By Baldev Singh Dhaliwal | OPINION
Kithe Likhia? That question is often asked, referring to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (SGGS) regarding many, often controversial, issues.
This question is not asked by only those well versed in Gurbani, but even some of my very good friends, the closest who have been to SGGS is when they “Matha Tek” before Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in the Gurdwara. Even they when they get excited over an issue will pose that same question, “Kithe Likhia?” Or “Where is it written?”
It is as if now that we have been handed down Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji everything else can now be discarded. Excuse me for saying so, but I get the impression that SGGS Ji is sometimes taken to be just a reference book, to be referred to, when one has a question. If you have a question dive into Guru Granth Sahib Ji for the answer; ask Guru Ji as some will say. Gyani Jis and Parcharaks to authenticate their lectures will emphasise, “Look, I am saying nothing from myself, everything I say is but from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.” [Not realising that after all in interpreting Gurbani it is going to be their (or someone else’s) human mind, thought and logic at work!] Others (not just Gyanis, Parcharaks) have Gurbani quotations handy to prove their point. If one cannot find the reference in SGGS then it is automatically flawed and the reverse, if one can quote from Gurbani that authenticates their argument. By implication, therefore, there is no place for any thought based on terminology which is not in SGGS, and many of the present day emerging issues, terminology, of the world would fall in that category!
It would seem that, for many, life would have been much easier (whether they admit it or not) if Guru Nanak Sahib Ji had compiled SGGS and had passed it on to his Sikhs; after all it is essentially Guru Nanak’s Philosophy, many would say. It stands to reason then that having handed SGGS to the Sikhs, there would have been no further need for a succession of human Guru Persons. Or alternatively even if Guru Arjun Sahib Ji after having compiled Pothi Sahib (Aad Granth) had put in a bit more effort. Had made further additions as required to compile SGGS and handed it to the Sikhs, putting an end to the person Guru succession. Apparently up to then it is believed that they were all quite peace loving, universally accepted beings. Instead along comes Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and puts the spanner in the works of the universality of Sikhi, by introducing the Khalsa fraternity and the associated disciplines! It is the requirement to fit into, or to accept any sort of discipline or to undertake any commitment; that really bugs many!! [Not my thoughts but what I sense from others, those keen, at any cost, to fit Sikhi into the popular “Universal Religion” mould. True, Sikhi has a universal appeal but to a faithful (to a Sikh), it is a faith, a discipline, a commitment. More on this some other time.]
It is interesting to note that Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s command of “Guru Maneo Granth” is accepted most readily, as a command from the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, so it should be, but any other commands he may have given are often questioned as per one’s own logic, included are those like the aforementioned good friends of mine at one end and many esteemed scholars of Sikhi at the other! [The late Giani Sant Singh Maskeen Ji had in many of his lectures brought this point home quite forcefully, in his mild mannered way.]
Yet we did have 10 Guru Personalities spanning over more than 200 years. I stand corrected, but although they were one Guru Jyote (Light) but they were quite different personalities. Many Sikhs, I feel, do struggle with what happened from Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji onwards, and may consider it as an affront to spirituality and universalism of Sikhism. In fact Ghandi (the Mahatma) did refer to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji as “bhulia hoia rahebar” (lost / confused leader) As per one of Maskeen Ji’s lectures, Ghandi was given an appropriate response (and put in his place) by one of the Sikh scholars of that time!
Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji donned two swords – one of Miri (temporal authority) and the other of Piri (Spiritual authority). Even though Harmandar Sahib was already in existence, with Pothi Sahib Ji installed in it, he found it necessary to build Akal Takhat (Akal Bunga). Lived in princely style, held Darbar in all its splendour and was called Sacha Patshah (True Emperor), is revered by the Sikhs as Miri Piri de Malek. Encouraged his Sikhs to bear arms, to keep horses and went hunting with his Sikhs. Etc ………..
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji brings this to the climax on Vaisakhi of 1699. We all know the story but just to refresh our memories. The Panj Piaray, the first to be initiated into the Khalsa fold by Khande Di Pahul (initiation by the double edged sword). This was the beginning of an organised Khalsa Panth with corporate identity and code of discipline. Guru Ji himself asks to be initiated by the Panj Piaray to be included into the Khalsa fold and becomes Gobind Singh from Gobind Rai.
It is only then that the 10th Guru puts an end to the succession of person Gurus and vests authority in the Corporate Body of the Khalsa Panth in the presence of the Guru Jyote (Light), Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The twin track ideology of Guru Granth and Guru’s Khalsa Panth.
Is it possible that there was an objective and a method in all this?
Dr J S Grewal in his book “The Sikhs of Punjab” writes: “A rigorous analysis of the compositions of Guru Nanak reveals that there was hardly anything in contemporary politics, society or religion that he found commendable.” And that, “A new religious ideology was needed to become the basis of a new social order.” End product, the objective, (according to Dr Grewal’s analysis), was “A New Social Order”.
Was not Khalsa Panth the vision of Guru Nanak Sahib as the new social order, based on the new religious ideology, SIKHI?
Dr I J Singh in one of his essays also refers to the Gurus as “nation builders”.
Challenging as it may seem, I believe that in the study of Sikhi, SGGS needs to be interpreted, not in isolation, but in the light of the lives of our 10 Guru Personalities, their aims and objectives in founding the Panth, their lives and the lessons for us as Sikhs, not only for the 200 or so years but projected into the future; also not forgetting the deeds of the Gursikhs (Singh, Singhnias) that we remember in our daily ardaas. [Sikhi, to me, needs to be lived (applied) in this world for the good of the Creator’s Creation and is NOT just for the pedestal. To me religion (for it to be meaningful) is not an end in itself, but a tool to prepare, to train oneself for making good choices, even in adverse and in challenging conditions and situations, along with (amongst other things) in understanding and establishing our (individually and as a group) relationship with the Creator.] That 200 years or so of the Guru Person period (the teaching period) was so that their Sikhs would not be interpreting SGGS Ji in a vacuum, dictated by their own thought bubbles. Otherwise it might be like those (wise) blind men who went to see the elephant, each latching on to and groping different parts of the animal’s anatomy, and came back, each with a different story!
[Baldev Singh Dhaliwal JP-Ret’d British Telecom engineer settled in Australia since 1986, and involved with community cohesion, Sikh welfare and advancement. He received the South Australia Governor’s Multicultural Award for 2011]
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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