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Sikh symbols

Discussion in 'Spiritual Articles' started by vsgrewal48895, Mar 22, 2009.

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  1. vsgrewal48895

    vsgrewal48895
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    Dear Members,

    There will always be some tension between those committed to finding the truth about code of conduct in a reasonably understanding way in the present and those with inherited understanding, who wants to preserve their blind religious way. This challenge has to be dealt with human maturity in a constructive and creative way with the younger generation in Diaspora, who will not blindly accept the present code of conduct established in 1945.

    ਮੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸਿ ਰਹੇ ॥ ਭੇਖੁ ਭਵਨੀ ਹਠੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਗਹਿ ਰਹੇ ॥

    Mai avar gi­ān na ḏẖi­ān pūjā har nām anṯar vas rahė. Bẖėkẖ bẖavnī haṯẖ na jānā nānkā sacẖ geh rahė.

    I have no other spiritual wisdom, meditation or worship; the Name of the Akal Purkh alone dwells deep within me. I know nothing about religious robes, pilgrimages or stubborn fanaticism; O Nanak, I hold tight to the Truth.
    -----Guru Nanak, Raag Bilawal, AGGS, Page, 844-1

    SIKH SYMBOLS

    ABSTRACT

    Sikh symbols relate to;

    1. Sikh History.
    2. Identity.
    3. Sikh Politics.
    4. Sikh Faith

    Sikh symbols are more of a deterrent to misconduct or bad deeds (ਦੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ), and is a first step promoter towards spirituality and recommended for every Sikh to make an attempt to undergo this step. To progress in spirituality is a journey of life and not one incident of wearing religious symbols. They may help one become a better person, if one’s intentions are good, but one should be cautious that wearing them, one does not automatically get blessed by Akal Purkh’s Grace. Sabd Guru regards symbols of any religion in terms of virtues and good deeds (ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ). Kabir in his Slokes recognizes that the human psyche may allow one to commit forbidden acts knowingly by over-ruling the warnings of his conscience;

    ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਸਭ ਬਾਤ ਜਾਨਤ ਹੀ ਅਉਗਨੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ਕਾਹੇ ਕੀ ਕੁਸਲਾਤ ਹਾਥਿ ਦੀਪੁ ਕੂਏ ਪਰੈ ॥

    Kabīr man jānai sabẖ bāṯ jānaṯ hī a¬ugan karai, Kāhė kī kuslāṯ hāth ḏīp kū¬ė parai.

    Kabir, the mortal knows every thing, and knowing, he still makes mistakes; what good is a lamp in one’s hand, if he falls in to well? -----Kabir Sloke, 216, AGGS, Page, 1376-4
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    More often symbols are an external show of piety or identity rather than as a means to an end for the development of virtues as described by Guru Amardas in Raag Maru:

    ਲੋਕੁ ਅਵਗਣਾ ਕੀ ਬੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਗੰਠੜੀ ਗੁਣ ਨ ਵਿਹਾਝੈ ਕੋਇ॥ ਗੁਣ ਕਾ ਗਾਹਕੁ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਗੁਣ ਪਾਈਅਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰੇਇ ॥
    Loak AvguNa Ki Baneh Ganthrhi GouN Na Vihajhai Koey, GouN Ka Gahak Nanaka Virla Koyee Hoey, Gurparsadi GouN Paa-ee-anh Jis No Nadar Karey.

    People tie up bundles of demerits; no one deals in virtue. Rare is that person, O Nanak, who purchases virtue. Akal Purkh bestows virtues by Its Glance of Grace, via Guru’s favor. -----Guru Amardas, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1092-15

    Symbols, over-wrought words of respect, religious dress, bought Akhand Path, mechanical recitation of Gurbani, body positions, sequence of words or numbers, has never made God respond any better to one’s desires. These do not make heaven or hell or make Akal Purkh supernaturally bend to anyone's bidding. Those wearing the symbols will have to live in the teachings contained in Sabd Guru to progress in spirituality like others.

    Guru Nanak in Raag Bilawal and Kabir in Raag Gauri give importance to Naam and not to the body and other material things of which humans are proud. The Sikh symbols worn on the body like the symbols of other religions stay here after death, e.g. religious thread of Brahmins(Guru Nanak refers to it extensively in Asa Di Vaar). Religious symbols are even less valuable than one’s body, as tools of spirituality; when intentions are not right. Guru Nanak in Raag Bilawal and Kabir in Raag Gauri ponders on it;

    ਤਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਕਲਤੁ ਸਭੁ ਦੇਖੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਕਿਛੁ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ॥ ਕੀਚਹਿ ਰਸ ਭੋਗ ਖੁਸੀਆ ਮਨ ਕੇਰੀ ॥ ਧਨੁ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਤਨੁ ਭਸਮੈ ਢੇਰੀ ॥ ਖਾਕੂ ਖਾਕੁ ਰਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਫੈਲੁ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਨਹੀ ਉਤਰੈ ਮੈਲੁ ॥
    Ŧan ḏẖan kalaṯ sabẖ ḏėkẖ abẖimānā, Bin nāvai kicẖẖ sang na jānā. Kīcẖėh ras bẖog kẖusī▫ā man kerī. Ḏẖan lokāʼn ṯan bẖasmai dẖerī. Kẖākū kẖāk ralai sabẖ fail. Bin sabḏai nahī uṯrai mail.

    Gazing upon his body, wealth, wife and all his possessions, he is proud. But without the Name of the Akal Purkh, nothing shall go along with him. He enjoys tastes, pleasures and joys in his mind. But his wealth will pass on to other people, and his body will be reduced to ashes. The entire expanse, like dust, shall mix with dust. Without the Word of the Sabd, his filth is not removed. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Bilawal, AGGS, Page, 831-2 & 3

    ਇਸੁ ਤਨ ਧਨ ਕੋ ਕਿਆ ਗਰਬਈਆ ॥ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਾਹੇ ਨ ਦ੍ਰਿੜ੍ਹ੍ਹੀਆ ॥

    Is ṯan ḏẖan ko ki¬ā garab¬ī¬ā, Rām nām kāhė na ḏariṛ¬ī¬ā.

    What pride should we take in this body and wealth? Why not hold tight to the God's Name instead? -----Kabir, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 330-2

    The religious symbols cannot replace the virtues, which are not granted but are learned by living the way of life as written in AGGS. Symbols are not magic potions which can make the person spiritual by cleaning the inner dirt, which requires an active participation in working on the right path, as explained in the following hymns contained in Sabd Guru:

    ਦੁਇ ਧੋਤੀ ਬਸਤ੍ਰ ਕਪਾਟੰ ॥ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥

    Du-ay Dhotee Bastar KapaataN, Jay Jaanas BarahmaN KarmaN, Sabh Fokat Nischa-o KarmaN.

    Upon your head is a turban and you are wearing two loin cloths. If you knew the nature of God, you would know that all of these beliefs and rituals are in vain.
    -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 470-17

    ਕਾਇਆ ਕਿਰਦਾਰ ਅਉਰਤ ਯਕੀਨਾ ॥ਰੰਗ ਤਮਾਸੇ ਮਾਣਿ ਹਕੀਨਾ ॥ਨਾਪਾਕ ਪਾਕੁ ਕਰਿ ਹਦੂਰਿ ਹਦੀਸਾ ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤਿ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਿਰਾ ॥

    Kaa-i-aa Kirdaar A-urat Yakeenaa, Rang Tamaasay Maan Hakeenaa, Naapaak Paak Kar Hadoor Hadeesaa Saabat Soorat Dastaar Siraa.

    Let good deeds be your body, and faith your bride. Play and enjoy the Akal Purkh's love and delight. Purify what is impure, and let the Its Presence be your religious tradition. Let your total awareness be the turban on your head. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1084-9

    ਬੰਕੇ ਬਾਲ ਪਾਗ ਸਿਰਿ ਡੇਰੀ ॥ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਭਸਮ ਕੀ ਢੇਰੀ ॥

    Bankay Baal Paag Sir Dayree, Ih Tan Ho-igo Bhasam Kee Dhayree.

    You make your hair beautiful, and wear a stylish turban on your head. But in the end, this body shall be reduced to a pile of ashes. -----Ravidas, Raag Sorath, AGGS, Page, 659-5

    ਟੇਢੀ ਪਾਗ ਟੇਢੇ ਚਲੇ ਲਾਗੇ ਬੀਰੇ ਖਾਨ ॥ਭਾਉ ਭਗਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਕਾਜੁ ਨ ਕਛੂਐ ਮੇਰੋ ਕਾਮੁ ਦੀਵਾਨ ॥ਰਾਮੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਹੈ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਿ ॥

    Taydhee Paag Taydhay Chalay Laagay Beeray Khan, Bhaa-o Bhagat Si-o Kaaj Na Kachhoo-ai Mayro Kaam Deevaan, Raam Bisaari-o Hai Abhimaan.

    Your turban is crooked, and you walk crooked; and now you have started chewing betel leaves. You have no use at all for loving devotional worship; you say you have business in court. In your egotistical pride, you have forgotten the God. -----Kabir, Raag Kidara, AGGS, Page, 1124-5

    ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਮਹਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਿਸਥਾਰਾ ॥ਕਰਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਤਨਿ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਬਣਾਏ ॥ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਕਬ ਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥ਇਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਕਿਨ ਹੀ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਭਗਉਤੀ ਮੁਦ੍ਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਮੋਹਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਪਾਪ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੰਚਾਂ ਕੇ ਬਸਿ ਰੇ ॥ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਹਹਿ ਸਭਿ ਉਤਰੇ ॥ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਸੰਕ ॥ ਜਮ ਪੁਰਿ ਬਾਂਧਿ ਖਰੇ ਕਾਲੰਕ ॥ਘੂਘਰ ਬਾਧਿ ਬਜਾਵਹਿ ਤਾਲਾ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਬੇਤਾਲਾ ॥ਵਰਮੀ ਮਾਰੀ ਸਾਪੁ ਨ ਮੂਆ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਜਿਨਿ ਤੂ ਕੀਆ ॥ਪੂੰਅਰ ਤਾਪ ਗੇਰੀ ਕੇ ਬਸਤ੍ਰਾ ॥ ਅਪਦਾ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਤੇ ਨਸਤਾ ॥ਦੇਸੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਪਰਦੇਸਹਿ ਧਾਇਆ ॥ ਪੰਚ ਚੰਡਾਲ ਨਾਲੇ ਲੈ ਆਇਆ ॥ਕਾਨ ਫਰਾਇ ਹਿਰਾਏ ਟੂਕਾ ॥ ਘਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਮਾਂਗੈ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਵਨ ਤੇ ਚੂਕਾ ॥ਬਨਿਤਾ ਛੋਡਿ ਬਦ ਨਦਰਿ ਪਰ ਨਾਰੀ ॥ ਵੇਸਿ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖਿਆਰੀ
    Man Meh Krodh Mhaa Ahankaraa, Pooja Kareh Bahut Bistharaa, Kar Isnan Tan Chakar BaNaaey, Antar Ki Mal Kabhi Na Jaaey, It Sanjam Prabh Kin Hi Na Paa-i-aa,Bhag-utee Mudraa Man Mohi-aa Maa-i-aa, Paap Karahi PanchaaN Kay Bas Ray, Tirath Naa-ay Kaheh Sabh Utray, Bahur Kamaaveh Ho-ay Nisank, Jam Pur BaaNDh Kharay Kaalank, Ghooghar BaaDh Bajaaveh Taalaa, Antar Kapat Fireh Baytaalaa, Varmee Maaree Saap Na Moo-aa, Parabh Sabh Kichh Jaanai Jin Too Kee-aa, PooNar Taap Gayree Kay Bastaraa, Apdaa Kaa Maari-aa Garih Tay Nastaa, Days Chhod Pardayseh Dhaa-i-aa, Panch Chandaal Naalay Lai Aa-i-aa, Kaan Faraa-ay Hiraa-ay Tookaa, Ghar Ghar MaaNgai Tariptaavan Tay Chookaa, Banitaa Chhod Bad Nadar Par Naaree, Vays Na Paa-ee-ai Mahaa Dukhi-aaree.

    Within the mind dwell anger and massive ego. Worship services are performed with great pomp and ceremony. Ritual cleansing baths are taken, and sacred marks are applied to the body. But still, the filth and pollution within never depart. No one has ever found God in this way. The sacred ear rings -- ritualistic hand gestures are made, but the mind remains enticed by Maya. They commit sins, under the influence of the five thieves. They bathe at sacred shrines, and claim that everything has been washed off. Then they commit them again, without fear of the consequences. The sinners are bound and gagged, and taken to the City of Death. The ankle-bells shake and the cymbals vibrate, but those who have deception within wander lost like the demons. By destroying its hole, the snake is not killed. God, who created you, knows everything. You worship fire and wear saffron colored robes. Stung by your misfortune, you abandon your home. Leaving your own country, you wander in foreign lands. But you bring the five rejects with you. You have split your ears, and now you steal crumbs. You beg from door to door, but you fail to be satisfied. You have abandoned your own wife, but now you sneak glances at other women. God is not found by wearing religious robes; you are utterly miserable!
    -----Guru Arjan, Raag Parbhati, AGGS, Page, 1348-8

    Philosophy of Guru Nanak considers every one equal, so Sikhs cannot have two standards for their symbols and symbols of other faiths. Spirituality is not granted but earned.

    ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਜੇ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥ਲੋਕ ਪਤੀਣੇ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਅਯਾਨਾ ॥

    Anṯar mail jė ṯirath nāvai ṯis baikunṯẖ na jānāʼn, Lok paṯīṇė kacẖẖū na hovai nāhī rām ėānā.

    With filth within the heart, even if one bathes at sacred places of pilgrimage, still, he shall not go to heaven. Nothing is gained by trying to please others -- the God cannot be fooled. -----Kabir, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 484-14

    In themselves any religious symbols do not have any spiritual value, but that does not mean that a person with these symbols cannot be spiritual by following the teachings of Sabd Guru truthfully in spirit, word, thought, and deeds for internal cleanliness.

    ਗੁਰੁ ਸਮਝਾਵੈ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੋਈ ॥ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਈ ॥

    Gur Samjhaavai Sojhee Ho-ee, Gurmukh Virlaa Boojhai Koee.

    When the Guru instructs, understanding is obtained. How rare is that Guru willed who understands. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 224-8

    ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਜਿਹ ਆਪਿ ਜਨਾਈ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਹ ਮਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੀ ਆਈ ॥

    Man Bach Karam Jih Aap Janaa-ee, Nanak Tih Mat Pargatee Aa-ee.

    Those whom the Akal Purkh Itself instructs in thought, word and deed, O Nanak, their intellects are enlightened. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 259-8

    ਲੇਖੈ ਗਣਤ ਨ ਛੂਟੀਐ ਕਾਚੀ ਭੀਤਿ ਨ ਸੁਧਿ ॥ ਜਿਸਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਤਿਹ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਬੁਧਿ ॥

    Lekẖai gaṇaṯ na cẖẖūtī▫ai kācẖī bẖīṯ na suḏẖ. Jisahi bujẖā¬ė nānkā ṯih gurmukẖ nirmal buḏẖ.

    When their accounts are called for, they shall not be released; their wall of mud cannot be washed clean. One who is made to understand, O, Nanak, that Guru willed obtains immaculate understanding. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 252-4

    ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਨੀ ਜੇ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਘਟਿ ਚਾਨਣਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਸੋਇ ॥

    Kathnī baḏnī jė karė manmukẖ būjẖ na ho¬ė. Gurmaṯī gẖat cẖānṇā har nām pāvai so▫e.

    The self-willed babbles on and on, but he does not understand. One whose heart is illumined, by Guru's Teachings, obtains the Name of the Akal Purkh.
    -----Guru Amar Das, Raag Gujri, AGGS, Page, 492-4

    ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਸਮਝੈ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਗਵਾਰਾ ॥ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਲਪਟਿਓ ਜੰਜਾਰਾ ॥

    Kabhū na samjẖai agi¬ān gavārā. Bahur bahur lapti▫o janjārā.

    The ignorant clown will never understand. Again and again, he becomes engrossed in entanglements. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Suhi, AGGS, Page, 738-17

    However, it is an individual’s belief in the symbols that matters, and it is really not subject to proof as to its efficacy in spirituality. In majority of the cases they may boost the ego of the individuals wearing them giving a feeling that they are better or superior to others. The issues of superiority are raised mostly by the wearers as an external show of piety. AGGS emphasizes internal cleanliness over an external show of piety, as is evident from the following hymns:

    ਧੋਤੀ ਊਜਲ ਤਿਲਕੁ ਗਲਿ ਮਾਲਾ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਪੜਹਿ ਨਾਟ ਸਾਲਾ ॥ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦੁ ਪੀਆ ॥ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਭਗਤਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਸੁਖੁ ਥੀਆ ॥

    Ḏẖoṯī ūjal ṯilak gal mālā (External piety symbols of Brahmins versus Internal Piety), Anṯar kroḏẖ paṛeh nāt sālā (Internal filth), Nām visār mā¬i¬ā maḏ pī¬ā, Bin gur bẖagaṯ nāhī sukẖ thī¬ā.

    He may wear a clean loincloth, apply the ceremonial mark to his forehead, and wear a mala (Rosary) around his neck; but if there is anger within him, he is merely reading his part, like an actor in a play. Forgetting the Name of the Akal Purkh, he drinks the wine of Maya. Without devotional worship to the Guru, there is no peace.
    -----Guru Nanak, Raag Bilawal, AGGS, Page, 832

    ਸੋ ਕਰਤਾ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਕਰੇ ਜਿਨਿ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਜਗੁ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਜੋਹਾਰੀ ਸੁਅਸਤਿ ਤਿਸੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ਅਭਗੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚੇ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਕਿਆ ਟਿਕਾ ਕਿਆ ਤਗੁ ॥

    So karṯā cẖinṯā kare jin upā▫i▫ā jag.Ŧis johārī su▫asaṯ ṯis ṯis ḏībāṇ abẖag. Nānak sacẖė nām bin ki¬ā tikā ki¬ā ṯag.

    The Creator who formed the world, cares for it. To It I bow and offer my reverence; Its Royal Court is eternal. O, Nanak with out the True Nam, of what use is the frontal mark and sacred thread or other symbols. -----Guru Nanak, Asa Di Var, AGGS, Page, 467-6

    ਅਪਰਾਧੀ ਦੂਣਾ ਨਿਵੈ ਜੋ ਹੰਤਾ ਮਿਰਗਾਹਿ ॥ਸੀਸਿ ਨਿਵਾਇਐ ਕਿਆ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਕੁਸੁਧੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥

    ApraaDhee Doonaa Nivai Jo Hantaa Miragaahi, Sees Nivaa-eai Kia Thia Ja Ridai Kasudhay Jaa-eh.

    The sinner, like the deer hunter, bows down twice as much. But what can be achieved by bowing the head, when the heart is impure? -----Guru Nanak, Asa Di Var, AGGS, Page 470-15

    ਕਾਂਇਆ ਸਾਧੈ ਉਰਧ ਤਪੁ ਕਰੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ਅਧਿਆਤਮ ਕਰਮ ਜੇ ਕਰੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਕਬ ਹੀ ਪਾਇ ॥

    KaaN-i-aa SaaDhai UraDh Tap Karai Vichahu Ha-umai Na Jaa-ay, ADhi-aatam Karam Jay Karay Naam Na Kab Hee Paa-ay.

    You may torment your body with extremes of self-discipline, practice intensive
    meditation and hang upside-down, but your ego will not be eliminated from within. You
    may perform religious rituals, and still never obtain the Name of the Akal Purkh.
    -----Guru Amardas, Siri Raag, AGGS, Page, 33-7

    ਸਿਰ ਤਲਵਾਏ ਪਾਈਐ ਚਮਗਿਦੜ ਜੂਹੈ ॥ ਮੜੀ ਮਸਾਣੀ ਜੇ ਮਿਲੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਖੁਡਾਂ ਚੂਹੇ ॥----ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਰ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਉ ਘਰੁ ਵਿਣੁ ਬੂਹੇ ॥

    Sir Talva-ay Paa-ee-ai Chamgidrh Joohai, Marhee MasaNee Jay Milai Vich Khuddan Choohai-----ViN Gur Mukat Na Hova-ee Jeo Ghar ViN Boohay.

    If bowing only could grant liberation then the bats in the forests, which hang from trees upside down, should be the first to be liberated and if liberation could be achieved in the loneliness of crematories than rats should get it in their holes. --- One cannot get liberation with out the Guru as a house is useless with out a door. -----Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 36, Pauri, 13

    Spirituality helps one to evolve in to a better human being, if he follows the general moral codes with devotion. This is a preparation of the body and mind, to receive God's inspiration. One then has to translate it into one’s thoughts, words, spirit, speech, and actions. They in turn lead to the formation of virtuous habits, with the evolvement of a good moral character.

    In recent years, “spirituality” has often carried connotations that a believer’s faith is more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad of new influences. His faith may be more pluralistic than the faiths of the established religions. Those speaking of “spirituality” rather than “religion” are apt to believe that there are many “spiritual paths” and that there is no objective truth as to which is the best one to follow. On the other hand there are many adherents of the orthodox religions who consider spirituality to be an aspect of their religious experience, and they are more likely to contrast spirituality with secular “worldliness” than with the ritual expression of the religion. Others hold that spirituality is not a religion per se, but regard it in terms of active and vital connections to a force, power, or sense of a deeper self. Some proponents of spirituality believe that the goal of “being spiritual” is to simultaneously improve one’s wisdom, will power and communion with God or universe. This necessitates the removal of illusion of feeling and thinking at the sensory level. Kabir observes that all ritual is useless and the important thing is inner cleanliness:

    ਕਹਾ ਉਡੀਸੇ ਮਜਨੁ ਕੀਆ ਕਿਆ ਮਸੀਤਿ ਸਿਰੁ ਨਾਂਏਂ ॥ਦਿਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਗੁਜਾਰੈ ਕਿਆ ਹਜ ਕਾਬੈ ਜਾਂਏਂ ॥

    Kahaa Udeesay Majan Kee-aa Ki-aa Maseet Sir NaaN-ayN, Dil Meh Kapat Nivaaj Gujaarai Ki-Aa Haj Kaabai JaaN-ayN.

    What is the use of bathing at Orissa? Why do the Muslims bow their heads in the mosque? If someone has deception in his heart, what good is it for him to utter prayers? And what good is it for him to go on pilgrimage to Mecca? -----Kabir, Raag Parbhati, AGGS, Page, 1349-15

    Spiritual practices of one’s faith can be sound and helpful, but they can too become the home of superstition and magic. It is the sincerity and absolute honesty which are of prime importance to one’s spiritual growth. The moment one believes that he has any powers or merit of his own, he believes in magic, he is being idolatrous. He is also in breach of the teachings of his faith. The Self, the Universal Spirit, exists fully in all creatures. It is in sunset, in music, in beauty, in ugliness, and in the eyes of the beholder. It is the contentment felt while gazing in to the eyes of the beloved. It is that fervor, that ecstasy and that rapture that one experience while time is at standstill. The Self is the knower, the observer, and the witness. It sees every thing, not seen by the seer.

    It is just like having faith, and faith without effort is dead. One can have symbols but he should also improve his/her character. If one does not control the animal instincts to the level needed for human survival and does not develop the virtues one cannot grow spiritually. There is no way to know what is inside of an individual. It does not make any difference to the others but a person could be deceiving him/her self. AGGS can only suggest to the people but cannot force them to clean their inside. An individual’s character is more important than his external show of symbols. Guru Nanak stressed that we should take the life as a business and makes some profit, which can go with us after death unlike the material symbols. Guru Nanak indicates that these symbols are left behind after death. One should take a profit earned through human experience during the journey of life which he can carry with him after death;

    ਓਹੁ ਮੁਆ ਓਹੁ ਝੜਿ ਪਇਆ ਵੇਤਗਾ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਗੁ ਨ ਤੁਟਈ ਜੇ ਤਗਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੋਰੁ ॥ ਦਰਗਹ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਤਗੁ ਨ ਤੂਟਸਿ ਪੂਤ ॥

    Oh mu¬ā oh jẖaṛ pa¬i¬ā vėṯgā ga¬i¬ā, Nānak ṯag na ṯut¬ī jė ṯag hovai jor, Ḏargeh anḏar pā¬ī¬ai ṯag na ṯūtas pūṯ.

    But he dies, and the sacred thread falls away, and the soul departs without it, O Nanak, the thread would not break, if it had any real strength. Such a sacred thread (Any symbol) should be worn in the Court of the Akal Purkh; it shall never break. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 471-5, 8, & 9

    Guru Nanak in Raag Asa again advises a Brahmin on the same lines;

    ਕਾਇਆ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਮਨੁ ਹੈ ਧੋਤੀ ॥ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਨੇਊ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਕੁਸਪਾਤੀ ॥ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ਜਸੁ ਜਾਚਉ ਨਾਉ ॥ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਿ ਸਮਾਉ ॥ਪਾਂਡੇ ਐਸਾ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ਨਾਮੇ ਸੁਚਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਪੜਉ ਨਾਮੇ ਚਜੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਨੇਊ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ਧੋਤੀ ਟਿਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮਾਲਿ ॥ਐਥੈ ਓਥੈ ਨਿਬਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਹੋਰਿ ਕਰਮ ਨ ਭਾਲਿ ॥ਪੂਜਾ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਰਜਾਲਿ ॥ਏਕੋ ਵੇਖਹੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਭਾਲਿ ॥ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਤੁ ਗਗਨ ਦਸ ਦੁਆਰ ॥ਹਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਠ ਪੜੈ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥ਭੋਜਨੁ ਭਾਉ ਭਰਮੁ ਭਉ ਭਾਗੈ ॥ਪਾਹਰੂਅਰਾ ਛਬਿ ਚੋਰੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ਤਿਲਕੁ ਲਿਲਾਟਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੁ ॥ਬੂਝੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ॥ਆਚਾਰੀ ਨਹੀ ਜੀਤਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ਪਾਠ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਇ ॥ਅਸਟ ਦਸੀ ਚਹੁ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ॥

    Kā¬i¬ā barahmā man hai ḏẖoṯī, Gi¬ān janė¬ū ḏẖi¬ān kuspāṯī, Har nāmā jas jācẖa¬o nā¬o, Gur parsādī barahm samā¬o, Pāʼndė aisā barahm bīcẖār, Nāmė sucẖ nāmo paṛa¬o nāmė cẖaj ācẖār, Bāhar janė¬ū jicẖar joṯ hai nāl, Ḏẖoṯī tikā nām samāl, Aithai othai nibhī nāl, viṇ nāvai hor karam na bẖāl, Pūjā parėm mā¬i¬ā parjāl, Ėko vėkẖhu avar na bẖāl, Cẖīnĥai ṯaṯ gagan ḏas ḏu¬ār, Har mukẖ pāṯẖ paṛai bīcẖār, Bẖojan bẖā¬o bẖaram bẖa¬o bẖāgai, Pāhrū¬arā cẖẖab cẖor na lāgai, Ŧilak lilāt jāṇai parabẖ ėk, Būjẖai barahm anṯar bibėk, Ācẖārī nahī jīṯi¬ā jā¬ė, Pāṯẖ paṛai nahī kīmaṯ pā¬ė, Asat ḏasī cẖahu bẖėḏ na pā¬i¬ā, Nānak saṯgur barahm ḏikẖā¬i¬ā.

    Let the body be the Brahmin, and let the mind be the loin-cloth; let spiritual wisdom be the sacred thread, and meditation the ceremonial ring. I seek the Name of the Akal Purkh and Its Praise as my cleansing bath. By Guru's Grace, I am absorbed into God. O Pundit, O religious scholar, contemplate God in such a way that Its Name may sanctify you, that Its Name may be your study, and Its Name be your wisdom and way of life. The outer sacred thread is worthwhile only as long as the Divine Light is within. So make the remembrance of the Name of the Akal Purkh, your loin-cloth and the ceremonial mark on your forehead. Here and hereafter, the Name alone shall stand by you. Do not seek any other actions, except the Name. Worship the Akal Purkh in loving adoration, and burn your desire for Maya. Behold only the One Creator, and do not seek out any other. Become aware of reality, in the Sky of the Tenth Gate; read aloud the Its Word, and contemplate it. With the diet of Its Love, doubt and fear depart. With the God as your night watchman, no thief will dare to break in. Let the knowledge of the One God be the ceremonial mark on your forehead. Let the realization that God is within you be your discrimination. Through ritual actions, God cannot be won over; by reciting sacred scriptures, It’s value cannot be estimated. The eighteen Puraanas and the four Vedas do not know Its mystery. O Nanak, the True Guru has shown me the God.
    -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 355

    ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਬੇਲਿ ਬਿਸਥਾਰੀ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਫਲੁ ਹੂਆ॥ਤਿਸੁ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖ ਅਨਾਹਦੁ ਵਾਜੈ ਸਬਦੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਕੀਆ ॥
    Karam karṯūṯ bėl bisthārī rām nām fal hū¬ā, Ŧis rūp na rėkẖ anāhaḏ vājai sabaḏ niranjan kī¬ā.

    The vine of good actions and character has spread out, and it bears the fruit of the God's Name. The Name has no form or outline; it vibrates with the unstruck Sound Current; through the Word of the Sabd, the Immaculate God is revealed. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 351-2

    Here is an interesting dialogue came across echoing the above thoughts:
    Subject: “I supplicated to God”

    > To remove my character defects.
    > God said, no.
    > It is not for me to take away, but for you to give
    > them up.
    >
    > To make a handicapped child whole.
    > God said, no.
    > His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.
    >
    > To grant me patience.
    > God said, no.
    > Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn't
    > granted, it is
    > learnt. (ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥ਜਾਂ ਪੰਚ ਰਾਸੀ ਤਾਂ ਤੀਰਥ ਵਾਸੀ ॥

    vidi-aa veechaaree taaN par-upkaaree, jaaN panch raasee taaN tirath vaasee.

    Contemplate and reflect upon knowledge, and you will become a benefactor to others. When you conquer the five passions, then you shall come to dwell at the sacred shrine of pilgrimage.
    -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 356-14).
    >
    > To give me happiness.
    > God said, no.
    > I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.
    >
    > To spare me pain.
    > God said, no.
    > Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and
    > brings you closer to me.

    ਦੁਖੁ ਦਾਰੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਭਇਆ ਜਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਤਾਮਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥

    Ḏukẖ ḏārū sukẖ rog bẖa­i­ā jā sukẖ ṯām na ho­ī.

    Suffering is the medicine, and pleasure the disease, because where there is pleasure, there is no desire for God. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 469-9)
    >
    > To make my spirit grow.
    > God said, no.
    > You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to
    > make you fruitful.
    >
    > For all things that I might enjoy life.
    > God said, no.
    > I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all
    > things.

    Conclusion:

    No attempt is being made to denigrate the religious symbols of any faith in any way but stressed that these to be the first step towards spirituality. Guru Ramdas in Gauri ki vaar advises;

    ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ ॥ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥ਜੋ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਧਿਆਏ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵੈ ॥ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਗੁਰੂ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ ॥ ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਧੂੜਿ ਮੰਗੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਹ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵੈ ॥

    Gur saṯgur kā jo sikẖ akẖā¬ė so bẖalkė uṯẖ har nām ḏẖi¬āvai. Uḏam karė bẖalkė parbẖāṯī isnān karė amriṯ sar nāvai. Upḏės gurū har har jap jāpai sabẖ kilvikẖ pāp ḏokẖ leh jāvai. Fir cẖaṛai ḏivas gurbāṇī gāvai bahḏi¬ā uṯẖ¬ḏi¬ā har nām ḏẖi¬āvai. Jo sās girās ḏẖi¬ā¬ė mėrā har har so gursikẖ gurū man bẖāvai. Jis no ḏa¬i¬āl hovai mėrā su¬āmī ṯis gursikẖ gurū upḏės suṇāvai. Jan Nānak ḏẖūṛ mangai ṯis gursikẖ kī jo āp japai avrah nām japāvai.

    One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Akal Purkh's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar. Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the God, The Mater. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased. Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the It's Name. One who meditates on my God and Master, with every breath and every morsel of food - that Gur Sikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind. That person, unto whom my God and Master is kind and compassionate -- upon that Gur Sikh, the Guru's Teachings are bestowed. Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that Gur Sikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. -----Guru Ramdas, Gauri Ki Var, AGGS, Page, 305

    Symbols do act as deterrents to bad deeds (ਦੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ).

    ਤਿਲਕੁ ਲਿਲਾਟਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੁ ॥ ਬੂਝੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ॥

    Ŧilak lilāt jāṇai parabẖ ėk.Būjẖai barahm anṯar bibėk.

    Let the knowledge of the One God be the ceremonial mark on your forehead. Let the realization that God is within you be your discrimination. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 355-7

    Cordially,

    Virinder S. Grewal
    Williamston, MI
     
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