Role of Khalsa in the 21st Century
— Gursikh doctors —
Nearly five hundred years ago God sent Guru Nanak on this earth with a specific mission. The mission was to elevate Khalsa. Khalsa means ‘Pure’. The creation of a pure unadulterated society was the ultimate aim of Guru Nanak. He started the mission, later Gurus carried it further and Guru Gobind Singh completed it. With endless and untiring efforts by all the Gurus the unique and rare creation, Khalsa Panth, came into existence. The Guru put his own self into Gurbani which is now with us in the form of Guru Granth Sahib. His spirit pervades amongst his followers in the form of Guru Panth. His followers were enabled to propagate the mission further. Panj Piarae are dear to him because of their virtues. He bestowed all his enlightenment — s/i, upon his Khalsa. He shared his all with the Khalsa. He did not keep anything confined to himself only. He gave his beloved five Sikhs the position of Guru and himself the status of a Sikh even when he was still there in physical form. Moreover he went to the extent of calling himself a follower, a student, of a puran gursikh with truthful living — ofjDh oj? ;'Jh f;y w/ok . T[j ;kfjp w? T[; ek u/ok .. It becomes our prime duty to be a puran gursikh and propagate his mission for the welfare of the society. The purpose of my article is to highlight the role of a gursikh doctor in propagating the mission of the Gurus suited to the present-day set-up of society. For this we should take inspiration from Gurbani and Sikh history. As we are approaching the twentyfirst century, we should, in the light of the teachings and lifes of our Gurus, analyse our doings of the twentieth century and then plan our actions for the twentyfirst century.
The medical profession is for the alleviation of mainly physical human suffering. A doctor should have a tender heart so that he can feel the suffering of the ailing. Guru Nanak was so moved by the suffering of humanity that he was compelled to address God as J/sh wko gJh e[obkD/ s? eh dod B nkfJnk — “So much beating was inflicted that people shrieked. Didst not Thou, O God, feel compassion ?” (p. 360). To rectify the society he sacrificed his every thing. A doctor should take a lesson from him. He should not be possessive in nature and should not hesitate in even parting with his belongings while serving humanity. Guru Nanak fulfilled the mission of alleviating the suffering of the society by going on long travels referred to as T[dk;hnK . He used to reach out to the sufferers himself and serve them. According to Bhai Gurdas :
ufVnk ;'XD Xos b[ekJh .
(He) came to reform the world.
Guru Nanak alleviated the suffering of society, mentally as well as physically. He set an example by serving and curing lepers, who were considered incurable and hence untouchable in his time. But Guru Nanak did not hesitate in serving the lepers, thus setting an example for us, specially doctors and paramedical staff. The present-day society is now facing the threat of AIDS and patients of this disease are also almost considered as untouchables. It is a sort of taboo in the Indian society. The plight of AIDS patients is very pathetic. Doctors and para medical staff should learn from Guru Nanak and serve the patients in a sympathetic and caring way without any tinge of dislike. They should follow the lead of Guru Harkrishan Sahib, our eighth Guru, who served patients suffering from smallpox without caring for his own life, which he had to sacrifice. One can achieve salvation only through selfless service :
ftfu d[Bhnk ;/t ewkJhn? ..
sk dorj p?;D gkJhn? ..
In this world perform the Lord’s service.
Then (shalt thou) get a seat in the Master’s court, says Nanak.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 26
;/tk eos j'fJ fBjekwh ..
fs; eT[ j's gokgfs ;[nkwh ..
He who performs service without desire for reward,
Attains to the Lord.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 286
Guru Arjun Dev himself went to Lahore to serve smallpox victims. In the process his own son got the infection, but he did not stop serving the ailing.
Guru Har Rai Sahib, our seventh Guru set up a unique dispensary at Kiratpur Sahib in Ropar district. History tells us that very rare forms of treatments were available at this dispensary. Highly experienced medical practitioners worked there and even rulers of the times used to take treatment from there.
In Guru Gobind Singh’s time, Bhai Khanaya used to give treatment to the wounded in the battlefield. Encouraged by the Guru he used to treat every sufferer without distinction between friend and foe. His example highlights the importance of selfless service in Sikhism. Principles of J/e[ fgsk J/e; e/ jw pkfoe — The one Lord is the Father of all and we are all His children. and Bk e' p?oh Bjh p/rkBk ;rb ;zfr jw eT[ pfB nkJh — No one is my enemy nor is any one a stranger to me, I am the friend of all, and ;ops dk Gbk — well-being of all, are very nicely exemplified by his example.
We gursikh doctors should follow in the footsteps of our great ancestors and try to serve humanity in the way they taught us to do.
Looking into the present circumstances and those to be faced in the twentyfirst century, it is the duty of a gursikh doctor to act in a planned and coordinated way. The special advantage of this profession is that a doctor does not have to go out to preach. People come to him themselves and are in a receptive mood. While advising his patients about diet he can put stress on proper diet and tell them to live in a disciplined way as our Gurus have preached. He should tell them to abstain from alcohol, addictive drugs and smoking, telling them about their harmful effects on the body. He can tell them that our Gurus have forbidden these things. Thus, he can preach the mission of the Gurus as well as practise medicine. Sikhism is a very scientific religion and by following its principles in toto a person can live a healthy and disease-free life. For sexually contracted disease prevention he should stress upon the importance of a clean character which is one of the most basic precepts of Sikhism. If a doctor is puran gursikh following all the principles of Sikhism in deed as well as thought — ofjDh ns/ pfjDh, he automatically preaches without saying a word. On the other hand, if he is outwardly a Sikh, but does not follow the principles in his actions — is greedy, takes alcohol, is addicted to drug, or is characterless, then the reverse happens and people become averse to Sikhism. A doctor is a public figure, his life is not his own, but the property of society. So he should behave in a responsible manner. He should remember that though mainly a professional he is also a preacher of social norms.
The prime and most important duty of a gursikh doctor is that he should be the bearer of high moral values as preached by our Guru’s. Only then can he contribute towards giving a clean society to the next generation. Efforts on individual basis do bring fruits but to get the best results, groups of doctors and paramedical staff should work in unison. It is being done at government level by implementing AIDS control programme and de-addiction campaigns, etc. Sikh institutions should also chalk out programmes and implement them. Each Sikh institution, including all historical gurdwaras, should have a dispensary — complete in all respects and with the latest equipment and highly qualified properly paid staff. People should come forward to serve on these dispensaries in preference to government jobs. Fifty per cent seats should be reserved for gursikhs. Eligibility criteria for these reserve quota seats should include the condition of the applicant being a nitnemi. No other criteria of reservation should be there. Besides routine curative medical duties, stress should be on preventive aspects also. Medical personnel speaking on medical problems leave a more lasting impact on the mind of people than anyone else. A post of a Medical Educator should also be there. By educating people on prevention of diseases, they can be made to realise that by following the principles preached by the Sikh Gurus they can remain healthy and disease free.
A big modern hospital with modern facilities should be set up at Kiratpur Sahib where a dispensary instituted by Guru Har Rai Sahib used to exist. That tradition should be revived and maintained. A full wall size poster of Bhai Ghanaya should be put up at every such institution at the entry gate so that doctors and staff continue to get inspiration for selfless and non-discriminatory service to humanity. All these institutions should have a mobile dispensary so that doorstep service to people in times of need and casualty should be available too.
The medical community can very much contribute towards creating a healthy, clean and pure society in the twentyfirst century by following the principles and examples laid down by the Sikh Gurus and prominent Sikh personalities.