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Gur Panth Parkash

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

 

BACK

Episodes From the Lives of Sikh Gurus

Episode No. 39

GURBANI IS INVIOlABLE

One day a Sikh was reciting the hymn of Dakhani Onkar before the Guru. When he recited this verse, “Kane ki mil kana janey, ke jane gur sura,” he missed one vowel. The ardasia Sikh was instructed to catch hold of the Sikh and to give him a beating with sticks. The Sikhs asked the Guru, “O True Emperor, the Sikh was reciting the sacred ‘Onkar’. Why is he being punished?”

“He is not getting the beating for reciting the ‘Onkar’, but for reciting it incorrectly,” replied the Guru and ordered them to bring the book. The Sikhs brought the book and opened it. The Sikh who had been reciting, was made to read the verse again. He recited as he had done earlier, omitting a vowel as “Kane ki mil kana janey, ke jane gur sura.” “How is this verse recorded in the book?” asked the Guru. In the granth (book) it was found to be thus, “Karte ki mit karta jane, kai jane gur sura.” “Look, the Sikh was beaten for distortion of the verse,” said the Guru, and continued, “This was a gross distortion. When he recites, ‘Karte ki mit karte jane, ke jane gur sura,’ it means ‘the Creator knows His extent, what does the Guru know about it?’ By reciting this way he has belittled the Guru. The Guru who is to be revered like the Creator, about him he says, ‘What does the Guru know?’ He has created a big confusion. The correct version is, ‘Karte ki mit karta jane, kai jane gur sura.’ This means that God’s extent is known to God and to the Guru. No third person knows it. Thus, the Guru and God have been shown as equal, or the same (one form). Countless number of times in the Granth Sahib, have the Guru and God been represented as inseparable.

He who recites the words correctly, alone gets the benefit from the recital. He who does not recite correctly, deserves to be punished. That is why he received stick blows.” (39)
~~~~

Note

Episode No. 39

The moral of this story is that the text of Guru Granth Sahib is sacred and inviolable. No part of it, not even a vowel, can be changed.

~~~

Episode No. 40

FOLLOW ALL COMMANDS OF GURU

Once a Sikh was plastering his wall with mud. Drops of dirty water from his hands soiled the Guru’s robes. The Guru said, “Someone give him a slap. He who does so will be blessed.” At this, all the Sikh who were sitting there, jumped on the poor Sikh. Some gave him as many as five slaps, some eight, some ten, until the Sikh was almost unconscious.

Then the Guru said, “He who gives this Sikh the hand of his daughter, will be blessed.” At this, all of them slipped away. Nobody spoke.

“O Sikhs,” said the Guru, “if you obey, you should obey all instructions, and not that you obey one and ignore the other. It seems that the first instruction to slap was found easy, while the one to offer a daughter was found difficult to carry out. You should have thought why so many of you started beating him? Had he committed a murder? So what if a dropof dirty water fell on my clothes? And if you plead that you slapped him under instruction of the Guru, then you should have given him only one slap. Those who beat him, should have thought that if someone had given him one slap already, he should not have dealt the second one. When the Guru’s instruction to give one slap had been carried out, why deal additional slaps? Why did you give him countless number of slaps? You have beaten him so much that you have pushed him close to death. All slaps above one have been dealt by you under your own perverted appreciation (of my orders).” (40)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 40

This story points to a common human failing. People usually pay heed to only such teachings of the Guru, ad suit them. The inconvenient ones are more often neglected than followed. The lesson is clearly brought out that the Guru’s injunctions have to be followed in totality. This is only an affirmation of what Guru Arjun said earlier.

Gur ke greh sewak jo rahai Gur ki agiya man mein sahai.
Man bechai satgur ke pas Tis sewak ke karaj ras”. i.e;

“The disciple that takes abode in the Master’s home to seek guidance should accept the Master’s guidance with his heart.

Only such a disciple as sells his soul to the Master,
Shall have his objectives fulfilled.”

~~~

Episode No. 41

ONLY MEN OF GOD ARE REMEMBERED

One day addressing the Sikhs, the Guru asked, “Who was emperor during the times of bhagat Kabir?”

“O True Emperor, we do not know,” replied the Sikhs.

“Look, when the emperor moved, a hundred thousand horses followed him as retinue, and today nobody knows his name. But everyone knows bhagat Kabir. Everybody knows him because he meditated on God and served saintly persons. Thus, the names of those who worship God and serve saints will be remembered in all ages. The real emperors are those who worship the Lord. Those who merely rule over countries are false emperors.

Kabir has been one of the biggest bhagats. In fact, there is no difference between Kabir or Ram and God. Thus, Kabir can be called Ram Kabir,” said the Guru. (41)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 41

The moral of this story is that sewa (service) and simran (meditation) are superior to the pursuit of political power or authority. The former will be remembered, while the latter will be forgotten. Nobody could tell the name of the emperor during the time of bhagat Kabir.

~~~

Episode No. 42

TRUTH

Once addressing the Sikhs, the Guru asked, “Who is supporting the earth?”  “O True Emperor, be kind and explain this to us yourself,” said the Sikhs.  “If somebody has heard something on this, he should come forward and reveal it,” said the Guru.

“O True Emperor, some people say that the earth is supported by a bull. Others say that
Seshnag is supporting the earth on its hood.”

“That may be so. But who is supporting the bull or the Seshnag?”

“O True Emperor, be kind and explain this yourself.”

“Brothers, they are supported by Truth. Truth is the sustenance of all the planets and stars and the universe. Falsehood can also pass off, when it is presented as Truth. Pure falsehood does not work. Just as solid iron alone does not float, but with a boat it can. In the same way falsehood can also work, if it is made indistinguishable from Truth,” explained the Guru. (42)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 42

In this story, the Guru explodes the myth of the traditional bull, and explains that Truth is the force that sustains the world order.

~~~

Episode No. 43

SHED HYPOCRISY

Once the Guru organised a Brahm Yagg. A large number of Brahmins and other guests joined. All kinds of dainties were served. The Yagg continued for many days. Rice puddings and sugar were used liberally. And maha parshad (meat) was also served. The Guru declared, “A Brahmin who eats maha parshad will be given one mohr (gold coin) as offering, while a Brahmin who takes rice pudding and sugar only, will receive one rupee (silver coin).” On hearing this most of the Brahmins ate meat out of greed for gold. Only a few took rice and sugar. Then the Guru said, “Those Brahmins who have eaten meat out of greed for the gold coin, are not Brahmins, but scoundrels. Give them only one rupee each as offering, and those Brahmins who have been content with rice pudding and sugar, should be given gold coins.” Thus those who ate meat received a rupee each, while those who ate rice pudding with sugar, were given gold coins as alms.(43)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 43

This episode exposes the hypocrisy of some religious leaders who drop their convictions under the influence of greed, as did some Brahmins for the sake of gold coin.

~~~

Episode No. 44

PRAISE GOODNESS

Once the Guru’s rababis started singing praises of Gopi Chand. A Sikh took them to task for praising him. The Guru overheard what the Sikh said, called him and said, “Listen, O Sikh, you have left behind a wife, probably not good looking. You are still attracted by her and pulled away from the Guru, who forces you into his embraces. You still try to run to such a woman. But Gopi Chand was such a brave man, who renounced eighteen thousand queens, when he came into contact with Guru Gorakh Nath. Besides all his queens were daughters of kings, most beautiful, moon-faced. They all had their foreheads adorned with precious stones. Pearls and other jewels were piled up like mountains in their palaces. They ruled over large territories. He renounced everything as if it was worthless as dry blades of grass. So, why do you stop the singers from reciting the bani of such a great person?”

“O True Emperor, I have erred. Pray, forgive me,” said the Sikh.

“Listen, O Sikh, allegiance should be to Truth alone; only the blessed find this. All truthful persons are the expression of God’s glory. Reciting or hearing their bani is an act of piety,” said the Guru. (44)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 44

The story of Gopi Chand’s renunciation yields the lesson that virtue or goodness in others must be praised. An indirect purpose of the author in selecting this story must be of eulogizing the ascetic values of his own Udasi sect, particulary celibacy.

~~~

Episode No. 45

COVET NOT WHAT BELONGS TO OTHERS

Once, a Sikh owed some money to another Sikh. He did not return the debt even on repeated demands. The creditor warned, “O Sikh, if you do not return the debt here, in this world, you will have to render account in the Lord’s court in the next world. Understand, this account will not be written off.”

“Nobody will call for accounts, if the Lord forgives,” replied the debtor Sikh, quoting a verse from the Guru’s shabad. The Guru, overhearing this, reminded him of another verse, “Saith Nanak: To grab what is another’s, is evil, as pig’s flesh to the Muslim and cow’s flesh to the Hindu. The preceptor for his follower shall intercede only when the latter has not coveted what is not his.” The Guru continued, “Listen, O Sikh, the Guru will forgive only if the Sikh gives up eating the forbidden carrion. There is no other way to forgiveness.

If this was not the practice, then everybody would be liberated without effort. If one can obtain liberation without effort, why should holy men preach. If preaching were unnecessary, why were the Vedas and Shastras written? Why should one try to conquer one’s mind? Why should one take to renunciation? You know all these have been accepted. So, false are those who believe that they will be liberated without effort. Without following the noble path release is not possible, as proclaimed by Guru Nanak: ‘Without noble deeds, talk of release is meaningless’.” (45)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 45

The story explains that one can expect the Guru’s grace only if one sticks to honest means, content with what is one’s due, and does not covet what belong to others.

~~~

Episode No. 46

GURU GRANTS SALVATION

Once, the Guru went out hunting in the forest. He was camping on a river bank. A Sikh came to report that a certain Sikh had been caught by a tiger. On hearing this the Guru immediately got up, armed himself with sword and dagger, and ran on foot, with instructions that nobody should follow him. The Guru encountered the tiger in the forest. When the tiger saw the Guru, it came and bent its head low before him.

“Beware, tiger, beware and fight me,” commanded the Guru. The tiger started wagging his tail playfully, and again touched the ground before the Guru with his head.
“O tiger, I am not going to spare you. Get ready and fight me,” commanded the Guru again. The third time the tiger touched his head on the ground before the Guru, he repeated, “Why do you prostrate before me? I am not going to spare you. Do not act in a cowardly fashion. You have yourself invited this by raking up old scores. So I will not spare you. Come on, get ready.” The tiger stood before the Guru with hands cupped in prayer. The Guru struck the tiger’s head with his sword, and severed it from his body. After killing the tiger, the Guru returned to his camp and said, “This tiger was very ferocious. In his previous birth, he was a Panda (Brahmin priest) and had the same ancestry. It was only the Guru who could fight him. Now he will rest in the Heavens.” (46)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 46

This is an allegorical expression of the notion that Pandas are as greedy and blood-thirsty as man-eating tigers. The Guru alone can liberate people from their clutches.

~~~

Episode No. 47

GURU IS NOT ABOVE DISCIPLINE

Once, it so happened that the Guru reached Dadu’s place. Looking towards the shrine, he saluted wilh his arrow. The Khalsa noliced this and said, “O True Emperor, you have ordered that the Khalsa shall not bow before tombs and cremation grounds, even by mistake. But you have yourself paid respect to a tomb. This has raised doubls in our minds.”

“O Khalsa, I should also be punished,” admitted the Guru. He complied with the punishment awarded by the Khalsa.

“O True Emperor, the Guru can commit no wrong. Why did he do that in this case?” questioned a Sikh later.

“The Guru is certainly above mistakes. We saluted the grave, because we have to teach the Khalsa how to maintain purity of faith, and how to dispense punishment,” explained the Guru. The Sikh was extremely happy at this answer. (47)

~~~

Note

Episode No. 47

It is clear from this story that the Guru gave a comprehensive training to the Khalsa, including how to deal with violations of rahit. The Guru himself accepted the tankhah (punishment) to demonstrate that nobody, including the Guru, is above the prescribed code.

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