Diwali night

Diwali was celebrated in India a few days back. Diwali means differently to different religions – for sikhs it marks the return of Guru Hargobindji to Amritsar.

The first copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was scribed by Bhai Gurdaas, who was a devoted sikh of Guru Arjan Devji. He completed the Adi Granth in 1604. It took him nearly 19 years to complete this task. Bhai Gurdas not only wrote the Adi Granth as dictated by Guru Arjan Dev but also supervised four other scribes, Bhai Haria, Bhai Sant Das, Bhai Sukha and Bhai Manasa Ram, in the writing of various scriptures. Bhai Gurdaas’ own writings are collectively known as ‘Varan Bhai Gurdaas – and from these I bring the following hymn. This is normally sung during Diwali, because of the reference to Diwali in the first line. Many people believe this to be an implicit instruction by the Guru to lite candles. However, this is not true – the Guru never believes in completing physical rituals. The meaning of the hymn is more sublime:

੬ : ਚੱਲਣ ਜੁਗਤ
ਦੀਵਾਲੀ ਦੀ ਰਾਤਿ ਦੀਵੇ ਬਾਲੀਅਨਿ।
Lamps are lighted in the night of diwali festival;

ਤਾਰੇ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਨਾਤਿ ਅੰਬਰਿ ਭਾਲੀਅਨਿ।
Stars of different variety appear in the sky;

ਫੁਲਾਂ ਦੀ ਬਾਗਾਤਿ ਚੁਣਿ ਚੁਣਿ ਚਾਲੀਅਨਿ।
Flowers blossom in the garden; but are plucked;

ਤੀਰਥਿ ਜਾਤੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਨੈਣ ਨਿਹਾਲੀਅਨਿ।
The pilgrims are seen visiting the places of pilgrimage;

ਹਰਿਚੰਦਉਰੀ ਝਾਤਿ ਵਸਾਇ ਉਚਾਲੀਅਨਿ।
Temporary habitats have been seen coming into being and vanishing.

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੁਖ ਫਲ ਦਾਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਮ੍ਹਾਲੀਅਨਿ ॥੬॥
All these are momentary, but the gurmukhs with the help of the Word nourish the gift of the pleasure fruit.


Karwa Chauth

The festival of Karwa Chauth is being celebrated today – females keep fast for the well being of the husband. Like many other brahminical practices, this has also entered Sikhism.

The creator created food to nourish the body. It does not please Him for us to forsake food – remember, an empty stomach cannot remember Him with full devotion.

This is what Sri Guru Granth Sahib offers about fasting:

ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਸੰਜਮ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਤਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਆਢੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
Fasting, daily rituals, and austere self-discipline – those who keep the practice of these, are rewarded with less than a shell.

ਆਗੈ ਚਲਣੁ ਅਉਰੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਊਂਹਾ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥
Hereafter, the way is different, O Siblings of Destiny. There, these things are of no use at all. ||1||

Kabir is quite strict:

ਕਬੀਰ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਸਿਮਰਨੁ ਛਾਡਿ ਕੈ ਅਹੋਈ ਰਾਖੈ ਨਾਰਿ ॥
Kabeer, the woman who gives up meditation on the Lord, and observes the ritual fast of Ahoi,

ਗਦਹੀ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਅਉਤਰੈ ਭਾਰੁ ਸਹੈ ਮਨ ਚਾਰਿ ॥੧੦੮॥
shall be reincarnated as a donkey, to carry heavy burdens. ||108||

Ahoi is also a fasting based ritual. Some people need a punishment, it seems. Many people will argue that fasting is good for the body, which is why they are doing it. My question: why then do it on a specific day? They should do it on another day just to prove they are doing it only for the body and not for any other reason.

I want to use the occasion to also share another verse:

ਪਉੜੀ ॥

ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਘਿਣਾਵਣੇ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by despising the world.

ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੜਾਵਣੇ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by studying the Vedas.

ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਈਐ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by bathing at the holy places.

ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਧਾਈਐ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by wandering all over the world.

ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਕਿਤੈ ਸਿਆਣਪੈ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by any clever tricks.

ਨਾ ਤੂ ਆਵਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਦਾਨੁ ਦੇ ॥
No one can bring You under control, by giving huge donations to charities.

ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਤੇਰੈ ਵਸਿ ਅਗਮ ਅਗੋਚਰਾ ॥
Everyone is under Your power, O inaccessible, unfathomable Lord.

ਤੂ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੈ ਵਸਿ ਭਗਤਾ ਤਾਣੁ ਤੇਰਾ ॥੧੦॥
You are under the control of Your devotees; You are the strength of Your devotees. ||10||


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