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Philosophy Of Communication Of Guru Nanak

Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Jan 3, 2010

One is wonderstruck at the effectiveness of Guru Nanak's communication. Whomsoever he communicated with, the impact was instant and positive. He communicated at home, at workplace or during his travels; he communicated with relatives & friends, employers, religious leaders, kings and their ministers, and the ordinary people in Punjab, in India and around the world. The records in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Janam Sakhis, Varan Bhai Gurdas or later resources reveal that his word was accepted as gospel truth on all circumstances. This is because he dealt with Truth; he spoke Truth and Truth alone; he understood the ultimate meaning of Truth and he passed this message of Truth to all, truthfully. He entered into dialogue; he held discourses; he composed poetry or sang his hymns in an appropriate language to communicate as per the situation, context and contact. It turned out to be effective at all occasions. The lyrical Shabads in accompaniment of the music of rebec of Mardana his companion, created vibrations even in the most hardened minds; the written Shabads became a philosophy for his followers to follow. Another wonder is that, this following of Guru Nanak's Shabad is spread over to the entire globe within these 500 years or so and is ever reverberating and increasing so fast that it has the potential to take over every functional mind in the globe.

What is so special in his hymns? What is so philosophical in his poetry and music that it changes the mind of listeners and the readers alike spontaneously? This is the subject of study here. Love is attracting and attaching; hence the philosophy of his communication was to propagate Love for God; equality and common brotherhood. He started this by breaking the wall of falsehood. He decided to approach the powerful, head on. He used dialogue as a method of communication. His dialogue was through simple and easily understandable words followed by poetic discourses in accompaniment of music. Guru Nanak's communication can be discussed under the following categories:

1. Communication with God
2. Communication with parents and relatives
3. Communication with Kings and courtiers
4. Communication with religious elite
5. Communication with saints and bhagats
6. Communication with general masses

Communication with God
Guru Nanak received the Order from God in Vein River at Sultanpur Lodhi to reach out to the people and convey His message. Since it was God's message; it was the Gospel Truth which he wanted to convey to the entire world. Even after he set up for travels he communicated with God regularly and the bani was revealed to him from time to time. The evidence of his communication with God is available in his hymns. He accepted that he only said whatever the God asked him to speak about.

jYsI mY AwvY Ksm kI bwxI qYsVw krI igAwnu vy lwlo] (pMnw722)

qyry nwm Anykw rUp Anµqw khxu n jwhI qyry gux kyqy ](pMnw 358)

His communication with God is evident from his various other hymns as well. In one of the hymn he speaks to God about His being master of the total activity and knowledge when he says that "O God! You yourself are the writing platelet, the pen and the writing on the platelet. You are the only One; hence why should we call you the second. You are within all the beings and makes all plans. There is no One without You and You are in each body. You know your actions and reactions and You can estimate Your worth. You are invisible, imperceptible and inaccessible. You are revealed through the Guru's Teachings. Deep within, there is ignorance, suffering and doubt; through the spiritual wisdom of the Guru, they are eradicated. He alone meditates on the Naam, whom You unite with Yourself, in Your Mercy. You are the Creator, the Inaccessible Primal Lord God; You are all-pervading everywhere. To whatever You link the mortal, O True Lord, to that he is linked. Nanak sings Your Glorious Praises."

Awpy ptI klm Awip aupir lyKu iB qUM ]
eYko khIAY nwnkw dUjw kwhy kU ] 2 ] pauVI ]​
qUM Awpy Awip vrqdw Awip bxq bxweI ]
quDu ibnu dUjw ko nhI qU rihAw smweI ]
qyrI giq imiq qUhY jwxdw quDu kImiq pweI ]
qU AlK Agocru Agmu hY gurmiq idKweI ]
AMqir AigAwnu duKu Brmu hY gur igAwin gvweI ]
ijsu ik®pw krih iqsu myil lYih so nwmu iDAweI ]
qU krqw purKu AgMmu hY rivAw sB TweI ]
ijqu qU lwieih sicAw iqqu ko lgY nwnk gux gweI ] (pMnw 1291)​

This way He not only makes the Unmanifest Manifest but also gives out the qualities so that He can be easily understood by those who have no way to understand Him. He gives out His attributes to explain Him further. "The nine regions, the seven continents, the fourteen worlds, the three qualities and the four ages - You established them all through the four sources of creation, and You seated them in Your mansions. He placed the four lamps, one by one, into the hands of the four ages. O Merciful Lord, Destroyer of demons, Lord of Lakshmi, such is Your Power - Your Shakti. Your army is the fire in the home of each and every heart. And Dharma - righteous living is the ruling chieftain. The earth is Your great cooking pot; Your beings receive their portions only once. Destiny is Your gate-keeper."

nau sq caudh qIin cwir kir mhliq cwir bhwlI ]
cwry dIvy chu hiQ dIey eykw eykw vwrI ] 1 ]
imhrvwn mDusUdn mwDO AYsI skiq qum@wrI ] 1 ] rhwau ]
Gir Gir lskru pwvku qyrw Drmu kry iskdwrI ]
DrqI dyg imlY iek vyrw Bwgu qyrw BMfwrI ] 2 ]​

You can feel as if a true picture of God is appearing in your mind: "What can I say with only one tongue? I cannot find your limits. Those who contemplate the True Word of the Shabad are absorbed into You, O Lord. Some wander around in saffron robes, but without the True Guru, no one finds the Lord. Justice is in Your Hands, O Lord; You are pleasing to my mind. You create the creation, and gaze upon it, O Creator Lord. You give Your Support to the uncounted beings and creatures. You are the Profound, Unfathomable Ocean of Virtue. You are the Unknowable, the Immaculate, the most Sublime Jewel. You Yourself are the Creator, with the Potency to create. You are the Independent Ruler, whose people are at peace. Nanak is satisfied with the subtle taste of the Lord's Name."

qU kir kir dyKih krxhwru ] joiq jIA AsMK dyie ADwru ] 5 ]
qU sru swgru gux ghIru ] qU Akul inrMjnu prm hIru ] 6 ]
qU Awpy krqw krx jogu ] inhkyvlu rwjn suKI logu ] (pMnw 1190)

This is how he made the indescribable describable; the impossible possible. See further description: "You are the all-powerful Creator. Your Name is the Holiest of the Holy. O Nanak, through the Command of Your Will, You behold and pervade the creation; You are absolutely unrivalled".

sB qyrI kudriq qUM kwidru krqw pwkI nweI pwku ]
nwnk hukmY AMdir vyKY vrqY qwko qwku ] (pMnw 464)

In the bowl of the sky, the sun and moon are the lamps; the stars in the constellations are the pearls. The fragrance of sandalwood is the incense, the wind is the fan, and all the vegetation are flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Lord. What a beautiful lamp-lit worship service this is! O Destroyer of fear, this is Your aarti; Your worship service. The sound current of the Shabad is the sounding of the temple drums. Thousands are Your eyes, and yet You have no eyes. Thousands are Your forms, and yet You have not even one form. Thousands are Your lotus feet, and yet You have no feet. Without a nose, thousands are Your noses. I am enchanted with Your play! The Divine Light is within everyone; You are that Light. Yours is that Light which shines within everyone. By the Guru's Teachings, this Divine Light is revealed. That which pleases the Lord is the true worship service. My soul is enticed by the honey-sweet lotus feet of the Lord; night and day, I thirst for them. Bless Nanak, the thirsty song-bird, with the water of Your Mercy that he may come to dwell in Your Name.

ggn mY Qwlu riv cMdu dIpk bny qwirkw mMfl jnk moqI ]
DUpu mlAwnlo pvxu cvro kry sgl bnrwie PUlµq joqI ] 1 ]
kYsI AwrqI hoie Bv KMfnw qyrI AwrqI ] Anhqw sbd vwjMqByrI ] 1 ] rhwau ]

shs qv nYn nn nYn hY qoih kau shs mUriq nnw eyk qohI ]
shs pd ibml nn eyk pd gMD ibnu shs qv gMD iev clq mohI ] 2 ]
sB mih joiq joiq hY soie ] iqs kY cwnix sB mih cwnxu hoie ]
gur swKI joiq prgtu hoie ] jo iqsu BwvY su AwrqI hoie ] 3 ]
hir crx kml mkrMd loiBq mno Anidno moih AwhI ipAwsw ]
ik®pw jlu dyih nwnk swirMg kau hoie jw qy qyrY nwim vwsw ]
(DnwsrI mhlw 1 AwrqI pMnw 663)

Describing about himself Guru Nanak compares himself with fish while the God is compared with an ocean.

qU drIAwau dwnw bInw mY mCulI kYsy AMqu lhw ]
jh jh dyKw qh qh qU hY quJ qy inksI PUit mrw ] 1 ]
n jwxw myau n jwxw jwlI ] jw duKu lwgY qw quJY smwlI ] 1 ] rhwau ]

qU BrpUir jwinAw mY dUir ] jo kCu krI su qyrY hdUir ]
qU dyKih hau mukir pwau ] qyrY kMim n qyrY nwie ] 2 ]
jyqw dyih qyqw hau Kwau ] ibAw dru nwhI kY dir jwau ]
nwnku eyk khY Ardwis ] jIau ipMfu sBu qyrY pwis ] 3 ]
Awpy nyVY dUir Awpy hI Awpy mMiJ imAwnuo ]
Awpy vyKY suxy Awpy hI kudriq kry jhwnuo ]
jo iqsu BwvY nwnkw hukmu soeI prvwnuo ]isrIrwgu mhlw 1 Gru 4 ]​

He accepted the Will of God and described the ever existent nature of God beautifully.

jo quD BwvY sweI BlI kwr] qU sdw slwmiq inrMkwir] (pMnw 4)
krqw qU mY mwxu inmwxy ] mwxu mhqu nwmu Dnu plY swcY sbid smwxy ] rhwau ]

qU pUrw hm aUry hoCy qU gaurw hm haury ]
quJ hI mn rwqy Aihinis prBwqy hir rsnw jip mn ry ] 2 ]
qum swcy hm qum hI rwcy sbid Byid Puin swcy ]
Aihinis nwim rqy sy sUcy mir jnmy sy kwcy] (pMnw 596-7)​

Communication with parents and relatives

His communication with parents: father Kalyan Chand and mother Tripta and father-in-law Muula was extremely reserved. He showed no feeling of love, anger, dissatisfaction, remorse or disenchantment at their actions. He knew that whenever they asked him or tried to force him to do something ritualistic or worldly; they were performing their parental duty sincerely in worldly manner according to the customs and service of the time. They had no independent thinking and vision as he had. He however, never spoke any word which could hurt their feelings. They wanted him to be a successful worldly man while Guru Nanak had developed love for God which restrained his attachment to maya. This conflicting situation created regular heartburning to which his father or father-in-law could never reconcile. Guru Nanak never lowered his respectful attitudes despite the bad temperament of his father and father-in-law. His biological parents and parents-in-law apparently were different than the philosophical Father. Rather than getting attached to his worldly relations he got permanently attached to God his spiritual Father. At Kartarpur however, the entire family including his wife and the two sons lived happily and shared the kirtan functions at his home merrily. His sons however, did not have that sense of spiritual attainment and failed to measure up to Guru Nanak's testing. Angad, his dearest disciple won over Guru Nanak's heart through his high spiritual achievements and was accepted as the next in succession. Guru Nanak had a lot of love for his sister Bebe Nanaki; the sister too had inherent love for her younger brother. There was a lot of understanding between them. Possibly she understood his Godly feelings and had developed a sense of respect as well as strong attachment for him. Janamsakhis and other stories do not have much on record to state any worthwhile communication with his near and dear ones.

Communication with Kings and courtiers and local heads

Kings, courtiers, local political heads, local administrative heads etc., were the people in power in whose contact Guru Nanak communicated openly and freely. Guru Nanak observed the conditions of the society and found that the system of kings and slaves has entered into a state of deep degradation. The philosophy of 'might is right' had crossed all limits, turning the mighty towards blind and bloody justice and 'rule at any cost by any means' formula. They suppressed the public zealously. The administrators, assistants and helpers not only helped the kings to unleash tyranny but also drew their share of flesh. His first contact was with the village head, Rai Bullar. Guru Nanak explained to him that he was not to suppress and to squeeze the public but to serve them. Rai Bullar became his first follower. After his schooling he joined the service of the Governor of Sultanpur Lodi. Guru Nanak made him to understand the importance of equality and brotherhood and service to humanity. Guru Nanak's visit to the centre of administrations and religious power was to expose the wrong methodology used by these powerful persons to squeeze and subdue the poor. He met various saints and exchanged his words with them. Surprisingly, almost all saints and Bhagats of that period had the same thought process. The only difference was that they did not apply their thought process to help the downtrodden and to bring the change in the rotten systems which the society was bearing. Guru Nanak visited the downtrodden and explained that there is no better or inferior, as all are the same. Kings, Qazis, mullahs and Brahmins; all are performing their worldly duties and are not the mediators of God. They are as in dark as others of the public. To accept as gospel truth and to perform the way these self-seekers want is not right. How can a blind person explain the riddles of a curving path? Everyone being equal must bow his head to God and God alone Who is the supreme. Rest all is equal. This wave of equality created a sense of feeling of change among the masses and they started shunning away rituals and throwing away the shackles of falsehood created by the vested interest. This way Guru Nanak started a powerful movement against the tyrannical oppression of the kings and their countries and wrong guidance by the people by Qazis, Mullahs and Pundits.

Communication with teachers and religious leaders

Next in contact were his teachers. The Pandha and the Mullah. He explained them the meaning of true education and the true life. Village Pundit was the next person in contact. He had come to perform the sacred thread ritual. He explained him the worthlessness of rituals and importance of truthful living and truthful conduct. This way he had established the communication at his village, the first place of his experience.

At Sultanpur Lodhi, he also communicated with the royal Qazi and Mullah. He explained Mullah the worthlessness of the walls among religions. He explained that all religions accept that there is only one God, 'You cannot make him personal by giving him different names.' Allah and Ram are the names of the same God. He belongs to the entire world and is no one's personal property. One must accept all beings as equal and perform service to them. Similarly he reached Haridwar and explained the uselessness of rituals. Using rituals to usurp people of their earning is unacceptable to God. One must earn his livelihood through hard work. Instead of usurping others' property one must share his own earning with others. No one brought anything when born and will take nothing when he leaves. Why amass wealth then? Since everything is given by God, one must share what he earns among God's beings.

He approached the Siddhas who did hard penance to reach God. Guru Nanak explained them that God is not for one but belongs to all. He can be best pleased through service to the people. This is the easier and better way to please God, than by hard penance. He asked them to go to the people who now require directions for breaking the wall of falsehood. They must help them to come out of the agony of ignorance.

His visit to Mecca, the centre of Muslim religious power was another path breaking event. Here he came in contact with the most powerful authorities of Islam. His characteristic dialogue delivered through poetry and music, followed by actions, made them speechless and accept him as God's agent.

Communication with religious elite

The religious leaders, the Qazi and Mullahs modified the religious edicts according to the wishes of rulers and according to their own selfish ends. The Mullahs and Brahmins acted as self-styled gurus/guide to lead the people to salvation. They however, were themselves ignorant about the true path to the God. They only tricked the people to increase their earnings but provided no solution. They had created a net of rites and rituals which squeezed the public of their hard earned money.

Communication with Godly persons
The philosophy that Guru Nanak unfolds is that all life is one. It is Divine because God is the only Reality, a combination of substance, consciousness and energy. Diversity has sprung up from Divine Unity because His Will has so ordained. The destiny of each individual being is the return to its Divine Source. Human life is a great opportunity for such return or self-realization. Unfortunately men often lose sight of Reality and chase shadows - attachment to wealth and power; pursuit of pleasures of flesh that suck a man's physical and spiritual vitality; egotistical concern for imposing one's own beliefs on others that often leads to deeper involvement in error, and the like. To regain Divinity man must consciously and assiduously pursue Truth in all spheres of life, the social and the ethical, the mental and the spiritual. In fact self-realization or realization of the Divine is in essence the realization of the Truth; it is the progressive widening of the consciousness through meditation to comprehend the whole power and glory of life. The process of widening of consciousness is not helped but hindered by the eschewing of any experience. A man must, therefore, fully participate in life but not submit himself to its allurements.
The realization of Truth, the attainment of glory and power of life, comes through ethical excellence, pursuit of knowledge, creative endeavor to promote general good, modesty and the experience of sense of grace. Man regains Divinity when he attains to the region of Truth:

In the region of truth, the Formless Absolute dwells.
He blissfully contemplates His creation with compassion.
There, there are regions, constellations, universes,
If one attempted to describe these, there would be no end.
There, there are myriads of habitations, myriads of forms.
As His will ordains, so does it all proceed.
He sees and blissfully meditates.
O Nanak, it is extremely hard to describe. (Japuji p.8)

Communication with general masses
The world at the time was in darkness of ignorance about the real path to reach the God. Guru Nanak took upon himself to remove the ignorance and spread light of knowledge, the real Truth about the True God. Along with this he was to propagate the transient nature of the world of maya: the bharmjal and fallacies of rites and rituals. Philosophy of communication of Guru Nanak was to reach the maximum; the ignorant may be the low or the high. He was to convey to the highest and the powerful that they are created by the same God as was the poorest of the poor. To the poor he was to convey that they are not the slaves or unpaid servants. No one has the right to oppress others. They are neither the secluded nor the rejected. They have all the right to live and enjoy life as any king, any high official or any religious leader. All the religions are born out of One God and for ensuring that the human beings live comfortably and peacefully and by remembering Him. Religions were not for oppression and suppression. He found that poetry and music were the best, smoothest, easiest and direct way to reach the high and the low. He communicated with people to share knowledge about God and society. He explained the God in many forms giving out numerous attributes.

Uniqueness of Guru Nanak's Philosophy of Communication
The masses were so obsessed that they had accepted this state of degrading slavery as their fate and had lost their will to fight. This passiveness was deadly. The total degradation of the society was total from which they had to be brought up to a respectable level of living. For this the dead spirits were to be enlivened; a new type of life and new thinking process had to be inculcated. It needed a total resistance, a total transformation a total regeneration. It required a strong determination, total commitment and the capability to lead the masses either by force or by convincing and changing the entire thought process.

Guru Nanak had taken birth in the deep of this malignancy. As he grew, he understood all the complications and took upon him to redeem the masses by making the rulers to realize their follies and the masses to understand the danger being done by their passivity. He set upon a philosophy which was unique, not even yet thought of or practiced.

The main features of the philosophy of communication of Guru Nanak can be summed up as under:

(a) Communicate Truth and Truth alone to subvert the increasing darkness of ignorance.
(b) His language was the language of Love, Love for God and his entire universe. This included all and excluded none; hence it gave a personal touch to each and everyone.
(c) Communicate to disseminate knowledge and the Word of God and listen to the sufferings of the people and ameliorate the conditions of the poor.
(d) Communicate with maximum people, both the high and the lowly.
(e) Communicate by direct contact initially and then propagate through congregations and sangats by establishing seats at important centers.
(f) Communicate in the most easily understandable language. Language of the masses e.g., Punjabi, Lehndi, Sadh Bhakha etc. was adopted by him as against the colloquial languages of Pundits and mullahs i.e., Sanskrit, Arabic or Persian, though he used these languages too when communicating with kings, courtiers, mullahs and pundits.
(g) Communicate with maximum points of contact. He used both verbal and non-verbal communication. In non-verbal communication he used the spread of aura and music vibrations and in verbal communication he used speaking, listening, reading and writing. He kept regular records of his own verses and allowed others to copy his verses freely. He also collected hymns of other saints of the period which were later handed over to Guru Angad.
(h) He stirred the feelings of the listeners through music and discussions. This is the unique method of effective communication of Guru Nanak.
(i) To instill confidence and will to stand against injustice among the downtrodden and to remove fear from the minds of all. He was not afraid of facing the ferocious Lodi king at Delhi or Babar at Saidpur. Likewise, he stood firm at his viewpoints while facing Pundits at Kurukshetra, Hardwar, Banaras, Allahabad, Ajodhya or Mullahs at Mecca and Medina.
(j) While communicating with the learned he adopted their colloquial vocabulary to reply in their own language.
(k) Methodology of communication started with creation of suitable calm, serene, environment for peaceful dialogue in sweet voice and polite tone touching the heart instantaneously; spread of magnetic aura, simple, straight and to the point delivery; and closed with poetic deliberations accompanied by lilting music. The magnetic effect of this delivery was instant acceptance. It was further firmed in by actual activity and actions to exhibit the suitability of application of what he sang.
(l) Giving the message of unity and Supremacy of God, Love and remembrance of God, equality, fraternity and brotherhood, truth and truthful living, service to humanity, earning and sharing and performing meditation or remembering God while performing normal duties without going to secluded place and doing any hard penance.
(m) Whatever he preached he put the same into action. There was no duality. This won over the confidence of the people and caused attraction and a multiplier effects of his words.
(n) He preached with love, sweetness, politeness with a sense of belonging. His actions created inquisitiveness and magnanimity.

1 'mrdwinAw rbwb vjw bwxI AweI ey', rwg Awsw ivc ptI m:1, Awid bwxI hoeI (Janam Sakhi Walait Wali p.3), Duin Anhdu auTI, (Janam Sakhi Walait Wali, p. 9) sbid Duin auTI rwgu DnwsrI hoAw, mhlw 1 AwrqI (Janam Sakhi Walait Wali, p.9) nwnk nUM sbdu prwpiq hoieAw (Janam Sakhi Bale Wali, p.240) guru nwnk nUM sbdu prwpiq hoieAw (Janam Sakhi Bale Wali, p.305)

Link: http://www.restoringthepride.com/gndj.html


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