Kids Corner


The Peach & The Plum
Part III

PURAN SINGH [1881 - 1931]




Continued from yesterday ...


People who are spiritually or artistically rich in any way preserve themselves. They shudder at the idea of self-spending in worldly pursuits. They prefer death by starvation to living by deceiving people on a smaller or larger scale.

The philosopher seeks purity in the mineral, more than in the animal kingdom, little knowing, that perhaps what he calls sin in man is more precious a virtue than the dead glitter of gold.

Of course, all organic things rot; man too, woman too.

But rotting itself shows more life. When I see the oxen eating and eating straw, I look at them for long, since this act of gluttony, when they have such large bodies, is the highest spiritual act, compared with the non-eating of a huge boulder.

Senses and their excitements and pleasures too, of animals, including the human animal, are, from this viewpoint, highly interesting spiritual acts.

I think the bullock is a saint when eating and the cow when licking her calf.

When one prefers the beauty of a snow peak to that of the white brow of a maiden, he shows inferior spiritual taste.

Life interests the artist, and not the dead conceptions of it, however grand and sublime they may be, so to say, to look at. The face of the man, more than the sparkle of the diamond.

To the artist, the goat that eats grass, gives birth to a kid, and suckles him, is more spiritual a phenomenon than the sunset or the sunrise or a hundred fleeting colours of the sky; the latter are no use, except to choose from, for the colours on his brush to paint a goat. For him nature is diffused, dim personalities in the making and man the spiritualised, sublimated image of it. And he flies, seeking the purity of the union of soul, both to man and to nature. His feelings are personal. And his art converts the universe into the deity of the temple of his heart.

Well does Victor Hugo say, “Reduction of the whole universe to a single being and expansion of that single being to God is love.”

Diamonds and rubies, pearls and gems, art-creations in marble and in colours, the flower and the fruit, are in the hands of artists just a beautiful alphabet which has its full meaning only when it spells the name of the Beloved.

This is the great spiritual motif of the Guru’s Ideal of Art.

The Guru contemplates on feeling. “Feeling is all in all”. Man in conceived as feeling in flesh, as divine act in flesh, as God’s word in flesh. And while feeling creates its own new forms, imitation cannot. Imitation is like making dead statues of marble. It is of no interest to the artist of the Guru. Imitation is repetition that has no meaning.

The way Potiphar’s wife falls in love with Joseph is beyond all repetition.

The Buddha coming between the doe and the hunter, is the final form of that feeling.

Jesus saying to Mary: “Go, woman, and sin no more,” and puffing the Pharisees to shame shall for ever remain above all following.

Mohammed’s weeping like a man on the grave of his slave, Sayid, is unique.

Omar’s way of treating his slaves on an equal footing with himself is beyond all imitation. No one after them in the Moslem world can be capable, in that way, of divine democratic feeling.

Guru Nanak is glad to see feelings being sculptured like this in human history. But he is sick of men who wish to imitate and follow, and be but dead quotations of great things. To the Guru, the human history is the history of such feelings, the rest is of no consequence at all.

It is not quite true that beauty is all within me. Beauty is equally all outside me. But what is true is this, that it is vain to fly after the beauty outside me to possess it. I must receive the supersensation of beauty and absorb it into my blood.

One who breathes beauty is an artist, according to the Guru. Man should be the most effective shock-absorber of the self-sensations of beauty. The Guru says, “Eat thrills, absorb joy and be more beautiful than all outside beauty.”

Man perfected by devouring the lightning flashes of the whole cosmos scintillating with beauty, is invoked by Guru Nanak. His ideal artist is Christ, Buddha, and not the one who makes images of them in colour or stone. The latter is the representative appreciation of this spiritual artist as if by the people. It is the intellectual critic that expresses himself in marble or in colour; all so-called art below that is but purer form of mere criticism. The so-called art is the excitant of higher moods in which one is made capable of true appreciation.

Guru Nanak says, the truest self-restraint that transmutes corruptible flesh into immaculate flesh is born of glorious rapture of the Beautiful in nature and in man.

Thus Simran is more artistic than the so-called ‘ethical.’ Once the human flesh is made immaculate by simran, Guru Gobind Singh calls it ‘kanchan si kaya’ -- flesh as immaculate as gold.

It is worshipful. It is the highest and the noblest art creation. From that standpoint, where flesh by the solution of God’s music in it has been transmuted, the Guru condemns both the contrition of saints at the sight of human flesh and their self-abandonment and flesh-mortification and their getting to God through penances; and he also condemns all the pleasures which result in self-putrefaction of human flesh.

Hence His ideal of spontaneous self-restrains, effortless effort to chisel one’s flesh into the immaculate beauty of the divine. Such spontaneity of the life beautiful and magnetic, is freedom. According to these standards of the Guru, the flesh is made evanescent on the artistic creation of a perfected man, the Temple of God.


The author was a poet, scientist and mystic who was inspired by Bhai Vir Singh. Author of a long list of books of both prose and poetry in English and Punjabi, his best known works include "The Spirit Born People," "The Sisters of The Spinning Wheel," "The Temple Tulips," "The Bride of The Sky," and "The Book of The Ten Masters."

[Courtesy: Harinder Singh. Edited for]
February 8, 2013


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Part III"

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