News & Updates

November 27, 2018

 

Path of Naam Simran – Concept of Sikh meditation explained as a true path of salvation.

 

May 17, 2018

 

Sri Guru Amardas Ji – A detailed biography of Guru Amardas Ji posted.

 

Check Past Updates

Find Us On...

Find Sikhism: Sikh Religion, Beliefs, Philosophy and Principles on FacebookFind Sikhism: Sikh Religion, Beliefs, Philosophy and Principles on Twitter

Personality and Accomplishments

God created Guru Nanak who turned out to be a great and new phenomenon. His stormy ideas swept the humanity, and particularly the Indian elite as well as laity not only accepted him the Guru but also he through his ideology of self-respecting spirituality compelled one and all to rethink about the quality of life they were living. Categorisation of humanity into third rate and fourth rate citizens was the height of cruelty towards mankind and in fact it was against even the spirit of the Vedas which were put forth to justify this atrocity. Guru Nanak was strong enough to fight against hypocrisies inequalities and senseless ritualism. He without caring for his own caste or family he belonged to, right from the beginning of his life upto the end, kept on burning the flame of the crusade he had started in favour of the so-called low caste and down trodden ones. He produced a new philosophy of truth, a new ideology for spirituo-temporal concerns along with a new model of dialogue which was samvad and not the vad vivad or shastrarth (polemics) wherein the ego­ generating victory had ever remained as the motive force. Being man of letters and the man for equal status to the spirituo-temporal concern in life, Guru Nanak was the first person in the history of socio-religious ethos of lndia who used word 'Hindustan' in his hymns. That is why one might say that the ideas put forth by Guru Nanak were altogether new which are neither a continuation of Sant tradition nor an offshoot of any other ideology. The terminology and conceptual framework of Guru Nanak, is of course the same but the innovative treatment to them and creation of applied philosophy of life are his own distinct contributions to Indian philosophy. Prof. Niharranjan Ray discusses thread bare the question of Guru Nanak's indebtedness to Kabir and the Sant tradition. He avers: Sikhism, (the creation of Guru Nanak), I must point out, is not just Kabirism; it is not just a continuation of the Sant tradition either. Guru Nanak accepted both but oriented and organized them in a manner, imparted to them such a coherence, and what is more, such a social purpose as to enable one to construct a systematized theology from beginning to end, lay down the major lineaments of a religious arid spiritual discipline and the step by step process leading to the ultimate goal of an ineffable mystical experience of union with the absolute and ultimate. In the process what emerged was something different altogether but not detached from Kabirism and the Sant tradition. The emergence became a distinct entity with a separate identity of its own, which Kabirism could not be; the latter ended up by continuing to remain as a part of Sant tradition, by far the best part perhaps. This new emergence is what has come to be known as Sikhism.

This new emergence in the shape of Sikhism was going to have new repercussions on the Indian sub-continent for ages to come, because this was a new faith which encompassed in it the philosophy of Shabda-Guru, philosophy of sacrifice for others and the altogether new philosophy of Ecumenism and equality. This new phenomenon created by Guru Nanak required for its proper channelization a very devoted and tough personality who could develop as well as protect the spirituo-ethical institutions created by the Guru for the welfare of the mankind. Such a spirit was found in Bhai Lahina who by dint of his perseverance, devotion and utmost obedience became Angad (born of limb) of Guru Nanak and spread the ideology of Guru Nanak. He was perhaps, the first disciple in religious history who was offered Guruship by the Guru while the Guru himself was alive. However, Guru Angad had to undergo severe tests. On his nomination as the Guru, the second Nanak, Ramkali ki Var by Satta and Balvand gives exposition to the wonder of people by delineating that the world awefully seeks to know that by appointing a disciple as Guru in preference to his sons, why and how the Guru (Nanak) made the Ganges flow in a different direction. Guru Nanak, who was himself master and supreme Lord of the world uttered his words aloud: He (Guru Angad) has churned the holy Word by making mountain of absorption the churning rod and control over the worldly desires as the string. He churned out all the fourteen jewels (of wisdom) and illuminated the world'. Moreover, before waving the canopy of Guruship over his head, he was thoroughly examined; his pot of body and mind was minutely knocked and shaken in order to find it in the solid shape. As it was an open secret, people came to know well that when thoroughly examined, fully cleansed and disciplined only then Lahina was offered Guruship.

While defining the qualities of the personality of Guru Angad, Bhai Gurdas in his Varan (24.6) says that the wonder met the wonder and becoming wondrous got imbued with the wonder (Guru Nanak). Bhai Gurdas very well understands that wonder (Vismad) is the key term in the epistemology created by Guru Nanak in his magnum opus Japu (ji). In this philosophical longer hymn, in the thirty-fifth stanza Guru Nanak establishes the sense of wonder (awe-vismad) as the valid source of valid knowledge. He while defining the vastness and variety of the universe creates vismad as it is created in the heart of an innocent child when he happens to see the expansive world around. Man having attained such a state loses his ego (hauma1) which has been considered by Guru Angad Dev as chronic ailment and thus source of all tensions required to be eschewed. Bhai Gurdas very aptly says that both the wonders (Guru Nanak and Guru Angad) got fused into one another. The light of Guru Angad immersed in the light (of Guru Nanak), the delight of the wisdom of Guru (gurmat) was attained, the sufferings of haumai­ oriented evil mindedness got burnt and wiped out. Moving on the highway of holy congregation, the truth (Guru Angad) has merged into the truth (Guru Nanak Dev). Indeed, Lahina became the light of Baba Nanak's House. At another place Bhai Gurdas terms Guru Angad as the worthy son of Baba Nanak. As we have already seen, as and when whatever was asked by the Guru to his sons to accomplish they either evaded or flatly refused. Balvand says candidly in Ramkali Ki Var, that the sons of Guru Nanak did not obey the decree of their father and turned their faces away from the holy preceptor. Their hearts were already dishonest and that is why they disobeyed and loaded with the ego upon their heads they roamed here and there. On the other hand, as says Bhai Gurdas in his Varan (24.7), Guru Angad adopting truth, contentment, compassion, dharma, richness (of heart and mind) and discriminatory wisdom (vichar), and by repudiating greed, infatuation and ego became a worthy son in the family of Baba (Nanak). In the very next pauri of the same Var Bhai Gurdas uses attribute of Diamond for Guru Nanak as well as Guru Angad Dev. The symbol used is very befitting because Guru Nanak for whole of his life stood firm in his convictions like an invincible rock of diamond whom the infatuation of family ties, opposition from the so-called high-ups and his advancing age could not shake d deviate. He found these qualities in Lahina and made him his limb from which the tree of nectar fruits in the name of Guru Angad, flourished. The diamond cut another diamond to shape it to reflect the effulgence of the Divine light of the Lord and both merged in one another. Angad, the Guru became so competent that he could also produce another Guru in the form of Guru Amar Das.

Guru Nanak, had profusely dwelt upon the contradictions of the life of people living under slavery, earlier of the Pathans and later on of the Mughals. In Var Asa he had taken notice of the dual life of those Hindus who had accepted the high offices of the Mughal court and had been adopting the Muslim customs and culture at the court. The Guru says clearly that outwardly they would recite the holy books of the Muslims but inside their hearts, they would go on worshipping the idols of their gods and goddesses (GGS, 471). Not only that, the Guru had seen that the Kshatriyas had abandoned their duties of taking care of their motherland and to please their Masters they had forsaken their own language and as a consequence, their own culture as well. It is the irony of the situation that Muslims are called Malechchas by Hindus but because of want of self-respect they have now given preference to Persian over their own mother tongue (GGS, 663).

In Measure Basant, Guru Nanak delineates the erstwhile prevalent conduct of the people of medieval India. H tells that Primal Supreme Being is now known as Allah and this age is of the Muslim sheikhs. Such is the current practice that deities and temples of Hindus are taxed. Now the ablution is done in Muslim way, the prayer is known as namaz and the Lord also now figures wearing blue attire. In each home each one is now addressed with honorific Mian and not only this much, 0 man, you have adopted strange languages like Arabic, Persian etc. (GOS, 1191).

Guru Nanak through his hymns gave a clarion call to the Indian masses as well as the elite for protecting and preserving their languages and cultures. He adopted Punjabi for his hymns which was at that time written in Mahajani script close to Gurm ukhi which required a lot of improvements. Guru Angad Dev being too close to the first Master undertook to work on the script of Punjabi language and as we have seen elsewhere that as a matter of routine he at Khadur Sahib taught the children Punjabi and improvised the existing script of the language. Professor S.S. Joshi of Punjabi University, who is an eminent scholar of Linguistics and Punjabi language in his latest article entitled 'Guru Angad Dev and Gurmukhi script' has not only justified diligently the attribution of Gurmukhi script to Guru Angad Dev, he rather goes beyond this to say that by his (Guru Angad Dev's) contribution, the great Guru has placed Gurmukhi on the same pedestal where Hebrew, Devanagari and Arabic are. Since it will make an informative and interesting reading for the reader we take pleasure in presenting and reproducing some of the portions from his write-up on the topic as under:

'It is a fact that the prevalent modem form of Gurmukhi script was given by Guru Angad Dev. It is correct that many graphs of this script had already assumed definite shapes even before Guru Nanak Dev. But the task of presenting these in a scientific order was performed by Guru Angad Dev. Two Pattis in Asa Measure have been included in Guru Granth Sahib. The first belongs to Guru Nanak Dev whereas the second is ascribed to Guru Amar Das. Patti is a distinct poetic form of Punjabi. In literature that creation came to be known as Patti in which a poetic interpretation of the orthography was presented in alphabetic order and in verse. The patti of Guru Nanak is based on some proto­ Gurmukhi script which comprised thirty-five letters. (Retroflex r) ੜ is included in this. The alphabetic order in this is somewhat different from the present order of the orthography. This orthography, however, has in a similar manner graphs representing palatals, retroflex, dental and labial graphs and y (ਯ), r (ਰ), l (ਲ), v (ਵ) and r (ੜ) as in Gurmukhi. In the velar series the four graphs resemble Gurmukhi order but the ń (ਙ) does not. s (ਸ), i (ੲ), u (ੳ) and ń (ਙ) are placed in the beginning and h (ਹ) and a (ਅ) at the end. It becomes clear that before the creation of this Patti the present order of Gurmukhi had not been decided, but the number of graphs at thirty-five and their pronunciation had definitely taken shape. By the thirty­ five Pauris of this Bani, stress has been laid on union with Almighty through the singing of praises. Alongside, an emotional expression of the philosophical and religious principles of Guru Nanak Dev has also taken place.

On the basis of above mentioned, we can conclude that the thirty-five graphs of Gurumukhi script and their pronunciation had been decided well before Guru Nanak Dev. The present prevalent serial order has been provided by Guru Angad Dev. We would like to talk about its scientific background. The present Gurmukhi script starts from u (ੳ) instead of the traditional a (ਅ), which is its specific quality and uniqueness also.

Orthographies in vogue in India and also those famous all over the world start from a (ਅ) only. In Devanagri the alphabetic order is also a, i, u (ਅ, ੲ, ੳ). It is believed that the place of articulation of a (ਅ) is the glottis, that of i (ੲ) is the palate and that u (ੳ) is pronounced at the lips. But the present day scientific researches do not subscribe to this view. In the production of vowel sounds the manner is more important than the place of articulation. The sound of ੳ (u) is produced by raising the back part of the tongue along with the simultaneous rounding of the lips. During the production of ਅ (a) the central part of the tongue is raised somewhat to impede the passage of the air-stream. For the production of ੲ (E) the front part of the tongue is raised. This way, the order of production of u, a, i (ੳ, ਅ, ੲ) becomes from back-to-front. It is worth noting here that the order of arrangement of the stop consonants to follow is also the same. The velar stops are produced by the back part of the tongue touching the velum. The place of articulation for the palatal stops is the hard palate. The retroflex stops are produced by the contact of the lower surface of the tip of the tongue in the hard palatal region. Dental stops are produced by the contact of the front part of the tongue with the teeth. In the production of the labial stops the tongue does not play any part and these sounds are produced by lips coming into contact with each other.

In the first line ਸ and ਹ have been placed after ੳ, ਅ, ੲ. These two letters represent fricatives. Like vowels, these are also non-stop sounds. The placement of these two alongside ੳ, ਅ and ੲ is an ample proof of scientific thinking. ਯ, ਰ, ਲ, ਵ, and ੜ appear in the last line. ੜ is the unique feature of Gurmukhi script. There is no such graph to represent this sound in any other script like Devanagari, Sharda, Takri, Siddh Matrika etc. is a successful proof of the expression of Punjabi pronunciation and this exhibits the deep scientific understanding of the creator of the modem Gurmukhi system.

The present day and modem arrangement of the graphs of Gurmukhi orthography augurs very well with the latest researches in the field of Phonetics. More significant contribution of Guru Angad Dev is to adopt Gurmukhi Script as the most appropriate medium for penning down Gurbani and Gurmat literature. He prepared a Primer (ਬਾਲ ਬੋਧ) for teaching Gurmukhi to young students whom he liked teaching himself. He encouraged the writers and scribes to 'adopt Gurmukhi for creating literature in Punjabi language. The use of modem form of Gurmukhi for Gurbani, Gurmat literature and Punjabi language is such an achievement of the history of Modem Indian languages that we can easily feel proud of it. This is a result of the farsightedness and scientific bent of mind of the great Guru Angad Dev. Anyhow, the Guru by making Gurmukhi as the medium of writing the Holy Bani has put Gurmukhi on the same pedestal as enjoyed by Hebrew, Arabic and Devanagri scripts. This way, the faithful have only expressed their genuine gratitude by believing that Gurmukhi was created by Guru Angad Dev. By reestablishing Gurmukhi that had reached the point of extinction, the Guru has accomplished such a significant deed which must be appreciated in words that it richly deserves'.

In the savaiyas of Bhatts, they often call Guru Nanak a Raj yogi and compare him with the heroes of ancient times. Bhatt Kalasahar while wishing to proclaim the virtuous deeds of Guru Angad in all the continents compares him with king Janak and the lotus in context with the detachedness. He further says that Guru Angad wearing the armour of modesty has tom away the maya around. In the fifth stanza of the Savaiye Mahala II, Kalasahar, whereas reiterates many qualities of the personality of Guru Angad Dev adds one more dimension to the person of the Guru as follows: your glance proves to be dispeller of darkness (of ignorance) and destroyer of sins and evils. Guru Angad is subjugator of avarice and attachment and cherisher of those who seek his shelter. Garnering the spiritual joy, his word is the natural art of pouring the nectar. O Kalasahar, lion like son of Pheru, Lahina born of the limbs of Nanak as Angad practises the supreme Rajyoga.

This allusion by Kalasahar to Raj yoga is very apt because we have already seen that in the early years of his life Bhai Lahina being a reputed priest (pujari) at Khadur was not only practising mantra yoga, the basis of idol worship but was organising every year a pilgrimage along with other devotees to the shaktipath of Jvalamukhi where other varieties of yoga such as Hathayoga and Layayog etc. were practised, through which the stress upon the control of various systems of body was given preference. For controlling these systems many cumbersome physical exercises (asans) were invented by the adept yogis and many miraculous powers are said to have been attained by the yogis. Yogis could grant boons as well as curses when pleased or offended. They became a separate and super class apart from already existing fourfold division of the society. Since they were supposed to have powers, they were feared rather than loved by the people.

The practice of Raj yoga (by Patanjali) is a system which is the critique of the systems of yoga but it does not impress much upon the systems of body, the control of breath and its ethical values in the form of yama and niymas notwithstanding. Instead of stubborn control over body and then upon mind, the Raj yoga directly deals with the control of mind and for that, the rigour of different postures and purificatory actions is not held as necessary in it. That is why it is named Rajyoga and all the great mystics, saints and enlightened ones have been termed as the Rajyogis. The spiritual growth of Guru Angad under the guidance of Guru Nanak is not only amazing but also a boon for the growth of Sikh philosophy and culture which ultimately changed the destiny of Indian masses as well as the elite classes.