Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
- Jul 4, 2004
Sainthood and the Sikh faith
Recently Sardar Mahinder Singh Khaira, a learned person and writer from UK asked me to clarify the Sikh position on the issue of saint-hood. Reproduced below is what I wrote to him in reply. Would you say I gave him the right advice?
The theory of creation propounded by Guru Nanak envisages that the Eternally Existent (Satnam) fashioned the universe out of Himself/Herself and took abode in every atom of the created. (eh jag sache ki hai kothri sache ka vich vaas)
One part of the self-revelation was the revelation of attributes of the Ever True. This makes Him the original Guru (guide, teacher). This discovery is the bedrock upon which the structure of the faith, its theology and the spiritual pursuits prescribed for the seeker are raised. Knowing this is to enter the ‘region of knowledge’ with its myriad nuances and elevating, inspiring effects. The spiritual goal of the seeker, prescribed by Guru Nanak, ordained by the Creator, is the imbibing of the divine attributes until one completely merges into the Ultimate Reality like ‘water into water.’ This requires incessant striving to consciously shed the dross of material existence and the loving intense urge to seek the merger. This important step in the elevation of the self to spirituality is complete transformation of human nature (from selfishness to altruism). The process is described as happening in the ‘region of discipline’ (shramkhand).
This status beckons the seeker to act in the mundane world; briefly it involves performing the role of Ultimate Reality in ones sphere and level of existence. This assuming unlimited responsibility for the welfare of the entire creation is termed as existence in the ‘region of karmkhand.’ It is the pen-ultimate stage of spiritual striving and renders one eligible for receiving His approval (grace), which of course cannot be earned.
The basic condition of the path to be trodden thereafter is characterised by extreme humility. In particular the seeker must assume oneself to be a sinner while imploring Him to bestow grace (nadar). The dedication to serve the Lord of Creation must now become absolute, regardless of the human cost and worldly consequences. It may lead to resisting evil physically and even to martyrdom. This is liberation, release, summum bonum, jiwan-mukti or salvation. Those who receive his grace, of course, come to reside eternally in the ‘region of truth’ (sachkhand).
At no stage (step) of spiritual development aimed at realising the full spiritual development does one become spiritually superior to any other seeker or being. One increasingly bows with humility as the fruit laden tree bends with each passing day. There is no space for superior spirituality. The constant guidance that is necessary throughout the journey is provided by the scripture, the eternal Guru Granth and the company of seekers, the Guru Khalsa panth. Both the entities have been duly anointed and consecrated in that position by the Guru himself, with divine sanction.
The ordained priesthood as well as the consecrated saints that are available in other traditions as intermediaries between man and God are totally irrelevant in Sikhi (the Sikh faith). The Guru holds both to be responsible for many ills of the world and constitute impediments on the path to spirituality.
Guru Granth and (to a lesser degree) the Guru Khalsa panth are the only guides available to a seeker in the arduous, but immensely rewarding spiritual journey. Apart from that all Sikhs are ‘brothers in faith in the Guru’ (gurbhai). In the structure of the Sikh faith, on the spiritual path prescribed by it and its theology there is no space for the consecration of saints. Those who presume to consecrate and those who deem human sanction as proof of elevated spiritual status are unequivocally disapproved of and are called ‘shameless hypocrites.’ (kulhan dende bawle lainde vadde nilaj, chuha khad na maavai tikkal banhe chhaj).