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Talking Stick

What is Sikhi? - Part II
The Talking Stick Colloquium # 30, July 26 - August 1

Convenor: RAVINDER SINGH TANEJA

 

 

THE DIALOGUE - So Far

We have been at pains to explain that we're considering the question, "What is Sikhi," not "Who is a Sikh."

'Who is a Sikh?' can be a loaded question and one that we were not even remotely addressing.

THIS WEEK - What is Sikhi? Part II

Building on last week's discussion, let's continue to examine Bhai Gurdas' writings.

Listed below are a few selections that capture Bhai Gurdas' description of some of the qualities a Sikh must inculcate.

 

Vaar 2:20 - The One pervades everything

ਫੁਲਾਂ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਹੋਇ ਭਵਰੁ ਲੁਭਾਣਾ ।
phulaa(n) andar vaas hai hoi bhavar lubhaanaa|
The Lord is the fragrance in flowers and becoming a black bee, He is attracted towards flowers.

ਅੰਬਾਂ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਰਸ ਧਰੇ ਕੋਇਲ ਰਸੁ ਮਾਣਾ ।
ambaa(n) andar ras dharay koyal ras maanaa|
Sap in the mangoes is He and becoming a nightingale He enjoys the same.

ਮੋਰ ਬਬੀਹਾ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਘਣ ਵਰਸ ਸਿਵਾਣਾ ।
mor babeehaa hoi kai ghan varas sivaanaa|
Becoming a peacock and the rain bird, only He identifies the delight in raining of the clouds.

ਖੀਰ ਨੀਰ ਸੰਜੋਗ ਹੋਇ ਕਲੀਕੰਦ ਵਖਾਣਾ ।
kheer neer sanjog hoi kaleekand vakhaanaa|
He transforms Himself into variegated sweets by becoming milk and water.

ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ ਆਕਾਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਪਿੰਡ ਪਰਾਣਾ ।
Oankaar aakaar kar hoi pind paraanaa|
The same Formless Lord assuming different forms resides in all the bodies.

ਆਪੇ ਆਪਿ ਵਰੱਤਦਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਵਾਣਾ ॥੨੦॥੨॥
aapay aap varatadaa guramukh paravaanaa ॥20॥2॥
He is omnipresent in all substances and activities and gurmukhs bow before all such stages

Vaar 25:8 - Humility

ਨੀਚਹੁ ਨੀਚ ਸਦਾਵਣਾ ਕੀੜੀ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਆਪੁ ਗਣਾਏ ।
neechoh neech sadaavanaa keerhee hoi n aap ganaaay|
Ants never make themselves noticed and are known lowest among the lowly.

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਚਲਣਾ ਇਕਤੁ ਖਡੁ ਸਹੰਸ ਸਮਾਏ ।
gurmukh maarag chalanaa ikat khad sahans samaaay|
They follow the path of gurmukhs and due to their broad mindedness they live in thousands, in a small hole.

ਘਿਅ ਸਕਰ ਦੀ ਵਾਸੁ ਲੈ ਜਿਥੈ ਧਰੀ ਤਿਥੈ ਚਲਿ ਜਾਏ ।
ghee sakar dee vaas lai jithai dharee tithai chal jaaay|
Only by smelling ghee and sugar, they reach the place where these things are kept (gurmukhs also search out holy congregations).

ਡੁਲੈ ਖੰਡੁ ਜੁ ਰੇਤੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਖੰਡੂ ਦਾਣਾ ਚੁਣਿ ਚੁਣਿ ਖਾਏ ।
dhulai khand jo rayt vich khandoo daanaa chunn chunn khaaay|
They pick up the sugar bits scattered in sand just as a gurmukh cherishes the virtues.

ਭ੍ਰਿੰਗੀ ਦੇ ਭੈ ਜਾਇ ਮਰਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਭ੍ਰਿੰਗੀ ਮਾਰਿ ਜੀਵਾਏ ।
bhringee day bhay jaa-ey mar hovai bhringee maar jeevaaay|
Dying of the fear of the worm, the ant itself becomes the worm and makes others also like itself.

ਅੰਡਾ ਕਛੂ ਕੂੰਜ ਦਾ ਆਸਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਿਰਾਸੁ ਵਲਾਏ ।
andaa kachhoo koonj daa aasaa vich niraas valaaay|
Like the eggs of the heron and the tortoise, it (ant) remains detached amidst hopes.

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਸੁਖ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ॥੮॥
Gurumukh gursikh sukh phal paaay ॥8॥
Similarly gurmukhs too learn to attain the pleasure fruits.

Vaar 26:20  - The Guru as a transforming catalyst

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਰਸਿ ਪਰਸਿਐ ਕੰਚਨੁ ਕਰੈ ਮਨੂਰ ਮਲੀਣਾ ।
satgur paaras parasiai kanchan karai manoor maleenaa|
The true Guru is a philosopher's stone by whose touch dross transforms into gold.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਬਾਵਨੁ ਚੰਦਨੋ ਵਾਸੁ ਸੁਵਾਸੁ ਕਰੈ ਲਾਖੀਣਾ ।
satgur baavan chandano vaas suvaas karai laakheenaa|
The true Guru is that sandalwood which makes everything fragrant and a million times more precious .

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਪਾਰਿਜਾਤੁ ਸਿੰਮਲੁ ਸਫਲੁ ਕਰੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਲੀਣਾ ।
satgur pooraa paarjaat simal saphal karai sang leenaa|
The true Guru is that wish fulfilling tree which makes the cotton tree full of fruit.

ਮਾਨ ਸਰੋਵਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕਾਗਹੁ ਹੰਸੁ ਜਲਹੁ ਦੁਧੁ ਪੀਣਾ ।
maan sarovar satguru kaagoh hans jaloh dudh peenaa|
The true Guru is that Manasarovar (the sacred lake in mythology) which transforms crows into swans, who can separate milk from water.

ਗੁਰ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਦਰੀਆਉ ਹੈ ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤ ਕਰੈ ਪਰਬੀਣਾ ।
gur teerath dareeaau hai pasoo parayt karai parbeenaa|
The Guru is that holy river which makes the animals and the ghosts knowledgeable and skilful.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬੰਦੀਛੋੜੁ ਹੈ ਜੀਵਣ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਰੈ ਓਡੀਣਾ ।
satgur bandeechhorh hai jeevan mukat karai Uddeenaa|
The true Guru is giver of freedom from bondage and makes the detached ones librated in life.

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਨ ਅਪਤੀਜੁ ਪਤੀਣਾ ੨੦
gurmukh munn apateej pateenaa 20
The wavering mind of the Guru-oriented individual becomes steadfast and full of confidence.

Vaar 5:4 - Sangat or the company one keeps

ਅਮਲੀ ਰਚਨਿ ਅਮਲੀਆ ਸੋਫੀ ਸੋਫੀ ਮੇਲੁ ਕਰੰਦੇ ।
amalee rachan amaleeaa sodhee sodhee mayl karanday|
The addicts mix-up with addicts and abstainers with the abstainers.

ਜੂਆਰੀ ਜੂਆਰੀਆ ਵੇਕਰਮੀ ਵੇਕਰਮ ਰਚੰਦੇ ।
jooaaree jooaareeaa vaykaramee vaykaram rachanday|
The gamblers mix up with gamblers and scoundrels with scoundrels.

ਚੋਰਾ ਚੋਰਾ ਪਿਰਹੜੀ ਠਗ ਠਗ ਮਿਲਿ ਦੇਸ ਠਗੰਦੇ ।
choraa choraa piraharhee thug thug mil des thugganday|
Love abounds amongst thieves and the cheats who getting together and dupe the country.

ਮਸਕਰਿਆ ਮਿਲਿ ਮਸਕਰੇ ਚੁਗਲਾ ਚੁਗਲ ਉਮਾਹਿ ਮਿਲਦੇ ।
masakariaa mil masakaray chugalaa chugal umaah miladay|
Jesters meet jesters enthusiastically and so do the backbiters.

ਮਨਤਾਰੂ ਮਨਤਾਰੂਆਂ ਤਾਰੂ ਤਾਰੂ ਤਾਰ ਤਰੰਦੇ ।
mantaaroo mantaarooaan taaroo taaroo taar taranday|
Swimmers by meeting swimmers go and get across.

ਦੁਖਿਆਰੇ ਦੁਖਿਆਰਿਆਂ ਮਿਲਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਅਪਣੇ ਦੁਖ ਰੁਵੰਦੇ ।
dukhiaaray dukhiaariaan mil mii apanay dukh ruvanday|
The afflicted meet the afflicted ones and share their sufferings.

ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਵਸੰਦੇ ॥੪॥
saadhasangat gursikh vasanday ॥4॥
Likewise, the Sikhs of the Guru feel pleasure in the holy congregation.

 

LET'S CONSIDER

This is the concluding section on Bhai Gurdas on he Talking Stick. Can we spend this week attempting the following?

- Based on Bhai Gurdas' elucidation, sketch what a Sikh life might look like in today's context.

- How do these qualities (virtues) integrate in a Sikh life?




Conversation about this article

1: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), July 28, 2010, 9:34 AM.

Bhai Gurdas and Sikhi are entwined since his association with the faith. Both have benefited from the association. Bhai Gurdas, through his writings, has explained Sikhi in simple language, intricate similes and in multiple ways. And Sikhi provided fertile ground for Bhai Gurdas to engage in his writings and dominate the task of explaining it through his views. By using his close ties to the Guru's family and his intensity for hard work, loyalty and reverence to the Gurus, he played an important role in serving the Gurus and Sikhi in many ways. His vaars expose the readers to many facets of Sikhi of his time and its real perspective. Literally, in each vaar he has attempted to make a connection between Sikh thought, its practice and the cultural ways of the people of that period. His writings help explain well laid-out concepts of Sikh thought encompassing Nam Simran, sadh sangat, devotion to Him and complete surrender (to Him). He provides a clear glimpse of a Sikh's duty, deeds, daily routine, benevolent approach and the need of Sikhi, etc. He utilizes many historical, mythical and cultural angles to highlight the significance of Sikhi in each perspective. He demonstrates an uncanny understanding, willingness and his belief to respect the boundaries laid out by the Gurus on Sikh philosophy. As presented by Bhai Gurdas, the most emphasized, admired, and practiced aspect of Sikhi was its high spiritual quotient both in concept and practice. In his time the goal and purpose of Sikhi was to recite His Naam, perform good deeds, character development, family life and participation in community enterprises. There is no change in the approach to this day other than somewhat different emphasis on the faith. In Sikhi, the human mind is advised to control its self-betraying tendencies by engaging the mind to remember and serve the Creator. In evaluating the Sikhi of Bhai Gurdas' time, one cannot help ignore the temptation to compare it with the current practice. Such approach can lead to a slippery slope and lose focus. It is reasonable to say that most Sikhs read, appreciate and emulate the Sikhi of his time in their hearts and homes. Because the concept of Sikhi revolves around recitation, simran, devotion and surrender to Him as presented in the Guru Granth. Only a spiritual, devotional and surrendering mind can become malleable like water, one of the rare natural elements that can evaporate and lose itself and re-appear as rain to support the life cycle and nurture others.

2: Aryeh Leib (Israel), July 29, 2010, 2:30 AM.

While the pace and detailed complexity of our lives today cannot compare with that in which Bhai Gurdas lived, the lesson remains that we must strive to live our lives within the context and framework of the Guru's Hukam with the constant hope of attaining His/ Her Nadar. The way to do this, according to my reading, necessitates humbly and joyfully going about our lives, utilizing our God-given talents to the best of our abilities for the improvement of the situation in which we have been placed. Not seeking glory, but accepting personal responsibility. Finally, recognizing the truth in the popular statement, "Show me who your friends are, and I'll show you who you are"; that our attitudes are reinforced by those of the companions we seek out along the way. Our sangat's main purpose is to keep us focused and keep us on track in a world where it's so easy to fall prey to the endless diversions of Maya.

3: Balbir Singh (Germany), July 30, 2010, 3:20 AM.

True Sikhi is learnt from the Guru, not from a preacher.

4: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas. U.S.A.), July 30, 2010, 7:25 AM.

Balbir ji, I always enjoy reading your brief and thoughtful views. Yes, the Guru is the most befitting source and the only Guru we have is the Guru Granth. How do you view a follower seeking help every now and then if he needs it? I hope the Guru you are implying is Guru Granth Sahib. If it is HIM, the complications multiply ... your feedback would be welcome.

5: Balbir Singh (Germany), July 30, 2010, 3:18 PM.

The Guru is the Shabad, not a book or a human being. This truth is realized after getting the wisdom (Gur) of Naam Shabad. The difference between the Guru and a preacher also becomes clear then. Human life is rare to experience truth. Are we waiting for God to happen?

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The Talking Stick Colloquium # 30, July 26 - August 1"









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