From time immemorial, cultures have all sorts of responses to an eclipse, mainly fright or fear.
Hence in general, eclipses have been considered inauspicious events for thousands of years. They have been viewed as very negative omens.
Rituals related to eclipses
In India eclipses or ‘Grahan’ (‘ਗ੍ਰਹਣ’) generally are considered to be inauspicious according to the mythology propagated by Brahmins/Pandits.
As a result, there exist many related rituals (Karamkaand), traditions, superstitions, misconceptions, etc. that are observed before and after eclipses. They were also in full practice at the time of Baabaa Nanak. And they still are!
For example, people are directed to take a bath after the eclipse is over, and changing into fresh and clean clothes. Sprinkling of Ganga water or taking a dip in the Ganga is also supposed to wash away the evil done by the eclipse. The belief is that — after an eclipse — taking holy dip in holy rivers like Ganga, and Teeraths like Brahma Sarover in Kurukshetra will help in:
- Washing away sins of this birth and previous births
- Attaining liberation (Moksha) – escape from cycle of birth and death (i.e. reincarnation).
- Washing away negative energy which spreads fast during the eclipse
- Removing the stains of wicked activities (Adharmic) performed in this birth and previous births.
- Another belief is that the solar eclipse – the alignment of sun, moon and earth – generates curative properties in holy waters of the rivers and ponds (Srovars of Teerath or places of pilgrimage).
There are also many other rituals and superstitions observed during an eclipse. To mention a few:
- not worshiping gods or touching idols during eclipse,
- abstaining from cooking,
- observing fast,
- barring a pregnant woman from going out and forcing her take shower every couple of hours whole night, and so on.
The Gurbani rejects all Karamkaand
Since Karamkaand (rituals) further bind people in egotism, the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) bluntly repudiates (ਖੰਡਨ) them. Hence, there is no place for Karamkaand (rituals) in the Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani.
- ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਮਜਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਸੂਚੇ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਗ੍ਰਹਣ ਪੁੰਨ ਫਲ ਮੂਚੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Taking cleansing bath in the (Teerath of) Hari Naam, (the life is rendered) pure. Reward (of bathing in the Naam-Teerath) surpasses the giving of charity at millions of solar eclipses. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 197).
- ਜੇ ਓਹੁ ਗ੍ਰਹਨ ਕਰੈ ਕੁਲਖੇਤਿ ॥ ਅਰਪੈ ਨਾਰਿ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਸਮੇਤਿ ॥ ਸਗਲੀ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸ੍ਰਵਨੀ ਸੁਨੈ ॥ ਕਰੈ ਨਿੰਦ ਕਵਨੈ ਨਹੀ ਗੁਨੈ ॥੨॥: Someone may bathe at Kurukshetra during an eclipse, and give his wife along with ornaments in offering, and listen to all the Simritees (Hindu scriptures), but if he indulges in slander (the good), these are of no account. ||2|| (sggs 875).
During his journey that he undertook for the sake of Enlightening all the people, Guru Amar Das Sahib first visited Kurukshetra on the occasion of the Abhijit festival and preached to thousands of pilgrims gathered there that the eclipse was a natural phenomenon and there was no merit gained by fasting and bathing on this occasion.
- ਨਾਵਣੁ ਪੁਰਬੁ ਅਭੀਚੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਦਰਸੁ ਭਇਆ॥ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਹਰੀ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਗਇਆ ॥: The fruits of ritual bathing and “Abheechu” (i.e., Abhijit festival) were naturally obtained when the blessed vision of the Satigur (i.e., the spiritual Wisdom from the Guru was received and lived). The filth of wickedness is washed off, and the darkness of ignorance is dispelled (by the Light of the spiritual Wisdom of the Satigur). (sggs 1116).
- ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: I (too) go to bathe at the Teerath (place of pilgrimage); but for me Naam (Giaan, Wisdom, Virtues…) is the Teerath. To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad Vichaar…) is the Teerath, (because of this) Wisdom Awakens within (sggs 687).
- 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).
- ਸਗਲੇ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੰਜਮ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਬਦਿ ਵਸੇ ॥: All Karma, Dharma, Suchi (purification…), Sanjam (austere self-discipline…), Japa, Tapa and pilgrimages – all these abide in the Shabad (i.e., in the Giaan or Updesh of the Shabad). (sggs 1332).
- ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥: Throughout the eight watches of the day (i.e., always), remember the Naam (i.e., Giaan or Wisdom…). In it are the many sacred shrines of pilgrimage and cleansing baths. (sggs 184).
Fittingly, the Gurbani tells us that visiting the so called Teerath is nothing but ‘worldly affairs’, ‘egotistical displays’, oblivion in ‘doubt’, mundane business (ਧੰਧਾ), Pakhand or acts of pleasing and appeasing other people etc.!
- ਭਰਮੇ ਭੂਲਾ ਸਭਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਗਹੈ ॥: Deluded by doubt (he) visits all Teerath (external shrines of pilgrimage). (sggs 1142).
- ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਧੋਵਹਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥: (Pure and unique Bhagti is) to wash the mind, and the body (i.e., senses: eyes, ears, etc.) with Shabad-Vichaar (sggs 1059).
The Gurbani also rejects belief in astrology (Jotish)
As the ancient Indian legend goes (according to mythology as given in Hindu Puraan), an eclipse occurs when the shadowy demon Rahu Ketu gets his revenge on the Sun and the Moon by consuming them and stealing their luminous rays!!!!!!!!
In nutshell, according to astrology, eclipses can be a bad time to start or end jobs, projects, relationships, or any other important stuff.
The Gurbani repudiates both Jotish (also spelt Jyotish – astrology) and such belief.
The Jotish holds that it can help alleviate the unfavorable results of past actions through special measures, rituals etc. However, the SGGS holds that the permanent and foolproof solutions to our fear and suffering is through abiding in our Mool within (ਮੂਲ, True Nature or Jot Saroop), through the Shabad-Vichaar.
- ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੜਦੇ ਜੋਤਕੀ ਨਾ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਖੇਲੁ ਹੈ ਸਚੁ ਸਿਰਜਣਹਾਰਾ ॥: Astrology Pandits study their books, but they do not understand (the Creator’s – Kudrat’s -play). O eternal Creator! Every happening is your play. (sggs 948).
- ਝੂਠੁ ਨ ਬੋਲਿ ਪਾਡੇ ਸਚੁ ਕਹੀਐ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਾਇ ਸਬਦਿ ਘਰੁ ਲਹੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਗਣਿ ਗਣਿ ਜੋਤਕੁ ਕਾਂਡੀ ਕੀਨੀ ॥ ਪੜੈ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ ਤਤੁ ਨ ਚੀਨੀ ॥ ਸਭਸੈ ਊਪਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਹੋਰ ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਉ ਨ ਸਗਲੀ ਛਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: O Pandit (i.e. Pujaaree, religious scholar etc.)! Do not tell lies, speak the Truth. When egotism is eradicated through the Gur-Shabad, then (one) finds the (inner) Home (of fulfilment). ||1||Pause|| Calculating and counting, the astrologer draws the horoscope. (He) reads it and announces it (to his client), but (he) does not Understand the Reality (ਅਸਲੀਅਤ). (sggs 904).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭਾ ਗਣਤ ਹੈ ਗਣਤੈ ਨਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥: All accounting is in egotism, in these, there is no Peace (sggs 36).
- ਤੂ ਕਰਤਾ ਆਪਿ ਅਗਣਤੁ ਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਗਣਤੈ ॥: O Creator! You are incalculable, while the entire world is within the realm of calculation. (sggs 314).
- ਸਉਣ ਸਗੁਨ ਬੀਚਾਰਣੇ ਨਉਂ ਗ੍ਰਹ ਬਾਰਹ ਰਾਸਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਕਾਮਣ ਟੂਣੇ ਅਉਸੀਆਂ ਕਣ ਸੋਹੀ ਪਾਸਾਰ ਪਾਸਾਰਾ ॥: The life led in the light of omens, the nine planets, the twelve signs of the zodiac; incantations, magic divination by lines and by the voice is all futile (Bhai Gurdaas, Vaar: 5 Pauree: 9).
There is no counting (imaginations-ਫੁਰਨੇ…) for the one who has become the Gurmukh. Because a Gurmukh knows he is not separate from the Divine Essence.
So the Gurbani urges us to become the Gurmukhi, so the mind can leave the ‘Trikutee-ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ’ and come to rest into its ‘Jot Saroop‘.
- ਗਣਤ ਗਣੈ ਸੋ ਜਲੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥ ਸਹਸਾ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਚੁਕੈ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਗਣਤ ਚੁਕਾਏ ਸਚੇ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਇਦਾ ॥੯॥ : One who keeps on (worldly or Mayaic) counting all the time, is always burning (restless etc.) in the world (in the hidden fire of Maya, Trishna). Doubt (anxiety, fear…) of that person does not end at all. A person who becomes the Gurmkh abandons his worldly or Mayaic calculations, he is always absorbed in the eternal Truth. (sggs 1062).