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Gur Panth Parkash

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

 

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Seminar on "Gurudwara — Concept and Practices"

The Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, plans to hold a seminar on the above mentioned subject in Nov/ Dec 2016 at its premises at Tribune Chowk, Kanthala.

Gurudwara holds a central place in the Sikh community life. While all the major social functions in a Sikh’s life are held in a Gurudwara, a Sikh, in his daily life relies a lot on Gurudwara for spiritual sustenance also. A Sikh is expected to go to the Gurudwara everyday and benefit from Gurbani recitation and the company of the spiritually enlightened persons. Apart from this, a Gurudwara has many other functions to perform. In ‘Gursabad Ratnakar Mahankosh’, Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha has given the functions of Gurudwara as under:

A gurdwara performs multifarious functions. It is a school for the students, a spiritual guide for the seekers on the spiritual path, a dispensary for the sick, a grain store and a kitchen for the hungry and a strong fort for the protection of women and additionally an inn and a resting place for the travelers.                

A gurdwara forms the nucleus of the Sikh community life. Right from the start of the Sikh movement, care was taken to keep the gurdwaras under the charge of the best people of the community, who were great scholars, of impeccable character and were role models for the community.

Slowly management of the gurdwaras started degenerating. A time came when there was nothing worthy of calling a gurdwara by this name. These became the dens of corruption. The persons in charge of these sacred places of worship started using the resources as their personal property and all sorts of unethical practices came to be practiced there.

As freedom consciousness dawned on Indians in the later part of nineteenth century, all communities started thinking of their academic and moral uplift. To be forward looking in the matters of religion too is equally important for the all round progress of any community. ਗੁਰੁ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਹੋਇ ਸੋਝੀ ਪਾਇਸੀ। ਏਤੁ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਧੋਇ ਹਛਾ ਹੋਇਸੀ ।

The Sikhs too started ways by which they could put a stop to the rot that had set in their religious places. They started a movement of reform of the Gurudwaras. Literature  propagating Sikh Gurus’ message on social reforms was also published.

Shiromini Committee was the culmination of such activities. All the members of the committee had to undergo a rigorous screening and were told to declare they were leading their lives as per Sikh principles. Those who admitted that they had digressed somewhere, were told to seek pardon from the Guru and perform the sewa as decided ( Tankhah in Sikh parlance). After this the members were unanimously selected and a sub committee was formed to prepare a draft of the rules by which the committee was to work. The committee started its work with great enthusiasm and devotion. Many hurdles came in its way, and countless sacrifices had to be made.

No doubt, all the well wishers of the Panth want the Gurdwaras to be run in an exemplary manner. But this is not possible unless the members of the Gurdwara managements are fully conversant with the sikh principles and live their everyday life according to these principles. They must be of strong moral character too.  Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha recommends that all the persons involved in the management of gurdwaras should make it a practice to recite along with their regular Nitnem, the following Kabit composed by Bhai Gurdas:

Burning fire can be extinguished by throwing water on it, but what will happen if a boat amidst water catches fire? If one is cheated outside, one can take solace in his own home which fortifies him against all danger, but what will be the fate of a person who is cheated within his own house, by the members of his own family? Afraid of thieves, one can take a refuge with a ruler, but what if the ruler starts cheating him. Similarly a person afraid of the snares of maya, goes to the Gurdwara in order to take refuge with the Guru, but if the maya over powers him there, where will such a man find refuge?(Kabit 544)

ਬਾਹਰ ਕੀ ਅਗਨਿ ਬੂਝਤ ਜਲ ਸਰਤਾ ਕੈ ਨਾਉ ਮੈ ਜਉ ਅਗਨਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਕੈਸੇ ਕੈ ਬੁਝਾਈਐ ।       
ਬਾਹਰ ਸੈ ਭਾਗਿ ਓਟ ਲੀਜੀਅਤ ਕੋਟ ਗੜ ਗੜ ਮੈ ਜਉ ਲੂਟਿ ਲੀਜੈ ਕਹੋ ਕਤ ਜਾਈਐ ।
ਚੋਰਨ ਕੈ ਤ੍ਰਾਸ ਜਾਇ ਸਰਨਿ ਗਹੈ ਨਰਿੰਦ ਮਾਰੈ ਮਹੀਪਤਿ ਜੀਉ ਕੈਸੇ ਕੈ ਬਚਾਈਐ ।
ਮਾਇਆ ਡਰ ਡਰਪਤ ਹਾਰ ਗੁਰਦੁਅਰੈ ਜਾਵੈ ਤਹਾ ਜਉ ਮਾਇਆ ਬਿਆਪੈ ਕਹ
ਾ ਠਹਰਾਈਐ ॥

(Bhai Gurdas, Kabit 544)

Institute request all the scholars to write a paper on one of the spiritual and social aspects of the Gurudwara, keeping the above given concept of Gurudwara in mind. Multifarious functions of Gurudwara must be explained with concrete, practical and positive suggestions about how gurudwaras can once again play a central role in building up a strong and dynamic community that has the potential to change the face of this strife ridden world. The paper should not be more than 3000 words and should reach the office of the Institute by 20th November, 2016.

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