Charanjot Tamber ji
Please forgive my lengthy answer. I want to use a shabad to explain why Guru Nanak taught that Brahminical teachings about the yugs or yogas should be tossed aside. It is a long shabad.
In Sikhism the "yugs" are not literal, fixed periods of time, as described in the classic Hindu philosophies. In the Hindu system there are 4 yugs: Sat Yug, Treta Yug, Dvaapar Yug and Kal Yug. The yugs cycle within a fixed length of 4,320,000 years, and the universe is created, destroyed and regenerated within this period. The cycles of time crest upward to Sat Yug, and then cycle downward to Kalyug, many times. The descent from Sat, leads to a gradual breakdown of dharma or righteousness. Eventually, all of dharma is destroyed, and the process starts all over again. This system of yugs is also connected to the Hindu system of astrology. The cosmic power of the yugs determines the behavior of humans. The central idea is that the yugs are the cause of the moral quality of our behavior.
This shabad from Guru Nanak gives us another point of view It is a long shabad on Ang 920, so best to tune into particular verses. ਸੋਈ ਚੰਦੁ ਚੜਹਿ ਸੇ ਤਾਰੇ ਸੋਈ ਦਿਨੀਅਰੁ ਤਪਤ ਰਹੈ ॥
soee chandh charrehi sae thaarae soee dhineear thapath rehai ||
The same moon rises, and the same stars; the same sun shines in the sky.
Guru Nanak is saying that the moon, stars, and sun shine as they always have, no matter what time period or yug we are in. it is always the same moon, the same stars, and the same sun. This has been constant and dependable over the centuries. I understand this to mean, let’s leave this musing about the influence of cycles of the yugs to one side. It is a distraction. ਸਾ ਧਰਤੀ ਸੋ ਪਉਣੁ ਝੁਲਾਰੇ ਜੁਗ ਜੀਅ ਖੇਲੇ ਥਾਵ ਕੈਸੇ ॥੧॥
saa dhharathee so poun jhulaarae yug jeea khaelae thhaav kaisae ||1||
The earth is the same, and the same wind blows. The age in which we dwell affects living beings, but not these places. ||1||
Yes, Guru Nanak says it is true that the age in which we live affects us and everyone around us, but it is not the yugs which affect us. ਜੀਵਨ ਤਲਬ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ॥
jeevan thalab nivaar ||
Give up your attachment to life.
Our problem is our low level of moral consciousness.
Next comes the first of two rehao lines around which Guru Nanak's message pivots. ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਵਾਣਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਧਿਙਾਣਾ ਕਲਿ ਲਖਣ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
hovai paravaanaa karehi dhhin(g)aanaa kal lakhan veechaar ||1|| rehaao ||
Those who act like tyrants are accepted and approved - recognize that this is the sign of the Dark Age of Kali Yuga. ||1||Pause||
Tyranny in this shabad refers to the adharma or lack of righteousness of the Brahminical system of the time. However, tyranny is also a metaphor for the effects of adharma. When we are living outside of the rule of justice and virtue adharma causes great suffering in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
He says the evidence that we are in the Dark Age of Kalyug comes because we accept the moral tyranny of those (Brahmins) who believe they are our masters; but they are really underlings. They are underlings because they cave into tyranny in order to protect their vested interests in life, their influence, their moral superiority and their control of the religious experiences of everyone else. Think back to the verse where Guru Nanak has just said, "Give up your attachment to life." That verse leads to this one. ਕਿਤੈਦੇਸਿਨਆਇਆਸੁਣੀਐਤੀਰਥਪਾਸਿਨਬੈਠਾ॥
kithai dhaes n aaeiaa suneeai theerathh paas n baithaa ||
Kali Yuga has not been heard to have come to any country, or to be sitting at any sacred shrine.
Guru Nanak now says, if you look all around you, you won't find "Kal Yug.” Who announced its arrival? Where is it? What is it? Who is it? Do the idols seated in temples, or the holy men in shrines, give us dharma/morality?. ਦਾਤਾ ਦਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਤਹ ਨਾਹੀ ਮਹਲ ਉਸਾਰਿ ਨ ਬੈਠਾ ॥੨॥
dhaathaa dhaan karae theh naahee mehal ousaar n baithaa ||2||
It is not where the generous person gives to charities, nor seated in the mansion he has built. ||2||
If Kal yug is a cosmic truth to be reckoned with, should we not find it every where? Why then, Guru Nanak asks, do we not find the moral darkness of Kal hug where people are generous? Why don't we find the darkness of Kal yug in the "the mansion” a generous person has built. This is not the literal home of the generous person, but the piling up of good deeds and blessings by the generous person. That person is creating a moral structure, is creating dharma, and nothing destroys that. (The generous person is also a metaphor for God, the Great Giver, who is the source of all dharma.)
Now the next few lines go to the heart of what Guru Nanak sees as the real Kal jug, or the true cause of moral decay and darkness ਜੇ ਕੋ ਸਤੁ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਛੀਜੈ ਤਪ ਘਰਿ ਤਪੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥
jae ko sath karae so shheejai thap ghar thap n hoee ||
If someone practices Truth, he is frustrated; prosperity does not come to the home of the sincere.
Guru Nanak is saying, in this day and age, Truth is not held in high esteem, neither are the wages of truth. Truthfulness is stymied over and over again, the truthful person becomes frustrated. "Prosperity" does not visit his home. Hypocrisy rules.
Moreover, those who show true devotion are scorned. So if you want to know what Kal Yug really is, Guru Nanak says, it is turning your back on the divine truth of the Naam. ਜੇਕੋਨਾਉਲਏਬਦਨਾਵੀਕਲਿਕੇਲਖਣਏਈ॥੩॥
jae ko naao leae badhanaavee kal kae lakhan eaeee ||3||
If someone chants the Lord's Name, he is scorned. These are the signs of Kali Yuga. ||3||
In the next few verses, he describes the breakdown of moral order. Those people, who posed as the moral leaders, teachers, and care-takers of collective morality, sold out to the Muslim overlords to protect their own skins. However, the following lines should be also understood as metaphors. No one takes morality seriously any more, because the priestly class bargained away its integrity in order to retain positions of privilege and power. In the same way our stubborn minds and egos stand in the way of dharma, because we are so attached to our ways of living.
jis sikadhaaree thisehi khuaaree chaakar kaehae ddaranaa ||
Whoever is in charge, is humiliated. Why should the servant be afraid,
jaa sikadhaarai pavai janjeeree thaa chaakar hathhahu maranaa ||4||
when the master is put in chains? He dies at the hands of his servant. ||4|
ਆਖੁ ਗੁਣਾ ਕਲਿ ਆਈਐ ॥
aakh gunaa kal aaeeai
Chant the Praises of the Lord; Kali Yuga has come.
This is the second rehao line and in it Guru Nanak makes reference to the 3 yugs that always precede Kal yug in the Hindu belief system. At one level he seems to be saying that the dharma or righteous, which used to be found in Sat, Treta, and Dvapaar, has been left behind. It is lost. He seems to say that we really are slipping or cycling downward to Kal yug. At another level he is saying, the yug or cycle of time never did have any influence on human behavior. It is wrong to think that a chronological period of time can shape the morality of our actions, which is what the Brahmins believed. Guru Nanak says that the only period in time that has any importance, the only time when virtue can be found is "when the Lord bestows it."
Naam bestows morality, not the yug in which we live. ਤਿਹੁ ਜੁਗ ਕੇਰਾ ਰਹਿਆ ਤਪਾਵਸੁ ਜੇ ਗੁਣ ਦੇਹਿ ਤ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
thihu yug kaeraa rehiaa thapaavas jae gun dhaehi th paaeeai ||1|| rehaao ||
The justice of the previous three ages is gone. One obtains virtue, only if the Lord bestows it. ||1||Paus
And in the next line Guru Nanak puts his finger on a problem. Today it is the law of the tyrant (then it was Muslim overlords) which rule us. And the tyranny of Muslims overlords is also a metaphor for the spiritual tyranny of our minds and egos that are stuck with living in adharma, are estranged from justice, and are suffering because of it.
The verse gives the historical insight.
ਕਲਿ ਕਲਵਾਲੀ ਸਰਾ ਨਿਬੇੜੀ ਕਾਜੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਹੋਆ ॥
kal kalavaalee saraa nibaerree kaajee kirasanaa hoaa |
In this turbulent age of Kali Yuga, Muslim law decides the cases, and the blue-robed Qazi is the judge.
Guru Nanak says, Consider something else. Believe that the Guru's word, the Guru's banee, overwhelms the teachings of the Vedas. Singing God's praises - that is good, that is a virtuous act, that is the seat of dharma. ਬਾਣੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਬੇਦੁ ਅਥਰਬਣੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਲਹਿਆ ॥੫॥
baanee brehamaa baedh athharaban karanee keerath lehiaa ||5||
The Guru's Bani has taken the place of Brahma's Veda, and the singing of the Lord's Praises are good deeds. ||5||
I understand the next line to mean that anyone who accepts the tyranny of adharma (lack of righteousness) in their own lives and worships through austerities/self-discipline, and rituals that lead nowhere, is living ife without faith, truthfulness and inner purity (purity of mind).
[/Cਪਤਿ ਵਿਣੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਸਤ ਵਿਣੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਜਤ ਵਿਣੁ ਕਾਹੇ ਜਨੇਊ ॥
path vin poojaa sath vin sanjam jath vin kaahae janaeoo ||
Worship without faith; self-discipline without truthfulness; the ritual of the sacred thread without chastity - what good are these?
ਨਾਵਹੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਤਿਲਕੁ ਚੜਾਵਹੁ ਸੁਚ ਵਿਣੁ ਸੋਚ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੬॥
naavahu dhhovahu thilak charraavahu such vin soch n hoee ||6||
You may bathe and wash, and apply a ritualistic tilak mark to your forehead, but without inner purity, there is no understanding. ||6|
Guru Nanak in the next two lines is saying that, by accepting tyranny, the Brahmins disrespected the very concepts of dharma that they themselves taught from their own scriptures/Puranas.
ਕਲਿ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਕਤੇਬ ਕੁਰਾਣੁ ॥
kal paravaan kathaeb kuraan ||
In Kali Yuga, the Koran and the Bible have become famous.
ਪੋਥੀ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਰਹੇ ਪੁਰਾਣ ॥
pothhee panddith rehae puraan ||
The Pandit's scriptures and the Puraanas are not respected.
And Guru Nanak speaks for each of us when he says we can do nothing greater than be joined to the Creator. We must recognize that Creative force for goodness already dwells within us. And if we must beg for something that we already own, then we should be ashamed. ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਉ ਭਇਆ ਰਹਮਾਣੁ ॥
naanak naao bhaeiaa rehamaan ||
O Nanak, the Lord's Name now is Rehmaan, the Merciful.
ਕਰਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਤੂ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਣੁ ॥੭॥
kar karathaa thoo eaeko jaan ||7||
Know that there is only One Creator of the creation. ||7||
naanak naam milai vaddiaaee eaedhoo oupar karam nehee |
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=32958
Nanak has obtained the glorious greatness of the Naam, the Name of the Lord. There is no action higher than this
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=32958
jae ghar hodhai mangan jaaeeai fir oulaamaa milai thehee ||8||1||
If someone goes out to beg for what is already in his own home, then he should be chastised. ||8||1||
So Kalyug is not about a geological period in time. Kalyug can happen at any time when we forget that we already possess the gift of goodness or that it dwells within us. We create the darkness of Kalyug when we do not recognize that goodness comes from Creator who created dharma. We can give it away; but it cannot be erased by the passage of time, or taken away by another.