Simran and Bani The bani of Guru Granth Sahib teaches us how to live. It reveals a way of life. It is not a path of intellectual exercises only. To understand this path you have to walk it. It is of no avail if it is confined to only an intellectual plane instead of using it for practical life. Following the Gurmat way of life is essential for the wellbeing of humanity. Especially in the modern age when human thought is inundated by materialism. Human nature has been so affected by greed that material gain alone has become our goal of life in the field of religious, political, or social activities. Our mental attachment to only personal gains has resulted in increasing tensions in family and social relations. This state of mind is a big danger to society and world peace. In the absence of peace of mind, mental and physical ailments are taking a heavy toll. Frustration, stress and anxieties are common everywhere. Understanding the bani of Guru Granth Sahib leads us to a balanced and peaceful life. As a result, living becomes beneficial and blissful. While living in this world, one can attain jiwan-mukati and also help others to be so liberated. He/she can become a truthful person, or sachiara. One of the concluding hymns of Guru Granth Sahib, titled mundavani, begins thus: “Three things have been placed in this platter – truth, contentment and contemplation” In brief, the Guru tells us that in this salver, Granth Sahib, spiritual fare of truth, contentment and contemplation have been served. The nectar of Naam which is the support of all is also contained in it. Whosoever eats and relishes it will be saved and be free from worldly pains and anxieties. Jiwan-mukati will be attained. The Guru emphasizes that this nourishment is invaluable and is a must for a seeker. It cannot be ignored or forsaken. To enjoy and digest this food, one has to become a sachiara. Let us find out, in the light of Gurbani, who is a sachiara and what does it mean to be a sachiara. Here are a few quotes from Guru Granth Sahib which explain it. “The truthful Sikhs sit by the Guru’s side and serve him There is no place there for the false ones.” “The truthful gather goodness, the priceless Naam” “One who has imbibed ever abiding truth He utters the true Naam. He follows and inspires others to follow God’s path.” According to Gurmat only those persons can be sachiara (or sachiaray) who walk the path of truth by practicing the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. All human beings yearn for a life of happiness. They are hankering after pleasures. Some seek everlasting happiness in wealth, others in family members, or in fame and political power. Just look around and see whether people possessing all these things are really happy? Have they attained peace of mind? Your answer will be in the negative. Pause and think how we can gain that permanent pleasure we are always searching for. How to reach a state of equanimity? Let us avoid mere intellectual quibbling and try to find out, in the light of our limited understanding of Gurbani, how real contentment is attained by becoming sachiara. To really enjoy human life through sahaj or equipoise, worldly possessions and pleasures alone are of no avail. “There is no peace in earning lots of wealth. There is no peace in watching dances and dramas There is no peace in conquering many lands. All peace lies in singing the praises of God.” Thus the Guru guides us to attain everlasting happiness by keeping on praising timeless God. But to do so one must strive to become a truthful or a sachiara person. It requires awareness of and control over ‘me-mine’attitude; arrogance and ego. According to Guru Nanak’s bani ‘Jap Ji’, the method of becoming sachiara is this- Question: “How can one become truthful, or sachiara? How can the veil of illusion be ripped? Answer: “The only method is to walk the way of God’s command. This method has been there since the beginning of creation” We remain unhappy and miserable as we have not learned to abide by God’s will. “One remains miserable unless he/she realizes God’s command.” Now, to lead a peaceful and happy life, what is the way to live according to hukam razai. The Guru very kindly tells us how to do this. “One realizes God’s will by meeting the Guru and then one becomes happy.” What is God’s will? How can it be recognized? How to live in accordance with it? To answer these questions is not easy. However, some scholars have tried to help us. Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha interprets hukam as agya or command. According to Prof. Harbans Singh, it is Will. Prof. Gurbachan Singh Talib translates it as ‘the divine ordinance’. For S.Tarlochan Singh hukam is ‘Will of God’. In Jap Ji, Guru Nanak Sahib explains that entire seen and unseen or nirgun and sargun creation works according to God’s hukam. But to describe hukam is beyond human intellect. One thing is certain that whatever happens in or to the whole creation is in divine ordinance. “All bodies come in existence under hukam but hukam cannot be described.” “Everything comes and goes as willed by God.” In Gurmat terminology hukam is also called raza, bhana and qudrat. Though it is not possible to explain hukam, some words must be used to understand it. To make it easy, let us say that God’s hukam is discipline, or principles under which the whole system of the creation is operating.; laws of nature according to which air, water, fire, stars, planets, nether world, space, etc function. The knowledge about the secrets of what underlies nature that we garner from the mystic experiences or perceptions of Gurus, Bhagats or other great persons, is divine hukam. We can also say that the knowledge about the laws of nature being discovered through modern science too helps us to understand God’s will. Guru’s bani explains this idea as follows: Strict divine command, or hukam permeates the Universe - the nether worlds, all realms and forms of creation. Hukam creates, hukam destroys and hukam unites with God. The more we progress in understanding hukam, the more our illusion will go away. Our awareness will focus on truth and ‘me-mine’ attitude and pride will recede. Our mind will orient itself to Gurmat view and it will gradually evolve towards sachiara phase. It will enable us to deal successfully with our own troubles and pain as well as the unfair treatment by others. Negative feelings of animosity, hostility, slander, jealousy, ill-will, etc will go on diminishing. Our distance from God and hukam will lessen. This is the way to become sachiaray. Now, the question arises how to follow this path; how to walk it? In Gurmat, the method is known as performing dharam and this earth is called dharamsal or the place for practicing dharma. This is how the 34th stanza of Jap Ji explains it- “In the midst of nights, days, weeks, seasons; air, water, fire and nether regions The earth is established as a setting for dharma.” Guru Nanak Sahib says that God has created all on this earth which humans need for living. In this environment they have the best opportunity to become sachiaray by practicing dharma and thus reach jiwan-mukat stage. What is dharma in Gurmat? According to the Guru the best dharma of all is to utter God’s name and maintain a good conduct. Again, here is the way to lead a life of dharma – “Get rid of all doubts and meditate on God Says Nanak, this is the everlasting dharma.” First, one has to free oneself from ignorance-induced doubts and illusions. To do so, we require knowledge. This knowledge is to be gained from Word-Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. Trying to view the entire creation in the light of Shabad Guru, one must constantly practice this insight. This is how to live our dharma and thus become sachiara. What is God? How can He/She be perceived? Where does He/She abide and what is the meaning of viewing God? Many such questions arise in human mind. Different religions have attempted to answer these queries according to their own faiths. Which religion is right or wrong is not the question under discussion here. Our only quest is about Gurmat guidance on this issue. What and of what kind is Guru Nanak’s God? The answer lies in the Mool Mantra or Mangalacharan written in the beginning of Jap ji – One Universal Creator God. His Name is truth. Doer of everything. Without fear. Without enmity. Immortal being. Unborn. Self-existent. Realized by Guru’s grace. This is God’s definition based on the Supreme Being’s attributes. Further, Guru Nanak explains thus the meaning of Mool Mantra. “Meditate on God’s name, which is the source of all mantras and nectars. This is the way to meet the perfect Lord.” According to Gurmat the only way to realize the Supreme Being is to meditate on Naam and to sing praises of that immortal one. “Which is that auspicious time when I can meet my God? It is every moment that is used in meditating on Naam.” Gurmat emphasizes meditation on Naam and repeats its significance again and again. Now, what is Naam, and whose Name? Here is the Guru’s answer- “The entire creation is nothing but Naam. No place is devoid of Naam.” “Naam is the support of all beings. Naam supports the earth and the solar systems.” “Naam sustains the creation above and underneath.” Here, in a nutshell, is Guru’s verdict, “Having searched and searched I reach this conclusion that Naam is the essence of all.” Naam is God and God is Naam. “So Naam means an omnipresent energy which, pervading everywhere, sustains all creation.” “In Gurmat, Naam does not stand for a ‘noun’ only but this word denotes the Being who is Creator, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Eternal, Without Fear, Without Enmity, Timeless, Unincarnate and Self-illumined.” That Supreme Being or Force has been differently named as Ram, Raheem, Allah, Parmatma, Rubb or Waheguru. In Gurbani, these titles denote that One Being who has been defined in the Mool Mantra by Guru Nanak Sahib. What is Simran or meditating on Naam? The literal meaning of Simran is to remember, to continue to focus the mind on the name or attributes of God. “Memory, remembering, (especially repetition of God’s name.) Jap or Japna - Meditate, repeat, recitation or silent repetition of God’s name. So by filling the thoughts with Supreme Being’s qualities and repeatedly focusing on God’s memory can be called Simran or Naam Japna. Both Simran and Naam Japna connote the same activity of mind. Let us take our own example. If we like and sincerely love a person, he/she begins to occupy our memory at all times. We always try to stay close to that person. Whatever he/she does or has, is cherished by us. A time comes when our love dissolves all barriers between us and we become one with the object of our love. Similarly, when one meditates continuously on the attributes and ways of God, one’s nature undergoes a transformation accordingly. And gradually those divine qualities on which we meditate start permeating our own being and doings. We imbibe love of our beloved God’s creation. The more we go on doing Simran, the more our concept of the universe will change. From being mind-oriented, we will progress towards being Gurmat-directed on the path of becoming Sachiara.