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Sikh Research and Education Center: Articles on Sri Dasam Granth Sahib:

Hem Kunt


Hem Kunt

We are unable to reprint G.S.Kala Afghana's objections on this web site due to the recent ban on publishing his works, our reply is below:

There are first five verses in Chapter 6 of Bichitar Natak, to be discussed below, which are of metaphorical and symbolic nature, and cannot be translated casually and literally. In these five verses, Guru Gobind Singh Jee has referred to the lengthy tale of King Pandu’s last part of life, conveying symbolically his birth process, and he took birth in Patna City, on December 18, 1661 in just five verses. Every one born of a woman. spends about eight to nine months as his foetal life in mother’s womb just like an ascetic in deep meditations, in upside down posture, head downward and legs clung to the belly upward. The Guru states that he was in deep meditations in love of the Divine, when he saw the light of the day in Patna City.

Sanyasis and other ascetics go to jungles, and find a suitable place there for their abode and meditations. Generally they find such a place, which should be in the jungle, vegetation bearing produce to live on, and also near some source of water supply for their daily use to sustain themselves; generally we find ascetic abodes near a stream or river. There they build a hut to live in. The Yogis on the other hand go to high mountaneous areas, there they search for a suitable cave to live in, and the place should be near some water spring, to meet with their water needs. They also search for such places where they find the jungle produce to satisfy their hunger. Both ascetics and Yogis select their respective places, which are near to some inhabitation – they expect that the neighbouring inhabitation will serve them with meals, or they would visit the inhabitations and beg for their meals.

Hem Kunt Mountain is situated North of Hardwar – Rikhikesh in Utar Pradesh State at a height of more than 14,000 feet above sea level. The area remains snow bound for more than eight months in a year. Nothing grows there and no one ever lived there. The habitations are found 30 to 40 miles, down these hills. Raja Pandu did not meditate on God there, but lived in the jungle and had sexual union (yog) with his wife, which the Guru referred. Raja Pandu was not a saint, who ever meditated on God in these mountaneous area. The Guru metaphorically described his foetal life in his mother’s womb, which is misinterpreted. Mahabhartta largely is a classical world famous book of Mythology, description of which is for the scholars to unfold in plain words. All the World Cultures are based on Mythological stories, Mahabhartta is one of such books depicting Indian Culture.

It is a matter of great regret and humiliation to write that for past about 300 years we have not produced a single scholar to have thought deeply over the metaphors and the similes the Guru gave in just five verses, to have arrived at the correct conclusion. One wonders that Kala Afghana, Gurtej Singh and other IOSS zealots how shamelessly and dare devilishly not realizing their own insignificance, they not only challenge the corerectness of the text, but also mock and ridicule at every bit of the Divine Writings? Let us examine the text of the Divine Writings, with due reverence and dispassionately -

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Facts about Guru Gobind Singh’s Previous Life as given by the Guru in his composition‘Bichitar Natak’

It is generally believed that Guru Gobind Singh, in life immediately preceding his birth at Patna (December 18, 1661) was leading the life of an ascetic, doing penance and meditation at the Hem Hunt Mountain. It was while the Guru was performing these penance that God summoned him to His presence and told him, to take birth and become the successor Guru to Guru Tegh Bahadur. The interpretation of the Guru’s writings , that in his previous life he was leading life of an ascetic, is not correct. Below we give excerpts from the Guru’s writings as in ‘Bichitar Natak’ (A Wonderful Drama):
“I shall now tell my own story. How God sent me into the world, while I was doing penance. There is mountain called ‘Hem Kunt’ (a cave surrounded by ice), which has seven conspicuous peaks in the area of the garden of Sapat Sring. It was here that king Pandu practiced jog (union). There I too performed my austerities and remembered God. As a result of my remembrance of God, I attained complete union with Him. My father and mother also, worshipped God and strove hard to remember Him. The Great Guru (God) was so pleased with their complete devotion to Him, that He asked me, to take birth in this Kal Yuga (Age of sin). Being fully absorbed in my love of God, I did not desire to come to this world. God, not accepting my representations for not coming to the world, made me understand its necessity. Saying: ‘I have cherished you as My Son and am sending you in the world to extend My Religion. Go and spread My Religion there. Restrain the people from their senseless acts’. I stood up, folded my hands, bowed my head and replied, “Your Religion will prevail in all the world, when it has Your support.”
Guru Gobind Singh’s writings are full of similes and symbolism. The paragraph od the Guru’s writings mentioned above cannot be literally translated. There are two statements made by the Guru in the above mentioned composition. Firstly that he was a recluse or hermit doing penance at a place where King Pandu practiced jog (union). Secondly, commanded by God, he took birth in this Age of Sin (Kali Yuga).

As we have seen from the lives of Guru Nanak Dev and the succeeding Gurus, the Sikh Teachings are averse to such type asceticism. The human mind is cultivated to its maturity by association with saintly society and by confronting evil situations. By associating with evil, one becomes evil minded. Those who flee from their hoomes to live in forests or climb high mountains to live in isolated caves, gain nothing and become perverted. Guru Gobind singh teaches us -

“O man, practice asceticism in this way. Consider your house as a forest, and remain an anchorite at heart. Make continence your matted hair, union with God your ablutions. Make your religious duties as the growth of your nails and Divine Knowledge your spiritual guide. Admonish your heart and apply God’s Name as ashes to your body. Eat little, sleep little, love mercy and forbearance. Always practice mildness and patience, then you may be freed from ‘Maya’ (Illusion) and the effect of Matter of Three Qualities. In this way you may behold the Reality in this world and obtain to the Supreme Being”.
The belief that Guru Gobind Singh in his previous life was leading a life of an ascetic, doing penance at Hem Kunt Mountain is based on a faulty interpretation of the above mentioned Guru’s writings. The Guru states that he did penance and meditate in the garden of Sapat Sring, where King Pandu also was engaged in yogic meditation. If we are to interpret this verse correctly, we will have to study the Hindu epic known as the ‘Mahabhartta.’

The ‘Mahabhartta’ is an epic poem, which gives in detail, the political, social and religious life of the antiquities of the Hindu world. History’s men of great culture have displayed their creative nature by their capacity to speculate and imagine. Guru Gobind Singh’s works exist in this sphere. An account of king Pandu’s life is given in the ‘Sambhava Purva’ of the Mahabhartta. Vyasa, the celebrated author of the Vedas, is also the author of this great epic. He was the son of the great sage Parasara and was connected with the families of Kaurvas and Pandvas.

King Santanu is said to have married the goddess Ganga. She gave birth to seven children and every time, she took the child and cast it into the river Ganga. The king could not raise any objection to her doing this, as he had pledged to her, before their marriage, that he would never stand in her way. When her eighth child was born and she was about to throw it into the river, the king could not bear it any longer and told her not to murder her innocent children. This time she did not kill the child but disappeared herself. The child became known as Bhishma. Years went by until one day, as the king was wandering on the banks of river Yamuna, he saw a lovely maiden and wanted to marry her, She was the river Yamuna, in the form of fisher-woman. Her father, a fisher-man, laid down the condition that the king could only marry her if any child of this marriage succeeded as the king. The king could not fulfill this condition, as he already had a son, Bhishma. However, then Bishma observed his father’s dejection, he went to see the fisher-man and pledged to him that he would never become king and would never marry, so that now there would be no question of any one else succeeding the king save any off-spring of the fisher-man’s daughter. In this way, Yamuna (Satyavati), married king Santanu. Before her marriage to the king, Satyavati, in an earlier union with Rishi Parasara had had a son named Vyasa, the composer of the epic Mahabharta. She now bore king Santanu a son named Vichitravirya, who ascended the throne of his father at his death. Vichitravirya in turn married the two daughters of king of Kasi, who were named Amvika and Amvalika. After seven years of married life, king Vichitravirya died, leaving his two queens childless. Satyavati, now begged her step son, Bhishma to marry her two daughters-in-law and raise children for his dead step brother. But Bhishma could not agree to the proposal on account of his vow of celebacy. Satyavati then thought of her son Vyasa and asked him to meet the two widowed queens, in order to continue the line of his deceased step brother. Soon after a monthly period of Princess Amvalika was over, Satyavati purified her with baths, led her to her inner apartments, seated her on a luxurious bed and said: “Your husband had an elder brother. It is he who to-night will enter your womb. Do not go to sleep but wait for him.” Amvika thought that she would be visited by Bhishma, but on seeing Vyasa, the ugliest of men, closed her eyes in fear. He embraced her, but not once during the embracing did she open her eyes and look at him. Amvika gave birth to a blind son, who became known as Dhritarashtra.

Similarly, Vyasa visited the second widowed queen Amvalika. When Vyasa came to her bed room, she turned pale with fear. She gave birth to a son named Pandu. - The Pale. Satyavati then told Amvika to have another child by Vyasa but she refused. She then sent a maid servant in her place. When Vyasa went into the room, the maid showed no fear. She pleased Vyasa in all respects. She was blessed in every way and bore a most intelligent son, named Vidura. The story now continues round these three brothers, Dhritarashtra, Pandu, Vidura and their descendents.

Dhritarashtra was married to Gandhari, who bore to him one hundred sons, the oldest was Daryodhana - Hard to Conquer (the evil in human nature).

Pandu became the king and married Kunti. Kunti was daughter of King Sura, who was Yadava by caste. Kunti was also known as Pritha, pleased Rishi Durvasa, who gave her a magical prescription “Mantra”. Through this Mantra she could summon whatever god she wished to give her sons. The Rishi had also fore-knowledge of her future husband, Pandu’s immature death. Kunti while she was still a virgin, out of a curiosity, to test the validity of the Mantra invoked “Arka Vivswat”, the sun god, who at once appeared before her. She became totally confused but the sun god, not leaving her, embraced her. The union gave birth to a son named Karna, from one of her ears. Her marriage to king Pandu took place later. In due course, king Pandu married a second wife, named Madri, the daughter of king Madra.

Vidura married the daughter of king Devaha, born of a Sudra (low caste) wife of the king. Vidura himself was also born of a Sudra mother.

One day, King Pandu went to jungle for hunting. He saw a huge stag coupling with a doe. The king discharged five arrows from his bow and mortally wounded both the deer. As they fell to the ground, the stag wept bitterly like a man. Actually the stag was not a deer but the son of a great Rishi, who had been enjoying his wife in the form of a deer. He told Pandu that he was a wicked man. Pandu replied, “When kings go out to hunt deer, they kill them as do their enemies, when chasing them. Even Rishis hunt deer and sacrifice them to their gods. Why do you reproach me?” The stag then replied, “Virtuous kings do not attack their enemies, when they are unprepared, but first declare war. I do not blame you for killing deer, but to kill any creature, in the act of copulation is a great sin. When male and female join together, it is agreeable to every creature; it is ordained by gods, and it is good for all. You should have waited until the act was completed. For this sin I curse you. When you join your wives, you will be deemed killed along with your wife. As you have brought grief to me, while I was enjoying happiness, so shall the same happen to you.” (This is the symbolic meaning of sexual intercourse, i.e. to be killed). So saying the deer died.

King Pandu was very much shocked and dejected. He told his wives to go to his people and tell them that he would become an ascetic, even though they begged to stay with him. Pandu then became an ascetic and disciple of the Sidhas, who resided in the forests. The Sidhas and Rishis of the forests then arranged to go on a mountaneous pilgrimage. Pandu wanted to accompany them with his wives but the Rishis said: “On our way are heights and regions of perpetual snow, where neither animals, birds or even trees can live; only the winds and Sidhas are there, so how can your princesses exist there?” As his wives could not copulate with him, Pandu replied, “I have no sons, nor am I in a position to create them. I owe a debt to my ancestors. I wish to know if my wives can have children by another man?” The Rishis gave the assent and foretold the birth of wonderful children for him, from other men. Kunti remembering her Mantra invoked the god of justice. Through him she had a son named Yudhishtra. After some time, Kunti invoked the god of wind and through him had a son named Bhima. Later again she invoked Indira and gave birth to a son named Arjuna.

Madri, the second wife of king Pandu now expressed her desire to bear children. Pandu asked Kunti to help Madri in this respect. Kunti told Madri to think of the gods with whom she wanted to have children and she would arrange it. Madri thought of the twin Aswins. They were invoked by Kunti and they came to Madri. By then she had twin sons, Nakula and Sahadeva. In this way, five sons (Pandu Brothers) were born to king Pandu.

When Pandu actually saw his five handsome sons growing up in the forest of the slopes of the mountain, he felt his sexual power returning. One day, accompanied by Madri, he went out to wander in the woods of the garden of Sapat Sringa. It was spring time, the season that causes unrest in all creatures. Flowers bloomed everywhere filling the woods with their gentle perfume, all the pools were full of lotus blossoms. King Pandu in the midst of all this, sat down to rest with a youthful mortal. His desire for her flared, like a forest fire. Unable to restrain himself, he put his arms around her, while she, knowing that his death would result , endeavored to restrain him. Intoxicated with desire and as if wishing to end his life, he united himself with her. No sooner was this done then life left him, in accordance with the Rishi’s curse. When the body of king Pandu was cremeated, Madri jumped into the fire to be with him.

The word “jog” means union. What type of yog did king Pandu have? It was a sexual union with his wife - a union in the womb of his wife. During the gestation period, the baby grows in the womb, where prior to his existence its father had had the union.

Guru Gobind Singh in his composition ‘Bichitar Natak’ refers to King Pandu’s place of union (at Sapat Sringa) and states that there (in his mother’s womb) he had his union with God in the company of his Holy Mother.

It will be observed that in the above account the womb has been described as “a place”, where on its heights, are regions of perpetual snow, where neither animals and birds nor even trees can live; only the winds, the Sidhas and the great Rishis are there.” The Guru also described it as the “Hem Kunt Mountain” (A cave, in a snow covered Mountain). Dr Nandor in his book ‘New Approaches to Dream Interpretation’ (page 116) has given the following dream in respect of “The Mountain of Birth”.

“I talk to a friend in a boastful way of former feats. ‘Do you see that mountain there? We used to climb to its top and hike around up there, where the clouds are.’ Then we coasted down on a sleigh and had difficulties, because the snow did not cover the road completely. There were stretches of road bare of snow. Suddenly a great, lumbering grizzly bear came from the left towards me. I was very frightened, as I felt I could not pass it with the sleigh owing to the poor snow conditions. I start over the slope to my left, willing to risk my limbs in a steep ride that could land me in a gully. Anything to get away from the bear. I did not have enough time to move in either direction, I ended in a tree.

Climbing to the top of a mountain and enjoying his stay high up in the clouds” was a recurrent dream with this patient. He did not realize that the the dream was a fantasy of returning into the uterus (womb). The mountain top in a sea of clouds is an island. An island like a mountain submerged in the sea. An island, is a universal symbool of an unborn child, in its amniotic fluid. The foetus is a living island. The dreamer’s boast of former feats (not based on actual experience), is his way of basking in the glory of his past, in the memory of parental Bliss. The sleigh ride down hill, is a dynamic representation of the journey down the uterine canal, the danger of the fall in birth being represented by the gully, its difficulties by insufficient snow on the ground and its terror by the bear. The snow, because of his coldness, is often used in dreams for discomfort or fear. Its insufficiency over part of the road, is a cumulative emphasis on the danger of descent.”

It is abundantly clear from the above account that Guru Gobind Singh, in his composition, gave a beautiful description of his foetal life, in his mother’s womb. All human beings have to do penance and live an isolated life in their mother’s womb. A baby in the womb, float head down, knees pulled upwards, just as ascetics do.

The Guru in his composition states that he attained complete union with God and that God told him, to take birth in this Kal Yuga (Age of Sin). This clearly means that the Guru was not physically in existence in this world in Kal Yuga, and that his birth at Patna, was his first, in the Kal Yuga. Hindu sacred books divide Time into Four Yugas, each one of thousands of years. Kal Yuga is the Fourth and the Last Yuga.

Hem Kunt Mountain is situated North of Hardwar – Rikhikesh in Utar Pradesh State at a height of more than 14,000 feet above sea level. The area remains snow bound for more than eight months in a year. Nothing grows there and no one ever lived there. Raja Pandu did not meditate on God there, but lived in the jungle and had sexual union (yog) with his wife, which the Guru referred. Raja Pandu was not a saint, who meditated on God in these mountaneous area. The Guru metaphorically described his foetal life in his mother’s womb, which is misinterpreted. Mahabharta largely is a classical world famous book of Mythology, description of which is for the scholars to unfold in plain words. All the World Cultures are based on Mythological stories, Mahabhartta is one of such books depicting Indian Culture.

It is rather strange that Sikhs built a shrine in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh’s alleged previous life as an ascetic meditating in the mountaneous region north of Hardwar and Rikhikesh! The prevalent mis-interpretation of the Guru’s myth in Bichittar Natak, is not only means lack of lack of our scholarship, but also in haste total nullification of the Truth as preached by the Guru himself. We do not yet understand that the myths cannot be literally interpreted.

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