Guru and Sikh
by Yuktanand Singh

The Common Sikh

Most people born in the Sikh households are indifferent toward the Sikh teachings. They visit the Sikh places of worship, on special occasions or every weekend, because of tradition, for social reasons, or to pray for favors. They do not have a desire to understand the Sikh teaching. Until they reach some awakening, they are no different than the similar masses in any other faith. Many believe they are "Sikh" because they go to a Gurudwara, they pray (whenever they have a problem) only "to the Sikh Gurus or Guru Granth Sahib," and to no one else. Others think they are Sikh because they are strict in keeping the "Five Ks." But, these do not fulfil the features of a Sikh. It simply adds to the number of people who can argue or fight on behalf of the Sikhs without a valid knowledge of the Sikh Guru's teaching. They do not represent the Sikh Panth.

Some people differ from the above because of their sentiments and desire. They have an interest in learning these teachings, but they lack the understanding, motivation, or courage to follow them completely, and they cannot maintain a Sikh appearance. We can see that many work harder for the Sikh causes. They may possess a stronger faith, morality and honesty than some others with full hair and a turban. However, they do not represent the Sikh Panth either. These poor souls stand out as the only "dissidents", because they are visible! A niche, proper help and support for these people, is painfully lacking in the Sikh society today. Often, due to our spiritual and emotional attachment with the appearance of The Tenth Master, we give more respect to people with hair, regardless of their character. This makes us appear as if we condone hypocrisy.

Sikh Panth is the only spiritual path in the entire world, where, preservation of natural hair is an important and essential component of worship. The Sikhs look different than everyone else. Therefore, they live mostly in a, however tacit, social and political separation from the Non Sikhs. Sikhs have no spiritual allies either. For this reason the Panth has required an enormous sacrifice from its followers. Whenever there is an opportunity, people have martyred the Sikhs in large numbers. This makes the Sikhs stronger.

At the same time, Sikh Children and weak Sikhs suffer a tremendous psychological stress. Being constantly bombarded with, suggestions and signals contrary to their faith, extremely strong peer pressure and other forces of outer society where, truancy, smoking, unrestrained sex, drugs, delinquency, sensual "music", as well as shaving and mutilation of hair, is also the rule. People outside the Sikh faith cannot understand the impact, and the conflict it causes in the Sikh households.

Sikh parents need to keep this in view. We need to actively combat these forces in the similar notes. At present, the Sikh society is very immature and naive about it. Members in some Sikh households are forced to be Sikh against their will. Forcing people against their own choice results in a society of extremely maladjusted individuals. Rather, they should be encouraged to follow by setting a good example of the Sikh family members in the house. This will also motivate the devout Sikhs to be more diligent themselves.

During the time of The Ten Masters, and until recently, the family members of most Punjabi households were mixed as Sikh and Hindu. They all spoke mixed Punjabi. They used to live together peacefully, along with the Muslim friends as next door neighbors. Today, we need to develop viable alternatives against the pressures of Non Sikh culture on the Sikh children. One avenue would be to develop art, literature, and movies that would deeply impress our children against the outside forces. Another important element is to ensure that the Sikh children understand and participate in the services at the Gurudwara. We need to engage them in an intelligent discussion suited for their age, and not simply subject them to a fervent preaching.

The Sikh Panth stands only on faith in the Guru, and a sincere, spiritual worship in the ancient tradition, while staying ready to sacrifice for the Guru and Dharma. Lacking this, a Sikh turns into nothing but a spiritually disabled and a morally weak character, with a barren life. Keeping a Sikh appearance then becomes meaningless and, also very difficult. Various social maladies crop up in the Sikh communities along with confusion and arguments in the Gurudwaras, lacking the preservation of spirituality and ancient tradition as their major goal. Just as a path without the hair cannot be the Sikh Panth. Hair, turban, or a sword, without, love and adoration for the Ten Masters, a true spiritual hunger, worship, humility, and the proper Sikh conduct, becomes a mere disguise.

Sects

Sikh sects not respecting the rules set by The Tenth Master could be, probably included here in this hierarchy. Some examples: Offshoots of Sikh Panth with new names and groups, for no particular reason. Influencing others with a display of occult powers. Strange practices, for instance, hyperventilating under the notion of Simran, rhythmic or circular body motions, causing a sensation of self-hypnosis and euphoria. Teaching physical Yoga, or some other exotic disciplines, as an integral part of the Sikh curriculum, etc. Some of these sects have provided an example of the intensity and motivation needed in the indolent masses noted above in this section. They deserve praise for that part.

However well intentioned these sects may be, if they do not adhere to the spiritual conduct and practices the Ten Masters illustrated over the span of two hundred years, they defeat the purpose of their sacrifice and their teaching. The Tenth Master concluded this process with the final Sikh form, an established Sikh way of worship, and the accepted Sikh lifestyle (Rehet-Maryada). He did so, also, to prevent any future modification and resulting degradation, for the coming generations. This is why The Tenth Master said, "Whenever a Khalsa abandons his uniqueness and adopts extraneous spiritual practices and rituals of others, I will leave his company." (SLG, p.667)

Yoga

The Gurus did not condemn Yoga. However, Yoga cannot be counted as a required ingredient in what makes a Sikh. Anyone who disputes this should first examine the history of the Ten Masters, or study the Gurbani, like, "Paath purrhio ur beid beechario..." (SGGS, p.641-42). Just like hygiene, regular exercise, balanced diet, vitamins, Yoga is an activity that any sensible Sikh should explore and use, while being careful not to become obsessed with the bodily functions. For instance, a vegetarian diet, various simple forms of Pranayama, are very useful, and chastity is essential, to enable one for the higher energy of the Shabad. Sikh Path is liberal and progressive. The Gurus do not reject a healthy lifestyle through proper use of any science. We all know that science is still struggling to prove how accurately Guru Nanak described the universe and biology in his verses, five hundred years ago.

Gurbani supports the concept of Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Janana Yoga, and Raja Yoga. Bhakti, Seva, and Nam, extensively cited in Gurbani, cover the first three, not as Yoga but as a Gift, a consequence of God-Guru's Mercy. This flows freely from a complete submission to a True Spiritual Master. Yoga is, simply, a philosophical science. Like physical exercise, when used sensibly, it can help build a body and mind that are better prepared to receive, and share the spiritual energy with others. When practiced without submission, just like practice of charity, it can, however subtly, result in a stronger ego and thus keep us farther away from Truth. Raja Yoga is mentioned favorably several times in Gurbani, because of the supreme aim of Raja Yoga: As Patanjali said, "Yoga is removal of mind's noise. Then the observer can return to a view of the Self." At the same time, Gurbani names various limbs and segments of Raja Yoga as not conducive to Truth.

Sikh Panth, as shown by the Ten Masters, leads to the ultimate truth through an inner death, then living abundantly and spiritually through the Guru's command, breathing only whatever the Guru allows. A Sikh, on the Panth, cannot bother with attempts to open some Chakra (energy level) or any other experiences related to different Chakras per se. Doing so, will divert him from a higher aim, Pure Love, which is at the innermost seat of consciousness, or should we say, at the highest energy level.

What is the practical outcome of, the perfect knowledge of Truth, at the Sahasrara Chakra? Is it not Pure Love for the whole creation and a true humility toward all humans? So, instead of taking detours, a Sikh does it naturally, through Love and humility, from the Guru, devotional singing of Gurbani with other devout Sikhs, and by quiet meditation on Gurmantra and Gurbani. The Sikh rises above a preoccupation and identification with the body and mind by "selling" it to the Guru in exchange for a perpetual supply of (spiritual) Naam, engaging in extensive Seva (selfless service), and following the Gurbani to the letter. This is also called Sehej Yoga, or the Natural Yoga.

A Gursikh is not deprived of any esoteric body experiences, if that is his Guru's will. If there is a need, the Inner Guide shows all the required disciplines. They are practiced naturally by following the Guru's command, rather than through a personal attachment with the body. Verbal details of these practices are not intrinsic to the Panth. This is why Gurbani does not dwell on this subject. For some, the direct way is too simple. Many seekers are more inclined toward physical exercises and controlling the energy, or holding a rather intellectually spiritual (Zen, for instance) stance, than Simran in pure love and devotion, until, by God's Grace, they witness Pure Love living in flesh. Still, they should clearly regard all Yoga practices as what they really are, a separate science, not as a requirement on the Sikh Path. Some will enjoy the honey, while others study the honeycomb and practice various approaches to it first.

The Ninth Master, Guru Teg Bahadur said: "The Guru explains this secret: Without Love of God, we cannot be free from fear, and the cycle of misery continues. Pilgrimage, fasting, greatest charities, or Yoga, they are all useless if we forget to praise God in whatever we do, and if we do not resort to rely only on Him for all results. A rare soul gives up both - pride (love of self) and co-dependence of family (love of others) - and then, meditates only on Gobind. Nanak says that such a human is what they call, free of birth and death while still living among us." (SGGS, p.830-31)

The Ten Masters have regarded meditation as essential. For example, The Tenth Master said: "Meditate on Him whose infinitely forceful light permeates the whole world," and the Fifth Master said, in Sukhmani: "My dear saint friends, when you praise God, do it with an alert and one pointed mind." It cannot be done unless we put some effort to practice it every day as a routine exercise. This verse also signifies that being 'saintly' is not enough. This is why a mantra is given. Gurmantra is a vehicle, a thread, only for meditation. Again, The Tenth Master says: "Meditating on Him, as the Single aim and thought, even for the fraction of a second, has liberated humans from the noose of death."