Fundamentals of Sikhism
The seed for the reformation of humanity which was sown by Guru Nanak and watered by his successors, ripened in the time of Guru Gobind Singh and culminated in the creation of the Khalsa. The sword that carved the Khalsa’s way to sublime glory was undoubtedly forged by Guru Gobind Singh but its steel was provided by Guru Nanak.
The whole program of Guru Nanak’s initiation reached its exalted state of finality when the tenth Nanak (Guru Gobind Singh) passed on ‘Gur Nanak Jot’ to the Adi Granth, Holy Scripture- par excellence, and proclaimed it as Guru Granth Sahib, the last Guru for ever.
From the moment of its initiation by Guru Nanak to its consecration by the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, a period of 239 years, Sikhism acquired its holy scripture, signs and symbols, and unmistakable form or stance. Transformation from one Guru to the other happened in the same way as one lamp were to lit from another. The holy transformation of ten Gurus is recognized as ONE, since all of them came from the same Divine Flame in continuity of the same Divine Mission. The establishment of Guruship, the story of succession, the founding of Amritsar and other seats of Sikhism, the compilation of the Adi Granth, the institution of Sangat (holy congregation) and Pangat (Guru’s free kitchen), the martyrdom of the Gurus, the panoply and plumage of power, the investiture of the Khalsa, all these and many other events which make the Sikh chronicle, give Sikh religion a color of the highest distinction.
In Sikhism, Guruship does not stand for mere order of mystics, since the Guru attached no values to renunciation of worldly life. Those who practiced renunciation such as Yogis and Sidhas were condemned as shirkers of responsibilities- they were considered as escapists and runaways from social responsibilities and obligations. In Sikhism a man is called upon to accept the Will of God and thus sublimate his suffering and loss. Sikhism believing in the conquest of sorrow and suffering, stipulates ceaseless endeavor.
PURPOSE OF LIFE:
According to the Guru, moral life is not a matter of a few commandments or a code or a ritual, but the fruit of a life directed towards spiritual quest involving incredibly hard discipline. Most people generally believe in enjoying materialistic life to the brim. Thus, the life goes on till a person ultimately finds oneself physically spent up and spiritually bankrupt. Lured by the charm of success in this materialistic world, one gives little or no thought to the Eternal values of life.
According to the eastern religions, there are eighty-four lakhs (8.4 million) of lives in the world, half of which are in the water and the other half are on the land and air. All life is transient. It moves on and on through the wheel of transmigration in accordance with its ‘karmas’ or actions good or bad. The human soul is achieved after transmigrating through various lower species as Gurbani (the Divine Word) confirms it:
“In how many births wert thou a worm or a moth!
In how many births an elephant, a fish, or a deer!
In how many births a bird or a serpent!
In how many births wert thou yoked as a horse or an ox!
Meet the Lord of the world, this is the time to meet Him
After long period of time hast thou attained human body.”
(Gauri Guareri Mohalla 5, p-176)
The Gurmat (Guru’s teaching) defines the purpose of life as:
“This time having born as human being
This is thy turn to meet the Supreme Lord.
Thy other activities will be of no avail at the end,
Seek the company of the holy men
And only contemplate on God.
Set thy mind on crossing the sea of life,
For life is being wasted away
In pursuits of pleasures of the world.”
(Asa Mohalla 5, p-12)
Human soul is the door for liberation, but enchanted by the materialistic world, one loses highly precious chance of life:
“O man, thou comest to earn merit (spiritual)
But how vainly art thou engaged
While the night of life passeth away.”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-43)
“Sleeping through, man wasteth the night,
Eating, he wasteth the day away
And lo, the Jewel of life is bartered away for a trite.”
(Gauri Bairagan Mohalla 1, p-156)
“Having wandered through eighty-four lakhs of species
Thou hast obtained the very precious human life,
Nanak, remember thou then the Nam
For thy days are numbered.”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-50)
“Without the Name of God, birth into this world is fruitless,
Without Nam one eats poison, speaks evil, dies without
merit and transmigrates.”
(Bhairo Mohalla 1, p-1127)
“O God, the mothers of those who keep not God’s Name in their hearts ought to have been barren,
For they who wander without the Name, pine away and die in agony.”
(Jaitsari Mohalla 4, p-697)
The purpose of human life in Sikhism is not to attain paradise or Swarga of the popular Hindu conception, but to seek God, and be united with Him. The ultimate goal of Sikh religion is to merge with the Supreme Soul and then enjoy the Uninterrupted Bliss for ever. A Sikh aspires for spiritual union with the Lord- a state of Bliss. Human life is an opportunity to attain that goal, if it is missed, a person falls back in the cycle of birth and rebirth.
CONCEPT OF GOD IN SIKHISM:
The definition of God is given in the very opening sentence of Guru Granth Sahib, which is called Mool-Mantar (Preamble of Japji):
There is but One God
He is the Eternal Truth
The Creator, All-Pervading Divine Spirit
Unfearful, Without hate and enmity
Immortal Entity, Unborn, Self-Existent, and
He is realized by His Own Grace.
Who was True before the Creation
Who was True in the beginning of the Creation
Who is True now, and
O Nanak, Who shall be True for Ever.
As a matter of fact the whole of Guru Granth Sahib is the explanation of the above definition. The Guru elaborates the concept of God in Rag Sorath:
The Unseen, Infinite, Inaccessible, Inapprehensible God is not subject to death or destiny.
He is of no caste, unborn, self-existent, without fear or doubt.
I am a sacrifice to the Truest of the true.
He hath no form, or color, or outline;
He becometh manifest by the true Word.
He hath no mother, father, son, or kinsman;
He feeleth not lust, and hath no wife
Or family; He is pure, endless, and infinite; all light is Thine, O Lord.
God is concealed in every heart; His light is in every heart.
He whose understanding’s adamantine doors are opened by
the Guru’s instruction, fixeth his gaze on the Fearless One.
God having created animals made them subject to death, and retained all contrivances in His Own power.
He who serveth the True Guru obtaineth the real boon, and is delivered by repeating the Word.
Truth is contained in pure vessels; few there are whose acts are pure.
By seeking Thy protection, saith Nanak, the soul blendeth with the Supreme Soul.
(Sorath Mohalla 1, p-597)
God is both Impersonal (Nirgun) and Personal (Sargun). Impersonal God is Formless and beyond the human reach. When He reveals Himself through His Creation, He becomes related and personal. It is just like the rays coming out of the sun. The source is Formless, and the whole universe is His Personal form. No form howsoever unique it may be, is independent of Him. Infinite can manifest into unlimited number of finites, but any number of finites, alone or together, cannot be equal to the Infinite. So any finite form cannot be worshipped as God, Who is Infinite and Formless:
“God is Formless, colorless, markless,
He is casteless, classless, creedless;
His form, hue, shape and garb
Cannot be described by any one,
He is the Spirit of Eternity,
Self-Radiant, He shineth in His Splendor.”
(Guru Gobind Singh)
God neither takes birth nor does He die:
“Burnt be the tongue that says
The Lord takes birth and undergoes death.”
(Bhairon Mohalla 5, p-1136)
The Guru warned that he was not God, and those who called him God, should fall into hell:
“Whosoever calleth me God
May fall into hell.”
(Guru Gobind Singh)
i) God protects His saints and devotees from dangers, unless He wills that their sufferings and martyrdom should serve a higher purpose. To protect the righteous is His Sovereign Characteristic (Birdh). In the face of some acute dangers, saints have prayed for aid and intervention of God to help them in distress. God came to their help and protected them in a miraculous way. The stories of Prahlad, Dhru and others, and the autobiographic statements of Namdev and Kabir in Guru Granth Sahib, show His Sovereign Power to protect the righteous. Such miracles are part of the doctrine of divine Providence and Preservation. These supernatural miracles of God should be distinguished from the miracles of human beings performed by their occult powers, which in Sikhism are considered dangerous and unbecoming.
ii) ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’, leads to the theory of ‘Karma’, actions, good or bad, where a person is rewarded for his good actions and punished for his bad deeds. Therefore, according to the theory of Karma, a worst sinner will always suffer for his deeds and can never attain salvation. Guru Nanak has rejected this stating that pardoning even the worst sinner is the Sovereign Characteristic (Birdh) of God:
“Patat pavan prabh birdh tumaro.”
(Bilawal Mohalla 5, p-829)
‘Redeeming the repentant sinner, is Thy Characteristic.’
(Translation of the above)
The Guru emphasizes that the sinner whom no body affords protection in the whole world, if he surrenders before the Almighty, becomes pure, that is he is blessed by His Grace:
“Jis papi kau milai na dhoee Saran aawai ta nirmal hoee.”
(Bhairon Mohalla 5, p-1141)
‘The sinner who is patronless in the world When surrenders before God, gets deliverance.’
(Translation of the above)
The Guru reiterates that to save the saints, to protect the righteous, and even to redeem the repentant sinners is Paramount Characteristic of God.
CONCEPT OF NAM (DIVINE NAME):
According to Gurmat (Guru’s teaching), before the creation, God lived Absolutely by Himself, Formless. When He made Himself manifest, He first formed Himself into NAM (Divine Name) and then created Nature. After creating Nature, He did not go away from it, rather He sustained His creation with His Own presence into it, and felt delighted.
“Aapinai aap sajio aapinai rachio Nao
Dui kudrat sajiai kar asan ditho chao.”
(Asa Mohalla 1- pauri 1, p-463)
“God created Himself and assumed Name
Second besides Himself He created Nature
Seated in Nature He watches with delight what He creates.”
(Translation of the above)
1) NAM (Divine Name) and God are not two different entities. Nam is just another aspect of the Almighty, still Formless. Nam is the total expression of all that God is. Nam sustains everything:
“Nam sustains and controls all beings
Nam supports the universe and its regions.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 16-5, p-284)
2) Nam is not expressed as mere noun and it does not mean that there is a special name of God and by enchanting of which, one will meet Him. He is Infinite and can be called with infinite names, but who can count His infinite names? The enlightened and the blessed ones remember Him through His Attributes:
“Tav sarb nam kathai kavan
Karm nam barnat sumat.”
(Guru Gobind Singh- Jap Sahib)
3) God may be called by countless names by the devotees, who create these names according to the attributes of their Godhead, but the first and the foremost name of God is clearly depicted as ‘SAT’ (Eternal Truth) which shows the ever-existence of God:
“Kirtam nam kathai terei jihba
Satnam tera pra purbla.”
(Maru Mohalla 5, p-1083)
4) The word NAM is a mystic Word used in practical religious life and in discipline of meditation. God is remembered by His attributive names. There is another aspect of it called true Name which emanates from a prophet’s personal experience. It emerges from a vision that the Prophet has of the Divine Being. Such a mystic Word in Sikh religion is called ‘Waheguru‘ or Wonderful God or ‘Thou art Wonderful’. True Name is not the word by which we describe an object, but the total power, quality and character of Reality. Through the word ‘Waheguru’ the prophet has tried to sum up mystic power and experience of His presence all around. Prophets have given us Divine Names of the nameless God, which reflect His presence in our consciousness. Contemplation or meditation on true Name (Waheguru) is called practicing the presence of God in one’s conscious.
5) Gurbani (Divine Word) itself is NAM.
a) Gurbani itself is Nam:
“Gurmukh bani nam hai, nam ridai vasaie.”
(Sarang ki Var-pauri, p-1239)
b) The term ‘Nam Japo’ means to remember God and to invoke His presence in one’s conscious. All modes of meditation take the devotee into the presence of God, but according to Gurbani, Hari Kirtan, the musical recitation of Gurbani, is the super form of meditation. It invokes one’s consciousness to the maximum level, into the presence of God:
“Har kirat utam Nam hai vich kaljug karni sar.”
(Kanre ki Var Mohalla 4, p-1314)
c) The Gurmat explains that the recitation of the word ‘Har Har..’ is Nam Japna:
“Har har har har nam hai gurmukh pavai koei.”
(Kanre ki Var Mohalla 4, p-1313)
d) Salvation cannot be attained without Nam. In other words anything that delivers salvation is Nam. Since Gurbani delivers salvation, therefore, Gurbani is Nam:
“Sachi bani mithi amritdhar
Jinh piti tis mokhdwar.”
(Malar Mohalla 1, p-1275)
‘The True Bani is sweet-nectar
Whosoever is devoted to it, attaineth salvation.”
(Translation of the above)
“Sachi bani sion dhare piyar
Tako pavai mokhdwar.”
(Dhanasari Mohalla 1, p-661)
‘Whosoever devoted to Eternal Bani
Will get deliverance.”
(Translation of the above)
It is therefore, very clear and evident that any form of recitation of Gurbani, may be simple reading with attention and devotion or meditation on any Sabad of Gurbani or Kirtan of Gurbani, is fully deemed as Nam Japna (meditation on Nam), that is to invoke the presence of God in one’s conscious.
It may be mentioned here that there are small sects who mislead the innocent Sikhs on the subject of Gurbani and Nam. These sect leaders very emphatically say to the innocent Sikhs,” Gurbani says that one must meditate on Nam, but Gurbani is not Nam. Come on, we will give you Nam.” Then they whisper in their ears some broken sentence of Gurbani which they call Nam, and warn them not to tell any one; if ever they disclose this Nam to any one, some curse will fall on them. In this way they run their cults (shops). Thus, innocent Sikhs and others are lured and misled into their fold. The Sikhs should, therefore, be very careful from such sects. Those who try to say that Gurbani is not Nam, they are either misguided or are deceitful. According to Gurmat (Guru’s teaching), Gurbani is everything:
Gurbani is Nam: “Gurmukh bani Nam hai..”
(Sarang ki Var-pauri, p-1239)
Gurbani is Guru: “Bani Guru, Guru hai Bani…”
(Nat Mohalla 4, p-982)
Gurbani is Nirankar:“Wauh wauh bani nirankar hai Tis jiwad avar na koi.”
(Slok Mohalla 3, p-515)
‘Wauh wauh Bani is the Formless One
There is none as great as He.”
(Translation of the above)
Gurbani is every Nad and Ved:
“Sabh nad beid gurbani Man rata sarang pani.”
(Ramkli Mohalla 1, p-879)
It is, therefore, Nam that ultimately leads a person to Eternal Bliss. For God consciousness, one must come in contact with Nam, but without Guru one cannot attain Nam and would wander away in the darkness.
“Were a hundred moons to appear
Were a thousand suns to arise
There would still be utter darkness
If there were no Guru.”
(Asa di Var, Mohalla 2, p-463)
“Let no one in the world remain in doubt
That it could ever be possible to be saved without the Guru.”
(Gaund Mohalla 5, p-864)
“In this age of falsehood, Nam lieth hidden
Though the Lord filleth all hearts,
The Jewel of Nam becomes manifest in the hearts of only those Who resort to the Guru’s refuge.”
(Parbhati Mohalla 3, p-1334)
“All repeat God’s Name, yet He is not attained
But when through the Grace of the Guru
God comes to reside in the mind
It is only then one’s life becomes fruitful.”
(Gujri Mohalla 3, p-491)
CONCEPT OF GURU:
The concept of Guru has been explained in the previous chapters. A yogi asked Guru Nanak who his Guru was? He replied,”The Word is Guru.” God anointed Guru Nanak with His Word, His Wisdom (Logos), and the Guru’s whole personality was Word-personified. The Guru made it very clear that his human body was not the Guru, and the mere outward glimpse of the Guru, or the outward profession of faith in him, could not bring the disciple close to the Guru. The light of the Word within his heart was the real Guru and the disciple should approach him with a receptive mind to receive His Light.
BAPTISM IN SIKHISM:
Nam is the whole source which takes a person back into the Unmanifest One. Guru is the sole Channel to Nam. The Gurmat tells us that the Jewel of Nam becomes manifest in the hearts of only those who resort to Guru’s refuge.
How do we resort to Guru’s refuge?
When we go to the Guru, he gives us Nam and then we meditate upon the Guru given Nam which in turn takes us back to our destination, the Almighty.
How do we go to the Guru?
In Sikhism the one and the only one way to go to the Guru is through Baptism. A Sikh has to take Pauhal or Amrit, from the Five Beloved Ones (Panj Pyare), then he becomes of the Guru or Guruwala. Without baptism a Sikh remains without Guru or Nigura.
“Nigure ka hai nau bura.”
(Rag Asa Mohalla 3 Pati, p-435)
Everybody repeats God’s Name, but simply repeating it He is not attained. When through the Grace of the Guru, Nam enshrines the mind, only then one’s efforts of meditation become fruitful. Without the Grace of the Guru, a Sikh cannot attain his objective of salvation. In order to seek the Guru’s Grace, we have to go to the Guru and that is only done through baptism.
“Ram Ram sabh ko kahai kahiai ram na hoi
Gurparsadi Ram man vasai ta fal pavai koi.”
(Gujri Mohalla 3, p-491)
‘All repeat God’s Name, yet He is not attained
But when through the Grace of the Guru
God comes to reside in the mind
It is only then one’s life becomes fruitful.’
(Translation of the above)
The question arises, is there any other way for a Sikh to attain his objective of salvation?
No, says Gurmat, there is no other way. This world is a vast and formidable ocean of Maya (materialism). A Sikh has to cross this ocean to meet his Beloved God. The ocean seems endless and there are countless obstructions in the way. In order to get through this dangerous and formidable sea, one needs a strong ship and that ship is only the Guru, the Divine Light. In order to get into the Guru’s ship, a Sikh needs a passport, and that passport is baptism.
“Bhavjal bikham dravno na kandhi na par
Na beri na tulha na tis vanj malar
Satgur bhai ka boihtha nadri par utar.”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 1, p-59)
‘The fearful ocean of the world is dangerous and formidable; it hath no shore or limit,
No boat, no raft, no pole, and no boatman;
But the true Guru hath a vessel for the terrible ocean, and ferrieth over him on whom he looketh with favor.’
(Translation of the above)
The ceremony of baptism was started by the very first Guru. Those persons who became Guru’s Sikhs, were baptized by the Guru. By mere attending the assembly of the Guru, one did not automatically become a Sikh of the Guru. From the first to the tenth Guru, baptism ceremony consisted of taking Charanpauhal i.e. Guru’s toe (or feet) was dipped in the water which was then given to the devotee to drink and also Gurmantar (Word) was given by the Guru. After the creation of the Khalsa, the tenth Guru changed this tradition and entrusted this ceremony to the Five Beloved Ones. After that those who accepted the Guru’s religion (Sikh religion), were baptized and they were called the Khalsa (the word Sikh and Khalsa became synonymous). The Guru issued instructions to all to get baptized and join the order of the Khalsa.
Guru Gobind Singh was the first one to get baptized by the Five Beloved Ones. Let it, therefore, be very clear to every Sikh that in order to get into Guru’s fold and seek Guru’s grace, one will have to get baptized by the Five Beloved Ones. Only then one’s efforts towards spiritualism become fruitful. From Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, those who called themselves Guru’s Sikhs, were always baptized by the Gurus. It is the Guru’s order for every Sikh to get baptized and therefore after obeying his order one can get accepted by the Guru:
“Hukam maniai howai parvan ta khasmai ka mahal paisi.”
(Asa di Var pauri 15, p-471)
‘By obeying His order, one is acceptable
And shall then reach his Master’s court.”
(Translation of the above)
Baptism is only the starting point towards the attainment of spiritual goal. Virtuous and religious living according to the Guru Rahit Maryada (Code of Conduct) is to be cultivated in daily practical life. The codes of conduct include spiritual awakening, conscientious performance of one’s duty, humility, temperance and charity. Mere outward faith without practical adherence to the codes of conduct, will not lead the disciple towards the spiritual goal. After baptism, through constant devotion and heartfelt love to the order of the Guru in every walk of life, the disciple seeks the Guru’s grace. Through submission and unconditional surrender before the Guru, the devotee is reborn in the spirit of the Guru; and only at that stage a disciple is truly called a Sikh:
‘Guru sikh, sikh guru hai eko gur updes chalai
Ram nam mant hirdai devai Nanak milan subhai.’
(Asa Mohalla 4, p-444)
“The Guru is a Sikh, the Sikh is a Guru; they are both one, but it is the Guru who giveth instruction
He putteth the spell of God’s Name in the heart, O Nanak, and then God is easily obtained.” (Translation of the above)
HAUMAI (EGOISM – I-AM-NESS):
God is everywhere and within us too, but a veil of ego separates us from Him, it hides the Truth from us:
“God, the Incomprehensible, is within us but not perceived
For the screen the ‘ego’ hangs in between.”
(Rag Sorath Mohalla 5, p-624)
All the five vices- lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego; are the obstructions in the way of spiritual path, but egoism is the paramount of all. In the Guru’s words one of the most recurring key terms is Haumai (I-am-ness) which is regraded as synonymous with the most insidious evil. Egoism is the moral evil which is the root cause of all ill doings. This egoism is the consequence of illusion, of looking upon the individual-self as of paramount importance. All his activities are exclusively directed towards himself. “In ego he takes birth and in ego he dies,” (Asa Mohalla 1, p-466). It spoils the fruit of great penances. The veil of ego when descends on a great Yogi makes him loose in a moment, whatever he had gained through self-mortification practised for years. This egoism is a disease and an obstacle in the way of spiritual uplift of an individual.
Purpose of life centers on the spiritual salvation of a man through the glorification of the Divine and imbibing Divine qualities in the process. Blinded by the ego man cannot perceive the glory of the Divine. Therefore, Nam will not reside in the mind as long as ego is there. Nam and ego are two opposing elements:
“Haumai nawai nal virodh hai doai na vasai ek thai.”
(Wadhans Mohalla 3, p-560)
Egoistic mind cannot realize the ‘morals’ as laid down by the Guru, thus leaving the depressed soul groping in the dark, never realizing its goal. Egoism stands in the way of the desired spiritual attainment. Guru calls egoistic man as ‘Manmukh’. By the grace of the Guru, ego is only burnt through the Sabad:
“Gur kai Sabad parjaliai ta eh vicho jai.”
(Bilawal ki var, Mohalla 3, p-853)
SALVATION – THE WAY TO GOD:
A body is dead without life and life itself is dead without Nam. Nam is the Elixir of life without which life would be meaningless and an accumulative waste. Forgetting Nam torments the soul. There is no spiritual awakening, no peace of mind, no joy and no bliss without Nam. Realization of Nam is the essential condition for a true and fruitful life.
“The tongue that repeateth not His Name
Better it be cut out bit by bit.”
(Funhe Mohalla 5, p-1363)
Gurmat rejects all fasts, rites and rituals as a means to attain salvation. Gurmat rejects claims of yoga, mortification of body, self-torture and penances or renunciation. Gurmat does not believe in the worship of gods and goddesses, stones, statues, tombs, crematoriums, Samadhies, idols and pictures. Gurmat forbids the worship of anything of the Creation as a means to attain salvation. Only one God, the Formless, the Creator of the world is to be Glorified.
The road that leads to God is the most difficult and complex. Guru Nanak has made this road simple and as clear as crystal by showing us a technical approach. The Guru explains that since the human life is attained after passing through numerous lives, so it has gathered along the way impurities of every life it has passed through. Human mind has become black smeared with these impurities:
“The impurity of many births hath attached to man’s mind, and it hath become quite black.”
(Slok Mohalla 3, p-651)
As long as the human mind remains impure, it will not merge with the One Who is Absolute Pure. As the mind becomes pure, the soul will merge with the Supreme Soul. How does the mind become pure?
“Maen te dhokha ta lahai ja sifat kari ardas.”
(Rag Wadhans Mohalla 1, p-557)
‘Praise and prayer (to God) maketh the mind pure.”
(Translation of the above)
Those who have done it, have crossed the ocean of Maya and merged with Him:
“Tu sacha sahib sifat sualio jin kiti so par piya.”
(Slok Mohalla 1, p-469)
‘Thou art the True Lord, Beautiful is Thy Praise; He who utters it, is saved.’
(Translation of the above)
Explanation: If a glass is full of dirty water, pour constantly pure water into it. The constant pouring of pure water into the glass, will throw the dirty water out of the glass and ultimately the glass itself will be full of pure water.
In the same way the constant prayer and praise of God, will clean the impure mind. Human mind is in chaotic state. It is full of five vices- lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride or ego. These are the obstacles in the realization of Nam. Purity of mind is needed for spiritual uplift. No man or monk can achieve salvation without disciplining the world of inner chaos. This discipline of inner chaos by banishing these five vices from the mind, is a pre-requisite for spiritual excellence which is commanded by the Guru. Singing the Glory of the Lord, the Mighty King, will help purge the mind of its impurities. By glorifying the Divine, the human mind imbibes divine qualities in the process. As a result when all the impurities are gone, Nam will enshrine the pure mind. This will lead to exalted mental state from chaotic state. Spiritual evolution will occur resulting in Heavenly Bliss:
“Prayer and praise of God, shall give rise to Nam inside.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 3-Anand, p-917)
Gurmat further states that when hands are smeared with ordinary dirt, simple water will wash it away. If urine makes the cloth dirty, ordinary water cannot wash it, only soap will clean it. Similarly when our mind is full of impurities (sins), it needs some strong detergent and that detergent is Nam:
“As hands or feet besmirched with slime, Water washes white; As garments dark with grime, Rinsed with soap are made light; So when sin foils the soul, Prayer alone shall make it whole.”
(Japji- pauri 20, p-4)
The effect of Prayer and Praise is, firstly all the impurities of the mind are washed away and it becomes pure; secondly as a result when the mind becomes pure, then the nectar of Nam enshrines the mind:
“Prayer and praise of Almighty removeth the impurity of mind
And the Ambrosial Nam then filleth the mind.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 1-4, p-263)
That is the stage a true devotee yearns for. By prayer and praise, one’s mind comes in touch with Nam and becomes illuminated. An enlightened mind emerges and a person is reborn in the spirit of the Guru and he begins to make spiritual progress slowly. Nam is registered by the consciousness and penetrates into the human soul and mind. This glorious transformation or metamorphosis helps transcend human soul to a state of Absolute Bliss. It is a change in a person which occurs within the self from one form to another. The aspect of realization of God changes within and lifts the devotee from the Personal to the Impersonal. All boundaries, limitations and barriers are broken and the individual soul starts merging with the Supreme Soul, as water blends with water, the light blends with the Divine Light:
“His soul and body dyed with the Name of One God Shall ever abide with the Supreme Soul. As water blendeth with water, So light is blended with Light. Transmigration is ended and rest obtained- Nanak is ever a sacrifice to the Lord.” (Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 11-8, p-278)
WHAT TO MEDITATE UPON OR HOW TO DO PRAISE AND PRAYER:
A Sikh is to worship only One God and None else. But God is Formless, then what to meditate upon? During the dialogue with the Sidhas, one Yogi called Charpat asked the Guru,” O Guru, you say that one should not renounce the world rather live in it but the element of Maya (materialism) is so powerful, how can one overcome it and become one with God while living in Maya itself? Please explain your logic behind it.”
“The great sea of life is hard to cross, pray tell us how to get safely across it.”
(Sidh Gosht- Charpat, p-938)
Guru Nanak gave two examples:
A lotus flower always floats above the surface of the water. It cannot exist without water, yet it remains unaffected by the waves, always rising above the water level. A duck swims in the water but never lets its wings get wet. If its wings get wet, it will drown and the duck knows it. Although the duck cannot live without water, yet it disregards the waves.
In the same way a person cannot live without Maya (materialism) in the world, yet while living in it, we are to live above Maya. Material needs are desired and are necessary to sustain the very vital functions of life. Therefore, as a lotus flower and duck do not drown in the water while living in it, a person should remain detached and disinterested with Maya, not forgetting God. That is possible through praise and prayer. Communion with Sabad (Divine Word) will suppress the element of Maya and would enshrine Nam within oneself which in turn would lead a person back into the Unmanifest One:
“As a lotus flower remains unaffected in water
As also a duck swims in it and is not drenched by water
So with fixed intent on Sabad realizing Nam
O Nanak, the dreadful world ocean is crossed safely.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, Sidh Gosht.5, p-938)
To achieve an objective in life, a complete attention and dedication is required. The purity of mind and the sincerity of purpose are the requisites to obtain such an object. This task becomes more and more difficult when the object is Formless God. When we recite Gurbani, and if we do not know the meaning of the Sabad which is being recited, our meditation becomes mechanical, formalistic and hence futile. The result cannot be positive. Secondly, even if we know the meaning of the Sabad, but our mind is not in the Sabad and it keeps wandering away while we are reciting the Sabad, the outcome will not be significant. One must, therefore, remember that Prayer with absent mindedness will not be fruitful and thereby not acceptable to the Lord (‘Ardas hazuri di manzoor hundi hai’). Attentive, alert and completely untainted mind is required for meditation.
Thus whenever we read, hear or sing Gurbani (Sabad), we must put our whole ATTENTION IN THE MEANING OF THE SABAD, which is being read, heard or sung. As our attention of mind and Sabad become one, our mind starts taking the impact of the spirit of the Sabad and the result of this COMMUNION IS BLISS, PEACE AND EVERLASTING JOY. In this communion one experiences a taste which cannot be described and is called Heavenly Elixir (Hari Ras):
“O man, all other ‘Rasas’ (things of relish) thou tasteth Satiate not thy thirst even for a moment.
But if thou ever tasteth the Heavenly Elixir (Hari Ras) Thou shalt be simply wonder-stuck.”
(Gauri Guareri Mohalla 5, p-180)
When the communion of mind with Sabad is established, the disciple is reborn in the Spirit of the Guru. He then blends with the Word (Sabad), and never faces death after this spiritual rebirth:
“He who dies in the Word, never dies again And his devotion becometh fruitful.”
(Rag Sorath, Slok Mohalla 3, p-649)
Those who establish communion with Sabad (Gurbani – Divine Word), shall certainly experience uninterrupted Bliss:
“He will become holy, holy, holy, shalt undoubtedly be holy O Nanak, who uttereth Nam with heartfelt love.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 12-8, p-279)
A FEW SABADS OF PRAISE AND PRAYER:
“Thou art the Lord, I make this supplication unto Thee;
Soul and body are all Thy gifts.
Thou art mother and father, we are Thy children;
By Thy favor we obtain many comforts.
Nobody knows Thy limit;
O God, Thou art the most Exalted of the exalted.
The whole creation is strung on Thy Will;
And must obey the orders Thou issuest.
Only Thou knowest Thine Own condition and limit;
Nanak, Thy servant, is ever a sacrifice unto Thee.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, IV-8, p-268)
“O Eternal, O Infinite, Imperishable, Destroyer of sins;
O Competent, O All-Pervading, Destroyer of sufferings, Ocean of Virtues.
O Companion, O Formless, O Bodiless, Prop of all;
O World-Creator, O Treasure of attributes, in Thy court there is always justice.
O Incomprehensible, Destroyer of sins, most remote Thou
art, wast, and shalt be;
O Constant Companion of saints, Support of supportless.
O Lord! I am Thy servant, I am virtueless, I have no merit;
Saith Nanak, grant me the gift of Thy Nam that I may engrave it in my heart.”
(Gauri Bavan Akhri Mohalla 5, 55, p-261)
“Thou art my father, Thou art my mother,
Thou art my relation, Thou art my brother,
Thou art my protector everywhere; then why should I fear O my mind.
By Thy favor I recognize Thee;
Thou art my shelter, Thou art my honor.
Besides Thee there is none other, the whole world is the arena of Thy play.
Men and lower animals all hast Thou created;
Thou didst appoint them to whatever duties pleaseth Thee.
Everything happens according to Thy Will, there is nothing ours.
I have obtained great comfort by meditating on Thy Name;
And my mind is refreshed by singing Thy praises.
The perfect Guru hath congratulated me; Nanak hath overcome his difficulties.”
(Majh Mohalla 5, p-103)
“Ocean of mercy, dwell for ever in my heart;
So enlighten my understanding that I may love Thee, O God.
May I obtain the dust of Thy saints’ feet and apply to my forehead;
From being a great sinner may I be purified by singing Thy praises.
May Thine order be sweet to me, and what Thou doest please me;
May what Thou givest, satiate me, and I may run after no one else.
O Lord, may I ever know Thee near me, and may I remain the dust of all men’s feet;
May I meet the company of saints so that I may obtain my God.
We are ever ever Thy children; Thou, O God, art our Master;
Nanak is Thy child, Thou art mother father: put Thy Nam in my mouth.”
(Todi Mohalla 5, p-712)
- “O Lord, the Pardoner, O compassionate to the poor,
- O Kinder to the saints and ever Merciful.
- O Patron of the patronless, world Protector, world Sustainer,
- Thou cherisheth all creatures.
- O Primal Being, the Creator of the world,
- Thou art the support of the souls of the devotees.
- He shall become pure, whosoever repeateth Thy Name,
- With devotion, affection and heartfelt love.
- We are devoid of virtue, low and ignorant,
- Nanak seeketh Thy protection O Supreme Power.”
- (Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 20-7, p-290)
PILGRIMAGES- Bathing at Holy Places:
A great deal of emphasis on rituals had been the way of Indian religious life for the millions before Guru Nanak appeared on the scene. Wherever Guru Nanak went, he tried to emancipate the masses from the shackles of superstition and ignorance, and instil faith in One All-Pervading and Formless God. At that time people believed that bathing in the river Ganges and other holy places would absolve them of their sins. The Guru asserted that mere bathing at these sacred places, would not cleanse the mind riddled with the impurity of egoism.
“Tirath bharmas biadh na jawai
Nam bina kaise sukh pawai.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, p-906)
‘Wandering through the pilgrim places,
One is not rid of one’s maladies.
There can be no peace without Nam.’
(Translation of the above)
The Guru stressed that no abiding peace could be achieved without meditating on Divine Name. Meditation on Nam is the only true pilgrimage:
“Tirath nahvan jao tirath nam hai
Tirath sabad vichar unter gian hai.”
(Dhanasri Mohalla 1, p-687)
‘Shall we go to bathe at the pilgrim places?
No. Nam is the only true pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage is the contemplation on the Word
That gives inner spiritual light.’
(Translation of the above)
The Guru emphasizes the futility of rushing to the sacred bathing places for the expiation of sins. Guru Nanak states in Japji that he would bathe at the spots considered sacred, if it could please the Lord. The implication is that such ceremonies by themselves would not win God’s approbation, without cultivating the moral life:
“If it pleaseth the Lord
I would bathe at the sacred places.
If it pleaseth Him not Worthless is that pilgrimage.
I see in the whole world around
That nothing can be gained without right action.”
In another place, the Guru has compared those who bathe at the sacred places to attain merit, with jars full of poison, which are washed only from outside. It means that the evil inside a man, cannot be removed despite outward ritual performances.
CASTE SYSTEM AND SOCIAL EQUALITY:
In an age when class distinction was very rigid and when the bonds of caste system in India had strictly divided the people, Guru Nanak taught equality and brotherhood. The Guru rose above rites and rituals, above creeds and conventions, above all national-cults and all race-cults, to a vision of the deeds of love. He preached a religion of love, sacrifice and service. Complete equality among men was declared by the Sikh Gurus to be the fundamental moral principle required to regulate the social relations and communication.
The Guru points out that there is no fundamental difference among men of different castes in terms of physical constitution. In a polemical discussion with the Brahmans, Kabir inquires:
“How are you a Brahman and I am a low caste?
Is it that I have blood in my veins and you have milk?”
(Gauri Kabir p-324)
This exposes the absurdity of any contention or a claim by the higher caste men that there are physical differences among men of the different castes.
The Guru points out that the laws of nature do no react differently in respect to the higher caste men. Since the nature makes no discrimination in favor of the higher caste men by recognizing their superiority in any manner, the myth of caste superiority is clearly seen as man-made. The Guru states:
“What merit is in caste?
The real truth is that he who tastes the poison will die.”
(Var Majh, Mohalla 1, p-142)
The Guru vehemently regards caste as an abnormality and social perversity when he says:
“Every one says there are four castes, but it is from God that every one comes;
The same is the clay which fashions the whole world;
The five elements make up the body’s form, and who can say who has less of these or who has more?”
(Rag Bhairon Mohalla 3, p-1128)
The Guru denies that caste was prevalent from the beginning. In the primordial state:
“No man of caste or birth could be seen …………….
There was no distinction of color or coat or of the Brahman or Kashatriya…….”
(Maru Mohalla 1, p-1035-36)
The claim that the different caste men had emanated from the different parts of the Primeval Man is also repudiated by the Guru:
“His caste is castelessness. He is incarnated not, He is Self- Existent…….
All hearts are illuminated by the Light of the Lord….”
(Sorath Mohalla 1, 1-2 of 6, p-597)
The Guru, thus, refuses to accredit the caste institution in social ethics and further denies God having favored a few by bringing them out from the higher parts of His body. (These were some of the arguments of the Brahmans to have superiority from birth over low castes).
Finally it is held by the Guru that the caste is of no consideration in the spiritual realization, that men of lower caste need not wait to be born again in the next higher class for the attainment of deliverance:
“Tumra jan jat avijata har japio patat pavichhe.”
(Basant Mohalla 4, p-1178)
‘Whosoever contemplates on God, caste or no caste,
he becomes a blessed devotee of God.”
(Translation of the above)
The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, declared caste a taboo in the order of the Khalsa. In Akal Ustat, he states,” There is no consideration of caste or membership of varnas.” He further writes,”I shall not adopt the habits of any creed, but shall sow the seeds of the pure love of God.” (Vachitar Natak, chap. 6, verse 34). The first of the Sikhs baptized into the order of the Khalsa belonged to different castes. The theory of separate duties for different castes was replaced by the same ethical and religious duties for all men. Therefore, the fundamental equality of all men was ensured by free and voluntary admission into the order of the Khalsa.
Wealth also provides a determinant of social classes as against birth in the case of caste system. In Sikhism the relation among classes based on economic resources is envisaged in terms of equality. It rejects the notion of superiority of the economically better placed class over others. The Guru says:
“The man who knoweth God looketh on all men as equal,
As the wind bloweth on the commoner and the king alike.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 8-1, p-272)
Thus in Sikhism the higher classes are not governed by any separate code of ethics, but all men, rich or poor, are entitled to equal judgement, value and social equality. Since the death is the leveller, the Guru highlights this notion:
“One lives not for ever in the world;
Neither king nor beggar would remain, they all come and go.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, 11, p-931)
Therefore improper consideration of the superiority of rank are based on a wrong conception of the nature of the world. The need for the recognition of human dignity, irrespective of economic classes, is also stressed in an anecdote from the biography of Guru Nanak called the story of Bhai Lalo and Malik Bhago. In that incident Guru Nanak refused a rather sumptuous dinner of Malik Bhago for the ordinary bread of the coarse grain of Bhai Lalo. The moral is drawn that the poor ought not to be treated as low, all must be treated as equal irrespective of their material resources.
STATUS OF WOMEN:
The position of a woman in the society in India, has not been always the same. While at times she had been accorded a very high status, there are also historical and scriptural instances when under some influences, she has been relegated to an inferior position. At the start of Sikhism the status of women was very low in Indian society.
In Sikhism it is considered preposterous to regard woman a ‘temptress’ or ‘seductress’ or ‘unclean’. The Guru does not regard ‘woman’ as an obstruction on the way to ultimate goal of Eternal Bliss. This being so, the Guru rejects asceticism or renunciation as the requisite pathway, and regards the house-holder’s life if it is led in a righteous manner, superior to that of an ascetic. By emphasizing this type of vision to the people, the Guru stresses that women should be given honorable status in every social segment of the society. Guru Nanak asserted that women were not at all inferior to men:
“From the woman is our birth, in the woman’s womb are we shaped;
To the woman we are engaged, to the woman we are wedded;
The woman is our friend and from the woman is the family;
If one woman dies, we seek another, through the woman are the bonds of the world;
Why call woman evil who gives birth to kings?
From the woman comes the woman, without woman there is none;
O Nanak, God alone is the one Who is independent of the woman (because He is unborn).”
(Var Asa Mohalla 1, 2-19, p-473)
This declaration shows unequivocally the high esteem in which a woman’s status is held in Sikhism. Woman ‘the mother of mighty heroes’ is elevated to the highest position in the hierarchy of beings.
In the moral codes of the Sikhs a large number of injunctions deal with the rejection of unethical practices like- (i) female infanticide; (ii) immolation of the widow (Sati) with the deceased husband, and (iii) wearing of veils by women. In the ancient period in India, it was stated according to spiritual authority that self-immolation on the funeral pyre of her husband was the only meritorious course that a virtuous woman could follow; not only would such a woman enjoy eternal bliss in heaven along with her husband, but her action would expiate the sins of three generations of her husband’s family both on his father’s and mother’s side.
Guru Amar Das, the third Master, carried out a vigorous campaign against this practice of Sati, and thereby he emancipated the women from this social oppression and religious cruelty. The Guru declared that “the Sati is one who lives contented and embellishes herself with good conduct, and cherishes the Lord ever and calls on Him.” (Rag Suhi, Slok Mohalla 3, 2-6, p-787)
One of the most notable social improvement was the emancipation of women. Many women found salvation through the Guru’s teachings. In Sikhism widow remarriage is also permitted whereby the widow can be rehabilitated if she so desires.
INSTITUTIONS OF SANGAT AND PANGAT:
SANGAT- Society of the Holy:
Sangat means assembly or congregation, but in Sikhism Sangat is usually called Sat Sangat (holy congregation) which may be defined as the Home of Truth where people love God and learn to live in Him:
“Sat Sangat kaisi janiai jithai eko nam vakhaniai.”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 1, p-72)
‘How should we know of Sat Sangat?
Where the lovers of Truth hold communion with One Lord alone.’
(Translation of the above)
Again the fourth Guru gives definition of Sangat:
“Sat Sangat is the school of the True Guru,
There we learn to love God and appreciate His greatness.”
(Var Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1313)
Guru Nanak attached great importance to the setting up of Sangats, the holy assemblies, and wherever he went, he tried to establish them. The Divine Word (Gurbani) and the Sat Sangat were the only two means that the Guru employed to rid the people of their selfishness and evil passions; and finally for their salvation and for uniting them with God:
“Sat Sangat is the treasury of Divine Name;
There we meet God;
Through the Grace of Guru,
One receives there Light and all darkness is dispelled.”
(Sarang ki Var, Mohalla 1, p-1244)
It is well recognized fact that spiritual progress cannot be achieved without the company of the Holy. The society of the holy is the means of destroying egoism and helps one in freeing oneself from evil passions:
“The dirt of egoism of ages which has soiled the soul, Will be removed only in the Society of the Holy. Just as iron floats when tied to timber So will one cross the ocean of life by following The Guru’s Word in the company of the saints.”
(Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1309)
“O friend, tell me how I might cross Through the difficult ocean of Maya; If God in His mercy gives the fellowship of the Truthful Nanak, Maya cannot come even near.”
(Bavan Akhri Mohalla 5,(7), p-251)
Wherever Guru Nanak went, the Sikhs built Gurdwara (house of the Guru) and met there every day and formed into a regular Sangat. From the time of the third Master, Guru Amar Das, it was felt that the Sikhs should have their own seats of religion. He founded the town of Chak Ram Das which subsequently got its present name, Amritsar; and he got a Bawli (a well with staircase reaching down to the water surface) constructed at Goindwal. The fourth and fifth Masters also evinced great interest in building up new religious centers for their followers such as Amritsar, Kartarpur etc. These religious centers formed a great cementing force for the rising Sikh community. The Sikh Sangats from far and near used to visit these centers and had the opportunity not only meeting the Holy Guru and having his blessings, but also coming into close contact with one another. During their visit they were provided with free accommodation and free food. Simron (participation in daily religious service) and seva (participation in the community projects and Guru ka Langar, kitchen) were the two major constituents of the daily routine of the visiting Sikhs. These close contacts formed the bases of a well-integrated Sikh organization.
The process of integration of Sikhism went hand in hand with the enlargement of its ranks. During the time of the third Guru, there were twenty-two manjis and fifty-two piris, which were all big and small centers for the spread of Sikh religion in the country. Guru Ram Das, the fourth Master, established a new order of missionaries called Masands. This new order was reorganized and elaborated by the fifth Guru. As the number of new Sikh Sangats grew larger in the country, the mode of initiation of prospective Sikhs through the ceremony of Charanpauhal (Charanamrit) was allowed to all authorized missionaries. Although the ideal Charanamrit was the one administered by the Guru himself, since it was not possible for the Guru to be present physically everywhere, the authority of initiation was delegated to local missionaries. The bulk of the people who came to the fold of Sikhism as a result of the above efforts, were drawn from the commercial classes mostly dwelling in the towns. During the period of the fifth Guru, the movement became popular in the country side also, with the result that a large number of Majha Jats embraced Sikhism.
Finances are most necessary for the success of any movement. In the beginning, the voluntary offerings of the devotees were sufficient. When big projects were undertaken, the existing practice was found inadequate. In order to meet the situation, the masands were required not merely to concentrate on the dissemination of Sikh teachings, but also to collect voluntary offerings from the faithful and to bring them to the headquarters of the Guru.
In the very beginning Sikh sangat was merely a religious gathering of devotees, functioning more or less in isolation. Gradually there was an increase in its functions. Preparation of copies of holy scripture, the building up of certain religious centers, institutions of Manjis and Masands as the agencies of the central leadership and the assertion of the principle of the supremacy of the Guru, all these factors were common links in uniting one to another. Therefore, the isolation of one from another was lessened. The movement continued till it culminated in the creation of the Khalsa aimed at a well-balanced combination of the ideals of Bhakti and Shakti, of moral and spiritual excellence and militant valour or heroism of the highest order. A day before he left this world, Guru Gobind Singh made the historic announcement abolishing the line of personal Guruship and conferring the powers of deliberation upon the Khalsa. With the foundation of the Khalsa, the network of semi-integrated Sangats was fully integrated. The investing of Khalsa with supreme power, marked the completion of this long process of about two and a half centuries.
Any one irrespective of caste, creed and cline can become a member of the Sangat. All services can be performed by the Sikh and non-Sikh devotees except the functions of baptism which can only be performed by the ordained Khalsa who has lived up to the ideals. Sangat is not merely a gathering of worshippers nor is it just a forum for seeking personal salvation and blessedness, but it has stood for the total re-orientation of life of the individuals and society towards a creative purposeful existence. Sangat was considered to be so important that even the Gurus used to submit to the decisions of it. Guru Arjan did not marry his son to Chandu’s daughter because Sangat had decided against it. Sangat can be a small unit but in its Totality, it is called Panth- The Holy Way of Life.
PANGAT- Guru’s Free Kitchen known as Langar:
Another institution, that of Pangat or Langar (free common messing), organized almost simultaneously with that of Sangat. It was initiated by Guru Nanak and its consolidation and extension was affected by the third Guru. The rules of the Langar require that all should sit in the same row and partake of the same food without any distinction of high or low, rich or poor, and prince or the peasant. It was the injunction of Guru Amar Das that none could have his audience unless he had eaten in the Langar. When the Raja of Haripur or even Emperor Akbar, came to see the Guru, they had to sit with other common people and dine together with them before the Master gave consent to see them. In this way the people were made to renounce their social prejudices. Common kitchen also served as a medium of social integration.
The institution of Pangat imparted a secular dimension to the Sangat. Most importantly it translated the principle of equality into practice, and it also served as a cementing force among the followers of Sikhism.
This institution provides safeguard against the immoral social practice of untouchability which is a by-product of the caste system. This institution is run with the help and contributions of all and not by any one particular person or class of persons. The free kitchen where prince and peasant could mess together, fostered a spirit of charity on a large scale and also became a powerful binding force.
The ideal of social equality is not the ultimate aim of the ethics of Sikhism. This equality may be maintained without feeling any affection or regard for each other, but such bare equality would not be enough because it does not conform to the ideal of humanistic morality. Hence in order to make it whole, it should be saturated with the idea of spiritual unity of mankind. The Guru stated:
“As out of a single fire, millions of sparks arise; arise in separation but come together again when they fall back in the fire. As from a heap of dust, grains of dust sweep up and fill the air, and filling it fall in a heap of dust. As out of single stream, countless waves rise up and being water, fall back in water again. So from God’s form emerge alive and inanimate things and since they arise from Him, they shall fall in Him again.”
(Guru Gobind Singh- Akal Ustat)
This means that every human being deserves to be treated as a member of the same human brotherhood. The fellow human being is not an ‘other’. The Guru says:
“Meeting with the Guru, I have abandoned the sense of the otherness.”
(Bhiro Mohalla 5, 1-29-42, p-1148)
The other is in fact not an ‘other’ but a co-sharer of the same source of emanation and a part of the same spiritual order. This sense of brotherhood of humanity is, thus, linked together by bonds deeper than family, social or national affinities. This brotherhood of mankind in terms of God being the common father is stressed by the Guru:
“Thou art the father of us all…….all are the partners, Thou art alien to none.”
(Majh Mohalla 5, p-97)
The Guru is pointing to the common bonds of existence in the world:
“Air is the Guru, water is father, great earth the mother;
In the lap of two nurses, night and day, the whole world is brought up.”
(Japji, Slok, p-8)
According to the Guru, the brotherhood is the reality but it is hidden from us by the veil of houmai (I-am-ness or individuation). Houmai is the dirt over our mind which it has gathered during the process of transmigration. Once this dirt over our mind is removed and the veil of houmai (I-am-ness) is felled, the relationship across the human lines becomes a clear reality. As long as our minds remain under veil of I-am-ness, our understanding will continue to be hollow and away from reality. How do we clean our mind?
As mentioned before the Guru gives direction how to clean the mind:
“Only through praise and prayer to God
Mind will become pure.”
(Wadhans Mohalla 1, p-557)
Once mind becomes pure, it attains a spiritual height in which reality opens up and all delusion is gone and then sense of universal brotherhood prevails: “There is One father of us all And we are children of the same father.” (Sorath Mohalla 5, p-611)
“I am neither a Hindu nor a Muslim;
The soul and body belong to God whether He be called Allhah or Ram.”
(Bhairo Mohalla 5, p-1136)
“O eyes of mine, God infused light unto you, look at none but God; Look at none but God; look on Him intently.
All this world which you behold is God’s image; God’s image appeareth in it.
When by the Guru’s grace I received understanding,
I saw that God was One, and that there was none besides.
Saith Nanak, these eyes were blind, but on meeting the true
Guru they obtained divine light.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 3, Anand-36, p-922)
Once by the grace of the Guru, our heart is filled with divine light, then there is no ‘other’, there is no enmity, no hatred, but it is all altruism and service for the brotherhood of mankind. In the practical experience we find an example of Bhai Ghanaya. In the battlefield Bhai Ghanaya was on duty to serve water to the thirsty. He was found serving water to the Sikhs as well as to the Hindus and Muslims alike. The Sikhs complained to the Guru that Bhai Ghanaya was serving water to the enemy soldiers who after getting water, became afresh and fought against them. The Guru sent for him and asked him what the Sikhs had complained. Bhai Ghanaya replied,” O true king, I do not see who is a friend and who is a foe. I see your image in every one of them alike. I saw that they were all your Sikhs and none else and so I served water to every one of them.”
This is the desired mental stage commanded by the Guru when a person’s mind is lifted above the lines of religion, color, race or national entity; and the sense of real universal brotherhood is born:
“There is no enemy, none is ‘other’,
A sense of universal brotherhood has come to me.”
(Kanra Mohalla 5, p-1299)
Sikhism believes in it, stands for it and takes practical measures to realize it. There are numerous examples in the Sikh history to emphasize this fact.
Guru Nanak travelled for fourteen years on foot and he covered the area from Assam Hills in the east of India to as far as Iran and Iraq in the west; from Tibet in the north to Ceylon in the south. During this long journey he went to various famous Hindu temples and their learning centers, Maths of Sidhas, and the various centers of Mohammadans including Mecca, and delivered the Divine Message (brotherhood of mankind and Fatherhood of God) for which he came to this world. Never he asked any one to become his disciple in order to go to heaven. He rather held guarantee to the entire humanity that if a person, irrespective of race, color, caste, creed, sex, religion or nationality, meditated on God, the Formless One, would get deliverance:
“Jo jo japai so hoai punit
Bhagat bhai lavai manhit.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 20-7, p-290)
‘He shall become pure, whosoever repeateth His Name
With devotion, affection and heartfelt love.”
(Translation of the above)
Sikhism fully stands for universal brotherhood in word and in spirit. Every Sikh living in every corner of the world when he prays in the morning and in the evening, ends his prayer by saying:
“By Thy Grace, may every one be blessed in the world.”
PICTURES OF THE GURUS:
Some artists have painted imaginary pictures of all the ten Gurus. Have these artists ever seen the Gurus? One can find these pictures hanging in almost all the Gurdwaras and in the majority of the Sikh homes. The irony of fate is that many of the Sikhs place garlands of flowers upon these pictures and also burn incense in front of them. Is it not idol (picture) worship? How can we call this Gurmat? In Zafarnama which Guru Gobind Singh wrote to Emperor Aurangzeb, he mentioned about hill Rajas, “They worshipped idols, and I was an idol-breaker..” While the Guru was an idol-breaker, his so called Sikhs have now become idol (picture) worshippers!
From Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, emphasis was laid to worship only one God, the Formless, and they strongly forbade the worship of idols, crematoriums, Samadhies, tombs etc. etc. These picture worshippers quote the following verses of Gurbani in support of their action:
‘Gur ki murat man meh dhyan.’
(Gaund Mohalla 5, p-864)
‘Worship Guru’s picture in mind.’
(Translation of the above)
‘Satgur ki murat hirdai vasai.’
(Dhanasri Mohalla 1, p-661)
What is GURU and what is Guru’s MURAT (picture)?
As explained earlier in this book, according to Gurbani Guru is not body (deh), Guru is Jot (Divine Light) and Guru’s murat (picture) is the Divine Word (Gurbani):
‘Jot roop har aap gur nanak kahaio.’
(Swayas Bhattan p-1408)
The Gurmat (Guru’s teaching) explains that true Guru is not a physical body and therefore the body is not considered to be worthy of any kind of worship:
‘Satgur niranjan soi
Manukh ka kar roop na jan.’
(Ramkali Mohalla 5, p-895)
Therefore, the meaning of “Gur ki murat man meh dhayan” is clearly not the worship of Guru’s picture but to put attention in the meaning of the Sabad (Word). Gurbani confirms that by seeing Guru’s physical body, salvation cannot be attained:
‘Satgur no sabh ko vekhda jeta jagat sansar
Didhai mukat na hovai jichar sabad na kare vichar.’
(Slok Mohalla 3, p-594)
If by seeing Guru’s body one can get salvation, then Mehta Kaluji would not have slapped his son, Guru Nanak. Since the father had seen the Guru, he should have attained salvation. Instead history has recorded that Mehta Kaluji could not see the Divine Light in his son and continued slapping him. If by seeing Guru’s body one can get salvation, both sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das, would not have disobeyed the Guru, their father. The executioner who was pouring hot sand over the naked body of Guru Arjan, would not have done that, because he had seen the Guru and should have gotten salvation. The executioner would not have severed the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur, because he had seen the Guru. Therefore, when the Guru Jot was in human body even then the mere sight of the Guru’s physical body did not give salvation to any one, how can these Fake Pictures salvage us? They can only derail us from the true prescribed path of Gurmat.
In Tavparsad Swayas the Guru describes that those who worship the idols are ‘Pas’ (animal like):
“Kou butan ko pujat hai ‘pas’ kou butan ko pujan dhayo.”
‘Some worshipping stones put them on their heads,
some hang lingams from their necks;
Some see God in the south,
some bow their heads to the west;
Some fools worship idols, others busy themselves with
worshipping the dead;
The whole world entangled in false ceremonies hath
not found God’s secret.’
(Guru Gobind Singh- Tavparsad Swayas)
Some Sikhs are also wearing necklaces with Guru’s picture around their necks. Is it Gurmat? This is totally manmat,this is perverseness. Guru is not an idol. Guru is not a picture. Guru is not a human body. After he breathed his last, none could find Guru Nanak’s body. Therefore Guru is JOT. Guru is Divine Light. Guru is All-pervading Divine Spirit. Guru is Divine Word (Gurbani). To garland the imaginary pictures of the Gurus is totally anti-Gurmat. How can we have Guru’s blessings when we act against the very dictum of the Guru?
The Impersonal Absolute cannot be installed as an image. He has no form and, thus, cannot be described through symbols. Such actions in themselves would not win Guru’s approbation. Without total allegiance to the Guru’s order, Sikh faith would be burried deep under a heap of senseless dogmas, meaningless rituals and ceremonial acts.
Sikhism is not a dogma but a way of life lived according to Guru Rahit Maryada (code of conduct). A Sikh has to hold his Guru’s word as paramount in his daily existence. Without glorifying His presence in one’s existence, life will be contaminated and polluted and will be in deplorable state which will lead to spiritual degeneration. Deep and continuous contemplation on Nam is needed and is indispensable for the exalted state of Sikh character. Nam is neither a philosophy nor knowledge to be gained from books. It dwells within and is realized from within through the grace of the true Guru (Gurbani – Divine Word). Let the following be our daily supplication:
“O my friend, the Divine Guru!
Illuminate my mind with the Name Divine!
Let the Name revealed to me by the Guru be my life-companion;
And singing Thy Glory be my daily routine.”
(Rag Gujri Mohalla 4, p-10)
- Brief Introduction
- The Sikh Gurus
- Khalsa : Saint – Soldier
- Fundamentals of Sikhism
- The Sikh Philosophy
- The Message of Sikhism
- The Scriptures
- The SikhPrayers
- The Sikh Shrines
- The Sikh Symbols