Sri Guru Granth Sahib – The Epitome of Fraternal Unity
Dr. Inderjit Singh Vasu
Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a scripture of the human fraternity. This is evident from its construction as a whole. It contains the verses of saints who lived from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries in different provinces, belonging to different faiths and castes, and speaking different tongues. There is no such religious book to be found anywhere else in the world. The Granth presents the best example of religious tolerance and amity. The Guru poets, the saint poets and the Bhatt poets are all connected with the centre point of tracing their origin and attainment of God. The entire thought process of Sri Guru Granth Sahib links man, God, nature, world and society in a chain of their mutual relationships.
According to Gurmat (Sikh teaching), this world is a miracle of God’s creation. The entire universe is God’s own form. This world is the abode of True God. Sri Guru Granth Sahib says:
Ehu visu sansar tum dekhdey, eh Hari ka roop hai. Hari roop nadri aiya. (SGGS, 922)
The world that you see is in fact God’s own form
And God’s form is seen everywhere.
Ehu jag sachai ki hai kothri sachai ka vich vaas.
This universe is the abode of the True Lord
And the True Lord Himself abides therein.
The entire diversity of the world came out of one form (of God). The Super One has in Him a creative principle by which It grows from one to many. When the visible world had not yet been created, there were no sky or day or night or moon or sun; it was simply a zero state.
God in His own Will assumed form out of His formlessness. And thus began the world:
Arbad narbad dhundookara, na gagna na hukam apaara.
Na din rain na chand na suraj sunn Samadhi lagayenda. 1
…. Ja tis bhana ta jagat upaiya
Brahma Bisan Mahes upai maya moh wadhaya.
There was pitch darkness and mist everywhere
There were no nights, no moon, no sun;
He was in a zero state
…. And when He willed, He created the universe
Held the sky without support
Then He created Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
And attachment to worldly possessions.
The above thought process which embraces the entire varied creation in its fold has been preserved in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The oneness of the entire human race has been described again and again in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The main link, which joins together all those who live on this earth is Nature which sustains everyone. All these people grow up in the lap of nature; they live in nature as the children of nature. The entire universe was born out of the divine light:
Awwal Allah noor upaiya, qudrat de sabh bandey.
Eik noor te sabh jag upjiya kaun bhale ko mandey.1. 3
First of all Allah created His Light and then
Was created nature which gave birth to creatures
They are all born of One Light, none is good or evil.
The Creator pervades the entire creation. God and humanity, Creator and Creation (nature), are all one. According to the Holy Bible of the Jews, ‘Man was created by God in His own image’. 4 According to the Upanishads, God creates the universe out of His Own Self and then He enters it. The relationship of God with His creation is that of a spider and its web or of a spark and fire. God pervades the universe as salt in water. God and universe are the same, God and soul are the same. 5 The Oneness of God and humanity is summed up by Kabir in these lines:
Loga bharam na bhoolahu bhayee
Khaliq khalaq khalaq mahi khaliq
poor rehya sarb thayee. 6
According to Guru Arjan Dev, the entire world is sustained by God. God is everyone’s heart beat. He dwells in everyone. Everyone can see and experience this reality. Everyone can look for Him. That is why all the creatures are equal sharers of His blessing.
Sabh ko aasai teri baitha.
Ghat ghat antar toon hai wootha.
Sabhe sanjhiwal sadaiyan,
kissai na disahe bahra jio. 7
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, in order to teach the concept of equal partnership to the human being, cements his relationship with nature; and exhorts him to keep this relationship with Nature. Guru Nanak says, ‘Your real father is the water which is the basis of life. Your mother is the earth which is the store house of food grain and other eatables. Your teacher is like the air which is not visible but can be felt. 8
Pavan Guru Pani pita mata dharat mahat.
Divas raat doye dayee daya khelai sagal jagat. 9
Air is the Guru, Water is the father, Great Earth is the mother.
Day and night are the nurturers, and so the whole world plays.
According to Guru Nanak, Timeless God is the father of everyone. All creatures on earth are His children. In this way entire creation lives in a fraternal bond:
Eik pita eikas ke ham barak, too mera Gur hayee. 10
If all men are brothers to one another, caste consideration has no meaning. Guru Nanak rejected the brahminical caste system and said that in the court of God, no caste would be ascertained; only actions would be the decisive factor. One’s deeds determine one’s caste.
Janahu joti na poochahu jati aage jati nahe
Sa jati sa pati hai jehe karaam kamaye. 12
Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s teachings reject a racial division of society. Guru Nanak says ‘God himself created people of different colours.’
Rangi rangi bhati kar kar jinsi maya jin upayee.
13 (Explained above).
According to Guru Arjan Dev, there are different languages, religions, religious practices, pilgrimage centres, dresses and scriptures. They all symbolize different faiths and their cultures. They are all born of the same divine command. His command can be known from the fact that this diversity should be maintained:
Koyee bolai Ram-ram, koyee khudaye.
Koyee sevai gosaiyan, koyee Allah. 1
Karan Karan Karim. Kripadhar Rahim. rahau.
Koyee nahvai tirath koye haj jaiye.
Koyee kareh pooja, koyee sir nivai. 2
Koyee parhai Ved koyee kateb.
Koyee odhai neel koyee suped. 3
Koyee kahai Turk koyee kahai Hindu.
Koyee bachhai bhist koye surgindo. 4
Kahu Nanak jin hukam pachhata.
Prabhu Sahib ka tin bhed jata. 5. 14
Some recite Rama’s Name, others that of Khuda.
Some serve the Master, others serve Allah.
He is the doer, the compassionate, kind Lord.
` Some go on pilgrimages, others go for Haj.
Some worship Him, others bow in prayers.
Some read the Vedas, some the Holy Book (of the West)
Some wear a white dress, others are clad in blue.
Some are called Hindus, and the others, Turks
Some desire Swarga*, others pray for Bahisht* (*heaven)
Sayeth Nanak, one who knows the truth
Does know the Divine mystery.
The beauty of the human race is hidden behind the different religious communities and their cultures. According to Guru Arjan Dev, this world is a garden in which trees of different faiths stand majestically. These trees are tended by the gardener, who is God Himself.
Eik bagicha ped ghan karya.
Amrit Naam taha mahi phalya.
Aisa karhu bichaar gyani.
Jate paiye pad nirbani.
…. Sinchan harey eiko maali.
Khabar karat has paat paat dali. 15
While Guruji expressed his views about the establishment of the world order, he also identified those powers which created a wedge between human relationships. Those days the mullas, the brahmins and the yogis were three powerful classes. Guru Nanak challenged all three and called them ‘Ujarai da bandh’, that is, those responsible for misery which unsettled the human existence.
Qadi koor bole mal khaye.
Brahmin nhavai jia ghaye
Jogi jugat na janai andh.
Tino ujarai ka band. 2. 16
Qazis tell lies and eat trash.
Brahmins bathe and kill
The yogis do not know the way
All the three cause misery which
Unsettles living beings.
Guru Nanak called the rulers who kill people, cruel; and their officers of savage nature, unfit to be regarded as human beings; they are like wild animals.
Rajai sinh muqaddam kuttai. Jaye jagayen baithe suttee.
Chakar nahunda paiyen ghao. Rat pit kutiho chat jahu. (Explained above) 17
The Gurus are opposed to forced conversions. They condemned the policy of Muslims rulers who were bent upon converting the entire population to Islam. In order to build a balanced culture, the Gurus exhorted the Hindus to become good Hindus, and Muslims to become good Muslims. According to Guru Nanak, a Brahmin is one who thinks of Brahm (God) 18 and a Muslim is one who purifies his mind. 19 The Gurus strove to develop mutual understanding among the adherents of different faiths and laid emphasis on amity between the two major religions of their time, Hinduism and Islam and the common spirit of both the oriental and the occidental faiths. The Gurus had before them the ideal of the unity of religions and their promotion, which according to Sardar Kapur Singh, was the many-centred social order.20 In order to preserve the true spirit of different faiths in Indian society, they vehemently opposed and fought against the conservative policy of Aurangzeb who wanted to destroy this diversity. According to Bhai Santokh Singh, the author of Suraj Prakash, the great achievement of Guru Gobind Singh was the establishment of a vari-centred society. Because of his sacrifices, Indian culture could maintain its entity as a multi-religious society. He says:
Chhaye jati eikta anekta bilaye jati
Hovti kuchilta kitaban Quru’an kee
Paap hi parpakk jatey, dharma dhasak jatey
Baran garak jatey sahit vidhan kee.
Devi dev dehurai Santokh Singh door hotey
Reet mit jati katha bedan puraan kee.
Sri Guru Gobind Singh pavan param soor,
Soorat na hoti jau pai karuna nidhan kee.21
Unity would have replaced diversity
Bigotry of one faith would have prevailed
Sins would have gained and piety destroyed
The old order certainly would have died
Gods and their temples would have gone
Reading of Vedas and Puranas totally forgotten
If Sri Guru Gobind Singh, the great warrior
And epitome of compassion had not been there.
A social order, in which different faiths are held in high esteem and mutual understanding is promoted, can only talk of the establishment of ‘Halemi Raj’ or ‘Begampura’. Only such a rule can bring in prosperity and establish rule of law and justice as well. Guru Arjan and Bhagat Ravidas dream of such a rule as in these lines:
Hun hukam hoeya meharbaan da
Paie koye na kisai ranjhaan da.
Sabh sukhali wuthia euhu
Hoya Halemi Raj jior. 22
Begampura seha ko nao.
Dukh andoh nahi the thao. 23
The concept of ‘Halemi Raj’ and ‘Begampura’ can be fully attained if people rise above their narrow selves. In this context, the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib present an ideal picture of people who have an opportunity to develop their personality to the fullest.
Sagar mahi boond boond sagar
kavan bujhai bidhi janai.
Utbhuj chalt aap kar chinai
aapai tat pachhanai. 24
Sabar ehu suao je toon banda drirh karaai.
Wadh thivai dariyao tut na thivai vahdra.227 25
Dhiraj dham banaye ihai tan
budh su dipak jio ujiarai. 26
Only one with such a vision can feel the agony of the entire society and can pray for the good of all respecting all faiths thereby:
Jagat alanda rakh lai apni kirpa dhar.
Jit duarai ubrai titai lehu ubar. 27
The teachings as contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, take the world view and unity of the human race, regard God as the source of the entire creation, considering all humanity as children of one God, suggesting aesthetics to the followers of all the faiths and propagating the concept of unity in diversity, are capable of, and essential for, fostering a spirit of fraternity in the human community and to remove imbalance and a lack of direction, devoid of an ideal and totally divided because of ego.
R.C. Zaehner, Mysticism Sacred and Profane, p.158.
Maru Moh. 1, SGGS, 10354-36
Prabhati Kabir, SGGS, p.1349
Abraham Joshua Mechal’ The Concept of Man in Jewish Thought’. The Concept of Man, (Ed. Dr. S. Radhkrishnan and P.T. Raju) p.140
R.C Zaehner, op.cit, p.140
Prabhati Kabir, SGGS, p.1349
Majh Mo.5, SGGS, p.977
Osho Rajnish, Ik Onkar SatiNam – Nanak Bani, p.55]
Sorath Mo.5, SGGS, p.611.
Sorath Mo. 1, SGGS, p.349.
Prabhati Mo.1, SGGS, p. 1330
Ramkali Mo.5, SGGS, p. 885
Assa Moh.5, SGGS, p. 385
Dhanasri Mo.1, SGGS, p. 1288
Malhar ki Var Mo.1, p. 1288
So Brahman jo Brahm bicharai…(Dhanasri M.1)
Musalman soyee mal khovai (Dhanasri)
S. Kapur Singh, Sachchi Sakhi, p.26
Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Guru Pratap Suraj Granth, Volume 7, Bhasha Vibhag, Patiala, p. 463 (Hindi)
Sri Rag M.5, SGGS, p.74.
Gauri Ravidas Ji, SGGS, p. 345
Ramkali Mo.1, SGGS, p.878.
Saloka Sheik Farid, No. 117.
26 Swaiyya (Krishnavatar), Bachitra Natak (Guru Gobind Singh)
Saloka Moh.3, Bilaval ki Vaar, SGGS, p. 853.