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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)