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Diwali Di Raat Diwey Ballian... Diwali And Sikhism ??

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Gyani Jarnail Singh, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH.

    ON DIWALI DAY Programmes at the Gurdwara I have often heard Raagis singing this shabad from Bhai gurdass Ji di Vaar -
    Diwali kee raat deeweh ballian.. Tareh jaat snaat amber bhalian...Phullan dee bagatt cun chun chalian.. Teerath jati Jaat naein nihalian... Har chaundharee jhaat vasai uchaleon..GURMUKH sukh faldaat SHABAD samalian..

    The Raagis mistakenly just TAKE the FIRST LINE as a sort of Rahao....and sing it repeatedly as if this is an INJUNCTION TO CELEBRATE DIWALI by lighting Lamps... This is a MAJOR MISREPRESENTATION of the TRUE MEANINGS..

    Bhai Gurdass Ji is saying: JUST like on Diwali Night people light lamps,..BUT the LIGHT of these Lamps has NO LONG LIFE ( short period),..the light is a short term DIKHAWA only,...The NIGHT SKY is full of Big and small stars....BUT ONLY till DAWN of Day... FLOWERS Bloom....but only until they are plucked by the gardners...they never keep joined to the plant for long...Pilgrims are seen going to the TEERATHS...BUT they DONT stay there...only short visits... The CASTLES formed by Clouds in the SKY are Visisble...but they dont have any substance or solid form... THROUGH the SHABAD of the GURBANI the GURMUKHS realise the "shortlived" time of this WORLD..and thus learns the value of this HUMAN BIRTH and its resultant union with Timeless WAHEGURU.

    When we take the SHABAD in its ENTIREITY... we can see that the meaning of the First Line about Diwali is NOT AT ALL about lighting Diwas and Lamps to "celebrate diwali"...IT is just an ALANGKAAR - metaphor to show us how SHORTLIVED such lamps and their lighting is.

    DIWALI is a Religious Festival of the Working Classes (Vaish). That is WHY the Lachmee devi - devi of WEALTH is worshipped on this day. The Mannu Laws that DIVIDED the people of India into CASTES..also gave the four castes their own special Festivals.. THe BRAHMIN has VASAKHI ( the best food laden festival as expected for himself)... The Khatree was given DUSHERRAH..the VAISH ( Working class) has diwali, and the SHUDARS were given the Dusty colour throwing free for all Holi.

    Sikhs have pulled and shoved diwali into a "SIKH FESTIVAL" by claiming it is in honour of Bandi chhor Diwas of Guru Hargobind. I find it hard to beleive Sikhs would FORGET the torture and horrible martyrdom of GURU ARJUN just a short while ago and start clebrating with deepmala and fireworks the return from exile of Guru Hargobind ji. There is no record of any deepmala and fireworks in a continuous period after Guru Hargobind Ji... the other FOUR GURUS NEVER even Visited Amrtisar.
    Bhai mani Singh was martyred by cutting limb from limb for failing to call a meeting of sikhs on Diwali... hardly a reason for Sikhs to "celebrate" with fireworks and deepmala

    It is ahistorical fact and true that vasakhi and Diwali time were the time TWO Major Congregations of SIKHS were held yearly...BUT these two congregations were certinly NOT HELD to have FIREWORKS and DEEPMALA. These two WASTEFUL economically destructive ( how much Guru Di Golak is wasted on fireworks and deeps etc cause so many fires etc) customs have absolutley NOTHING to do with Gurmatt/Sikhi/our Principles or Maryada...BUT are a COPYCAT of the Hindu population's fireworks/lamps/agni devta pooja/lachmi pooja etc

    Sikhs beleive in Gamm/Khushi come from Waheguru and are His Bhaana... so if we are not sad over the shahedee of Guru arjun Ji, Guru Teg bahadur Ji, Bhai mani Singh Ji.... then we are also not happy over the release of Guru hargobind Ji. GURBANI teaches us to treat both Happiness and sadness equally.

    IF we SIKHS take Diwali/Vasakhi to be great time to CONGREGATE and spread GURMATT/do Gurbani Vichaar....its FINE....BUT when this is a time to burn money on lamps/fireworks/give and take mathiayee/giftsd/drink alcohol/gambling etc THEN this is anti gurmatt. I am afraid we have lapsed into the latter.

    jarnail singh
     
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  3. drkhalsa

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Sikhs beleive in Gamm/Khushi come from Waheguru and are His Bhaana... so if we are not sad over the shahedee of Guru arjun Ji, Guur Teg bahadur Ji, Bhai mani Singh Ji.... then we are also not happy over the release of Guur hargobind Ji. GURBANI teaches us to treat both Happiness and sadness equally.

    IF we SIKHS take Diwali/Vasakhi to be great time to CONGREGATE and spread GURMATT/do Gurbani Vichaar....its FINE....BUT when this is a time to burn money on lamps/fireworks/give and take mathiayee/giftsd/drink alcohol/gambling etc THEN this is anti gurmatt. I am afraid we have lapsed into the latter.


    very rightly said and I belive in the same thing as all ths history facts given by singhji were narrated to me by my father when I was a kid and since then I dont believe in diwali as asikh festival but a special day on which all the people more are open for interactions with others and the same could be used to spread gurmat among sikhs and non sikhs brothers
     
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  4. upinder1955

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    absolutely right!
     
  5. roop singh

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    i wud like to ask gyani jarnail singh,as to what is his action/view towards 1984 sikh massacre. guru tegh bahadar sahib has visited sri harmander sahib.
     
  6. japjisahib04

    japjisahib04 Kuwait
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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Giani Ji

    Over here I slightly differ with you. Can we simply sit and accept by saying this is His bhaana when hundreds of innocents girls were raped in 1984 and thousands were burnt alive. Then what is the purpose of khandai ki pahul. We are a martial and living kaum and not dead qaum. All legal remedies fail. What will we answer to our coming generation. Don't we have right to feel sorry at our incomptency. Gurabni clealry tells us, 'jin jivandia pat nahi moaiya mandi soey - those who have no honor while alive will have an evil reputation after they die.
    Best regards
    Mohinder Singh Sahni
     
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  7. Kamaljit Singgh

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Diwali is the most polluting festival I fully agree that there should be an awareness drive against crackers and diyas.
     
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  8. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Guru Piayare Jios,
    Gurfateh .

    Massacres happened twice before 1984 - Wadda Ghallooghara, Chhota Ghallughara. In these practically the Entire Sikh kaum was involved and it was a concerted effort to wipe out men, women and children. The Third ghallooghara was in Harmandar Sahib 1984 and the Fourth was in Oct/Nov 1984 all over NORTH INDIA.(South India remained aloof in this latest anti-sikh pogrom).

    Guru nanak ji Sahib witnessed one of the biggest Massacres when Babars Mughals attacked the Lodhi Sultanate. What Guru Ji saw is in SGGS. Over there one of His verses..TEIN KEE DARD NA AIYAH..has been traditionally interpreted as Guur nanak Ji.."gently admonishing..remonstrating..complaining..whatever word to equate DARD...to Akal Purakh..BUT I diasgree with this traditional interpretation because to me this runs agaisnt the grain of Gurmatt..Which is HUKM RAZAEE CHALLNNA. I go with the interpretation that this Shabad is addressed to the PUNJABI PEOPLE..the Punjabi Society..the Punjabi Authorites..etc and not to the Creator. The Creator is Mitth Bollrra Ji Har sajjan Mera..Mein hambhal thakee ji..kadeh na bolleh Kaurra..my Creator is always Loving and no matter what i did He never said a hard word..bitter word...is Gurmatt speciifc quality of Akal Purakh. He would NEVER set out to "punish" a people ( among whom surely there were many many totally innocent people..children..infants..Fakirs and GURU NANAK J himself..and support a wild terrifying army of slaughterers....) THIS terrible Tragedy came upon the Punjabis because they had failed to follow the Path of righteousness...
    So to me its Gurmatt that everything happens in His HUKM..and we must accept it all..happiness..sdaness..death..birth..wedding..divorce..
    In this regard I will quote a "sakhi" from Guritihass....a person wishing to learn such a "lesson" in ACCEPTING HUKM..came to Guru Arjun Ji. He was sent to the house of a person. This man arrived at the house and saw that a wedding preparation was going on. The entire hosue was decorated..and all that..all sides song and dance...halwais making sweets etc..and he found the Master of the House Guru jis Sikh, weaving a cloth known as Kaffan. Upon asking why he replied that my son will die one day after the wedding.
    Then WHY not STOP the wedding..why all this festiviites..etc ? THOSE are also in HIS HUKM was the reply. True enough the wedding took palce..all were happy and all that...and on return tot he house the enxt day..the new Groom fell dead. Everyone who was happya nd singing just a moment ago..began to wail...BUT Guru Jis SIKH..quietly went in and brought out the Kaffan which he had made ready. THIS is a LESSON in HUKM. EVEN IF we "KNOW" in advance that we will die ( we do know but choose to IGNORE it) then can we ESCAPE DEATH ?? Can we escape suffering..can we escape sickness..THIS is NOT to say we just sit down and hope for the best..NO. GOD gives FOOD to each BIRD..BUT He doesnt throw it into its NEST. WE do all we can..BUT still its HIS HUKM which we MUST accept. In sukhmani sahib Guru Ji tells us..He gave you TEN GIFTS..he takes away just ONE..and you WAIL to high heaven..O Moorakh..what can you do IF he takes away ALL TEN ??.....??????? HE is the MASTER. Period.

    2. YES Guru Teg bahdur ji did visit Harmandar sahib..BUT the Pujarees ( Sodhis ) LOCKED him OUT. He sat on a place just to the RIGHT of Akal Takhat and then went away. No one celebrated His coming...with or without deepmala !!
     
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  9. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Sahni Ji, Gurfateh.

    Gurmatt doesnt say be fatalistic and accept and do nothing.
    AS I said before..God provides food for each bird..but He doesnt send it by courier to its nest...the bird got to do some work also..BUT WHEN ITS DAANNA is FINISHED...no one can do anything. Daana Pannee mukk gaya. Period.
    We fall sick..we go look for the best possible medical care..get oursleves admitted to the best hospitals..best surgeons...BUT WHEN the Last BREATH is taken..we ACCEPT the BHANNA. His HUKM. we can cry as loudly as we want..but His HUKM is ATALL.

    The SIKHS fought bravely..in 1984....final result was in His HUKM.
    The Sikhs of DELHI should have kept Swords..as ordained by Guru Ji, learnt Gatka...kept themsleves Fit..etc etc and been well prepared...BUT many would still die..its His HUKM. Guru Jis Chaar Sahibzadeh, hundreds of Sikhs..also died..and see what Guru ji writes in his Zaafrnama. Alwasy HIS ATALL HUKM PREVAILS..we do our BEST...but in the end its his will.
    Best regards
    jarnail singh
     
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  10. roop singh

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Giani Jarnail singh ji, Guru fateh.

    I fully agree with u that sikhs should have learnt Gatka,kept swords.Question is that should have,why people scholers like u are not trying till now that gataka marshal art made neccessary in all schools or cities/villiages have centre for such arts,when guru wants,he provides food to insects even in stones.it is for our mentors or leading organisations of sikhs to chalk out the strategies to over come the difficulties that our generation is going to face.
     
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  11. japjisahib04

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    so in order to live with honor, the only answer is saint and sipahi khandai ki pahul and once we do our duties honestly and live accordingly, the result is His will, where we shouldn't protest and accept graciouly.
    Mohinder Singh Sahni
     
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  12. roop singh

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    khandai ki pahul i agree with but one should know how to use it and equipped with to the art weapon,which only sikhs r lagging much behind as compared to other religion because of our mentors
     
  13. amrit.saggu

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Wow Gyani ji, thanks for your insights. I had always doubted the authenticity of this festival as a part of Sikh Philosophy and snickered when my mom told me to light a diva(but still lit it to make her happy). Now I have a basis to deny it! And my parents are very understanding people so they will adjust their ways. Thanks for the Bhai Gurdass ji line also.
     
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  14. roop singh

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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    has any body in sikh philosophy to doubt on bhai gurdass ji single word or truths written by him,if we doubt we does not know what sikhism is only sikhs r the community they celebrates the happiness & sorrows with entire world irrespective of religion wheather hindu muslim or christian,if we want to save our religion we have to be liberal not orthodox.
     
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  15. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    YES jios..SANT-SIPAHI are two sides fo the SAME COIN.
    Just see how Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs went smiling to the Gallows..facing DEATH bravely. Other "normal" people have to have their EYES bandaged and a cloth cover their face...Sukha and Jinda in Modern Times went hugging themsleves..Bhagt Singh refused to have his face covered...many others have to be literally BOUND hand and foot and DRAGGED..this is the DIFFERENCE. BOTH GROUPS KNOW in advance whats going to happen...one group goes SMILING..accepting His HUKM..the other goes out struggling...

    2. Yet again...its not "Fate"..or fatalism. Among the 700 Sikhs brought to be publicly executed by Frakshiyar in Delhi (Baba Banda Singh jis army) was one who was taunted by Farkhsiyar as to what he could do. The Singh told him..I am Facing certain death and face it happily..BUT IF you want to see what i can do..just release ONE of my hands...Emperor Frakhsiyar ordered one hand unbound..and the Singh quickly grabbed a sword from one of his guards and cut open a few of their stomachs...until he was overpowered and executed. SO the SINGH..the SIPAHI is NEVER in DESPAIR..fatalistic..hopeless state..HE is ALWAYS in CHARDEEKALLA...till the very last second..THIS is a MENTAL STATE brought to LIFE and KEPT ALIVE by the KHANDEY BATTEH DEE PAHUL ( and PRACTISING GURBANI IN DAILY LIFE..REHIT of SGGS)
    The Controlling word is CHARDEEKALLA !! a SINGH always has this state of Mind..and its this that assist him in HUKM RAZAII CHALLNNA.

    3. Academics and Scholars of Sikhi have ABDICATED their responsibility. Among the RAGIS.. Prof Darshan Singh Jathedar Akal Takhat had the GUTS in 1984..and he still has his GUTS NOW. Among the Novelists/writers Jaswant Singh Kanwal Had the GUTS...among the Human Rights Activist Jaswant Singh KHALRA had the GUTS...among the Academics in the Universities, Colleges, high Govt Positions...almost NONE had any GUTS...all had their "salaried posts" in mind...and so kept silent..BUT a few went overboard and became PSYCHOPHANTS..actively parotting/pandering to the "majority" and even cutting the roots/putting oil in the roots of the SIKH TREE to please their political masters. Among the Jathedars, SGPC, Takhats, Gurdwaras Managements..almost none had the GUTS to speak OUT...and still dont have any...only too happy to be part of "mainstream"..whatever that means...

    3. SIKHS must take things into their own hands..begin to LIVE GURBANI..PRACTISE GURBANI...learn Gatka, exercise and be fit...study hard..be good employees and good employers..be good teachers, managers, IT experts. EXCELL at whatever they DO.
    RIGHT from Guru Angad Jis time, Guru jsi vision was to see SIKHS as Fit as Fiddles..hence Guru Ji started the AKHARRAS..Guru Ji also began SCHOOLS..and EDUCATION...because EDUCATION EMPOWERS the Nation...and a Fit Body is good for a Fit MIND...Sikhs must earn a HONEST livlihood..stop being CORRUPT !! There is no point in BLAMING OTHERS..as is said in Gurbani by Bhagat Kabir ji..What can the GURU DO..IF the weakness is in SIKHS ???
     
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  16. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Re: Diwali Ki Raat Deeweh Ballian.... Diwali And Sikhism ??

    Another Good write up on Diwali and Gurmatt/Sikhi by Dr Karminder Singh PHd. Boston Malaysia...

    DIVALI AND SIKHI
    By Karminder Singh Dhillon Ph.D (Boston)
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    This article is inspired by the actions of some parbhandaks and sangats to celebrate Divali within the precincts of the local Gurdwara. Such celebrations range from encouraging Sikhs to bring sweets and delicacies to the Gurdwara, lighting the Gurdwara premises with oil lamps, to actually conducting full scale kirten, katha and ardas diwans in relation and in conjunction with Divali.

    Some parbhandakis, parcharaks and ragees have justified such practices by quoting / singing Gurbanee, citing historical incidents that connect Divali to our Gurus, and by pointing to the prevailing practices relating to Divali of the Harmandar Sahib and other Takhts.

    This article thus aims to (i) examine the Gurbanee quotes that are said to give the spiritual nod for Divali to be celebrated as a Sikh festival, (ii) examine the Divali-related Sikh historical incidents cited, and (iii) encourage evaluation of prevailing practices (pertaining to Divali) in the Golden Temple etc. The final part of the article will attempt to put Divali into its original and proper perspective by tracing the origins, purpose and philosophy of the festival.

    DIVALI AND GURBANI. The most commonly sung and quoted Gurbani verses relating to Divali are derived from Bhai Gurdas’s[1] Var 19 Pauree 6. Sikh ragees sing this pauree and explain it as evidence that Divali and the lighting of lamps is to be celebrated as an authentic Sikh practice. For a full understanding, the entire pauree is quoted below. An explanation of the pauree follows.

    Divali Dee Rat Deevay Baleean.
    Tarey Jaat Snaat Ambar Bhaleean.
    Fullan Dee Bagaat, Chun Chun Chaleean.
    Teerath Jatee Jaat Nain Nihalean
    Har Chandauree Jhaat Vasae Uchaleean
    Gurmukh Sukh Fal Dat Shabad Smaleean.

    Keen readers of Gurbanee know that the main message of a shabad is encapsulated in the Rahao line. This is the generic rule of the five thousand plus shabads that are written by the Gurus and Bhagats in the Guru Granth Sahib (GGS). The writings of Bhai Gurdas do not follow such a practice. Bhai ji does not use Rahao in any of his 912 paurees (in 40 vaars), 672 Kabits and 3 swayeas. In all his writings, his main message is always contained in the final verse of the pauree, kabit or swayea. The first five lines of every pauree are illustrations / explanations for the real message which is provided in the final / concluding line.

    A translation of the above pauree is as follows:

    The lamps of the night of Divali eventually burn out.
    The stars of the night sky stop sparkling when dawn comes.
    The beauty of the orchard disappears as the flowers are picked.
    The gaiety of the place of pilgrimage dies when the crowds leave.
    Life- even as bestowed by God- is temporary; settled and then destructed.
    Yet, the Gurmukh is blessed with the fruit of permanent joy through his
    Immersion in the Shabad.

    The meaning of this pauree is therefore as follows: A Gurmukh seeks bliss from the Shabad. The joy that comes from the Shabad is not as temporary as the lamps that burn on Divali night, the star-lit night skies, and the beautiful sights of the blooming orchard, the joyous atmosphere of the places of pilgrimages or of human life itself.

    As stated above, Guru Arjun Dev ji bestowed the title of Gurbanee dee Kunjee (the key to understanding Gurbanee) to Bhai Ji’s writings. In other words, understanding Bhai Gurdas provides one the key to unlock the treasures of the GGS. Guru Arjun recognized him as an interpreter par excellence of Gurbanee. As is the case with all of Bhai Ji’s writings, he is extolling the Sikh to link spiritually with the Shabad – by which he means the GGS and all the messages that are contained therein. This pauree is written to give inspiration to the Sikh to connect with the Shabad by virtue of the permanence of the joy that comes as a result.

    Now, to use the first line of this pauree – Divalee Dee Raat Divey Baleean – as Gurbanee justification for Sikhs to light lamps (or otherwise celebrate) the Divali night is ignorance – feigned or genuine. If that is the case then gazing the stars (the second illustration of temporariness in line two) can also be argued to be a call by Bhai Gurdas for Sikhs to worship the planets. On the same account, then planting orchards and going for teerath yatra or pilgrimages (as mentioned in lines 3 and 4) is also recommended Sikh spiritual practice. Each of the four events in each of the four lines are examples / illustrations used by Bhai Ji to make a concluding point regarding a particular characteristic (permanence of the joy) of the Shabad. This characteristic of the Shabad is contrasted with characteristics of the four events. Surely then, it would be highly disingenuous to suggest that the events being contrasted are acceptable as Sikh practice.

    A cursory examination of the language used by Bhai Ji in the pauree gives indication of his emotions. Lamps are lighted. The word for lighted is Jagaeeyan. However, Bhai Ji uses the word Baleean – meaning burned. He is saying “lamps burn away.” His emotive context is easily discerned from here. The emotion behind “lighting” a lamp is generally positive. Lighting lamps gives one a sense of creating light and brightness. But Bhai Ji’s emotions are concerned with the temporariness of the act – that the lamps (no matter how many positive feelings they create) eventually burn out, or burn to cinder, burn to darkness. Bhai Ji’s message is concerned with the final outcome – that lamps burn out. His concern with the initial act (the lighting / Jagayean) is no more than to indicate its temporariness. He is using this act (and others) to explain the concept of temporariness as opposed to permanence (of the joy of the Shabad) – which is his main concern. Hence to interpret this line as a call by Bhai Ji to Sikhs to “burn” lamps on Divali night is to miss the point all together.

    It must also be pointed out that apart from singing the above pauree and interpreting it (albeit wrongly), no ragee or parcharak has been able to find a single shabad from the 5,867 that make up the GGS that discusses Divali. In fact the word Divali or any of its equivalents does not appear in the GGS even once. This alone should make any Sikh wonder. Why would a Sikh related festival (if indeed Divali was such) not be mentioned even once in the GGS? Even in this pauree of Bhai Gurdas Ji, the issue is the burning away of lamps during the Divali night – not the celebration of Divali per se. It therefore goes without saying that attempts by some of our ragees and parcharaks to stretch to breaking point the meaning of this line requires nothing less than distortion.

    DIVALI AND SIKH HISTORICAL INCIDENTS. Two significant historical incidents are cited by those who attempt to link Divali to Sikh history and spirituality. The first relates to what is termed Bandee Chor Divas, (literally: prisoners release day) and is related to Guru Hargobind Sahib, our sixth Guru. And the second is Bhai Mani Singh Ji’s martyrdom. Both need examination to separate fact from apologetic thinking.

    (i) Bandee Chor Divas. Sikhs have been told that Guru Hargobind Singh Ji was ordered released from the Gwalior prison by Emperor Jahangir. Guru ji accepted the release on condition that 52 other Hindu kings / princes imprisoned in the same jail be released together with him. The Guru, upon securing the release of the kings, himself arrived at Amritsar, and the Sikhs celebrated by doing a deep-maala(literally: rosary of lighted lamps) display at Harmandar Sahib. This release happened on Diwali day. So on Diwali day, Sikhs actually celebrate the release from prison of Guru Hargobind ji – by lighting lamps.

    Is this an accurate depiction of Sikh history and an accurate interpretation of Sikh sentiment? Or are some Sikhs so eager to celebrate Divali, and so fervent to want to link Divali to Sikh practice and tradition that they simply had to find or create an incident that is suggested to have happened on or close to Diwali day, and use that as a pretext to celebrate? The following arguments will help answer this question.

    First, the euphoria of Bandee Chor – a Guru being released from prison – needs to be looked at within the context of Sikh history. In 1521 Babur attacked Saidpur at Ahmenabad and reduced the city to rubble. Guru Nanak, witnessing the episode of destruction went up to Babur and critiqued him in spiritual yet stinging terms, as recorded in his Tilang Raag Shabad on page 722

    Paap Kee Janj Ley Kablon Dhaeya, Joree Mangey Daan Ve Lalo
    Saram Dharam Doe Chap Khaloe, Koor Firey Pardhan Vey Lalo.

    Translation: Bringing the marriage party of sin, Babar has invaded from Kabul, demanding our land as his wedding gift, O Lalo. Modesty and righteousness both have vanished, and falsehood struts around like a leader, O Lalo.

    The result of the critique was a harsh jail sentence for Guru Nanak and Mardana who were thrown into prison with thousands of others – mostly women and children meant to be sold as slaves in Kabul. Guru Nanak gave solace to the prisoners, consoled them, and stood up to Babur as their representative. After a discourse with Guru Nanak, and having made to realize his folly, Babur ordered Guru Nanak released. The Guru’s condition was that he would only accept release if each and every prisoner was released. Now the question: Why aren’t Sikhs extolled to celebrate Guru Nanak’s Bandee Chor Divas? Why is there no Deep Maala to commemorate this day? Because it does not coincide with Divali? Or it did not happen close enough to Divali day? Or there was no Harmandar Sahib to be lit up with lamps then? Or simply because this Bandee Chor provides no pretext for celebrating Divali?

    The story of Guru Hargobind’s release on Diwali day deserves further examination. Given that the 52 Kings were Hindu, their release on Diwali day is of significance to them and their subjects. It is thus entirely possible that Jahangir – upon the persuasion of his Hindu wife - decided to release them on a day that was auspicious to the Hindu Kings. Sikhs are told that the deep mala was done at Harmandar Sahib upon the Guru’s arrival at Amritsar. Gwalior is in Agra – 112 miles out of Delhi. An express train journey from Delhi to Amritsar these days takes eight hours. The mode of travel by Guru Hargobind would have been horse back, or a horse carriage. Even if the Guru had rushed back to Amristar – without stopping to meet with any of the sangats that would have gathered to greet him at the many villages and districts between Agra, Delhi and Amritsar – he would have arrived four or five days if not weeks after Divali. Not meeting with the multiple sangats en-route and rushing back to Amritsar is highly uncharacteristic of any Guru. No Guru would leave behind sangats to rush off to Amritsar or anywhere else. What was he rushing there for? To sit on a throne as the 53rd Hindu King? In any case, even if he did rush, Guru Hargobind’s arrival would not have coincided with Divali – it would have been off by four or five days at least.

    Second, the performing of a Deep Maala itself needs examination from a Gurmat point of view. There is no Sikh spiritual activity that resolves around the Diva (lamp). Beyond an article of practical use (providing light), Gurbanee discounts any and all Diva related rituals. In fact Gurbanee discards physical diva-related ritual and instead gives inner spiritual context to the lamp. On page 878 of GGS, in Ramkali Raag for instance we have an entire shabad devoted to the Diva by Guru Nanak.

    Shape your lamp on the wheel of good actions.
    In this world and in the next, this lamp shall be with you.
    Within the heart, this lamp is permanently lit.
    It is not extinguished by water or wind.
    Such a lamp will carry you across the water.
    Wind does not shake it, or put it out. Its light reveals the Divine Throne.
    The Khatrees, Brahmins, Soodras and Vaishyas cannot find its value, even by thousands of calculations.
    If any of them lights such a lamp, O Nanak, he is emancipated.

    Gurbanee accords similar treatment to another practice involving the Diva namely the aartee. Physical aartee as a ritual is discouraged and Gurbanee provides inner spiritual context to aartee in the shabad Gagan Mei Thaal Rav Chand Deepak Baney (Dhnasree First Guru).

    Upon that cosmic plate of the sky, the sun and the moon are the lamps.
    The stars and their orbs are the studded pearls.
    The fragrance of sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan.
    All the plants of the world are the altar flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Lord.
    What a beautiful Aartee, lamp-lit worship service this is! O Destroyer of Fear, this is Your Ceremony of Light.

    Given that these gurbanee injuctions already existed, it is thus unlikely that Sikhs would have indulged in a mass lamp lighting ritual or deep mala to welcome their Guru. It is even more unlikely that the Guru would have allowed his Sikhs to indulge in a ritual that was not only of no significance in Sikhi, but against Gurmat. It is more likely that huge numbers of Sikhs thronged to visit him on the way from Agra to Amritsar and he had divans of kirten, katha, langgar sewa, and parchar for weeks culminating in a grand gathering at Harmandar Sahib.

    Third, if one assumes that Guru Hargobind started the practice of deep maala, in defiance of the teachings of the first 5 Gurus, then one must look at other historical events of stature and importance. It is worth noting that there is no record of the Sikhs having performed deep maala when Harmandar Sahib was inaugurated, when the first parkash of the GGS was conducted, when Akaal Takhat was installed, when Guru Hargobind intitiated his Meeri Peeri army, and or when he returned victorious in each of the four wars he fought with local Mughals. These are all events that happened within a 50 year span (before and after) of the sixth Guru’s release from Gwalior. If indeed Deep Maala was an accepted practice then, it would have been done on all these other occasions. Yet, it was not. Surely no Sikh would have trouble accepting that all of the historic events above would be of a higher importance to the Guru when compared to his release from prison. Why then is a lesser event being celebrated with a grand Deep Mala?

    An examination of the collective mental psyche of the Sikhs at the time of their Guru’s release will shed light on the probability of the Sikhs undertaking an exercise of lighting thousands of lamps to celebrate Diwali. Jahangir had, on 30th May 1606, after having kept him in prison, put to death in the most inhumane and cruel way, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs,. That this was the first martyrdom of the Sikhs, that their peace loving and beloved Guru was the victim, and the terrible tortures he endured had a lasting impact on the Sikh collective psyche. The Sikh psyche was tormented and beleaguered beyond imagination. One Guru was cruelly executed; the successor was imprisoned for one year. It is impossible to imagine that the Sikhs would have decided to have any grand celebration (Divali or otherwise) with the cruel and inhumane death of their Guru still fresh on their mind. It is equally impossible to imagine that Guru Hargobind would have allowed or condoned a grand celebration to commemorate his own release from prison. For someone who was prepared to die in battle four times with the Mugal tyrants, and for someone to call upon his Sikhs to be ever prepared to lay down their lives for justice, being jailed would have been as trivial as being released.

    In light of the above, it is clear that the Deep Maala story is concocted as an after thought by people eagerly seeking to provide a historical justification to link Divali to the Guru. The similarity between the story of Guru Hargobind returning to Amritsar and that of Ram Chander returning to Ayothya to celebrate Divali (elaborated below) is striking enough for Guru Ji’s Bandee Chor celebration to come across as un-imaginative, whole scale plagiarism and dull fabrication. As is the case with most afterthoughts – they do not withstand careful scrutiny, are shaky at best, and dubious at worst. Given that lighting lamps was the standard way of providing light and given the huge crowds present when Guru Hargobind arrived from Gwalior, a great many lamps may have indeed been used for their practical value. But if using many lamps constituted Deep Maala, virtually every day before the advent of electricity would have been a Deep Maala day at Harmandar.

    (ii) Bhai Mani Singh’s Shaheedee. Sikhs are told that Bhai Sahib Ji sought to have a gathering of Sikhs during the Divali of 1737. The local ruler agreed to not persecute the Sikhs who attended provided Bhai ji agreed to pay a fixed amount of money. Subsequently, upon discovering that the ruler had devised a plan to attack the sangat, Bhai ji sent notices for the Sikhs to not attend this function. There was thus no function and Bhai ji refused to pay the agreed amount to the ruler. He refused to allow the existing golak of the Guru Ghar to settle the amount due. As a result, Bhai ji was cut up limb by limb.

    This incident is used to portray the fact that Sikhs did celebrate Divali as a religious function because that is what this great Shaheed intended to do. But was that the intention – to celebrate Divali as a Sikh religious function? Or was Bhai ji merely using the occasion to gather Sikhs to conduct a spiritual diwan that had everything to do with Sikhi (Kirten, Gurbani recitation, langgar sewa etc) and nothing to do with Divali per se? In any case, the function was never held. More importantly, the outcome of the Divali of 1737 was the cruel limb by limb mutilation of a brave, noble, bright and principled jewel of the Sikh community. Only one thing can be worse than this cruel annihilation of a man of God. That would be to use his name, his sacrifice, and his loss of life to sanction us Sikhs to do deep malas, distribute sweets and to celebrate this day. And those who are most guilty of such gross deviation are the present day guardians of the Harmandar Sahib. What is most disturbing to the Sikh psyche is the fact that the roots of this great martyrdom of a great Bhram Gyani panth rattan soul lay in his desire to maintain the sanctity and dignity of Harmandar. But now the guardians of the same Harmandar are bent on soiling Bhai Ji’s sanctity.

    DIVALI AND HARMANDAR SAHIB. In what can be described as a senseless waste of funds, money and energy sincerely contributed by Sikhs who look to the Harmandar as their spiritual guidance, parbhandaks of this seat of holiness conduct, at virtually every Divali night an ostentatious display of fireworks, deep mala, and distribution of sweets. To see Harmandar Sahib (and other leading Gurdwaras and Takhats – notably Patna and Damdama) take part in a ritual so decidedly critiqued by the GGS, on an occasion so unrelated to Sikhi – is a clear indication of the spiritual and moral corruption that has seeped into today’s Sikh spiritual leadership.

    No authority at Harmandar, Patna or Damdama has been able to justify their Divali night extravaganza save to quote Pauree 6 Vaar 19 of Bhai Gurdas Ji, mention Bandee Chor Divas and link to Bhai Mani Singh’s Shahidee – as discussed above. No one can authoritatively give a time frame when this practice started. It certainly was not practiced during the Guru’s times because there is no mention in the GSS. Such practice certainly did not happen during the 100 years or so after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 and defeat of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur – as the Sikhs – hunted as they were by the rulers of the day - were hiding out in the jungles as guerillas. [2] The Harmandar itself was destroyed many times over during this period to prevent the Sikhs from even secretly visiting it to get spiritual strength. This period is replete with tales of Sikhs challenging each other to go for a dip in the Sarowar (pool) of Harmandar Sahib. The challenge was substantial as it involved the risk of getting caught and losing one’s life. The price of the head of a Sikh was up to 80 rupees. It is thus difficult to believe that Sikhs would have conducted a deep mala or any celebration every year on Divali under such circumstances during these 100 years.

    Yet it is highly likely that the divali related deep mala crept into Sikh Gurdwaras sometime during these 100 years of a tumultuous period. Since the Sikhs were fighting for survival in the jungles of Punjab, the hills of Jammu and the deserts of Rajasthan, the Sikh Gurdwaras, including the major historical sites were in the hands of Mahants, pseudo-sikhs, government backed deviant Sikhs etc. By and large they were anti-Sikh and had their philosophies rooted in deviant practices or Bhramanical beliefs. This is a period when Bhramanical rituals such as Lohree, Maghee, Rakhree, Shraad, Sangrands, Maasiyas, Puranmashi, Karva Chauth, Dushera, Divali etc were brought into and institutionalized as “Sikh” practices. One century was more than enough for these rituals – even though tossed out by the GGS – to be rooted firmly in Sikh maryada (Gurdwara practice).

    When Sikh Raj was established in 1801 – the Sikhs were no longer hunted, but their Gurdwaras continued to remain in the hands of the deviant Sikhs. Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s ministerial portfolio for Sikh Religion was in the hands of the Dogra brothers who were Hindu converts from Jammu and Kashmir. We now know that these brothers were on the pay roll of the British for the purpose of destabilizing the Sikh Raj. These Dogra brothers sat as parbhandaks of Akaal Takhat, sanctioning deviant practices and doling out huge sums of money and land to the deviant Mahants. It is thus most likely that Divali related Deep Mala at Harmandar Sahib and other leading Sikh Gurdwaras was regularized during this period. When the British annexed the Sikh Raj, these Mahants and controllers of Sikh Gurdwaras were supported by the new rulers for politically expedient goals and actively allowed to carry on their activities. It was during the British rule (Guru Nanak’s Nirangkari Gurpurab of 1942 ) that the first Akhand Paath of the Bachittar Natak Granth (dubiously called Dasam Granth) was conducted at none other than the Akaal Takhat itself ! It wasn’t until the Singh Sabha Movement of the early 20th Century that the historical Gurdwaras were liberated and put under the control of SGPC. These Gurdwaras were physically liberated, but Sikhs are still trying to liberate themselves from the deviant practices and rituals that were rooted by their previous occupiers. At the same time, non-historical and local Gurdwaras contined to remain in the hands of individuals and a host of deras have sprung up. The deras are run by a sanitized version of the Mahants known as Sants. A good number of local Gurdwaras, including diaspora gurdwaras are staffed by granthis who are the products of dera philosophies and sant influences. It is in this context that the introduction and continuation of Divali deep mala (and other Bhramanical rituals) at Harmandar Sahib (and other Gurdwaras) is perhaps best understood.

    UNDERSTANDING DIVALI. It now remains to explain Divali within the context of Indian spirituality. Bramanism dictated the classification of Indian Hindu society into four main groups – Brahmin, Khatri, Veshyas and Shudars. Dress, occupations, language and celebrations were allotted accordingly to allow for distinctions to be made at the outset. The Brahmin thus celebrated Vesakhi while the Khatris considered Dushera to be their main celebration, The Veshayas – because they were the Bania or business class – were allotted Divali which is a celebration of Laxmi Puja (godess of wealth). The Shudars – because they were lowest in the pecking order of castes – were deemed satisfied to consider Holee as their main celebration whence forth they gathered to chuck colored dust at each other in the name of guttural fun.

    (i) The Philosophy. Divali is a shortened version of Deepavlee; meaning a festival of lamps. It is fixed on the moonless (masia) night of the month of Kathak – a month associated with labour (as opposed to Veskahi which is associated with reaping the benefits). By definition Kathak Masia falls at the end of the “working month.” The day after Divali is known as Vishkarma Divas (literally: day of no-labour – also name of a devta) and then next Dhan Chaundas (literally: day of wealth – also name of a devta). Wealth will only arrive if the deity of wealth – Laxmi arrives on Divali night, and the devotee is home waiting for her. So prior to Divali, devotees clean their homes, give it a new coat of paint etc. On Divali night, they light up their homes, perform fireworks, and distribute sweets – in anticipation of Laxmi’s arrival. The main door of the house is never closed on Divali night. Laxmi’s photo is adorned with silver and gold decorations and Kesar and Ganesh are drawn in full color on the walls / floors of the house. Many devotees gamble during Divali night hoping for wealth. Shivji and his consort Parvati are commonly depicted as gambling during Divali night. The Ramayan narrates a session of gamble between Ram and Sita on Divali night.

    (ii) The History. Given that the civilization of India is 5,000 years old, a number of significant events would have coincided with Divali. Of these the most significant is the return to Ayothya by prince Ram Chander after having defeated rival king Ravan. This battle is depicted as the triumph of good over evil. Divali night has therefore since witnessed fireworks and deep malas (to celebrate victory) and the burning of effigies of the defeated Ravan.

    CONCLUSION. It is fairly clear therefore that Divali is a celebration that holds deep philosophical and historical significance to followers of the Hindu / Bramanical faith. And it is equally clear that Divali has no significance whatsoever from the view point of Sikh philosophy, Gurbanee, Gurmat and Sikh practice.

    Sikhs, having lived in cosmopolitan Punjab from the days of Guru Nanak would have undoubtedly shared the joy of Divali (and even the Muslim celebrations such as Eid) with their neighbors and countrymen – without sharing the philosophical underpinnings of the event. The same can be said of Sikhs outside of Punjab and India who live in mixed societies. It is thus likely that Divali has been accepted from the social and cultural perspective by the Sikhs – in the name of good inter-communal relations and ties. A good number of Sikhs living in western countries are known to “celebrate” Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, - without ascribing to the religious and spiritual connotations of these events - presumably within the spirit of good citizenship. As a minority almost everywhere, Sikhs have perhaps better understood this principle than others. There is nothing in Gurmat that prohibits a Sikh from sharing in the joys of his neighbours and countrymen.

    But attempts to provide Sikh philosophical and historical basis to Divali (and any other non-Sikh celebrations) and endeavors to bring these functions to gurdwaras are grossly misguided. Such endeavors necessitate the distortion and manipulative interpretation of gurbanee to provide basis where none exists. They make a mockery of the rich Sikh tradition by implying a bankruptcy of indigenous Sikh celebrations. Such attempts falsify Sikh history and rob our younger generations of the chance to appreciate their own distinct identity. The spiritual esteem of the Harmandar Sahib (and other sites) is undoubtedly affected amongst gurmat and gurbanee appreciating Sikhs over the misguided and wasteful actions of these gurdhaams to burn lamps and conduct fireworks on Divali night. Above all, such actions lower the esteem of the Sikhs in the eye of our Gurus as indicated by Guru Gobind Singh: Jab Yeh Gahe Bipran Kee Reet, Mein Na Karoon En Kee Parteet. The trust and faith (parteet) that the Guru placed in Sikhs may simply be lost in so doing.

    The author can be contacted at dhillon99@gmail.com
     
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  17. Punjabidave

    Punjabidave
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    HAPPY DIWALI EVERYONE!!!:singhbhangra:
     
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  18. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh Canada
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    Happy Bandi chhor Diwas !!!

    I don't understand why some mix and match it with hindu divas,candles and fireworks...etc..

    At the end of the day, what's wrong with celebrating Guru sahib's victory.
    I don' feel anything wrong with lighting a candle either because I shall do it with pure inner prem and devotion for satguru maharaj.:grinningkaur:
     
  19. Ikk Khalsa

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    Historians do not find any record that Guru Ji came to Amritsar on Diwali. It would have happened some where in February and there have never been Diwali in that time of the year. Lets say it happened on Diwali, is it more important event than Guru Nanak Dev Ji making Babar release all the innocent prisoners?
     
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  20. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh Canada
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    As far as I know, the celebration of Bandi chhor diwas is history. It's been happening all those years since.
    Even if it were in Feb, it would still make no difference to me. I can't see why having a wrong date would mean that I deny it.

    I remember thinking similar to yourself and nodding my head at people doing fireworks and lighting candles.
    I feel that I have past that superficial stage and I see sikhi in it's sargun, shabad and nirgun form.

    Anyway, I believe it was recorded in Bhat vahis of that time
     
  21. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    From Tej Singh at Gurbani.org

    Pursuit of Knowledge must lead to truthful living. Therefore, unless Knowledge changes one’s life in the direction of Truth — man’s essential state — it’s useless. One can spend all his life hearing about Truth; reading loads of books about Truth; contemplating day and night on Truth; teaching or preaching Truth; writing volumes about Truth; giving sermons on Truth; following all religions, paths or cults of the world; but none of these will help Realize the Divine Presence within unless one lives a truthful life in the “now” and “here”. Baabaa Nanak says:

    ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰ ॥੫॥: Sachahu orai sabh kayu upari sach aachaar ||5||: Everything is underneath (lower than, ਉਰ੍ਹੇ, …) Truth; the truthful living (living with Truth) is the highest (i.e., the superior form of living, ਸਭ ਤੇ ਉੱਪਰ …) ||5|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 62).
    ਤਬ ਲਗੁ ਮਹਲੁ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਾਚੁ ਨ ਚੀਤਿ ॥: Tab lag mahal na paaeeai jab lag saach n cheeti: As long as the Truth does not enter into the consciousness, the Divine Presence is not realized (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 58).

    The realm of Truth is pathless. Inward Divine Realization is complete only when we come to assert and actually live the Truth. Without such positive assertion, the seeker may reach only the dull void which in itself is not the fulfillment of man’s inward Realization of the Reality. For instance, removing thirst is not the fulfillment of drinking water, but it must provide to the drinker the positive joy of fullness and comfort. Therefore, as indicated in the Gurbani, the stress should be laid on practice (ਅਮਲ – implementation, living the Truth …). Above all religions is this One Religion of Truth.

    http://www.gurbani.org/gurblog/2010/03/20/truthful-living-is-the-highest-form-of-living/
     
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