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Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh Society
– Value Systems –

Bhagwant Singh Dalawari

Guru Granth Sahib is my Master, my father and mother, indeed my All. The sub-themes projected in the invitation for the Seminar in fact overlap each other but this paper concentrates on Value Systems. The following verse of Guru Granth Sahib neatly describes the present state of Sikh society vis-à-vis the teachings of our Masters.

krm Drm pwKMf jo dIsih iqn jmu jwgwqI lUtY ]

Those who are involved only in the karam-khand bhakti (i.e. external manifestation of so-called devotion) are in fact hypocrites whom yamas will plunder like highway robbers. Guru Granth Sahib, p 747

The greatest tragedy of our times is that the purest, the sweetest, the most loving message of our SHABAD GURU has been rendered into external platitudes to the eternal shame of the followers of Guru Granth Sahib. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the perpetrators of this blasphemy are not even aware of their own degeneration or the degeneration that they are imposing on our coming generations. In my various articles in magazines and in Papers at various seminars and in my daily discourses in the morning and in the evening, I have been stressing the importance of living Gurbani and not only parading it. In fact Guru Nanak himself has emphasized in the following verse the inevitability of truth being manifested in truthful conduct if we are serious.

schu ErY sBu ko aupir scu Awcwru ]. Guru Granth Sahib, p 67

Guru Gobind Singh in his most sagacious decision entrusted us to the Shabad Guru in the hope that we will not be idol-worshippers and when we worship our Guru we shall imbibe the teachings in the hymns of various Gurus and Bhaktas in our daily life so that a Sikh represents the greatness of our Masters. Today, whatever Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh complained about or commented on the false practices of the prevailing modes of worship and their emphasis on external devotion is now imprinted in our own practices in Gurudwaras and elsewhere, exceptions notwithstanding. We go on making good, beautiful buildings, printing big, beautiful books and projecting ourselves in big, beautiful posters forgetting what our Gurus wanted. Guru Gobind Singh’s following words apply to Sikh society including political, religious and societal leaders.

e{o feqnk T[ofMT ;G jh ir, ;qh GrtkB e' G/d[ Bk gkfJT[ .. - Akal Ustat, Dasam Granth

Perfect Healer
Although I am 78 years old, my real age is only 38. I was so alienated from my Guru that I never imagined that devotion to the Guru meant much more than mere token visits to the Gurudwara and recitation of some texts as Nitnem. To my great good fortune, at the age of 38, I was stricken with depression that lasted from 1968 to 1970. Having drawn a blank from every medical or psychiatric quarter someone suggested that I regularly seek help from my Guru. At the feet of Guru Harkrishan at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, I found the truth of Sri Harkrishan Dhiaiae Jis Dithae Sab Dukh Jaae. During a nightlong Kirtan on 10th October 1970 when the following verse was sung at 2 am on 11th October, I suddenly found my heart melting in gratitude.

jy qU imqRü AswfVw ihk BorI nw vyCoiV ]
If you are my friend my Lord, do not forsake me even for one instant. Guru Granth Sahib, p 1094

I wouldn’t believe that I had been cured. But everything within me had changed and I felt the truth of another verse

eyk inmK mih myrw sBu duKu kwitAw nwnk suiK rYin ibhweI ] 
All my pain was extinguished in one instant. Guru Granth Sahib, p 1267

After nearly 38 years of my new life I note that my Guru has healed me so perfectly that I have never seen pain since then. Not only did my Lord relieve me of my mental depression, but He also overhauled my entire system of thinking, living and praying. My Lord decided for me that I would now learn to live, understand, analyze and practice the teachings of my Guru as contained in the verses of various Gurus and Bhaktas in Guru Granth Sahib. Now I have the privilege of knowing the core Message of my Guru and I have been trying to practice this in my life, which indeed must have been intended by Guru Gobind Singh.

It is remarkable that what the Sikh society, just like me for 40 years, regards only as our Holy Scripture, came alive for me as my perpetual guide, philosopher and friend. Now I regard as my Guru not the outer cover, not the paper, not the printing, but the instructions contained therein. To my great chagrin, this aspect has been totally missed by the Sikh society. That is why there are quarrels galore in the Gurudwaras in India and abroad among the so-called devotees who are perhaps totally ignorant of what the Guru says. I have witnessed ugly scenes of dirty name-calling, snatching turbans of each other by the so-called Amritdhari Sikhs. Of late quarrels among the different Jathedars of the Takhts adorn the newspapers. Sikhs and others could not have missed the unscrupulous way in which the political leadership in Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee appoints and dismisses the Jathedars of Akal Takht.

Universality of Guru Granth Sahib
It might be distressing for us to learn that most of the Sikhs do not even know how many Gurus and Bhaktas speak from Guru Granth Sahib. Personally I am very proud of my fifth Guru, Guru Arjan who decided to compile the writings of not only the first four Gurus and his own, but also those of various Bhaktas from different parts of India. He did not discriminate on the basis of religion, language or region. For instance we have Kabir and Ravidas from U.P., Namdev from Maharashtra, Jaidev from Bengal, etc. There are also Muslim saints like Baba Farid and Bheekhan Shah. And more remarkable is the fact that Guru Arjan included even those saints who were foolishly called low-caste at that time and established the truth of the following verse.

KqRI bRwhmx sUd vYs aupdysu chu vrnw kau swJw ] Guru Granth Sahib, p 747

Another regret is that many of the Sikhs do not know that a Muslim Divine, Hazrat Mian Mir laid the foundation stone of our most sacred shrine in Amritsar popularly known as Golden Temple. How many of us know that Guru Gobind Singh himself declared that whether you worship in a mosque or a temple or whether your mode of worship is Puja or Namaz, in the eyes of the Lord it is the same.

d/jok w;hs ;'Jh g{ik n' fBtki TJh .. – Akal Ustat, Dasam Granth

The universality was perpetualised by Guru Gobind Singh when he declared three days before his death in Nanded that the Granth compiled by Guru Arjan along with the hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur, which were included by the tenth Guru, would hereafter be known as the perpetual Guru of the Sikhs. I have a personal feeling and I do not have to add the certificates of Pearl Buck and others to prove the point that anyone from any religion can take guidance from Guru Granth Sahib because the hymns included therein do not discriminate between different names of God like Ram, Allah, Gusain, Khuda etc. nor do they discriminate between different modes of worship mentioned therein.

I am reminded of a story of Baba Nand Singh Ji. I am told that a Muslim Imam of a nearby Mosque was so impressed by the teachings of our Gurus that he requested Baba Nand Singh to make him a Sikh. When Babaji refused to interfere in what Allah had intended him to be, he humbly requested that a text from Guru Granth Sahib may be given to him. It is said that he used to recite Sukhmani Sahib with great devotion. Indeed I know Khwaja Dil Mohammad of Lahore who translated Japji Sahib and Sukhmani Sahib in Urdu verse as a mark of his love for Gurbani.

Moral Content of the Teachings of Guru Granth Sahib
When I was young and used to read Reader’s Digest, I came across the following quotation-
“Q- What is the difference between religion and morality?
A- Religion without morality is a tree without fruits and morality without Religion is a tree without roots.”

I have believed in this quotation as a way of life. But when my eyes were opened to see and know the teachings of my Guru, my heart felt a great pride to be a Sikh. Guru Granth Sahib is a great moral teacher. Apart from the spiritual teachings, which I shall detail separately – because spirituality is the essence of religion and LOVE is the essence of spirituality – I like to take some enchanting quotes from Guru Granth Sahib to dwell on the moral content.

a. PrIdw jn@I kMmI nwih gux qy kMmVy ivswir ] mqu srimMdw QIvhI sWeI dY drbwir ]
O Farid, do not indulge in deeds that are of no merit, for you may have to be ashamed in the court of the Lord. Guru Granth Sahib, p 1381

b. mn kw sUqku loBu hY ijhvw sUqku kUVu ] AKI sUqku vyKxw pr iqRA pr Dn rUpu ]
kMnI sUqku kMin pY lwieqbwrI Kwih ] nwnk hMsw AwdmI bDy jm puir jwih]
Pollution of the mind is greed, pollution of the tongue is talking untruth and pollution of the eyes is lustful look at women other than your wife and at others’ wealth. Pollution of the ear is listening to slander of others. All these traits earn for Man the wrath of Yamas. Guru Granth Sahib, p 472

c. PrIdw jy qU Akil lqIPu kwly ilKu n lyK ] AwpnVy igrIvwn mih isru nˆØIvW kir dyKu ] 
O Farid, if you are really wise, do not blacken your face by looking at others’ faults. Instead humbly turn your sight within to see how degenerated you are. Page no. 1378 – Guru Granth Sahib
d. inrDn Awdru koeI n dyie ] lwK jqn krY Ehu iciq n Dryie ]1]rhwau ]
jau inrDnu srDn kY jwie ] Awgy bYTw pIiT iPrwie ] 1 ]
jau srDnu inrDn kY jwie ] dIAw Awdru lIAw bulwie ] 2 ]
inrDnu srDnu donau BweI ] pRB kI klw n mytI jweI ] 3 ]
kih kbIr inrDnu hY soeI ] jw ky ihrdY nwmu n hoeI ] 4 ] 

No one pays respect to the money-less person. Even if he tries to attract attention, no one notices him. If a poor man goes to visit a rich man, the latter turns his back on the former. On the other hand if a rich man visits a poor man, the latter receives him with great adoration. In fact in the eyes of the Lord, both the rich and the poor are two brothers. Kabir says in reality the poor are the ones in whose hearts Lord does not dwell. Page no. 1159– Guru Granth Sahib

d. PrIdw bury dw Blw kir gusw min n hFwie ] dyhI rogu n lgeI plY sBu ikCu pwie ] 
O Farid, do good to the bad, do not be angry. This way your body will not be diseased and you will attain everything. Page no. 1381 – Guru Granth Sahib

In other words if one doesn’t have these moral attributes his being externally a well-dressed Sikh is of no meaning as far as the Guru is concerned.

Essence of Guru Granth Sahib in Siritual Terms
I have been saying, ever since my path was changed in 1970, that there is only one religion, i.e. Religion of Truth and there is only one caste i.e. Caste of Humanity. To my great delight, 38 years experience of my new life has convinced me that SHABAD GURU teaches exactly these meanings of Religion and Caste. As we are proudly aware that Sikhism does not believe in caste or creed, Sikhism does not believe in high or low, Sikhism does not believe in east or west, Sikhism does not believe in this region or that; the only discrimination that Sikhism advocates is between RIGHT AND WRONG. In that sense I have also been advocating that righteousness and legitimacy are the fundamental branches of Sikh spirituality besides SEWA AND SIMRAN. The following quote from Guru Granth Sahib will explain my understanding.

Aiq suMdr kulIn cqur muiK i|AwnI DnvMq ]
imrqk khIAih nwnkw ijh pRIiq nhI BgvMq]

You may be the most beautiful person in the world, belonging to the most respectable family, among the most intelligent people, one of the greatest orators and also the wealthiest person; still you are a dead body if you have no love for the lord. Guru Granth Sahib, p 253

Surely the love of the Lord, i.e. love of truth and righteousness surpasses everything material. Let us look at this hymn-

bsqw qUtI JuMpVI cIr siB iCMnw ]
jwiq n piq n Awdro auidAwn BRimMnw ]

Even if one is living in a broken hut and is in tattered clothes, he is the emperor of the world if he is immersed in Naam. Guru Granth Sahib, p 707

The Guru emphasizes this in 2 other hymns:

BlI suhwvI CwprI jw mih gun gwey ]
ikq hI kwim n Daulhr ijqu hir ibsrwey ]
Andu grIbI swDsMig ijqu pRB iciq Awey ]
jil jwau eyhu bfpnw mwieAw lptwey ]

My small hut is beautiful in which I sing the praises of the Lord; useless are the high-rise buildings in which the Lord is forgotten. There is bliss in poverty if one is in the company of the holy i.e. satsang because there, one is always in the presence of the Lord. Let the so-called greatness of the world be burnt into ashes because it destroys Man who remains immersed in MAYA. Guru Granth Sahib, p 745

ijQY nwmu jpIAY pRB ipAwry ] sy AsQl soien caubwry ]
ijQY nwmu n jpIAY myry goiedw syeI ngr aujwVI jIau ]

The houses where God is always remembered are really the everlasting and beautiful. Where Lord is forgotten even the big mansions turn into ruins. Guru Granth Sahib, p 105

It is enough to understand that if the Sikh society is to be based on the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, it will produce excellence in the character and general behavior of the Sikhs. My lament is that we have done everything in terms of external advancement of our Showroom Bhakti and glittering fineries for Guru Granth Sahib and spectacular interior decorations including AC’s in Gurudwaras but we have not cared for living the spiritual and moral content of our Shabad Guru.

Portrait of a Sikh on the Basis of Guru’s Teachings
Sikh is supposed to be a great embodiment of a human being as envisaged in Guru Granth Sahib. He regards every word of the Shabad Guru as lkIr, tries to live Gurbani in his day-to-day conduct. He knows that Guru is his protector in all circumstances and believes that by adhering to Guru’s teachings, he can live like a carefree emperor in the world. Let me quote Kabir from Guru Granth Sahib.

jo suKu pRB goibMd kI syvw so suKu rwij n lhIAY ] 

The peace and happiness that one derives from the service of the Guru is not available even to the kings. Guru Granth Sahib, 336

In one of my articles in a London magazine, I had projected the Sikh to be the AMBASSADOR OF LOVE TO HUMANITY, because he is free from jealousy, slander and desire to usurp others possessions.

Sikh is never in the grip of MAYA because as in Sukhmani Sahib (6th Ashtapadi) his every act of living, be that entertainment, enjoyment with children, loving his wife or relishing great prosperity, is backed by the grace of the Guru whom he remembers 24 hours. Even when he is in the toilet, in the bedroom, in the kitchen or when he is driving, teaching, telephoning or simply resting, he is immersed in Naam. His life is imbued with exhortations from Gurbani and is always careful that by doing anything against Guru’s commands, he may not lose His grace. Guru Arjan exhaustively explains in Sukhmani Sahib, from which I quote a few lines to stress my point, that even in the ordinary ways of living, we must note, analyze and remember that it is with His grace that we live peacefully.

ijh pRswid CqIh AMimRq Kwih ] iqsu Twkur kau rKu mn mwih ]
Remember all the time the grace of the Lord with which you eat all kinds of foods.
ijh pRswid bsih suK mMdir ] iqsih iDAwie sdw mn AMdir ]
Always remember the Lord with whose grace you live in a good house.
ijh pRswid suK syj soeIjY ] mn AwT phr qw kw jsu gwvIjY ]
Ceaselessly remember the Lord with whose grace you and your wife sleep comfortably in your cushioned beds. Guru Granth Sahib, 269

As I write all this, there is a streak of distress, regret and repentance. I wasted my life for 40 years before the Guru brought me to his feet. Otherwise I would have remained as clueless as I see the people of my community either paying token visits to the Gurudwara or mindlessly reading Gurbani and not enjoying what I am writing. I wonder whether even the Presidents of Shiromani Prabandhak Committee (Amritsar), or of Delhi Gurudwara Management Committee or Presidents of Gurudwaras in other towns and cities in India and abroad, are aware of the following two quotes from Gurbani.

ibsir geI sB qwiq prweI ] jb qy swDsMgiq moih pweI ] 1 ] rhwau ]
nw ko bYrI nhI ibgwnw sgl sMig hm kau bin AweI ] 

Ever since I found the company of the Holy i.e. Satsangat, I have lost the sense of mine and not mine. I realize that no one is alien to me and I get on very well with everyone. Guru Granth Sahib, p 1299

sBu ko mIqu hm Awpn kInw hm sBnw ky swjn ]
I have made everyone my friend and I have become the friend of all.
Guru Granth Sahib, p 671

The Sikh lives these hymns. That is why when Chief Ministers, Ministers and politicians display in their behavior un-Sikh traits, I wonder whether they are even aware of what the Guru says. The quarrels between the SGPC and DSGMC are so pronounced and brought out boldly in newspapers that I am ashamed to remember that they are Sikhs. The way the Jathedars of Takhts kow-tow to these character-less politicians shows that even they have not developed the Sikh character as shown by the great sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Dayala, Bhai Taru Singh and other great Sikhs who stood up to the rulers of the time and preferred to lay down their lives instead of living a character-less existence.

Some time ago I wrote an article “Crisis In Sikh Character – A Wake-up Call” in which I had lamented the characterlessness of our generation. I believe the portrait of a Sikh in accordance with Gurbani would be that of Kapur Singh, who, says our history, accepted the Nawabi offered by Muslim rulers with the condition that he would continue to serve in the stables of the Khalsa.

Fortunately there are glittering examples of Khalsa way of living even today. When I think of the Late Bhagat Puran Singh of Pingalwara, Amritsar or of Baba Iqbal Singh of Baru Sahib, my heart is elated. I wish such personalities should not be very rare and the Khalsa as envisaged by Guru Gobind Singh, must be spectacularly visible everywhere. Says our tenth Master:

Kwlsw myro rUp hY Kws Kwlsy mY hU krU invws
Khalsa is my own form and I reside in the Khalsa.– Sarab Loh Granth

I wish the Sikhs always remember to present themselves as such examples so that the entire community is proud of them and those who are not Sikhs also take pride in their humanity. Let us also remember the warning of Guru Gobind Singh:

jb lg Kwlsw rhy inAwrw ] qb lg qyj dIau mYN swrw ]
jb ieh ghY ibprn kI rIq ] mY n kro ien kI pRqIq ]

So long as the Khalsa remains distinguished and different from others in his attitudes, qualities and behavior I shall always give support to him with all my strength. When he takes to the ways of others, I shall not stand by him. – Sarab Loh Granth

Before I conclude I must also comment on the shamelessly ostentatious way the Sikhs of today live. The most important ornament of the Sikhs is Amritvela. They do not consider it important to obey their Master and in fact want to interpret Guru’s instructions the way they want. They do not want to be Gurmukh and prefer to remain Manmukh. I have just come across the story of a Chandigarh Sikh girl married to a Sikh IAS Officer based in Karnataka complaining to the police that her husband wants her parents to buy him a Mercedes Benz car. She says her parents spent around 60 lakhs on her wedding. We are proud to display our wealth, display our haughtiness, display our high-rise buildings but refuse even to try to understand our Guru’s Message.

In my view the practice of Sikhism on the basis of teachings of Guru Granth Sahib entails a long journey from the grip of MAYA in the form of kaam, krodh, lobh, moh, ahankar to the perpetual immersion in the Lord in the form of sat, santokh, daya, dharam, dhiraj (truth, contentment, compassion, justice and patience). But I come to a regrettable conclusion that the Sikhs, led by the so-called political, religious and social leaders who have sold themselves to political chicanery and material ostentation with wealth earned by legal or illegal means, do not even care to know and analyze the Guru’s Message, not to talk about living it. For 30 years I have been writing on, talking about and spreading this Message, but I have a feeling that there is no taker. The well entrenched moneyed people who have control over Gurudwaras, the community’s schools, colleges or other institutions consider it enough to have Guru Granth Sahib in their homes while they remain sold to MAYA. The result is that there is wholesale shaving of hair and beards in Punjab and Delhi. The alcoholism that Sikhs display as their proud pastime is so representative that when I was in the Foreign Service, I was taunted: “you are a SIKH and you don’t drink!”

The youngsters now know that they are not required to live in accordance with the Guru’s Word because their elders do not. I have taken up the subject of Guru Granth Sahib And Sikh Society in terms of our value systems and I do not hesitate to say that the terrible corruption in the Punjab administration under whichever party it is run, gives me no hope that we are seriously interested in living the value system of the Guru.

Except to pray to the Lord to send us Guru Nanak or Guru Gobind Singh to take us out of this mire of degeneration, I have no solution to offer. But I give here the quote of an unknown person –

“Show yourself in every field as the example of what you want others to become.”

Wwaheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh



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