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Upcoming Barsi Celebration!


May 31, 2005
BC, Canada
Everywhere we look today we see countless posters, advertisments in papers or announcments on radio, tv even gurdwaras for the barsi celebration of so and so sant or baba. Are such celebrations in agreement with gurmat? We are always so quick to say that my GUru wants me to do this (i.e. keep punj kakaar, do nitnem every day) and doesnt want me to do that (alcohol, drugs, cutting hair etc.) but have we ever bothered to ask ourselves what is the gurus opnion on a Sikh celebrating such events? If i asked my GUru is it appropriate or inappropriate for a Sikh to celebrate some persons barsi (regardless how spiritual he was) what do u think the Guru would say?

My aim is not to criticize any particular individual (sant or baba) for i am not in any position to comment about their lives. God himself is all-knowing and only he can ultimately judge someone. However, my intention is for all of us to spend more time understanding gurbani and its teachings and then use that knowledge to see if the things we do in our lives agree with gurbani or go against it. A sikh is a student learning the subject of Sikhi and his/her teacher is the Guru. How can we expect to every properly learn Sikhi if we do not even follow the instructions of our guru?

When we see celebrations of barsi of 'spritually enlightned' people we often read the title of sant, maha purash or brahm gyani by their name. However how many of us know what brahm gyani even means. Gyani is one who has knowledge, and brahm means god. Thus brahmgyani means one who has attained complete understanding, gyaan of God. If one has truly become one with brahm, then that means his own identity has been extinguished and he would no longer have the need to use his own name, or distinguish himself as so n so Brahm Gyani.

What do we see pervading in our society today? That so n so belonging to that jatha, or running that dera or head of that taksal is a Brahm Gyani. This title is written by the person’s name. That Brahm Gyani such n such Singh is in charged of that dera and he is doing such n such service for the community. He has made this many schools, this many colleges, this many hospitals. If Brahm Gyani is used to refer to an actual person and Gurbani teaches us that the Brahm Gyani lives forever and never dies

bRhm igAwnI sd jIvY nhI mrqw ]
The God-conscious being lives forever, and does not die.

Then why do we celebrate barsis, death anniversary? To this date no one has ever celebrated God’s barsi, yet we celebrate barsis of sadhus, sants, babas, gurus all the time. We are taught that a Brahm Gyani is One with God, that they both have the same qualities. If we accept that God never dies, then a Brahm Gyani can never die, and there is no reason to be celebrating a barsi because a barsi is only for someone that is deceased. But if we say that a Brahm Gyani is a person, and people always eventually die and so we can celebrate a barsi then it means either that God can die as well or that the Brahm Gyani is not one with God, i.e. not a true Brahm Gyani.

As stated numerous times before, Brahm Gyani is not a person. It is a description of the final spiritual state where ones soul unites with the Supreme Soul of God. And at that stage the person no longer has any separate identity for he has completely merged as one with God. Any person that has his/her own identity can never be immortal. The day will always come where that individual shall die. And even self-proclaimed Brahm Gyanis and their followers accept this fact or else why would they celebrate barsis. That person could never be a true Brahm Gyani because the Guru has described a true Brahm Gyani as follows:

bRhm igAwnI Awip inrMkwru ]
The God-conscious being is himself the Formless Lord.

And has anyone ever celebrated God’s barsi, or death anniversary? If we say that God has a birth date, or a death date then it can be accepted that God can have a barsi as well. But not any follower of any religion, be it Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism has ever celebrated a death anniversary of God.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains nothing but pure truth. And not everyone is comfortable hearing or accepting the truth. That is why we have the commonly used term of “bitter truth”. It tastes bitter to most people because it makes them uneasy, makes them question their own beliefs and admit to their own falsehoods and lies. But the Guru never hesitated from telling the full truth because of anyone or anything. That is why in the opening pages of Guru Granth Sahib they stated that:

QwipAw n jwie kIqw n hoie ]
He cannot be established, He cannot be created.

He is not made by somebody, or created by somebody. He is not someone who can be ratified or sanctioned by someone to that state of Brahm Gyani. The uvusthaa of Brahm Gyani is not a job posting where someone can be nominated or appointed to. If someone disproves that nomination, then they can choose a different person and designate him as the real Brahm Gyani, and leader of that dera. Every day we see someone known as a Brahm Gyani die, arguments break out over who is the genuine successor. Often multiple successors arise, each saying that I am the one whom he (the previous baba) nominated to succeed him, with the end result, in many cases, each creates their own division and followings. In some cases, arguments get so heated that violence erupts and gains media attention. Would a real Brahm Gyani, someone who never utters a harsh word to anyone, be involved in fighting over such menial matters? We have reduced the uvusthaa of Brahm Gyani to a mere priest like position to which someone can be appointed to. But the Guru is repeatedly telling us:

QwipAw n jwie kIqw n hoie ]
He cannot be established, He cannot be created.
Awpy Awip inrMjnu soie ]
He Himself is Immaculate and Pure.

He is self-created; never takes birth nor ever dies. This is why in the very opening line of Guru Granth Sahib when the Guru is telling us God’s name, and describing some of His fundamental qualities he said the following:

Beyond Birth, Self-Existent

Further on in Gurbani, this important point was made again:

ipqw kw jnmu ik jwnY pUqu ]
What does the son know of his father’s birth?
sgl proeI ApunY sUiq ]
All are strung upon His string.

The Guru teaches us that we can never celebrate the birthday of God, because who could ever verify His birth date? Which historian or writer could ever attempt to find out this date because none of them were even born then? Before the first historians, there was no Granth, no language, and no script. It would be an impossible feat. We have been explicitly told that He never takes birth by Gurbani. Even in the case of the Gurus, the birth dates are for their physical bodies, the very bodies we do not consider or accept as our Gurus. To prevent this false belief from ever arising in any Sikh they included the following message, amongst many, in Gurbani:

joiq Ehw jugiq swie sih kwieAw Pyir pltIAY ]
They shared the One Light and the same way; the King just changed His body.

All these birth dates, death anniversaries; these are all associated with the body. A Sikh never follows or worships any body. Even the pictures, paintings or statues we see, they are all associated with bodies, not the soul. If someone were to ask you to take a picture or make a painting of the inner soul, or spiritual state of someone, what would you do? No matter how powerful the camera lens, or how sharp and fine the paintbrush, an image of the soul can never be created. Because it is not visible. Only the body is. A Sikh never worships the body and for that reason never worships or pays respect or devotion to any photo or statue either. The body can never stay alive forever.

dyh Ain~q n in~q rhY jsu nwv cVY Bv swgr qwrY ]

Someone who lives in the physical world can never be called one with God. God is immortal and nothing in the physical world is immortal. So we should accept that:

bRhm igAwnI sd jIvY nhI mrqw ]
The God-conscious being lives forever, and does not die.

Nor can his birth date be celebrated and nor his barsi. If they do, then either the Guru is wrong or they are not a true Brahm Gyani. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who are falsely using this title and taking advantage of its associated honor and prestige in the eyes of the common folk. They mislead the masses with their own personal teachings mixed in with Gurbani and confuse them to such a state that they start following the person as if he himself is the Brahm Gyani, rather than inner gunn, virtues.

So rather than erroneuosly engaging in celebrations which are anti-gurmat, and spending time on celebrations associated with the physical body of a person, let us instead celebrate that persons inner gunn, by developing those virtues in our own life.

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