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







In Sikhism, we shall base our views on the hymns of the Gurus embodied in the Guru Granth, the most revered and authenticated scripture in the world, since it was compiled and edited by the Guru himself.

In order to have a comprehensive understanding of Sikhism, weshall, apart from answering the various questions we have posed earlier, deal with all aspects of its world-view and its theological concepts, including those about Reality, the place and role of man in the universe, ethics and the moral life, and the human goal. The Sikh Gurus are uncompromising monotheists. In the very opening line of the Guru Granth, God is described by Guru Nanak as “By the Grace of the Sole One, Self-existent and Immanent, the Creator Person, without Fear or Unconditioned, Without enmity or Un-contradicted. The Timeless One, Unincarnated, Self-created and Enlightener.”1 God is never born, norhanges. The becoming world is His creation, and not his emanation, nor is it identical with Him.

We shall first indicate, briefly, the kind of God that is envisaged in Sikhism. That would clarify not only the metaphysical position, but also some of its theological concepts and other issues. In their hymns, the Gurus describe God in numerous ways, referring to His social, political, aesthetic, metaphysical, ethical and other attributes. But six aspects of God need particular mention. These will explain the concept of God in Sikhism and enable us to understand the significance, origin and course of Sikh traditions, institutions and practices.

(i) Creator
God is the Creator. The universe is His creation. The very concept of a Creator-God impliesa universe as the creation of God and different from Him. The universe is in time and space. It is changing and becoming. The Creator is different from the creation which is limited and conditioned. He is not the material cause of the universe. But, no independent Prakriti is assumed. He creates everything.

The universe is not illusory or unreal. But, as God is Limitless and Omnipresent, the creation is in God but not God. “God created the world of life, planted Naam (Immanent God) therein and made it the place of righteousness.”2 “The Self-Existent God manifested Himself as Naam.”3 “He creates all, fills all, and is yet separate.”4 There are many hymns in the Guru Granth which mention that God was there even before He created the Universe. He being Transcendent, “He is the Sole-creator. There is no second one.”5 “God was by Himself and there was nothing else. “6

“In the region of Truth, God creates perpetually, watches His creation with a Benevolent eye.” “He is happy about it, and deliberates over it, directing it with His Will.”7 God is Ever- Creative, Ever-New, Ever- Fresh, and Blooming (Nit-Navan, Navtan). The above gives aclear idea of the creative activity of God and the cosmological aspect of His creation.

(ii) Transcendent and Immanent
God is both Transcendent and Immanent. He is both in the universe and outside it. The Self-Created or Transcendent God was always there. (a) Transcendent: While time and space, force and change are the aspects of the becoming universe, God is Eternal, Self- existent. He cannot be conceived or explained in empirical terms. His Limitlessness and Timelessness cannot be understood in terms of space and temporal time. He is beyond space and beyond time. The Gurus have cautioned us against the pitfalls and inadequacy of human logic to comprehend the Timeless One. He is Entirely Different.“When there was no form in sight, how could there be good or bad actions. When God was in the Self-Absorbed state, there could be no enmity or conflict. When God was all by Himself, there could be no attachment or misunderstanding.”8 That state of God is not to be envisaged in terms of limitless space or time, but in terms of spacelessness and timelessness. The nature of God transcends all known categories with which we describe the universe. The Creator of these limited or relative categories cannot be judged by the yard-stick of those created limitations within which we move, perceive, conceive, live and assess. The Gurus describe Him as Wondrous, Infinite, Unfathomable, Unknowable, Indescribable, Ineffable andImmeasurable. We can at best assess things only by our limited and relative thought methodsand measures. We cannot completely comprehend God who is beyond us, unconditionedand unfettered by any dimensions and limits. He is ‘Wholly Other’ as described by Otto.“The mind alone can never know Him.”9

(b) Immanent: The immanent aspect of God has been variously described as His Will thatdirects the universe, His Word that informs the universe, and His Naam that not onlycreates the entire universe but sustains and governs it. “God creates the universe, takes Hisabode in it and sustains it.”10 God creates the universe and becomes Immanent in it, being atthe same time Transcendent. “He that permeates all hearts is Transcendent too.”11 “Havingcreated the world, He stands in the midst of it and is separate too.”12 God is bothTranscendent and Immanent. This immanence of God is only a symbolic way of expressingGod’s connection with the world. When the world was not there the question of HisImmanence did not arise. When “there was no form, the Word (Immanence) in essenceabided in the Transcendent God.”13

The Immanence of God emphasises the spiritual and meaningful character of the universeand life’s capacity for relationship with God. The term Transcendent describes Him as“Wholly Other”. His immanence indicates God’s Love for His creation. It is called HisNaam, Will and Sabad. His immanence gives relevance, authenticity, direction and sanctionto the entire moral and spiritual life of man and his institutions. It also emphasises God’scapacity for revelation, His nearness to man and His deep and abiding interest in the world.It is on this Immanence that most of the theistic institutions are based. For, where God isonly Transcendent and Unapproachable, all moral and spiritual life, and yearning wouldbecome pointless and irrelevant. God being both Transcendent and Immanent, does notmean that there are two parts, stages, or phases of God. It is the Transcendent Godwho iseverywhere in each heart, place and particle. It is He who is both Transcendent andImmanent. “The same God is Sargun and Nirgun, Nirankar and Self Absorbed (SunSamadhi).”14 “Sargun and Nirgun are created by Naam.”15 He is both Nirankar (Formless)and Akar (In Form); He is the One, both Nirgun and Sargun.” The Gurus repeatedlyemphasis that He is One and we only give Him different names. It would be highly inappropriate to confuse the Gurus’ concept of Sargun and Nirgun (One Transcendent cum Immanent God) with the Advaitic meaning of these terms or with the idea of Ishvara. These Advaitic concepts have distinct connotation of phases, stages or transformation. These havebeen clearly repudiated by the Gurus’ concept of One God. Sankara deems Ishvara to be alower stage of development which has to be transcended in order to reach the goal or Brahman. For Ramanuja God is virtually pantheistic. The world and souls are the body and qualities of Brahman. This is an entirely different concept from that of the One Creator Godof the Gurus.. He is simultaneously Transcendent and Immanent. The Gurus never accept the Advaitic concepts of Sargun and Nirgun. Similarly, in the hymn of Sachkhand, the Gurucalls the Nirankar as One who deliberates, creates and directs. He is Benevolent, Graciousand is delighted to see His creation. But Nirankar literally means the “Formless One”. This word too has distinct Advaitic meanings. The hymn referred to above repudiates thatconcept and adds that, in the Sach khand, God commands endless numbers of forms,universes and regions.

(iii) God of Attributes
God is the ‘Ocean of Attributes, Values and Virtues.’ This aspect of God is of extremerelevance to the moral life. Since all attributes are only relative, a God of Attributes laysdown the standard and the ideals for which man has to work. He is always Benevolent.”“You are my Mother, You are my Father, You are my Protector everywhere.”16 “He relievesthe suffering of the downtrodden; He is the Succour of the succourless.”17 “God is eyes tothe blind, riches to the poor, Nanak, He is the Ocean of virtues. “18

This Attributive aspect (Immanence) inextricably links God with the universe. It establishes beyond doubt the character and direction of God’s Will and Immanence. This leads to four important inferences. First, attributes and values can have a place only in a becoming, elative or spacio temporal world, since all perfection is state of all qualities are relative. A God of attributes has, thus, a meaning only in relation to the changing world of man. Evidently, for the expression of attributes, a changing universe is essential and becomes an integral part of the plan of God. Thus, God and the universe are conjoint and inter-linked, the latter depending on the former. It is impossible to think of a God of Attributes in the absence of arelative or changing world. That is why when God was by Himself, the question of ‘Love and devotion, of good or bad actions, or of the saved or Saviour’ could not arise, there being nothing other than Him. Secondly, and this is the most important inference, virtues and attributes emphatically indicate, apart from the standard of ethical values and moral life, the direction in which human efforts should be made. These point out the purposes for which the Will of God works. Thirdly, it indicates the perpetual interest of God in man and theuniverse. It, in a way, gives status and authenticity to life and the universe which is decried or down-graded in many other religious traditions. In addition, there is the benevolent character of God. Not only is He the Creator and Sustainer of life, He nurtures and develops it with aloving care. He has also been called the Enlightener (Guru or Guide) of man. “He rewards your efforts and acknowledges your deeds”, “Life of life.”19 “God rewards all efforts to become divine.”20 It gives a preeminent meaning to life and optimism, hope and confidence to man in the achievement of his ideals. Man knows the direction in which he should move, and he has also the assurance that there is some one to guide and help him with love. Lastly,it gives validity and spiritual sanctity to the moral life which in many other systems is deemedto be anentanglement. At best, some systems accept it as the preparatory method of purityfor the spiritual life to be attained. But, in Sikh theology this attributive aspect of God givesspiritual character to the moral life per se.

(iv) God has a Will
Everything is governed by His Will. This is the burden of so many hymns in the Guru Granth. “Everything happens within the ambit of His Will.”21 A God of Will, naturally, presupposes that He wants the universe to move not chaotically but with a Purpose. Just like the Attributes of God, God’s Will too can be exercised only in a changing world and towards a goal. The very idea of a Will implies a direction and an aim. This, too, re- emphasises the same features and points as stated in regard to a God of Attributes. The direction is governed by the Attributes of God and the Purpose, as we shall see later, is to evolve a God-centred man from a self-centred individual. This concept is central to Sikh theology. Here we add a word of explanation. A God of Will does not at all mean a deterministic world, because God is creative and all movement in life is towards a creative freedom.

(v) God does not incarnate
God has been mentioned as one who never takes birth nor takes form. The fifth Guru says,“May that mouth bum which says that God has incarnated.”22 “God alone is the One who isnot born of a woman.”23 The Gurus have definitely decried belief in the theory of incarnation. In order to dispel such ideas they have stated that He created countless Brahmas, Sivas and Vishnus. “The Formless, One, alone, Nanak, is without fear; many areRamas as the dust of His feet, and many Krishnas. Many are their stories and many are theVedas.”24 Here, too, the idea that God never takes the human form has a distinct meaning and import. First, it shows that God is Wholly Other. For a God that is Transcendent and Unknowable, the question of His taking the human form does not arise. Secondly, all pantheistic and like implications, as flowing from the idea of a God who takes the human form, have to be discarded. Besides, the concept has three other corollaries too. The first is that man can never become God. This also involves that God and man are not identical butare different. Secondly, it indicates that the aim of spiritual effort is not merger in God, asunder some other systems, but to have a union or relation with Him. This has a crucial significance in determining the human goal and in showing that the entity of man is distinct from that of God. The two can never be one, though man can b~ in tune with Him. Thirdly, it inter alia shows that spiritual activity does not stop after the final achievement. The superman has a role to perform in carrying out the Will of God. Consequently, so long as the universe is there and the Will of God is in operation, the activities and duties of the super-man too do not come to an end.

(vi) God of Grace
In the Moolmantra, God is called Gracious and Enlightener. A God of Will and a God ofGrace have a meaning only in a becoming world wherein alone His Grace and Will canoperate. Grace implies that God’s Will is Free, undermined by any outside law. In addition, italso stresses the Love and Benevolence of God towards man and the universe which are different from Him. For a Gracious Being can bestow His Grace only on something other than Himself. It has been repeatedly stressed that all final approval of man is an act of God’sGrace. “O Nanak, the intellect is of no avail, one is approved only by His Grace.”25 The grace aspect of God also fortifies the truth of the other implications as described earlier in relation to a God of Will and Attributes. In addition, it implies that God is Wholly Free and Creative. He is not governed by the empirical laws known to us. It also dispels the idea that the world is deterministic. His activity is, therefore, incomprehensible except in terms of His Grace or Freedom.

(vii) Naam
For any student of Sikh theology, it is necessary to understand the meaning and implicationof the term ‘Naam’. Sikhism has often been called the Naam Marga or the way of Naam.The Sikh Gurus have given the word Naam, a distinct and significant meaning which is far different from that of the mere ‘Naam’ or psychic factors as understood by ‘Naam-Roopa’ inthe traditional literature. A clear doctrine about Naam has been laid down.

“Naam sustains all regions and universes, all thought knowledge and consciousness, all skiesand stars, all forces and substances, all continents and spheres. He, on whom is His Grace, isyoked to Naam and he reaches the highest state of development.”26 “Naam is the Creator of eyerything. To be divorced from Naam is death.”27 “Naam gives form to everything andthrough Naam comes all Wisdom or Light.” “Naam extends to all creation. There is noplace or space where Naam is not.”28 “Naam is the ‘Nine Treasures’ and Nectar (Amrit); Itpermeates the body.”29 “Naam, the immaculate, is unfathomable, how can it be known?Naam is within us, how to get to it ? The perfect Guru awakens your heart to the vision ofNaam. It is by the Grace of God that one meets such an enlightener.”30

From the above verses it is clear that the Gurus do not use the word Naam in any restrictive sense of its being a psychic factor or mere consciousness. But they refer to it as the HighestPower, creating, informing, supporting and working the entire universe. In short, Naam isthe Reality, supporting and directing the created worlds. There are numerous verses in theGuru Granth where Naam and God have been described synonymously. The highest stateof man is mentioned as the one when he lives and works in tune with God or Naam, often called as God’s Naam. Therefore, God and Naam are Real, Eternal and Unfathomable. TheGurus have repeatedly emphasized that God is one “EkOankaar”, and no second entity at allis postulated. “My Lord is the only One. He is the Only One, (Understand) brother, He isthe Only One.”31 This unambiguously brings out that God and Naam are one and the same.Naam may be called the immanent or qualitative aspect of God. Accordingly, Naam is theCreative and Dynamic Immanence of God, the Reality sustaining, working and directing the manifest world of force and form.

Sikhism proclaims the dynamic reality and authenticity of the world and life. “God createdthe world of life and planted Naam therein, making it the place of righteous activity.” “God created the world and permeated it with His Light.” Since Naam, God’s Immanence, has notonly created the world but is also supporting, controlling and directing it, the same cannot beunreal or illusory. His Immanence in this world guarantees its being a place of righteous activity. “True are thy worlds and thy universes; true are the forms Thou createst. True arethy deeds.”32 “True is He, True is His Creation.”33

The world being real, creative work and virtuous deeds are of fundamental importance. “The Guru contemplates God by word, thought and deed.”34 “Earth is the true abode ofrighteousness.”35 “Youth and continence are true deeds, not fasting and rituals.”36 “Good,righteousness, virtue and the giving up vice are the ways to realize the essence of God.”37The above excerpts affirm unambiguously the reality and significance of human life.Practices involving direct or indirect rejection or despising of life have been denounced.There is a hymn in the Guru Granth by Farid which would seem to suggest that the world isnot real or is a place of suffering. While recording it in the Guru Granth, the fifth Guru hasintroduced, along with it, another hymn of his own, which is a clarification to dispel thecontrary impression. He writes, “Beauteous, O Farid, are the gardens of earth and thehuman body.”38 The Guru further states that “deride not the world as it is the creation of God.”39

This emphatic assertion about the authenticity of the world is a clear departure from the Indian religious tradition. The Gurus were extremely conscious of this fundamental changethey were making. That is why both in their lives and in their hymns, they have been layingstress on this aspect of their spiritual thesis, lest they should be misunderstood on this basicissue. Living in this world is not a bondage for them but a rare opportunity. Not only is Godbenevolently developing and guiding the world is which He is immanent, but each one of usis “yoked to his task and each is assigned a duty to perform.”40 The persistent interest of Godin the creative movement is also obvious from the fact that the Gurus call Him Protector,Father, KingEmperor and a Just Administrator.

While discussing the concept of God of Attributes, Will and Grace, we have indicated its far-reaching implications about the reality of the world and the spiritual primacy of moral lifetherein. These aspects of God intimately connect Him with the world which is their only field of operation. For all these reasons, the Gurus call the world real. Consequently, theirmessage and mission also relate to this world, wherein alone their mission could be fulfilled.No feeling or prayer has been expressed with greater depth and intensity than the one forthe ‘gift of Naam.’ Naam being the Benevolent Supporter and Director of the world, whatcan be the gift of Naam to the devotee, except that of an enlightened, loving and creativeinterest in the world and in its development. How can one claim to be a devotee of God orNaam and ask for its gift or link with it, and, yet, decline to toe the line of God, viz, ofnurturing and advancing the processes of creativity and construction in the world instead ofbeing a recluse or a drop out? It is for this reason that the Gurus have strongly condemnedall ascetic and escapist practices. “One reaches not Truth by remaining motionless like treesand stones, nor by being sawn alive.”41

In India, the ideal of four Ashramas has been a scripturally recognized spiritual way of life. Of these, the last two, namely, the Vanprastha and the Sanyasa Ashramas distinctly enjoin anotherworldly approach to life. The householder’s duties were not believed to be conduciveto higher spiritual attainments. That is why, one had to renounce worldly activities and taketo the life of the hermit and Sanyasin. As against it, all the Sikh Gurus, excepting the eighthGuru, who passed away at an early age, were married householders. Till the last days of theirlives, they worked creatively and carried out their mission in the social and political fields.Seen in the context of Indian tradition, the ideals and institutions of Sikhism are entirelydifferent. For the Gurus the world is a place of beauty. Men’s struggle therein provides an opportunity for their progress. Hence the arena of man’s and mystic’s work has to be in lifeand life alone. It is only the challenges of life that enable man to show and test his moral andspiritual strength and stature. It is this conduct that forms the basis of his assessment. Here it would be pertinent to recall the Guru’s dictum that “God is not attained by despising theworld.”42

Having explained their ideas about God and the reality of world and life, the Gurus proceedto describe, (a) the existing state of man and the causes of his pains and problems, (b) theright path for his spiritual progress and the solution of his difficulties, and (c) the goal ofman and the characteristics of the ideal life.

The word Man-mukh (self-centred person) indicates the normal state of man in which his self-will and animal propensities dominate, and Gurmllkh (God-centred one or supermen)describes the ideal man or the highest level of mystic achievement and consciousness. Theprogress from Man-mukh to Gur-mukh, or from a self-centred person to a God-centredone, constitutes the entire spiritual story. The Gurus feel that, at the present level, man’smain limitations and problems arise from his Haumen. No understanding of the Guru’ssystem is possible without knowing fully the significance and implications of the doctrine ofHaumen, which is fundamental to its structure.

1. Haumen
Haumen cannot be adequately translated. The word ego would be the nearest to its meaning.Haumen is the conscious subject, the “I” of the normal Individual psyche. It is the directorof all one’s organs, including the nervous system. The word Ahankara is different, for itrepresents a concept in a dualistic system like the Sankhya in which Ahankara is thetransformation of the eternal Prakriti. The Gurus assume no such Prakriti. For themHaumen is the selfcentred human individuality. It is the self, the ego, the ‘stream ofconsciousness’ or the centre of control of all, working in any being or unit of life.

2. Haumen God-created
The Gurus say that “the world came into being by individuation.”43 Evidently, for the growthof life, this creation of an individual self or Haumen in every being was essential. Therecould be no animal life without there being in each organism a centre of consciousness or autonomy. It is this Haumen which has enabled the evolution of life from the smallest beingto the extremely complicated biological structure of man. It is impossible to conceive of abeing without the centre of its functioning and control.

Every man is equipped with many kinds of organs and faculties. These faculties, includinghis thoughts, are subservient to his individuality, self or ego. Throughout the evolution oflife over millions of years, this ego has been the instrument and guardian of his security,welfare and progress. Without a deep commitment to the interests, preservation andprogress of the self, to the exclusion of every other being or self, life could never survive thebattle against challenges from the entire environment. This ego has been the best guaranteefor securing both the survival and the progress of life from amoeba to man.

3. The Problem of Haumen
What has been the surest means of life’s survival and progress has now, according to theGurus, become “the great disease” of man.44 The struggle against the elements and other- species having been considerably won, man finds himself quite unequipped and helpless before the other intra-species struggle between man and man. The Gurus repeatedly emphasise that this Haumen, is the greatest problem of man. Just as it is impossible for one’sstomach or liver to digest food for another person, in the same way it is impossible for one’sthought-system to be anything but self-centred, the same being subservient to the individual self. It is this organic condition of man that the Gurus call Haumen or self-centredness.

True, certain altruistic tendencies have been developed as the result of cultural conditioning over the years. But, this altruism is only superficial or conditioned. Spontaneous altruism isconstitutionally and psychologically impossible in the animal-man. The moment the strugglefor existence becomes keen, the basic self-centredness of man is unmasked. Honesty is thebest policy so long as it works to one’s well being, otherwise the fangs of self-centrednessbecome bared in their naked ugliness. This is the spectacle we witness everyday in thebehaviour of individuals, groups, classes, societies and nations. According to the Gurus’concept of God, He is the Father and all persons are his children. “He belongs to all and allbelong to Him.” “There is one Father and we are His Children.” “Let all be called high, tome no one appears low. One potter has fashioned all vessels and one light pervades thewhole universe.”45 The way to God, according to the Gurus, is to realise and accept this ideaof the brotherhood of man and express it truthfully in our conduct. “One cannot be a Yogiby mere wishing. The real Yoga lies in treating alike all beings.” But, Haumen or self- centredness is the chief hurdle in the way of man’s progress. “God is within us, but is notknown because of the curtain of Haumen (ego) in between.” “Husband (God) and wife(soul) live side by side, but the impregnable wall of Haumen (ego) separates them.” It isHaumen which plagues man’s conduct and life It is the irony of human culture that some ofthe antisocial and anti-human institutions like those of slavery and property, class andnational divisions, caste and pollution, inequality of status and sexes, political dominance andterritorial aggrandizement have been created because of the vices arising from Haumen.

Having diagnosed the disease and its cause, the Sikh Gurus feel confident that the hurdle ofHaumen can be overcome. In fact, the entire message of the Sikh Gurus is meant to solvethis problem. Theirs is a crusade to enable man to rise above his present level and removethe hurdles and solve the problems that face him.
1. The Way out
Here the Gurus explain their system and suggest the solution. It is this solution which is thebasis of their religious system, and institutions.

God or Naam is the ocean of values. The remedy, according to the Gurus, is that we shouldbe guided by Godconsciousness and not by self-centredness. Such a Godcentred person iscalled a Gurmukh. “God created individuation but by forgetting Naam we come to grief.” “Naam and Haumen are opposed to each other. The two cannot be at the same place.”46 It isa verse of the highest significance, meaning and implications. Let us amplify it.

The Gurus accept life in toto. They call it as the only opportunity for man to play his destined role. In most other religious systems, spiritual mystic living and worldly life areconsidered as opposed to each other. This is the lesson derived from the system of fourAshramas. In Buddhism, too, Nirvana and Samsara are opposed to each other. It is not so inSikhism. Here only egoism, not the worldly life as such, is opposed to the spiritual life. Theway to God is through life, not through its renunciation.

The second corollary of the idea is that self-centredness must be substituted by God- centredness. In the Guru Granth two types of human beings have been mentioned, the Manrnukh and the Gurmukh. The man who is self-centred is far from God. “Haumen (ego) is adeep malady. The remedy is to attune one to Naam by God’s Grace.” “With fear of God inmind one loses egoism.” “Drive out lust and anger, be the servant of all and see the Lord inall hearts.” “Spontaneous service of others characterises the Godcentred person.”47

The third corollary is that far from giving up worldly life, the same is essential for the mystic,seeker and the Godcentred person. The very word God-centred assumes activity on the partof the person. Since God is creative, the Godcentred too has to be creative. Onlyselfcentredness is substituted by God-consciousness. In fact, life and its activities alonereveal the distinction between a self-centred man and a God-centred one. Hence, “he whodestroys evil becomes a perfect man.” “Love, contentment, truth, humility and other virtuesenable the seed of Naam to sprout.” “Our deeds alone bear witness unto our life.”48

These hymns indicate that the way to higher achievement lies in being altruistic or moral instead of being self-centred. Except for some conditioned or calculated altruism, aselfcentred person cannot be spontaneously altruistic. The solution really consists intransferring the control of the mind from Haumen to Naam, the Dynamic and AttributiveImmanence of God. God-consciousness involves neither inactivity nor withdrawal from life,but wholehearted and spontaneous altruistic deeds. Just as Haumen and Naam are opposedto each other, in the same manner Godcentredness and inactivity are a contradiction interms.

2. Link with God possible
The Gurus assert the presence of a Higher Power or God in man and that it is possible forman to become conscious of Him, and to develop a relationship, or a new state ofconsciousness. The Gurus stress that God pervades all hearts and one can attune oneself toHim. While we are in the normal ego-state we are unconscious of this Immanence of God inus. “Where there is egoism, God is not; where there is God, there cannot be any egoism.”“God unites seeker with Himself.” “God pervades the heart and one gives up ego and eviL”“By His Grace God comes in body and mind.”49 It means that the entire psyche of such aperson is guided by God-consciousness. “By Naam is the mind illumined.”50

These hymns emphasise that the way to solve our problems and difficulties is to establish arelation with God. This presence of God in us has variously been described as Naam, Guru,Word, Light and Will.

3. The final cure of Haumen
True, it is only virtuous and altruistic deeds that lead one away from the life of Haumen andtowards the path of Naam or God-centredness. But, ultimately it is only God’s Grace thatunites one with Naam. By this union a new and higher centre of consciousness is gained,called God-consciousness. “With God’s Grace is the ultimate insignia of approval conferredon man.”51 While one has to work altruistically to seek Grace, the same by its very naturecannot be earned. The very idea of effort for achievement raises a sense of pride. And pride becomes suicidal and self-defeating from the point of view of receiving Grace. Besides, theidea of merit, if seen from the logical angle, is somewhat deterministic. It is contrary to thevery concept of God- consciousness which involves creativity and freedom. One can never achieve the final stage of creative freedom by deterministic methods. The achievement ofGod-centredness has, by its very nature, to be an act of the grace of the wholly free andCreative Being. God alone is the final judge of human progress. But, this should not suggestany idea of arbitrariness and fatalism. It only invokes man to be progressively moral,responsible, creative and free. For Grace itself is an aspect of the Creative and the Free.

4. The mission of Gurus
On the issue, as to what is his message and mission, Guru Nanak is extremely precise andconcise. His message is that it is man’s destiny, and of man alone, to remedy the malady ofHaumen and uplift himself into a new being and consciousness. The Guru puts the questionas to “how the wall of falsehood intervening between us and Reality can be removed andgives the categoric reply that “It can be done by carrying out God’s Will.” This is the gist ofGuru Nanak’s message. In the Sidh Gosht, he specifies his life’s mission just in one line. Hisobject, he says, is with the help of other God-centred persons, to make everyone cross thissea of difficulty, i.e. to make every Manmukh a Gurmukh. In the Guru’s eyes Man-mukh isnot in a hopeless state of mind. TheGuru’s message and mission are thus related to man soas to elevate him, because he alone has the capacity for a higher life.

Here it is essential to mention two things. The Gurus have repeatedly indicated a continuing process of development, evolution and progress in the empirical world. Further, they clearlypoint out that progress from egoistic man to the superman or God-centred man is not only possible, but is in accordance with the purpose of God. The Gurus have stated that individuation was created by God. There has been gradual growth from small organisms toanimals, and finally to the animal-man, with his subtle sense of discrimination andintrospection. “For several births (you) were a mere worm, for several births an insect, forseveral births a fish and animal.” “After ages you have the glory of being a man.”52 Heendowed you with the light of reason, discrimination and wisdom.” “O man, you aresupreme of God’s creation; now is your opportunity. You may fulfil or not fulfil yourdestiny.”53 Further progress of this egoistic man depends entirely on the deeds of theindividual. Till man had appeared on the scene, it was not possible for life to outgrow its animal existence and alienation from God. So far like other animals, man too has been livingan animal life. But, the Gurus emphasise the opportunity available to man to grow into asuper-man.

 The Gurus repeatedly address man to give up his egocentric activities and there by to rise to his full stature. “After ages, this invaluable opportunity of human birth is available, but one loses it for nothing.” “You have obtained the privilege of human birth,now is your only opportunity to meet God.”54 This is how we understand Guru Nanak’s reply to the Sidhasthat his mission was, with the help of other God conscious persons, to assist man to growinto a superman. He wanted thereby to help the process of evolution and creativity tosupermanship, flowering into a beautiful world of God.

The goal represents the crucial aspect of a religion. For, it evidently governs, colours anddetermines the entire structure of the system, its concepts, institutions and discipline.Secondly, it is in this field that the Gurus have made a completely radical departure from thegeneral religious tradition, more especially from the Indian tradition. Thirdly, we find thatmany misunderstandings about the ideology, growth and history of Sikhism, arise from acausal or inadequate knowledge of the human goal laid down by the Gurus.
1. Goal
The Gurus have explained their views by enunciating different doctrines. All of the point tothe same conclusion about the ideal life. (a) Righteous deeds alone the basis of assessment:In the first hymn of Cosmography, Guru Nanak gives what should be the role of man on earth which has been declared to be a place for the practice of righteousness. The ideal prescribes the performance of virtuous deeds and not of ritualism, Yogic meditations andasceticism. It has been clearly stressed that the assessment of man will be made on the basisand character of his deeds. The same idea has been repeated in the Guru Granth in numerous hymns like, “With God only the deeds one does m th1s world count. For,“through virtue is one enlightened.”55

(b) Higher than Truth is Truthful Living: In the following words Guru Nanak has stated anextremely important dictum of Sikhism. “Everything is lower than Truth, but higher still istruthful living.”56 It is just a symbolic way of emphasizing that the ideal is to live the activelife of truth and not only to know Truth as an end in itself. It is the God-centred man whoshows what is truthful living. The goal is to live on active and creative life. “True living isliving God in life.”57

(c) Carry out the Will of God: Guru Nanak declares that the goal of man cannot be reachedthrough the intellect or wisdom, howsoever one may try, nor can it be achieved by theascetic practices. The Guru raises specifically the question as to how one can be a truehuman being, a Sachiara or an ideal man. To this the Guru provides a clearcut answer: “Bycarrying out the Will of God.” The Gurus conceive of God as a God of Will. He is aDynamic Creative God whose Evercreative and Attributive Will is operative in the Worldwith a direction and a purpose. For man, therefore, the ideal life is to carry out His Will. It isthe ideal of doing creative activity in the universe as God’s instrument. That is why, inSikhism, the goal of personal salvation is excluded. The Gurus declare that it is possible forman to know His Will. The goal is not only to establish union with God, nor only to knowHis Will, but, after having done that, to carry it out. The ideal is not blissful union as an endin itself, but union with a view both to knowing His Will and carrying it out. It is the samething as saying that the ideal is not to know the Truth but to live the life of Truth.

 (d) God-conscious man: On the question of Haumen, we come to the conclusion thatactivities of the ordinary self-centred man are the cause of all social evils and conflicts. Asagainst it, the Gurus hold out the God-centred man to be the ideal. Because of his newconsciousness he is full of virtues as attributed to God. The mystic ideal is of active God- consciousness. All exhortations to man are to achieve this supermanship by the practice ofvirtues. “In the soil of your body sow the seed of godly deeds. In that field God sprouts.”

(e) Link with Naam: For the Gurus, Naam is engaged in directing the world to become aplace of values, harmony and beauty. A very large number of hymns in the’ Guru Granthrequest for one’s being united with Naam. “He reaches the highest stage whom Godbenevolently yokes to His Naam.” “To be imbued with Naam is the essence of True living.” Pray, link me to God.”58

Accordingly, the ideal of Sikhism is to be yoked, attuned or linked to Naam. Naam being theopposite of egoism, this progressive movement is towards an ideal in which selfishness andegoism disappear and qualities of Naam are practised. To be linked to Naam only means 10 become its instrument and share the responsibility of a creative and virtuous dev~lopmentin the world. The practice of Naam and its ethics, is both the ideal and “the sovereignremedy for all ills and evils.”

The Gurus have laid down these five doctrines prescribing the goal in Sikhism. Whether it is the ideal of God-consciousness or of carrying out the Will of God, or the gift of Naam, inessence all of them convey the same spiritual truth. Again, whether it is the ideal of righteous deeds or of truthful living, the discipline and direction are exactly the same. We, therefore,come to the obvious conclusion that in Sikhism, the goal is of creative and moral activity andthat spiritual life and moral life are virtually synonymous and coextensive. One inevitablyleads to the other. All training for spiritual life or for seeking God’,s Graceis through moral life. There is no dichotomy between the two kinds of life. This is evidently the basic plank inSikhism. Life on earth is a single spiritual or religious venture. It has to be availed of as aGodsent opportunity for spiritual growth. No segment of life is unimportant, nor cananyone be divorced or excluded from the spiritual field. Life’s divisions into spiritual life,social life and political life are man-made, arbitrary and untenable. Life being a single whole,has to be lived spiritually or morally. No part of life is taboo to the spiritual man. The mysticcannot afford to ignore any section of life as unbecoming for him; nor can he spurn to aidany man whatever be his situation.

(f) The ideal to make everyone a Superman: Human goal is to lead a righteous and a God- centred life. But God-centredness has one more implication. In the Sidh Gosht, Guru Nanakhas clearly specified that his mission is to remove man’s alienation from God. Guru Nanakthus explains as to what he means by ‘carrying out His Will’ and executing God’s mission ofcreating a society of God-centred men. “The Godconscious man achieves the goal andmakes all others do so.”59 That is exactly the reason why the Gurus have describedthemselves as the ‘Servants of God’, ‘Soldiers in God’s Legion’, or ‘wrestlers in the cause ofGod’; God is the creator of the universe. Invariably the Gurus pray that their lives may bedevoted to the service of God. “May I have millions of hands to serve Thee. Service is theway to cross the hurdles of life.” “Be ever alert in the service of God. Serve God everymoment and relax not.”60 As the world is the authentic creation of God, supported by HisImmanence, the service of God means the service of His creation, namely, this world, thislife and man, “Service in the world leads to approval in the Court of God.”61

In Sikhism, the highest religious attainment is to become God’s instrument in making everyhuman being Godcentred. It is the creative state from which altruistic activities startSpontaneously.

2. Gurmukh
The Gurus’ description of the Gurmukh gives a concise picture of their concepts about thegoal of man, the ideal life, their value system and their entire approach to the world and life.

(a) He is godly, and has all virtues and no Haumen: The Gurmukh is free from Haumenand all the vices, insecurity and problems that ego creates. “He who knows His Will, his egogoes.”62 God is truth but the superman lives Truth. God is the Ocean of Virtues. Thesupermen translate these virtues in life and live them. “He (Gurmukh) is the ocean of virtues, pure and truthful.” “He deals in the virtues of God.” He is “shelter of theshelterless.” “God is Compassionate, Merciful and Support of the earth; and so is the natureof saints.” The Gurmukh “saves all and removes pain.” “He becomes like Him with whom imbued.” “He lives truth, he loves single mindedly.” He sees God in all hearts; “he treats allalike.” His is not a conditioned, calculated or a rationalised practice of virtues. But, “Hepractices good spontaneously; he is the fountain spring of benevolence.”63

(h) He carries out His Will: God has a Will. The superman carries out that Will. His mind is filled with Naam; “true mind is imbued with Word, he serves truth, practices truth and earnstruth.” “Imbued by- His Will, he carries it out.”64 The Soldiers of God act as He Wills.” “Wonderful is His Will; one knows it only if one walks in His Will. Then alone one knowshow to lead the life of truth.”65 This point is of fundamental importance namely, that he whocarries out His Will alone knows it; and he who knows it must carry it out. The two activitiesare not separate but simultaneous because a Will known is essentially a Will carried out.“They who know His Will carry it out.”66

(c) He is the servant of God and man: They “dedicate life to Him”; He is “a combatant inthe cause of God”; he is the servant of God.” The Guru calls as “the slave of all creation.”67The Guru prays; “the world is sick, O save it by any means you please.68

This is a prayer of catholic import. He prays for all men and not for a few persons here orthere. The Guru is anguished to witness the troubles of man. Hence his prayer. He does notwant God to help men only through him. The Guru has made no claim to exclusiverophethood. He wants everyone to be saved by any means God may be pleased to use.Nothing could be more expressive of the anonymity and humility of the Guru and his deepextrovert concern for man and his problems.

(d) He partakes actively in all fields of life: God, the source of all values and virtues, “ismilk to the child, staff to the blind and help to the poor, and is protector of the weak.” It isimportant to understand that the Gurmukh’s virtues are not merely personal, pious andpreparatory, meant to secure salvation for him. But his role is positive and dynamic vis a vis,evil and human problems in all fields. He compromises not with evil, nor yields to it. “God’shero is he who fights for the oppressed.”69

(e) He aims to make all others God-centred: There is another important feature of theGurmukh. “He unites himself with God and unites others too with Him”; “The servants ofGod salvage all.” “He is emancipated and emancipates others.”70 In the Guru’s system, theideal to make everyone a superman remains the foremost aim of the Gurmukh. This priority,therefore, becomes the very reason why the Gurmukh deals with all men and participates inall fields and aspects of life. The emphasis on this ideal of making everyone God-centred is so great that the Guru goes to the extent of saying that “God established the earth for thesake of God-centred persons.” This, in essence, means that the creation or evolution of thesuperman on earth is the purpose of god towards which all life is moving.

The Gurus have prescribed three principal modes of discipline for the seeker: (a) company of God-centred persons, (b) moral life or service of man, and (c) prayer and rememberingGod. These modes of training are not ascetic methods, but lay down a code of conduct to bepractised throughout the entire course of one’s life.

(a) Company of God-centred persons
The Gurus have paid glowing tributes to the superman. Obviously, the society of the idealman is of inestimable value for the training of the seeker, both as a model and as a guide. Hisinfluence is the best for shaping man’s growing personality and providing him with strength and direction in times of stress and strain. ‘’Just as the Harind (Castor plant) imbibes thefragrance of the Chandan tree, the fallen are emancipated by the saints.” “In good companyone becomes good. “71 It is the role of the mystic to help every man to be a God-centredperson. The seeker thus grows in a receptive and kindly atmosphere because “God sendssaints to reveal God’s nearness to man.”72

(h) Moral life and service
In the Gurus system moral and spiritual values are for the enrichment of the world. Spiritualdiscipline aims at enabling man to face life in a righteous way and to accept theresponsibilities of a creative life. As such, a householder’s life is an essential moralresponsibility of man. The seeker’s training has to take place during the course of normallife and not in a monastery. The psyche can be properly conditioned only when it is subjectto the stresses and strains of the social environment of man. No one can learn to swimoutside the pool. This is exactly the reason that the Gurus excluded ascetics from theSikhfold and condemned all ritualistic, yogic and other-worldly practices and austerities. For,moral disciplining can alone be the foundation of spiritual growth. Altruism is opposed to allthe biologic, instinctive and rationalistic urges and aspirations of man. Virtues have come tooccupy a certain amount of cultural respect and prestige. Men practise them not because it isin their nature to do so, but because their sense of pride is served by such a performance. Itis not a cynical statement, but represents the biologic state of man. It goes to the credit ofculture, and more so to the appearance of mystics from time to time that, during its growth,the egoistic or the power instinct of man gets conditioned to the practice of virtues. It is nota constitutional change in man but is the mere conditioning of the egoistic psyche to moral ends. But, as it is not a change in the guiding consciousness of man, ego satisfaction remainsthe underlying motive of human activity. In this state, the base of moral life remains shakyand the search for moral ends is just temporary. We are not questioning the validity orsuperiority of the moral life, we are only indicating its constitutional weakness. The way outis to develop a higher consciousness. “God created first Himself, then Haumen, third Mayaand the fourth state of poise and bliss.”73 One has to rise to this fourth stage of supermanship. Keeping in view the character and role of the superman, it is obvious thatprogress is possible only through moral life.

“Singing and dancing in ecstacy are no worship; love and the giving up of ego are the waysof real worship.”74 “Drive out selfishness and one is fulfilled.” “Where the weak are cared, there is showered God’s mercy”; “Evil separates, good deeds unite”; “service in the world isthe way to be fulfilled.”75 There is, indeed, no spiritual progress without active moralfunctioning. The service of God is a synonyms for the service of man. Altruistic and moralactivities have the highest priority in the discipline of the seeker. The demands of moral lifeinvite the greatest of sacrifices. But, this service or moral life, has no reference to service inthe temples or monastries, or to some prescribed or ritualistic acts of piety.

God’s interest in the moral development of man can be gauged from the fact that He takes cognizance of and “rewards even an iota of good deed”, it being “His innermost nature tohelp the erring.” “With self-control and discipline, we forsake vice and see the miracle ofman becoming God.” “Continue to work with your limbs and at the same time remainattuned to God.” Salvation is attained while laughing, playing and living a full life.76

(e) Remembering God and Prayer
In the Guru Granth, there is considerable emphasis on remembering God. But, thisremembering of God is by itself not enough to link oneself with Him. This contemplationdoes not mean yogic practices for the achievement of the so-called bliss as an end in itself.We are unaware of any hymn in the Guru Granth recommending yogic practices or anytradition in this regard. Nor are we aware of any hymn in the Guru Granth which, apartfrom recommending prayer and keeping the fear of God always in one’s mind, directs thepractice of day-long meditations in seclusion and away from the day’s work. There are clearhymns against the use of such a course as a means to spiritual advancement. “Every onerepeats God’s name, but such repetition is not the way to God.” “With guile in heart, hepractices guile but mutters God’s name. He is pounding husk and is in darkness and pain.”77These verses deny the utility of any mechanical means of worship or mere repetition ofwords or hymns. Remembrance or repetitive utterances can be mechanical, magical, orritualistic in nature. As against it, remembering can be a way to keep in mind one’s basicideals so that the frail human psyche does not falter or deviate from one’s direction andideals. That is why, in the hymns of the Guru Granth, the stress is not on any mechanicalrepetition. The words used for the purpose are like, “Naam living in one’s being’ (KarePargaas), Being imbued’ (Ratte) with Naam. This remembrance is like keeping the fear ofGod in one’s mind while embarking on any activity or making any decision. It is notan end in itself, and seeks no magical or compulsive effects. Just as in the case of ‘doing the Will ofGod’ and ‘being yoked to Naam’, ‘remembering’ is also linked with the subsequent decisionsto be made. ‘By dwelling on the Word, mind flows to serve others.’78 Evidently,remembrance of God is a kind of preparation for the virtuous activities to be undertaken inlife. It is actually the character of the subsequent deeds that will be the test of the man andthe preparation he has made for his moral and spiritual progress.

Pray€r, as in any other theistic system, finds a place of eminence in the Guru Granth. Prayerhas a triple function. Prayer, on the one hand, expresses the humility and insignificance ofthe devotee. On the other hand, it reminds man of his need of continuous search for Godand His Lofty greatness. Secondly, it represents a perpetual seeking for His Grace which ispurely an Act of God. Finally, it is a humble attempt at communication with God so as todraw upon His Light and Energy in order to lift and elevate oneself and restore one’ssagging energies in the fight against evil and for the positive expression of love.

“My energies are exhausted and I am helpless. But O’ God, with thy Grace nothing is difficult for me to accomplish.” Such a prayer is not a repetitive formula or practice, nor is itan end in itself. It is really a preparation for the moral activity to be undertaken in the world.In fact, it is inalienably linked with subsequent activity. In the Guru’s system, while prayerhas a fundamental value, it is, like knowing God’s Will, an integral part of the creative deed.Prayer that leads to no activity is no prayer at all. In this sense prayer is an internal urge or act, the essential part of which is the external creative expression in life. Without its externaloperation, the internal activity remains stillborn and invalid. The very fact that the Gurusstarted no monastic system shows conclusively that they never advocated prayer as an independent mode of spiritual training. “One is emancipated while laughing and playing inlife.” “The Godcentred lives truth while a house-holder.”79

Here we shall briefly recapitulate the principles of Sikh ethics.
1. Principles
(a) God is the Creator. We are all His children, equal in His Eye. This lays the basis forhuman brotherhood and the equality of man.

(b) The world is real. It is not a vale of tears or a bondage. The object of life is not to securerelease from it but to strive towards the goal of a truly moral or spiritual living.

(c) God, as the Ocean of Attributes and Values, is carrying out a progressive movementfrom comparative imperfection to comparative perfection and towards a world of harmonyin which all beings are treated alike and as equals. It is a development for the growth ofvalues. Simultaneously, it is a movement from comparative necessity to freedom, from being the helpless object of the laws of casualty and determinism towards being a free andresponsible centre of creative activity.

(d) Haumen of man obstructs his vision in seeing things in their true colour and perspectiveand in realising the underlying unity and brotherhood of man. This is the fundamental failingof man. Practically, all manifestations of this vice involve encroachment on the rights ofone’s fellow beings. All social vices result from it. As against it God consciousness is the greatest social virtue, since it directs every activity towards the good of all and not towardsself-interest alone. This brings out the basically social character and approach of Sikhism. Itexplains the social trends of its ethics and the social concern of its institutions and traditions.All vices involving aggression against the rights, liberties and well being of one’s fellowbeings have to be avoided. All virtues flowing from the idea of the brotherhood of man andsafeguarding and securing the equal rights of all have to be practised.

We find that all these four ideas are not only interconnected and supplementary, but theyrepresent only the different facets of a single integrated concept.

2. Standard
The standard of Guru’s ethics is a unitary view of life, in which all beings have to be treatedas equals and evil has to be fought against. God’s soldiers try to be like Him and fight evil.Human actions have to be judged by this standard. We may also call this ethics as the ethics of Naam.

On the issue of means, spiritual systems may be divided into three categories. The firstcategory, like Jainism, Sankhya and Yoga, believes that social or moral life has no meaning.All spiritual effort should be directed inwards. Some preparatory and pious acts may bedone; but the aim should be to withdraw from life and seek an ultimate change in the makeup of man. In these systems socio-moral life per se has no significance. Social morality andthe change of environment for social ends are practically excluded. To the second categorybelong spiritual systems like Buddhism. They too are virtually disinterested in changing theenvironment in order to serve social objectives. All the same, for the layman and the seeker,they prescribe moral laws and duties. But, at the same time, they impose certain limitationson the means that can be employed for a moral end.

Sikhism does not belong to either of these two categories. It clearly envisages the manipulation of the environment for achieving moral and social aims. In any system, wheremoral life has an independent validity and an importance of its own as a desirable end, themaking of environmental, organisational and constitutional changes in order to have a moraleffect would ipso facto be justified. The standard is the unity of life and to treat all as equals.Every act that satisfies this standard is moral.

The Gurus contemplate that life should be organised and environment changed so that the growth of moral life is promoted. It is logically impossible to construct anything without atthe same time destroying and remoulding the existing environment. Human reason andintellect, we know, can be used both for good and evil. Similarly, force too can be used forbeneficial and for bad purposes. Man has the option to use reason and force for right orwrong objectives. Actually, it is the way one exercises this discretion that becomes the basisof moral judgement. God has been defined not only as “Helper of the weak”, but also as “the Destroyer of the tyrant” and the oppressor.”

The Gurus clearly deprecate evil and oppressive institutions. In the social field, casteprejudices have been severely criticised since they form the basis of discrimination betweenman and man. In the field of politics, the oppression of the rulers, the tyranny of theinvaders and the corruption of the officials have been condemned. Similarly, the pseudo- religious practices and idleness of yogis and ascetics and the hypocrisy of priests andBrahmins have been exposed. The latter pretend not to take polluted food during the daybut suck the blood of man at night. The amassing of wealth and property has beendenounced by saying that wealth cannot be gathered without resort to evil means. Thiscriticism of the evil institutions of man, both social and political, is not a mere verbalexercise. It evidently implies that the Gurus contemplate and suggest the reconstruction andcreation of alternative moral institutions. Naturally, alternative human institutions can come up only by the substitution, re-moulding or destruction of the old and unwantedorganisations. The lives of the Gurus are a clear pointer that, in their system, change ofenvironment to improve the moral climate in all fields is clearly envisaged and sanctioned.

The Gurus say that God-consciousness consists in treating all as one’s equals. “God’s riches are for all men but men try to grab them for themselves.” Hence inequality in treatment,including arbitrary distribution in wealth, is immoral. Any encroachment on the rights of others or any infringement of this spiritual law is immoral. Just as all property is theft, everyencroachment on the rights of others is aggression or violence. It is contrary to the very lawof physics and inherently impossible that violence or aggression could be undone or resistedwithout an equal and opposite use of force. In the world of God all progress is change. Andno change is possible without necessary force to impel or cause it. As such, all action andactivity, howsoever good, involve the use of force because action and force are synonymous. Action not involving the use of force is a contradiction in terms. In the system of the Gurus;so long as the end is spiritual and not selfcentred, the use of necessary force is justified.

“Men discriminate not and quarrel over meat-eating. They know not what is flesh and what is non-flesh, and in what lies or does not lie a sin.”80 This verse clearly implies that so long asone works in the midst of social life, any arbitrary prejudices about meat-eating or violencebeing evil as such are unjustified. Life is dynamic and involves at every step the use of force.The basis of all form is force, and, consequently, of all becoming and progress. It would,therefore, be mere sophistry and sheer ignorance of the reality to talk of performing arighteous or moral act without the use of force of one kind or the other.

Guru Nanak has expressed in detail81 his views concerning the issue of means and the cant about meat-eating. He chides the Brahmins not only for their pretence about meat-eating,but also for their considering some acts of supposed pollution as sinful and impure. TheGuru describes how the ways and processes of life involve the transformation and the use ofthe flesh. He further explains that life is present in every grain of our food and even in thefire-wood and the cow-dung which the Brahmins use for the purposes of purification. TheGuru exposes the fallacy that life is possible without the use of force or killing. He meansthat immorality does not lie in the use of force, which is inevitable for all living, whethermoral or immoral, but it lies in the direction or the purpose for which force is used. Force used for a good purpose is moral.

It might be argued that great pacifists like Mahatma Gandhi successfully employed non-violence as the means of bringing about socio-political changes. But, it is now well-knownthat when the Mahatma had to face a major challenge of his life, he found himselfcompletely helpless. The Mahatma was the greatest exponent of non-violence in modern times. When the Second World War began, the pacifists of the world looked up to him forsome lead. But, the Mahatma could furnish no non-violent or effective remedy. Ahimsacould be of little help to him in stopping the holocaust. The situation became so frustratingfor the Mahatma that a number of times he thought of committing suicide, so that, if hecould do nothing to stop the destruction, he would atleast not live to see the misery causedby it.82 The other two occasions, when he had to discard Ahimsa as a tool, are more wellknown; namely, when he agreed to the Congress accepting the execution of the war effort,and again when in 1947 he acquiesced in sending the Indian troops to Kashmir so as to repelthe Pakistani attack. All we wish to emphasize is that since Sikhism, as a spiritual systemcontemplated socio-political changes and involvement as a part of its religious mission, itwas Guru Nanak who specifically rejected Ahimsa as an unalterable means of religious andsocial functioning. This clarifies the problem of means and related moral issues. Everyactivity has to be judged on the basis of the principles and the standard of Sikhethics. Solong as human actionmeasures up to these two yard-sticks, the use of force is not barred. To see God in all hearts and to treat all men as equal is the ideal and also the basis of Sikhethics. As this ideal can be achieved only by right living, there has to be a distinct orientationand education in creating new attitudes towards the social life and the physical world. In thiscontext, the Gurus have pointed out the institutional and other social manifestations of thisevil. It is this social aspect which is important.

The caste system and the resultant institutions of extreme inequality or segregation and notions of pollution rigidly governed the entire social, economic and political life in thecountry. Similarly, inequality of sexes had also received religious sanction. “The Vedas makea wrong distinction of caste.” “No one should take pride in caste; foolish man ! be not proudof caste; this pride leads to multifarious evils. They make distinctions of four castes, but allare born of God.” “The whole world is made of the same elements. Then why makedistinctions ?”83 “They talk of pollution and warn others not to touch their food lest it shouldbe defiled. But their own bodies are impure.”84 “Why call women impure when withoutwoman there would be none ?”85

Both about the use of force for moral purposes and the status of women Gurus’ ideas were extremely radical. For them both force and reason are neutral tools which the egoist man hasused and abused for centuries. But it does not mean that on that account these tools, without the Correct use of which there would be no social life or progress, have not to beused for moral and righteous causes, similarly, the Gurus never considered women to be evil.In fact, they said thatthere would be no human life without Woman. The third guru made women in-charge of some of his preaching centres. Considering the fact that in othersystems women were either looked down upon, or assigned a junior place (The Pope haseven now refused to ordain women as priests). This was a change the social, moral andreligious implications of which were, indeed, enormous. Next comes the question ofeconomic inequality. This too has been criticised by the Guru. “God’s bounty belongs to all,but in the world it is mal-distributed.” “Man gathers riches by making others miserable.” Riches cannot be gathered without sin and these do not keep company after death.”86

The Gurus denounce every kind of renunciation of the world. They commend honest work and the production of goods as the moral and spiritual duty of man. “O Yogi, are you notashamed of begging from door to door for your food ?” “The man incapable of earning aliving gets his ears split (to become a Yogi or becomes a mendicant. He calls himself a Guruor saint but begs for food from door to door. Never look upto such a person or touch hisfeet. He knows the right way who earns his living by hard work and shares his earning withothers.”87 The Guru felt that fear, hypocrisy, ritualism, caste distinctions, other worldlinessand parasitic living were evils that had been corroding the religious life of man. In regard toall of them an attempt was made to remould individual attitudes so as to enable men, inpursuit of their ideals, to face and reshape life boldly and develop the capacity to reactagainst social and political wrongs.





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