The Gurbani is Universal in every way. For example, if one were to understand the Gurbani, it tells the entire humanity as to where all shrines and pilgrimage are! Consider a few examples.
The Gurbani teaches our muslim brothers that the “Kaabaa” is hidden within (the Temple of Mecca, ਅਲਹ ਦਾ ਗੁਪਤ ਘਰ).
- ਸਤਰਿ ਕਾਬਾ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਜੇ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਕੋਈ ॥੨॥: Kaabaa is hidden within the Heart, if (you) only understood it. ||2|| (sggs 480).
- ਜੋ ਦਿਲੁ ਸੋਧੈ ਸੋਈ ਹਾਜੀ ॥: He alone is a Haji (one who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca), who strives to keep (his) heart pure (sggs 1084).
Similarly, the Gurbani Teaches our Hindu brothers:
- ਕਾਇ ਕਮੰਡਲੁ ਕਾਪੜੀਆ ਰੇ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਕਾਇ ਫਿਰਾਹੀ ॥: O “Kaaparheeaa” (Yogi who wears patched cloth)! Why bother to carry the bowl; and why bother to visit the sixty-eight holy places of pilgrimage (i.e., it’s of no use)? (sggs 526).
- ਜੈ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਤਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਜਾਹੀ ॥ ਰਤਨ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਮਾਹੀ ॥…: For the sake of this (Prabh, Hari, Raam, Gobind…), you journey to the banks of sacred shrines (i.e., places of pilgrimage); but this Jewel is within (your own) Heart. The Pandit reads (Vedas…) and engages in debate (etc.), but (he) does not understand the (Real) Thing which is within. ||3|| (sggs 152).
Similarly, the Gurbani reminds our Jain brothers:
- ਇਕਿ ਜੈਨੀ ਉਝੜ ਪਾਇ ਧੁਰਹੁ ਖੁਆਇਆ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਇਆ ॥: Having lost (their true path), many (who call themselves) Jains are ruined. Neither is the Naam (Spiritual Wisdom…) on their lips; nor (they) bathe in this (Naam-) Teerath (sggs 1285).
It’s not that the Gurbani’s Teaching is only for Hindus, Muslims, etc. In fact, it also applies to all Sikhs as well!!!!!!!
For example, the Gurbani repeatedly Teaches us that the “Harmandir” is within the human body. Furthermore, the Gurbani asserts that this real Harmandir within can only be revealed by the Spiritual Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan). Since the Manmukh (self-willed, corrupt, Saakat, Mayadhaaree…) does not care about the Divine Wisdom, his false ego-sense does not believe that the “Harmandir” is within!
- ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਰਤਨਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਮਾਣਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: This body is the “Harmandir” (Hari’s Temple, but this secret) is revealed by the Jewel of the Divine Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan, Brahm Giaan, Divine Knowledge …). The Manmukhs do not know their Mool (Origin, Source, Root…); (on account of this ignorance, they) do not believe that the “Harmandir” is within the human (body). ||2|| (sggs 1346).
Apparently, not too many Sikhs believe the Gurbani’s Teaching. Otherwise, why Sikhs should be wasting their time traveling and visiting all the external (unreal, perishable) places of pilgrimage (Teerath Yaatraa, also spelt Tirath or Tirth Yatra – ਤੀਰਥ ਯਾਤਰਾ ), which is strongly repudiated by the Gurbani.
Now, the qustion is: Why do even many Sikhs (educated and uneducated alike) defy the Gurbani and wander around at the external places called Teerath? According to the Gurbani, these people are Manmukh, deluded by doubt, corrupt or perplexed minded, Mayadhaaree (mammon worshipers), Haumai-ridden (egoistic), greedy, etc. They have reduced the Gurbani to a mere mundane business.
- ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: Deluded by doubt (he) visits all Teerath (external shrines of pilgrimage). (sggs 1142).
- ਸਾਕਤ ਥਾਨ ਭਰਿਸਟ ਫਿਰਾਹੀ ॥੫॥: Saakat Thaan Bhrisat phiraahee (sggs 239).
Now let’s ask the Gurbai: What is considered a real or a true Teerath (place of pilgrimage, sacred shrine, holy spot, etc.)? According to the Gurbani – not according to the fool-o-sophy – the true Teerath of the Gurmat (Teaching of the Gurbani) is the Hari-Naam (Hukam, Shabad, Divine Wisdom…).
- ਤੀਰਥੁ ਹਮਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸਿਆ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The Hari-Naam is my Teerath. The Guru has instructed me in this True Essence of spiritual Wisdom (Aatmic-Giaan; ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ ਦਾ ਇਹ ਨਿਚੋੜ – ਗਿਆਨ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1142).
Now, let’s ask the Gurbani: Where is this Real Teerath of the Gurbani located? Baabaa Nanak made it very clear in the outset of the SGGS that this Real Teerath is located within.
- ਸੁਣਿਆ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਕੀਤਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਮਲਿ ਨਾਉ ॥: (A person who by connecting his consciousness to Naam) listens to it, believes it, and loves it in his mind, (know that, that person) has thoroughly bathed in the Teerath within (i.e., he has cleansed his mind by linking with the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom). (sggs 4).
How can this Real Teerath be realized within? Again, let’s ask the Gurbani. As per the Gurbani this True Teerath within can be realized through the Spiritual Wisdom cultivated through the earnest Shabad-Vichhar.
- ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar…) is the Teerath (because of this) Spiritual Wisdom arises within (sggs 687).
- ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰੋਵਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਮਜਨੁ ਅਪਰੰਪਰਾ ॥: Gurdev Teerath… (sggs 262).
- ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ॥ ਮੈਲੁ ਗਈ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ॥: Anatari teerath… (sggs 587).
It is interesting to note that, although pilgrimage to external shrines has been strongly repudiated in the Gurbani, still Sikhs glorify and advertise it (e.g., “Hemkund Yatra”, this Yatra and that Yatra) in the Gurdwaras, newspapers, magazines, Internet, tv, other media outlets. Obviously, either such people have no understanding of the Gurbani, or on account of their selfishness (Manmukhtaa) they just don’t care! Baabaa Nanak says Truth can only be known:
- ਸਚੁ ਤਾਂ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥: One knows the Truth (ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ) only when he dwells in the sacred shrine of pilgrimage of his own Soul within (sggs 468).
Now, how can all Teerath be realized within? Again, let’s ask the Gurbani, which guides us: All Teerath can be realized within when one’s perplexed mind is fully under control, and his Heart is fully absorbed in “Hari” (Mool, Jot, Brahm-Giaan…):
- ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਤਿਸੁ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਹਹਿ ਜਿਨ ਹਰਿ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੪॥: The sixty-eight places of pilgrimage remain with one, whose heart is filled with the Lord. ||4|| (sggs 491).
Teerath (ਤੀਰਥ) = A place or shrine of pilgrimage…
- ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਦਸ ਪੁਰਬ ਸਦਾ ਦਸਾਹਰਾ ॥: The Gur-Wisdom is Eternal sacred shrine of pilgrimage (for me, which is equal to) the congregation of ten (Holy days or festivals for me). (sggs 687).