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Emphasis on Love and Naam
— A Social Model —

Gurnam Kaur

Jot and Jugat
Sikh religion is a revealed religion and its revelation is in the form of bani, the process being of Jot and Jugat which is a unique phenomena. The uniqueness of revelation in Sikh religion is that the highest Truth has been revealed not through a Son of God, or through avtars, or through Divine statements to a prophet once and for all, but that the revelation was continuous from the first to the tenth Guru. The same light permeated all, only the Master’s visible form had changed.1 Bhai Gurdas, in his Vars, gives the same view, when he says that Guru Nanak Dev established the ordinance of a pure religious order in the world and made Lehna his successor. Guru Nanak gave Guru Angad his own legacy. Similarly the same spiritual light and boon of God came to Guru Amar Das from Guru Angad. Same is the mark on the forehead, the canopy is the same and the throne is also the same, only the body changed. He further says that five are the pirs, i.e., Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjun Dev, and five are the cups, i.e., truth, contentment, compassion, righteousness, and perseverance drunk by them. Then the sixth Pir sat on the throne of Guruship whom, Bhai Gurdas has termed bhari (weighty), because he bore the two swords of miri and piri. He took to arms along with spirituality to defend righteousness. Spiritualism was united with concerns of the world. Guru Arjun changed his bodily form and accomplished the form as Guru Hargobind.2 That is why all the Gurus called themselves Nanak. They speak the Truth as God ordained them to speak. They were simply the carriers of the message of God to the people. The uniqueness of revelation in any religious tradition consists in the type of ideals and aims it places before man to seek, the way to seek those ideals and the type of personality which is the consummation of the religious endeavour. The aim of revelation in Sikhism is self-realisation.3 According to Sikhism the personality of the realised one takes the form of the object of his worship.4 God is the highest Truth and the seeker can become truthful (sachiar) only after realising God. After the realisation of Sach, the sachiar has to show his realisation through his conduct, That is why in bani it is said that truth is above everything but truthful conduct is even above truth.5 The means for attaining this goal are to understand Hukam, which may be called the Divine Reason prevalent in the whole universe and to live in accordance with it.

So the main emphasis in Sikh philosophy is to come out of ignorance and to attain real knowledge of the Absolute and become a dynamic personality, that can be nearer to the Absolute, can feel His presence and live in tune with Him. Man is to create such conditions in which he can evolve his personality and realise his ideal, i.e., to live in tune with the Highest, the Absolute.

Naam and Shabad
According to Sikhism, man can have direct communion with God through meditation on His Name. The whole universe is the manifestation of Shabad, the Ultimate Truth. Naam is the qualitative expression of the pervasive personality of God. Once this all-pervading Reality is realised, the being of man merges in the Being of God, the light merges in the Source. The Guru’s Word shows the way to the realisation of God. Hence the Guru’s Word is to be uttered, sung, heard, to be dwelt upon and contemplated. However, to be like him, to realise the self, one’s physical activity of life is to be guided by a God-awakened mind. This is possible when the seeker submits his mind to the Guru. The result of this process of realisation is that one is in communion with God. Such a person is called sachiar or Brahmgiani or gurmukh or Khalsa in Sikhism.

This way to self-realisation has been termed as the way of remembering God’s Name and to love Him. To love God means to love His creation. This has been termed by Guru Nanak as “Prem Khelan” (the game of Love) and this is the way of total commitment and submission, because it demands one’s head. One has to eradicate ego from oneself. One cannot hesitate to lay down life once he has taken to this path. In Indian religious thought emancipation has been considered the goal of human life, and the control of mind has been considered most important for the spiritual achievement or emancipation. For this purpose many ways and means have been suggested by different religions. But most of them have one thing in common, i.e., they involve renunciation and asceticism of one kind or another. Guru Nanak starts afresh. He rejects both renunciation and indulgence. In Japji in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak, after describing God in Mul Mantra (Basic Truth), rejects the prevailing methods for the realisation of God. He says, “Ritual purification, though million-fold, may not purify the mind; nor may absorption in trance still it, however long and continuous; possessing multiple worlds quenches not the rage of avarice and desire. A thousand million feats of intellect bring not emancipation.” After rejecting them he puts the fundamental question, “How then to become true to the Creator ? How to demolish the wall of illusion ?” And the answer follows, “Through obedience to His Ordinance and Will.”6 Why ? Because everything has been created by Divine ordinance. “By Divine Ordinance are all forms manifested; inexpressible is the Ordinance. By Divine Ordinance are beings created. By Divine Ordinance are some exalted, some beings are marked with nobility or ignominy; are visited with bliss or bale, on some falls grace, some are whirled around in cycle of birth and death. All are governed by the ordinance, none exempt. Saith Nanak : Should man realise the might of the ordinance, he most certainly would disclaim his ego.”7 In this whole creation under His Ordinance, He created the earth, which according to Guru Nanak Dev has been fixed by God as the place for righteous action. The point to be noted here is that this world has not been rejected by the Guru as a place of bondage or a place of punishment for the fall of man as in other religions. It is regarded as a special creation of God for the performance of Dharma, righteous action, the place for the realisation of the ultimate aim. The human mind has been considered the most potent factor in the spiritual realisation or achievement and it is necessary to control and direct the mind in the right direction and on the right path. For that matter, to forsake or renounce the world is not advisable, because mind cannot be ‘killed’ it can only be controlled, and the way of Naam Simram (remembering God’s Name) and His Love (Prem) is to be followed and practised while living in this world.

In Sikhism family life has been considered the balancing factor and has been given a very important place. So, man is instructed to control his mind under the guidance of Guru / Shabad, while leading a family life. Man has to cultivate the ethical virtues in himself. Guru Nanak Dev, in Japji while taking the symbols of the yogis and sanyasis has very clearly laid down the spiritual path to be taken. He says that man should cultivate the virtues like contentment, effort or hard work, concentration on God’s Name, a firm belief in purity, equality, to remember death always etc., which can help control mind. To control the mind is to win the world. With the symbols of yogis, which was a very popular religious system in the time of Guru Nanak, the Guru says, “Make contentment thy earrings, modesty thy begging-bowl and pouch; contemplation thy ashes. Make thy quilt from realisation of thy mortality, and keep thy body virgin thy code, and faith in God thy staff. Let all mankind be thy sect. Conquering thus thy self, may thou be lord of the world (it implies complete spiritual fulfilment, transcendence of all desires and human frailty). Salutation to Him the Primal, Immaculate, Eternal, Immortal, Immutable through all time”8. While living in the world and fulfilling his duties man attains emancipation through guidance of the Guru. Guru Arjun says, “Saith Nanak : by contact with the master is the true device of living perfected. In a life of smiling, playfulness, enjoyment of wear and food, is attained liberation.”9 And for this, one has to put in efforts : “My self ! in joy abide by endeavouring and working in the way of God. By meditation obtain union with the Lord : Thus, saith Nanak, shall thy anxiety be removed.”10 So we see that the main emphasis is on conduct as is also asked in Chandi Charitra, “God of power, bless me that I am never deterred from gracious deeds. When fight I must, may I fight to win. That I am instructed in wisdom only by my higher mind, that I crave ever to utter Thy praise. And when comes the end of my life, I die fighting in the thick of a righteous war.”11

Ever-active and Ever-awake
Effort, endeavour and work are related with dynamism which keeps man ever active. It is not a static state of a recluse or hermit. Guru Tegh Bahadur says that to realise God, one need not give up home and family life and go to the forests, because God, though transcendent, is also universal, all-pervasive and omnipresent, “Why to seek Him you go to the wild places; the Lord, immaculate and abiding in all, pervades within thee. As fragrance in the rose, and reflection in the mirror, the Lord abides in the self — there seek Him. Within and without, know that the Lord alone abides, and this truth by the Master is revealed. Saith Nanak, servant of God : without realization of the self, is not effaced impurity of illusion.”12 Forests or wild places are related to renunciation and asceticism, where mind and body are away from worldly comforts and desires, and psychic inclinations are constrained through physical austerities. So man is asked to be fully conscious of conduct and situations. He is advised to be ever awake. Sikhism is not a religion of “the ever sleeping ghost of nirvana”, it is the religion of ever-active and awakened souls, who are conscious of the self and the existing world and ever ready to improve it. The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, describes God as eternal, ever-abiding, and upholder of the Law (Hukam). He is since the beginning of time but Himself without a beginning, is incomprehensible and unconquerable. His charity, compassion, self-restraint and self-discipline, His laws, His vows of chastity and pleasing manner endure forever. He is the Primeval One, Infinite and without a beginning or an end. He is self-born, without form, without jealousy, without fear. He is Formless and without an outline. He does not age and is compassionate to the meek. He is All Mercy... He is Immovable, Primeval, Immaculate, Everlasting, the Embodiment of Truth, and Eternal. He is the Beginning of all yet Himself Unborn, Whom time ages not. He is the Holiest of Holy and the Transcendent One. He is Self-Existent, His miracles are manifest in the whole world; though One, He is diffused through all. The Guru asks, “Poor soul, why not recognise such an Immaculate Lord as thy God ? ”13 So to realise Him, the Source of one’s origin, is the aim of human life. Guru Gobind Singh, while addressing the human mind advises through the symbols of sanyasa and forests to realise one’s Source of origin while living in the world. He asks the mind to practise renunciation while living in society and consider his homestead to be a forest and to keep detached in his mind. Continence be his matted hair, and to join with God his ablution, disciplined conduct his long nails. Let wisdom be the Guru to instruct, and God’s Name the ashes to apply to the body. One should live a simple life — eating and sleeping sparingly. Forgiveness, compassion and love should be the virtues to be obtained. One should stick to good conduct and contentment and rise above all modes of maya. Lust, wrath, greed, obstinacy, attachment are the evil propensities, which are not to be harboured in the mind. This is the way to see the quintessence of the soul and to attain the Supreme Being.14 So to realise one’s source one need not go into the outer sanyasa, what is needed, is the inner sanyasa of the mind. The forest, yoga, matted hair, ablution, long nails, pilgrimage are the outer symbols of renunciation or Sanyasa. One needs to control one’s mind and direct it on the right path towards the goal, while living a family life. For this purpose one has to cultivate the ethical virtues like truth, altruism, continence, etc. The way to cultivate them is through the knowledge given by the Guru and remembrance of God’s Name as Guru Nanak Dev teaches in Japji, Guru Gobind Singh teaches in Swaiyas, with the example of the yogi’s symbols. The Guru asks the mind to make truth its horn (f;zCh), being without deceit its necklace (wkbk), and concentration the ashes (fpG{sh) to smear the body, the gathering of the mind the one-stringed instrument (thDk), and to collect alms (fGfynk) of God’s Name. When struck with the strings of the Supreme Quintessence, to beat with the rhythm of love and song of wisdom both angels and demons would be wonder struck and gods in their heavenly abodes will be filled with joy to hear this melody. In such a yoga the mind is asked to instruct itself in the Wisdom of the soul and to lead a disciplined life and utter the unuttered, the Mystery that is God. Then his body will stay clean like gold and death will strike not.15

In Asa Di Var Guru Nanak has addressed the leaders of different religions and asks them to understand the real essence of religion. In a similar manner the tenth Guru has also addressed them. They are religious leaders like priests, mullahas and pandits, who are responsible for the preaching and propagation of religion. The Guru has asked such people first to awaken themselves to religious consciousness, love of God, and then with religious wisdom so acquired guide others on the path of spiritual realisation. It is possible only with spiritual yearning. Before preaching others one should practise the spiritual way of life oneself. According to Gurmat it is not worthwhile to give up worldly life itself but it is worthwhile if one gives up those things which become a hindrance in the way of realisation which are called bikh or ras or five evil propensities in Gurmat, and such questionable actions, as have no rational ground. The actions based on maya and based on irrational grounds are the real bondage for man. The way to get out of this bondage suggested by the Gurus is the Love of God and the remembrance of His Name which make the human mind clear of all these doubts.16 To be dyed in the love of God one is to be awakened to the spiritual urge and to be conscious of the source of his origin and to yoke oneself to the feet of the Supreme Being and to wake up and see, giving up the sleep intoxicated by attachment.

Sarbat da Bhala
To ask for the boon of “Good to all” is the basic nature of a gurmukh and to acquire this nature one needs to be dyed in the Love of God. The fifth Guru tells in Sukhmani Sahib, “the God-enlightened with doing good to all are inspired.”17

The tenth Master has averred that “only those achieve God who love.”18 The Guru has termed all other devices than to love Him as “koor kirya”, meaning false actions. To love Him means to conceive Him as pervasive in the whole of creation. Love demands total submission and commitment. This sense of total submission to God is evident from the life-pattern of the Gurus. According to this way of total commitment and submission, God has been envisaged as the Saviour of the honour of his devotees.19 God’s devotees have remembered and contemplated Him in many ways and are still doing so. The important point here is that in Sikhism God is above all boundaries. To restrict Him to birth and death, caste and colour, in the form of avtars is wrong. Man is free to choose the way to realise Him, only it should be imbued with His Love. According to the tenth Master, God is supreme, beginningless, unconquerable, deathless, all-powerful, and above caste, colour or creed.20 In Mul Mantra also Guru Nanak Dev, while depicting the qualities of God has affixed the numeral 1 (one) with Onkar and finished all possibilities of duality. There is no other being like Him. He is the Only One, and that is why He does not take birth as an avtar. Avtars are His creation. The same philosophy has been propounded by the tenth Master, and stressing the same point he says that there is no way out except remembering God’s Name. All the Gurus have claimed themselves as the servants of God, born to serve Him. In Sikhism the theory of God being the One and the Only Reality, and the rest of the world as His creation which He created out of Himself, has been stressed. Moreover, man realises the qualities of God in himself, because God’s Light resides in him. So he is also to transcend all boundaries to reach Him. He is to be like his object of worship.

From the whole discussion we can easily conclude that the theory of Oneness of God and His creation (and the way to Him being to love His creation and the remembrance of His Name) given by Guru Nanak, was also followed by the succeeding Gurus. The only difference is that the mission was started by Guru Nanak and was completed by Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Nanak Dev has given a very rational ground for the fulfilment of any mission. To see any seed into full blossom the following conditions are needed : First, the seed should be full and unbroken because a crushed seed does not sprout; second, the weather should be congenial and the soil should be in a suitable condition to grow the seed. Similarly the plain cloth does not catch dye unless and until a proper chemical is applied to it. The conditions were not yet fully prepared for the creation of the Khalsa at the time of Guru Nanak, as Guru Nanak himself has mentioned in the reference given above, “In kalyug has occurred famine of truth, falsehood spread. Beings by sable colour of evil into goblins are turned. In former times was seed of truth planted which obtained respect. Now is the seed crushed, how may it sprout ? ”21 Guru Nanak Dev started the mission and the succeeding Gurus put efforts towards the achievement of the goal, i.e., for the spiritual transformation of man and society. When Guru Gobind Singh was bestowed with the honour of that mission the land was fully prepared, the weather was suitable and the seed was full. He gave the amrit of double-edged sword to the prepared mind, whose psyche had been transformed in two hundred and fifty years. The Khalsa created by him was sachiar, gurmukh, and a brahmgyani with a balanced personality of, “wB jh wkfj T[dk;k”. In the swaiyyas the Khalsa is described thus : “He whose mind dwells day and night on the ever-effulgent light and gives not a moment’s thought to others than the one. Who bears perfect love, with faith, and believes not even mistakenly in fasting, tombs, crematoriums and hermitages, not in pilgrimages, nor customary charities, nor a set code of self-discipline, and when God’s light illumines perfectly his heart, then is he known as a Khalsa — purest of the pure.”22 Sangat was transformed into the form of the Khalsa who, while living a social life, is to realise the spiritual essence in him. He is not to worry about his individual emancipation only, but also be concerned with the emancipation of the whole society. The religion was taken out of the forests of renunciation, quietism, hath yoga and hermitage, and was made the spiritual way of life of the common man. Guru Nanak says that he is by the side of the lowest among the so-called low castes, and prays to God to keep him in their company, because he does not want to walk on the way of maya-oriented people — the so-called great ones, because he knows God’s Grace falls where the poor are cherished.23 Guru Gobind Singh, when he converted the sangat of the downtrodden people of Guru Nanak Dev into the Khalsa, said, “It is through them that I won the battles and through their favour distributed bounties to the poor. It is through them that all my sins and sorrows are over and the house is overflowing with material possessions. Through their kindness I have gathered knowledge and I have all my enemies smothered. I am exalted for they have exalted me, otherwise there are millions of poor ones like me, wandering luckless and friendless. He who serves them pleases me. Nothing else pleases my mind. Offer gifts to them, no one else is worthy to receive them. To serve them bears fruit both here and hereafter, no other service is of any avail. My possessions, my body, my mind, my soul, are ever at the disposal of my people.”24 For the individual’s spiritual realisation the spiritual growth of the society was deemed necessary. The creation of the Khalsa was the result of the efforts made by the first nine Gurus for the shaping of a balanced human society and balanced personality of a human being to reside in that society, in which spirituality and worldly life, i.e. degh and tegh, or miri and piri, and bhakti and shakti were combined. Guru Nanak bestowed the status of dharamsal to the earth where man comes to practise righteousness, and Guru Gobind Singh has termed his coming on earth as, “Xow :[ZX e? ukfJ” the enthusiasm to stand for righteousness. The creation of the Khalsa defines dharm yudha, i.e. the deployment of power and effort in the service of truth and righteousness. The Guru gave his form to the spiritually realised soul of the Khalsa, and the creation of the Khalsa is the actualisation of the revelation received by the Gurus and conveyed to the people. Khalsa got manifested in God’s delights.


1. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 966
joiq Ehw jugiq swie sih kwieAw Pyir pltIAY ]
2. Varan, Bhai Gurdas, (from 45 to 48 pauris)
mwirAw iskw jgiq ivic nwnk inrml pµQ clwieAw [
Arjn kwieAw plitkY mUriq hrgoibµd svwrI

3. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 441
mn qUµ jooiq srUpu hY Awpxw mUlu pCwxu [[
4. Ibid., p. 223 :schu ErY sBu ko aupir scu Awcwr
5. Ibid., p. 62 : socY soic nw hoveI jy socI lK vwr
6. Ibid., p.1 : hukmI hovin Awkwr hukmu n kihAw jweI
7. Ibid. : muµdw sµqoKu srmu pqu JolI iDAwn kI krih ibBUiq
8. Ibid., p. 6 : nwnk siqguir ByitAY pUrI hovY jugiq
9. Ibid., p. 522 : nwnk siqguir ByitAY pUrI hovY jugiq [[
hsµidAw KylµidAw pYnµidAw KwvµidAw ivcy hovY mukiq

10. Ibid. : audmu kryidAw jIau qUµ kmwvidAw suK Buµcu [[
iDAwieidAw qUµ pRBU imlu nwnk auqrI icµq ..

11. Dasam Granth
dyih iSvw br moih iehy suB krmn qy kbhUµ n trO [
jb Awv kI AauD indwn bnY Aiq hI rn mY qb jUJ mrO'
12. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 684 : kwhy ry bn Kojn jweI [[
srb invwsI sdw Alypw qohI sµig smweI

13. Dasam Granth, Swaiyas
siq sdYv srUp sq`bRq Awid Anwid AgwiD AjY hY [
dwn dXw dm sµjm nym jq`bRq sIl suibRq AbY hY [
Awid AnIl Anwid Anwhd Awip AdÍYK AByv ABY hY [
rUp ArUp AryK jrwrdn dIn dXwl ikRpwl Bey hY [[1[[
nwm aubcwr qrI ginkw, soeI lwmu ADwr bIcwr hmwry [

14. Dasam Granth
ry mn AYso kir sµinAwsw [[
bn sy sdn sbY kir smJhu mnhI mwih audwsw [[1[[ rhwau [
kwm kRoD hµkwr loB hT mohA nw mn so lXwvY [[
qb hI Awqm-qq ko drsY prm purK kh pwvY [[

15 Ibid.
ry mn ieh ibiD jog kmwE [[
isµ|I swcu Akpt kµTlw iDAwn ibBuq cVwE [

16. Ibid.
pRwnI prm purKu pig lwgo [[
sovq khw moh inµdRw mY kbhuµ suicq hÍY jwgo [[1[[ rhwaU
jw qy dUK pwp nih BytY kwl jwl qy qwgo [
jO suK cwho sdw sBn kO, qO hir ky ris pwgo [

17. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 273
bRhmigAwnI kY grIbI smwhw [[
bRhmigAwnI praupkwr aumwhw

18. Dasam Granth, Akal Ustat
swcu kho' sun lyhu sBY ijin pRym kIE iqn hI pRBU pwieE [
19. Ibid. Rag Sorath
pRB jU qo kh lwj hmwrI [
nIlkµT nrhir nwrwiex nIl bsn bnvwrI [

20. Ibid.
ibnu krqwr nw ikrqm mwno [
Awid Ajoin AjY AibnwsI iqh prmYsur jwno [.
21. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 468
sic kwlu kUVu vriqAw kil kwlK byqwl [
bIau bIij piq lY gey Ab ikau augvY dwil [
jy ieku hoie q augvY ruqI hU ruiq hoie [
nwnk pwhY bwhrw korY rµgu n soie [
BY ivic Kuµib cVweIAY srmu pwhu qin hoie [
nwnk BgqI jy rpY kUVY soie n koie [

22. Dasam Granth, Swaiyas
jwgiq joiq jpY ins bwsur eyk ibnw mn nYk n AwnY [[
pUrn pRym pRqIq sjY bRq gor mVI mt BUl n mwnY [[
qIrQ dwn dieAw qp sµjm eyk ibnw nh eyk pCwnY [[
pUrn joq jgY Gt mY qb Kwlsw qwih nKwls jwnY [[

23. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 15
nIcw Aµdir nIc jwiq nIcI hU Aiq nIcu [[
nwnku iqn kY sµig swiQ vifAw isau ikAw rIs [[
ijQY nIc smwlIAin iqQY ndir qyrI bKsIs [[

24. Dasam Granth, Swaiyas
ju`D ijqy ien hI ky pRswid ien hI ky pRswid su dwn kry [[
mo gRih mY mn qy qn qy isr lau Dn hY sB hI ien hI ko [



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