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Truthful Being (Sachiara) - Concept and its Relevance in Global Context

Dr. D. P. Singh

Apr 7, 2006
Nangal, India

Truthful Being (Sachiara) - Concept and its Relevance in Global Context

Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

All of us want to live a fulfilled life, and all our actions are directed towards this purpose. There is always a nagging feeling in our hearts as if there is some n
eed, and we wish to fulfill it in manifold ways. Some accumulate wealth, property, beget children, acquire physical, financial, political or spiritual powers. Though all such efforts provide some short-lived happiness, in the long run, these attainments either create other desires or only unhappiness on their loss. Thus all people are engaged in a continuous process of acquisitions, losses, temporary happiness, followed by sorrow. Since ancient times, countless enlightened souls have been involved in finding and promulgating a permanent solution to this problem of sorrow. Many of them have suggested various resolutions and guidelines for our benefit. "Jap" composition [1-3] of Guru Nanak is one such guideline.

According to the Nanakian philosophy, life's purpose is to become an enlightened being and enlighten others. At the beginning of his Jap composition, Guru Nanak calls Ultimate Reality (God) as Sach meaning Truth:

ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ...॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1)
Ultimate Reality (God) is One. Its name is Truth. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1)​

He further elaborates it as;

ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1)
Truth is primordial. It existed during the ages. Nanak says: It exists now, and It shall exist forever. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1)​

In the first stanza of Jap composition, Guru Nanak talks about the purpose of human life. He raises a fundamental question of how to become a sachiara (Truthful person). And to be so, how to remove the veil of illusion, which is hiding the Ultimate Reality?

ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਐ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1)
How can one become truthful? And how can the wall of the veil of illusion be removed? (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1)​

After that, in the stanza's final lines, He provides the answer- submit to the hukam. Walk-in its way.

ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1)
Nanak says [4]: in tune yourself with the hukam (Divine Order), embedded in the human soul. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1)​

The hukam is accordingly an all-embracing principle [5], the total of all divinely instituted laws, and it is a revelation of Ultimate Reality's nature. Harmony with hukam means [6] concern for the ecosystem, treating all beings with kindness and regard for the environment. It is knowledge of Truth that destroys ignorance, falsehood, superstition and doubt. Sabd in Sri Guru Granth Sahib means [6] Truth, God, Guru's teachings and Knowledge. So it is the knowledge of Truth (God) that is needed to understand hukam (Cosmic Law). An individual, who understands the hukam and conducts himself/herself accordingly, is a sachiara. Elaborating on the attributes of a sachiara (truthful being), Guru Nanak Dev proclaims:

ਸਚਿਆਰੀ ਸਚੁ ਸੰਚਿਆ ਸਾਚਉ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਮੋਲੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 937)
The truthful ones imbibe the Truthfulness and the precious love of God (Naam) in their life. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 937)​

Guru Nanak asserts that by leading a truthful way of life, a sachiara attains a state of tranquillity.

ਸਚੀ ਰਹਤ ਸਚਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਏ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1343)
By living a truthful way of life, one finds true peace. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1343)​

Guru Amar Das enunciates the characteristics of a sachaira as:

ਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਜਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਪੰਚ ਸੰਘਾਰੈ ॥ (ਮ. 3, ਪੰਨਾ 230)
Those beings are true, who conquer their ego. Following Guru's teachings (Sabd), they defeat the five thieves (lust, anger, greed, attachment, ego). (Mehl 3, SGGS, p 230)​

Gurmukh, Braham gyani, Sadu, Sant, Jivan mukta, Panch parvan are used interchangeably for sachiara in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

According to Guru Nanak, there are two types [6-10] people, Gurmukhs (God-conscious beings) and Manmukhs (self-centred beings). A Gurmukh dwells on God's attributes always and does everything according to Divine Order (hukam), whereas a Manmukh does everything according to the dictates of his/her ego (haumai). Sri Guru Granth Sahib emphasizes that one should not be a slave to one's ego and its five drives - lust, anger, greed, attachment and egotistical pride. Instead, one should subdue one's ego and make the five drives subservient by exercising restraint. Thereby one's energy and talent be directed to creative activities and positive thinking. A person who achieves this objective conquers the corrupting influence of worldly temptations. Egotism is a severe disorder, but the hope is not lost for a Manmukh since God is gracious, loving and forgiving. The door to Truth is always open. Contemplation of Word (Sabd) and constant focus on divine virtues help inculcate humility, love, and compassion, leading to a truthful living. This process provides an individual with the inner strength to control his or her passions and ego. Slowly and steadily, a devotee succeeds in restraining ego and its five derives. Thus he/she becomes a Gurmukh. Guru Nanak elaborates on Gurmukh's characteristics in detail in his Sidh Gosht composition (M 1, SGGS, p 942). He says;

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਚੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 942)
Gurmukh practices Truth in action. (M 1, SGGS p. 942)

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 942)
Gurmukh practices contemplation, charity and cleansing of body and mind. (M 1, SGGS p. 942)

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵੈਰ ਵਿਰੋਧ ਗਵਾਵੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਗਣਤ ਮਿਟਾਵੈ
Gurmukh is free from enmity and hostility. Gurmukh gets rid of ill will completely. (M 1, SGGS p. 942).​

Guru Nanak elaborates that Gurmukh always reflects on divine attributes, practices charity, and cleansing body and mind. Gurmukh is exalted and fearless. Gurmukh does good deeds and inspires others to do so.

ਸਾਚ ਵਖਰ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਵਣਜਾਰੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਉਤਰਸਿ ਪਾਰੇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 939)
We (Gurmukh's) are the merchants of Truth. Nanak says, in this way, a Gurmukh crosses the ocean of corrupting influences of worldly temptations. (M 1, SGGS p. 939).

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋਟਿ ਅਸੰਖ ਉਧਾਰੇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1024)
The Gurmukh saves countless millions (from worldly illusion). (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1024)​

In contrast, a Manmukh [6-7] (egoistic or self-centred being) is deluded under the corrupting influence of worldly temptations. Manmukh, blinded by ego, commits evil deeds and suffers moral death. Ultimately, a Manmukh wastes away his life as he cannot liberate himself from the delusion of worldly entanglements.

Although "physical death" is the fate of all living beings, as decreed by cosmic law (hukam), but "moral death" (moral depravity) is avoidable. This point has been emphasized in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib repeatedly. Gurmukh doesn't suffer a moral death, whereas a Manmukh endures it in his life. Gurbani emphasizes that one must be afraid of moral death rather than physical death and must strive to overcome it by following truthful living. Gurmukh [7-8] lives for truth and righteousness.

Truth pervades his speech; Truth bedecks his vision; Truth fills his actions, too. To a Gurmukh alone is Truth revealed, for he is rid of doubt, delusion and pride. His is an illumined mind—free from ignorance and dubiety. While a Manmukh, even at his best practises but deception, the Gurmukh is a serene follower of truth. Thus Sikh gurus assert that life's purpose is to become a Gurmukh (God-conscious being), nee sachiara (truthful being) and help others achieve this goal.

Brahm Giani
Brahmgiani lit. means a knower of Brahman or one possessing the knowledge of Brahman (Universal Self). The Universal Self's knowledge consists not in the mere recognition of its existence but being in constant awareness of it. The realization of the unity of individual self with the Universal Self makes the former transcend joy and sorrow and life and death. Sikhism enunciates that a sachiara (truthful person), with his divine virtues like truthfulness, compassion, contentment, and nobility, attains the ultimate status of a Brahm Giani (God Conscious being). Guru Arjun Dev, in his verses of Sukhmani (Psalm of Peace), dwelling on the qualities and virtues of a Brahm Giani, elaborates:

ਮਨਿ ਸਾਚਾ ਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਚਾ ਸੋਇਅਵਰੁ ਪੇਖੈ ਏਕਸੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੋਇਨਾਨਕ ਇਹ ਲਛਣ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਹੋਇ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 272)
He thinks about the True One, talks about the True One, And sees nothing but the True One everywhere. Nanak says: these are the characteristics of the God-conscious being. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 272)​

The characteristics of a God-conscious being [6-7] (Sachiara, Brahm Giani) have been elaborated in detail by Guru Arjan Dev in canto 8 of Sukhmani (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 272-274), wherein he emphasizes that a sachiara: while encountering evil, always keeps himself unblemished. He treats all with the same benevolence. He possesses patience. He is, in his nature, like the fire that warms all without discrimination. Guru Arjan Dev emphasizes that a God-conscious being, being the epitome of a virtuous life, becomes the synonym of Universal Self (God).

ਨਾਨਕ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਆਪਿ ਪਰਮੇਸੁਰ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 273)
Nanak says: a God-conscious being is himself the Supreme Self (God). (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 273)

ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 274)
The God-conscious being is himself the Formless One. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 274)​

Sadhu / Sant
Sadhu/Sadh/Sant means [10] saint; just or pious person who is free from all faults. In Gurbani, it means a holy person and is often used to designate the Guru. A true saint always remains attuned to God. Such a person possesses divine knowledge and is always in harmony with God's will. Guru Amar Das describes the attributes of a saint as;

ਸੋ ਸਾਧੂ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਸੋਈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਾਏਅੰਤਰਿ ਲਾਗਿ ਤਾਮਸੁ ਮੂਲੇ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਏ॥(ਮ. 3, ਪੰਨਾ 29)
That person is a holy saint and a real renouncer of the world, whose heart is filled with the love of God. He is immune to anger or evil tendencies; he has lost his selfishness and conceit. (Mehl 3, SGGS, p 29)
Guru Arjan Dev emphasizes the qualities of a saint as;

ਸੰਸੈ ਭਰਮੁ ਨਹੀ ਕਛੁ ਬਿਆਪਤ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਪ੍ਰਤਾਪੁ ਤਾਹੂ ਕੋ ਜਾਪਤ ਸੋ ਸਾਧੂ ਇਹ ਪਹੁਚਨਹਾਰਾ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 250)
Doubt and skepticism do not affect him at all. He beholds the manifest glory of God. He is the Holy Saint - he reaches this destination (of union with God). (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 250)

ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਸੋਭਾ ਸਾਧ ਬਨਿ ਆਈ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਧ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭੇਦੁ ਭਾਈ ॥(ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 272)
The glory of a saint has no parallel. Nanak says: there is no difference between a saint and God. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 272)​

Guru Arjan Dev enunciates on the benefits of keeping the company of holy persons as;

ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਧੂ ਸੰਗਿ ਜਾਗੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਰੰਗਿ ॥(ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 380)
Nanak says, in the company of the Holy, divine knowledge and wisdom are obtained. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 380)

ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਹਿ ਮਨੁ ਪਰਬੋਧਾ ॥(ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1298)
The human mind is awakened and enlightened only in the company of the Holy. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 1298)

ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਕੈ ਬਾਸਬੈ ਕਲਮਲ ਸਭਿ ਨਸਨਾ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 811)
Dwelling in the company of the Holy, all sins are erased. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 811)​

Jivan Mukta (Liberated One)
Jivan mukta is the ultimate stage of a sachiara (truthful being). Jivan mukta means [10-11] one who has attained liberation from human bondage or attained the highest spiritual state of being in tune with the Eternal Truth (God) while still living. In Sikhism, it is the ideal and aim of man's spiritual life.

A jivan mukta is a realized soul, identified [11] as Gurmukh. Such a person leads the life of a typical householder enriched by the experience of spiritual harmony within. In the 7th stanza of the 9th canto of his composition of Sukhmani (Mehl 5, SGGSS, p 275), Guru Arjan Dev elaborates on the characteristics of a jivan mukta person.

ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਆਤਮ ਹਿਤਾਵੈ ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਸੋਊ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਤੈਸਾ ਹਰਖੁ ਤੈਸਾ ਉਸੁ ਸੋਗੁ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਤਹ ਨਹੀ ਬਿਓਗੁ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 275)
One who follows the Will of God is jivan Mukta (liberated in this life). To him, Joy and sorrow are the same. He is in eternal bliss and is always aware of God. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p. 275)​

Rather than the differentiating ego, the all-encompassing Divine Spirit resides in such a person. Existentially he/she belongs to the world; essentially, he/she transcends the world. He/she is the one who has realized the essence of human life - the essential nature, concealed under the sheaths of egoism, of ignorance, passion, avarice, pride and infatuation.

The ideal state of jivan mukta is, notionally, within reach of every human being, since any individual following an ethical and spiritual course faithfully may receive the nadar (God's grace). Yet, as the Gurus indicate, rare are the individuals who reach the summit.

The blessed ones, fulfilled by the experience of supreme realization, set out to serve their fellows. They strive for the total welfare of their fellow beings in all spheres of existence. The success of a jivan mukta (in heralding the order of enlightened persons) is not to be determined apropos the number of "converts" to his/her way of life, but regarding the model of humane and enlightened living, he/she presents for emulation.

Panch Parvan
Interpreters [12] of Gurbani have ascribed various meanings to the word 'panch,' including the number 'five,' the five elements and the mind. But the overwhelming opinion is that 'panch' denotes an exemplar or an iconic figure (someone worthy of being held up as an example). In Gurbani, too, 'panch' refers to those who are not caught up in the web of "parpanch" (a synonym for maya - worldly entanglements). Guru Nanak points out the 'panch' as exemplars, those who have scaled the spiritual summit. For the individual on the path of truthful living, the "panch" holds the hope that the divine is accessible, even though it is invisible. According to English-Punjabi Dictionary [13], Parvāṇ(u) means acceptable, approved. In SGGS, a sachiara (Truthful being) reaching the Jivan Mukta stage joins the galaxy of panch parvan. Guru Nanak proclaims it as;

ਜੀਵਤ ਮਰਤ ਰਹੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1289)
Remaining dead while yet alive, he is accepted and approved. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1289)​

Guru Arjan Dev asserts that panch parvan (approved exemplars) live in harmony with divine Order.

ਹੁਕਮੁ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋਈ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥(ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 386)
He alone is approved, who understands the divine Order. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 386)​

The exalted status of exemplars is described by Guru Nanak in his Jap composition as;

ਪੰਚ ਪਰਵਾਣ ਪੰਚ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ਪੰਚੇ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਦਰਗਹਿ ਮਾਨੁ ਪੰਚੇ ਸੋਹਹਿ ਦਰਿ ਰਾਜਾਨੁ ਪੰਚਾ ਕਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਏਕੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 3)
The chosen ones, the self-elect, are approved and accepted. They are honoured in the divine court of dharma (righteousness). They look beautiful as kings in the divine court. They meditate single-mindedly on the Enlightener. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 3)​

Prof. Teja Singh, a noted Sikh theologian, describes [14] that Panch Parvan conveys the idea that such human beings are the people's best representatives. They have been raised above the crowd, not because God has appointed them as His elects or representatives, but due to the fact that they have worked themselves up with the same material and the same chances as other people around them. Thereby they have acquired commanding personalities (by attaining spiritual, moral and social leadership). They are not avatars working as men; for then, their ideals would be beyond our capabilities. Instead, they are men of the world, working themselves into God-like beings and serving as practical examples to the rest of humanity. They are true Jivan Muktas (self-realized persons).

A few examples of such exalted persons are; Sikh Gurus and prophets of various religions. Even among the masses, several human beings lived up to the ideal of jivan muktas by leading the life of truthfulness. A few examples can act as a beacon to us all. From the Sikh history, the life descriptions of several Sikhs, such as Baba Buddha ji, Bhai Mati Das Ji, Bhai Gurditta Ji,. Bhai Diala Ji, Bhai Udha Ji, Bhai Jetta Ji, Bhai Dya Singh Ji, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, Bhai Mohakam Singh Ji, Bhai Sahib Singh Ji, Bhai Himmat Singh Ji, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Ghanaya ji, Bhai Vir Singh ji, and Bhagat Puran Singh ji, Mata Khivi ji, Bibi Bhani ji, Mata Gujari ji, Mata Sahib Kaur ji, Bhai Randhir Singh ji, Bhai Nand Singh ji, Bhai Attar Singh ji, confirm to such an ideal.

Sachiara in Global Context
Guru Nanak's teachings [15] aim to help us make the most of our lives. An individual should make the best use of his/her ability and capacity with which he/she is endowed. We can do it only by maintaining a genuine relationship with God, who is the embodiment of all virtues. Guru Nanak describes [16] a way to establish a relationship with God, a joint progenitor of all beings. The energy that emanated from It is called the primal force, which is instrumental in creating this world. The most significant emphasis has been laid down in the Sikh scriptures on the cultivation of the attitude of creativity. Each person must employ all the energies and potentialities he/she is endowed with into useful, productive channels so that he/she becomes a valuable member of society. Engaging oneself in creative and productive work and giving one's worthwhile contribution to the community, one becomes conscious of one's inner potentialities and can derive satisfaction out of it. Thus in this way, one transcends oneself and can genuinely feel his purposefulness and freedom. To be puzzled and to wonder at things is to begin to be wise, and this is the creative attitude of the human mind.

It is through God one can establish a meaningful relationship with one's fellow beings. Having defined God's nature and human beings' goal, Guru Nanak outlined five specific duties of a truthful being. The first is accepting the equality between men and women (Gender equality).

ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੀ ਭੰਡੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਝੁ ਕੋਇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 473)
From woman, a woman is born; Why downgrade women when without women there would be none. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 473 )

ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 473)
She (a woman) who gives birth to great persons, so why call her bad? (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 473)​

Guru Amar Das set an example of the principle of honouring women as equivalent to men. While creating districts of religious administration (Manjis), he appointed some women in-charge of these [16]. The second responsibility of a truthful being is of maintaining equality between all human beings, without the consideration of class, colour or creed. Guru Nanak set an example for such a principle when he demonstrated the primary importance of treating all as equal by taking Mardana, a low caste Muslim, as his life companion in all his travels. Thereby breaking the shackles of existing religious and caste prejudices. Guru Nanak proclaims;

ਜਾਣਹੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਨ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਜਾਤੀ ਆਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਹੇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 349)
Recognize God's essence within all, do not eulogize social class or status; there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 349)​

By establishing the institutions of langar, pangat and sangat, he further fortified this movement. The third point of social responsibility for an individual on the path of truthful living, as Guru Nanak emphasized, was the importance of work. Breaking the prevalent religious practices of Nath Yogis, sanyasis, and ascetics, and monastics, who took a vow never to take part in any job or business, Guru Nanak emphasized: "Kirat Karo" (engagement in creative and constructive work). He took to the role of a householder and a peasant for the last 18 years of his life. Therein Guru Nanak himself set the example of righteous living and doing honest earning (Kirat Karo). Guru Nanak says:

ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1245)
Nanak says One who works hard to make an honest living and practices charity finds the righteous path. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1245)
Guru Nanak stressed that the fourth social responsibility was about sharing our earnings (be it wealth, materials or wisdom). Guru Nanak proclaims that God's bounty belongs to all, although several ego-centric beings try to grab it.

ਸਾਹੁਰੜੀ ਵਥੁ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਸਾਝੀ ਪੇਵਕੜੈ ਧਨ ਵਖੇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1171)
God's bounty belongs to all, but (selfish) men grab it for themselves. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1171)​

Through the altruistic principle of "Vand Chhako," Guru Nanak emphasizes that one can transcend such selfish behaviour. By establishing the institutions of lagar (sharing food etc.) and sangat (sharing knowledge and wisdom) at Kartarpur, Guru Nanak set a unique example for his principle of "Vand Chhako."

Thus his twin ideas of the brotherhood of human beings and the sharing of material gains and knowledge with all were not only the key points to eliminate poverty and maintain equality in his contemporary society but are still relevant in the 21st century.

The fifth point of social responsibility for a truthful living, where Guru Nanak radically differed from all contemporary religious systems, was his approach towards injustice and oppression of all kinds in the society. By pointing out the greed and hypocrisy of Brahmin priests and Mullahs, the bloodthirsty corruption and injustice of lower and higher-rung officials in the administration, the misrule, oppression and irresponsibility of the local rulers, their inability to provide safety, fair play and peace to people, he raised a voice for the need of change in the prevailing situation. Another significant fact is Guru Nanak's criticism of the brutalities and massacres perpetrated and misery caused by the invaders. Guru Nanak condemns that in the strongest terms. He asserts;

ਪਾਪ ਕੀ ਜੰਞ ਲੈ ਕਾਬਲਹੁ ਧਾਇਆ ਜੋਰੀ ਮੰਗੈ ਦਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 722)
Bringing the marriage party of sin, Babar has invaded from Kabul, demanding our land as his wedding gift, O Lalo! (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 722)​

Thus Sikh Guru's ideology of Sant-Sipahi, emphasizes that a truthful being's sphere of activity and responsibility is wide. It is the spiritual obligation and responsibility of a truthful being to confront all kinds of injustice and resist all oppression. Thus, in Guru Nanak's system, to ensure equality and fair play and react against injustice and aggression, it becomes the religious duty and responsibility of a truthful being. The Sikh Gurus' concept [16] of just rulers and administrators is encapsulated in the word Panch. A panch is a genuinely religious, God-fearing person who is secular in his official dealings with people. Plato had called such people "Guardians" and had recommended strict, rigid discipline to build up their character. People like Thomas Carlyle, Nietzsche and Hegel have all supported this idea. The concept of panch preached by Guru Nanak was for an individual following the path of truthful living. Guru Ramdas describes the glorious attributes of a truthful being (sachiara) as;

ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਦੇਇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਹਰਿ ਧਰਮ ਨਿਆਉ ਕੀਓਇ ॥ (ਮ. 4, ਪੰਨਾ 89)
A truthful being praises the glorious glories of the Eternal Truth. He administers righteous justice. (Mehl 4, SGGS, p 89)
In his hymns, Guru Nanak proclaims that Haumai (self-centeredness) is the root of human suffering and misery. Even in this age of enlightenment with scientific and industrial development6 that has brought relative prosperity and freedom to a small section of our human family, our actions are still guided by Haumai. "It is my interest, my family's interest, my tribe/group's interest and my country's interest" that is the cause of individual, family, ethnic and international conflicts with devastating results we witness every day. Each country, big or small, has its own "strategic policy" and "strategic interests" and is willing to exercise anything within its means to protect its "strategic interests." We currently have several nations possessing "weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)," and many others are trying to acquire them. Wrong judgment or calculation by any government or head of state possessing WMDs could blow up our world. For the well-being of our human family and our environment, it is time that we change our tribal mindset and self-centred-based policies.

Guru Nanak's ideal of sachiara (God-conscious truthful being) is free from haumai (self-centeredness) and vices, conflicts and problems, the ego creates. He has shed duality; his ego has been eliminated. He is not a conditioned or rationalized practice of virtue, but he practices good spontaneously. He is a fountain of benevolence. The emergence of a race of sachiaras is a prescription that makes us aware of our weaknesses and at the same time guides us to promote sarbat da bhala (universal well-being): liberty, equality, justice, and peace for all and harmony with our natural environment. Thus to be a truthful being (sachiara), a paragon of the ideals (such as universal fellowship, gender equality, honest living, leading a righteous life, having altruistic behaviour, having compassion, actively resisting aggression and oppression) is an aim worth emulation. Such virtues are universal and are worth pursuing by individuals irrespective of their geographical, cultural or nationalistic distinctions. Thereby the idea of sachiara (truthful being), as envisaged by Guru Nanak, has universal relevance, with an essential role in the global context.

How to be a Sachiara?
It is an admitted [17-18] fact and a stark reality that an overwhelming majority of the people do not use their full potential and fritter away their energies in wasteful pursuits. They may be well versed in their vocation, but they may fail in life as a whole. The significant obstacle to being successful in life is our defective approaches to the problems due to ignorance. Many people cannot adjust themselves to the circumstances or develop their personalities, as they do not know how to do the things or are misled by false beliefs. The art of truthful living is the art of entering into the right relationship with whom we have to deal. To master this art, we need all the understanding we can gain about ourselves and our place in the universe. To lead a truthful life, one need not shun society. Nanakian philosophy (Gurmat) categorically rejects life-negating doctrines. It advocates and emphasizes householder life as the right way to realize Ultimate Truth and positively contribute to society.

ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਪੰਨਾ 522)
One could attain liberation (from worldly entanglements) while enjoying life (laughing, playing, eating good food and wearing the right clothes). (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 522).

Gurmat encourages us to follow a righteous path of life as virtuous is the affirmation of human life, the unfolding of man's powers. Evil is the negation of life, the frustration of human needs and capacities. In this sense, ethical life is geared to forming a sachiar (truthful being), that is, one attuned to Truth, a spiritually emancipated individual. In his hymns, Guru Nanak describes the required virtues, which are needed to be learnt in one's life to attain the status of a sachiara (truthful person).

ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਚਾ ਹੋਇ ਕੂੜ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਉਤਰੈ ਤਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਹਛਾ ਧੋਇ ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਚਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ਨਾਉ ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨੁ ਰਹਸੀਐ ਤਾ ਪਾਏ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੁ ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਉਧਰਤਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਸਾਧਿ ਕੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਦੇਇ ਕਰਤਾ ਬੀਉ ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਿਖ ਸਚੀ ਲੇਇ ਦਇਆ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਅ ਕੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਕਰੇਇ ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਨੋ ਪੁਛਿ ਕੈ ਬਹਿ ਰਹੈ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ਸਚੁ ਸਭਨਾ ਹੋਇ ਦਾਰੂ ਪਾਪ ਕਢੈ ਧੋਇ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 468)

The Truth is known only when one's mind is endowed with the Truth. Thereby, the filth of falsehood departs, and the body and mind are washed clean. One knows the Truth only when one inculcates the love of God in one's life. Hearing the Word (Sabd), the mind is enraptured; then, one attains salvation. A person knows the Truth only when he/she knows the righteous way of life. Preparing the field of the body, he plants the seed of the love of Eternal Truth. A person knows the Truth only when he/she receives proper instructions. Showing mercy to other beings, the person makes donations to charities. A person knows the Truth only when the Truth dwells in the sacred shrine of his/her soul. Receiving instructions from the True Guru, one lives by divine Will. Truth is a panacea for all; it removes and washes away our sins. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 468)​

Guru Nanak emphasizes that a truthful person follows an ethical life - free from sin and worldly entanglements, but full of love for God and its creation. Such a person shows compassion for all living beings and practices charity. Nanakian philosophy places more emphasis on leading a truthful living than just knowing the truth. It says;

ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥(ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 62)
Truth is higher than everything, but higher still is truthful living. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 62)​

Guru Nanak proclaims the five cardinal virtues for truthful living: truthfulness, uprightness, altruism, benevolence and love for God.

ਪਹਿਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਹਲਾਲ ਦੁਇ ਤੀਜਾ ਖੈਰ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਚਉਥੀ ਨੀਅਤਿ ਰਾਸਿ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਜਵੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਨਾਇ ॥(ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 141)
Let the first virtues be truthfulness, the second honest living, and the third charity in the love of God. Let the fourth virtue be goodwill to all, and the fifth the love of God. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 141)​

Using a Socratic method of inquiry, Guru Nanak, in his Jap verses, raises a question about how to imbibe the love of God in one's life. He asks:

In the next verse, he answers it as;

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 2)
In the ambrosial hours before dawn, contemplate on the Truth Eternal and its Glorious Greatness. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 2)​

To lead a truthful life, Guru Nanak emphasizes self-discipline, benevolence and purity of mind through contemplation of Word (sabd).

ਸਚੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਾਰਾਂ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਨਾਉ ਜਪੇਹੀ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਪੰਨਾ 91)
Let Truth be your self-discipline, good deeds be your intent, and contemplation be your cleansing bath. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 91)​

It is a fact that Guru Nanak undertook to reform and remodel the social and communal relations among diverse societies and cultures of his contemporary times. But the relevance of his universal humanistic values such as universal brotherhood, egalitarianism, altruism, compassion, love, respect and justice for all, without any distinction, cannot be underestimated in the present age too.

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  2. Sant Singh Khalsa, English translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?S=y
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  12. Ravinder Singh Taneja, Panch, 2014, KhojgurbaniApp
  13. English and Indian Language Dictionaries - Shabdkosh
  14. Teja Singh, Japuji or Guru Nanak's Meditations, 1930, Third Edition, digitized by Punjab Digital Library, www.panjabdigilib.org, p 59-60
  15. Sahib Singh, Guru Nanak Dev and His Teachings, 2002, transl. by Dalip Singh, Lok Sahit Prakashan, Amritsar (Punjab) India p 189-90.
  16. Daljit Singh, Essentials of Sikhism, 1994, Singh Brothers, Amritsar, p 86-90.
  17. SikhNet | Sharing the Sikh Experience
  18. Shri Guru Nanak Dev's Japji, Translated by G.S. Chauhan, 2013, All India Pingalwara Charitable Society (Regd.), Amritsar
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