A BRIEF OUTLINE OF
FUNDAMENTALS OF SIKHISM
The seed for the reformation of humanity which was sown by Guru Nanak and watered by his successors, ripened in the time of Guru Gobind Singh and culminated in the creation of the Khalsa. The sword that carved the Khalsa's way to sublime glory was undoubtedly forged by Guru Gobind Singh but its steel was provided by Guru Nanak. The whole program of Guru Nanak's initiation reached its exalted state of finality when the tenth Gur Nanak (Guru Gobind Singh) passed on 'Gur Nanak Jot' to the Adi Granth, Holy Scripture- par excellence, and proclaimed it as Guru Granth Sahib, the last Guru for ever (present as well as future).
From the moment of its initiation by Guru Nanak to the time of its anointment by the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, a period of 239 years, Sikhism acquired its holy scripture, signs and symbols, and form or stance. Guru Nanak was born Guru. He came into this world with heavenly status and with celestial attributes. But all the later Gurus were conferred the Guruship by the previous Gurus. Guru Nanak with his divine power chiseled his own image and installed his Jot in Bhai Lehna who became Guru Angad Dev. The same process of bestowing Guruship went on till Guru Gobind Singh seated the Adi Granth on the spiritual throne of Guru Nanak and declared it as Guru for Ever. Transformation from one Guru to the other happened in the same way as one lamp were to lit from another. The holy transformation of ten Gurus is recognized as ONE, since all of them came from the same Divine Flame in continuation of the same Divine Mission. Guru Nanak established Guruship to perpetuate and preserve the spiritual transmission of its message and to disseminate his teaching in the centuries to come. The concept of Guruship and a hierarchical chain of preceptors was familiar in other religious traditions. But Guru Nanak gave Guruship a new form and content. He gave to the Sikhs an uninterrupted spiritual leadership. In this step he was not followed by any other reformer. He revitalized religion and morality, also was alone in creating a distinct socio-religious community which was destined to play a fruitful and glorious role in India’s history. The establishment of Guruship, the story of succession, the founding of Amritsar and other seats of Sikhism, the compilation of the Adi Granth, the institution of Sangat (holy congregation) and Pangat (Guru's free kitchen), the martyrdom of the Gurus, its dignified attire which is a symbol of power, the investiture of the Khalsa, all these and many other events which make the Sikh chronicle, give Sikh religion a color of the highest distinction.
In Sikhism, Guruship does not stand for mere order of mystics, since the Guru attached no value to renunciation of worldly life. Those who practiced renunciation such as Yogis and Sidhas were condemned as shirkers of responsibilities- they were considered as escapists and runaways from social responsibilities and obligations. In Sikhism a man is called upon to accept the Will of God with dedicated submission which requires continuous effort and thus, face suffering and loss with composure and high spirit.
ETHICAL AND MORAL TEACHINGS:
Guru Nanak established three main features for everyday conduct:
1. Naam Japo: Constant rememberance of God (meditation). The
whole base and foundation of Sikhism is Naam.
2. Kirat Karo: Earn your livelihood by honest means.
3. Vand Chhako: In His Name share the fruits of your labor as an expression of love
and compassion for mankind.
It is further emphasized:
a) Truthful Living: The entire edifice of Sikh Religion is built on turthful living. Guru
says, "Truth is high but higher still is truthful living."
(Sri Raag Moh. 1, p-62, Guru Granth Sahib)
b) Moral Restraint: Adultry is absolutely prohibited in Sikh Religion.
c) Do not smoke or indulge in drugs.
d) Do not indulge in Calumny (falseness or misrepresentation).
PILGRIMAGES- Bathing at Holy Places:
A great deal of emphasis on rituals had been the way of Indian religious life for the millions before Guru Nanak appeared on the scene. Wherever Guru Nanak went, he tried to emancipate the masses from the shackles of superstition and ignorance, and instil faith in One All-Pervading and Formless God. At that time people believed that bathing in the river Ganges and other holy places would absolve them of their sins. The Guru asserted that mere bathing at these sacred places, would not cleanse the mind riddled with the impurity of egoism.
'Wandering through the pilgrim places,
One is not rid of one's maladies.
There can be no peace without Nam.'
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, p-906, Guru Granth Sahib)
The Guru stressed that no abiding peace could be achieved without meditating on Divine Name. Meditation on Nam is the only true pilgrimage:
'Shall we go to bathe at the pilgrim places?
No. Nam is the only true pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage is the contemplation on the Word
That gives inner spiritual light.'
(Dhanasri Mohalla 1, p-687)
The Guru emphasizes the futility of rushing to the sacred bathing places for the expiation of sins. Guru Nanak states in Japji that he would bathe at the spots considered sacred, if it could please the Lord. The implication is that such ceremonies by themselves would not win God's approbation, without cultivating the moral life.
CASTE SYSTEM AND SOCIAL EQUALITY:
In an age when class distinction was very rigid and when the bonds of caste system in India had strictly divided the people, Guru Nanak taught equality and brotherhood. The Guru rose above rites and rituals, above creeds and conventions, above all national-cults and all race-cults, to a vision of the deeds of love. He preached a religion of love, sacrifice and service. Complete equality among individuals was declared by the Sikh Gurus to be the fundamental moral principle required to regulate the social relations and communication.
The Guru points out that there is no fundamental difference among men of different castes in terms of physical constitution. In a polemical discussion with the Brahmins, Kabir inquires:
"How are you a Brahmin and I am a low caste?
Is it that I have blood in my veins and you have milk?"
(Gauri Kabir p-324)
This exposes the absurdity of any contention or a claim by the higher caste people that there are physical differences among the different castes.
The Guru points out that the laws of nature do no react differently in respect to the higher caste people. Since the nature makes no discrimination in favor of the higher caste by recognizing their superiority in any manner, the myth of caste superiority is clearly seen as man-made. The Guru states:
"What merit is in caste?
The real truth is that he who tastes the poison will die."
(Var Majh, Mohalla 1, p-142)
The Guru vehemently regards caste as an abnormality and social perversity when he says:
"Every one says there are four castes, but it is from God that every one comes;
The same is the clay which fashions the whole world;
The five elements make up the body's form, and who can say
who has less of these or who has more?"
(Rag Bhairon Mohalla 3, p-1128)
The Guru denies that caste was prevalent from the beginning. In the primitive state:
"No man of caste or birth could be seen ................
There was no distinction of color or coat or of the Brahmin” or Kashatriya......."
(Maru Mohalla 1, p-1035-36)
The claim that the different caste men had emanated from the different parts of the Primeval Man is also repudiated by the Guru:
"His caste is castelessness. He is incarnated not, He is Self-Existent Existent.......
All hearts are illuminated by the Light of the Lord...."
(Sorath Mohalla 1, 1-2 of 6, p-597)
The Guru, thus, refuses to accredit the caste institution in social ethics and further denies God having favored a few by bringing them out from the higher parts of His body. (These were some of the arguments of the Brahmins to have superiority from birth over low castes).
Finally it is held by the Guru that the caste is of no consideration in the spiritual realization, that human beings of lower caste need not wait to be born again in the next higher class for the attainment of deliverance:
'Whosoever contemplates on God, caste or no caste,
he becomes a blessed devotee of God."
(Basant Mohalla 4, p-1178)
The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, declared caste a taboo in the order of the Khalsa. In Akal Ustat, he states," There is no consideration of caste or membership of varnas." He further writes, “I shall not adopt the habits of any creed, but shall sow the seeds of the pure love of God." (Vachitar Natak, chap. 6, verse 34). The first of the Sikhs baptized into the order of the Khalsa belonged to different castes. The theory of separate duties for different castes was replaced by the same ethical and religious duties for all. Therefore, the fundamental equality of all men was ensured by free and voluntary admission into the order of the Khalsa.
Wealth also provides a determinant of social classes as against birth in the case of caste system. In Sikhism the relation among classes based on economic resources is envisaged in terms of equality. It rejects the notion of superiority of the economically better placed class over others. The Guru says:
"The man who knoweth God looketh on all men as equal,
As the wind bloweth on the commoner and the king alike."
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 8-1, p-272)
Thus in Sikhism the higher classes are not governed by any separate code of ethics, but all people, rich or poor, are entitled to equal judgment, value and social equality. Since the death is the leveler, the Guru highlights this notion:
"One lives not for ever in the world;
Neither king nor beggar would remain, they all come and go."
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, 11, p-931)
Therefore improper consideration of the superiority of rank are based on a wrong conception. The need for the recognition of human dignity, irrespective of economic classes, is also stressed in an anecdote from the biography of Guru Nanak called the story of Bhai Lalo and Malik Bhago. In that incident Guru Nanak refused a rather sumptuous dinner of Malik Bhago for the ordinary bread of the coarse grain of Bhai Lalo. The moral is drawn that the poor ought not to be treated as low, all must be treated as equal irrespective of their material resources.
STATUS OF WOMEN:
The position of a woman in the society of India, has not been always the same. While at times she had been accorded a very high status, there are also historical and scriptural instances when under some influences, she has been relegated to an inferior position. At the start of Sikhism the status of women was very low in Indian society.
In Sikhism it is considered preposterous to regard woman a 'temptress' or 'seductress' or 'unclean'. The Guru does not regard 'woman' as an obstruction on the way to ultimate goal of Eternal Bliss. This being so, the Guru rejects asceticism or renunciation, and regards the house-holder's life if it is led in a righteous manner, superior to that of a hermit. By emphasizing this type of vision to the people, the Guru stresses that women should be given honorable status in every social and religious segment of the society. Guru Nanak asserted that women were not at all inferior to men:
"From the woman is our birth, in the woman's womb are we shaped;
To the woman we are engaged, to the woman we are wedded;
The woman is our friend and from the woman is the family;
If one woman dies, we seek another, through the woman are the
bonds of the world;
Why call woman evil who gives birth to kings?
From the woman comes the woman, without woman there is none;
O Nanak, God alone is the one Who is independent of the woman
(because He is unborn)."
(Var Asa Mohalla 1, 2-19, p-473)
This declaration shows unequivocally the high esteem in which a woman's status is held in Sikhism. Woman 'the mother of mighty heroes' is elevated to the highest position in the hierarchy of beings.
In the moral codes of the Sikhs a large number of injunctions deal with the rejection of unethical practices like- (i) female infanticide; (ii) immolation of the widow (Sati) with the deceased husband, and (iii) wearing of veils by women. In the ancient India, it was stated according to spiritual authority that self-immolation on the funeral pyre of her husband was the only honorable course that a virtuous woman could follow; not only would such a woman enjoy eternal bliss in heaven along with her husband, but her action would expiate the sins of three generations of her husband's family both on his father's and mother's side.
Guru Amar Das, the third Master, carried out a vigorous campaign against this practice of Sati, and thereby he emancipated the women from this social oppression and religious cruelty. The Guru declared that "the Sati is one who lives contented and embellishes herself with good conduct, and cherishes the Lord ever and calls on Him." (Rag Suhi, Slok Mohalla 3, 2-6, p-787)
One of the social improvements was the emancipation of women. Many women found salvation through the Guru's teachings. In Sikhism widow remarriage is also permitted whereby the widow can be rehabilitated if she so desires.
INSTITUTIONS OF SANGAT AND PANGAT:
SANGAT- Society of the Holy:
Sangat means assembly or congregation, but in Sikhism Sangat is usually called Sat Sangat (holy congregation) which may be defined as the Home of Truth where people love God and learn to live in Him:
'How should we know of Sat Sangat?
Where the lovers of Truth hold communion with One Lord alone.’
(Sri Rag Mohalla 1, p-72)
Again the fourth Guru gives definition of Sangat:
"Sat Sangat is the school of the True Guru,
There we learn to love God and appreciate His greatness."
(Var Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1313)
Guru Nanak attached great importance to the setting up of Sangats, the holy assemblies, and wherever he went, he tried to establish them. The Divine Word (Gurbani) and the Sat Sangat were the only two means that the Guru employed to rid the people of their selfishness and evil passions; and finally for their salvation and for uniting them with God:
"Sat Sangat is the treasury of Divine Name;
There we meet God;
Through the Grace of Guru,
One receives there Light and all darkness is dispelled."
(Sarang ki Var, Mohalla 4, p-1244)
Wherever Guru Nanak went, the Sikhs built Gurdwara (house of the Guru). They met there every day and formed into a regular Sangat. From the time of the third Master, Guru Amar Das, it was felt that the Sikhs should have their own seats of religion. He founded the town of Chak Ram Das which subsequently got its present name, Amritsar; and he got a Bawli (a well with staircase reaching down to the water surface) constructed at Goindwal. The fourth and fifth Masters also showed great interest in building up new religious centers for their followers such as Amritsar, Kartarpur etc. These religious centers formed a great cementing force for the rising Sikh community. The Sikh Sangats from far and near used to visit these centers and had the opportunity of not only meeting the Holy Guru and having his blessings, but also coming into close contact with one another. During their visit they were provided with free accommodation and free food. Simron (participation in daily religious service) and seva (participation in the community projects and Guru ka Langar, kitchen) were the two major parts of the daily routine of the visiting Sikhs. These close contacts formed the bases of a well-integrated Sikh organization.
The process of integration of Sikhism went hand in hand with the enlargement of its ranks. During the time of the third Guru, there were twenty-two manjis and fifty-two piris, which were all big and small centers for the spread of Sikh religion in the country. Guru Ram Das, the fourth Master, established a new order of missionaries called Masands. This new order was reorganized and elaborated by the fifth Guru. As the number of new Sikh Sangats grew larger in the country, the mode of initiation of prospective Sikhs through the ceremony of Charanpauhal (Charanamrit - see Appendix under Glossary) was allowed to all authorized missionaries. Although the ideal Charanamrit was the one administered by the Guru himself, since it was not possible for the Guru to be present physically everywhere, the authority of initiation was delegated to local missionaries. The bulk of the people who came to the fold of Sikhism as a result of the above efforts, were drawn from the commercial classes mostly dwelling in the towns. During the period of the fifth Guru, the movement became popular in the country side also, with the result that a large number of Majha Jats embraced Sikhism.
Finances are very necessary for the success of any movement. In the beginning, the voluntary offerings of the devotees were sufficient. When big projects were undertaken, the existing practice was found inadequate. In order to meet the situation, the masands were required not merely to concentrate on the dissemination of Sikh teachings, but also to collect donations from the faithful and to bring them to the headquarters of the Guru.
PANGAT- Guru's Free Kitchen known as Langar:
Another institution of Pangat or Langar (free common kitchen) was organized almost simultaneously with that of Sangat. It was initiated by Guru Nanak and its consolidation and extension was affected by the third Guru. The rules of the Langar require that all should sit in the same row and partake of the same food without any distinction of high or low, rich or poor, and prince or the peasant. It was the injunction of Guru Amar Das that none could have his audience unless he had eaten in the Langar. When the Raja of Haripur or even Emperor Akbar, came to see the Guru, they had to sit with other common people and dine together with them before the Master gave consent to see them. In this way the people were made to renounce their social prejudices. Common kitchen also served as a medium of social integration.
The institution of Pangat imparted a secular dimension to the Sangat. Most importantly it translated the principle of equality into practice, and it also served as a uniting force among the followers of Sikhism. This institution provides safeguard against the immoral social practice of untouchability which is a by-product of the caste system. It is a sin against God Who made the same blood flow in all human veins and a crime against humanity.
This institution is run with the help and contributions of all and not by any one particular person or class of persons. The free kitchen where prince and peasant could mess together, fostered a spirit of charity on a large scale and also became a powerful binding force.
CONCEPT OF KARMA IN SIKHISM:
Theory of Karma: Karma means action. Every action is associated with its result. Actions of human beings are of paramount importance in determining their destiny. Therefore, deeds good or bad write the script of a person’s future. The effects of a person’s behavior are operative not only in this life but in life after death also. He is slave to his past. Our present existence has resulted from what we did in our previous lives and what we do now, will regulate our next life. From doctrine of Karma originates the theory of rebirth of the soul. Karma of a person is based on the assumption of continuity of the soul after death. It is a continuous cycle of rebirth and death. The ephemerality of a single span of life is too inconsistent to give any person a chance to attain perfection and spiritual excellence. Closed road for the soul and limiting it to one life would mean religious ventures and endeavors of humanity are all meaningless and absurd.
According to the dictum, “As you sow, so shall you reap,” Karma alone is ultimate and its retribution never fails. God cannot interfere in the working of its mechanism. Existence or non-existence of God has no significance. This is associated with the atheistic school of thought. Such a belief reduces the functioning of an individual to a mere mechanical model. Human being with all the mental faculties cannot pull himself up by his own bootstraps and is not free to work towards salvation of his own soul. Wicked deeds of his previous life stand in the way of his freedom. This concept of retribution strikes a chord of dark pessimism in human heart because the soul finds no opportunity to get out of its present predicament.
Sikhism believes in the concept of continuity of the soul after death in different forms, human or animal. It accepts the theory of law of Karma along with the idea of retribution. But it is not taken to be absolute or inexorable. The rigidity of Karma is repulsive to Sikh thought as it does not recognize the merciful trait of the Almighty God. He being the Absolute Arbiter may write off the effects of all malicious actions of a person thereby asserting His supremacy over Karma. According to Sikh faith though Karma is important force in life, its web is not so intricate as to exclude the possibility of redemption of human soul. To obtain celestial peace and to offset the weight of offensive and loathsome deeds Sikhism demands strict observance of all its prescriptions. It offers happy immortality and life without despair and melancholy to its faithful. Singing the Glory of God erases the blot of thousands of evil deeds of the past and present life. Repeating God’s Name can redeem a repentant sinner. Bhagat Ravidas in one of his devotional hymns so eloquently expressed his thought which is incorporated in Sikh Holy Scripture (Guru Granth Sahib):
“Were we not sinners, how would Thou then be called the redeemer of the fallen!”
God’s Word is like a lamp which when lighted inside the human heart, gives the light by consuming the oil of suffering. Such is the Splendor of God’s Grace and Compassion. Therefore, according to Sikh Scripture the law of Karma ceases to operate. In Sikh monotheistic concept, Absolute and Supreme Power is held in highest reverence.
Theory of Transmigration: It is the rebirth of human soul in descending order. Because of moral failings of an individual in previous life, the soul passes through various animal lives suffering untold miseries. It is a punishment and a curse for a person’s wicked deeds in previous human birth. In Sikh scripture these sinister actions are compared to chains around the neck, fetters on the legs and to hangman’s noose. The soul carries the load of its sins from one lower life to another and groans under its own burden. It is an intense agonizing ordeal. No researcher, explorer nor any scientist with their accumulated knowledge can bring an emancipation of the soul from this continuous cycle of suffering. If the law of Karma was absolutely inexorable, human soul would have been eternally doomed and would have no chance of extricating itself out of the cycle of transmigration. Sikhism offers annulment from transmigration of the soul through repeating God’s Name in all awareness in this life and by leading a sublime and truthful life. Guru Nanak says, “Truth is high but higher still is truthful living.” Practice of praising the Glory of the Lord is the highest of all practices and in return it purges out all sins of human beings.
Reincarnation: According to Sikh creed a soul before getting this human body, has passed through several lives of lower species. Therefore, this life is precious and a gift of God. It means God out of compassion and mercy has given the soul one more chance to improve itself spiritually and terminate the bondage of transmigration. It is an opportunity to attain union with God which is the mission of Sikhism. If a soul fails to obtain liberation in this life then in accordance with its good deeds, it will be reborn in human form. Reincarnation is rebirth of human soul in ascending order. It passes from one human life to another in its spiritual and moral progress. Soul is reborn in human form for its further development. In each rebirth it gets better opportunities to improve on its virtues. Good deeds will ensure a person rebirth in a station of life where the achievement of liberation of the soul will be facilitated. It goes on acquiring human births till it eliminates rebirth completely and attains eternal peace by merging with the Supreme Soul. To get reincarnated is to lead this life without sin and with full devotion to God. According to a school of thought the doctrine of reincarnation is considered to be too individualistic because a person is determined on achieving emancipation of his own soul no matter what happens to his family and community in the process. Individual works towards his own spiritual perfection only.
Sikh divine ordinance does not establish a person’s destiny but only lays down moral laws and human being’s actions are measured accordingly. There is divine justice.
Daily conduct and performances decide how a person stands in the ultimate count with the Creator. God is responsible for the existence of evil by the side of good. These are part of His creation and are governed by the laws created by Him. But He is not responsible for moral anarchy in an individual’s life. Poverty of moral values leads to impurities in mental state resulting in spiritual degeneration. This will generate evil and moral crisis in an individual’s life. People suffer for their evil actions because evil is negation of God’s Will and are rewarded for their good behavior in the court of His Kingdom. Human being is an ideal representation and crown of His inventions and is the only creature of this cosmic existence who is capable of conscious volition and can organize his daily activities to attain good over evil. Therefore, a person is accountable for any lapses from morality. Because of his mental capabilities he is considered to be sovereign and sufficient in his powers and is expected to advance to the loftiest peaks of spiritual glory which is the goal established by Sikh Divinity for its followers.
FEAR IN SIKHISM:
Sikhs are exhorted by their Gurus to cultivate noble and virtuous qualities in their hearts which are identified with the spiritual ideals.. One of them is ’fear’, cherishing fear of none but of God only, the Creator and the Sustainer of life. Fear of God in human heart is different from worldly horror or panic. Fear of the Almighty does not mean just ’awe’. It is not an instinctive shrinking back from earthly danger. But it is the tremor of the soul lest one should do by word, deed or thought anything that may be against the Will of God. Any wicked deed or thought is the negation of the Will of the Supreme Lord. It is opposing His Glory and Splendor. Evil is a hurdle for the human soul during its journey leading to His kingdom. Therefore, it should be wiped out completely from human heart. Fear of God should be out of love and honor for Him. Holding Him in such a high esteem that going against His Will shakes the core of a person’s heart. Tribute should be paid to Him out of love and dread of His Mighty Power. Such is the fear that Sikh religion inculcates in its followers. It is a great quality that lifts a devotee towards spiritual excellence and finally attaining it. Elegance of a devotee lies in the fact that he is always inspired by such a fear of God. It is this fear of Him and dread of His Name that burns off all our sins as fire burns the straw. With such a fear of the Lord we can cross the worldly ocean of pain and suffering. Prompted by this an individual can achieve higher and Godly attributes which is the goal of Sikh Faith.
“Without the Lord’s fear, one can worship Him not, nor love the Lord’s Name.
Meeting with the True Guru, Lord’s fear wells up and one is embellished with
the Love-in-fear of God.”
(Var Suhi Mohalla 3, pauri(9), p-788)
The ideal of social equality is not the ultimate aim of the ethics of Sikhism. This equality may be maintained without feeling any affection or regard for each other, but such bare equality would not be enough because it does not conform to the ideal of humanistic morality. Hence in order to make it whole, it should be saturated with the idea of spiritual unity of mankind. The Guru stated:
"As out of a single fire, millions of sparks arise; arise in
separation but come together again when they fall back in the
fire. As from a heap of dust, grains of dust sweep up and
fill the air, and filling it fall in a heap of dust. As out of single stream,
countless waves rise up and being water, fall back in water again.
So from God's form emerge alive and inanimate things and since
they arise from Him, they shall fall in Him again."
(Guru Gobind Singh- Akal Ustat)
This means that every human being deserves to be treated as a member of the same human brotherhood. The fellow human being is not an 'other'. The Guru says:
"Meeting with the Guru, I have abandoned the sense of the otherness.” otherness."
(Bhiro Mohalla 5, 1-29-42, p-1148)
The other is in fact not an 'other' but a co-sharer of the same source and a part of the same spiritual order. This sense of brotherhood of humanity is, thus, linked together by bonds deeper than family, social or national affinities. This brotherhood of mankind in terms of God being the common father is stressed by the Guru:
"Thou art the father of us all.......all are the partners,
Thou art alien to none."
(Majh Mohalla 5, p-97)
The Guru is pointing to the common bonds of existence in the world:
"Air is the Guru, water is father, great earth the mother;
In the lap of two nurses, night and day, the whole world is brought up.” brought up."
(Japji, Slok, p-8)
According to the Guru, the brotherhood is the reality but it is hidden from us by the veil of houmai (I-am-ness or individuation). Houmai is the dirt over our mind which it has gathered during the process of transmigration. Once this dirt over our mind is removed and the veil of houmai (I-am-ness) is broken, the relationship across the human lines becomes a clear reality. As long as our minds remain under the veil of I-am-ness, our understanding will continue to be hollow and away from reality. How do we clean our mind?
As mentioned before the Guru gives direction how to clean the mind:
"Only through praise and prayer to God
Mind will become pure."
(Wadhans Mohalla 1, p-557)
Once mind becomes pure, it attains a spiritual height in which reality opens up and all delusion is gone and then sense of universal brotherhood prevails:
"There is One father of us all
And we are children of the same father."
(Sorath Mohalla 5, p-611)
"I am neither a Hindu nor a Muslim;
The soul and body belong to God whether He be called Allhah or Ram.” or Ram."
(Bhairo Mohalla 5, p-1136)
This is the desired mental stage commanded by the Guru when a person's mind is lifted above the lines of religion, color, race or national entity; and the sense of real universal brotherhood is born:
"There is no enemy, none is 'other',
A sense of universal brotherhood has come to me."
(Kanra Mohalla 5, p-1299)
Sikhism believes in it, stands for it and takes practical measures to realize it. There are numerous examples in the Sikh history to emphasize this fact.
Guru Nanak traveled for fourteen years on foot and he covered the area from Assam Hills in the east of India to as far as Iran and Iraq in the west; from Tibet in the north to Ceylon in the south. During this long journey he went to various famous Hindu temples and their learning centers, Maths of Sidhas, and the various centers of Mohammadans including Mecca, and delivered the Divine Message (brotherhood of mankind and Fatherhood of God) for which he came to this world. Never he asked any one to become his disciple in order to go to heaven. He rather held guarantee to the entire humanity that if a person, irrespective of race, color, caste, creed, sex, religion or nationality, meditates on God, the Formless One, will get deliverance:
'He shall become pure, whosoever repeateth His Name
With devotion, affection and heartfelt love."
(Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, 20-7, p-290)
Sikhism fully stands for universal brotherhood in word and in spirit. Every Sikh living in every corner of the world when he prays in the morning and in the evening, ends his prayer by saying:
"By Thy Grace, may every one be blessed in the world."
According to Sikh faith moral life is not just a combination of rituals, ceremonial acts nor certain codes. Neither it is a blend of ethical norms. But it is a life lived with divine approval filled with heroism to live and die for pious ideals frustrating evil. Here heroism is implied as waging battle against the lower impulses. Moral life is the fruit of spiritual purity which is a spiritual ascent and journey of human soul towards achieving union with the Divine. It is the result of religious illumination where all the finer emotions and sublime ideas are cultivated. It is an accomplishment reached through religious discipline which curbs the actions that lead to sin. Meditation on the Absolute One illuminates the mind which in return annuls the poisons of evil resulting in moral life. By living under the influence of religion mind’s restlessness ceases and moral life emerges. It is the outcome of truthful conduct which is a sovereign virtue. It is not an exercise at the intellectual level but is a fulfillment of the intuition. It is a life lived with staunch belief that He is without any equal and deep faith that from His terror the wind blows, the rivers flow and the sun and the moon move in their orbits.
Sikhism is not a dogma but a way of life lived according to Guru Rahit Maryada (code of conduct). A Sikh has to hold his Guru's word as paramount in his daily existence. Without glorifying His presence in one's existence, life will be contaminated and polluted and will be in deplorable state which will lead to spiritual degeneration. Deep and continuous contemplation on Nam is needed and is indispensable for the exalted state of Sikh character. Nam is neither a philosophy nor knowledge to be gained from books. It dwells within and is realized from within through the grace of the true Guru (Gurbani - Divine Word). Let the following be our daily supplication:
"O my friend, the Divine Guru!
Illuminate my mind with the Name Divine!
Let the Name revealed to me by the Guru be my life-companion;
And singing Thy Glory be my daily routine."
(Rag Gujri Mohalla 4, p-10, Guru Granth Sahib)
EXCELLENCES OF RELIGION:
Religion is faith and not science. It is not found in books neither in theory nor in learned arguments nor in logical reasoning nor in ascetic way. But it is a life full of virtues and merits with devotion to God amidst all the worldly desires and temptations. It is both a commitment and the way in which that commitment is fulfilled in human life. When religion forms an indispensable part of one’s life, it ensures a calm, adorable and angelic development of personality. The need for a teacher does not end with academic career. It is a life long requirement. Religion is a teacher and a guide for a person steering him away from undesirable worldly pitfalls. It is an aid to richer and fuller life generating a climate of spiritual and moral values in an individual’s existence resulting in the attainment of godly attributes. Every faith teaches to glorify God through hymns and narratives. This helps to reflect and meditate on His Excellences. By doing so such an attitude of mind is developed by which one would constantly be living in Divine presence. Religion reinforces and satisfies thirst and hunger of human soul for the Divine. It should not be allowed to fall into a sad neglect because this will result in erosion of human values. Poverty and decay of these values will create moral crises in individuals leading to spiritual bankruptcy and moral anarchy in society. Cultivating religious beliefs and values can root out from a person’s mind the human capacity for evil. It helps in purification of human heart from sinfulness.
Since the start of human race, humanity is conscious of religion. No society, tribe nor clan is known to exist without religion. It has been depicted by people through art, architect, hymns and songs. Any pious and devout community or society which does not guard its religious values indicates a lower level of development. A society is considered to be progressive when it reflects its spiritual and religious legacy. That system of beliefs and religious values which were held with ardor and faith by our ancestors is deemed to disappear in the long run if not preserved in its original and traditional order. Discarding of these precious values without replacement by other system equally valuable is bound to result in social crisis. No society can aspire to build up a superstructure of moral progress without a stable, social and religious order. The new industrial society and forces of modernism and science should not be permitted to imperil basic values which ought to govern the society. Our world is going through some very difficult and dangerous times. With no violence but armed with religion- God’s Word, we all can cross through painful suffering and distresses of present days. A majority of eastern religions have put so much currency in it that in some of their highly celebrated and documented verses, they have evaluated human life without any ray of religion as contaminated, polluted and accumulative waste. As crop is ruined without rain, similarly without religion our souls will wither away.