550th birth celebration of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Jasmeet Kaur Pasricha
Sikhism, arguably the youngest of the major world religions was initiated by Guru Nanak and is based on his revelatory experience.
Born in 1469, on the eve of the age of discovery, Guru Nanak came to this world with a divine mission. His unique definition of a creator lord the foundation for a model human society. Guru Nanak and his successor nine Gurus translated this basic description of God called the Mool Mantra, into a harmonious life model for mankind. Freedom from fear and freedom from hatred are the two preconditions of this religio – social model. It is built on the three pillars of honest and truthful living, sharing with others and constant awareness of the timeless god being.
It is important that the independent and peace loving ideology of Guru Nanak is clearly understood. Freedom from fear is a central and constant theme of Guru Nanak’s teachings. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was particularly adept in understanding human behaviour. He approved that religion is what makes man remember God as well as perform noble deeds; and attain spiritual objective while still living a life of family and social obligation: Sikhism as a faith historically belongs to medieval times, but it addresses and suggest means to deal with most of the challenges faced by man today. However, it alludes to directly or obliquely, to several of the issues faced by man even today. Among these could be counted the issues of equality of women, love, altruism, peaceful co – existence, humility & reverence for life.
Sikhism takes the human being as the body made of five perishable elements plus the divine particle within it. Uniting together the five elements is fashioned the body and within that is placed the Divine Jewel :
The soul is the Lord and Lord is the soul, and Lord God can be realised by Pondering over name, says Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak observed several instances of superstition, but always convinced people of the uselessness of their ritualistic ways, which were perpetuated by the priestly classes for their own benefit. A typical example is an incident, which occurred at Haridwar. At that sacred place, on the banks of Ganges, he saw people throwing water towards the east. When asked what they were doing, they replied that they offering oblation to their ancestors in the other world. Nanak there upon started throwing water towards the west. When asked what he was doing, he replied; “I am a farmer from Kartarpur to the west of here (250 miles), and I am watering my fields over there”; when people laughed at this, he asked them, “ If your water can reach millions of miles in the other world, cannot mine reach even 250 miles on this Earth. This indirect approach had a Psychological effect on people and they realised the folly of their act. If Nanak had criticised them directly, it would probably have infuriated people and not achieved the desired effect.
Guru Nanak did not subscribe to the traditional caste distinction and believed in the oneness of humanity. He usually stayed with low caste people during his travels. This brought home the lesson that it is not the high or low caste, but the deeds, which determine one’s status in life.
Many a times, even from Psycho – Analysis point of view the world of delusions and
hallucinations becomes the real world for the individual and the world of reality (his real self) becomes unreal to him. Guru Nanak emphasis on truth is in line with the major focus of humanistic Psychology, the emphasis on social interaction, based on truthfulness honesty and openness. As opposed to Psycho – analytic view of a helpless man, Guru Nanak’s view of man is that he is master of his will and can decide for himself the nature of his actions and reactions, as he is made in the image of God only by realising his true nature can he find the true path. Nanak emphasised man’s social responsibility and importance of truthful interaction with his fellow beings.
Guru Nanak, while understanding the role of behaviour, does not lose sight of the moral principles. Like a good Psycho-therapist, he first diagnoses the problem. He sees people committing acts of extreme responsibility against their fellow beings.
“In this age of darkness
Men have become as dogs
They eat the ill – gotten gains
And bark out their lies.
Giving no thought to righteousness
They have no honour in life,
And leave an evil name, after death.”
Guru Nanak emphasised that a “person does not become a sinner because someone says so.” It is his deed, and not words which determine his behaviour. According to Guru Nanak, “Mind is the paper and our action (are) the ink. Virtue and Vice are the two writings inscribed thereon. We are driven into paths determined by our past actions. Guru Nanak laid the foundation of man’s uplift, not on short cuts, as mantras, miracles, or mysteries but on man’s own humanity, his own character. He raised the spirit of man “with a belief that he was not a helpless creature in the hands of a being of arbitrary will, but was a responsible being endowed with a will of his own, with which he could do much to mould his own destiny.
Idol, Worship, Caste, Asceticism and rituals have no place in Guru Nanak’s religion, which is rationale and pragmatic. The full acceptance of life with its truly practice, and fervent faith in God. His religion was for a house holders not for ascetics. He laid stress on a life of piety. He fervently preached of One God and One humanity – transcends all distinction of Caste and Creeds, race and gender.
Devotion is a basic requisite for grace. Grace overflows like rain from Heaven Grace is a divine mystery, the lord’s blessings cannot be forced out and does not depend upon riches, birth and wisdom. The devotees should be submissive, egoless being the recipient of this grace.
We can sum up that Grace has many shades. Devotion is a Gift of Grace. The gift of salvation is obtained by the devotional service to God. Through His grace sorrowful feeling does not come. Through Guru’s Grace all desires are fulfilled; Nine treasures are obtained and eternal truth realised. According to Sikh Guru Nanak Devji the rare opportunity of human birth must not be wasted in meeting only the needs of the body: it is called giving away a jewel for a shell.