«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 ...»
Guru Gobind Singh says, “You achieve nothing by spiritless repetition of the Name, no matter how long you do it.” There is a tendency amongst bigots, fanatics and spiritless preachers to vulgarize the true Name by loud empty repetition.
They not only vulgarize it, but despiritualize it by uttering it like mindless dead souls. Says Puran Singh, “Mere repetition may be death, though repetition is also life. Simrin or Remembrance is Love in action. And His Name is He Himself. The Word is God. With the Word on our tongue, God i in our voice.” s “Remembrance of Him”, says Guru Nanak, “is what gives true 246 life”. Reheras Simran is the true Builder, the slow silent Architect of the Soul.”4 This fundamental spiritual medi-tation and
mystical doctrine is beautifully expressed in the following lines:
diva mera eh nam dukh vich paya tel;
un chanan oh sokhia chuka jam si on mel.
A.G. Guru Nanak, Rag Asa: p. 358 The divine Name is the Flame, which when lighted within, burns all sorrow and suffering, fear and agony, till the Flame becomes an illuminating Light of Love, and Love becomes ecstasy and the highest enlightenment.” DAN (CHARITY) In Hinduism dan (charity) is fruitful only if it is given to Brahmin or through a Brahmin. But the Guru Says garib ki rasna guru ki golak. “The mouth of the hungry and poor is the treasure-chest of the Eternal Guru.” Guru Angad describes ‘Charity and Benevolence in his sermon to his disciples, recorded in Sikhan-di-Bhaktamal.
“Bhai Lalu Budhvar, Bhai Durga and Bhai Jawanda presented themselves in the durbar of Guru Angad and humbly sought spiritual guidance, acting on which they could attain enlightenment. Guru Angad said, “There is no religious practice and meditation which is as fruitful in bestowing enlightenment as Charity (dan) and benevolence (ParuPkar) (lit being benign and
generous to others). Benevolence and charity is of three “kinds:
First, a person uses his earnings not only wisely for himself, but for serving the needy, the destitute and saintly persons, and shares his surplus income with others.
247 Second, we can serve others not only by giving them money when they need it, but personally looking after the sick, and giving solace and consolation to those who live in physical suffering.
Third, it is charity and benevolence to impart wisdom and knowledge to others and give them spiritual instructions.
One should always pray for the welfare and success in noble achievements of others. This is also charity and benevolence.”5 ISHNAN Ishnan lit : bathing and it stands for inner ablution through prayer and meditations. Both the physical clean-liness and inner purification of mind and heart and soul are essential. Hew McLeod is correct in interpreting it as inner purity.
WAND CHHAKNAWand Chhakna is defined by Puran Singh thus: “To share our bread and joy and love and attainment of God-realization with all. To give a feast of our flesh and blood, to be Christs, Buddhas, Gurus, and not men only. Above humanity, living outside our bodies in touch with super-humanity of the Higher Worlds.”6 We find this doctrine clearly stated in the hymns of Guru Nanak and his succes-sors, and also in janamsakhis, but Hew McLeod could not find it beause he is always looking for material which he can use for adverse criticism. He naturally misses the clearly enunciated doctrines in Guru Granth and historical facts revealing these doctrines in janamsakhis. Guru
ghal khae kich hathon dehi nanak rah pachhanahi set
When Guru Nanak went to Kodikulam, the place which the janamsakhls call Tilangji, the Nathpanthis were collecting and storing in their Bhandaras what the people were offering them, but Guru Nanak was distributing what was offered to them. Guru Nanak stood for the doctrine of Wand-Chakhna.
When he explained it to the Yogis, they offered a linseed and asked Baba Nanak to distribute it to all. Guru Nanak grinded it, dissolved it in water and distributed it. Yogi Mangal Nath the leader was profoundly impressed.” Hew McLeod rejects this without assigning reason for rejecting such Sakhis in the Janam Sakhis. His arrogance and false postures of authority to reject what he dislikes is a fundamenal part of his mehodology in damning Sikhism.
“Conserving wealth for oneself is to make many die of hunger.
it is a life of distribution and not of “possession”7 that the Guru presents to humanity. Hoarding is vice, earning by the sweat of one’s brow is virue. Living and letting others live is reasonable enjoyment of each one’s own individual life of home and country is what the Guru thinks should be the principal tendency of man’s rule over his fellowmen.” Kirat Karni is: “To toil for ones bread, for goodness’s Begging for one’s food is not sanctified in Sikhism as it is for monks in some other religions.
WORSHIP, PRAYER, MEDITATIONS IN SIKH RELIGIONIn Sikhism worship, prayer, meditations, whether individual or corporate are one and the same thing. The same hymns for which there is an open choice are used for each function. Worship is prayer and prayer is worship. Prayer is contemplation and contemplative prayer is a meditation, leading to ecstasy and enlightenment. The purpose of all prayers and meditations is to see the nearness, and the vision of God’s Presence and Light.
Corporate worship, in association and companion-ship of saintly souls, is considered very important for spiritual life.
As Evelyn Underhill puts it, “Corporate worship, 249 stands for the total orientation of life towards God.” In Sikhism no special liturgical action is required for it. The congregation sings together, prays and worships together, eats together and participates in all religious, social and cultural activites of serving others collectively. Money, labour of love, dedicated service flows in, and historic shrines are built, roads and bridges are constructed and hospital or educational services are organized.
RITES AND CERMONIESEvery religion has some special ceremonies of birth, marriage, death, baptism or seeking God’s protection and grace during difficulties and sufferings. Though appar-ently the ceremonies are different, basically only one and the same ceremony is performed. Either a continuous reading of Guru Granth by a team of readers, which may include men, women, family members or a slow periodic reading completed by one or two readers within seven or ten days, is the primary ceremony in all cases. At the time of marriage, four hymns of Guru Ram Das, written to celebrate the mystic union of human soul as the Bride, and God as the Bridegroom are sung and read. Other songs can be sung by kirtan singers for which they have free choice, but must represent the communion of Soul and God. At the time of death, a few hymns about the transcience of life and death are sung, for which the sing-ers have a free and wide choice.
No fixed liturgical verses are sung. The Bed-time prayer which is recited when the sun sets, is also recited when the sun of life has set.
Guru Amar Das’s “Anand” the “Song of Spiritual Bliss” is sung after all ceremonies of birth, marriage and death. The same Ardasa (Invocational Prayer) is recited after each ceremony and Sacramental food distributed. The ceremonies can be performed by trained priests or by any adult, man or woman who knows how to perform the ceremony, and is a religious man. He may be a “Singh” or a Sahajdhari Sikh. In Sindhi Gurdwaras these ceremonies of the Khalsa Panth are 250 performed by Sahajdhari Sindhis with far more devotion and accuracy in words and deeds than in ordinary Sikh Gurdwaras where prayers are conducted by careless and worldly minded “Singhs”.
Hew McLeod’s attempt to create confusion about all these, is a motivated effort to show that the Sikh people are divided on these acts of prayer, worship and medita-tions. They certainly are not; on the other hand these ceremonies, prayers and corporare modes of worship are the strongest bonds between all types of Sikhs.
HOLY PLACES AND PILGRIMAGELahore was the capital of Punjab for centuries. Yet within thirty to forty miles of this historic city the Gurus founded new cities like Goindwal, Amritsar, Tarn Taran. Lahore was the city of Nawabs, the rich and the aristocrats. Almost everything was controlled by the government machinery and everything flourished there for the inter-est of the rulers. The new cities were free from such influences. For long there was no government interference.
Behind the construction of these cities, there was one principle:
The whole earth is called Dharamsal Temple of God, where man is given all provisions of sustenance, and man is born to fulfil one purpose of life: to rise from animal existence to Eternal-life and be a citizen, as Bhakta Ravidas calls it, a citizen of Beghampura, City of no woes: the Realm of Truth and Immortality.
Only cities constructed by prophets are holy cities and they are holy cities only as long as their holiness and sanctity is maintained by keeping vice, sin, crime out of it. When ruthless anti-God rulers destroy such cities and their Temples, they go to the grave with all the curse and ignominy on their head, which the lovers of holiness and truth can heap on them.
Real ablution is bathing one’s mind, heart and soul in the remembrance of God but this does not mean that we should give up taking bath altogether as some cynics in India do. The two have to be blended together.
Only cities built by prophets with the shrines for 251 con-tinuous prayer, worship are holy cities. Kings and Emper-ors may build very large cities with innumerable temples.
They do not become holy cities, because they are devoid of holiness and holymen. A holyman in Sikh ism is consid-ered a moving place of pilgrimage. Says Bhai Gurdas, “The place where Baba Nanak sets his foot becomes a place of pilgrimage.» During the fifteen years, I spen t to prepare my ‘Biography of Guru Nanak’, I found places in remote areas in Himalaya range, Dacca, Bengal, South India vis-ited by Guru Nanak and Guru Tegh Bahdur where there was not a single Sikh when I went there. Yet these places, having sometimes simple enclosures, without any temple, had become places pf worship and profound veneration. Lamas in these areas do not give any medicine to a sick man till they have said, “I offer this medicine in the name of Rimponche Guru Nanak. Muslims and Hindus in Dacca and Vishnupur and other places in East and West Bengal seek blessings from these places where once hun-dreds of years ago Guru Nanak came and gave such last-ing solace and peace that they still feel the place was sanctified and to this day they receive His blessings and grace from it.” No doubt, the real pilgrimage is the inner pilgrim-age, but places which preserve the memory of prophets, saints and spiritually creative great men also become places of pilgrimage, and they remain so as long as their sanctity and spiritual purity is maintained. For corporate worship, for ideal religious communion, for an experiment of build-ing a morally sound and spiritually enlightened society, building of such holy cities is a part of the morally en-lightened civilization. Some day such a civlization will come into existence. This was the vision of
Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh:
Titans and saints, Night walkers and serpent kings, Of the past and the present, Even those that in future be, Will one and all worship Thee;
252 Creatures on land, earth and sea, Will erelong enshrine Your Presence, Within their hearts and soul.
Virtue shall march in fun glory With trumpet sounds of victory.
All hordes of the wicked and dissolute, Will be crushed and destroyed from the roots.
The virtuous and noble saints shall ever dwell In freedom and peaceful contentedness;
The preverse on seeing the victory of Truth and God Will quail in agony and bewail their lot.