Sikh Research and Education Center
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Symbol Sword (Kirpan)
All mankind has language, and man alone among the animals is endowed with this particular gift. Animals respond to signs representing immediate situations in their environment, but man alone can use and interpret symbols. The creation of use of symbols affect all aspects of human society. What would be a society without language be like? Without language, there would, of course be no writing or other means of communication by words. Without language, there would be practically no learning. Human beings would be constrained to learn as animals do – by doing, rather than through the assimilation of ideas and concepts. All history would disappear! A society lacking language would have no means of ensuring continuity of behavior and would find it necessary to create its culture anew in each generation. Religious teachings entirely depends on words.
Guru Nanak Dev in Jup Ji, stanza 19, teaches us -
“AKhri namu AKhrI salah ……There are scores of Compositions in Guru Granth Sahib, alluding to the Yogis and Yoga System, where the Gurus and Bhagats have used same terminology and the symbols, instructing the Yogis for their proper use toward the true Spiritual advancement and union with the Ultimate Authority of the Creator Lord – please refer to Pauris 28 and 29 of Jup Jee –
Countless names, countless places and inaccessible, unapproachable, countless celestial realms have been created. Even to call them countless is to carry the weight on your head. From the Word, comes the Naam; from the Word, comes Your Praise. From the Word, comes spiritual wisdom, singing the Songs of Your Glory. From the Word, comes the written and spoken words and hymns. From the Word, comes destiny, written on one's forehead. But the One who wrote these Words of Destiny-no words are written on His Forehead. As He ordains, so do we receive. The created universe is the manifestation of His Name. Without His Name, there is no place at all. How can I describe His Creative Power? I cannot even once be a sacrifice to Him. Whatever pleases Him is the only good done, He is, Eternal and Formless One. || 19”
“Munda santokh, saram put jholi, gian ki kareh bibhoot……Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th Nanak, in his Composition, Bavan Akhri (52 Alphabets), Pauree 54, in Rag Gauri, Guru Granth Sahib,page 261 states -
Make contentment your ear-rings, humility your begging bowl, and meditation the ashes you apply to your body. Let the remembrance of death be the patched coat you wear, let the purity of virginity be your way in the world, and let faith in the Lord be your walking stick. See the brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order of Yogis; conquer your own mind, and conquer the world…………”
“PAUREE: In the Word, God established the three worlds. Created from the Word, the Vedas are contemplated. From the Word, came the Shaastras, Simritees and Puraanas. From the Word, came the sound current of the Naad, speeches and explanations. From the Word, comes the way of liberation from fear and doubt. From the Word, come religious rituals, karma, sacredness and Dharma. In the visible universe, the Word is seen. O Nanak, the Supreme Lord God remains unattached and untouched. 54.”The letters (alphabets of a script), the numbers and the words we use are merely symbols pointing out to something conventionally accepted by us all. They point beyond themselves to sounds and meanings. They are given this special function by convention within nation or by international conventions, as the mathematical signs.
A symbol participates in that to which it points; the flag participates in the power and dignity of the nation for which it stands. Therefore, it cannot be replaced except after an historic catastrophe that changes the reality of the nation which it symbolizes. An attack on the flag is felt as an attack on the majesty of the group in which it is acknowledged. Such an attack is considered blasphemy.
Another characteristic of a symbol is that it opens up levels of reality which otherwise are closed for us. All Arts create symbols for a level of reality, which cannot be reached in any other way. A picture and a poem reveal elements of reality, which cannot be approached scientifically. In the creative work of art we encounter reality in a dimension which is closed for us without such works.
A symbol opens up dimensions and elements of reality which otherwise would remain unapproachable but also unlocks dimensions and elements of our deeper thoughts which correspond to the dimension and elements of reality. A great play gives us not only a new vision of the human scene, but it opens up hidden depths of our own being. Thus we are able to receive what the play reveals to us in reality. There are within us through symbols, as melodies and rhythms in music. Mere sight of a symbol speaks out to us the whole contents of what we cherish and believe in.
Symbols cannot be produced intentionally. They grow out of the individual or collective unconscious and cannot function without being accepted by the unconscious dimension of our being. Symbols which have an especially social function, as political and religious symbols, are created or at least accepted by the collective unconscious of the group in which they appear.
Symbols cannot be invented. Like living beings, they grow and they die. They grow when the situation is ripe for them, and they die when the situation changes. The symbol of the “king” grew in a period of history, and it died largely now. Symbols do not grow because people are longing for them, and they do not die because of criticism. They die because they no longer produce response in the group where they originally found expression. Genuine symbols are created in several spheres of man’s cultural and social activity. All our activities and our organizations are symbolized in brief letters or symbols for our convenience.
When we mention about God, “O SWORD”, then all the Functional Qualities of His, we read in both the Sacred Granths, come to our mind. Could this be anything simpler than this? It is just like when we see sign or symbol of anything, the whole of the scenario of the thing or event comes to our mind.
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