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S\T SRI ARAL.

THE SIKH RELIGION


AN OUTLINE OF
ITS

DOCTRINES

BY

TEJA SINGH, M. A.,


PKQFJ3S8O1X, KH-AI.S* COLiLiEaE,

AMIUTKVU

1935

Published by the Author

THE SIKH RELIGION


The aim
not to g<
t

oi

lilt

accoidmg
or
a

to the

Sikh Gurus,

is

Scihation

heaxenly
best
in

abode
us

called
is

Paradise, but to d( velop

the

which

Ood.
1

If a

m in
'

lo\ts

to

SOP
s
'

(rod,
in)

\\htit

care* he for

Sahation or

['aradisr

'

lurn

\anak
huil

"r\er\ hod\
vfttin^ thoir
li\<'

01 *

,ift(M

^t!\,ihon

T*aradise
livo<%

or

Ehsmm,
satisfies

hop*

on thcmo\oi\ da\ of then


for

But those \\ho


itself

to

so

(Jod do not .isk

Sahation

Thr
in

sight

their ninuls ooinpli'telx

(diuu Rain DJ^

Kahjnn)
J

How
'

to see (^od

and

to \o\ e

Him

The
Japji
:

ques-

tion is taken

up by Guru Nanak
olT(
i

in his

\\h,it sh.ill \\o

to

linn tint

\\e

m.iv behold His

(ouncil-

\\hatshall\Nouttcr\Mthour
gi\e us His lo\e
'

lips

\\huh ma\

mo\e Him

to

In the ambrosial horn


the Ti ne

of the

11101

n meditate

on the

grace of

Name
is

For, \oiii ^ood


i

at tiois

em.int pat ion


*'\\e should

fu
t

/r

x^^^Uu-O^\
.

worship

e\er and e\er the

st

The
little

practice o
in the

DR B R AMBEDK AR OPEN UNIVERSITY

and again

Sikl

UNIVERSE

LIBRARY

explanation

The Nature
God
and
creation
is

of

God

or the

Name
or absolute,

described both as
personal

nirgun,

sargun, or

Before

God

lived absolutely in

was any Himself, but when


there

He thought of making Himself manifest in creation He became related In the lormer case, 'when Ciod He \\as Himself selt-crt ated, there was none else, took counsel and achice \\ith Himselt what He did
,

came

to pass

Then

there \\as no heaxen,

or

hell,

or the three-regioned world.

There

\\as
\\as

Formless One

Himseli

creation

only the not then*

There \\as thru (Gujn-ki'Var ol Guru Amar Das) no sin, no virtur, no Veda or any other religious book, no caste, no sex (Guru N.mak's Wtiru Sol lie, x\, When God and Guru Arjan's Sukhtntiiit, \\D

became ^argun or
the Xante, and in

manifest,

He became
seat

\\hatis railed
1

order to reah/e HimseH

1<

mad(

Nature wherein
e\er} where and
T

He

has His

and

'is

diftust d

in all

directions in the lorm oi Love'


Jtf/>,

(Guru Gobind Singh's


the

80)

phase ol the hupreme Gurus ha\e avoided the pitfalls into Being, which some people have tallen. With them God is
not an abstract idea or a moral torce, but a personal Being capable of being loved and honoured, and yet

In presenting this double

He

is

conceived
all

ol as a

Bemi

whose presence

is

diffused

over His creation,

He

is

the

common

Father

fashioning worlds and supporting them from inside, hut He does not take birth. He has no
ot all,

incarnations

He Himself

stands for

the

creative

agencies, like the Mayer, the

Word

and Brahma, He

Truth, Beauty and the eternal yearning of the heart after Goodness (Japjt). In a word, the Gurus have comhined the Aryan idea of immanence
is

Himself

with the Semetic idea of transcendence, without taking

away anything from


character of God. '() give me gi\e som>
'

the

unity

and

the

personal

intelligence of

mv

Belo\ed

am

hovuldc'ied at the diffeient accounts 1 have of

happy wives, m\ companions, say something of

Him Him

Some

su\ that

He
is

is

altogether outside the world


it

othei>> that

He
is

altogethei contained in
,

His (oloin
()
4

not soon

His featuies cannot be made out

happ^ wi\es, tell me truh Ho lues in e\ei>thing lie d\vells in e\er\ heart
,

Yet
1

Ho is not blended with .inj thing, He is separate Win dost thou go to the forest in search of God He h\es in All, is\et e\ei distinct He abides with thee
As fragrance dwells in a flower, or reflection in amirroi,
d\Yoll inside everv

too

So does (rod
heart

thing

seek

Him

therefore in the

"
t

People who come with preconceived notions to study Sikhism often blunder in offering its interpretaThose who are conversant with the eastern tion.

upon those passages which refer to the thoughts of immanence and conclude that Sikhism is nothing but an echo of Hinduism, while those who
thought
fix
of

Guru

Arjan.

t Dltanasri of

Guru Teg Bahadur.

are

imbued with the

Mohammedan

or

Christian

thought take hold of transcendental passages and identify Sikhism with Islam or Christianity. Others

who know
If,

both

will

see here

no svstem,

nothing

particular, nothing but confusion

however,
organic
of

we were
to

new

growth

to study Sikhism as a evolved from the existing

systems

thought

meet the needs

ot a

newly

evolving humanity, \u would find no difficulty in recognizing Sikhism as a distinct system ol thought.

Take,

for instance.
its

Guru Nanak's
stanzas

Asa-tii-Var,

which

in

fundamentals
m-dweller

preliminary of Sikh beliet

lays

down
It

the
is

about Clod.

trenchant clear-cut monotheism


of

God

is

called
filling

'the
all

Nature/ and

is

described

as

lit 21. things 'by an art that is artless' <xn. i is not an impotent mechanic tashiomng pre-existing matter into the universe. He does not exclude

matter, but includes and transcends

too

is

not an illusion
a reality
;

The universe Being rooted in God who is


it.

real,

it is

not a reality

final

and abiding,

but a reality on account ot God's presence in it (n. i). His Will is above Nature as well as working within
it,

and

in spite o\ its

immanence

it

acts

not

as

an

arbitrary force but as a personal presence

working

'most intelligently'
is

(ui -2).

The

first

thing about

God

that

He

is

mdivisibly one, above every other being,

however
or Shiva

highlv conceived, such as Vishnu,


(i),

Brahma,
2).

or as

second thing is (11. 2), who has inscribed


moral presence
'the
(n).

Rama that He
He

and Krishna
is
all
is

(iv.

The
or
to
is

the highest

moral being

men with His Name not a God belonging

any particular people, Muslim or Hindu, but

dispenser of lite universal* (vi). The ways to realize Him are not many, but only one (xii. 3), and
that

way is

not knowledge, formalism (xiv.2.,xv.

4),

or what arc receixed as

meritorious actions which

establish a claim to reward (\m. 2), but love

and
ot

taith (xiv. 2), the


(\\

(xm. 2) aim being to obtain the grace


xni.
1
1.

God
,

\. 2., \in. 2.,


is

The only way


f

of
ix

worshipping Him

to sing
31
,

xn 2

xix. 2
,

xxii.
,

His praises (vi. i. vn., and to meditate on His


i)

Name *w

\iu

ix. 2

xvi.

Uplift of

Man Based on
is

Character

This

life ot

praise

not to be of idle mysticism,


in

but of active service clone


relations
*'Nanu
Sometimes
*
i

wordly "There can be no worship without good


a term, like
fcx/os

the midst of

is

in Greek, bearing various


111

meanings.
5.

it is

used for (tod Himself, as

Sithhmani, xvi.

"The

Name
whole

sustain* the

ammnl
"

life,

the

Name
is

supports the parts and the

of the universe

It is described as being 'immortal,'

'immacu-

late,' *in-d\U'llir of all

creation/ ind

to

be sung, uttered, thought


it

upon, served and woi shipped


of (rod as

In most cases

means the

revelation

found in the sacred Word*

actions."*

These

formal

deeds

however, are not to be of so-called merit, but should be


actions,

inspired by an intense desire to please

God and

to

serve fellow-men
"Without pleasing God
Repetition
all

actions aie woithless

of mantras, austerities set

w^ns

of

hung.
and

01 deed**

of merit lea\e us destitute even befoie our journe\ ends

You won't

get even

half

copper

foi

your

fasts

special

programmes of life These things, Obrothei, won't do there


of that

for,

the requirements

wa> are quite

different

You won't

get a place there foi ajl \our bathing

and wandering
of

in different places

These means are useless


that world.
\ie \ou a reciter of all
for

the> cannot satisf\ the conditions

the four

Ved.is

f>

There

i>>

no room

With

you there all \our correct reading,

if

3011

don't

understand on*

thing that matters, \ou onl> bother >ourself I say, Nanak, if }ou ereit \ourself in action, >ou will be sa\ed
Serve your
self

God and remember Him, Icaung


laid the foundation
ot

all

your pride o f

"f

The Gurus
not

man's

uplift,

on such short-cuts as mantras, miracles or mysteries but on man's own humanity, his own
;

character

as

it is

character

alone,
in

the

character

already

formed

which helps us

moral crises.

Life is like a cavalry march.


lry

The
very
left.

oflicer of a cava-

on march has

to decide

quickly

when

to

turn his
*Japji.
f

men

to the
of

right or

He

cannot wait

Gaun Mala

Guru Arjan

until his

men are actually on the brink of a nulla or He must decide long before that. In the khud. same way, when face to face with an evil, we have
to decide quickly. think.

Temptations allow us no time to

They always come suddenly.

When

offered

a bribe or an insult,

we have

to decide at

are going to take. then consult a religious book or a moral guide.

course of action

we

once what We cannot

We

must decide on the impulse


only
if

And

this

can be done

virtue has so entered into our disposition that

we

drawn towards it, and evil has got Without securing virtue suffino attraction for us in character, even some of the so-called great ciently
are habitually

men ha\e been known It was for temptation.


suHicient
to

to
this

fall

an easy prey to reason that for the


did

tormation o\ character the Gurus


lay

not

think

it

down
it

rules of conduct in a

book

necessary to take in hand a whole people for a continuous course of schooling in wisdom and experience, spread over many genethey also thought
rations, before they could be

sure

that

the people

This

thus trained had acquired a character of their own. is the reason why in Sikhism there have been
ten founders, instead of only one.

Before the Sikh Gurus, the leaders of thought had fixed certain grades of salvation, according to the different capacities of men, whom they divided into high and low castes. The development of

8
this

character resulting from


tain people, belonging to

was

one-sided.

Cer-

the favoured

classes, got

developed

few good qualities to a very while others left to themselves got high degree,
in

them

degenerate.
look after
to
all

It

was as

if

a gardener,

neglecting to

the different kinds of


to

plants

entrusted

him were

bestow
in

all

his

care so

on a few chosen
he

ones, which were

bloom,

that

might be

able to

supply

few flowers
did

master's table.

The Gurus
growth.*
of

every day for his not want to have

such a lop-sided
opportunities
classes of people
''There are lowest

They

wanted
to

to give
all

higcst

development

the

men among

the

lo

castes
I

Nanak,

I shall

go *ith them

What ha\e

got

to

do

vrith

the great

God's e\e of merc\


"It
is

names

" on thoso \\ho take care of the lowly mere nonsense to ob^er\e caste and to feel proud over grand "*
falls

Some work had already been done in this line. The Bhagats or reformers in the Middle Ages had
between the high class and the so-called untouchables, by taking Hindus into their fold such men as barbers, weavers, shoetried to abolish the distinction

makers,

etc.

But the snake of untouchablihty


of

still

*Sn Hag
Var,
tni.,

Guru Nanak.

See also

Guru

Arjan's Jat/m-fa-

and Guru Amar Baa's

Bhaira.

9
because
the

remained
i

unscotched

privilege

of

equal tv was not extended to men as men, but to those individuals only who had washed off their a Kabir, untouchabihty with the love of God

weaver and Ravidas, a shoemaker, were honoured by kings and high-caste men, but tne same privilege

was

not extended to other weavers and shoemakers,


still

who were
pride

held as untouchables.
the love of

Ravidas took
so lifted

in the fact that

God had

him out

of his caste that

Brahmins came

to

members
makers
in

of his caste,

bow who were working


of

even "the superior sort of before him/' while the other


as
shoe-

the

suburbs

Benares,

were not so

honoured.*

The Sikh Gurus made

this

improvement on the

previous idea that they declared the whole humanity to be one, and that a man was to be honoured, not

because he belonged to this or that caste or creed, but because he was a man, an emanation from God,

whom God
soul as to

had given the same senses and the same other men:
all

"Rccogime
"All

human

nature as one

"
appear different under

men

are the same,

although the)

different influences

The bright and the dark, the ugh and the beautiful, the Hindus and the mubhms, have developed themselves according to
the fashions of different countries.
*

Ravidas in Rag Afalai

<

10
same

All h,i\e the

same

ejes. the

eats, the

same bod} and the

same build

"* a compound of the same four elements

Such a teaching could not

tolerate any ideas ot

caste or untouchabihty. Man rose in the estimation Kven those who had been considering of man.

themselves as the dregs of society, and whose whole generations had lived as grovelling slaves of thr
so-called higher classes,

came

to be fired with a

new

hope and courage to


the best of humanity.

lift

themselves

as

equals ot

Women

too received thir due

"How

can they

be called inferior/' says Guru Nanak, "when they J give birth to kings and prophets' "t Women as
well as

men

share

in

the

grace

ot

God and

are
'

equally responsible for their actions to Him.t Hargobind called woman 'the conscience of
Sati

Guru man

was condemned by the Sikh Gurus long was taken of it by Akbar. J The spirit of man was raised with a beht-t that he was not a helpless creature in the hands ol a Being of an arbitrary will, but was a responsible being endowed with a will of his own, with which he could do much to mould his destiny. Man does not
before any notice
start his life

with a blank character.


is

He

has already

existed before he
*AKal Ustat
of

born.

He

inherits his

own

past

Guru Gobmd Singh.

*Am-di~V(ir, xix

JSee

Guru Amai Das's Vat Suhi,\i

II

as well as that of his family and race. All this goes to the making of his being and has a share in the

moulding

of his nature.

But

this is not all.

He

is

given a will with which he can modify the inherited and acquired tendencies of his past and determine
If this were not so, coming conduct. would not be responsible for his actions. This

his

he
will,

helpless or isolated but if through again, the Guru's Word it be attuned to the Supreme Will,
is

not

left

it

acquires a force with which he can transcend

all

his past

and acquire a new character.

This question of human will as related to the Divine Will is an intricate one and requires a little
elucidation.

According
all
is

to Sikhism,
is

the ultimate

source of

that

is in

us

God

alone.

Without Him there

no strength in us. Nobody, not even the evil man, can say that he can do anything independent of God.

Kxery thing moves within the Providential domain.


Thou
There
art A n\er in \\hich all beings
is

mo\e
Thee
*

none but Thoe around them

All living things are playing within

The

fish

may run
it,

against the
just as
it

current

of

the

river or along with

likes,

but

it

cannot

escape the river itself. Similarly man may run counter to what is ieceived as good or moral, but he can never escape from the pale of God's Will.f
'Guru Bam Das
in A*a.
J

Japji,

12

Then who
himself.

is

responsible tor his actions ?


first

Man

We

learn from the

shlok ot Asa-di-Var's

7th pauri that man is given free will, which leads him to do good or evil actions, to think good or
evil thoughts,

and to go
\\ill

in

consequence
01

to

Heaven

or Hell.
'Governed b\ his free

he laughs
<n

\\e*ps

Of hib
Of his Of his

free

\\ill

he begrimes

cashes himself
fiom
the

free will he degrades himself


,

Md

nf

hum. in

beings
fiee

\\ill

he befools himself

01

beiom*^ \MS_

''

In the next shlok


"Self assertion gives
action
It also ties

we

read
mdi\idualit\

man

his

and

leads

him

*>

him dov\n

to the

woiid

.uicl

suuK
'

in in

on

a-

iounl

of births
'NN

and deaths
a-*irl}oii of

he. re

from tomes this

vHf
of

}lu\\

shall

a Ka\

n-

'

It conies to

man from

the

\\ill

(!od

and deti mines

hi*

conduct according to his antecedents


It is a great disease
,

but

its

lemedy also
he begins

lies \\ithni itM-lf

When Crod
Nanak

sends grK e

toman

to

obe>

the

tall

of

the tiuru

sa\s

Heai \e

all, this is tlie

wa\ toiinc tle disease

'

The source

of evil is

not Satan or
It is
It

Ahrman, or
sense
ot

any other external agency.

our

own

Kgo placed by God


God's Will or
self that

in us.

may prove

a boon

or

a curse to us, according as


not.
It is

we

subject ourselves to

the overweening

sense

ol

grows as

a barrier

between God and man

and keeps him wandering from

sm

to sin

13

The

hi iclc

and the bridegroom Ine togethei,

\\ith

a partition

of

"* Kgo between them

The
like a

infinite is

within us, 'engraved in our being/


is

cypher which

gradually unfolding

its

meanlike

ing as

we

listen to the voice of the

Teacher.

It is

the light of the sun ever present, but shut out of our
sight by the cloud of ignorance and selfishness
sin as long as this light \\v believe in

We

remains

unmamfested and
Grace,
highest

our

self

as everything to us.
at the call of
self

Regeneration comes when,

we

begin to subject our

tiny

to

the
is

Self, that is

attuned to
just as

God, and our own will His Supreme Will, until we


us to
feel

gradually

feel

and move
is

He wishes
of

and move.

Really the problem

of

good and

evil

the

Union and Disunionf with God. All things are strung on God's Will, and man among
problem
them.

As long as man is conscious of this, he lives and moves in union with Him. But gradually led
away by
self

the overweening sense of self he cuts

him-

isolation.

from that unity and begins to wander in moral It is, however, so designed in the case ot man that whenever he wishes he can come back to

the

bosom
4

of his

Father and

God and resume


in

his

position there.

Guru Nanak says


,

Maru

'By the force of Union with this bodv

we meet God and enjoy

Him

e\en

*Guru

Ram

J>a* in ^f(llar.

4
we break awa\ fiom Him
"

And by the

force of Disunion
it is

But, Nanak,

possible to be united again

When we come
life

into this \vorld,

with a certain capital.

We

begin our inherit our body

we

from our parents, and there are divine things in us, as 'the spirit and the progressive tendencies/ which
serve
as
forces
of

union

and keep us united with


tendencies
in

God.
of

But there are also

evil

us

in-

herited from our past

lives

which

serve as forces

Disunion and draw us away from Him moral death. Cf. Guru Nanak in Mam :
"Man
And
But
earns his txxh from
th<*

toward^

union

of his

motbei and
gifts of

futlu

the Creator inscribes

hit,

being with the

the spirit

led a\\a\ bv

and the progressi\e tendencies Delusion he forgets himself.


of will

This teaching about the freedom


gives him a

and 'thenot

progressive tendencies' raises the spirit of

man and
is

new hope and


him
virtue.

courage.
evil

But that

enough

to enable

to resist

and

to

persist
is
it,

in positive

strong and the


spite of

The temptation of evil human powers for resisting


is

so
in

the
that

inherent
it

progressive tendencies,
for

are
to

so

weak
It

practically imposible

him

fulfil

that standard of virtue

which
of

is

expected of

was this consciousness which made Fand say


him.
:

human weakness
in Jii*

"The Bride is HO \\ek commands "

in herself, the

Master so stern

That

is,

man

is

endowed with such weak faculties

that

15

he stumbles at each step, and yet

it is

expected

of

him that
"* "lie should alwavs spaak the truth, and never tell lies 'He should beware oven of an unconscious am "t Ho should not step on the bed of another's \\ife even in dream "J
4

fulfilled simply with and inherited tendencies. knowledge The will not go far even in resisting evil. They a life of positive virtue and higher ideal of leading

These commands cannot be

the strength of

sacrifice is absolutely impossible

with such a weak

equipment.
solutions of
difficulty

Then what
of

is to

be done 7

The prophets
this

world have given many problem. Some get round the


the
is

by supposing that there

no

evil.

It is

only a whim or false scare produced by our ignorance. They believe in the efficacy of knowledge. Others
believe in the efficacy of Austerities,
still

others

in

Alms given
of sin.

in

There

profusion to overwhelm the enormity are, again, a higher sort of teachers

who inculcate the love of some great man as a saviour. What was the solution offered by the Sikh Gurus? They saw that, although it was difficult for a man to resist evil and to do good with his own powers, yet
he were primed with another personality possessing dynamic powers he could acquire a transcendental
if

capacity for the purpose. be the Guru's.


*Pirid

This personality was

to

JGuiu TPR

Bahadur

JGuru

Gobmd

Singh

16
in

The Guru
The way

Sikhism

of religion, as

shown by Sikhism,

is

not

a set of views or doctrines, but a

way

of life lived

according to a definite model


disciple the personality of the
his

It is

based, not on rules


In the career of the
is all

or laws, but upon discipleship.

Guru

along opera-

whole being and shaping his tive, commanding life to its diviner issues Without such a personality
there would be

no cohesion, no direction

in

the

moral forces of society, and in spite of a thousand kinds of knowledge 'there would still be utter darkness
'

There would be no force


with

to

connect

men

with

men and them


left

God
field'

Everybody wouldMike
a

exist for himself in

moral
*

isolation,

spurious

sesames masters

desolate in the
It is

'with

hundred

to

own them/

th^

Guru who removes


up by men
all

the barriers of caste

and

position set

among themselves and gathering them In this self unites them with God f
organized force strive for the good mankind.

unto him-

tions are laid of a society of the purified


of

way foundawho as an
the

whole

Such a creative personality must be


*Asa-di-Var,
\.

perfect,

!'*Nanak, the true

Guru must

be such as to unite all

meu."
Hay,
I.

Sn

I?

because 'men take after

whom

they serve/*

If

the

ideal person is imperfect, the society and its individuals following him will also get imperfect development. But 'those who serve the saved ones will be

saved, 'f

The Sikh Gurus were

perfect,

and are described


himself
subject to error;

as such in the Sikh Scriptures. says in Sri Rag: "Everybody else

Guru Nanak
is

only the
defective

Guru and God


in
;

are
:

without error/'

And
is

Guru Arjan says


Yogi/'

Bhairon

"Whoever
is

is

seen

without any defect

my

true Guru,

the

The

state of perfection attained

by the Gurus

is lucidly described in the eighth and the eighteenth octaves of Guru Arjan's Sukhmani. The same Guru says in Asa:

God

does not die,

iior

do

I fear death.

He He He

does not perish, nor do 1 grie\e is not poor, nor do I hiue hunger.

There

has no pain, nor have I any trouble. is no destroyer but God.


is

Who
He He

my

life

and who

gives

me

life.

has no bond, nor have I got any. has no entanglement, nor have I any care. As He is stainless, so am I free from stain.

As

He

so am I alwa> s rejoicing. has no anxiety, nor have I any concern. As He is not defiled, so am I not polluted. As He has no craving, so do I covet nothing.

He is happy,

*Guru Amar Das

in Vat Bihagra*

\Majh, III.

i8

He is puie and I too suit Him in this, am nothing He alone i* ever) thing All around is the same He Nanak, the Guru has destiojedall m\
I

supetstition and

dufei Is,

And

ha>e become uniforml) one with

Him
to be

The Guru
man's capacity

is sinless.

In order, however,

really effective in saving


to

man, he must not be above imitate, as he would be if he were


His humanity must be real should have a nature subiect to
in

a supernatural being.

the

and not feigned. He same laws as operate

the

ordmarv
his
to

human
all

nature,

and should have

attained
is

perfection

through the

same Grace as

available

and through perfect obedience to God's Will. Sikh Gurus had tought with sin and had overcome it. Some of them had lived for a long time in error,
until

men The

Grace touched them and they were perfected through a constant discipline of knowledge, love and
experience in the association of their Gurus. When they had been completely attuned to the Will divine

and were sanctified as Gurus, the- re remained no defect in them and they became perfect and holy. Thereafter sins did

gave way
It is

come to tempt them, but they never and were always able to overcome them.

only thus that they became perfect exemplars of men and transformed those who came under their
influence to veritable angelic beings.

The Guru
This transformation

in the

Sikh

comes not only through

close association with the Guru, which is found many other religions, but through the belief that the
vSikh incoporates the

Guru.

He

fills

himself with

the Guru, and then feels himself linked

up with
a

an

inexhaustible source

of

power.

Sikh,

pure-

hearted Sikh,
is

who
in

tollows the teachings of his Guru,


himself, but

a great

power

when such

Sikh
a

^ets into himself the dynamic personality of


perfect exemplar as

such

acquire an

infinite
is

reach and he

Guru Gobind Singh, his powers becomes a super"The Khalsa/' says


the Guru,

man
the
<4

He
Guru

called

"Khalsa," the personification ot

himselt
in

is

my

other self,

him

live

and have
is

my

being/'

single Sikh, a

mere

believer,

only one, but the


4

equation changes
into

when he
in

his

embrace.
a

Guru Gobind Singh He becomes equal to one


takes
the

lakh and

quarter/

Sikh parlance.
fitness,

This
but

change occurs not only in his physical also in his mental and spiritual outlook.
is

His nature

so reinforced

reds

may

fall

although hundevery way round him, he will resist to the last


in

that

and never give way.


stand as
himself
'a

Wherever he

stands,

he will

garrison of the Lord of Hosts/ a host in


quarter.

a host of one lakh and a

He

will

keep

the

Guru's

flag

always

flying.

Whenever

<

20

tempted, he will ask himself, "Can I lower the flag of Guru Gobmd Singh ? Can I desert it ? I, as Budh

Singh or Kalian

Singh,

can
?

fall;

but

can Guru

Gobind

This feeling of incorporation with the Guru makes the Sikh strong beyond his ordinary powers, and in times ot

Singh

in

me

fall

No, never.

long before he can remember anything relevant to the occasion recorded in history or scripture. Bhai Joga Singh's case is He was a devoted Sikh of Guru just in point.
to his rescue

emergency comes

Gobind Singh, and had received baptism from the hands of the Guru himself He was so loyal that

when he

received an urgent

call

from the Guru to

proceed to Anandpur, he hastened from Peshawar without a moment's delay, not waiting even to see
his

own marriage

through.

And

yet in a

weakness, this paragon of Sikh purity fall, fall at the door of a public woman
pur.

moment was going


of

of to

Hoshiar?
It

Who

saved him
of

in

that

emergency
out the

was
of

the vision

Guru Gobind Singh,

re-establishing

the personal contact by pointing

signs

personation worn on his body, and reminding him that he was carven in the Guru's own image.

for

The Guru in the Panth So far we have considered what the Guru does the Sikhs as individuals. We have seen how he
and increases
their

intensifies their character

power

21

thousandfold by filling their personalities with his own. In order to increase this power immensely

more, the Guru

made another arrangement.

He

organized them into Sangats or Holy Assemblies, and put his personality again into them. This led
to a very remarkable
of Guruship,

development in the institution and no description of Guruship will be complete without an account ot this development.

The Sikh
It

idea of

religion,

as

we have

seen,

was something more practical than merely mystic. was to consist of the practice of Nam and Sew a. To practise Nam means to practise the presence of

God by

keeping

Him

ever

in

our minds by singing

His praises or dwelling on His excellences. This is to be done not only when alone in solitude, but also
in

public,

where worship

of

the

Name
in

is

made

more impressive by being organized

the

form of

congregational recitations or singing. The other element is Seica or Service. The idea of service

should be not only liberal, but also efficient that is, it should do the greatest good with the least possible means. It should not be wasteful. do not set up a sledge-hammer to
is

that

it

and economical

We

crack

nut,

or

send a
to

whole army to
be.

collect
efforts,

revenue.

We

have

be economical in our

however charitable they may

For

this

purpose

22

we have
engaged,
tion.

to organize our

means.

In

every work

of
is

practical nature, in
it

which more than one person

As

necessary to resort to organizareligion too especially a religion like


is is

Sikhism whose aim


to the
its
It

to

serve

mankind

belongs

same category, it requires organization of followers as an essential condition of its success


not be necessary
religion,
in

may

the
the

case

ot

an

indiviis

dualistic

wnerem
all

highest
or
to

aim

to

vacate the mind of


the whole
life in

desires,

dream away

but when God mainly through realizing service done within the world, where men have^ constantly to deal with men to promote each other's

jungles or
in

mountains,

religion consists

good,
tion.

it

is

impossible

to

do without organiza-

Guru Nanak had


in

therefore begun with

two things

religious work: the holy Word and the organized Fellowship.* This organized fellowship
his
is

called

Sangat

The

idea

of

Sangat

or

holy

Fellowship led to the establishment of local assemb-

by authorised leaders, called Masands. Sikh was supposed to be a member of Every The Guru one or other of such organizations.
lies

led

was

the central unifying personality and, in spite


in succession,
i.

of

changes

was held

to be

one and

the

*Bhai Gurdas Var

42-43.

23

predecessors.* Thq love existing Detween the Guru and the Sikhs was more intense

same

as Ins

than has ever existed


lovers
of

between the
But

most romantic
to

the

world.

homage paid
creating a

the

GUI u was made impersonal b> mystic between the Sikh and the Guru on the one unity
hand and the Guru and the

Word on
paid
to

the other, t the


incorfollow ihg

Greatest respect began to be


*ln the Coronation
\erses occui

Ode

of

S.itta

and Balwand the

"(ruru Nanak proclaimed the acvesMon of J^ehna as a icuaid foi He had the same light the same method, the Master semc( " morel \ changed his bod>

The wise being Giuu Nanak descended 111 the foim of " 'Thou ttani Das, att Nanak thou art Ijehna Das " The human iee comes and goc< but art \m,u Das " () Arjan, ait e\er new and whole Mohsin Fa in Nvho wrote in tht time of the Sixth Guiu sa\s
4
,

Aniai

thou
thou,

about
aie

the Sikhs in the


identical with

I><tbi\t(Ut

Then

belief is that all the

Gurus

Nanak "

<iuui (iolmid Singh in his 1 ulntta Xatak s.ns about the Gurus " \ll take them as different from one another, vei\ few recog-

them as one in spirit But onl\ those icalue perfection who " do recognize them as one See aUo the Sadd of Sundar. the s//rt//r/rts* at the end of Guru
ni/e

Gianth Sahib, and Bhai Guidtts's xxi\ 5-25 xx\i 31 and '14 The Gurus alwais signed themselves
,

r<t/\

i.

45-48

in

1^

\x

as

Nanak
i^

'The Guru hvos within his Sikhs, and


(faun-ki-Vai
,

pleased
is

with

\vhate\er they like"

IV

"The Guru

the Sikh

Am (')ihnut,
Guru
is

who practises the Guru's word is at one with IV See also Bhai GurdaR, Vais in 11. and the Woid, and the Woid is Guru." Kamn IV

the
ix

16

Guru "The

Sikh and "

porated Word, even the Guru choosing for himself a seat lower than that of the Scripture. The only

form of worship was the meditation on and the


singing of the

Word/
lived

The Sikh assemblies


and moved

also

acquired great sanctity, owing to the belief that the


spirit of the

Guru
to

among them.

They began
until

assume higher and higher authority, collectively the whole body, called the Panth,

came to be regarded as an embodiment of the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh himselt received baptism from
the Sikhs initiated by himself. After him the Sikhs ceased to have any personal Guru. If we read the Sikh history aright, the Sikh community would

appear as an organized unit to have undergone a course of discipline in the hands of ten Gurus, until its character was fully developed and the Guru

merged
reared.

his personality in the

body of the nation thus The Guru, as mentioned above, worked

with two things: the personal association and the Word. Now after the death of Guru Gobind Singh
the personality and the
Maa-t/i-Vor, vi
i.

Word were

separated.
IB

The
of the

"In

this world

the best practice

b) Hinging Thy yoga is practised " ^i, F Sujan Rai of Batala writing about Sikhs in 1697 hymns "The only way of \vorship with a>s in his Khulaxitul-Twankh

Word/

Parbltati,

"My

them IH that they read the hymns composed by their Gurus and sing them sweetly in accompaniment with musical instruments.*' In he Golden Temple, 'Amn tsar, up to this time nothing but continuous
singing of

hymns days and

nfght by relays of singers

is

allowed.

25

Panth was invested with the personality of the Guru, and the incorporated Word became the

Cyan Guru. That is, in simple words, the Khalsa Panth was to be the Guru in future, not in supersession of the previous Gurus, but as authorised
to

work
itself

in their

name and
;

by the teachings

of

Holy Granth.
breath.

So

that

Guru Nanak and

the

was invariably to guide the Gurus as found m the the Sikhs came to name Guru Panth in the same
it

for any on the broder-lme. All who wanted to wavering serve through Sikhism must join it humanity as regular members, and receive its bapseriously tism as the initial step. All must have the same creed, which should be well-defined and should not

Amrit or baptism was made the basis There was no room left organization.

of

this

be confused with the


The
Khalsa
should

beliefs

and practices of the


that
from the Hindu and the

neighbouring religions.
be

The Guru ordered


distinct

Muslim/'*
keeps alight the unquenchable torch of truth, and never swerves from the thought of one God ; He who has full love and confidence God, and does not put

"He who

his faith, even by mistake, in fasting or the graves of Muslim saints, Hindu crematoriums, or Jogis* places of sepulchre,

He who
*

only recognizes the one


life,

God and no

pilgrimages, alms,

non-destruction of

penances, or austerities;

Rahatnama

of

Chaupa Singh.

26

And

in

whose heart the light

of the Perfect
of the

Cue
in

shines,

he

is to

be recognized as a pure

member
to

Khalan "*

Such a Khalsa was

embody

himself

the

highest ideal of manhood, as described by Guru Gobind Singh in his unpublished book, called Sarb LoJi. Although the Khalsa was designed by the Guru himself, \et the Guru was so charmed by

own creation that he saluted it, in the book, as his own ideal and master. The Khalsa \vas thought fit enough to administer baptism of the new
the look of his

order to the Guru, and was consecrated as the Guru


incarnate.

Asa

si^n that the


it

eternally in his Sikhs,


"If an) bod\ \\ishesto

Guru had placed himsell was declared by him that


nv\
let

see

him go

to
\

an a-scmbl\
,

or

Sikhs, and appioach th*>ni \\ith fai^h


surely
sec

ml

dunce

he

\sill

me amongst them "t


all

In the ranks oi the Khalsa,

were equal, the


as
in

lowest with the

highest,

race

creed,

in

political rights as in religious hopes.

Women

were
to

to

be baptized

in the

same way as men and

\vere

enjoy the same rights.


the whole

people, met once

The "Sarbat Khalsa/' or al the Akal Takh


of Panthic

Amntsar, the highest seat


the occasion of

authority,
felt

on
that

Dewah

or

Baisakhi, and

they were one.


of the

All questions, affecting the welfare community, were referred to the Sangat?,

*Swayyas of Guru Gobind Singh. \Prem Sumarag.

which would decide them


called Gurmattas.

in the

form

of

resolutions

duly passed was supposed to have received the sanction of the Guru, and any attempt made afterwards to contravene it

Gurmatta

was taken

as a sacrilegious act.

Forms and Ceremonies


This institution
of the

Khalsa entails a certain


the

additional disciplinary outfit in

tismal forms and vows,


stood.
of
It is

shape of bapwhich are often misunder-

were only a matter individual concern, there would be no need of


true that
if

religion

forms and ceremonies.


tne Gurus,
is

But religion, as taught by a lorce that not only ennobles indivi-

duals but also binds them together to work for nobility in the world. Organization is a means of enlarging
the possibility, scope and effectiveness of this work.
In order that
tively,
it is

an organization

itself

my work

effec-

necessary that the individuals concerned

in

should be able to keep up their attachment to the cause and a sufficient amount of enthusiasm for
it

it.

It is,

however, a patent
constituted

fact that

men by

their

nature are so

they cannot keep their feelings equally high-strung for a long time Reaction is inevitable, unless some at a stretch.
that

means are devised to ensure the continuity of This is where discipline comes in, which exertion.

28

keeps up the
in

spirit of

individuals against relaxation

times of

trial

cause even

and maintains their loyalty to the moments of ebb. This discipline, or


esprit de corps,
is

what

is

called

secured by
in

such

devices as flags and drills and uniforms

armies,

and certain forms and ceremonies in religion. Uniformity is an essential part of them. They create the necessary enthusiasm by appealing to imagination

and sentiment, and work


sion.

for

it

in

moments of depresreligion,

They

are a

real
of

aid

to

which

is

essentially a thing

sentiment.

Man would

not

need them if he were only a bundle of intellectual and moral senses but as he has also got sentiment
;

and imagination, without which the former qualities would be morperative, he cannot do without articulaing his ideas and beliefs in
to sentiment.

some forms appropriate These forms must not be dead but a


waking up
in

living index of his ideal,

him vivid

in-

timations of the personality that governs his religion. They should be related to his inner belief as words
are to their meaning, tears to grief, smiles to happiness and a tune to a song. It is true that sometimes

words become meaningless, when we no longer heed their sense, or the language to which they belong becomes dead. It is true that sometimes
tears and smiles are only cloaks for hypocrisy,

and

a tune

mere meaningless

jingle.

But there

is

no

denying the fact that, when their inner meaning is real and we are sincere about it, they do serve
as very
helpful
interpreters.

Forms

are

the

art

of religion. Like art on Nature, these forms impose certain limitations on the ideal, but at the same

time they

make

the ideal

more

real

and

workable

for general use.

Sometimes,

however,

when

the

forms are

determined, not by the necessity of uniformity which is so essential for discipline, but by local or

narrow the applicability of the ideal and create division and exclusiveness where they should have helped men to unite. When the spirit in which they had been originally conceived dies out, they become mere hadicaps to religion,
racial causes, they

and the people who use them would be well-advised to abandon them. It was such forms that Guru Nanak
asked people to leave. "Burn that custom," he said, "which makes you forget dear God/'* But the
Sikh forms were not conceived
siveness,
in

a spirit of exclu-

or as

essential

to

the

advancement
of

of

individual souls.

They were simply appointed


the

to

serve as aids to the preservation


life of

corporate
likes

the community, and

any man who

to

serve

humanity through the Sikh Panth can wear them. It is possible for a man to love God and
Vadlians-ki-Var.

30

cultivate his indi\idual soul without adopting

these

forms; but
the

if

he \\ants

to

work

in

manner, not only for his

own advancement

systematic but fur


ot Sikhs,

good of others as well in the company he must adopt these disciplinary terms
organization.

of

their
of

The

Sikhs, \\ho are

the
is

soldiers

Guru Gobmd Singh and whose


dained by him as a real help
as units
of

religion

surcharged
or-

\\ith his personality, find the unilorri


in

worn and
their

plaxing

part

the
the

comes from

Panthc orgam/ation This help appeal made to sentiment by the

process of association and not through any inherent efficacy of the forms themselves This association
is

not with places or things, but \\ith an e\er-hvmg personality that is itself a symbol of the Highest

Personality.
the Guru,

As
so

is God, so ib the Guru, and as is must be the follower Wearing a

Knicker ensuring briskness of movement at times oi action and serving as an easy underwear at times of rest, an iron ring on his right arm as a sign of sternness and constraint and a sword by his side as
an instrument
of offence

and defence and as an emb-

lem

of

power and

dignity,* the

Guru presented an

soldier.
*'

impressive picture of a simple but disciplined He, however, combined in him the samth'Charity and Kirpan are the sjmbols of
self- respect

"

Paklnano Chatitia, 322.

ness of the old Rishies with the sternness and strength of a knight. Therefore, like his predecessors, he

kept long hair, which all the world always been associated with samtlmess.

over have

A comb was

a simple necessity for keeping the hair clean and tidy. These are the forms with which the Sikhs are

imrsted at the time oi their baptism, in order to look exactly like their master, as they are to behave exactly like him.

From
as
in

the history of Sikhs in the past


it

as

well

quite evident how effectively tht-se baptismal forms, with the accompanying vows ot purity, lo\e and service, have aided them in keepthe present,
is

ing themselves

united

and

their
trial.

ideals

unsullied

tven

in

times

of the

greatest

While keeping
maintain-

the Sikhs associated with their

Guru and

ing his spirit

amongst them, they have not produced any norrowmg effect on their beliefs or modes of
All

worship and ceremony, whether in temple or home, whether on birth, marriage or death, consists cf nothing else but praying and worship
chanting

hymns

Could anything be simpler

32

Other Books and Tractt by the tame Author

1.

The

Japji,

rendered into English


...
...

and
...

annotated
2.

Re.

Asa-di-Var,

rendered
...

into

English
...

and
Re. 1/4

annotated
3.

The Growth

of Responsibility in

Sikhism
...

As. 12
As. 2 2

4.
5.

Guru Nanak's Mission

...

Guru Nanak's Religion

in his

own Woids As.


...

6.
7.

Guru Gobmd Singh's Mission

As. 3

The Sikh Prayer

...

...

As. 2 As. 2
As. 2 As. 2

8.

What Sikhism

did for

Womankind
...

...

9.

Sikhs and Organization

...

10. 11.

Forms and Symbols


Are there Sects
in

in

Sikhism
?
...

...

Sikhism

...

As. 2

12. 13. 14.

The Sword and

Religion
of

...

As. 2
As. 2

The Balanced Growth

Sikhism
...

...

Humour

in

Sikhism

...

As. 2
As. 2

15.
16.

Stray Thoughts on Sikhism

...

Highroads

of

Sikh History, Books I,II,III... Re. 1/14