Before we indulge in the message of the Mool Mantar, let's transport ourselves back with the help of the time machine of Sikh history and try to visualize the religious events occurring at that time. In 1469, when Guru Nanak came into this world, the world was a chaotic place indeed. The Roman Catholic Church was being challenged by one of its followers, Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), who was a Christian theologian and Augustinian monk. His teachings inspired the Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestantism and a number of other Christian traditions. Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church's corruption on Halloween Day in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg church door. Galileo (1564-1642) was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564. His discoveries proved the Copernican system, which states that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun. Prior to this, it was held that the universe was geocentric, meaning that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Because of his discovery, which contradicted the doctrines of the Catholic Church, which until 1992 asserted that the Earth is the center of the universe ("Subjective Truth"), Galileo was condemned to indefinite imprisonment, and subsequently confined to his villa until his death in 1642. At the time of Guru Nanak, Mughals were the rulers of much of India. Their kingdom spread from Turkey to India. The dynasty was founded by a Chagatai Turkic prince named Babur (reigned 1526–30), who was descended from the Turkic conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) on his father's side and from Chagatai, second son of the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, on his mother's side. Ousted from his ancestral domain in Central Asia, Babur turned to India to satisfy his appetite for conquest. He raped and massacred thousands, and forcibly converted millions to Islam. People were being killed because of their belief systems whose "subjective truth" did not match the Islamic (one of the three Semitic religions, Judaism and Christianity being the other two) "Truth" - dogma. Sikhi is the only religion amongst the six world religions that is not personality-based. Islam (Mohammed), Christianity (Jesus), Judaism (“the Messiah in coming”), Buddhism (Buddha) and Hinduism (Ram, Krishna and many other deities), all had their respective embodiments personified as gods or goddesses or prophets who claimed a direct and special link to the Almighty. If Sikhi were to be one more religion based on personalities, then Guru Granth Sahib would only have the writings by the Ten Gurus, rather than six Gurus and thirty-one saints from all the other faith systems then known in the land, including Hinduism and Islam. Our Gurus would have been worshipping each other, rather than Ik Oankaar. If Sikhi was to be based on personalities, then Harmandar Sahib - the most sacred shrine in Sikhdom - would not have four doors to invite all mankind, nor would a Muslim have been invited to lay its foundation stone. If it were to be based on personalities, we would not have had the "sangat and pangat" concept of breaking bread with everyone and anyone, regardless of hue, creed or faith, in the Guru ka Langar. If Guru Nanak had tried to create one more personality-based religion and if he had claimed that his was the only way to reach God/Heaven, then he would surely have been seen as a threat to all he met in an already crowded market of dogmas. Guru Nanak felt that what the world needed was a pragmatic approach to life which transmitted compassion and empathy, rather than judgment and punishment; where all are equal and children of the One, irrespective of their belief systems. As a result, all claimed him as their own teacher and mentor. In order for the transformation to take place, the world required an extreme makeover, a metamorphosis in its very thought process, a novel way to look at the world through the pragmatic kaleidoscope. Ik Oankaar Sat Naam Karta Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akaal Murat Ajuni Saibhang- Gur Parsad. One. Universal. Primal. Name is Truth. Creator and Do-er. Without Fear. Without Hatred. Free from Time. Free from Birth and Death. Self-Existent. By the Guru’s Grace. Wow! What beautiful words that changed the face of mankind! Now, let’s try to decipher the value and the importance of these words – the blueprint of Sikhi. The roadmap of the Sikh path. Ik Oankaar. One source of all. God is a personified deity in all the world religions, except in Sikhi. Sat Naam. Truth is the Name. Other faiths flaunt their respective "subjective truths", claiming them to be "absolutes", irrespective of their contradictory outcomes. For example, Christianity says, if one doesn't believe in Jesus as his/her God/saviour, then the person will end up in Hell and it labels these people nonbelievers. In Islam, Allah is the only God/saviour and only known to Mohammed and if people don't adhere to that, then they are Kafirs and deserve to be killed. The One is not a deity, but "Relative or Objective Reality" - a concept which is further expanded upon in the first pauri of the Japji. Karta Purakh. Creator and Do-er. We all know that personality-based religions required a personified Deity. At the time when Guru Nanak penned the Mool Mantar, all people believed in a God who was a person. Here in the Mool Mantar, we can see the open-mindedness of Guru Nanak. He spoke the language of the people; in the words that follow, he lists the traits of that Karta Purakh. Nirbhau. Without Fear. Nirvair. Without Hatred. No enemy. No enmity. No rancor. All other religions are based on some concept of a Hell and Heaven - "subjective truth" packaged as "absolute truth". A Hell and Heaven, I believe, suggest a Karta Purakh who gets angry and vengeful and turns into a punisher. Some describe it as a "carrot and stick" approach. Guru Nanak says that Karta Purakh neither fears nor needs to be feared. How can one be afraid of a Friend and Lover, as the One is depicted in the Guru Granth? Fear is darkness; Love is light. Fear breeds repression and submission; Love breeds freedom. Fear makes us cringe; Love makes us open our arms. Fear breeds rebellion; Love creates harmony. Fear is shackles; Love is the Five Kakaars. As Guru Gobind Singh said: Jin prem keeyo, tin hee prabh paayo. “Only those who have loved are capable of attaining God!” Ergo: there is neither a hell down below nor a heaven up above. Akaal Murat. Free from Time. What kind of timelessness? Ajuni. Saibhang. Free from Birth and Death. Self-existent. Thus Ik Oankaar has no form, no gender. Only Creative Energy, Truth by Name: "the Relative/Objective Reality". Gur Parsad. By the Guru's grace. The One is experienced through the grace of the Guru, the Teacher. To lead us where? To Jap! Contemplation. Meditation. Simran. aad sach jugaad sach hai bhee sach Nanak hosee bhee sach. ||1|| True In The Primal Beginning. True Throughout The Ages. True Here and Now. O Nanak, Forever And Ever True. ||1|| Truth – the Relative/Objective Reality is very fluid. In other words, according to Sikhi, there is no absolute truth, but Truth itself is absolute. Need we say more? Now it is for an individual to decide whether Sikhi is a dogmatic religion, a belief system or a pragmatic way of life.