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Sikhism Uncovered

Jun 1, 2004
Some Articles by S. Gurbaskh Singh Ji

Sikhism Founded
Sikhism is a Universal world Faith… a message for all men. This is amply illustrated in the writings of the Gurus. Sikhs must cease to think of their faith as just another good religion and must begin to think of Sikhism being the religion for this New Age.

This apt description of Sikhism was stated by the Rev. H.L. Bradshaw of the U.S.A. in the Sikh Review, Calcutta. Many others have made similar observations about the Sikh faith, some of which are cited in this book, Chapter IV.

The holy scriptures in which the Sikhs believe is known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It has the distinction of having been written by the Gurus themselves, whereas in the cases of many other religions, the sacred books were compiled long after the prophets had left this world. The Sikh scriptures have come to us in their original form. Each sentence has been authenticated by the Guru. As the Guru Granth Sahib is written in the language of the people of northwestern India, most of the hymns in a general way are easily understood by the people of that region. Of course, since the hymns are written as poetry of great depth, scholarship is often called upon to interpret the contents.
Jun 1, 2004
Origin of Religions

The scientists believe that earlier humans lived like wild animals. They roamed the forests for food and inhabited along the banks of rivers and lakes to meet their basic need for water. They ate the leaves, roots, and fruits of trees and plants. They also consumed raw meat. Homo sapiens, the name given to the current species of human beings, is said to be in their fourth evolutionary stage. The fossils reveal that hundreds of thousands of years ago the oldest species walked on fours and lived in trees. The first species which walked on twos has been named Homo erectus.

With the development of the brain, there came an improvement in thinking power of human beings. They began to observe natural phenomena and interpret them. It was obvious to them that their comforts were highly dependent upon nature: rain, sun, wind, snow, etc. Accordingly, people believed that there were ‘super powers’ who controlled their lives and that they were beyond reach of the ordinary human beings. Some of these powers made living comfortable while others did the opposite. This led to a belief in many gods, favorable or unfavorable towards mankind. In due course, people concluded that there must exist the god of all the gods, the ultimate god; today we call Him God.

The evolutionary process gave humans the knowledge of the three R’s. Having acquired some faculties specific only to them, they perceived that a human was not just another animal. Humans were definitely distinct from animals, even though their biological habits were similar. A line was thus drawn between animals and humans. This idea of distinguishing humans from animals gave birth to the philosophy that there must be ‘some purpose’ to the human life. Those ‘persons’ who attempted to answer this riddle of life were considered holy men and prophets. Religion was thus born. The ‘animal human’ changed into a ‘divine human’ with a spiritual goal in life. Many holy men answered this question and many religions took birth. It was universally agreed by such ‘wise men’ that one is a human being only if one lives to achieve the ‘goal of life’, otherwise a human is just another ‘animal’.

Most of the religions are founded on the faith that there is God, Who alone is the Generator, the Operator and the Destroyer of this universe. The basic and fundamental characteristics of God mentioned by prophets of different religions are very similar. They differ, however, in the methods of worshipping and realizing God. The major differences lie in the rituals. This can be expected because of the differences in culture and period of time in which these religions took birth and evolved.
Jun 1, 2004
Religion, the source of moral and social values

Religion, the source of moral and social values

Human beings are called social animals. As a natural instinct, people want to live together in a society. One has, therefore, to know the proper and correct behavior towards other members of society. Much before man formed regular governing institutions, called governments, religions gave the necessary guidance for the social and political behavior of the people. Earlier, what was right or wrong (good or bad) was decided by religious tenets, which later on formed the basis for our legal laws.
Religion offers a great advantage to society. It provides justification for the belief that a man should be honest and sincere and not a thief or a robber. Most religions tell us that all men are created by God, the Father. Being children of the same Father we are all equal like brothers and sisters. This philosophy, therefore, generates mutual goodwill and love among human beings.

Religion establishes what is necessary for a society to live in peace and prosperity. Society wants people to be honest, sincere, and affectionate towards each other. One is not expected to be a smuggler, a robber, a liar, or a cheat. Society expects that one should neither think nor do anything that is antisocial. All such values are extensions of the religious tenets.

The government laws, having been set by man, are less respected. They are, therefore, more likely to be ignored than the religious directions which are believed to have come from God. Religious commands are considered to be holy orders, and are, therefore, more respected than man-made laws.

In addition to these positive directions, religion provides a strong deterrent to evil thought. It asserts that ultimately we are accountable for all of our actions. Whereas we will surely be rewarded for our good deeds, we will have to suffer for all our bad acts. It is emphasized that man can cheat man but not the omnipresent and omniscient God. It is therefore desirable that society develop a faith in God for its own good.
Jun 1, 2004
Religion, a spiritual path

Religion is actually much more than its above description given by the philosophers and scientists. It is the extra-sensory experience or intuition of Truth with which holy persons are graced by God. It is almost impossible to explain this experience through worldly sciences. As an idea comes to the mind of a scientist so is the spiritual thought revealed to a holy person by God. They share that ‘revelation’ with other people to guide their lives. We call their teachings religion.
Jun 1, 2004
Religion, a divisive force

There are many human races and ethnic groups on this earth. Different holy men founded religions on different lands inhabited by people with their individual cultures. With the passage of time, population increased and people moved from one land to another. Each community tried to subdue the other because of the residual animal character in man. As a result, hatred and ill will developed among the communities.

Further, whenever a new religion was founded in a land, people committed to older faiths resisted it. This opposition quite often resulted in wars within a community.

Religion, which should have taught people to treat all humans as equals, acted as a divisive force. This happened not only between two different ethnic groups, but also within the same community.

How to address God became a controversial issue. The believers forgot that a father is a father, he may be addressed by any word, dad, daddy, papa. Similarly God may be loved by any name, Allah, Gobind, God, Guru, Ram etc. Weak people were forced by those in power to change their Name for God and method of prayer all in the name of salvation. Refusal by the weak people to adopt the new faith meant their torture, harassment, and even murder by the rulers. In India, during the Muslim rule, the majority Hindu community suffered immensely. At the same time, one group of Hindus suffered at the hands of other Hindus. The so-called low caste, about one-sixth of the population, were considered untouchable and treated like animals.
Jun 1, 2004
Re: (((( Sikhism Uncovered ))))

A Revolutionary Thought

The founder of Sikhism, (Guru) Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539), was born in village Talwandi (now Nankana Sahib, Pakistan). His father, Shri Kalu Ram, was the revenue official of the village. Chuharkana, a few miles away from the village, was the main marketing center for the region. It had a resting place for holy men moving around the country on pilgrimage tours. (Guru) Nanak, whenever he visited Chuharkana, liked to discuss religious philosophies with the holy men there. He studied both in the Hindu Ashram and in the Muslim Madrassa (school). After he had read the scriptures of these religions, (Guru) Nanak felt there could not be two separate Gods, Ram for the Hindus, and Allah for the Muslims as claimed by the people. He declared that there is only ONE God for whole humanity, we can love Him by any name. (Guru) Nanak, therefore, preached that a believer of a faith should not be considered as a ‘non-believer’ by the followers of the other faiths, just because he prefers to use a word of his own language for God.

This was a revolutionary idea in those days, and it gave food for thought to the Muslim and the Hindu holy men visiting Chuharkana. They carried this philosophy all over India on their pilgrimages and discussed it with other holy men. Because of his unique faith (Guru) Nanak became well known not only in the Punjab but also in all regions of the Indian subcontinent including Sri Lanka.

Shri Kalu Ram did not appreciate the strong leaning of his son towards religious discourses and studies. Neither did he appreciate his son’s habit of helping every needy person he saw, particularly, giving food and money to the traveling holy men. After (Guru) Nanak got married and became a family man, his father naturally felt his son should be more interested in saving money rather than in spending it on charity. The son, however, considered helping the needy to be a ‘Sacha Sauda’ – a true bargain, the best use of his money. Finally, one day when (Guru) Nanak returned home after serving food to the fakirs resting at Chuharkana (Gurdwara Sacha Sauda now stands there in his memory), his father became particularly angry. He took serious objection to (Guru) Nanak’s spending money in that manner. Differences were reconciled when (Guru) Nanak agreed to move away from Talwandi and find a job elsewhere. His sister’s husband who was in the revenue department at Sultanpur Lodhi (District Kapurthala, Punjab), obtained for (Guru) Nanak the job of managing stores with the Nawab of the town.

(Guru) Nanak continued his habit of freely giving alms and participating in religious discourses. People who were jealous of his popularity complained that he was distributing some of the official stocks of grain in his custody. Twice the stores were inspected but nothing was ever found to be short. After the second inspection which was within a couple of years of his joining the service, Guru Nanak decided to declare the mission for which he had been sent by God.

One morning, as usual, he went to the nearby rivulet for bathing, but this time, he did not return. All the people in the village started worrying about him. They presumed him to be drowned. However, on the third day, people were surprised to find him coming back to the village. The news spread like wildfire. Everyone including the Nawab was jubilant to see him back. They came running to him. Everyone was anxious to know how he could remain alive for so long. When they asked where he had gone, (Guru) Nanak replied that he had brought a holy message for them. He declared, “There is no Muslim, there is no Hindu, all are equal human beings because they are the children of the same Father, God.” This is considered to be the first formal sermon of (Guru) Nanak.

After his historical visit to the river, he resigned his job, and put his wife and two children in the care of his father-in-law. He left Sultanpur to preach his newly-founded religion all over India and nearby countries. All through his arduous journeys his close associate, Bhai Mardana, played on the rebeck, a string instrument, while Nanak sang holy hymns. He met the heads of religious sects in India and in the Arabian countries to explain his message of one God and brotherhood of humanity. Religion was thus made a uniting force rather than a dividing force.

Basic principles

(i) Practice love, not hollow rituals

Guru Nanak went to a large number of Hindu religious places and met Pundits (scholars), Sidhs (who perform miracles), and Yogis (who perform different feats, e.g., walking on fire). He told them that the mindless and hollow rituals done for exhibition had no value with God. They were like a counterfeit coin, which looked genuine but was rejected because it did not contain the specified precious metal. Similarly, God rejects all rituals practiced by people who have no sincere goodwill for other human beings. There is no benefit to the soul from undergoing self-inflicted tortures such as abstaining from food, bathing in ice-cold water, remaining surrounded by fire for a long time, keeping silent for long periods of time or standing continuously on one leg or in any other awkward posture. In those days Yogis and Sidhs performed such acts to claim their superiority over the common people.

The Guru did not approve of the belief that our ancestors, already dead, could be helped by giving alms to the Brahmins (the so-called high caste people). This was simply a means of some members of the priestly class to gain ascendancy over others. If this were acceptable to God, the rich would always be guaranteed a better berth even in the next life. Guru Nanak made it categorically clear that the people would be judged by their own actions. They would not be benefited by the rituals performed by their children or grandchildren. He said that God, who lived in everyone, knew what was in their minds. One could cheat people but not Him. Guru Nanak, therefore, stated that showing sincere goodwill (not for exhibition purposes only) towards other human beings was the surest way of obtaining peace here and hereafter.

(ii) Deeds alone are valued

Guru Nanak visited many Muslim religious places including Mecca, Medina, Baghdad, and other shrines. The biggest question of those days, “Who is superior, a Muslim or a Hindu?”, was asked of Guru Nanak by the Kazis (Muslim Judges). Guru Nanak’s response, “Everybody without good deeds will repent,” answered the question for everyone and could not be challenged or criticized by them.

(Bhai Gurdas, Var 1-33)

Guru Nanak preached that God does not identify people by their sectarian religions such as Christians, Jews, Hindus, or Muslims. In his hymns, he observes, “God judges us by our deeds and full justice is delivered to everyone in His court.”

Repression of the Sikh Faith

In about a century, Sikhism had become a mass movement. Even some Muslims who enjoyed a privileged position in the State embraced Sikhism. For example, Mian Mir, a well-known Muslim, became a disciple of the fifth Nanak. The rulers found it difficult to tolerate the growth of Sikhism and its ever-increasing popularity. The reaction of the Muslim leaders to these developments is found in the diary of the Emperor Jahangir. He wrote, “For a long time I wanted to close his shop of falsehood (the Sikh preaching center) because not only Hindus but also unwary Muslims were becoming disciples of Arjun. I, therefore, ordered the killing of the Guru.”

The persecution of Guru Arjun Dev was brought about with the connivance of the Guru’s elder brother, Prithi Chand, who was staking his claim to the Guruship. The governor of Lahore permitted two-armed attacks on Amritsar to kill or at least dislodge the Guru and install his stooge Prithi Chand as Guru. Both times, the attempts failed. In the first case, the Commander Sulhi Khan was charred to death when his horse reared and jumped into a live brick kiln. The second attempt failed because the Commander was beheaded by his own servant the night before the attack.

The Guru realized that violent intervention in his program would not subside. Sikhism, in spite of its emphasis on peace and tolerance, was perceived by the Muslim leaders as a threat to their supremacy. To ensure that Sikhism could withstand such onslaughts, Guru Arjun Dev trained his son, Har Gobind, in martial arts. The policy not to harass Hindus adopted by Emperor Akbar was not approved by the Muslim clergy in India or in Mecca. They wanted a ruler who would let loose terror on non-Muslims in India and force them to either convert or live a degraded life as slaves. Jahangir, the son of Akbar, adopted this fanatic policy. The Guru was falsely accused of helping the emperor’s opponents. He was summoned to Lahore where he was submitted to excruciating torture and killed by pouring scorching sand on his head. His body was consigned to the river Ravi on May 30, 1606.

After the martyrdom of his father, Guru Har Gobind (1595-1644), the sixth Nanak, wore two swords, one symbolizing Piri, and the other symbolizing Miri. Piri and Miri respectively represent divinity and worldly leadership. It was a signal to the rulers that the Guru would defend his religious and human rights, if need be, even with the sword. In 1609, in front of the gate of the Harimandar Sahib, he laid the foundation of the Akal Takhat, the True Throne. Akal Takhat was a seat to oversee the political welfare of the down-trodden. The Harimandar provided a place for enjoying divine love and obtaining the required strength for serving the people. The Guru invited young men to come to Amritsar with horses and arms to be trained to protect their rights and defend their faith in times of emergency. The popularity of this step can be judged from the fact that a Muslim named Painde Khan served as one of the commanders of the Guru’s defense forces.

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