The One and Only Universal Guru
Relevance of Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Present times
Jarnail Singh Gyani “Arshi”
On the surface of, it... the above sub-title gives an impression of a heretical statement. It may very well raise the hackles of some. But isn’t it the stark reality of our times? Haven’t most Sikhs today relegated the One and Only Universal Guru to a minor role in their lives?
Before I go further let me present a few facts about the Universal Guru that Sikhs proclaim as their Perpetual Guru. This is the World’s only Granth that has as its contributors more than 35 of most eminent Bhagats, Holy men and religious saints of the major religious thoughts and streams of the Bhakti Movement in the 13th-16th centuries. Bhagats of repute like Bhagat Kabir Ji, Bhagat Namdev Ji, Bhagat Ravidass Ji, Bhagat Ramanand Ji, Muslim Saints like Sheikh Farid Ji, Bheekhan Ji, Sadhna Ji... as well as Six Gurus of the Sikh Faith have their compositions recorded in the Guru Granth. These contributors range across all spectrums of religious groupings, caste systems, regional boundaries, spread out across the landscape from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka and from Orissa-Bengal to the West in what is today known as Pakistan. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is unique because enlightened beings from different ethnic backgrounds contributed their poetry to bring it into being. It cuts across the dividing lines of wealth and poverty, education and lack of education and people from different backgrounds. It goes beyond our concepts of what is holy, and embodies the essence of the truly holy and even more intriguing is that two Gurus - firstly Guru Nanak ji, Founder of Sikhism travelled East-West, North-South across the entire known world, and no doubt collected the writings of those bhagats and holy saints scattered across the known world - also the Ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji also travelled widely across Northern India from Punjab to Bengal and beyond. Thus not only are the writings of the six Sikh Gurus recorded in Guru Granth are authentic, those writings of the Bhagats and saints and Sheikhs collected by Guru Nanak ji are also of the same authenticity. Guru Nanak Ji always carried on His person his “kitab” as mentioned by Bhai Gurdass Ji - Sikhism’s first eminent historian and poet - in his vaars and it was in this kitab that Guru ji most probably recorded His compositions as well as those he collected from the various bhagats he met on his journeys. It was this kitab that was passed on to his successor Guru Angad Ji on Gurgadee day. Guru Angad ji added his own compositions and passed on the bigger pothi/s to His successor Guru Amardas Ji and so on...until the time of Guru Arjun Dev Ji the Fifth Guru who himself being a prolific writer (second only to Sikh is Fountain-Head Guru Nanak ji), the collection of verses became huge and it was decided to compile all the various “pothis” into a Granth-the Aad Granth.
The Guru Granth, is also unique in that in one single Granth we find a virtual library of not only 31 raags, but also such a wide range of poetic styles. metre.. that its mind boggling to say the least. The Gurbani is in a league of its own - the contributors have used ashtpadis, sloks, vaars, paurrees, dopadas, chaupada... There are contributions to match nearly every type of social “situation” but mould into spiritual mould... like Alahnniah, birhah, din reain, pattees Vanjaras, kuchaji, suchaji, gunnvantee, Aanad sahib, Oankar, Sidh Ghosht, Bara mahn, Sadd! In fact there is a Bani for each and every occasion in a person’s life. The entire layout and arrangement of the Guru Granth is so beautifully laid out from the opening preamble verse giving the Sikh view of the Creator “beginning of life” to the bhog shabads of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji...”end” of life on this earth and eventual...the “Spiritual sun rises in the preamble..and sets in the bhog shabds...the Guru Granth is the perfect manual of life!! A faithful follower and practitioner of this manual can never go wrong in Life. It can be safely concluded that there is no other religious or otherwise text that can match the Guru Granth in any way!!
Guru Granth Ji is the one and only religious Granth that gives humanity the universal law of brotherhood - One Creator-One Humankind-One GOD - One Relgious Path – life in His Hukm.. His Will and His command. Gurbani contained therein teaches us the all important Principle of Naam jappo, Kirt karo and Waand Chhako -live life according to His Name, perform honest labour and share the proceeds of this labour with all and sundry without discrimination.
The GURU Granth is a huge compilation of 1430 large pages and in spite of containing the widest ‘variety of writers from allover the religious, regional and economic spectrum - each and every verse swings around the Guiding Principle of the Guru Granth - One Bani - One Guru - One Central Theme. There is no place for any “contradictions” !!! The entire “tapestry” of the Granth is interwoven into the most beautiful poetic pattern of Ek Oankaar and His Hukm / Will. It could be the Maharashtarn Namdev Ji it could be the Punjabi Sheikh Farid Ji it could be the Lowly Cloth weaver Kabir Ji, it could be the even lower cobbler Ravidass Ji, it could be the Brahmin Ramanand li, it could be the butcher Sadhna Ji, or it could be Guru Nanak ji the Elderly Guru Amardass Ji, the youthful Guru Arjun Ji, the message of the Guru Granth is the Same - One Bani - One Guru - One Theme.
Why is Guru Granth the Universal Guru? The answer lies in the Gurbani contained in the Guru Granth.
To what can we attribute Humanity’s endless problems wars, discriminations, revolutions, killings, fueds? Its Human Greed. Its human lust for power. Its human obsession with Lording over others - Caste divisions, rich poor divides, etc., etc. Are all threats to world peace and sanitly. Guru Granth has the panacea -the cure-all formula for all these. We are all brothers created by the same one Creator - none is my enemy, all are my kin.
When we all treat one another as kin and equals and share the fruits of our honest labour with all...such problems cannot stay!! The Marxists took this leaf from the Gurbani -but sadly they discarded the Creator from the equation. According to the sacred Gurbani -the Creator is a major part of the equation. This the communist countries failed just as the capitalists have failed.
Share and share alike daswandh - community service are the teachings of the Guru Granth
The International Red Cross came later - the Gurbani already proclaimed human brotherhood as the guiding principle of Sikhi -Na ko beri Nahin Begana -None is my enemy - none a stranger. Bhai Khaniyah ji was already practising this long before the Red Cross became established.
The Guru Granth has proven “timeless” even in the realm of modern science. No scientific research so far has been contradicted by Gurbani. Gurbani released humanity from the bonds of superstition, darkness of the mind, shackles of ghosts and mental stress. Gurbani is the first to declare that diseases like small pox are diseases and NOT due to “deities” displeasure etc and could not be cured by offerings to the deity. Modern Sciences have arrived at the same conclusions - but only recently. Intriguingly millions still run to the Seetla Devi Mandir to seek a cure for small pox rather than invest in a vaccination!! Similarly mental stress and modern day depressions are the direct result of not following the daily regime of mental discipline - naam japp, meditation, simple life of sharing the joys and the sorrows...
Women constitute nearly half of Humanity -and are euphemistically called the “better half’.
Really?? The evidence is overwhelmingly against this. All the major religious texts of the major established religions actively discriminate against woman - she is lowly, unclean, unfit, unequal.
Guru Granth is the one and only religious text that uplifts woman to equal status- Guru Nanak ji states.. So kio mandah akheayeah jit jammeh rajaan - Why call her lowely who gives birth to kings? (and by extension Prophets, sages, saints, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Generals and each one of us)
It is primarily due to this upliftment that the Woman enjoys equal status in Sikhism. The Woman is called Kaur (Princess) and she can be part of the Panj Piayare, she can perform and take part in the religious ceremony. IF this teaching of the GURU Granth is actively followed and practised, the world can be rid of so much misery caused by prostitution, gender discrimination, wife beating and general disharmony in millions of homes, The World Humanity can then fully utilise the wasted resources of half our population.
Now I come to the supposedly heretical opening statement. Have we the Sikhs who claim sole “Proprietary rights” to the Guru Granth treated the Guru as the Perpetual Guru or something less? The answer I am afraid is in the affirmative. Just look at how we “sell” and “buy” so called sehaj paths/akhand paths done in absentia and paid for in absentia to obtain “boons” and promised successes. We sell the Guru... we treat the Guru as an non-entity when we fight in the august presence over golucks and gurdwara elections, remove each other’s turbans and use swords in the Guru’s presence. We take the Guru in processions similar to parades, and religious processions undertaken by other religions whereby idols and statues are paraded. We take payment for “lending” the Guru. In Direct disobedience to the Guru’s injunctions on woman’s equality and gender discrimination we treat our girl children as inferior to ma1e children, we demand huge dowries, we kill female embryos in the womb, we burn our daughters in law for more dowry demands. In direct disobedience to the Guru, we also drink excessively of alcohol, we take drugs and destroy our youth we engage in dishonest and not so honest labours and do not share and share alike, we engage in endless rituals and bogus fake show off ceremonies, we believe in holy day... sangrands and pooranmashis, ghosts and prets, chhaiyas and superstitious beliefs, we go attend deras of Fake Babas or Holy Men to attain worldly riches/boons. We firmly believe in Jaat-Paat castes and high low births in truth we do every single action that Guru condemns outright. And we do this unashamedly and openly and still insist we are good Sikhs of the Guru. We have the perfect Guru and we go seeking the help of religious charlatans, religious fakes, soothsayers, and perform idol worship of the Guru. We don’t take the slightest trouble to learn Punjabi/Gurmukhi in order to read and really understand what the Guru is saying to us, we just want to do it the easy way blind shardha.
The Guru Granth is not a statue it is not a “ book” to be treated as one but more importantly it is not a “Living physical human body” per se as well to be kept warm in winter and cool in summer put to sleep and awakened and put to rest because of tiredness - (after an akhand path for example) The Guru Granth is the repository of the living, vibrant, Omnipresent Divine Message its the Divine Light of the purest knowledge of the Creator...for us to know... touch... feel... taste... digest. “Thaal wich teen wastoo paiyaoo...is the concluding mohr or stamp of Guru Arjun Ji confirms this fact and Gurmatt tools to implement changes in our daily lives... to live the life the Creator designed us for. As they say a good “craftsman” uses his tools... so should we. Its a lousy craftsman who oils his tools and keeps them locked up safe and sound and never uses them/how can we be good Sikhs if we never get to know the guru...listen to Him and implement his message ...to change our lives? The Guru Granth is the Master recipe for a Successful and Happy life in this world and in the Creator’s loving lap after that. But the essential thing to do is we Sikhs got to “read” the recipe, follow the instructions, bake the “cake” and eat it.. let it melt in our spiritual mouth and taste the wonderful “Nectar.. Amrit.. Divine Taste !!” Unfortunately most of us just look at the recipe.. keep it wrapped up in rumallas and pay our respects...”darshan”...or pay paid ragis / kirtaniyas / granthis to read it for us... and expect to reap the benefits!! How logical is that? But we do it never the less!!
Fakes and charlatans have taken the opportunity to glean one or two “diamonds” from the Huge Heap (pia Oaddeh da khol dittha khazanah - Guru Arjun ji) provided for us in the Guru Granth and used these to make a name for themselves as “Dehdharee Gurus” so called living breathing gurus. These Fakes make the Guru Granth... “speak” what in fact they want us to hear !!.. and wonder of wonders.. we have allowed these charlatans to “represent the Guru Granth”. We have become so lazy we have allowed others to tell us what the Guru Granth... “means” Through various teekas, translations... their own warped versions of the Divine Message of the Guru Granth comes to us through warped glass crafted by these fake usurpers. Why do we allow this?? Its easier than studying Gurbani reading, understanding, implementing so we abdicate our responsibility and take the path of least esistance path of “instant gratifications” promised by the charlatans and fake babas dehdharee gurus modern snake oil merchants!!
The Bard Tallh says So kaho tallh gur seweah Ahnes sehaj sabhaii Darshan parseeah Guru keh janam maran dukh jayeh. We have failed to take the real meaning of this divine teaching and settled for the “glass beads” of merely “Iooking.. peeking...” to be what Darshan means. Are we so naive that we can be led to believe that “merely looking at The Guru Granth... can take us out of janam maran ?? Is that the type of “Darshan” Bard Tallh talking about? Wouldn’t that limited meaning take the Universality and timelessness of the Guru Granth out? Its a historical fact that tallh is time based person... and his “eyes” only had physical darshan of Guru Arjun Ji. So if we take that meaning then we cannot do as Tallh instructs in “Darshan parseah...” because physically (Guru Arjun Ji is not before us now!!! Certainly that cannot be the meaning of darshan...True Darshan of the True Guru would be... read Gurbani.. understand Gurbani.. implement Gurbani as he Ultimate tool to change our Life. Thus even though Guru Arjun Ji in his physical self is not before us.. His divine message certainly is right before us in the Guru Granth and the right way to have “Darshan” is not take a “look” but to read/understand/implement Gurbani to change ourselves for the better.
We have spent the past 300 years merely “looking” and paying obeisance, and lip service to the. Divine Message of the Guru Granths. Lets resolve to spend the next 10 years to get to Know our Guru, read the Gurbani, understand the Gurbani, make a serious effort to follow the Gurbani faithfully, adapt our life practises accordingly so that as true Sikhs of the True Guru, we will offer ourselves a shining examples of the “Complete Man - the Khalsa as envisaged by Guru Gobind Singh then He passed on the Gurgadee of the House of Nanak to GURU Granth Ji in Nanded in 1708. Guru Gobind Singh Ji left no doubts as to the authenticity and finality of the Gurta of Guru Granth Ji when He declared “Sabh Sikhan ko hukm hai..Guru Maniyo Granth” Then and then only can we regain the lost crown. These are troubling and dangerous times.. we stand at the crossroads one path leads to compete oblivion.. patitpunna, and related evils.. and submergence of the Sikh kaum into the vast ocean of the majority communities the other path leads towards Guru Granth and Honour for our Kaum and its separate Identity intact.