society that had experienced a total eclipse, if not annihilation, of all abiding human values. The condition of the contemporary society has been vividly described by the First Master in the well -known words

This age is a knife, kings are butchers,
justice hath taken wings and fled.
In this completely dark night of falsehood
the moon of truth is never seen to rise.

Guru Nanak was born in a Bedi family at Talwandi (Nankana Sahib), near Lahore, in 1469. At an early age he learnt Sanskrit, Persian and the prevalent form of Gurmukhi. He was a precocious child with a pronounced penchant for religion. His father, Mehta Kalu, made vain efforts to woo him to a mundame mode of life. Accordingly, he was got employed in a Government store of the Nawab of Sultanpur where he served for 13 years.

It was in 1499 that the day of destiny of ecstatic communion with God came. While taking his daily bath in the rivulet Bain that flows near Sultanpur, Nanak had his illumination through a soul-stirring vision of Almighty God. It was here that the Guru delivered his great sermon in the memorable words: There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman. The spiritual enlightenment enjoined on him a mission to the propagation of which he consecrated his entire life. He set out on his great Udasi's (Missionary journeys) to deliver God's message to sinning and suffering humanity.

He toured the whole of India and many foreign countries, preaching the gospel of true religion and rooting out ignorance and evil. The great Guru undertook five major missionary journeys in this behalf.

In the course of his first long travel, Guru Nanak visited celebrated Hindu places of pilgrimage like Kurukshetra, Banaras and Jagnnath Puri. He taught people how to distinguish Dharma from Adharma and abandon such pretentious rituals and prayers as constituted the accepted religious practice of the times. During his second journey the Guru went as far as Sangla Deep and having done his ministry returned to the Punjab.

The Master's third missionary journey is known for his discussions with reputed Kashmiri Pandits and savants and for his visits to famous haunts of the Yogis, the Sidhas and the Nathas in the Himalayas. The Guru preached truth and righteousness wherever he went.

The fourth missionary journey comprised the Master's visit to prominent Muslim shrines in Mecca, Medina and Baghdad. After his return to the Punjab, the Guru set out on his fifth and final journey. This time he confined his travel to places nearer home such as Saidpur, Pakpattan, Multan, Achal Batala, etc. Saidpur had been sacked by Babar's forces. Deeply moved by spectacle of infinite human suffering resulting from the inhuman atrocities perpetrated by the Mughal invader, the Guru chanted hymns of Sorrow.

At Achal Batala, a renowned centre of the Yogis and Sidhas, the Guru preached the unity and equality of all religions. For twenty-two years Guru Nanak propagated his faith in India and abroad. During his 18 years' stay at Kartarpur, he incarnated into splendid deeds the lofty ideals that he had been preaching all his. life. Thus, by his own inspiring example, the Guru demonstrated how Raj and Yog, the worldly and the spiritual modes of life, could be happily and fruitfully conjoined.

During his extensive missionary journeys, Guru Nanak exhorted the benighted humanity to pursue the path of divine meditation. He stressed the significance of righteous living above all other things. The Guru made men realize that there is only one God Who is peerless. He held that through Nam Simran (Meditation of God's Name) and concentration on Shabad (the word) man could muster up courage enough to uphold truth in his life.

Guru Nanak cried down all cant and blind observance of soulless customs, rites and rituals. The Guru averred that they were a meaningless meandering unconnected with the attainment of man's spiritual destiny, Thus he rightly laid accent on pious practical living which alone constitutes true religiosity.

The quintessence of Guru Nanak's philosophy is enshrined in his mul mantra. He has aptly emphasized the imperative need of truth and beauty, freedom and fraternity. According to Guru Nanak, religion implies a communion between God and man. As a corollary to this, a person who devotes himself to Nam Simran is naturally virtuous and fearless. Unsullied by ill-will or enmity, he works for the amelioration of the weak and the down-trodden. His noble actions give an impulse to his aesthetic ability. A truely religious man of the Guru's conception is opposed alike to serfdom and masterdom. His life is radiant with love and humility, sweetness and light.

Indeed, Guru Nanak wanted to unite and organize his disciples in order to give religion true solidarity. To this end, he established sangat (congregations) at numerous places and appointed their chiefs. Besides, he compiled his writings in book form which he handed over to his successor, Guru Angad Dev.

The Guru established a sangat at Kartarpur and prescribed a set of values to be cherished and practised. He also founded the great institution of langar (free community-kitchen) and spent his earnings from land on running it. Thus, he gave a living form to his doctrine of work, Nam Simran and the Temple of Bread. The Guru nominated Bhai Lehna, his most beloved and trusted disciple, for the exalted office of the Guru after him. In the Adi Granth are enshrined 974 hymns by the First Master.

-Ref. Guru Granth Ratnavali, (pp. 38) by Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh
Mahan Kosh (pp. 111)

1970 Bhai Sahib Dayal Singh was killed in a car accident.
1981 Indira Ghandhi, then prime minister of India, visited Chandigarh. She invited Akali Dal for talks. However, Akali's demanded an unconditional release of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawalae before any talks.
1987 Sant Baba Bhag Singh Ji, a close associate of Sant Baba Sewa Singh Ji passed away.
1989 Singh Sahib, Prof. Manjit Singh assumed the responsibilities of Jathaedar Kesgadh Sahib.

==> Singh Sahib Prof. MANJIT SINGH: is the acting Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Amritsar. He is also the Jathedar of Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib (the birthplace of Khalsa, the Sikh Nation), one of the five highest seats of the Sikh authority. Sri Akal Takhat (the seat of Timeless God) shrine is the highest spiritual and temporal authority of the Sikhs. It is part of the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar, Punjab, in India. Thus Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat is a role of Sikh High Minister. The position of the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat among the Sikhs, in some ways, is like that of the Pope among the Roman Catholics. He has the power to issue a Hukamnama (Edict) binding to the entire Sikh Nation and is generally accepted by all the Sikhs all over the world.

Jathedar Bhai Manjit Singh, at 44, is the youngest and the most highly educated Sikh religious leader ever to occupy this august Sikh religious position. Jathedar Manjit Singh (a former professor) was born in a town called Morinda, district Ropar in Punjab, India. His father was a government official and his mother a teacher. After finishing high school in 1967, Jathedar Manjit Singh joined the Shahid Sikh Missionary College at Amritsar. At the age of 18, he was appointed a Minister (Granthi) in a well-known Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) in Bombay. His next appointment was at Nanak Matta, a historical Sikh shrine in the Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, where Jathedar Manjit Singh became the Principal of Gurmat Vidyala, School of Sikhism. Jathedar Manjit Singh acquired two M.A. degrees in Punjabi Literature and Religion, from Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India. He taught M.A. Punjabi classes. He received a two-year diploma in Sikhism from Shahid Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar and another two-year diploma in Sikh classical music from Sangeet Vidyala, School of classical music, Delhi. He presided over the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago about three years ago.

Jathedar Manjit Singh has been a Sikh preacher for over 26 years. In addition to preaching in different parts of India, he has preached in many countries such as Singapore, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Korea, UK, Canada, and USA. Singh Sahib currently spends considerable portion of his time with the Sikh youth.

In addition to his religious and social activities, His Holiness is also committed to the environmental preservation program. In 1995, Jathedar Manjit Singh visited England where he was invited to attend a Religions and Conservation Summit at the Windsor Palace by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (husband of Her Majesty, the Queen of England). Jathedar Manjit Singh also attended the State of the World Forum in San Francisco in September 1995 that was sponsored by the Gorbachev Foundation where he met with Mr. Gorbachev and many world religious, political and social leaders. He is active in several international programs geared towards achieving world peace and natural harmony. Jathedar Manjit Singh officiated the Vishav Sikh Sammelan (World Sikh Conference) that took place at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab from September 21-25, 1995 which was attended by more than 500,000 Sikhs from all over the world. Jathedar Manjit Singh is also the head of World Sikh Council that is operating under the auspices of Akal Takhat Sahib.

Jathedar Manjit Singh is an accomplished Indian classical musician and singer of Sikh hymns. He has a very charming personality and is known for his dedication to humanity and the Sikh community. Jathedar Manjit Singh, along with his four children and wife, lives in Punjab, India.

- Tarlochan Singh Nahal.

 

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