Poet and Philosopher : Guru Arjan Dev Ji

The contribution of Guru Arjan Dev to the Guru Granth Sahib has been more than that of any other: of the total 1430 pages of the standard printed edition of the scripture, his hymns put together would cover almost 650 pages and of the total thirty-one ragas or musical measures to which the entire corpus is assigned, the compositions of Guru Arjan Dev are in thirty ragas. He was not only a poet of great merit but also an editor with a sense of rare meticulousness and thoroughness. He was as good in poetics as he was in musicology. He was a mystic and spiritualist, but his compositions are not completely devoid of social praxis. He reflected deeply on the prevailing socio-religious situation and this situation gets clearly reflected in his poetic works. In other words, the human socio-religious situation is at the base of his poetic compositions and at the same time the improvement of the spiritual as well as social life of mankind so as to transform this mundane world into Sach Khand or the Realm of Truth also happens to be their object. This also implies that Guru Arjan, like any other great poet, was influenced by the contemporary milieu and at the same time he also deeply influenced the contemporary socio-spiritual life.

Broadly speaking, the total literary output of Guru Arjan Dev is 1345 padas, 62 astpadis and 62 chhants, 14 solhe, 20 swaiyye and more than four hundred slokas of which several have been included at different places in various vars included in the Guru Granth Sahib, some are included towards the end of the scripture and a few have been added at different places to the slokas of Kabir and Farid so as to explain or complement their meaning.

Among his longer titled compositions are included six vars in Gauri, Gujari, Jaitsari, Ramkali, Maru and Basant measures, besides one Barah Maha in Majh measure, one BawanAkhari in Gauri measure, Sukhmani in Gauri, Thiti in Gauri, Pahre in Sri raga, Din Rami (Majh), Birhare (Asa), Gunwanti (Suhi), and Anjulian (Maru).

There are some more longer titled compositions which are not assigned to any musical measure and are placed in the last part of the Guru Granth Sahib. They include Salok Sahaskriti (67), Gatha (24), Phunhe (23), Chaubole (11), and Swaiyye (20).

Var in Punjabi literature is a verse form which is popular in folklore as well as in refined poetry. In the old bardic tradition of the Punjab, the word var implies both the theme as well as the form in which that theme is cast. Originally, the var was written about battles and dynastic feuds, the issues of honour fought at the point of sword and the romantic love. These vars portrayed the chivalry and dauntless boldness shown in such a battle and bards sang these vars eulogizing these qualities of their patrons.

It was a common practice among the feudal chiefs during medieval times to maintain hereditary bards whose one function was to compose and sing verses concerning the history of the family and valour shown by some of its members. This was invariably the theme of a var prior to Guru Nanak and we have several such secular vars in the post-Guru period as well.

However, the Sikh Gurus transformed the theme of var : the folk poetry got cast in a spiritual mould in the Sikh holy corpus.

There are a total of twenty-two vars included in the Guru Granth Sahib of which one is by Satta and Balvand, two bards, and the remaining twenty-one are by the Gurus. Of these twenty-two vars, Guru Arjan has given at the head of nine vars the title of folk ballads indicating the tune to which the said var was to be sung.

All these vars deal with spirituality: interestingly, the nine earlier vars named in the scripture with a view to give directions regarding the style in which some of the scriptural vars are to be sung are all martial in character. All the vars in the Guru Granth Sahib are written in pauri (stanza) meter and each of the stanzas is prefixed by some slokas: only the var in Basant measure by Guru Arjan and the var by Satta and Balvand in Ramkali measure are an exception wherein no slokas are prefixed to the stanzas. There are some vars which, as their titles suggest, had slokas written and added by the authors of the pauris, but in the case of others it was Guru Arjan who added slokas authored by various Gurus to the pauris. The theme of the stanzas and the slokas in the vars is identical. What is referred to briefly in the slokas is explained and explicated in the following pauri.

The var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki, popularly known as Chandi di Var, by Guru Gobind Singh as included in the Dasam Granth, was also composed with a view to infuse martial ardour among the followers.

The vars by Bhai Gurdas which are part of the approved Sikh canon reiterate or explain in simple idiom what the Gurus had already said in their hymns as included in the Guru Granth Sahib.

That is perhaps why they are called the key to the Guru Granth Sahib. In both these cases, however, the pauris of the vars do not have any slokas added to them. The vars in the Guru Granth Sahib generally depict the battle between the gurmukh or the forces of Good and the manmukh or the forces of Evil going on in human mind. In such a battle, it is only the nam or the remembrance of Name Divine which helps one overcome the forces of Evil.

Guru Arjan’s contribution in this genre is six vars. His Var in measure Gauri comprises twenty-one stanzas and it carries at its head the direction as to the tune in which it should most appropriately be sung : the tune indicated is that of the then popular ballad, Rai Kamaldi Mojdi Var, which recounted the valour of Mojdi (Muazz ud-Din) in a fight against his Muslim Rajput uncle Kamaldi (Kamal ud-Din). It begins with the eulogy of the non-dual One who is creator of as well as immanent in all the created beings. Man is advised to love and remember the Name Divine in the company of the holy to realize oneness with Him.

This mystical oneness with God removes all psychic conflicts and man ever abides in bliss. However, man unfortunately neglects soul’s yearning for union with Lord, rather seeks meterial and physical satisfaction in self-indulgence. This makes man look happy outwardly, but he is full of anxiety within. Only the remembrance of Name Divine can save man from this anxiety, unhappiness and discontent and lead him to his spiritual objective.

His another Var in Gujri measure also has twenty-one stanzas, and herein the stanzas generaly eulogize the Guru and God whereas the slokas refer to human limitations and to the role of Guru’s grace in overcoming those limitations. In gereral, the Var lauds the Creator-Lord and proclaims that this manifest world is not unreal: since God is immanent in the creation, the latter cannot be unreal or maya. God has no co-equal or co-eternal: all gods, goddesses and scriptures sing His praises. Man is also advised to remember God, participate in the sangat or congregation and perform good deeds to become the object of divine grace. Only such a person is able to eradicate his ego which otherwise makes man ever suffer in the process of transmigration.

The Var in Jaitsari measure comprises twenty stanzas, with two slokas preceding each stanza: of these two slokas, the language of the first one is Prakrit whereas the second is in western or Multani dialect of Punjabi language. The theme referred to briefly in the slokas is duly explained in the following stanza which is in central Punjabi. All the stanzas as well as the slokas are the authorship of Guru Arjan. Traditionally, during the courses of an akhand path or uninterrupted reading of the scripture, as the granthi or reader reaches this text, ardas or prayer is said for having reached midway in the recitation of the entire scripture.

Earlier, this Var used to be recited at the conclusion of the death ceremonies also, but this is rarly done these days.

In this Var the Guru exhorts man to remember and eulogize God who is the creator of and pervades all created phenomena.

He also advises man not to get engrossed in the transitory material attractions, rather he should concentrate on Name Divine because the latter is the source of all comfort and joy. The company of the holy or satsangat helps man remember God whereas indulgence in worldly things makes one forgetful of God. None of the worldly possessions which man acquires through indulgence in various sinful and false means will be of any help to him hereafter. Man should ever be thoughtful of the Giver rather than getting attached to the gifts. The Var makes a beautiful comparison of spirituality and materialism and advises man to follow the former path. The Var also expresses the might of the divine law of retribution and proclaims that every individual is judged according to the deeds he does during his lifetime – jaisa bijai so lunai karam ehu khetu – one reaps what one sows, this is the field of action.

The fourth Var by Guru Arjan is in Ramkali measure and

comprises twenty-two stanzas, with two slokas preceding each stanza. All the stanzas as well as the slokas are from the pen of Guru Arjan Dev. However, four of the slokas, though authored by the Guru, address themselves to the views of Kabir (2) and Farid (2). The language of the stanzas is central Punjabi whereas the slokas have sprinklings here and there of Hindi, Persian and western dialect of Punjabi. In these slokas, the Guru eulogies the holy and criticizes the manmukh and the ritualistic.They also sing the significance of Name and love in human heart and make a criticism of hypocrisy. The Var brings out beautifully the immense and unfathomable greatness of Creator-Lord and the smallness of the individual being in the inverse propotion. The Name Divine is the only true friend of man as it is the only means to help man get united with the Lord whereas all worldly attractions and allurements are false as they cause man’s bondage and consequent transmigration. The former are the objects of His grace and thus they are ever in bliss and they need fear none. God is unfathomable and unattainable, and cannot be realized either through weeping or wailing or through mechanical reading of scriptures or through pilgrimages and ritual bathing or through any intellectual jargon.

On the other hand, all the created beings are functioning under His will. It is only through remembrance of His Name that man can achieve mystical oneness with Him.

The fifth Var, in the Maru measure, comprises twenty-three stanzas, with three slokas, here called dakhne, attached to each stanza. Both the stanzas and the dakhne are the work of Guru Arjan Dev. The word dakhne literally implies the slokas written in the dialect of Punjabi which was spoken in the southern parts of Punjab, that is from Multan to the Sakhar-Sind areas. However, the language of the stanzas is Punjabi under the fair influence of Sadh Bhakha. Broadly speaking, the dakhne express the author’s feelings of love whereas the stanzas sing the eulogies of the Lord.

The Var primarily presents a spiritual vision of God and the operation of moral law and advises man to express devotion to Him. God is the sole creator of the entire manifest world and He is also immanent in His creation. He is eternal and beyond kal whereas all the created beings are subject to decay and death. He has no form and He is not limited to any class or category : He is all-pervasive. However, man engrossed in his ego forgets the Lord and suffers. Man can realize God only by discarding the ego which denudes man of all his spirituality. Proud of his worldly possessions, man becomes forgetful of God. He can get rid of his ego and realize God only by taking shelter in the Guru’s Word.

Neither renunciation of the world nor any particular garb, neither fasts nor ritual bathing at pilgrimage centers, neither mechanical reading of scriptures nor intellectual exercise, neither rituals nor formalism can help man in this regard: householder’s life is no hindrance and only constant remembrance of His name can be helpful.

The sixth Var, in Basant measure, is the only var in the Guru Granth Sahib which has no slokas prefixed to its stanzas.

Comprising just three stanzas, it is also the smallest in size. It also presents si^e by side Creator and the created being (man), suggesting that just as Spring is the season for flowers to bloom, human life is the opportunity for man to remember Name Divine and realize oneness with Him. The first stanza depicts the influence of Spring on the manifest world as well as of the divine grace on man. It is with the grace of God that man has been able to overcome the ‘enemies’ like lust, wrath, greed, attachment and ego. Those who overpower these enemies get liberated from the process of birth-death-rebirth (2). The Lord-God is the creator of all and He subsumes all unto Himself in the end. The fortunate ones sing eulogies of such a Lord and live ever in bliss (3).

Besides the Vars, Sukhmani is a very significant work among the other longer compositions of the Guru. It comprises twentyfour cantos, each comprising eight stanzas composed in chaupai metre. A sloka or couplet precedes each canto. Since the word Sukhmani in Punjabi means ‘the consoler of the mind’, the work has variously been translated into English under the titles such as Psalm of Peace or Song of Peace, singnifying the soothing effect it has on the mind of the reader. The rahau couplet in almost every composition in the Guru Granth Sahib sums up the most characteristic feature of that composition. In the Sukhmani, the rahau couplet implies that it is the bringer of the bliss of the Lord’s name; it dwells in the hearts of those who love Him. The first seven stanzas of each of the cantos explore the theme stated in the preceding sloka and the eighth stanza sometimes sums up the canto but more oftern praises the Lord placing the theme in the context of an overall vision of God. Since Sukhmani presents a complete scheme of the teachings of the Sikh faith, it has become one of the fundamental texts of the Sikhs and the Sikh faith.

No doubt, each canto of the Sukhmani unfolds a particular aspect of Truth, yet in its entirety the composition addresses itself to the themes of unity of Reality, divine immanence, divine grace and compassion, merit of devotion, participation in congregation and virtues like humility, and so on. The opening invocation calls God as adi gure, jugadi gure, satigure and sri gurdeve (Primal Preceptor, Preceptor from the beginning of the time existing, True Preceptor and Preceptor Divine). Man is advised to remember this Lord because it is the only way to link up his consciousness with the Divine. Name is the true helper and friend, true conferer of joy and bliss as against one’s trust in yogic austerities, ascetic practices and ritual worship .In fact, the first six cantos stress on man the significance of Name Divine and also highlight the suffering of man who is forgetful of God and indifferent to humanity as well as the blissful state enjoyed by one who ever remembers Name .

The following five cantos (7-11) deal with the concept of the ideal man called brahmgiani, gurmukh and jivan-mukta whereas cantos 12 to 20 stress the significance of sadhna or discipline for the spiritual progression of man. One must not be self-conceited and one must never slander a saint: he who slanders a saint is called the worst evil-doer bereft of all spiritual blessing. The last four (21-24) cantos delineate the absolute powers of God who is said to be the sole creator of all that exists in this universe, whom none can fathom, who loves all and feels rancour toward none, and through whose hukam and grace man attains true wisdom.

Thus, the Sukhmani is a theological statement of the major tenets of the Sikh faith expressed in a devotional poetic form.

Another longer titled composition of Guru Arjan Dev is Borah Maha in Majh measure. As a literary genre, Barah Maha is a form of folk poetry which expresses emotions and yearnings of the human heart in terms of the changing moods of nature over the twelve months(barah in Punjabi means twelve and maha means month ) of Indian calendar. In this genre the moods of nature are described month-wise which symbolise the mood or inner agony of the human heart or more precisely the love-stricken woman separated from her lover/husband. In other words, the poet tries to read the human feelings reflected in the different faces of nature.

Many poets in Sanskrit, Hindi and other languages have composed poems in this genre. In the Guru Granth Sahib also, there are two compositions under this title, one by Guru Nanak and the second by Guru Arjan. However, in the scriptural literature, the jiva or human being is called wife or beloved vis-a-vis God who is called the Lover or Husband: the former, separated from the latter, yearns for union with Him.

In the Sanskrit literature, it has been called shad ritu varnan (shad— six; r/fw=seasons; and v<2/72arc=description), and the most well known example of this genre has been Kalidas’ Ritu Sanhar.

In the medieval Indian literature, this genre remained quite popular.

In the Hindi literature, the first such work has been cited as Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Pqdamavat. Guru Nanak’s Barah Maha, in Tukhari measure, has been the oldest composition belonging to this genre in Punjabi literature. It was also in the hands of Guru Nanak that its theme of love poetry got transformed into that of spiritual import. In his works, human soul became the chief protanonist which got caught in the process of transmigration and suffered, yearning to get united with the Absolute One after getting release from this bondage. Guru Arjan’s Barah Maha also falls in this category.

Guru Arjan’s Barah Maha, known for its philosophical import as well as its poetic splendour, comprises fourteen stanzas of which the first and the last serve as prologue and epilogue, respectively, whereas the remaining twelve, beginning serially with the name of the month, depict through the moods of nature ov%r the twelve months the pangs of the bride (individual soul) separated from her Divine Lover. The Guru has tried to reflect the individual soul’s yearning in relation to the mood of nature in a particular month yet all months and implicitly all days and hours are proclaimed auspicious for those who have earned the grace of the Lord. It is this divine grace coupled with human initiative which helps break the web of transmigration and win acceptance in the Divine Court. Philosophically, the composition stresses the fundamental Sikh metaphysical doctrine of the oneness of God and His presence in each being and at all places while at the same time remaining unfathomable and unknowable. His transcendent as well immanent nature implies there is no essential gap between the Creator and the creation. It is only the egoist human mind which sees the self apart from its ontological core. Thus, the Sikh spiritual objective is proclaimed to be the “mystic unity”

rather then the “physical merger”: it is the realization of the Absolute One wihin onself. One can do so while still participating in life of familial and social obligations.

The prologue depicts individual soul’s sense of grief as its separation from its original Source, and also expresses its feeling of submission to God so as to realize union with Him and thus get rid of this grief. A human life not given to Name Divine is as useless as the cow without milk and the crop sans any yield caused by the lack of rains. All comforts and pleasures of the world are futile if man is not at peace which is attainable only through the benefits one reaps by ever remembering Him. Devotion to God saves man from all pain and suffering and His grace brings him eternal bliss. For such blessed persons, all days and months are equally auspicious.

Each of the twelve stanzas in between relates to a month of the Indian calendar, beginning with the first, Chet. Chet is the month of Spring with beautiful flowers blooming all around. Man feels immensely pleased looking at such beautiful scenario.

Similarly, remembrance of Name Divine gives one immense pleasure, but it is only in the company of the holy that one gets the gift of Name (2). The next stanza, beginning with the second month, called Vaisakh, depicts the emotions of a ‘woman’ for her ‘Spouse’, but those who are separated from their Spouse and those who have no love in their hearts for Him ever remain restless.

Unfortunately, man forgetful of God tries to find joy in the things of the world, but only those enjoy the beauty of Vaisakh and bliss in life who attain union with the Spouse, i.e.God (3). Jeth is the month to unite with the Divine, but unfortunately man wastes away his life in the acquisition of worldly possessions. Those who are fortunate enough to receive the Guru’s guidance and grace of God are able to realize God and win acceptance and appreciation at the Divine Court (4). In the heat of Asar/Har, only they suffer who are separated from their Spouse. Those who remember God in the company of the holy enjoy bliss and those who, in their ego, become forgetful of Him suffer (5). In the following month of Sawan begins the rainy season which turns the surroundings all green. Those who are attuned to God are as alive and happy as Nature during the season. Sawan brings joy to those who have Name Divine residing in their hearts (6). Just as Bhadon, the sixth month of the Indian calendar, is humid and harrowing, the individual souls not attuned with God suffer. One must reap as one sows in this life – jeha bijai so lunai karma sandara khetu.

Those who seek shelter with Him get saved (7). The weather in the month of Assu is quite pleasant, producing in the seeker- woman Poet and Philosopher in the desire to meet the Lover-God. The keenness for this union is beautifully described and the joy of union is proclaimed to be better than any worldly taste (8). Again, the month of Kartik describes the suffering, weeping and wailing of those separated from their spouse. Remembrance of Name Divine in the company of the holy can only put an end to this separation (9). Beautiful are those who are united with their spouses whereas those in separation fall prey to many Enemies* (evils) and suffer (10). The cold weather of Poh is not felt by one with her Spouse. She is blessed by God and to her even the cold month of Poh is pleasent In Indian tradion, the first day of Magh is considered

auspicious and people visit various places of pilgrimage for ritual bathing. However, Guru Arjan advises man to ‘bathe in the dust of the feet of the holy’. Company of such holy people erases all evil tendencies and helps one to move ahead on the path of spirituality In the last and twelfth month of Phagun, the winter is again replaced by Spring and the Nature is once again in a joyous mood.

Those who realize God through the company of the holy feel the same joy in their hearts. God is unfathomable and those who submit to Him swim across the world ocean (13).

V Bawan Akhari, another literary genre which traces its origin to the Sanskrit literature, is constructed upon the bavan or fiftytwo akhar or letters of Devnagri script. Each stanza of this composition should normally begin serially with a letter of the Devnagri alphabet, but notwithstanding this nomenclature none of the extant compositions in this genre comprise exactly fiftytwo stanzas: it is not possible to open a stanza with a vowel and a conjunct and sometimes a letter is used to open more than one stanza.

There aire in the Guru Granth Sahib two compositions by this nomenclature – one by Kabir and the other by Guru Arjan. The Bawan Akhari, by Guru Arjan, is in Gauri measure and comprises fifty-five stanzas, each of them preceded by some slokas. All the letters, especially the vowels and conjuncts in Devnagri cannot be used in the Gurmukhi script: only twenty-nine consonants in Gurmukhi conform to those in Devnagri and stanzas 17-46 begin with these consonants, except that m figures twice. The opening sixteen and the concluding nine stanzas do not follow the serial order of either Devnagri or Gurmukhi script. The central theme is the attainment of the dust of the feet of the holy through the divine grace. One can achieve the divine grace only through the help and guidance of the Guru who brings purity to the life of the seeker and helps man tread the path of spirituality. Satsang or company of the holy is a pre-requisite for the spiritual journey, and that is why the primary human objective has been declared as the attainment of the dust of the feet of the holy. In the process, the composition brings out the concept, role and significance of the Guru and advises man to save himself from evils by the remembrance of Name Divine and participating in the satsangat.

VI

Guru Arjan’s Ruti, Thiti, Din Raini and Pahre are the titled though not very long compositions and all are in the prosodic vogue of inscribing verses to kal-krama (process of time). All these compositions emphasise the need to remember and eulogize the Lord through all the thitti, also written as thittin, or days/ dates, ruti or seasons, dirt raini or days and nights and pahar or hours/time. The Brahamanical ritualism considers certain dates/ seasons/days/moments of time more auspicious than others, and the auspicious days, etc. are considered more appropriate to worship and eulogize God. The Sikh Gurus tried to undo such superstitious beliefs and with this object proclaimed that all the hours, days, dates and seasons are the creation of God and are thus equally auspicious. Guru Arjan’s Ruti, in Ramkali measure, comprises eight chhants or six-line stanzas, with two slokas prefixed to each of the stanzas. The slokas here have been used to introduce the theme which finds elaboration in the following stanza.The composition delineates the seeker’s longing for the Lord and the bliss he experiences on attaining union with Him and this union, attained through remembrance of Name Divine, makes all the seasons and months and days and hours delightful for him: change in seasons does not affect him or his mood.

His Thitti 9 in Gauri measure and comprising seventeen pauris or stanzas with each stanza preceded by a sloka, is also aimed at removing the superstition that certain days/dates are more auspicious than others. The rahau verses sum up the primary theme of the composition as singing eulogies of the Lord in the company of the holy, and this theme has been repeatedly explained in the context of dates. Proceeding from the ekam or the first day of the waning half of the lunar month, the composition goes on till the amavas or the last day of the dark half of the month and thereafter refers to the puranmashi/purnima or the full-moon day.

Throughout these stanzas, the devotion to and meditation on Name Divine are stressed as highly prized values because they eradicate ego and other evils from human mind. Everybody, irrespective of his caste or creed, can attain liberation through Name Divine. The belief that certain lunar days associated with some deity or god/ goddess/incarnation are more propitious than the others is rejected: all days are auspicious if devoted to God’s remembrance and to good deeds. Guru Nanak and Kabir have also composed hymns under the same title, the former’s is assigned to Bilawal measure and the latter ‘s to measure Gauri.

The composition Pahre, in Siri measure, is a small composition comprising only five stanzas of six lines each. Herein man has been advised with the help of a metaphor of vanjara or trader to be honest in his social dealings and behaviour, and traverse life always mindful of the Creator, the union with whom is his ultimate objective. Each of the five stanzas deal with man’s entire life from his birth till death – his birth and childhood; his youth when he in his ego loses the sense of discrimination between good and bad; mature age when he gets engrossed in the affairs of the world and forgets the Lord; old age when death approaches and when man feels anxious to remember God so as to improve his chances in the next birth; death overtakes man who departs from this world leaving behind all worldly possessions. Those who had remembered God all the time successfully swim across the world-ocean whereas those given only to worldly pleasures and temptations suffer in the process of transmigration. There are two more compositions of the same title, one by Guru Nanak and the other by Guru Ram Das.

Guru Arjan’s Din-Raini, in Majh measure, comprising only four stanzas of varying length, is another composition following the prosodic vogue of inscribing verses to the process of time. It delineates all the good, noble deeds which man ought to do day and night to realize God and to make his life a success. The Guru, as says the composition, is sacrifice unto those who remember and serve God day and night.

The other titled compositions of Guru Arjan include Birhare (in Asa measure), Gunwanti (in Suhi measure) and Anjulian (in Maru measure). The word birhara or birha in Punjabi means separation or pangs of separation, and there are folk songs under this nomenclature depicting with deep intensity and feeling one’s pangs of separation from and the keenness to be one with his or her lover. The composition of Guru Arjan depicts individual soul’s yearning for union with the Lord separate from whom it has been suffering. Gunwanti, literally a virtuous woman, is a term which Guru Arjan has figuratively used, in his composition of the same name, for a true and meritorious devotee. According to this composition, the virtues which a true Sikh must imbibe include humility, respect for others, desire for the company of the holy (satsangat), abandonment of pride and all temptation, and subservience to the will of God. He who follows the path of righteousness will never experience pain or grief. The Anjulian by Guru Arjan Dev is a short composition comprising two hymns (GGS, 1 007-8 and 1019) and is by way of a prayer to God seeking from Him the gift of Name. The word anjuli (plural anjulian) is of Sanskrit origin which implies the joining together of palms in supplication or salutation. Man gives himself completely to worldly acquisitions under the mistaken notion that he can get pleasure only out of his material possessions. This only adds to his misery.

Everything in this world happens in His will and man is thus advised to ever remember Him in the company of the holy. It also rejects the ritual of anjuli as libation to the manes and teaches man to willingly accept the Divine hukam.

No, doubt, it was Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, who articulated all the fundamental concepts and doctrines of the Sikh faith. The following Gurus explained and elaborated them, and set up and nurtured certains institutions so as to make them a part of the life of their followers. However, the contribution of the later Gurus cannot be under-estimated. Guru Arjan’s contribution towards the doctrinal and institutional strengthening of the faith has been very significant. He gave to the Sikhs their holy Book, now called the Guru Granth Sahib, their central place of worship, the Harimandar (popularly called Darbar Sahib but known as the Golden Temple among the people of the west), and became the first martyr in the Sikh tradition having laid down his life for the freedom of faith and against religious intolerance and fanaticism. We agree with the observation that the ‘work of the first four Gurus was preparatory and it assumed a more definitive form in the hands of Guru Arjan Dev. The later Gurus substantiated the principles manifested in the life of Guru Arjan Dev who thus marked a central point in the evolution of the Sikh tradition’.

In Sikhism the supreme Reality is revealed through the

revelatory experiences of the Gurus who had the first-hand experience of It in their mystic state of consciousness. For them, God is self-evident, and thus no proof or effort is required to prove or establish the divine existence. Guru Arjan Dev makes it rather explicit when he says that God has been apparently obvious – nanak kapatisah disaijahara. Guru Gobind Singh, in his Japu which forms part of the daily regimen of prayers of a Sikh, also emphasizes that God is hajra hajur and zahrazahur, i.e. apparently obvious. The Gurus take God to be so obvious, so outstandingly visible that they make no effort, rather feel no need, to prove His existence. God is perceived to be manifest in all the material phenomena around us, present in all the directions and at all the places. However, this does not equate God with or limit Him to the manifest material phenomena. The latter are in essence divine but they fail to contain the Divine in Its entirety. Guru Arjan says: Manifests in water and at land, the Creator Master;

Says N anak: One Formless manifests Himself in varied forms.

The Sikh Gurus lay much emphasis on the unity of Reality: plurality of deities is straightaway rejected. The scripture opens with the term ikoankar, a term which occurs many times in the following text. The frequent use of the term is suggestive of the significant and central place the concept of the unity of God occupies in Sikh ontology. The term ikoankar is, in fact, a compound of three words, i.e. ik, oan (or om) and kar The word oan or om stands for the supreme Reality. In the Upanisadic literature also, the word om has been used to convey the means of meditation as well as the object of it: here the word describes both the supreme means of meditation and the goal to be reached by the meditation itself. The Sikh Gurus have invariably used the word with the prefix ‘ik’ and suffix ‘kar In fact, the prefix ‘ik’

is not a word, but is a numeral and as such is very specific and certain in its meaning. There can never be any ambiguity about the meaning of a numeral whereas different words or phrases could be interpreted differently by different persons to give them different meanings. On the other hand, the meaning of a numeral is ever fixed for all. Guru Nanak has therefore used the prefix ‘ik’

to emphasize the oneness, non-duality of God. The addition of prefix Uk ‘ by Guru Nanak to the Hindu term oan or om is significant as the Sikh perception of God is unitary as against the Hindu belief in the plurality of Godhead. Obviously, this is also against the sramanic tradition which altogether denies the existence of God.

The use of suffix ‘kar’ to ‘oan’ is not a new innovation in Sikhism as it had already been used in some Upanisadic literature as well. However, the use is significant as it implies creation, thereby bringing about the sagun aspect of the transcendent, nirgun God. This suffix is indicative of the creative aspect of God who does not remain static but becomes dynamic as creator and sustainer of the manifest material world. There have been numerous references in the scripture suggesting the creative aspect of Reality: God has been referred to as Karta Purakh who, of His own will and from His own self, has created the entire manifest phenomena.

Thus, the term ikoankar means the non-dual unity of God (ik) which was earlier in unmanifest state (oan) but later on willed Himself to manifestation or creation (kar). The term in this sense also happens to occupy a three-dimensional connotation. One, it stresses the unity, the oneness of the metaphysical Reality called God. The manifest reality in all its plurality must not be taken as duality. Second, it refer to the unmanifest, formless (nirankar, nirgun) state which is also called the impersonal unity of Reality.

Third, it points to the creative aspect of Reality, implying His manifestation, qua spirit, in all beings and at all places. In other words, we can also say that ikoankar stands for the non-dual dynamic God who wills Himself from Being to Becoming, and thus becomes transcendent as well as immanent. Guru Arjan also says that it is the same formless God who manifests Himself in diverse forms in the mundane world (GGS, V, 296).

In Hinduism there is a trinity of gods – Brahma, Visnu and Siva – which is responsible, respectively, for the creation, preservation and destruction of all that exists in this universe.

Unlike this, the Sikh Gurus have perceived the Real One as the one spiritual continuum solely responsible for the creation, preservation and possible re-absorption unto Himself of the entire manifest phenomena. Thus, they perceive Him as transcendent as well as immanent, stressing equally on both the aspects and declaring that neither aspect is more important than the other.

They are also quite specific in their reiteration that this immanence of God in the plurality of beings and things of the material world does not in any way affect either its unitary character or its transcendent nature. God in His unmanifest state is transcendent as well as nirgun: in this state, He is beyond human comprehension.

But when He manifests Himself, qua spirit, in the material phenomena. He becomes immanent as well as sagun: it is this aspect of God that we as humans try to understand. Since the entire manifest phenomena does not exhaust God in His entirety, the human understanding of Him is ever incomplete. That is perhaps why Guru Nanak in his Mul Mantra while giving different attributive names of God calls him Karta Purakh (Creator Being). However, the Sikh conception of purakh is different from that of the purusha of the Sankhya-yoga system: the latter is not only inactive but is also dualistic from prakriti, but the former here is active and internally related to the nature or qudrat. He is the dynamic principle and the qudrat or nature is His manifest form, the immanent aspect of the transcendent Karta (Creator).

This self-manifestation of God is under the self-regulative cosmic principle (hukm), and can be seen in the whole of the creation. All the creatures born of seed {setaj egg (andaj), foetus (j’eraj) and earth (utbhuj), all the four directions, the earth and the sky, day and night, and the sun and the moon all emanate from Him. The Lord is present (in spirit, though) on the earth and in the sea and everywhere else: the Creator-Lord can be perceived in the multiplicity of creation yet He retains His unity, says Guru Arjun. The Lord pervades all (ravi rahia sarbatra max) and man should ever remember Him. His light pervades all human souls (GS, V, 294). Just as fire is latent in all Nature and ghee is latent in all milk, the same Lore, the same Light pervades all beings, high as well as low, says Guru Arjun (GGS, V, 517). He creates all, nourishes all and finally reabsorbs all unto Himself – sagali banat banai ape/ape kare karae thape/ikasu te hoio ananta nanak ekasu mahi samae jiu (GGS, V, 131), Guru Gobind Singh also stresses the point as he says, in his Akal Ustati, that the Real One is immanent in all beings and at all places – sarab joti ke bich samana/sabhahun sarab thaur pahichana. However, this multiple manifestation does not affect or change God’s unitary character ek hain anek hain/anek hain phiri ek hain (God is one (Jk) but He becomes visible in a variety of material forms (anek); despite this multiplicity of manifestation, He is ever One).

The essential oneness of the creation and the Creator leaves no place for dualism. The Gurus reject both the static metaphysical system of Vedanta and the Semitic concept of the transcendental (impersonal) nature of God. The Sankhya theory of dualism between Purusa and Prakriti is also rejected. Unlike these metaphysical systems, the Sikh dynamic ontology, on the one hand, encompasses the ‘otherness’ of created elements within the allcomprehensive structure of non-dual Real One, and on the other, identifies with Himself, qua spirit, all sentient and non-sentient elements. These latter are visualized as manifest units of the Real One. Thus, the entire manifest phenomena become intrinsically one with God and are realized as a relative reality.

The inherent potentiality of self-manifestation of God does not restrict itself to the act of creation alone, but also extends to the preservation and destruction as well. He creates, preserves and finally reabsorbs everything unto Himself. As for God being the preserver of His creation, we find in the Guru Granth Sahib various attributes used for Him indicating His concern, love, justice and compassion for His creation. He has been given various epithets taken from familial relations such as mata (mother), pita (father), sakha (friend), data (giver), palak or palanhar (preserver), piara (the loved one), and so on: in our mundane life all these relations are supposed to bring us up and take care of our wellbeing. This creator and preserver God is also the destroyer of all that He creates. All the different forms and shapes emanate from Him and finally submerge within Him. The metaphor

repeatedly used in the Sikh scripture is that of the waves which arise from water and ultimately merge in it. Guru Gobind Singh, in his Akal Ustati, uses an extended metaphor to explain this relationship between jivatma (individual soul) and paramatma (supreme Soul):

As out of a single fire Millions of sparks arise; Arise in separation But come together again When they fall back in fire.as from a heap of dust Grains of dust swept upFill the air, and filling it Fall in the heap of dust.

As from a single stream Countless waves rise up and, being water, fall Back in water again.

So from God’s form emerge Alive and inanimate things; And since they rise from Him, They shall fall in Him again. Let it also be made explicit that this divine manifestation, preservation and re-absorption is not selective: it is universal. His spirit permeates through all and He is inseparable (abigami) from His creation.

God is, no doubt, creator of everything, but He himself is self-existent and self-effulgent. He was in existence when none else existed: other creation came into existence when the unmanifest, impersonal God willed self-manifestation. In Sikh philosophy, this process has been called a transformation from being or pure consciousness to becoming or manifestation in real historical time. Thus, the entire manifest phenomena including man and all other forms are a part of this becoming. In the scripture, He has been called saibhan or self-created. Though everything else has His spirit (joti) manifested in it, no other or outside spirit manifests in Him. He has no father or mother as we normal human beings have, and he depends on no outside source for His existence. He was when nothing else existed except chaos and darkness, He is and He shall ever be – sargun nirgun nirankar sunn samadhi api/apan kia nanaka ape hi phiri japi (GGS, V, 290). Another allied term with saibhan that is used for God is ajuni which means unborn or unincarnated. He is never born in human or any other form. He is free from the cycle of

transmigration. He is neither born nor dies; the Lord of Nanak pervades all (janami na marai na avai na jai/nanak ka prabhu rahio samai), says Guru Arjan (GGS, V, 1136).

We have learnt that God is the sole creator and all else is His creation. The creator-creation relationship has in the scripture been suggested by the examples of sea water and waves, sun and sun rays, and so on. The waves can never become equal to the sea and the rays can never equal the sun, similarly the creation is ever subservient to the creator: the former cannot become equal to Him. Thus, God is all-powerful, unequalled and there is absolutely no check on Him except His own self-regulative creative principle (hukm). He does not depend on anything else for His existence and survival. He is without any rivals (nirsahk) and without any relations (nirsak). Therefore, He fears none (fearless or nirbhau).

Since He has created the entire world of phenomena, the created beings are His own children who ever function under His will. He need not have enmity towards His own children, rather He has, in the scriptural hymns, been called ‘master of the patrons of the poor and the hapless’ – anath nath nath hai. This perception of God as fearless and rancourless is unlike the anthropomorphic and polytheistic tribal gods of the earlier Indian tradition. These latter are found many times engrossed in mutual enmity and hatred.

In Hindu mythology also, we find many gods either in fear of some other god/demon or trying to hold others in fear. Sometimes these gods are also shown as in fear of and even defeated by the demonic forces. However, the Sikh concept of God takes Him above these sectarian and tribal considerations and rather makes Him belong to the entire creation: He is immanent in the whole of mankind, the high as well as the low, and feels for the whole of it.

God in Sikh metaphysical thought is also called akal (akal means beyond and not subject to kal, i.e. time and death) murati (being). The word kal means time and death, and the addition of the prefix a to it on the one hand turns the noun into adjective and on the other gives it a negative connotation, thus implying one beyond and not subject to kal. God of the Sikh conception had been before time, is beyond time and will ever be. Unlike all other created beings who in their embodied form exist in historical time are subject to death and decay, God never gets embodied as He is never born in any form and is beyond all these limitations. In other words, God in his unmanifest, impersonal aspect transcends kal but His manifestations are immanent in time. Let its be stressed here that God transcends temporality and encompasses kal, but it is neither exclusive of time nor timeless, rather it subsumes kal, Guru Arjan says that God is never subject to death or destruction – akal muratijisu kade nahi khau (GGS, V, 1092).

Such a non-dual and dynamic God has been called Satinam, a term which combined two words, i.e. sati (literally, true or truth) and nam (name). It has been interpreted as the ‘manifestation of the Indeterminate Absolute as determinate Infinity in the creative act as spirit.’ Also, nam is a primordial sakti which is the material and efficient cause of the manifest world, and such a sakti is naturally sat or true. In fact, in Sikh metaphysics, nam is the divine cause of manifestation, means for truth-realization (nam-simran) as well as the Truth itself (sati-namu). It has been the only food on which the saintly feed themselves, says the scripture.

Such God can only be realized through the grace of the Guru.

The word Guru here does not stand for any personal guru, but for the Primal Lord: it can also be given the name of sabda brahman or the Divine Word, and thus referring to the impersonal aspect of God. Sabda is the creative principle which acts upon the consciousness of man leading him on the way to spiritual development and ultimately to God-realization. This process of self-development (spiritual as well as ethico-moral) constitutes the realm of grace when the individual will become attuned to the will of God and thus realize Him. Guru Arjan also says that enlightenment comes only with the grace of God and that man can control his mind only when God shows His grace to him (GGS, V, 271, 292).

Some of the earlier Indian religious traditions negate the self as well as the world: they held man and the manifest material world as unreal, calling it mithia or maya. They also advised man to free himself from its snare so as to get united with the Absolute One. This world and worldly life were considered a hindrance in the way to God-realization: in fact, freedom from this snare was considered a pre-requisite to accomplish the spiritual ideal of human life. On the other hand, the Sikh scripture, based as it is on the intuitive experiences of the Gurus, presents a different worldview. According to this world-view, the mundane world and all the beings who inhabit it including man are in essence one with God: the immanence of God in all the creation lends it a spiritual nature. Since the entire phenomena is the creation of God, the entire created phenomena is true because it is created by the True One, says Guru Arjan (GGS, V, 294). The creation no more remains an independent entity distinct from God, rather it gets identified with God’s self-revelation. Thus, the earlier idea of this material manifest world being mithia or maya which hinders man’s spiritual progression stands negated. The world no more need be renounced, says the scripture. On the other hand, we can see the dominant overtones of divinizing the mundane domesticity by declaring this mundane world as the abode of the Lord.

Both man and matter are not, according to the Sikh scripture, illusions: they are realities, relative realities though. Man is not only the central figure in the whole universe but is also the supreme creation among the numberless creations of God: all other species are subordinate to man who is the supreme creation on this earth, says Guru Arjan (avar joni teri panihari/is dharati mahi teri sikdari, GGS, V, 374). His status is the highest and he is at the head of all living beings: all other beings are subordinate to him even the gods long to be born as humans, says the scripture. Man is called the supreme being because only he has the consciousness to discriminate (bibek) between good and evil. That is why human life has been called the only opportunity to realize the Lord – bhai parapati manukh dehuria/gobind milan ki ih teri baria (GGS, V, 12). This consciousness is a pre-prequisite to reach the stage of self-realization or God-realization. All religions and philosophies revolve round him , and no religion or philosophy can exist or be complete without referring to , analyzing and establishing the nature and purpose of human life.

As for the creation of this manifest mundane world, the scripture says that in the beginning there was complete darkness, and nothing existed except God:

In the beginning there was indescribable darkness;

There was neither earth nor heaven,

Nothing but God’s unequalled Being.

There was neither day nor night, nor moon nor sun;

God alone was there in a meditative mood.

There was no source of life, voices, wind or water,

Neither creation nor destruction, nor coming nor going.

There was no Brahma, Visnu or Siva,

None existed but the One Lord.

Complete absence of any material a priori to the creation of this material world supports the theory that God constructed the world and all that inhabits it out of His own self and of His own will. When the Divine will began to work and how it operates is not known to any human mind: only He who created it knows thiti var na jogi janai ruti mahu na koi/ja karta sirathi kau saje ape janai soi. Guru Arjan also says that only the Creator, and none else, knows the mysteries of creation (GGS, V, 285).

However, when God created this world, He made Himself immanent in it. His immanence in the mundane world results in the spiritualization of the material reality. This world becomes the dwelling-place of God, and since God resides in this world, man must not renounce it, rather efforts be made to transform it into sach khand or the Kingdom of God on earth. This presence of Divine in this manifest world implies that this world is also true like its creator(<2/? sati kia sabhu sati/tis prabh te sagali utpati), though it is not everlasting like Him. Since God is believed to be present in the created phenomena, the idea of searching for Him in forests and mountains is futile: it is like going away from God.

This forms the basis of the Sikh stress on householder’s life vis-a-vis asceticism. Rejecting the idea of life-negation and worldnegation, the scripture advises man to aspire and strive for his spiritual ideal while living a normal life marked with familial and social obligations. Instead of renouncing the world, man must have total commitment to God and should ever remember Him as the sole power in each being and behind each action. He should ever feel and realize His presence in each being and at every place.

This would mean spiritual enlightenment or inward illumination having its natural corollary in a certain specified social behaviour marked by the values of love, equality, justice, altruism, service, etc.

In this manifest world which is relatively true, man is both the central figure and the supreme creation among the numberless creations of God. His status is the highest because he is the only conscious being with the potential to develop his consciousness to such a level as to realize his true self and achieve mystical oneness with the Divine. Like other creation, man is also, in essence, divine: there are references in the Sikh scripture to the effect that human body is made of five perishable material elements but God has put in it a sixth element which is the life force of body and which is not perishable like the other five elements which constitute the body. This everlasting sixth element, called atman, is also called a divine particle. Thus, human body becomes the temple of God (dehi mahi is ka bisramu), and the scripture advises man to keep it pure – in thought, word and deed. It is this body which is going to serve as means for the soul to realize God. This explains for the Sikh preference for the proper upkeep of body rather than put it to any hard penances.

Let this be clarified here that human soul is divine in nature, but it is not identical with Divine. The often quoted example in the Indian religious literature to connote the difference or relationship between individual soul and the supreme Soul is that of sea water and the water contained in a pitcher. The Gurus have also use the example of sea water and the waves: the latter are born of the water, but show their distinct existence for a while only to merge back into the sea water. The human soul is essentially related to the supreme Soul, gets separated from it to live brief bodily existence(s) and to finally coalesce with it. The Guru explains it by saying that God places his joti in human body, human being lives a short span of life in the mundane world to realize his divine potential and then this joti once again is reabsorbed in its original source.

However, we must hasten to add that the divine presence in the created phenomena is qua spirit, it is not physical. In fact, the Sikh metaphysics stresses the unity of God and He is taken as one, with no co-equal. He is self-existent and the only One not subject to kal or time. Thus, the idea of divine incarnation in human or in any other form is rejected. This manifest world and all that we find in this world including humans, gods, et al. are all creations of God who is not only the creator of everything and every being but is also immanent in the creation, thus lending them essential divinity. As creator, He is transcendent but He becomes immanent as He manifests Himself, as Spirit, in His creation. In the transcendent state, He is formless (nirakar) and without attributes (nirguri) but assumes attributes (sagun) as He manifests himself in different forms of His creation.

An important postulate of Sikh metaphysics as articulated in the Gurus’s hymns is the belief in avagavan or transmigration of soul. Man is born in this world, lives a specific span of life and passes away, but human life, which one attains after passing through several lower species, is proclaimed an opportunity to realize God (GGS, V, 176). All this happens under the divine Will like everything else taking place in the world. Sikhism does not adhere to the theory of certain gods in charge of birth and of death. It is the supreme One under whose will everything moves.

Dharamraj and Jamduts, the angels of death in Hindu metaphysics and mythology, are either spoken of as destructive forces of nature or brought in while discussing the beliefs of other traditions.

Similarly, Chit and Gupt, two angels in Hindu mythology responsible for recording all actions, good as well as evil, of man, have not been accepted as reality: they represent conscious and unconscious actions of man. The physical death of man and, for that matter, of other beings does not mean the total annihilation because the essence within being divine is eternal. It only implies change of one manifest form into another.

Every deed done by man, every word uttered by him and

even every thought that came to his mind, may that be good or bad, conscious or unconscious, leaves behind an impress which clings to him. ‘Dharamraj’ is not a historical person but only symbolic of divine reckoning of man’s deeds. Guru Arjan says that even Dharamraj will be able to do nothing if the paper, giving account of one’s deeds, is torn by the Name Divine (GGS, V, 614). Man’s present birth is influenced by the karma of his past lives, and the karma of his present life are bound to influence his future. He puts on the garb of this body according to the action of his past life. In other words, we can say that the principle of transmigration is directed by the quality of human action, and the human birth is attributed to the quality of the actions of the previous existence and the state of the soul at the time of death – koti janam bhrami aia piare anik joni dukhu pai/sacha sahibu visaria piare bahuti milai sajai, GGS, V, 640). Thus, the idea of transmigration is ethically-oriented, and rebirth in a particular life or shape is the result of the quality of one’s actions – good actions leading to the sovereign human birth whereas bad actions leading to animal or other lower existence.

The idea of divine immanence in each human being gives birth to the Sikh doctrine of the spiritual unity and ethnic equality of mankind: ail humans are spiritually united with Creator-God, and all of them are equal among themselves. This idea of equality in Sikhism is all-inclusive and makes no distinctions between man and man on any basis whatsoever. Sikhism makes no distinction between people of different castes, creeds and classes, and between man and woman. This is unlike the Hindu view of humans having emerged from different organs of Brahma, thus there being inherent inequality amongst them. Among other Indian religions, for example, the Digambar sect of Jainism considers woman unworthy of attaining liberation: they believe that she must by her noble karma secure birth in male form to realize the ideal of liberation. This indispensable condition of male life for release does not hold good in Sikhism which makes no distinction between man and woman in this regard. In fact, where man’s highest status among all other beings is confirmed in the scripture and wherein he is said to be at the helm of all living beings, the person addressed in the hymn is in the feminine gender.

What according to the Sikh metaphysics is the spiritual ideal of man? It is neither the acquisition of a kingdom nor the achievement of mukti or liberation – the former is the highest objective man can aspire for in mundane life whereas the latter is the highest spiritual ideal according to most of the world religions.

Rather the ideal before the Sikh is love for God – raj na chahahu mukti na chahahu manu priti charan kamalare (GGS, V, 534).

And, the Sikh way of life shows that there is no inherent mutual contradiction between love for the Divine vis-a-vis liberation.

Man’s union with Divine in an expression of selfless love implies a stage of consciousness when he lives a bodily existence in this world but is ever mystically one with God. Guru Arjan goes to the extent of saying that a person, who is otherwise very handsome, of high family, very intelligent and enlightened and wealthy, is dead if there is no love for God in his heart (GGS, V, 253). When such a man, a man who loves God and his created beings discards his bodily vestures, his soul coalesces with the Divine and he is free from the process of transmigration. The former stage is jivanmukti and the latter videh mukti. In other words, the former is synonymous with love for the Divine and the latter is a natural corollary of the former. This explains the Sikh preference for the former. As for the Sikh preference for Divine love vis-a*vis raj, we must emphasize that it does not imply renunciation of the world: Sikhism rejects both extremes of asceticism and hedonism, and rather exhorts man to live an active and robust but a righteous and contented social life

The Sikh concept of God being that of an ultimate Reality which is indescribable and incomprehensible, nirakar and nirgun, how can one express one’s love for the formless God and how can one become the object of His love and grace? If the former is the Sikh spiritual ideal, the answer to the latter can be found in the Sikh way of life. This also forms the basis of the Sikh ethical behaviour. Guru Arjan, in his Sukhmani, says that in mind one should eulogize the formless God and in society one’s behaviour must be truthful – ustati man mahi kari nirankar/kari man mere sati biuhar. While defining dharma, Guru Arjan, again in the Sukhmani, lays equal stress on remembrance of Name Divine and performance of noble deeds – sarab dharam mahi sresat dharamu/ hari ko namu japi nirmal karamu. The Sikh metaphysic doctrine of the non-dual dynamic Reality is the vis-a-tergo of the Sikh social thought of the spiritual unity and ethnic equality of man.

There is considered no inherent inequality among mankind, whatever their apparent differences caused by regional and cultural reasons. On the other hand, all human beings are taken as essentially one with God and equal among themselves as well as in His eye. Man has to realize this spiritual unity and ethnic equality because the best way to love God or realize God is to love the mankind, the creation of God.

The idea of love, equality, etc. is just not an intra-religious issue in Sikh thought, rather it extends these values to the interreligious and inter-community relations as well. In modern-day society of religious and cultural pluralism, man must learn to live and live peacefully with other faiths and faith-communities. The attitude of religious exclusivism is sure to cause bad blood in inter-religious relations which no one can today afford because, as says Hans Kung, there can be no peace among the nations without peace among religions. Sikhism is a pluralistic religion which acknowledges the validity and genuineness of each faith and appreciates all prophets irrespective of their spatio-cultural affiliations. It does not condemn any scripture, rather condemns those who do not reflect on them and act upon them. No doubt, it is critical of some of the arid and effete practices prevalent in some traditions. It rejects polemic, and instead recommends dialogue to sort out intra-religious or inter-religious issues. It recommends first listening to the ideas and views of the other before expressing your own. Guru Arjan’s inclusion of hymns by holy men belonging to different creeds, castes and regions is indicative of his view that revelation is neither religion-specific nor region-specfic nor caste-specific nor person-specific. We need to revive the spirit, We stress the spirit, of institutions like sarbat khalsa and gurmata.

Man is in essence one with God, but in his ignorance and under the influence of haumai, he fails to realize this essential oneness, rather he develops an egotistical attitude of dualism: man fails to realize the Unfathomable within because of the veil of haumai in between, says Guru Arjan (GGS, Vol.1, 205). This causes his differentiation from God and consequently from other human beings. Haumai makes man degenerate – spiritually as well as morally. Spiritually, it keeps jivatma separated from the paramatma, thus keeping it in bondage leading to man’s continued transmigration; socially, it causes man’s differentiation from other beings leading to strife among individuals, communities and nations (GGS, Vol.1, 278). This alienaton, both spiritual and social, denotes a mental state, a sort of veiling of the consciousness of man, resulting in man’s duality from God as well as from other beings. Such a person is called manmukh or self-oriented in the scripture. Guru Nanak calls haumai two-pronged: it is both the malady and the remedy. It is flexible to lean to the other side as well – towards God, to feel His presence and realize His will. In this situation, the veil of darkness thins away and the malady gets transformed into remedy and blessing (GGS,Vol. I, 466 ). The darkness of ignorance is gone, sense of duality ceases and man can see and realize the Lord.

This identification of the individual will with the divine will makes man happy and healthy in mind and person – khudi miti tab sukh bhae mana tana bhae aroga, says Guru Arjan (GGS, Vol.1, 260).

The pentad of evils – kam, krodh, lobh, moh and ahankar are the corollaries of haumai, and there are numerous such other references in the scripture where these five are referred to in a variety of ways; at places it also makes reference to certain other evils along with these and they include kusangat, trishna, ninda and others. Man is advised to guard himself against these evils which ‘break into the human body and plunder the nectar of Divine Name’ – panch chor mili lage nagaria ram namu dhanu hiria/ gurmati khoj pare tab pakare dhanu sabatu rasi ubaria (GGS, V, 1 178). All actions performed under the influence of haumai or its correlates go against the will of God whereas it becomes man to make continuous volitional efforts to negate the individual will’s egoity vis-a-vis the Divine will and instead identify the former with the latter. This connotes a mental state when man gives credit for whatever he does to the Divine. Following the tenets of the scripture, he feels and realizes the divine presence in all places and beings and he is ever sure of the Divine working through him in all his social actions and behviour. This identification of two wills also implies one’s spiritual unity with Divine as well as with other human beings.

The Gurus recommend nam-simran as the only means to

achieve this end. For this man will have to eradicate haumai because it stands in binary opposition to nam. Guru Arjan calls it the nectar, the simran or remembrance of which brings comfort and satiates all ‘thirst’ (GGS, V, 318). No doubt, nam-simran has been a key concept in the Sikh metaphysics, but it has not been explicitly defined or explained anywhere therein. We agree that like any other feeling, it is also beyond perfect definition yet different scholars have given different definitions. It is certainly not the repeti tion of one or the other names of God or just reciting one bani or the other. Of course, reading and reciting bani is necessary but it has to be followed by understanding of the text and then by trying to live those precepts in one’s social life.

As we said earlier, God in Sikhism is both transcendent and immanent, sagun (with attributes) and nirgun (without attributes).

Human mind has invented various attributes for God because the object of his love and adoration whom he has to remember and attune himself with must obviously be a personalized entity.

However, this entity in Sikh metaphysics is not a deity: the idea of idol-worship or divine incarnation stands rejected in Sikhism. On this spiritual sojourn, man needs the guidance and help of Guru.

The guidance and help of the Guru is essential but this does not mean taking the seeker to a higher stage of spirituality as if by miracle or on a crutch. The Guru simply guides, but the seeker has to tread the path himself. Man can do so by following the Guru’s advice and not by a mere affirmation of faith in a particular Guru. In other words, Guru does not intercede with the Divine on behalf of man, but gives him the blessing of nam-simran which can transform the niane (ignorant ones) into siane (enlightened ones), which can help man progress inwardly and outwardly.

The last but a very crucial factor in enabling man realize the ultimate ideal is the divine grace. Of course, Sikhism does not view divine grace in isolation from human love for God which is best expressed through deeds of love and altruism for mankind in general. Implicitly, human endeavours become complementary to divine grace for the attainment of spiritual objective, thus distinguishing it from the Christian concept which treats it as allinclusive and self-sufficient. In Sikhism, the pre-requisite is no doubt divine grace because it blesses man with the perception that enables him to understand the Word and thus discern God within and around himself. Guru Arjan says that enlightenment comes only with the grace of God (prabh kirpa te hoi pragasu), and all other garbs, intellectual exercises and meditations and penances fail to make man unite with God (anik bhekhu aru gian dhian man hathi miliau na koi/kahu nanak kirpa bhai bhagatu giani soi). The Divine grace reveals the way, Guru guides him on the way, but it is the man who himself has to tread that path, who has to participate in social activity – sharing his perception with others and in the process cleansing the society of all evils and building a social structure which is conducive to let this perception flourish.

In fact, it is this human quest, human endeavour which leads to the spiritual ideal revealed to man by the diyine initiative. This has been beautifully explained by Guru Nanak in his JapuQi) with the help of Panj Khands wherein the seeker’s quest ends with his arrival in Sach Khand, the last and the apex of the integrated multi-dimensional progress where he realizes oneness with God as also with entire mankind.