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Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by drkhalsa, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. drkhalsa

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    Sep 16, 2004
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    lit, timeless, immortal, non-temporal, is a term integral to Sikh tradition and Philosophy. It is extensively used in the Dasam Granth hymns by Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who titled one of his poetic compositions AkaI Ustatj, i.e. In Praise (ustati) of the Timeless One (akal). Howevever the concept of Akal is not peculiar to the Dasam Granth. It goes back to the very origins of the Sikh faith. Siri Guru Nanak Dev Ji used the term in the Mool Mantra, the fundamental creedal statement in the Japu, the first composition in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Siri Guru Ram Das Ji, used it in conjunction with murat in Siri Raga chhants(GG, 78) and in conjunction with Purakh in Gauri Purabi Karhale (GG, 235) .The term occurs more frequently in Siri Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s bani (e.g. GG, 99, 609, 916, 1079 and 1082). We encounter the use of the term akal in Kabir as well.
    It may be noted that the term akal has been used in Gurbani in two forms: (a) as a qualifier or adjective, and (b) as a substantive. In the expression akal murati, the first part is often treated as a qualifier, even though some interpreters take the two words as independent units, viz. akal and murati. In the Maru Raga Kal and Akal have been clearly used as substantives by Siri Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Kabir. Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji more often than not treats the expression as a noun. AkaI Usiati is the praise of Akal and "Hail, O Akal, Hail, O Kirpal!" of Japu also takes the related expressions as substantives. The meaning of Akal in this context is ‘timeless’, ‘non-temporal’, ‘deathless’, ‘not governed by temporal process’, or ‘not subject to birth, decay and death’.
    Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, in his Japu in the dasam Granth, has designated the Supreme Reality Akal. The basic reality is nameless, in Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's terminology, anama. But even the namelessness can serve as a name. Nirankar (Formless) is a name, and so are other epithets so coined. Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani is a repository of concepts and terms, especially of the epithets relating to time’. Besides Kal and Akal, he uses Maha Kal (macro-time) and Sarb-Kal (all-time) to indicate a being above and beyond the eventful times of the universe. For him, Kal itself is a dimension of Akal, the only difference being the process that characterizes temporal events, and the eternality of Akal. Every occurrence or event has a beginning and an end, each event is a link in the on-going process of Time. The cosmic drama or the wondrous show of the world is all a creation of Time. The power of Time controls worldly events; the only entity independent of time is Time itself, and that is Akal, the Timeless One. That is how God is both Time and Timeless in Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani.
    Akal is not a fixed, unmoving substance, but the dynamic spiritual principle of the entire cosmic existence. The phenomenal world emanates from Spirit, and the Spirit permeates the world. Akal in Sikhis not mere consciousness, blank and void, but is the Creative Spirit, as the expression Karta Purakh implies. In other words, creativity is the core of Akal. which is not confined to the timeless and temporal aspects of the Supreme. From ‘It’ the Ultimate becomes ‘He’, the person with whom communication is sought and established. From ‘Akal’, He becomes ‘Sri-Akal’. The Sikh slogan and popular form of greeting Sati Sri AkaI sums up the concept that the timeless Being is the singular Eternal Reality.
    Valor and heroism are pronounced characteristics of the Sikh tradition. The AkaI of Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji is All Steel (SarbLoh), symbolically applauding valor. Siri Guru Nanak Dev Ji had applied the epithet of Jodha-mahabali-Surma to the valiant in Japu, 27 (CC, 6). Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, expresses His creativities with terms such as Sarb-Kal (Japu, 19, 20), Sarb-Dayal (Japu, 19, 23, 28), Sarb-Pal (Japu, 28, 45). He calls Him Glorios and great, Super-form, Yogi of yogis, Moon of moons, Melody of melodies, Rhythm of the dance, Liquidity of waters, Movement of the winds. He is Akal as well as Kripal, the Compassionate Lord.
    The concept of AkaI, central to Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Japu has percolated to the social, political and cultural aspects of Sikh life. Inspired by its theme, they call the Gurus’ bani, Akali - Bani. The political wing of the community is known as Akali Dal. The slogan Sati Sri AkaI has become a form of greeting for the Punjabis in general. The process had been initiated much earlier, half a century before the advent of Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji on the scene. The Sixth Guru, Siri Guru Hargobind Ji, had already identified the throne built at Amritsar as Akal Takht—the Throne of the Timeless One.


    a composite term comprising akal (non-temporal) and murati (image or form), occurring in the MooI-Mantra, the root formula or fundamental creed of the Sikh faith as recorded at the beginning of the Japu, composition with which the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji opens, literally means ‘timeless image’. In the compositions of Siri Guru Ram Das Ji (CC, 78), and Siri Guru Arjan Dev Ji (CC, 99, 609, 916 and 1082), the expression Akal Murati reinforces the original meaning of Divine Reality that is beyond the process of time, and yet permeates the cosmic forms. The non-temporal Being transcends the space-time framework and, as such, is Formless. However, in its manifest aspect, the same Being assumes the cosmic Form. The Sikh vision of God combines the Formless and its expression in natural forms, the transcendent and the immanent, the essence (spirit) and existence (creation).

    The expression ‘AkaI Murati’ lends itself to interpretation in two ways. The exegetes, who treat it as one term, take akal in the adjectival form that qualifies the substantive murati, the whole expression implying Everlasting Form equivalent to the Supreme Being. Those approaching the pair akal and murati severally, treat both the units independently, each expressing an attribute of the Divine Reality, believed to transcend time and space, yet manifest in spacio-temporal forms. But, despite the divergence of approach, both interpretations agree in substance, i.e. the featureless eternal Reality assumes features and modes of empirical existence. To put it differently, ‘Akal Murati’ presents a synthesis of nirgunand sagun facets of the Absolute-God of Siri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s vision. It however does not embrace the notion of incarnation. Non-incarnation is a basic theological postulate of Sikhism.
    stands in Sikh religious literature for the Divine Being, i.e. God. Like Akal Murati, it is composed of two units, viz. akal (non-temporal) and purakh (person). The latter figures in MooI-Mantra, the preamble to Siri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Japu, in conjunction with Karta (Creator), the whole expression implying the Creator Divine Person. In the Sikh tradition, the expression AkaI-Purakh has gained common currency like the terms Waheguru and Satnam, equivalently used.

    ‘Purakh’ as a linguistic symbol derives from the Sanskrit purusa (man), invariably employed in the masculine gender that invests ‘Purakh’ with spirituality, signifying the Divine Person. In conjunction with akal, the expression as a whole means the Everlasting Divine Person (God), in the Sikh tradition and litetature.

    ‘Akal-Purakhu’ as a single composite term appears only once in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (CC, 1038). We also come across the term in Siri Guru Ram Das Ji, Gauri-Purabi, Karhale (CC, 235), but in the inverse form as Purakhu-Akali. However, the Dasam Granth compositions of Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji often employ AkaI-Purakh as a substitute for God, the Eternal Being. AkaI being a cardinal and central concept in Sikhism, its use alongside of Purakh, accords it a distinct theological status.

    Courtesy: http://www.sikh.net
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