Political Consciousness in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Dr. Surjit Hans
There is no morphological mention of history in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. How is it written? In what way its writing is related to the past? Sri Guru Granth Sahib has its mythological division of yugas (ages).
Sri Guru Granth Sahib has in it two-fold historical values. Firstly, it is the aim of the Sikh faith to lift up the down-trodden in all aspects. Such a tendency, while it is modern, it is historical also. It is historical because in history, it is a novel idea. Secondly, there is the question of contemporary spirituality in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. For a devout Sikh, the contemporary spirituality lies in following the Sikh tenets. Formally, a Sikh or a non-Sikh can give some other answer to this. But their answer would be conditioned by their own intellect, meaning, thought and reason. Thus the question in Sikh faith becomes the universal question.
For example, two or three questions of the present world in fact relate to the Christian faith. In the philosophy of today, the question of Determinism is in fact the Theologicial question of the Free Will in the Christian faith. In the field of psychology, the relationship between mind and body is problematic just as the connection between body and soul in Christiantiy. The distribution of time in history, like ancient, medieval, modern, are all the inventions of the Christian faith about which generally we do not know. 1
The greatness of Sri Guru Granth Sahib lies in its concern with the universal man who is described as living in this world. In the same way the discussion here would be about the contemporary spirituality and the changed form of the Sikh claim.
(1. The Secular Heritage of Sikhs: Sikh History and Religion in the Twentieth Century eds D Copnnal et. Al University of Toronto, 1900, 70,71. The concept of Mind, Gilbert Ryle, Penguin, 1963 Foundations of Psychoilogy.ed., Boring Langfeld & Weld, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1963. The Idea of History;, R.G. Collingwood, lOUP, Delhi, 1976)
Balihari Gur aapnai, deohari sad vaar.
Jin manas tai devtai kiyai, karat na lagi var. pp.462-63.
(I sacrifice myself a hundred times unto my Guru, again and again. He turned men into gods in no time.).
The Sikh dialectics turned the down trodden into gods and the history of the Sikhs is its ironic achievement.
Identification with the low level people is beautifully stated by Sri Guru Ram Das –
Hamrai man chit Hari aas nit,
kyo dekha Hari daras tumara.
Jin preet layee so janta, hamrai man chit Hari bahut pyara.
Hau qurbani gur aapnai, jin vichhuria meliya maira sirjanhara.1.
Mairai Ram, ham paapi saran parai Hariduar.
Mat nirgun ham mailai kabhoon, apni kirpa dhaar.1. (rahau.)
Hamrai avgun bahut bahut hai,
bahu bar bar bar Hari Ganat na avai.
Toon gunvanta Hari Hari Dayal,
Hari aapai bakhas lehai Hari bhavai.
Ham apraadhi rakhai gur sangti,
updes dio Hari Nam chhadavai.2
Tumrai Gun kya kaha merai satgura,
jab guru bolehai tab bisam hoye jaye.
Ham jaisai apraadhi avar koyee rakhai,
jaisai ham satguru rakh liai chhadaye.
Toon gur pita toon hai gur mata,
toon gur bandhap maira sakha sakhaye. 3.
Jo hamri bidh hoti mairai satgura,
saa bidh tum Hari janahu aapai.
Ham rultai phirtai koyee baat na poochhta,
Gur Satgur sang kirai ham thapai.
Dhan dhan Guru Nanak jan kaira,
jit miliai chookai sabh sog santapai. 4.5..11.49
(M.4 gauri 11, p. 167)
(I always have a fond hope in my mind to have Thy glimpse. One who falls in love knows how much love do I have in my mind. I sacrifice myself for the sake of my Guru who has united me with my creator, long separated from me. O may Lord, I am a sinner but I have taken shelter at Thy door in the sanguine hope for union at some time with Thy Grace. My sins are innumerable, committed again and again, beyond counting. But Thou with all the virtues, art compassionate enough to forgive me in Thy Will. A sinner like me has been taken into Guru’s congregation, given exhortation, and saved through Hari’s Name. O my True Guide, I can’t state the extent of your virtues, I just get ecstatic when Guru talks. No one would keep a sinner like me with him, as my Guru has kept me and liberated me. Thou art the father-guru, thou art also the mother-guru, and thou art my friend-guru and my relative-guru. Only you know, my true guide, what would have been my condition. I only know that I am rotting and no one cares for me, but my true guide has picked me up and honoured me, the worm that I was. Great is my Guru, whose servant am I. Meeting with my guru removes all the sorrows and pains.)
The Sikh faith belongs to those who are down trodden and rotting, those who are not cared for by any one; they are like sinners, devoid of any virtue, and like worms but Guru gives them a place of honour. The spiritual state of the so called low people in the Sikh faith is such as they have gone far ahead of the traditional faith. According to Kabir,
Ham ghar soot taneh ni tana, kanth janeu tumarai.
Tu tau Bed padahu gayatri, Gobind ridai hamarai.
Meri jehba Bisan Nain Narain, hirday baseh gobinda.
Jam duar jab poochhas bavrai, tab kya kahes mukanda.
Ham goru tum gua gusayee, janam janam rakhvarai.
Kabhu na par utar chadhaiyo, kaise khasam hamarai.
Toon bahman mai kasi ka julha, boojhau more gyana.
Tum tau jachai bhoopat rajai, Hari sio more dhyana.
(At my place is done the warp and woof of cotton, but the sacred thread is around your neck. You read the Vedas and Gayatri mantra, but Gobind (God) dwells in my heart. My tongue is Vishu and eyes are Narain, and the sustainer of the universe abides in my heart. When the reckoning is done at the Yama’s door, what would the giver of salvation say? I am the cow, and thou art the cow-herd, my master, my protector in all my lives. But never have I been taken across, what kind of a master ar you? You are the Brahmin, and I, the weaver of Kashi. Just try to know me. You go to beg before the kings, but I look to God only. )
The satire here is that those who have the warp and woof of cotton, cannot wear the sacred thread. The Brahmin simply reads the Gayatri, but does not understand it and has no spiritual experience. Vishu lives on Kabir’s tongue, Narayn on his eyes (He sees God everywhere) and Govind (the sustainer of the universe) abides in his heart. The Brahmin will not be able to withstand the reckoning by Dharamaraja. The Brahmins are the cowherds of the cow like souls of the people in name only but they have never been able to take anyone across. The Brahin cannot comprehend the knowledge of the weaver living in Kashi as he is busy in begging at the doors of the kings. The Sikhs are a politically depressed class which has no spiritual affinity with the ruling class:
Ham maskeen khudaye Bandai, tum rajas man bhavai.
Allah awal deen ko sahib, jore nahi furmavai.1.
Qazi, bolya ban nahi avai. 1 rahau.
Roza dhaarai nimaz guzarai, kalima bhist na hoyee.
Sattar Ka’ba ghat hi bheetar, jekar janai koyee.
Niwaz soyee jo niyao bicharai, kalmia akleh janai.
Pachahu mus musalla bichhavai,tab tau deen pachhanai.
Khasam pachhan taras kar jia mahi, mar mani kar pheeki.
Aap janaye avar kau janai, tab hoye bhist sareeki.
Mati eik bhekh dhar nana, ta mahi Braham pachhana.
Kahai Kabira bhist chhod kar, dozakh sio man maana.
(We are the helpless creatures of God but you are enamoured with your royal diginity. God has been in the highest position much before your faith came into being and thus He is the Master of all. O qazi it does not behove you saying anything. Observing fasts, offering prayers and reciting Kalima does not take you to heaven. If someone understands the Truth, he has had the Haj (piligrimage to Mecca) seventy times in his mind. The true prayer is which thinks of justice, and Kalima is true if it realizes the truth. Offering five prayers sitting on the mat leads one nowhere unless the five vices are given up. Realize God and show compassion to the living one and get rid of your ego. Only self realization can enable you to have an idea of others’ suffering and then you deserve a place in heaven. All the creatures have been created out of the same earth but seeing God in all of them is the real God-realisation. You have given up godly ways and taken to the sinful life which would take you to hell.)
It is worth noting that the representative of the ruling class has gathered around him what takes one to hell. According to Kabir, the ruler has close relationship with might. The religious conduct of the ruling class is hollow. Only arguments which hold no water are offered. As far as the institution of poltics is concerned, prayer is justice, in the individual capacity Kalima is the knowledge of the unknowable. One should not forget God. In Persian, this means fear, that is one should remain under His fear and ego and pride should be destroyed. All this does not happen for political reasons. They would bear relationship afterwards with the review of the Sikh rule too. Despite religious distinctions, human being is the same. What is worth noting is that the Sikhs, though low in society, claim equality with others.
It is for this reason that for Kabir the questions of minor needs are not away from his Bhagti (devotion) but have become natural with the Bhagats. It is difficult for us to have an idea of the magnetism thereof as was to the Sikhs in early days. While the earlier Sikhs had the personal and touching experience of Bhagti, their dismal state too was in poroportion thereto in the material sense. The details of needs in Kabir’s Bani point to this direction.
Bhookhai bhagat na kijai.Yeh mala apni lijai.
Hau mangau santan raina. Main nahi kisi ka daina. 1.
Madho kaisi bane tum sangai.
Aap na dehu tau levao mangai. Rahau.
Doi ser mangau choona. Pao ghio sang loona.
Adh ser mangau dalai. Mokau dono wakhat jiwalia.2.
Khat mangau chaupai, sirhana avar tulai.
Oopar kau mangau kheendha. Teri bhaga karai man beedha. 3
Mai nahi keeta labau, ik naam tera main phabau.
Keh Kabir man manya. Man manya tau Hari janya
(I can’t become a devotee on empty stomach. Here is Thy rosary. I cherish Saint’s feet-dust. I don’t owe aught to anyone. How can I get attuned to Thee, my Lord? Unless I am given by Thee, I shall ask Thee to give me. Pause. Two sears (a seer is a little less than a KG) of flour I need, quarter of a sear of butter oil with salt. Half a sear of pulses I need to be fed twice a day. I need a four-legged cot, a pillow and a mattress. I also need a wrap so that I sit in meditation attentively. I have not been greedy (to ask for all this). It’s Thy Name alone which behoves me to recite. Sayeth Kabir, I am content now and with contentment can God be realized.)
‘Here is Thy rosary’ is a protest which is reiterated in saying ‘I owe aught to none’. ‘If not given by Thee, I’ll ask Thee to give me’ show frankness of a true devotee. Mention of flour, butter oil, pulses and oil has been made as if God is not aware of all this. So Kabir is trying to make God understand (about the needs to be fulfilled) ‘Feed me twice’, an unbroken cot shows the pang of poverty. ‘A wrap to cover myself’ means it is also essential (for comfortable sleep). The fulfillment of these needs leads to contentment which is followed by realization of God. Even today, when continuous reading of gurbani is done and at the conclusion, this hymn is sung. From this one can have an idea of the magnetic pull of the hymn.
In the next hymn is the ‘Aarta’. It means the needy are miserable too. Here the changed gender of Aarti could be construed as a rustic manner of the farmer. The lowly placed farmer doesn’t know what is ‘aarti’ and how is it to be performed? For him devotion means, prayer for provisions. What is important in the second hymn is that the poor man’s main concern is the fulfillment of small needs. After fulfillment of these needs Dhanna has become hopeful and thinks of asking for more in case God is about to grant him all that. He is begging all this earnestly:
Gopal taira aarta. Jo jan tumri bhagat karanti
Tin kai kaaj swarta. Rahau..
Dal sidha mangau ghio. Hamra Khushi karai ni jio.
Pania chhadan neeka. Anaj mangau sat sika. 2
Gau bhais mangau laveri. Ik tajan turu changeri.
Ghar ki gihan change. Jan Dhanna levai mangi.) (p..695)
(I pray to Thee O Lord. Those who are devoted to Thee, have their desires fulfilled. I need pulses, flour and butter oil. Also I need shoes and good dress. I need grain of the seven times ploughed land. I also need milk giving cow and buffalo. Also a mare of Arabic descent. And lastly, I also need a good wife.All this I beg of Thee, my Lord.)
Bhagat Ravidas calls this body a shoe. The affluent ones keep their shoes in good repair. I, a cobblelr, know how to make an ordinary shoe, but I do nothing for my body which is also a shoe. In Ravidas’s spirituality, the rich rulers are like a shoe. How this hymn inspires the Sikhs spiritually is difficult to imagine _:
Chamratha gaath na janyee. Log gathavai panhi.
Aar nahi jih topau, nahi rambi thau ropau.
Log gath gath khara bigoocha.
Hau bin gathai jaye pahoocha.
Ravidas japai Ram Nama,
mohe jam sio nahi kama. (Sorath 7, P.659
(People come to me for having their shoes repaired, but I do not have the proper know how. I don’t have the required tools also – a needle to stitch, the cobbler’s scrape to put patches on leather to repair the shoes. People go on getting patchwork done in vain and I have reached (God) without patching up. Ravidas recites His Name and has nothing else to do. )
According to Ravidas, a cobbler, patching the shoes can realize God, but those who keep their body in perfect trim (by patching it) waste themselves. If a cobbler is bad, those who care only for their body, are worse. How could a cobbler be regarded of low caste?
Ravidas’s world of his own spiritual concept is the reverse of the worldly form. The low one, through spiritual build up desire to rise high but the idiom of expression remains the same. In the world of Ravidas’ imagination, there is no tax nor fear of the authority. It is the estate of the mental state. There is no classification of castes into first, second or third level. Only the affluent ones abide there. There is a direct contact with the king. In this place of Begampura (No-worry state) even God has become a fellow citizen.
Begampura sahar ko nao. Dookh andoh nahi tih thao
Na tasvees khiraj na maal. Khauf na khata na taras jawal.
Ab mohi khoob vatan geh payee.
Oohan khair sada merai bhayee
Kayuam dayam sada patishahi. Dom na som eik so aahi.
Abadan sada mashoor. Oohan gani baseh mamoor.
Tio tio sail kareh jio bhavai. Mehram mahal na ko atkavai.
Keh Ravidas khalas chamara.
Jo hamsehri su meet hamara (Gauri Ravidas, p.345)
(Explained above. Ravidas has conceived an ideal city in his imagination. There is all happiness, no fear, no discrimination, no hindrance, no check on freedom to go anywhere. Ravidas, though himself belonging to a low caste, feels himself equal to the highest and those live with him are, according to him, his fellow citizens of the ideal city.)
It is worth noting that in the ideal city, all the worries, pains, hardship, fear, offence, decline, etc. are not there and the people there are affluent. In these lines the business and administration are clearly discernible. Under an administration of a ruler, one cannot feel free. We know in reality – One canot move about at one’s will – that this proves wrong when we find the existence of police posts, courts, jails, guards before the bungalows. Because everyone cannot become one’s confident. And if one has to move about conditionally, it would not be the movement of a free man. It is the movement of a person bound by administrative norms. Ravidas’s friend is his fellow citizen, who can be any one. ‘Fellow citizen’ is God also. Such an imganary world is possible when there are no institutions of wealth, administration and every citizen is like God.
Guru Amardas speaks of the dharma (characteristics) of this age which can be known by Guru’s Grace. There is no need of unnecessary arguments. A Sikh has to live by the Word. Pride does not go down by going on pilgrimages; rather it increases. No other pretense is of any use. His Name alone is true renunciation_:
Is jug ka dharma parahu tum bhayee.
Poorai gur sabh sojhi payee..
Aithai aagai Hari Naam sakhayee.l .
Raam parhau man karahu bichar.
Gur prasadi mail utar. Pause.
Vad virodh n paya jaye.
Man tan pheeka doojai bhaye.
Gur kai sabad sach liv laye.2.
Haumai maila ehu sansara.
Nit tirath nhavai na jaye ahankara
. Bin Gur bhetai jam karai khuara.3.
So jan sacha ji haumai marai.
Gur kai sabad panch sangharai.
Aap tarai saglai kul tarai.4.
Maya moh nat baji payee.
Manmukh andh rahai laptayee.
Gurmukh alipt rahai liv nayee.5
Bahutai bhekh karai bhekhdhari.
Antar tisna phirai ahankari.
Aap na chinai baji hari.6.
Kaapar pehar karaii chaturayee.
Maya moh ati bharam bhulayee.
Bin guru sewai bahut dukh payee.7
Naam ratai sada bairagi.
Grihi antar sach liv laagi.
Nanak Satgur seveh se wadbhagi.8 (P.230)
(Know ye the main function of this age. My perfect Guru has made me understand that it is His Name only which helps here and there (in the next world). Dwell in God’s Name thoughtfully and purify yourself with Guru’s Grace. God cannot be realized with unnecessary conflict; the mind gets untrue when it attunes itself to matters others than God. The true attunement is had only by concentrating on Guru’s Word. This world has become impure because of ego. Even bathing at holy places does not help in destroying pride. Without coming into contact with God, Yama torments. A true one is that who kills his ego. By following Guru’s Word, he kills the five enemeies (kam, karodh…passion, anger….etc). He gets across himself and helps others do so. The acrobat (God) has played the game. The manmukhs (guided by self) blindly get attached but a Gurmukh (Guided by Guru) remain detached and dwell on Him. The cunnig ones assume many forms (tricksters). Inside they suffer from cravings and ego. Without self-realisatioin, they lose the game. They pose to be clever in new attires. They are lost in their love for maya (illusion). Without serving the Guru, they suffer greatly. Those absorbed in His Name,are always detached. Though living in their house, they remaine attuned to Those who serve the True Guide, sayeth Nanak, are the lucky ones. This is repeatedly seen in Guru Amardas’s Bani- Kal keerat sabad pachhan (P.424)
(In the dark age, recite His Name and understand the Word)
Is jug mahi nirbhau Hari Naam hai,
paiyai gur vichar. (p.365)
(His Name removes all fears in this age. This can be had by dwelling over Guru’s Word.)
Ram Naam is jug mahi dulabh hai,
Gurmat Hari ras pijai. (P. 565)
(God’s Name is hard to be had in this age; only by taking Guru’s wisdom this nectar comes by .)
Naam’s importance can hardly be overstated as it raises up the down trodden.-
Ham neech se uttam bhaye, Hari ki sarnayee(565)
(We have risen high from the low position, by taking shelter with God).
Kaliyug mahi naam nidhan bhagti khatya
Hari uttam pad paya. (p.513
(In this dark age, the treasure of His Name is found by the devotees who attain the high position. )
Hari Naam achraj Prabhu aap sunaye.Kalikal vich Gurmuch paye. (P.666)
(The Wonderous Naam is sounded by God Himself and the Gurmukh (those guided bny the Guru) hear the sound. ) In the dark age, only the Gurumukh is the recipient of Naam which comes down from God.The Third Master (Guru Amar Das)says clearly that every age has its own performance. All the ages have their own role to play. Of all the four ages, it has been conclusively found that in the sixteenth century the Faith which has Naam, Satguru, Bani and Gurumukh in it, is the Sikh Faith, which is most appropriate to follow.
Baba Nanak while calling Gurmat the real path to be followed in Kaliyuga, gives reason thereof also. Broadly speaking, the traditional Hindu faith had lost its appeal because in the Muslim rule there was need for new spirituality. The historical and material aspect of ‘sat’ gets highlighted in Guru Nanakbani.
Kal nahi jog nahi nahi sat da dhab.
Thanast jag bharist hoye, doobta iv jag.1.
Kal mahi Ram Naam saar.
Akhi ta meeteh naak pakrai, thagan kau sansar. Rahau.
Ant set naak pakrai, soojhtai tin loye.
Magar pachhai kachhu na soojha eh padam aloye. 2
Khatriya ta dharma chhodya, malechh bhakhya gahi.
Srist sabh ik varan hoyee dharma ki gati rahi. 3
Ast saaj saaj puran sodheh kareh Bed abhyas.
Bin Naam Hari kai mukt nahi kahai Nanak daas.)
(Such a bad time has come and there is nothing like the condition prevailing in the Satyuga (the age of Truth). Neither Yoga nor truthful living is possible and falsehood rules supreme. There is overall decline of values and the whole world seems to be falling in a huge abyss of falsehood and ignorance. In this dark age only the True Name is of any worth. Otherwise all the acting is going on like holding nose, shutting eyes, etc. to deceive the world. They show as if by doing so they attain awareness of the three worlds, without actually knowing what lies behind them. What a mockery is this show off! It’s nothing but hypocrisy. The valiants have given up their duty and they blindly ape the rulers. All the people are trying to take to the ways of the rulers without regard for their own faiths. Though they have studied thoroughly their scriptures and practiced the teachings without The True Name, no one can attain salvation, sayeth Nanak the slave.)
In the changed times, according to Baba Nanak, doing Yoga is impossible. After the holy places have been defiled, the world, or India, is sinking. In the contemporary times, only the Sikh faith is the best. Baba Nanak gives the details of the Muslim ascendancy which has made the Vedic dharama meaningless. The Muslim occupation of India has reduced the Hindu castes into one because all the Hindus are inferior to the rulers. If still the Hindus feel proud of their caste, they lack wisdom and common sense. Today under the racial discriminatory system in England, the narrow outlook of caste among the Hindus and Sikhs sounds foolish.
Nau sat chadeh teen chaar, kaj mehlat char bahali.
Charai deevai cahu hath diai, eka eka vaari.1
Meharban madhusudhan madho, aisi sakat tumhari. 1 rahau.
Ghar ghar laskar pavak taira, sharam karai sikdari
Dharti degh milai ik vaira, bhag taira bhandari.2.
Na saboor hovai phir mangai, narad karai khuari.
Lab andhera bandikhana, augan pair luhari.3
Poonji mar pavai nit mudgar, pap karai kotwari.
Bhavai changa bhavai manda, jaisi nadar tumari.4
Adi purakh kau allah kahiai, sekhan aayee vari.
Deval devtiyaan kar laga, aisi keerat chaali.5.
Kooja bang niwaj musalla, neel roop banwari.
Ghar ghar miaan sabna jiaan, boli avar tumari.6.
Je toon mir mehipat sahib, qudrat kaun hamari.
Charai kunda salam karehge,ghar ghar sifat tumari.7
Tirat simrat punn daan kichh, laha milai dihari.
Nanak Naam milai wadyayee, meka ghadi samali.8.
(The universe with nine continents, seven islands, fourteen regions and four aeons has been created. The maya (illusion) has its three dimensional pervasiveness. The four Vedas have been given like four lamps (of knowledge) in four ages. Thou art the compassionate Lord benefactor with such a power!. Thou has given the fire energy to everyone and the god of justice serves Thee faithfully. The earth is like a big cauldron cooking food which is distributed to everyone under Thy Command. But no one is content and begs for more and more and in this way faces disgust. They suffer incarceration in darkness and their misdeeds become their shackles. They are punished with a club for their sins. People become sinners or virtuous under your command. The Prime Lord is now called Allah and in this dark age (kaliyuga) the Sheikhs have their day. The Hindus and their places of worship have been taxed. Such is the order of the day. The bowl, ablutions, prayers on a mat and blue dress have become the common sight. The language too has been changed to conform to the muslim custom and Mia is the address now for everyone. If Thou hast done all this to suit Thy Will, what can we do? Salam, the Muslim salutation is now heard in all the four directions and the praise of the (foreign rule) is heard in every home. The rituals like pilgrimages, charities are all for personal gain and to make a show of pleasing Thee and a virtuous living. Sayeth, Nanak the true greatness lies in Thy Name which ‘I may recite every moment)
Kaliyuga (the dark age)has no independent existence of its own: it is the description of nature and situation. The same stars, planets, sun and earth are there. The characteristic of Kaliyuga is violence and oppression. Kaliyuga has not built any country, holy place or a mansion. It is the pace of time that one who holds on to truth becomes weak, one who does penances is without glory and one who recites His Name, gets bad name. The three mythological eras have gone. Kaliyuga is there to raise conflict of shariat (Muslim conduct), corruption among the judges and the sorcery of atharba (the fourth Veda). What is the use of ‘worship without devotion, discipline without truth, and sacred thread without sterling character, purification without purity, bathing and putting vermillion mark on the forehead? Kaliyug denotes acceptability of Quran and decline ( rejection) of Puranas. There is nothing above Naam.
The earlier Sikhs knew that their spirituality stood the test of the contemporary claims and counter claims. The need for new spirituality was felt consequent on the Muslim conquest and the historical changes. The meaning of Sikh spirituality was (1) Neither Muslim nor the Hindu way of life satisfied the situational needs (2) Therefore the Sikh way appealed to the common man. The Faith was faced with all sorts of dangers. Guru Arjan Dev had full grasp of the situation. According to him the remedy for bad or good circumstances lay in the spiritual source. Other things follow this.
Toon visrahe taan sabh ko lagoo, Cheet avai taan sewa.
Avar na kou dooja soojhai, sachai alakh abheva. 1.
Cheet avai taan sada dayala, logan kya vecharai.
Bura bnhala kahu kis noon kahiai, saglai jia tumarai. 1. rahau.
Teri tek tera adhara, haath dei toon rakhai.
Jis jan oopar teri kirpa tis kau bip na kou bhakahi.2.
Oho such oha wadyayee, jo prabhu ji man bhani.
Toon dana toon sad mehrvana, naam milai rang mani.3.
Tudh agai ardas hamari, jio pindi sabh tera.
Kahu Nanak sabh teri wadyayee kou nao na janai mera.'(p.683.)
(When I forget Thee everyone turns into an enemy but when I remember Thee they all come to serve me. I can’t think of anyone else, O my True Undescribable Lord. When I keep you in mind, I am bestowed with Thy compassion; what can I think of the people? Who can be called bad or good when all of them are Thy own creation? I have Thy support, and Thou sustaineth me and Thou protecteth me with Thy hand. One who has Thy Grace with him, can’t be ridiculed. All the comfort and applause is given under Thy Will. Thou art the wise and ever kind One and In Thy Name art found all the joys. I pray to Thee, O Lord, the Master of everything, life and body. Sayeth Nanak, it is all Thy Greatness and none knows my name)
. The Sikhs are required to day, in the present situation when ‘all have turned into enemies, to depend on their spiritual source and to stick to the ideal of –
‘All the beings are Thy own creation
‘And life and body are Thine’
Akal Takhat (Throne of the Timeless) -Permanent relevance and significance. Dr.Harpal Singh Pannu
Before the advent of the Sikh Faith, it was commonly believed in India that religion was mostly concerned with ‘after-death’ and ‘before birth’ of a person. We have to do good deeds in this life, not because this would make our life comfortable, but because this would help in going to heaven, or the cycle of births and deaths may end and one may attain salvation. One has got this life because of bad deeds in the previous life. Thus to take birth means to undergo punishment. The insignificance of life always created a mournful atmosphere.
If politics is seen in the background of the Indian philosophy, it transpires that the Khatri used to rule and the Brahmin was his chief adviser. According to the caste system, the Khatri has the second place and the Brahmin enjoys the first place. That the Khatri shall be the king means that the administration of the country is of secondary importance and the religion is above this, having the first position. Of course the king should be of religious disposition and rule according to the policy of truth and justice for which the guidance shall be provided by the Brahmin.
The same trend prevailed in the Muslim ruled countries also. The advisers to the king were the religious people. It is a different matter whether they were really religious or just wore the cloak of religion. It was a common occurrence that the advisers were sycophants who gave judgments according to the desire of the rulers. To prove that a particular royal decree was correct they cited from Sharah, the Muslim law, and for not doing so they could be replaced. It was just made known that the political working was in accordance with the religion but in reality, the religion only served the needs of politics.
Guru Nanak observed this type of unfortunate tendencies among the Hindus and Muslims and cautioned the people about this:
Qazi hoye kai bahai niyaye, pharai tasbi karai Khudaye.
Wadhi lai kai haq gawaye, jai ko puchhai ta padh sunaye. 1
(The qadis sat in judgment, counted beads of rosary and uttered the Name of God. But they took bribe and did injustice to people. If any one questioned them, they read out from Saharah. (to satisfy them).
Countless examples can be given from Guru Nanak Bani which go to prove that he was sad because of the contemporary political and religious scene and endeavoured to change it. The fifth and the ninth Gurus were martyred because of the verdicts of the qadis. It is a self-proved truth that the priestly class had marked hatred for the Gurus because their policy ran counter to their interests.
The prophets of the Jews were their kings also. This principle became acceptable among the Muslims also when Prophet Mohammad, in addition to propagation of the faith, decided to grant political freedom to the Muslims. The Prophet had to fight many battles and in his life time he got into his hands the reins of government and made Muslims the rulers. The Prophet was an ideal King also for them. But later on, like the Jews, the priestly class came into being among them which began to influence social, political and personal life. As the Muslim state was established, the qadi and maulvi too entrenched themselves. Alexander Solzhenitsyn is correct when he says ‘As the forest spread, the handle of the axe too lengthened.’ 1
Guru Nanak’s dialogue with Daulat Khan in the first instance and then with Babar prove that the Guru was worried about the injustice being done by the government. As the Guru was the perfect saint, it’s no wonder that his powerful ideology influenced the rulers, priests and the common people. The saintliness of Gurus was not like that of the ascetics or those who had renounced the Raag Ramkali M.1 (SGGS p.951
world who, seeing the illusory world, got indifferent. It was for this reason that the ruling and the priestly class joined hands against Gurus and the peak of this unholy alliance was the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev.
The saints and ascetics established their monastries, centres, etc. Baba Sri Chand’s tillas (Peaks) were quite well known where devotees often thronged. Even now the devotees go to the Udasin Deras. But Guru Hargobind established a Throne instead of a tilla or dera. He named it Akal Takhat (Throne of the Timeless, God). Though this throne was twelve feet high like a tilla, but it’s name was Akal Takhat. We went to deras to forget our miseries and pray for justice and courage to bear the atrocities committed against us. But the word ‘throne’ connotes ruling power as the seat of the king is called a throne. According to Guru’s doctrtine :
Kou Hari sman nahi raja.
Eh bhoopat sabh divas char kai
Jhoothai karat divaja.l. rahau. (Kabir, Bilawal) 1
(None is a king like God These kings rule for a short time
They make false show of ruling.)
Tum ho sabh rajan kai raja.
Dustsan dah gharib niwaza (Dasam Granth)
(Thou art the King or all kings Thou destroyeth enemies and Showeth kindness to the poor).
In this way the spirit of self-confidence was created according to which only God is the king and the Khalso is His subject which is not accountable to any other king. When government could kill Guru Arjan, a saintly divine, so mercilessly, how could the common man escape the wrath of the rulers? Therefore, he decided to establish the True Throne where every aggrieved person was to get justice. Rather we should say that this Throne enables the Sikhs to administer justice themselves. Those who were not given justice 1.After being ordered to leave the country, he wrote an open letter.
when they sought it, they began to do justice themselves. We find many such instances in history when the victims of tyranny were given justice at Akal Takhat.
We won’t be able to know properly about Akal Takhat if we do not understand the nature of the word ‘Akal’. The adjectives used for God in the Mool Mantra, the first one is Ik Onkar – the true King is One; no other government has any meaning or permanence. His justice is true-rather we should say that His justice alone is true and therefore one needs not worry. Only the thieves and thugs should worry. He is fearless and has no enmity towards any one. Therefore it is His Will that his subjects too should be fearless and not inimical to any one. Thus the manifesto of Akal Takhat is to establish the true rule and to build a fearless society which has no enemy.
There is a tale about Khalil Zibran. A slave, who was tired, had gone to sleep under a tree. A poet, accompanied by some people, passed by. The poet told his companions, ‘Silent. It is possible that this slave may be dreaming of freedom. Let him sleep.’ The people passed by quietly and the slave continued to sleep. Then the Prophet passed that side with his disciples. Someone said, ‘Let him sleep, my lord. He may be dreaming of freedom.’
‘No, wake him up. Don’t let him dream. Tell him that freedom cannot be attained while asleep and freedom is better than the dreams of freedom which has to be attained.
The Akal Takhat was established to awaken the people who were lying asleep. God has shown His power through the Righteous ones as He Himself is Right. Thus, as he is the True Emperor, he would do True Justice. He helps those who are justice minded. The slogan ‘Waheguruji ki Fateh’ (Victrory of God) symbolizes that a true person can suffer hardship, but not defeat. When he becomes victorious, such victory is that of righteousness, and he does now call it as his own but that of God.
How Khalsa becomes the symbol of the power of the Timeless can be seen from the rise of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.When Guru Gobind Singh directed Banda Singh Bahadur to go towards Punjab to end the tyranny, the latter submitted with folded hands, ‘My True Lord, the enemies are countless. How would I face them?’ The Guru had said,
‘That is why you would be able to face them because they are countless in number and we are one.’ Then Banda Singh had submitted,
‘True, my Lord. But I have no capacity to clash with the powerful foe. I have heard that there are many miracles and occult powers in Guru’s house. Be gracious, my lord, and grant me those powers.’ The Guru’s reply was-
‘Undoubtedly, there are all the powers and miracles in Guru’s house, but I have passed on all the powers to Khalsa, as I told you. Now the Panth is Guru Khalsa. When you need some power, pray to Guru Panth and you will see the powers of the Timeless as the light before you. Bear this in mind that the victory shall be that of Waheguru because the Khalsa belongs to Waheguru.’
It is not a co-incident that the Harimandir (God’s abode) and Akal Takhat should stand facing each other. It is quite natural for the body and the soul at the same place. Harimandir is the ocean of spiritualism of the Khalsa and the Akal Takhat is the rock of the worldly power of the Khalsa. Spiritual needs are met by reading Gurus Word but the worldly needs go on changing with the changing world. My body needs different types of dress in summer and winter. In the same manner, moral and political needs go on arising and changing. Sri Akal Takhat has to determine the justification of such needs in accordance with the spiritual teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and to take measures to fulfill those needs.
The national objectives must be given priority over the personal needs and problems. Therefore the Akal Takhat ends the personal desires and makes the adherents conscious of the Panthic responsibilities.
According to Bhai Gurdas, political power should be under the control of religion; he calls it the fence around religion. A garden is safeguarded by thorny hedges; a chandan tree is guarded by a serpent and the door is guarded by a lock. 1 In the same manner, for the protection of the faith, political power is needed. The Akal Takhat has been the beacon of pure light and would continue to be so.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 26, pauri 25.