A Sikh’s Guru is the Shabad in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), no other Granth/scripture, Sant, Saadh, Baabaa, Jathedaar, personality, Dera, and so on. There is no concept of middleman (agent, ਵਿਚੋਲਾ) in Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak.
That being said, when talking about Gurbani at this website, it means: The Bani (ਬਾਣੀ) which is enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).
Guru Sahib has a clear edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ, NO compromise):
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨਾ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ ਬਾਣੀ ਤ ਕਚੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ ਕਹਦੇ ਕਚੇ ਸੁਣਦੇ ਕਚੇ ਕਚੀ ਆਖਿ ਵਖਾਣੀ ॥ : The Bani uttered by anybody other than the Satguru is ‘Kachee‘ (half baked; filth; useless; lies, false, devoid of divine Wisdom etc.). Yes, without being uttered or approved by the Satguru, all other Bani is ‘Kachee‘. False are the reciters (of ‘Kachee Bani), false are the listeners (of ‘Kachee Bani); false are those who discourse on ‘Kachee‘ Bani. (sggs 920).
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਰੀਸੈ ਹੋਰਿ ਕਚੁ ਪਿਚੁ ਬੋਲਦੇ ਸੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ਕੂੜੇ ਝੜਿ ਪੜੀਐ ॥ ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਹੋਰੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਰੁ ਹੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਨੋ ਝਖਿ ਮਰਦੇ ਕੜੀਐ ॥ : Emulating the Satguru, some false ones utter indefensible and false words, but because of their falsehood they fall from grace (i.e. they cannot emulate Satgur and their falsehood stands exposed). They speak lies and do not speak their mind and ultimately waste away their life in pursuit of Maya (worldly temptations and their corrupting influences). (sggs 304).
Not a commercial website
Since its inception in 1993, the author (T. Singh) decided to keep this website non-commercial – NOT to use it as a mundane business (‘ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ’, ਧੰਧਾ, ਦੁਕਾਨਦਾਰੀ). In short:
- This website is NOT for those who use the SGGS or Sikhi as a mundane business, or who like their understanding of the SGGS watered down or distorted.
- This website is for those who have become Aware that there is more to the Gurbani or Way of the SGGS than the routine, ritualistic, and robotic reading or hearing of the Gurbani from the self-serving clergy (Pujaaree) — Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ) etc.
- This website is NOT meant to make presentation of corrupt politics, useless rituals (Karamakaand), dogmas, robes, religious paraphernalia etc. that have been logically rejected by the Gurbani (SGGS).
- This website is NOT to make Sikhs (learners or ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ) fool. In this context, as we all routinely witness, the Gurdwaras (doorway of the Guru‘s Giaan-Wisdom) in control of the self-serving Pujaaree along with their management committees sweat for money and leadership ONLY (ਪੈਸਾ ਅਤੇ ਚੌਧਰ)! As a result, instead of being the ‘Dharamsaals‘ of Baabaa Nanak for the REALIZATION of his UNIQUE spirituality, Gurdwaras have become dens of mammon worshippers, and arenas of dirty politics and corruption. Thus, the self-serving Pujaaree in Gurdwaras, management committees, governments and politician are serving each other and make Sikhs fool.
Gurbani is to be understood from the Gurbani
The Gurbani in SGGS tells us in any doubt about meaning of one word or SHABAD, find the answer from within SGGS. To say it otherwise, the spiritual meaning and essence of words or SHABADS contained in the SGGS are to be found in the SGGS, NOT any other religious texts.
- ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਤੀ ਜਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਰਤੇ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਪਵਿਤੁ ਪਾਵਨ ਸੇ ਜਨ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੮॥: The Gurbani is understood from the Gurbani itself by those who with love remain imbued with the Gur-Shabad (Vichaar, Upadesh, Naam, Giaan or Wisdom…). Such people are of clean conduct and pure consciousness for they live by Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam...). ||8|| (sggs 1346).
Every verse in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is a Message for Spiritual Awakening and truthful living. Each verse is about how to be a good human being and how to realize the meaning and purpose of life.
However, there are often very literal interpretations that have no spiritual message for truthful living or how to be a good human being.
The Gurbani in SGGS is full of arguments (ਦਲੀਲਾਂ), logic (ਤਰਕ), questions (ਸਵਾਲ) and answers.
Also, the GURBANI in SGGS calls for the use of GURBANI to understand, explain, translate and interpret GURBANI.
Unfortunately however the currently available variety of distorted Teekaas of the SGGS available on the Internet etc. are literal, primarily based on sources OUTSIDE of Gurbani to interpret Gurbani (SGGS). For example, they rely on:
- Literal methods,
- Incident (time, location, person etc.),
- Framework of Shastras, Vedas, Purans,
- Other Hindu texts,
- Yogic slants, methods, system,
- Ideology of Bipparvaad, Brahmin, Pandit etc.,
- Fake Sakhis (stories)
- Books written by anti-Nanak and anti-Sikhi groups etc.
These translations have no spiritual value, no guidance how to be good human being, SACHIARA, no direction in changing SIKH PSYCHE for good, no direction in changing society/world for good…
It appears that those who came up with these literal interpretations may have had little understanding of the basic principles of Gurbani or because of ulterior motives made minimal efforts to find answers from Gurbani itself.
As a result, these distorted interpretations are becoming the sources of our confusion and misunderstanding of the Gurbani (SGGS). The outcome is that the Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak has been taken back to the belief systems that existed prior to the birth of Baabaa Nanak in 1469 – beliefs that were rejected by Baabaa Nanak.
When the interpretation or translation is done without using logic, reason, practicality, scientific investigations, and without understanding basic principles of Sikhi, we end up with a meaningless translation, which result in NO change in Sikh psyche and Sikhs continue performing worthless religious practices and rituals (Karamkaand) that have been critiqued, rejected and debunked by Baabaa Nanak.
Apparently, literal and misleading translations of SGGS have done serious damage to the Sikhi way of life and Sikh psyche. Instead of facilitating Self-Awakening and Spiritual Enlightenment, or teaching how to be a good human being, Sikhs are praying for Maya —material wealth, worldly comforts, power, and status (worldly temptations and their corrupting influences).
The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS asserts that the Gurbani can ONLY be understood FROM the Gurbani itself! The interpretation of Gurbani done in its proper perspective sends a very powerful Message about how to conduct oneself in society.
- ਮੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਤੀ ਪਿਰਹੜੀ ਕਿਉ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਜੀਵਾ ਮਾਉ ॥ ਮੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਆਧਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਲਾਗਿ ਰਹਾਉ ॥੮॥: I have deep love for the ‘Satigur‘ (True Wisdom-ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), O my mother how can I live without Gur (Giaan-Wisdom). The Gurbani (i.e. the Gurbani’s Wisdom) is my life-support. I can live only by joining in the Gurbani (i.e. to live with the Gur-Wisdom as a life-support is to live in Association with the One Rabb, Hukam, god, Universal Energy…). ||8|| (sggs 759).
- ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ ॥: (Guru’s) Bani is the Guru (of Sikhs i.e. Shabad-Guru or Wisdom or Giaan-Guru) and the Guru is present (as Giaan or Wisdom) in the Bani. The Amrit (of the Guru’s Giaan or Wisdom…) is contained in the whole of Bani. (sggs 982).
That being said, refraining from relying on the non-Gurbani (non-SGGS) sources, this Website makes an attempt to explore the meanings of the Guru’s Shabad from the Gurbani (SGGS) – using Gurbani to explain Gurbani and thus represent the Gurbani in its true spirit.
Therefore, while Interpreting the Gurbani (SGGS), it will be useful to keep in mind:
- Understanding the overarching position regarding any concept, belief or issue in the entire SGGS is critical in deciphering the intended and authentic Message of any given verse.
- Then, put the pauses in the right places in a any given verse.
- Use the Gurbani as PRIMARY SOURCE (NOT secondary source) to understand the Gurbani (i.e. 1430 pages of the SGGS).
- Use the Gurbani to explain the Gurbani.
- Interpretation should have internal validity and reliability.
- Gurbani grammar is useful for coherent interpretation.
- The Gurbani is the sole indicator of original intent of the Gurus.
- The Guru’s intent lies in the Gurbani.
- Answers lie within the Gurbani.
- The Message of the Gurbani (SGGS) is Universal, Unique, Revolutionary, timeless, wholesome etc. What it means is that the Gurbani is never specific to location, occasion, person, incident etc.
- The obsessions with the nonsense such as AFTERLIFE, rituals or Karamkaand etc. in pre-1469 belief systems are removed from Gurbani (SGGS).
- Rahaou (ਰਹਾਉ): We must first decipher the meaning of the Rahaou verse. This is because the Rahaou verse contains both the gist and the context for the entire Shabad. This means that all the spiritual messages of the remaining verses must be interpreted by applying this context.
- When it comes to Paurees (ਪਉੜੀ), the FINAL verse of each Pauree functions as the Rahaou verse. As the concluding
verse it contains the gist of the entire Pauree and sets the context for the remaining verses.
Failure to recognize this regarding the makeup of the SGGS leads not just to (mis)translations and (mis)interpretations (as is the case with readily available translation on the Internet), but towards of injection of contradictions within verses where none exists.
Our small effort (ਛੋਟਾ ਜਿਹਾ ਉਪਰਾਲਾ) at this website is towards gaining understanding, clarity and Joy by understanding the Gurbani (SGGS) directly from the Gurbani, NOT from the self-serving Pujaaree system, Vedas, Puranas, Sanatan-Brahmanical-Yogic slants, fake Sakhis (stories) or any other Granths/texts written by the anti-Nanak or Anti-Sikhi groups etc.
To put it otherwise, the attempt here is self-improvement by removing to some extent the Gurbani or Gurmat‘s distortion and contamination, Karamkaand (rituals, superstitions, formalities etc.), doubts, confusions, blind faith (ਅੰਧ ਵਿਸਵਾਸ਼), falsehood, corruption, etc. which have been propagated and hammered into the Sikh Psyche by the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ).
The greedy and self-serving Pujaaree and their corrupt politician buddies use Gurbani as a means of shaking the Sikhs from their faith in Sikhi or Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak by intentionally insulting the Sikhs; and by using the SGGS in a wrong, distorted, sometimes extremely low, and diluted manner.
Distortion of the Gurbani/Gurmat/Sikhi: A brief history
It appears that misinterpretation and distortion of Gurbani happened after GURU period in the hands of UDASSIES and NIRMALAS, who rewrote the spiritual message of GURBANI in context of VEDANTIC SPIRITUALITY etc. Then British used these groups to their advantage and further distorted the Unique and Revolutionary Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak.
Religious texts of other world religions were penned from memory long after individuals whom these religions are attributed to were gone from the world stage. In contrast, however, the SGGS was compiled by the Guru himself (fifth Guru Sahib). Sikh scholars do not tire of making this strong distinction between Sikhi and other man-made (ਮਜ਼ਹਬ) religions.
But what’s baffling is that — although the SGGS was compiled by the Guru himself (fifth Guru Sahib) — the distortions and misinterpretations that have crept into Sikhism is far worse than other religions! This is so in spite of the fact that in contrast Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak is about 500 years old, about 200 years of which were the Guru period!!!!!!!!!
Upon the fall of the Sikh Raj of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in 1718, Baba Banda Singh, and his entire army of Sikhs was captured and executed.
Authentic Sikhs – because there was a price on their heads and limbs – would take refuge in the jungles and hills of Punjab and nearby states.
This created a void and vacuum in Sikh Gurdwaras, Sikhi Parchaar, Sikh institutions, and virtually everything connected to the Sikh psyche.
This void and vacuum was filled by the anti-Skhi groups such as UDASSIES, NIRMALAS, Mahants, Deeraa-Vaad Sants/Baabaas etc. It was during this period that the NIRMALAS, UDASSIES, Mahants etc. transformed Gurdwaras into temples. Even idols were placed in some
of the historical Gurdwaras! The Guru’s ‘Golak’, instead of
being put to the service of the poor and needy, came to be
used for the comforts and luxuries of the priestly class (ਵੇਹਲੜ).
They controlled the Sikh Gurdwaras, Sikhi Parchaar, Sikh institutions and virtually everything connected to the Sikh psyche for a long and continuous period of time. Thus, slowly and surely they were able to severely erode the Uniqueness of the Sikhi and made it look like the pre-1469 religions (ਮਜ਼ਹਬ) and their belief systems.
The bounty hunters and the rulers of the day left these groups alone, because they knew they were not Sikhs, and that their heads would fetch no price.
The Mughals and the British ruled Punjab and both rulers considered the Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak to be enemy of the state and remained hostile towards the Gurus as well as the authentic Sikhs, but actively supported these anti-Sikhi groups in the name of ‘divide and rule’.
For example, UDASSIES controlled for about 60 years. If we recall the true Sikh history, these UDASSIES were the follower of the DISOWNED son of Baabaa Nanak, Sri Chand.
The NIRMALAS replaced UDASSIES and controlled for next about 150 years.
In short, these NIRMALAS have BRAHMANICAL roots for they were educated and trained in BANARAS in Brahmanical ways.
In fact, these anti-Sikhi and anti-Nanak groups even purposefully moved Baabaa Nanak’s birth date from the month of Vaisakh (1st Vaisakh 1,469) to the month of Kattak! Month of Vaisakh corresponds to the month of April (i.e. Vaisakhi), and Kattack corresponds to October or November.
Why and when was Baabaa Nanak’s birth day moved from Vaisakh to Kattak (Pooranmasshi)? In short, the Brahmin clergy considers the month of Vaisakh the holiest month of the year, so, they would not allow or tolerate Baabaa Nanak’s birth day to fall in Vaisakh! On the other hand, in Brahmanical sense, the month of Kattack is reserved for ‘low caste’. No wonder the FAKE Bala Janam Sakhi contains blasphemous stuff such as Guru Nanak’s past life as a ‘low caste Tayli‘ (ਤੇਲੀ)!!!!
NIRMALAS distorted and corrupted Baabaa Nanak’s Unique Gurmat and Universal Message of the Gurbani (SGGS) through manufactured books (close to three dozens), concoctions, distorted Sikh history, untruths, lies, fabrications, unbelievable tales of miracles called Sakhis-ਸਾਖੀ written by them, using vedic and puranic slants in interpretations and translations of the Gurbani etc.
Some of the NIRMALAS written books include Janam Sakhis, Suraj Parkash, Bansavlinama, Bhagat Maal, Sarab Loh, Gurbilas Patshahi 6 etc. NIRMALAS wrote these books in the 135-year period of 1765 till 1900 while they were in control of the Sikh Gurdwaras, Sikhi Parchaar, Sikh institutions and virtually everything connected to the Sikh psyche.
Their main aim was to strip Sikhi of its Uniqueness by hollowing out Sikhi from within and take Sikhi back to the belief systems that existed prior to the birth of Guru Nanak in 1469. Yet, these NIRMALAS-composed books are accepted by the Sikh Clergy – our Ragis, Kirtanias, Granthis, Parcharaks, Dhadees, writers, thinkers, poets, Deraas etc. Furthermore, they are called ‘classical Sikh literature’! Our Sikh clergy is schooled in these NIRMALAS texts. In turn, they train and produce our clergy based on these NIRMALAS texts!
While they (i.e. NIRMALAS) were in control of Gurdwaras etc., they also corrupted other non-NIRMALAS Sikh literature. For example, they deliberately deceitfully added their own stuff in the writings of Bhai Gurdaas, and Rahatnamas. They could do all this with impunity because they were in full control of the Sikh Gurdwaras, Sikhi Parchaar, Sikh institutions, Sikh history, Sikh literature, and virtually everything connected to the Sikh psyche for a long and continuous period of time.
These NIRMALAS were kicked out from Gurdwaras in 1920s as a result of the Sikh Reform Movement — Singh Sabha Movement. This Sikh Reform Movement alerted the Sikh world of the dire need to discard and cleanout books written by NIRMALAS. If not, then the fabrications, concoctions, untruth and lies written by NIRMALAS in these books will come back to haunt Sikhs. However, instead of acting upon what the Sikh Reform Movement asked, the Sikh world and the Sikh clergy accepted these books as true depiction of Sikhi!
The result is that distortions, fabrications, concoctions, untruths and lies contained in these NIRMALAS written books have become rooted in Sikhi over time. Now, anti-Nanak or anti-Sikhi groups have started using contents of these books to justify their statements — for example statements like (1) Guru Gobind Singh sent Panj Piyare to Banaras to study Sanskrit, (2) the word ‘Waheguru‘ is constructed by borrowing letters from the names of Snatan Devtas, and so on. But the anti-Nanak or anti-Sikhi groups who make such false claims have no clue that NONE of the Gurus or Bhagats have used this word ‘Waheguru‘ NOT EVEN ONCE in their entire Bani in the SGGS! This word does appear in four Shabads of Bhatts, BUT in praise of the Guru (Shabd) – O Great Guru! Magnificent Guru! Wow Guru! In fact, ‘Waheguru’ is actually a combination of two words from two distinctly different languages; making it improbable to be combined as a proper name. Wah – Persian. Guru – Sanskrit. This the reason there is no ‘Waheguru’ word either in Persian language or in Sanskrit.
British role in dilution of Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak
Difficulties came to the fore when the British occupied the Punjab in 1849 and, being aware of the liberating influence of the Sikhs decided to control the Sikhi through controlling Gurdwaras. In this the British singled out ONLY the Sikh shrines for control, NO direct control of the Hindu temples and Muslim mosques was resorted to.
British were able to dilute the Unique and Revolutionary Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak by importing certain Brahmanical rituals and practices, These included idol worship in the more prominent Sikh places of
worship and several other crude and some very subtle rituals. It
was then that the so-called low-caste Sikhs were banned from
making offerings of traditional Krah-Prasad at Sri Darbar
Sahib, Amritsar. If we recall the history, before 1905, the Golden Temple had Brahmin priests, idols and images for at least a century!
Several books were written to sustain these un-Sikh-like practices. The arrogant Mahants treated the Gurdwaras controlled by them as their personal property. One of them went to the extent of declaring that women, who came to worship in the shrines belonging to them, rendered themselves liable to molestation and nobody had the right to interfere. The British administration connived at such reprehensible claims and perverted rights.
Deraas and the Deraa-Vaad Baabaas and sants in Punjab were initially created and supported by the British in the early 1900 in order to divide and rule Sikhs. If you recall the history, General Dyer, who is infamous for giving order for Jallianwala Bagh massacre, was given Siropa by the priests of the Golden Temple!
Until Sikhi is freed from these organizations, Baabaa Nanak’s Unique Message is not going to see the light of day.
At the present, they probably control over 90 percent of the Gurdwaras worldwide, including all the Takhats. The self-serving Pujaaree (clergy) in these Gurdwaras is schooled and trained in NIRMALAS texts. Hence they are steeped in NIRMALAS thought.
Due to greed, craftiness, anti-Gurmat training etc. although we hear the self-serving Pujaaree quote Shabads from the Gurbani, but instead of definitions given in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), they use definition from other sources — from outside of the SGGS like vedic and puranic slants etc. This self-serving clergy sells and uses the Gurbani (SGGS) as a commercial product (business-ਧੰਦਾ). They are in control of Sikh Gurdwaras, Sikhi Parchaar, institutions and virtually everything connected to the Sikh psyche since.
Consequently, the Sikhi we see today is not the UNIQUE and REVOLUTIONARY Sikhi that was given to us by Baabaa Nanak.
- ਇਕਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: One Bani alone is authentic Guru; (so just consider or) reflect on One Shabad. (sggs 646).
Since it’s easy to enslave, manipulate and exploit the greedy, fearful and confused mind, the self-serving Pujaaree-Vaad wants people to remain confused and ignorant of the true meanings of the Gurbani! This way nobody will be able to question them!
Shabad Vichaar is the Guru’s Sevaa (Service)
Fittingly, SGGS gives the utmost importance to Shabad-Vichaar (Reflections On the Gurbani — churning the Gurbani for extracting the Butter of Wisdom…). In turn, this Giaan-Wisdom) helps one become a good human. In turn, good humans build better society (ਵਧੀਆ ਇਨਸਾਨ ਤੇ ਵਧੀਆ ਸਮਾਜ)!
- ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: The Gur-Sevaa is Shabad-Vichaar (Reflection on the Shabad — Upadesh, Giaan, Wisdom, Naam…). (sggs 223).
- ਸਭਸੈ ਊਪਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: Reflection on the Gur-Shabad is above all (other notions, speculations, calculations…). (sggs 904).
Pujaaree’s rejected spirituality vs. Nanak’s UNIQUE spirituality
- Spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree (paid clergy trained by the Deraa-Vaad Baabaas is the spirituality of FEAR and GREED. However the Unique spirituality of the SGGS is of Godly contentment and Ananad (Bliss, Joy).
- The spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree is of ‘asking’ or ‘constantly reminding the Creator to give us this or that’. However, such spirituality of BEGGING (Mayaic Ardaas-prayers) does not fit into the spirituality of Sikhi which is of Godly contentment and Ananad.
- Spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree is the spirituality of MIDDLE-MAN (ਵਿਚੋਲਾ). However the Unique spirituality of the SGGS is the spirituality of the SELF, for the SELF, by the SELF.
- Spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree is the spirituality of LIFE AFTER DEATH. However the Unique spirituality of the SGGS is of HERE and NOW.
- Spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree is the spirituality of KARAMKAAND (worthless RITUALS, formalities etc.). However the practical spirituality of the SGGS is of spiritual Wisdom (Enlightenment, divine Virtues).
- Spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree is the spirituality of MIRACLES (karaamaat). However the Unique spirituality of the SGGS is of HUKAM.
- Spirituality of the self-serving Pujaaree is the stale pre-1469 spirituality of concocted narratives, made-up tales, manufactured God separate from man and rest of the Creation etc. However this nonsense of the Bipar-Vaad is debunked in the SGGS. Instead, the Unique and Revolutionary spirituality of Sikhi is of BECOMING THE GURBANI and realizing the divinity that is within all of us, Here and Now.
The self-serving Pujaaree has concocted own catchphrases for their own reasons and benefits. Such Pujaaree manufactured catchphrases include, but not limited to, ‘Naam Jupnaa, Kiret Karni’, ‘Vand Shaknaa’, ‘Daan’, ‘Isnaan’, ‘Deg, Teg, Fateh’ etc. Reducing the UNIQUE and REVOLUTIONARY Message of Baabaa Nanak to such catchphrases does injustice to it.
All the 35 composers of the Gurbani (SGGS) walked the path that they speak of, and expected the rest of us walk that path as well. To mention few of their Directions:
- Asserted ONE CREATOR of the Entire Creation.
- Asserted Invisible Hukam (System-Rule-Law-Order of Nature) pervades the cosmos and governs motions of planets in space.
- Asserted Sikhi of the SELF, for the SELF, and by the SELF.
- Asserted to Become Divine through the process of BECOMING THE GURBANI, and realize the divinity that is within all of us.
- Asserted not to commit act that you will later regret in life.
- Asserted a life of responsibility (ਜਿੰਮੇਦਾਰੀ).
- Asserted becoming living liberated.
- Asserted only that time is Blessed when one remembers God.
- Asserted NO one place is holier than the other because all places are created by God because the same God permeates everywhere.
- Asserted the equality of men and women. Instructed the women to discard veil. Allowed widow and widower remarriage.
- Asserted recognizing the equality of mankind – Sikhi of Universal Humanism (‘Sarbat Daa Bhalaa’ – wishing well being of all).
- Asserted Dharma of the Godly Virtues — Truth (ਸਤ), honesty (truthfulness-ਇਮਾਨਦਾਰੀ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ-Natural State of Being), Wisdom (Giaan-ਗਿਆਨ), humility (ਮਨ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ, ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ), sweet speech (ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ), fearlessness, friendship (no animosity) etc.
- Asserted not eat/drink that is unhealthy for body and mind.
- Asserted to become Enlightened (Gurmukh State of the Mind); and rejected Manmukh (Un-Enlightened) lifestyle.
- Rejected Pujaaree System (clergy).
- Rejected Snatan-Bramnical-Yogic rituals, symbols, religious paraphernalia etc.
- Rejected idol worship.
- Rejected multiple gods and goddesses.
- Rejected the concepts of virgin birth.
- Rejected resurrection (death is final) and a set doomsday for God’s verdict, because God / Hukam instantly decides every moment
- Rejected specific times and facing specific direction for prayer.
- Rejected venerations of dead relatives.
- Rejected pilgrimmages for spiritual gain and to wash your sins away etc.
- Rejected fasting (starving the body).
- Discarded the madness of caste system.
- Rejected Middle-Man between God and man. God in Sikhi does not function through any prophet / messiah / priest etc.
- Rejected concepts like apostate or ‘Kafir‘ etc. of traditional religions.
- Rejected the pre-1469 prevalent concepts of Karma, AFTER LIFE
salvation (Mukti), Tapa, renunciation (Sannyasa), etc.
- Condemned the Hindu practice of Satee (live immolation of widow on her husband’s funeral pyre).
- Rejected AFTER DEATH heaven and hell, 84 lakh Joon (8,400,000 lifeforms), transmigration. In other words, Sikhi does believe that there is a cycle of birth and death going on perpetually at the level of Mind on this earth HERE and NOW, but it rejects the idea of transmigration of soul (self) into different bodies. Although the word ‘Aatamaa‘ appears in SGGS but it appears in the meaning of self and not soul or ‘Aatamaa‘, which is said to be migrating into different bodies.
In a nutshell, Baabaa Nanak rejected all the religions of his day,
including the one he was born into — he was born into a Hindu household but with that faith his Gurmat or Sikhi shares nothing.
That being said, the Gurbani (SGGS) is not Meant to Regurgitate what already existed before the Advent of Baabaa Nanak (pre-1469 belief systems)!
Baabaa Nanak created DHARAMSAAL — a place to receive Spiritual Giaan-Wisdom or Gurmat.
- ਮੈ ਬਧੀ ਸਚੁ ਧਰਮ ਸਾਲ ਹੈ ॥ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾ ਲਹਦਾ ਭਾਲਿ ਕੈ ॥ : I have established a true Dharamsaal. I’ve discovered the right-minded GurSikhs in this place of learning. (sggs 73).
However most of the Gurdwaras today are no longer the same Dharamsaal created by Baabaa Nanak. Why?
As discussed before, we Sikhs (learners or ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ) have for a very long time lost control of our institutions to deviant and anti-Sikhi groups mainly the UDASSIES, NIRMALAS and ‘Sant Baabaas’ beginning from 1718. As a result, Gurdwaras today are no longer the same Dharamsaal created by Guru Nanak.
The word ‘GOD’
In order to impart the Truth, all contributors of the SGGS have used terms that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of the time.
However, they have used these terms as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat.
Take for example the word ‘GOD’. Most often Baabaa Nanak did not use this word or its Hindu and Islamic equivalents in the same sense as in the parent religion. Similarly, when he employed any other religious term in usage, he altered its current meaning to something else within the context of new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat.
Therefore, to reflect on the Gurbani (SGGS), I made use of ‘God’ in a generic sense and certainly not its usages prevalent in the traditional religious sense. The reader ought to use caution here with not only ‘God’ but also with a number of new terms expounded by Baabaa Nanak to explain his Unique and Revolutionary philosophy.
Accordingly, Baabaa Nanak emphasized reason and logical thinking in the understanding of ‘God’ and life. For Baabaa Nanak, ‘God’ is Truth (Sach-ਸਚ) and Virtues (Shabad, Naam, Hukam) understandable through Wisdom and discerning intellect (i.e. Bibek Buddh).
Limitation of Translating/Explaining Gurbani in English Language
Understanding the Gurbani (Shabad) in the English language is no easy task. Due to the lack of adequate English words to accurately explain the Gurbani only adds more frustration to the task.
A simple literal English rendition results in devoid of the profundity or the spiritual Message embedded in the Guru’s Shabad. This problem gets confounded further when (1) readers distort and color the Gurbani using Vedas, Puranas, Sanatan-Brahmanical-Yogic slants, fake Sakhis (stories) or any other Granths/texts written by the anti-Nanak or Anti-Sikhi groups etc., (2) when readers distort and color the Gurbani keeping in tune with their own vested interests and entrenched beliefs, and when readers educated in Kashi in Brahmanical traditions color and distort the Gurbani. As a result, for example, the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy) can turn to Gurmat only to confirm to their respective religion or philosophy. We can see this problem in the readily available translations of the SGGS (Teekaas) available on the internet.