By I P Singh
Guru k, the shining lumiry of 16th century India was not only a great spiritual leader but a powerful crusader against social evils and divisive forces. He travelled as a simple saint along with his companions Bhai Bala and Marda and tried to unite the Hindus and the Mohammedans without any reference to caste and creed. And the religion which we now call Sikhism is nothing but a mixture of the higher elements of both the said religions. Indeed Dorothy Field is right when she says- “It is essentially a practical religion. If judged from the pragmatic stand point, in some quarters it would rank almost first in the world.” This, I believe is true, because, if we alyse the philosophy and religion of the Sikhs into bits and pieces then there is nothing which we can call origil or new in it. What is new in Sikhism is not its bits and pieces of which it is made, but the form as a whole, in which these pieces are synthesised. It never existed before the Guru in India or even in Asia. It is in this sense that Dorothy Field and Macauliffe speaks of the origility of the system of the Guru.
As in the other religions of the world there has always been some positive borrowing of some existing doctrines and 16th century teachings of others. In Sikhism Guru k did the same. And it is this that keeps the essential truth as the universal elements of all faiths are the same. In Sikhism, we find that a certain belief is accepted with a slight modification, whereas certain others are rejected with a certain reservation. And in doing so, the Guru’s aim was to bring forth all that is good in both Hinduism and Islam together, laying the foundation of a ‘Higher religion’ which can be called the religion of Mankind.
The emergence of Guru k during the 16th Century, ushered a remarkably new and progressive school of thought which underlined the futility of caste, idolatry, ritualistic practices, superstitious beliefs and untouchability on the one side, and permanence and eterl validity of love, tolerance and universal brotherhood on the other. In the medieval India, when caste system, the priest ridden society and the associated injustices and oppressions which had completely crushed the spirit of freedom among the larger masses of the people, k’s message provided an objective and creative response to the challenge of the times and infused new blood into the veins of the dying civilisation.
He was deeply touched by the commul hatred and the evils of the caste system which existed during his times and dedicated his life towards their eradication. Even today these evils still exist and therefore, today, more than before, the country needs k’s messages of secularism, tiol integration and harmony. It is sad that in the very land of the Guru’s birth and where people claim themselves to be the exponents of the Guru’s teachings are openly practising hatred and injustices among themselves. It would be worthwhile to live and practice in accordance to the Guru’s saying rather than parsing the same in songs and ceremonials.
On the religious front, Guru k laid stress on the fundamental truth of all religions and preached the oneness of God, brotherhood of man, love and tolerance. On the socio-economic front, he extolled the dignity of labour and hard work. He was also against exploitation and usurpation of other’s rights. He laid special emphasis on the upliftment of the downtrodden and the weaker and poorer section in the society. He dealt with the fundamental question of establishing cordiality and harmony amongst people driven by the antagonism of diverse ture.
Guru k never claimed to be a divine being. He had lived a simple life with his only aim in life to remove all darkness that shadowed man’s life. He realised the highest spiritual truths and also the ignorance and darkness and prevailed about those truths and therefore it was only tural for him to guide people to those truths. For this, he was consequently accepted by his followers as “Guru” the enlightener. The purpose of his life was to lead other human beings to the same level of perfection which he believed was inherent in every one of us.
In the 15th century (1469) Guru k came to the world at village Rai Bhoien di Talwandi, District Sheikhupura, now nka Sahib Pakistan (then Punjab, India) which is now called nka Sahib. Guruji brought a social and religious revolution. He gave new directions to the divided society to destroy its caste, creed, and other barriers. His preaching united all people under one category - as equal human beings. He emphatically told them that being the children of the same Father, God, they were all equals.
The teachings of Guru k included three following major tenets:
1. AM-JAP (Remembrance of God):
It means remembrance of God by repeating the Gurmantar- ‘WAHEGURU’, ‘WAHEGURU’. By doing JAAP we start our journey on the path that leads to God. It is the key that unlocks the gates of heaven. Gurbani tells us about the country of the God and JAAP is the voyage of our soul to meet God.
2. KIRT-KAR (Honest earnings)
It is only the hard and honestly earned money which is sweet like honey. Wealth collected through corruption and unfair means makes the mind dirty and evil and cannot give any fruitful result.
3. WAND-KE-CHHAKA (Sharing earnings with others):
As we are all children of one Great Father, we should, therefore, feel pleasure in sharing our earnings with the needy as our brothers and sisters. When we share with the needy we do not oblige them or do any favour to them, but are just doing our duty which is expected of us. The only Giver in the world is God. How can we give anything as a dotion to others when we are merely custodians of the gifts given to us by Him? It was due to this important reason Guru Gobind Singh later laid down strict rules for his followers to keep DASWAND i.e. to reserve ten percent of our income in the me of Guru
Thus, the path before us is clear, what he need is to abide by the same. Let us hope, that with the light of his teachings we can overcome all darkness and thereby live a worthy life where any kind of evil does not find place. And for this, it is the duty of the youth in particular and also our elders to join hands in bringing about this much and required regeneration.