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Gur Panth Parkash

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




Perspectives on “Sehaj” in Gurbani

Pritam Singh

The concept of Sehaj is central and pivotal in Guru Nanak’s mystical thought. It relates to the highest spiritual state humanly attainable and thus has deepest connotations attached to it

Guru Nanak uses this term primarily to communicate the meaning of his mystical experience. Sehaj is an expression which is beyond the understanding of all who have not experienced the condition which it represents. According to Gurmat teachings, the ultimate goal for human beings is the experience of Sehaj..

Some of the logical questions, therefore, are: What is this Sehaj experience, what is its nature and character? How does one achieve it and how does one recognize it?

Nature of Sehaj Experience:
The term Sehaj has been used to denote the ineffable union with God. The characteristic word which Gurus use to convey the nature of the ultimate experience-union/ communion- is the verb samana or samauna which in present context means ‘to merge’ or ‘to blend’. Sachi samauna, sabadi samauna, sehaji samauna, and avigati samauna are examples of the manner in which Gurus seek to express the experience of union. It is a blending of the individual light in the Light of Divine (joti joti samauna) a mingling of the individual drop in the ocean, a dissolution of the individual atma in the Paramatma. If the Divine shows favor, one meditates on Him.  The atma is dissolved and is absorbed (in the Divine). (The individual’s) atma becomes one with the Paramatma and inner duality dies within oneself.

Various expressions have been current as synonymous with Sehaj, such as sunn-samadh, turia-avastha, chautha pad, amar pad, param pad, maha-sukh, param anand, dasam duar, anhad, sach khand, jivan-mukti and sehaj samadh. The contents of the Sehaj experience as conveyed in some of these expressions are described as below:

i.  chautha pad, the ‘fourth state’ or absolute condition transcending the three guna;
   ਜਤੁ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਮਾਏ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੇ ਮਨੁ ਪਤੀਆਏ ॥
Chastity, purity and self-restraint are infused into the heart,
when one centers his mind in the fourth state. ||7||
ii.  the turia pad or turia avastha;:
     ਜਤੁ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਮਾਏ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੇ ਮਨੁ ਪਤੀਆਏ ॥
       Hope and desire have both been dispelled; I have renounced my longing for the three qualities.
The Gurmukh obtains the state of ecstasy, taking to the Shelter of the Saints’ Congregation.

iii.  the param pad;
    ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪਰਚੈ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਮਾਇ ਲੀਆ ॥
By pleasing the True Guru, the supreme status is obtained, and one is absorbed in the True Word of the Shabad.

 iv.  the amarapad; the condition of supreme bliss beyond all that is corruptible and beyond all powers of human expression.

For the Gurus, Sehaj has climactic content which unfolds in absolute equipoise and absolute tranquility. It is a condition existing beyond the cycle of transmigration. Moreover, the most characteristic of all such expressions, the anahadsabad, is used by the Gurus as one of the symbols expressing the condition as they experienced it.

The concept of Sehaj belongs to the realm of ‘esoteric-mysticism’, in as much as the meaning of Sehaj is invariably associated with its conspicuous aspect or its expressive quality which, in figurative terms, we call Anhad Sabad. Thus both the mystical content and its configuration are essentially linked together in our ubiquitous reality.

The Gurus themselves, having experienced directly the blissful union with the Divine and the concomitant divine manifestations attending such Beatitude, have mystically expressed these visions in symbolical language, incorporating and using esoteric terms already in use in certain contemporary Indian traditions but investing them with new meanings. Sehaj, in its mystical connotation, is the very ‘psychokinesis’ of religion. It is the acceptance of inwardness and ‘intuitionism’ as the true basis of religion, to the total rejection of all ritualistic externalities. In the Gurus’ thought, Sehaj comes to imply the acceptance of Hukam as the first cardinal principle of Sikhism. Sehaj in this meaning would be the mystical state of a man who has accepted the Divine Will (Hukam, Bhana, Raza). Sehaj is the abnegation of duality and the perception of unity in God as well as the creation.  Sehaj is thus the highest spiritual state attainable in Sikhism. It is the highest bliss.

In an anthropomorphic sense (as distinct from the mystical one, discussed above), Sehaj would mean equipoise, equanimity and equilibrium. It may be called “balanced perspicacity” or sambuddhata, in the psychological sense. All true balance and true actions (which may be called Sehaj-karam, as distinct from the self-willed actions) engender aesthetic as well as spiritual pleasure, while spiritual fulfilment produces infinite bliss.

How to Achieve Sehaj
Devotion to the Loving and Beloved Divine as in Gurbani:
To ensure that the Sehaj Persona is not dogmatically oriented, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) presents the Divine from many perspectives associated with the contemporary religious or philosophical system or sub-systems. For example, in Rag Asa, Guru Nanak Dev calls God as “the ascetic among ascetics and the jouissance-relisher among jouissance-relishers.” In Rag Ramkali, Guru Arjun Dev says: “Some call him Ram, some Khuda, some serve Him as the Lord of the Universe and some as Allah.” The imbalances of such perspectives are criticized, yet in togetherness they generate a notion of the Divine, of creation, and of the human, who are all polyphonic.

Gurbani enunciates the principle that it is absorption into the Divine or relishing Him (rasa) that keeps one in Sehaj and frees from disruptive flights. The Divine of SGGS is the “timeless form” (akalmurat), “self-born,” and “fearless.” He is also a “colourful” friend who dyes the mind with the permanent red colour of love after which all distinctions cease. Equipoise is attained only with love for the Divine of this new conceptualization of SGGS. Love is also the destroyer of ego; thereby it purifies the mind. With its realized radiance, the mind becomes one with the light of God. The ascetic Sehaj changes into a loving Sehaj, the spontaneous condition, being in which the consciousness becomes poetic/creative. The problem of ‘being and becoming or of essence and existence is superseded by a relationship of intimacy’.

The loving and close relationship with the Divine who is both formless and multifaceted in creation, characterizes the equipoised person by definite stages of yearning for “Sehaj Avastha”and loving devotion to the Divine incorporating Vairaag which in turn generates Sehaj. Gurbani expresses both the separation (birha) in ignorance, as well as the joy in the meeting of Sehaj persona with the Divine.. The joy includes bodily jouissance and spiritual bliss.  The Gurus develop a metaphor related to the bride, the bridal bed and her sensuous awareness to construct the relationship of God-love. The much neglected and repressed body is resurrected with a vengeance.

In this intensity of love and expansion of being, the person is also faced with a danger  of excessive subjectivity Excessive subjectivity is not only an overflow of  “emotion but also categorizes life outside codependence, leading to development of Ego-Haumein” In Rag Gauri, Guru Nanak Dev says that this haumai, ego, or intrinsic nature delimits and keeps in the cycle of birth and death.

Haumai, has been called by the Gurus as a “perpetual malady,” but if one probes its problematic, it also leads to a cure: (P.466)
Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well.

The Nature of the Quest for the Divine:
The Gurus recognized and accepted that religious and spiritual quest was a matter which was altogether internal to man. Negatively speaking, it was not a matter of external practices and observances of traditional forms and prescriptions of religion. Positively, it was a matter:

  1.   first, of cleansing and purifying one’s heart and mind;
  2.   secondly, of filling them with an intense love for and devotion to the Divine,  and waiting cravingly for His Grace (kirpa, prasad, daya etc.)
  3.   and thirdly, striving unceasingly for a complete, unalloyed and absolute blending of one’s individual self, or atma, with the Universal Self or Paramatm.

Discipline Advised for Achieving Sehaj
The Gurus laid down certain disciplines which each aspirant needed to follow for the final merger or blending with the Divine. These disciplines were designed to achieve total transformation of the individual psyche and will, by bending and directing both towards the ultimate goal of achieving the merger with the Divine. Such a transformation and spiritual ascent was in several khands, or stages, as Guru Nanak described them; in, Dharam Khand, Gian Khand, Saram Khand, Karam Khand and Sach Khand in Japji Sahib.These disciplines constituted the stages of preparation and of the psychological pre-condition which led to the experience of that state of peace and bliss, happiness and radiance which was called Sehaj. The most important elements were (a) recognition of the Guru as essential for any spiritual exercise and quest, (b) recognition of the human body as the seat and habitat of all religious and spiritual experience, indeed of the Truth or Ultimate Reality and hence rejection of any transcendental reality external to man, and finally, (c) recognition of the experience of the Ultimate Reality as one of inexpressible happiness and ineffable radiance, equipoise, absolute peace and tranquillity, and of absolute non-duality or complete unity.

Negatively speaking, these were (a) sharp criticism and rejection of all external formalities in regard to religious practices and spiritual quests, and (b) protest against and rejection of priestly and scriptural authority, celibacy, penances, austerities and the like.

Self Realization and Sehaj
The ultimate aim in Sikhism, as stated earlier, is the union with Divine and this union can be obtained by self-realization which is possible by controlling the five senses and by practice of virtues. The ethical practices are like a base over which a spiritual mansion can be raised.1

Here the question arises what is self-realization? He, who reflects upon his own self is the knower of God.(P.152)
One who contemplates his own self is truly wise. 
He who knows his own self is infinite and unrivalled. (P. 229)
O Nanak, one who knows his own self, is infinite and incomparable.
He who recognizes his real self, meets the Lord.

How can this self-realization be attained?
A. The Moral Aspect:

Practice of Virtues: Gurus have stressed on virtuous and truthful living by cultivation of virtues, such as wisdom, courage, truthfulness, honesty, contentment, justice, and tolerance etc. Through these practices, man can remove ignorance, which is the root cause of all evils. When the mind becomes pure, the self remains in its pure state. This pure state is what is meant by self-realization and this is really a state of pure-consciousness.

Guru Nanak describes the evil doer as a demon, who knows not God and he is called a mad cap who knows not his own-self.(142)

The foolish demon, who does evil deeds, does not know his Lord and Master.
Call him a mad-man, if he does not understand himself

According to Guru Nanak, cruelty, worldly love, avarice and wrath are the four streams of fire and due to this fire, man is burnt. (147)

Cruelty, material attachment, greed and anger are the four rivers of fire.
Falling into them, one is burnt, O Nanak! One is saved only by holding tight to good deeds.

Man should develop a sense of discipline by controlling his lust, greed, sense of possession, worldly attachment and ego. Not only the utterance of malicious words but also the hearing of such words is prohibited. The discourteous talk creates an unhealthy effect not only on the mind but also on the body. A pious person should not fall a prey to the pleasures of the world and must avoid all sensuous tastes and intoxications. Similarly all exciting smells and contact with objects which create lust and greed in our mind should be avoided. (1287)

 Beauty does not satisfy hunger; when the man sees beauty, he hungers even more.
 As many are the pleasures of the body, so are the pains which afflict it.

The mind and intellect have a closer and deeper relation with the soul. In the region of effort (Saram Khand) in Japji, the mind and intellect become purified from the dirt of ego and a jiva becomes a Siddha.1 Emancipation is obtained through the performance of good karmas. Man carries out the dictates of mind. The mind feeds on virtue and vice with the pride of maya. Man is proud of his body, wealth, wife and property.8 The need is to make the mind integrated. One should make conscious efforts to concentrate and meditate in order to acquire genuine knowledge. The body of man is compared to a field and good action to a seed which is to be irrigated with water of the name of God. By cultivating the mind and by germinating the Word of God in one’s heart, one can obtain the dignity of emancipation.

Through the purity of body and mind, man can control and conquer his mind, and can become desireless. If he abides in his home and be dyed with the fear of the True Lord, he will enjoy the Supreme Nectar of Divine Knowledge. By subduing the mind, one becomes free from all sorrows and sufferings. (P.21)

If the mind becomes balanced and detached, and comes to dwell in its own true home, imbued with the Fear of God,
Then it enjoys the essence of supreme spiritual wisdom; it shall never feel hunger again.
O Nanak, conquer and subdue this mind; meet with the Lord, and you shall never again suffer in pain.

Man should subjugate the five disciples by making mind like the staff.” Mind’s nature is wavering, if it is controlled, man comes to know all that is hidden and the apparent. (P.57)

A man who has realised his self and has harmonized all aspects viz., cognitive, conative, and affective will realize Hukam from within.

The Spiritual Aspect: Divine Knowledge:
Guru Nanak has rejected the discussion about Divine Knowledge because such type of discussions gives rise to controversies and creates sufferings. (P. 831)

Everyone talks about spiritual wisdom and spiritual knowledge.
Talking, talking, they argue, and suffer.

If a man banishes his lust, wrath and self-conceit, and slays the five evils by God’s Name and Divine Knowledge and grapples with his mind, then his desire is nipped within his very mind. (P. 1022)
Eradicating desire, anger and egotism,
She destroys the five thieves through the Word of the Sabd.
Taking up the sword of spiritual wisdom, one struggles with the mind, and hope and desire are smoothed over in one’s mind.

Becoming desire free, mind abides in its home and remains dyed with the fear of God. Such devotee will enjoy the Supreme Nectar of Divine Knowledge and shall not suffer again. (P. 21)

Body as recipient of Spiritual Experience
The Guru’s Sehaj-persona is integrated in body and mind and overflows with love-energy. There is no tension between the body and the Divine in Gurbani. The body, according to Guru Amar Das in Rag Maru, (P. 1059 ) is “the temple of God that He Himself decorates”. 

The body is the temple of the Lord; the Lord Himself embellishes it.
The trinity of gods: Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, is also present in the body. (P. 754):
Within the body, are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, from whom the whole world emanated.

Recognition of Experience of Sehaj Persona
Apart from the characteristics of peace and tranquility, of wonderment and bliss and of ineffable radiance by which one recognized the sehaj state of being, Guru Nanak recognized another, that of anhad sabad, an unstruck sound which he used to experience within himself as that ultimate state of being. While sehaj is the highest blissful state attainable by man as a result of mystic discipline and realization, anhad is the mystical expression of that radiant state in terms of divine music esoterically heard within the soul and which the experienced only knows in his own experience and cannot describe in human language

Characteristics of Sehaj Persona
The Sehaj-persona, freed from the dichotomous light and darkness of the mind-body problematic, has been called “Gurmukh”. The Gurmukh, using an organic metaphor, has been elaborated by the Gurus as a “green tree” blossoming in Brahma with truth and spontaneity. In contrast to the Gurmukh, the Manmukh or the egocentric remains barren:

The Gurmukh is like God’s tree, always green, blessed with the Sublime Love of the True One, with intuitive peace and poise.
The self-willed manmukhs stand there and dry up; they do not bear any fruit, and they do not provide any shade.

The spontaneous Gurmukh has also been presented as radiating the bursting red colour of devotion and love. During the “night” of meeting with the Divine, he or she gets drenched in affection like an impassioned beloved.

Role of Satguru for Sehaj
The true Guru (Satguru) keeps one in cosmic balance. It is only in his service that the mind loses its ego, and the lotus begins to emit its rays, advises Guru Ram Das in Rag Gauri. (P. 161)

Serving the True Guru, the mind becomes humble forever.
Egotism is subdued, and the heart-lotus blossoms forth.

The Sangat and the Guru orient one’s being towards the Naam and Simran of God.

Role of Naam Simran
Literally, Naam means name and Simran remembrance. Naam in the SGGS is not a mere repetition of the various names of God. It is rather a holistic and loving meditation on Him, a state of absorption that turns into near ecstasy. In Rag Bilawal, Guru Ram Das says that Naam is cool like water, its repetition leads to the fragrance of sandalwood. (P. 833)

Meditate on the cool water of the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. Perfume yourself with the fragrant scent of the Lord, the sandalwood tree.

Guru Nanak Dev in Rag Asa says that the intoxicated mind drinks Naam as juice or rasa and dwells in the joy of Sahaja (P.360)

O Baba, the mind is intoxicated with the Naam, drinking the Nectar. It remains absorbed in the Lord’s Love.

Repeatedly, the Gurus call Naam as “nectar “(amrit). In the moment of absorption the nectar is experienced as a “ceaseless sweet shower”

Slowly, slowly, ever slowly the drops of Ambrosial Nectar trickle down.

Guru Arjun says in Rag Gauri Sukhmani that it is His remembrance which enables one to live in Sehaj. Only in this absorption does the lotus grow in refulgence.(P. 263)

Remembering God, one is absorbed into the state of intuitive ease.
Remembering God, the heart-lotus blossoms forth.

Naam and Simran, thus, are elaborated in the SGGS  as loving and impassioned meditation on the divine in which the discriminating intellect or “bibek budh” do not get discarded. The distinguishing feature of this meditation or absorption is that it is not on void but on the one who is youthfully beautiful (banka), wonder-causing (vismad), beloved (yarara), father (pita), mother, (mata), and kin (bandhap).This loving concentration into which the Sangat and Satguru initiate as well as holistically enlarge is a new space that the rich variety of symbols and from a post modern perspective, were intended to create this space that the Sri guru Granth Sahib fashions.

Naam and Simran, with the refashioning of space was considered necessary by the Gurus. Naam and Simran thus subverted the inner space engineered by the then prevailing imperial and Brahmanical systems. The SGGS generated a sign-system that established the aesthete, wonder-causing and beloved Divine and the Divine’s related poetic/sacred sub-systems as the objects of meditation. Such a sign-system created a new liberative space of the inner mind that was empowered to affect the other spaces, and it still does. Naam and Simran with the altered symbol-complex, therefore, are not a pure and alienated psychologism, they are motivated liberationally in our modern multiple sense that includes mental, social and political dimensions.

No wonder, Naam according to Bhagat Ravidas in Rag Dhanasari is kindling the “lamp” that lights up the entire world. (P. 694)

Your Name is the light applied to this lamp, which enlightens and illuminates the entire world.

Bhagat Kabir in Rag Maru describes the altering of the mind with the metaphor of  the battlefield: “The martial drum beats, the target heart is hit, life turns into a spot of excitement and the moment for battle knocks.”(p. 1105)

       The battle-drum beats rock the sky; aim is taken, wound inflicted.
       The (spiritual) warriors enter the field; now to engross in fight!
       He alone is known as a (spiritual) hero, who fights in defense of religion.
       He may be cut into  pieces, but never leaves the field.

Through the strong will of a soldier the seeker arrives at the “tenth door” when alteration or qualitative transformation occurs. The transformation enables one to hear the” Sabd” or the eternal sound, the unstruck melody (anhad nad) that is the invisible essence or ground of the entire universe. The mind that is led to this transformational state by the True Guru and Naam, ecstatically “dances” and the “Sabd” ceaselessly gives melody to it, according to Guru Ram Das in Rag Bilawal. (834-35)

Following the Guru’s Teachings, I have obtained the Ambrosial Water of the Naam, and the fire has been put out. The Word of the Guru’s Shabad has put it out.

This mind dances before the True Guru. The unstruck sound current of the Shabad resounds, vibrating the celestial melody.

Role of Sangat
To safeguard oneself from the dangers of this I-obsession and to stay on the path to Sehaj, individual effort is not enough. One needs to become part of the collective of saintly and truth-radiating persons, called “Sat Sangat.” It is they who enlighten the seeker multidimensionally according to Guru Amar Das in Rag Asa. (P. 364)

Joining the True Congregation, the Sat Sangat, total understanding is obtained.

If the seeker or subject desires to get his/her mind and body dyed with the colour of  the Divine, if one wills to live in God eternally, only the Sangat can fulfill that aspiration. Besides giving knowledge (Gyan), the Sangat performs the act of transforming. The closed “lotus” begins to open and grow.(P. 1148)

In the Saadh Sangat, the inverted lotus of my heart has blossomed forth.

The opening of the lotus, according to the Gurus, is a moment of enlightenment, of radiation shooting like the sun rays. The word used is “paragasu.” The distinguishing feature of SGGS is that it does not make the lotus symbolic of mere detachment and karuna (compassion). The relationship between the water which is the world or society of space and time and the lotus is of “preet” (love), according to Guru Nanak Dev as per Sri Rag, (P. 59).

       O mind, love the Lord, as the lotus loves the water.
       Tossed about by the waves, it still blossoms with love.

The Gurus insist that the sleeping lotus is not awakened to its light without associating with the enlightened collectivity. The original insight of the Gurbani is that the human being is a closed flower, a lotus bud awaiting to blossom up with the touch of Sangat.

Relation of Sehaj with other concepts in Gurbani
Kabir Ji says that the state of Sehaj is indescribable

       The description of the state of intuitive poise is indescribable and sublime.
       It is not measured, and it is not exhausted. It is neither light nor heavy.

Guru Amar Das ji, on P. 68 of SGGS, says that every one craves for the state of Sehaj and describes the conditions for its achievement and benefits, highlighting the role of Guru and Sabd. The negative role of hindrance played by Maya, ignorance, doubts and superstitions are also mentioned.

       Everyone longs to be centered and balanced, but without the Guru, no one can.
       The Pandits and the astrologers read and read until they grow weary, while the imposters are deluded by doubt.
       Meeting with the Guru, intuitive balance is obtained, when God, in His Will, grants His Grace.

       O Brothers in faith, without the Guru, intuitive balance is not obtained.
       Through the Word of the Sabd, intuitive peace and poise wells up, and that True Lord is obtained.

As an illustration, the manner in which Guru Nanak has treated the concept of Sehaj in its varied aspects, is evident from the following references from his Bani.

        1.    We come by Sehaj and go by Hukam; Nanak, there is eternal obedience (to God).
        2.    “By hearing the Name, one attains Sehaj contemplation.”
        3.    “By hearing Guru’s word, one attains Sehaj contemplation.”
        4.    “Those who apprehended Him, they recognized Sehaj. When I pondered over this, my mind was appeased.”
        5.    “One who met the Lord in Sehaj, was accepted. He has neither death nor rebirth.”
        6.    “In fear one found the Fearless. Then he entered the house of Sehaj.”
        7.    “To see Nature, to hear Gurbani, and to utter your True Name. Thus the treasure of honour was filled and we got Sehaj contemplation.”
        8.    “O Yogi, consider the essence with Sehaj. In this way you will not be reborn in this world.”

About Anhad:
        1.    “If one bears the unbearable, it means closing the nine doors. By controlling vital organs, the body becomes eternal.” 37
        2.    “Mind is not purified in the tenth door. The fool thus, is born again and again in superstition.” 38
        3.    “The true and contented Sabad is extremely soothingl and in Sehaj the  attention got fixed. The Lord created three gunas and Himself lived in the Fourth State. He made birth and death as one mouthful. The Lord the refuge of the all beings (sarabjagjlwari) was manifested by Guru as anhad sabd.”!_
        4.    “The Maker has made the nine doors. In the Tenth (door) lives the Unseen-(Beyond) Lord.”

Self as Sehaj Soldier in the Existential Battlefield
Gurbani is an aesthetic and spiritual strategy-complex par excellence to describe the power-affected human beings. Each person is believed to be a battlefield, an explosive site on which the codes, signs and ideologies of the hegemonic and the oppressed clash head on according to post-modern perspectives. Some of the defeats of the individual are written on his/her body as “inscriptions.” The bani, through its teachings, liberates the affected individual from such inscriptions. Each poetic expression of the bani is both an incision and musical healing with a new awareness.

The Sehaja-Soldier, despite his/her strong will, does not develop dogmatically. The person remains open and flexible with many simultaneous insights and orientations like:

       Among kings, He is the King; among yogis, He is the Yogi.
       Among ascetics, He is the Ascetic; among householders, He is the Enjoyer.

This is achieved by him/her by internalizing the mystical faith that the same Divine pervades all such entities that are noted above.

How to become a Sahaja-Soldier is elaborated in the SGGS and subsequently by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

The self is presented as a wrestler by Guru Arjan Dev in the existential battlefield involving struggle between virtues and vices:
       I am a wrestler; I belong to the Lord of the World.
       I met with the Guru, and I have tied a tall, plumed turban.
       All have gathered to watch the wrestling match, and the Merciful Lord Himself is seated to behold it

Kabir Ji’s Slaok using the metaphor of battlefield has been quoted earlier. (Gaggan Dumaamaa………….)

In Sikhism, the sacred and profane go hand in hand. Man is the manifest mode of the dynamic and a micro-unit of the Akalapurakh. Hence the intrinsic nature of man is dynamic with its self, as a dynamic moral agent that is potentially free and capable of developing his freedom from within. His existential freedom is concrete and relative because it is to be concretized in the society and carried out with Guru’s grace.

So ecstasy (sehaj avastha) in Sikhism is not cut off from the societal realities. The transcendental state of consciousness is integrated and harmonized through social relations with other fellows. This involves reconciliation of eternity with temporality, and spiritualism with secularism. Every truth being relative, it requires that it should be continuously interpreted and reinterpreted.

Guru Gobind Singh ji, therefore reinterpreted the concept of Sehaj by which the Sehaj persona became Sehaj Soldier with the following characteristics:

Bravo to the soul of that person, who remembers the Lord through his mouth and reflects in his mind about the war of righteousness; who considers this body the war of righteousness; who considers this body as transient, ascends the boat of Lords‘ praise and ferries across the dreadful ocean of the world;

Who makes this body as the abode of forbearance and enlightens it with the lamp of intellect and who taking the broom of knowledge in his hand sweeps away the rubbish of cowardice.

It is evident that despite its mystical connotations, the concept of Sehaj in the Sikh religious thought is equally concerned, if not more, with moral and socio-political issues. The Sehaj soldier integrates within its self the dimensions of consciousness, experience, morality and spirituality. The physical body of such a personality does not remain as a means for ravishing but becomes “Dheeraj Dhaam” Such a Sehaj soldier is ever ready for noble deeds-:

O Lord, grant me this that I may not hesitate from performing good actions.
May not fear the enemy, when I go to fight and assuredly I may become victorious.

“His/her ideal is then to become victorious, to remain in “Chardi Kalaa” and function for the good of all –“Sarbat da Bhallaa
(I express my gratitude to the scholars whose thoughts and vocabulary have been borrowed by me quite liberally. The list is given in References)


  1.   Sikh Rahasvaad (Punjabi) by Dr. Balkar Singh, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1999.
  2.   Mysticism of Guru Nanak by Dr. Dewan Singh, Singh Bros, Amritsar, 1995.
  3.   Gurmat Nirnay, By Bhai Jodh Singh
  4.   The Religious Philosophy of Guru Nanak: With special reference to Siddh Gosht.
  5.   A Few Sikh Doctrines Reconsidered by Dr. Jodh Singh; National Book Shop, New Delhi
  6.   McLeod: Guru Nanak and Sikh Religion
  7.   Prof. Naranjan Ray’s Paper on Sahaj.
  8.   Sikhism and Post Modern Thought by Gurbhagat Singh
  9.   Sikh Dynamic Vision by Prof. Nirbhai Singh; Harman Publishing House, New Delhi, 2003.
10.  Guru Granth Vichaar Kosh by Pyara Singh Padam , Punjabi University, Patiala, 1969.
11. The Concept of Self in Guru Nanak Bani; Bhupinder Kaur; Waris Shah Foundation, Amritsar, 2005.



ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All rights reserved.