GLIMPSES OF ETERNAL LIGHT
Principal Sadhu Singh Deol
Great minds always transcend the barriers of age, time and space and seek their companions in life across centuries. From time to time, there appears on the world stage a great mind (prophet) who outshines the greatest of many ages. Buddha was one of them, Confucius, Jesus, Mohammad were others. They are exclusive and form a select band. To that group belongs Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji. He shines like a polestar among them. Mankind would appreciate how the creative energy released by the prophetic mission of Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ Mohammad and Guru Nanak ji changed the entire cultural content of civilizations, and led to tremendous social, political and religious and historical developments.
Guru Nanak Dev ji never throught of one person, community, society, religion, country or age. He prayed for all to be salvaged from the burning pyre of the worldly maya.
A prophet is the conscience of a particular group, tribe or state or nation. Guru ji generated the driving forces of social, political and historical importance and exerted a great civilizing influence on the progress of human civilization in his own time and the times to come. At the very outset, one can observe that Guru Nanak Dev exerted a tremendous civilizing influence on mankind. He educated the people he lived with and transformed the thinking and the way of the life of the people. The advanced state of civilization which he had envisioned is yet to be realized by the mankind. Guru ji has profusely enriched the cultural content of mankind in the sphere of ethics, philosophy, literature and music. He generously gave cultural gifts to the world which would lead to a universal culture in the future.
The progress of human civilization is based on status of human rights, freedom and democracy. Guru ji preached and educated the people about these, throughout his life. He made the people realize that their progress is possible only through active co-operation and their willingness to sacrifice their selfish interests to the common good. The march of civilization would continue if the peoples of the world realize the sanctity of the above mentioned idea advanced by Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji.
Guru Nanak’s sublime wisdom is meant for the whole world. His ideology is meant for every community in every country. All generations can benefit from an indepth study of Guru Sahib’s Bani, because it is futuristic in its vision and wisdom. His Bani is a treasury of philosophic wisdom and spiritual solace. The Bani changed the destiny of the Indians and revolutionized their thought process.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in an age when the whole world especially the people of India were completely demoralized because of the stranglehold of caste-superiorities and feudal system. Guru Sahib felt pained to find the people helplessly groaning under the atrocities of the invaders but were unmindful of their responsibility to defend the honour of their women and faith. Guru ji set out on journeys and started a crusade through practice and precept against superstition, religious intolerance and worldly vices. He travelled from Tibet to Dwarka, Jagannath Puri, Haridwar and went to Mecca and Bagdad in order to preach his philosophy. He told the recluses and other people that it was the duty of the enlightened ones to dedicate their knowledge to the service of the common people and not to reserve it for their own salvation. He convinced them that selfless service of mankind was the most effective worship of God.
The advent of Guru Nanak Dev ji proved to be a new awakening. The recovery of truth and virtue was the essential prelude to the beginning of a new era. Guru ji gave a powerful and effective challenge to Hinduism and Islam as these were practised in his days. Many people became his disciples and follow the three cardinal virtues i.e., (a) earning one's livelihood (Kirat Karna), b) meditation (Nam Japna) (c) sharing one's earning with the needy (Wand Chhakana) as preached by Guru ji. He was the founder of the latest religion of the world. He planted a sapling which has blossomed into one of the great treasures of the world. He laid the foundation of brotherhood which has enriched the world heritage by struggling against religious intolerance, social injustice, and denial of political freedom. The world must pay its homage to the one who by serving humanity worshipped God. Guru ji tried to knit the entire mankind into one universal brotherhood. Mankind has stemmed from one root though it is split up into different communities – Ek Pita, Ekas ke hum barak. All men possessing wisdom and virtue belong to one human family. It is the law of nature that whenever evil and ignorance darken human affairs, morality and sublime wisdom come to our rescue.
Guru Nanak Dev’s world-view is not arbitrary or forced synthesis of Hinduism and Islam, a doctrinal marriage of convenience. The important thing to note about Guru Sahib’s philosophy is its inherent eclecticism and resilience. It has the capacity to take in different doctrines and resolve them into positive philosophy. Sikhi zealously defends its sovereign and unique character. It may be finally asserted that Sikhism is a thoroughly modern and progressive religion. From the very beginning it rejected orthodoxy, formalism and feudalistic values. It sought to liberate man and made him conscious of his high vocation and great destiny. Such a revolutionary creed was bound to create a new race of men and women, full of joie de vivre, with their eyes set on the stars. The modernity of Sikhism may well be gauged from its attitude towards science, technology, education and welfare state. Guru ji’s followers have been accepting the challenges of life. A religion that keeps on forging fresh tools to master reality may entertain no doubts with regards to its health and future.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji contributed a lot in the forward march of civilization. He refined the rustic dialect and expressed his divine thoughts in the language of the people. Guru ji’s nobility and supremacy is expressed in the splendour of the language used to express his philosophy. He spoke to the mankind from mankind’s heart. He had distilled his experiences of divine life into common sense and wisdom. This way every person in every age finds a reflection in Sri Guru Nanak Dev’s verses.
Followers of many faiths have conceptualized many mystiques and appearances of God. They have demarcated His abode at specific places. But according to Guru Nanak Dev ji He is not confined to one place. But has been described as omnipresent. sB mDy rivAw myrw Twkuru dwnu dyq siB jIA sm@wry ] (p. 379). The whole world is Suchkhand where he resides. Guru ji’s Suchkhand goes on expanding all the time. When one is living in harmony with Nature and his surroundings, one lives in Suchkhand. Guru Sahib explained this idea very aptly in the following lines:
ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਕੈ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਵਖਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਸੁ ਬੰਦਾ ਹੋਇ ॥
– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 83
Guru Sahib, in his divine vision, realized that it was the common man who made the human race. Guru ji proclaimed hundreds of years ago, the modern principle of liberty, equality and fraternity which formed the bedrock of the French Revolution. Thus Guru Sahib proved to be the fountain head of creeds yet to be born which would strive to ameliorate the agonies of the human race.
Guru Nanak understood human nature more deeply than Karl Marx, Lenin and others and laid emphasis on moral ethical and spiritual aspects of life. According to Guru ji Akal Purakh is the creator of the world and sangat is the custodian of the wealth. This idea transcends the boundaries of caste, colour and geographical boundaries. All creation is manifestation of one Akal:
ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 663
Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji and his successor Guru Sahiban brought out the hidden, universal, dormant new vision into men’s mind and hearts. They established a paradigm of physical, emotional, social and spiritual sythesis of mankind. Guru Sahiban believed that human values are to be inculcated for the preservation of mankind. Their teachings emphasise the value of belief in God and His Will (hukam or raza. Guru Sahiban practiced a holistic approach to life by considering the inter-dependence of spiritual, social, economic and political matters in life. He regarded all great truths as the property of entire human race and not the monopoly of a particular faith. Sri Guru Granth Sahib reflects the universal out look of the Guru Sahiban. The unique characteristic of Sikhi offers the best assurance for the future of mankind and modern civilization when seen in the perspective of evolution. The central truth of life is that Guru Nanak Dev’s philosophy suits, serves and satisfies the quest in human hearts for a new life and a better world. So, Sikhi could become a world wide faith, embracing all people of all nations, embracing the grand vision of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev’s Bani has been guiding the mankind and will continue to do so in the present times of globalization, mass media, quick communication systems and hedonistic life styles. Guru Sahib has put forward for mankind highly progressive and advanced concepts of human rights, equality, honest living and a caring community.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2014, All