Concepts of Sikhism

Charnjit Singh Bal

Genesis, (Origin of Universe)

The Guru Granth Sahibís Gurbani, (Sikh scriptures), Co-authored by the Sikh Gurus and the Hindu & Muslim eminent Sages, does not profess or subscribe to the numerous theories and conjectures of the other religions as to how and when the Universe was created. Sikhismís concept is that only the Creator knows as to when and how He created the universe. In the founding Guru, Nanak Sahibís words,

vyl n pfieaf pMzqI, ij hovY lyK purfn]

vKqu n pfieE kfdIaf, ij ilKin lyKu kurfxu]

iQiq vfru n jogI jfxY, ruiq mfhu n koeI]

jf krqf isrTI kAu sfjy, afpy jfxY soeI] jpu, pAuVI 21

Time, [of origin] isnít known to the Pundits,

If known, it would be (written) in Purans [Hindu scriptures].

Time isnít known to the Qazies (Muslim clerics),

If known, they would have written it in the Koran.

Whether it was Lunar/Solar calendar Night/Day the yogi doesnít know

Season or month no one knows.

When the Creator created the Universe, He himself knows. Jup, Paurdi 21

afpInY afp sfijE, afpInY ricE nfAu]

dUXI kudriq sfjIaY, kr afsxu izTo cfAu] afsf dI vfr, m: 1 pMnf 463

(He) created Himself and manifested His own Name (glory).

Secondly He created the Nature, pervading in it, rejoiced. Page. 463.

God

The 1430 Page Guru Granth Sahib's Gurbani (Sikh Scriptures) starts with Sikhismís founder Guru Nanak Sahibís hymn called fundamental hymn. This hymn describes the Guru Nanakís concept of the God and His attributes and is the nucleus of Gurbani.

<>, siqnfmu, krqf, purKu, inrBAu, inrvYr, akfl mUriq, ajUnI, sYBM gurpRsfid] jpu, pM: 1

1 (one) God, His Eternal Name exists; He is the Creator, all Pervading (omnipresent), without fear and enmity, (He is) immortal, formless, self-manifest and is realized by Guruís Grace (Illuminating Word).

Further to the above fundamental hymn Guru Nanak Sahib defines that primordial Godís existence is eternal.

afid sLcu, jugfid scu] hY BI scu, nfnk hosI BI scu]

He existed, in the beginning, through the eons (ages), He exists now, will exist in the future.

A hymn, that constitutes first part of the three-part Sikhismís prayer that Sikhs all over world recite thousands of times daily, further describes almighty Godís divine attributes,

qU Tfkuru qum pih afdfs] jIAu ipMzu sBu qyrI rfis]

qum mfq ipqf hm bfirk qyry] qumrI ikRpf mih sUK Gnyry]

koie n jfnY qumrf aMqu ] AUcy qy AUcf BgvMq]

sgl smgRI qumrY sUqR DfrI] qum qy hoey so afigafkfrI]

qumrI giq imiq qum hI jfnI] nfnk dfs sdf kurbfnI] rfgu gAuVI, suKmnI, pMnf 268

(Only) You are the deity, supplication to you. Soul and body are your assets.

You are mother and father; we are your children. By your grace I have many comforts.

No one knows your (divinityís) limit. Over and above the highest is the God.

Whole creation is stringed in your (laws of nature). They all function according to your Will. Your state and size only you know. Nanak, your servant, is ever dedicated to you. Page. 268

Sole Creator, Provider, Savior, Destroyer

The Sikhismís another novel concept is that the One-God is the sole Creator, Provider, Savior and Destroyer of life. Guru, Angud Dev Sahib says,

afpy sfjy kry afip, jfeI iB rKY afip]

iqs ivic jMq AupfiekY dyKY Qfip AuQfip] afsf dI vfr, pMnf 475

The God creates the Universe and embellishes it; having created, He takes care.

Populates it with the beings, and oversees re-creation and annihilation cycle (life). Page 475

mfrY rfKY eyko afip] mfnuK kY ikC nfhI hfiQ] suKmnI pMnf 281

He alone takes, saves life. In manís hand is nothing. Sukhmani Page 281

puiC n sfjy puiC n Zfhy, puiC n dyvY lyie] srI rfgu, pMnf 53

He doesnít consult [anyone] to create or destroy life.

Nor does [He] consult [anyone] to give or take away [Bounties]. Sri Rag, Page 53

afpy mfir jIvfly avru n koeI] rfgu mfrU, m: 3, pMnf 1068 (gu: gRM: drpn, poQI 7, pM: 789

(Creator) himself kills and resurrects (Life), no one else. Page 1068

Guru

Guru literally means a spiritual guide or teacher. In Sikhism there are three entities, the God, the Guru and the Sikh; and Guru is the sole intermediary between a Sikh and the God. Guru Arjun Sahib edited and compiled scriptural compositions, authored by the preceding Sikh Gurus and venerated Hindu and Muslim sages with common philosophy, in the Granth, which now personifies perpetual Guru of the Sikhs by virtue of the Sikhism's fundamental doctrine, ĎWord is Guru, Guru is Wordí. Envisaging the probable future abuse of the August seat of the Guru by the Pretenders, Guru Gobind Singh edified, ĎAll Sikhs to regard the Granth Sahib as their (spiritual) Guruí.

There is no deviation, right from the founder, Guru Nanak Sahib, through nine successive Sikh Gurus (Nanaks) to Guru Granth Sahib, in the fundamental concepts, philosophy or edification of Sikhism. And since all the ten Gurus and Guru Granth have had a common spiritual philosophy and illuminating message passed-on from the predecessor to the successor and enshrined in the guru Granth Sahib, there has always been only one true Sikh Guru.

Unlike some other religions there are no demigods, prophets or Avatars (divine incarnates). The Sikh Gurus (Nanaks) did not claim to be prophets, faith healers or purveyors of salvation or damnation; nor did they claim to posses the supernatural powers to perform miracles. These powers they ascribed to the almighty (omnipotent) God. The Sikhismís concept of the Guru is, ďWord is Guru, Guru is Word.Ē In other words Guruís eternal Word (edification) is the Guru, not his mortal body. As per this novel Sikh tenet the Granth, that contains scriptures authored and stamped by Sikh Gurus and Muslim and Hindu holy sages, is Sikhsí perpetual now. Guru Nanak Dev Sahib says,

sbud guru, suriq Duin cylf] isD gosit, pMnf 943

Translation- (Guruís) Word is (my) Guru; contemplation (upon divinity) is (Guruís) disciple. G. G. S. Page 943

siqguru isK kI krY ipRqpflf] syvk kAu guru sdf dieaflf]

isKu kI guru durmiq ihrY] gurbcnI hir nfmu AucrY]

True Guru saves his Sikh (disciple) from vices. To a Sikh Guru is always beneficent.

Guru obliterates Sikhís bad mentality, because the Sikh recites Godís Name (praise).

siqguru isK ky bMDn kftY] guru kf isKu ibkfr qy hftY]

siqguru isK kAu nfm Dnu dyie] guru kf isKu vzBfgI hy]

True Guru cuts Sikhís materialistic attachments, and Guruís Sikh abstains from vices.

True Guru instills Godís euphoric Name. Guruís Sikh is blessed.

siqguru isKu kf hlqu plqu svfrY]

nfnk siqguru isK kAu jIa nfil smfrY] rfgu gAuVI, suKmnI, m: 5, pMnf 286

True Guru makes Sikhís present and future (hereafter life) blissful.

Nanak, Guru keeps a Sikh in his heart. P.286

Religiosity

To dispel ignorance and promote excellent spiritual consciousness Guru Nanak Sahib composed inspirational hymns, which he himself recited and sang. The Guru's universal message to the mankind was to pursue spiritual excellence through the Guru's illuminating word, and rational faith as opposed to dogmatic blind faith that spawns pagan rituals, taboos prejudices and superstitions. To disseminate his universal message through education, discussions and discourses Guru Sahib embarked upon four odysseys to the prominent Hindu and Muslim holy shrines all over the Indian sub-Continent and Middle East.

The successive nine Sikh Gurus enriched the message with their own and Muslim and Hindu holy sages scriptures. That quintessential message advocates rapport (harmony) with the eternal God (through the Guru's enlightening 'WORD') and shun all blind faith rituals and pagan rites that the self-serving holy quacks and spurious Gurus profess as sacred religious rites. Sikhism advocates rationalism and pragmatism in the pursuit of exalted spiritual consciousness and forbids occultism and blind faith ritualism. Guru Granth Sahib's Gurbani (Sikh scriptures) states,

kbIrf jhf igafnu qhf Drmu hY, jhf JUTu qh pfpu] slok 155, kbIr jI, pMnf 1372

Kabira, where knowledge is, there is religion.

Where sanctimony is, there is sin. Sloke 155 P 1372

avir kfj qyrY ikqY n kfm, imlu sfD sMgq Bj kyvl nfm]

Other (dogmatic) rites are of no avail to you, join the congregation of saints and praise (God's) Name. P. 378

schu AurY sBu ko, Aupir scu acfru ]

To extolling eternal God's Name, all dogmatic rituals are inferior, extolling eternal Gods Name is the superior rite. Page 62

eyko Drmu idRVY scu koeI] gurmiq pUrw juig juig soeI]

Anhid rwqw eyk ilv qwr] Ehu gurmuiK pwvY AlK Apwr]4] rwgu bsMqu, m: 1 pMnw 1188

ArQ:- jyhVw koeI mnu`K Awpxy ihrdy ivc ieh inscw ibTWdw hY ik sdw-iQr pRBU dw nwm ismrnw hI ieko iek TIk Drm hY, auhI guru dI miq dw Awsrw lY ky sdw leI (ivcwrW dy twkry) Afol ho jWdw hY, auh mnu`K iek-qwr suriq joV ky AibnwsI pRBU ivc msq rihMdw hY[ guru dI srn pY ky auh mnu`K AidRSt qy byAMq pRBU dw drsn kr lYNdw hY[ sRI guru gRMQ drpn, poQI 8, pMnw 594-597

The man who embeds the belief in his heart that contemplation of eternal Godís Naam (praise) is pious act, he, through Guruís edification becomes a serene person. He, by virtue of being attuned (to Him), spiritually blends with the eternal God. By submitting himself to Guruís illuminating edification, he realizes the invisible and infinite God.

srb Drm mih sRyst Drmu] hir ko nwmu jip inrml krmu] suKmnI, m:5, pMnw: 266

ArQó (hy mn!) swry DrmW nwloN cMgw Drm hY ik pRBU dw nwm jp (qy) pivqģ Awcrx (bxw)[

The superior religious rite is recite His name (sing His praise)

sgl mqWq kyvl hir nwm ] goibMd Bgq kY min ibsRwm ] suKmnI, m: 5, pMnw 296

ArQ- swry mqW dw incoV pRBU dw nwm hI hY, ies nwm dw invws pRBU dy Bgq dy mn ivc huMdw hY[

The essence of all religious persuasions is Godís Name (praise).

It dwells in pious mendicants hearts.

Rational Approach to Spirituality

The Sikhism prescribes rational approach in pursuit of exalted spiritual consciousness and assimilation of Man's immortal soul with the primal soul (eternal God), and proscribes dogmatism, ritualism, asceticism or monasticism as form of religious practice. Rejecting ascetics and monksí ritualistic contrition, penance, austerity, pilgrimage, paraphernalia and guise etc. in pursuit of salvation Guru Nanak Sahib says,

jogu n iKMQf, jogu n zMzy, jogu n Bsm cVfieaY]

jogu n muMdI mUMiz mzfieaY, jogu n isM’I vfeIaY]

aMjn mfih inraMjin rhIeY, jogu jugiq iev pfeIaY]

Re-union is not in (asceticís quilted) wrap; re-union is not in staff.

Re-union is not in smearing (body with) ash.

Re-union is not in wearing earrings or in shaving one's head.

Re-union is not in sounding (asceticsí mealtime) little horn (whistle).

While living in the materialistic world, remaining un-materialistic is way to reunion.

jogu n bfihr mVI msfxI, jogu n qfVI lfeIaY]

jogu n dys idsMqir BvIaY, jogu n qIriQ nfeIaY]

aMjn mfih inraMjin rhIeY, jogu jugiq iev pfeIaY] rfgu sUhI, m: 1, pMnf 730

Re-union is not in tombs/graveyards; Re-union is not in ritual meditation.

Re-union is not in wandering in native or foreign lands.

Re-union is not in ritual bathing at shrines.

Living in the materialistic world, remaining un-materialistic is way to redemption. P. 730

Sikhismís fundamental concept of religion is a combination of monotheistic religiosity tempered with Rationalism, Humanism, altruism, socio-religious Liberalism and cultural Pluralism. The religion should inspire a Man to sing the Lordís praises at all times and instill in him human virtues, moral excellence, social values and altruism. According to Sikh philosophy, religious dogmas, pagan rituals, pilgrimages, polytheism, idolatry, sacrifices, etc. have no place in a religion. These futile rites tend to delude a man into false sense of piety and engender ego that ironically drive him away from the God.

jip mn siqnfmu sdf siqnfmu]

hliq pliq muK AUijl hoeI hY inq iDafeIaY hir purKu inrMjnf] DnfsrI,m:5, pM :669

Recite, O my mind the (Godís) eternal Name, eternal Name at all times.

In this life and hereafter your countenance will be cleansed; remember, always, the omnipresent and unblemished God. Page 669

However mere reciting, listening or singing Gurbani or living like a recluse, monk or an ascetic is not an ideal Sikh-way of life. A Sikh has to cultivate Guruís edification, extol God's Name through Guru's illuminating Word, be compassionate to Godís creatures, earn an honest living and share with the needy.

scu qfpr jfxIeY jf isK scI lyie,

dieaf jfxY jIaf kI ikCu puMnu dfn krie ] afsf dI vfr m: 1, pMnf:468

Eternal God is realized by grasping (Guru's) edification, being compassionate to beings and give charity. Aasa Di Vaar M. 1 Pg. 468

nfmf khY iqlocnf, muK qy rfimu sMmfl ||

hfQ pfAu kir kfmu sB, cIqu inrMjn nfil ] kbIr jI, slok 213, pMnf 1375-6

Nama Says, Trilochana with your mouth recite God's Name, with your hands and feet do all work, but keep mental harmony with God. Sloke 213, Kabir Ji, Page 1375-6

Gfil Kfie ikC hQhu dyie] nfnk rfhu pCfxih sie] rfgu sfrMg kI vfr, m: 4, pM: 1245

One who earns his livelihood and hands out some to the needy.

Nanak, comprehends way (true religiosity). Page 1245

dieaf kpfh sMqoKu sUqu, jqu gMZI squ vtu]

eyhu jnyAU jIaf kf, heI q pfzy Gqu] afsf dI vfr, m: 1, pM: 471

Cotton of compassion, yarn of contentment, knots of morality, twists of fidelity.

It is the spiritís Janeo (Hindusí ritual twine) if you have it (Pundit), put it on (me). Page 471

"Sikh form of worship is to meditate on the name of God as taught by the Guru's teachings that are enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib which is considered the perpetual spiritual Guru of the Sikhs." Macauliffe

Sikh gurus practiced what they preached

Guru Arjan Sahib's son Hargobind was born in 1595 A. D. Punjab was ravaged by the famine and smallpox from 1594-1599 A. D. Guru Arjun Dev Sahib toured the region helping and comforting the sick and destitute. To protect his infant son from his (Guru's) brother Prithi Chand who is said to have made three attempts to murder Hargobind, the Guru Sahib took him (Hargobind) along on his tours. Infant Hargobind contracted small pox. Some superstitious people, especially women urged the Guru Sahib to perform worship of the Mata-Devi (Hinduís smallpox Goddess). Guru Sahib refused. Instead he put his faith in the Guru's illuminating Word and the benevolent God. Hargobind recovered. To dispel any prejudices, superstitions taboos and Idol worship tendencies in the Sikhs he composed this hymn.

nyqR prgfs kIaf gurdyv] Brm gey pUrn BeI syv]

pfrbRhm pRB ikrpf DfrI] sIqlf qy riKaf ibhfrI] pMnf 200

Guru illuminated (spiritual) vision, superstitions vanished, faith, culminated.

Infinite God bestowed His benediction.

From smallpox wonderful God saved (Hargobind). Page 200

Faith is continuation of reason. William Adams

Faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.

St. Augustine

Human Virtues

The Sikhism's universal message inspires a man to be a noble human being and cultivate all the essential human virtues to become a true religionist, whether a Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc. A person born into Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian family is not necessarily endowed with the pious attributes of the given religion. As per Sikh credo one has to go through the progression of becoming a virtuous human being, Sikh and ultimately a Khalsa (noble Sikh). That the human virtues are essential part of Sikhism is evident from the Gurbani of Guru Granth Sahib,

qY nr ikaf purfn suin kInf, an pfvnI Bgiq nhI AupjI, BUKY dfnu n dInf]

Man what did you gain from listening the Purans (Hindu scriptures),

God's contemplation is not inspired in you; you gave no charity to the needy.

kfmu n ibsirE, kRoD n ibsirE, loBu n CUitE dyvf]

pr inMdf muK qy nhI CUtI, inPl BeI sB syvf]

Lust is not forgotten, nor is anger forgotten; greed is not obliterated.

Vilification (of others) has not left you; your (sanctimonious) endeavor is fruitless.

ihMsf qAu mn qy nhI CUtI, jIaf dieaf nhI pflI]

prmfnMd sfD sMgiq imil kQf punIq nf cflI|| prmfnMd, sfrMg, pMnf 1253

Violence didn't vanish from your nature, (you) showed no mercy to the (God's) creatures.

Permanand, you did not congregate with saints and have pious discourse. Page 1253

Humility

Humility is another cardinal virtue the Sikhism instills in a man. Guru Nanak exemplifies unworthiness of a conceited man, through an analogy in reference to a large and tall silk-cotton tree. This tree attracts birds who expect to feed on its flowers and fruits, but fly away disappointed.

isMml ruKu srfierf aiq dIrG aiq mucu] Eie ij afvih afs kir jfih inrfsy ikqu]

Pl iPky Pul bkbky kMim n afvih pq]

imTqu nIvI nfnkf gux cMigafeIaf qqu] afsf dI vfr, pMnf 470

Silk-cotton tree is straight, tall and big; then why they (birds that) come hoping (to feed), fly away disappointed?

(Because) its fruits are tasteless, flowers bland and its leaves useless.

Politeness that signifies humility, Nanak, is the essence of virtues. Page. 470

kbIr sB qy hm bury hm qij Blo sB koie]

ijin aYsf kir BUiJaf mIqu hmfrf soie] slok 7, kbIr jI, pMnf 1364

Kabir, we are lowest of all; except us, everyone is better.

One, who comprehends this, is our friend. P. 1364

Vices

The cardinal vices an ideal Sikh must relinquish are; Carnal lust, anger, greed, materialism and ego.

mn kf sUqku loBu hY, ijhvf sUqku kUVu] aKI sUqku vyKxf pr iqRa pr Dn rUpu]

knI sUqku kin pY lfieqbfrI Kfih] afsf dI vfr, m: 1, pMnf 472

Mind's wickedness is greed; tongue's evil is falsity.

Eyes' dirtiness is to covet others' woman, and their beauty.

Ears' vileness is to listen and relish vilification of others. Aasa Dee Vaar M.1 Pg.472

sfDo mn kf mfnu iqafgAu] kfm, kRoD, sMgiq durjn kI, qf qy aihinis BfgAu]

Ausqiq inMdf doAU iqafgy, KojY pdu inrbfnf] rfgu gfAuVI, pMnf 218

O holy men relinquish your ego.

From carnal lust, anger and company devious personsí always distance yourself.

He, who relinquishes flattery and vilification, truely seeks exalted spiritual state.Page 218

Socio-Religious Equality

The Guru Sahib's remedy to alleviate the socio-religious, economic and political plight of the society was to found a egalitarian faith, i.e. Sikhism that promotes human rights, social equality, religious freedom, civil liberties, just political system and socio-religious harmony. The Sikhism is an open, liberal and a lay religion in which all are equal irrespective of caste, creed, color, gender status etc. The Guru is the sole spiritual authority and intermediary between the seeker and the God. There is no ecclesiastic hierarchy in the Sikhism, however there is an important place and role for the learned Sikh preachers.

The prevalent Social inequality was one of the reasons that motivated Guru Nanak to found Sikhism that evolved into Khalsa Panth. To eliminate the ignominious tiered Hindu caste system the Sikh Gurus started the institution of Langar (partaking of congregational meals) where everyone sits together at an equal level without any distinction as to caste, creed, gender social status, etc. as a means to ensure social equality. The institution of Guruís Langar essentially instills spirit of community service, equality and charity.

Gender Equality

Both Muslim and Hindu male dominated societies relegated women to the inferior status and treated them like dirt. The sanctimonious Brahmins enforced the fatal ritual of Sati (voluntary or involuntary burning alive of a Hindu widow on the deceased husbandís pyre as a test of her chastity and absolute devotion to him). The Sikh Gurus, vehemently condemned Sati, Purdah, female infanticide and gender inequality.

sqIaf eyih nf afKIain jo mVIa lg jlMinH]

nfnk sqIaf jfxIain ij ibrhy cot mrMin] rfgu sUhI, m: 3, pMnf 787

Chaste are not those who burn on the (husband's) pyre.

Nanak; chaste (souls) are those who pine due to separation pangs (from God). P.787

BMiz jmIaY BMiz inMmIaY, BMiz mMgx ivafhu] BMzhu hovY dosqI, BMzhu clY rfhu]

so ikAu mMdf afKIaY ijqu jMmyih rfjfn ] afsf dI vfr, m: 1 pMnf 473

To woman (we are) born, in woman conceived, to woman betrothed and wedded.

Through woman the family and social circle grows, through woman procreation continues.

Why vilify her who gives birth to the great Rulers. Aasa de Var M. l. P. 473

"Sikhism teaches equal rights for all regardless of sex, race or background." Macauliffe

The male dominated Muslim societyís dictatorial Muslim clergy and autocracy enforced Purdah (a custom that requires the Muslim women to veil their faces and/or cover themselves head to foot to spare their polygamous men-folk the sensual temptations). Whereas a Muslim woman was, and still is, condemned to death (by stoning) for fornication, the adulterous man was, and still is, absolved without so much as a social stigma.

Death

The Sikh Religious philosophy professes two forms of death, physical and spiritual. Whereas every thing visible, animate or inanimate, dies a physical death or perishes, a man who forsakes God dies a spiritual death, which according to Sikh Philosophy is far worse than physical death.

Physical Death

Physical death is an essential occurrence in the Divine scheme of creation where change or renewal is a fundamental law of nature. If there were no death, there would be no reincarnation and renewal. Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib says the physical death is inevitable but a man can avoid spiritual death by detaching one-self from ultra-materialism and developing rapport (harmony) with the Lord by extolling His Name.

jo AupijE so ibnis hY pro afj kY kfl]

nfnk hir gun gfie ly Cfiz sgl jMjfl] slok 52, m: 9

Whatever is born shall perish, die today or tomorrow,

Nanak, sing Lordís praises and relinquish ensnaring materialism. Sloke 52, M. 9

jg rcnf sB JUT hY jfin lyhu ry mIq]

kih nfnk iQru nf rhY ijAu BflU kI BIiq] slok 49 m: 9

The whole creation is mortal, understand this my friend.

Says Nanak it doesnít last, just like a wall of sand. Sloke 49, M. 9

kUVu rfjf kUVu prjf kUVu sBu sMsfru] kUVu mMzp kUVu mfVI kUVu bYsxhfru]

kUVu suienf kUVu rupf kUVu pYnxhfru] kUVu kfieaf kUVu kpV kUVu rUpu apfru]

kUVu mIaf kUVu bIbI Kip hoey Kfru] kUiV kUVY nyhu lgf ivsiraf krqfr]

iksu nfl kIcy dosqI sBu jgu clxhfr] afsf dI vfr, m:1, pMnf 468

Mortal is Rajah, mortal is populace mortal is whole world.

Perishable are pavilions, perishable are mansions; mortal are residents.

Perishable is gold, perishable is silver and mortal are those who wear.

Mortal is body, perishable are clothes and mortal is super beauty.

Mortal is husband and wife who toil themselves into dust (grave).

The mortal attached to falsehood (materialism) has forgotten God.

Who does one befriend? The whole world is transient. Aasa de Vaar M. 1, P. 468

Mourning

The Sikhism prescribes a rather unique way of mourning. Instead of wailing, lamenting, or keening. Gurbani [Sikh Scriptures] of Guru Granth Sahib advises the mourners to pray and supplicate for redemption of the departed soul and its reunion with the God. Sunder Ji, the grandson of Guru Amar Das writes Guruís last spoken words that describe Sikhismís concept of mourning,

miq mY ipCY koeI rovsI, so mY mUil n Bfieaf]

mY ipCY kIrqnu kirahu inrbfx jIAu] suMdr jI, rfmklI sd: 4, 5, pMnf 923

Donít anyone cry after I die, that certainly I donít like.

After I depart, sing divine Lordís praises only. Sunder Jee Ramkali Sudd. 4, 5, Pg, 923

Guru Nanak Sahib Says,

dyhu sjx asIsVIaf ijAu hovY sfihb isAu myl] rfg gAuVI m: 1, p:157

Give [me] my friends, your blessings, so that,

I [my soul] may assimilate with the eternal God. Raag Gaurdi M.1, Page 157

kbIr sMq mUey ikaf roeIaY, jo apuny igRih jfey]

rovhu sfkq bfpury ju hftY hft ibkfie] slok 16, p: 1365

Kabir, why cry over a dead Saint who departs to his eternal abode?

Cry for the poor un-pious who sells his soul over and over for mundane pleasures. Sloke 16, P. 1365

avr mUey ikaf sogu krIjY] qAu kIjY jAu afpn jIjY] slok 13, pMnf 325

Why mourn over the death of others? Do it, if we are going to live (for ever). Sloke 13, P. 325

Spiritual Death

Sikhismís concept of spiritual death is when an overly materialist breaks away [spiritually] from the God and pursues worldly pleasures. To the overwhelming majority of materialistic mankind the looming mortality is a cause of nagging fear. Combination of this fear and mundane miseries outweigh the elusive, fleeting joys of the corporeal life. The obsessive pursuit of illusory pleasures makes people slaves to their own five cardinal vices (carnal Lust, Anger, Greed, Materialism, Ego) and deprives them of real bliss in this life and eternal spiritual life hereafter.

ies dyhI aMdir pMc cor vsih | kfmu kRoD loBu mohu ahMkfrf]

aMimRqu lUtih mnmuK nhI bUJih] koie n suxY pUkfrf] soriT m: 3, pMnf 600

In this [Manís] body squat five robbers, Carnal lust, anger, greed, materialism and ego; robbing [Man] of nectar (eternal spiritual life), wayward man is oblivious to it.

No one hears his cries (in the end). Soreth M.1, Page 600

Heaven and Hell

The concepts of heaven and hell differ widely depending upon the climatic conditions of the geographical region the people live in and their notion of luxurious life style. People living in extremely hot or cold climatic regions envisage heaven to be cool or warm place respectively. The Muslims living in arid and hot deserts of Middle East fantasize heaven as a cool place stocked with abundance wine and fairies.

The Sikhism does not subscribe to such conjectures. The Sikh scriptures advocate that a man should preoccupy himself with living a life of human excellence while cultivating rapport (harmony) with the God, by extolling His Divine Name. This is the Sikhismís professed Path, which leads to a blissful life here. Only the omniscient God knows what happens to a soul after death; it is not given to man to know that: So why worry? An eminent Hindu sage Kabir Jee, whose inspirational scriptures are compiled in the Guru Granth Sahib, says,

surg bfsu n bfCIaY, zrIaY n nrik invfsu] honf hY so hoeI hY, mnih n kIjY afs]

rmeIa gun gfeIaY] jf qy pfeIaY prm inDfnu] kbIr jI, rfg gAuVI, pMnf 337

Desire not abode in heaven, neither fear dwelling in hell.

Whatever will be, will be, donít preoccupy your mind with hopes.

Let us sing wonderful Lordís praises.

From whom we get precious treasure (bounties). Kabir Ji, P 337

In the summer of year 1999 AD the Jesuits redefined their Hell's concept which conforms to the five hundred yearís old concept of Sikhism. An editorial in the prominent Italian weekly Civilta Cattolica says; ďHell does exist and is eternal, but it is not a physical place and there is no fire. It is the condition of people who live without God. It is not God who condemns man to hell, but it is man who freely condemns himself to eternal damnation. Hell is a state of mind, a form of existence of a man in which he suffers the pain of being deprived of God. A man is condemned to eternal damnation when he prefers himself to God.Ē The Roman Catholic Pope John Paul 2 affirmed this concept soon after.

Funeral, Last Rites, Spiritual Perspective

The Sikh philosophy does not subscribe to the theories and conjectures of resurrection i.e. 'all human dead bodies buried in the graves will rise again'; nor does Sikhism believe that the burial guarantees heaven and cremation condemns personís soul to hell. The Sikhismís fundamental belief is that no matter how the dead body is disposed, the five elements, Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Quintessence return to their natural states or sources. Therefore there is no stipulation as to whether a Sikhís dead body is cremated, buried or submerged in the water. However cremation is preferred because it is deemed more eco-system friendly. Guru Amar Das says,

iek dJih iek dbIaih ieknf kuqy Kfih] ieik pfxI ivic AustIaih ieik BI iPir hsix pfih]

nfnk eyv n jfpeI ikQy jfie smfih] rfgu sorT, m: 4, pMnf 648

Some (dead) are cremated, some buried, some dogs eat.

Some are thrown in water, others placed in a well (synagogue).

Nanak, in any case (soulís) destination isnít known. Raag soredh, M.4, P.648

To the peoples those who believe and/or prophesize that cremated personsí spirits go to the hell and buried persons' souls go to heaven, and bodies will rise from their graves on the day of resurrection, Guru Nanak refutes in a metaphor. Although the reference is to the clay from a buried Muslimís grave that might fall in the hands of a potter, it is applicable to all those who bury their dead believing an assured passage of deceased personís soul to heaven and bodyís resurrection. The Guru Sahib propounds metaphorically that if cremation of a deceased can cause the departed soul to burn in hell, so can the clay from the buried, decomposed body burn in a brick or potter's kiln when it is baked to make bricks and pots. Guru sahib states,

imtI muslmfn kI pyVy peI kuimHafr] GiV BFzy ietf kIaf jldI kry pukfr]

jil jil rovy bpuVI JiV JiV pvih aMigafr]

nfnk ijin krqY kfrxu kIaf so jfxY krqfru] afsf dI vfr, m: 1, pMnf 466

(If) the clay from a Muslimís grave falls in potterís hands, when he moulds into pots and bricks and bakes, it cries out while baking.

During baking and burning it laments and cinders fly and fall.

Nanak, only the creator who created, knows (soulís final destination). Aasa de Vaar, P. 466

Sheikh Freed an eminent Muslim Holy sage inspires a man to be one with God in this life and redeem himself because once he dies his body will definitely turn into dust.

bolY syK PrIdu ipafry alh lgy]

iehu qnu hosI Kfk inmfxI gor Gry] rfg afsf, PrId jI, pMnf 488

Says Sheik Freed, dear friend cultivate harmonious relationship with the God.

This body will turn into dust in the grave. Raag Aasa, G. G. S. Page 488

Although Omar Khayam writes from a romantic poetís perspective in his composition, however his concept as to what happens to the buried body is explicit. The essential message is that we all turn into dust in the end.

Ah, make the most of what (time) we yet may spend,

Before we too into dust descend,

Dust into dust, and under dust to lie,

Sans wine, Sans song, sans singer, sans end. Omar Khayam

Scientific Perspective

However the burial of the dead provides an invaluable source of research for the archeologists and anthropologists who are doing an excellent work of tracing the genesis, evolution and history of human race, nay, the life itself on this good earth of ours. They, in conjunction with their counterparts in the other scientific fields, are helping to debunk the conjectures, myths and surreal phenomena professed by the ultra orthodox religionists.

Charity (On ancestors' behalf)

The Guru Granth Sahibís Gurbani refutes blind faith rituals, pagan rites and dogmatic acts of charity involving donations and offerings including feasts to the clerics or holy quacks by the survivors for the benefit of the deceased. The Gurbani explicitly professes that such rites and offerings are of no benefit to the deceased or the survivors, but only to the crafty recipients who scam the offerings from the naÔve survivors. In the just court of the omniscient God a man gets credit for only altruism and philanthropy from oneís own honest earnings or charitable deeds performed during his own lifetime. The Gurbani debunks superstition with metaphors and/or analogies.

jIvq ipqr n mfnY koAU, mUey isrfD krfhI]

ipqr BI bpury khu ikAu pfvih? kAUaf kUkr KfhI] gAuVI, kbIr jI, slok 45, pM: 332

No one cares for live ancestors, but descendents give ritual feast (on death anniversary).

How can the ancestors avail the offerings? Crows and dogs eat it. Kabir, Page 332

jy mohfkf Gru mohY, Gru muih ipqrI dyie] agY vsqu isafxIaY ipqrI cor kryie]

vZIaih hQ dlfl ky musPI eyh kryie] nfnk agY so imlY ij Kty Gfly dyie] afsf dI vfr, pMnf 472

If a thief robs a house, donates (goods) to charity on ancestorís behalf.

*Stolen property is identified; he makes thieves out of his ancestors.

God cuts off hands of intermediary who brokered the deal.

Nanak, one gets reward for donations from his honest earnings. Aasa de Vaar, Pg. 472

*That is if one foolishly believes that the donations from stolen property ever reach his ancestors up there.