What does Gurbani say about Dhrm Raj?

The first thing Gurbani does is to remove the myth of Dhrm Raj. Next, it eliminates the fear that has been instilled by the purveyors or transmitters of this myth, argues Karminder Singh Dhillon in the 9th video in the Sikhi Concepts series

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By Karminder Singh Dhillon | Sikhi Concepts

What is the narrative of Dhrm Raj within Gurbani? We can develop the basic principles by examining some verses that discourse the concept.

The first thing Gurbani does is to REMOVE the myth of Dhrm Raj. The second thing Gurbani does is to ELIMINATE the fear that has been instilled by the purveyors or transmitters of this myth.

Verse 1: Guru Arjun on page 614 of the SGGS.

ਸੰਤਨ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਪੂੰਜੀ ਸਉਪੀ ਤਉ ਉਤਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਧੋਖਾ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਅਬ ਕਹਾ ਕਰੈਗੋ ਜਉ ਫਾਟਿਓ ਸਗਲੋ ਲੇਖਾ ॥3॥

Meaning: My Guru has provided me with a bounty of enlightenment. As a result of which a deceit has been exposed and removed from my mind. The deceit of Dhrm Raj cannot work on me as I have done my own accounting within, I have torn up, I have shredded this entire myth of accounting in the afterlife.

The myth is destroyed and the fear is eliminated. The notion that I do my own accounting of my deeds WITHIN – is being introduced in place of the myth.

Verse 2: Guru Arjun on page 1348 of the SGGS

ਪ੍ਰਭਾਤੀ ਮਹਲਾ 5 ॥ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਿਲਬਿਖ ਸਭਿ ਕਾਟੇ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਕੇ ਕਾਗਰ ਫਾਟੇ ॥

Meaning: I have realized Divine virtues and discarded human vices. In so doing – I have shredded the account books of the concocted Dhrm Raj. (I have destructed the entire notion of Dhrm Raj as an entity of any function in the afterlife.).

Again, the myth is destroyed and the fear of Drhm Raj in the afterlife is eliminated. The notion that I do the accounting of my spiritual deeds WITHIN myself is being emphasized.

Verse 3: Bhagat Kabir on page 793 of the SGGS.

ਬਹਤਰਿ ਘਰ ਇਕੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਸਮਾਇਆ ਉਨਿ ਦੀਆ ਨਾਮੁ ਲਿਖਾਈ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਕਾ ਦਫਤਰੁ ਸੋਧਿਆ ਬਾਕੀ ਰਿਜਮ ਨ ਕਾਈ ॥ 3 ॥

Meaning: The One Creator resides in the entirety of my mind. His divine Virtues are ingrained therein. (As a result) I have ransacked the office of the concocted Dhrm Raj and have left nothing to be accounted for therein.

The message is clear. Ransacking the office is idiomatic for saying for me the myth of Dhrm Raj – the judge, the court, the judgement – all of that does not exist. Why? Because I account for my actions to the Creator Within – and that is the only judge, court and judgement that I am concerned with.

Verse 4: Guru Ramdas jis on page 698 of the SGGS. 

ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਕਰੀ ਜਗਜੀਵਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰਿਓ ਮਨ ਮਾਝਾ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਾਗਦ ਫਾਰੇ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖਾ ਸਮਝਾ ॥ 4 ॥

Meaning: The Creator has blessed me with realization within. Nanak, the account papers of the concocted Dhrm Raj do not exist   for those beings who have become enlightened of the reality of accounting of our deeds.

The message is clear again. As far as Gurbani and Guru Ram Das ji is concerned, the reality of accounting of our deeds does NOT involve Dhrm Raj.

Verse 5: Guru Ramdas ji says again on page 1326 of the SGGS.

ਤਜਿ ਲਾਜ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਸਭੁ ਤਜੀਐ ਮਿਲਿ ਸਾਧੂ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਹੀਜੈ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਕੀ ਕਾਨਿ ਚੁਕਾਵੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਡੁਬਦਾ ਕਾਢਿ ਕਢੀਜੈ ॥

Meaning: I have discarded ego and all desire for worldly pride; and come into the company of my Guru.  He has removed the subjugation and fear of the concocted Dhrm Raj  and pulled me out from the debilitating fear of the invented myth.

In summary, the Gurbani position pertaining to the concocted myth of Drhm Raj as the judge in the afterlife is as follows:

The beginning point of Sikhi is that the Creator is Within. If the Creator is within. Then His court is within. If the Court is Within then the judge is also within. And the judgement is within.

Gurbani has also REDEFINED the concept of Dhrm Raj. Raj means Kingdom and Dhrm means spirituality.

So Not only is the Creator, His court, His judgement and the judge who  is within. The kingdom (Raaj) is also within. The Kingdom within is one of spirituality (Dhrm). So Dhrm Raaj is when spirituality reigns within us. The Entity That Sits On the Throne of Spirituality Within Is Our Conscience. So Dhrm Raj is when spirituality Reigns within our conscience.

Verse 6: Guru Arjun from page 406 of the SGGS

ਕਲਿਜੁਗੁ ਉਧਾਰਿਆ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ॥ ਮਲ ਮੂਤ ਮੂੜ ਜਿ ਮੁਘਦ ਹੋਤੇ ਸਭਿ ਲਗੇ ਤੇਰੀ ਸੇਵ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਤੂ ਆਪਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਸਭ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਧਰਤਾ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਜਾ ਬਿਸਮਾਦੁ ਹੋਆ ਸਭ ਪਈ ਪੈਰੀ ਆਇ ॥ 2 ॥

Meaning: My Guru has blessed my temporal world. All my senses that were engaged in evil thoughts, speech and misdeeds have all begun to function to serve You O Guru. You are the Creator, You the sustainer, you reside within all. In such realization, the Kingdom of Spirituality has been wondrously installed within me. All my senses have surrendered to become subjects of this Kingdom of spirituality within.

It is clear that the Dhrm raj of Gurbani is an entirely different concept and no relation whatsoever with the Dhrm raj of the pre-1468 beliefs and that of the 4,000 year old Canvas. The latter has to be discarded and the former inculcated. The myth of Dhrm raj must be removed from our spiritual mindsets to make space for the Kingdom of Spirituality or Dhrm raj of Gurbani. Only then will we be able to establish the Raj of Dhrm within our minds and conscience IN THE HERE AND NOW.

Verse 7: Bhagat Kabir makes his choice and lets us know about it on page 1158 of the SGGS.

ਹਮਰਾ ਝਗਰਾ ਰਹਾ ਨ ਕੋਊ ॥ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਛਾਡੇ ਦੋਊ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

I have no conflict in my mind whatsoever. No struggle within me anymore. (I have achieved such as state because) I have discarded all the claims of the clergy.

ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਜੋ ਲਿਖਿ ਦੀਆ ॥ ਛਾਡਿ ਚਲੇ ਹਮ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲੀਆ ॥ ੩ ॥

All that the clergy of Pandit and Mullah have presented us I have discarded while walking the path of my spirituality. I discarded it all and have accepted nothing at all.

This kind of an overhaul of our belief system and psyche is necessary to allow the truths of Gurbani to find space within us.

ਰਿਦੈ ਇਖਲਾਸੁ ਨਿਰਖਿ ਲੇ ਮੀਰਾ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥ ੪ ॥

Meaning: (The Outcome of the discarding is that) I am able to fill my cleansed mind with pure love   for my beloved Creator and fill it with love of the Creator; enabling me to Contemplate Within the self and bring about realization of the Creator within.

We need to note that whenever and wherever the words Dharm raj or Dhrm Rai appear within Gurbani it appears in two contexts. The first is in the context of the pre-1469 beliefs namely the Dhrm Raj of the afterlife.  When used in this context – the purpose of the Bhagat or Guru is to destruct the myth, critique it as unacceptable, point out its un-believability and its non-acceptance, and to declare that I am above such a myth. That I have ransacked that office, that I have torn up all the papers therein.

The second usage is in the redefined context. Dhrm Raj in the Gurbani context is the Kingdom of Divine Spirituality that we need to build within us.

Our task – as Sikhs of Gurbani within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) – is to be able to know which of the two contexts are being applied by the composer of the shabd.

In essence then, what Gurbani has done is to Liberate us from the entire pre-1468 Canvas. To free us from the debilitating and crippling fear of the clergy concocted concepts of the 4,000 year old canvas.

When you stop fearing the Drhm Raj of the after life, you start to construct the Raj of Dhram in the Here and Now. When you discard the concocted notion of Dhrm Raj in the after life, you acquire the Gurbani notion of Drhm Raj. You start to build the Kingdom (Raj) of Divinity (Drhrm) within yourself in the Here and Now.

To view the video, click here.

(The above are raw notes from Dr Karminder Singh’s video presentation)

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

 

Sikh thinker, writer and parcharak Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston), is a retired Malaysian civil servant. He is the joint-editor of The Sikh Bulletin and author of The Hijacking of Sikhi. He can be contacted at dhillon99@gmail.com. 

 

RELATED STORY:

Seeking heaven, fearing hell. What says Gurbani? (Asia Samachar, 15 Jan 2021)

Hijacking Sikhi (Asia Samachar, 19 Dec 2020)

Karminder talks about what shaped his thinking, and his latest books on Sikhi (Asia Samachar, 20 Nov 2020)

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Kulwant Kaur Ji,

    You obviously have no knowledge of Gurbani. I am certainly not bending myself or anything. Please understand that the concept if Dharam Rai, Chitr Gupt and Jam apply to the soul which is is not physical in nature and so are not the three entities mentioned. Dr Karminder Singh totally avoids mention of Aatma or soul, and you being his follower obviously do not understand it. On the one hand you talk of pre-1469 and on the other, question the concept of metaphor. God in Gurbani is not physical, unlike in pre-Guru Nanak period. So you would say God is not real. God is the Spirit from which the Aatma or soul comes. As I mentioned the concept of the three entities represents the Divine natural system.

    Since you have expressed doubt because of your ignorance of Gurbani concepts, here is their direct use in Gurbani. The third Guru says on Dharam Rai on SGGS page 38.

    ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਨੋ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਬਹਿ ਸਚਾ ਧਰਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਦੁਸਟੁ ਆਤਮਾ ਓਹੁ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਰਕਾਰ ॥
    Ḏẖaram rā▫e no hukam hai bahi sacẖā ḏẖaram bīcẖār Ḏūjai bẖā▫e ḏusat āṯmā oh ṯerī sarkār

    (Dharam Raaey) the metaphoric judge in Divine court has (hukam-u) orders to (bah-i) sit and (beechaar-i) consider deeds of the creatures with (sachaa = true) Divine (dharam-u = law) laws.
    (Aatma) a soul caught in (doojai) other (bhaaey) ideas, i.e. acting by self-will, is (dustt-u = evil) is a transgressor, is (teyri) your (sarkaar = rule) authority is on (oh-u) that.

    Here is what the fifth Guru says on Chitr Gupt on SGGS p 616.

    A man who forgets Divine commands, (dey-i) closes (kivaarr) the door and hiding (anik) in many (parrdey = curtains) ways, (phaakai) indulges (sang-i) with (par) others’ (daara) women.
    But o man, (jab) when – the metaphoric – (gupt-u) hidden (chitr = writer) reporter (maagah-i) asks (leykha) the account of your deeds (tab) then (kaun-u) who will (ddhaakai) cover (teyra) your deeds – also your conscience will not let you be at peace. 3.

    Here is what Guru Nanak says about Jam on SGGS p 906.

    ਲਾਲਚਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਆਵਤ ਜਾਵਤ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਜਾ ਜਮੁ ਧਾਇ ਕੇਸ ਗਹਿ ਮਾਰੈ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਮੁਖਿ ਕਾਲ ਗਇਆ ॥੩॥
    Lālacẖ lāgai nām bisāri▫o āvaṯ jāvaṯ janam ga▫i▫ā. Jā jam ḏẖā▫e kes gėh mārai suraṯ nahī mukẖ kāl ga▫i▫ā. ||3||

    (Laagai) engaging in satisfying (laalach-i) greed, you have (bisaario) forgotten (naam-u) Divine virtues and commands; (janam-u) human birth is (gaiaa) passing (aavat = coming, jaavat = going) wandering in pursuit of transitory pleasures/gains.
    You are not (surat-i) conscious that you will (gaiaa) go (mukh-i = in mouth) under control of (kaal) the Jam, the agent of Divine justice; (ja) when (jam-u) the agent of Divine justice (dhaaey = running) comes, it will (gah-i) catch you by (keys) the hair and (maarai) dash you to the ground, i.e. you will be punished with being out in cycles of births and deaths. 3

    Please try and refute this straight forward proof from Gurbani, and if you cannot, please ask Dr Karminder Singh to do that.

  2. Dr Rawel Singh ji, you are clearly bending over backwards to try to fit the round pegs of Gurbani into the square holes of pre-1469 beliefs.

    You also appear totally confused. You say Dhrm Raj is “metaphoric.” And are yet trying to prove this “metaphoric” figure is real, has a function and tells the messengers of death what to do.

    Your translations are concocted. The verse is ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਬੁਰਿਆਈਆ ਵਾਚੈ ਧਰਮੁ ਹਦੂਰਿ ॥ Cẖang▫ā▫ī▫ā buri▫ā▫ī▫ā vācẖai ḏẖaram haḏūr. Your translation is: (Dharam-u) Dharam Rai the metaphoric presenter of Divine court(vaachai = says) reports (changiaaeeaa) merits and (buriaaeeaa) faults of each creature (hadoor-i) before God.

    Now, my question is: Guru Nanak uses the word DHRAM HADUR. How did Dhram Hadur become ‘Dharam Rai the metaphoric presenter”? in the verse? This whole phrase is concocted by you.

    Then there is this verse: ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥ ਜਹ ਸਾਧੂ ਗੋਬਿਦ ਭਜਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਨੀਤ ॥ ਣਾ ਹਉ ਣਾ ਤੂੰ ਣਹ ਛੁਟਹਿ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਜਾਈਅਹੁ ਦੂਤ ॥੧॥ Salok. Jah sāḏẖū gobiḏ bẖajan kīrṯan Nānak nīṯ. Ņā ha▫o ṇā ṯūʼn ṇah cẖẖutėh nikat na jā▫ī▫ahu ḏūṯ. ||1||
    Your translation is: Slok. Dharam Rai, the metaphorical presenter in Divine court tells (doot) the messengers of death…”

    My question are: Where in the verse are the words “Dharam Rai, the metaphorical presenter in Divine Court tells the messengers of death.” This entire phrase is concocted by you in your attempt to fit the round peg of Gurbani into the square holes of pre-1469 beliefs. If Dhram Rai is “metaphorical” how can he “tell the messengers of death anything.”?

    You are manipulating Gurbani verses by “adding” whatever suits your agenda of wanting to fit Gurbani into the pre 1469 era.

    I am glad that Dr Karminder Singh’s series of videos have exposed agendas such as the one you are trying to portray here.

  3. Dr Karminder Singh first makes up his mind what to say and then manipulates Gurbani lines to fit his view. In this case he has made up his mind that Dharam Rai is fake and calls it “the concocted Dhrm Raj”.

    Let us be clear that Dharam Rai/Raj is a metaphoric entity like its associates the Chitr Gupt and Jam or the messenger of Divine justice. References to these entities in Gurbani are meant to convey that everyone is accountable for his/her actions, and this is logical.

    Here is how Gurbani describes the role of these entities.

    ਗਾਵਹਿ ਤੁਹਨੋ ਪਉਣੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਬੈਸੰਤਰੁ ਗਾਵੈ ਰਾਜਾ ਧਰਮੁ ਦੁਆਰੇ ॥ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਚਿਤੁ ਗੁਪਤੁ ਲਿਖਿ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਧਰਮੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ॥
    Gāvahi ṯuhno pa▫uṇ pāṇī baisanṯar gāvai rājā ḏẖaram ḏu▫āre. Gāvahi cẖiṯ gupaṯ likẖ jāṇėh likẖ likẖ ḏẖaram vīcẖāre. Japji Paurri 27

    O Creator, (pavan) air, (paani) water and (baisantar) fire (gaavan = sing) praise you, as (gaavai = sings) does Dharam Rai the metaphorical presenter in Your court.
    Chitra Gupt who write (jaanan) know what they are to write i.e. are aware of the deeds of all; they (likh likh) keep writing and the recordings (beecharey) are considered by Dharam Rai; they all (gaavah = sing) praise/acknowledge you.

    This is logically followed up in the Slok (epilogue) of Japji Sahib.

    ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਬੁਰਿਆਈਆ ਵਾਚੈ ਧਰਮੁ ਹਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਕਰਮੀ ਆਪੋ ਆਪਣੀ ਕੇ ਨੇੜੈ ਕੇ ਦੂਰਿ ॥Cẖang▫ā▫ī▫ā buri▫ā▫ī▫ā vācẖai ḏẖaram haḏūr. Karmī āpo āpṇī ke neṛai ke ḏūr.

    (Dharam-u) Dharam Rai the metaphoric presenter of Divine court(vaachai = says) reports (changiaaeeaa) merits and (buriaaeeaa) faults of each creature (hadoor-i) before God.

    Depending on (karmi = doings) deeds (aapo aapni = own of each) everyone (ko) some – those with virtues – are taken (neyrrai = near) the Almighty while (ko) some are detained and kept (door-i) away.

    The role allotted to Dharam rai is this.

    ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਨੋ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਬਹਿ ਸਚਾ ਧਰਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਦੁਸਟੁ ਆਤਮਾ ਓਹੁ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਰਕਾਰ ॥

    Ḏẖaram rā▫e no hukam hai bahi sacẖā ḏẖaram bīcẖār Ḏūjai bẖā▫e ḏusat āṯmā oh ṯerī sarkār

    M: 3, p 38

    (Dharam Raaey) the metaphoric presenter in Divine court has (hukam-u) orders to (bah-i) sit and (beechaar-i) consider deeds of the creatures with (sachaa = true) Divine (dharam-u = law) laws.

    (Aatma) a soul caught in (doojai) other (bhaaey) ideas, i.e. acting by self-will, is (dustt-u = evil) a transgressor, (oh-u) that is (teyri) your (sarkaar) jurisdiction – not those who obey the One Almighty.

    There is an interesting entry in Gaurri Baavan Akhri, M: 5, p 256.

    ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥ ਜਹ ਸਾਧੂ ਗੋਬਿਦ ਭਜਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਨੀਤ ॥ ਣਾ ਹਉ ਣਾ ਤੂੰ ਣਹ ਛੁਟਹਿ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਜਾਈਅਹੁ ਦੂਤ ॥੧॥
    Salok. Jah sāḏẖū gobiḏ bẖajan kīrṯan Nānak nīṯ. Ņā ha▫o ṇā ṯūʼn ṇah cẖẖutėh nikat na jā▫ī▫ahu ḏūṯ. ||1||

    Slok. Dharam Rai, the metaphorical presenter in Divine court tells (doot) the messengers of death: Do not (jaaiahu) go (nikatt) near the place (jah) where (saadhoo) the devotees (bhajan) remember and (keertan) sing the virtues of (gobind) the Master of the universe.
    Otherwise, (na hau) neither me (na too) nor you; (na) no one will (chhuttah-i) escape punishment, says fifth Nanak 1.

    This is in line with the following lines.

    ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਕਰੀ ਜਗਜੀਵਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰਿਓ ਮਨ ਮਾਝਾ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਾਗਦ ਫਾਰੇ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖਾ ਸਮਝਾ ॥੪॥੫॥

    Jin ka▫o kirpā karī jagjīvan har ur ḏẖāri▫o man mājẖā. Ḏẖaram rā▫e ḏar kāgaḏ fāre jan Nānak lekẖā samjẖā. ||4||5||

    (Jin kau) those to whom (jagjeevan-i = the Master of life) the Creator (kripa kari) is kind, they (dhaario = place) keep (har-i) the Almighty (maajhaa) in (ur-i = man) mind – and live by IT’s virtues and commands.

    When Dharam Raaey, the metaphoric presenter in Divine court (samjha) considers and understands (leykha) the account of deeds, i.e. finds that the person lived by Naam, it (phaarey) tears off (kaagad/kaagaj = paper) account of deeds, i.e. declares that there is nothing against that soul who is then accepted for union with the Creator, says (jan) humble fourth Nanak. 4. 5.

    But this is what Dr Karminder Singh says:

    ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਕਰੀ ਜਗਜੀਵਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰਿਓ ਮਨ ਮਾਝਾ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਾਗਦ ਫਾਰੇ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖਾ ਸਮਝਾ ॥ 4 ॥
    Meaning: The Creator has blessed me with realization within. Nanak, the account papers of the concocted Dhrm Raj do not exist for those beings who have become enlightened of the reality of accounting of our deeds.
    This is clearly manipulating Gurbani.
    He manipulates everything to conform to his view that there is nothing beyond this life. All his writings and videos are on the same lines.

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