THE MISSION OF GURU NANAK
Guru Nanak had given all his Spiritual, Religious, Scientific, Political and Philosophical sermons to people professing different faiths and segments of society and those following various religious orders in his 965 Gurbani Shabads or compositions. In addition he had collected 784 compositions of 15 Bhagats and Saints from all over the country and had given this treasure of his revealed Gurbani collection to Guru Angad Dev Ji when he installed him as the second Nanak. Bhai Gurdas in his Vaars as well as Satta and Balwand in their Vaar, which is included in the Guru Granth Sahib, proclaimed that Guru Nanak just changed his body. Guru Nanak could have compiled the Gurbani Treasure in the form of a "Granth" or "Pothi" if his intention had been only to give a new method of "Bhakti" or constant remembrance of the Lord leading to personal salvation. Neither Guru Angad Dev Ji nor any of the other 8 Nanaks gave any fresh or new idea in their Bani or proclamation. They just further repeated the same thoughts in different phraseology because in fact they were all Nanaks. Guru Nanak had the distinction that he was recording himself all the thoughts that were being revealed to him. No other Saint or Bhagat had done so. Their followers had recorded their sermons in more than one version and sometimes they recorded the same after the demise of the savant. When we draw our attention to the ages when the various other Nanaks occupied the spiritual cum temporal throne then we notice that Guru Arjan Dev was installed Guru by his predecessor at the age of 18, Guru Hargobind was installed at the age of 11, Hari Rai at the age of 14 years, Guru Harikrishan Ji at the age of 5 years and Guru Gobind Singh at the age of 9 years. We can easily conclude that "The Light of the Lord Himself" which entered Guru Nanak was passed on to the young Gurus who could act like Guru Nanak and thus it was the Light, which was acting in all. Bhai Gurdas is very clear:
Vaar 1, Pauri 45 (6, 7, 8)
Joti jot milaikai satigur Nanak roop vatiaia. Lakhi na koi sakai aacharjai aacharaj dikhaia. Kaia palatt saroop banaia.
Guru Nanak transformed himself and thus changed into a different personality. This mystery is incomprehensible for any body and awe-inspiring (Nanak) accomplished a wonderful task. He (Nanak) converted his body into a new form.
Vaar 24 Pauri 25 (1, 2, 3)
Nirankaru Nanak Deu Nirankari aakar banaia guru Angadu gur ang te gangahu jaanh tarang uthaia Amar Das guru Angdahu joli saroop chalat vartaia.
The formless Lord who is beyond all forms assumed the form of Guru Nanak Dev (in a metaphoric sense). In turn, he (Guru Nanak) created Angad "from his limbs" as the waves are created in the river Ganga. From Guru Angad came Guru Amar Das and all saw the miracle of transference of the Light.
We can easily conclude that Guru Nanak assumed nine other forms to complete the special task assigned to him.
THREE PHASES OF THE KHALSA
1. Formation of a Unitary Panth 1469-1708 (239 years) To organise a Unique Panth or Army of Akal Purukh seems to have been the mandate of Nanak. Sikhi is not just another religion with its special rituals being: – Kirtan, Kirtan Darbars, reading of Guru Granth Sahib on 7 days or rapid continuous reading over 48 hours (Akhandpath), Katha or discourse on Gurbani and Langars being the other prominent attributes. We become thoughtful and are in a contemplative mood when the Raagis sing: "Meri Meri Kartey Janam Gaio" meaning that Man! You have wasted your life muttering Mine, Mine. This Shabad is usually sung at the Bhog Ceremony of a dear departed soul. The meanings do not touch us because we all have become totally self-centered, always counting our wealth and remaining in quest for more acquisitions. We, the Sikhs have totally forgotten and have ignored completely the objective of Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was aiming in bringing the whole humanity on the righteous path. Guru Nanak had commenced his task by singing his thoughts and addressing the people of South and South West Asia. He had initiated a movement to establish a gentle rule, which would uplift the downtrodden and poor of the land. The Tenth Nanak passed on this mandate to us.
We did not pay much attention to the two important edicts and traditions given to us by the Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Guru Sahib in 1699, at the time of commencing the Institution of distinctive Khalsa, had declared that the Sanstha (institution) of Masands is hereby abolished for all time to come. Guru Sahib had stated that these Masands had become totally corrupt even in the Guru period. Not only they misappropriated funds meant for the Guru, they browbeat the Sikhs. In addition to Masands Guru Gobind Singh Ji, turned out from the Panth Minas, Ram Raiyas, and Dhirmalias, all those who had been trying to set up Sikhi of their own. Thus Guru Gobind Singh consolidated one Central mainstream or Panth of the Khalsa and stated that henceforth the Daswandh or tithe be handed over directly to the Guru. It clearly meant that after him, the Daswandh, the compulsory levy instituted by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, was to be deposited in the Central Treasury of the Panth. The intellectuals did not apply their mind to this edict and this has been the sole cause of the chaotic condition of the Panth now. Literally thousands of Masands in the form of Babas and others are collecting funds for their personal benefit.
Secondly, in 1708, he had clearly shown to us the model of future Panthic Leadership when he had appointed Banda Singh Bahadar as the Commander of the Khalsa and provided him with five chosen Gursikhs to guide him throughout on the Path of Gurmat. This model of collective Panthic leadership has yet to be instituted.
2. Second Phase of Khalsa 1708-1947 (239 years) Sustenance of the Khalsa Upto the time of Nawab Kapur Singh Panth had a single central treasury and one polity. After the demise of Kapur Singh and Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Misl Sardars commenced fighting amongst themselves. During these 239 years Panth had two golden periods:
1799-1839: These 40 years of Sarkar Khalsa was a unique peaceful Kingdom of its times in the whole world. There were no rebellions and no body was given death sentence when even in England death sentence was awarded for minor crimes. Our Gurus indicated forcefully to us that every Raj within boundaries becomes corrupt and showed it to us that such a remarkable Raj came to an inglorious end within 10 years.
1920-1925: During these 5 years Panth acted as one unit and hundreds sacrificed themselves for freeing the Gurdwaras from the control of Mahants. Panjabi Muslims and Govt. of India were alarmed that if they do not check this movement, it would lead to Khalsa Raj. Govt of India brought out a well thought out Gurdwara Act for handing over of important historical Gurdwaras of Punjab to an elected body of Sikhs for which the Government of Punjab would incur all expenses for all times. During 1920, the Panth had shown exemplary unity when they had nominated by unanimous consent 170 members to constitute the Shrimoni Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee. As soon as the Gurdwara Act was passed, Sikhs got divided into 3 factions and in the very first election to SGPC in 1926, Sikhs used every possible corrupt practise to gain control of SGPC. The intellectuals did not give any lead to the Panth at this critical movement but instead also got themselves attached to various factions of religious and political leaders.
End of Panthic Ideology:
Our Gurus had created a single Panth but after 1925 the Sikhs joined other political parties for personal promotion. In 1946 Sikhs joined Congress in large numbers and fought elections on its ticket. The lure of travelling in the Ministerial car with National Flag on it (Jhandi wali car) had a great attraction for the Sikh politicians. Several of them joined the Congress to get a march above their rivals in the Akali Dal. This was also a quick way to amass money. Sikh intellectuals were not only mute spectators but were running after the various factions of Sikh politicians and forgot the entity of Guru Panth. The degradation of the Panth was demonstrated at the recently held 4 political conferences at the Chhapar Mela on 2-9-2001. The Sikhs vied with one another to show the political strength of their faction and brought their followers from all over Panjab to downgrade their rivals. These conferences were held at the "Gugga Marhi Mandir". Only Sikhs spoke from the stages of Akali Dal, Congress, Panthic Morcha and Lok Bhalai Party. Regression of Sikh Ideology was further demonstrated when the Sikhs organized the annual Urs of Pir Manawala and Baba Miran Shah on 7th September 2001. Panjabi Tribune of 8th September 2001 published photographs and mentioned 26 Sikh names among the organizers who had offered ceremonial Chadars over the graves and distributed special Choorma. The paper also published the lines of the degrading songs sung by Sikh boys and girls on this occasion. No group or body of intellectuals or even Akal Takhat criticized these unsikh practices on both these occasions. This is height of Panthic decadence.
3. Third Phase of Khalsa: Khalsa to rescue the world (1947 onwards):
We must accept that the "Embodiment of the Spirit of the Lord Himself was called Guru Nanak – Jot Roop Her Aaap Guru Nanak Kahaiyo" and this Light of the Lord had come here for a purpose. Khalsa had been formed at the behest of the Akal Purukh to save the world from annihilation. It was for this purpose that Akal Purukh did not desire us to be confined to a small state and hence no Sikh State was created in 1947. Subsequently the Sikhs started moving out of Punjab in large numbers and events of 1984 lead to world vide Diaspora of Sikhs. Guru Nanak had commenced his journey to bring the humanity on the path of righteousness "Charhiya Sodhan Dharat Lukai". It is for furtherance of this task that the Khalsa has spread to all over the world. Only the ideology of Guru Granth Sahib can control the Explosive situation and impending anarchy which has become manifest after Sept. 11, 2001.
Let the Khalsa put its own house in order to face this task. Three steps are urgently required and all well meaning Sikh intellectuals should commence a movement from every forum:
Organisation of a Central Treasury of the Panth.
Organisation of Central Leadership of the Panth, which is acceptable to all 20 million Sikhs.
Organisation of a single Khalsa Polity in all countries of the world to project the ideology of Guru Granth Sahib.
Once we achieve the 3 objectives outlined above then we would be able to spearhead the movement of sanity in the world. We have to end all ethnic differences and uplift the downtrodden masses in all countries. We have to forcefully project the ideology of "Koi Boley Ram Ram Koi Khudaiye". Let us dispense with mery mery (mine, mine) give up personal self-promotion all the time. Part with Bank balances for the Guru’s task.
Propagate the ideology of Guru Granth Sahib by publishing Gurbani in different languages and scripts of the world. We have to commence a worldwide movement for distribution of Gurbani Booklets amongst the intellectuals in all countries.
* English version of the paper presented at the annual seminar of IOSS on 4-11-2001 under the title of "Failure of Sikh institutions: Decadence of Intellectuals"