THE SIKH RELIGION
ITS GURUS, SACRED WRITINGS AND AUTHORS
BY MAX ARTHUR MACAULIFFE
LIFE OF GURU NANAK
The Guru continued his journey to the north He wore leather on his feet and on his head, twisted a rope round his body, and on his forehead stamped a saffron tilak. He was accompanied by Hassu, a smith, and Sihan, a calico-printer. The party went as far as Srinagar in Kashmir, where they stayed some time and made many converts.
Brahm Das was then the most eminent of the Kashmiri pandits. On hearing of the Guru’s arrival, he went to pay him a formal visit. The better to impress the Guru with his piety and learning, he wore an idol suspended from his neck, and took with him two loads of Sanskrit books. On seeing the Guru’s dress he said, ‘Is that the sort of faqir thou art? Why wearest thou leather, which is unclean? Why twistest thou a rope round thy body? Why hast thou abandoned the observances of thy religion? And why eatest thou flesh and fish?’ The Guru, not paying much attention to these impertinent questions, thus unburdened him self of the thoughts which filled his mind:–
There is but one road,. one door; the Guru is the ladder to reach one’s home.
Beautiful is God; Nanak, all happiness is in His name.
After a pause the Guru again burst forth in God’s praises:–
Brahm Das then recognizing the Guru’s piety and genius fell at his feet, and asked him what existed before creation? The Guru in reply uttered the following hymn known as Solaha in Rag Maru:–
[1. Malâr ki Wâr.
2. A hymn containing sixteen stanzas.]
[1. Arbad is here understood to be for arambh. Arbud in Sanskrit means a number of one hundred millions, so arbad narbad may also mean–for countless years.
2. Which some Hindus believe supports the earth.
3. Sati means a faithful wife, especially one who cremates herself with her deceased husband.
4. A superior of Jogis.
5. Dwait, duality. in the Sikh writings means the worship of other than God.]
[1. One of Krishan’s youthful accomplishments.
2. Literally–nor did any one meditate on any one else. That is, no one then worshipped the gods or idols of the Hindus.
3. Machhindar is described in a verse attributed to Gorakhnâth as his father.
4. The gâyatri is the spell of the Hindus. It is now recited as follows: Oam, bhûr, bhuvas, svar, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya, dhîmahi dhîyo yo nah prachodyât ‘Oam, earth and air and sky, let us meditate on that excellent sun the bright god, which stimulateth our intellects.’ The late Professor Max Müller gave the following translation–‘We meditate on the adorable light of the divine Savitri, that he may rouse our thoughts.’
5. This word is applied to Muhammadans who have made the pilgrimage to Makka.
6 Shiv’s energy or consort was variously named Pârbati, Durga &c.
7. ‘No seed, no blood’: this refers to the male and female functions of generation.]
Upon this Brahm Das again fell at the Guru’s feet, cast away the idol from his neck, and, becoming a worshipper of God, performed service for the Guru. His evil desires, however, departed not. Whatever service he performed was brief and perfunctory, for he thought to himself that he had performed similar service before; but whatever he did was of no avail on account of his pride.
At one of their meetings the Guru told him to take a guru. He inquired, ‘What guru shall I take?’ The Guru bade him go to a certain house in the wilderness where he should find four faqirs, and they would inform him. The pandit went to them, and they, after some delay, pointed out a temple in which they said he should find his guru. The pandit proceeded thither, but instead of receiving a courteous reception, was shoe-beaten in a piteous manner by a woman in red who guarded the temple. Crying bitterly he returned to the four men who had dispatched
[1. They are described as the Psalms of David, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Quran.]
him on the unpleasant errand. They inquired if he had found a guru, and in reply he told them his painful story. They explained to him that the woman was Maya, or worldly love; and that she for whom he had so longed was his guru. The pandit returned to the Guru, and fell at his feet. He then cast away his two loads of books, began to repeat God’s name, and became so humble as to be, as it were, the dust of the earth. The pandit inquired who were happy in this world. The Guru replied with the following sloks, which Hassu and Sihan committed to writing:–
[1. Indar was the god of the firmament. His punishment was for his effort to seduce Ahalya, the wife of the sage Gautama.
2 Paras Râm. Râm with the axe was the sixth avatar of Vishnu and preceded the Râm of Indian popular worship. He is said to have cleared the earth twenty-one times of the Kshatriyas. He then gave it to the sage Kashyapa and retired to the Mahendra mountains. The text alludes to his subsequent homeward return.
3 Aj was grandfather of Râm Chandar. One day when hunting he dipped a cloth in the blood of a deer which he had shot; and in order to test his wife’s affection sent it to her with a dying message that he had been killed in the hunting-field. She, believing the messenger, at once cremated herself with the cloth she had received. King Aj on returning home found out what had occurred, and was so overcome with grief and sorrow, that he abandoned his throne and retired from the world to do penance for his crime.
4. Lachhman was Râm’s brother.
5. Lanka. This was the ancient name of Ceylon, where Rawan ruled.
6 The opponents of the Kauravs in the great war which forms the subject of the Mahâbhârat.
The Guru, leaving Srinagar, penetrated the Himalaya mountains, and scaled numerous lofty peaks
[1. Janameja, king of Hastinapura, who listened to the long Sanskrit epic Mahâbhârat in expiation of the sin of killing Brahmans.
2. Pîrs are Muhammadan saints.
3. The reference is to Gopi Chand and Bharthari. Bharthari was king of Ujjain. In his state there lived a Brahman who by his austerities had obtained the fruit of immortality. Not deeming it useful to himself he presented it as a fitting offering to his monarch. He being in love with his queen presented it to her. She being in love with the head police officer of the state presented it to him. He being in love with a favourite courtesan presented it to her. She being in love with the king presented it to him. On being informed of the strange vicissitudes of the fruit of immortality, and pondering on the instability love and friendship, Bharthari abdicated and became a religious mendicant.
Gopi Chand was king of Bengal, whose capital, according to legend, was then Doulagarh. His mother Menâwati was Râja Bharthari’s sister. One day as Gopi Chand was bathing, his mother, seated in an upper chamber, admired his beauty, but at the same time felt that he was not so handsome as his father, her late husband. Death had taken him, it would also take Gopi Chand. Gopi Chand as he bathed felt moisture falling on him, and was told in reply to his inquiries that it was his mother’s tears. tried to console her and said that death was the way of the world, and one must not endeavour to resist Nature’s primordial law. On reflection she decided that Gopi Chand should become a faqîr under the spiritual guidance of Jalandharnâth. Gopi Chand abdicated, proceeded to him, and after many troubles received, it is said, instruction how to overcome death.
4. Râmkali ki Wâr.]
until he arrived at Mount Sumer. He there met many renowned Sidhs. When the Guru had made his obeisance and sat down, they inquired whence he had come and in what state he had left Hindustan. He replied:–
On this the Sidhs requested the Guru to join them in praising God. Having done so he put his subsequent conversation with them into the following form:–
The Sidhs asked:–
Nanak–‘I dwell in God who hath His seat in every heart; I act according to the will of the True Guru.
‘I came in the course of nature, and according to God’s order shall I depart. Nanak is ever subject to His will.
‘To be fixed in God is my prayerful attitude; such know ledge have I obtained from the Guru.
‘If one understand the Guru’s instruction and know him self, then he being true shall be absorbed in the True One.’
A Sidh called Charpat asked .–
The Sidhs then, said ‘All hail!’ The Guru replied, ‘All hail to the Primal Being!’ Several Sikhs suppose that Guru Nanak com posed the Sidh Gosht on that occasion when he found leisure and retirement for composition.