«AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION O thou that buttest the high mountain, seeking to dislodge it with thy horns, take pity, not on the mountain but on thy head ...»
distinctive features of prophets:
1. “They were, each one in his own way, deeply con-cerned with following out an experience, which became decisive in their lives and which determined their own attitude towards God, towards the world and towards men.”5 2. “The ‘message’ of the founder is essential in that it establishes a religious ideal and a scale of values derived from his basic experience. It creates, apart from the effect of his personal Charisma, an objective centre of crystallization for a variety of sociological developments.”6
3. In analysing the various activities of the founders, we find in nearly every case prekching and teaching. To convey to others the message of salvation and perfection and lead them to the acceptance of the truth revealed to them in their basic experience are primary concerns of the founder. This activity may be implemented by a mi-raculous acts, such as healing, feeding, transforming mat-ter etc. It is on this that tradition and hagiographical development rely, and on this basis that they expand. These acts are meant to illustrate the specific personal Charisma which designates the man of God as in unmis-takable and uninterchangeable ways.’7 4. “The awareness of his mission comes to the chosen one upon the occasion of his “Call”. Characteristic of such a mission is the close association of the message With the personality of its promulgator and the permanent endowment with power. The idea of a mission implies consciousness of its mandatory character. Jesus was con-scious of being sent by the Father, Muhammed was the messenger of Allah, Zoroaster of Ahura-Mazda and Tao spoke through Laotse. Furthermore, there is a balance and an absence of extremity and excess in the attitude of these founders.”8
5. Following Max Weber, Joachim Wach raises the question ‘What, then, is the characteristic of a prophet?” His answer is: ‘’The prophetical charisma seems to be the chief religious gift. It implies immediate communion with the deity, the intensity of which is more characteristic than its continuance.
The mandate which the prophet receives is essential; usually there is a distinct “Call”. The consciousness of being the organ, instrument or mouth-piece of the divine will is characteristic of the self-interpretation of the prophet.”9
6. It is characteristic of prophetic revelations that they are usually not induced by methodical or casual manipulation but arise spontaneously and are received passively. He is credited with the power of transcending the limitations of time and space. The prophet illumi-nates and interprets the past, and he also anticipates the future. The kairos (moment) is interpreted by the prophet in this dual light.”10
7. Since his inspiration means the revelation of hid-den truths, the prophet may also be regarded as one who “knows”.
As one who possesses knowledge and information as to the most essential that man wants to know - the nature, will and manifestation of God - the prophet has feature in common with the teacher, philosopher, and theologian.”11 8. “Helped by the deeper perception and surer anticipation of the future, the prophet views the things of the world in the light of its destiny.”12 98
9. The prophetic charisma frequently leads to clashes with the powers that be in existing religious institutions. But the authority of a prophet may also help to reintegrate individuals or groups into the religious community and restore the lost balance in social and political life, be-tween ruler and subject and between subject and subject.”13 10. “On the other hand, the emergence of new pro-phetic charisma will evoke the opposition of those who either reject the prophetic principle or oppose the claims of some individual prophet.”14
REFORMER, SEERS AND SAINTSOutsiders who do not understand a religion, or who do not wish to understand a religion, but out of unconcealed motives deliberately spin theories to deni-grate the prophet of a religion as Dr Hew McLeod treats Sikhism at every level and in all his writings, the temptation is to call the prophet and founder of religion by such appellations as Reformer, Seer, or Saint. As we have clearly defined the world ‘Prophet’ let us also study the definitions of terms reformer, seer and saint.
Joachim Wach, speaking of the varying Charisma of Reformers, says, “They are not on one level with the Founders;
their creative religious power does not match that of the originator of a great faith. They somewhat resemble the founders in the power and possibility even in the magnetism of their personality, in their energy and endurance; but the sociological effect of their activity can-not be compared to that resulting in the emergence of the great faiths. Reformers differ from prophets psycho-logically, sociologically and theologically.”15 Reformers have excellent virtues of the head and heart; they are good organizers and have drive and persuasiveness. Sikhism is proud of its many great reformers, scholars, saints and political revolutionaries.
The seer is generally a precursor of the prophets. The great Rishis of Indian history were seers. They were 99 held in great reverence and were known for their intu-ition but they are less creative in religious experience than a prophet.
The seer renews and revives and re-illumines the present in the light of great founders or originators of divine experiences of the past.
A Saint is a godly, unselfish, charitable and compas-sionate person who is distinguished from the common priest and missionary by his piety, sincerity and holiness. Every religion has its holymen and saints. The words Sant, prabhu, Mahaprabhu, Acharya, Aulya, Dervish are used for saints in different religious traditions and each religion defines its saints in its own tradition about veneration of saints.
“In distinction from other types of religious authority”, says Joachim Wach, “the saint’s prestige depends not so much on achievement as upon his personal nature and character. As he is not especially bound by professionalties, he does not necessarily excel in intellectual or in practical talents. His guidance - and it is characteristic of the saint to guide and direct the lives of others - is eagerly sought, whereas the prophet, with whom the saint shares in exercising such influence, arouses the people by the vigorous impulse of his powerful preaching, the saint may exert his influence quietly but constantly and intensively.”16
GURU NANAK: A PROPHET PAR-EXCELLENCEGuru Nanak felt from childhood, that he was living in a region where two great traditions of world religions -the Semetic (Judaic, Christian-Islamic) and Vedic Hindu -Buddhist, had mingled with each other. Like the mutu-ally opposing torrents of the sea coming from the oppo-site direction they bad clashed and yet mingled and were living together under tensions and aggressive compulsions. Guru Nanak spoke to this human world from an eminence and from divine conviction.
He gave articulate utterances to the needs and aspirations which had been slowly growing in the turmoil and upheaval of social, 100 cultural and political conflicts, confrontations and compromises.
He gave, as we find in his authenticated works, fresh cosmic speculations, established a new social order, presented a liberal universal mystical theology and a philosophic outlook of his faith based on his inner revelation. Grieved by the practice of idolatory, primitive untenable practices of worship, hypocrisy,
slavish mortality, Guru Nanak said:
The Hindus are fundamentally in error;
Having missed the right path, they wander in darkness;
Narada led them to the worship of idols and images;
Thus, they have become spiritually bilnd and deaf;
In blind idolatorous worship, they live in utter darkness;
These uncultured fools worship stone-gods The stone-god easily sinks in a stream, How can it help you cross the Ocean of Life Guru Nanak, Var Bihagara, p. 556.
Guru Nanak’s own writings are revelations of inexhaustible light, power and illumined wisdom. His unfailing inspiration flowing in divinely inspired poetry, intuitive forevision, wonderful rythm and expression, concerned itself not only with religious situation, but also the political upheavals and moral degradation, and slavish submission of the people to tyranny and bloodshed of despots and conquerors. When a simple and poor carpenter, Bhai Lallo asked him about what might happen in the face of the tragic situation in the country,
Guru Nanak replied:
As the Word of God descendeth on me, So I make known, the Wisdom of divine justice, O Lallo With bridal procession of sins and crimes The invader shall hasten from Kabul To seize by force, as his bride, The wealth of Hindustan, O Lallo, Modesty and righteousness have both vanished;
Falsehood, leading the chariot, holds the field, O Lallo Both the Qazi and the Brahman will be out of work;
The devil shall read the marriage services.
Muslim women reciting the Koran In their agony will cry on God, O Lallo;
101 Hindu women of high and low caste Will meet the same fate;
Men will sing the songs of death and murder, And instead of anointing themselves with saffron, Will smear their hands with blood.
This shall be a city of corpses, Nanak glorifies the Lord, And inspired by Him utters a prophetic truth.
God, the Creator created men for a purpose;
Sitting aloof He watcheth their deeds.
Just and true is the Lord;
Just and true is His Judgement Human bodies shall be cut to shreds like pieces of cloth, And let Hindustan remember what I say now.
Guru Nanak, Adi Granth, Tilang, p. 722.
This is the thundering voice of the Prophet of the age and not a wandering Hindu Sant belonging to any Hindu sampardaya. No historian worth the name should forget that all Hindu Sants, Yogis and monks had during this period either gone to their mountain retreats or were hiding and praying in distant ashrams and caves. The few who suffered at the hands of the Pathans and Mughals did not utter a word of protest against their cruelty and tyranny. Throughout those dark years as Hindustan went on steadily and with ever-increasing momentum towards the precipice and disaster, Guru Nanak continued to uphold the banner of Righteousness (dharma), Justice and Truth of God, and to stand as a rock of truth in the midst of the swirling tides of the world’s irreligion and moral degradation. It is through such prophets as Guru Nanak, God acts in history to establish moral and spiri-tual truths. Every hymn, every verse of Guru Nanak estab-lishes, his communion with God and his deep concern for humanity not only in India but all over the world. His footprints are still visible in Middle East, Sri Lanka and Tibet to every one except the intellectually blind and mentally hostile historians like Hew McLeod and his camp followers.
Bhai Gurdas was co-compiler of Adi Granth and a 102 contemporary of elder son of Guru Nanak, Sri Chand and many eminent disciples of the Founder of Sikhism, like Bhai Buddha. His works were blessed by Guru Arjan as key to Adi Granth. In his First Var, known as janamsakht-di-Var,
Bhai Gurdas says:
1. Hearing the wailing cries of humanity, God, the Supreme Giver of life and sustenance Sent Guru Nanak to this world.
2. On the Path of Truth, he stressed humility And initiated his disciples with Charnamrit
3. In this dark age of many faiths and creeds He revealed that the Supreme Being, the Perfect Lord Is One in the whole Universe
4. He revived all the four crippled feet Of moral and spiritual life in this world And blended all four castes Into one enlightened Spirit of a “Sikh”.
Without the Enlightener of Truth, darkness prevailed.
In ignorance and sorrow the world wailed in pain, The cries of suffering humanity moved him deeply.
Bhai Gurdas, Var I, 24.
Bhai Nand Lall was the Persian poet-laureate of Guru Gobind Singh. Earlier he was Mir Munshi of Bahadur Shah, successor and eldest son of Aurangzeb. The works of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lall are canonized scriptures and they are treated at par with the hymns of Guru Granth in the Sikh Temples.
Bhai Nand Lall says God has given the honoured position of Murshid-ul-alamin: Spiritual Teacher of the world, Rahmat-ul-muzabin: Merciful even to the sinners. There is no other Dervish like him. He has vividly por-trayed God’s Call to Baba Nanak and recorded the dia-logue between the Supreme Being and God, based possibly on the basis of some record or testimony available to him in Guru Gobind Singh’s
durbar. Bhai Nand Lall says:
Thus spoke God unto Guru Nanak:
Thou, My Son, art the true Guru (the Enlightener);
Go, reveal My Light to the world.
Guru Nanak meekly replied:
I am Thy slave, Thy humblest servant, Lord, I am the dust of Thy creatures.
God repeated His blessings:
“Thou art the Guru (the Enlightener) of all the worlds.
I will abide in thee in full radiant glory;
My Spirit is in thy soul and being;
My Will is thy wil1;
My Light is thy Wisdom.
Thou knowest My Law and Justice, Go reveal the real Path to humanity;
Be the singer of My love and power.
I will be thy Helper in thy mission, I will be thy Friend and Companion ever, He who understands thy greatness, My Son, And learns from thee My glory and wisdom.
Tell misguided humanity, Without My Light and Power, The whole world is not worth a grain.
104 By My Will, I give Light and Wisdom to men;
By My Will, I leave them in darkness;
Without true knowledge of My existence, Humanity wanders in darkness.
Religious leaders and pundits Have become hypocrites and magicians They may, with limited powers - My gifts, Even kill the living, And bring the dead to life;
They may make fire dance on water;
These are all magical tricks, And fruitless feats of occult powers.
Show mankind the way to Me: the Ultimate Reality.
Teach the right meditation of Truth.
Prevent them from going up the wrong path.
Guide them to My Door, My Son.
Dispel from their minds All thoughts of any other.
Go, point out the right Path to men;
Tell them not to go astray, And seek light where there is none.
Teach them to contemplate Me, the Eternal Light.