Celebrating Sat Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday

A (virtual) tete-a-tete with the Guru

Tejinder Singh Bedi

Happy 550th Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib JI

Living by Sat Guru Nanak’s name, who constantly reminds of ‘1-Onkar’ — ‘Waheguru’, day in and day out this scribe has often been in a silent dialogue with the great Guru and seeks to dedicate this humble contribution to celebrations for His birthday today. The most important day in the history of followers of Sikhism, the youngest and the most modern of all the religions. The mystique encounters whenever blessed often end up with misty eyes for the bliss these bestow, as a rarest of rare experience of life, ever.

Reading and trying to assimilate Guru Sahib’s Gurbani is the closest means to enter his teachings and ever-lasting blessings. Although Guru Sahib’s hymns have been preserved by time, what he really meant by these or how he would have explained these to his followers perhaps does not seem to have been. Alas, no means of (audio-visual) recording of his discourses existed then.

Extracts from the conscious and the sub-conscious virtual encounters:

Q. Kindly describe God. When did He come into Being?

A. God is limitless, unknowable, incomprehensible, unimprisonable by concepts, percepts and unfathomable, beyond time, space, destiny and manifests His Self infinitely in every creation of His. Within every being yet invisible. Being Absolute, He existed much before He created all that He created including the unending urge to Know Him, including all of HIs other creations — the Time, the Sun, the Air, the Water, the Earth, the Skies, the Vacuum and everything yet unknown to mankind. He Himself created the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and then all the other Universes and Planets and the men and the women and countless other living as well as nonliving creatures instilled in His Maya. For the creation of these all — His mere toys immensely pleased HIM.

Q. Then why does man run away from HIM?

A. When Maya overpowers a man through its various forms of first the desires, then the aspirations & the hopes and next the means chosen to pursue these escalating to greed in pursuit or race for power, position, wealth, name, fame and several other pleasures, it starts separating the man from Him.

Our body belongs to the material world but our spirit is in the essence of 1 Onkar. Who shines within every creation forever. Perceptions, intellect, wisdom, and mind vanish with the body. Only the soul remains which is the real existence and sustains and controls these all in an awakened state. The brain, the will, the consciousness and the intelligence too are all but its instruments.

The soul does not change or perish with the body. The man still in ignorance employs his mind; an agent of his soul to fulfill all the desires of its body and heart. Peace of mind starts eluding and sufferings commence. Ego leads to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Sins are committed out of illusions that are out of tune with the Source of One’s being — the 1 Onkar Waheguru! Wealth, power, influence, and the otherworldly objectives lead to ego, self-hood, individuality, indulgence in sensual pleasures and generate impurities in mind distancing the soul away from Waheguru.

Q. How did You worship HIM, then?

A. By singing His glory. Without idolizing Him or confining Him in names for He is, was and will ever be nameless. Without symbolizing Him with anything material or worldly. To me, He is Ram, Rahim, Allah, Hari all at the same time. He, in fact, has a name that is nameless! Waheguru, which is descriptive of the wonder, joys, thrill, ecstasies associated with all His perceived names.

Waheguru’s Naam when chanted with intense love, devotion, faith, and complete surrender before Him despite any weaknesses a devotee might be possessed of awakens His mercy and one is able to contemplate on Him. Bind your soul to Him every moment, dwell in His name and none else with every breath inhaled or exhaled, every step we take with His mercy until quietened.

Pure energy, peace, and spiritual powers flow from His boundless store of revelations and reservoirs. Life becomes happiness — a bliss all around. Contentment, humility, and freedom from all depression, elation, care, and anxieties follow automatically and all our actions get dedicated to Him. The mind is illumined; the mist of ego and ignorance is dispelled.

Q. What vocations should one then indulge in to sustain a living in this world?

A. In His truth there is only one merchandise; that of the sale and purchase of His Naam; for free, despite being priceless! HIS Naam will continue to remain free from all physical, mental, psychological barriers of time and space, rules, regulations and just anything else that can bind a true devotee. And, this merchandise bestows absolute profit yet in all its forms. Found through seeking and finding Him from within each of us,

Simran (remembrance) of His name leads to His connect to one’s soul. Alongside this, one should spread HIS messages of love, compassion, fraternity, and fellowship and be engrossed in search of the more learned ever. Everything human should be one’s concern. You should love to remain among people to be able to serve them.

Q. How to seek Him? Kindly guide.

A. To seek or realize Him, one has to control one’s desires. Austerities in the woods, visits to pilgrims, flaunting donations without conquering one’s mind are all of no use. By conquering others one might become strong but by conquering one’s mind one conquers the whole world. Try to attain spiritual awareness first through the disposal of ego and pride and through self-control, purification, and peace of mind.

Jealousy, fear, hate, anger, greed, lust, wrath, and all such other passions born out of Maya have to be overcome. Freed from the physical plane one’s consciousness enters the spiritual plane. Be compassionate, be empathetic towards all. Truth is higher than everything though higher still is truthful living. Practice five prayers of truth, honest living, working for the well being of all (Sarbat Da Bhalla), the good intent of mind followed by singing and reciting His praise with every breath He has bestowed upon you.

Q. Why did you keep company to music through Bala and Mardana, constant companions?

A. Music is my spiritual food of every day enshrining the philosophy in my poetry in ragas with the thought remaining its dormant party. While Waheguru’s kirtan stills the unstable and changing moods of an unsteady mind, the melody of the accompanying music provides the emotional charge required by the body, mind, and the soul. Therefore, each true lover of Waheguru must sing or listen to the hymns, shabads, and bhajans written and composed in His glory.

Q.What is Sikhism all about?

A. Sikhism, the most modern and youngest among all the religions is a religion of Truth; the 1-Onkar — the only one, as spoken of by the wise in many ways from times immemorial. Like all other religions, it is a way to unite one’s soul with His eternal Universal soul. Sikhism persuades one to virtue without the stimuli of hopes and fears for leading a purposeful life as a true karam yogi. It also calls upon the people to consider themselves united through the common fatherhood of God, overcoming all social biases and prejudices.

Those who do not believe or practice this would neither be true Sikhs nor true Hindus, Muslims or Christians.

Sri Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur Sahib post Opening of the Corridor

So let us all true devotees of Sat Guru Nanak resolve to storm all strongholds of superstition, social inequalities, exploitation of the weak and the poor and tyrannies around us in any form. We can realize the truth if we remain unattached. Those who surrender themselves to Him devoid of fear or enmity, do not stop working day or night while yet remaining yoked to social or other secular purposes. Let work be first worship. Family responsibility the next integration — there is no need to renounce the world while doing so. Let’s be Karam-Yogis. Let honest earnings be first distributed among the needier, the deprived and the marginalized — Kirt Karo, Wand Chhako and let’s learn to live for others too in the spirit of ‘Sarbat Da Bhalla! And, let the soul remain immersed in His ‘Naam’ — His thoughts ever!

(*Author Tejinder Singh Bedi is a former technocrat, a people management, CSR Adviser, free-lance writer and a passionate singer)