Friday, November 23, 2007

SatGuru Nanak Pargataya, Miti dhund, Jag chaanan hoa

It was a dark and moonless night; the clouds were heavy with rain as it was the monsoon season. Suddenly lightning flashed and thunder sounded as a few raindrops started to fall. The village was asleep. Only Nanak was awake and the echo of his song filled the air.

Nanak’s mother was worried because it was pitch dark and day break was far away. The lamp in his room was burning. She could hear his melodious voice as he sang, restraining herself no longer she knocked at his door. “Go to sleep, my son, the sun is a long way ahead.” Nanak became silent. From the darkness sounded the call of the sparrow-hawk. “Piyu, piyu, piyu!” it called.

“Listen, mother!” Nanak called out. “The sparrow-hawk is calling to his beloved; how can I be silent, because I am competing with it? I will call my beloved before he calls his – even for longer because his beloved is nearby, perhaps in the next tree! My beloved is so far away. I will have to sing for lives upon lives before my voice reaches Him.” Nanak resumed his song.

Guru Nanak’s path was, is & will ever remain decorated with endless rows of true flowers; he realised God by singing virtues of God and following a life of true deeds. Guru Nanak did not practise normal Hindu austerities, meditation or yoga; he only sang in the beautiful poetic forms of the time. Singing, often extemporaneously, with all his heart and soul, so much so that his singing became his meditation, his purification and his yugam (yoking ones self to the almighty, to Satguru. This was Nanak’s path; decorated with true flowers of song, songs of glory and praise of the Almighty Lord.

Whatever he has said was said in verse straight from GOD. His blissful & mesmerizing songs are not those of an ordinary singer; they have sprung from within one who has known. There is the ring of truth, the reflection of God within them. It is these songs, songs of love and expressions of truthfulness & worship, along with the songs of Guru Nanak's nine successors, that form the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Guru Nanak (1469-1539) was one of the greatest religious innovators of all time and the founder of the Sikh religion. Nanak's religious ideas draw on both Hindu and Islamic thought, but are far more than just a synthesis. Nanak was an original spiritual thinker and expressed his thoughts in extraordinary poetry that forms the basis of Sikh scripture. One famous story about Guru Nanak tells of his rebellion at the age of eleven. At this age Hindu boys of his caste would start to wear the sacred thread to distinguish them. Nanak refused, saying that people should be distinguished by the things that they did, and their individual qualities, rather than by a thread.

Nanak continued to demonstrate a radical spiritual streak - arguing with local holy men and sages, both Hindu and Muslim, that external things like pilgrimages, penances, and poverty were of far less spiritual importance than internal changes to the individual's soul.

The most famous teachings attributed to Guru Nanak are that there is only one God, and that all human beings can have direct access to God with no need of rituals or priests. His most radical social teachings denounced the caste system and taught that everyone is equal, regardless of caste or gender.

Baba Nanak's message of the unity of all humankind and the need for all the peoples of the world to become better human beings irrespective of their religion is a world first. No other religion in the world promotes other faiths so broadly and so profusely; only Nanak welcomes peoples of all faiths to his domain. Nanak says, "In the Company of the Guru, all the people of the world are saved" ( p239). He does not single out any particular faith as inferior or superior; he says, "All people are saved through the Naam, the Name of the Lord" ( p1129)

The remembrance of the Lord's Name is highlighted over and over again. The mortal being can only gain spiritually by doing good deeds and treading on the path of righteousness – not by performing useless rituals in blind faith. "Only the good deeds which you have done shall remain with you, O my soul" ( p154), say Baba Nanak and also "Pilgrimages, fasts, purification and self-discipline are of no use, nor are rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship" ( p75).

Guru Nanak broke with tradition and spoke to all of humanity. To the Muslim he said: "And when, O Nanak, he is merciful to all beings, only then shall he be called a Muslim. ||1||" (page 141); to the Hindu, he said "O Nanak, without the True Name, of what use is the frontal mark of the Hindus, or their sacred thread? ||1||" (p467); and to all he preached: "To take what rightfully belongs to another is like a Muslim eating pork, or a Hindu eating beef." (p141).

Guru Nanak was revered by both Hindus and Muslims. As he lay dying, his Hindu and Muslim followers argued whether his body should be cremated as (Hindu tradition) or buried (Islamic tradition). It is said that when they removed the sheet which had covered the Guru they found only beautiful flowers. The Hindus burned theirs, the Muslims buried theirs.

The main aim to pen this article is not for you to JUST read it … neither do I wanted to convey something from my side; just to show you all, how lucky we are to be called as Sikhs of such a great guru – GURU NANAK DEV JI & still, rare are those who realize the same. It’s a humble request in your feet to truly understand what guru ji wanted to convey to all & then, walk on that path & inspire others to do so. Dhan Dhan GURU GRANTH SAHEB JI has all the, writings, or I should say – THOUGHTS of guru ji (& other 9 successors). || Jo Jo Padey, Tis ke gaat hoye || Read it, understand it, implement it, experience it & enjoy this human life to the fullest. This is, I guess, the ideal way we are all supposed to celebrate this Gur-Purab.


(Aap Japo, avara naam japavo)

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ke fateh

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

“Diwali”… In SIKHS???


ON DIWALI DAY Programmes at the Gurdwara I have often heard Raagis singing this shabad from Bhai gurdass Ji di Vaar – “Diwali kee raat deeweh ballian.. Tareh jaat snaat amber bhalian...Phullan dee bagatt cun chun chalian.. Teerath jati Jaat naein nihalian... Har chaundharee jhaat vasai uchaleon..GURMUKH sukh faldaat SHABAD samalian”

The Raagis mistakenly just TAKE the FIRST LINE as a sort of Rahao....and sing it repeatedly as if this is an INJUNCTION TO CELEBRATE DIWALI by lighting Lamps... This is a MAJOR MISREPRESENTATION of the TRUE MEANINGS..

Bhai Gurdass Ji is saying: JUST like on Diwali Night people light lamps,..BUT the LIGHT of these Lamps has NO LONG LIFE ( short period),..the light is a short term DIKHAWA only,...The NIGHT SKY is full of Big and small stars....BUT ONLY till DAWN of Day... FLOWERS Bloom....but only until they are plucked by the gardners...they never keep joined to the plant for long...Pilgrims are seen going to the TEERATHS...BUT they DONT stay there...only short visits... The CASTLES formed by Clouds in the SKY are Visisble...but they dont have any substance or solid form... THROUGH the SHABAD of the GURBANI the GURMUKHS realise the "shortlived" time of this WORLD..and thus learns the value of this HUMAN BIRTH and its resultant union with Timeless WAHEGURU.

When we take the SHABAD in its ENTIREITY... we can see that the meaning of the First Line about Diwali is NOT AT ALL about lighting Diwas and Lamps to "celebrate diwali"...IT is just an ALANGKAAR - metaphor to show us how SHORTLIVED such lamps and their lighting is.


So, what is the purpose of celebrating diwali for Sikhs ???

Here it is …

Bandi Chhorh Diwas (Diwali) of 1737

It was on this, diwali day when Guru hargobind saheb ji & and 52 Hindu Kings were released from the imprisonment by Moghul Emperor Jahangir. We celebrate the happiness of our guru ji’s release.

Sacrifice of Bhai Mani Singh on the Occasion of Diwali:

Bhai Mani Singh transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1704 at Damdamma Sahib. After heavenly abode of Guru Sahib in 1708, he took charge of Harmandir Sahib's management. In 1737, invitations were sent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. A tax of 5000 Rs. had to be paid to the Mogul governor of Punjab, Zakariya Khan. Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakariya Khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh Ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Zakariya Khan was not happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh's assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice & devotion of Bhai Mani Singh Ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhorh Diwas (Diwali) celebration.

Main significance of diwali for all Sikhs:

Purpose of the Celebrations is to remember Guru Ji and pray for one's own release from the imprisonment like 52 rajas. One might think that he/she is not in prison and is free to do whatever.

This is not true. Most people are constantly being forced into the PRISON of pride, rat race, show off, peer pressure and one may go to the extent of turning morals against what Gurus have laid down (smoking, using intoxicants, adultery, removing hair and so on .....). Most of us are prisoners of the culture & society.

Objective of the celebration is to pray for our liberation from the worldly bonds and act upon Guru's path of truthfulness to avail human life time (i.e. to be one with Waheguru / Lord). Rather than lighting a deeva of clay, oil & wick, one should light the mind with the divine knowledge contained in Gurbani.

Therefore, lighting a deeva in true sense is acquiring Divine knowledge & virtues (being kind, humble, meek, tolerant, selfless, sweet spoken .....) that leads one to become one with Waheguru / God.

|| deevaa mayraa ayk naam dukh vich paa-i-aa tayl. un chaanan oh sokhi-aa chookaa jam si-o mayl. ||

Lord's One Name (divine devotion) is my lamp (to be lighted in the mind); I have put the oil of suffering (ego, jealousy, anger, lust, greed) into it. Its flame has dried up this oil, and I have escaped meeting with the Messenger of Death i.e. attained union with the almighty.

We have pulled and shoved diwali into a "SIKH FESTIVAL" by claiming it is in honour of Bandi chhor Diwas of Guru Hargobind. I find it hard to believe we all would FORGET the torture and horrible martyrdom of GURU ARJUN just a short while ago and start celebrating with deepmala and fireworks the return from exile of Guru Hargobind ji. There is no record of any deepmala and fireworks in a continuous period after guru Hargobind Ji... the other FOUR GURUS NEVER even Visited Amrtisar. Bhai mani Singh was martyred by cutting limb from limb for failing to call a meeting of sikhs on Diwali... hardly a reason for Sikhs to "celebrate" with fireworks and deepmala. So you see the problem here? We enjoy without knowing why we are enjoying; Its like driving on a road without having even a tiniest bit of idea where we are destined to go.


|| pothee puraan kamaa-ee-ai. bha-o vatee it tan paa-ee-ai.||

Let the reading of your prayer book be the oil, and let the Fear of God be the wick for the lamp of this body.

|| sach boojhan aan jalaa-ee-ai. ||

Light this lamp with the understanding of Truth.

|| ih tayl deevaa i-o jalai. ||

Use this oil to light this lamp.

|| kar chaanan saahib ta-o milai. ||1|| rahaa-o.||

Light it, and meet your Lord and Master.

I have observed people having the notion that you burn more or bigger lamps, then it will bring more prosperity & good will to you. But, here is what gurbani says :

|| anDhaa chaanan rakhee-ai deevay baleh pachaas. ||

You may place a light before a blind man (Blind of spiritual knowledge) and burn fifty lamps, but how will he see?

Take your body as the burning diya & see what gurbani says:

|| jab lag tayl deevay mukh baatee tab soojhai sabh ko-ee.||

As long as the oil and the wick are in the lamp, everything is illuminated.

|| tayl jalay baatee thehraanee soonnaa mandar ho-ee.||

But when the oil is burnt, the wick goes out, and the mansion becomes desolate.

|| ray ba-uray tuhi gharee na raakhai ko-ee.||

O mad-man, no one will keep you, for even a moment.

|| tooN raam naam jap so-ee.||

Meditate on the Name of that Lord.

Also, gurbani says that:

|| deepak baaNDh Dhari-o bin tayl.||

God has placed His lamp deep within you, which burns without any oil.

Do you still need to light a lamp to celebrate ???

So lets celebrate this diwali with the pure intention of the almighty granting us freedom from our vices by burning the lamp of his love forever in our hearts & may we all merge with him.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ke fateh