CELEBRATING HOLIਹੋਲੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਸੰਤ ਸੇਵ ॥: Holee keenee Sant sev
To deepen our understanding and thus to deepen our Spiritual living (Gurmukh Lifestyle), the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) has used many examples and similes including seasons, festivals etc. For example:
- ਬਨਸਪਤਿ ਮਉਲੀ ਚੜਿਆ ਬਸੰਤੁ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਉਲਿਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੰਗਿ ॥: Banasapati moulee charriaa basant(u). Ihu man(u) mouliaa satguru sangi: (As when ) the spring comes, all the plants blossom forth, (similarly) this mind blossoms forth (when we are), with the Satguru (True Giaan or Wisdom, ਸਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ). (sggs 1176).
- ਸਾਵਣੁ ਆਇਆ ਝਿਮਝਿਮਾ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇ ॥: Saavan(u) aaiaa jhimajhimaa hari gurmukhi naam(u) dhiaai: By becoming a Gurmukh, the one who meditates on the Naam (Giaan-Wisdom), (for him, it's like) coming of the Saawan (rainy season) with steady downpour (sggs 1250).
Similarly, there is also the mention of the festival of "Holi" in the SGGS. The purpose of this Reflection is not to get into detail history, popularity or rituals associated with the festival of Holi, but, from a spiritual standpoint, try to reflect upon as to how the SGGS would like us to celebrate it.
HOLI - ਹੋਲੀ
India being the ancient country, it has many festivals. Some of these festivals are very ancient and also popular. Holi (pronounced Holee ), is one of them. It is also known as the festival of colors. Celebrated on the full moon day of Phaagun (or Phaggan), it is particularly more popular in north India. People from all walks of life — irrespective of religion, caste, age, and gender — celebrate Holi. It is spring time in India, flowers and fields are in bloom and the people go wild running on the streets and smearing each other with paint and throwing powered colors (Gulaal, etc.), colored water and dye around in an atmosphere of great good humor and exuberance, with dancing and singing. Also, bonfires are lit during Holi in a prominent public places. Plenty of Bhang (cannabis/intoxicant) taking in various ways also goes on this day! For example, a special drink is prepared called Thandai which is generally laced with Bhang and contains small amounts of marijuana. People invite each other to their houses for Thandai, feasts and celebrations. There are many stories and folklore associated with the festival of Holi. Known originally as ' Holika', it has been mentioned in very early Hindu religious works. It is also known as Holikotsava.
Since Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak or SGGS is casteless, Sikhs are not "Shooders".
Therefore, the festival of "Holi" does not deserve to be observed by the Guru's Sikhs for they are supposed to be casteless!!!!!
HOLAA MAHALLAA - ਹੋਲਾ ਮਹੱਲਾ
In lieu of the traditional Holi, Guru Gobind Singh Jee (the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs) revived the spirit of Holi and weaved its essence into a festival called "Holaa Mahallaa".
This annual festival of Sikhs was created by Guru Gobind Singh Jee in his own way. At the time Guru Gobind Singh Jee introduced it, he was battling the Mughal empire and the hill kings. On this day, he held a military parade of the Sikhs, who came out in their best and went through a sort of mock battle at the historic township of Anandpur Sahib. It was to remind the people of togetherness, brotherhood, valor and defense preparedness. Hola is the masculine form of the feminine Holi. Holaa Mahallaa usually falls in March (spring season in India) a day after Holi. Although, initially, Anandpur Sahib played host to Holaa Mahallaa, now it is also replicated at other Gurdawara worldwide.
The author is not a historian. Therefore, instead of quoting hearsay or somebody else's accounts, the following eyewitness accounts of this festival at Anandpur Sahib are based on the author's own visits to Holaa Mahallaa in his childhood, approximately around 1955.
- The festivity was observed in the entire foothills of the Shivaliks mountain, especially around the historic townships of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib. The author remembers first visiting Kiratpur Sahib, staying their overnight in the open ground with members of his group, and then proceeding to Anandpur Sahib the next day.
- Visitors camped out, either in tents or out in the open ground at Anandpur Sahib too. There were thousands and thousands of people there, a real buzz.
- There were always long lines to enter any Gurdawara or historic place. Because of the long lines and huge crowds, the author remembers people just pushing each others and throwing money towards the SGGS from a distance (Mathaa Tekanaa)!
- There were numerous Diwaans carrying out continuous Kirtan, Kavee Darbaars (symposia of poetry) , Dhaadee Jathaas, lectures, discourses etc.; and Langars (free kitchen) etc.
- Although this is forbidden in Sikhi, the author vividly remembers Nihangs preparing Bhang or cannabis.
- During one of the visits to Holaa Mahallaa, the author remembers staying in a tent next to the Deraa of Nihangs, Shaheedi Baag, across from Quilaa Anandgarh. They used giant and heavy Ghotanaas (pestles) and Koondaas (pestle-pot or mortar) to grind and thoroughly crush the Bhang (Sukhaa or Sukhnidhaan), and humongous cauldrons used to prepare it. As a small child fascinated by the huge size of their pestles, mortars and cauldrons, the author remembers watching them grinding hemp for hours.
- Beautiful natural, hilly terrain exists Between Quilaa Anandgarh and Takhat Keshgarh Sahib (one of the five religious seats of Sikhs). NOTE: subsequen visists between about 1975 and 2000 revealed that this historical and natural terrain has seen destroyed by uneducated peole in the name of 'Kaar Sevaa' (ਕਾਰ ਸੇਵਾ))!
- The festival at Anandpur Sahib lasted a few days: at least 3-4 days.
- In the final day, a long procession was organized in the form of army type column. The author does not remember the exact route of the procession, but he does remember lots of activities near the rivulet (Charan Ganga) below the Takhat Keshgarh Sahib. NOTE: subsequen visists between about 1975 and 2000 revealed that this historical and natural river bed has been destroyed by the residential and commercial developers.
- The Nihang Singhs carried on mock battles and displays of swordsmanship, horsemanship, weaponry, martial skills and attire. They performed daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two speeding horses, archery, and various other feats of bravery.
- At the final stage of the procession, the author vaguely remembers visitors talking about symbolic shoe-beating of Massa Rangarh (if we recall: Massa Rangarh was appointed in charge of Harmandir Sahib, in Amritsar, after the Harmandir Sahib premises were captured by the Mughal forces. While in charge of Harmandir Sahib, Massa Rangarh behaved in a most evil and offensive manner, hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs. He used the Parkarmaa (the area surrounding the Sarovar - the pool tank) as a stable for his horses and used the main Darbaar Sahib as dancing room, where prostitutes entertained him and his guests who would be smoking Hukka (tobacco) while watching the prostitutes entertain them. Around the building and premises he had posted armed guards to prevent the entry of anyone without permission. Finally he was finished by Bhai Sukha Singh Bhai Mehtab Singh.
THE SGGS TELLS US HOW TO CELEBRATE HOLI
From spiriual standpoint, the SGGS tells us as to how one can go about celebrating Holi. That is, instead of 'Rang' (colors) and 'Bhang' (cannabis/intoxicants etc.), the Guru's Sikhs can celebrate by associating with the seekers — persons who are Virtuous, Wise, Truthful, disciptlined, improved ਸਾਧੇ ਹੋਏ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਾਲੇ etc.
In a nutshell, for a Sikh (learner, seeker), to internalize the spiritual Message embedded in the Guru's Shabad (SGGS) and then live daily life accordingly is celebration of Holi. This is the throwing of 'Rang' (colors) for sikhs — coloring the mind with the Giaan-Wisdom of the Shabad Guru (SGGS).
- ਹੋਲੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਸੰਤ ਸੇਵ ॥ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਅਤਿ ਲਾਲ ਦੇਵ ॥੨॥ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਮਉਲਿਓ ਅਤਿ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ ਸੂਕੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਛਾਵ ਧੂਪ ॥: Holi keenee sant sev. Rangu laagaa ati laal dev ॥੨॥ ...: Celebrate Holi with Sant (persons who are Virtuous, disciplined, improved, ਸਾਧੇ ਹੋਏ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਾਲੇ: living daily life with Virtues, Wisdom, Truth, etc.). (As a result of the good company, my mind is) imbued with the deep (spiritual) color (of Godly Virtues). ||2|| (By the blessing of living life with Virtues and Wisdom) my mind and body have blossomed beautifully. Now, whether there is happiness or sorrow (in my mind and body) the rhythm of spiritual flourishing never ends. (sggs 1180).
Since the self-serving Pujaaree — clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ, ਪਖੰਡੀ–Pakhnadee) etc. has created tremendous confusion by distorting Baabaa Nanak's Unique and Revolutionary Sikhi — it's very important to understand who is 'sant' of the Gurbani in the foregoing verses?
This word ‘SANT’ appears to have been used in the Gurbani (SGGS) in both ‘singular’ form and ‘plural’ form in the following FOUR contexts:
- ਹਮਰੋ ਭਰਤਾ ਬਡੋ ਬਿਬੇਕੀ ਆਪੇ ਸੰਤੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥: My Husband (i.e. God) is Greatly discerning; He alone is called Sant (the Creator, God or (Hukam: System-Rule-Law-Order of Nature…). (sggs 476).
- ਭਾਗੁ ਹੋਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਸੰਤੁ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: It’s my fortune, by the Giaan-Guru I have United with God. I have met (understood, realized) the Immortal God within the mind. (sggs 97).
(2). In ‘singular’ form, it also appears for the Guru in the SGGS.
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਸੰਤੁ ਸਤਗੁਰੁ ਸਤ ਪੁਰਖਾ ਜੋ ਬੋਲੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਨੀ ॥ : The Divine Guru (Har Kaa Sant) is Creator Connected (Sat Purkha) and Creator Connecting (Sat Gur) and Discourses Omnipresent Creator Related Banee (Boley Har Har Banee). (sggs 667).
- ਸੰਤ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਧਰਮ ਕੀ ਪਉੜੀ ਕੋ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਪਾਏ ॥ : The Path (Maarag) of Dharam (Spirituality) is established step by step (Pauree)
by the Guru and realized (Paaye) through the blessings of the Guru. (sggs 622).
(3). In ‘plural’ form, it appears for the TRUE seeker or learners (Satsangi Jan).
- ਆਵਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਪਿਆਰਿਹੋ ਅਕਥ ਕੀ ਕਰਹ ਕਹਾਣੀ ॥: O (Guru’s) dear Satsangi Jan! Let us (together) talk about the indescribable Creator. (sggs 918).
- ਸੰਤਹੁ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮਿ ਨਿਸਤਰੀਐ ॥ : O Sikhs (seekers of the Creator), the Way to Successful Spirituality is through the Divine Naam (Virtues, Giaan-Wisdom). (sggs 621).
(4). The Gurbani also refers to a class of self-proclaimed Sants. They are termed in the Gurbani as ‘Baanaaras Kay Thugg-ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ’ meaning Thugs of Baanaaras – fraudulent or conmen posing as spiritual persons.
- ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥ ਐਸੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਭਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਡਾਲਾ ਸਿਉ ਪੇਡਾ ਗਟਕਾਵਹਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Who have rosaries around their necks, and glittering jugs in their hands, (just because of such religious paraphernalia) they should not be called the Divine’s Sant — they are thugs of Baanaaras (i.e., religious conmen, robbers, cheats…). Such sants are not pleasing to me. They devour (trees including) stems and branches (i.e. who do not even hesitate to kill human beings for the sake of Maya, etc.). (sggs 476).
Here is a clear injunction of not to proclaim oneself as sant in Sikhi, because it would be a sign of corrupt mind. This is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ):
- ਹਿਰਦੈ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਕੈ ਕਪਟੁ ਵਸੈ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਕਹਾਹਿ ॥ : The desire to be labelled as ‘sant‘ based on an external identity signifies a corrupt mind. (sggs 491).
THUGS OF BAANAARAS
The Gurbani also refers to a class of so called sants (self-appointed sants) are termed in the Gurbani ‘ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ’ (Benares Kay Thugg, meaning ‘fraudulent or conmen posing as sants or spiritual persons’).
The question one may ask is why does the Gurbani dare call them — who either proclaim themselves ‘sant’, add it to their names,
use it as a title, or desire to be called such by others — the ‘Thugs of Baanaaras‘?
Perhaps the reason is that (1) the so called sants are bloated with Haumai (i.e. false ego-sense), consequently (2) they think they are superior than the lay persons, (3) it is anti‐Gurmat or Sikhi to call one’s self higher than others, (4) they are dishonest and crafty group who misguide and swindle people, specifically the simpletons and unsuspecting people, (5) our Gurus neither use ‘spiritual’ titles themselves not support the use of these titles. The accepted honorific in the Gurmat or Sikhi is of ‘BHAI-ਭਾਈ’ which denotes equality and brotherhood of mankind.
But still there is a huge crowd of self-proclaimed sant-saadh-baabaa (fraud, thugs) in the Sikh community now-a-days! Not only in India, they are also pullulating Gurdawaras all over the world, specially in the West. It is easy money, tax free! Additionally, when western currency is converted to Indian, it multiplies!
In short, it’s a business of no investment and no loss but all gain!
Also, when one is presented as a ‘sant‘ in the media, one’s criminal record and nefarious activities become obscured. They are sant at the physical body-frame or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ) only, not at the level of the mind or Aatmaa — acting without Being! In short, they look Mahatma outside but are fraud inside!
The Gurbani calls such crooks the ‘Thugs of Baanaaras‘, whose mind is filled with craftiness!
On account of greed and ignorance of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, their main goal is to keep people mentally slave, fearful, and greedy. This helps them maintain their luxurious lifestyle of ‘freeloaders’ (ਮੁਫਤ ਦੀ ਰੋਟੀਆਂ, ਵੇਹਲੜ ਅਤੇ ਐਸ਼ਪਰਸਤੀ ਦਾ ਜੀਵਨ…).
Bhai Gurdaas Ji says all these crafty and crooks who call themselves ‘sant‘ indulge in doing ‘APRAADH’ (crimes, wrong-doings, transgressions, ਮੁੰਡੇ ਦੇਣੇ, etc.).
- ਸਾਧਨ ਦੁਰਾਇ ਕੈ ਅਸਾਧ ਅਪਰਾਧ ਕਰੈ ਉਲਟੀਐ ਚਾਲ ਕਲੀਕਾਲ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਭਾਖੀਐ ॥੫੩੨॥: Present themselves as Sasdhs and produce other similar means; but they indulge in doing ‘APRAADH’ (crimes, wrong-doings, transgressions, etc.). These are people who went backwards (contrary, opposite, reverse, etc.). Because man (ਆਮ ਆਦਮੀ) is in delusion, he does not understand this. (Bhai Gurdaas, Kabitt 532).
In other words, one cannot become a Sant by wearing a peculiar robe (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), or by self-appointing himself as a Sant, or having his deluded or stupid followers calling him a Sant or Baabaa!
The Gurmat’s Sant is not a specific person…
The Way of the Gurbani (SGGS) is the Way of understanding. It helps us gain understanding, Virtues, Realization of Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature), our mind’s Jot Saroop or True Nature (Mool …), how our mind can become free of Bikaar (lust-desires, anger, greed, attachment, pride and their numerous variations), and so on.
In short, the Giaan-Guru makes us understand the real Sant Within.
Apparently this word ‘sant’ used in the SGGS is not for a specific person wearing a specific robes, exhibiting a specific external appearance, displaying specific outward signs or symbols, specific or peculiar religious attire (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ or religious paraphernalia) etc. Sant is a personality, it is a Thinking (the mind’s ‘Biratee- ਬਿਰਤੀ’ or ‘Subha-ਸੁਭਾ’, Nature, pastime, aptitude, instinct, tendency etc.). Such sant ‘Biratee- ਬਿਰਤੀ’ or ‘Subha-ਸੁਭਾ’ or Thinking can be of any person — a doctor, an engineer, a farmer, a home-maker, a businessmen, a laborer, a teacher, a cobbler, a weaver, a barber, a tailor, an educated or uneducated person, a person of so called high or low Jaat Paat, a rich or poor, wife, husband, a child, a brother, a sister, a white person, a black person, etc.
Such Enlightened mind can be of anybody — who is beneficial to the society; who is good for the society; who can rescue the society or the world from Bikaar; who can help rescue fellow human beings from ignorance etc. They don’t divide people as countless fake or phony sants are doing.
Clearly, the Gurbani treats the entire human kind as equal — ‘Bhai Bhai’; NO high or low; NO touchable or untouchable etc.
- ਞਾਣਹੁ ਇਆ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਹੀ ਚਿਤ ਝੂਠਉ ਮਾਇਆ ਰੰਗੁ ॥ ਞਾਣਤ ਸੋਈ ਸੰਤੁ ਸੁਇ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਤੇ ਕੀਚਿਤ ਭਿੰਨ ॥: O my Conscience (Mind)! Know well that love with Maya is false. Such people are saved from the delusion of Maya. Such a person alone Realizes the Creator (Sant) Within. (sggs 255).
- ਭਾਗਠੜੇ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਤ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰੇ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਘਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ॥: Bhaagthrae Hari Sant… (sggs 749).
Hence, a sant is not at the level of physical body or robes (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ). In other words, one cannot become a saintly being by wearing a peculiar robe (Bhekh-ਭੇਖ), or by calling himself a sant, or having his deluded or stupid followers calling him a sant!
- ਸੋਈ ਸੰਤੁ ਜਿ ਭਾਵੈ ਰਾਮ ॥ ਸੰਤ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕੈ ਏਕੈ ਕਾਮ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: That is Sant who has realized All-pervading Raam within (Mool, Jot, Truth, Virtues…). The work of the Sant and Gobind (Mool…) is one and the same ||1||Pause|| (sggs 867).
- ਜਿਨਾ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਨ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾਂ ਮਨਿ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਸਿ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਪੂਰਨੁ ਸੋਈ ਸੰਤੁ ॥: Those who do not forget the Divine Naam (Virtues, Wisdom…) even for the duration of a breath and eating a morsel, are blessed, in whose mind lives the Naam Mantra; O Nanak! He is the perfect Sant (sggs 319).
Sikhi is a Way of life based on Godly Virtues.
The Gurbani (SGGS) in the following Shabad uses the word ‘Sant Rahat’. 'Rahat' means Discipline, Code, Rule, Law, Order etc. Hence ‘Sant Rahat’ means the creator’s Hukam: System-Rule-Law-Order of Nature. The Gurbani Instructs the Mind to Internalize this 'Rahat':
- ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਾ ਕੀਆ ਮੀਠਾ ਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੰਤਨ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥ ਹੋਇ ਰਹੇ ਸਭ ਕੀ ਪਗ ਛਾਰੁ ॥੧॥ ਸੰਤ ਰਹਤ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਉਆ ਕੀ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਕਥਨੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਵਰਤਣਿ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ ॥ ਅਨਦ ਰੂਪ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮ ॥ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਸਤ੍ਰੁ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ॥੨॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਕੋਟਿ ਅਘ ਕਾਟਨਹਾਰਾ ॥ ਦੁਖ ਦੂਰਿ ਕਰਨ ਜੀਅ ਕੇ ਦਾਤਾਰਾ ॥ ਸੂਰਬੀਰ ਬਚਨ ਕੇ ਬਲੀ ॥ ਕਉਲਾ ਬਪੁਰੀ ਸੰਤੀ ਛਲੀ ॥੩॥ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਸੰਗੁ ਬਾਛਹਿ ਸੁਰਦੇਵ ॥ ਅਮੋਘ ਦਰਸੁ ਸਫਲ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥ ਕਰ ਜੋੜਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਰੇ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥ ਮੋਹਿ ਸੰਤਹ ਟਹਲ ਦੀਜੈ ਗੁਣਤਾਸਿ ॥੪॥੩੭॥੮੮॥ : (O Mind) Realize the (Hukam) Within Always. Submit to the Will of the Creator. Divine Naam Nourish Seekers of Realization. They Become (Naam) and Remain in Humility. ॥1॥ O my Mind! Internalize the ‘Rahat’ (Discipline, Code, Rule, Law, Order; Hukam) of the Creator. It’s value (to my spirituality) is beyond narration. ||1||Pause|| Divine Naam (Virtues, Giaan-Wisdom…) is my sole daily sustenance. (My Spirituality) has Become Blissful, Melodious and Peaceful. In Such (Bliss and Peace), Humankind Becomes One. I Realize None Other Than My Creator in All. (Such Realization of) the Provider of My (Spiritual) Life Eradicates All Anguish and Eliminates Sorrow. My Guru’s Spiritual Messages are Courageous and Potent. Through them, I Overcame Wretched Temporal Materialism (Maya). My Divinity (Surdev) Desires the Company (of that Guru). His Messages Are Invaluable and Discipleship Worthy. Nanak Supplicates in Humility. (Please let me) be the Disciple (Sikh) of the Guru Who Provides Me with A Treasure of Divine Virtues. ||4||37||88|| (sggs 392).
— T. Singh