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October - November 2004


Sikhs: People of the Book

by P. Venkataramana

There comes a time in the lives of men when an important event or happening compels them to introspect and to take stock of who they are ; what their purpose in life’s journey is and to assess the distance traversed as well as to estimate the course to be taken for achieving that lies ahead of them…Sikhism has been a singularly wonderful religious path which has seen many a torch-bearer ever since its Founder , Guru Nanak Ji showed the path and all the more so from the time of the final form of the Writings of the Gurus ,viz; the Guru Granth Sahib, in 1708. It is a fact that ever since the Sikhs have been people of the Book .

On the occasion of the commemorative celebrations of the Book and as an admirer of this Great Revelation as also of the distinctly friendly, affable, dashing and humane Sikhs in the World , I make a humble attempt at putting forth this submission of an understanding of the Sacred Book carrying forward the Great Messages from the Holy Gurus . The ultimate truth revealed is that to attain Truth; one must possess a direct Knowledge of God received through His Grace . And, one of the names used to describe God is ‘ Akaal’ --- ‘ The Timeless One …’.

Guru Nanak Ji’s (1469 – 1539 ). own mystical experiences were responsible to the founding, development as well as propagation of this Religion. He was concerned to provide for the spiritual well-being of his followers rather than to comment upon the political upheaval then taking place in the land of his birth. He therefore appointed a successor to lead the community, to preserve his teaching and to continue his missionary-work . His religious ideas are contained in his hymns, composed in a language called ‘Sadhukari’ by virtue of its popularity amongst the Sadhus and the masses who needed a right sense of direction & lifestyle …The hymns of Guru Nanak Ji are still accepted as being ‘Uwaacha’ or ‘divinely –inspired-utterances’, known widely as ‘Gurbani ‘ or ‘the Guru’s speech’. Net result, his hymns were preserved and in 1603/4 were produced to form the Holy Book called as Adi Granth’ : with minor additions this became the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs.

Guru Nanak Ji appointed his successor who in turn was followed by other Gurus until the tenth Guru Gobind Singh ( 1675-1708 ) brought the line to an end by conferring Guruship on the Adi Granth which was given the name -- Guru Granth Sahib. He thus placed spiritual leadership beyond the grasp of any human-being who might try to give room for any interpretation or variance from the intent and words of the Gurus. And truly enough, the Panth ( the Sikh Community ) considers that the doctrines, organizations, institutions, philosophy and evolution of the religion attained a final form by that date; therefore, one need only dutifully follow the teachings & precepts of the Guru Granth Sahib to become a perfect human-being and for the attainment of ‘moksha’ ( spiritual enlightenment ) .

‘Nitya – Smaran’ or continuous and an incessant thought of God is stated to be the prevention and a cure for all maladies in life, for all humans. This is ‘Nitnem’ or the recitation of certain hymns daily , without fail and as ordained by the Holy Gurus (‘ Satgurus ’). It requires complete attention of the devout, the religious and of those who seek to be rid of their worries in life. This medicine is a prescription even for the ‘non-Sikhs’ since there is absolutely nothing communal, personal or restrictive in them: it is a striking feature of the Guru Granth Sahib that all the hymns contained in it are applicable to the whole of humanity, the entire world and are seen to be of universal relevance…!!!

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