«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 ...»
1. Pincott first highlights Ernest Trumpp’s ignorance about Sufism and the influence of Zoroastarism and New Platonism with particular reference to mystics like Hafiz, Firdausi, Nizami, Jami and others. He also pin-points Trumpp’s ambivalent attitude. In one place in his Intro-duction to this translation Trumpp says “Sikhism has only an accidental relationship with Muhammadanism” (p.ci). In another place he says, “It is not probable that Islam had a great share in working silently these changes, which are directly opposed to the teachings of the Gurus (Int. cxii).
2. The Unity of God, and His relation to Man is 238 expressed by Guru Nanak in Sufi terminology. Like the Sufis Guru Nanak calls the Deity “Light of Life.” ‘The Light of the Lamp, illumining the heart. His Light is in all. From His Light there is light in all. The Luminous One is the mingler of Light with Himself. There, death eners not;
Light is absorbed in the Luminous one.”
3.Guru Nanak uses all the favourie metaphors and symbolism of Sufism throughout his works. Pincott gives many examples from Trumpp’s crude translation.
4. The Ghazal pattern, and other styles of Sufi poetry, particularly giving a signature line with his name “Name” at the end of the verse, is an Islam style of versification, which did not exist in Sanskrit or other literatures before the advent of Islam.
5. Guru Nanak’s visit Mecca, Medina, Baghdad where he was accepted as an Enlightenened dervish, and one of them is the strongest evidence given by Pincott.
6. Pincott highlights these elements in Janamsakhis which Hew McLeod either ignores or rejects without assigning any reason for doing so. Guru Nanak’s deepest and most intimate associations and Pir-disciple relations or ideologically and spiritually similar fraternal relations with Rai Bular, Sheikh Ibrahim, descendent of Sheikh Farid, Sheikh Sajjan, Mian Mitha, Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi and his Qazi, Sheikh Tatihar, Pir Sheikh Sharaf, Makhdum Bahauddin, Pir of Multan, Sheikh Behlol Shah of Baghdad and the dialogues held with them are innumerable instances of Guru Nanak’s profound idelogical identity with these Sufis. Pincott however places Sikhism in an intermediate position between Islam and Hinduism. He quotes innumerable instances on every page of his vast contributions.
Hew McLeod repeatedly emphasises the fact that Islamic influence is marginal because there are very few works of Persian or Arabic origin. The following are the facts refuting
1. Many words of Persian origin have been so well absorbed in Punjabi, that Punjabis found it difficult to 239 believe that they have come from Persian or Arabic.
2. Guru Nanak, Guru Arjun and Bhai Gurdas have used the complete Sufi terminology to express their thought and experiences. Sometimes they use the original or its Punjabi translation, such haq, such. Poet-prophets like Guru Nanak and Guru Arjun expressed themselves either in the language of the common man or the literary language of their own period.
The percentage of words of Persian origin in Guru Nanak’s Bani is the same as we find in Sheikh Farid’s Bani, or the poetry of such Sufi poets as Shah Hussain or Bulleh Shah.
Sheikh Farid, Shah Hussain and Bulleh Shah were learned Persian and Arabic scholars and yet a very orthodox Muslim and Chisti Sufi like Sheikh Farid expressed himself only in the lan-guage of the people and we find ninety percent works are from the current Punjabi and Apabhramsa found in Hem Chandra’s Apabhramsa text. He does not use the word Pulsirat in its Arabic form, but uses the Punjabi form of it Pursilat.
This does not mean Sheikh Farid did not know Arabic. Like Guru Nanak he did not wish to show off his knowledge of Persian and Arabic, as some English poets and scholars tried to show their knowledge of Latin by using Latinized English or Bengali Scholars did by writing Sanskritized Bengali. Puran Singh a well-versed scholar of Sanskrit and Persian correctly states: “The Sikh Gurus ‘swept clean the disciples’ consciousness of all the entangled flimsy and complex cobwebs of mental weavings and spiri-tualistic vanities of the great and the vainglorious Sanskrit scholars. “ “It may not be inappropriate here to refer to a school of Nam-culture in the Punjab that must be so called to distinguish it from the Sufis (the Sufis being the Hindu-Muslim School of Thought), the Sikh-Muslim School. It is well-known that Baba Guru Nanak was well-beloved of both Hindus and Muslims. In distant Baghdad, he counted disciples like Shah Behlol. At Mecca, he met Qazi Rukn-ud-din, the Pir of Uch and the latter bowed down to the Guru, begging of Him his sandals to be kept as relics 240 in his dynasty and those sandals are still there. Farid Sani and others like Pir Mukkadum Bahauddin were great devotees of Guru Nanak. Mardana was his disciple, Kamal of Murham loved and died singing the Guru’s mantram: “Glory he to the Guru, Glory be to the Guru.” And so this intercourse between him and the Muslim mystics became more and more intimate as the Guru’s culture spread.” “The religion of the Gurus thus is the great Human-ity of feeling which makes man good without an effort, and is but a “looking up”, “a gazing up” towards God. The synthetic blending of things takes place in the realm of the intellect, the Guru lives in the soul of the universe, in the spirit of life, in the labour of love, in the inebriation of that Great Beautiful. A new present starts with the Guru. The future is all his.”12
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. The first two paragraphes are from the author’s Lecture entitled “The Philosophy of Adi Guru Granth” delivered in Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh. Dr Zakir Khan, then Vice-President of India, came all the way to Chandigarh just to preside over this lecture.
It was published in The Sikh courier, London in November 1963.
2. Puran Singh. The Spirit of Oriental Poetry, p. 96-97.
3. Dr Ali Hassan Abdal-Kader, The Life, Personality and Writings of Al-Junayd, p. 37-38.
4. Margaret Smit, Al-Muhasibi, An Early Mystic of Baghdad, p. 15Charlotte Marie Tucker (1821-1895), Life and Letters of A.L.O.E., p.289.
6. Duncan Greenlees, “The Gospel of the Guru Granth Sahib”, p.
[Duncan Greenlees, an Oxford scholar, and author of nearly forty books was kind enough to thoroughly revise the manuscript of my book “Guru Tegh Bahadur: Prophet and Martyr, and also to write a Foreword to it.]
7. Punjabi Translations of Plato’s “Statesman” ‘Ion.’ were published in Punjabi Sahit and Pritam, Lahore in 1945-46.
8. For critical evaluation of his history and biography the best work is “Plato and his Contemporaries: A Study in Fourth Century Life and Thought” by G.C. Field, Methuen & Co. Third Ed. 1967.
9. Bhai Randhir Singh first gave his manuscript to Punjabi Sahit Akademy (Punjabi Bhavan) for printing. They kept the manuscript 241 but did not print it. Recently Dr Piar Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University came to my residence to check up the notes of Bhai Randhir Singh on these recensions. He found them correct and also considered this recension outstanding so far as correct text is concerned. I do not know whether this research work of Randhir Singh will be published by Guru Nanak Dev University or his labours will go waste. In Punjabi University the work of Bhagat Singh (Session Judge) was published in tlle name of Dr Taran Singh. This type of misappropriation of intellectual property of dead scholars with impunity has become honourable in our newly established universities..
10. Sewa Singh, Shahid Bilas Bhai Mani Singh, ed. Garja Singh.
11. The opinion of Fredrick Pincott has been summed up on the
basis of his following contributions:
(i) Sikhism in Relation of Mohammadanism, London 1885.
(ii) Arrangement of the Hymns of Adi Granth, Holy Bible of the Sikhs, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, London, XVIII (iii) Sikhism in the Religious Systems of the World, London, 1908.
(iv) “Sikhism” in Hughe’s Dictionary of Islam, London, 1885.
12. Puran Singh, Spirit of the Sikhs, Vol. 11, Part 11, pp. 260, 266, 268.
Throughout their writings, the Sikh Gurus who have con-tributed to Guru Granth, and Guru Gobind Singh in his philosophic compositions in Dasm Granth, speak of the perennial philosophy of Man in the world and the relation of his mind and soul to the human world of this earth and the universe around him. Guru Nanak believes with Plato, that “The perfect life would be a life of perfect communion with other souls; and there is a law of Destiny, that the soul which attains not any vision of truth in company with God, and the soul which does not transcend the body and mind suffers transmigration.” Generally, sages and seers in Asia and the East and West have expressed their thoughts through simple devotional teachings. In some places Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh also have done so. But we see Guru Nanak expresses his views through debates and dialogues with Yogis, Pundits, Muslim theologians, men of knowledge (gyanis), ascetics of various breeds. He patiently listens to their point of view and of those who wished to impress him with their knowledge, penances, ascetic practices. He gives his point of view in such a way that it is at once a subtle criticism and presentation of his doctrines and experiences which reflects a repudiation of the traditional views and revelation of a new outlook and new experience. In the Siddha Gosht alone the Nathpanthi yogis pose twenty three questions, and each question gives their wellestablished views. Guru Nanak politely but firmly refutes 243 their views and gives his own doctrines in the light of mystical knowledge and experience with a subtle and sharp criticism at times, but inoffensive when the ques-tion is polite and gentle, but vigorously counter-offensive when the questioner is haughty and arrogant.
In countless hymns like those of Japji and Maru Sohle there are profound reflections on God, Creation, the Uni-verse, the human world, the joy of life, the beauty of nature and the bliss of morally and spiritually enlightened life. Hew McLeod literally follows Ernest Trumpp in giv-ing a few over-simplified formulas, misinterprets them and like Trumpp makes his ignorant readers believe that there are no other serious religious or philosophic doctrines beyond these over-simplified and formulated by him.
Like Jesus and Buddha, Guru Nanak met not only the intellectual and spiritual elite, but he felt concerned mainly about the poor, the outcastes, the sinners because their hearts and souls were receptive and they not only accepted the new faith but also the new prophet. What mattered was the inner illumination that enabled the believer to feel and experience inner transformation. For those simple folks Buddha reduced the path to four-fold path or eight-fold dharma. Guru Nanak gave them simple three-fold or four-fold meditational practices
or ethical principles such as:
1. nam, dan, ishnan: Name, Charity and Bathing
2. daya, dharm and dan: Compassion, Righteousness and Charity
3. khima, garila, seua: Forgiveness, Humility and Ser-vice
4. sidak, sabr and santokh: Unshakable Faith, Patience and Contentment
5. kirt karni, vand chhakana and bhana manana: Earn one’s living, share one’s food, and Abide by God’s Will.
Hew McLeod confines all Sikh doctrines to No. 1 and 5. We will give McLeod’s views and then the views of Prof. Puran Singh which he wrote in books published in 244 U.K. (1930), and reprinted by Punjabi University and were easily available to Hew McLeod. But he completely ig-nores all Puran Singh’s works in English and other works in Punjabi on the subject.
“The nam dan ishnan formula evidently served as a kind of motto for the early community, neatly expressing the essence of Nanak’s message and easily remembered by those who acknolwedged him as their Guru. Nam, or the divine Name, is the convenient short-hand for the total being and nature of Akal-purakh. The purpose one achieves primarily through the practice of nam-simran or meditation of the divine Name, though it is also assisted by alms-giving (dan) and necessarily involves pure living (isnan).”1 The same verdict must be applied to another for-mula popularly but mistakenly attributed to Guru Nanak: NamJapo, kirat karo, vand chhako (Repeat the Name, work (hard) and give to others a portion of what you earn). Hew McLeod wrongly asserts that one does not find these among Sikhs these days. In a footnote he says that the origin of kirt karo and vand chhako is obscure, though we find its origin is there in the hymns of Guru Nanak. According to him Dr Ganda Singh agrees with him about the abscurity of its origin and suggests it possibly as the Ardasa in which we says ‘’jina nam japai tina vand chhkia”.
These three-fold concepts are not mottos. They sum up for the common devotee the spiritual and ethical es-sence of Sikhism, the minimum of practical ideals ex-pected from a Sikh.
We find reference to both these three-fold concepts in the works of Guru Nanak. As Nam, the Name or the Mystic Word of God is common to both we will take it up first.