Guru and Sikh
by Yuktanand Singh

The Sikh

The Sikh, a disciple on the Sikh Path, regards Guru Granth Sahib as the supreme source of spiritual light. A Sikh evaluates all other religious literature in the light of Guru Granth Sahib, and not vice versa. He endeavors to understand all Ten Sikh Gurus' teachings. He sees no difference in Guru Nanak and the other Nine Masters. He does not follow any other human guru after Guru Gobind Singh, The Tenth Master. He strives to put the Gurus' teaching constantly into practice, every day. These are some features that make a Sikh.

The Word

I will limit the discussion of Sikh philosophy and a Sikh's daily spiritual practices to a brief explanation of some Sikh vocabulary below. The Gurbani, in Guru Granth Sahib is God's view of a true Seeker's sentiments, his actions, his motives, and his prayers, during different aspects of his spiritual growth, flavored with the Guru's teaching. A Sikh meditates on it, repeats it daily, and sings it, so that day by day, its sentiments and its Light rub off, into his heart. Sharing it with others (Sangat) through singing (Kirtan) and discussion (Katha) is essential to reveal its Light. These are required. They are potent catalysts. One day, the Sikh's heart starts beating in sync with the Guru's heart. No one can venture to describe what happens then. A seeker should not talk about his own relationship with the Guru and God. In the Sikh Path, testimony of personal experiences is equal to blasphemy, because it feeds the ego!

Guru Nanak brought an activity of the angels of heaven, as mentioned in Sodar (in Japji and Reheras) within the grasp of the modern masses, five hundred years ago. Gurbani was written in verse, according to the ancient Indian music (raga), to ensure that it will be sung. Singing God's True Words, with others joined for the same purpose, facilitates mind's flight to the region of spiritual knowledge. This is called Kirtan. Gurbani, unlike some other poetry, is alive with the Spirit. When sung in a congregation of two or more Sikhs, with adoration and attention (Sat Sangat), especially at or before daybreak, it is able to uplift all the participants to the level of Begumpura (Lord's Town). Real guidance and knowledge, not restricted by words, are found there. A Sikh considers this as the most appropriate spiritual activity, for the masses of today.
In the Sikh Panth, home made verses, or verses written by some other 'guru' besides The Ten Masters, however devotional and uplifting - do not replace Gurbani. A translation of Gurbani is useful to understand it, but the original verse is lost in the translation. Only the original sound, with accurate pronunciation, is acceptable as the holy singing of Gurbani. A Sikh does his best to fulfil this condition. To emphasize that it did not belong to any particular group, the Gurus wrote the Gurbani in several languages but they did not always follow the rules of these languages. This made Gurbani a unique language. Gurbani has its own unique grammar. For the same reason, the Second Master, Guru Angad, created the Guru's way of writing Gurbani (Gurmukhi), as different from all other forms of the alphabet. Learning Gurmukhi is not any harder than learning to recognize an alphabet and its few simple rules. This alphabet is now, also used in writing Punjabi, the contemporary language of Punjab.

Lifestyle

A Sikh is expected to get married and be an ideal householder, husband, father, doctor, carpenter, etc., not to be a monk and live off others. He is to live in the world physically, mix with the society and not run away from it, but his heart is to be set on God. Disrespect of parents and elders, adultery, falsehood, slander, careless use of, or an addiction to, drugs and other intoxicating substances, accepting the worship offerings for personal use, exploitation of the poor, excessive sleep, excessive eating, excessive talk, and disrespect of hair, is prohibited for a Sikh. Guru Nanak said to Guru Angad that the hair (and turban) is his mark. The Gurus have also said that appearance alone is not enough! A Sikh is also prohibited from touching the "Sewer of the World," i.e., tobacco, and from eating meat of animals killed through slow torture, under some religious ritual.

A Sikh, who ignores meditation, is like a bird without feathers. The Fourth Master wrote: "Whoever calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru, will wake up in the ambrosial hours and meditate on God's Name. He gets rid of sloth and practices Ishnan, to immerse himself in the Waters of Immortality. By obeying the Guru's teaching he learns how to meditate on God's Name. This results in cleansing of poison from iniquity, sins, and faults. Upon daybreak, he sings Gurbani, and holds God's Name in heart during all activity. A Gursikh, who worships my God with each breath and bite, is really liked by the Guru. Whenever my Master has mercy, the Guru conveys His spiritual teaching to that Gursikh. Nanak begs for the enlightening dust, from that Gursikh' feet, who practices Nam and helps others do the same."(SGGS, p.305-6)

Anyone, despite his or her personal views, can participate in generating peace and goodness in his own life and in this world, by doing at least this:

Wake up before dawn every day. Rinse hands, face, and mouth. Sit (Stand or kneel) for five-ten minutes in prayer and thankfulness of an entity that is infinitely greater than you. Thank Him (Her or It) who: Is with you all the time, is infinitely more able and intelligent than you are, gave you everything you have, knows all your thoughts needs and desires, loves you regardless because you are His child, and forgives you every time you sincerely ask for it. Mentally, send peace and harmony to all your brothers and sisters in the world, especially those that bother you. Forgive them also. Now, resolve to be polite and generous to everyone freely and without reason, especially the lowly, because of this higher entity hidden inside everyone, especially the so called lowly. You can rest again, afterwards. All day, whenever you remember, remind yourself of this hidden entity, you talked with, this morning. You are, now, planting seeds of goodness in the universe. Watch it blossom in your life each day.

Some will argue, why not simply be charitable, run soup kitchens and shelters, help the poor and the sick, feed the hungry children? Charity is very important. It is good for the world as well as for the self-esteem. However, without being linked with a heartfelt supplication to God, it results in a stronger, though glorified, ego, and thus, it can become bad for the soul. On the path to ultimate truth, the correct form of charity is Seva (Selfless service) through submission to a True Master, combined with some form of worship and humility. The above is just one example of worship. This is essential.