Copyright Himalayan International Institute
‘The more I share the more I learn’. esamskriti sent two friends a complimentary subscription of Yoga International, a magazine published by the Himalayan Institute. I was pleasantly surprised to be told by is customer service executive that was entitled to any two books worth Rs 300/ free. From the catalogue I selected this book since Guru Gobind Singh is one of my heroes, his picture adorns house ka main entrance. Actually have one laminated picture of the Guru & another hero Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
The book is in a conversation format between Guruji and Banda Bahadur. Banda was a hermit Bairagi Madho Das who was as Lachman Dev before he was ordained as a monk. He had been born to a family of Rajput farmers in Jammu in 1670. After his debate with Guru Gobind Singh, however, he left the life of a hermit to take up action in the world in the defense of dharma.
After reading through the book briefly asked my spiritually inclined doctor mother to go through the full book and select those parts that brought out the best of the Japji, Sukhmani Saheb & Adi Granth. Would like to thank my colleague Ajay for patiently & sincerely type matter from the book. Please bless him. The piece has ten chapters –
1. Preface contains an introduction into Sikh Dharma & history of Sikhism.
2. Drama of Life.
3. Dharma & Adharma.
4. Misuse of Ahimsa.
5. Sri Nanak Dev.
6. Beyond Duality.
7. Essence of all Religions.
8. Guru Lineage.
9. Divine Reality.
This chapter has two parts, preface & history of Sikhism.
I have been contemplating the philosophy of Sikhism for a long time, but my recent visit to Chandigarh, Punjab, inspired and prompted me to write this book-Celestial Song / Gobind Geet. It is the dialogue between Sri Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur, two great leaders in the history of humanity. These two figures are not fictional but factual. By learning of their epic lives and profound encounter, readers will understand that there have lived such great men on the earth, whose lives have been unparalleled, matchless, and exemplary. There is no other example in the history of the East or West to compare to that of Guru Gobind Singh and Band Bahadur. They will be forever remembered by the people of India for their dedication and sacrifice. Just as in the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna and Arjuna are two outstanding figures, so in Sikh history Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Bahadur are two unique and great personalities. My love and reverence for them are enormous, long-standing, and profound.
I was already in the process of putting Sri Guru Granth Sahib into poetry when I began to write this book. Then, whatever time I could steal from my busy schedule I spent in rhyming the couplets for Gobind Geet. Poetic form has been used throughout its eighteen chapters so that children and students can remember the message more easily. The philosophy expressed in this book has been taken from Guru Granth Sahib, Japji, and Dasam Granth. The history and philosophy of Sikh dharma is also briefly explained. Although the dialogue between Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Bahadur is purely imaginary, the event actually took place, and I found it an excellent medium for explaining Sikh dharma.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev founded Sikh dharma to establish harmony between diverse traditions. He was a pioneer sage who equally revered the essentials of all traditions. He reformed the Hindu dharma by taking away the non-essentials and embracing the bhakti pantha (path of love) in a practical way. His followers became a unique and strong community called Sikhs, which means “selfless servers.” The Sikh philosophy originally sprang from the source of the Vedas and sayings of the stages as, did also Buddhism and Jainism. Sikh dharma was revered and embraced by Hindu and Muslim alike, uniting the people and awakening their social and spiritual awareness.
Sikhism is dedicated to upholding dharma. Dharma means the law that holds and sustains all in One. Its purpose is to attain a state of unity with the supreme Consciousness by removing all differences and inequalities between people, societies, and nations. By following the intrinsic, eternal law of dharma, one realizes one’s latent potential for expressing truth and love. The perennial law of dharma is universal. It is described by all the great sages and spiritual traditions of the world. Its practical guidelines help people in social and spiritual development, leading the individual and the whole to the highest goal.
Dharma is different from religion. Religion is based on dogma, doctrines, customs, rules, and rituals; it is an institution with distinctive characteristics. Dharma is more subtle and profound than religion-it is not bound by cultural, temporal, or theoretical differences, for it is the essential cohesive factor that unites all people in their highest potentials for human development. Truth, compassion, forbearance, forgiveness, integrity, and love are the hallmarks of dharma. It is the source of humanity’s finest principles, qualities, virtues, and values. It is the inner network that supports all individuals and draws them to the Divine. Awareness of dharma breaks down all barriers between people, for it reveals our innate unity-that all people are members of one family.
Sikh dharma is based on selfless service to humanity and upholding dharma, regardless of the individual sacrifice required. There are no rituals or dogma in Sikh dharma, which is universal and egalitarian. Devotion is expressed inwardly by repetition of the Holy Name and externally through service to others. Sikh dharma is profound and expansive. It does not impose rigidity upon its adherents, but guides them to accept all and exclude none. It embraces compassion and ahimsa (non harming) while dynamically maintaining health of body, mind, and spirit. Selfless action in the world is a spiritual path that leads to freedom. Sikh dharma practices cooperation, understanding, and solidarity to create and maintain a model society based on the laws of dharma. Sikh dharma accepts people of all sects, castes, creeds, and backgrounds; uniting them within love for the eternal, divine law of dharma.
Sikhism believes in one absolute Reality beyond time, space, and causation, which is the formless, nameless, limitless, attributeless, and infinite universal Truth. That Reality is called Omkar; Om is the mother sound of the universe. The gist of Guru Nanak Dev’s teaching is the path of love, which includes all and excludes none. It does not touch the extremes of being engrossed in the world or renouncing the world, but teaches one how to live in the world while remaining unaffected
In this book, the ideals of Sikh dharma are described in a simple and lucid way so they can be enjoyed, understood, and applied by all who hear them. The book begins with a description of Guru Nanak Dev and an appeal to Guru Gobind Singh to send someone to assist those suffering in the drama of life. Then the story opens with the two central characters, Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Bahadur, in their separate worlds: the battlefield and the hermitage. Finally the two meet, and their dialogue begins as they discuss their ancient bond and future mission. But Banda is attached to his role as monk, and so Guru Gobind engages him in a dialogue to convince him to accept dharma by serving humanity actively in the world. The guru instructs the disciple in the ways of dharma and directs him to uphold it by practicing the middle path. Then dharma is defined. Next a debate about responsible action, futility, and ahimsa occurs between the pacifist-renunciate and the warrior-saint. Banda is a last convinced to act, but he doubts his ability to change the collective destiny of humanity. Guru Gobind assures him it is possible, citing the examples of Sri Rama and Guru Nanak Dev. The importance of fighting against adharma (unrighteousness), and not merely against some sect, nation, or faction, is explained. Then the dualistic and non-dualistic views of life are discussed. Psychic powers are described as obstacles to growth, and the highest path-the essence of all-is revealed. Then the guru lineage, the guru, and the method of initiation are explained. Then are described the Divine, the Goddess, and the Holy Name. Finally Banda is convinced to leave the hermitage and serve others selflessly and dynamically in the world. he surrenders himself completely to Guru Nanak’s lineage and is initiated into the Khalsa.
The main idea of the book is that spiritually aware have a responsibility to help those in the world-that selfless service to humanity is, in fact, a spiritual practice. To serve, to remember, and to love are the three essential aspects of Sikh dharma. If all people will strive to apply these principles in their daily lives, then the flower of humanity will blossom. I hope readers will find this book beneficial, illuminating, and enlightening.
History and Philosophy of Sikhism
It was at this point, in 1708, that the Guru went to Nander, on the banks of the Godavari River, where he was to meet an ascetic monk named Bairagi Madho Das. The Guru found the hermit’s but unoccupied and made himself at home, resting upon the monk’s cot. When the renunciate spied the interloper, he rushed to his hut with the intention of ousting him, but when his eyes met those of the guru he fell in supplication at his feet, declaring himself the guru’s follower.
It is said that the guru / disciple relationship is the most sacred of all. “When the disciple is ready, the guru appears” is a true saying. The ancient bond of disciple and guru brought these two together at the most opportune time, for the ascetic had formerly been a kshatriya” (warrior), and his battle skills were to be greatly needed by the guru.
The hermit Bairagi Madho Das had been known as Lachman Dev before he was ordained as a monk. He had been born to a family of Rajput farmers in Jammu in 1670. As a boy he enjoyed archery and hunting; as a youth he established a reputation for having great skill in wielding arms. He also had a sensitive heart, for his whole life changed because of the tender feelings he experienced during an incident that occurred one day while was hunting. He had shot a deer, but when he came to inspect his kill, he saw that his arrow had ripped open the womb of a doe, revealing two unborn fawns lying dead in their mother’s blood. The sight filled him with a revulsion for killing. Moved to an acute awareness of life’s transitory and sorrowful nature, he instantly decided to take up the life of a renunciate.
The young seeker, still in his teens, began to wander in search of peace and meaning. He encountered various sadhus (holy men) and was eventually ordained by one in Kasur, becoming a bairagi (monk – one has mastered vairagya – dispassion, non attachment) called Madho Das. After a while he left there and wandered to Nander. There he became the disciple of a Nath sadhu, renowned for yogic siddhis (psychic powers). Practicing a life of meditation and disciplined asceticism, he became an accomplished yogi. He was so advanced that he was appointed his teacher’s successor, heading the hermitage and helping those who came to him for blessings and guidance. After his debate with Guru Gobind Singh, however, he left the life of a hermit to take up action in the world in the defense of dharma. Thus was he initiated with amrit, (Ambrosia, nectar. It is used in initiating a Sikh into the Khalsa & conveys the idea of attaining immortality & bliss), given the name Banda Singh Bahadur, and assigned to lead the guru’s mission.
As a leader, Banda Bahadur was outstanding and unique. His wisdom, zeal, and humanitarian love enhanced his remarkable skill in wielding arms. Warriors rallied to his battle cry with enthusiastic determination. His keen battle strategies and uncommon positive will brought him victory when none seemed possible. For three years he knew no defeat at all and during the time he battled the Moguls he turned the tide so forcefully that they could never again reign over the Sikh community. But in so doing he incurred the intense wrath of Mogul bigotry, and they plotted to lay siege to him. He was thereby cut off and was made captive in December 1715.
The Moguls locked Banda Bahadur in a strong iron cage bound atop an elephant and carried him to Delhi by slow procession. The two-month display of his captivity was designed to subdue the Sikhs’ zeal, but the sight of their beloved hero so mistreated actually stoked the fire of their determination.
Banda Bahadur’s martyrdom fueled the people’s resolve to continue the mission of the gurus. A series of Sikh generals sustained the impetus established by the valiant accomplishments of Banda Bahadur. Finally they drove the Moguls from their land, and never again did Mogul power threaten dharma in the hub of Sikh influence.
The Sikh ideal established by Guru Gobind Singh constituted a resurrection of the national character of India, which had been buried under centuries of oppressive foreign rule. Guru Gobind Singh aroused the dynamic quality of deep purpose and self-respect inherent in his people’s psyche. He united the people in the spirit of tolerance, humanitarian concern, and excellence that was their essential nature. Banda Bahadur carried on the dynamic crusade of Guru Gobind Singh, and within a century other Sikh leaders established a free and secure society in which the people could thrive materially and spiritually.
The confident action and universal outlook of Sikhism took root in the Indian spirit due to the bold and insightful efforts of Guru Gobind Singh. The ideal Sikh society, which values a cooperative, purposeful, and egalitarian perspective, provides a model for social and spiritual progress. The Sikh outlook can rouse the dormant potentials of a vanquished personality or a vanquished nation.
Guru Gobind Singh’s dynamic philosophy is universally appealing and democratic. It rallies the spirit to proper action, just as he aroused the spirit of his disciple Banda in the famous dialogue of destiny they enjoyed just one month before the guru’s death. The dialogue between Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur took place in circumstances similar to those of the great dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, which is recorded in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. The purpose of both dialogues is to inspire the disciple to uphold dharma and attain spiritual fulfillment. The message to Guru Gobind Singh is universal, uplifting, and based upon the practical expression of divine love. Its essence is, as relevant today as it was in his time, for the dharma always needs to be upheld.