Ecumenical Perceptions in Dasam Granth
Dr Paramvir Singh
In the multi-religious and multi-cultural society every religion has stressed upon ecumenical understanding and experience. This idea gained momentum under the dire need of remaining together even if with diverse opinions. God created diversity in the universe and this beautiful idea of God cannot be ignored or changed by anybody. Any model of unity under the garb of uniformity will never be a success. No individual and society can make an attempt to work against the design and plan of God.
The idea of ecumenical inner and outer outlook was commenced by the Christians to bring the people into the fold of Christianity. They stressed to work together to follow the plan of God because no one can swim against the flow of tide and if anyone attempts to do so he will be defeated. The idea of bringing the humanity on the same platform and to work together has been evolved to face the future problems of human life. In India and in some other countries where Christianity is spreading rapidly they face the problem of inequality in the society. In India they worked to bring the dalits and the adiwasis to the common social platform with a mission. They are spending lot of money for this purpose and they have raised a voice to create a new status for dalit Christians in the Indian society.
India is a country having rich heritage and culture. Anyone who visited India even once remains influenced by it. This country taught a culture to the visitors of not hating anyone on the basis of their way of worship, the language they speak, the outward appearance they have adopted, the culture they live, in the colour of their skin, the clothes they wear etc. Indian culture stressed to cultivate the humanitarian values of oneness of humanity. Sikh Gurus worked and contributed to evolve and spread these values among the masses.
Indian tradition believes that when the human values shatter in the society the renaissance is brought about by a great soul or sometimes a new religion comes into existence. Bhai Gurdas, in his varan, pointed out the advent of Guru Nanak at the time when there was great unrest in the society. The followers of two major communities saw each other with hatred and distrust and the disharmony arose due to the lack of true spirit of religion. Guru Nanak worked to build the confidence through love and brotherhood in the society. Guru Granth Sahib came into existence to create the ecumenical awakening among the masses in the name of God. Likewise, Dasam Granth is the other source of inspiration for creating ecumenical values among the masses.
Dasam Granth is a second important source on Sikhism. It is not a book. It is a collection of many compositions of Hindi, Persian and Punjabi written by Guru Gobind Singh. We may call it Guru Gobind Singh Granthavali.1 This Granth provides an excellent evidence of the influence exercised by the Hindu theology, mythology, philosophy, history and literature in the life and activities of Guru Gobind Singh. The accounts relating to the mythical heroes of the Purans deal with the glorification of arms with the object of awakening heroic sentiment of the Sikhs thereby encouraging them to fight against political cruelty and oppression.2 The stories of the Dasam Granth played an important role in changing the psyche of coward and ritualistic people and infused in them a heroic spirit. These stories of the Dasam Granth contain classic Puranic tales of chivalry, notably of Chandi, the goddess of war, who destroyed the demons, and of the heroic exploits of Rama and Krishna.3 These heroic tales and the other writings in the names of gods, showing unity of mankind, were later on compiled4 into a book-form by Bhai Mani Singh, called by different names, i.e., Dasam Granth5, Dasven Patsah Ka Granth6, Bachitra Natak etc. Whatever its name was, the main aim of the Granth was to provide knowledge, to encourage people against cruelty and injustice and to make them free from obstacles in the way of just and peaceful society. It presents a universal and ecumenical attitude towards society and taught the people to live in fraternity and brotherhood. In other words it may be termed as the literature of mankind which makes us feel about the brotherhood of mankind and the Fatherhood of God.
Dasam Granth Presents a Universal God
The Dasam Granth presents a God who is the supreme saviour of all mankind and every other thing, which has been created. He like a true Father protects faith and dignity of his people. His qualities are indefinable and indescribable. He does not want his people to live in hatred, suspicion and distrust, but feels happy to destroy evil and immoral things prevalent among His people. For this purpose he send his messengers to this world from time to time. He sent Guru Gobind Singh to this world to save people from the cruelties and injustice of the ruling class.
In Dasam Granth the new names of God like Sarabloh (All-Steel), Sarabkal (All-death) and Kharagketu etc. are presented by Guru Gobind Singh. It shows that God is omnipotent. The fearless God is not bound to any particular community or faith and He is God of all mankind. All the creations of the world come from God and in the end will mingle in Him as it is shown in the Dasam Granth.
As from fire arise a myriad sparks, one distinct from the other, and then merge again in the same fire.
As from the earth arise myriad particles of dust, and then dust to dust returns.
As from a river lap myriads of waves, but is a wave different from the waters of the river?
So also from God arise beings, both sentient and non-sentient, and merge again them in their Primal Source.7
God treated all as equal and nothing is high or low before Him. He is in every being and in all the directions of His creation. He is everywhere in the form of love as in Dasam Granth Guru Gobind Singh said:
Who has no name, no place, no caste, nor form,
nor color, nor sign.
Yea, the First Person, the Embodiment of Compassion,
not born from the womb, and perfect, is the beginning of all.
Who has no nationality, no dress, no form,
no distinctive marks, no attachment.
And who, here as well as there, and in all directions,
has spread out as Love.8
He is the Father of all and all are created by His light. Although all the human beings have different facial outlook but internally they are attached to the same God by their spirit.
Many of the great religious personalities came to this world in different times, geographical areas and situations but they had the vision of One Supreme God and they told the people about His Supremacy and they asked their followers the only goal of life is to reach the God. In Dasam Granth Guru Gobind Singh also told about the One Supreme Lord who is in the temples as well as in the mosques:
No difference there is between a temple and mosque,
nor between the Hindu worship or the Muslim prayer.9
He is One Supreme Lord who is worshipped by the gods, holy men, Siddhas etc. and the holy scriptures of the world tell about His attributes.
Gods, Demons, Nagas and Seshnaga, and the great Sidhas have suffered austerities for Thee.
The Veds, the Puranas and the Qurans have
dwelt on Thy immense praise, but Thou came not into their ken.
On the earth, over the sky, in the nether regions,
in the minds of all, in all directions, all corners art Thou.
O God, Thy glory pervades the whole earth:
(for), when Thou comest into my mind, I become aware.10
In this way Dasam Granth presents a Universal God who is everywhere and is recognized by all the prophets and the scriptures of the world and He is without any worldly form. In the true sense He is the God of all.
Purpose of Guru Gobind Singh
It is Dasam Granth which tells us that Guru Gobind Singh came in this world to carry out the will and message of God. He was sent in this world for a special purpose. Guru Gobind Singh told his purpose to the people in Bachitra Natak, one of the compositions of Dasam Granth.
Understand this, Ye holy men, I assumed human form for this alone:
to spread religion, to protect the saints
and destroy all who are wicked.11
From Dasam Granth it is obvious that Guru Gobind Singh came in this world only to restore the social, moral and political values among the society and in other words his “aim was to erase tyranny, injustice, and inequality and fight aggression of the foreign rule. He did not harbour any malice towards Muslims, nor did he discriminate between the followers of different faiths. He stood against forces which were shaking the very foundations of the cultural unity and true religion in the country and throughout his short span of life, the Guru continued his fight for the freedom of thought and action.”12
Unity of Mankind
From Dasam Granth the one main thing come to light that Guru Gobind Singh believed in the unity of all human beings despite the distinction of caste, color, race etc. He regarded God as the Father of all beings who created all human beings with “the same eyes, the same ears, the same body, the same habits, and a get-together of earth, air, fire and water.”13 When all human beings are same and there is no distinction among them, then there is no reason to be antagonistic towards each other. This diversity is due to the external conditions of human life which are not homogeneous culturally, geographically, socially and religiously.
The compositions of Dasam Granth helped Guru Gobind Singh to uplift those who were severely oppressed by the ruling and priestly class. He carried on the concern and views of Guru Nanak and gave an equal status to the oppressed and the meek in the society. He gave a new expression to his followers known as Khalsa. Khalsa means a community of pure and true people who do not need any mediator and are directly linked with the supreme reality. These people are infact, ecumenical in character and outlook that have transcended all barriers of caste, creed and colour and were committed to maintain a relationship of humanity and brotherhood.
Dasam Granth shows that Guru Gobind Singh came in this world to show the path leading towards God. According to the Guru, mere recitation of the scriptural texts does not lead any individual to God.14 To progress towards God, it is necessary for every human being to live according to the will of God, i.e., selfless service for the welfare of all human beings and shedding of ego while doing so. Guru considered this ego as the main obstacle in the bond of union. He always considered himself as the servant of God and asked people not to consider him as God. This is reflected in his writings that he gave all the credit of his victories and other achievements to the people:
It is through them that I have won battles, through their favour that I have distributed bounties to the poor. It is through them that all my sins and sorrows are over, through their favour that my house is overflowing with material possessions. Through their kindness I have gathered knowledge and all my enemies I have smothered. I am exalted, for they have exalted me, else there were many a poor one like me, wandering luckless and friendless.15
Dasam Granth clearly indicates the Guru’s philosophy of considering all Bairagis, Sanyasis, Yogis, Brahmacharis, Turks, Rafzis, Shias, Sunnis etc. as one mankind and the children of One Supreme Lord. In Akal Ustati he says:
One man shaves off and calls himself a Sanyasin, another passes for a yogi, or a celibate.
One calls himself a Hindu, another a Turk, one a Shia, another a Sunni, but know ye, men all over are the same.16
Dasam Granth tells that love, humility, service etc. are the core virtues for human unity and God-realization because “The love of God is the supreme love and every other form of it is an imperfect manifestation of this supreme love.”17 Love has two dimensions internal and external. The internal love is directed towards God and external love is expressed in human beings. These two types of love are interdependent for the spiritual progression. It is not external love alone that keeps a man fit for his upliftment to the ultimate goal, and also it is not by internal love alone that man can please God. It will be incomplete if only one aspect of love is emphasized.
The serious perusal of the Dasam Granth makes it clear that Guru Gobind Singh was a great prophet philosopher, psychologist and a true hero who brought the people to a deeper understanding and realization of the meaning of good and bad, power of love and unity in this world and brought them out of slavery of the ruling and priestly classes. It is also learnt from Dasam Granth the values and virtues of human dignity, brotherhood, unity, ecumenism and the acceptance of God as the Supreme Reality.
Such teachings and messages make the Dasam Granth an invaluable literature of universal acceptance, of ecumenical appealing not only for Sikh people but the whole mankind.
1. Piara Singh Padam, Dasam Granth Darshan p.25.
2. Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People p.268.
3. Dharampal Ashta, Poetry of the Dasam Granth Preface-X.
4. The Dasam Granth was compiled by Bhai Mani Singh at Amritsar, after a long research covering a period of about nine years. Dharampal Ashta, Poetry of the Dasam Granth p.9.
5. rqzE d;w r[o[ eh fJ; Gks.Giani Gian Singh, Panth Prakash p.322.
6. Kahn Singh Nabha, Gurushabad Ratnakar Mohan Kosh p.616.
7. Gopal Singh, Thus Spake the Tenth Master p.52
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.29.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.7.
9. Ibid., p.52.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.28.
10. Ibid., p.133.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.1219.
ਦੇਵ ਅਦੇਵ ਮਹੀਧਰ ਨਾਗਨ ਸਿੱਧ ਪ੍ਰਸਿੱਧ ਬੋਡ ਤਪ ਕੀਨੋ।
ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਕੁਰਾਨ ਸਬੈ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਇ ਥਕੇ ਪੈਤੋ ਜਾਇ ਨ ਚੀਨੋ।
ਭੂਮ ਅਕਾਸ ਪਤਾਰ ਦਿਸਾ ਬਿਦਿਸਾ ਜਿਹਿ ਸੋ ਸਬ ਕੇ ਚਿਤ ਚੀਨੋ।
ਪੂਰ ਰਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਸੋ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਮਨ ਮੈਂ ਤਿਨਿ ਆਨਿ ਮੁਝੈ ਕਹਿ ਦੀਨੋ।
11. Ibid., p.94.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.74.
XwhI kwj Drw hm jnmµ[ smJ lyhu swDU sB mnmµ[
Drm clwvn sµq aubwrn[ dust sBn ko mUl aupwirn[
12. Rattan Singh Jaggi, “Nationalistic Spirit in the Poetry of Guru Gobind Singh” in Guru Gobind Singh - The Saviour ed. by S.S. Uppal, p.102.
13. Gopal Singh, op.cit. p.52.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.28.
14. Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.74.
ਯਾਹੀ ਕਾਜ ਧਰਾ ਹਮ ਜਨਮੰ। ਸਮਝ ਲੇਹੁ ਸਾਧੂ ਸਭ ਮਨਮੰ।
ਧਰਮ ਚਲਾਵਨ ਸੰਤ ਉਬਾਰਨ। ਦੁਸਟ ਸਭਨ ਕੋ ਮੂਲ ਉਪਾਰਿਨ।
15. Gopal Singh, op.cit. p.141.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.1223.
ਜੁੱਧ ਜਿਤੇ ਇਨਹੀ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਇਨਹੀ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਸੁ ਦਾਨ ਕਰੇ।
ਅਘ ਅਉਧ ਟਰੈ ਇਨਹੀ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਇਨਹੀ ਕੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਫੁਨ ਧਾਮ ਭਰੇ।
ਇਨਹੀ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਸੁ ਬਿਦਿਆਂ ਲਈ ਇਨਹੀ ਕੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਸਭ ਸਤ੍ਰ ਮਾਰੇ।
ਇਨਹੀ ਕੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਕੇ ਸਜੇ ਹਮ ਹੈਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਮੋਸੇ ਗਰੀਬ ਕਰੋਰ ਪਰੇ।
16. Ibid., p.52.
Shabdarth Dasam Granth, p.28.
ਕੋਊ ਭਇਓ ਮੁੰਡੀਆ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ਕੋਊ ਜੋਗੀ ਭਇਓ;
ਕੋਊ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਚਾਰੀ ਕੋਊ ਜਤੀ ਅਨੁਮਾਨਬੋ।
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਫਿਜ਼ੀ ਇਮਾਮ ਸ਼ਾਫ਼ੀ;
ਮਾਨਸ ਕੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਬੈ ਏਕੈ ਪਹਚਾਨਬੋ।
17. Chandradhar Sharma, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy p.37.