Uniqueness of Sikhi – The Path of Gurmat
Guru Nanak (1469-1539) gave the world a new path (Sikhi) for spiritual fulfilment to uplift the soul to merge with Kartar – the Creator Lord. Sikhi is the youngest of the major world religions. The word Sikh means learner, and Sikhi means continuous learning following Gurmat (Guru’s wisdom) till the soul is enlightened and merges completely in the Creator. The western scholars called it Sikhism, may be to compare with Hinduism or Buddhism, but in the spiritual parlance of Sikhs, it’s known as Sikhi or Gursikhi. Sikhi is unique and different from Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. Sikhi has distinct scriptures, processes, ceremonies, customs, symbols, flag, code-of-conduct, and identity. Sikhs can be easily identified by the uncut hair, long beard, nicely tied turbans etc. But surprisingly the Sikhs are confused with Hindus or Muslims most of the times in the western world.
From the ancient times the humans have worshiped Kartar in different ways. Depending upon the level of civilization, knowledge, experiences, and day to day needs of the society, humans devised some rules, customs, traditions, scriptures etc. These kept on changing as humanity grew and became more organized, developed, and civilized. There have been many scriptures – four Vedas, six Shastras, 28 Simritees, 18 Puranas, the ancient Buddhist texts. Even the followers of these scriptures, preferred different texts over the other in different times.
The language of these texts was Sanskrit, which very few could read or comprehend. The message of these texts was not cohesive. Due to many theoretical differences in the texts, there were many religious sects and sub sects in the society – Shaiv (worshipers of Shiva), Vaishnav (worshipers of Vishnu), Shakat (worshipers of Shakti or Durga), Tantrics, Yogis (twelve sub-sects – Adi, Ayee, Gorakh, Balak etc.), Saniyasis (ten sub-sects like Puri, Giri, Bharati, Dandi, Sarswati etc.). There were multiple sects of Buddhism and Jainism.
With the foreign invaders came the Islam, which had multiple sects – Sunni, Shia, Rafzi, Imamshafi, Sufis etc. There were so many religions, sects, with different theories and practices, which caused confusion, fights, riots etc. People followed various paths whatever suited their lifestyle and convenience.
Importance of Scriptures
The scripture is supposed to be the guiding principles in the spiritual progress. If we keep switching between various scriptures to justify our actions for personal convenience, then there will not be a clear and cohesive set of principles to follow. So, it is very important for the practitioner to settle on the scripture, which gives the cohesive, non-discriminatory message applicable equally to all, which can be applied in real life.
ਤੁਰਕ ਤਰੀਕਤਿ ਜਾਨੀਐ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ॥
The Muslim is the one who follows Trikat (Muslim way of life); Hindu is the one who follows Vedas and Puraanas.
ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੫॥
To instruct their minds, people ought to study some sort of spiritual wisdom. ||5||
ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਗਹੁ ਮੀਤਾ ॥
Follow the Guru’s Teachings, and implant the Lord’s Name in the mind, O friend (pandit).
ਪ੍ਰਣਵੈ ਨਾਮਾ ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਗੀਤਾ ॥੫॥੨॥੬॥
Thus, prays Naam Dev, and so says your Gita as well. ||5||2||6||
ਕਹਤ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵਉ ॥
Says Kabeer, I sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, who is pervading everywhere;
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਦੋਊ ਸਮਝਾਵਉ ॥੪॥੪॥੧੩॥
I teach both Hindus and Muslims (to do the same). ||4||4||13||
ਸਾਧੋ ਰਾਮ ਸਰਨਿ ਬਿਸਰਾਮਾ ॥
Holy Saadhus: rest and peace (from worldly wanderings) are in the Sanctuary of the Lord.
ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਪੜੇ ਕੋ ਇਹ ਗੁਨ ਸਿਮਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Studying the Vedas and the Puraanas is beneficial only, if you (follow the teachings to) meditate on the Name of the Lord. ||1||Pause||
Gurmat acknowledges and respects other faiths
There are many shabads (hymns) in Gurbani, referring to the ideology and scriptures of other faiths, which Guru’s used during dialogues with the people of the other faiths, to remind them, what their scriptures were saying, and what deeds they were actually doing. Unlike the other religions, Sikhi does not seek to convert others to Sikhi. There is no mandate for the Sikhs to influence the people of other faiths to convert to Sikhi. The spiritual path is the path of love and devotion to the Lord. We cannot not fill the mind with love and devotion using force or incentives. It must come from within us, with our own deliberate actions for the spiritual progress.
Giving due respect and acknowledging others’ choices, beliefs, customs, values does not mean you also believe in them. We can have different beliefs and faiths; and can disagree with each other in civilized manner by giving due respect, without degrading or abusing others. Gurmat acknowledges and respects the spiritual paths taken by the people of other faiths.
ਕੋਈ ਬੋਲੈ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਕੋਈ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥
Some recite Lords Name as, ‘Raam, Raam’, and some call Him, ‘Khudaa-i’.
ਕੋਈ ਸੇਵੈ ਗੁਸਈਆ ਕੋਈ ਅਲਾਹਿ ॥੧॥
Some serve Him as ‘Gusain’ (master of the creation), others as ‘Allaah’. ||1||
ਕਾਰਣ ਕਰਣ ਕਰੀਮ ॥
O’ Cause of causes, the Generous Lord!
ਕਿਰਪਾ ਧਾਰਿ ਰਹੀਮ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Hey Merciful Lord, please shower Your Grace and Mercy upon us. ||1||Pause||
ਕੋਈ ਨਾਵੈ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਕੋਈ ਹਜ ਜਾਇ ॥
Some bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, and some make the pilgrimage to Mecca.|
ਕੋਈ ਕਰੈ ਪੂਜਾ ਕੋਈ ਸਿਰੁ ਨਿਵਾਇ ॥੨॥
Some perform devotional worship (pooja), and some bow their heads in prayer (Namaaz). ||2||
ਕੋਈ ਪੜੈ ਬੇਦ ਕੋਈ ਕਤੇਬ ॥
Some read the Vedas, and some the Abrahamic books – Koran, Bible, Torah etc.
ਕੋਈ ਓਢੈ ਨੀਲ ਕੋਈ ਸੁਪੇਦ ॥੩॥
Some wear blue robes (Muslims), and some wear white (Hindus). ||3||
ਕੋਈ ਕਹੈ ਤੁਰਕੁ ਕੋਈ ਕਹੈ ਹਿੰਦੂ ॥
Some call themselves Muslim, and some call themselves Hindu.
ਕੋਈ ਬਾਛੈ ਭਿਸਤੁ ਕੋਈ ਸੁਰਗਿੰਦੂ ॥੪॥
Some yearn for Paradise, and others long for Swarag (heaven). ||4||
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨਿ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ॥
Says Nanak, one who realizes the Hukam (Order) of God’s Will,
ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕਾ ਤਿਨਿ ਭੇਦੁ ਜਾਤਾ ॥੫॥੯॥
knows the secrets of his Lord and Master, and knows how to connect with Him. ||5||9||
Gurmat rejects the superiority claims of Islam and Hinduism
Gurmat rejects the claims of superiority of religion or faith. Forcing our own beliefs and faith on others is in no way a civilized behavior. This was happening in India in the 15-16th centuries. Muslims believed Islam is superior to Hinduism and Hindus were arguing Hinduism is superior. Muslim rulers were forcing Islam on the Hindus and Hindus were looking at Islam with disgust.
Bhai Gurdas ji documents the clash between Hindu and Muslim, which was common that time.
ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨਿ ਚਾਰਿ ਮਜਹਬਾਂ ਜਗਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੇ।
There are four castes of Hindus and four sects of Muslims in the world.
ਖੁਦੀ ਬਖੀਲਿ ਤਕਬਰੀ ਖਿੰਚੋਤਾਣ ਕਰੇਨਿ ਧਿਙਾਣੇ।
The members of both religions are selfish, jealous, proud, bigoted and violent towards each other.
ਗੰਗ ਬਨਾਰਸਿ ਹਿੰਦੂਆਂ ਮਕਾ ਕਾਬਾ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੇ।
The Hindus make pilgrimage to Ganga, Hardvar and Banaras, the Muslim to the Kaba of Mecca.
ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣ ਦੀ ਤਿਲਕ ਜੰਞੂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਲੋਭਾਣੇ।
Circumcision is dear to the Muslims; forehead mark (tilak) and Janjhu (sacred thread) to the Hindus.
ਰਾਮ ਰਹੀਮ ਕਹਾਇਦੇ ਇਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੁਇ ਰਾਹ ਭੁਲਾਣੇ।
The Hindus invoke Ram, the Muslims, Rahim, but in reality, there is only One God.
ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਭੁਲਾਇ ਕੈ ਮੋਹੇ ਲਾਲਚ ਦੁਨੀ ਸੈਤਾਣੇ।
Since they have forgotten the Vedas and the Katebas, the devil of worldly greed has led them astray.
ਸਚੁ ਕਿਨਾਰੇ ਰਹਿ ਗਿਆ ਖਹਿ ਮਰਦੇ ਬਾਮ੍ਹਣਿ ਮਉਲਾਣੇ।
Truth hidden from both; the Brahmins and Maulvis kill one another by their animosities.
ਸਿਰੋ ਨ ਮਿਟੇ ਆਵਣਿ ਜਾਣੇ ॥੨੧॥
Neither sect shall find liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
When Guru Nanak went to Mecca, the group of Muslim hajis (pilgrims) and maulavis (scholars) asked Guru Nanak, who is Superior – Hindu or Muslim?
ਪੁਛਨਿ ਫੋਲਿ ਕਿਤਾਬ ਨੋ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਵਡਾ ਕਿ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨੋਈ।
They asked Baba Nanak to open and search in his book whether Hindu is great or the Muslim.
ਬਾਬਾ ਆਖੇ ਹਾਜੀਆ ਸੁਭਿ ਅਮਲਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਰੋਈ।
Baba replied to the pilgrim hajis, that, without good amal (deeds) both will have to weep and wail.
Key is amal, which refers to the actual deeds we do in real life. Just being a Muslim or a Hindu will not make anybody superior or inferior. It’s the level of understanding and implementing the faith and message of scriptures in real life for the benefit of humanity.
ਵੇਖਹੁ ਬੰਦਾ ਚਲਿਆ ਚਹੁ ਜਣਿਆ ਦੈ ਕੰਨਿੑ ॥
Behold, the mortal being is going away (after death), carried on the shoulders of four men.
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਅਮਲ ਜਿ ਕੀਤੇ ਦੁਨੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਦਰਗਹ ਆਏ ਕੰਮਿ ॥੧੦੦॥
Fareed, only those amal (deeds) done in the world, will be of any use in the Court of the Lord. ||100||
It’s not what faith or religion we follow, it’s what deeds we do. Gurmat focuses on enabling the followers to live truthful and moral life, be grateful for whatever we got, face the challenges of life, and learn to bear the pains and sufferings, joys and happiness gracefully, as in the end our deeds will decide, if we won the game of life or lost it. So, it’s useless to claim superiority over others without the actions to demonstrate it.
ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਇਫਤਰਾ ਭਾਈ ਦਿਲ ਕਾ ਫਿਕਰੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥
Arguing and exaggerating by quoting Vedas and the Kateb (Koran, Bible, Torah) is of no use; it does not relieve the anxiety of the heart.
ਟੁਕੁ ਦਮੁ ਕਰਾਰੀ ਜਉ ਕਰਹੁ ਹਾਜਿਰ ਹਜੂਰਿ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥੧॥
If you will only center yourself on the Lord, even for just a breath, then you shall see the Lord, present in everybody. ||1||
ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥
O human being, search your own heart every day, and do not wander around in confusion and arguments.
ਇਹ ਜੁ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਸਿਹਰੁ ਮੇਲਾ ਦਸਤਗੀਰੀ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
This world is just like a magic-show; you will not get anything into your hand by the useless arguments. ||1||Pause||
Unique Path of Sikhi based on Gurmat
Guru Nanak established the simpler path called Sikhi, which was different from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity. The famous Scholar of Sikhism, Max Arthur Macauliffe says in one of his introductions about the Sikh religion to the west:
“I present to the people of the west, an entirely unique, and amazingly confident nation of people called Sikhs. They do not idol worship, nor have ritualistic practices, they have no class or caste. They abhor sati, and neither imprison nor control their females. They do not drink, nor smoke or inhale tobacco. Unlike the hindoos, they do not go on pilgrimages, nor abstain or run away from the chores and responsibilities of family life [grehest] nor indulge in idle gossip mongering or character assassination of another human being, by hiding behind fake sadhoos, societies and names. Instead, they have stamina for patience, willingness to face arduous tasks, meet severe challenges at individual and corporate levels, they share their takings and earnings with the poor, through honest work. They prevail in the truth, they are virtuously generous to fellow humans, they hold respect for themselves and others, their values are Godly as they arise to immerse in the name of the Lord in the early ambrosial hours; seeing them in action with their ideal lives is believing. They are not idol worshipers who shirk the beauty of God given life, nor indulge into ritualistic tasks.
Their houses of prayers – Gurduaras – are recognized from afar by the highly and mightily placed flags of the Gurus, The Nishan Sahib. These Nishan Sahibs carry the responsibility to remind everyone the holiness and cleanliness of the name of the Lord that is sung every day in congregation, sangat.”
– Max Arthur Macauliffe
Gurbani is very clear about the uniqueness of Sikhi – the path of Gurmat. While giving due respect to other faiths, Gurbani clearly guides the Sikh, not to follow the faith, customs, rituals or traditions of other religions.
ਵਰਤ ਨ ਰਹਉ ਨ ਮਹ ਰਮਦਾਨਾ ॥
I do not observe the fasts (of Hindus), nor do I observe the month of Ramadaan (Islam).
ਤਿਸੁ ਸੇਵੀ ਜੋ ਰਖੈ ਨਿਦਾਨਾ ॥੧॥
I serve only the One, who protects in the end. ||1||
ਏਕੁ ਗੁਸਾਈ ਅਲਹੁ ਮੇਰਾ ॥
My Lord is the One, whom Hindus call Gusaain and Muslims call Allah.
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਦੁਹਾਂ ਨੇਬੇਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
I have abandoned the spiritual guidance from both Hindus and Muslims. ||1||Pause||
ਹਜ ਕਾਬੈ ਜਾਉ ਨ ਤੀਰਥ ਪੂਜਾ ॥
I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca, nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines.
ਏਕੋ ਸੇਵੀ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਦੂਜਾ ॥੨॥
I serve the One Lord, and not any other. ||2||
ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਉ ਨ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਗੁਜਾਰਉ ॥
I do not perform Hindu worship (pooja), nor do I offer the Muslim prayers (namaaz).
ਏਕ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਲੇ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਮਸਕਾਰਉ ॥੩॥
I have taken the One Formless Lord into my heart; I humbly worship Him there. ||3||
ਨਾ ਹਮ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਨ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ॥
I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim.
ਅਲਹ ਰਾਮ ਕੇ ਪਿੰਡੁ ਪਰਾਨ ॥੪॥
My body and breath of life belong to One Lord, who Muslims call Allah and Hindus call Ram. ||4||
ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਇਹੁ ਕੀਆ ਵਖਾਨਾ ॥
Says Kabeer, this is what I say:
ਗੁਰ ਪੀਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਖੁਦਿ ਖਸਮੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥੫॥੩॥
meeting with the Guru, my Spiritual Teacher, I realize God, my Lord and Master. ||5||3||
Bhagat Nam Dev Ji also clarifies this in his bani, who is his Lord God.
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਪੂਜੈ ਦੇਹੁਰਾ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥
The Hindu worships at the temple, the Muslim at the mosque.
ਨਾਮੇ ਸੋਈ ਸੇਵਿਆ ਜਹ ਦੇਹੁਰਾ ਨ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥੪॥੩॥੭॥
Naam Dayv serves that Lord, who is not limited to either the temple or the mosque. ||4||3||7||
Strong differences from Hinduism
Gurbani rejects the demoralizing customs, rituals and practices of other religions, which are cruel and degrading to the human dignity like the caste system, sati (burning of the widow with her husband’s dead body), coercion, slavery, circumcisions, bali (sacrifices of animals on the name of God) etc.
Rejection of caste system
The Hindu society was divided in castes and sub-castes. Low caste people were maltreated, abused and devoid of rights to education by the higher castes. There was no way to get out of the caste barriers. A person born Shoodra (low caste) will remain Shoodra whole life no matter how good or bad the person is. A person born Brahmin (high caste) will remain Brahmin, no matter how good or bad the person is.
Gurbani rejected the concept of castes. In Gurmat everybody is treated equally no matter what caste he/she is born in. Everybody has equal rights to worship, meditate and pray, to seek and merge with the Creator. Guru’s message is also applicable to everybody, without any reservation or discrimination.
ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥
The One God is our father; we are the children of the One God. Hence, you are my Gurbhai (brother/follower of same Guru).
ਗਰਭ ਵਾਸ ਮਹਿ ਕੁਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਤੀ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਿੰਦੁ ਤੇ ਸਭ ਉਤਪਾਤੀ ॥੧॥
In the dwelling of the womb, there is no ancestry or social status. All have originated from the Seed of God. ||1||
ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਸੂਦੁ ਵੈਸੁ ਕੋ ਜਾਪੈ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਜਪੈਨੀ ॥
Anyone, from any class – Kshatriya, Brahmin, Shoodra or Vaishya – can chant, and meditate on the Mantra of the Lord’s Name.
ਗੁਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਪੂਜਹੁ ਨਿਤ ਸੇਵਹੁ ਦਿਨਸੁ ਸਭ ਰੈਨੀ ॥੧॥
Worship the Guru, the True Guru, as the Supreme Lord God; remain in His sanctuary, all day and night. ||1||
Condemnation of the practice of Sati (burning the widows alive)
In the Hindu practice of Sati, the widows were burn alive with the dead body of the husband. In some cases, they would do voluntarily, in most cases they were cajoled to do it, or frightened about the life as a widow. In the best case, they were discarded from society and forced to live in the widow ashrams (shelters). There are still many such widow ashrams in modern India, where the widows discarded from society live and spend the rest of their lives in seclusion.
Sikh Guru’s condemned the degrading custom of Sati and taught that nobody can become Sati by burning herself with the dead body of her husband. True Sati is the one who loves the husband from heart and bear the the pain of separation, rather than burning herself with the husband’s dead body.
ਸਤੀਆ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਜੋ ਮੜਿਆ ਲਗਿ ਜਲੰਨਿੑ ॥
Do not call them ‘satee‘, who burn themselves along with their husbands’ corpses.
ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤੀਆ ਜਾਣੀਅਨਿੑ ਜਿ ਬਿਰਹੇ ਚੋਟ ਮਰੰਨਿੑ ॥੧॥
O Nanak, they alone are known as ‘satee‘, who die from the pain of separation. ||1||
Rejection of the Vedic Philosophy
Gurbani rejects the philosophy of Vedas, Puranas and Simritis, as this philosophy is degrading to the human values especially to the women and the people of low castes. Gurbani focuses on the human development through moral and practical life rather than binding the followers to the bonds of Karam-Kand.
ਬੇਦ ਕੀ ਪੁਤ੍ਰੀ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਭਾਈ ॥
The Simriti is the daughter of the Vedas (written based on Vedas), O Brother.
ਸਾਂਕਲ ਜੇਵਰੀ ਲੈ ਹੈ ਆਈ ॥੧॥
She has brought the chains (of castes or varan-ashram) and ropes (of rituals or karam-kand). ||1||
ਆਪਨ ਨਗਰੁ ਆਪ ਤੇ ਬਾਧਿਆ ॥
She has imprisoned the people in her own city (she binds her own believers tightly with the chains and ropes).
ਮੋਹ ਕੈ ਫਾਧਿ ਕਾਲ ਸਰੁ ਸਾਂਧਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
She has tightened the noose of emotional attachment and drawn the arrow (of fear of death). ||1||Pause||
ਕਟੀ ਨ ਕਟੈ ਤੂਟਿ ਨਹ ਜਾਈ ॥
By cutting, the chains of Simriti cannot be cut, and her ropes cannot be broken.
ਸਾ ਸਾਪਨਿ ਹੋਇ ਜਗ ਕਉ ਖਾਈ ॥੨॥
She has become a serpent, and she is eating the world (her own believers). ||2||
ਹਮ ਦੇਖਤ ਜਿਨਿ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਲੂਟਿਆ ॥
Before my very eyes, Simriti has plundered the entire world (her own believers).
ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਿ ਛੂਟਿਆ ॥੩॥੩੦॥
Says Kabeer, chanting the Lord’s Name, I have escaped the Simriti. ||3||30||
Bhagat Naam Dev was born in low caste family of fabric dyers. He describes the cruelty and atrocities of the Hindu upper classes in his bani (compositions):
ਹਸਤ ਖੇਲਤ ਤੇਰੇ ਦੇਹੁਰੇ ਆਇਆ ॥
Laughing and playing, I came to Your Temple, O Lord.
ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਤ ਨਾਮਾ ਪਕਰਿ ਉਠਾਇਆ ॥੧॥
While Naam Dev was worshiping, he was grabbed and driven out. ||1||
ਹੀਨੜੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਾਦਿਮ ਰਾਇਆ ॥
I am of a low social class, O Lord;
ਛੀਪੇ ਕੇ ਜਨਮਿ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
why was I born into a family of fabric dyers? ||1||Pause||
The only escape from the chains and ropes of Vedas and Simritis is to discard and abandon them completely. Stop listening to Brahmins about what’s good, what’s not good. Enshrine the love for Kartar and remain absorbed in Naam.
ਤਜਿ ਭਰਮ ਕਰਮ ਬਿਧਿ ਨਿਖੇਧ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਲੇਹੀ ॥
Abandon the doubts, Karam-Kand, do’s and don’ts of Vedas, and recite Lord’s Name.
ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਜਨ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਸਨੇਹੀ ॥੪॥੫॥
By Guru’s Grace, O servant Kabeer, love the Lord. ||4||5||
If there is love for the Lord in the heart, then we can see the Lord within – we don’t need to follow the Karam-Kand or Shariyat.
ਹਮਰਾ ਝਗਰਾ ਰਹਾ ਨ ਕੋਊ ॥
I have no quarrel with anyone anymore.
ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਛਾਡੇ ਦੋਊ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
I have abandoned the path of both the Pandits, the Hindu religious scholars, and the Mullahs, the Muslim scholars. ||1||Pause||
ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਜੋ ਲਿਖਿ ਦੀਆ ॥
Whatever is written by Pandits (Karam-Kand) and Mullahs (Shariyat),
ਛਾਡਿ ਚਲੇ ਹਮ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲੀਆ ॥੩॥
I reject; I do not accept any of it. I don’t need any of it. ||3||
ਰਿਦੈ ਇਖਲਾਸੁ ਨਿਰਖਿ ਲੇ ਮੀਰਾ ॥
If there is love in the heart, then we can see the Lord within.
ਆਪੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥੪॥੭॥
Whoever met the Lord, met by searching, searching within the self – not by Karam-Kand or Shariyat. ||4||7||
The people recite Lord’s name, with various names, Raam, Gobind, Madho, Hari, Allah etc. But Kabir ji says that there is a big difference while reciting Naam by whom you refer and remember. When you recite Raam, do you remember the Raam (all-pervading Lord God), or you remember the Raam (son of Dasrath). Remembering the All-Pervading Lord Raam, can elevate your consciousness, but remembering the Raam (son of Dasrath) will not make any difference.
ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਨ ਮਹਿ ਭੇਦੁ ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ ॥
Kabeer, it does make a difference, how you chant the Lord’s Name, ‘Raam’. This is something important to consider.
ਸੋਈ ਰਾਮੁ ਸਭੈ ਕਹਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਕਉਤਕਹਾਰ ॥੧੯੦॥
The same name Raam is used for All-pervading Lord God, whom all beings remember. But same name Raam is recited by the actors in the dramas (Raam-Leela) for the son of Dasrath. ||190||
ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਿਬੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥
Kabeer, use the word ‘Raam’, only to speak of the All-pervading Lord. You must make that distinction.
ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ ॥੧੯੧॥
One ‘Raam’ is pervading everywhere, while the other is contained only in one body (Sri Raam Chander). ||191||
Rejection of the belief in many gods and goddesses
In Hinduism there is the belief that there are three main deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, 330 million gods and 90 million goddesses. People worship these deities, gods, goddesses due to fear (of death, disease, natural disasters etc.) and greed (wealth, prosperity, and power) or other worldly wants, desires and aspirations.
ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਹੈ ਮਾਇਆ ॥
The root cause of worshiping of the deities, gods and goddesses is Maya (the worldly desires and fears).
ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ ਜਿੰਨਿ ਉਪਾਇਆ ॥
To fulfill the worldly desires, the Karam-Kand of Simritees and the Shaastras were invented.
ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਪਸਰਿਆ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ ਆਇ ਜਾਇ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੨॥
Sexual desire and anger are diffused throughout the world causing the cycle of birth and death and people suffer in pain. ||2||
Gurmat teaches the Sikhs to believe in One God (Kartar); remember, worship and serve the One Creator Lord, nobody else.
ਹਰਿ ਇਕੋ ਦਾਤਾ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਹਰਿ ਇਕੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ॥
Serve the One Lord, the Great Giver; remember One Lord.
ਹਰਿ ਇਕੋ ਦਾਤਾ ਮੰਗੀਐ ਮਨ ਚਿੰਦਿਆ ਪਾਈਐ ॥
Ask from the One Lord, the Great Giver, and you shall obtain your heart’s desires.
ਜੇ ਦੂਜੇ ਪਾਸਹੁ ਮੰਗੀਐ ਤਾ ਲਾਜ ਮਰਾਈਐ ॥
It’s better to die with shame than begging from anybody other than Kartar.
ਜਿਨਿ ਸੇਵਿਆ ਤਿਨਿ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਤਿਸੁ ਜਨ ਕੀ ਸਭ ਭੁਖ ਗਵਾਈਐ ॥
One who serves the Lord obtains the fruits of his rewards; all of his hunger is satisfied.
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਿਨ ਵਿਟਹੁ ਵਾਰਿਆ ਜਿਨ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ॥੧੦॥
Nanak is a sacrifice to those, who night and day, remember the Name of the Lord within their hearts. ||10||
Rejection of idol worship
In Hinduism people make the idols of deities, gods, goddesses and install in the temples for worship. There may not be any Hindu temple without the idols. Gurmat rejects the idol worship and reminds the Sikh to focus on the Kartar (Creator Lord). Kartar is formless, without any body or shape and hence cannot be represented by any idols or paintings etc.
ਪਾਤੀ ਤੋਰੈ ਮਾਲਿਨੀ ਪਾਤੀ ਪਾਤੀ ਜੀਉ ॥
You tear off the leaves, O gardener, but in each and every leaf, there is life.
ਜਿਸੁ ਪਾਹਨ ਕਉ ਪਾਤੀ ਤੋਰੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਹਨ ਨਿਰਜੀਉ ॥੧॥
That stone idol, for which you tear off those leaves – that stone idol is lifeless. ||1||
ਭੂਲੀ ਮਾਲਨੀ ਹੈ ਏਉ ॥
In this, you are mistaken, O gardener.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਾਗਤਾ ਹੈ ਦੇਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
The True Guru is the Living Lord. ||1||Pause||
Sikhs worship Kartar and Guru (the spiritual guide, who unites the Sikh with Kartar). In the Gurdwara, the object of reverence is not any idol or picture; instead, Sikhs bow to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the eternal Guru of Sikhs.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਣਹੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਆਪਿ ਮੁਹਹੁ ਕਢਾਏ ॥
O GurSikhs, know that the Bani, the Word of the True Guru, is true, absolutely true. The Creator Lord Himself causes the Guru to chant it.
Strong differences from Islam
Sri Guru Granth Sahib has the bani (hymns) of the Sikh Gurus and saints of other faiths including Sheikh Fareed, a saint of Sufi tradition of Islam. Whoever gets connected with the Lord following whatever faith, rises above the distinction of religions. He loses his self-identity and understands his real-Self. He speaks whatever Lord causes him to speak. Sikh scripture has the bani (hymns) of the enlightened saints of other faiths and all are revered equally by Sikhs.
But Gurmat also differs from other faiths significantly. There are many hymns in Gurbani, which clearly reject the inhuman, and degrading practices and customs of other faiths.
Rejection of fasting and Ramadan
Gurmat rejects the idea that by remaining hungry, can make any difference to the Lord. If hunger or fasting makes the Lord happier, then the millions of people who don’t have access to food and clean water, and go hungry for many days, would deserve the Paradise, instead of the devotees, who lovingly remember Him and remain content in His Will. It’s not the hunger or fasting, which pleases the Lord, it’s the love for the Lord.
ਵਰਤ ਨ ਰਹਉ ਨ ਮਹ ਰਮਦਾਨਾ ॥
I do not keep fasts, nor do I observe the month of Ramadan.
ਤਿਸੁ ਸੇਵੀ ਜੋ ਰਖੈ ਨਿਦਾਨਾ ॥੧॥
I serve only the One, who will protect me in the end. ||1||
ਆਦਿ ਪੁਰਖ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਅਨਾਦਿ ॥
The grains etc. come from the Primal Lord God.
ਜਪੀਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਨ ਕੈ ਸਾਦਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
One can chant Naam, the Name of the Lord, only when he enjoys food made from the grains. ||1||Pause||
ਛੋਡਹਿ ਅੰਨੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਾਖੰਡ ॥
One who discards the grains, is practicing hypocrisy.
ਨਾ ਸੋਹਾਗਨਿ ਨਾ ਓਹਿ ਰੰਡ ॥
She is neither a happy soul-bride, nor a widow.
ਅੰਨੈ ਬਿਨਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ਸੁਕਾਲੁ ॥
Without the food made of grains, time does not pass in peace.
ਤਜਿਐ ਅੰਨਿ ਨ ਮਿਲੈ ਗੁਪਾਲੁ ॥
Forsaking the grains, one cannot meet the Lord of the World.
ਭੂਖੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥
If one is hungry, he cannot perform devotional worship service.
ਯਹ ਮਾਲਾ ਅਪਨੀ ਲੀਜੈ ॥
Here, Lord, take back Your rosary, I can’t worship empty stomach.
ਹਉ ਮਾਂਗਉ ਸੰਤਨ ਰੇਨਾ ॥
I beg for the dust of the feet of the Saints.
ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਿਸੀ ਕਾ ਦੇਨਾ ॥੧॥
Second, give me food to sustain, so that I’ll not owe anyone anything. ||1||
Rejection of coercive proselytization
The Islamic rulers of the time in 15-16th were coercively (forcefully) converting the Hindus to Islam and killing the ones who refuse to convert. Forcing to convert, is degrading to the human values. Spiritual progress is a personal matter of each individual and the decision regarding it, also must be coming from inside only, not by the external forces. Gurbani has strongly condemned the use of force for religious conversions.
ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਲੇਇ ਜਬਾਬੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥
Kabeer, it is tyranny to use force; the Lord shall call you to account.
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਨੀਕਸੈ ਮਾਰ ਮੁਹੈ ਮੁਹਿ ਖਾਇ ॥੨੦੦॥
When your account is called for, your face and mouth shall be beaten. ||200||
Gurmat does not believe in the Tilak (forehead mark) and Janeyoo (the sacred thread) of Hindus. Guru Nanak rejected the thread when he was asked to wear it. But Guru Teg Bahadur gave his life to save the Jajeyoo, because the Mughals were forcefully removing it to convert the Hindus to Islam and killing those who refuse to do so. The Guru stood firmly against the coercive proselytization even at the cost of His beloved Sikhs’ martyrdom infront of his eyes (Bhai Mati Das – sawed alive; Bhai Sati Das – burned alive wrapped in cotton; Bhai Dayal Das – boiled alive in a big cauldron) and His own life (beheaded in public).
ਤਿਲਕ ਜੰਞੂ ਰਾਖਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤਾ ਕਾ ॥
He protected the Tilak the forehead mark, and Janeyoo the sacred thread (of the Hindus),
ਕੀਨੋ ਬਡੋ ਕਲੂ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਕਾ ॥
which marked a great event in this age of Kaliyuga (era of sin).
ਸਾਧਨ ਹੇਤਿ ਇਤੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਕਰੀ ॥
For the sake of saints, He went to the extremes of sacrifice.
ਸੀਸੁ ਦੀਆ ਪਰੁ ਸੀ ਨ ਉਚਰੀ ॥੧੩॥
He laid down His head without even a sign of pain.
Rejection of circumcision
Gurmat rejects the Islamic practice of circumcision. It’s against the God’s will to mutilate the genitals. Why God shall want us to cut-off the body parts, which He Himself gave us from birth? Is there any defect in the God’s creation process? God is infallible, God is perfect and does not make any mistake. Did He forgot to cut the unnecessary stuff? There are numerous cases of forceful body mutilations. There is no justification for this inhuman practice.
ਸਕਤਿ ਸਨੇਹੁ ਕਰਿ ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਕਰੀਐ ਮੈ ਨ ਬਦਉਗਾ ਭਾਈ ॥
Because of the love of woman, circumcision is done; I can’t believe, it has anything to do with the love of the Lord, O Siblings of Destiny.
ਜਉ ਰੇ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਮੋਹਿ ਤੁਰਕੁ ਕਰੈਗਾ ਆਪਨ ਹੀ ਕਟਿ ਜਾਈ ॥੨॥
If God wished me to be a Muslim, it would be cut off by itself. ||2||
ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਕੀਏ ਤੁਰਕੁ ਜੇ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਅਉਰਤ ਕਾ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੀਐ ॥
If circumcision makes one a Muslim, then what about a woman?
ਅਰਧ ਸਰੀਰੀ ਨਾਰਿ ਨ ਛੋਡੈ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹੀ ਰਹੀਐ ॥੩॥
She is the other half of a man’s life, and she remains with him all life, so he remains a Hindu. ||3||
Rejection of Halal and animal sacrifices
Gurmat rejects the Islamic concept of Halal. Halal is the Islamic form of slaughtering animals by killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe. Killing the animals for the sake of sacrifice is not allowed in Sikhi. God is self-sustaining and does not need the animal sacrifices by human to survive. Killing animals for sacrifice is not justified.
ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀਅ ਜੁ ਮਾਰਹਿ ਜੋਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਹਤੇ ਹਹਿ ਜੁ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥
Kabeer, they oppress living beings and kill them with force, and call it Halal (lawful).
ਦਫਤਰੁ ਦਈ ਜਬ ਕਾਢਿ ਹੈ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੯੯॥
When the Lord, who loves all creatures, calls for their account, what will their condition be? ||199||
In Sikhi, eating the Halal meat is one of the four Kurehits (cardinal sins). Sikhs are forbidden from eating any animals killed for sacrifices in any ritualistic way (Halal, Kosher etc.).
Rejection of resurrection
Gurmat rejects the idea that somebody can realize union with God after death. In Gurmat there is no messiah to wake the dead and deliver the salvation. If we cannot get connected with the Lord, during this lifetime, we wasted the opportunity. This life is the opportunity to remember the Lord, know the Lord and merge in the Lord. Whatever the deeds we do in our life are the determining factor if our life is successful or not.
ਏਥੈ ਜਾਣੈ ਸੁ ਜਾਇ ਸਿਞਾਣੈ ॥
One who knows the Lord here (in this life), realizes Him there (after life) as well.
ਹੋਰੁ ਫਕੜੁ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੈ ॥
Other claims, whether by Hindu or Muslim, are just babbling.
Gurmat envisions and enables the Sikh to be independent, self-sufficient, and confident to support himself and his family and serve the society. Gurmat treats all human beings as the one big family of the Creator Lord. A Sikh must be able to read and recite Gurbani (scriptures), defend himself and the downtrodden, earn honest living by hard work, and share the time, skills, gifts given by Lord with the members of the universal family.
Guru Nanak established the new path of Sikhi based on Gurmat (the spiritual knowledge revealed to Him by Kartar, the Creator Lord).
ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਿਕਾ ਜਗਤਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਪੰਥੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ।
In the world, He (Guru Nanak) established the authority (of his doctrines) and started a Nirmal Panth, (spiritual path, devoid of any impurity).
Tenth Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed that Khalsa (the collective body of the initiated Sikhs) is born according to the Will of the Creator Lord. Till the Khalsa (Sikh) remains unique and true to the Gurmat ideals, I’ll give my full support and power. But when Khalsa falls from the path of Gurmat and moves on to the Brahminical path of Karam-Kand, I’ll not trust him anymore.
ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਫ਼ੌਜ ॥
Khalsa is the Army of the Eternal Lord.
ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਓ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਪ੍ਰਮਾਤਮ ਕੀ ਮੌਜ ॥
Khalsa is established in the Lord’s Will
ਜਬ ਲਗ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਰਹੇ ਨਿਆਰਾ ॥
Till the Khalsa remains unique and sincere to the Gurmat teachings.
ਤਬ ਲਗ ਤੇਜ ਕੀਉ ਮੈਂ ਸਾਰਾ ॥
I (Guru) will give my full support and power.
ਜਬ ਇਹ ਗਹੈ ਬਿਪਰਨ ਕੀ ਰੀਤ ॥
When he goes the Brahaminical path of Karam-Kand
ਮੈਂ ਨ ਕਰੋਂ ਇਨ ਕੀ ਪ੍ਰਤੀਤ ॥
I’ll not trust him anymore.
Core-Beliefs of Sikhi | Gurmat Process and Techniques | Guru – The Spiritual Guide