Sikhs treat Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the Living Treasure of Knowledge, as the Guiding Master on the spiritual journey and embodiment of Word form of the God. The word Guru literally means a teacher in Hindi. The advice that comes from Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji is timeless and unchanging, rather than worldly knowledge which is ever changing.
What does the Guru say about the kind of teaching that needs to be practiced with the students? Read below:
ਪਾਧਾ ਪੜਿਆ ਆਖੀਐ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਚਰੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥
We call person learned, if through the internalisation of his knowledge, he finds peace and his mind stays at rest.
ਬਿਦਿਆ ਸੋਧੈ ਤਤੁ ਲਹੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥
He ventures inwards through the map of his knowledge, and by focusing attention on the True Name he attunes to Divine One.
ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਕ੍ਰਦਾ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਟੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ ॥
The self willed teacher (who has not subdued his mind) is only a knowledge seller. Little does he know that this trade is a poison that finishes the spiritual purpose of his life.
ਮੂਰਖੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥੫੩॥
Such people are fools, they have not understood the Eternal Word and have no intuitive knowledge.
ਪਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਖੀਐ ਚਾਟੜਿਆ ਮਤਿ ਦੇਇ ॥
A wise teacher follows precisely the teachings of God Guru and gives the same instruction to his disciples.
ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮਾਲਹੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੰਗਰਹੁ ਲਾਹਾ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਲੇਇ ॥
He tells his students to praise the Lord’s Name, the manifestation of God. To collect Naam which is the only profitable trade in this world.
ਸਚੀ ਪਟੀ ਸਚੁ ਮਨਿ ਪੜੀਐ ਸਬਦੁ ਸੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥
His own heart becomes the slate on which he writes the word of the True Guru, and thus his own mind is cleansed of evil. This is the best learning.
ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋ ਪੜਿਆ ਸੋ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬੀਨਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਗਲਿ ਹਾਰੁ ॥੫੪॥੧॥
Such a teacher is then called wise and learned who wears the garland of Lord’s Name
November 17th is being celebrated this year as the day Guru Nanak came to this earth. The foremost of His teachings was to stay detached from Maya (worldly pleasures) and always thank the Creator for his bounties. Simple living and serving to other beings were advocated.
Sharing below a greeting card which can be used to spread His Divine Message. (Click on the image to see bigger, two versions)
This first quote about Guru Nanak’s coming to this earth is from a ballad by Bhai Gurdas (Vaar 1, Pauri 24). The second quote, Guru Nanak’s message about devotion and humility is from Guru Nanak’s primary writing “Asa ki vaar“, and appears within Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Ang 470. Recital of God’s name under Guru’s guidance is important towards separating oneself from Maya (worldly pleasures) which then leads you to God.
It has been some time since my last post on this blog, things have been quite busy. Today I am sharing a Gurbani Plaque with you all, for the purpose of printing and putting at home or office.
Its available in SVG format as well, which means it can be enlarged to any size, as large as needed. For those without the knowledge on using this format, a JPG format is also available (which is a simple image):
A few days back India celebrated the festival of Guru purnima – celebration of having a Guru, who destroys our ignorance, and provides us with the Light of Knowledge.
Guru Nanak made four journeys to different places of this world, destroying darkness and evil. On one such journey, Guru Nanak had a long discussion with the Siddhas (learned people). Initially they tried to trick the Guru and disorient him, but that failed. Thereafter they felt that if Guru Nanak becomes their disciple, he could do wonders towards spreading their faith. Guru Nanak replied to the offer saying that he already had a Guru, Shabd Guru – the Diving Knowledge. Finally Siddhas realised Guru Nanak had been born to liberate people in the Kalyug (dark ages), and they asked him what was happening in the cities. This discussion ensued as below, with Guru Nanak describing the state of a world where there is no Guru to guide people:
ਫਿਰਿ ਪੁਛਣਿ ਸਿਧ ਨਾਨਕਾ! ਮਾਤ ਲੋਕ ਵਿਚਿ ਕਿਆ ਵਰਤਾਰਾ?
Siddhas again asked, “O Nanak! How is happening on mother Earth?”
ਸਭ ਸਿਧੀ ਇਹ ਬੁਝਿਆ ਕਲਿ ਤਾਰਣਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਅਵਤਾਰਾ।
By this time all the siddhas understood that Nanak had come to earth to deliver it from the (sins of) kaliyug.
ਬਾਬੇ ਆਖਿਆ: ਨਾਥ ਜੀ! ਸਚੁ ਚੰਦ੍ਰਮਾਂ ਕੂੜੁ ਅੰਧਾਰਾ।
Baba replied, “O respected Nath, Truth has become like the moon – less radiant – and the falsehood has spread darkness all around”
ਕੂੜੁ ਅਮਾਵਸਿ ਵਰਤਿਆ ਹਉ ਭਾਲਣਿ ਚੜ੍ਹਿਆ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ।
The darkness of the moonless night of the falsehood has spread around and I, in order to search for the (truthful) world, have undertaken this journey.
ਪਾਪ ਗਿਰਾਸੀ ਪਿਰਥਮੀ ਧਉਲੁ ਖੜਾ ਧਰਿ ਹੇਠ ਪੁਕਾਰਾ।
The earth is engulfed with sin, and the support of dharma (righteousness) represented by the ox is crying and wailing (for rescue).
ਸਿਧ ਛਪਿ ਬੈਠੇ ਪਰਬਤੀ ਕਉਣੁ ਜਗਤ੍ਰਿ ਕਉ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਾਰਾ।
In such circumstances, when even the siddhas, have taken refuge in the mountains, how the world could get redeemed.
ਜੋਗੀ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣਿਆ ਨਿਸਦਿਨ ਅੰਗਿ ਲਗਾਇਨਿ ਛਾਰਾ।
Yogis also bereft of knowledge and simply applying ashes to their bodies are lying down unconcerned.
ਬਾਝੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਡੁਬਾ ਜਗੁ ਸਾਰਾ ॥੨੯॥
Without Guru the world is getting drowned.
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.
In a recent episode of India’s Got Talent Season 2, there was a performance by a Sikh group, showcasing Sikh martial arts using swords with some beautiful music, which had one 5-6 year old kid as part of the group. One of the judges, Sajid Khan mentioned that while the performance was “okay”, the involvement of the kid (in a performance using swords) was not a good decision since it would lead kids to copy him. I disagree personally: there are many dangerous performances shown in that particular talent hunt which can also lead kids to copy. One of the judges appreciated the performance, and the third one opined that she is fine, subject to that kids are not part of the next performance. Click on the image below to watch an excerpt:
However, I am sorry to note that Sajid does not understand Sikhism. The power of Sikhism lies not only in the sword, but also in the scriptures that teach how to use it. Many people mistakenly believe that the Tenth Guru “turned” Sikhism, what was till then a way of life, into a warring tribe. The need for the ability to defend, using arms was part of Sikhism ever since the Sixth Guru who made Sikhs into not just saints, but saint soldiers.
Sajid also claimed that what started as a “performance” gave way to a riot on stage. That was the intended effect, which is what Sajid failed to understand. The Tenth Guru, in his writings beautifully recreates war scenes, with great insight, and then points out the futility for both the winners (who becomes bloated with ego not knowing he will also die one day making way for more winners), and the losers (who end up with a few bones less).
I show case two of my favourite stanzas from such writings:
ਜੀਤ ਫਿਰੈ ਸਭ ਦੇਸ ਦਿਸਾਨ ਕੋ ਬਾਜਤ ਢੋਲ ਮ੍ਰਿਦੰਗ ਨਗਾਰੇ ॥
With the beat of drums and trumpets the emperor conquers all the countries.
ਗੁੰਜਤ ਗੂੜ ਗਜਾਨ ਕੇ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਹਿੰਸਤ ਹੈਂ ਹਯਰਾਜ ਹਜਾਰੇ ॥
Along with the drums is the roaring of beautifully decorated elephants and thousands of neighing houses of best breed.
ਭੂਤ ਭਵਿੱਖ ਭਵਾਨ ਕੇ ਭੂਪਤ ਕਉਨੁ ਗਨੈ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਤ ਬਿਚਾਰੇ ॥
So many such emperors have existed in the past, exist today and will exist in future; the numbers cannot be fathomed
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਪਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਭਜੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਅੰਤ ਕਉ ਅੰਤ ਕੇ ਧਾਮ ਸਿਧਾਰੇ ॥੩॥੨੩॥
Their might will be forgotten similarly; without remembering the Lord’s True Name, they will leave for the final abode (and lose the opportunity). 3.23.
ਸੁੱਧ ਸਿਪਾਹ ਦੁਰੰਤ ਦੁਬਾਹ ਸੁ ਸਾਜ ਸਨਾਹ ਦੁਰਜਾਨ ਦਲੈਂਗੇ ॥
The trained and war tested soldiers, with strong arms, mighty and ironclad – just waiting to crush the enemies.
ਭਾਰੀ ਗੁਮਾਨ ਭਰੇ ਮਨ ਮੈਂ ਕਰ ਪਰਬਤ ਪੰਖ ਹਲੇ ਨ ਹਲੈਂਗੇ ॥
With great ego in their mind; even if mountains were to grow wings and fly away frightened, they would still not lose their stand
ਤੋਰਿ ਅਰੀਨ ਮਰੋਰਿ ਮਵਾਸਨ ਮਾਤੇ ਮਤੰਗਨ ਮਾਨ ਮਲੈਂਗੇ ॥
They would destroy the enemies, twist the necks of rebels and smash the pride of intoxicated elephants.
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਪਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਜਹਾਨ ਨਿਦਾਨ ਚਲੈਂਗੇ ॥੫॥੨੫॥
But without the Grace of the Lord-God, they would ultimately leave the world empty handed and none the wiser. 5.25.
Sajid talks of kids, but does not realise that the Guru even as a kid used to create two different teams among his friends, and play war games. The Gurus younger sons were aged 8 years and 6 years when they achieved martyrdom. Just because a tyrant decides to go to war, you will have to go to war too – even though you may not want to. Whatever you want to excel at, you have to start learning as a child. He is simply afraid of the unknown – and his very limited experience of life makes him feel he is correct. In the days of the Guru, people were afraid to stand up against the tyrants – what will become of my kids? – such thoughts prevented them. The Guru led the way by teaching kids to defend themselves.
I cannot stop myself from showcasing another beautiful Hymn by the Tenth Guru where the Sword reigns supreme:
ਖਗ ਖੰਡ ਬਿਹੰਡੰ ਖਲ ਦਲ ਖੰਡੰ ਅਤਿ ਰਣ ਮੰਡੰ ਬਰ ਬੰਡੰ ॥
खग खंड बिहंडं खल दल खंडं अति रण मंडं बर बंडं ॥
The sword chops well, chops the forces of fools and this beautiful and powerful weapon adorns the battlefield of life.
ਭੁਜ ਦੰਡ ਅਖੰਡੰ ਤੇਜ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਅਮੰਡੰ ਭਾਨ ਪ੍ਰਭੰ ॥
भुज दंड अखंडं तेज प्रचंडं जोति अमंडं भान प्रभं ॥
It is as an extension of the arm, unbreakable, terribly fast, it has a powerful luster and its radiance even bedims the light of the sun.
ਸੁਖ ਸੰਤਾ ਕਰਣੰ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਦਰਣੰ ਕਿਲਬਿਖ ਹਰਣੰ ਅਸਿ ਸਰਣੰ ॥
सुख संता करणं दुरमति दरणं किलबिख हरणं असि सरणं ॥
It brings happiness to the saints, mashing the vicious ones, it is the destroyer of sins and I seek its refuge.
ਜੈ ਜੈ ਜਗ ਕਾਰਣ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਉਬਾਰਣ ਮਮ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਰਣ ਜੈ ਤੇਗੰ ॥੨॥
जै जै जग कारण स्रिसटि उबारण मम प्रतिपारण जै तेगं ॥२॥
Hail, hail to the cause of the world, saviour of the universe, it is my preserver, I hail its victory. 2.
Today is being celebrated as the day the first guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak spread the light of His knowledge. Guru Nanak taught us to abide by the threefold principles of:
kirt karo – Making an honest living through hardwork
naam japo – remembering God at all times
vand chako – sharing with others in need
He also taught us, through the Japuji Sahib (one of the writings) what God is, and how to worship him.
The importance of a Guru can’t be stated: there is no way to seek God without the Guru. Guru Nanak was the first one to show the divine path.
Some thoughts about the importance of the Guru:
ਪੂਜਹੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਏਕੁ ਹੀ ਦੇਵਾ ॥
ਸਾਚਾ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Worship the One Divine Lord. Service to the Guru is the real bath (compared to bathing at religious places). (Pause)
ਗੁਰ ਜੈਸਾ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋ ਦੇਵ ॥
ਜਿਸੁ ਮਸਤਕਿ ਭਾਗੁ ਸੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਸੇਵ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
There is no deity equal to the Guru. Whoever has good destiny inscribed on his forehead, applies himself to selfless service. (Pause)
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਹਉ ਸਦ ਬਲਿ ਜਾਇਆ ॥
ਪ੍ਰਗਟੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਕਰਿ ਦਿਖਲਾਇਆ ॥੩॥
I am forever a sacrifice to the True Guru. He has shown me the path.
ਜੇ ਸਉ ਚੰਦਾ ਉਗਵਹਿ ਸੂਰਜ ਚੜਹਿ ਹਜਾਰ ॥
ਏਤੇ ਚਾਨਣ ਹੋਦਿਆਂ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਘੋਰ ਅੰਧਾਰ ॥੨॥
If a hundred moons were to rise, and a thousand suns appeared,
even with such light, there would still be pitch darkness without the Guru (because the path of righteousness would not be visible).
The image below shows Guru Nanak resting, and a cobra providing the Guru shade from the sun. Rai Bular (the person standing on the side) is amazed to see this.
I think I have just coined a new term. I was pondering on this for the last 2-3 days but the term wasn’t taking shape – this morning it dawned on me all of a sudden. I didn’t find anything googling for this term, although the term ‘Coffee table Buddhism’ did turn up.
Coffee table religion is simplified, ready-to-use religion which is home delivered to you. It has a list of simple tasks that you can carry out, feel good about having done something positive and talk about it over coffee.
Consider as an example charity. Charity is good if you loose your desire to resort to foul means to get something: if I donate $1 today, I will not steal someone’s $1 tomorrow. However, charity is bad if it becomes just a way to increase your ego. I have talked about this in my podcast.
Almost all the tenets of coffee table religion is just a way to boost ego. To meet the Lord, we need to obtain the path from the Guru: waking up early and following the rules of the Creation. The ultimate aim of true religion is to inculcate a love for the Creator within yourself. So far as that does not happen, there is no reason to boost your ego.
India is celebrating today 300 years of the inception (consecration) of the Holy Book ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’ as the spiritual Guru of the Sikhs. It’s a state holiday in Delhi. The celebrations have really started around a year back, on 15th of September 2007. Today the epicenter is Nanded Sahib, where this historic event actually took place years ago.
While we are organising Jagriti Yatra (awareness rally) and Nagar Kirtan (city wide hymn singing), we should also take up the occasion to look within. How many people can place their hands on their hearts and proclaim to being a true Gursikh (disciple to the true Guru)?
A friend asked me a few days back ‘How many points would you give yourself as a good Gursikh?’. I said I would fail at the very first test. He was surprised, and asked me ‘in spite of reciting the Nitnem (daily prayers) everyday as you do?’. I said yes – and I quoted from Sri Guru Granth Sahib – ‘Gur Satgur ka jo Sikh akhai so bhalke uth har Naam dhiawai’. Translated it means ‘One who calls himself the Guru’s disciple, wakes up before dawn and recites the Lords name’. I told him I have never woken up before dawn, let alone reciting the Lord’s name at that hour.
However, the most important task for us at the moment is to root out the evil of shearing of hair. This is unacceptable within the Panth, and we need to ask ourselves why do we trim hair – just to look good (in my opinion, ending up looking like clowns)? Is that reason enough to break away from the Guru’s advice? Lets remember these words:
Hoye Sikh sir topi dhare,
saat janam kushti hoye mare.
Cursed is the Sikh who wears a cap – he will die as a leper for seven births.
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