Sri Guru Granth Sahib
A Scripture for Humanity
Dr Gurbakhsh Singh USA
Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a compilation of the spiritual experiences of a spectrum of men-of-God (Bhagats) born in different faiths at different times and in different regions of the Indian subcontinent. It is a divine message for realizing the mission of human life, hence it is justifiably treated as a scripture of spirituality for humanity.
Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, made people wonder when he shared with them the message revealed to him by God. He observed, “All people are His children, hence equal. They should not be split into inferior or superior groups because of the differences of their caste, creed or social status.”
The Guru accompanied by his friend, a lowly Muslim addressed as Bhai (brother) by him, toured all through Asia, sharing the revelation he received from the Lord. While on long sojourns he met many other men-of-God from whom he collected the revelations received by them and their predecessors. The Guru chose the hymns of those men-of-God who had experienced that the same spirit of the Supremus vibrates in every human being. Therefore, all people whatever their faith, culture, caste, country, etc., are equal like brothers and sisters. No one is high or low, superior or inferior.
The hymns are classified under 31 Raags, musical modes. The Granth has a preamble before the beginning of the Raags. The preamble is headed with the invocation “By the grace of the Enlightener, the Destroyer of ignorance, Ik Oangkar, the One Everlasting Reality, the Creator, without apprehensions, without hostility, beyond time and space, not-born, self-evolved (without father or mother).” The concluding section of the scripture ends with a specific hymn by the fifth Nanak who compiled the holy scripture. The hymn says, “The Gracious Almighty Lord has blessed me and has helped me to compile these holy hymns. Otherwise I would not have been able to do this great job.”
The readers of the hymns are told that, “Loving God and doing noble deeds is the true religion” (p. 266). The Name of the Lord, the rituals, of course vary because of the culture and language of the people.
The scripture guides a person of any faith or of none to lead a peaceful and contented life, something which every person wants to enjoy. The scripture explains the goal of a human life: It is realization of the Lord, vibrating everywhere in the universe and conducting this whole drama, we call universe, as it pleases Him. Everyone wants to live a life of peace and pleasure. However the mind under the influence of ego, greed, jealousy, etc., misguides one to the path of problems. We mistakenly blame Satan for our shortcomings. The hymns advise a devotee to save himself from these vices and reach the goal assigned to him by the Lord.
The scripture is unique in many other ways as well. It is not sectarian, it guides people of all faiths, cultures and countries. Anyone who loves Him can experience Him, He being the father of us all. No prophet, howsoever holy he may be, or the followers of any faith can claim a franchise on Him.
In addition to the Gurus, the hymns of only such persons were included who were graced by Him; they were revealed that the whole mankind is the creation of the same Lord and He lives in the hearts of people. Therefore, they taught that service of the people is the service of God. There are more than two dozen such persons whose hymns are included in the scripture. Some examples are given below:
Nanak (1469-1539), the founder : Those who meditate on (love)Him realise Him. There is a reflection of His Spirit in everyone. All ‘glow’ only with His light. (the Preamble to Guru Granth Sahib). We are all equal children of the same One Father. (p. 611)
Kabir (1398-1495), a weaver (considered a low caste) born to a Hindu mother, raised by a Muslim couple, lived in Varanasi, a Hindu sacred city : The whole universe sprang from One Divine Light. A person who attunes himself with Divine Law, finds Him pervading everywhere through the whole universe. (p. 1349)
Nam Dev (1270-1350), a calico printer (considered a low caste) lived in Maharashtra (south-west India) : None else but the Lord speaks in all the living beings, whether they trail on the ground, walk on their legs or fly in the air. Those who give up all desires and become devotees of the Almighty, find Him not away (different) from themselves. (p. 988)
Farid (1175-1265), a Sheikh, a Muslim Pir, highly respected by the masses and even by the rulers of India, lived in south-west of Punjab (now in Pakistan) : Do not be rude to any person, the same Divine Master dwells in the heart of every human being. If you want to realise the Lord. do not hurt the feelings of anyone, you will hurt Him residing therein. (p. 1384)
Bhikhan (1480-1573), a Sufi fakir, lived in Lucknow in northern
India : The Lord blessed me with the priceless jewel, the Divine Name. One can enjoy it, but like a dumb person, cannot describe it. I observe Him revealing Himself everywhere. (p. 659)
Ravidas (a contemporary of Kabir), a shoemaker, considered an untouchable, lived in the holy city of Varanasi : All thoughts of mine and thine, second or third (other than One Creator) have vanished. I observe only Him prevailing everywhere. (p. 345)
Peepa (1426- ?), a ruler of a small kingdom in central India : Instead of involving yourself in ritual worship, seek the Lord within yourself. The same Lord, Who is in the whole universe, dwells in every heart. Those who search (love) Him realise Him. (p. 695)
Rama Nand (1366-1467), a Brahmin (considered a high caste), a great spiritual guide. Kabir and some other renowned men-of-God were associated with him : O Lord ! You are all-pervading. You are a living reality in every human being. You have made me experience the Divine in my own heart. (p. 1195)
Jai Dev (1201-1245), a sant from Bengal, famous for his spiritual hymns : O mind ! Sing the virtues of the Lord (love the Lord), all kinds of discrimination and otherness will vanish from your mind (you will experience Him everywhere). (p. 526)
Therefore, the Sikh prayer is concluded with the request: Lord, Bless the whole humanity in Thy Grace.
The teachings specifically state that caste, gender, and hollow rituals have no spiritual value.
i. The Lord is everyone’s father–mother. Whoever dwells on Him experiences Him. No one can claim a franchise on Him. (Jap ji, p. 10)
ii. In His court, caste (high or low) is not determined by one’s dynasty (birth) but by the deeds one does. (p. 1330)
iii. How is one a high-caste Brahmin while I (Bhagat Ravdas) a low-caste, untouchable ? Does milk flow in the veins of a high-caste whereas there is blood in my veins. (p. 324)
iv. How women can be considered inferior or of lower status when we know that they are the mothers of the kings (to whom all offer their respect) ? (p. 473)
v. Show-off actions are not valued in His court. A human being degrades himself to the level of animals when he, under the spell of ego, wastes his life in just impressing others. (p. 267)
vi. Ritual fasting has no value. Living a simple life is the path prescribed for a sincere devotee. (p. 873)
vii. He alone knows the way who makes his living with the sweat of his brow and shares his earnings with the needy. (p. 1285)
viii. The hallmark of a sant (man-of-God) is that he does only noble deeds. (p. 277)
ix. God is unfathomable and beyond intellectual reach of a human being; the way the rivers flow and merge into the sea but cannot perceive its vastness or depth nor can they imagine the activities happening there. (Jap ji, p. 5)