| Opinion | 10 March 2015 | Asia Samachar |
By Karminder Singh Dhillon
The following are some pertinent points to consider pertaining to the ritual of Aartee. The points are drawn from the view point of Gurmat and Gurbani.
- There is NO Banee in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) titled “Artee/ Artee/Aartee“.
- ThePanth accepted and Akaal Takhat sanctioned Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM) does not sanction the “performance” of Artee. Article 4(s) of the SRM prohibits the conducting of Artee in the presence of the SGGS.
- Arteeis a Brhamnicical / Hindu RITUAL. It is performed on a statue of a deity with lighted lamps, fire, a plate, particular movements and chants – all in the name of cleansing / purifying etc. The ritual uses lighted lamps that number from 1 to 100 that are arranged on a plate. The plate is circled four times at the feet of the deity, twice at the belly, once on the face, and 7 times around the body. It is a clear and definite ritual that is conducted in accordance with their faith and beliefs.
- Rituals have no place in Sikhi and are deemed to distract the seeker from the true path.
- The Sikhi principle derived from Gurbani is that there is NO need for the ritual of Artee, because Artee is already taking place – already happening in nature.
- The Sikh is advised to appreciate this NATURAL Artee and to connect with the Creator of this Artee.
- There is ONE SINGLE shabad (not Banee) in Dhnasri Raag titled Artee written by Guru Nanak – Gagan Mei Thaal, Rav Chand Deepak Bane. Points 4, 5 & 6 above are derived from this shabad.
- Sikhs who insist on performing Artee in the presence of the SGGS claim that Guru Nanak went to the Jagannath Mandir and instructed the Brahmins on the correct way to do the proper Artee. They further claim that the shabad Dhnasri M: 1 was addressed specifically to the Jagannath Brahmins.
- Jagannath or Mandir or Bhraminis NOT mentioned in Dhnasri M: 1. There is however historical mention outside of the SGGS that the Guru did go there.
- HOWEVER, the Shabad Dhnasri M: 1 is NOT addressed to the Brahmins or Hindus. If it was, then it would be written in third person.
- The shabad (Dhnasri M 1) is addressed directly to God (Kaisee Artee Hoe, Bhavkhandna TERI Artee). The word TERI is first person. So Guru Nanak is addressing God directly and exclaiming what a wonderful Artee of Yours is already taking place (HOE).
- If Guru Nanak was addressing the Brahmins, the verse would be in third person as (Kaisee Artee Hoey, Bhavkhandna OHDEE, Artee, or USDEE Artee).
- In any case, the Brahmins of Jaganath perform the same ritual of Artee today that they have been performing for centuries.And they will likely continue doing so.
- Therefore if anyone claimed that Guru Nanak tried to get them to change or stop their ritual would also have to say that Guru Nanak’s quest ended in failure because Guru Nanak did not succeed in changing them, and that Guru Nanak’s Dhnasri M: 1 had no effect whatsoever on them. The truth of the matter is the shabad Dhnasri M: 1 is addressed to us Sikhs, it is for us Sikhs, and it is asking us to abstain from ritual and teaching us the futility of ritualistic Artee.
- The Jagannaath story is therefore propagated by those Sikhs who desire and want to perform the ritualistic Artee as part of Sikhi practice. The Jaganaath story gives them the pretext to do so. Such Sikhs know that Bhramanical Artee will never be accepted by Sikhs in general. So they have tried to give it a “Sikhi” flavour. To achieve such an aim these Sikhs have replaced the chants of the Brhamanica mantras with some selected shabads from the SGGS.
- Since there is NO Banee in the GGS called Artee, those Sikhs who want to do the Artee Ritual, have MADE UP their own “Banee” consisting of ten shabads by pulling 5 shabads from all over the GGS, and 5 from OUTSIDE the SGGS and started singing it as a “Banee.” Some have taken the RITUAL to new lows by lighting lamps, using fire, a plate, adding movements etc. In doing so, these Sikhs have brought in exactly what the Gurus wanted us to discard – RITUAL. Reading /singing a collection of shabads while performing a ritual does NOT sanctify the ritual or make it into acceptable Sikh practice. It actually portrays the utter ignorance of those performing the ritual.
- Performing Artee while singing 5 shabads from Gurbani is a display of the height of ignorance. The reason is that 4 of these shabads are stinging critiques and condemnations of ritual and Artee. The fifth shabad (Gopal Tera Aartaa) is NOT even remotely connected to the concept of Artee.
- The authors of Amrit Kirtan are guilty of creating this non-existent “Banee” and their ignorance shows when they included one shabad of Bhagat Dhana that reads “Gopaal Tera Aarta, Jo Jan Tumree Bhagat……). The word is AARTAA and they have taken it to mean AARTEE. This is laughable. AARTA means slave, and is certainly not the masculine of the feminine AARTEE. This is what happens when people don’t pay attention to the meaning of Gurbani.
- In the two remaining shabads the word “Artee” does not refer to ritual, but takes the philosophical meaning to the word Artee – meaning joy.
- Five more compositions of the non-existent Artee “Banee” are taken from OUTSIDE the SGGS and attributed to the tenth Guru. They contain within their content words like “flowers, bells, lamps, drums etc and appear to be purposively selected to suggest that all these paraphernalia are sanctioned by our Gurus. If indeed the tenth Guru did partake in the ritual of Artee and he wanted Sikhs to do the ritual, then we would have to believe that in so doing, he was going against the tenets of the SGGS, Sikhi, Gurbani and all the preceding Gurus. Such a thought is preposterous.
- Sikhs who continue to do this RITUAL are largely those who have not understood the messages of Gurbani. At the very least they have not even understood the messages of the shabads from the SGGS they sing during their so called Sikh Artee. There are some who have an agenda to prove that Sikhs are simply a branch of Hindus. The rest is BHED CHAAL – sheep upon sheep jumping of the cliff of ritual and ignorance into the abyss of spiritual darkness.
May the Guru bless all Sikhs with wisdom of Gurbani. – Asia Samachar (10 Mar 2015)
Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston) writes on Gurbani and Gurmat issues in The Sikh Bulletin, USA. He also conducts Gurbani Katha in local Gurdwaras. He is currently running an Understanding Sohela Class at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya on Sundays 7 – 9 pm. He is based in Kuala Lumpur.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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