Heard them before, right? In sermons and casual talk, you may have picked up words like chauraasi lakh or 8.4 million life forms. How do they square up in Gurbani? And what do they even mean?
One thing is sure: they appear in the Sikh scripture.
In this talk series, Sikh thinker and writer Karminder Singh Dhillon makes an attempt to decode the much-used phrase.
To begin with, he tells us that it may not carry the meaning commonly attached to it. While it appears in the Sikh scripture, he says Guru Nanak had given it a different meaning. Just as with numerous other jargons commonly found in earlier religious traditions, Guru Nanak had redefined it in a revolutionary.
But he argues that Sikhs are still clinging to the ‘discarded’ meaning, not s thing on to new life and meaning infused by the founder of the Sikh faith.
“What is most chilling is that this narrative of this 8.4 million, drawn from the 4,000 year old canvas, is the exact one presented by our clergy, our granthis, our raagis, our parcharaks, our kirtiniaas – in our gurdwaras – as Sikhi beliefs.
“Our granthis, raagis and kirtaniaas sing shabads from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji during the death ceremonies of our loved ones, but present narratives derived from the Upanishads to our sanggat. In short, it’s kirtan of Gurbani but discourse of the 4,000 year old discarded canvas,” says Karminder, author of five recently release books in Sikhi, including The Hijacking of Sikhi.
“Search the social media and you will find countless individuals dressed as Sikhs and claiming to be Sikhs, quoting Gurbani verses even, but pushing the narratives of the Upanishad in their misguided proclamation thst Guru Nanak accepted the beliefs of the 4,000 year-old canvas and wanted us to accept that as Sikhi belief.”
So, what does Gurbani say? In the second half of the 30-minute video, he quotes a number of Gurbani quotations to present the Sikh view.
Some key takeaways:
1. Gurbani debunks there are 8.4m love forms. Scientists have gone way beyond this, and are still counting.
2. Gurbani underlines life here and now, not in the some afterlife (after death).
3. Psoo (animal/animalistic) usually mentioned in Gurbani is not the supposed 8.4 million life forms in the after life. “Psoo in Gurbani refers to the mental states, states of the mind, lived by us in our lives,” he says.
This is a good presentation to clarify your thoughts on the terminology that you’re bound to hear again and again when discussing faiths.
SIKHI CONCEPTS VIDEO SERIES BY KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON
Part 1: Guru Nanak’s Canvas
Part 2: Death
Part 3: After Life
Part 4: 8.4 million (Chaurasi Lakh)
Part 5: Reincarnation
Part 6: Heaven and Hell
Part 7: Salvation in Afterlife (Mukti)
Part 8: Court of Judgement (Dargah)
Part 9: Dhrm Raj
Hijacking Sikhi (Asia Samachar, 19 Dec 2020)
Revisiting death (Asia Samachar, 5 Dec 2020)