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Talking Stick

The Talking Stick Colloquium II: Pauri One - Jan 11 - 17

Convenor:: RAVINDER SINGH TANEJA

 

 

SESSION TWO

 

The following is the current topic of discussion for the period - Monday, January 11 to Sunday, January 17.

On Monday every week -  a verse, or a combination of verses that share a common theme, is presented here, accompanied by a narrative. The supplementary text is merely to serve as a place holder or receptacle over which readers are invited to build an exchange of ideas through their own interpretations, comments, questions, ruminations, meditations, etc. This will enhance and enrich the narrative.

The dialogue around each verse - or theme - will conclude on Sunday of each week. And a new round will begin on the following (Monday) morning.

Please post your input at the bottom of this page, as instructed therein.

Guidelines for Engagement

We will approach this dialogue from a Sikh perspective. It will help us to not assume any knowledge but keep an open mind.

1      As participants, we will be frank and honest but not disrespectful or antagonistic.

2     We are to be as brief as possible in our responses, and avoid long-winded sentences.

3      We are to try and stick to a simple and straightforward, everyday mode of conversation.

 

 

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC 

 

 ||JAP||

THE MEDITATION

The Primordial Truth

The Truth in Time

The Truth Now

The Truth Forever     

||1||

 

FOREWORD

Jap (pronounced "jupp") is the header or name of Guru Nanak's composition that we will reflect on together. Sikhs refer to this work as Japji or Japji Sahib - the terms 'ji' and 'sahib' being honorifics and used as a mark of respect.

The word 'jap' has different layers of semantic meanings, ranging from "to repeat," "to recite" and to "meditate upon". It is not our purpose here to dwell on these subtleties, except to state that we will, knowingly or unknowingly, use different shades of meaning during our dialogue.

Japji is a composition of 38 stanzas that are preceded and followed by a sloka, a poetic form - making for a total of 40 distinct passages. The 38 stanzas in the middle are each conventionally called a step or pauri (or 'paurhee'), another poetic form in gurbani. 

Purists object to the custom of calling these stanzas pauris because they claim that none of the stanzas in Japji are signified by pauris, as in the rest of the gurbani where the term 'pauri' does appear; nor do they follow the custom of centralizing the meaning in the last line. Be that as it may, we will leave that issue for another day.

Japji starts with the logo ||JAP|| which Sikhs receive as an instruction to both recite and meditate. It is followed by the first sloka which states the subject of our meditation - which is none other than the Truth we reflected on in the Mool Mantar. With this reiteration, we proceed to the body of the text by commencing with the first stanza or pauri of the Japji.

 

STANZA (Pauri) I

Not by reason, not even by reasoning forever,

Not by silence, not even by being silent forever,

Not by possession, not even by possessing all worldly treasure,

Not by all this, nor by a million mental guiles.

How, then, will the Truth be revealed, the veil of falsehood repealed?

Says Nanak,

Surrender to that Will that is inscribed in all Creation.

 

THE MESSAGE

The proper end of human life is to become a "sachyaar", which literally means one who wears or adorns the Truth.

What this means in common parlance is that our lives must become personifications of the Truth (Sat Nam). The Truth, we discovered in the Mool Mantar, was expressed through certain qualities or virtues.

To personify the Truth is another way of saying that we must learn to imbue our lives with the qualities or virtues expressed in the Mool Mantar.

The deeper implication, of course, is that there is a way of life that is worthy of living, and another, undesirable mode of existence. Our central responsibility as humans is to fashion a life that is worth living - with purpose, meaning and dignity.

How does one achieve such a lifestyle?

Guru Nanak's answer is that we must attune our lives to the "Hukam" of the "Razai."

In common idiom, this means that the Truth of the Mool Mantar (here equated with God as "Razai" or the Owner of the Will) expresses itself in its Creation through "Hukam" - variously understood as Order, Command, Writ or Will.

It is to this Divine Will that we must conform in order to become "sachyaar" or embodiments of Truth - the goal of human existence.

How do we decipher or make sense of this Will? That is a logical question that arises and one that Guru Nanak anticipates. The Will of God, he tells us, permeates all Creation and by extension, is inscribed in all of us.

The trick is to access the Will that is seated or scripted in the depths of our being.

 A "koorh di paal" or wall of falsehood stands in the way and inhibits communication with or recognition of the Will. This partition, Guru Nanak tells us, cannot be demolished by resorting to thought or reasoning, rituals, pilgrimages, yogic practice, self denial (mortification) or self gratification, or even clever mental guiles.

Walking the way of the Will with calm acceptance is the key.

 

STANZA 1 - THE TEXT

Socẖai socẖ Na hova▫ī je socẖī lakẖ vār

Not by reason, not even by reasoning forever

Socẖai has been interpreted here as reasoning, which gurbani repudiates as futile in that we can "reason day and night but remain in darkness; divine knowledge dawns only with the Guru," (GGS:495). This is like saying that the Ultimate Reality is such that our intellect cannot fathom and senses cannot perceive but with which our inner self can commune.

Socẖai has also been interpreted as ritual bathing or immersion at pilgrimages - also refuted, later in the Japji itself, as inadequate, because "true immersion happens only at the shrine of the Guru deep within."

Regardless of how one interprets this text, the message of Gurbani remains unchanged.

 

Cẖupai cẖup Na hova▫ī je lā▫e rahā liv ṯār

Not by silence, not even by being silent forever

Cẖupai refers to the yogic and Buddhist practice of trying to still the inner chatter of the mind through the practice of forced silence, a practice made quite popular in recent times by Mahatma Gandhi.

The suppression of thought through physical quiet creates even greater psychological problems. The caution here is to eschew slander and falsehood, but to speak "that which will bring us honor." (GGS, M1:15)

 

Bẖukẖi▫ā bẖukẖ Na uṯrī je bannā purī▫ā bẖār

Not by possession, not even by possessing all worldly treasure

Bẖukẖi▫ā bẖukẖ and bannā purī▫ā bẖār warns us against the extremes of self denial and self-gratification. Instead, gurbani recommends a life of moderation, of modest physical appetites," alap ahaar silap si nidra" or measured eating and sleeping.

 

Sahas si▫āṇpā lakẖ hohi ṯa ik Na cẖalai nāl

Not by all this, not even by a million mental guiles

Sahas si▫āṇpā points to a variety of mental artifices, in particular to the art of argumentation that was widespread and had been reduced to an arrogant display of knowledge. Intellectual feats or skills cannot ferry us across to the Truth.

 

Kiv sacẖi▫ārā ho▫ī▫ai kiv kūrhai ṯutai pāl

How, then, will the Truth be revealed, the veil of falsehood repealed

Kiv sacẖi▫ārā ho▫ī▫ai is the perennial question, driven by our innate need to know the Truth and reflects a quest that is at once individual and cultural, modern and traditional.

 

Hukam rajā▫ī cẖalṇā Nānak likẖi▫ā nāl

Says Nanak, Surrender to that Will that is inscribed in all Creation

Hukam rajā▫ī cẖalṇā provides Guru Nanak's answer which is plainly obvious: Attune to the divine Will which is embedded within.

 

COMMENTARY

Guru Nanak cautions us against religious ritual, undertaken for its own sake. Religious rituals were undertaken - in his times and our own - as a means to incur divine favor, much like a transaction.

Such an attitude only fosters the illusion that Divine Will can be manipulated to personal ends. All religious paraphernalia, Guru Nanak warns us, is unavailing if not accompanied by an inner sense of submission and surrender to the Divine Will (Hukam).

We require, then, not so much an alternative set of praxis (practice), or exclusive focus on religious ritual, but a different paradigm or way of looking at life - one that requires an expansion of our consciousness that is guided by a sense of Sacred in all human activity.

To become a "sachyaar" is work in progress and that is what a Sikh life is all about. The hallmark of such a life is a constant awareness that our physical embodiment is rooted in a timeless and eternal Truth (Sat Nam) that is ultimately unknowable, but expressed through its Creation as Hukam (Will) - of which we are an expression.

Our lives, then, must reflect the qualities of this timeless, eternal Being in whom we are anchored: we must be creative, fearless and without malice as we go about the business of our life.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Five centuries removed from Guru Nanak, we witness similar ritualistic patterns around us, including amongst the Sikhs - the obligatory pilgrimage to Amritsar or Hemkunt, complete with a dip; the proliferation of intellectual discourse in the form of raagis and pracharaks; the growing popularity of yoga and breathing exercises to accompany simran, and so on.

-       Do you think we can ever get away from ritual? Is that what is being recommended?

-       How do you square Guru Nanak's injunction to "surrender to the Will" with your sense of having your own conscious will?

-       Does submission equate to placid contentment?

 

 

Conversation about this article

1: T. Sher Singh (Guelph, Ontario, Canada), January 11, 2010, 2:16 PM.

Personally, with respect to the translation of the word 'soch', I lean towards the meaning being 'cleansing' and not 'thinking'. I am guided by Maskeen ji's analysis of the word, as well as by Christopher Shackle's manual on the grammar of Guru Granth Sahib. I think the translation of the line using 'cleansing' jives better with what immediately follows. I read the passage as Guru Nanak first rejecting the outward rituals of cleansing - bathing in the Ganges or at 'holy' places, for example. Then, he rejects the personal and private penances that the pious of the day undertook in trying to win over God - vows of silence, retreats, and self-exile in the forest or hills, for example. And then, he advises against intellectual or mind games - clevernesses - as a means of impressing God. An added reason that convinces me of 'cleansing' as the right translation, is my discomfort in describing thinking as being done "a hundred thousand times". One cannot count thinking; it is a process, not an act that can be enumerated. But cleansing - dips in the river, or the performance of the Muslim 'wudu' - can indeed be counted. I am not totally convinced that I'm right, but just wanted to share these thoughts.

2: Atika Khurana (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 11, 2010, 4:10 PM.

There is a wealth of information contained in this pauri. For starters, let me share my views on the first question posed by the author. Do we need rituals? I think whether we can get away from rituals or not is a personal question. For an average person, it could be very difficult to relate to a God who is totally abstract. Having a symbolic representation like a picture, an idol definitely helps some. I don't think there is any harm in that. However, if you think that you can find God just by kowtowing to these objects of worship, then I think you've missed the boat. A pertinent example that comes to mind is the contemporary practice prevalent among Sikh families to ask granthis to do akhand paths for them, while they themselves don't even have the time to sit and listen to it. It baffles me as to how the granthi's recitation of the Guru Granth could have an elixir-like effect on their lives. To conclude, I think the activities being listed in the beginning of this pauri - like meditation, intellectual discourse - are not ends in themselves, but are rather means to an end. The ultimate goal is to realize 'Who we are', and our relationship with the Creator. In order to get there, tools like meditation can aid in quietening down the inner chatter, discourse (like this ongoing vichaar session) can help us dwell on the divine virtues. If any other ritual/ activity, like lighting lamps or taking a dip at Harmandar Sahib, helps someone connect with their inner self, I don't see any harm in it, as long as they can keep the right perspective.

3: Yadwinder Singh (Pickerington, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 11, 2010, 6:32 PM.

The way I understand it, the Mool Mantar is the best way to understand the definition - to the extent it is at all possible - of the Almighty Akal Purukh Waheguru. The message in the first pauri for me is hidden in the word 'hukam'; we need to synchronize our mind to His razaa or rahmat. Regarding the rejection of rituals in this pauri: in real life it is hard to criticize your friends or relatives who practice some of these rituals. I think everything in moderation is reasonable.

4: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 11, 2010, 6:49 PM.

Personally, I am inclined to agree with Sher Singh ji, that "sochai soch" jives better with cleansing. So why use "reason and reasoning" as has been done here? Simple. It sounded better at the time! Regardless, the fact remains that both translations have been used and evidence from gurbani cited in support. Prof. Teja Singh has used "thinking" as has Dr. Neki; Bhai Vir Singh and Prof. Sahib Singh refer to it as "purification". Even traditionalists are not of one opinion: prior to 1825, thinking or thought was the common exposition; then Kavi Santokh Singh translated it as ritual immersion in his "Garab Ganjani" commentary. Giani Harbans Singh translates it as thought but Sant Kirpal Singh favors ritual dip. I figured that either way, Guru Nanak's message was not compromised, so I allowed myself to be driven by aesthetic considerations. But cleansing (a word I had not thought about) may be a better substitute - it even has a better ring to it.

5: Roopinder Singh Bains (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), January 11, 2010, 6:53 PM.

At the time of Guru Nanak, it was the practice to practice silence, to go hungry and to bathe/ cleanse oneself in 'holy' rivers, in an attempt to meet God - it makes perfect sense that 'sochai' would be to cleanse and not to think, in my humble opinion.

6: Jasvinder (Hamilton, New Zealand), January 11, 2010, 9:54 PM.

Rituals ... as a young person, I used to be relieved that as a Sikh there aren't many rituals to follow in my faith. Probably there aren't many any way, compared to some other religions. But rituals can have significance too as well, if you have the right intentions and if doing rituals are done consciously. If Guru Nanak said rituals won't lead to true God, doesn't it all depends on a person's intentions too? People even believe God is in stones too ... isn't it just a matter of belief then? If you are doing rituals for just ritual sake, then it is a path to nowhere. Personally, I never felt the need to organize an akhand paatth, because I always thought if I could read even two lines of gurbani and understand them and apply them, that would be better. Finding God is a journey, and we all have epiphany in our own time. Submission can equate to contentment for the short term for sure for many people. But you suddenly wake up one day and realize whatever I was doing was wrong and then choose an altogether different path. Surrendering to God's Will is the easiest way to live this life with contentment: if we accept whatever is happening, as completely and utterly right for me for that moment in time.

7: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Dallas. Texas. U.S.A.), January 11, 2010, 10:30 PM.

In these opening lines of Japji, Guru Nanak has beautifully used two basic human faculties within all of us to make his point, which is: how to satisfy our need/ desire to acquire the trait of truthfulness. The two faculties used are "thought" and "hunger" which are integral part of us but beyond our control. In the first line of stanza, he opens his argument by using the example of 'soch' or 'though'. Use of 'thought' is not limited to thinking only. It encompasses many aspects such as: imagining, reflection, scheming, conjecture, conception, creation, cleansing, expectation, etc. The point being, we may be able to use 'thought' to accomplish many things but it cannot help us in becoming truthful. In the second line, "chuppey chupp na ..." he implies that some of the traits like 'chup' (silence) or similar penances used by humans also do not help us in our effort to become truthful. In the third line, he invokes the second faculty of 'hunger' which cannot be satisfied through unlimited insatiable desires for food, possessions, power, etc. Similar is our need for acquiring a 'trait' of truthfulness. In the fourth line, he quotes certain good traits we may have developed like wisdom and realization. These also cannot help us in acquiring truthfulness. There is one and only one way to fulfill this desire. By accepting His command. Accepting His command is the only way to acquire or satisfy our desire in becoming a truthful human being and get rid of undesirable thoughts or traits. And acceptance of His command should be an integral part of us, just like 'hunger' and thought' are.

8: Gurdev Singh Bir (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 12, 2010, 9:30 AM.

Guru Nanak is obviously trying to shift our way of thinking and acting. It seems that humans are deeply conditioned to relating a karam (in the religious context, the act of doing something to solicit a blessing) to a reward based-outcome. Let's bear in mind that the predominant religions of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, all have a strong emphasis on a karam-based fulfillment. The notion that if we do 'good' deeds, God will reward us with heaven, is to be found in Christianity. Islam puts a very high significance on the annual fasting/ pilgrimage and the giving of alms to the poor. Hinduism is a motley of ritual bathings and idol worship. Guru Nanak took the uncommon step of saying that good deeds together with a truthful life and meditation, is the way out of the cycle of birth and death. We should not construe submission to be placid contentment, because part of this submission to His Will is to delight in whatever occupation his Hukam has placed us in and to have a sense of joy in diligently doing it with the best of our efforts.

9: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.), January 12, 2010, 10:24 PM.

In my earlier missive, I forgot to share my opinion on 'can we get rid of the ritual'. Isn't gurbani nitnem a ritual? I don't believe Guru Nanak is hinting at getting rid of the rituals (I call practices) in this stanza of Japji. In my opinion, Guru Nanak deliberately chose two nature-given aspects within us (thought and hunger) and two human-established (good) practical aspects (meditation and wisdom) to make his point about His role and significance and the need to heed to His command. Otherwise also, gurbani does not prohibit the use of rituals. It discourages those rituals which are fake, misleading, or have hidden agenda, etc. Surrendering to His Will graciously should not interfere or compete with our own Free Will. Willing and gracious submission rather enhances the pleasure of surrendering. Don't we watch in the movies/ novels the pleasure a lover obtains in surrendering to the beloved? Gurbani is full of quotes exalting similar relationship between humans and Him. Would surrendering to His will be placid contentment? I hope not. The intensity of contentment is not dependent on surrender. It has more to do with who you surrender to. And under what state of mind you decide to surrender. Self desired surrender advocated here should enhance the contentment. Our concern should be more towards sharing and conveying the importance of the Message to fellow Sikhs as appropriately pointed by Gurdev Bir ji. An average Sikh is still mired in fake rituals under cultural influences. We have also failed to make Guru Granth and gurbani as the focus in our religious practices. We formulated our practices on the basis of two Gurus. In the 1870's, we decided to make 'identity' as the focal point. As such, Sikh followers have followed the guidelines dutifully. Understanding gurbani is a new phase for Sikhs. It will take time for them to make the transition from 'identity' to gurbani as the basis. For this reason, I have a suggestion. In interpreting Japji, let us keep in mind the Sikhs whose awareness of gurbani is at an average level. Use as many words in the stanza as possible and point out the intended meaning of each word so that many followers can appreciate and grab the message. We may be little heavy in our approach right now.

10: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 13, 2010, 3:04 AM.

S. Nirmal Singh from Texas makes an insightful observation: Hukam (command) must be an integral part of us, like hunger and thought. Indeed. It follows then that, like physical hunger, we must also feel spiritual hunger for Hukam. A lack of physical appetite usually indicates that the body is not well, as happens when we run a fever; similarly, a lack of spiritual appetite points to a deeper malaise. To be spiritually healthy then might mean what Yadwinder Singh calls being "synchronized" with Hukam. In this sense, Hukam becomes that faculty in us, like thought (to which S. Nirmal Singh is pointing) which needs to be cultivated or awakened. On rituals: My take is that it is not so much a case of, "to practice ritual or not." Ritual, religious or not, organizes virtually everything we do. Any routine becomes a ritual in some sense. Secular activity can have religious fervor, like the religiosity of the football fan; religious activity, on the other hand can become a "ho-hum" affair. I suspect that Guru Nanak is objecting to "routinizing" ritual where it becomes a mindless practice - and this could apply to anything we do. The key seems to be "awareness" in what we do. Hukam may be that "awareness" to which we must be alive at every moment.

11: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 13, 2010, 6:15 AM.

Our body (sharir) is 'karam dharti', so whatever dharam-karam is done for our body is called 'karamkand'. shabad-gurbani has a direct relationship with our surt, mutt, munn and budh, as stated at the end of Japji Sahib ... as one of the five khands that is shram (uddham) khand. You can mould your body medically or with exercise. To mould your surt, mutt, Munn and budh, you need to dip into shabad-gurbani by way of seva and simran. These four vital elements are our life. They are not in the form of organs in our body; vitamins will not help to strenthen your surt, exercise will not mould our munn, and you can not increase the quantum of your mutt and budh medically. The Guru is updesh: whether you follow it or not, you have your choice. God is hukam, and you have NO Choice, you have to accept it, no matter what? So. let's Learn to follow Guru's sikhya and walk through the path of seva and simran together with shabad-kirtan and that will transform our surt, mutt, munn and budh and ultimately put us on the path of "hukam razaai chalna ..."

12: Kuljeet (Powell, U.S.A.), January 13, 2010, 7:23 PM.

Rituals are symbolic and can help. Growing up in a very religious household, we had few rituals. Nitnem before breakfast, Rehras before the evening meal; Kirtan every Friday, to name a few. They helped me and kept me grounded through my life. Years of following these rituals made me have discipline, will power, humility, focus, moral conduct and a deep love for gurbani.

13: Yadwinder Singh (Pickerington, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 13, 2010, 7:53 PM.

Hukam can be painful or pleasing. But the problem is how can we train our mind to stay on an even keel. As an ordinary human being, how is it possible not to get excited if you are blessed with something huge and how is it possible not to feel depressed or down when you face a tragedy?

14: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 14, 2010, 6:35 AM.

Nitnem is surely a ritual as Nirmal Singh ji has quite correctly pointed out. Likewise, all religious traditions have an element of ritual. The general consensus during this dialogue so far seems to be that some ritual may be necessary to focus the mind and should not be dismissed out of hand. From this, would it be fair to conclude that there is an inherent human need for ritual - religious or secular? After all, there was ritual even at Kartarpur during Guru Nanak's lifetime. Guru ji must be pointing to something that is "missing" in the practices he listed in this pauri. The missing ingredient is submission to Hukam, which, as Mohan Singh ji says, is related to our inner self, it is not a physical thing although it directs how we act. We are missing the inner essence, or "bhav". Yadwinder Singh brings up a very pertinent point, namely, how do we stay on an even keel in the swirl of everyday life. I would invite readers to weigh in on this. I will start off by suggesting, first, that submitting to Hukam and accepting that I may not be the center of the Universe (as imagined by all of us) is a bitter pill to swallow indeed. We will continue with this thread. It will be interesting to see what the sangat thinks. The excitement of gain, and the pain of loss, happens to all of us on a daily basis. What is the proper reaction or how does one stay centered?

15: Gurdev Singh Bir (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 14, 2010, 10:30 PM.

I think the very nature of gyan in the gurbani is to transform (or metamorphose) us into that 'even keel' as we call it. Through the practice of meditation (which, practiced at a regular time of the day, can be called a ritual!) one will, with the right bhaavna, have the settling effect on the munn as the Gurus have described. It is this stage that we aspire with the Guru's help. It is a long and interesting journey; obviously the Guru is an excellent companion on this journey. We have to conquer the five 'thieves': kaam, krodh, lobh, moh and, the most obstinate one, ahankaar. One point worthy of note here: a lot of our trans-literators keep referring to kaam as sexual in nature. I believe it points to the 'kaamnaava' in the broader sense. If we condition ourselves to believe we are just the caretakers of everything the Guru has bestowed on us - the family, worldly belongings, etc. - why then this sense of gain and loss? This sense 'I' or 'mine' slowly needs to dissolve as one walks with the Guru. If we really think deeply, don't you think when we feel this pain of loss, we are in essence telling the Guru that I know what is best for me.

16: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.), January 15, 2010, 6:51 AM.

In my initial message, I tried to provide my perspective for each line of the Japji verse under review. Re the last line - I wanted to dig deeper into the intended message but left it out with the hope that another contributor may help us with those details. There is a general opinion about the words 'hukam', 'razaai', 'chalna' and 'likheaa naal'. I would like to expand or rearrange my thoughts on these words. Hukam to me is not "Him ordering". It is His prevalance, His worldly set up, all phenomena (sun/ moon/ sky), environment (wind/ weather/ water), occurances (pain/ pleasure, birth/ death), all species, happenings (earth quakes, accidents), etc. In the Sikh concept, God does not give orders. There is the concept of acceptance which is implied in the next two words - razaai chalna. For me, it is not His 'rehmat". It is to agree, accept, obey, go along, anticipate. Then the last words - likheaa naal. For me, it is something part of our life, it is part of the package, connected and not separate. Other contributors' reflections on this will be appreciated.

17: Yadwinder Singh (Pickerington, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 15, 2010, 11:55 AM.

On the five vices, as Bir ji says, the biggest one to tackle is the ego. I think the message is 'sanjam' or control, NOT 'tyaag' or abandonment. Some of these vices you cannot abandon; they need to be conquered and kept in control ... e.g., kaam is necessary for reproduction, krodh for self defence, lobh for business and moh to raise kids and live within the family. Control/ sanjam/ moderation is the Sikh way of life.

18: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 16, 2010, 7:27 AM.

"Mahaa anand achinth sehajaaeiaa // Dhusaman dhooth mueae sukh paaeiaa ||1|| rehaao // Mai sabh kichh chhodd prabh tuhee dhhiaaeiaa ||1|| [Asa M5, GGS:371] Yadwinder Singh ji, certainly we can express our feelings. When you express joy, share it with the Almighty Waheguru as shukrana. When you express pain or sorrow, do not blame others or even God, and stay calm. As Nirmal Singh ji said, 'hukam razaai chalna' means as Air, Fire and Water are in His hukam, and all planets and stars are in His hukam, we should also live in His hukam. To train our mind, there is a sylebas: 'Guru Satguruka jo Sikh akhaave' [Gaudi Ki Vaar, M4, GGS:305]. Nam Simran can help in mind elevation. This requires kashish for shabad-kirtan and concentration (dhyan) in Waheguru. All our relations are bonded with the gravity of kashish. As a one year old baby has kashish for her mother, and dhyan like her mother as she does all her work, even cooking, but her dhyan is in her baby all time. It's really hard to develop this kind of hunger, but it is possible with Guru's kirpa. One can work 10/12 hours standing, but cannot sit quietly and concentrate even for half an hour. Simran, meditation, is a big subject and cannot be explained here in great detail. It requires a scientific approach. Refer to panch khand, dharam khand, gyan khand, sharm khand, karam khand and elevation to sach khand. By and large people are engaged in sangarsh bhakti, filled with kaamna-manokaamna. In this there is nothing but simply bhatakna (wandering) from mandir to masjid, from dera to dargah, from yoga to tantriks, behaving weak-minded and engaging in karamkhand. (See Pauri 17 of Japji Sahib and Ashtpadi, Sorath M5, GGS:641 for list.) Another one is samarpan bhakti or bhaavana Bahkti and here there is NO wandering. This can be practiced even while sitting at home. As Bir ji pointed out, it is hard to control kaam, krodh, lobh, moh and ahankaar. Guru Nanak says 'Ek mare panche mil rovei' [Rag Asa, GGS:413]. So, control or conquer 'mother' trishna and all the five thieves will calm down and then sister 'aasha' will care for them. She will transform ahankaar into alankaar, krodh into rosh (veer rasa), she will limit lobh to just needs, discipline kaam and divert moh for prabhu prem and limit it re worldly affairs. Prabhu is naam and naam is Hukam:, 'Eko naam hukam haie'. In the 2nd pauri of Japji Sahib, there is a verdict by Guru Nanak: 'Hukme under sabh ko /bahar hukam na koie.' You will find doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers and other professionals everywhere; whether it is a city, town or village, but it is hard to find sat purakh (a real sant mahatma).

19: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 16, 2010, 8:46 AM.

I am inclined to agree with Nirmal Singh ji that Hukam is not "Him ordering." To me, it is more palatable to think of Hukam as "the order of things" as in the natural order or the moral order. The fallacy of "Him ordering" stems from our infantile idea of God as an old "baba" with a long beard sitting "up there", wagging a finger at us. I will admit that disabusing ourselves from the anthropomorphic idea of God is difficult. Despite years of trying and knowing better, I still yearn for a meeting with an old grey beard. The word "inscribed" was used in the translation to convey the idea that "likhieyah naal" means it is connected to life, to creation in all its dimensions. In sum, Hukam appears to be the "organizing principle" or regulatory agency that permeates all Creation. Gurdev Singh and Yadwinder Singh rightly point to the need for a disciplined life. Gurdev Singh's suggestion that we ought to view ourselves as caretakers is quite similar to Shakespeare's metaphor of us being actors on a stage. A good actor delivers a great performance knowing that it is a role. We need to deliver a great performance on Earth without confusing our authentic selves with the role we have been given. Do we need some measure of "kaam, krodh, etc" as Yadwinder Singh suggests? What do the readers think?

20: T. Sher Singh (Guelph, Ontario, Canada), January 16, 2010, 9:20 AM.

In answer to the last question posed by Ravinder: I think the Guru Granth is very clear on the tackling of the Five Thieves. We are, in my understanding, to conquer them, to control them ... the language used in gurbani never implies 'eradicating' them. I like this approach ... the five are to become our 'slaves', so to speak ... and not our masters! The image of wrestling with the Five and pinning them down, appears quite often as a potent metaphor.

21: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.), January 16, 2010, 6:19 PM.

As T. Sher Singh ji said, gurbani does not suggest the eradication of the five vices, because we cannot remove these nature-given emotions. Because these five emotions are critical for our survival. The civilized world we have managed to create is the human spirit as a result of these emotions. Take for example greed or 'lobh'. It is necessary to have 'lobh'. That is what motivates us to gather food for our survival. Humans (and some other species) have learned that after gathering, food can be stored. From storage, we learned to deprive others by hoarding or stealing. That is why 'lobh' has ben put in the in the 'bad' category. Our Gurus developed the doctrine of 'wund chhakna' - sharing with others. Similarly, 'pride' is a wonderful emotion. It motivates us to try to go beyond our capacity in every enterprise. Pride also has 'ego' as one of its outcomes. Gurdev ji, Yadwinder ji, Mohan ji, Sher ji, Ravinder ji and others have made wise comments for us to learn in order to channel emotions properly. To keep everything in balance. The purpose of gurbani was not to create a competing religion but to provide a source of knowledge to educate us. And in the process, become better human beings in coping with the challenges of life. To conclude, Guru Nanak established the definition of HIM in the Mool Mantar. And has logically moved ahead with his concept in the opening 'pauri' of Japji, to establish relationship between us (humans) and the natural worldly order around us. In the following 'pauris', Guru Ji will explain/ amplify his rationale for the concept.

22: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 17, 2010, 9:25 AM.

Very well explained by Nirmal Singh ji. The 38 pauris of Japji Sahib are like stepping stones; they are interrelated. Pauris 34 to 37 explain the way to dwell in parmarth, to mould surt, mutt, munn and budh. Pauri 38 explains how to do it. Live in the sansar, dwell in parmarth. To live in the present is to live in hukam. To engross in kirtan, shabad, gurbani and simran - seva is to learn to live in the present and to attain nimrata (humility), dhiraj (patience) and even daya (Mercy). Pauri 16 says: "Dhol dharam daya ka poot", or that 'daya dharam ka mool haie'. Without mercy, nimrata and dhiraj, we are not truly religious. Thus gurbani is an ocean of knowledge (gyan); it guides us to balance our five primal forces and not to blast them like 'kartoot pashu ki manukh jaat' [GGS:466].

23: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 17, 2010, 10:40 AM.

Ravinder Singh ji: 'kartoot pashu ki manush jaat' belongs to Sukhmani Sahib [GGS:466].

24: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 17, 2010, 11:30 AM.

I hope that I speak for all readers and active participants when I say that the dialogue so far has been encouraging and enlightening. It is interesting to see how we have meandered only to come back to where we started. From the conclusion that we cannot get rid of rituals (Nirmal Singh ji) because everything gets ritualized; to Jasvinder ji's, Kuljeet and Atika's reminder that rituals are a means to an end and intent is all important; to Mohan Singh ji's insightful distinction between what works for the body and what method works for the mind and, last but not least, the question of the so called five evils of Lust, Greed, etc. T. Sher Singh ji rightly pointed out that these need to be our slaves and not lording over us - a point of view very nicely elaborated by Nirmal Singh ji who cautions against allowing these impulses to degenerate. I leave the readers with this thought: how and when do we know where to draw the line? when is kaam enough? Or greed, or pride or attachment? In short, when and how do we know when these make us self-centered and narcissistic and when are these applied correctly?

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