Sri Guru Granth Sahib – Brahmgyani (One who has attained divine knowledge)
Dr. Balkar Singh
The tradition of visualizing man from a religious angle in the context of divine worship has been very strong as compared to seeing him as a role model to be emulated. Modern thinking has either politicized religious susceptibilities and brought to the fore the secular aspect thereof or has accepted that the process of idealization in the context of interpretation of religion is beyond the reach of man. In both the situations (religious and secular), in the garb of the need of the times, or under the influence of a comfort-based approach, the division between an ordinary man and an ideal man has been made permanent, has been accepted as a parallel model. Thus one side has been made a worshipper and the other a god. Between these divisions has risen the third side, the priest. This can be called a device to accept truth in parts. The root of all the three sides is man himself. In this model of acceptance, the division between the bestower and the beneficiary (of the bestowal) is being accepted on a permanent basis and being presented also as such. In this scheme of things, one side has been accepted as highly respectable and worthy of worship and consequently the other side, being at a distance from the former, has been accepted as parallel to it. But in Sikh ethos such a division has not been accepted. Accepting the human being as owing his origin to God, the entire human race has been accepted as a unit. (1). One who is able to advance ahead of others by dint of his own hard labour can be regarded as worthy of emulation but he should not be accepted as a substitute for God or His incarnation. For such a person different names have been used in Gurbani. Panch (Chosen One), Gurmukh (Who follows Guru’s teachings), Brahmgyani (Bestowed with Divine knowledge), etc. are the forms of nouns used. This has been accepted in the case of those who have imbibed godly qualities. In the vocabulary of mysticism, this imbibing has been construed as “Dwelling on His Name”. From the bright light, undoubtedly, has been accepted the state of personal enlightenment and such an enlightened one has been accepted as Brahmgyani who is also part of the congregation (assembly of the righteous ones). Establishment of this context is being attempted in this paper.
Because we have been talking here only of Brahmgyani, therefore, before bringing to the fore the concept of Brahmgyan in the context of Gurmat, it seems worthwhile to have a bird’s eye view of the spiritual realm or the field of experience of a Brahmgyani.
In the context of religion, modernism has wrested from man much more than it has given him. Because of multiplicity of means and a vast increase in comforts, the loot of means and consumerism are swaying the world. The present political structure has opened the way (to attain high positions) without matching capabilities. Political awakening has been replaced by political means. Consequently, dissatisfaction has become the centre of concern of the human psyche. In this state, the finesse of spiritual attire has been replaced by facility-based armour. This can be called religion squeezing itself within its respective boundaries. In Assa-di-Vaar this has been condemned as stagnation of religion. Thus according to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, all these layers have been opened up as the germs on rotten vegetables which have become visible under the microscope. Therefore the context of Brahmgyani is so different in Gurbani because the unhealthy concern therein has been subtracted. Sri Aurobindo enjoys a special place among the twentieth century philosophers. But it is quite regrettable that despite there being the mingling of Eastern and Western philosophy in him, he had no knowledge of Sikh faith. Struggling with the eastern and western thinking, he had come to realize that man has the capability of getting the nearest to the truth. According to him, this can be possible when at the level of experience; there is cohesion of idealism and practice, or soul and mind. The Sikh Gurus had presented a definite way for moulding such a man. This begins with the mental make up of man and its highest aim can be accepted as being a Brahmgyani.
Contemporary consciousness was missing from the form of human personality which Indian philosophy had accepted. And in addition, the human context of spiritual freedom had also been lost. On the basis of a book published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, it can be said that haziness, tendency to worship idols and imaginary beliefs had become religion. God had been reduced to zero or to a dozing state. Because of the stagnation and unsavoury concerns, common man was underdeveloped from a physical, political and social angle. (2). If the concept of Brahmgyani is brought out against this background, it can be said that the Brahmgyani according to the Sikh concept has not been isolated from social and cultural concerns. Brahmgyani has also not been accepted as a secluded or an inactive being. Of course, the activity of a Brahmgyani is not like that of the Timeless Creator. This comment should not be taken as visualizing Brahmgyani in a limited sense because this comment has been made to establish the concept of Brahmgyani. A Brahmgyani sees everything on his own strength, in tune with the Creator also but does not nurture the illusion or ego of himself being the Creator; the reason for this being that in spite of being able to do everything, he is not the substitute for the Timeless, for God. With this a Brahmgyani has been kept out of the ambit of miracles. With the acceptance of miracles as the recognition of a great man, a parallel model had appeared in Semitic faiths and it has not been possible to get free of this even today. Under this acceptance of the parallel model, in the absence of the Sufi saints, their monasteries and graves are being accepted in the context of miracles instead of in a spiritual sense. In Indian thought also the parallel model of god-worship has brought to the fore the permanent division between the benefactor and the beneficiary. This holds sway even today. It has been very difficult for the spiritual thought to escape this and consequently, we have before us the unhealthy context of religious exploitation. This compels the faithful to lower their eyes in the esteem of the world and opens the way for those opposed to religion. Efforts are afoot to bring to the fore a model of religious co-existence and communication. Aiming at a religion-based victory of the world, conversion is being taken out of the purview of religion. From the perspective of Brahmgyani, can be had the glimpse of all creative layers.
The details of the basis of the concept of Brahmgyani can be given from the eighth octavo (astapadi) of Sukhmani. In addition, Guru Nanak has described a Brahmgyani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib as a person of the highest intelligence or one experienced in Truth. Also, the apparent distinctness of male and female has been described as the basic concern of the world of discernment. In the same way, linking the word and sound with knowledge and attention for the purpose of bringing to the fore the indescribable in the global sense, the Gurmukh has been reckoned the representative thereof:
Purakh mahi naar, naar mahi purkha
Dhun mahi dhyan, dhyan mahi janya
gurmukh akath kahani. (SGGS, 879)
Man as part of woman and woman as part of man
Is understood truly by one who knows (Brahmgyani)
Guru Amardas, regarding Brahmgyani as someone sans ego, has considered him a model of eternal happiness:
Is jug mahi ko virla brahmgyani
ji haumai maitey samaye.
Nanak tisno milya sada sukh payeeai
ji an-din Hari naam dhyaai. (SGGS, 512)
Rarely is there one who knows Him in this age
And kills within himself the sense of ego
Meeting such a one is always a joy, Nanak,
As he dwells on His Name day and night.
In spite of this, the conceptual light of Brahmgyani should be considered as having been thrown in Guru Arjan Dev’s Bani. The reason is that in Guru Arjan Dev’s Bani the universal concept of Brahmgyani has come to the fore as Sukhmani has become the basis of this. By way of explanation, Brahmgyani can be called immortal because he is not bound by the limitations of time and space. Man’s identity is in his mortality. To transform mortality into immortality, the desired model has come to the fore in the definition of Brahmgyani. His first concern has been described ‘simran’ (dwelling on His Name)
Simrau simar simar sukh pavau.
Kal kalesh tan mahi mitavaue. (262)
Dwell on His Name and be happy.
All afflictions would disappear.
The second concern is the ‘minusing’ of relationships. The immortal relationship is with Naam only:
Jeh maat pita sut meet na bhayee
Man uhaan Naam terai sang sahayee (264)
Where mother, father, son, friend
and brother cannot be of any help
Only His Name comes to your help.
The third concern is the ‘sehaj’ (equipoise):
Man apnai tey bura mitana.
Pekhai sagal srisht sajana. (266)
Wiping out evil from one’s mind
Viewing the entire world as a friend.
The ground for these concerns is religion which has been accepted as dharma-karam (religious conduct) also, in which case dharma would have this form:
Sarab dharma mahi shresht dharma
Hari ko naam jap nirmal karam (266)
Of all the religious practices and faiths
The purest is dwelling on His Name.
When the religious path has to be adopted, the way to do so is to be found. The way shown for all humanity is the way of dedication; of surrender. The best form of this is the Ardaas (Prayer), which has been described as under:
Too thakur tum peh ardaas.
Jio pind sabh teri rass.
Tum maat pita ham barak terai.
Tumri kirpa tey sook ghanerai. Koye na janai tumra ant.
Oochai tey oocha bhagwant
Sagal samagri tumrai sootar dhari.
Tum tey hoye so agyakari.
Tumri gat mit tumri jani.
Nanak daas sada qurbani. (268)
Thou art the Master, the prayer is to Thee.
Our body and soul are Thy benediction
Thou art our father and mother
And we are Thy children, O Lord.
With Thy grace, we have all comforts.
None can gauge Thy extent, Lord
Thou art the Highest of the High.
The entire universe is controlled by Thee.
All Thy creatures obey Thy Command.
Only Thou art aware of Thy own doings
Thy servant, Nanak, sacrifices unto Thee.
In this way the Brahmgyani can be described as an epitome of virtues. This has been explained thus: Man sacha mukh sacha soye.
Avar na pekhai eikas bin koye.
Nanak eh lachhan Brahmgyani hoye (SGGS, 272)
What is in his mind is true, what he says is true.
He perceives none except One (God)
These are the traits of a Brahmgyani.
This explanation does not seem to fully explain the personality of a Brahmgyani in accordance with the concept of Brahmgyani laid down in Gurbani because in this the working of the senses has been explained but not the model thereof. The dictionary meaning of the word is the idea conceived in mind. (4). This view has to take the form of philosophy as we move ahead. In it, it is believed, lies the cohesion of comparison, analysis and harmony. It can also be called the preconception of the manifestation. It can be said on this basis that the concept is the visualization of philosophy. In this context, the above explanation of the virtues imbibed by a Brahmgyani, as given in the Sukhmani Sahib, is more meaningful than the one given in Hindu scriptures because in it is included the visualization of the concept. This has been explained fully in the eighth octavo (astpadi) of Sukhmani Sahib. In the entirety of the virtues enumerated therein, as imbibed by a Brahmgyani, one finds the aloofness of lotus, the behaviour of the sun, freedom from rancour, the vision of air, the patience of the earth and the nature of fire, as accepted. (5) All these attributes can be accepted as the indestructible base of the model. These attributes are not limited in any way as they suffer from no bondage of cause and effect. The virtues born in the boundaries of cause and effect would push the virtuous and the seeker of virtue towards the parallel model and in their expression would enter the element of miracles also. The Brahmgyani has to be the ‘Sagal ki reena’ (the dust of everyone’s feet) and ‘sada samdarsi’ (ever imbibing the sense of equality). (6) This has been accepted as the pious way:
Brahmgyani ki nirmal jugta (273)
This is the pure way of the Brahmgyani.
This can be viewed in the context of ‘Man nivaan mat ucchi’ (Humility with high wisdom). It is an experience which can be acquired, and it has been reckoned as beyond the realm of the one even with the highest learning. Beneficence is considered the basic concern of a Brahmgyani and in the context of its inspiration the zeal and delight have been included:
Brahmgyani kai gharibi samaha.
Brahmgyani parupkar umaha. (273)
Humility abides in the mind of a Brahmgyani
A Brahmgyani delights in munificence.
The model of Brahmgyani which is being described as beyond destruction can also be called an infallible model. In the spiritual realm, the spiritual journey has been accepted as leading inwards. This is the journey of open-eyed spiritualism towards close-eyed spiritualism. The basic concerns of a Brahmgyani – ‘Sada sad jagat’ (ever awake) and ‘ahambudh tyagat’ (giving up of an egoistic approach) – point towards a developing state. The ‘sada anand’ (permanent bliss) attained through this is not at all inactive ‘sukh sehaj nivas’ (abiding in the bliss of equipoise). It should be regarded as the ground or basis only because from it is seen the light of conceptual concerns. It prefers open-eyed meditation to ‘close-eyed’ spiritualism. It is for this reason that this light in addition to being infallible is not conditioned by its being beyond infinity. This subtle context, in the perspective of Gurmat, has not come to the fore only in relation to Brahmgyani, it has been revealed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib in many other contexts also. For example, infallibility is the central concern of the ‘Shabad’ model of Gurmat philosophy. It is the base of the journey from ‘Manas’ to ‘Devtai’ (human to God). But it should not be presented as the two ends of a line because it is a model presented in a universal context. Describing the great personality of Guru Gobind Singh, the poet Gurdas Singh says “apai gur chela’ (He himself is the guru as also the disciple), the modus operandi has been explained. In the concept of Brahmgyani all these aspects have been brought to light. Therefore, along with accepting Brahmgyani as ‘nahi binasa’ ‘beyond mortem’ he has been called ‘beta’ (knowledgeable’ and ‘heta’ (munificent). (8) In so far as the relevance of ‘Brahmgyani’ to the present times is concerned, it can be termed as ever-green and indestructible, immortal. On the one hand, a Brahmgyani has been regarded as united with God and on this score, he has been called God Himself. This mystery has been accepted as worthy of salutation. On the other hand, Brahmgyani being the conceptual concern of ‘mukat-jugat’ (the way to salvation) and represents the factor of eternal relevance.
Brahmgyani sabh srisht ka karta.
Braymgyani sad jivai nahi marta
Brahmgyani mukat jugat ka data. (273)
Brahmgyani is the creator of the entire universe.
Brahmgyani lives forever, and does not die.
Brahmgyani shows the way to salvation
This is where we had begun. The conceptual perspective of Brahmgyani being beyond destruction in the traditional context, it is not in need of any further explanation of its eternity or harmony. Its model has been accepted as the infallible Shabad model and instead of showing it in layers it has been accepted as of that of universal nature. It is not a seasonal flower which grows and blooms in a particular season in the soil of a religious philosophy. It is a plant which is eternally green and beaming. This can be called the conceptual light of Brahmgyani.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ramkali Mo. 3, p. 921. ‘Aiy sarira meriya, Hari tum mahi jote rakhi Ta too jag mahi aiya.’ O my body, God kindled His light in you, And then you came to this world.
Ram Nath Sharma, The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, p. 36 – “Man approaches near his perfection when he combines in himself the idealist and pragmatist, the originative soul and executive power.”
Living Biographies of Great Philosophers, p. 178 “The religion of India was shadowy, pantheistic, abstract. Its goal was the dozing ghost of Nirvana-nothingness. The Hindu led a static vegetative life. He was physically and politically and socially unprogressive. 1. Dr. Rajbir Pandey, Hindi Dharam Kosh, (Hindi) p. 453. 2. New Webster’s Dictionary (College Edition), p. 329. “Concept” – conceiving a thought; that which is conceived in mind; a general notion or idea; a conception.” 3. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sukhmani M.5, p. 272. Brahmgyani ka ihi guano. Nanak jio pavak kas sehaj subhao. This is the trait of a Brahmgyani, Nanak
Like that of fire which burns all , impurities.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sukhmani M. 5, p. 272. Brahmgyani tei kachhu bura na bhaya… Brahmgyani does no evil Brahmgyani sada samdarsi… Brahmgyani does not discriminate 8. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 273. Brahmgyani Brahm ka beta. Brahmgyani eik sang heta. Having knowledge of the Brahm He is in love with him.