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Guru Granth Sahib & Interfaith Understanding To World Peace

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by Admin Singh, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Guru Granth Sahib & Interfaith Understanding To World Peace

    Dr. Sangat Singh
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    Guru Granth Sahib, originally compiled as Pothi Sahib in 1604, later known as Adi Granth, has been widely acclaimed as compendium of religious or interfaith understanding. This was in sharp contrast to religious works of other faiths or denominations, of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam all of whom believe in One God, OR, Hinduism which itself was a compendium of diverse, mutually contradictory, beliefs given a common nomenclature of Hindu by Muslim invaders in eighth century and later, or Buddhism and Jainism; all of these did not have had such a privilege.
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    I

    Guru Granth Sahib is a unique work of its kind, compiled by one of the Sikh Gurus himself, bearing his signatures. It is not easily amenable to interpolations, and some such efforts by hostile forces shortly thereafter in 17th and later in 18th centuries have been easily spotted and discarded. [1]
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    Guru Granth Sahib has compositions of six Sikh Gurus – first five and nineth one (done at his own instance and completed at the instance of Guru Gobind Singh), fifteen Bhaktas or saints – three coming from Islam termed malechhas by Hindus, and others from various denominations of Hinduism – Brahmins or non-Brahmins – coming from so-called backward classes and denigraded to sub-human status in life, [2] fifteen Bhatts who were practicing Brahmins and presented first five Gurus in their own light, [3] and four others practisers of Sikh faith. Secondly, the Bhaktas followed Alwar saints from deep South, and these included people from backward classes as well as women, all of whom followed nirankar form of worship of all names of God, whether Hindu or Muslim, and talked of Ram not as son of Dasrath but as the one prevalent all over. [4] This was a practical expression of inter-faith dialogue prevalent in medieval times, and unique contribution of Guru Nanak or of the Sikh Gurus in that process. Guru Granth Sahib, incidentally made the Sikhs a people of the book.
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    II

    Guru Nanak’s presentation to the Court of God, as Janamsakhis narrate, and his revelation is summed up in mul mantra, or basic precept as follows:
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    The Only Infinite One (1), The Only Supreme Being – God (Oankar), the Eternal (sati), the Universal Spirit (namu), the Creator (karta), the All pervading (purakhu), the Sovereign (nirbhau), the Harmonious (nirvairu), the immortal (akala), the Embodiment (murti), the Un-incarnated (Ajuni), the Self existent (saibhan), the Enlightener (guru), the Bountiful (prasad).
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    This sums up the basic Sikh core and constitutes the quintessence of Sikh thought and philosophy. It is repeated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib in full or in abbreviated forms.

    The Rig Veda also says, ekam sat, vipra bahuda vedanti: God is One, various people describe Him differently. Therein lies the catch. Some Western scholars have chosen to describe Hinduism as following unity of God, or monotheism. That was however misreading of the situation.

    To Guru Nanak, God is one but, firstly, is sovereign, creator, all powerful, and sole supreme authority, not subject to any limitations. Secondly, He is indivisible: all others are His creation and subject to birth and death.

    To say that God is not the sole creator and that function is performed independently or complimentarily by Prakriti, as in Hinduism, is not correct. Similarly, to say that God or His functions are divided into those of Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva or He needs to take births as avataar (10 avtaars in sub-human and human forms are admitted by Hinduism) is not correct. This is the Sikh philosophy.

    Another element that stands out is that in Indian context, to Guru Nanak, no one was a Hindu or a Musalman but that every one was a human being. Guru Nanak advocated a social revolution, or humanitarianism, wherein a person’s religion, caste or status in life was irrelevant and not of consequence. That was the true spirit of Sikh philosophy. It found full expression during over 200 years of life-line of the Sikh Gurus, first six decades from Banda Singh Bahadur’s assumption of leadership of the community when he rigorously suppressed the caste factor and implemented the Sikh concept of social egalitarianism, and later after the birth of Singh Sabha movement in 1870s. [5] The objective was to achieve lasting values of life, a transformation of society. Guru Nanak lent originality to the concept of sin and salvation.

    A number of points which need attention as on August 15, 1947, the decolonization of the sub-continent, were:
    One, Sikhism right from day one earned the implacable hostility of Brahminism which continues even more today, when Guru Nanak repudiated varnashramdharma, the caste system with in-built inequalities, and advocated universal humankind, with respect for each human being as repository of God and His spirit, without regard to caste, climate, sex, or station in life; [6]
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    Two, M K Gandhi, the so called father of the nation, right from his introduction to Sikh polity in February 1921 at Nankana Sahib firmly believed that Sikhs were Hindus, and even if they were not, as asserted by Sikh leaders, he left a legacy of distrust and bitterness against the community;
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    Three, Jawaharlal Nehru since his briefing by his father Motilal Nehru in 1923 of the Gangu Brahmin (who had betrayed two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh and his mother to Nawab of Sirhind in 1705) heritage of the family firmly believed in the mission of state to Hinduise the Sikhs; his non-formation of Punjabi speaking state, antics of his daughter Indira Gandhi in 1966, Operation Bluestar in 1984, pogrom and Operation Shanti to finish off the Sikhs in one go in November, 1984, introduction of state militancy, apostasy among the Sikh youth starting 1993 in Punjab, which had its wider ramifications, have to be seen in the same light;
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    Four, the incapacity of Sikh leadership on eve of decolonization of the sub-continent and thereafter, especially during the last decade when they aligned with forces of Hindutava, upsurge of Babas and diversionary elements, is glaring; when the forces of Hindtava got Rs.50 crores in 1999 and later another 20 crores to carry on nefarious propaganda in the rural areas of Punjab, Badalite Akalis were told by Central BJP leader not to confront them; this, they call alignment;
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    Five, as of now, pristine Sikhism is under attack all around from within, from the so-called forces of modernism, from Sant Babas who have had a mushroom growth during the last decade, other schismatic forces and Indian intelligence set ups which have followed a nasty role at the instance of descendents of Gangu Brahmin. [7]
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    The slogan of Khalistan was used by the Indian set ups to trap the Sikhs and smash the Sikh aspirations. [8]
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    III

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    Here, we may analyse one of the main features of the Sikh scripture, namely that it was one of the greatest exponent of mutual dialogue. Guru Nanak’s visits to various centers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jogi-ism, Islam etc. were designed to that. He had his own method of a dialogue. In Rag Dhanasri, he said,
    jb lgu dunIAw rhIAY nwnk ikCu suxIAY ikCu khIAY ]
    jab lag dunee-aa rahee-ai naanak kichh sunee-ai kichh kahee-ai.
    So long one lives in the world one should listen to others and also say something.
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    Siddha Gosht(i) is one of the great expositions of that inter-faith communication. A noteable feature is the degree of respect that both Guru Nanak’s dialogues with Brahmins and others at places were held in cordial atmosphere. However, Bhai Gurdas tells us that at places Guru Nanak did not desist from entering into bitter debates. For instance, he equated Ram and Rahim (in Nirguna form), and told the Hajis that without good deeds both, Hindus and Muslims will rue the day in the Court of the Lord. At Achal Batala, he told the Jogis that their intelligence was beyond them when they berated the householder and then went to their very houses to beg for food. Bhai Gurdas also tells that Guru Nanak regarded six systems of Hindu Philosophy as a charade (Khat shastra pakhand janaia).
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    It does not mean that now if Hinduism has come into power, as in India, the Sikhs should revise their assessment of six-systems (khat shastra) which any how stand in contradiction to one another. The postulates that Guru Nanak had rejected after due deliberations in his debates can by no imagination be accepted now as valid. No amount of chicanery can help.

    Namdev defied Brahmins and as result of his recitation of God’s name, the face of Deora, temple, turned towards him at backside. The turned temple is still there for people to see in Maharastra, but it has had no impact on their practical life. It was only in Punjab that as a result of teachings of Sikh Gurus that there was an upward social mobility among the backward classes. The things since decolonization in 1947 in India when Brahminism came on its own, (a Brahmin taking over a Prime Minster end establishing his dynasty), and 5 percent Brahmins securing bulk of public appointments as a ruling class, is now different. It has affected Sikhism as well.
    Kabir on the other hand said:
    sMqu imlY ikCu sunIAY khIAY ] sant milai kichh sunee-ai kahee-ai. ||
    imlY AsMqu msit kir rhIAY ] milai asant masat kar rahee-ai. ||
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    If you meet a Saint, one should listen and say something; if one meets a contrary person, one should keep quiet.

    Anyhow, dialogue is one of the greatest expositions of Sikh Gurus, but in Hindu India, Sikhism is at a great discount. Sikh leaders, as of now, are nincompoops out to betray Sikhism for personal gains. They constitute the biggest threat to Sikhism at the moment. Verily, Sudarshan and Togadia of RSS have persisted in calling Sikhs as Hindus, without any reaction from Shromani Akali Dal. To me, it seems that both of them are bent upon breaking the Indian unity: who can prevent them from doing so? Previously, M.K. Gandhi broke the Indian unity in 1947 for his own ends.
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    Can you enter into a dialogue with them in India? Or, with followers of Gandhi, or that of Nehruvian family, or their cohorts? Their objective is to gulp up Sikhism.
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    IV

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    Interfaith dialogue has become popular in the West during the 20th century with the spread of non-conforming people in Britain, Europe, Canada and USA, especially from 1950s. This is necessitated by a desire to accommodate dissent, overcome a possible civil strife, and pave way for peaceful coexistence. There is multiplicity of inter-faith organizations in the white world, with democratic set ups and republican, representative, forms of government. There are, as stated elsewhere, no such organizations in the Muslim world. In India such set ups are sponsored by Church. Otherwise so far as Hindu set ups are concerned, such bodies have had no inter se meaning. For instance, during anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984 when at the instance of Government of India even Supreme Court was coopted, or Godhra strife against Muslims in Gujarat, such organizations have had no role to play.
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    Guru Nanak makes ample use of the Muslims terms and did visit Mecca and Baghdad. During his visit to the Middle East, he must have come across the Christians and Jews. In his whole gamut of literature, however, he makes no comments about the prophethood of Mohamad or that of Christ or Moses. His use of words Semitic texts or religions was all comprehensive. [9]

    In UK the existence of a Muslim Parliament, representing various Muslim countries from numerous independent Muslim states, plays a significant role in giving them a personality of their own. The sizeable presence of people owing fealty to Islam in Western world lends them a greater credibility. It is this presence that adds to the necessity of inter faith dialogues, though in the process the organizations from the sub-continent too get an attention. The presence of Hindus, though having support form Indian state, is of little consequence. That of the Sikhs, who lack state support everywhere but play their role on the strength of their character or that of Sikhism, comes into notice.

    A Sikh in the Diaspora has the potentiality to get on with people with diverse beliefs, though he may not accept their ideas and views. A true Sikh would keep his identity, and would be in the forefront in human solidarity and harmony. That reflects his intelligence, adaptability and resilience.
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    V

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    In the end, I would like here to repeat the warning administered by Prince Charles at Prince Albert Hall, London, on Baisakhi 1999 celebrations, that they should not lose their identify on one pretext or the others. It is known that they are seized of the process of apostasy, and young Sikh children are finding it increasingly attractive to go in for inter-religious marriages; they in the process are losing their identify.

    These are the big problems facing the Sikh community all over the world.

    One may recall here the prayer offered by the Sikh Community in 18th Century in the words of Rattan Singh Bhangu, “O Nath, If Sikh Community ceases to exist, who will remember the Granth.” Such a situation shall be glaring at us in the second half of the 21st Century, when the present and the next generation of the Sikhs shall pass out.
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    NOTES
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    1. Right from the introduction of compositions of Mira Bai shortly afterwards, and insertion of composition on puberty rites of Guru Hargobind in Rag Ramkali, and other such spurious compilations were spotted out and discarded. Right from an early stage, there were persistent efforts to corrupt and hijack Guru Nanak’s philosophy of Social egalitarianism. The forces of varnashramdharma with in built inequalities, were active right from the beginning.
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    2. Guru Nanak himself made selections in a majority of cases when, unlike any other saint or Prophet, he traveled very widely which took him to all parts of India and beyond, to Tibet in the North, Assam in the East, Sri Lanka or Ceylon in the South and Mecca, Madina, Baghdad and possibly Caspian Sea in the West. He came back through Jallalabad and Hasan Abdal now known as Punja Sahib.
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    3. It is another matter that Guru Nanak, firstly, did not quote at all any of Vedas, Shastras, Smrities, Puranas etc as an authority for what he was saying, and solely relied upon his revelation as a source of his sayings or his philosophy.
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    4. At places, the Sikh Gurus provided their own comments in elaboration of those of Bhaktas, or some time coopted them as Guru Arjan Dev’s coopting Kabir’s hymn that we are neither Hindus nor Mohammadan.
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    5. But Brahminical forces asserted their infiltration in Sikhism during the bulk of Misl period, Ranjit Singh and post-Ranjit Singh era, and it played nadir in post-1947 era when Hinduism / Brahminism came of its own and emerged sovereign in residue India.
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    6. Sikh must understand the basic point that brings Sikhism in direct confrontation to Hinduism, or what is known as Brahminism; Brahminism is a unique institution in India. Nowhere else in the world, or no other religion of the world, caters to human divisions, inequality, prejudices, distinctions, or discriminations between various sections of society. In Hinduism, these distinctions and divisions are endemic. These relate not only to man’s place in life or society, but also affect his mental, material or spiritual station and advancement. This is what is known as varnashramdharma, with in built inequalities.
    Guru Nanak firstly struck at the roots of varnashramdharma when he advocated human and social equality. Secondly, he spoke of oneness and universalism of God, the same for all sections of society. Three, he disowned the concept of God’s taking human birth or series of births – avtarvaad. Guru Nanak joined the populace to Sabad, word, or gursabad, God’s word, the unity of human spirit and its freedom is at the root of Sikhism, and stands in conflict with Brahminism.
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    7. By 1997, British intelligence agencies had gathered sufficient evidence of involvement of Indian police set ups and intelligence organizations’ role in promoting militancy among the Sikhs in UK and Europe: they also did that in Canada and USA. This was spread over a considerable period.
    Similarly, P.C. Dogra, Director General, Punjab Police in 1997 during Parkash Singh Badal’s Chief Ministership of Punjab (India) reported the role of Punjab police in such an affair. If Badal as Chief Minister of Punjab did not set up a Truth Commission as in South Africa, the blame lies with the poverty of Sikh leadership.
    For details, see THE SIKHS IN HISTORY, Amritsar, 2002, p. 506, or Itihas ‘Ch Sikh, Amritsar 2002.
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    8. For Indira Gandhi or Jawaharlal / Motilal Nehru’s Gangu Brahmin heritage, cf. the above work in English or Punjabi, e.g see index under Gangu Brahmin, and proceed.

    9. Christians prefer to call Christ the Only Son of God. Guru Nanak, on the other hand, describes the relationship of a human soul to God as one between a wife and her husband. May be, Guru Nanak was aware that a son’s relationship with his father could undergo changes when he starts earning, or when he gets married and raises a family. But a wife’s relationship with her husband remains the same when she becomes a wife, a mother, grand mother and so on. It is one of close relationship of a human soul to God, as that of a perennial wife.
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    Dr Sangat Singh was a member of Policy Planning think tank in the Indian Foreign Office, He was an alternate member of Joint Intelligence Committee, the supreme policy planning body of the Government of India for two years each in early and late 1970s, and in-between he was Director Strategic Studies in India’s Defence Ministry. He spent the last decade in the foreign office dealing inter alia with disinformation.
     
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