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In order to understand the Sikh worldview, it is necessary to answer a number of questions, namely, (1) what is the spiritual experience of the Gurus about the Fundamental Reality ? (2) what are the logical implications of that religious experience ? (3) how do these implications or ideas differ from those in other religions ? (4) did those ideas govern the course of Sikh religion ? and (5) what future does the Sikh worldview hold for man ? In answering these questions, we shall confine ourselves entirely to the bani in Guru Granth Sahib and historically accepted facts about the lives of the Gurus. Many of the misrepresentations about Sikhism arise from the failure of writers to understand Sikhism on the basis of its thesis, or to define Sikhism in terms of doctrines in Guru Granth Sahib. Obviously, in this short paper, we shall only give an outline of the Sikh worldview. We shall start with a definition of the Fundamental Reality or God in Sikhism.

God in Sikhism
The Reality or God has been profusely defined in Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak calls Him “Karta Purkh” or “Creator Person”, the world being His creation. Apart from being immanent in the world, He is the Ocean of Virtues, i.e., He is a God of Attributes. In defining the fundamental nature of God, the Guru says, “Friends ask me what is the mark of the Lord. He is all Love, the rest He is Ineffable.”1 Thus, the key to understanding the Sikh worldview is that God is Love. And Love has four clear facets : It is dynamic; it is the mother of all virtues and values; it is directive or has a will; and it is benevolent towards life in which He is immanent; i.e., it generates neither a dialectical movement, nor a class war, nor suicidal competition or struggle.

Corollaries of ‘God is Love’
This spiritual experience leads to five corollaries. First, it ipso facto gives status, meaning and reality to the world and life, because Love and God’s Attributes can be expressed only in a becoming universe. For, when God was all by Himself, the question of love and devotion did not arise. In unambiguous words, the Guru says, “True is He, and true is His creation.”2 Second, it clearly implies that the religious man has to lead a life of creativity and activity. Consequently, a householder’s life is accepted and monasticism is spurned. Third, it gives spiritual sanction to the moral life of man, indicating thereby that it should be of the same character as the loving nature of God. For, “Love, contentment, truth, humility and virtues enable the seed of Naam (God) to sprout.”3 This clearly prescribes the methodology of deeds. Fourth, it unambiguously points out the direction in which human effort should move, and the yardstick with which to measure human conduct. This sets the goal for the seeker, or Godman. Fifth, it shows the gracious interest of God in human affairs and activities. An important attribute of God is that He is ‘Guru’ or Enlightener who gives both knowledge and guidance, i.e., spiritual experience is noetic. The Guru’s God being a God of Will, one feels confident that one is working in line with His altruistic Will. For, God is perpetually creating and watching the world with His Benevolent Eye.4 And, He rewards every effort to become divine.5 For that matter, it gives man hope, strength and optimism.

Implication of ‘God is Love’
Here it is necessary to stress that the definition that God is Love, is extremely important for determining the category of Sikh religion. For, all systems in which God is Love, are life-affirming, and there is an integral combination between the spiritual life and the empirical life of man. And, as in the case of Abu Ben Adam, love of one’s fellowmen, is the primary and essential counterpart of the love of God. But, in life-negating systems, there is a clear dichotomy between the empirical life and the spiritual life of man. And sanyasa, asceticism, monasticism, withdrawal from life, pacifism or ahimsa and celibacy are the normal modes of the spiritual path. Sikhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity belong to the first category. Jainism and most other Indian systems belong to the second category.

In fact, differences in approach to life are due to the basic difference in the spiritual experience. In the second category of systems like Vaisnavism and Vedanta, God has been defined as sat-chit-ananda (truth-consciousness-bliss). This is far from being a dynamic concept. Stace has made a detailed survey of the description various mystics give of the nature of their spiritual experience of the Ultimate Reality. They all give blessedness, tranquility, holiness, unitary consciousness and ineffability as the nature of their spiritual experience.6 No mystic mentions love as the characteristic of that experience. The distinction is not arbitrary, but real. Huxley says, “The Indians say, the thought and the thinker and the thing thought about are one and then of the way in which this unowned experience becomes something belonging to me; then no me any more and a kind of sat-chit-ananda at one moment without karuna or charity (how odd that the Vedantists say nothing about love) ...... I had an inkling of both kinds of nirvana — the loveless being, consciousness, bliss and the one with love, and, above all, sense that one can never love enough.”7 He also says, “Staying in this ecstatic consciousness and cutting oneself off from participation and commitment in the rest of the world — this is perfectly expressed today in powerful slang, in the phrase ‘dropping out.’ It completely denies the facts, it is morally wrong, and finally of course, absolutely catastrophic.” “Absolutely Catastrophic.”8 Hence, the religious system laid down by the Gurus is radically different from the earlier Indian systems.

Consequent Differences with Other
Religious Systems of India
As it is, the Guru’s concept of God is quite different from the concept of many of the quietist mystics, or from the Indian concept of sat-chit-ananda. We find that Guru Nanak’s system follows strictly his spiritual experience and his view of the Attributes of God. And as a Godman, he seeks to follow the line of expression of God’s attributes in the world of man. Consequently, in the empirical life, this concept has important implications which stand emphasised in the bani and life of Guru Nanak. Hence, Guru Nanak’s system and its growth are entirely different from his contemporary religious systems and their growth.

First, it means, as already pointed out, the reality of the world and the life-affirming character of Sikhism. For, God is not only immanent in the world, He also expresses His Love and Attributes in the empirical world, and casts a Benevolent Eye on His creation. But in Vedanta and other Indian systems, the world is either mithya, an illusion, a misery, or a suffering. Second, Sikhism being life-affirming, this, inevitably, involves an integral combination between the spiritual life and the empirical life of man. This constitutes the foundation of the miri-piri doctrine laid down by Guru Nanak in his bani. In other words, Guru Nanak’s system is a whole-life system like Islam and Judaism, which also combine the spiritual and the empirical lives of man. Third, in consequence of it, monasticism, sanyasa, asceticism, pacifism and withdrawal from life are rejected, and a householder’s life is accepted as the forum of spiritual activities and growth. Logically, monasticism and celibacy go together, and Guru Nanak categorically rejected both of them. Obviously, God’s qualities of being ‘Shelter to the shelterless’, ‘Milk to the child’, ‘Riches to the poor’, and ‘Eyes to the blind’,9 can be expressed by the Godman only by being a householder and participating in all walks of life, and not by withdrawing from them. The fourth difference follows as a corollary to this and to the rejection of celibacy, namely, equality between man and woman.

In contrast, we find that in life-negating systems, and more especially in the Indian systems, the position on all these four points is essentially different. For them, life is far from real or an arena of spiritual endeavours. The spiritual path and the worldly path are considered separate and distinct. Whether it is Vedanta, Jainism, Buddhism, Vaisnavism or Nathism, asceticism, monasticism, ahimsa, sanyasa or withdrawal from life into bhikshuhood is the normal course. In consequence, celibacy is the rule, and woman is deemed to be a temptress. Dighambra Jains believe that a woman cannot reach kaivalya (spiritual summit), and has first to achieve male incarnation.10 In Buddhism, woman bhikshus are deemed second grade compared to male bhikshus who are considered senior to them.11 A male bhikshu is not supposed to touch and rescue a drowning woman, even if she were his mother.12 Sankara calls woman ‘the gateway to hell.’13 Both Ramanuja and Shankaradeva (a liberal Vaisnava saint) would not admit a woman to be a Vaisnava.14 The latter stated, “Of all the terrible aspirations of the world, woman is the ugliest. A slight side glance of hers captivates even the hearts of celebrated sages. Her sight destroys prayer, penance and meditation. Knowing this, the wise keep away from the company of woman.”15 Bhagat Kabir, we know, is considered a misogynist and calls woman ‘black cobra’, ‘pit of hell’ and ‘the refuse of the world.’16 It is well-known that even today in Catholic Christianity, a woman is not ordained as a priest. Against this, Guru Nanak not only sanctioned a householder’s life but stated as to, “How can a woman be called impure, when without woman there would be none.”17

All this has been explained to stress that the basic perceptions about the nature of the spiritual experience and the ontological Reality being different, the spiritual paths, under the two categories of systems, become automatically divergent.

Further, the acceptance of a householder’s life has important empirical and socio-political implications. Except for Guru Harkrishan, who died at an early age, every Guru married and led a householder’s life. By way of demonstration, this step was essential, otherwise, the entire Indian tradition being different, Guru Nanak’s system would have been completely misunderstood and misinterpreted. We are well aware that it is the Naths who questioned Guru Nanak as to how incongruous it was that he was, wearing the clothes of a householder, and at the same time claiming to follow the religious path. Guru Nanak’s reply was equally cryptic and categoric, when he said that the Naths did not know even the elementaries of the spiritual path.18 For this very reason, the Guru did not make his son, Baba Sri Chand, a recluse, his successor.

Regarding the fifth important difference about the goal of life of the religious man, Guru Nanak has made the position very clear in his Japuji. After putting a specific question as to what is the way to be a sachiara or a true man, the Guru, while clearly rejecting the method of observing silence, coupled with continuous concentration or meditation, replies that the right method and goal are to carry out the Will of God.19 And, God being Love and the Ocean of Virtues, His Will is Altruistically Creative and Dynamic. The Sikh goal of life is, thus, to be active and live a creative life of love and virtues. The goal is not personal salvation, or merger in Brahman, but an ever active life of love. It is in this context that Guru Nanak gives the call, “If you want to play the game of love, then come to my path with your head on your palm; once you set your foot on this way, then find not a way out and be prepared to lay down your head.”20 For him, life is a game of love. It is significant that the same advice was given by Guru Arjun to Bhai Manjh who was then a Sakhi Sarvarya and wanted to be a Sikh of the Guru, “You may go on with the easy path of Sakhi Sarvar worship, because Sikhism is a very difficult path, and unless you are willing to be dispossessed of your wealth and to sacrifice your very life, it is no use coming to me.”21 Exactly, the same call for total commitment and sacrifice was given by Guru Gobind Singh on the Baisakhi Day, 1699, when he created the Khalsa and administered amrit to the Panj Piaras.

The goal being different, the sixth implication is as to the method to achieve that goal. In Sikhism, the emphasis is on the methodology of deeds. Guru Nanak has made this point very clear when he says in Japuji : “Man’s assessment in His court is done on the basis of one’s deeds”,22 and “It is by one’s deeds that we become near or away from God.”23 In order to stress the fundamental spiritual importance of deeds, Guru Nanak says, “Everything is lower than Truth, but higher still is truthful living.”24 In fact, when the Guru defines the gurmukh or the superman, he calls him : ‘One who always lives truthfully.”

Essentials of Sikh Life and Its Differences with Other Systems in Matters of Social Responsibility

The basic difference between a whole-life system and a dichotomous system is that in the former, every field of life of operation of God, is also the field of operation and responsibility of both the Godman and the seeker. This is the broad approach. Having defined the nature of God and the goal of man, the important issue is what are the essentials of the religious life. In the context explained above, Guru Nanak has fixed specific duties and responsibilities of the religious life. The first is of accepting equality between man and woman. Guru Nanak clearly states, “Why downgrade woman, when without woman there would be none”,25 and “It is she who gives birth to great persons.”26 When the Third Guru created manjis or districts of religious administration, women were appointed in charge of some of them.27 The second responsibility is of maintaining equality between man and man. This was a direct blow to the social ideology of Varn Ashram Dharma which gave scriptural sanction to the hierarchical caste system. Guru Nanak found fault with that ideology saying, “The Vedas make a wrong distinction of caste”,28 and “One cannot be a Yogi by mere wishing, real Yoga lies in treating all alike.”29 He demonstrated the primary importance of treating all as equal by taking, after his enlightenment, Mardana, a low caste Muslim, as his life companion. This meant a total departure from the then existing religious prejudices, not only against lower castes, but also against Muslims who were regarded as malechhas. He made it clear that any one wanting to join his society, had, at the very start, to shed all prejudices against inter-religious or inter-caste dining and social intercourse. The revolutionary character of this step could be gauged from the fact that a Ramanuja would throw the entire food as polluted, if any one cast a glance on it while he had been preparing or eating it.30

The third social responsibility, Guru Nanak emphasises, is the importance of work. This too, we find, was something opposed to the then prevalent religious practice. Evidently, other-worldliness, sanyasa and monasticism excluded the religious necessity of work and sustaining the society. In fact, the Naths who were then the principal religious organisation in Punjab took a vow never to engage themselves in any work or business.31 But Guru Nanak says, “The person incapable of earning his living gets his ears split (i.e., turns a Nath Yogi) and becomes a mendicant. He calls himself a Guru or saint. Do not look up to him, nor touch his feet. He knows the way who earns his living and shares his earnings with others.”32 The Guru deprecates the Yogi who gives up the world, and then is not ashamed of begging at the door of the householders.33 The fourth social responsibility Guru Nanak stresses is about the sharing of wealth. He states, “God’s bounty belongs to all, but men grab it for themselves.”34 “Man gathers riches by making others miserable.”35 “Wealth cannot be gathered without sin, but it does not keep one’s company after death.”36 All this clearly condemns exploitative collection of wealth. The story of Guru Nanak rejecting the invitation of Malik Bhago, a rich person exploiting the poor, but accepting the hospitality of Lalo, a poor labourer, illustrates the same point as stressed in his bani.
Thus, the twin ideas about the brotherhood of man and the sharing of wealth to eliminate poverty and maintain equality in society are stressed by Guru Nanak. Even after his missionary tours, Guru Nanak took to the role of a peasant for the last 18 years of his life. It is significant that till the time of the Sixth Guru, when social and military duties of the leadership and organisation of the Sikh society became quite heavy and absorbing, every Sikh Guru had been doing a vocation or business to support his family.

The fifth social responsibility, where Guru Nanak radically departed from all the contemporary religious systems, including Sufism, Santism and Christianity, was his approach towards injustice and oppression of all kinds in society. He made a meticulous study of injustice and corruption, aggression and incongruity in every field of life. He pointed out the greed and hypocrisy of Brahmin priests and Mullahs, the ‘blood thirsty corruption’ and injustice by lower and higher-rung officials in the administration, the misrule, oppression and irresponsibility of the local rulers, their inability to give security, fairplay and peace to the people, and brutal and barbaric butchery of the people. All this was not just idle rhetoric, but a diagnostic assessment of the prevailing turmoil and conditions in the society, which the Guru felt, needed to be changed. It needs to be emphasised that in Guru Nanak’s ideology, there was nothing like private or personal salvation. Just as God of Love is benevolently looking after the entire world, in the same way, the Godman’s sphere of activity and responsibility is equally wide, and is unhedged by any self-created barriers. This is, as we shall see, a fundamental difference between a salvation religion catering for individuals, and a universal religion catering for the spiritual well-being of society as a whole.

Here it is very relevant to give, as recorded by Bertrand Russell, the contrasted approach of St Augustine, one of the greatest exponents of the Christian gospel and author of City of God. Russell concludes : “It is strange that the last men of intellectual eminence before the dark ages were concerned, not with saving civilization or expelling the barbarians or reforming the abuses of the administration, but with preaching the merit of virginity and the damnation of unbaptized infants. Seeing that these were the preoccupations that the Church handed on to the converted barbarians, it is no wonder that the succeeding age surpassed almost all other fully historical periods in cruelty and superstition.”37 Whereas Guru Nanak meticulously points out every dark spot in the religious and socio-political life of his times, St Augustine is simply unconcerned with socio-political conditions of his period. For, “Augustine’s City of God (426) attacked both Christians who expected the world to get better and pagans with a cyclic view of history. Augustine did not believe that the spread of Christianity would ensure political and economic improvement. The earthly city of self-will would continue to exist amidst the rise and fall of states and empires.”38

Another important fact is Guru Nanak’s criticism in Babar Vani of the brutalities and massacres perpetrated and misery caused by the invaders. He condemns them in the strongest terms and complains to God for allowing the weak to be trampled upon by the strong.39 This hymn has an extremely important lesson, which many of us have missed. For, anything which is within the sphere of His creation and the responsibility of God, is certainly within the sphere of responsibility of the Godman. The hymn has four implications; first, that injustice and oppression are violative of the Order of God; second, that as the Master and God of Love, harmony has to be maintained by His Will; third, that, as the instrument of God, it is the spiritual duty and responsibility of the Godman to confront all kinds of injustice; and, fourth, that, as such, resistance to oppression was a task and a target laid down by the Guru for the religious society he was organising. Because, it is Guru Nanak who defines God as ‘Destroyer of the evil-doers’,40 ‘Destroyer of demoniacal persons’,41 ‘Slayer of the inimical’,42 and ‘Protector of the weak.’ Such being the God of Guru Nanak, it is equally the responsibility of the Godman, gurmukh, or the Sikh to carry out His Will which is just and altruistic.

In short, in Guru Nanak’s system to ensure equality and fair play and to react against injustice and aggression, become the religious duty and responsibility of the Sikh. Since the dawn of civilisation, the greatest oppression and injustice have undeniably been done by the rulers, the State, or the Establishment who have possessed all the instruments of power and coercion. It is impossible for idividuals to confront such power. This leads to two important inferences. First, that in a whole-life system like Sikhism, which combines spiritual life with the empirical life of man and accepts the miri-piri doctrine, the religious man must, as a religious duty, resist and confront injustice, wherever it takes place. Second, that such a religious man should not only be cognizant of such injustice, but also organise a society that should be in a position to face the challenge of such injustice and oppression. This follows logically both from Guru Nanak’s bani and his system. This also explains why from the very beginning of his mission, he started organising the Sikh societies at places which he visited and how the societies were logically linked and developed by his successors into the Panth. These aspects are very significant and important about his society and religion. It is obvious to every student of the Adi Granth that so far as the ideology is concerned, it had been completely laid down in the bani of Guru Nanak. But what was lacking was the presence of a properly motivated and responsible society that should be in a position to successfully discharge the responsibility of reacting against injustice and oppression prevalent in his times.

There is another important and related issue. Having cast on his society the responsibility of confronting injustice, again it is Guru Nanak who eliminates the hurdle of ahimsa or pacificism that stood as a bar against the religious man or a religious society trying to confront socio-political aggression. Among Vaisnavas, Jains, Buddhist Bhikshus, Naths, or Radical Sants like Kabir, ahimsa is deemed to be a cardinal virtue and meat eating is a prohibition. These religious persons are all from life-negating systems, with personal salvation as the ideal. But a society that has to accept the social responsibility of confronting injustice cannot remain wedded to the hurdle of ahimsa. For, reason and force are both neutral tools that can be used both for good and evil, for construction and destruction. That is why Guru Nanak says, “Men discriminate not and quarrel over meat eating, they do not know what is flesh and what is non-flesh, or in what lies sin and what is not sin”,43 and that “there is life in every grain of food we eat.”44

Role of Later Nine Gurus
In a country, which for over 2000 years had been trained in religious systems involving clear dichotomy between spiritual and empirical life, and which had accepted ahimsa as a fundamental value and individual salvation as an ideal, it was no easy task to create a mature society with the new motivation of religious responsibility of always fighting injustice and oppression in all spheres of life.

It is very significant that Guru Nanak laid the foundations of every institution that was later developed and matured by his successors. By starting the institution of langar (common kitchen) and taking Mardana as his life companion, he gave a heavy blow to the divisive institution of Varn Ashram Dharma, pollution and caste. He created a separate Sikh society with their own dharmasalas as centres of religious worship and training. He sanctified the role of the householder as the medium of religious expression and progress, and made it plain that work was a necessity of life, and idleness a vice. He emphatically made it clear that to fight injustice and oppression is an essential duty of the religious man and the religious society. For that end, while he created a new society with a new ideology, he also removed the hurdle of ahimsa, so that his society could discharge its socio-religious responsibility without any unwanted inhibitions and impediments in its path. And since the new society had not yet been fully organised and developed, and had yet to be properly oriented to enable it to discharge its responsibilities, he also created the institution of succession. It is very significant of the social and societal aims of Guru Nanak that after passing the succession to Guru Angad, when he found him to be living a somewhat solitary life, he reminded him that he had to be active since he had to organise a society or Panth.45

In the time of the Second, Third and Fourth Guru, four important steps were taken. Through the creation of 22 manjis or districts of religious administration, the Sikh society was organised into a separate religious Panth. But, the most important and difficult part of the task was the creation of new motivations and the acceptance of the new life-affirming religious ideals of Guru Nanak. For, these were radically new in their approach, implications and goals. The stupendous nature of the task of the Gurus can be judged from the fact that even today great Hindus, like Jadunath Sarkar, Rabindra Nath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, and Christians like McLeod, Cole, Toynbee and the like, all coming from pacifist traditions and conditioned by them, find it difficult to understand the spiritual role of the Sixth and the Tenth Master.
The Third Guru created new institutions which had the dual purpose of weaning the Sikhs away from the old Hindu society and of conditioning them in new values, ideals and practices. For example, while Guru Nanak had bypassed his recluse son, Sri Chand, for the same reasons, the Second and the Third Guru avoided persons of ascetic tendencies from entering the Sikh fold. The institution of langar, with the dual purpose of feeding the poor and of eliminating the caste and status prejudices and distinctions, was strengthened. Finally, the important religious centre of Darbar Sahib and the town of Amritsar were founded and developed for the periodical meetings of the Sikh society and visits of the Sikhs to the Guru. The object of all this was to establish a separate historical identity of the Sikhs and to wean them away from the traditional society, its centres of pilgrimage, and its religious practices and rituals. Not only had they to be trained in the essentials of a new religious system, but they had to be taken out of the strangle-hold of the Brahmin priests claiming to be the sole medium of religious growth, practice and interpretation.

Then came the stage of the Fifth Guru who created and installed the Sikh Scripture as the revealed and final doctrinal authority. The system of daswandh (giving 10% of one’s earnings for the cause of the community) was organised. Sikhs were initiated into trading in horses, so that the transition to the next stage of militancy could become smooth. As the instrument of God on earth, the Sikhs called their Guru, ‘True Emperor.’ In the time of the Fifth Guru, the Sikh society had become ‘a State within a State’,46 and had developed a social identity which had caught the eye of the Emperor, who considered it an unwanted socio-political growth. By his martyrdom, the Guru not only strengthened the faith and determination of the community, but also sought confrontation with the Empire, leaving instructions to his son to begin militarisation of the Sikhs. In the process, the Sixth Guru even recruited mercenaries to train his people. This phase of martyrdom and confrontation with the Empire was continued by the subsequent Gurus till Guru Gobind Singh did, as recorded by his contemporary Kavi Sainapat, the epitomic work of starting the institutions of amrit and the Khalsa.47 Having felt that the Panth had become mature and responsible enough, the Guru created the Khalsa in 1699, and requested the Panj Piaras to baptise him.48 It is significant that at that time all the Guru’s sons were alive, meaning thereby that Guru Nanak’s mission had been completed and thereafter the succession was not to be continued. And, finally, the Guru made Guru Granth Sahib the Everlasting Guru of the Sikhs.49

Let us have a rapid look back to find out if the five tasks indicated by Guru Nanak had been accomplished. First, the Sikhs had been formed into a distinct new religious society with a Scripture of its own, being the full repository and complete and final guide of the Sikh ideology and its way of life. This separateness was made total by Guru Gobind Singh’s Nash doctrine of five freedoms — Dharam Nash, Bharam Nash, Kul Nash, Karam Nash and Kirt Nash.50 This means freedom from the bonds of old religions and traditions, of earlier superstitions and prejudices, of earlier acts and of restrictions in choice of trade or calling, or in professional mobility. The Tenth Master made a complete break with the earlier traditions and societies. Second, it was a society of householders, rejecting all kinds of otherworldliness, idleness and monasticism. Third, it was a casteless society with complete fraternity among its members. Men from the lowest and Sudra castes rose to be its leaders. The contrast is evident from the fact that while the Sikhs have never had Brahmin leaders, in India after Independence in 1947, the Prime Minister and practically every Chief Minister was a Brahmin. Four, it was a society which was fully earthaware; and habits of work, production and service became ingrained among its members. Begging was considered a disgrace in its social ethos. The fifth social responsibility discharged by the Sikhs was to free the country from the curse of a thousand-year wave of invaders from the North-West. Though the Sikhs were subjected over the years to the worst persecution in Indian history, yet they suffered it and emerged triumphant. And, finally, they were able once and for all to stem that tide. They have been trained to react against wrong, injustice and oppression. A society has been created with the ideal of a Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier).

Manmukh to Gurmukh : The Guru’s Concept of Evolution of Man
Here, it is necessary to state the manmukh-gurmukh concept, which is essential for understanding the Sikh worldview. As the Gurus say, over millions of years life has evolved into man from a tiny speck of life. The Guru says, “For several births (you) were a mere worm, for several births, an insect, for several births a fish and an antelope”, “After ages you have the glory of being a man.”51 “After passing through myriads of species, one is blest with the human form.”52 “God created you out of a drop of water and breathed life in you. He endowed you with the light of reason, discrimination and wisdom.”53 “O man, you are supreme in God’s creation; now is your opportunity, you may fulfil or not fulfil your destiny.”54 At its present stage of development, man is, without doubt, better equipped than other animals, in so far as he has a higher sense of discrimination. But, as an ego-conscious being, he is still an animal, being a manmukh. This implies that whatever be human pretensions, man is basically and organically a self-centred being. His psyche is governed by an egoistic consciousness, that being his centre of awareness, control and propulsion. Because of his present inherent limitations of ego- consciousness, it is virtually impossible for man to avoid conflict, aggression, and wars. But the Gurus clearly hold out hope for man. There are four stages of evolution or development. The Guru says, “God created first, Himself, then haumain, third, maya (multifarious things and beings) and fourth, the next higher stage of the gurmukh who lives truthfully.”55 The Gurus clearly say that it is human destiny to reach the fourth stage and to meet God, or to be a gurmukh, or one who is in tune with the fundamental Reality or Universal Consciousness, God, Naam, or Love. His ideal is not merger in God or salvation, or union as an end in itself. Being the instrument of, or in touch with God’s Altruistic Consciousness, he is spontaneously benevolent, compassionate, creative and loving. It is very important to note that the gurmukh or superman is not a quietist, he ‘lives truthfully.’ He lives as did the ten Gurus. For, Guru Nanak was called just a gurmukh. This is the next higher stage of evolution towards which life is striving and not towards darkness and death as materialist scientists would have us believe. Nor does Sikhism accept any concept of the basic sinfulness or fall of man from grace. It only indicates the constitutional weakness, immaturity or imperfection of man at his present stage of the evolutionary process or development. Hence, it gives us an ideology of optimism and hope, invoking and exhorting us to make moral effort.

Survey of Higher Religions
Before we draw our conclusions, let us make a brief survey of some religious ideologies of the world and find the place of Sikhism among them. There are four clear religious ideologies that are current today.

Dichotomous Religions
First is the category of religious systems like Buddhism, Jainism, Nathism, Vaisnavism and Vedanta, in which there is clear dichotomy between the spiritual life and the empirical life. Monasticism, sanyasa, otherworldliness, celibacy, yogic meditation and ahimsa are the common but important features of this category. They hold out no hope for man, except by withdrawal from life and yogic or one-point meditation. In each case, it is a path of personal salvation without any involvement in the socio-political affairs of man. Practically, all the Indian religions, except Sikhism, belong to this category.

Second is Judaism which has a long and chequered history. Basically, it is a system in which there is no dichotomy between the religious life and the empirical life of man. Prophet Moses who got the revelation, was both a religious and political leader. His Torah or Commandments and Laws prescribe and govern the entire gamut of the spiritual and temporal life of the Jews. It is a system that prescribes rules governing the conduct of prayer, rituals, sacrifices and their socio-political life. The renowned Hillel when asked to explain the 613 commandments of the Torah, replied, “Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary, go and learn it.”56 In short, it is basically a life-affirming system. It makes no distinction between the spiritual and the socio-political life of man. The Torah governs every aspect of it. As to the means of resistance, Judaism recommends the use of force by saying, “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, and indicates rules for a righteous fight.57 But, over its long history including the period of the prophets, this aspect of its principle has, to an extent, been altered, or changed at least by some sects of the community. At the time of the Babylonian attack (Sixth Century B.C.) on Palestine, Prophet Jeremiah strongly recommended non-resistance or pacificism. He asserted that the attack was God’s punishment to the Jews for their non-observance of His Laws.58 His assertion was something like Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that the Bihar earthquake was a punishment to the Hindus for their practice of untouchability. However, over the centuries thereafter, many religious sects of Jews like Essenes, Kabbalists, Hasidists, Therapeutics,59 and even some Pharisees accepted the principle of non-resistance, pacificism, withdrawal and otherworldliness. Even monastic and celibate cults appeared among Jews, discarding both the world and the use of force. This important change, in a basic religious principle, we believe, came about in this religion in later parts of its history, when Judaism was unable to cope with challenges from the socio-political environment, and their religious fervour had been exhausted. Practically, all these otherworldly sects appeared after the destruction of the First Temple and the fall of Jerusalem, when thousands of Jews were driven out as exiles and slaves to Babylonia. We wish to stress that these fundamental changes in Judaic ideology, including otherworldly or monastic sects, appeared only during the lean period of Jewish history. This happened about eight centuries after the revelation of Moses, and after the heydays of Jewish life in the times of David and Solomon. But, it is very significant that despite the presence of somewhat pacifist or otherworldly cults and sects in Judaism, and despite about 2500 years of suffering and travail, the idea of Zionism, a virtual revival of earlier non-pacifist ideals, strongly reappeared in Judaism in the last century. And it is an important fact that Einstein, who says that his life was spent ‘between politics and equations’ was a staunch Zionist. So much so, that when Israel was formed he was offered its presidency.60 However, apart from this apparent doctrinal ambivalence in its ideology, Judaism is a highly exclusive religion, not quite universal in its character, affinities and approach.

The Judaic heritage of Christianity is undoubted. As in Judaism, in Christianity, too, there is, in principle, no dichotomy between the spiritual life and the empirical life of man. For, Christ emphasises both loving God with all one’s heart, and loving one’s neighbour as oneself.61 But like Buddha, he also emphasises the pacifist principles, ‘resist not evil’ and ‘turn the left cheek if hit on the right.’ Religious history demonstrates that pacifist religions almost invariably become otherworldly, even if they were life-affirming in the beginning. Because of their religious pacificism, the Christians declined to take up service in the Roman army. In fact, historians like Gibbon and Sir James Frazer have mentioned Christian otherworldliness as one of the major causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.62 It is obvious that Christianity, which, like Judaism, was a religion of householders, showed, by the beginning of the 4th century AD, clear monastic trends.63 Increasingly, monasteries and nunneries appeared as a significant development in the Christian religion. This life of monasticism, asceticism and nunneries led, on the one hand, to otherworldly quietist mysticism, and, on the other hand, to corruption and malpractices in the Catholic Church.

Consequent to this schism in the life of the Christian Church, ultimately arose the Reformation, causing a major blow to the supremacy of the Church and its role as the guiding moral force in the life of the Christian society. Lutheran and Calvinist reforms not only shattered the universal character of the Church, but also brought about its subordination to the national State. In addition, because of Luther’s leanings towards the feudal princes, he took a very hostile and feudalistic stand against the rights of the peasantry. This landslide in the fortunes of the Church caused its gradual waning as a major moral influence in the socio-political life of the Christian societies. After the rise of science, which was considered to be the new elixir, it came to be believed that it would, in course of time, cure most human ills. The net result is that in the last 300 years, Renaissance, scientism, empiricism and secularism have virtually eliminated religion from the moral life of man in the West.

Toynbee says, “This transfer of allegiance from the Western Christian Church to the parochial Western secular state was given a positive form borrowed from the Graeco-Roman civilization by the Renaissance.” “This unavowed worship of parochial states was by far the most prevalent religion in the Christian society.”64 Since the loss of supremacy of religion in the Christian society, Western life has lost its moral moorings. Nationalism, communism and individualism have been the unstable offsprings of this broken home. “Together with Darwinism, secularism and positivism, they have dehumanised the Western culture, reducing liberalism to a self-serving, highly competetive individualism.”65 By relegating religion to the background and having lost the moral springs of the Western culture, either utilitarian ethics has been accepted as an expedient substitute or a reductionist search has been made to find appropriate ethical elements in the life of the animals, or in the material base of man which is considered to be its fundamental constituent. And this search has finally come to the dismal conclusion that all ethical life is ‘a defence mechanism’ or a ‘reaction formation’ to the impacts of the environment. After the Second World War, a third of the population of the world was living under the Communist system. As the century is closing, these countries find that despite the myth of dialectical movement and synthesis, the system has been unable to make any synthetic values or devise a system of ethics which is able to maintain cohesion within these societies. And it is the existence of this moral vacuum that made the Foreign Secretary of the Soviets proclaim that ‘universal values should have priority over class, group or other interests.’66 The warning remained unheeded, and the Russian Empire has collapsed, purely because of its inability to build internal cohesion. At the ethical plane, this decries, in a way, the validity of Darwinism, and its struggle for existence, and Marxism with its dialectical movement of class struggle. It involves equal condemnation of economic wars, cut-throat competition, consumerism and increasing disparities in capitalist societies.

From the point of view of internal cohesion, the position in the capitalist countries of the West is no better. Mounting number of divorces, broken homes, drug addiction, alcoholism, and individualism have created such a situation in North America, which made the Christian Church raised a strong voice saying that secularism was a common danger and needed to be eliminated as a social force, and that Christianity should seek the co-operation of other religions to combat its evil influence. Christianity had given to the empirical life in the West its cohesion, strength and elan; the divorce of religion from politics and the empirical life, has left secularism a barren institution without any hope of a creative future. This is the tragedy both of communism and capitalism. It is this tragedy with its dark future that the North American Churches wanted to avoid. But in the temper of the times, this voice of sanity was drowned in an exhibition of suicidal egoism of the European Churches who felt that “Secularization, not secularism, is the primary process. It is a process in which some of the values of Christian faith have been put into a secular framework, bringing about a powerful force which is destroying all old ideas. Hence, secularization is an ally, because it will destroy Hinduism, Islam and other forms of what they considered to be superstition. So, we should ally ourselves with secularization and see it as the work of God.” Later, it was again repeated : “We do not feel that we have anything lacking. And so we are opposed to dialogue unless it is for the sake of testifying to Jesus Christ.” “That was it. Then they passed a resolution saying that under no circumstances should multi-religious dialogues be undertaken because multi-religious dialogues put Christianity on the same level as other religions, and this is unacceptable. So, because the European Christians had that point of view, the World Council of Churches has not been able to engage in multi-religious dialogues for quite some time.”67

This is the state of affairs of the moral life of man in Western countries that lead the dominant culture of our times. Recently, however, some priests in Latin America have raised a voice for an integrated and composite culture of Liberation Theology, invoking the Bible in support of a revolutionary struggle to help the poor. Father C. Torres states, “The Catholic who is not a revolutionary is living in mortal sin.”68 Theologian Moltmann says, “Political theology wants to awaken political consciousness in every treatise of Christian theology. Understood in this way, it is the premise that leads to the conclusion that, while there may be naive or politically unaware theology, there can be no apolitical theology.” He concludes, “The memory of Christ crucified compels us to a political theology.”69 But these are still minority voices in the Christian world.

Islam started with a full-blooded combination between the spiritual life and the empirical life of man. It is this combination that swept everything before it and created an epoch which is unrivalled in its achievements. It is a religious system and culture, which is, in many respects, more comprehensive and unified than the parochial culture of the city states of Greece. It is hardly complimentary to the Christian world of the West that while today it seeks to fashion many of its cultural institutions on the basis of Greek classical models, yet these, but for the interlude of the Islamic epoch which preserved most of the Greek thought, would have been lost to posterity. Never was the concept of human brotherhood advanced, in thought and deed, on a scale as during this epoch. It speaks volumes for the liberalism of Islamic culture that the heydays of the Judaic literature, philosophy and thought synchronise with the countries and periods of Islamic rule. Not only were some of the Jewish classics written, but Maimonides, the king of Judaic philosophy, also flourished and wrote during the Muslim rule. As against it, under Christian rulers, the Jews suffered periodical massacres, persecution and the segregated life of the ghetto. Admittedly, the Muslim rulers were, by comparison, quite liberal towards the followers of other religions. Islamic contribution to the scientific thought of the day was significant. But far more important is the contribution of men like Al Qushairi, Al Ghazali and Arbi to the religious thought of man.

There is, however, little doubt that mystic quietism and otherworldliness of Sufis is a growth that appeared during the time of later Caliphs, when they indulged in luxurious and un-Islamic living. It has happened in the case of Judaism and of Islam, both whole-life religions, that in times when religiously sensitive souls found it difficult to face the social or socio-political challenges, they withdrew themselves into the shell of quietism, otherworldliness, monasticism and asceticism. Sufi sects appeared all over the Muslim world, but they never posed a challenge to the oppression and misrule of the Muslim emperors or kings. In this respect, the Jewish prophets were quite bold in their criticism of Jewish rulers, including David and Solomon.

It is very significant, and shows the lofty spiritual status of the Sikh Gurus and the basic ideological affinity between the two religions, that a Sufi saint like Pir Buddhu Shah fought and sacrificed two of his sons for the cause of Guru Gobind Singh.70 But it was the Sikh Gurus and not the Sufis who challenged the growing Mughal tyranny. This instance demonstrates that although as an organisation, Sufis had become otherworldly and failed to confront the major challenge of societal oppression in the Muslim empires, yet when the Sikh Gurus had actually taken up the challenge and the ideological struggle was on, the Sufi saint made it clear that, considering the tenets of Islam, on which side should be the sympathies of a pious person.

There are, however, some scholars like Iqbal and Abdus Salam who believe that like the otherworldliness of the Christians, as in the case of the Roman Empire, Sufis also became a significant cause of the decline of the Muslim cultural supremacy in the world. For, there is considerable truth in Dr Mohammad Iqbal’s couplet : “Whether it be the facade of a great republic, or the domain of a glorious empire, if its polity is divorced of the religious component, the system is reduced to sheer Changezian barbarity and tyranny.” Thoughtful and saner elements in the Muslim world seem to be disillusioned with the bankrupt Western Secularism, and are trying to revert to a reformed and composite culture of Islam.

Religious History and Creation of the Khalsa
In our brief survey, we have indicated four categories of religious systems. The Indian systems are all dichotomous. To the second category belongs pacifist Christianity which, though it originally suggested the love of one’s neighbour as oneself, has gradually but ultimately reduced itself to sheer Secularism, Individualism and Consumerism, bereft of any religious component. To the third category belong Judaism and Islam which started with a full-blooded combination of the spiritual life with the empirical life, but ultimately, under pressure of circumstances, bifurcated, on the one hand, into otherworldliness or mystic quietism, and, on the other hand, into the pursuit of worldly gains and sheer animal survival.

Sikhism belongs to a different or a fourth category of the religious systems. For the purpose of understanding, clarity and comparison, it will help us if we recapitulate the salient features of Sikhism. The Gurus say that the Basic Reality is creative and free. It has a Direction and a Will. It is the Ocean of Values, Destroyer of evil-doers, Benevolent and Beneficent. That Reality is Love and we can be at peace with ourselves and the world only if we live a life of love and fall in line with the Direction of that Reality. Though ego is God created and man is at present at the ego-conscious (manmukh) stage of development, it is his destiny to evolve and reach the stage of Universal or God-consciousness and work in line with His Altruistic Will, i.e., achieve the gurmukh stage of development, when alone he can ‘be spontaneously moral’ and ‘live truthfully.’ At the present, or the egoistic stage of his development, man cannot avoid conflicts and suicidal wars. It is a futile search to try and find the moral base of man either in the animal life or in the material constituents of man. Nor can reason, which is just a tool of the egoistic psyche, like any other limb of the individual, devise and give man a helpful ethics. God or the Basic Reality, which is Love, can alone be the source of the moral life of man. Ultimately, it is only God or Naam-consciousness, involving link with the Basic Fount of Love, that can lead to truthful living. That is why the Guru says, “Naam-consciousness and ego-consciousness cannot go together.”71 The two are contradictory to each other. It is a hymn of fundamental significance. For, ego-consciousness means man’s alienation from the basic Force of Love. And, greater the alienation or isolation of man from his spiritual and moral source, the greater would be his drive towards destruction. Secularism as an institution represents that egoistic isolation. This trend, the Guru says, is inconsistent with the path towards link with the Universal Consciousness, the spring of moral life. The Gurus have given a lead to man in this field. Ten Gurus or ten gurmukhs, lived the life of God-consciousness. In one sense, it is the life of one gurmukh completing a demonstration and furthering the progress of life and its spiritual evolution and ascent. Guru Nanak’s thesis involved the integration of the spiritual life of man with his empirical life. This integration has to enrich life and society. Because of the earlier cultural and religious tradition, it took ten lives for Guru Nanak, the gurmukh or Sant- Sipahi, to demonstrate his thesis and role, and discharge his social responsibilities.

These socio-spiritual responsibilities involved not only the creation of a society motivated with new ideas, but also the completion of the five tasks Guru Nanak had indicated as targets before himself and his society. With every succeeding Guru, the ideal of gurmukh or Sant-Sipahi, as laid down and lived by Guru Nanak, unfolded itself progressively. It is a path of love, humility, service, sacrifice, martyrdom and total responsibility as the instrument of God, the basic Universal Consciousness moving the world.

A question may be asked as to why there have been ten incarnations of Guru Nanak in Sikhism, while in other religions there have generally been only one prophet. To us, four reasons appear quite obvious. First, in a society in which dichotomous religions stand deeply embedded and established for over three thousand years and which claims to have contributed asceticism and monasticism to the cultures of the rest of the world, it was not easy for a whole-life religion with its miri-piri concept to be acceptable and take firm roots in one generation. Second, the Sikh ideology did not involve individual salvation, or a gurmukh just living truthfully; but it also involved compulsively the creation of a society motivated with new aspirations and ideals. And this new orientation and conditioning could be done only by the process of creating a new ideology, embodying it in a new scripture, organising new institutions, socio-religious practices and centres of the new faith, and inspiring people, by the method of martyrdoms, into accepting a new ethical standard or morality and values. For, as Ambedkar72 and Max Weber have stated, the Hindu society cannot be reformed from inside, and rid itself from the unjust system of caste and untouchability, because the Varn Ashram Dharma has the sanction of Shashtras and scriptures; and a Hindu while making caste distinctions and exhibiting caste prejudices never feels any moral guilt or abhorrence. Instead, he feels a real sense of religious and moral satisfaction that he is observing his Dharma and Shastric injunctions. Hence, the inevitable necessity of creating a new ideology and Scripture with a new religious and socio-moral code of conduct. Third, even if the ideology and institutions had been there, the Sikh society would, like some reformed societies, soon have reverted to the parent society, if it had not successfully achieved the social targets discussed above, including those of creating a fraternal society of householders, of dislodging the political misrule, and sealing the North-Western gate of India against the invaders.

The fourth reason appears to be very important. Our survey of the major religions of the world shows that revealed systems which start with a combination of the spiritual life with the empirical life and even with clear social objectives, over a period of time, either shed their social ideals and become pacifist, otherworldly, or a salvation religion, or become dichotomous, bifurcating, on the one hand, into monasticism, and, on the other hand, into either political misrule and tyranny or sheer secularism. Sikhism does not stand any such danger of ideological decline or bifurcation, because of its gradual and firm ascent and unfolding. It shows the prophetic vision of Guru Nanak that he not only profusely and clearly defined all aspects of his life-affirming and integrated ideology, but also detailed the targets his society had to achieve. He laid the firm foundations of the institutions and the socio-religious structure his successors had to develop and complete. Guru Nanak defined his God not only as the Ocean of Virtues, but also as a Sant-Sipahi or the Destroyer of the evil-doers; and the ideal he laid down for the seeker was to be the instrument of the Will of such a God. Guru Arjun gave instructions to his son to militarise the movement and thereafter, as was explained by Guru Hargobind to Sant Ramdas,73 his sword was for the protection of the weak and the destruction of the tyrant. While Guru Arjun, the first martyr of the faith, had confrontation with the empire and gave orders for militarisation, the subsequent five Gurus manifestly proclaimed and practised the spiritual ideal of Sant-Sipahi. So, whatever some votaries of pacifist or dichotomous ideologies or other outsiders may say, to students of Sikhism or a seeker of the Sikh ideal, there can never be any doubt as to the integrated miri-piri or Sant-Sipahi ideal in Sikhism. Because in the eyes of a Sikh, any reversion to ideas of pacificism, personal salvation or monasticism would be a manifest fall from the spiritual ideology laid down by Guru Nanak, enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib, and openly, single-mindedly and demonstrably lived by the ten Gurus, culminating in the creation of the Khalsa, with kirpan as the essential symbol for resisting injustice and oppression. The kirpan essentially signifies two fundamental tenets of Sikhism, namely, that it is the basic responsibility of a Sikh to confront and resist injustice, and that asceticism, monasticism, or escapism, of any kind is wrong. Thus, the kirpan, on the one hand, is a constant reminder to the Sikh of his duty, and, on the other hand, is a standing guard against reversion to pacificism and otherworldliness. The extreme sagacity and vision of the Sikh Gurus is evident from the thoughtfully planned and measured manner in which they built the structure of their ideology and the Sikh society, epitomised in the order of the Khalsa. That is also the reason that so far as the ideology and ideals of the Sikh society are concerned, there cannot be any ambiguity in that regard. Hence, considering the manner in which the lives of the ten Gurus have demonstrated the Sikh way of life, the question of its bifurcation or accepting pacificism or otherworldliness does not arise. And this forms, we believe, the fourth important reason for there being ten Gurus and the closure of succession after the Khalsa was created.

The summary of the Sikh ideology, in the background of the religious history of some higher religions, makes the viewpoint of the Sikh Gurus and the Sikh position very clear. The Gurus emphasise that at the manmukh stage of man’s development, man is constitutionally incapable of avoiding injustice, wars and conflicts. Because, man is basically egocentric and stands alienated from the Fundamental Force (God) which is Love. So long as he does not link himself with the Flow of Love and fails to work in unison with it, his problems of clash, disharmony and tensions will continue. The diagnosis of the authors of Limits of Growth is also the same, namely, that unless man is able to shed his egocentrism, there appears little hope for peace and happiness in the world.74

The state is an instrument devised by man to curb the basic egocentrism or wickedness of individuals and power groups. But, politics divorced from the Fundamental Spiritual Force, or moral brakes creates the situation that the State or Establishment is seized by individuals and groups, who openly use and employ all the enormous means of the modern state for the satisfaction of their egocentrism, working to the detriment of the masses and the poor. And the more backward or poor a country, the greater the oppression uninhibited secularism can do with the power machine of the state. The result, logically and unavoidably, is that the gap between the downtrodden masses and the oppressive elites goes on widening. This happens both within a state, and among the various national states. We wonder if anyone who is acquainted with recent history, can contradict this observation.

Rationally speaking, secularism is incapable of reversing the present trend, or finding a solution of the existing malady. The causes for this failure have been stressed by the Gurus. Reason being a tool or limb of the egocentric man (manmukh) and being unconnected with the Universal Consciousness or spirituo-moral base of man, it can never make the individual spontaneously altruistic. Hence, any search for a humanitarian ethics through empiricism, communism or secularism is doomed to failure. The hopes which science in the first decades of the century had raised, stand tragically shattered.

To us, materialism and morality seem a contradiction in terms. Similarly, dichotomous or life-negating religions are equally amoral in their social impact. It is because of the Indian religions being dichotomous that the unjust secular institution of Varn Ashram Dharma and caste could continue in the Indian society, and also have the approval of its scriptures. The study of the three Western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam also furnishes the same lesson. The moment any of these societies became otherworldly, or showed dichotomous tendencies, the moral strength of the society to face the challenges of life became minimal. Or vice versa, the society became dichotomous, when it failed to face effectively the challenges of life. And, ultimately it is the moral stamina of a people or culture that by and large determines its survival. This is evident from the known history, both of Judaism and Islam. But for the subordination of religious institutions to the national state, following the Reformation, the triumph of secularism and scientism to erode the Christian ethical base from the Western life would never have been possible. The ethical field today is in complete disarray.75 Since religion is the only source which could furnish the moral sap to maintain social cohesion, and Christian elan being at its lowest ebb, the twentieth century has witnessed the worst slaughter and butchery of tens of millions, both at the international and the national levels. Hitler, Stalin and Hiroshima are phenomena of the twentieth century secularism. The nations of the world are spending on arms a thousand billion dollars each year. It is this dismal spectacle that had, on the one hand, forced the Soviets to talk of the ‘priority of universal values over the class or group values’, and, on the other hand, led the North American Churches to suggest co-operation with other religions in order to fight the common danger of secularism. For the present, either out of their ignorance, or for other reasons, the European Churches have overruled the American view. But, the problem remains and stands highlighted by thinking persons. Decades back, Collingwood wrote : “The discovery of a relation is at once the discovery of my thought as reaching God and of God’s thought as reaching me; and indistinguishable from this, the performance of an act of mine by which I establish a relation with God and an act of God’s by which He establishes a relation with me. To fancy that religion lives either below or above the limits of reflective thought is fatally to misconceive either the nature of religion or the nature of reflective thought. It would be nearer the truth to say that in religion, the life of reflection is concentrated in its intensest form, and that the special problems of the theoretical and practical life all take their special forms by segregation out of the body of religious consciousness and retain their vitality only so far as they preserve their connexion with it and with each other in it.”76 This statement presents the view that unless reason and religion are combined, or the spiritual life is combined with the empirical life of man, his problems will remain insolvable. Reason is incapable of devising or creating a moral force. Hence, the inherent incapacity of secularism to create any worthwhile values, much less universal values. The fall of the Russian Empire has made this clear.

Five hundred years ago, Guru Nanak emphasised that unless the spiritual component enriches the empirical life, man’s problems of conflict, war and disharmony will remain. The solution lies in working in consonance with God’s Will or the Basic Force of Love and Altruism. The brotherhood of man cannot be a reality without accepting the Fatherhood of God. For the Gurus, the Fatherhood of God or Force of Love or Universal Consciousness is not an assumption, but a reality. For them, it is a true and most indubitable experience, spontaneously leading to activity. It is an experience far more real than the sensory perception of external phenomena or the construction of a pragmatic or utilitarian ethics, or the assumption of a dialectical movement raised by human reason. The Gurus exhort man to follow the path of altruistic deeds to reach the next evolutionary stage of gurmukh or God-man. It is a worldview of combining the spiritual life with the empirical life of man, thereby breaking the alienation from which man suffers. It is a worldview of total responsibility towards every sphere of life, the God-man’s sphere of responsibility being co-terminus with the sphere of God. At a time when most of the higher religions have either become dichotomous, or are withdrawing from the main fields of social responsibility, and human reason feels frustrated, the Sikh Gurus express a comprehensive worldview of hope and eternal relevance. At the same time, it is important to state that, far from being exclusive, Sikhism is universal in its approach, always anxious and willing to serve and co-operate with those who aim at harmony among beings and welfare of man. For, the Guru’s prayer to God is that the world may be saved by any way. He may be Gracious enough to do.77 And, Guru Nanak proclaimed that his mission was, with the help of other God-men, to steer man across the turbulent sea of life.78 This fundamental ideal stands enshrined in the final words of the daily Sikh prayer, “May God bless all mankind.”



1. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 459.
2. Ibid., p. 294.
3. Ibid., p. 955.
4. Ibid., p. 8.
5. Ibid., p. 859.
6. Stace, W. T. : Mysticism and Philosophy, pp. 131, 133.
7. Huxley, Aldous : Moksha, p. 175.
8. Ibid., pp. 222, 223.
9. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 830.
10. Zimmer, H. : Philosophies of India, pp. 222-223.
11. Journal of Sikh Studies, Vol. VII, February-August, 1980, p. 38.
12. Ibid.
13. Jain, N. K. : Sikh Gurus and Indian Spiritual Thought, p. 168.
14. Jaiswal, Suvira : Origin and Development of Vaisnavism, pp. 116-118.
15. Murthy, H. V. S. : Vaisnavism of Shankradeva and Ramanuja, p. 232.
16. Juergensmeyer, Mark : Sikh Studies, pp. 83-88.
17. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 473.
18. Bhai Gurdas, Var 1.
19. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1.
20. Ibid., p. 1412.
21. Macauliffe, M. A. : The Sikh Religion, Vol. III, pp. 7-8, 419.
22. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 7.
23. Ibid., pp. 8-9.
24. Ibid., p. 62.
25. Ibid., p. 113.
26. Ibid., p. 473.
27. Panjab Past and Present, October, 1976, p. 468.
28. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1243.
29. Ibid., p. 730.
30. Wilson, H. H. : Religious Sects of Hindus, p. 19.
31. Briggs, G. W. : Gorakhnath and Kanphata Yogis, p. 32.
32. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1245.
33. Ibid., p. 886.
34. Ibid., p. 1171.
35. Ibid., p. 889.
36. Ibid., p. 417.
37. Russell, Bertrand : History of Western Philosophy, p. 362-363.
38. Dowley, Tim (Ed.) : Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, p. 5.
39. Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 360, 417-418.
40. Ibid., p. 1028.
41. Ibid., p. 224.
42. Ibid., p. 145.
43. Ibid., p. 1289.
44. Ibid., p. 472.
45. Bhalla, Sarup Dass : Mehma Prakash, p. 326.
46. Gupta, H. R. : History of the Sikh Gurus, p. 110.
47. Sainapat : Gur Sobha, pp. 21, 32.
48. Bute Shah : Tawarikh-i-Hind, pp. 405-406.
49. Gurdev Singh : Sikh Tradition, pp. 183-227.
50. Cunningham, J. D. : History of the Sikhs, p. 64.
51. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 176.
52. Ibid., p. 631.
53. Ibid., p. 913.
54. Ibid., p. 913.
55. Ibid., p. 113.
56. Hertzberg, Arthur (Ed.) : Judaism, p. 98.
57. Zvi Cahn : Philosophy of Judaism, pp. 503-504.
58. Smart, Ninian : The Religious Experience of Mankind, pp. 356-358.
59. Zvi Cahn : op. cit., p. 504 Roth. Cecil : Short History of the Jewish People, pp. 45-52, 57.
60. Hawking, Stephen : A Brief History of Time, pp. 177-178.
61. Bible : John, p. 15, Mathew, p. 22.
62. Toynbee, Arnold, J. : Christianity and Civilisation, pp. 14-17.
63. Dowley, Tim (Ed.) : op. cit., pp. 204-207.
64. Toynbee, Arnold, J. : An Historian’s Approach to Religion, p. 210.
65. Dowley, Tim (Ed.) : op. cit., pp. 570-571.
66. The Tribune : July 12-13, 1990.
67. Dialogue & Alliance : A Journal of International Religious Foundation, Summer 1987, Vol. 1, pp. 94-96.
68. Dowley, Tim (Ed.) : op. cit., p. 610.
69. Moltmann, J. et al : Religion and Political Society, pp. 19, 46.
70. Panikkar, K. M. : Hindu Society at Cross Roads, p. 18.
71. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 560.
72. Ambedkar, B. R. : Annihilation of Caste, (an undelivered speech edited by Mulkh Raj Anand).
73. Gupta, H. R. : History of the Sikhs, Vol. 1, p. 163.
74. Limits of Growth : A report for the Club of Rome’s Project. pp. 191-192.
75. Schumacher, E. F. : A Guide to the Perplexed, p. 132.
76. Collingwood, R. G. : Idea of History, pp. 314-315.
77. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 853.
78. Ibid., p. 939.



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