Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kal Taran Guru Nanak aaya.....Happy Gurpurab!!!

"Be pure," said the Guru, "and Truth would reveal itself to thee. Have love of God uppermost in thy heart and hurt not the feelings of His creatures."........

Like the teachings of most messiahs, even the beliefs & philosophies of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of Sikhs, were not very popular in the beginning. But, today, it is those very teachings of Guru Nanak that are the basic tenets that guide the lives of Sikhs. The three teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji are known as nam simran, kirt karo, and wand chako. The term 'Nam Simran' means think about God. Kirt Kaara preaches people to lead a normal life by earning their living through hard work and honesty. 'Wand Chhako' means to share whatever spare things you have with poor and needy people.

Guru Nanak philosophy & teachings can be summarized as:
  • There is only one God, who is known by different names in different religions.
  • Strive hard and make a whole hearted effort to help others, because service to mankind is the biggest service to God.
  • Follow the path of honesty.
  • In the eyes of God, all are equal, irrespective of the caste, age, creed or sex.
  • Be compassionate towards all living beings.
  • Lead a simple life.
  • Don't get scared of anything and just keep performing good deeds.
A few weeks ago I read a very succinct and emotive brief essayed by ... Ram Lingam....A non Sikh by faith yet a true, yet a true sikh ...a shishya of Guru Nanak in life....
I had to share this with you on my blog....

This small piece of writing is simply inadequate to do any justice to the standing of Shri Sat Guru Nanak Devji or his teachings. To get to know the life story of this great Guru and his teachings is a journey that helps recognise the trivialities of life and acquire the knowledge of our true divine nature which we seem to miss constantly. 

Though not born into a Sikh family, I was fortunate to discover Guru Nanak Devji’s sublime teachings through a music album called ‘Ashram Bhajanavali’, which is a collection of devotional songs that formed part of the morning and evening prayers at Gandhiji’s ashrams. Of the many bhajans, there was Guru Nanak Devji’s song “Kaahe re ban khojan jaai…Sarab nivaasi sadaa alepaa tohi sang samaai” which caught my attention. Just reading the translation of this song, I got seriously educated on Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings and also about Sikh faith, which to me became much more than the dress code of the faithful. Even so the ‘langar’ that I enjoyed in the company of my Sikh friends at the Gurudwara certainly became sanctified.

The translation of this transforming song
Kaahe re ban khojan jaai’ goes :
“Why do you go looking for God in the forest?
Although he is ever detached, he dwells everywhere. He even abides with you.
Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror, the Lord dwells deep within all.
 Therefore search for Him within your own heart, O brother.
The Guru has imparted this wisdom: outside the body and inside the body, know that there is only the One Lord pervading everywhere.
O servant Nanak, without realizing one’s own True Self, the moss of doubt i.e. ignorance of one's True Nature or Essential Being, etc, cannot be eradicated from the mind.”

Guru Nanak Devji taught the absolute unity of God; everything is God, and everything is dependent on the will of God. The Guru’s life story is full of saintly actions and divine events that teach us to lead a pure life, to be a ‘Sikh’, a sincere disciple and to receive the grace of the Guru for self-unfoldment. The word ‘Sikh’ means ‘disciple’ or student. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term ‘Sisya’ meaning "disciple, student" or ‘siksa’ meaning "instruction" according to the ‘The Illustrated 
History of the Sikhs’ by Khushwant Singh. The word ‘Sikh’ means ‘disciple’ and they are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the 10 Sikh Gurus.

The origins of Sikhism lie in the spiritual and social teachings of Guru Nanak Devji, which can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, a vast collection of revelatory verses recorded in Gurmukhi. Guru Nanak Devji taught that the way to connect with the Supreme is not through the mind or through rituals, but through Guru’s grace and direct personal experience. Therefore, he emphasised meditation on the Name (Naam) and Presence of God. 

Guru Nanak Devji has given a beautiful summary of his teachings in one of his hymns where he says:
“Love the saints of every faith: Put away thy pride.
Remember the essence of religion is meekness and sympathy, not fine clothes,
 not the Yogi’s garb and ashes, not the blowing of the horns, not the shaven head,
not long prayers, not recitations and torturings, not the ascetic way,
but a life of goodness and purity, amid the world’s temptations.”

Here are given some famous sayings of Guru Nanak Devji:

• "There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, He is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self illuminated, He is realised by the kindness of the True Guru…" (Japji)

• Even Kings and emperors with heaps of wealth and vast dominion cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God. 

• God is one, but he has innumerable forms. He is the creator of all and He himself takes the human form. 

• I am neither a child, a young man, nor an ancient; nor am I of any caste. 

• I am not the born; how can there be either birth or death for me? 

• I bow at His Feet constantly, and pray to Him, the Guru, the True Guru, has shown me the Way. 

• Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.

Tenth of November 2011 marks the birthday anniversary of the Shri Guru Nanak Devji (1469 – 1539 CE) and is known as GURPURAB.

Guru Nanak Devji was born to Mehta Kalyan Das Bedi and Tripta Devi in 1469, in the village of Talwandi also known as Nankana Sahib. This village is near Lahore in present day Pakistan. 

The life of a Guru or a Prophet is a blessing to the disciple and becomes a message in itself. As the word (baani) of a Prophet becomes a scripture for the followers, so did the words of Guru Nanak Devji, the Adi Guru of the Sikh panth, got immortalized in the Shri Guru Granth Sahib – the scripture of the Guru’s followers. 

Writing about Guru Nanak Devji, Swami Vivekananda wrote: “Guru Nanak was born in the sacred land of India. He gave a message of love and peace of the whole world and preached the same through his teachings. He was full of affection for everyone and his arms were always outstretched as if to embrace the whole world...” 

On an auspicious day like Guru Nanak Devji’s birth anniversary, the Guru’s teachings need sincere listening to and contemplation upon, in order to commemorate the blessing of his birth - because a Guru is ultimately known for his teachings. A spiritual opportunity would be missed if the Guru’s words are not fully understood and just ritualistically chanted. 

The origins of the Sikh tradition lie in the spiritual and social teachings of Guru Nanak Devji who taught that the union with God is through Guru’s grace and direct personal experience and he emphasized meditation on the God’s name (Naam), to live with an inner awakening of God and an outer service by righteous means. 

The Shri Guru Granth Sahib the scripture of the Guru’s followers has 5894 hymns of which 976 hymns (17%) are composed by Guru Nanak Devji. Of the many teachings through his hymns, the “Japji” revered as the ‘Japji Sahib’ appears at the very beginning of the Shri Guru Granth Sahib.

The “Japji Sahib” is recited every morning by the Sikh-faithful and is considered as a concise summary of his teachings. The compilation of Japji Sahib consists of the famous Mool mantra - The symbol of ‘Ik-Onkar’ is also an emblem for Sikhs and is found on Gurdwaras. The Mool mantra ‘Ik-Onkar’ is the first series of truth-affirmations and is considered the essence and basis of Sikh panth.

All religious scriptures in the East have “Mool mantras” which hold the essence of the entire scripture. Explaining the concept of ‘Mool mantra’, the Vedanta teacher Swami Swaroopananda says: “In the term mool mantra, mool means ‘root’. Every tree has roots without which it cannot exist. The tree is sustained and nourished through these roots. They constitute the very foundation of the tree from which it grows and expands. In the same way, mool mantra means ‘that mantra in which lies the very essence of the Scripture’, the entire Scripture being an elaboration, expansion or explanation of that mantra”. 

Explaining about the mool mantra for Sikhs, in his book ‘Ik Onkar’ he remarks “Ik-Onkar Sat-Naam Kartaa-Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akaal-Moorat Ajuni Saibangh Gurparsaad” is considered to be the mool mantra of the “Granth Sahib”. Revealing and expounding on the Truth enshrined in this mantra is the entire “Japji Sahib”, and the elaboration of the “Japji Sahib” is the entire “Granth Sahib”.

The translation of the Mool Mantra ~ Ik-Onkar with the instruction ‘Jap’ at the end which means ‘repeat and contemplate’ is as:

Ik Onkar: The One, the Reality, Om
Sat Naam: Of Name ever True and Eternal
Kartaa Purakh: The Prime doer, the Creator
Nirbhau: Fearless
Nirvair: Without enmity
Akaal Moorat: Of Eternal Form
Ajuni: Without birth, Uncaused
Saibangh: Self-existent and Self-illuminating
Gurparsaad: Known by the Grace of the Enlightened Teacher

Jap: Constantly repeat (This word is not part of the mool mantra, but can be taken as the instruction of the Teacher to constantly repeat and contemplate on the mantra). 

Many commentaries are written expounding the meaning of eacj word of Guru Nanak Devji’s Mool mantra. Later in the Shri Guru Granth Sahib , the importance of this mool mantra is re-emphasized as “a-ukhadh mantar mool man aykai man bisvaas parabh dhaari-aa“ meaning “The Mool Mantra, the Root Mantra, is the only cure for the mind; I have installed faith in God in my mind.” - SGGS -675(1).

May Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings be contemplated upon till we get the true import and a direct experience of his teachings.


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