The Sikh Way of Life
Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Guru of the Sikhs, had two Sons. Their names were Sri Chand and Lakshami Chand. Siri Chand was really a holy man. He started the Udasi sect. An Udasi is a wandering saint who leaves family life, goes to the jungle, remains unmarried and lives on charity. In this way, he tries to obtain God’s grace. Guru Nanak Dev ji did not choose Siri Chand to be the Guru of the Sikhs because he did not live the life of a householder. Being the son of Guru Nanak, however, the Sikhs had great respect for him. Unlike the Udasis, the Sikhs lead a family life and realise their responsibility towards the society they live in and thus do not agree with the Udasi way of searching for God in the jungle.
One day, Guru Ram Das ji and his Sikhs were busy digging the sacred pool at Amritsar. Someone brought the message that Baba Siri Chand was coming to see the Guru. The news rather surprised the Sikhs. When the evening prayer was over, Baba Siri Chand arrived. The Guru and some of the Sikhs received and welcomed him. The Guru liked him for his holy living and he bowed to the old Baba Siri Chand. He helped him dismount from his horse, and they walked to the Diwan (Sikh religious congregation). The Sikhs sat there singing the Lord’s praises(Keertan). Guru Ram Das ji and Baba Siri Chand also sat down among the Sikhs. Now the Guru spoke to the Sikhs, “Religion means true living. It does not mean running away from the world. It is not a set of rules. It means believing in God and loving His people. Mere words do not make religion, it is good actions that matter. A family man stands a better chance of doing good actions, because he lives among God’s people. He works hard, earns his living and shares his earnings with the needy. It is thus that Baba Nanak tells us to earn God’s grace by living in a family and not by going away alone into the jungle.”
Baba Siri Chand ji listened to all this very attentively. “Ram Das,” he said, “What you say is not true. Being a householder you cannot obtain God’s grace. It comes only to those who keep away from family life, keep fasts, remain unmarried and remember God’s Name. You are talking of God’s grace as if it were child’s play.”
“Dear Baba,” said Guru Ram Das ji, “That is what Guru Nanak told us. It is the magic of the Name, the true Name (Sat Nam) that brings to you God’s grace. The Guru’s Sikhs always keep God’s Name in their hearts. Thus the Sikhs learn that God is one and is everywhere. All human beings are equal before God. The millions of suns, skies and worlds like ours are made by God. A Sikh looks upon all people as brothers and sisters of the same family. He loves them, serves them and listens to them. This is how men learn about God and how a man may become a saint with the help of others. This has been going on for millions of years. Man cannot learn about God from wild beasts in the jungle. What he really needs is the company of good men(Satsangat)”
“Ram Das,” said Baba Siri Chand, “The Guru’s way seems to be too simple. It looks like a broad and easy path. But I am sure God cannot be known so easily. One has to stay away from the world, remain unmarried and remember God. A householder can never do all this, can he?” “God is not far away,” replied Guru Ram Das ji. “If you accept His Will, you will find Him in your heart. He does not live in this or that temple, church or mosque. We need only repeat His Name and love His people. A householder can really find God easily, because he does not look to others for his food and clothing as do the Udasis, who go begging for food to the very householders whose way of life they do not like. The Guru’s Sikhs would live, work and repeat the true Name as family men and help others in need. They accept God’s Will and thus easily obtain God’s grace.”
“Ram Das,” said Baba Siri Chand. “Your way of life runs too straight and clear. I understand your point of view. You know so much, but you look no different from your simple Sikhs. Why have you grown such a long beard?” “Dear sir,” replied the Guru. “It is God’s way. It is His sweet Will that all men have beards. The beard is a part of our body. My beard is just its natural length. It gives me a complete look. I take good care of it, that is all. What is more, this long beard of mine is for wiping the feet of all holy men like you.”
At this, all the Sikhs sitting there were very pleased and spoke out “Great is our Guru Ram Das. O wonderful Guru, grant us all such humility and goodness.”
Baba Siri Chand was greatly impressed at the Guru’s humility. Later the Guru made him a fond farewell.
“Men put on many strange clothes and wander far away in search of God. But they forget to make their hearts clean. They shall neither find God, nor any happiness after death. O Man, be a saint in your own home and follow the Guru’s way; Practise truth, love and good works. This way alone You will know truth and be granted Gods grace. (Guru Ram Das ji)
“O God, bathe me in the pool of nectar. So that I may meditate on your Name, The root of joy, the life of the world, The giver to all men; Then I shall feel blessed.” (Guru Ram Das ji)