Sikhism and Sikhs in Prominent Non-Sikhs’ View
Charnjit Singh Bal
Late S. Radhakrishnan,Past President of India
The Adi (original) Granth, which is regarded as the greatest work of Punjabi literature, is largely the work of Guru Arjan, the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. He brought together the writings of the first four Gurus and those of the Hindu and Muslim saints from different parts of India. Guru Arjan’s successors made few additions and the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, said that there would be no more (incarnate) Gurus and the Granth should be regarded as the living voice of all prophets: Guru Väni (Guru Bäni). William Penn says,
There is something nearer to us than scriptures, to wit, the Word in the heart from which all scriptures come, Japji says, Gurmukh nadan Gurmukh Vedan i.e. Word of Guru is music, which the seers hear in their moments of ecstasy; the word of Guru is the highest scripture. By communion with the Word we attain the vision unattainable. Guru Arjan says (pothi parmesar kä thän) that the book (scriptures) is the abode of God. We find in Adi Granth a wide range of mystical emotions, intimate expressions of the personal realization of God and rapturous hymns of divine love.
A remarkable feature of the Adi Granth is that it contains the writings of the religious teachers of Hinduism, Islam, etc. The Sikh Gurus who compiled the Adi Granth had this noble quality of appreciation of whatever was valuable in other religious traditions. The barrier of seas and mountains will give way before the call of eternal truth which is set forth with a freshness of feeling and fervor of devotion in the Guru Granth.
The Hindu leaders neglected to teach the spiritual realities to the people who were sunk in superstition and materialism. Religion became confused with caste distinctions and taboos about eating and drinking. The Muslims were also victims of superstition and some of their leaders were afflicted with the disease of intolerance. At a time when men were conscious of failure, Nänak appeared to renovate the spirit of religion and humanity. Nänak tried to build a nation of self-respecting men and women, devoted to God and their leaders, filled with a sense of equality and brotherhood for all.
The Gurus are the light bearers to mankind. They are the messengers of the timeless. They do not claim to teach new doctrines, but only to renew the eternal wisdom. Nänak was critical of the formalism (ritualism) of both Hindus and Muslims. Nänak says, ‘To worship an image, to make pilgrimages to a shrine, to remain in a desert and yet have the mind impure is all in vain; to be saved worship only the truth (God).’ Nänak tells us, ‘keep no feeling of enmity for anyone. God is contained in every bosom. Forgiveness is love at its highest power.’ Nänak says, ‘where there is forgiveness there is God himself.’ Nänak strove to bring Hindus and Muslims together. His life and teaching were a symbol of harmony between the two communities.
Guru Gobind Singh raised Khalsa to defy religious intolerance, religious persecution and political inequality. Those who groveled in the dust rose proud, defiant and invincible in the form of Khalsa. They bore all sufferings and un-nameable tortures cheerfully and unflinchingly. India is at long last free. This freedom is crown to the Guru’s Khalsa’s terrific sacrifices and their heroic exploits. Living Religions.
It is however, unfortunate that barriers the Sikh Gurus labored to cast down are being re-created. Many pernicious practices against which they (Gurus) revolted are creeping into Sikh society. Worldly considerations are corrupting the great ideals. Religion which lives in the outer threshold of consciousness without conviction in the mind; or love in the heart is utterly inadequate. It (religion) must enter into the structure of our life; become a part of our being. Introduction, ‘Sacred Writings of the Sikhs’, UNESCO Publication
Lord Mountbatten(India’s Last British Viceroy)
Guru Nanak was a great poet, philosopher and saint. His teachings are of universal application and his message of love, service and sacrifices will continue to inspire coming generations. (Excerpt from speech in London on Guru Nanak’s Quincentenary)
The Adi Granth is part of mankind’s common spiritual treasure. It is important that it should be brought within the direct contact reach of as many people as possible. A book that has meant, and means so much to such a notable community as the Sikh Khalsa deserves close study from rest of the world. The Adi Granth is remarkable for several reasons. Of all the known religious scriptures, this book is most highly venerated. It means more to Sikhs than even the Qurän means to Muslims, Bible to Christians, and Torah to Jews. The Adi Granth is the Sikhs’ perpetual Guru (spiritual guide).
For Nanak the fundamental truth was that, for a human being, the approach to god lies through self-abnegation; and this is indeed the chief message of most of the higher religions that have made their appearance up to date.
It (Adi Granth) includes hymns written by earlier seers in whom Nanak and his successors recognized kindred spirits; and some of these contributors to the Granth are Hindus, while others are Muslims. Their writings found a place in the Adi Granth because the compilers of it held, and this surely with good reason, that these seers were Sikhs in fact, though they lived and wrote before the Sikh religion took institutional form. They were Sikhs because they brought out and emphasized the universal spiritual truths contained in their respective religious traditions; and these truths belong to all ages and to all faiths.
Mankind’s religious future may be obscure; yet one thing can be foreseen: the living higher religions are going to influence each other more than before, in these days of increasing communications between all parts of the world and all branches of the human race. In this coming religious debate, the Sikh religion, and its scriptures, the Adi Granth, will have something special to say to the rest of the world. This religion is itself a monument of creative spiritual intercourse between two traditional (Indian and Judaic) religions whose relations have otherwise not been happy. Forward, ‘Sacred Writings of the Sikhs’, UNESCO Publication
Pearl S. BuckNoble Laureate, ‘Good Earth’
I have studied the scriptures of great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes (of Adi Granth). They are compact in spite of their length and are a revelation of the vast reaches of human heart varying from the most-noble concept of God, to the recognition and indeed the insistence upon the practical needs of the human body.
There is something strangely modern about these scriptures and this puzzled me. Perhaps this sense of unity is the source of power I find in these volumes. They speak to the people of any religion or of none. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind.
The hymns in Guru Granth are an expression of man’s loneliness, his aspirations, his longings, his cry to God and his hunger for communication with that being. It speaks to me of life and death; of time and eternity; of temporal human body and its needs; of the mystic human soul and its longing to be fulfilled; of God and the indissoluble bond between them.
Bertrand Russell(Philosopher, Mathematician 1872-1970)
If some lucky men survive the onslaught of the third world war of atomic and hydrogen bombs, then the Sikh religion will be the only means of guiding them. When asked, isn’t this religion capable of guiding mankind before the third world war? He said, ‘yes it has the capability, but the Sikhs haven’t brought out in the broad daylight the splendid doctrines of this religion, which has come into existence for the benefit of the entire mankind. This is their greatest sin and the Sikhs cannot be freed of it.
Dr. W. O. Cole
The unique concept of universality and the system of Langar in Sikhism are two features that attract me to the study of Sikhism. Langar is the exclusive feature of Sikhism and found nowhere else in the world. Sikhism is the only religion, which welcomes each and everyone to the Langar without any discrimination of caste, creed, colour or sex.
Dorothy Field(The Religion of Sikhs)
Pure Sikhism is far above dependence on Hindu ritual and is capable of a distinct position as world religion as long as Sikhs maintain their distinctiveness. The religion is also one, which should appeal to the occidental mind. It is essentially a practical religion. If judged from pragmatic standpoint, which is favourite point of view in some quarters, it would rank almost first in the World.
Of no other religion can it be said that it has made a nation in so short a time. The religion of the Sikhs is one of the most interesting at present existing in India, possibly indeed in the whole world. A reading of the Adi Granth suggests that Sikhism should be regarded as a new religion rather than a reformed sect of Hinduism.
It will be seen that the work of Guru Gobind Singh was somewhat different to that of the other Gurus. His special task was to protect the sect at a moment when it might have perished and for this work he is worthy to stand by Nanak, the founder of the whole movement. It must not be imagined that because he was a fine warrior, he was less spiritual or less religious than his predecessors. He made religious fervour the backbone of all his warlike doctrines. Gobind Singh quite naturally grafted his praise of the sword and his promises of rewards for valour on the quietistic (passive) doctrines of Nanak.
Lord Sorensen(World Congress Chairman)
Guru Nanak’s poetry enlightens all those who cherish Spiritual Reality and truth; reminds those of other faiths of precious treasures they can gather for their own souls.
A Sikh is awakened by the Guru and through meditation on the divine Name; and hearing the divine Word, the disciple unites with the divine harmony.
Professor H. L. Bradshaw
Guru Granth Sahib, of all the world religious scriptures, alone states that there are innumerable worlds and universes other than our own. The previous scriptures were all concerned only with this world and its spiritual counterpart. To imply that they spoke of other worlds, as does Guru Granth Sahib, is to stretch their obvious meanings out of context. The Sikh religion is truly the answer to the problems of modern man.
Sikhism is a universal world faith, a message for all men. This is amply demonstrated in the writings of the Gurus. The religion preached by Guru Nanak is the faith of new age. It completely supplants and fulfills all the former dispensations of older religions. Books must be written proving this. The other religions also contain the truth, but Sikhism contains fullness of truth.
The religion of the Adi Granth is a universal and practical religion. Due to the ancient prejudices of the Sikhs it could not spread in the world. Sikhs must cease to think of their faith as just another good religion and must begin to think in terms of Sikhism as being the religion of new age. The world today needs its message of peace and love.
Duncan Greenlees M.A.(The Gospel of Guru Granth Sahib)
Sikhism is the religion taught through Guru Nanak in the forms of the Ten Gurus and now through the Guru-Granth Sahib and the whole community of disciples. It is a practical way of life, leading man straight to his goal and does not involve itself in verbose theorizing.
A religion, which combines the most passionate mystic devotion and love of God with heroic conduct and social customs, essentially just and reasonable, is certainly worthy of sympathetic study. I trust and believe that a few of my readers at least may be urged to study the Holy book (Guru Granth) itself and then share the fruit of their study with us by giving us a complete, accurate, sympathetic translation of what is, apart from its great religious importance, certainly one of the world’s masterpiece of poetry. Among the world’s Scriptures few, if any, attain so high a literary level or so constant height of inspiration.
The Sikh religion has never been a philosophy of books, of theorists, but as Mehtab Singh says, it is ‘discipline of life’ an ideal of brotherhood inspired by passionate devotion to the highest guided by the example of the Gurus’ own life, and interpreted in the life-history of Guru Khalsa Panth.
To protect the young community of disciples (Sikhs), already subject to persecution, the sixth Guru converted it into a semi-military brotherhood, arming it with outward insignia and sacraments and thus subjecting it to the purifying fires of martyrdom, which instilled the necessary courage and manly resolution in its heart. The Sikh should therefore have a great place in the future of their country, as so pure and spiritual a religion as theirs has already has a great place among the religions of the world.
The Sikh community is not among the largest of the world’s religious groups, there may be about five million baptized Sikhs; and perhaps twice as many more who have preferred to hold their worship secret in their hearts. But their importance in India’s religious life is out of proportion to their numbers; as a strongly martial people, stationed for the most part on the uneasy northwest frontier of the land, they are its guardians, and on their happiness and loyalty must depend largely the safety of the whole of India.
Max Arthur Macauliffe(The Sikh Religion)
Now there is here a religion totally unaffected by Semite or Christian influences. Based on the concept of the unity of God, it rejected Hindu formalities and adopted an independent ethical system, ritual, and standards, which were totally opposed to the theological beliefs of Guru Nanak’s age and country. As we shall see hereafter, it would be difficult to point to a religion of greater originality or a more comprehensive ethical system.
Unlike the scriptures of other creeds, they (Sikh Scriptures) do not contain love stories or accounts of wars waged for selfish considerations. They contain sublime truths, the study of which cannot but elevate the reader spiritually, morally and socially. There is not the least tinge of sectarianism in them. They teach the highest and purest principle that serve to bind man to man and inspire the believer with an ambition to serve his fellow men, to sacrifice all and die for their sake.
It (Sikhism) prohibits idolatry, hypocrisy, caste exclusiveness, con-cremation (Satti) of widows, the immurement (confinement) of women (like Muslims), the use of wine and other intoxicants, tobacco smoking, infanticide, slander, pilgrimage to the sacred rivers and tanks of the Hindus. It inculcates loyalty, justice, impartiality, truth, honesty and all the moral and domestic virtues to holiest citizens of any country.
Sheikh Mohammed Mohsin Fäni(Circa 1615-1670) Dabistan-é-Muzahib (Anthology of Religions) circa 1645
The Bäni i.e. poems of Nanak are, as if they were redolent (fragrance) of devotion and wisdom. Disciples of Guru Nanak condemn idol worship. Their belief is that all their Gurus are Nanaks. They do not read the Mantras of the Hindus. They do not venerate their temples of idols nor do they beatify their avatars. They do not have deference for Sanskrit, which according to the Brahmins is the holy language of the angels.
Nitya Nanda Swami(Guru Gyan)
I, in the company of my Guru Swami Brahma Nanda, while on a pilgrimage tour, reached Punjab. There we met Swami Satya Nanda, Udaasi (a Hindu ascetic) He expounded Guru Nanak’s philosophy and religiosity so eloquently that Swami Brahma Nanda experienced spiritual bliss. During the visit to the Golden temple in Amritsar his soul was so impressed that he became Guru’s devotee. After sojourn in Punjab we went to Hardwar. One day I saw tears in his eyes, though he was healthy. When asked about it he answered, "I have sieved sand all my life. The truth dwells in the house of Guru Nanak. I have to take another birth in that house then only I will attain Mukti (salvation). As he said that his spirit passed away.
I too contemplate incessantly on Wahéguru (wonderful God) as manifested by Guru Nanak. For many years I practiced Yoga Aasnas taught by Yogis, but the rapture and serenity I feel now was never attained before.
Rabindera Nath Tagore (Thäkur)Noble Laureate
Many mornings when went to the (Golden) temple, set within a tank, Bhajan (hymn recitation) was incessant there. Seated in the midst of the Sikh worshippers there my father (Devendra Nath Tagore, Brahm Smaj founder) would join them in songs and they would greet him with pleased cordiality. What makes these songs great poetry is the white radiance and purity of their emotion absolutely untrammeled (un-restrained) by the pettifogging (trifling) dogmas of conventional theology.
The Sikhs you see around you today, men of sturdy build, handsome countenance, tough strength and unflinching courage are sishyas (disciples) of Baba Nanak. It is his noble personality and sublime spirituality that brought this race into existence. It is through his teachings that their temper is fearless; they keep their heads erect; and their character and countenance are brightened with magnanimity.
Swami Ram Tirath Dandi Sanyasi,Hindu Theologian, Sanskrit Scholar and Author (Supreme Scriptures, Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Paramount Religion, Khalsa Panth)
Just as the Guru Granth Sahib abated the social injustice, perpetuated against low castes through religious creeds, same way it raised voice in favor of basic rights of the womankind. Here the husband is not said to be the God and the woman the slave or purchased sheep or goat, but (she) has been accepted an equal partner in all (socio-familial) matters. Lopsided dicta of Hindu simirties that vilified women and compelled them to live like captives, was implicitly contravened through Gurus’ Words. Guru Nanak Dev Ji saying that when the whole mankind takes birth from the woman and there is need for woman to perpetuate the life cycle asked, then why the woman is vilified?
In the Adi Granth there is no credo regarding barbaric worship neither any importance for ritual feast (to holy quakes) or sacrifices. Similarly no regard is accorded to Vaishnava or goddess worship because in the puranas it is said that they both (Hindu Goddess and Vishnu, one of Hindu god trinity) relish barbarous intakes i.e. meat, alcohol, marijuana, hemp, tobacco, hashish, cannabis etc.
In the end I want to mention Guru Granth Sahib’s supremacy from the standpoint that this preeminent Granth does not profess any demigod or goddess to be the real God just as the (Hindu) puranas have done. Each purana’s author has made a God out of his conceptual demigod.
Prof. Abdul Majid Khan(Guru Nanak, A Homage)
Baba Nanak was a prophet of universal love, a lighthouse for the whole of humanity, a redeemer of all mankind. Indeed, there is nothing parochial (exclusive), sectarian or communal about his message. The task of emancipating human beings from the yoke of oppression, injustice, superstition and falsehood was entrusted to Guru Nanak, the divine master by God, the almighty.
Stuck with Sikhism, Atheist Society's lament
Dear Ali (Sina) please help us. We were very impressed with your website and agreed that religion in general is no longer needed; we can all be humanistic and live in peace and harmony. We are in the process of making a website which will help to destroy the religious doctrines which divide humanity. We were doing great with knocking out Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Baha'I, even Buddhism, but we have gotten very stuck with Sikhism. This religion is (to put it nicely) a big pain in the ass. We have only found one site, which tries (very poorly) to argue that even this religion is not needed, but the argument is irrational and very unscientific unlike the very rational arguments you use.
When we read the following from your website, we found what you said to be amazingly interesting: "Doubt everything; find your own light. Last words my friend, if you look for meaning in life, don’t look for it in religions, don’t go from one cult to another or from one guru to next. You can expend all your life or look for eternity and will find nothing but disappointment and disillusionment. You can experience God when you help someone who needs your help. The only truth that counts is the love that we have for each other. This is absolute and real. The rest is mirage, fancies of human imagination and fallacies of our own making." Ali Sina
Why is this interesting? Because we found this religion of Sikhism to be in agreement with you! This is why we have a problem. We tried to look at their holy text (Adi Granth) but didn’t find usual absurdities we found in the other religious books. In fact it’s refreshingly inspiring and very good. May be you can have some better luck.
We tried to visit a couple of websites and got more of a shock. Did you know they believed in democracy, freedom of speech, choice, expression, freedom of religion, pluralism, human rights, equality between men and women, equality of all people regardless of caste, creed status etc. 300 hundred years before the existence of USA? Theirs is only religion, which says in their religious scriptures that women are equal in every respect to men. They even had women soldiers leading armies into battle against ‘you know who’ the usual suspects, the Muslims.
Their history is proud one; they fought in both world wars. Even Hitler praised them for their bravery and Aryan heritage. Dear Ali this religion is hard for us to try and criticize but you are an expert and may find some faults overlooked by us. In their holy book there is a round earth; water is made from chemical elements; and there is even mention of the evolution process, big bang and life on other planets. This is crazy and amazing stuff. Who would have thought that these New York taxi drivers (there are lots of Sikh taxi drivers in NY) would have such an amazing faith?
Bertrand Russell, (a great philosopher and free thinker) is the man who destroyed Christianity (same applies to Islam and Judaism) and exposed its absurdities, but even this great man got stuck when it came to Sikhism. We have been trying for weeks now to find a way to fairly and rationally criticize and find fault with this religion but have failed. We even found out that there are many people converting to this religion in the USA and Europe as well as Russia (mostly well educated and affluent white people). We tried to find some of their literature and see what kind of claims they make, but unfortunately they have no missionary material as they do not have missionaries. People become Sikh by learning usually by chance or by coming into contact with them. They are currently the fifth biggest religion in the world and growing quite fast in the west and Russia.
Please help us as we are stuck. We can’t make our website about religion being the cause of war and disharmony, when this one and only religion which makes a hell of a lot of sense. (John Smith)
Qäzi Noor Mohammad,Invader Ahmed Shah Abdäli/Duräni’s Historian (Jang-nama)
Do not call them (Sikhs) the dogs because they are lions and in the battlefield they show valor. If you want to learn warfare strategy then face them in the battlefield. The body of every one of them is like a piece of rock and the awesome personality of each one of them is equivalent to fifty men. If their armies appear to run away from the battlefield do not think that they are abandoning the battlefield and running away. In fact this is their warfare strategy. Their tactic is to split from the main body of enemy a detachment and prompt it to pursue them in the feigned flight. And then they ambush and vanquish the isolated pursuers
In no way they kill a coward or obstruct a fleer. They do not loot ornaments or wealth of a woman whether she is wealthy lady or a maid. In these dogs there is no adultery nor these wayward people are given to larceny. They call a young or an old woman Buddiya and request her to move out of their way. They do not fraternize with burglars and adulterers.
Daulat Räé(Sahib-é-kmäl Guru Gobind Singh)
The seedling that Guru Nanak planted, the sapling that Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Hargobind nourished with their blood and bones; Guru Teg Bahadur watered with his blood and Guru Gobind Singh nurtured with the overflowing canals of blood of his four juvenile sons [two martyred in battle against Mogul and Hindu hordes and two immured (wall built around them) and beheaded by barbaric Muslim ruler of Sirhind], five cherished Sikhs and thousands of devoted Sikh martyrs; into a robust tree that bore fruit. That fruit symbolizes socio-religious harmony, piety monotheism and patriotism.
H. R. Gupta,Dean, Punjab Histories (History Of Sikhs)
We now close the narrative of Sikhs, who placed themselves at the head of the nation (India); who showed themselves as the interpreters of the rights of the people; who maintained the struggle between good and evil, between sovereign will of the people and the divine right of Kings, who avenged the insults, the outrages and the slavery of many past generations; who delivered their country from the yoke of foreign oppressor; who displayed all that was great and noble; who left to the children of this province a heritage unsullied by the presence of any foreign soldier; who won for the Punjab the envied title of ‘the land of soldiers; who alone can boast of having erected a bulwark of defense against foreign aggression, the tide of which had run its prosperous course for the preceding eight hundred years; and to whom all other people of Northern India in general and Punjab in particular owe a deep debt of gratitude.
Sikhs are very brave.(Maj. Gen. M. Khan Pakistan Army, Crisis of Leadership)
The main reason of our defeat was Sikhs fighting facing us. We were helpless to do anything in front of them. Sikhs are very brave and they have a great craving for martyrdom. They fight so fiercely that they are capable of defeating army many times bigger than theirs.
On 3rd December 1971 we fiercely and vigorously attacked the Indian army with infantry brigade near Hussainiwala border. This brigade included Pakistan army’s Punjab regiment together with the Baloch regiment. Within minutes we pushed the Indian army quite far back. Their defense posts fell under our control. The Indian army was retreating back very fast and the Pakistani army was going forward with great speed.
Our army reached near Kausre-Hind post (Kasure?). There was small segment of Indian army appointed to defend that post and their soldiers belonged to the Sikh Regiment. A few number of the Sikh Regiment stopped our way forward like an iron wall. They greeted us with the ovation (Slogan, Ed.) of ‘Bolé-so-Nihal’ and attacked us like bloodthirsty, hungry lions and hawks. All these soldiers were Sikhs. There was even a dreadful hand-to-hand battle. The sky filled with roars of ‘Yaa Ali and Sat Sri Akal’. Even in this hand-to-hand fighting the Sikhs fought so bravely that all our desires, aspirations and dreams were shattered.
In this war Lt. Col. Gulab Hussain was killed. With him Maj. Mohammed Zaeef and Capt. Arif Alim also died. It was difficult to count the number of soldiers who got killed. We were astonished to see the courage of those, handful of Sikh, soldiers. When we seized the possession of the three-story defense post of concrete, the Sikh soldiers went onto the roof and kept on persistently opposing us. The whole night they kept on showering fires on us and continued shouting the loud ovation of ‘Sat Sri Akal’. These Sikh soldiers kept on the encounter till next day. Next day the Pakistani tanks surrounded this post and bombed it with guns. Those, handful of Sikhs got martyred in this encounter while resisting us, but other Sikh soldiers then destroyed our tanks with the help of their artillery. Fighting with great bravery they kept on marching forward and thus our army lost its foothold.
Alas! A handful of Sikhs converted our great victory into big defeat and shattered our confidence and courage. The same thing happened with us in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the battle of Jassur, the Singhs opposed the Pakistan army so fiercely that our backbone and our foothold were lost. This became the main important reason of our defeat; and Sikhs’ fancy for martyrdom and mockery with death for the sake of safety and honour of the country, became the sole cause of their victory.
Guru Granth Sahib has message for people hailing from all religions. It provides
solutions to most of the problems the world is facing. There is urgent need to
imbibe its message.” Justice Sardar Ali Khan, Ex. Chairman National Commission
for Minorities, Guru Granth Sahib as an inter-faith guide Seminar
at Hydrabad on Jan. 8, ‘05
from other religions should read it (G. G. S.) at least once in their
lifetime.” K. Keshava Rao, Pradesh Congress President, Deccan Chroncle,
Jan. 9, ‘05
Here is a concise narrative that eloquently rebuts volumes of anti-Sikh literature scribed by Mcleod and his ilk. The excerpts from an article by Sumit Kaur of Denmark, published in Sikh Phulwari, January 2007 are transcribed. We do not know if she is writing her own or someone else’s experience; nor we do know whether she is a Sikh now or a Christian still.
Born in a Christian family, I abandoned Christianity as a teenager, thinking there was nothing in that I could use in my day to day living. People used to ask, “Why don’t you believe in God?” and I used to answer, “Yes, I do very much believe in God, but not in Christianity.” When I encountered Sikhi, reading Japji, it was love at first sight, as I found a useful tool to deal with my day to day living.
I was certainly not looking for a new religion. The one into which I was born, believes in virgin birth, another in the inferiority of women, yet one in inequality of human beings and finally, one in coming of a new savior.
Guru Granth Sahib does not just fit alongside other scriptures, it is light years ahead of them, because of the fact that it is for the whole humanity. Other scriptures are exclusive for the followers of their own faith, who regard others as infidels.
On almost every essential issue Guru Nanak’s answers to the mystic and the human problems are generally contrary to those given by the earlier systems. The, then existing religious movements had been running in direction exactly opposite to the one in which Guru Nanak wanted his religious stream to flow. The system of the Gurus and the Indian religions lay down contrasted goals for man.
The radical Bhagti saints had to an extent, weaned away the people from ritualism and formalism of the earlier systems. But being Quietists themselves, they never thought of a change in the direction of the spiritual stream as vital to their mysticism. Because of their mystic experience and the logic of their religious system, the Gurus took up the colossal task of completely reversing the direction of religious life and of diverting all spiritual energies for the enrichment of human affairs.
A broad survey of the world’s religions reveals that the essential elements of the Guru’s system were nowhere to be found in the contemporary religious life and scene. Much less was there any trace of them in the Indian background. It comprised systems that were quite opposed in their approach and religious thesis.
“To respect a philosophy is correct, but to synthesize this in one’s own is an entirely unique matter. The verses by bhagats have been treated at par with Gurbani and respected in the same manner.”
“The Guru Granth Sahib is the distillate of the teachings of the great spiritualists of India belonging to different religious traditions and coming from different parts of India.” An un-named scholar’s view
If Guru was so impressed with the earlier tradition, how come his life and teachings were totally contrary to these? And as for the inclusion of writings of bhagats in Guru Granth Sahib, it was only the writings of bhagats and other poets that tallied with the Guru’s life-affirming philosophy that were included.
A good human being, according to Nanak, is one who lives truthfully, is honest, fights injustice and has compassion for the whole humanity. Sikhi is not a religion in the traditional sense, but a unique will to live life according to the Universal Truth/His will.
Sikhi is there for everybody to pick up and live. And I am sure that there are people around the world who live Sikhi (or close to it) without ever having heard about it. Considering all equal they are helpful and content, and remember God all times. They do not formally belong to the Sikh religion. However, they simply live it.
Sikhi is the universal truth, which is within every human being; it is up to every individual to discover it for himself/herself. And here Sikhi is a useful tool; it takes you away from sinking fountains of ritual religion to the ocean of Universal Truth.
Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews are all welcome to inculcate the values of Sikhi and finally find a way out for emancipation of the world afflicted with strife and hating due to clash of religious denominations. Sumit kaur, Denmark, courtesy Sikh Phulwari, Jan. 2007