1. How did Guru Nanak manage to form the Sikh Religion when Islam was the top religion in the world at that time?
Guru Nanak Dev did not found one more faith but revealed the faith for humanity, a faith for all people. H. L. Bradshaw writes in The Sikh Review, Calcutta: Sikhism is a Universal world of faith, a message for all men. Sikhs must cease to think of their faith as just another good religion and must begin to think in terms of Sikhism being the religion for this New Age... Other scholars have also observed the same thing, but in different words, that a common God for all of humanity was revealed and preached by Guru Nanak Dev. Earlier, there was a God who accepted only good Christians to Heaven while another God accepted only good Muslims there. There was one more God who loved only high caste Hindus; other Indians were considered low caste and untouchable. Further, the low caste were considered not entitled to enter Heaven after death and they were not permitted to enter a Hindu religious place here on this earth. Unfortunately, this situation, prevails even today. Thus followers of each faith believed that unless one belonged to their faith one could not be accepted by God in His Heaven. In simple words, every religion claimed a franchise on God, and preached that people of other faiths are not entitled to Heaven created by their God for them. In 1499, coming out of the river Being after three days, Guru Nanak Dev told people, both Hindus and Muslims, who came to greet him: Na koi Hindu, na Musalman. The Guru, thus, explained that God does not identify us as Hindus or Muslims or as members of any other faith. He judges us only by our deeds. Everyone who loves God, realizes God. ((Guru Granth Sahib) Page 8)
God can be loved by any name Ram, Allah, Guru, Gobind. These and many
other Names are included in the Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikh scripture contains
hymns written by six Gurus and more than two dozen holy persons including
those born in low caste, Hindu and Muslim faiths. Farid was a Muslim and
loved God as Allah. Ravidas was a shoemaker, a low caste, and untouchable.
Gurbani preaches that God is our common Father. He loves all people whatever
their faith. We are valued in His Court not by the name we adopt to love
Him but by the deeds we do to serve people. Many scholars have observed
that the Sikh faith is the message for the whole world. These
principles made people embrace the Sikh faith against many odds.
Hindus and Muslims who accepted the above teachings of Guru Nanak Dev were
welcomed to sit together for the first time as equals and were named Sangat.
Later in 1699, after
training for two centuries to live that kind of life, Guru Gobind Singh
revealed Khalsa Panth, an
organization to serve people and protect their human rights. They were required
to partake of
Amrit, wear the 5Ks and adopt new names (Singh for a male, Kaur for
a female). We call that
organized body Guru Khalsa Panth, Sikh Panth or simply Sikhs.
The rulers did not like people adopting the Sikh faith. They tried to stop
this wave started
by Guru Nanak Dev. Guru Arjan Dev was arrested and tortured to death. His
son, Guru Har-
Gobind was attacked four times by the army of the Governor of Lahore. Guru
Teg Bahadur was
arrested along with his three associates. They all were tortured and murdered.
Guru Gobind Sikh
was attacked repeatedly. He sacrificed his family, his mother and all of
his four sons. Thousands
of Sikhs died fighting for their right. Guru Gobind Singh himself was stabbed
The Khalsa continued to resist state tyranny while living a truthful life
people. As a result, Sikhs and the Sikh faith were
accepted by the common man; the Sikhs,
supported both by Hindus and Muslims, became rulers of the Punjab when Maharaja
Singh took over Lahore in 1799.
2. Is not Sikhism just another religion? Don't all religions preach the path to God?
Why did Guru Teg Bahadur sacrifice his life for the Hindus, when Sikhism does not encourage the practice of Hindu rituals?
See also question 1 above for the answers to the first part of the question.
(a) According to the popular perception, religions may be divided into two groups on the bases of the definition of God and the mission of human life: (i) God can be realized through our faith alone. Unless you belong to our faith you will go to Hell. The only key to the Heaven is with our prophet. For entering Heaven, people must accept our faith. (iii) God is Father/Mother of all people and loves every human being; He/She belongs to everyone, believers (whatever their faith) and nonbelievers. There is no place called Heaven into which people of a particular faith only would be allowed. Anyone, who loves God, by whatever Name Allah, Ram, Hari, Guru, Jesus etc., lives in Heaven (while living in this world) and realizes God. There is also a third group, (it includes Buddhism and Jainism) who do not require belief in the existence of God. This group is not included in this discussion.
Sikhism alone belongs to group (ii). Hence, it is basically different from all faiths. Other faiths, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, belong to group (i). While followers of other religions wish to reach Heaven, Sikhism says Heaven or Hell are not physical places where the souls are destined to go after people die. The devotees who love God and see Him pervading everywhere enjoy True Heaven while living here in this world. They have no desire for ran assumed place called Heaven. (Guru Granth Sahib) Page 1324)
Thus, Gurbani explains that when we love God, and sing His virtues, we are in Heaven. When we turn our back to Him and get involved in lust, ego, greed, anger, etc., we suffer Hell here in this very life: ((Guru Granth Sahib) Pages 325, 1369)
Sikhism does not claim exclusive rights to God. It accepts that God belongs to everyone, believers and nonbelievers. Anyone, a Hindu, a Muslim, etc., who loves Him realizes Him. Let us understand that morality and ethics (one should be truthful, sincere, humble, and helpful) are the same in all faiths. Rituals have little value. It is the definition of God and the mission of human life which determine the nature of a faith. To explain this: in any government, be it a republic, a dictatorship, or a kingship, people doing good deeds are honored and those committing wrong actions are punished. However, the three governments have different kinds of constitutions and permit different human rights to their citizens. Similarly, morality and ethics are basically the same in all religions but they differ regarding the definition of God and the mission of human life. Other religions claim a franchise on God and His Heaven while Sikhism teaches He is our common Father; we all are equal in His Court.
(b) Sikh faith recognizes the right of every human being to love God by any name and by any method one likes. No one, not even a king, has a right to force ones own chosen Name or method to love God on people of other faiths. In Guru Granth Sahib all the names of the Almighty, whether adopted by Hindus, Muslims, or Yogis were accepted as His Names to be loved by people according to their choice. Guru Teg Bahadur protested against state oppression, which included the threat of death, to forcibly convert Hindus to Islam. He sacrificed his life to protect the human rights of the people to remember God by any Name, Ram or Krishan, they love. This is the basic principles a Sikh is to believe and practice, and for which the Guru offered his head. Thinking that the Guru gave his life to protect the religion of Hindus is belittling his sacrifice.
3. How can I see any of the Gurus? How can the Gurus come down to meet us here?
The Gurus are here, we have only to know that they are here with us all the time. ((Guru Granth Sahib) Page 982)
Gurbani in Sri Guru Granth is the living spirit of the Gurus. When you read or listen to Gurbani, the Guru is talking to you and you are hearing the actual words of the Guru. Gurbani are words of the Guru in written form. The physical body of the Guru, of course, is not there. Anyway, the physical body was not the Guru the word spoken by the Guru, Gurbani, is our Guru, according to the philosophy of Shabad Guru. That is why we bow to the Guru Granth Sahib. Please remember that whatever the Gurus practiced, it was recorded in words and passed on by them to us as Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Gurus don't have to come down to us. They did not leave us. They are with us. Enjoy talking to the Gurus and listening to them through Gurbani.
4. I have heard and read there are other Masters/Gurus who can help us to reach liberation/mukti. These people have experienced God and by following them, one may experience God, too. These people may be Sikhs (sants) or from other religions. Is this true? If so, are we as Sikhs allowed to follow these people?
(i) The key part of the question is : Are we, as Sikhs, allowed to follow these people? The answer is a firm NO. A Sikh is a person who believes in the Guruship of the Guru Granth and Guru Panth. He/she is admitted to the Panth only by Panj Pyaras and they alone are entitled to administer Nam Amrit to the Sikhs. A Sikh is not to get Nam from any individual who claims to be a guru, a Sant or a Brahmgiani (He who has experienced God), not even from any one Amritdhari Sikh. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh founded Guru Khalsa Panth and handed over the Guruship to the Panj Pyaras those first five Sikhs who offered their heads in love of their faith. It is then that Guru Gobind Rai, after partaking of Amrit to the disciples (admit people to the Sikh Panth) and give them religious instructions. This historical event is well known to all the world. Today, if anyone, a child of a Sikh or a nonSikh, wants to become a Sikh, he/she must appear before the Panj Pyaras (not before any individual, not even before a person who claims to be God incarnate), accept Amrit and agree to live according to the Sikh Reht Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct). According to it, a Sikh can listen to no spiritual guidance other that given by the five Amritdhari Sikhs, the Pyaras deputed for the job. (ii) To answer the other aspect of the question, let us first be clear that a person isn't a member of the Khalsa Panth, a Sikh, unless he partakes of Amrit. Even the children of a Sikh Panth. Just by keeping long hair and tying turbans, as many followers of the Dera Jaimal Singh at Beas, Punjab do, one does not become a Sikh. Anyway the followers o the Dera claim themselves to be Radha Swamis and not Sikhs. A Sikh is not permitted to be a follower of that dera or get any guidance or advice from there. A faithful will go only to a place of his/her faith and not to that of any other faith. For example, a Muslim will go to a mosque and a Christian to a church. They won't go to a temple or read Vedas for spiritual guidance. They may do so for their information and not as an act of faith. Similarly, a Sikh is permitted to go only to a Gurdwara and refer to Gurbani for spiritual guidance. A Sikh may, however, visit a place of any faith but is not allowed to believe in or follow the guidance there to the members of that faith. One cannot practice and believe in two faiths at the same time. It is possible that one may pick up something from one faith and the other things from another faith which are acceptable to him. In that case one is not a believer or a follower of either of the two faiths. It is practicing according to ones convenience and not following any faith.
(iii) During the period of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a holy man preached the Sikh faith and he often said: Dhan Nirankar, Hor Sabha Khuar. It means Glory to the formless God; except His followers, others are all lost. They were later called Nirankaris. A splinter group of that organization gave up the teaching of the Sikh faith and started their own sect but continued to claim themselves to be Nirankaris. They, after the popular with the support of the Congress Government. They even dared to fire at the Sikhs and kill 13 of them on the Vaisakhi Day of 1978 in Amritsar. They are labeled as nakli (false) Nirankaris. Their guru keeps long hair and wears a turban like Sikhs, but he is not a Sikh. He has been successful in fooling the innocent Sikhs by his dress and by his singing of Gurbani hymns. No Sikh is permitted to have any dealings with him or with any member of their sect. Everyday, new sants in Sikh appearance (usually white turban, robes and long hair) are increasing the number of such fake guides. Some claim to be something more than a Brahmgiani, adding 101, 108, 1001, 1008, titles to their name without knowing their meaning. When you are close to them, you will find most of them are suffering from greed. Their mission is to collect money from people for building their own personal empire and their ego. Gurbani says: Do not believe greedy persons. (Because all their tall claims are false.) Of course, there are good sants and holy Sikhs who are doing great service in teaching Gurmat and Gurbani to the people. A true Sikh does not make false claims (as we often hear from money-hungry sants). He will endorse everything mentioned in Gurbani and will not start any group of his followers or have any name identifying his own with one or another thing doing differently than what is practiced by the Sikh Panth.
(iv) Recently, some self-proclaimed preachers, to develop their own sect, have started saying (and even actually practicing) that not just the six prescribed pauries, but all of the Anand should be read at the end of the Sikh Diwan. (Yogi Harbhajan Singh, who lead this thought, regretted it in 1995, and requested the Panth, in writing, to excuse him for this.) Some have started worshiping Sri Guru Granth Sahib and pictures of the Gurus (the pictures are all false anyway) just as the Brahmans worship their idols. This is prohibited by the Sikh Panth. Such new inventions in the field o faith are fraught with danger. They are laying a foundation to split the Sikhs. All these people are supported by the opponents of Sikhs because it serves their purpose of weakening the Sikh community by dividing the Sikhs. Such impostors harm the Sikhs and corrupt the Sikh faith. With a very loud voice, they claim themselves to be Brahmgyanis and liberated sants. A Sikh has to ignore them. They identify their followers by new names (not as Sikhs) assigned by them. If any person whether a Giani or sant makes Sikhs become his own disciples or identifies them as a distinct group, he is not a true Sikh. Such persons do not guide but misguide Sikhs to convert them into their own followers rather than letting them behave as members of the Panth. Some of such sants or gurus evidently receive the support of the authorities to weaken the Sikh strength in India and elsewhere. They come up with a new nonSikh or antiSikh thought, present it as a Sikh principle and introduce it amongst the sikhs to divide them. Their intention is to take over a section of the Sikh community by making them their followers. This is done to satisfy their ego of claiming to be Master of Guru and weaken the unity of the Sikh Panth. Groups like Kukas (Namdharis), Radhaswamis, and false nirankaris all started as Sikh preachers but later turned openly against the Panth. They are cheating Sikhs by appearing like Sikhs with uncut hair, turbans, and by quoting Gurbani in their speeches. Similarly, there are many new saints who claim to be Sikhs but make their own disciples; they tell Sikhs their own Rent rather than advising them to follow the Panthic Reht. Recently, some sants have altered the structure of Rehras and modified Gurdwara protocol. Sikhs have to watch them, reject them and disassociate from them. Some naive Sikhs, particularly women, fall prey to them because of their fake and false promises of saving them here and in the next world.
It is well known that some impostors claimed themselves to be gurus and tried to establish their own sects, groups or religion even during the period of the Gurus. They all were excommunicated by the Gurus, even if they were their own sons or relatives. Khalsa Panth has to continue to adopt the same procedure to deal with such false gurus, sants, and preachers.
5. Why do most temples celebrate only Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singhs birthday and not the rest of the Gurus. Are not they equal?
(i) Many Sikhs have a wrong perception that whenever we Sikhs have a special gathering (Jor Mela) we do so to celebrate the birth or demise or any other event in the life of a Guru. Actually these gatherings are held to preach Gurmat and not to celebrate any day or date in the life of a Guru. Some days, whether related to the life of a Guru or not, were chosen as convenient and easy to remember by the people for annual gatherings of the Sikhs. These important functions are conducted on a large scale. They are used to preach the Sikh faith, remind them of their heritage, and to plan for the future of the community. Let us look at the major days celebrated by the Sikhs.
Vaisakhi and Diwali: Sikhs during the 18th century go together (and they continue to do so even today) twice a year on Vaisakhi and Diwali at Amritsar. These two days are not connected with the birth or demise of any Guru. People celebrated these days even before the birth of Guru Nanak Dev. They were chosen by the Sikhs because they were well known and very popular throughout Punjab. The Khalsa was founded on Vaisakhi Day at Anandpur not at Amritsar, where the gathering is actually held on that day. However, the most important gathering at Anandpur is held not on Vaisakhi but on hola Mahalla. Hola Mahalla: Hola, a spring festival, is cerebrated at Anandpur, a few days before Vaisakhi. That day is not connected with any incident in the life of the tenth Guru or any other Guru. Celebration of this spring festival is an old custom and it started even long before the birth of Nanak. Being a common, well known day, Guru Gobind Singh fixed it as an annual sports and way games day for the Sikhs at Anandpur. Since then Sikhs continue to gather there for this function every year.
Maghi: This Jor Mela is held at Muktsar, the place of the final battle between Guru Gobind Singh and the ruling Mughal forces in May June (Jeth) 1705. The winter month Magh (January), and not Jeth, the summer month, when the battle was actually fought at that place, was considered suitable for holding a function in this hot dry region of Malwa. Kartak PooranMasi: The birth of Guru Nanak is celebrated in fall (Kartak, full moon) but he was born in Vaisakh (early summer). On that day, Sikhs used to gather there to preach Gurmat. This being the place of the birth of the Guru, the gathering there was wrongly assumed to be the celebration of the birthday of the Guru.
From this we conclude that major Sikh gatherings, called Jor Melas, general meetings of the Panth, were held on days already popular with the people and not necessarily on the birthday or another day connected with the life of a Guru. This technique, choosing an already popular day for the celebration, has been also used by the Christians. Christ was born in August/September but Christians celebrate it on December 25. Even before the birth of Christ, this day was already a public festival day for celebrating the beginning of the new solar year. On this day, when the new solar year was considered to have started, the day length starts increasing from then on. (Actually the solstice falls on December 21/22.) Now, people often assume, of course, mistakenly that December 25 (Christmas) is the birthday of Christ. Instead of calling a seasonal or an annual major function of the religion a Jor Mela, as it was until recently, Sikhs now advertise it as celebration of the birth day or shaheedi (martyrdom) day of the Guru. This is a wrong approach to the Sikh gatherings. Sikhs hold their special congregation for community education and not to celebrate the birth or demise of any Guru even though it may be held on such a day. Do the Sikhs distribute ladoos on the birthday or sit together sadly on the shaheedi days? Of course not. (No wonder, in future the Sikhs may start doing that.) Days are chosen for Panthic congregation and not to celebrate certain incidents in the life Gurdwara functions are held, therefore, in the same way Kirtan, katha, lecture, dhadhi var, etc., whatever the day, birthday or demise day.
If the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated during the Guru period, we would not be reading two dates (Kartak and Vaisakh) in Sikh literature telling about his birth. Similarly there would have been no second opinion about the dates of other major events.
The celebration of the birthdays of the Gurus is of recent origin during the British regime. There is no evidence in Sikh history that the birthdays of the Gurus were celebrated by the Gurus or by their disciples. Now writer has mentioned the celebration of Guru Teg Bahadur by Guru Gobind Singh or his own birthday by him. The correct answer to the above question is that regional gatherings and general gatherings (as explained above) are held on popular days convenient for Sikhs. These days are chosen for Gurmat Parchar and discussing the issues related to the Panth they were not to celebrate the birth or martyrdom of the Gurus. (ii) A wrong response to the above question (Why do we celebrate the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh only, and not of other Gurus?) was adopted by the Sikhs and they started holding functions on the birthdays of some other Gurus as well. When the logic was carried further another question, Why are the birthdays of the Bhagats not celebrated by the Sikhs? cropped up. Some gatherings on the birthday of Bhagat Ravidas. Ravidasi Sikhs, as some Sikhs are mistakenly called now have started to celebrate the birthday of guru Ravidas in their own places. This is surely a step in the wrong direction. Some Sikhs have gone further on this path; they have started the celebrations of birthdays of Bhagats (gurus) Kabir, namdev and other contributors to the holy scriptures. This will split Sikhs into different sections based on caste. Thus, they have started undoing what the Gurus did throughout their lives -- unite people into one brotherhood of equals believing in one scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Therefore, we must continue to hold regional and national gatherings on the chosen dates for preaching Gurmat but not label them as birthday or martyrdom day celebrations (even when gatherings are held on such dates).
NOTE: Sankrant, Pooran Masi, Amavas and other such days were chosen for regular gatherings of Sikhs. Unfortunately, now people believe them to be sacred days, an antiSikh belief. They were chosen just for convenience because these dates/days were easy to remember.
6. We take out Parshad in the name of the Panj Pyaras. Similarly, why do we not take out Parshad in the name of the ten Gurus as well?
The correct procedure for the distribution of the Parshad according to the Gurmat philosophy is given below. It will automatically explain why Parshad is not taken our for the ten Gurus. At the conclusion of the Gurdwara function, the Parshad is first accepted into the Guru Darbar (kirpan Bhet) and then distributed according to the Maryada.
(a) Kirpan Bhet After the prayer and the recitation of the hymn (Hukam) from the Guru Granth Sahib kirpan is put into the Parsad before it is distributed to the Sangat. This is symbolic of the acceptance of the Parsad (which is offered by a Sikh of Sikhs) in the Guru Darbar. Parsad is accepted only after the recitation of the Gurus hymn. Hence, kirpan Bhet has to be done thereafter and not before. Kirpan is not to be put into the Parsad halfway during the Ardas when the request is made for the acceptance of the Parsad. (This Maryada is the direction of the proper authority, Akal Takhat, and is not based on the personal opinion of the author. Hence, it has to be observed strictly.) Ardas should, therefore, be performed without making a Sikh to stand alert with a naked kirpan in his hand ready to put it in the Parsad when the Granthi mentions Parshad in his prayer.
(b) Distribution of the Parsad
(i) According to the protocol, Parsad should first be given to the Guru and then to his minister, the person attending the Guru Granth Sahib. Later, if should be distributed to the Sangat without discrimination. As a result of not knowing this procedure, some omissions are being made in distribution of the Parsad. Guru Gobind Singh passed on the guruship to the ever-alive Guru, Panj Pyaras, representing the Guru Khalsa Panth. The Guru, himself, became their first Sikh by accepting Amrit from them. Panj Pyaras, the five Singhs, represent the living and functioning Guru in the Sangat. It is not given in the name of the first Panj Pyaras (chosen by Guru Gobind Singh) hoping the Parsad will reach them. Because of this misunderstanding, the Parsad is sometimes given again to these five Singhs while distributing it to the Sangat. It is a wrong practice and is based on the ignorance of the Sikhs regarding the Sikh philosophy. According to the Maryada, the Panj Pyara Parsad is not to be mixed back in the total Parsad but it to be distributed at random to the first five Singhs who are easily approachable. For this selection, it is not desirable to go to the end of the Sangat for giving Panj Pyara Parsad to a senior Giani Ji or some senior office bearer in the Sangat. Every Sangat has the authority to choose their Panj Pyaras for any local purpose, for example, for the Amrit ceremony, for the Sikh procession, for a foundation stone laying ceremony, for distribution of the Parsad. It must be mentioned here that the five Singhs chosen as the Panj Pyaras may not be the same every time They are chosen from the Singhs available in the Sangat at that time and only for a specific purpose .
Giving Parsad to one Singh is no reflection on his greatness or the devotion of other Singhs in the Sangat . The selection of the Panj Pyras for giving Parsad or for any function does not rate the chosen persons to be the topmost Sikhs in the Sangat. If it were so, the selection would raise a lot of unnecessary questions about the decision made. Further, there would be many objections to the choice whenever Panj Pyaras are chosen. The selection is done for a specific assignment only; thereafter, the five Singhs are again equal members of the Panth. There may be one group of five chosen Singhs for the Amrit ceremony and another group of five Singhs to lead the Khalsa procession.
(ii) After giving Parsad to the Panj Pyaras, it i suffered to the minister (Granthi Sahib) of the Guru. As he is to attend the Guru Granth Sahib, Parsad is put in a bowl and placed near him. It is a totally wrong belief that the Parsad in the bowl is meant for the Guru. Feeding Parsad or Langar to the Guru Granth Sahib or pictures of the Gurus is strictly against the Gurmat philosophy. It is Thakur Puja, a pure Brahmanical ritual, which is prohibited by Sikhs.
(iii) Parsad is later distributed to the Sangat equally and without discrimination. When a Sikh gets Parsad he bows to the Guru to thank him for this favor and then eats the Parsad.
(iv) The reader will have already understood the answer as to why Parsad is not given to the Gurus. To restate it, Parsad is not given in the name of the deceased Panj Pyaras who were chosen by the Guru on the day of Baisakhi in 1699. Parsad is given to the Panj Pyaras chosen for the purpose from the Sangat sitting in the Guru Darbar at that time. There is no question of giving Parsad to a person or persons (whether the Panj Pyaras chosen by the Guru or the Gurus themselves) who are no longer present in body form in the Sangat for receiving the Parsad. Offerings made in the name of deceased people do not benefit them and this practice was, therefore, prohibited by Guru Nanak. NOTE: Incidentally it may also be mentioned here that it is wrong to bring Langar in a plate to the Guru Darbar for a Bhog ceremony as mentioned above. The Guru Granth does not eat anything. It is against the Sikh philosophy to put kirpan into the Langar (anyway you cannot do it. How will you do it to the chapatis or water which is yet to come out of the tap? Also, more Langar is being cooked while it is being served to the Sangat.) What we ignore is that Langar already belongs to the Guru; it makes no sense to request the Guru to accept the Langar. Parsad is offered to the Guru Darbar by a Sikh or Sikhs; putting kirpan into it symbolisms its acceptance by the Guru which is done after the recitation of the hymn. For the Langar, we merely do Ardas; we request the permission of the Guru for its distribution to the Sangat so they can partake of it.
7. I have been an Amritdhari for the past 8 years, I do my Banis regularly, but the confusion I face is how am I going to be united with the Satguru?
(i) You already have been graced by the Satguru. You have been bestowed with Amrit. When you read Bani, you actually are talking to the Guru. These Gurbani words were actually uttered by the Guru. Assume that Satguru is sitting before a blind man. Satguru is speaking and he is listening. Is not that man united with the Guru? Yew, he is communicating with the Guru but without seeing his body. Even when a person has eyes, communication is through words only. Guru is the sea of virtues and they are revealed through his words and height of his physical body. Gurbani is Guru. When you read it, you directly listen to the Guru. You try to understand the meaning and directions of Gurbani and follow them to live your life. In case you need help to learn the interpretation of Gurbani, you may read any translation. The one by Prof. Sahib Singh, Guru Granth Darpan, is very suitable for a seeker as it logically explains Gurbani in special section to answer such questions as Nam Japna, Guru, God, and to understand their virtues. Also, if convenient you may consult some scholar for learning the meanings of Gurbani. Some Sikhs say that translation and guides are only a help. When you listen to Kirtan attentively with your mind fixed on the Almighty, many complicated philosophies become clear because you are turned to the Guru and directly listening to him. The message is also revealed to the listener directly when one recites Gurbani with love and ones mind is drenched in the thought presented by the hymn.
(ii) Sometimes the meanings of Gurbani hymns are distorted by opportunists to misguide the Sikhs. For example: Sight of the Guru removes all sins and helps one to meet God. ((Guru Granth Sahib) Page 915)
Sight of the Guru saves one from the cycle of birth and death. ((Guru Granth Sahib) Page 1018)
Fake gurus quote such hymns to say that one gets mukti by seeing the guru. It is a wrong interpretation of the above hymns. The meaning of seeing is not just looking at the guru, but listening to the advice of the Guru and obeying it. The true meaning of the word Darshan is explained in another hymn. The whole world looks at the true Guru. By just looking at the Guru, one does not qualify for Mukti; one achieves that status only by understanding and following the Word (message) of the Guru. In our routine dialogue we use this phrase quite often. When we say, I want to see you. It means that one wants to discuss some topic with the person and not just to have a look at that person. Some self-made false gurus pick up such references (as mentioned above) from Gurbani and misguide naive people by distorting their meaning and message. They make their followers believe that they themselves are the Guru, (not the Gurbani which they quote) and their darsan will attract followers and extract money from them. If just looking at the face of the Guru could benefit a follower, then Prithi Chand and Ram Rai would not have gone astray. Being sons of the Guru, they watched the Guru every day, very closely and for many years. They enjoyed the lap of the Guru. However, despite the close darsans of the Guru, they committed intolerable acts and were eventually cast out of the Sikh faith by the Gurus. How can a follower benefit the darsans of a modern fake guru?
8. What does Guru Granth Sahib tell about Yoga?
Yoga is an independent faith and probably the oldest Indian faith. The mission of a yogi is to be a Sidh, one who has realized the ultimate and is able to perform miracles. Guru Nanak is said to have had two serious long discussions with them, one in the snow-covered peaks of Himalayas and the other in village Achal near Batala, Punjab. Guru Nanak Dev has written Sidh Gosht, which is the summary of his spiritual dialogue with them. He criticized their practice of remaining Jati, celibate, and claiming superiority over the family men. He did not agree with their philosophy of faith. He rejected them. There are four hymns in Jap Jee advising yogis to practice the right kind of life rather than believing in their rituals and miracles. He also said that yoga is not the right path for achieving the mission of human life and neither is the path of miracles (of which yogis are proud) the path of holy people. ((Guru Granth Sahib) Page 6)
Sikhs do not follow the path of any kind of yoga. Guru says listening to Gurbani is the true yoga. Kundalni gets awakened (the mission is achieved) by being in Gurmat Sangat.
9. In Christianity they say Jesus Christ is the only savior. You say Guru Nanak is the only savior. What is the difference?
Let the readers first know what made a participant at the Sikh youth camp (Singapore, Samelan 1994) ask this question. A couple of Sikh youth during free time discussed with me how some you born in Sikh families get misguided by Christian propaganda. Christian missionaries tell Sikhs that unless they believe in Jesus and become Christians they will go to Hell. They say that Christ died for sinners and took their sins upon himself. Christ is the only savior; those, who believe in him, will be saved and others will suffer in Hell. The Sikh youth wanted the author to explain to the participants at the Samelan how Guru Nanak will save them if they practice the Sikh faith. Accordingly the message of Guru Nanak Dev, living the Sewa-Simran life, was explained. Some opinions of Western scholars (see Question 1, Chapter II) were mentioned in the talk to explain the relevance of the Sikh faith to the modern day life. In the end, it was concluded that Guru Nanak Dev, because of his message of one common God for whole humanity and equality of all people, is the savior of all mankind and not just of the Sikhs. The above question was asked at the end of that lecture.
To answer this question let me repeat the Christian statement told to the youth Those who believe in Christ as the only Son of God who sacrificed his life for taking over the sins of the people, will be saved by him (Christ) and permitted entry into Heaven. However, Gurbani says that nobody can claim a sole proprietorship on God, he is the common Father for all of us. A person can love Him by any Name, Ram, Allah, Guru or Gobind. To be saved, one has to live life free from vices. Guru Nanak does not say you believe in me and I will save you. Rather he says one cannot be saved by anyone else. One has to live the right kind of life to be saved by the Lord. ((Guru Granth Sahib) Page 134)
Gurbani gives guidance to overcome vices, and thus help one to save oneself from them. If by sacrificing one can take on himself the sins of the would-be followers, then Sikh Gurus are the most entitled holy persons to save people from Hell. Guru Arjun Dev, Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh along with all his four sons and his mother sacrificed their lives for protecting the human rights of the poor and weak. Thousands of Sikhs gave their lives for the same cause. Further, Sikhism rejects the existence of places called Heaven and Hell. It tells living the life of love for God and His people is living in Heaven. Forgetting God and suffering from vices is being in Hell while in this life, not after death. No prophet, Christ or any other holy man, can save anyone. One has to live a virtuous life to be saved, not just believe in one or another prophet. This is the message of Guru Nanak for the people all over the world.