Sikh Dharma

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Himanshu Bhatt

Guru Nanak founded Sikhism. He was followed by a succession of nine more Gurus, the pontifical tradition ending with Guru Gobind Singh. Sikhism accepts only one God endowed with the power māyā, the creator of the universe. Māyā has the peculiar power of concealing God and give rise to five evils noted below:

  1. Kama - lust
  2. Krodha - anger
  3. Lobha - greed
  4. Moha - infatuation
  5. Ahankāra - ego.

"The most honoured names in Hindu history, above even those of the heroes, are the names of seers, sages, saints, and mystics like Vyāsa, Vālmiki, Yajnavalkya, the Buddha, Bhagvān Mahāvira, Śankara, Ramanuja, Gorakhnāth, Kabir, Nānak, Tulsidas, Mira, Ramakrishna, Raman : to mention only the most notable in a galaxy of great names."

So "the kinship of the religions of India stems from the fact that Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs look back to Hinduism as their common mother."[1] The Sikh tradition was started by Guru Nanak or Nanakdas in the Punjab as an attempt to unify worshipers of God and end religious conflicts caused by differences. Guru Nanak has been described as a "Hindu Sufi" by scholar N.D. Ahuja in his The Great Guru Nanak and the Muslims.[2]

Scholars R.V. Russell and R.B.H. Lai in their text Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India,[3] wrote that the Hindus under fanatical Mughal law found it convenient to be Hindus under the teacher Nanak because they worshiped the One God. Although the Sikhs were peaceful towards the Muslims, the Islamic people still wanted to get rid of Sikhism. On 13 Azar His Majesty traveled towards Goindwal on elephant back. Crossing the Beas River he camped with his armies in Guru Arjan's place. Guru Arjan Dev is a well-known Hindu preacher and His Majesty was extremely glad to have met the Guru.

As Gurbachan Singh once proclaimed : "The responsibilities assigned from time to time to prophets like Noah, Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, Kabir, Nānak and Dayal have now been put on shoulders by my predecessor Bābā Avtar Singh." Sikhism recognizes the damaged caused by militant Islamic people that invaded the country. "Having attacked Khuraasaan, Babar terrified Hindustan".[4]

There are also Hindus that believe in the teachings of Nanak obviously, as Hindus view Nanak not as a beginner of anything new but a re-teller of the true principles. There are Hindu groups that hold Nanak Patshah as their guru. For example, Mirchandanis along with many Amils and Bhaibunds migrated to Sind from Punjab and are Guru Nanak’s Sikhs disciples in addition to being Hindu.

Following of Hindu principles

Followers of the Sikh Panth also practice many Hindu principles. Many Sikhs still follow icons such as Ravidas the Bhakti period devotee of God. Almost all of them has been written in Guru Granth Sahib by Vaishnava saints. Sant Kabir had said that Guru Nanak and his followers were followers of the "Nirguṇa Sampradāya" or "formless-God sect."

Four Pursuits

Sikhs believe in the Law of Karma. Many Sikh gurus even aimed to achieve Mokṣa, a union with God - hence they practiced Hinduism. The Guru Granth Sahib states, "Dharma, Artha, Kām and Mokṣa follow God's devotee like a shadow."[5] Sikhism heavily bases itself on Karma yoga (the science of actions) and states that if an individual acts only on good deeds, selfless acts with a pure devotion to God, they can achieve the ultimate state of existence.

Māyā

According to Veda Vyāsa the earth is created from the dead remains of demons who were vanquished by the gods. This concept can be understood if one looks into the philosophy of māyā, this however is not the purpose of this paper. This concept of the earth's creation is restated in the Dasma Granth, "Chaupai 14". The Tenth Guru made it easier for the common layman to comprehend this philosophy by putting it in a less abstract form.

Scriptures

Many Sikhs also read Hindu scripture. For example, at Dhamana, resident Kashmir Singh says about his baba:

"He never spoke against anyone's religion. Every year we used to have a reading of the Guru Granth Sahib and the Gitā together. A lot of people did not like that. It is true he wrote the Bhavsāgar Granth, but that was not to belittle anyone else's faith. Tell me, if the police are interested in justice, why don't they arrest the people who burned our Granth or looted the Bhaniara Dera?"

Temples

Many Sikhs also visit Hindu temples and worship God or Akal in the form of a Hindu god. In the entire Guru Granth Sahib, the Vedas are respected and referred to as sacred. Guru Gobind Singh states that the Vedas originated from Brahmā and the path of the Vedas is the only path for the people to follow.

Iconography and customs

The "Chaupai 197", states "Brahma char he ved banaie Sarab lowg tih karam chale" translating as "Brahma created the Vedas For all people to follow. Guru Gobind Singh even goes further to state that the Vedas came from the mouth of God: Chaupai 24 Disa vidi sayan jimi asman Chatur ved kathyn karan purana. All directions or religions, actions and the sky, so says the Wise One (God) All came from the four Vedas so says the Purāṇas.

Further similarities between Sikhs and Hindus are evident in practices and rituals of the Sikh Gurus. It is a documented fact that Guru Nanak worshiped Krishna. Guru Nānak also recited the famous ārti[6] of Ek Omkar which he composed in praise of Lord Jaganath of Puri. He also went on pilgrimage to Badri Nath which is sacred to Hindus. Guru Tegh Bahadur, tn pilgrimage to Jwālāmukhi in Kangra. Guru Gobind Singh worshiped Durga and fought the mughals to free Ayodhya Masjid.[7] Guru Ramdas wore a Vaishnava tilak on his forehead.

The name of 'Singh' is adopted from the Rajputs.[8] The Kirpāṇ[9] is also adopted from the martial tradition of the Rajputs carrying the Kaṭār. The turban is a common headdress of the Hindu people of India and is not exclusively Sikh. The turban was actually worn by many spiritual Hindu figures such as Swami Jalārāma, Swami Vivekananda and many others. The concept of uncut hair was introduced by the tenth Guru and not before.

Being recognized as Hindu

Even though many believe that Sikhism had been founded and was meant to be founded as a separate religion from both Islam and Hinduism, many people including Sanātan Sikhi believe that Guru Nanak went about to found the "Sanātan Sikh Dharma" rather than a separate religion.

"On 13 Azar His Majesty traveled towards Goindwal on elephant back. Crossing the river Beas he camped with his armies in Guru Arjan's place, Guru Arjan Dev is a well-known Hindu preacher and His Majesty was extremely glad to have met the Guru."

The intolerant Mujaddid could not let the Sikhs go unpunished because to all intents & purposes he considered the Sikhs as dangerous Hindus and complained that they had constructed a big Gurdwara in Thanezar.[10] This is what Emperor Jahangir wrote in his diary called the "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri", which translates to "Memoirs of Jahangir" "In Gobindwal, which is on the river Biyãh (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations of spiritual successors they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam. Sikhism too recognizes that this world is Maya and that one has to strive to achieve the truth. Sikhism[11] sees lust, greed, anger, attachment and pride as evil as the Bhagavad Gitā[12] too declares.

Following Hindu traditions

The Sikhs follow many Hindu traditions including carrying Hindu names, celebrating Hindu festivals and even praying in Hindu temples. For example, Sikhs celebrate Diwali as well as mainstream Hindus.

Most Sikhs also show respect to their elders by bowing down to them. For example, if an uncle or an older cousin, or even an older visitor is met, they will bow down to them. Many Sikhs too, like many Hindus as entering their home, pay respects to the essence of God Almighty in the "Dwar" or step. Most Sikhs also believe in avatars as the sons of Guru Nanak, Siri Chand (a Yogi) is believed by Sikhs to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva, while Nanak Patshah's second son, Lakshmi Chand is believed to be of Lord Vishnu.[4] Even Hindu figures whom the Hindus do not regard as avatars, the Sikhs do; Jalhandara of Vishnu and according to the Sanatan Sikhi Dasam Guru Durbar text, Valmiki is of Lord Brahma in the material world.[5]

Worship of Hindu gods

Near the end of "Chandi Charitra I", (Dasam Granth, written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji), occurs this well known shabad:

O Shiva (God addressed in the form of Shiva), grant me this boon,
that I may never avoid doing a good deed,
never fear the enemy when I go into battle,
but surely go on to victory;
that I may teach myself this greed alone,
to sing only of thy praises.
and when the last days of my life come,
I may die in the mighty field of battle.

As can betold from the "Chandi Charitra I" portion of the Ad Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh is a devoted person to Hindu deities. The name "Chandi Charitra I" indicates that he is a Shakta bhagat.

He wrote in the Sikh text, "I do not praise or hail Ganesh nor do I let the thought of Vishnu or any incarnations of Vishnu enter my mind. I know of their existence, but I do not ever worship them. May my prayers and thoughts always be in the immaculate, holy feet of the Lord (the one and only.)" So he worshiped Goddess Durga with great devotion while believing that the other deities recieved from the Mother Goddess Durga. "Request" Sri bhagauti ji sahe May Sri Bhagauti Ji be always on our side. Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki Patshahi 10 The ode of Sri Bhagauti as sung by the Tenth Master. Pritham bhagauti simari kai gur nanak lain dhiai First call up Bhagauti in your mind, then meditate on Guru Nanak.

Well-known Sikh devotees

Hardyal Singh M.A., a famous Punjabi revolutionary during the time of the British Raj, said that "If you were to remove every page that contained the name of Bithal or Ram from the Granth, you will be left with nothing more than a few pages and the book case." The Guru Granth Sahib clearly states that Bithal is the Lord.

Guru Arjun, who compiled the Granth Sahib, writes in the fifth Granth "O God you are as great as you adopted the form of Vamana [fifth incarnation of Vishnu], you are also Ram Chandra [seventh incarnation of Vishnu] but you have no form or outline." This "no form or outline" concept can also be found in the Divine Manifestations, the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna states He has a form and is beyond form. Guru Arjun goes on to make references to Narsimha [fourth avatar], Warha [second avatar], Krishna [eight avatar] and Kach [third avatar].

It is well known, especially from reading the Ad Guru Granth Sahib that Guru Nanak was a worshiper of Lord Rama; Lord Rama was his Akal. Guru Gobind Singh was a militant Sanatan Sikhi. To avenge the death of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur, he created a strong Sikh force and created a powerful threat to Islamists.

Maharajah Ranjit Singh was a worshipper of Baba Balak Nath[13] and Durga. Hari Singh Nalwa, the General of Maharajah Ranjit Singh was also a worshiper of Baba Balak Nath and Durga. The royal families of Faridkot, Nabha and Patiala are all of Sikh nobility. They all engaged Brahmin priests and Hindu temples were built for family use. Maharajah Pupinder Singh offered bali[14] of a water buffalo to the temple of Kali in Patiala which he built. Every year the Maharajah of Patiala donates a nose ring and gold bracelet to the River Sarsa which is directed by the Brahmin priests and in accordance to Hindu traditions.

Reference is made to the avatars of Vishnu in the Granth Sahib. There are ten major avatars referred to as the Dasha Avatars, there are fourteen minor avatars as well. All these avatars are recognized in the Guru Granth Sahib even if Hindus of different sects may not recognize them all. The Dasma Granth deals with all the avatars beginning on page 169. Volume two of the Dasma Granth is exclusively based on Kṛṣṇa. It is accepted that Guru Gobind Singh was a staunch believer in Durga Mata[15] as many of his hymns such as 'Deh Vo Śiva' are directed towards Śiva[16] In the modern times, there was the Sanātan Sikh Baba Sundar Singh Ji Nirmala.[17]

Important quotes

Person English Punjabi
Guru Nanak Some sing the praise of His power -- He is all powerful, omnipotent. Some sing of His benefaction and munificence -- He is the supreme giver. Some sing of the glory of His attributes, His beauty -- He is the most beautiful. Some cll Him truth, some call Him Shiva, some call Him the beautiful.
Guru Gobind Singh There I worshiped and did penance to seek Kali.
Taha hum adhik tapasya sadhi
Mahakal kalika aradhi
Guru Gobind Singh The story of Ram is immortal and everyone should read it. Ram went to heaven along with the whole city. Whoever listens to or sings His story, will be free of sin and sorrow.
Ram katha jug jug atal
Sab koi bhakhat net Suragbas Raghuver kara
Sagri puri samet Jo en Katha sune aur gaave
Dukh pap tah nikat na aave
Guru Gobind Singh The Khalsa sect will roar around the world. Hinduism will awaken, its enemies will flee.
Sakal jagat main Khalsa Panth gaje
Jage dharam Hindu sakal bhand bhaje
Guru Tegh Bahadur Hindus, do not fear, Guru Tegh Bahadur is Guru Nanak's successor. If Muslims bother you, I'll take care of them. For I am the protector of Hinduism.
Kahaiya Hinduan daro na ab tum
Im likho pathon dil sain Guru Nanak ki gadi par
Ab hain Tegh Bahadur Unko jo Muhummadi kar lihoon
To ham hain sab sadar Arya Dharma rakhak pragatiyo hain
Guru Tegh Bahadur My religion is Hindu and how can I abandon what is so dear to me? This religion helps you in this world and that, and only a fool would abandon it. God himself is the protector of this religion and no one can destroy it.
Tin te sun Siri Tegh Bahadur
Dharam nibaahan bikhe Bahadur Uttar bhaniyo, dharam hum Hindu
Atipriya ko kin karen nikandu Lok parlok ubhaya sukhani
Aan napahant yahi samani Mat mileen murakh mat loi
Ise tayage pramar soi Hindu dharam rakhe jag mahin
Tumre kare bin se it nahin

Sikh-Hindu iconography

Sikhs and mainstream Hindus also share many common symbols.

Sikh Dhwaj

LIke other religions Similar to the "Bhagwā Dhwaj" the Sikh flag is triangular and saffron in color.

Saffron color

Balpreet Singh has then proceeded to use the Bhat Vehis as a source for his justification of blue not only being an acceptable color[18] but one which received special significance for the Khālsā.[19]

Bhai Amritpal Singh has said: "Furthermore, when Guru Gobind Singh Ji left for his heavenly abode, he was also in saffron[20] attire. 'Gur Bilaas Paatshaahee 10' written by Bhai Kuyer Singh clearly mentions the colour of Guru Ji's clothing, when he left for the 'Sachkhand' ": -

"Aap Snaan Karyo Sah Kesan, Kesree Khyom Patam Pahraaye."

From the foregoing analysis of various texts, we can conclude that Guru Gobind Singh Ji wore clothing of various colors and that to assert that he wore only blue attire after the inauguration of the Khalsā in 1699 is wholly incorrect.

Omkāra

The Praṇava or Omkār symbolized the Lord Supreme. It is a Sanskrit syllable which writes as "aum." The Sikhs call the One God as "Ek Oñkāra".

Tilak

Bhai Buddha, who raised the four gurus from Guru Amardas to Guru Hargobind, put the tilak on their foreheads.[21] Balwan and Setta wrote:

Nanak placed the Guru's canopy over Angad's heads, and they drank the nectar [nam amrit] by singing the Lord's praise, He placed the soul-illuminating, all-powerful sword of the gurbani in his mind. He put the tilak mark of authority on his forehead.[22]

Amritsar

The holiest pilgrimage site for the Sikh is Amritsar which is where the Prag Raj lies. It is a confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the subterranean Saraswati, the most sacred place of pilgrimage. It refers to the confluence within of the Ida, the Pingla and the Suśumna, the three channels as they join together at the sacred pool of Amritsar,[23] Here the pilgrim-soul, free from trappings, gets completely purified and shines in its own radiance.

Chobis Avatār

Chobis Avatār accounts of twenty-four incarnations of the Viṣṇu, according to the Hindus, and Brahmavatār and Rudrāvtār, selected because of their warlike character. This is the name given to the seventh Bani in the second holy scriptures of the Sikhs called the Dasam Granth. This text spans from page 643 to page 1343 of the 1478 pages[24] for this holy book of the Sikhs.[25]

Chaubis Avtār, a collection of twenty four legendary tales of twenty-four incarnations of the Viṣṇu, forms a part of Bachitra Nātak in Guru Gobind Singh's Dasam Granth. The complete work contains a total of 4,371 verse units of which 3,356 are accounted for by Rāmavtar and Kṛṣṇavtār. The shortest is Baudh Avatār comprising of three quatrains and the longest is Kṛṣṇavtār with 2,492 verse units, mostly quatrains. The introductory thirty-eight chaupais or quatrains refer to the Supreme Being as unborn, invisible but certainly immanent in all the objects. Whenever evil predominates, saviors of the humanity or avatars emerge by His hukam.[26] They fulfill His will and purpose. Kāl Puruṣa who creates them ultimately subsumes them all in himself. The poet asserts his monotheistic belief here and while enumerating the avatars discountenances any possibility of their being accepted as the Supreme Being. In the epilogue to one of the episodes in Kṛṣṇavtār occurs a statement repudiating the worship of popular deities like Gaṇesh, Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu.[27]

The Supreme Being, called in the Guru's authentic idiom, Mahākāl[28] is acknowledged as the succorer to whom prayer is made to keep operative the defensive might and dispensing of charity. Thus is set forth the basic principle of the Sikh faith amid a long literary exercise. The poet asserts that he, having descended from the martial Kṣatriyas, cannot think of adopting the attitude of a recluse towards the disturbed conditions of his time. The greater part of the tales of Rāmavtār and Kṛṣṇavtār are taken up with battle scenes evoked through many alliterative devices with the clash and clang of arms constantly reproduced. At the close of Kṛṣṇavtār, in a kind of postscript, is proclaimed the warrior's creed, which is ever "to remember God, to contemplate holy war; and unmindful of the destruction of the perishable body, to embark the boat of noble repute." The poet has thus extracted the element of heroism from the prevalent stories without projecting the attitude of a worshiper with the sole purpose of inspiring his followers with the resolve to fight for Dharma.[29] Chaubis Avtār does not appear to be the work of one period. It was a long project which was in execution for a decade or more. While Kṛṣṇavtār is stated in verse 2,49091 to have been composed in Samvat 1745[30] at Paonta when Guru Gobind Singh was residing there, Rāmavtār, according to verses 86061 was composed at Anandpur in Samvat 1755/AD 1698 near the temple of Nainadevi, close to the bank of the River Sutlej.

Another component of the Chaubis Autar is Nihkalankāvtar which is a sustained expression of appearance of Nihkalank who would destroy evil and establish righteousness. An interesting phenomenon observable in Kṛṣṇavtār is the sliding of the poet from Kṛṣṇa's mythical career into his own contemporary scene. Among the heroes mentioned some bear medieval Rajput names;[31] some Muslims like Nahar Khan, Tahir Khan and Sher Khan. In verse 1602 'Malechh' which was the pejorative term used for Muslims is used. The name of the city of Delhi appears, which is an anachronism. Such anachronisms indicate how the poet's consciousness was touched by the turmoil in contemporary Mughal times. The texture of the language is neo-classical Braj. The poet has employed a variety of metres, and made them responsive to the passing moods or emotions and changing situations. The metres are alternately short and long in consonance with the increasing and lessening of the fury of battle. Blank verse in Punjabi has been inserted for the first time by the poet in the Sirkhand metre[32] Punjabi words keep cropping up as in the heading of a Kṛṣṇavtār episode lukmichan[33] and in referring to a king condemned to be incarnated as a lizard. At one place in Rāmavtār[34] Persian words are blended with Hindi to make rekhta: the language that was the precursor of modern Urdu. The range of vocabulary thus becomes vast and varied.

The second largest work within Dasam Guru Durbar covering 5297 verses, it recounts the 24 incarnations of Viṣṅu:

  1. Machh
  2. Kachh
  3. Rudra
  4. Jallandar
  5. Bisan
  6. Sheshmai
  7. Arihant
  8. Dev
  9. Manu Raj
  10. Dhanantar
  11. Nar
  12. Nārāyaṇ
  13. Mohini
  14. Varaha
  15. Narsingha
  16. Baman
  17. Parshurām
  18. Brahma
  19. Suraj
  20. Chandra
  21. Rām Krishan
  22. Arjan
  23. Buddha
  24. Nehklanki (Kalki

The entire chapter is very narrative and speaks Dharam always being protected by the Almighty and how this has occurred through the various eras. The section covering Krishan Mahāraj, Ram and Nehklanki are the longest. Each Avtār brings with him a special technique or method of warfare to defeat the enemy he is facing. It is this aspect that appeals to the Akali Nihang Singh Khālsā as much of this forms the basis for the higher martial art skills within Shastar Vidiya. The avtārs can be categorized as being either:

  1. Shastardhari - using weapons and battle techniques to uphold Dharam, [i.e., Narsingha]
  2. Shāstardhari - using wisdom to overcome unrighteousness [i.e., Buddha]
  3. Kalyaandhari - who change their environment through great deeds, [i.e., Machh.]

The ballad enforces the view that although each Avtār has great powers and carried out great deeds, they all succumbed to egotism. The 'ātma'[35] of these great beings still derived its strength from 'Parmātma'.[36] The chapter also reinforces the Sanātan Sikh philosophy than none other than the Almighty Nirankar[37] God is to be worshiped.

Following the Chaubis Avtār are 2 ballads:

  1. Brahm Avtār - It is 343 verses.
  2. Rudra Avtār - It is 498 verses.

The first of these described the egotism within Brahmā and how excessive vanity lead to his 7 incarnations on Earth:

  1. Balmik
  2. Kashyap
  3. Śukra
  4. Bṛahaspati
  5. Vyās
  6. Sastrodhaarak
  7. Kalidas

In the second section, the lives of 2 incarnations of Rudra, also known as Śiva.</ref> are described namely, Dattātreya and Parsnaath. Rudra, as his counterpart Brahma also was the victim of excessive uncontrolled ego and was banished to Earth by taking the form of the 2 incarnations. Forty-five km from Nahan lies Paonta Sahib on the western banks of river Yamuna. It is believed that Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru had lost his Paonta[38] here while taking bath in Yamuna River. Thence onward, this place is known as Paonta Sahib.[39]

See also

External resources

References

  1. Religions of the World S. Vernon McCasland, Grace E. Cairns, David C. Yu
  2. The Great Guru Nanak and Muslims P. 46
  3. The Great Guru Nanak and Muslims P. 278.
  4. Rag Asa, pg. 360.
  5. Guru Granth Sahib 1320
  6. It is the song of worship.
  7. It is the controversial mosque of Ayodhya.
  8. It is a martial race.
  9. It means a dagger.
  10. Letter no. 92
  11. Guru Granth Sahib 480 [1]
  12. Bhagavad Gitā 5:23
  13. He is the patron saint of Kangra.
  14. Bali means sacrifice.
  15. It means Mother Goddess.
  16. He is not the male god but his female consort also known as Shakti or Devi who at times is referred to by His name.
  17. [2].
  18. This color as stated, I cannot see being contested in the works of Amrit Pal Singh.
  19. It is addressed below.
  20. Saffron means 'Kesree'.
  21. Cole, William Owen, P. 104, The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs
  22. Cole, William Owen, P. 104, The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs
  23. It is also called as Aab-e-Hayat amongst Sikh Community.
  24. At the www.gobindsadan.org site
  25. The original text is over 1428 pages.
  26. It is the order to re-establish righteousness.
  27. Chaubis Avtar, verses 43440
  28. It means the Supreme Lord of Time.
  29. It means to uphold the righteousness.
  30. It is approximately 1688 CE.
  31. These names are Gaj Singh, Dhan Singh, Surat Singh.
  32. Chaubis Avtar, Ramavtar chapter, verses 46770
  33. It means hide and seek.
  34. Chaubis Avtār verse 65768
  35. It means soul.
  36. It is the Highest of all Souls [i.e., the Almighty.]
  37. It is formless.
  38. It means ring.
  39. [3]