- Jun 30, 2004
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“Religious” Principles and “Spiritual” Development
"Ik Ong Kaar. There is One Source of All. This One Source is the doer of everything, is drenched with love, and has no enmity. This timeless, Creative Energy is in all of us and in all else that surrounds us, in any shape or form, OR formless. We are all part of this Grace".
This is the opening passage of The Guru Granth, the Sikh Scripture- our teacher. Many call this One Source, God.
Now the question arises:
How can one reach this ultimate goal of oneness with all that surrounds us?
The answer lies in the 3 basics tenets of Sikhi- that Guru Nanak, the founder set forth.
1. Always be aware of the connection with The Source.
2. Work in an honest and truthful manner. Number
3. Share our time and wealth by helping the needy.
A Sikh simply means a student, a learner, a truth seeker. In that sense we are all Sikhs because as humans, we never cease to learn till our last breath.
Sikhi does not believe in Hell, Heaven, Reincarnation or in any Miracles.
Sikhi does not have any deity to worship nor does it have any dogmas. A Sikh lives his or her daily life in a pragmatic manner.
Although Sikhi is the 5th largest religion with 25 million Sikhs around the world, it is also quite young and the unique thing about Sikhi is that it took 200 some years for it to evolve.
In 1469, a boy by the name of Guru Nanak was born in a small town in the state of Punjab. He was a curious figure from the very beginning. He was sent to different schools to learn languages, math & science. Soon the teachers discovered that his inquisitiveness and thirst to learn was too big for them to offer him anything more than he had already learnt. But he remained restless within because he was looking for something a lot more than he could find.
Hence, started his spiritual journey of self-discovery. At that time, in India it was a common thing for men to live alone and meditate in the jungles and remain celibate. He preached that one can only find the spiritual fulcrum by living the life as a family person so that he can confront the daily struggles and find solutions for them. One must find the balance between the material and the spiritual while living a life as a proactive citizen of the society.
He got married, had 2 sons and his curiosity to seek for Truth took him to different places. He wrote poetry which could be understood by a common person and sang in Raags- which is Indian classical music. Music has a powerful universal message. It crosses all borders and cultures. It makes one dance from the within. It also makes a common person sing along and memorise the message of goodness. Guru Nanak travelled the 4 corners of India and beyond.
He said that there is no Hindu or Muslim. We all come from One Light.
Guru Nanak was the first feminist of his time in the 15th century. He gave women equal rights when women were treated very badly.
After all his travels, he chose his successor, not to create a dynasty but the best person who could spread his message. The second Guru was Angad who carried on the same message of Oneness and equality. Sikhi had 10 living Gurus to spread this idea based way of life into different generations and the 11th is Guru Granth – the Sikh scripture.
True heroism, requires absence of fear and hatred. The Sikh believes in the cause he serves, without any idea of reward or punishment. He believes optimistically in the ultimate victory of the moral order. The sacrifices of our Gurus and many who followed them demonstrate that.
We all know about the caste system in India which was very prevalent 500 some years ago.
To eradicate this system and promote equality, Guru Nanak, created free kitchen for all. He offered the free meal to all whether one is a King or a Pauper; a high caste Brahmin or a low cost cobbler, all sitting side by side.
This free kitchen and a bed to stay for a day or two are available in the Gurdwaras all around the world for anyone and everyone. This is part of the selfless service in Sikhi called Seva.
Harmandar Sahib, widely known as the Golden Temple is situated in Amritsar. 70,000 meals are served daily there, to all, of any hue, creed or faith. The Golden Temple was designed and constructed by the 5th Guru Arjan and the foundation stone was laid by a Muslim by the name of Mia Mir, once again to show the sign of equality among all religions.
One more interesting part of this place is that one has to climb down in order to reach this Sanctum Sanctorum of Sikhi, which is the sign of humility.
Guru Granth- The Sikh scripture.
The fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev first compiled the Guru Granth in I604 in the city of Amritsar. Guru Granth contains hymns of 6 Sikh Gurus and 30 other composers which include Hindus and Muslims. Here, the Sikh, the Muslim, the Brahmin, and the untouchable, all meet in the same congregation of holy souls to create a truly universal scripture for our world.
Guru Granth is written in twenty-two languages. In addition, our 2nd Guru designed a phonetically complete Gurmukhi font to meet the need of inscribing the multi-linguistic scripture that is also musical on 1429 pages. It has been preserved in its original format since its last completion by the 10th Guru, Gobind Singh in 1705.
The poetry of the Guru Granth is in itself a subject worthy of the highest consideration. Music forms the basis of the rhythms and classification of the hymns.
This form is not only used to preserve the originality of the composition, as the poetry written in this form is difficult to imitate, but more so to provide the divine experience through the medium of music.
Further, poetry can be left to the culture and the times that follow to best interpret the message.
Meditation in Sikhi is Awareness, Realisation, Understanding and Acceptance of the message the teachings of the Guru Granth, so it can be practiced in real life to make one's life and others' better. It is a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, a handkerchief to wipe someone's tears, arms to embrace for solace, a smile to erase the frown, laughter to sweep the weep. This is the true meditation in Sikhi.
There is one more important thing to notice that Sikhi has no clergy system. All Sikhs are the torch bearers of Sikhi and can perform all the necessary rituals. This is important because it eliminates the power in the hands of the few and gives equal powers to all.
What does a Sikh “Look like” from the outside?
Well, a Sikh looks like from the outside what he/she has blossomed from the inside with the help of message of equality and justice for all.
A Sikh becomes a flower of this garden of humankind that emits its scent in all directions without bias. And what happens with this flower?
Let me close by saying what the Guru Granth says,”I have no animosity against anyone, I see no one as stranger”.
Thank you for the honour.
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