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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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Futuristic Vision of Sikhism and Relevance of the Khalsa Education in New Millennium

Dr Madanjit Kaur

Never before have religions mingled to such an extent as now in man’s life, never have horizon been so unbounded as those of our planet at present- appeared with a supra-religious spirit challenging the scientific and materialistic approach to human existence. The mysteries of nature, the dark areas of science and Hi-Fi Technology may not be able to solve all problems of hunger, poverty, disease and spiritual starvation of man. In fact, the interaction of religions with one another has become the central issue of the problem of better understanding of the world communities which are at present mostly devoid of morality, fear of God and lack of human sensitivity.

The theme of this essay has a special relevance in the present perspective in quest of globalization of the people of the world into a world community and elevation of the human being into a “cosmic man”. The exposition of the ideas included in this paper co-relates Sikh-consciousness to global-consciousness and explores the potentiality of Sikhism which can play a significant role in the twenty first century in serving humanity, ameliorating sufferings, and building up the structure of a world community.

Sikhism is one of the youngest religions of the world. Only forty three years ago, the Sikhs celebrated the birth anniversary of five centuries of the founder of their faith Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The Tri-centenary celebration of the Foundation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh , the tenth Master of Sikhs, was celebrated in 1999. Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed the final institutional structure of the mission of Guru Nanak and gave a permanent and unique identity to the Sikhs with distinct Five Elements of Faith (Kakkars) at Anandpur Sahib in March 1699. Now, the Sikhs have celebrated the 300th celebration of the Gurta Gaddi Diwas (Succession of Guru Granth Sahib as the final Guru of the Sikhs on October 27, 2008.

The message, mission and task of building the Sikh community established by Guru Nanak were organized in a solid and cohesive framework by successor Gurus. The achievements of the Sikh Gurus were immense and of far reaching consequences. Sikhism is a new way of life, the distinct community of the spiritual and social democracy. The most important mission of the Sikh Gurus has been a concrete programme of healthy and harmonious integration of pluralistic society, preservation of universal and humanitarian values, social and spiritual amelioration of the man into a ‘Superman’ to serve society for the welfare of all humanity (sarbat da bhala).

Despite the fact that Sikhism is the youngest world religion, its followers have been able to make a mark in many fields, including agriculture, science, technology, medicine, surgery, engineering, literature, social sciences, education, industry, transport, business, economic entrepreneurship, sports, defence etc. The Sikhs are a deeply devoted people and faith is an essential trait in their character. They are known all over the world as the best farmers and bravest fighters. The Sikhs are a self-respecting, hardworking and upstanding community. Roughly speaking, the Sikhs number around 17 million in all and form a minority with 2-1/4 % population in the Indian Democratic Republic at present. The Sikhs have played a significant role in the struggle for freedom of India from British Rule. Their contribution in the foreign lands where they migrated for adventure or in quest of bread-earning is dazzlingly spectacular. The followers of Sikhism have spread all over the world. The Sikhs not only individually but also collectively are present practically everywhere in the world and have made their impact in the land of their migration and fame in many fields in their adopted homeland.

Among the religious movements of India, Sikhism has been outstanding socio-cultural movement of India. In its evolutionary growth, Sikhism has brought a system of virtues of universalism, spiritualism, liberalism and social transformation. Sikhism has made religion a liberating movement of social equality and spiritual enlightenment. In the present circumstances, there is a need to follow the path of spiritual unity, moral values, human concern and social integration as shown by the Sikh Gurus, a few centuries ago. It is in this context that we intend to look into the fundamental concerns of Sikhism to explore possibilities of finding suitable set of universal values which can provide a sense of ultimate meaning for life as well as to develop national pride, secular attitude, as cosmic spirit.

Ethical values are central themes in Sikh Religion. Ethics provides a compelling basis for world-view and social values of the Sikh people. Sikh ethical system in practice brings before us an ideal person, thoroughly balanced in physical, mental and spiritual culture. In broader terms the ethics of Sikhs may be defined as doctrines of values of human conduct as found in their Holy Scripture and those of the life rules in human conduct as prescribed in Rahit Maryada (code of conduct).

The primary source of Sikh teachings is theAdi Granth (Sri Guru Granth Sahib). Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the most authentic Indian Religious text which is the very embodiment of the fundamental doctrines of the Sikh faith deeply rooted in the belief in the Unity of God and Unity of Mankind (ek pita, ekas ke ham barak). The Scripture of the Sikhs is the only Holy Book of an individual religion which contains hymns of not only the Sikh Gurus but hymns of the Hindu Bhaktas, the Sufi Saints from different parts of the Country, who had composed their devotional verses in different dialects and languages. The vocabulary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the documentary evidence of the cultural fusion of religious experiences of Nirgun Bhakti of Monotheism and blending of various Indian Languages and dialects and successful experiment of the Sikh Gurus to unite people from different strands of life, time, space and style into a commonwealth of mankind. The Sikh Gurus rejected the age old classical tradition of the usage of Sanskrit language as the medium of scriptures and propagation of religion. The universalism of the teachings of Sikhim can easily be gauged from the selection of the vernacular language (Punjabi and Braj) as medium of propagation. Moreover, the hymns of Sri Guru Granth Sahib have been arranged in musical modes (Ragas) to make emotional appeal and imprint permanent impressions on the mind of the listeners and devotees.

According to the Philosophy of Sikhism- Reality is One. It is Truth. God is the Creator (Karta) of the universe, the whole cosmos is under the binding law (hukam) of God. The world is real not illusion and every living being has its task, Soul is the Light of God. It imbibes in each and every living being. One has to be God-oriented in order to become perfect human being (gurmukh). The disciple has to reflect on God’s Name and practise it in thought and deed. Worship, devotion and service (sewa) attract God’s grace (Nadar/Mehar). Seeker must live in the Will of God (Raza/Bhana), get rid of his/her ego (haumai), practise a virtuous life and worship God in the company of holy people (sadh sangat). Love to God means loving all human beings. Therefore, spirituality has been attuned through social training in order to consolidate social solidarity in the community. Absorption in God, while performing household and social responsibilities; and sharing the sufferings of fellow human beings is the Supreme Object of human life. Liberation (mukti) or salvation from the cycle of birth and death is the goal of life which can be obtained while living in this world. (Jiwan Mukta). Persons observing and practising the true teachings of Sikhism can easily attain excellence in personality development, human behavior and achievements in life. A true practicing Sikh can be easily made distinct from the crowd in hours of crises and need through his positive and instant response to the challenge for the welfare of the humanity. The normative cultural religious truths and precepts explicit in the hymns of the religious scripture of the Sikhs might be described as ideal vision of supreme reality, pragmatic religious system of promoting harmony, integration, peace, goodwill and love. Enriched with enormous strength of spiritual power and social potentiality, Sikhism has a great message and a vital scope for a significant role to play in the coming centuries.

The futuristic vision of Sikhism is a vital issue for two reasons. The first is the fundamental claim of Sikhism to be a Universal religion with the message of the welfare of humanity as a whole and salvation (spiritual and social amelioration) without any discrimination of caste, creed, language, gender, economic factor, time space and nationality. Secondly, the Sikh code of conduct, moral values and ethical norms on spiritual health, mental health and drug addiction extend the limits of its moral and social role enormously. Besides, the awareness of the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and the fundamental doctrines of Sri Guru Granth Sahib will enable the people to establish a society on equality, freedom, justice, love, universal brotherhood, tolerance, co-existence, human dignity and protection of human rights. The positive preachings of Sikhism will set before the devotees a pragmatic, spiritual goal. It presents an ideal social model, value oriented Education System (which is totally absent in our present system), welfare economics, humanitarian world-view, altruism, social responsibility, ethical values and moral ethos. The principles of Sikhism regarding acceptance of multi-culturalism, minorities and plurality will help to strengthen the mode of co-existence in the multi-cultural Indian Society.  The message of Sikhism regarding living in harmony with nature, inculcation of love of nature will help the preservation of natural resources. Its value system based on the foundation of compassion and love will help Inter-Religious understanding, prevention of war, promotion of peace and humanitarian values. The inculcation of virtues as prescribed by Sikh value system of the famous formula Kirat Karo (earn thy bread by honest means). Nam Japo (remembrance of god), wand chhako (share thy earnings with others and distribute surplus sources and products among poor and needy) provides an empirical role-model for building strong footings for social stability in the world. The promotion of missionary zeal, the institutions of langar, pangat and sangat, Khalsa and Panj Piaras and the logos of manas ki jat sabhe eko pahchanbo would definitely eradicate the evils of poverty, discrimination, hunger, disease, injustice, exploitation, pollution, corruption, crimes, race for materialism, anarchy, falsehood and despotic politics.

The mind attuned to the ideal and virtues of Sikhism is sure to help us to make our life free of tension, depression, anxiety, frustration, physiological discomforts and other syndromes. The life spent in the company of sadh sangat (holy persons) will not only make us to share our joys and sorrows with others but will also help us to face life situation squarely. Therefore, Sikhism presents a model for universal adoption. It has to be presented as a world religion of the future. This goal can be achieved by preaching the message of Sikhism through well trained, educated missionary teams, distribution of quality- based programmes, seminars, international conferences and promotion of Sikh studies in India and abroad. The Sikh community and its representative bodies can co-ordinate with U.N.O. and U.N.E.S.C.O. for International programmes for the welfare of humanity (sarbat da bhala).

Sikhism can provide moral leadership to futuristic global society. Right now there is a vacuum in moral values and social ethos and it seems to us that Sikhism is uniquely positioned to be able to do that role both because of its history, tradition, institution, beliefs and practices and the experiences of the Great Gurus who practised what they preached. This is the time to begin to do something different towards preaching Sikhism as to make human beings at global level related to one another. We have learnt by very drastic painful experiences caused by alienation, bias and prejudices that world community needs world-wide liberal economic policies for survival. We as true adherents to the Teachings of the Sikh Gurus have to make every effort to achieve this noble goal.

We are confident that the message provided in this study will offer significant material for the eminent leaders, public persons, scholars, students and seekers of truth who are keenly interested in the futuristic role of Sikhism in Inter-Faith Movement, unity of mankind, welfare of humanity and building of the World Peace. We hope that all of us will put our full cooperation in this noble cause and make meaningful contribution for the success of Sikhism confronting challenges of the 21st Century.

Relevance of the Khalsa Education in New Millennium
In view of the challenges of the 21st Century, the education of the modern youth has become a subject of serious concern for the educationists. Education is a life long process of learning, gaining education and developing the power of reasoning, skill and wisdom. Sikhism is a way of life. A Sikh is a disciple in the arena of the world, ever engaged in the process of learning.The concept of spiritual education has been conceived as a virtuous boon of humanity for the welfare of all. Guru Nanak founder of Sikhism  proclaimed: ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥ —Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.356.

The creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh (1699 A.D.) was not only a completion of the mission of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism but it had great relevance as a model of education in the present times also when people from all over the world are suffering psychologically, morally, socially and spiritually from lack of value oriented education and spirit of tolerance and sacrifice.

The creation of the Khalsa was a unique historical event with far reaching consequences and a significant impact on the history of human civilization. It was the realization of Guru Gobind Singh’s divinely ordained mission and altruistic service for the upliftment of the suffering humanity and promotion of the cause of    the righteousness (Dharma). The Great Guru had himself stated in his life story Bachitar Natak, that he was sent by the Almighty to raise the soldier-saints to root out the wicked, destroy evil and extend the True Faith and Righteousness.

The basis of the Khalsa discipline is the triple percepts-formula as necessary ingredient of the life of man-Kirat Karo (to earn one’s livelihood by honesty), Wand Chhako (share your earnings and surplus with needy ones) and Nam Japo (meditate on the name of God) the doctrine pronounced by Guru Nanak. The Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh institutionalized this formula of life by giving the Sikhs a distinct identity on the famous Baisakhi day of 1699 and prescribed a set of five symbols as elements of faith for the outer appearance of the Sikhs- Kesh (unshorn hair), Kanga (comb), Kara (iron bangle), Kirpan (sword) and Kachha (short breeches). By this experiment Guru Gobind Singh sought to create an ideal society with radical motivation, ideals and ethos to generate positive transformation in the Indian Society degenerated under the pressure of Varan ashram dharma and discrimination of high and low at social and economic levels. The initiation ceremony of the Sikhs(Khalsa) meant complete break with the past religious beliefs and social practices and customs (Nash doctrine). Besides, prescribing Five Kakkars, Guru Gobind Singh also bestowed the title of ‘Singh’ (Lion warrior) to the Khalsa. Thereby the Sikhs were elevated to the status of the Sant Sipahi ever ready to fight for the cause of Dharam Yudh (war for the protection of righteousness). The Khalsa was to combine the piety of the saint and the strength of a soldier. A strict code of conduct, Rahit Maryada of truthful living, abstaining from all sorts of intoxicants and tobacco and leading a high moral life was prescribed for the Khalsa. The set of five symbols- the marks of distinct identity and adherence to ideal moral conduct coordinated the inner spirit and external uniformity of the Khalsa to the highest scale of perfection. It gave them a strong sense of belonging and strengthened their religious fervour and spirit of sacrifice. The democratic character of the Khalsa and its egalitarian organization served as a solid device for the preservation of the social solidarity of the corporate life of the community striving for the sarbat da bhala at the global level.

Khalsa is a true synthesis of individual needs and social demands. The goal is to lead a Truthful living (Sachiar). It focuses on the development of intellect acquisition of the skills for work and growth in all directions with an attitude of sharing, service (sewa) and welfare of the humanity as an order of the Devine Will (Hukam). This system of inculcation of values is the legacy of the teachings of Guru Nanak- Kirat Karo, Wand Chhako, Nam Japo. Thus, the Khalsa education emphasizes survival values, social values and spiritual values. The distinguished aspect of the Khalsa culture is the singular emphasis on the adoption of appropriate secular and value oriented education system in every sphere of life.

The highest objective of the Khalsa is to fulfill one’s individual and social responsibilities as an earnest devotee to serve all human beings in times of peace and war. The example of Bhai Ghanaya, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh serving the wounded soldiers in the battle field even of the rival camp is an epitome of the Khalsa spirit of humanitarianism and secularism; serving the sufferers without any discrimination of caste and creed. Thus axis of the value oriented Khalsa education is based on the principle of equal opportunity to each and every child without any discrimination of caste, creed, gender, race and nationality to develop his or her abilities, attain excellence and utilise their potentialities for the the welfare of the humanity. The dynamics of the set of Sikh symbols (five kakkars) has given a unique distinct identity to the Khalsa. It is the manifestation of the philosophy of the outer shape to maintain dignity of the inner spiritual values and perform role of an ideal man in the society with deep rooted ethos and sense of belonging to the order of the Khalsa. The Sikh community has to ponder over this matter more seriously for the protection of the future generation.

Education is a life long process of learning, gaining knowledge, developing power of reasoning, skill and wisdom. Knowledge is expanding at an ever increasing pace and expansion of information through electric media television, computer and internet system etc. has brought rapid change in technology, commerce and management. The recent growth in information sciences has ushered tremendous progress as well as the awareness that ever increasing devices, researches in tools of learning and information has also brought the alarming factor of making knowledge obsolete after a small span at quicker rate. Therefore, education system is bound to be flexible in order to utilize the potential of the learners in equation with the development of technology and media. The world has come closer. We are heading towards a global society, interdepending for the very survival of our existence in the present times on account of exigencies of production and supply and globalization of the marketing.

The foremost challenge that education is going to focus in the present millennium in the world is that of producing enlightened persons who are both proud of their own cultural roots as well as having sincere concern with global issues for the welfare of the world community. Keeping in view the changing trends in education system in modern milieu, we have to recall lessons from unique and great movements of emotional and spiritual integrity of our glorious heritage like that of Khalsa. The ideas derived from Khalsa culture would help us to produce individuals who are value oriented at heart, imbibed with patriotism, altruism, tolerance and the spirit of striving for a corporate global society. At the same time the education system of the Khalsa community can not be different from the requirement of the rest of the modern world society. But fundamentally we need something more. We have to carry the glorious traditions of the value oriented Khalsa system of education for the preservation of our heritage and sarbat da bhala of the global society. Threfore, the Sikh community has great responsibility facing the challenge of the 21st millennium. 

 

 

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