Question from a visitor

One of my readers sent me this question: “Do you believe that all the Gurus were special messengers of God?“.
Yes, I replied, there is no reason to believe otherwise.

Guru Nanak was indeed one of these special messengers:

ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥
As the Word of the Lord-Husband comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo.

However, this question started a chain of thoughts which I share through this post.

First, there are no “all the Gurus”. Sikhism has just one Guru. Shabd (Word) Guru. When Guru Nanak was asked by the siddhas who His Guru was, he replied:

ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥
The Shabad is the Guru; my mind, my consciousness am the disciple.

The word Guru technically means the destroyer of ignorance, and the light of knowledge. There is no indication that Guru has to be human.

In fact, we can conceptualise the Guru, not as a person but as a tatv (abstract element). In Japuji Sahib, Guru Nanak states “pawan Guru” (Air is the Guru). Sant Maskeenji explains this by saying that words need air for existence. There is no knowledge sharing without air. Prof. Darshan Singh, in one of his talks, says that when Nanak absorbed Shabd (the Divine Word) he became Guru Nanak. Guru, the tatva, can take any form. The ten Sikh Gurus were human forms of this tatva, and the eleventh Guru is the book form. When the Guru manifests His Divine blessings through a single Shabd (Word) it is called the Guru Mantar and for a Sikh this is ‘Waheguru‘.

God is the destination, and Guru is the path to that destination. Yet, like everything in this world, Guru is also a manifestation of God. With God being formless, the Guru is also formless.
God is the ultimate Guru, the Guru of the Gurus:

ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਏਕੋ ਵੇਸ ਅਨੇਕ ॥੧॥
But the Teacher of teachers is the One God, who appears in so many forms. ||1||

Understanding this, we will realise, that all Gurus are One, because the shabd is the common link.

Addressing the Third Guru, His Disciple Bhai Jetha Ji (who went on to become the fourth Guru, Guru Ram Daas ji) recites the following:

ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਜਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਤਪੁਰਖਾ ਬਿਨਉ ਕਰਉ ਗੁਰ ਪਾਸਿ ॥

O Dear Guru, the Messenger of God, the Embodiment of Truth – I present to Thee the following request.

So its quite clear that the Gurus were messengers of God.

The Primal Consciousness, Who is called “God” manifests as a Uni-faceted Entity in its innate form. When It assumes the form of the universe, it shows its multifaceted beauty. This multifaceted existance is called Maya when the focus is on what is visible and Kartar (Creator) when the focus is on the underlying. Maya‘s individual facets have both positive and negative, good and bad. Whereas Kartar‘s facets are always positive and goodwill bearing. The Shabd Guru (Waheguru) represents Uni-faceted innate God, where as the rest of the Gurbani represents Kartar.

It is also well known within the followers of Sikhism, and also echoed within Bhagat Bani (writings of worshipers which are part of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji) that the Primal Consciousness assumed the Human Form and was called Guru Nanak. The purpose of this was to help his creation reach ultimate stages of Divine Love.

Some other quotes from Sri Guru Granth Sahib on the same topic:

ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜੀ ਬਸਹਿ ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਰਸਨਾ ॥
God resides upon the tongues (speech) of His Saints.

The purpose of the Guru’s coming into this world is to initiate a chain reaction of Divine Realisation. It enables us mortals to find God within us.

ਜਨ ਆਵਨ ਕਾ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਆਉ ॥
The (Guru’s) coming has one object;

ਜਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵੈ ਨਾਉ ॥
in the Company of this humble servant, the Lord’s Name comes to mind.


His True Name – Part II


A few days back I had talked about the importance of reciting the lord’s name even once. Today I want to revisit that with another interesting parable, from Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Ajaamal was a sinner, and having married a prostitute, he fathered a son. He met a saint and asked him what he should name him. The saint suggested the name Naarayan which in Hindi refers to the Lord.

Throughout his life, he uttered Naarayan referring to his son. When the Messenger of Death came to take Ajaamal, he called out to his son. The Messenger of Death, on hearing Ajaamal say “Narayan” at the time of his death, got frightened and did not take Ajaamal. Thus Ajaamal was saved and reached the Lord’s Lotus Feet.

ਅਜਾਮਲ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਕੀਨੀ ਕਰਿ ਨਾਰਾਇਣ ਬੋਲਾਰੇ ॥
Ajaamal loved his son Naaraayan, and called out his name.

And then again, later:

ਅਜਾਮਲੁ ਉਧਰਿਆ ਕਹਿ ਏਕ ਬਾਰ ॥
Ajaamal uttered the Lord’s Name once, and was saved.

Guru Granth Sahib clarifies that Ajaamal’s recitation of the Lord’s Name, though impure (he called out because of attachment to his son, not because of Love for God) – still saved him:

ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਹੇਤਿ ਨਾਰਾਇਣੁ ਕਹਿਓ ਜਮਕੰਕਰ ਮਾਰਿ ਬਿਦਾਰੇ ॥੧॥
Ajaamal called out “Narayan” for the sake of his love for son. Yet the Lord’s Name killed and sent the Messenger of Death away.||1||

Bhai Gurdas throws light on Ajaamal and his deeds:


His True Name


Want to share today the importance of uttering the Lord’s Name even once (as a Gurmukh – follower of the ways of the Guru, with body and mind in unison):

ਨਿਰਬਾਣ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਕਰਤੇ ਕਾ ਨਿਮਖ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਜਿਤੁ ਛੂਟੈ ॥੧॥
Cleansing yourself of lust, sing the praise of the Creator; contemplating Him in meditation, even for an instant, one is saved. ||1||

Here, the Guru talks about singing the praise of the Creator – even for a ‘Nimakh‘ (instant). Nimakh is composed of two punjabi words – Nim (falling) and Akh (eye). Hence Nimakh refers to the period of blinking of the eye.

Sukhmani Sahib has the following verse:

ਜਾਪ ਤਾਪ ਗਿਆਨ ਸਭਿ ਧਿਆਨ ॥
Chanting, intense meditation, spiritual wisdom and all meditations;
ਖਟ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਵਖਿਆਨ ॥
the six schools of philosophy and sermons on the scriptures;
ਜੋਗ ਅਭਿਆਸ ਕਰਮ ਧ੍ਰਮ ਕਿਰਿਆ ॥
the practice of Yoga and righteous conduct;
ਸਗਲ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਬਨ ਮਧੇ ਫਿਰਿਆ ॥
the renunciation of everything and wandering around in the wilderness;
ਅਨਿਕ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਕੀਏ ਬਹੁ ਜਤਨਾ ॥
the performance of all sorts of works;
ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਹੋਮੇ ਬਹੁ ਰਤਨਾ ॥
donations to charities and offerings of jewels to fire;
ਸਰੀਰੁ ਕਟਾਇ ਹੋਮੈ ਕਰਿ ਰਾਤੀ ॥
cutting the body apart and making the pieces into ceremonial fire offerings;
ਵਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕਰੈ ਬਹੁ ਭਾਤੀ ॥
keeping fasts and making vows of all sorts –
ਨਹੀ ਤੁਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥
none of these are equal to the contemplation of the Name of the Lord,
ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪੀਐ ਇਕ ਬਾਰ ॥੧॥
O Nanak, if, as Gurmukh, one chants the Naam, even once. ||1||

Guru Gobind Singhji, in Benti Chaupai feels:

ਜੋ ਕਲਿ ਕੌ ਇਕ ਬਾਰ ਧਿਐਹੈ ॥ ਤਾ ਕੇ ਕਾਲ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨਹਿ ਐਹੈ ॥
Those who meditate even once on the Supreme Destroyer (God), the death cannot approach them;

Once a person visited Kabir’s home, telling his wife about wanting to meet him. She replied that he was away at the moment and sought the reason for the man’s visit. The man informed her that his entire body was painful, and that he was in great agony. Wife told him to recite ‘Ram’ thrice. He did so, and his pain vanished. He happily thanked his wife and went away.

Kabir was returning, when he saw this man leaving his home, merrily. On being asked by Kabir, the man narrated his story. Kabir went inside his house and gave his wife an angry look. The wife was surprised, she asked him the reason. Kabir told her: “By uttering Ram just once, an entire village can be cured, and you have cured one person by having him recite thrice. This is a sacrilege of the sacred Name.”

This same thought is echoed by Kabir in Sri Guru Granth Sahib:

ਕਬੀਰ ਸਈ ਮੁਖੁ ਧੰਨਿ ਹੈ ਜਾ ਮੁਖਿ ਕਹੀਐ ਰਾਮੁ ॥ ਦੇਹੀ ਕਿਸ ਕੀ ਬਾਪੁਰੀ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਗ੍ਰਾਮੁ ॥੧੧੦॥
Kabeer, blessed is that mouth, which utters the Lord’s Name. What to speak of the body, and the whole village as well. ||110||


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