By Karminder Singh | OPINION |
Guru Nanak was born on 1 Baisakh 1469. The corresponding date on the Gregorian calendar is 15 April, 1469. Historian Karam Singh established ] more than one century ago and beyond any doubt ] that the date was altered into Katik di Puranmasi by a gamut of gullible Sikhs, non-Sikhs, anti-Sikhs and others with other agendas.
Sikhs are stuck with a spiritual leadership that has sold its soul; institutions that are under the control of anti-Sikh forces; clergy that has taken Sikhi back to 1468; intellectuals who are silenced by the burden of their grants; a religion that has been hijacked by the deras, sants, babas, cults and deviant sects; and a general body that is largely lethargic.
We stand crippled against correcting this one single error of celebrating the birth of our Guru on the wrong day.
But the distorted birth date of Guru Nanak is just one instance of a long list of wrongs that have been inflicted on Guru Nanak. His life story, bani, teachings, philosophy and messages stand adulterated to the point of being totally diluted of its authenticity, originality and uniqueness: the distinctiveness that Bhai Gurdas depicts in his seminal verse
ਮਾਿਰਆ ਿਸੱਕਾ ਜਗਤ ਿਵਚ ਨਾਨਕ ਿਨਰਮਲ ਪੰਥ ਚਲਾਯਾ॥
MARIYA SIKKA JAGAT VICH NANAK NIRMAL PANTH CHALEYA.
In the world of spirituality, the Panth of Guru Nanak had its trademark in its uniqueness as being un-contaminated (by existing /un-enlightened beliefs).
The source and fuel of the adulteration are some 2,000 odd stories about Guru Nanak that we euphemistically call Sakhis, and are repeated by our clergy – parcharaks, preachers, kirtanias, dhadees as well as our writers and historians.
The origin of these sakhis are a variety of books called Janam Sakhis – the oldest being composed in 1733 by Dya Raam and illustrated with pictures by Alam Chand Raj. This Janam Sakhi – also called the B40 Janam Sakhi, (after its Accession Number assigned by the India Office Library in London) is thus written 264 years AFTER Guru Nanak’s advent.
The most popular Janam Sakhi amongst Sikhs is Bhai Bala’s Janam Sakhi – purportedly written by Guru Nanak’s Hindu companion Bala. Bhai Bala is a fictitious character. He did not exist. Guru Nanak’s companion was Mardana. How many Sikhs know of this basic untruth – that their entire story of Guru Nanak is written by a non-existent character?
Viewed collectively, these Janam Sakhis paint Guru Nanak as a mystic, a miracle performer, a faith healer, a magician, a purveyor of superstitious beliefs, a practitioner of super ]natural powers, a recluse, an ascetic, an unproductive child, a neglecting father, demanding blind faith and so much more. Snakes come over to shade him as he slept while his cows ate the fields of others. His father slaps him for wasting 20 rupees of his hard earned money at a time when the rupee was non existant in India. In the wink of an eye he brings back to life fields eaten by his cows. Elsewhere he drowns in a river and comes back to life three days later. He brings dead people back to life, and stops a mountain of a stone hurled at him with his palm. He flies over the mountains to meet Yogis and Sidhs residing there. He orders his son to hang out clothes to dry in the middle of the night and tells his disciple Bhai Lehna to eat a corpse. This is the Guru Nanak that Sikhs seem to know. The adulterated one, of course.
What could be worse than the Sikh world having tolerated a contamination to Guru Nanak’s name even.
Sir Ullama Mohamad Iqbal, PhD (Ludwig, Germany) captures the source of the wrongs that have been inflicted upon Guru Nanak in his Urdu language book Bang-e-Dara.
Shama ]e Huq Se Jo Munavar Hai Ye Voh Mehfil Na Thee
Barshey Rehmat Hue Lekin Zamee Kabil Na Thee.
Nanak was the lamp of enlightenment, but the audience was not one which prized illumination . it was blind. Nanak brought along the rain of mercy that poured from the heavens, but the land was not one which cherished rains . it was utterly barren.
Aaah Budkismat Rahey Awaaze Huq Se Bekhabar
Ghafil Aapney Ful Kee Sheereene Sey Hota Hai Sazar.
Poor wretched people – they never did awaken, remaining oblivious to the call of Reality. Just like a mighty tree whose essence is dead to the awareness of the sweetness of its own fruit.
Dr. Iqbal’s lament is an accurate depiction of the Sikh psyche in relation to Guru Nanak. Put plainly: The Sikh psyche is blind to the enlightenment of Guru Nanak and the Sikh heart is barren to the blessings of Guru Nanak.
Put even more plainly, the Sikh heart and mind is incapable of appreciating Guru Nanak. Put even more plainly, the coming of Guru Nanak is a waste to the people of India. Dr. Iqbal captures this waste in the following verse:
Hind Ko Lekin Khyalee Falsafey Pur Naaz Thaa.
But the people of Hindustan were content to hold on, with (false) pride to their hollow and fictional spiritualities.
Powerful words. Equally powerful a slap to the spiritual face of Sikhs of Guru Nanak. Powerful but true. Necessary even.
In the absence of leadership from Sikh Institutions; and in the dearth of courageous intellectuals and thinkers of sufficient standing and adequate numbers towards reversing the onslaught of against the spiritual legacy of Guru Nanak, the burden falls upon the shoulders of the ordinary Sikh to enlighten himself, awaken and take a stand.
Note: This article appeared in The Sikh Bulletin (Vol 21, No 4, Oct-Dec 2019). See here for the pdf. The author, Karminder Singh, PhD (Boston), is a co-editor of the bulletin. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Guru Nanak’s 3 basic teachings (Asia Samachar, 7 Nov 2019)
Lost in Translation (Asia Samachar, 8 May 2019)