Concept of Chahrdi Kala in Guru Nanak Bani
The term Chardi Kala (high Morale) does not find a direct mention in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It is ingrained deep in Sikh psyche because it forms an integral part of their daily utterances sung in devotion while concluding the Ardas-the Sikh litany to the Almighty, as follows:
“Thy Name O,Nanak,blesses Higher State of Mind
In Thy Will is the Welfare of whole Mankind.”1
It pours in to the hearts daily both in the morning and evening at the time of Sikh prayer in spiritual,victorious refrain crediting the triumph to God while rejoicing the resultant rapturous mystic moments of spiritual jubilation with God’s grace. It is so much with the Sikhs that proverbially, it has become a part and parcel of their lives like an informal daily greeting along with Sat Sri Akal, i.e., ‘God is Truth’.
Though the term Charhdi Kala does not appear in Guru Nanak Bani, we find the words charhdi and kala used separately by the Guru in his ‘Bani’. Such separate usage of the words charhdi and kala is found in Guru Granth Sahib, Dasam Granth, Janam Sakhi, Pran Sangali and in other sources of Sikh history.
Charhdi means ascending and Kala means force, etymologically thus, Charhdi kala means ascending force. It means an ever-ascending, ever-rising, spiritually-energized, fully enlightened and a Higher State of Mind attained through meditation on God’s Name (naam-simran) culminating in an understanding of the Will of God and leading finally to the welfare of whole mankind.
Dr. J.S.Neki defines Charhdi Kala as a subtly composite concept, to which the usage is peculiar and native, a great deal more. It stands for perennially blossoming, unwitting spirit, a perpetual state of certitude resting on unwavering belief in Divine Justice.”2
The Guru says in Japuji, “There are stairs in the path leading to the house of God, and by ascending those steps we can finally attain the stage of being one with God”.3 The Guru gives us the five stages of life, the step by step attainment of which leads us to our spiritual destination i.e. Sach-Khand - the realm of truth. These stages are : (1) Dharam Khand, (The Realm of Righteousness), (2) Gyan Khand – (The Abide of knowledge), (3) Saram Khand (Realm of Aesthetic Effort), (4) Karam Khand (The Domain of Grace), (5) Sach Khand (the Realm of Truth).
Sach Kala is the foundation, ladder and even the path of Charhdi Kala and Sach Khand its final goal. The concept of charhdi kala is based on truth and spreads the gospel of truth by turning us in to Sachiar (truthful). “The God hath established Truth in the three worlds by exercising His Might of Truth and is propitiated through Truth only”.4
The philosophy of Charhdi Kala has special significance in the present day world, full of worry and tension, as it helps in achieving psychological equilibrium by virtue of the positive notes it releases to attain a higher state of mind. It is a philosophy which turns our mind into a fighter and blesses it with the energy to ascend high in all walks of life.
When the state of Charhdi Kala moves from individual to the collective, the whole society experiences the ascendance. It is a journey from within to without.
Charhdi Kala at the individual level is a stage of introspection when one looks within oneself which has great treasure-house of Naam within it. It is a stage of self-enlightenment and one need not go in to the outside world in search of the God. Out side world represented by Maya i.e., the illusion, is a poison. The Guru says, “God lives within. Do not go out in search of him. Leaving the nectar within, why go out to eat the poison?”5
At the individual level, it is a constant practice towards self-perfection through Naam Simran, at the collective level, the process of the distribution of that knowledge starts after gaining the perfection. The Guru’s message is of gaining the spiritual excellence through naam simran and then spreading the God’s message to the people. The concept of first seeing and then showing it to others (dekh-dikhai6) is the concept of Charhdi Kala based on the welfare of the human kind. This is what the fifth Guru says, “Meditate yourself first and then help others in meditation”.7
The great Sikh slogan of “naam japo, kirt karo, vand chhako” is in itself a great example of the march of Charhdi Kala from the individual to the collective and aims at the distribution of spiritual and economic excellences gained at the individual level. Collective Charhdi Kala puts to practice Guru’s great slogan of ‘vand chhako’. Collective Charhdi kala is sharing with others the treasures of one’s worldly and spiritual possessions to bring others in charhdi kala. It is not only sharing one tenth of one’s income but sharing of one’s knowledge and spiritual treasure as well.
Charhdi Kala - a spirit of ascendancy is a latent force within everybody, which can be enkindled through ‘naam simran’ and brought to utility in our active life. After it is fully enkindled, Charhdi kala becomes a torchbearer of our life giving complete guide-lines about our path both inwardly and outwardly. Besides helping us to attain oneness with the Ever-New God, it helps us to understand the working of the system of this universe, adds to our faith, develops love for the God and brings in us an ultimate reliance on the will of the God. It also helps to understand the mysteries of human body and its vast potential to do wonders on both the inner and outer fronts of life. Inwardly, it helps us in first knocking and then opening the tenth door of the body leading to our inward journey.
Outwardly it casts its reflections on other aspects of our life concerning economic and educational development. It helps to bring love and harmony in our domestic lives by helping in our concentration from within to without. Charhdi Kala, spiritual ascent, guides us in our political life, gives us social understanding and uplifts us psychologically, morally and religiously. However, we will have to be careful about the supporting and obstructive material which can help us in smooth utilization of Charhdi Kala in our lives, It is also significant to see that conduct and role of a person in Charhdi Kala becomes automatically exemplary on the path to Charhdi Kala. A person in Charhdi Kala ever shines like a full moon among stars in a moonlit night.
The theory of Charhdi Kala teaches love, patience, tolerance, kindness, honesty, forgiveness and develops high moral standards in life. It also provides inner strength to fight the negative force in life. The greatest boon of Charhdi Kala is that it makes us positive in life. We rejoice the loving, friendly, positive atmosphere of Charhdi Kala which helps to make us socially co-operative, educationally up-right and economically sound and hardworking.
Philosophy of Charhdi Kala helps us in ‘this’ world as well as ‘that’ world. Regularity in naam-simran helps to achieve oneness with God, after traversing different spiritual stages of life. It makes us to attain the ‘Yoga’ of ‘anjan-mahe-niranjan’8 and ‘man-hi-mahe-udasa’ and finally a life of bliss and Charhdi Kala even after death in the ever-refreshing union with the Ever-New God when our soul starts singing in ecstatic delight.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2015, All