Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to the front foot

Now saying thank you to Bhai Bala as also to all those who gave us a chance to explain so much about Baba Nanak in the garb of proving the authenticity of Bala's character we will again come back to the very beginning to take the first step on Nanak's first udasi (travel).

As we proceed we hope to show how things fell into place on their own as I said before for the onward journey of Baba Nanak at each step rather than as per his own initiative.

[I had read the Bhai Bala Janamsakhi extensively in my childhood yet to renew my memory I sought the same from a relative who sent me one published in 2010. I found that it also contains life-sketches of ten Gurus at the end. Obviously the editor or publisher thought that after reading this Janamsakhi one may like to know more about Sikh Gurus and so added their life-stories. Now one can also criticise this Janamsakhi later saying that this is not authentic work of Bala as it contains life-sketches of ten Gurus which Bhai Bala could not have written as he had died much earlier. Same is the case with many other previous additions which article writer at sikhiwiki and others have criticised, but which actually does not show that the main Janamsakhi was not written by Bhai Bala. As I have already said those additions could be the handiwork of publishers or their handymen.]

Anyway, now coming back to the journey, the first person Nanak visited on his first journey while leaving Sultanpur is Bhai Lalo of Eminabad. Here is the literal English translation of the last paragraph of the story preceding that of Bhai Lao which shows how Nanak proceeded on it. My purpose here is to show that Nanak did not plan his journey according to what we would call "logical way" but did it as it came- as the things fell into place on their own.

"Taking leave from Sister Nanaki when Nanak and Mardana came out of Sultanpur town Nanak asked Mardana where to go now. Mardana replied that he can't say anything, he is to follow him wherever he goes so it is up to him. Nanak replied then let us go to carpenter Lalo, a pious man, who lives at Eminabad." From this it is clear that he had no prior planning, he just moved at the spur of the moment. He will often ask Bhai Mardana or Bala where to go before seeing what comes to his mind.

In our next post we would discuss what has come to be known as "the story of Nanak's deliverance of Malik Bhago. " For the time being if anybody is interested can read a satirical version of this story at my other blog http://www.bigtamasha.com/

Photo courtsey www.myradsouza.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The last but not the least

The next 4 to 8 points in www. sikhiwiki.org against Bhai Bala are just the repetition of the already discussed points in slightly different words and do not need any new response. Except perhaps for the statement attributed to Bhai Bala that he accompanied Baba Nanak on his journeys all the time which according to the writer at sikhiwiki could not be true as Bhai Gurdas mentioned only Mardana accompanying Baba Nanak at certain places.

Even if we agree that Bhai Bala was not present with Baba Nanak all the time, writing by him to the contrary may just be his simple way of cutting the long story short of giving details of where he went back to his village for a while to attend to this thing or that and where he rejoined while he knew he had made up for this missing by asking Bhai Mardana about the happenings in his absence in all detail and incorporating them in his writings. He was not an academician to delve greatly on secondary niceties over his primary work which was to write about Nanak's journeys. He knew it was not about him but first about Nanak and then about the future generations and both these considerations may not have allowed him to write more about himself. We hair-splitting modern-day intellectuals should not expect of an innocent villager to write as we write our Ph.D theses. His aim was to convey the content of his writings which he did and which has stood the test of time. I don't think a lie could have so mesmerised an entire people for about 500 years.

Anyway, now we come to one of the most important points raised by one Professor Surjit Hans against Bhai Bala in later's supposed effort to denigrate Guru Nanak. Writes he, according to sikhiwiki writer:

The first clue to grasping the true character of the Bala Janamsakhi is the fact that the persons related most closely to Guru Nanak are presented in uncomplimentary light. His father, Kalu, for instance, is a cruel man; he is greedy and ill spoken; he blames Mardana for spoiling his son; and Guru Nanak is rather chary of meeting him. Guru Nanak’s wife regrets marrying him, she is hot-tempered and full of anger. His mother-in-law is quarrelsome and hardhearted. His father-in-law curses his fate to have a son-in-law like Guru Nanak. The Guru’s constant companion, Mardana, is pleased with counterfeit coins and cast off clothes; he is all the time hungry.

I am afraid if the above facts are really written by Bhai Bala nothing more needs to be read by me about the authenticity of his character and specially about his having seen it all with his own eyes. Because as I will explain below the above are the most natural things to happen to the one whom Ek Oankar (One, God) has chosen to cause a quantum jump or paradigm shift in an existing spirituo-social setup rather than merely revise it. And only the one who had really seen all the above with his own eyes could have dared to write it as it is, for others bowing to the later popularity of Baba Nanak would have tried to create an artificially goody-goody family setup around him which would actually have been the later product of the paradigm shift brought about by him. When in his name fathers and wives will rather be ready to sacrifice their all including children.

There is a certain concept of "punctuated equilibrium" in evolution, thanks to paleontologists Niles Eldredgee and Stephen Jay Gould which in simple means that whether in species or in religio-cultural-social set ups there are long periods of gradual change which with passage of time rather tends to take them to an uneasy equilibrium which then is suddenly broken or punctured to usher them into qualitatively new ones.

All the above members of Nanak's family were in the above said uneasy equilibrium vis-a-vis Nanak as a part of the then prevailing social set up of valuing only outer riches, perhaps awaiting paradigm shift much like the photo at right above which incidently is also titled "awaiting paradigm shift." It is this rather decaying spirituo-social set up which Bhai Gurdas meant from "dhund (fog)," when he wrote in his Vars: Satgur Nanak pargatya miti dhund jag chaanan hoya, jionkar suraj niklia tare chhupe andher ploya (Nanak's appeared and lo! the fog is gone just as stars and darkness are gone on the rising of sun).

When every son around is trying his best to educate himself so as to be able to expand his father's business which father will not be frustrated given the prevailing social set up as above if his son doesn't want to listen to even the alphabet? His father might have looked a little prepared in terms of evolution if Nanak was to represent a continuous gradual change from him, but certainly not if he was to represent a rather total break up, a paradigm shift.

When everybody around is discussing with their wives how to give the best of education to their children, how to safeguard their future by amassing as much wealth as possible, how to construct the best of houses in the village for them, which wife would not be full of anger and regret marrying a man who did not seem to be even slightly concerned with them, not to talk of seeming ever eager to leave them for some un-understandable dream lands?

Which mother-in-law or father-in-law, given again the prevailing social set up of giving value to the rather established and powerful relationships would not become hardhearted and curse their fate if their son-in-law, on the other hand, didn't seem to show any relationship with their daughter duly married to him? These are the hard sacrifices which have to be given by all those involved from any side in the shifting of a paradigm.

And such type of frustrating set ups would also have provided a perfect ground for the chosen hero of liberation to show the way to it by example as I explained earlier. These would have been, in other words, the perfect set ups to cause Nanak to fight for every inch of his battle of liberation as it would never have been an easy liberation for Nanak against his supposedly cruel and illspoken father, Kalu,** and it would certainly have been accomplished only thanks to the excessive Life Force Baba Nanak would have been bestowed with by the Lord. Sometimes it is rather Nature's way to put more hurdles before a life force to further strengthen it and thus help it succeed in its designated mission. As Neitzsche said "That which does not kill me strengthens me," certainly all the above hurdles would have rather strenghthened Baba Nanak in one way or the other.

As for Mardana's pleasing with counterfeit coins or used clothes or always being hungry to eat we must remember that Mardana was like a child to father Nanak, may be a spiritual child but still a child, and was doing just what any child would be doing while going with his father in a bazaar or on a journey. What is so degarding about it? Why can't we rather enjoy the perfect innocence of this relationship thanks to Bhai Bala telling us?

The above explained hard setup around Nanak rather gave him an opportunity to show an other facet of his spiritual achievement by example: that the ultimate divine heights can also be achieved by one irrespective of the initial outer circumstances of course if the grace of the One is with him? Isn't it so gracious for the One or Ek Oankar to show us through the example of Baba Nanak that if a Buddha could achieve the highest divinity by being born in the house of a king who was ready to bow to his every wish, the same could also be achieved by a person born to an apparently ordinary family who were to rather obstruct him at every inch of his way to liberation?

*The pictures
Top above:
A 1804 AD coin showing Baba Nanak accompanied by Bhai Bala and Mardana.
Middle from L to R:
a. Quantum jump from one enrgy state to an other, from n=1 to n=2 to n=3 with 'nothing' inbetween.
b. Paradigm shifts at a much larger historical scale.
Bottom from L to R:
a. Above, gradual change, below, sudden change with punctuated equilibrium.
b. In an uneasy status quo state awaiting paradigm shift.

**I don't think the writer has rightly translated Bala's words here. Greedy Kalu may be given the prevailing social set up of valuing only the rich; and even illspoken more perhaps out of frustration of his only son's apparently irresponsible behaviour, but I don't think he would be cruel. All Bala may have meant may be that he was what in Punjabi is called "sakhat (hard task master)."

My own father was very "sakhat", would not allow us any rest after coming back from school miles away and would expect us to join the paid labour in the fields immediately and even outdo them in whatever work we were engaged in at the time, would often say "karo ya mao, mera tan eh motto hai (do or die, this is my motto)," and sometimes even hurled a few abuses at us which in retrospect I can understand as the outburst of the frozen anger of generations of deprivations and insecurities inherited by him, yet as regards cruelty I have never seen a person more soft-hearted in my whole life. When I bought my first motorcycle and later car, he would forbid me from blowing their horn in our village lest it should hurt the sentiment of those who do not have them. There is an even more interesting story regarding his softheartedness which his younger sister (our Bhua Ji) would often tell us. "Don't mind his outer scolding, he is very soft from inside," she would begin. "So much so that once I happened to pick a louce in his hair, he would not alow me to kill it and would rather expect me to replace it in his hair, saying it will go away on its own some day." Yet, like Nanak, we too would be chary of meeting him, for, for whatever reason, our minds would seem to go numb in his presence. Still in many circumstances such fathers rather prove to be the best bets.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nanak's way of liberating the world

There is an other aspect to the question of liberating the world by Baba Nanak.

Thanks to the world famous physicist David Bohm, neurophysiologist Karl Pribram and author of the book The Holographic Universe Michael Talbot human knowledge is now inching towards the fact that the world is a holographic entity, that is, everything in it is interconnected as a whole. Which in simple and related to our question here means that this is a world in which what you do for yourself you do for the world and what you do for the world you do for yourself. So in the light of the above explanation the very question of whether one came to liberate the world or oneself becomes redundant.

The holographic understanding of the universe has further led enterprising transpersonal psychologist Stanislav Grof to the concept of holotropic mind. Holotropic mind in simple refers to the mind which is evolving towards the whole in steps. And which if true will naturally culminate in the experience of the whole, the One, which in fact the mystics of yore have been having rather directly since long thanks to their evolutionary ripeness at one cultural cycle level or the other, and which is in fact the experience undergone by Baba Nanak when he is said to have drowned in the river Kali Bein as already explained in a previous post.

While there is a wide difference between the intellectual understanding of a mind approaching wholeness as above and experiencing it directly which then is rightly called the experience of Self, One or God realization, even of Deus Factus Sum (I have become God) there is no doubt that when one has it directly then there does not remain any separation between oneself and the world. He then rightly proclaims like J.Krishnamurti, "I am the world!" This being the case finally with Nanak as well, the question of his coming to liberating the world or himself further becomes meaningless.

One cannot overemphasise the fact that socalled scientific or rational understanding of it takes one nowhere near its real understanding. Science in its efforts at arriving at Grandunification or Theory of Everything is in fact trying to arrive at this very experience but which in simple is as impossible as arriving at infinity by multiplying 2x2x2x2.....Why even simple people of Nanak's time used to say "Nanak jani jan hai (Nanak knows everything,)" simply because Nanak had arrived at this place of "Theory of Everything" directly and simple people practically being most near to the Primal Innocence intuitively knew it.

Anyway, coming back to the question of Nanak's way of liberating the world, Nanak now being one with the world as explained above, his way now rather became "what he did the world did and what the world did he did." I explained it earlier as, Nanak did nothing on his own, he was just to flow with the flow, he was just to go where things at the very moment would take him by falling-into-place on their own.

Reducing this strictly to the question in hand we may say, in Nanak liberating himself the world liberated itself and in the world liberating itself Nanak liberated himself.

Things are though still beyond it, where even the world as we know it may not exist not to talk of its being bound and in need of liberation by somebody. But let us leave those realms to Nanak and his bani's lines Sochian soch na hovei cannot be known by thought) more so since writing about them will take us far beyond the specific scope of this blog and move over to the next question regarding Bhai Bala.

*Picture at the top: The front cover of Michael Talbot's book The Holograhic Universe.
Others from left to right: David Bohm, Karl Pribram, Stanislav Grof

To be continued...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vindication for Bhai Bala - 3

Now I come to some other random points collected under the heading: Most scholars and Gursikhs now agree there is no proof for his existence. Most historians agree that “Bhai Bala Janamsakhi” is the work of Hindalias (also known as Niranjanias), who were the bitter enemies of Sikhs. There are several flaws in his version of Janam Sakhi about Sri Guru Nakan Dev Ji which he claims that Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji asked him to write.

1. Bhai Bala never existed. He was a fictitious character pushed into our history to destroy us.

No, if that was so he could not have written such a foundational and inclusive Janamsakhi which was to become the basis for many later epic works as explained earlier. Rather the reverse will be more true. Bhai Bala was a real character, companion of Baba Nanak from childhood, accompanied Baba Nanak on most of his journeys, and last but not the least a highly graced and intelligent person who produced such a beautiful life story (Janamsakhi) of Baba Nanak that the Minas and others opposed to Gurus could not stomach its obviously favourable influence on Sikhs and left no stone unturned to mutilate it, still it proved so soulful that they could never kill its essential spirit, its essential beauty which almost matched Nanak's divinity. Sometimes such authentic men do not like to come into the public eye and that may have been one of the reasons Bhai Gurdas forgot about him and as I wrote before, he may have never been known if Guru Angad Ji had not shown the foresight to get the Janamsakhi written by him via or without his friend Paira Mokha.

In a nutshell those opposed to Gurus did their best to fictionalise Bhai Bala's real character to confuse the followers of the Gurus, Sikhs, and thus not to let them grow roots through his almost divine work next only to their main Granths such as Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth.

I can still remember how mesmerised our whole family will become when I will read to them stories or sakhis of Guru Nanak's life from the Janamsakhi of Bhai Bala in my childhood in 1954-55, when otherwise none of us barring perhaps my father could either listen so frequently or understand any of the Granths. I am sure the first stirrings of spirituality in many Sikhs rather began with reading or listening to Bhai Bala's Janamsakhi.

2. The name of Bhai Bala is not mentioned in other Janamsakhis (biographies).

It is not uncommon for the later writers specially those not present at the site of the event when it actually happened to try to camouflage their resources to give at least an original look to their work if not to altogether save themselves from the charge of plagiarism.

3. In his Janam Sakhi, he claims that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a great Hindu, but lower in spirituality than Bhagat Kabir and Baba Hundal. Also he tries to prove that Guru Nanak Dev Ji did not come to the world to liberate the world, but because of his own karma and liberate himself. There are countless other anti-gurmat sakhis and things written in his janam sakhi that are hard to believe.

Before Sikhism came into being Nanak could only be called either a great Hindu or a great Muslim. One should rather not overlook the word "great" used by him with these names; its use certainly does not show that he wanted to lower Nanak's esteem in people's eyes.

We have already read about the spiritual superiority of Bhagat Kabir and Baba Hundal in a previous post. Noting some jealous people's murmurings on this count Nanak himself may have supported such a notion of those people in a good-hearted way and may have told Bhai Bala of the same, for it would not have affected Nanak in the same way as it affects us ego-bound people. Like the Zen masters, for Nanak who said "Dhar tarazu tolie nivein so gyora hoe (Weighed by a weighing scale that which goes lower is actually higher or more)," superior may be inferior and inferior may be superior if at all.

So this question of inferiority or superiority may only be for us people who yet need to go beyond such mind/reason/ego created dichotomies to the level where such dichotomies do not exist, or at least do not affect us. Bhai Bala may have innocently obeyed the words of Baba Nanak. And of course then there is always the possibility of the mutilation of the sakhi by others later as I said before. It may well be their work.

Now we come to an even more interesting point, that Bhai Bala tried to downgrade Baba Nanak by saying that he did not come to liberate the world but he himself because of his past karma.

So what? We have always heard wise saying that it is better to teach people how to do something on their own than to do it for them ourselves. Which would mean in our present context that it is better to teach people how to liberate themselves on their own than to do it for them. Next, we have also heard wise saying that it is better to teach by example than to teach by mere words. So it may be as per Ek Oankar's (One God's) grand scheme of things that Baba Nanak came to liberate the world by way of his own example of liberating himself. Shouldn't we rather like the Nanak more who fought every inch of his battle of liberation right from childhood over supposedly the one who may have merely sermonised from a pedestal?

How Nanak would have looked if sitting in the cool breeze of his own garden or Ashram adjoining his house and surrounded by his family he would have merely exhorted people to rise above emotional attachments to their families or the like to achieve liberation, rather than by his own rising above those emotional attachments himself by leaving his family for about 25 years to go on long journeys for the benefit of the spiritually downtrodden?

And following Nanak, how would Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, have looked likewise surrounded by his family if he had merely exhorted people to sacrifice their near and dear ones for some just cause rather than to sacrifice his own sons for the same and thus show how to liberate oneself from emotional attachments by example? Isn't liberating oneself from emotional attachments by sacificing even one's own sons if need be a far higher and effective way of preparing others and eventually the world for the same? Isn't Nanak and Guru Gobind still trying to liberate the world through you and me who are reading and writing this by their never-to-be-forgotten examples*?

We have nothing to lose, to sacrifice by just talking, by just theorising this way or that of liberation, of liberating the world lest someone turns and asks us to rather liberate ourselves which will evidently be far more difficult. As Nanak said in one of his hymns: "Gali asi changian aachari buriaan...(we are good at talking, bad at walking the talk)." We are good at asking others to liberate the world but try to possess it for ourselves or our kith and kin. Perhaps this is our way of liberating the world which Nanak certainly did not follow!

*From rising above emotional attachments some people may get the wrong impression that the said Gurus were against any kind of emotional attachments. That is not the case. By rising above emotional attachments while one will keep and respect all emotional attachments one will not allow oneself to be deflected by them from any just cause one may have chosen as worth pursuing. That is all. That is to be the master of the same emotions or emotional attachments than being slaves to them as most people otherwise are.

**The second photo depicts the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh being asked by the islamic officials to either accept Islam as their religion or be prepared for getting bricked alive. They willingly chose the later option.

Even though the blog is about Baba Nanak I cannot resist giving a few lines from a poem in Punjabi (sorry have forgotten poet's name) I used to shout out loud in my school days regarding the above sacrifice of Sahibzadas or rather their question answer session with the Islamic Governor before their execution by being bricked alive. I will give only one paragraph from each party and will translate the same below:

Islamic Governor:

Aakhda sooba kahnu bande O baal oye
Kookda jaape sees dohaan de kaal oye
Sharah di kati pharke kar daoon halaal oye
Manno pharmaan mera gusa charraoh na
Vela je aje samajh lao jaan gavao na,
Vela je aje samajh lao....
(Don't be innocent O children, says the Governor
Death seems to be hovering over your head
I will surely kill you with the sword of Islamic Shariat
Bow to my orders - of converting to Islam - don't enrage me
It is still time you understand, don't lose your life
It is still time....

Sanun tegaan ki dikhlavein
Marna das das dhamkavein?
Eh baal naheen, eh baal nahin
Daraaian jehre mann lain ge
Oye tere hathan ute
khoon de nishaan rehan ge
Oye tere hathan ute...
(Don't show us swords
Threatening us with the fear of death?
These are not the children, surely not the children
Who will agree 'cause of any fear
Rest assured your bloody deeds will never be forgotten
Rest assured...

To be continued...

Vindication for Bhai Bala - 2

B. Bhai Mani Singh's work "Bhagat Ratanawali," (List of Prominent Disciples) which contains essentially the same list as that by Bhai Gurdas, but with more detail, also does not mention Bhai Bala Sandhu.

1. It is only in the heretic janamsakhis of the Minas* that we find first mention of Bhai Bala.

It is ridiculous to suggest that Minas created the character of Bhai Bala to denigrate Guru Nanak but then created such a foundational and vastly popular Janamsakhi of Guru Nanak through him as the following introductory paragraph in the book "Atals...Travels of Guru Nanak" suggests:

The Bhai Bala Janamsakhi is the best known as also the most popular of all the Janamsakhi traditions. It surpasses all corresponding traditions in the graphic description of the early life of Guru Nanak, for instance, with regard to his love for his sister Nanki, his bethrothal, his marriage, his parent-in-laws utter dismay after the Guru resigns his appointment at Sultanpur and decides to become an udasi or Self-absorbed traveller. The style of writing is conversational. Another remarkable feature of the Janamsakhi is that the Guru has been shown here travelling not as ordinary mortals would, by traversing the land assiduously, but by miraculous flights from one place to an other.

And certainly miraculous flights would elevate Nanak to divine heights rather than denigrate him.

Rightly, a little below even the writer at sikhiwiki.org coul not resist appreciating the same Janamsakhi by Minas created fictitious character:

Still, Bhai Bala Janamsakhi covers very important aspects of Guru Nanak's life. It covers the Travels did by Guru Nanak. It has various sakhis which we do not find in other sakhis and which really happened.

Or as an entry on an other page: This janamsakhi has had an immense influence over determining what is generally accepted as the authoritative account of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life. Throughout the nineteenth century the authority of the Bala version was unchallenged. An important work based on the Bahi Bala janam-sakhi is Santokh Singh’s Gur Nanak Purkash commonly known as Nanak Parkash. Its lengthy sequel, Suraj Parkash carries the acount up to the tenth Guru and contains a higher proportion of historical fact, this was completed in 1844.

2.The language used in this janamsakhi was not spoken at the time of Guru Nanak or Guru Angad, but was developed at least a hundred years later. Some of the hymns ascribed to Nanak are not his but those of the second and fifth Gurus.

This proves nothing. Popular literary works are always edited even again and again by later generations to make them more readable by the general public of the times, sometimes merely on the advice of publishers. Some of the later editors may just be the men of the publishers who may have added certain popular hymns to make the Janamsakhi more inclusive and saleable on the advice of the publishers.

3. At several places expressions which gained currency only during the lifetime of the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), are used e.g "Waheguru ji ki Fateh**." Bala's janamsakhi is certainly not a contemporary account; at best it was written in the early part of the 18th Century.

The response to the point 2 holds good for this point as well. The expressions "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa" and the like had become quite popular with Sikhs during and after Guru Gobind Singh and the later writers or their publishers may have included them to exploit their popularity and emotional appeal among Sikhs.

*Minas (meaning those people who look different from outside than inside and harbour ill will against some other persons or community from inside, or in their minds) was the name given to those who bifurcated from mainline Sikhs from the times of fifth Guru, Guru Arjun Dev. They were said to be the followers of Pirthi Chand, the eldest son of fourth Guru, Guru Ramdas and elder brother of fifth Guru, who had a grudge against fifth Guru as the later was given the Guruship overlooking his claim by his father.

**"Waheguru ji ka Khalsa (see below) Waheguru ji ki fateh" is a way of greetings for Sikhs now called khalsa as ordained by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It literally means "The Khalsa belongs to God, (Its) Victory belongs to God."

Khalsa, the pure ones, was an other name collectively given to Sikhs when, following the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru and father of Guru Gobind Singh at the hands of Muslim ruler of Delhi, Guru Gobind Singh converted them to fighter-Sikhs or saint-soldiers from merely meditating Sikhs whose main aim then became to secure justice for the underpriveleged by any means and even by fighting if need be and who were ready to lay down their lives for this at all times. The spirituo-philosophical thought behind this name is that since Khalsa had then surrendered to God they will be left with no individual selves and hence no individual impurities or weaknesses and will thus act/fight for all practical purposes like God Himself for the just cause. (Above are two pictures of the same one person Baba Deep Singh, the one as a saint and the other as a soldier.)

The wise say there are two ways to know God. Either "to surrender" or "to enquire" Who am I? In both the cases one gets rid of one's small self and realises one's oneness with greatest Self or God. It is like a drop of water in a sea on surrendering or on enquiring finding that it is in fact itself the sea and thus realising its oneness with the sea. So the purely spiritual aspect behind the name Khalsa will be to enable Khalsa to realise God - verily the final job of any real Guru and here of Guru Gobind Singh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More vindication for Bhai Bala

Since the flow (of the narrative) is going in favour of Bhai Bala* so far as this blog is concerned, I thought it would be in the fitness of things if I clarify a few more points regarding Bhai Bala before I proceed further.

But before that I wish to clarify that I am just writing what spontaneously comes to my mind and have no academic or otherwise credentials to take up a stand, no desire that my arguments be accepted by anybody and certainly don't want to raise any controversy on this count. If some people accept these well and good and thanks, if not still well and good and sorry for the inconvenience caused. In any case Baba Nanak's status should not be considered so shaky that a few writings from this individual or that in praise or in apparent disagreement regarding some points would be able to raise or lower it in people's asteem. Nanak of faith as a learned scholar wrote it is good but nothing like that if Nanak of history too is elevated to the same level by some good arguments coming to ones mind by the grace of the same One Nanak was a symbol of now.

Having said the above I will now take up each point written against Bhai Bala at sikhiwiki.org regarding his actual authorship of the Janamsakhi bearing his name, his accompanying Baba Nanak on his journeys, his close companionship with him since childhood and his actually existance as a person.

A. According to the author (Bhai Bala), he was a close companion of Guru Nanak and accompanied him on many of his travels. There are good reasons to doubt this contention:

1. Guru Angad, who is said to have commissioned the work and was also a close companion of the Guru in his later years, was, according to Bala's own admission, ignorant of the existence of Bala.

As statuses change and times change not many and least the successor of a now famous man will have the time and the inclination to know who was the childhood companion of the famous man and who worked with or travelled with him for so and so many years. Of course if it is not for a specific purpose like getting the life story of the famous man written for which Guru Angad duly acknowledged Bhai Bala. Just imagine if successor of our present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would know who was his childhood companion and who worked with him in this or that college for so and so many years. Moreover, let us not forget that there was a great difference between those times and the present regarding communications. After about 25 years of travel Bhai Bala may just have gone into hibernation in his village as in fact did Baba Nanak himself to some extent. So how would anybody now know of him?

2. Bhai Gurdas, who has listed all Guru Nanak's prominent disciples whose names were handed down, does not mention the name of Bhai Bala Sandhu. (This may be an oversight, for he does not mention Rai Bular either.)

Prominent disciples for Bhai Gurdas may have been those who were more in the public eye following the settlement of Baba Nanak at Kartarpur after the journeys while Bhai Bala may just have gone into retirement at his own village after those long journeys and may even have never been known if Guru Angad had not shown the foresight to get the life story (Janamsakhi) of Baba Nanak written through him. The reason of not being in the public eye at the time may also have applied more or less to the noninclusion of Rai Bular who too was very close to Nanak in childhood. Please remember that there was a gap of about 50 years between Nanak's childhood (1469 onwards) to the end of Nanak's Travels (around 1524).

* The reader might remember from my last couple of posts that Bhai Bala is the person who accompanied Baba Nanak on various journeys and later wrote the most detailed biography called Janam sakhi (life story) in Punjabi but whose existence and authorship of the said Janamsakhi is still controversial in Sikh circles. Many scholars deny that he accompanied Baba Nanak on journeys or wrote the said Janamsakhi. In fact this and next two or three posts present this blog writer's point of view on this controversy which rather happens to be in Bhai Bala's favour.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The miracle of the flying Baba Nanak!

Wow, just covered 50 miles in the twinkling of an eye!

Ever had such an experience?

You were just travelling by a bus or a car and then at some point of the journey suddenly found that you have covered the last 50 or 70 or 100 miles from milestone A to milestone B in almost no time? No, you were not asleep, you were just not sure how you or the bus/car passed the time inbetween. You saw the milestone A and then you just saw the milestone B at 50 or 70 or 100 miles ahead?

Or you were sitting in your home reading or doing something and then suddenly looked up at the watch in front and found that just now, absolutely just now its arms showed 10:15 AM and now they were showing 11:30 AM?

Or - and actually this happened with myself a few years ago - you are having some medical problem and doctors have advised you complete rest. But then you encounter some family problem and have to go to some place some 200 kilometres away by driving your car yourself, and then when you sit at the steering wheel finding your body not feeling well just remember your Guru or whosoever you have faith in and pray to him to drive the car for you and lo, you just sit relaxed behind the steering wheel while the car seems to be going as if on its own, you cover 200 kilometres but find yourself as fresh at the end as at the beginning?

What actually happened in all these instances? That you or your basic awareness somehow got disconnected from the usual outer spacetime or its working for a while. Where you were in the meantime? Or, where did your basic awareness go? In the realm of itself, in the realm where as per the picture above the observer itself became the observed, where instead of noting the changes in the usual spacetime outside it rather got merged into the basic awareness or consciounsess itself which was otherwise supposed to note all the changes on it.

Now, while in your and mine case it was for a while and involuntary, for Nanak it was almost voluntary. Beyond even that, in the initial years of his drowning in the river Kali Bein Baba Nanak was just always in it.

Now perhaps you can imagine how Nanak would be walking even without walking, going from one place to an other in the twinkling of an eye so to say though yet taking his time, how in short he would be flying from one place to an other.

The learned of such knowledge say that at the base of all that exists are vibrations of various frequencies. Higher one's awareness higher the frequency. Nanak's frequency must be the highest. It must be like the "swift spreading fire" of the poem in a previous post which had the power to bring all those around him also to the same state of 'burning' so to say for whatsoever short or long a duration. This can to some extent explain how Bhai Mardana and Bala too would be 'flying' with Nanak, reaching from one place to the next in no time, or by just "shutting their eyes" as Bhai Bala has written at many places in his Janamsakhi.