Sakhis - Compassion | Sikh Philosophy Network
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Sakhis Compassion


Jun 1, 2004
As a young child Sri (Guru) Har Rai Sahib Ji was running in the flower garden at Kiratpur Sahib. He was wearing a baggy cloak. While running the cloak he brushed passed some flowers, thus the flowers were damaged.

With love and compassion, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the seventh Guru jis grandfather, explained to the Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji, "Always walk and move with care. Look after and manage your cloak and ensure that it doesn't hurt or damage anything in its path."

Similarly, we obtain the understanding that when walking in life, we should manage ourselves and look after our conduct and behavior and ensure that we don't cause harm to anyone or anything


Mar 12, 2009


Compassion is a sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce such suffering; to show special kindness to those who suffer. It is empathy, not sympathy – identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives. Compassion is the highest vibration of the elastic relative Law of Tolerance, under the Principle of Equilibrium. Guru Arjan reflects on the virtous qualities in Sahskritee Slokes;

ਸਬਦੰ ਰਤੰ ਹਿਤੰ ਮਇਆ ਕੀਰਤੰ ਕਲੀ ਕਰਮ ਕ੍ਰਿਤੁਆ ॥ ਮਿਟੰਤਿ ਤਤ੍ਰਾਗਤ ਭਰਮ ਮੋਹੰ ॥

Sabḏaʼn raṯaʼn hiṯaʼn ma¬i¬ā kīrṯaʼn kalī karam kriṯu¬ā. Mitanṯ ṯaṯrāgaṯ bẖaram mohaʼn.

To be imbued and attuned to the Word of the Sabd; to be kind and compassionate; to sing the Praises of Akal Purkh - these are the most worthwhile actions in this Dark Age of Kali Yuga. In this way, one's inner doubts and emotional attachments are dispelled.-----Guru Arjan, Sloke Sahskritee, AGGS, Page, 1354-11


Compassion is one of the prime Sikh virtues in the higher instincts, which is not granted but have to be learnt and developed. We are subject to two different forces. There is a force, which pulls our consciousness upwards to unite it with God (developed by an inner change and becoming a Gurmukh), from whom it is now separated. There is also a force of earthly elements (Lower instincts) that drags it down in to the meshes of mind and matter. The omnipotent Akal Purkh is all love and compassion comes to dwell in the mind when the inner change occurs and the individual is blessed with Its Grace. Guru Arjan ponders on it in Siri Raag;

ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਧਾਰਿ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਦਇਆਲ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਿਹਰਵਾਨੁ ॥

Ḏarisat ḏẖār man ṯan vasai ḏa¬i¬āl purakẖ miharvān.

Blessing us with Its Glance of Grace, the Kind and Compassionate, All-powerful Akal Purkh comes to dwell within the mind and body.-----Guru Arjan, Siri Raag, AGGS, Page, 49-3

He, who loves, will behold God by Its Grace. He, who beholds It, will not formulate It and he who formulates It will not behold It. One has to stay away from intellectualizing God. The fullness of God's Grace is beyond human appreciation and comprehension. He who has no spiritual peace, consolation, and truth, love and devotion cannot communicate these gifts and virtues to the others. He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

The Law of compassion deals with the blessings of mercy bestowed on us to be passed on to the others. He that has done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.

ਜੋ ਮਾਨੁਖੁ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਓਹੁ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਲਈ ਲਈ ਫੁਨਿ ਜਾਈਐ ॥

Jo mānukẖ mānukẖ kī sėvā oh ṯis kī laī laī fun jāīai.

If one human being serves another human being, the one served stands by him.-----Guru Arjan, Raag Bilawal, AGGS, Page, 822-17

Albert Einstein: A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as some thing separated from the rest, a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. We should free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.-----Dalai Lama

The whole purpose of any religion is to facilitate love, compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness, and teaching the individuals to subjugate their lower instincts. Altruism, selflessness, should be the first and foremost trait of the people. Education has value in as much as it is applied to the welfare of the humanity.

ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਜਾਂ ਪੰਚ ਰਾਸੀ ਤਾਂ ਤੀਰਥ ਵਾਸੀ ॥

Vidya Vicharee Ta Paropkaree, Jaan Panch Raasi Tan 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

With out service no one obtains any spiritual reward. Doing good deeds and knowing the Almighty is equal to all your meditation, austerities and reading of Holy books. Practicing righteousness and sharing are the hallmarks of the highest religion, as advocated by Guru Nanak in Raag Sarang;

ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥

viḏi¬ā vīcẖārī ṯāʼn par¬upkārī. Jāʼn pancẖ rāsī ṯāʼn ṯirath vāsī.

The one, who earns with his sweat of brow and shares some of his earnings for the welfare of the humanity, has recognized the real path of life.-----Guru Nanak, Sarang Ki Var, AGGS, Page, 1245

Man is a temple of God. All are creatures of God and Its creation. He who looks upon all men equal is religious. A true and clear perception of life is most essential towards realizing that purpose. It is of great importance to know ourselves, to know what we are and to know the various principles that can guide our progress toward spirituality. The spirituality declines as we cease to minister to the higher nature of man, and become subservient to the lower self or selfishness.

Hatred is not eliminated by hatred but with love, which is the eternal law. The Divine transcendence (metaphysical) and the Divine immanence (omnipotence) are the two complimentary concepts of life. A materialistic mind might degrade the spiritual state to a carnal one. In charity, if one donates to the poor on the street because he wants others to think well of him, the act does not enhance his spirituality. He is just inflating his personal Ego. But he, who gives out of a concern for the good of the recipient, is being benevolent and is furthering his spiritual progress.
One must make an honest effort to raise his/ her lower nature and make it fit for a union with God within us. Thus lower self has to die to its desires and passions and rise to the higher life of the spirit. Evil seeks to drag down the higher nature. We should seek its purification and elevation. Each step upwards may seem to be a death, but really is upward transformation of life. God is a spirit and should be worshiped in true spirit. To know the truth, one must become one with it. To tread the path one has to become the path himself. To know God one has to become one with the Divine within himself. God is absolute and without form. It is not anthropomorphic and is the cause of causes. Forgetting the God, who is an ocean of pleasures, one tosses up and down in the world ocean of delusions and deceptions. The strokes of the waves of World Ocean stir up the fire of five lower instincts. These continually burn the inner self. However, the Lord is the compassionate lover of his devotees, who humbly serve It. Bhagat Kabir in Raag Ramkali takes up this theme:

ਜਿਹ ਘਰਿ ਕਥਾ ਹੋਤ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਤਨ ਇਕ ਨਿਮਖ ਨ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੋ ਮੈ ਫੇਰਾ ॥ਲੰਪਟ ਚੋਰ ਦੂਤ ਮਤਵਾਰੇ ਤਿਨ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਦਾ ਬਸੇਰਾ ॥ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਤਸਰ ਏ ਸੰਪੈ ਮੋ ਮਾਹੀ ॥ਦਇਆ ਧਰਮੁ ਅਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਏ ਸੁਪਨੰਤਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥

Jih gẖar kathā hoṯ har sanṯan ik nimakẖ na kīnĥo mai fėrā. Lampat cẖor ḏūṯ maṯvārė ṯin sang saḏā basėrā. Kām kroḏẖ mā¬i¬ā maḏ maṯsar ė sampai mo māhī. Ḏa¬i¬ā ḏẖaram ar gur kī sėvā ė supnanṯar nāhī.

That house, in which the Saints speak of the Akal Purkh -- I have not visited it, even for an instant. Drunkards, thieves, and evil-doers -- I constantly dwell with them. Sexual desire, anger, the wine of Maya, and envy -- these are what I collect within myself. Compassion, righteousness, and service to the Guru -- these do not visit me, even in my dreams.

ਦੀਨ ਦਇਆਲ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਲ ਦਮੋਦਰ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਛਲ ਭੈ ਹਾਰੀ॥ਕਹਤ ਕਬੀਰ ਭੀਰ ਜਨ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਉ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰੀ ॥

Ḏīn ḏa¬i¬āl kirpāl ḏamoḏar bẖagaṯ bacẖẖal bẖai hārī. Kahaṯ Kabīr bẖīr jan rākẖo har sėvā kara¬o ṯumĥārī.

Akal Purkh is merciful to the meek, compassionate and benevolent, the Lover of Its devotees, the Destroyer of fear. Says Kabir, please protect Your humble servant from disaster; and I serve only You.-----Kabir, Raag Ramkali, AGGS, Page, 971-3, 4 & 5

True learning induces service of mankind in one’s mind. The trinity of self, mind and will are the irresolvable unit of our intellectual conception. Compassion is the basis of morality. A good heart is better than all the heads in the world. With out a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar. We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
Strong and united communities are the foundation of a healthy society. It is the duty of every human being to respect and support people all over the world. It is our sacred responsibility to take care of our habitats and leave them better shape - physically, spiritually, and culturally.

Environmental stewardship is one aspect of this responsibility, as are caring for the less fortunate, and maintaining the values that make any country great. We should try to completely eradicate and eliminate the source of suffering with the Grace of Akal Purkh. The more we meditate on suffering, the deeper our compassion becomes, until one day we finally realize that to be of the greatest help to beings, we ourselves must attain enlightenment for the benefit of the others as advised by Guru Arjan in Raag Asa;

ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਤਸਰ ਏ ਖੇਲਤ ਸਭਿ ਜੂਐ ਹਾਰੇ ॥ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਦਇਆ ਧਰਮੁ ਸਚੁ ਇਹ ਅਪੁਨੈ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਵਾਰੇ ॥

Kām kroḏẖ mā¬i¬ā maḏ maṯsar ė kẖėlaṯ sabẖ jū¬ai hārė. Saṯ sanṯokẖ ḏa¬i¬ā ḏẖaram sacẖ ih apunai garih bẖīṯar vārė.

I have got rid of all my vices like sexual desire, anger, and deceit. In the gamble of life I am glad to lose the falsehood of the world. The cycle of reincarnation is gone. I have gained instead, the virtues of truth, contentment, compassion, faith, duty, and purity of mind.-----Guru Arjan, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 379-3


Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment.

Compassion is not just a sentiment. It is doing justice and rendering works of mercy. Compassion is also not just a moral commandment. It is instead a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies. It becomes infectious in the company of holy people as indicated by Guru Arjan in Raag, Jaitsari:

ਦਇਆ ਮਇਆ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਈ ਸੰਤ ਸੁਭਾਈ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਸਤਰੀਐ ਜਿਨ ਰਸਿ ਰਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਈ ॥

Ḏa¬i¬ā ma¬i¬ā kirpā ṯẖākur kī sė¬ī sanṯ subẖā¬ī. Ŧin kai sang Nānak nisṯarī¬ai jin ras ras har gun gā¬ī.

Those whom the Akal Purkh blesses with Its Grace, Compassion, and Mercy are the sublime and sanctified saints. Associating with them, Nanak is saved; with love and exuberant joy, they sing the Glorious Praises of the Akal Purkh. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Jaitsari, AGGS, Page, 701-11

Virinder S.Grewal

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