By Karminder Singh Dhillon | Opinion |
PRAYER IS GOD’S MEDICINE. IF ONLY WE CAN FIND HIS CLINIC.
Sikh parcharaks have always been impressed by Christian preachers and their methods of spreading their faith. Not all parcharaks – but the ਖੋਖਲੇ (Khokhlay) empty type and the ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਤੋ’ ਕੋਰੇ (Gurbani to(n) Koray) devoid of Gurbani understanding type. These Khokhlay parcharaks are driven by their need to expand their flock. Not just any type of flock, but the three C’s type of flock – chelay, chamchay and chaploosis (boot licking flock).
This is of course nothing new. When the British colonizers brought in hundreds of Christian preachers into colonized Punjab in the mid 1800s in the hope of turning Punjab into the Bible belt of India; these preachers went around with what was their best sales pitch – the miracle performing tales of their prophet Jesus. Our Khokhlay and Gurbani To(n) Koray Sikh parcharaks figured that the best way to beat the Bible carrying preachers was to spread stories of miracles performed by our Gurus. The only problem was that Gurbani did not subscribe to miracles. This problem was solved by creating what did not exist. That period thus saw our Khokhlay Sikh parcharaks become mega factories of miracle tales. They have done very well indeed – in the realm of unbelievability. I have read the Bible, and I must say that when we look at the miracle based ਗੱਪ ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ gupp kahannia(n) that our Khokhlay parcharaks have created – the miracles of Jesus seem like everyday ordinary occurances.
The Christian preachers in Punjab have changed their ways in the last 50 years. They have resorted to faith healing. (Read my Editorial titled For God So Loved Punjab in The Sikh Bulletin to know more about this faith healing scam). Convicted criminals who give themselves names such as Prophet Barjinder Singh command millions and earn millions by offering miracle cures for kidney stones, joint pain, backache, possession by the evil spirits and everything under the sun.
Did you think our Khokhlay and Gurbani To(n) Koray parcharaks would want to be left behind? Far from it. They came up with faith healing of their own type. They call it Sarab Rog Ka Aukhad Naam.
The name for this faith healing based phenomenon comes from a Gurbani verse that is found on page 274 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). Using a Gurbani verse to name an organization does not mean its meaning and message is understood and adopted. The verse is:
ਸਰਬ ਰੋਗ ਕਾ ਅਉਖਦੁ ਨਾਮੁ Sarab Rog Ka Aukhad Naam.
The literal meaning is: ਨਾਮੁ Naam is the medicine or remedy ਅਉਖਦੁ Aukhad of All ਸਰਬ Sarab diseases ਰੋਗ Rog. The spiritual meaning requires a little work to get to. It requires us to look at the verse preceeding it. ਨਾਮੁ Naam means Divine Virtues. The disease is mentioned in the previous verse:
ਪਸੁ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਮੁਘਦ ਪਾਥਰ ਕਉ ਤਾਰੈ ॥ Pus Prety Mughad Pathar Ko Tarey.
All the diseases mentioned in this verse are ailments of the mind – defective mindsets that are brought about by living a life of human vices. The diseases are Animalistic mindsets ਪਸੁ Pus, Demonic mindsets ਪ੍ਰੇਤ Preyt, Unenlightened mindsets ਮਘੁ ਦ Mughad and Ego hardened mindsets ਪਾਥਰ Pathar – all of which sink our spirituality that needs saving ਤਾਰੈ. Tarey. Common sense if you ask me. All Vices are healed by Virtues. Cowardice is cured by Courage, Greed by Contentment, Ego by Humility, Unelightenment by Enlightenment, Demonic mindsets by Divine ones. You get the point.
How do you cure a cough, cold, a headache an infection or heart disease with a Virtue ਨਾਮੁ Naam? Not a problem according to these Sarab Rogees. Change the meaning of Naam to something more do-able – a single word Waheguru, a single verse, a particular shabad, or a paraticular bani – and let’s get together to recite and chant this “do-able Naam” to chase away our physical illness.
What’s wrong with reciting bani to get rid of physical illnesses one might ask. What these Sarab Rogees need to appreciate is that intent matters. Using Gurbani for intents that it was not intended for is the issue. This is the 21st century folks. Surely by now we know that every verse of Gurbani has a message within it. These messages are meant to be understood, believed, applied, habitualized, and made part of our lives. Gurbani is not meant to be used as a mantra to achieve ends – chasing away diseases included.
What about chasing away illnesses? Guru Nanak gave us the answer to that:
ਹੁਕਮੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹੁਕਮ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ Hukmaiy Ander Sabh Ko, Bahar Hukm Na Koey.
Illnesses come to us under the Hukm of our choices. Choices pertaining to our lifestyles, daily routines and our established living regimes. Eat too much of A, drink too much of B, stress yourself too much, engage in destructive activites etc and you get disease X, Y or Z. This is the Hukm of our choices. The way to prevent or treat these illnesses also lies in the Hukm of choices. Stop doing A, B, C, less of D, E, F and do more of G, H, I and so on. Gurbani tells us to understand this Hukm pertaining to life choices and Hukm pertaining to every aspect of life and then use our intellect to live our lives to the best of our abilities. The verse is:
ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੈ ਜੇ ਬੁਝੈ Nanak Hukmaiy Jay Bujhey.
Making all the wrong choices, getting inflicted with illnesses – and then wanting to chant a word, verse or shabd of Gurbani to get rid of the disease is an attempt to circumvent the Hukm, to defy the Hukm, to flout the Hukm of our choices. It’ akin to an attempt to sow weeds and chant our way to a harvest of ripe bananas. Didn’t Guru Nanak tells us in the clearest of terms?
ਹੁਕਿਮ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ Hukm Rajayee Chalna.
Walk in the Hukm and in the Rzaa.
But all of this is of no relevance to the Sarab Rogees. I asked one Sarab Rogee sometime back as to why Guru Harkrishen died of an illness – drastically cutting short his life. Didn’t the Guru know of ਸਰਬ ਰੋਗ ਕਾ ਅਉਖਦੁ ਨਾਮੁ Sarab Rog Ka Aukhad Naam? Why didn’t the Guru “chant or recite” his illness (small pox) away? I am still waiting for an answer.
In the meantime, Khokhlay and Gurbani To(n) Koray folk continue to beat the drums of the Sarab Rogees movement all over the Sikh world. They are busy scheduling Healing Sessions at just about any gurdwara that allows them. Some Sikhs are offering their homes and offices for the so called Gurbani Healing Sessions.
Their tag-line “Prayer is God’s Medicine” and “Come With Faith And Be Healed” is straight out of the play book of the Bible hyping money making faith healers. Wake up people. These people who claim to run God’s Clinic for you, and distribute God’s prescriptions for you – themselves run to hospitals and expensive specialists when they fall sick.
This article appeared in The Sikh Bulletin Issue 2 / 2022 (July-September 2022). The author is Karminder Singh Dhillon, Phd. Click here to access the issue.
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. This article appeared in The Sikh Bulletin – 2022 Issue 3 (July-September 2022). Click here to retrieve archived copies of the bulletin. The author can be contacted at email@example.com.
Roles and functions of a gurdwara (Asia Samachar, 11 Dec 2015)
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