The Message of Guru Nanak
(continued - Part 4)
All the worldly connections are severed at the time of death. All friends, all relatives, the wife and children, must part. Who is there to accompany you to the other world? Oh, none. But the Word--the Word personified in the God-Man does. It helps you in all your undertakings here and here-after. The God-Man receives the initiates at the time of death, when all others fail. Like a never-failing Friend, He always holds out His helping hand in weal or woe.
The Master says :
Whosoever fears the pangs of
birth and death, let him seek out
a Sadhu. -- Gauri Sukh M.5
When one resigns himself to the will of the Master, and places himself under the protecting power of the Master, the Master will hasten to wake up the Divinity in him. The Master never leaves the probationer, once taken over, until He betakes him to God, whose prototype He is on earth. He talks face to face with his devotee and gives him his counsel in time of need. He moulds the disciple into the likeness of God and makes him a living temple of the Divine Consciousness.
Catch hold of the hem of Him,
O courageous soul, who knows the mystery
of all the planes above and below, and who may accompany thee both here
and hereafter. --Maulana Rumi
Let the disciple stand before his Master with his all at His feet, but the Master would accept naught out of it. He would thus stand in full resignation, ready to receive the Grace of the Master and the beginning of his realisation. He has to make himself a vehicle for the Master, like a rebeck or a lyre to be played upon, creating sweet symphonies of the Holy Naam. All social connections, all attachments to worldly possessions, all clinging to name and fame, all the physical comforts, all the evil thoughts surging in the mind, are to be placed before the Master, to let Him work His will through him.
Discipleship truly consists in unswerving devotion and resignation to the will and pleasure of the Master. It, however, does not consist in seeing the form of the Master, but in attuning to His Divine Will. By complete resignation, all mental chattering is thrown overboard and then there are no more cravings or desires. The tumultuous hubbub of the life of senses is replaced by calm and collected serenity born of resignation and true renunciation. It is in these silent hours that spiritual consciousness begins to dawn.
The bonds of relationship between the
Guru and the disciple are the strongest in the world. Even death cannot
sever them, for they are tied by the Divine and Omnipotent Will of God.
The Master ever remains with the devotee, wheresoever he may be. Death and distance are immaterial in the relationship of the Master and the disciple. He is always by his side, here and hereafter.
The Master acts as a lodestar in all
spiritual endeavours. He extends all feasible help to the devotee with
His exhortations without and within, always keeping him steady on the right
path and bringing him back to it even when anything goes awry. Distance
does not stand in His way. The Master's helping hand goes to the devotee,
far and near--in the burning desert sands, on the snow-capped mountain
tops, and in the dreary wildernesses. He exercises a healthy and a corrective
influence on the spiritual aspirants by releasing forces within His
field of influence, like a mighty lodestone that has marvelous attraction
within its magnetic field.
Maulana Rumi repeats the same thing:
The Master talks with His devotee face to face in all the planes and gives him His wise
counsel in times of need.
Guru Nanak says:
The Master looks after me in
What fear have I, then, to entertain. -- Majh M.5
But how to distinguish such sublime personalities who come down into the world of mortals, to help humanity in its onward march to the Supreme Fountain of the Spirit! Whenever they come, they are self-manifested and those endowed with spiritual vision know how to recognise them.
Everybody, however, is not spiritually advanced. There are, of course, some well defined and prominent features in the life and conduct of the Saints. With these in mind, a mortal eye may be able to distinguish the Saints from the common run of men.
A Real Master is a world Teacher and not a teacher of any particular sect or creed. He looks at humanity from the level of the soul and addresses all ensouled bodies alike.
A True Master is known by the catholicity of His teachings, for His appeal is universal to all. In His fold sit all as brethren-in-faith with no bars of colour or creed.
Again, a True Master is not fond of
outer pomp and show, but lives on His own resources and never depends on
others for His living:
How can we have the company
of One in whose presence
the mind gets stilled ?
The Saints are the true friends for they alone
inspire God-intoxication.--Suhi M.3
Seeing a God-Man with all-loving
devotion, not only stills the mind
but wards off all afflictions.--Suhi M.5
Whenever one happens to be in the presence of a real Master with an open mind, One finds waves of solace wafting towards him and feels an uplifting surge in himself. His personal aura has its marvelous effect. His words, charged as they are with high spirituality, sink deep into the heart of the listeners and never are without effect.
God-Men always speak with an authority born of conviction for They have a first-hand knowledge of everything stemming from direct communion with the Original Source or Universal Cause.
They speak from the standpoint of the soul to which learned philosophy has no access. All saints have borne out this truth. The more you indulge in literary pursuits, the more you are lost in the wilderness of bookish knowledge. There is more truth in His talk than all the words of learned philosophy can show. We have, as far as possible, to make the best use of all these, but not to lose our way in them, for -- "Reasoning is the help and reasoning is the bar as well."
The True Master is one who himself
quaffs the water of life--Truth--and offers the same to others as well.
He is competent to open the inner eye of the aspirants that they may see
the Light of God and unseals their inner ears that they may hear the Voice
of God--the Sound Principle, reverberating in all creation.
The glory of a Sadh even the Vedas do not fully comprehend. --Gauri M.5
It baffles all description. So naturally, saints lay more stress on personal self-experience. They come to the basic or central standpoint of all religions from the saying of the saints of all denominations. God-Men do not look to outward appearances nor on the distinctive garbs of various orders, but accept the true value of life. They do not interfere with the ancestral faiths professed by their disciples, nor with the mode of their social life. On the contrary they exhort everyone to remain in their social-religious orders and learn the spiritual meaning of life and live by the same. They do not create any new creeds or new religions. Those who seek inner spiritual elevation may derive benefit from God-Men without forsaking the creeds they profess. But saints do not advocate the idea of seeking Higher Life through objective pursuits. They look to the human body as the living temple of God and instruct their disciples to find Him therein by the practice of the Science of the Holy Word.
God Himself made the holy temple
of man and resides therein.
Through the Grace of the Master, one meets God,
After burning away all outer attachments. --Shalok. M.3
God-Men do not attach any great sanctity to places of pilgrimage other than the congregation of Saints. They direct our attention to the Saints who blessed the places which are now called the places of pilgrimage.
Pure are those who are in communion
with the Word.
Without the Word, there can be no worship.
The whole world is steeped in superstitious ignorance. -- Ramkali M.3
The second essential in the soul's progress on the path is the Holy Congregation (Sat-Sangat) as that has an elevating effect. The whole atmosphere is surcharged with the life-impulse conveyed by the Master when He presides, and the devotees attending the congregation derive immense benefit therefrom. It is practically a school wherein probationers are helped both by word and thought. All the mystery concerning the Word is explained and brought home to the devotees as the be-all and end-all for them.
There, book knowledge of philosophies of the different schools of thought is not advocated. Living a life in Divinity is the only thing of value in this direction. The soul that has risen in Him, and is conscious of Him all the time, is the prime moving figure in the congregation. The lyrical glances of such God-intoxicated Men not only awaken the latent spiritual sensibilities of the probationers but gradually bring them into full play. Their eyes are exuberant with life, and they, being in tune with the Great Source of Life, convey life-giving rays to those around them who come to seek their help. Their Grace-pouring glances enable the disciples to grasp the heavenly Song--the Word, reverberating in them. They easily get the riches and the wealth of spirituality when in the Holy Congregation, by exhortations and practice, they are helped onwards on their way to the Divine Goal. Thus the seekers are prepared for the higher life, by the influences they receive from the magnetic effect of the personal auras of the God-intoxicated votaries in the Holy Congregation. Everybody has a field of influence within which he affects all who come in that area. This field of personal magnetism is larger or smaller, according to the strength of the personality.
A great stress is laid upon the necessity
of attending the Holy Congregation; this is so much so that Sat-Sangat
is often valued a little more than the God-Man Himself. This is evident
from the fact that it includes the God-Man in addition to other God-intoxicated
votaries. The Holy Congregation is a place where the outgoing tendencies
and evil propensities of the people attending it are easily modified, moulded
and subdued by the magnetic power of the Master overhead. The Master terms
the Sat-Sangat as the only true place of pilgrimage wherein the probationers
progress towards the Divine Goal--the Highest Spiritual Plane--Sach
Where there is no such personality to preside, the benefits of Sat-Sang cannot be derived. The Master says :
In the absence of the Master,
when devotees sit together
in His sweet remembrance,
they receive the blessings of the Master.
The Dhun-Atamak is something
in its true aspect. For instance in the ringing of the bell, the sound
proceeding from the bell may be called tun-tun. This cannot appropriately
be portrayed in so many words, yet the Word (or Sound) reverberates in
the living temples of all physical bodies. This sound principle is competent
to take man's soul to the Highest Spiritual Region from which it emanates.
This celestial Melody proceeds from the HeaVenly Light within. In the words
of the Master:
This Sound should not be confounded with the sound of the circulation of the blood, etc., heard through the ears for it relates to the elements only.
This aspect of the Naam, though inexpressible
and ineffable, is yet very real and Eternal. It is a transcendent spiritual
Current which emanates from God and permeates all creation. No words can
portray Its true significance nor can describe It accurately. The Master,
however, describes It as:
The Word or the Holy Naam is a gift from the Master alone. Without this the Lord cannot be known.
Kabir says :
Without the Word, the whole
world is estranged,
and none has any say therein;
Whomsoever the Lord wishes to save
is attuned with the Word. --Shalok M.3
Without the Word, one cannot
meet the Beloved,
And human birth continues in vain. --Sri Rag M.3
My Lord, the Ever-Existent,
is seen by practice of the Word (the Holy Naam),
He perisheth not, nor doth He come and go.
Hold communion with Him who pervades through all,
And do not meditate on one nailed to the perpetual wheel. --Gujri War M.3
Swami Shiv Dayal Singh Ji, speaking of Shabd, tells us:
Communion with the Word or Shabd is the only true worship. Without this practice, nothing can eradicate the ingrained evil propensities of the mind. Whosoever complains of the fast developing ramifications of the mind, does not hear the Music of the Word. As time wears on, ignorance creeps in; the sublime truths given by the Masters, are not understood, and their true import is lost sight of.
The term Guru-Bani (the Word)
occurs very often in the Guru Granth Sahib. Wherever the expression Shabd
appears therein, it has been taken to mean the hymns written in Guru Granth
Sahib. This is because of ignorance of the Conscious-Sound-Current or the
Word ringing in and through all creation. Let us turn to the Guru Granth
Sahib itself, to ascertain what it has to say on the subject. The following
hymn throws sufficient light on the fact that Word is something conscious-
much more than that which the words can depict.
Those who know not the Word,
are blind as well as deaf (for they do not see
Its light and do not hear Its melodious song). Of what use is their coming into
the world? They enjoy not the sweet elixir of the Hari Naam and lose
their earthly lives in vain. They go round in the endless cycle of births
and deaths. Like filthy worms, they drown themselves in the filth of
sensualism. They are truly devoid of intellect and revel in the darkness
of ignorance.-- Sorath M.3
There is deep concentration
in the Sound-principle (Dhun).
I now know what concentration virtually means;
The Word manifested by the Master is ineffable (Akath). --Ramkali M.1
The Perfect Master reveals
the True Word (Sachi Bani);
Leading through the Sukhmana, it takes one to Sahaj (state of equipoise).
The Bani of the Master (Word) resounds in the entire creation. --Maru M.5
The expression Akath Katha (indescribable song), Dhun (harmony), Anhad Bani (limitless Song) as used by Guru Nanak in the Granth Sahib, are all synonyms denoting one and the same Principle, that is Naam, Shabd or Word. The Word is above the ken of Buddhi (the thinking faculty) and is heard only when one rises above eyebrows. The understanding of the Word comes only by direct revelation to the soul.
True Bani is given by the True
And is reverberating in the Sukhmana. -- Maru M.5
The Bani of the Guru is all-pervading;
It proceeds from Him and He Himself manifests It. --Maru M.5
The unstruck music is heard
through the Grace of a God-Man,
But few there be that commune with It. --Ramkali M.1
Perfect is the limitless song
And the key thereto is with the Saints. --Ramkali M.5
A Saint gives full instructions about the True Naam (the Word), to His disciple at the time of initiation. It is He who inspires the Holy Naam and makes It manifest in the initiates. He just shows them that the treasure of Divinity lies hidden within, and He tells how to get in touch with It (as we find in Jap Ji, stanza VI).
Discipline thy body and thy
And meditate on the Word of the Master.
O Nanak, search in the body for the treasure of Naam,
This thou can get through boundless love of the Master. --Asa M.4
The Bani of the God-Man resides within all of us. The same proceeds from God, and He Himself makes it audible. Whosoever communes with It is saved and attains the Eternal l Region of Truth. The Bani (Word) of the Guru is heard right in the "Sukhmana," attuning into the "Sahaj State" (the state of equipoise).
According to the Master, four things
are of; lasting value, while all else are subject to decay and dissolution
in course of time. They are Naam or the Bani; Sadhu (or the disciplined
soul), who sees himself in the father and sees the Father in the Master;
the Word personified (Guru); and the Lord (Gobind). Whosoever forms an
alliance with them, is saved and reaches above the ken of destruction.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs, left the Sikh sanctuary on a permanent footing. He gave us the mystic form of Guru Granth Sahib as the standard guide to go by. Thus, we can avoid human errors creeping in through ignorance. The compositions of the Saints of almost all the denominations--Hindus, Mohammedans, Brahmans and others---equally find a place in the Holy Granth. This shows that Spiritual Heads, in spite of different castes, were equally welcome to partake of this Heavenly Banquet Hall of Spirituality. As a practical example, Guru Nanak had Bhai Bala and Mardana, one a Hindu and the other a Mohammedan, on His right and left as His boon companions all through His travels in Asia. All humanity without distinction of creed or colour, are welcome to the way of Spirituality as taught by Him.
Guru Gobind Singh clearly indicated
in the Guru Granth Sahib, a Way to the Lord through Shabd (Word). Apropos
of this, He enjoined the Sat-Sangat or the Holy Congregation constituted
by five Piaras (or the beloved of God) and called it the Khalsa
the pure. He defined the term Khalsa as those in whom the full Heavenly
Light was effulgent, and promised His own presence in them for all time.
In His own words:
The Master enjoins the Sikhs to look only to such Khalsas or the pure ones for initiation, known as Pahul or Amrit. He said:
The Khalsas are the Sadhus, whose praise Guru Granth Sahib speaks of in volumes. Guru Nanak was Shabd personified. He changed His form and came as Guru Angad, who transformed Himself into Guru Amar Das, who in turn, rose into Guru Ram Das and passed into Guru Arjan Dev. The Shabd personified continued to descend until It took the form of Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs, who clearly stated that He will live in the Khalsa--or the pure ones--for all times. Of course, all Saints promised Their continued existence for all times in the shape of Shabd. The 'Khalsas' then are the 'Word Personified,' the Word in them and they in the Word. Thus, Guru Gobind Singh placed the trinity of religion in the Sikh sanctuary on a permanent footing:
(1) The Shabd or the Naam; (2) the Sat Sang or the Holy Congregation; and (3) the institution of Khalsas for initiation purposes or going to the feet of the Khalsas for instructions, abiding by the dictates of Guru Granth Sahib --the Standard Guide.
Next, Guru Nanak goes on to tell us of the elementary steps leading to advancement in the Spiritual Path. These steps form the subject matter of stanzas XXVIII and XXIX of Jap Ji. The qualifications befitting a probationer taking up the spiritual quest, are given in stanza XXXVIII. At the end of the Jap Ji, a description of the Five Spiritual Planes which the pilgrim soul has to traverse on the way to the Lord, is given.
The experience of our own souls will
stand to prove that this view of religion, as taught in Jap Ji by Guru
Nanak, is the correct one. We will not have to wait for that purpose until
death. The Master does not believe in promises on credit. If a man does
not see the Lord while in this body, who is going to believe in life's
consummation after death?
The devotion of oneself to the practical side of the teachings will prove the efficacy of the means devised by Nanak. A calm and Supreme Joy begins to reign over the mind at the very outset. With the progress of time and practice, sweet Symphonies are set afloat in the living temple of the human frame, and a world of Heavenly Light is made effulgent. Ultimately, man is brought face to face with the Heavenly Light in that place in which It is made all resplendent. In the end, man is brought to face the "Effulgent Spirit" in Its full swing. It is only then that the universe appears full of the Lord and that there is nothing of the world that is not the Word.
The Master wants each of us to penetrate
through the fleeting forms and patterns and pass on from the phenomena
of Nature to Nature's God. He warns us not to be misled by alluring attractions
and wild enchantments spread out by Dame Nature through her evanescent
charms and fleeting beauties. We should take them merely as signposts pointing
to the Lord, the Eternal God that resides within and pervades each of the
ephemeral productions. He further wants us to summon up all our energies
and press them into service, so as to make our bodies the living temples
of the Divine Music--the Word, in our earthly sojourn. He, therefore, says
The merchandise that thou hast
come to deal in,
is the all-pervading Naam--the Word --to be had from the Saints.
--Gauri Sukh M.5
"Now or never" is the motto given by Guru Nanak. Attachment to the objects of the senses, the gorgeous display of riches and wealth, the luxuriant abundance and opulence, the licentious sensualism of ease and affluence: all these contribute to the imbalance of the unsophisticated mind. These are the thorns and thistles that mar the beauty of the undisturbed state of mind, which is the soil best suited for the dawn of Divinity. Every day, every hour and every passing minute, are leading us more and more into the bondage of sensuous worldly phenomena.
We must stop short and see where we stand and into what heights of spirituality the True Master has come to lead us.
The Master exhorts us to realise Him
in our souls, to rise in Him, losing all sense of the little ego "I," in
the living temples of our bodies. The Kingdom of God is within us. We have
to recognise the Inner Man as the image of God, the physical body as the
temple of God, the tabernacle of the Holy Ghost, in which the Lord makes
His appearance. In these living temples we have to attune our souls with
God and live in closer communion with Him.
This living temple (body) God
Himself made and He Himself dwells therein.
Through the instruction of the Guru, He is found (therein) after all
attachments and delusions are burnt away. --Shalok M.1
According to Guru Nanak, the whole of creation is to be recognised as the great temple of the Lord, which He permeates through and through. We have to become the flute for the breath of the Lord.
This universe is the abode
of the True One;
And the True One verily dwells in it. --Asadiwar M.2
With these words, the reader is now invited to study carefully the Jap Ji, with fervent beseechings to the Lord that He may grant us all the favour of communion with the Shabd so that we may rise unto Him.