Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Fakir from Punjab

ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

(Ik ōaṅkār sat nām kartā purkh nirbha'u nirvair akāl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṃ gur prasād )

One creator, one supreme reality,
His formless unity manifests itself in limitless forms
His name represents one cosmic Truth, one without a second, without fear or limitation
He is the creator, the timeless form, self-created, self manifesting……
May the Guru’s grace be with us……

These were the first words, (mool mantra -the basic holy chant) uttered by Guru Nanak upon his spiritual awakening. This formed the basis of Sikhism, the spiritual path shown by Guru Nanak. Guru Granth Sahib - the holy book of the Sikhs also begins with this mantra, and the rest of the book merely elaborates on the multiple dimensions of the this universal mantra.
Very little is known about the identity of this saint who was born in the 15th century in Punjab, a region in north India. His birth place was the village of Talwandi which falls in present day Pakistan.
Guru Nanank got married and had a family, he believed in living in this world, but not being swayed by it. He performed his duties as a family man but his heart was always submerged in the love and yearning for his God, whose praise he would sing night and day. The Gurudwaras of the Sikhs still ring with the melodius Guru Banis - the songs of the Gurus.

While Hindu and Muslim bigots fight over whether Guru Nanak was a Hindu or Muslim reformist, his true disciples, the Sikhs, are only concerned with following their Guru’s teachings. Guru Nanak was against divisive religions, outward ritualism and running away from worldly responsibilities. He asked his disciples to follow three simple teachings:

Naam Japan:: Chanting the Holy Name , ceaseless devotion to one God
Kirat Karo: Making an honest living
Vand Chakkho: : Sharing and caring for others

Some believe that the Sikh religion consists of the higher ideals of Bhakti Yoga and Sufism. Very few people are aware of the fact that the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, also known as Harminder Sahib, was laid by a sufi - Hazrat Miyan Mir, who was especially invited by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev for this purpose.

Guru Nanak was greatly influenced by Kabir and Shaikh Ibrahim Farid (1450 - 1535) a descendent of the famous Sufi saint Shaikh Fariduddin Shakarganj of Pak Pattan whose works, along with Hazarat Mian Meer and Waris Shah., were incorporated in the Guru Garanth Sahib. Their work makes up 33 percent of the book.Guru Nanak undertook a deep study of Hindu and Muslim faiths, traveled to Mecca, Medina, Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey and Baghadad with his childhood Muslim companion - Bhai Mardana, and subsequently came up with his own simple teachings bereft of any outward rituals or symbols. Guru Nanak’s main objective was to bring together Hindus and Muslims of India in common worship of one God, overcoming all caste and social distinctions.
The Guru told his followers that they were to be householders and could not live apart from the world -- there were to be no ascetic or hermits. He introduced the practice of langar -the communal meal, where the rich and poor, Hindu and Muslim, high caste and low caste, would sit together to eat.
Like all the other faiths present day Siikhism has developed into an organised religion with political overtones.


Anil P said...

"outward ritualism and running away from worldly responsibilities" is a very simplistic way of looking at things.

Renouncement involves a certain discipline, a certain single-mindedness whose results may not be achievable by other methods. And rituals may not necessarily be 'empty' as you seem to suggest, but instead may carry the same symbolism that say. chanting of words' does. Each ritual has a reson behind it.

Rupa Abdi said...

Dear Mr.Anil, Religion (not organised religion)is something very personal and dynamic. What works for you may not work for me, what works in a certain age may not be so relevant in another. Who am I to make judgements......

Anil P said...

I visited Sarnath sometime ago where Buddha delivered his first sermon after achieving enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, and raised a monastic order of 60 monks who had renounced worldly pleasures and tasked with taking the message forward.

It was a great responsibility they were tasked with, helped no doubt with the fact that had renounced life as married people know it. While many would think they "were running away from responsibilities" in fact they had undertaken a greater responsibility than most others.