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Sikh Research and Education Center: Articles:

Sikh Approach to Human Problems vis-a-vis other Religions


Sikh Approach to Human Problems vis-a-vis other Religions

In all humans there are two powerful forces under which we act, (1) our Moral Self, which is the Voice of the Divine Light (JOT) abiding in us. This is All Wisdom, Perfection and Rational; and comes into prominence if a person associates with the holy and learned persons and lives with the God. (2) The human material body has numerous organs, which have their needs to be fulfilled, create emotions, passions, feelings and thoughts of varied types. These are classified into Five Instincts – Egoism, Lust, Greed, Anger and Attachment (Homain, Kam, Lobh, Karodh, Moh). The accumulated effect of these is called the MIND, or the Human Self. These feelings, thoughts, passions and instincts have the material base, prone to satisfy the personal sensual pleasures and likings, with no regard to or justification of Morality and feelings of others. Humans are generally led by the dictates of their MIND, hence the society is striven with various types of strife.

Sri Guru Nanak teaches us that the Human Mind is –

“The intellect of the mind is like a drunken elephant. Whatever one utters is totally false, the most false of the false.”
“mun ki mut, mutagal muna. Jo kich boliye khato khata”
(Asa M.1, p. 351 SGGS)
Also –
“The mind of the faithless cynic is like a crazy elephant. It wanders around the forest, distracted by attachment to Maya. It goes here and there, hounded by death.”
“mun maigal, sakat daiwana. Bun khund hoey hairana …..”
(Asa M.1, p.415)
It must be made clear that MIND is not reformed by any of the ascetic practices by renunciation of the World of Maya (Matter) or by mortification of the flesh. Rather these practices create more problems. The renunciates (sunyasis) generally become perverts and misuse these passions and instincts toward their selfish ends to dominate others. Love for the Divine, which creates spirit of empathy and other fine values for the people, bereft of such a character creates rigidity, arrogance and rudeness in ascetics. All humanity in them is lost. Guru Nanak met many such ascetics, who through their occult magical powers used to dominate the people, reformed them. The details will be discussed in a separate article. Suffice it to state that the Instincts of the MIND, created by God cannot be killed, nor there is any necessity to kill them. Instincts are the Double Edged SWORD, these have both creative and destructive qualities. If we are led by our Mind, we indulge in sensual pleasures, which are of ephemeral nature, and degenerate us and ultimately destroy us.. If we are Blessed to live with the Divine abiding in us and love Him, we become the Masters of these passions and instincts, which come under our control and are rationally deployed by us to our benefit, both toward our worldly existence, and in service of God as well as our fellow beings.

Sikhism teaches to look for God present within us and to live with Him in complete devotion, and association with the saintly persons, where God becomes manifest. (Please refer to Guru Nanak’s Composition in Rag Maru, Sohila 33 at pages 1033-34) There is no need to go to jungles and mountainous areas to live there in isolation, indulge in extreme ascetic practices of mortification of the flesh by undergoing extreme tortures of the body, not wearing clothes, keeping the body nude by rubbing ashes, etc., or take over religious garb and roam about in countries and visit sacred places for taking bath in sacred waters for spiritual upliftment, as the mind can be purified by loving God, the Source of All Virtues, Who is present within us. Nor nearness to God and consequent control of mind is attained by merely reading scriptures, indulging in yogic sadna practices of inner washing, breath control, adopting eighty four postures, Kundilini raising practices, etc. Nor is any satisfaction achieved in leading a life in luxuries, enjoying beauteous couches perfumed with sandal aloe wood scents, acquisition to power to command and dominate others, etc.; whereas such things cause physical weaknesses and diseased body. Love God present within us in association with the devotees of God to lead a moral life as house-holders in the world of impurities as a detached person, by earning our own livelihood by honest means, and sharing our earnings with others, is the way taught by the Sikh Gurus.

There are scores of such assertions occurring in both Sri Guru Granth Sahib and in Dassam Granth Sahib of Sri Guru Gobind Singh that in total renunciation of the world by abandoning one’s home and hearth to live in jungles, mountain caves or roam about from place to place, he achieves nothing but only adds to his sufferings. Even living in the material world and mere indulgence in external religious forms, rituals and ceremonies, etc. one does not attain to God. Human redemption lies only when by His Grace one lives in complete love and devotion to the Sat Guru Poora (God’s Light, the Immanent God) within us. For this a person has not to go anywhere or to seek any one’s support or help, but only to reflect his Mind or self on Him (Sat Guru Poora abiding within us). It is by living with God alone, we are blessed with the Divine Qualities and lead the rational life. When in tune with God within us, Discipline would come from within ourselves. The desires are not essentially curbed, but out of love for God, directed toward such things which enhance the Spiritual Growth. Whatever is materially selfish desire, such as, crave for acquisition of material things and power for selfish ends, is the evil desire. Man should not be a slave either of himself, his baser nature or others. In this sense Man should lead a life of objectivity and self denial. He lives within the impurities of the world, quite Detached. It is his nobility, which becomes instrumental in changing his environment toward betterment. The Real Self in Man thus emerges stronger. The ordinary comforts of life are not to be denied and the body is not subjected to mortification for weakening of the Instincts. Only the nature of the Instincts is to be changed in loving God. The Gurus teach us that the body is the Temple of God, and should be nourished for attainment of higher aims. This is the True Sense of Asceticism, which implies man’s liberation.

Teachings of Other Systems

THE CENTRAL IDEA OF OTHER RELIGIONS FOR SALVATION IS -

EXTRICATE THE SELF (SOUL), WHICH IS CONSIDERED TO BE PURE AND DIVINE IN NATURE, FROM THE TRAGIC INVOLVEMENT IN THE PHENOMENAL MATERIAL WORLD. The Spirit (Soul)) is enmeshed in matter and is thus subjected to Illusion of the material world. The Spirit in all living beings is the same as the Universal Spirit (God). The Spirit (Soul) in living beings forgets its true nature, suffers the delusion of Individuality, and identifies itself with the body in which it is entangled. The illusion of separate identity arises from ignorance and the self identification of the conscious self with an animal body. Man thus pays with pain and misery for the ignorance that attaches him with perishable body, subject to numerous ills.

THE REMEDY THOUGHT OUT BY SUCH SEERS WAS THE MORTIFICATION OF FLESH, RESULTING IN ELIMINAION OF THE SELF WILL, SELF INTEREST, SELF CENTERED THINKING, WISHING AND IMAGINING.

SIKHISM REJECTS APPROACHES OF ALL OTHER SYSTEMS

These seers, especially of Vedanta Philosophy of Hindus have totally confused themselves about the distinction between the Human Mind, which has the Material Base of the Body, and invariably indulges in all types of material sensual pleasures and other impurities, which needs to be Purified, with the Soul, (God’s Ray of Light) which is verily God Himself abiding in the body in His Immanent Form, Who is of Infinite Virtues, All Pure, All Wise, the Source of Life, Creates and Sustains the body, as long He stays in it. God’s Light or Sat Guru in the body remains Aloof or Unaffected (Nirlaip) from the material effects of the body, just as Sun Rays falling on debris of filth remain unpolluted. Absolute God is in Spirit Form, creates the Material Universe, but remains Unaffected from the Material Universe, transcends it, and is called “Niranjana” (Unaffected by Matter or Maya), and so are the Rays of Light shed by Him, which are the Cause of All Creation in the IMMANENT FORM OF GOD. How can Immanent God or Sat Guru Poora in all can be got entangled by the ill effects of the Material things? It is the Mind, which is the sum total of all our feelings, thinking and beliefs, which has the Material Base and is the creation of Soul (Ray of God’s Light, as Perfect as God is), which is polluted with the poisonous material based thoughts. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), Soul is called Sat Guru Poora in body as God Himself in Man. It is the Mind which is impure, embodying all the impurities of the material world, which needs to be reflected on Sat Guru Poora in complete love and devotion to get itself purified to become one with God. It is the Mind which is egoistic and creates the separate identity of the organism from God. There is thus the Duality existing in a person, of the selfishness of the Mind embodying all the evils of the material world, and the Divine, Who is All Pure and All Wise. Mind cannot be purified by mortification of the flesh, renunciation of the world and other ascetic practices. In this way we will be dealing with the unending effect of evil of the Mind only, rather increasing more filth in it of its egocentricity of holier than others.

In SGGS we are taught that by merely renunciating the material world we are only dealing with Effect of the Material Involvement by merely avoiding them, NOT the Unending Cause, which is the Mind within us with its powerful Five Instincts. The Instincts must find one way or the other to express themselves. Unless Instincts are directed toward crativity, they would be used toward selfishness. The ascetics or the renunciates who leave their homes and hearths and all worldly things, yet they are the most egocentric and the self centered persons.. THEY ARE MERELY BEATING THE SNAKE HOLE ON ITS SURFACE, WHILE THE SERPENT REMAINS ALIVE WITHIN. (varmi mari sanmp na mar hi, nam na sunhi dora – Rag Asa, M.5, p 381 ). We should reflect our Mind on God in us and attain union with Him, thus remove the Duality existing in us. Mind will be purified like God is, we shall become immune from the impurities of the world. Unless the Two different Entities, Mind and Sat Guru Poora, become One Structure, Duality cannot be removed in Man. It is therefore, Sikhism teaches that No One Can Attain Union with Absulute God, except through Sat Guru Poora, the Infinite God in us. Utter confusion exists in all other religious systems and philosophers about the nature and status of God’s Light pervading everywhere and in all, which is Creative and is in the Form of Immanent God. This Central idea needs to be clearly understood, as Uniqueness of the Sikh Teachings from all other religious systems. This Basic Difference of the Sikh Teachings from all other systems, is the crux of the problem. Our (Sikhs) ignorance to this effect has caused all the confusion that exists in us.

Sikhism proscribes any practice or use anything which causes distraction of mind from Love of God’s Name, such as, use of intoxicants in general, except for medicinal purposes, but tobacco in any form, conjugal relationship outside wedlock, and eating of sacrificial meat of animals slaughtered by any mode. The body is to be treated as God’s Temple wherein God abides, kept neat and clean; hair of the body are equally part of the body and a Divine Endowment, should never be cut, shorn or trimmed. Union with Absolute Transcendent God is through His Light in all, Sat Guru Poora only, Who by His Grace is loved as our Creator, Preserver, Sustainer and the Guide. Thus blessed we accept Him alone as the Doer, by totally effacing our Mind’s instinctual destructive wanderings, instead attaining Divine Wisdom in our empirical world of action. The world created by God is “supremely unfathomable ocean of fire”, also “Dark and arduous is this ocean of Maya.” Maya constitutes unbridled use of the instinctual energy in us - ego, lust, avarice, wrath, and attachments. This blind unconquerable force within us can be usefully deployed under the guidance of the God alone, Who created it. It is therefore, the Gurus repeatedly teach us that we are not the doers, but merely tools in His Hands - Good and Evil are not in any one’s control - “pap pun hamrai bus nahin.”also “jio nanak aap nachinda tiv hi ko nacha.” Nanak says: howsoever way the Lord makes one dance or act, that wise one dances or acts. (Some live with Him and others act according to waves of their Mind). (Maru Sohile M 5, p 1094). To live with Him entirely depends on His Grace, and they are very few indeed who live with Him.

God is the Creator of all, the Treasure and Source of all imaginable virtues and wealth. He is the only Giver of every imaginable thing, life, virtues, wealth, status, relationships, character, etc. to all, and the Decider of every one’s destiny. Therefore, He alone is the Life Giver, Sustainer, Destroyer, and the Cause of all causes. No one can alter His Writ. Accept God Alone as the Doer and have no reliance on any other god, goddess, prophet, person etc., and lead a life of contentment in total obedience to His Commands or Will - do not flatter or despise any one, and even by mistake do not have any faith in magical rites in jantar, mantar and tantars; eat sacrificial meat of animals slaughtered by any mode as a sacrifice to God, gods and goddesses to expiate one’s sins and to incorporate within himself the magical powers of the deities; these things create divided loyalty to God and in no way help any one. Says Sri Kabir Ji in Rag Gauri, p 345 SGGS, “Know that so long one seeks another’s patronage, he does not get the Lord’s approval. Only when he seeks love for the Omnipotent Lord, then only he becomes pure in his heart.” A God loving person, necessarily loves all, as he sees Him alone in all, never hates any one and always speaks sweetly to all.

To hurt any one is to displease God. Normally one should be tolerant to resist others’ excesses, and never to use force on any count, even in revenge. Raising of rebellions, both passive and violent against the established authority on any count is immoral, creates chaos and unending problems of race for acquisition of power, leading to corrupt living. Have reliance on God, Who preserves His devotees in mysterious ways. No tyrant can escape the wrath of God, who meets with his ignoble end; while the sacrifice of Saints is glorified. Use force, when the circumstances permit and God helps to resist uncalled for aggression for self preservation only. None of our actions should be selfish or self motivated, either individually or collectively. We must accept accept the DIVINE AUTHORITY, in that the set up He has established, and must not rebel. We must live according to His Commands, which we should be endeavour to understand and live accordingly. Anything which is contrary to His Command, should be outright rejected by us. GOD ALONE IS THE SOVEREIGN, HIS AUTHORITY ALONE SHOULD BE RESPECTED.

The Basic Disease in all humans is EGOISM, which is the source of all the imaginable evils in us. This Malady as stated above, it can be removed by Loving God’s Name only and accepting Him alone as the Doer and not any mortal. No reform to eradicate any evil practices, knowledge or sermons can ever be effective, without God’s support. Creation of revolutions on any concept cannot bring about the desirable changes; the Justice and Equality of All cannot be enforced or brought about by any of the revolutionary methods conceivable, as the basic malady of egoism in all will create new problems of emergence of the new power crazy ones competing for Power.

Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in his Composition in Rag Suhi, p. 742-43 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, teaches us –

“Those whom the Lord engages in the accumulation of the worldly wealth, in preference to the Love for Him, they are termed as sinners, both here and life hereafter. (1)
That one is an approved one, whom the Lord accepts, as He alone knows His Own Mystery. (1 Pause).
It is the Lord, Who enables the one to practice Righteousness, Piety and True Religion. Such a person earns the merit of this world too, never at loss , having been equipped with the wherewithal by the Lord. (2)
Deep within all, the One Lord abides Awake. In whatever way the Lord puts any one, that way alone he goes. (3)
Nanak says: O my True Lord, You are Unfathomable and Unperceivable; I utter what You make me say. (4) 23.29.”
According to the above mentioned Teachings only those crazy ones who run after acquisition of the material things and Power by any fair and foul means, neglecting ethical living and devotion to God, meet with their grievous end here and hereafter. While those who lead a life in remembrance of the Lord, and maintain themselves by earning their own bread by honest means, are the approved ones of the Lord. These Teachings were the basis of Founding of Sri Akal Takht Sahib in 1609 C.E., initiating the Doctrine of MIRI-PIRI, which we have been misinterpreting; made Politics as our religion, committed heinous crimes against humanity in making conquests of lands, since the times of Banda Bairagi. The natural outcome of such unsikh approach has been our adoption of Brahmanical rituals, misinterpretation of Gurbani, total denial and dis-owning of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, reversion back to Hindu fold, emergence of numerous splinter sects and groups headed by numerous half witted sants, Babas and fake gurus.

We have totally forgotten the Sikh Teachings that MAYA is unconquerable, and those who run after it and consider it as the end all of human life, meet their disastrous end. Today we find ourselves in this position. It is most regretted that we still have not learnt any lesson. We may pay heed to the to the warning given in he following Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee’s Composition -

“SLOK: Crave for Power is fraudulent, beauty is fraudulent, and wealth is fraudulent, as is the pride of ancestry (casteism). One may gather poison through deception and fraud, O Nanak, but without the Lord, nothing shall go along with him in the end. 1 .
Beholding the bitter melon, one is deceived, since it appears so pretty But it is not worth even a shell, O Nanak; the riches of Maya will not go along with anyone. 2 .
PAURI: It shall not go along with you when you depart - why do you bother to collect it? Tell me, why do you try so hard to acquire that which you must leave behind in the end? Forgetting the Lord, how can you be satisfied? Your mind cannot be pleased. One who forsakes God, and attaches himself to another material thing, shall be immersed in hell. Be kind and compassionate to Nanak, O Lord, and dispel his fear. 10
SLOK: Princely pleasures are not sweet; sensual enjoyments are not sweet; the pleasures of Maya are not sweet (only short lived, create problems and worries). The Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, is sweet, O slave Nanak; the Blessed Vision of God's Darshan is sweet. 1
I have enshrined that love which drenches my mind. I have been pierced by the Truth, O Nanak; the Master seems so sweet to me. 2
PAURI: Nothing seems sweet to His devotees, except the Lord. All other tastes are bland and insipid; I have tested them and seen them. Ignorance, doubt and suffering are dispelled, when the Lord abiding in us becomes one's advocate. The Lord's lotus feet have pierced my mind, and I am dyed in the deep crimson color of His Love. My breath of life, body and mind belong to God; all falsehood has left me. 11.”
(Jaitsri ki Var, M.5, p. 708)


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