- The Guru rejected exploitation and oppression under any pretext.
- He made human beings who are at the top of the evolutionary chain, responsible for the global environment.
No matter where the Sikhs live, from the remotest parts of India to diaspora countries, they are net contributors to the economies and social welfare. That is due to the revolutionary thought of Guru Nanak Sahib.
Guru Nanak taught practical spirituality which combines honest living through hard work, service (seva) and sharing without discrimination with God awareness (Naam simran). Practical spirituality, a phrase coined by Sikh scholar Brig. Rawel Singh, brought about a paradigm shift in the thinking of the downtrodden people. From zero (shun), the Creator Being was shown to be the positive One, the Doer. Guru Nanak stressed the unity of the Creator and all that is created as Ik Oangkaar. The human equality principle is enshrined in Sikh teachings.
That is Guru Nanak’s Sikhi path leading to achievement of the final destination of the human soul, a blissful union with the Creator Being achievable in this human life.
This approach revolutionized and empowered the ordinary people who were following opt-out ideologies, false gods and chasing hereafter more than living responsible productive lives here-and-now. They were at the mercy of the tyrants and invaders and ignorance-spreading priesthood of orthodox religions.
The same suppressed and impotent people were converted into a casteless and classless society in which men and-women equal partners and community builders. Thus was established over the Nanak I to X, Guru period (1469 to 1708), the Akal Purakh ki Fauj (God’s own army), the Khalsa, with clear Miri-Piri (temporal-spiritual) objectives. Men and women led armies to oppose inequality and injustice.
Dr Ganda Singh wrote that Sikhs are a living practical example of the impact of the life and teachings of Guru Nanak on history. Like the Guru himself, they are practitioners of a way of life which combines spirituality with honest work and serving and sharing. They are never afraid to put their hand to any type of work that comes their way and they would strive to every nerve to make it a success
In his book, Later Mughals, William Irvine wrote: In all the parganas occupied by the Sikhs, the reversal of previous customs was striking and complete. A low scavenger or a leather dresser, the lowliest of the low in in Indian estimation, had only to leave home and join the Guru when in a short space of time he would return to his birth place as its ruler, with his order of appointment in his hand. As soon as he set foot within the boundaries, the wellborn and wealthy went out to greet him and escort him. [Vol 1 pp 98-99]
Sikhs have led India in non-violent struggle (satyagrehe) as well as in armed struggle against oppression and for the freedom of all peoples of India. Yet, today, the Brahmanic-Hindutva boa begins to embrace Sikhi in its suffocating coils. In post- independence India, the process started with Clause 25 of the Indian Constitution and now the clouds of bhagwanwaad are gathering. A Hindu Rashtra is the declared Indian political objective in the name of ekta (unity) – the type of ekta enforced by Islamic fanaticism in the 17-18th centuries and lamented by poet Bhai Santokh Singh.
Once again, we are reminded that Guru Nanak Sahib’s first revolt was against Brahmanic hegemony when he refused to wear the caste thread (janeu). So, history seems to have completed a full circle. Sikhi started by opposing Brahmanical exploitation, next opposed the tyranny of Mughal rule (Babay ke versus Babar ke), next, lead the struggle against colonialism and now back to true Babay ke versus Brahmanic-Hindutva oppression aimed towards a Hindu Rashtra.
Not surprisingly, the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, warned his Khalsa against the Bipran reet. Yet, we continue to follow these. That makes the Hindutva objective of assimilating Sikhi that much easier. But then we have been here before!
The responsibility is ours to shun Bipran practices and to follow the path shown by Guru Nanak Sahib for the future survival of not just Sikhi, but humankind.
Much of what Guru Nanak Sahib preached centuries ago is today enshrined in documents like the UN Charter of Human Rights and the Earth Charter.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Army of occupation in Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh (Asia Samachar, 27 July 2019)
Annexation of Jammu & Kashmir and the unfolding Hindutva Imperial Project (Asia Samachar, 21 Aug 2019)