ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ
One Creative Power, Truth, Obtained by Grace of the Guru
Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh,
Today, 19 Maghi, Nanakshahi 535 (31 January, CE 2004), we Sikhs celebrate the birth anniversary of our Master, Nanak VII – Guru Har Rai ji.
Any cursory reading of the life of Guru Har Rai ji will reveal the following about his personality: tender, merciful and compassionate. At the same time he kept, as per Guru Hargobind Sahib ji’s instructions, an army of 2,200 warriors. He was an avid hunter and a great social thinker.
Max Arthur Macauliffe, in the book The Sikh Religion, writes: “In the afternoon the Guru used often to gird on his sword, equip himself with his bow and arrows, mount his horse, and then proceed to the chase……The Guru took some of the animals he had obtained from the chase home with him, and freed and protected them in a zoological garden, which he caused to be made for the recreation of his followers.”
Zoological garden? Recreation of his followers? When was the last time any of us felt a sense of thrill and enjoyment going to the natural history museum or the
Principal Satbir Singh, in his appropriately titled book (punjabi) on the life of Guru Har Rai ji – Nirbhao Nirvair – writes that the Guru would sit in the sangat and listen to the recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib and then listen to the rababi style of gurmat sangeet kirtan everday. Everyday he would sit in the pangat and partake in langar, but made it a point to earn his living (kirt di kamai).
Everyone must have heard of this one: One day Aurangzeb, in an attempt to ensure that the Mughal throne would be his own, poisoned his elder brother Dara Sikhon with “crushed tiger whiskers”. Dara Sikhon was apparently quite a pious and spiritual man and became very ill because of the poisoning. No hakim (traditional south asian medicine man) was able to find a cure to his illness. However, Guru Har Rai ji had a very advanced (for its time) dispensary full of exotic medicinal herbs and it became evident that the Sikh Nation had the cure to Dara’s illness. Shah Jahan, the emperor and father of Dara Sikhon, had to eventually humbly request the herbs in order to save his son. Guru Sahib, the compassionate, agreed and thus Dara was cured and eventually became a shagird (disciple) of the Guru.
Finally, I learnt from all the sources I read about the Guru’s life that he had a favorite var of Bhai Gurdas ji (the poet laureate and par excellence Sikh theologian) that he would repeat to the Sikhs very often. Guru Sahib’s choice of this var, as a teaching utility of the philosphy of the House of Nanak, really intrigued me. So simple and straightforward to understand, yet so difficult and challenging to follow. It is var 28, pauri 15 and goes like this:
A Sikh awakes in the pre-dawn hour and enshrines the merits of nam and compassion
(A Sikh) speaks civilly, is humble and happily does good to others after having earned with their own hands
(A Sikh), according to the Guru’s instruction, sleeps, eats and speaks moderately.
(A Sikh) toils to earn a living, performs good deeds and does not let success go over the top of the head
(A Sikh) walks for days and nights in search of the company of those that sing the Guru’s word, and sings with them!
(A Sikh) keeps his/her consciousness merged in the sabad and maintains love for the true Guru
(A Sikh) amid hopes and desires, remains detatched
Hail to Guru Har Rai ji, our seventh Master, the seventh embodiment of Guru Nanak’s jot, the compassionate one, the inspiration of the downtrodden, the keeper of the zoological sanctuary, the lover of nature, the lover of things natural and scientific. May his life be a model for us to follow.
Remain in Chardhi Kalaa
"S. Jassa Singh was handsome, with a vigorous and strong body. He was tall, and his complexion was wheatish but bright, with a broad head, full eyebrows and a downward tilt, penetrating, large eyes, and a full beard. His chest was broad and his arms were so long that when he was in the standing posture, they touches his knees, and his voice was so slentorian that even when he spoke in a low tone, it was audible to the peole standing at a distance.A couple of other intersting tidbits
S. Jassa Singh's breakfast consisted of one seer of butter and a quarter seer of mishri (condensed sugar). He had his lunch regularly, and it is a measure of his physical strength and health that he could easily digest half a goat or so. His body was well built and heavy, and he was so active, tough and strong in riding that no horse would bear his weight for more than six months. He was an expert swordsman and bowman. Very few Sardars would match him in this field. Many of the arrows carried his name or symbol. In firing a gun he was a great marksman; in the battle-field he invariably led the army, and wherever he was needed, he would give a kick to his horse and reach there. He was not in favor of wearing iron armour because he thought that after wearing such a heavy steel dress a rider could neither attack the enemy swiftly and suddently, nor effecta quick escape. For his defense hedepended exclusively on God.
His dress was essentially sky-blue. He tied his turban in the Mughal style. Over his shirt he wore a buttoned jacket followed by a belt and a short sword, and he had a big slying under garment and tight wrinkled trowsers. he would wear a large sword and other requisite weapons in his belt, along with a short sword."
"...among the Missaldar Sardar, he was the only person who could be regarded as literate according to the tradition of the time. [In the beginning] he only spoke Urdu; and this used to amuse his Sikh brethren. Gradually he switched over to Punjabi but the influence of Urdu and Persian remained intact till the very end of his life"And every morning in the camps what did he do:
"...He would take a round early in the morning to see whther the Singhs were reciting Gurbani or not. At this time if he saw the Muslim servants lying asleep, he would hold them by their hands, rouse them and ask them to recite namaz and remember God. There were clear instructions for the Sikh Sardars to have the kirtan (collective singing) of Asa ki var regularly."Man, I wish we had leaders like him today. Wait...we need to become leaders like him today.
----end excerpt----1. Reiteration of the concept of unity of God, meditation on His Name, recitation of gurbani, inculcation of faith in the holy Sikh Gurus as well as in Guru Granth Sahib and other appropriate measures for such a purpose.2. Grooming at the Sikh Missionary College the Sikh youth with inherent potential to become accomplished preachers, ragis, dhadis and poets so that the propagation of Sikhism, its tenets and traditions and its basic religious values could be taken up more effectively and vigorously.3. Baptizing the Sikhs on a mass scale with particular emphasis on schools and colleges wherein the teachers as well as the taught shall be enthused through regular study circles.4. Revival of the religious institution of dasvandh among the Sikhs.5. Generating a feeling of respect for Sikh intellectuals including writers and preachers, who also would be enthused to improve upon their accomplishments.6. Streamlining the administration of the gurdwaras by giving better training to their workers. Appropriate steps would also be taken to maintain gurdwara building in proper condition. The representatives of the party in the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee would be directed to pull their weight towards these ends.6. Making suitable arrangements for error free publications of gurbani, promoting research in the ancient and modern Sikh history, translating holy gurbani into other languages and producing first-rate literature on Sikhism.7. Taking appropriate measures for the enactment of an All India Gurdwaras Act with a view to improving the administration of the gurdwaras throughout the country and to reintegrate the traditional preaching sects of Sikhism like Udasis and Nirmalas, without in any way encroaching upon the properties of their maths.8. Taking necessary steps to bring the Sikh gurdwaras all over the world under a single system of administration with a view to running them according to the basic Sikh forms and to pool their resources for the propagation of Sikhism on a wider and more impressive scale.9. Striving to free access to all those holy Sikh shrines, including Nanakana Sahib, form which the Sikh Panth has been separated, for their pilgrimage and proper upkeep.
Is it not shameful that we go an auction our Beloved for the fun of preaching a sermon that has but one effect of causing hatred between man and man? Because of my personal love of my Beloved, I should be so radiant that my radiance should conceal me and my Beloved from all. And yet my radiance should be a revelation of Him, as is the fragrance of the rose. It is certainly a tiresome futility for us to go impressing on the busy world of today that unless they keep long hair and wear turbans they cannot understand the Guru. The Guru is already diffusing his mind in the world-mind and if, like other theologians and priests, we strive to force upon them our particular theology and rites and symbols we shall certainly fail. As the shape of the nose and ear and eye cannot be limitations for the ecstasy of the soul, so no symbol, no rite, no particular form, no particular virtue or vice can impede the inner realization of the great ideals of the Guru. But as the mystic expressional types of the Guru's mind, we have to roam in this world and spread the fragrance of the Guru with the braid-knot he gave us, and the flowing beards. Our shapes indeed can, in no sense, be considered symbols. But more important is the expression of the Sikh soul through their medium, and if that expression is lacking, our very life and body, whether our head be dressed or clean-shaven, are meaningless superstitions. To a person given to religion, as one given to intense human love, trifles relating to the soul are more essential than the realms of silver and gold. Surely for such people the very superstitions contain more reflections of truth than the gathered facts of the learned people of the world. If one who is at peace and fully intoxicated on those delectable heights closes his eyes in exstacy, this closing of his eyes is no symbol of religion and yet, in a sense, it is. So should be with us Sikhs, the wearing of His knot, His beard, His shape and His obedience. Our form and shape of the Guru will radiate with His inspired and extraordinary humanity. Lacking that one thing, all shall be lacking. Without that spirit within us both life and death are devoid of meaning and truth.Couple of thingsExcerpt from Prof. Puran Singh, Spirit Born People, "Internationalism and the Sikhs"
This ideal group of Spirit-born people, which has been the dream and art creation of Guru Nanak, was named Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, who he declared as his Son, his own image, the reflection of the Guru-personality, born of his blood. The Commune was named the `Khalsa Panth', which the Guru planted as the Root of the' Kingdom of Righteousness' in the garden of Anandpur, the City of Joy, to be the Ideal future International State of man. By creating the Khalsa, the Guru has given birth to a New Race, with a universal religion of faith in man and fired it with the spiritualNote in this paragraph - I have known it for some time, but many don't understand the implications - Akbar became a Brahmin...
passion for progress....
Four hundred years ago the inhabitants of the Punjab were all slaves. The invaders that came by the Khyber Pass, destroyed by the sword all Indian hopes of ever becoming a self-governing nation. Foreign invasions showed the hollowness of the creed that was holding the people of India in its clutches of caste and colour and dual differences. What could the invaders have achieved if the will to die for freedom were there in the soul of India? Then the Moghuls settled down, Akbar became a Brahmin, Aurangzeb a mere dreamer of a Muslim Empire, and Bahadur Shah a singer of rhymes that the dancing girls sang. Islam with its sword, found its grave in India. What is the Indian Mussalman today but a Hindu who hates `others'? Perhaps in the whole of India today, one cannot find a group of people that can so continuously suffer for an ideal as the Sikhs.
Humble labourers while digging the earth, while ploughing, while on horse-back, were in deep unison with the God of Humanity. A new spiritual culture was being nurtured in the homes of the dust-laden peasantry of the Punjab. It was the culture of simple humanity with a Godward tendency; it was the culture of spontaneous God-head flowering in essential humanity. The God ward tendency _ being Gurmukh, with face turned to the Guru -was the simple religion of the Sikh masses. And those who were full of the Guru, His Truth, His Fire, were the true representatives of the Sikh People -the Sikh Nation.
Is it not an amazing fact that in the first embodiment the Great Guru discards the Hindu’s sacred thread (janeu) and literally reprimands the ritualistic Brahmin. Then in the ninth embodiment the Great Guru gives up his earthly life to protect the right to freedom of faith and religion. It so happened that the religion he was protecting was that of the Kashmiri Brahmins. Had it been Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Bahais or any other faith, rest assured Guru Teghbahadur would have done exactly the same thing. He would have similarly challenged the ruling elite – “Try me! If you can force me to convert, then you have won and can go ahead and convert the others”.
The Guru’s purpose was to uphold Truth. Just like his grandfather, Nanak V, Guru Teghbahadur felt it more important to stand up and challenge oppression rather than seek favor and save his own skin. Another phenomenal fact was that the Guru’s inspired their disciples to do the same. Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala also chose to challenge the oppressor rather than save their own skin. They did that because for the Sikh earthly life and death are inconsequential. Living life as one of the Spirit Born and laughing at physical death is only possible in the sanctuary of the Guru. Living and continuously feeling the Divine is not an easy endeavor unless we hold the Guru’s robe and let the Master lead the way. Most of us fail at it because of this feeling that it is purely our “own endeavor”. Far from it. The effort required in the process of Spirit Born life is our own. Success at it is by Grace alone.
Today we commemorate the calling of the one we know as dharam di cadar - the Comforting Shawl of Faith - Guru Teghbahadur. In very simple language he calls upon us as well to follow him in the fight against oppression and the strength to fight for freedom of religion and faith – by being Guru-inspired. The question is, shall we listen and follow?
rwgu gauVI mhlw 9 ]
swDo mn kw mwnu iqAwgau ]
kwmu k®oDu sMgiq durjn kI qw qy Aihinis Bwgau ]1] rhwau ]
suKu duKu dono sm kir jwnY Aauru mwnu Apmwnw ]
hrK sog qy rhY AqIqw iqin jig qqu pCwnw ]1]
ausqiq inMdw doaU iqAwgY KojY pdu inrbwnw ]
jn nwnk iehu Kylu kTnu hY iknhUM gurmuiK jwnw ]2]1]
In Rag Gauri by Nanak IX
Oh my dear saintly people, do away with your selfish pride.
Make sure you never go near and always run away from the frustrations of uncontrollable lust, anger, and companionship with evil minded people.
Consider both happiness or sorrow, and honorable appellations or slanderous banter to be one and the same – that is, don’t be effected by them. It is the one who remains unaffected during times of joy as well as suffering that knows the essence of how to live in the world.
Forsake the need of being showered with praise as well as the urge to slander others. Instead pursue a life which ensures that you are in a state of being spirit born.
Serf Nanak proclaims, this is a difficult game. There are only a few who know this path because they dedicate their lives by being Guru-inspired.
The Panth has not been able to agree on a fixed date for the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Sahib. A section of the community insists that it be celebrated on the full moon day (puranmashi) of the month of Katak – but according to the Bikrami calendar. So, this year it actually falls on the 11th of Maghar according to the Nanakshahi calendar or 24th of November according to the Common Era calendar. By the way, 11th of Maghar is also the “fixed” date for the Shahidi gurpurab of our Beloved Nanak IX and his three jivan-mukt disciples (I will write more about that later).
On the topic of Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary I thought I would share with you the words of a great scholar, commentator, philosopher, poet, administrator (he was the first jathedar of the Akal Takhat) and, in general, thought leader of the Sikhs. This is what Bhai Gurdas ji wrote about the coming of Guru Nanak many many years ago.
Imagine, if you will, walking in an area where one cannot see anything because of mist, dust, and darkness. Then suddenly the mist and dust clears and resplendent light shines bright. Imagine, if you will, a dark night with only the occasional twinkle of stars in the sky that may seem beautiful but really don't give aid to the direction of our walking path. Then suddenly the sun rises, the skies are bright and the sparkling stars are over taken by the bright shining light of the sun - now one can see where they are walking. Imagine, if you will, a jungle with quiet and calm deer munching along in the brushes and grass and suddenly the sovereign lion comes out of the trees and roars loudly communicating its presence. The deer scatter away in fear as the king of the jungle has come to establish its empire. That was the feeling when Guru Nanak came to this earth. Wherever the great Baba went, there was established a place of learning. All the hearts he touched became active with remembrance of the Divine and all the homes he visited became active with societal and community service. The pursuit of Truth became the passion for everyone and this revolution hit everywhere.
Such was the coming of Guru Nanak, the First Prophet of the Sikh Nation...
In this var Bhai Gurdas ji has established the uniqueness and the strength of the first Master of our Nation. The coming of Guru Nanak is best celebrated by understanding our place in world society. By understanding our scripture, practicing our way of life and living - not resting - on the laurels of our history.
Congratulations on the celebrations of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak - the First Prophet of the Sikhs.
Var 1, Pauri 27 - Varan Bhai Gurdas
siqgur nwnk pRgitAw imtI DuMD jg cwnx hoAw]
ijauN kr sUrj inkilAw qwry Cpy AMDyr ploAw]
isMG buky imrgwvlI BMnI jwey n DIr DroAw]
ijQY bwbw pYr DrY pUjw Awsx Qwpx soAw]
isD Awsx sB jgq dy nwnk Awd mqy jy koAw]
Gr Gr AMdr Drmswl hovY kIrqn sdw ivsoAw]
bwby qwry cwr ck nO KMf ipRQmI scw FoAw]
gurmuK kil ivc prgt hoAw ]
With the emergence of the true prophet Guru Nanak,
the mist cleared and the light scattered all around.
As if at the sun rise the stars disappeared and the darkness dispelled.
With the roar of the lion in the forest the flocks of escaping deer now cannot have endurance.
Wherever Baba Nanak put his feet, a religious place was erected and established.
All the sidh-places now have been renamed on the name of Nanak.
Every home has become a place of dharma where singing of hymns has become a daily liturgy.
Baba Nanak gave deliverance to all within the four directions and nine divisions of earth.
Gurmukh (Guru Nanak) has emerged in this kaliyug, the dark age.
P.S. - Translation based on "Varan Bhai Gurdas - Text Transliteration and Translation - Dr. Jodh Singh"