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Message for Eternity
More than 500 years have gone by when Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji started his holy mission to transform world social structure in a way that human society rids itself of all social evils. He preached his followers, the Sikhs, to lead truthful and pious lives and do good to others. He then preached to his Sikhs to inspire others, their near and dear ones and their friends to lead truthful and pious lives and doing good to others so that a wave is created and whole of the nation is transformed into a pious society. This was in fact a message for all times to come and a message not only for India but for whole of the world. This was thus the message for eternity.
The nine gurus who followed Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji followed the same method and for over 250 years, rivers of spirituality flowed in India and whole of the nation started to see the Sikhs as perfect humans. It became famous that a Sikh will never tell a lie. Even court decisions were made on the basis of a Sikh’s witness thinking that a Sikh will never tell a lie. Sikhs used to escort the brides in the marriages to safety. They used to free the daughters of the country from the clutches of the foreign invaders. They were always ready to fight for the right cause. Sikhs’ fifth and ninth gurus sacrificed their lives to save the honour of the country and to check the forcible conversion of innocent people to Islamic religion by a tyrant ruler. Their tenth guru sacrificed his four sons for saving the honour of the country. The great, noble and unprecedented sacrifices of the gurus were followed by thousands of sacrifices by the devoted Sikhs to save the honour, religion and culture of this country. Even in freedom struggle from the clutches of a foreign rule, the sacrifices made by the Sikhs far exceed the combined sacrifices made by the rest of the country.
Society before guru Nanak Dev Ji
Guru Nanak Dev Ji has described the state of decadent society prevailing in his times in his own words. He writes that the sin was the ruler, greed was his prime minister and falsehood was his finance minister. Ladies of the harem were the king’s advisers with whom the ruler was ever engaged in conversation. The public was ignorant and mindless and accepted every thing thrust on it by the corrupt ruler (pages 468-469 of sacred guru granth sahib).At another place, Guru Nanak Dev Ji likened kings to ravenous loins, their officials to dogs and their subjects to blind sheep.
It is ironical that the wave started by Sikh gurus did not last long. The present day rulers and the public are in no way different than those described by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his times The present day society is caste ridden and strife torn. There is violence every where. Corruption is rampant. Bribery has made inroads every where. No work is possible without greasing the palms of the government officials. Justice is purchased. Bigotry is the order of the day. Tolerance has disappeared. Rapes of innocent girls are common. There is therefore a dire necessity of renaissance of Guru Nanak Dev’s message for eternity. That can only save the present day society from self destruction.
Basic concepts of Guru Nanak’s teachings
Guru Nanak’s teachings lay main emphasis on righteous living and doing good to the society. According to him, it is through good deeds that a person can reach the door of God. Guru Ji says, “God rules through His supreme command but His pen flows according to our deeds. His justice is truth and his court is truth” (page 1241 of sacred Guru Granth Sahib).At another place Guru Ji says,” For every human being, life means action (work) and God would take His decision on the basis of our good or bad actions” (page 1176 of sacred Guru Granth Sahib). In fact Guru Ji says that we have got human birth according to our good deeds done in the past births (page 18 of holy Guru Granth Sahib).Guru Ji says that no worship of God can be possible without righteous living and without inculcating good attributes (gunas) in our mind (vin gun keete bhagte na hoe). Riches have no meaning in the court of God if the wealth is earned by evil means and spent on selfish causes. On the other hand, money earned by hard labour and honest means and spent on right causes makes the life sublime and is accepted in the court of God. Once Guru Nanak Dev Ji spurned the invitation of having feast with a rich man named Malik Bhago and accepted simple food from a hard working, poor carpenter, Bhai Lalo. On Malik’s asking, Guru Ji replied,” The bread earned by the exploitation of the poor and by using evil means exudes blood of those exploited by you. If I squeeze your bread, blood will flow from it. How can I eat such bread? On the other hand, the bread earned by a sweat, hard work and honest and right means by Bhai Lalo exudes milk of his hard earnings. If I squeeze his bread, milk will flow from it. That is the difference between your sumptuous meals and Bhai Lalo’s simple food.” Once in Bagdad, a Moslem Ulema asked Guru Nanak Dev Ji,” who is superior, a Hindu or a Moslem?” To this Guru Ji replied,” Both would weep without good deeds”.
Integration of Naam and Mind
Every one of us does some good deed in our day to day chorus in our lives. May it be attending to a sick person, donating to orphanages or blind care organizations, attending to handicapped persons, taking care of old parents, donating towards the treatment of poor patients suffering from serious diseases, donating blood, serving the nation at the time of foreign aggression, funding the education expenses of poor bright students who cannot afford the costly education, donating to construction and subsequent running of hospitals, schools, colleges, free eye operation camps among many such like other benevolent acts. But can such sporadic acts of goodness transform one’s life so that he can reach the door of God? No. Our mind should in stead be so tuned that at every step or rather at every breath, it thinks of good and nothing else. By attaining this state of mind, a person can attain highest level of piety in his life. To achieve this, Guru Nanak Dev Ji has repeatedly preached to us to have a symbiotic association of mind and Naam, the name of God or the noble attributes of God. Guru Nanak Dev Ji says,” to do good deeds is the best rosary. If our mind is tuned in doing good deeds, our life goes according to God’s wishes (sukirt karni saar jap maali hirde pher challai tudh naali)” (page 1134 of holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji).
Naam means attributes of God. Integration of mind and Naam thus means absorption of God’s attributes in mind so that the mind becomes tuned to the wishes of God or whatever mind will think will be as God desires it to think. To receive Naam, mind should be free from all ills like hatred, jealousy, backbiting, bigotry, thinking bad of others, hurting others feelings, stealing, telling lies, etc etc and also have complete control on anger, sex, greed, worldly attachments and ego. Guru Nanak Dev Ji says, “When we go to milk a cow, we first wash the utensil, sit and fumigate it with smoke of scented material before collecting the milk. In the same way, we should purify our mind before absorbing Naam in it.”( bhanda dhoe bais dhup devo tau dhudhe ko javo) (page 728 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji).
Life and death cycle
The main thrust of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings is to get rid of the vicious cycle of life and death. How can this be achieved? Every person in human form has an ethereal self, a soul, spirit or aatma or jeevaatme inside the physical being. The body or the physical being is ephemeral and will die one day as any living being who is born will die one day. The death of physical being is thus certain. But soul is indestructible and in that way it is similar to God as God is also indestructible. But unlike God, the soul or ethereal self of a person has to come into a physical form again and again continuing the life and death cycle. It is just like changing the clothes when the old ones get worn out. The soul also changes its physical form when the body becomes old. According to Sikh gurus, the soul has to come into physical form again and again as long as we continue to commit sins in our human birth. The human birth is a chance for the soul to get purified by avoiding committing sins, atoning for the sins committed in the past births, integrating Naam with mind and doing good deeds. When the soul becomes free from sins and the human birth is dedicated to the will of God, the soul becomes pure. It will then become like that of its source, God Almighty. It will then become free from the vicious cycle of life and death. Guru Nanak Dev Ji says that truth is above every thing but still higher than truth is truthful living (sachcho ore sab ko oopar sach achaar). In conclusion it may be said that if one integrates Naam with one’s mind, one can truly become a pious person, a Brahm Giani or a liberated soul. According to the philosophy of Sikh gurus, such should be the aim of living after getting the human birth.
At page 1291 of sacred Guru Granth Sahib JI, Guru Nanak Dev Ji has described the state of mind of a person when that person is able to integrate Naam with mind. Guru Ji says, “He who shows the abode of God in our mind is the wise and true guru. When the mind becomes abode of God, it hears continuous tunes of all the five types of instruments along with the beating of the drum of guru’s word. This condition of mind is called the condition of total trance or absolute bliss. At this state of mind, the worldly attachments (maaya) disturb the mind. But these attachments do not affect the mind as mind is fully integrated with Naam and God is experienced as if He is sitting on the throne of mind. The mind understands the value of guru’s word which otherwise is incomprehensible. All mind’ desires are finished within the mind. The mind frees itself from all worldly attachments and is filled with nectar of Naam. Now the mind does not run after worldly things. As the mind is completely integrated with Naam, it remembers God without using the tongue. The five senses of knowledge (senses of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and seeing) have now achieved five noble attributes of sat, santokh, daya, dharma and dheeraj (truth, contentment, compassion, religious principles and tolerance). Guru Ji in the end says that he will be the servant of that person who achieves the above state of mind”.
Dissemination of Guru Nanak’s “message for eternity”
Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his own times spread the message for eternity i.e. the message of truthful living, doing good deeds and inspiring others to do the same, by him by touring far and wide in east, west, north and south. Guru Ji spread his message in the west upto Bangladesh and Burma, in the south up to Sri Lanka, in the north up to Tibet and China and in the west up to Mecca. Guru Ji spent his last 15 years of his life at a place in Punjab called Kartarpur. He used to hold sadh sangats both in the morning and evening to give sermons to his followers who were by then called the Sikhs. His followers included high and low, Hindus, Moslems, Jains, Budhis and of all the classes prevailing at that time. Guru Ji never asked any one to leave his religion but taught his Sikhs the message of universal brotherhood. He sought welfare of whole of the world ( tere bhane sarbat da bhalaa). He taught his Sikhs to shun the caste system, treat every individual equal, however high or low he may be. He did not believe in wasting time in unnecessary rituals. He believed in one God He taught that the method of attaining salvation is in leading truthful life, doing good to others, service before self, helping the poor and downtrodden, attending to sick and making the mind as abode of God. Guru Ji started common kitchen for all his followers. Guru Ji at Kartarpur earned his own living by cultivating land and raising agricultural crops. The produce from his land was mainly used in the common kitchen (langar).
The same method of dissemination of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message was continued by other nine gurus following him. After getting blessings from gurus, the devoted Sikhs used to spread Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message at their own places. In this way sikh ideology spread in almost all the Asian countries.
The tenth guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, enshrined Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the next guru after him. From then on, the building where Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was installed used to be named as Gurudwara. The teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and other sikh gurus were then started in Gurudwaras. With in a short time thousands of Gurudwaras were constructed throughout the country and abroad and Sikh ideology took the form of a separate religion and Sikhs started to be recognized as a separate nation. People from all religions, Hindus and Moslems, started embracing this new religion. This system of spreading the message of Guru Nanak Dev Ji still prevails. Millions of Gurudwaras have been built in India and all over the world where the Sikhs have settled. The teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji are being spread even through the electronic media and thousands of web sites have been created on the life history of Sikh gurus and on the bani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Reformation of the decadent Sikh society
In spite of the help of electronic media and millions of gurudwaras, there is extensive degradation in the ethical values of Sikh society. The truth has almost disappeared. Falsehood rules the society. All the rituals which were forbidden by the gurus are being worshipped by the Sikhs. The Sikhs now a day worship gods, goddesses, tombs, mausoleums, snakes, trees and even idols. Sikh women have started keeping fasts. The Sikhs also observe shrads for their dead ones. There is therefore a strong need to spread Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message of universal brotherhood, truthful life, service to others and replacement of unnecessary rituals by practical life based on Sikh tenets.
What steps will be necessary to spread that message? First and foremost step should be to adhere to only those rituals which are prescribed by S.G.P.C at Akal Takht, Amritsar, Punjab, India. Sikh masses should be taught to shun all those rituals against which our gurus have written in sacred Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We should believe in one God (monotheism) and have trust only in Him. A Sikh cannot remain away from his guru. It is therefore necessary to pay obeisance to the guru at least once a day if not morning and evening each day. While bowing before guru, we generally put our demands of umpteen numbers of material things. This is against the sikh principles. Guru Ji says, ‘If I seek from you other things instead of asking your Naam, O God, I am asking sorrows and agonies from you. You please give me your Naam with which I will have contentment and the appetite of my mind will be satisfied’. Again at an other place guru Ji says,’Your supreme command is sweet to me. Nanak seeks only Naam from you’. At one place in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Nanak Dev Ji describes how the obeisance to the guru should be made. Guru Ji says,’ Obeisance to you, O God, should be to accept and practise your Naam. The offerings should be to stick to the truth which will authorize a person to sit in sadh sangat. The ardaas (request or determination) to you should be to seek truth and contentment. Then the guru will ask you to sit beside him’ (tudh nu niven mannan tera naao saach bhent baison ko thaon sat santokh howai ardaas taa sun sad bahae paas) (page 878 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji). Some times we prescribe punishment for our enemies and ask guru ji to inflict that punishment. In that way we flout the supreme command of God. It is the prerogative of God to give punishment or to forgive a person for his sins. We should only seek Naam and nothing else from our guru.
After paying our obeisance we should take part in the recitation of guru baani in sadh sangat. While reciting guru baani, we should try to understand the meanings. Mere recitation without understanding the meaning will be of no use to us. Saint Kabir in Guru Granth Sahib Ji says,’ Recite the Naam slowly and with patience so that you can understand the meaning’ (har kaa bilowna blowoh mere bhai sahej blowo jaise tat naa jae ) (page 478 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji).
Although it is important to make your mind as the abode of God, equally important is to preach to others also the message of Guru Nanak Dev Ji so that the whole sikh society is reformed and attains the same status as it was in the times of our gurus. Sikhs then will set the example of truthful living to other societies who can follow the reformation of their societies. In that way this earth will become like a heaven of our dreams and every person on this planet will lead a blissful life.
WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH
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Sikh Jiwan (Sikh living)
Sikh jiwan (living) is based on three fundamental principals. These are Naam Japna (recitation of name of God), Kirt karni (hard work for honest living) and wand chhakna (sharing of earnings with others).
Naam Japna (recitation of name of God)
Continuous recitation of the name of God has been a well known practice in ancient Hindu saints. It has been mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures that the ancient saints used to get divine powers by continuous recitation of name of God especially the name of Lord Siva. In Sikhism, the recitation of the name of God, The Naam, has a different connotation. It is not done to achieve divine powers. Recitation of Naam is done to inculcate the attributes of God in our mind. It is therefore important to know the broad meaning of Naam. Lines from a few hymns from Guru Granth Sahib Ji will illustrate the definition of Naam.
- In Naam are included continence, truth and self control (page 33).
- Naam describes the attributes of God (page 1176).
- True Naam of true God is the noble attributes of God (page 688).
- Guru’s collection of hymns (in sacred Guru Granth Saheb) is Naam (page 1231).
Following lines from a few hymns from Guru Granth Saheb will illustrate how to recite Naam repeatedly.
- Recitation of Naam should accompany the preservation of good qualities in our mind (page 19).
- Good deeds are like plant and Naam of God is its fruits. Naam has no features and it appears (in mind) without a sound. This Naam has been created by God by His word (page 351).
- In this world, doing good deeds is the recitation of Naam (page 539).
- Do good deeds through recitation of Naam and doors of the hell will be closed for you (page 461).
- Every body recites Naam from his mouth but few make their mind as abode of Naam. Only those who have made their mind as the abode of Naam will attain salvation (page 565)
- Recitation of Naam should be done slowly so that we can understand its meaning (478).
- Only guru knows that only Naam exists in the court of God. The life of only that human is the best and is recognized in the court of God who recognizes Naam. He who makes truth, contentment and love as the provisions for the journey to the court of God achieves Naam.To achieve truth, we will have to drive away the sins from our mind (page 422).
From the above few lines from hymns from Guru Granth Sahib Ji, it becomes clear that recitation of Naam means the absorption of noble attributes of God in our mind.
For continued recitation of Naam, we must select a specific name of God which can be repeatedly recited. God has been given thousands of names. Then what can be the most suitable name for repeated recitation. Various most common names of God include Parmatma, ( the supreme soul), Primal, Immaculate, Immortal, Giver, Benevolent, Bestower, Agam (inaccessible), Agochar (beyond senses of perception), Achut (firm), Apaar (limitless), Avenaasee (indestructible), Alakh (cannot be explained), Waaheguru (supreme teacher), Creator, Swami (master), Hari, Allah, Thakur (master), Prabhu (supreme master), Preetam (loved one), Bhagat Vachhal (who loves His devotees), Parmeshvar (supreme deity), Ram (omnipresent), Raheem (having mercy on all), among thousands of others. Guru Nanak Dev Ji selected SATNAM as the name of God as this word depicts the qualities of God in their entirety and also depicts that these qualities are everlasting or truth (SAT). Guru Arjun Dev Ji has sermonized in His hymns that all other names of God are based on one or the other specific deed of God or His incarnations but Sat Naam is God’s fundamental and eternal name. Another name of God which can be repeatedly recited and which is considered in Sikhism as the most suitable name of God is Waheguru.Guru Nanak Dev Ji stated that the word of God is his guru which means that God was the guru of Guru Ji. Guru Gobind Singh Ji also said that He who is the only one from the beginning of the universe and who will remain one at the end of His creation is his guru. In Sikhism, Sat Naam and Waheguru are the two names of God which are repeatedly recited for integration of God’s attributes in our mind.
In Sikhism, there are specific morning, evening and bedtime prayers. Sukhmani Sahib, Jap Ji Sahib and Shabad Hazare are recited in the morning after taking bath. The time prescribed for these prayers is between 4 and 6 am. Evening prayers include Rehras Sahib, Choupie and Anand Sahib Ji. The bed time prayer is Kirtan Sohela. There is no specific time for recitation of Sat Naam and Waheguru. Every time is good for Naam recitation (page 1150 of Guru Granth Saheb Ji ). Naam can be recited while engaged in work, while walking on roads and while visiting sacred places (page 386 of Guru Granth Saheb Ji).
Kirt Karni (Hard work and honest living)
Guru Nanak Dev Ji says that after creating living beings, God has placed the power of action in their hands. They reap the fruits according to their deeds. Only God who has created this universe can evaluate their deeds (page 932 of Guru Granth Saheb). Action is necessary to earn living and for our daily routines. Honest and truthful life is the aim in Sikhism as Guru Nanak Dev JI says that truth is above all but truthful life is even higher than truth. Our actions should therefore be directed towards doing good deeds as only good deeds can take us to the door of God. A few lines from the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib Ji will illustrate this point.
- We have got human birth on the basis of our good deeds and would reach the abode of God through love. For this, we should teach our mind through guru’s teachings and our soul through knowledge (page 18).
- The best way of worship is to do good deeds (page 1134).
- Every one of us is to do work and God takes His decisions on the basis of our deeds (page 1169).
- God rules through His supreme command but for decisions His pen flows according to our deeds. God is truth. His court is truth. His justice is truth (page 1241).
- All actions are like a creeper plant spread out by God and the name of God is the fruit of this plant. This name of God has no shape and appears without a sound. God has created Naam through His word (page 351).
- The real truth which is accepted (in the court of God) is that God takes decisions on the basis of our deeds (page 1238).
- In this world, doing good deeds is the Naam of God which is admired by all (page 539).
- We write our destiny according to our good or bad deeds through supreme command of God (page 466).
In Guru Granth Sahib Ji, guide lines are given to teach us how to lead a truthful and honest life through good deeds. There are five noble principles which are required to be followed by all Sikhs to lead a truthful life. These are Sat (Truth), Santokh (Contentment), Daya (compassion), Dharma (Religion) and Dheeraj (Patience). These noble principles should also form the basis for earning truthful and honest living. Truth is God. God’s attributes, Naam, should therefore guide our lives. Our earnings should therefore be based on truthful principles. Wealth earned by deceit, lies, corruption, bribery, exploitation of poor, etc is not permitted in Sikhism. Wealth thus earned pushes a person into den of vices like drinking, gambling, taking drugs etc. Another character which forces us to amass wealth by resorting to unfair means is greed. We should therefore be contended with whatever resources of earning we have. Self contentment keeps the desire of greed under control. Desires create greed for earning more money. We should therefore keep our desires under the limits of our resources. Compassion is another divine quality which makes our lives sublime if we are working in those professions which involve public dealings. Doctors, nurses, professions dealing with under privileged persons in the society like handicapped, blind, under developed and mentally retarded and down trodden are the professions where compassion plays an important role. Normal duties coupled with compassion can alleviate the sufferings of these under privileged members of the society in a much better way. Dharma is the compendium of noble principles enshrined in every religion of the world. These principles should never be overlooked while earning our living. We should always remember that God has bestowed upon us human birth with His unlimited bounties. We should therefore always be grateful to God for His blessings. We should ascribe all our achievements to God and failures to our own selves. In fact according to Sikhism, we should put in our honest and true labor through right actions and the fruits of that labor should be left to God. In fact Guru Nanak Dev ji says if we expect good fruits from our good deeds and bad returns from our bad deeds, then we are not true lovers of God. We are taking the duties of God in our own hands (Asa di War). Whatever we think for the reward of our labor it will be under the limit of our thinking but what God sometimes gives us is beyond our expectations. We call such rewards as only a miracle. Another thing which we should always remember is that in our efforts for earning money, we should never over look the basic tenets of our religion. The last noble principle is patience which helps us to tide over the unfavorable period which always comes in our lives even if it is for a limited duration. Bad patches in our lives should also be considered as the blessings of God as through such bad times, God wants to teach us something or wants to remind us of our duties in our lives. Or it may be said that God wants to remind us of the mistakes which we commit in our lives. Guru Nanak says that happiness sometimes becomes a disease and sorrow or grief its remedy because in happiness we often forget God. With patience and complete trust in God, we can tide over any unfavorable conditions with ease.
There are five ethical enemies who have found mention in Guru Granth Sahib Ji most frequently. These are Kam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachment) and Ahankar (ego). In Sikh religion, renunciation of these five vices is not recommended. Conversely, a sikh should have a complete control over them and utilize them usefully in his or her truthful and honest living. Lust is described in Guru Granth Sahib Ji as an evil which pushes a person to hell and in the life and death cycles but it is an absolute necessity to perpetuate our dynasty. A happy family life with a wife, children and parents can exert a complete control over the lust. In fact, in Sikhism, leading a happy family life is the ideal and easiest way to reach the court of God. Honesty to wife, upbringing children on sikh principles and fulfilling the duties to wards parents are the stairs leading to that goal. Under sikh tenets, all females other than wife should be considered as mothers, sisters or daughters. Anger, as described in Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the root cause of all quarrels and is devoid of compassion but it is necessary to drive away evils from the mind. Anger on self and not expressing on others keeps the tempers cool. Greed, according to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, forces a person to run to all directions to collect wealth, makes him or her deplete with shame towards brothers, sisters, parents, friends, forces him or her to do those acts which are not worth a good person and eats those eatables which are not worth eating. But it is necessary to earn money for honest and truthful living. Greed can be checked by confining desires within the limits of our resources. Lobh (attachment) is described as invincible, powerful and has the capacity to control humans, animals, gods, birds and in fact all the lining beings. Humans are social animal and for a well knit society, Moh is of paramount importance. We can keep the Moh under limits if we have equal love for all children, equal respects for all elders and in the event of any dispute we blame the real culprit without any regard for our near and dear ones. Ego is described in Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the root cause of life and death cycle, sorrow and happiness. It converts friends into foes and turns the foes as hardened enemies. Ego is also described as the long running malady but its cure is also within it. Ego is necessary for self respect but we should not consider our wisdom and intelligence as most superior, our knowledge as the best and our opinion as the only correct opinion. Humility is the best weapon to fight the evil of ego. Guru Nanak Dev Ji has described himself in his bani as the servant, the down trodden, the poor and the helpless.
In ancient Hindu literature, the actions are categorized into three classes. These are Rajo, Tamo and Sato. Rajo actions include aspirations for acquiring worldly possessions, higher positions, higher status in society, fame etc. This category of action is the action of activity. Food prescribed for such type of actions is mainly vegetarian food and consists of nutritious diet with lots of spices, sour and sweet things.Tamo actions consist of all that is bad for society such as atrocities, cruelty, rapes, murders etc. This category of action is the action of passivity and inactivity. Food for this category of action is mainly of non-vegetarian type consisting of meat, alcohol etc. Sato type of actions is actions of reconciliation between passivity and activity. The diet is mainly vegetarian consisting of a lot of fruits, vegetables, honey, milk etc.Persons doing actions of Sato category always do good deeds, do not have too many aspirations, engage in charity works, feed the poor, help the needy and perform religious rites. In Sikhism, we should not get ourselves involved in any category of actions but should take best out of each category and utilize it for earning truthful and honest living. A Sikh’s life should be like a lotus flower floating on the surface of water away from the muddy pond floor but utilizing all good elements from the mud. Good actions from all the three categories should form the basis of Sikh living.
A Sikh who makes his mind as the abode of Naam, who has complete control over five ethical enemies and who is above three categories of actions leads a blissful life. For such a person, happiness and sorrow, disease and health are the blessings of God. Friends and foes, fame and criticism, worldly gains or financial losses are on the same footing. Fear of death disappears.In Sikhism, such a state of mind is called Sahej Awastha. In Sufism, this state of mind is called Turiya Awastha. A Sikh with this state of mind is considered as Brahm Giani.
Wand Chhakna (sharing of earning with others)
Guru Nanak Dev JI says that those who work hard for their living and then give some for charity know the real way of living (page 1245 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji). We should however be careful to select a charity where our money is judiciously spent. Guru Nanak Dev has said that a person who has deceit in his or her mind should not be eligible for giving a charity as by giving charity to such a person will give us also the same type of reward (page 1413 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji). For a Sikh, primary duty is towards sikh temples (Gurudwaras) where a regular contributions should be made as such contributions go towards preaching sikh principles. Our Gurudwaras also serve free food to those who are needy and cannot afford to meet their two ends. Free food kitchens were started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, later continued by all gurus and is still being followed all over the world where Sikhs are settled. Most of the Sikh Gurudwaras also run free dispensaries, educational institutions and maintain libraries housing books on Sikh religion. It is therefore the duty of every Sikh to make contributions to our Sikh religious organizations. Other charities which should be eligible for donations should be those who deal with the rehabilitation of orphans, handicapped, under developed, mentally retarded, lepers and terminally sick who cannot afford costly medical treatment. The next important question is the amount of money which should be kept aside from our earnings for contributing to wards charities. In Sikhism and in other religions also, ten percent of our earnings is prescribed to be given to wards charities. We should therefore strive our best to set aside at least ten percent of our earnings for charities. If that may not be possible, as much money as possible should be set aside every month for contributing towards charities.
Marriage in Sikhism Marriage in Sikhism In Sikhism, leading a family life according to the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji is considered as the easiest and best way to be one with God or to reach the realm of God. Renunciation of worldly life and retreating to the forests or to some secluded place to achieve oneness with God is condemned in many shabads in sacred Guru Granth Saheb. It is stated that ‘ You cannot achieve union with God by wearing yellow robes or by becoming sadhu but you can achieve union with God while leading a family life through the teachings of your Guru’. ( To continue as separate subject)
WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH
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Marriage in Sikhism
Marriage is a religious ceremony in which a man and a woman become life partners as husband and wife to establish a family and to indulge in worldly affairs. Marriages are consummated by different ceremonies in different religions. According to the ancient Hindu practices, marriage ceremonies involve having seven rounds called pheraas or laavaa around yagya fire amid chanting of mantras from ancient religious books. In Sikhism, the marriage ceremonies are consummated by having four laavaa around sacred Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji amid reciting of four laavaa from Sri Guru Granth Saheb (pages 773 – 774) written by fourth sikh guru, Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji. Sikh gurus have described a devotee as wife and God as divine husband in a number of shabads in Guru Granth Saheb Ji. In fact, the whole mankind is stated as wife and God its universal husband. The union of soul with the supreme soul, God, is ultimate aim of life of a sikh. Guru Nanak Dev Ji did not believe in renunciation of the worldly life and retreating to the forests to achieve union of soul with God. Neither had he believed in leading a life of celibacy to achieve union with God. Guru Gtanth Saheb teaches us that union with God cannot be achieved by wearing yellow robes or by dressing like sadhus but the union with God can be achieved in a family life by following teachings of the guru. The four laavaas recited at the time of consummation of sikh marriage prepare the would - be bride and the groom to lead a married life according to the teachings of Guru Granth Saheb.
At the spiritual level, these four laavaas describe four stages through which a devotee as a wife can be one with her eternal husband, God or in other words, a soul can achieve the union with God.
First Laav Har pahlri laav parvirtee karm driraaeaa bal raam jeeo Baani brahmaa ved dharam driro paap tajaaeaa bal raam jeeo Dharam driro har naam dhiaavo simrit naam driraaeaa Satgur gur pooraa aaraadho sab kil vikh paap gawaaeaa Sahej anand hoeaa wadbhaagee har har meethaa laaeaa Jan kahe Naanak laav pahlee anand kaaj rachaaeaa
At spiritual level, the first laav is the first stage to achieve the union of devotee’s soul with God. After death the soul leaves the body and remains without its physical being until it takes rebirth in some form. This state of soul is called Nirvirtee maarg .When a soul takes rebirth in human incarnation, it is said to have entered into Parvirtee maarg. Guru Ji teaches us that after entering into Parvirtee maarg, all our actions should be guided by the guru’s teachings as guru’s teachings or guru baanee is Brahmaa and vedaas written by Him. Guru banee is dharma and it is guru banee which will wash away all our sins. To be firm in dharma, it is essential to inculcate in our minds the qualities or Naam of God. All the ancient books also say the same that God’s Naam is dharma. Inculcation of Naam in our minds is possible only if we follow the teachings of true guru who will wash away all our sins. With great good luck, we will then experience divine bliss and God’s Naam will be felt sweetly by us ie, we will enjoy recitation of Naam, the name of God. This first laav will thus be the beginning of attainiattaining the stage of eternal bliss. At worldly level, Guru Ji teaches the boy and the girl through the first laav how to prepare themselves for their forthcoming marriage. Before marriage, both the boy and the girl are free from all worldly responsibilities. All their needs are met with by their parents. They mainly concentrate on their studies and are mostly worried about their future career. They are mostly unconcerned about their worldly life. In a way, both the boy and the girl are in Nirvirtee maarg. When they enter into a married life, it is similar to entering into the parvirtee maarg. Guru Ji’s advice through the first laav is that all actions in their future married life should be guided by the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji. They need not heed to the advice from other sources. For them Guru baanee should be the Brahma and His Vedas. Guru baanee should be their dharma and Guru baanee only will wash away their sins. They should inculcate in them all the qualities of God, the name of God or Naam. All their actions should be guided by Naam so that they can lead a married life which is based on truth, love, compassion, faithfulness, contentment and free from hatred, jealousy, malice, avarice, greed, ego etc. Ancient Hindu scriptures also say that the Naam is the real dharma. For inculcating Naam in their minds, they need a truthful Guru and for Sikhs, Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji is the truthful Guru. They can save themselves from all sins only by following the teachings of Guru Granth Saheb. When their minds would be tuned to Naam, they will feel an eternal joy and all the ceremonies connected with their forthcoming marriage will be full of enjoyment. Thus this will be the beginning of their marriage ceremonies which would be full of enjoyments.
Second Laav Har doojree laav sat gur purukh milaaeaa bal raam jeeo Nirbhau bhai man hoe haumai mail gwaaeaa bal raam jeeo Nirmal bhau paaeaa har gun gaaeaa har vekhai raam hadoore Har aatam raam pasaareaa suamee sarb raheaa bharpoore Antar baahar har prabh eko mil har jan mangal gaae Jan Nanak doojee laav chalaaee anhad shabad wajaae
At spiritual level, Guru Ji teaches that by following the teachings enshrined in the first laav, the devotee climbs the second stage. At this stage, a devotee has to fight with many internal enemies. He will have to keep the lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego under his complete control. These five enemies always stand in the way to purify the mind. They are the root cause of origin of desires to fulfil physical needs. The devotee will have to use them for good causes and will have to save himself from being led by them. There is other dirt which poisons the mind. This includes jealousy, lies, backbiting, earning money by wrong means, disobedience to elders, habit of stealing, etc. Guru baanee has enabled him to find his truthful guru ie Guru Granth Saheb. Now all the worldly fears from the above five enemies and the other dirt as stated above have disappeared from his mind. His mind has only one fear, the fear of God. His mind is freed by the Guru from the dirt of ego. Fear from God is a pious fear because it gives us freedom from the fear of all the above mentioned evils which may over power our mind. Now the devotee starts chanting the praises of God and starts feeling the existence of God within his mind as well as everywhere around him. He joins other devotees who have also attained the same level and starts chanting the praises of God with them. Gradually, the chanting of God’s praises becomes part of his existence and he starts experiencing the chanting of praises in his mind without uttering a single word from his mouth and without accompaniment of any musical instruments. Before entering into a matrimonial union, there are various types of fears in the minds of both the boy and the girl. The boy expects a lot of good qualities in the girl whom he is going to marry. He expects her to be beautiful, will mannered, well behaved, and respectful to his parents, with good aptitude, well educated and myriads of such other qualities. On the other hand, the girl nurtures much more types of fears than the boy. She will have to leave her parents home to live in an entirely new environment. She will have to spend her rest of life with entirely different t types of people. In place of her mother, father, brothers and sisters, she will have to deal with her mother-in-law, father-in-law, brothers- in-laws and sisters-in-laws respectively. In addition, she has the greatest fear about her would-be husband, about his habits, his behaviour, his intellect, his manners and myriads of other question about him. Thus different types of fears lurch in the minds of both the boy and the girl. Through the first laav, both the boy and the girl have integrated Naam in their minds through their truthful guru and both have started experiencing eternal joy. In the second laav, guru ji teaches the boy and the girl to have trust and full faith in their guru, ie, Sri Guru Granth Saheb and by doing so, their minds will become free from all types of fears. They will start thinking that whatever is destined by God for them that will be good for them. They have only one fear in their minds, the fear of God. This fear of God will eliminate all other fears from their minds and thus they will become fearless. In fact they now possess fearless fear in their minds which has eliminated all the worldly fears from their minds. There is now no ego in their minds. The fear of God is a pious fear as it drives away all the misgivings from the minds of both the boy and the girl about their would-be spouses. They now trust their guru that by guru’s blessings, they will have the type of the spouse which they have imagined. In fact they now have started feeling that God is always with them, around them and every where to help them in the forthcoming marital union. Instead of worrying about their future married life, they have now started chanting the praises of the guru and God who have eliminated all their suspicions about their spouses. Even the praises of God continue to be chanted in their minds without uttering a single word from their mouths. They chant the praises of God along with other married couples who are spending their blissful married lives according to the dictates of their guru, Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji.
Third laav Har teejree laav man chaao bhaieaa bairaageeaa balraam jeeo Samt janaa har mel har paaeaa vadbhaageeaa bal raam jeeo Nirmal har paaeaa har gun gaaeaa mukh bolee har baanee Sant janaa vadbhaagee paaeaa har katheee akath kahanee Hirde har har hardhun upjee har japeee mastak bhaag jeeo Jan Nanak bolai chauthee laave har upje dhun bairaag jeeo
At spiritual level, Guru Ji teaches us that after following the teachings from the first and second laavs, the devotee now goes to the third stage of spiritual level. Now the devotee’s mind is freed from all worldly fears. He has only fear of God in his mind. He is always chanting the praises of God as if he has stepped into the spiritual world. He is now experiencing a divine bliss in his mind on the one hand and on the other hand a feeling of sadness is also coming up in his mind as he is distancing himself from all worldly pleasures. Thus on one side the devotee is happy that he is experiencing union with God and on the other side he is sad also that he is giving up worldly pleasures. But overall he is happy that the guru has enabled him to have meeting with God. With having a meeting with God, the devotee now always chants the praises of God. This he feels that it was his good luck that he has attained that state of mind. It has all happened due to the blessings of the guru. Now he has started knowing those secrets of God which cannot be explained by speaking from the mouth. Waves of God’s praises automatically crop up in his mind. This has happened because according to his past and present actions in life, it had become destined like that. Thus after following the guru’s teachings from third laav, pangs of distancing from worldly pleasures coming up in devotee’s mind are replaced with the joy of forthcoming union with God . At worldly level, both the boy and the girl have now full faith in the guru. They are now confident that whatever is destined for them by God that will definitely be good for them. But another type of grief is lurking in the minds of both the boy and the girl. The girl is to leave her parental home. She is sad that she will now lead a life without the love of her parents. She will be separated from her brothers and sisters. She will go away from her friends. Her spinster life would be replaced be more responsible family life. She will have to live with entirely different types of people whom she has never met before. The boy also is sad with the feeling that he will have to say goodbye to his boyhood days when he was indulging into a varied types of mischief. He used to be carefree enjoying with his friends in parties, outings, tours, variety entertainments, laughing sessions, mocking, gossiping, fun and all types of frolics. But both are happy that through God’s blessings both of them will get their choicest partners and would lead happy, enjoyable lives as now they have full faith in their guru. Thus both are now experiencing blissful sadness. The guru has been kind to them that they will get spouse of their choice. They have now started narrating the good qualities of their respective spouses. Along with chanting praises of their spouses, they also chant the praises of God and the guru who made possible this marital union. Now their minds are tuned with God and they have no fear of any thing happening against their wishes. All this has happened because it was destined by Almighty to happen like that. So after abiding the teachings of the third laav, both the boy and the girl have got rid of the feelings of sadness from their minds and they now keenly await their forthcoming blissful marital union.
Fourth laav Har chauthari laav man sahej bhaieaa har paeaa balraam jeeo Gurmukh miliaa subhaae har man tan meethaa laaeaa balraam jeeo Har meethaa laaeaa mere prabh bhaaeya an din har liv laagee Man chindeaa phal paaeaa suaamee har naam wajee wadhaaee Har prabh thaakar kaaj rachaaeaa dhan hirde naam vigaasee Jan Nanak bolai chauthi laavai har paaeaa prabh avinasee
At spiritual level, guru ji teaches us that after following the teachings of the three laavs, the devotee is now experiencing the eternal bliss in his mind. His mind is completely tuned to God. This state of mind is such that the mind is completely dead as regards the worldly desires. There is no place for the vices to enter the mind. The mind is free from hatred, jealousies, ill will to others, greed, ego, lust for worldly possessions etc. The mind always heeds to its inner voice and thinks what God desires it to think. This is the state of mind which is described as “living death”. The devotee has achieved this state of mind due to the blessings of the guru. God’s Naam is imbibed in every bit of the devotee’s body and mind. This has happened because God wished like that and also God liked that. Now the devotee is absorbed in God’s Naam in every moment of his life. Because of Naam, the devotee is getting accolades and praises from all and sundry. This whole process was started by God Himself. His Naam has completely occupied the mind of the devotee and the devotee is now experiencing the eternal bliss. In the end, the devotee has achieved complete union with God. At worldly level, all the preparations for the gala event are now complete. Both the boy and the girl have now complete faith in the guru. Both of them feel the presence of their spouse in their mind. Each has a spiritual picture of the partner in the mind. They have now imbibed each other in every bit of their body and soul. This all has happened due to the blessings and teachings of the guru. Each of them now day and night only thinks of each other. They are eagerly awaiting the forthcoming meeting of their physical beings. This has happened because God not only wished like that but liked it too. All the wishes of both the boy and the girl have been fulfilled. All the near and dear ones are now congratulating them. God had initiated this process and these festivities would now be completed by His grace. The girl now feels the presence of her would – be husband in her mind at all time. Similar is the state of mind of the boy also. Thus the union of minds of both the boy and the girl has taken place. Union of their physical beings is now eagerly awaited by them after the completion of the relevant ceremonies. Their forthcoming marriage will thus be in true sense the union of two souls into one soul while maintaining their physical beings as separate entities as appropriately mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji “Dhan pir eh naa aakheee baihen je kathhe hoe Ek hot doe moortee dhan pir kaheee soe.
WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH