GURU GRANTH – GURU PANTH
The subject under discussion comprises two portions. The first part ‘Guru Granth’ is universally recognized and is undisputed. The word granth has its origin in Sanskrit language and has two meanings. It has been derived from the word granthika, which means ‘a realtor’ or ‘narrator.’ Sikh Gurus had a direct communication from God and they narrated this communication in the form of gurbani which is contained in Guru Granth Sahib, a divinely inspired scripture. Guru Nanak himself confirms this, when he says :
Whatever word I receive from God.
The same I preach, O Lalo.1
Nanak speaks whatever he is made to speak.2
As everybody except God is subject to error, therefore, the word ‘Guru’ should be prefixed only with a perfect personality. Guru after communion with God becomes perfect, as stated by Guru Arjun in the eighth (page 272) and eighteenth octave (page 286) of Sukhmani.
Therefore, a Guru must be attuned to the will divine before he is sanctified as Guru. He must become perfect and holy, and no defect should be left in him. He must be perfected through a constant discipline, knowledge and experience in association with holy men. Therefore, the Sikh belief that every Sikh incorporates the Guru does not mean that every assembly of the Sikhs can be called Guru. The constituents of this assembly must, first become personification of the Guru and attain communication with Guru. They must undergo change in mental and spiritual outlook before they become collectively the personification of the Guru himself.
As such in my view the words ‘Guru Panth’ is a misnomer. The correct words should be ‘Guru in Panth’, or ‘Khalsa Panth’. The word panth has also its origin in Sanskrit and it means achar paditi (code of conduct) or acharn shastar or chaal reeti or peechhay chalna, followers of some personality. Therefore, literally the word panth means a body of those persons who adhere to a specified code of conduct. So only those disciples of the Sikh Gurus who strictly adhere to the code of conduct, reht maryada can constitute Khalsa Panth and they must be true followers of the Gurus. Similarly, the word guru which too originates from Sanskrit language means acharya upedeshtata, poojye pursh, So the word ‘Guru’ can be prefixed only with those holymen who are missionaries of God having intuitive knowledge from God.
The Sikh belief refuses to recognize any personal Guru after Guru Gobind Singh who had himself declared that after him the Eternal Truth the sabad, contained in the Guru Granth would be the Guru of the Sikhs. According to Giani Gian Singh :
By the order of the almighty God, Panth was founded.
All Sikhs are ordered to worship Granth as Guru.3
It is worth noticing that the word used in the above verse is ‘Panth’ and not ‘Guru Panth’. The word ‘Guru Panth’ is an interpolation. This verse is universally accepted by the Sikhs who recite it daily after prayer. This interpolation was made by Bhai Prehlad who wrote :
Guru Khalsa should be acknowledged
as embodiment of the Guru.
Whosoever Sikh wants to meet me
should search amongst them.4
The aforesaid interpretation is intended to encourage continuance of personal Guruship even after Guru Gobind Singh passed into the infinite. Sikhs have universally rejected aforesaid interpolation and they daily recite after the prayer the correct verse which reads:
Guru Granth Ji, should be recognized as embodiment of the Guru;
Whosoever has a pure heart will find it in Shabad the holy word.5
Now with this definition of ‘Panth’ as an assembly of those Sikh holy men committed to the Sikh code of conduct who have attuned themselves to the will of God, next question that needs consideration is what should be its form in the present time and what should be its role in the present context. In this respect it should be kept in mind that nothing which is cut off from the Sikh traditions will be acceptable to the masses. Therefore, we must look for models in the past history.
One such model is the Manji System built up by the earlier Sikh Gurus, which had to be abolished by Guru Gobind Singh as the individuals occupying the position of masands and naibs had become corrupt. This system had worked successfully in earlier stages, and besides adding to the financial resources of the community, strengthened its organization. This could perhaps be revived with necessary modifications. The Bahais have an almost similar system working successfully. Systems of other world religions can be studied too.
Another model which has been almost continuously followed by the Sikh people during the past about three hundred years, is the institution of Khalsajeo, i.e., Sarbat Khalsa. An eighteenth century Persian manuscript Haqiqat-i-bina-o-uruj-i-firqa-i-sikhan, gives details of the procedure followed. All such Sarbat Khalsa gatherings were open to all and sundry. No distinction was made between high and low, and everyone had a right to participate in deliberations. But as pointed out by Ian Stephen, Chief Editor of the Statesman, Calcutta the system didn’t work successfully for long as the participants not only expressed their views but insisted that their views be adopted. Therefore, the procedure was modified later and the need was felt for formation of an inner circle to provide guidelines to the participants. Decisions were then taken by a selected few but such decisions were not valid until they were ratified by the general assembly.
This modified model is perhaps best suited in the present circumstances. But for its successful working necessary infrastructure needs to be established. For a period of five years only specialized institutes of studies be created to carry out research on Sikh affairs. Some of these Institutes can be :
1. Sikh Institute of Constitutional Studies.
2. Sikh Institute of International Relations.
3. Sikh Institute of Military Studies.
4. Sikh Institute of Planning & Systems.
5. Sikh Institute of World Religions.
6. Institute for Study of Sikh Psyche.
7. Institute for Study of Modern Sikh History.
8. Institute for Study of Sikh Economy.
9. Institute for Study of Sikh Heritage.
10. Institute for Study of Sikh Migration.
11. Institute for Study of Sikh Martial Arts.
12. Institute for Environmental Studies.
An inner circle comprising of the heads of these institutes be assigned the task of suggesting strategies for the welfare of the Sikhs as a people. But two aspects in this regard must be kept in mind. The financial needs & family problems of those working on these subjects must be looked after by the community so that their minds do not get distracted from their work.
A recent model available for study is Maharaja Duleep Singh’s campaign for restoration of autonomous Punjab in 1880, which later transformed itself into Singh Sabha movement. Cultural consciousness created by this movement amongst the people of Punjab has not been studied by scholars seriously so far. A study of strategies adopted by Maharaja Duleep Singh is a must, because any future struggle for constitutional rights and safeguards in India must be based on past history, international treaties still valid, and international norms and procedures approved by the United Nations Organizations (UNO). Efforts should be made to persuade Sikh people to join the international mainstream.
An interesting case study in Maharaja Duleep Singh’s campaign is the case of Partap Singh, granthi, i.e., scripture reader at Golden Temple, Amritsar whose handwritten manuscript of Guru Granth Sahib is still displayed there. In 1884 he had accompanied S Thakur Singh Sandhanwalia and his two sons, Narinder Singh and Gurdit Singh, besides his three servants to London, to prevail upon Maharaja Duleep Singh to return to his Sikh faith. He stayed with Maharaja as his guest and was successful in his mission. He was a learned scholar and was well versed in English language as well. They carried a document signed by the custodians of the Sikh Takhats in India confirming the prophecies about Maharaja Duleep Singh’s restoration to the throne of the Punjab. It was agreed that Maharaja Duleep Singh will return to India and will be reinitiated into Sikhism. The news of Maharaja’s likely return to India sent a thrill of expectations across the Punjab. The British Government felt alarmed and stopped Maharaja at Aden. Granthi Partap Singh was placed under house arrest so that he could not administer the re-initiation ceremony. During his lifetime, Partap Singh Granthi remained a prisoner. He was consulted by the British Government on Sikh problems and he translated portions of Guru Granth Sahib into English to explain his viewpoint to them. All the financial needs of his family thereafter were taken care of by the British Government.
First step for establishing ‘Guru-in-Panth’ should be finding out individual Sikh brains attuned to the will of the Guru and very close scrutiny should be made as there is always possibility of infiltration. Those selected should comprise the inner circle to work out strategies for future struggle.
1.jYsI mY AwvY Ksm kI bwxI qYsVw krI igAwnu vy lwlo [[. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 722
2. nwnku bolY bolwieAw qyrw [[ Guru Granth Sahib, p. 743
3.AwigAw BeI Akwl kI qbY clwieE pµQ [[ sB isKn ko hukm hY gurU mwnIE gRµQ [[
4. gurU Kwlsw mwnIAih pRgt gurU kI dyh [[ jo is`K mo imlby cwih Koj ienhI mih lyhu [[
5. gurU gRµQ jI mwnIAih pRgt gurU kI dyhu [[ jw kw ihrdw SuD hY Koj Sbd mih lyhu [.
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