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.

Nanak's logic was the logic of "flowing with the flow"

Nanak's logic was the logic of "flowing with the flow" and only a person like Bhai Bala who was actually present with him on the journeys and had seen everything with his own eyes could have found the courage to write as it really happened. The others could not because for one, they would not have that surety of "having seen with their own eyes", and for an other, far removed from the scene in time and space as they would be they would naturally think equally if not more of the reader and would try to write more what the latter is likely to accept or accept as authentic than what actually happened. (If I may say so, they were like modern-day editors far removed from the actual scene of the event or 'depth' of the writer, who are famous for spoiling the originality of the writing in their effort to make the writing saleable to the general public.)

For example, only a person who was actually present with Nanak could have written that starting from Sultanpur Nanak went to Delhi via Lahore (which is otherwise on the opposite side of Delhi), of course if it actually happened that way, but not the one who was not present. For then, lacking surety of an eyewitness the latter will be afraid that people will ask him that if Nanak was to go to Delhi why he should first go to Lahore or why should he go via Lahore, why not directly via this and that?

Nanak could really have gone via Lahore because Nanak was actually to go, to reach, nowhere; he was just to flow with the flow, he was just to go where things at the very moment would fall-into-place on their own to take him.

A proposal will come and he will, without thinking of anything, of destination, of distance, of route, of time would just spontaneously say either yes or no and that will be all. Again, as I said before, it is not easy to understand the ways of those who are there yet not there, doer yet not doer, who feel that things happen through them rather than by them. Completely in the now they are just in the hands of the higher power or higher reason or intuition to go wherever it will take them, they just feel like standing in the center of things as witnesses.

And it is not necessary that it was Bhai Bala who wrote that Bhagat Kabir and Baba Hundal were superior to Baba Nanak, it could have been superimposed on his Sakhi by someone else later on. In fact many things could have been superimposed later on but that does not mean that the main writing was not done by Bhai Bala not to mention that he did not even exist.

I may also add here that the talk of Kabir's or Baba Hundal's superiority would not have affected Nanak in the same way as it has affected us ego-logical lesser mortals, and if there was even a hint by somebody of the same in Nanak's presence I would not be surprised if Nanak would not have rather affirmed the same than get annoyed, in which case, Bala would be left in a preplexing state whether to go by Nanak's word or not. Who knows what actually happened or under what circumstances Bhai Bala wrote the above if at all? What needs to be done on our part is to not to be affected either way and showing humility as Nanak himself would have ordained remain sure of Baba Nanak's highest attainment ourselves. In the timeless and spaceless realm of the One there is no higher and no lower, no inferior and no superior. And Nanak of all would know it.

Bhai Kanhaiya, a Sikh, is famous in Sikh history as the person who offered water to wounded Muslim soldiers in the same way he offered to Sikh soldiers in a battle between Muslims and Sikhs at the times of Guru Gobind Singh. None would have believed if people had not actually seen him doing so. And even those who actually saw it thought it better to lodge a complaint with the Guru than appreciate him. It was only Guru himself who could understand and appreciate such a gesture of confirming that all are made by the same One God and none is your enemy once he is not in a position to fight in a battle field. Now only an eyewitness with the added help of Guru's gesture could have done justice to this episode of Bhai Kanhaiya while to others it may have looked cooked up for some ulterior motive of the writer.

As for Bala's writing that Nanak flew from one place to an other or just closed his eyes at one place and appeared at an other intended place, I will provide my own kind of logic in my next post at the same time showing that this apparent miracle too is not devoid of all reason or substance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The logic of Nanak's sometimes illogical itinerary

When I began writing this blog I had read Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh's book "Atlas - Travels of Guru Nanak" and thought that I will follow this book as to the itinerary of Guru Nanak's Travels. They seemed to have read all the available literature right from Bhai Gurdas's Vars and various Janamsakhis beginning with seventeen century to the present and had even physically travelled on some routes they thought Nanak had travelled. I was impressed by their research and imaginative link-ups in the itinerary and thought nothing more needed to be done on this count.

But, at the same time, I also wrote that I will take up the Travels as the journey of or from the point of view of a soul taken over by All Controlling Soul/One in the body of Baba Nanak. Now as I am proceeding, and try to see things from the "other side," from the side of Nanak's soul so to say, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or mostly unknowingly, post by post, I am being made to discover new and newer truths related to Travels, to their routes, to the people Nanak interacted with on the way, and to speak the truth, I myself don't know what I will write and how in my next post.

The new truths at many times do not agree with the descriptions I have read in the "Atlas...", or in many other books in fact, and, at the same time the most amazing thing is that they mostly agree with Bhai Bala's Janamsakhi of all, whose accounts the authors of "Atlas..." have found "haphazard," not "Udasi-wise" and more meant to "bring out the supernatural aspect of the Guru's Travels." I can, however, take solace in the fact that at least Bhai Bala was the one and only person of all who was actually with Baba Nanak in flesh and blood on his Travels. (After I wrote this post I came across many writings of Sikhs doubting the very existence of the person of Bhai Bala not to talk of his actually accompanying Baba Nanak on his Travels , but I have no doubts on both counts though my explanations will come in future posts by and by. )

In terms of actual writing I have yet reached where I have found myself agreeing with Bhai Bala's "haphazard" itinerary only about which I will be writing in my next post, but whatever little I have browsed through his other stories I can't say I will not agree with him more and more. All I can assure is that I will try to provide my own kind of logic where I see that there is some truth in Bhai Bala's description and it only needs to be explained in an other way more compatible with the present times.

Seeing the above drift in my writing I have in fact already revised what I wrote at the beginning of this blog, that I will follow the book "Atlas...". Now I have inserted that I will leave the final outcome to the "khasam (Lord/Master)." So in a way I will myself be rediscovering the Travels or stories connected with them as I write. And it is a very satisfying experience for me on two other counts.

A few days ago I was telling my wife that look at the strange turn of events in my life. In my childhood, due to some peculiar circumstances related to my birth, I grew up reading Janamsakhis day in and day out, and now in my old age the circumstances have again conspired to make me do the same again. Now the satisfying thing is that while in childhood I did not understand many things in them and just carried on reading at the insistance of my mother and sisters, now I not only understand them and rather in a new way but also find my own kind of logic/truth even in some apparent miracles. And may be in so doing I am helping some other people like me too to understand the same in a new way and thus find the same satisfaction.

Secondly, and it is more personal and I dont even know if I should write it here or not, a few days before I began this blog I had a dream in which an apparently lone traveller clad in withered-red long clothes and with a long wooden staff in his hand suddenly appeared before me in some forest and then making some undecipherable gesture as quickly disappeared. I did not know then who he was and what was the meaning of his gesture. But in the morning when I went out of my room to fetch newspapers suddenly as if from nowhere a thought came to my mind that he was Nanak, giving me a nod to go ahead on the writing of the blog and eventually on what I thought about bringing Travels on world tourist map. It must again repeat that it was just a dream and I am not one of those who attach much importance to dreams, but at the same time I wonder that why its meaning should be clear to me only in the morning rather than in the dream at night itself. May be I had gone into a far deeper state in my dream so that my link with this temporal world got completely broken just as it got established with the archtypal base and so I could not link to this from there. I could do so only in the morning. Anyway it gives me the satisfaction even though it may be for me only that perhaps I am serving some greater purpose somewhere.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nanak had no need of any preparation

We pre-pare before (pre) an event to finally come at par with or equal to (pare) it when we face it.

For Nanak that event had already been accomplished. It was realisation of the One. He had realised the One. Knowingly or unknowingly he must have been preparing for it for many past lives.

The following poem read by me in a book Something called Nothing aptly describes such an event:

The event was accomplished
But reason
Had yet to absorb it entire
It hadn't burst hot from the lips yet
A tale like a swift spreading fire
The moment was not yet near
To assess it dispassionately
Yet all was clear
From the look of the earth
And the sky...

The journey was not to be that event for Nanak. It was to be the outcome of that event. It was to be like "swfit spreading fire" after the event. Swift spreading fire does not need any preparation. It is sort of automatic. It just needs some things to be falling into place at the right times on their own.

So in fact nor Nanak's journey needed any planning. It will take him where it will at what time it will in whatever way and through whatever route it will.

This will explain why sometimes Nanak's itinerary gives the impression of being haphazard, being not logical. The detail of which we will take up in our next post "The Logic of Nanak's sometimes illogical itinerary."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nanak is no longer the doer

Look at the photo in front. Is the baby in this photo the doer? No, he is not the doer. Or you may say, he is the doer yet not the doer. Who is the doer in or rather through him? The Primal Innocence. Similarly it is with Nanak now. Nanak is the doer yet not the doer. The Primal Force of the Omnipotent One is the doer through him now. He is just the soul possessed.

I am writing this as I saw some people writing that Nanak prepared himself for the long journey ahead by doing this and that - by practising austerities, by meditations, by taking only cows milk, by sitting on hard stone boulders and so on.

Nanak was doing nothing of the kind. Nanak was just oblivious of his body. If at all, Nanak may be sitting on stones to have a feel of his body as still a separate self in howsoever small a way and through it to have a feel of a separate temporal world since he must have had an inkling of his future work to be done upon it.

Such a state is difficult to understand with mere logic. Until one has actually experienced it one does not, cannot know of it.

Even an ordinary lover fresh from the experience of love sometimes does not feel the pinch of broken glass or the like, while Nanak's experience was far greater and deeper. The body of a modern day Maharshi, Ramana, would have been eaten by ants in a similar state if some Swami had not come to rescue it.

Similar are the reasons of his eating less or even nothing. For, he may not have been in a position to bother to ask for something to eat, it all may have depended upon whosoever was his keeper at the time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Be ye like little children - 2

Nanak said, “Nanak hukme je bujhe tan haumein kahe na koe.” Indeed when we will really understand hukam or One's scheme of things we will stop saying haumein or I, me and mine for then we will come to know that religions at suitable points of time are actually the creations of One or One's scheme of things rather than of any man so that all are unique, all contain the fullness of truth, only each's truth is revealed to people according to the need of times in which they are.

If a father sends different books to read to his son when the later is in his childhood, youth, middle age and old age it does not make great sense for the son to say that one book is better/unique/more-full-of-truth than the other, more so when, thanks to the wheels-within-wheels nature of the evolutionary scheme of things he passes through childhood, youth, middle age and old age phases in each of his otherwise four main phases and so can always benefit from all of them from time to time. Humanity also passes through similar phases in a similar way and the apparent differences in different religions or religious books are there only because they were sent in or meant for different times/phases.

Manas ki jaat or humanity is ek/one like stems, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers and fruits of a tree are ek/one tree. Hukam or scheme of things of a tree is contained in its seed, Hukam or scheme of things of the mankind/earth/universe is contained in what science calls singularity at the time of Big Bang. And different religions are like different books/guideposts to show the way to stems, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits respectively of the same one tree at suitable times as to which way to go further and how. Could any be less unique at the cost of an other? Could any grow or had meaning at the cost of an other? Could any be said to contain less fullness of the truth of the tree than an other?

There could be no fruit without flowers, there could be no flowers without leaves, there could be no leaves without twigs, there could be no twigs without branches, there could be no branches without stems, there could be no stems without trunk, there could be none without the seed or the hukam or scheme of things of the tree contained in the seed. Understanding this can anybody, any religion still say that it is unique, that it is the only person/religion which contains the fullness of truth?

Nanak came when bhagti age in the East or the age of romanticism in the West was coming to an end and the age of reason and hence science was taking root. Which is in fact why he delved more on what is called his scientific vision. Christ came at the beginning of this very global cultural cycle (beginning with AD era), in culture's childhood in other words, hence his utterances were more either in the nature of a father giving commandments to a child, or of a child who felt “I and my father are one.”

Rightly his age or phase has been called the age of “Fathers and Teachers” by Bertrand Russel in his famous book A History of Western Philosophy. The comparative age in East/India is likewise called the Sutra and Scholastic period as per S. Radhakrishanan's book Indian Philosophy Vol 1 which obviously means the same thing.

Christ could not say like Nanak, “Ajj na suti kant sio..(today I could not come in contact or surrender to my Lover/Husband/Lord)” because such words could only have come in culture's youth which coincided with bhagti age or the age of romanticism in the West as Russel termed it.
Mohammad came in the early days of bhagti age, in the early youth of global culture and like any emotionally surcharged early youth devoted entirely to his father called Allah by him - the same earlier Father of Christ and later Kant (Husband) of Nanak - wanted to bring all those opposed to his Father to their knees before him. Yet the basis of this fight too was love because he thought all are his brothers only gone astray and it is his duty to bring them back to their Father's (Allah's) home. The real understanding of what I have written above can even convince the present followers of Muhammad that there is really no need of such a fight now for all are serving the same Father, One, Allah, or whosoever the name, in their own ways at their own places and as directed by the same Father, One or Allah Himself.

Even Communism was a religion and simply rebelled aginst God because it came in the age of reason as Russel called it, or in culture's adulthood and like many adults guided solely by dry reason felt completely alienated from its 'Father' and so rebelled against Him.

Nanak challenged the prevailing practices which had passed their utility as also to prepare people for the coming, scientific age and never any religion par se. Just as he may have challenged many prevailing practices in the present Sikh religion as well. Challenging prevailing practices and eulogising one's own or one's own religion in comparing it with others are two different things and are not done.

I hope we have now emptied our minds of enough prejudices to become like little children and move forth on our journey with Nanak with the like innocence and freshness. Either there is no Hindu, no Musalman, no Sikh, no Christian, no Buddhist and so on or there are all serving the same One or God at their own time, place and ways and all should be respected.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Be ye like little children - 1

We said that while travelling with Nanak journey itself will be the destination. So we would not be in a hurry. We will not lift our foot for the next step until we have firmly established ourselves on the first - on the ground of the Very Beginning, on the ground of the One.

Enslaved by egos one can see many people eager to ask, "what, do you think our Nanak - or Christ or Muhammad or Buddha or Rama or Krishana... - and all the other prophets you mentioned in the last post are equal? Or our religion Sikhism - or Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism... - and all the other religions are equal?
Or, if all the prophets have 'seen' the same One God, how come they speak different languages?
Some say no, our so and so is the real son of God, some say no, our so and so is the real messenger of God, some say our religion represents the real word of God, some say our religion is more scientific and true, some say our religion is more modern...

Sometime back I wrote an article in response to a very respected elder acquaintance of mine, a retired Professor who I don't know why asked my frank comments on his article regarding glimpses of scientific vision in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I am reproducing that article here as I think it gives answer to most of the questions mentioned above. (I know such article could have been written by a Professor of any other religion regarding their own holy book or religion or prophet. My respone is for all of them.):

By asking me, almost a non-entity especially in academic circles, to comment on his paper no doubt Professor -* has given me a great honour but by adding the word frank comment he has also put me in an equally great dilemma.

There is a way of the world, a prevailing way, even a status-quoist way, right at its place for the time being, according to which learned professors and philosophers of a community, country or religion write about them and try to present what is best in them and to the extent they can keep their own individual ignorances and biases away they present their best and most faithful picture. Seen in that light I could hardly find fault with any thing put up by Professor -* in his paper, nay, I have hardly ever read a more inclusive yet concise, more illuminating yet down to earth and more acceptably representative of Sri Guru Granth Sahib given the present scientific age.

But the prevailing ways of the world with certain passage of time also invariably turn out to be like people throwing water towards the sun at Hardwar to offer water to their dead ancestors. Which at certain relatively innocent times serve some purpose but which eventually begin to serve exactly the opposite purpose for which they were originally intended. To further confound the problem they so enslaven the people's minds in the process that it requires then a person of the calibre of Nanak himself to free them once again of the same and put them on the original intended path of keeping focus on man's highest goal of realizing the One or Oneness of all mankind by going beyond their narrow selves or I, me, mine.

To elaborate. For a family its ancestor represents One from whom it originated. For the whole earth/mankind it is the sun. By asking people to remember or worship ancestors and by throwing water on sun the wisemen of the times may have devised a way to make them forget for a while their narrow selves and via ancestors and the sun eventually raise their attention towards One or God which they otherwsie could not understand. But with the passage of time it became a mere ritual and people taking part in it entirely forgot One and instead limited their thinking to pleasing their ancestors only. And that too rather for the benefit of their same small selves which they were otherwise supposed to forget, by asking their ancestors for boons. Thus which was originally intended to make them transcend their narrow selves eventually ended up binding them even more to the same.

I find shadows of something similar in Professor -*'s paper. A path, a path of Nanak, a path further enunciated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib in which I, me and mine is rather to be transcended (Nanak hukme je bujhe tan haumein kahe na koe) and all humanity is to be considered as one (Manas ki jaat sabhe ek hi pehchaanbo) is again, no doubt unwittingly, being bound to I, me and mine. My religion is unique, our religion is the best since it is the only religion which contains the fullness of truth, my religion is the most scientific etc. While it will need an other Nanak to come again to thoroughly shake and unshackle us from such new bondage by daring to add perhaps even the word “Sikh” along with Hindu and Musalman in original Nanak's famous words “Na ko Hindu na Musalman”, for the time being, as coming events cast their shadows before, perhaps a few outsiders like me can also show a few dots of such corruption in advance creeping into the highest and purest teaching of Nanak or of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. To repeat, Nanak hukme je bujhe tan haumein kahe na koe.

Nanak said “Ek”. If all is Ek, One, obviously the self-effulgent Perfect One, how one part of it can be unique and the other not? Nanak said ”Om kar”. If all is the "kar" (work/creation or scheme of things) of the same Ek, the same perfect One also called Om, how parts of it can be good, better and the best? Wouldn't the perfect create only perfection? Nanak said “Akal murat aejuni sae bhann”. If Ek, One is beyond time and space and hence beyond duality, how can Its status be supposed to be enhanced if It gives glimpses of that which is within time, space and duality, nay, has its very existence dependant upon duality like science is and hence always less than One or perfect?
Will the status of sun be enhanced if we say that it gives glimpses of planets in it or of anything else which came from it? Will our saying that a father gives glimpses of any of his sons carry any meaning?

No doubt there is concept of miri along with piri – of that which is within time along with that which is beyond time – in Sikhism of Guru Nanak, but in that case ephemeral and everchanging things of miri can be given the honour by saying that they give the glimpses of piri not the other way around. Science was not there a few centuries before, will not be there a few centuries from now but show me in mankind's history when Ek or One or God in one way or the other was not there or will not be there. All science or scientific theories are only partially true and so get superceded by newer ones with passage of time but imagine if you can if that which is written in SGGS will ever get superceded. We measure the importance of everchanging something against permanent not vice versa.

Swayed by the ephemeral though blinding accomplishments of science, we are certainly short-changing Nanak's great, eternal vision as contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib by saying that it gives glimpses of science. We can say with some meaning that something gives glimpses of perfection not that perfection gives glimpses of something. Perfection, which is what is written and represented in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, by its very name and nature is supposed to give glimpses of everything, nay, contain everything, in its less understood form as well as in its fully understood form which will by then have already approached perfection itself.

Science* fully understood or when it will have reached grandunification will be approaching that perfection but then it will no longer remain science and would have already entered the realm of One in which knower, the process of knowing and the things to be known would merge into one indistinguishable, unexplanable unity/whole. Which is in fact why science does not, cannot and will not reach full grandunification ever. It is the domain of direct experiences, of revelations. If science does not accept It, no harm will come to It while science will die banging its head in more and more details in the times to come.

* From the above some people may take the wrong notion that I am against science. I am not but at the same time I do not take science to be the end in understanding the final state or Reality, of One. Alternately I am against science in the same way a man led by reason is against emotions in which he finds a youth lost/enslavened. Just as the youth needs to go beyond emotions to see reason of a situation as they say, similarly, science or reason now needs to go beyond to see the spiritual aspect, the all-is-one aspect of a situation, though finally he may have to go beyond even spiritual aspect to see what agreeing with Lao Tze I call the Way of a situation and finally of Reality. As I have written somewhere else: Where science ends philosophy begins, where philosophy ends spirituality begins, where spirituality ends The Way begins which includes all yet transcends all, knowing which one knows all, more about which, however, I may write at some other time.
...To be continued

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Night Journey and the bursting of "Ek Oankar..." from Nanak's lips

In this post our endeavour will be to understand the incident of Nanak's drowning in the river in a far broader framework, the broadest framework in fact so far as the spiritual aspect of man is concerned.

The overall broadest framework is one in which the universe's most fundamental patterns play out, and the broadest frame-work related to the spiritual aspect of man will be one in which the fundamental patterns of its greatest spiritual heroes also called spiritual archtypes are played out.

There may be very many spiritual men and women but religions will be born only after the names or deeds of those who would have gone through such a pattern. For the very fundamentalness of such patterns suggests that it is through them One or God or logos takes first steps to become flesh. So that in them we can almost see or hear the One or God face to face.

Such a pattern involves what is variously known as the Night Journey, or Death-and-Rebirth motif. It is at the end of such a Night Journey or Rebirth that the man can speak out his new-found Truth which then becomes irresistible for people to accept in due course of time and a new religion is born. Night Journey signifies a break from a past spiritual paradigm to a new one.

Arthur Koestler in his book The Act of Creation has explained the above in a beautiful way and all we need to add at the end may be just the name of Nanak to complete the story. Before I quote him I may however add that in this context creation of new religion may be seen as the highest act of creation of man or of Man-God or God-Man.

Writes Arthur Koestler, in his book The Act of Creation, under the chapter titled The Belly of the Whale - Night Journey :

One archetype remains to be discussed...It is variously known as the Night Journey, or the Death-and-Rebirth motif; but one might as well call it the meeting of the Tragic and the Trivial planes. It appears in countless guises; its basic pattern can be roughly described as follows: Under the effect of some overwhelming experience the hero is made to realize the shallowness of his life, the futility and the frivolity of the daily pursuits of man in the trivial routines of existence...He then suffers a crisis which involves the very foundations of his being; he embarks on the Night Journey, is suddenly transferred to the Tragic plane - from which he emerges purified, enriched by new insight, regenerated on a higher level of integration...

The symbolic expressions of this pattern are as old as humanity. The crisis or Night Journey may take the form of a visit to the underworld (Orpheus, Odysseus); or the hero is cast to the bottom of a well (Joseph), buried in a grave (Jesus), swallowed by a fish (Jonah); or he retires alone into the desert , as Buddha, Mahomet, Christ, and other prophets and founders of religions did at the crucial turn in their live...

He may well have just added "drowned in a river" (Nanak) to complete the story for Nanak if he had but known Nanak as well!

Yet this Night Journey is actually within one's own self, towards the mental roots and beyond of one's own being, where our usual concepts of space and time dramatically change (much like what science has come to know as the quantum world in which the whole actual or outer world is virtually or nonlocally connected). Where our three days may be like three seconds and 80 kilometres like 80 centimetres for its experiencer. So that it would have been equally true if Nanak or somebody in his place would have said that he remained drowned in river for even 80 days. (I wonder if an expert in Einstein's relativity theory or a future expert in quantum theory when it would have been fully understood would explain it in a better way.)

Just as I was writing this post I came upon the Night Journey of prophet Muhammad for the first time, in which he says that he travelled some 700 miles to Jerusalem in one night. I hope it too can be better understood in the light of the above discussion.

Arthur Koestler further adds:

...Where the Tragic and the Trivial Planes meet, the Absolute becomes humanised, drawn into the orbit of man, while the banal objects of daily experience are transfigured, surrounded by a halo as it were. The meeting may have the majesty of an incarnation where the logos becomes flesh; or the charm of Krishana's descent to dally with the shepherdesses.

With the above meeting in Nanak not only the logos of the One became flesh in his body but the Word became melodious Mool Mantra and burst out from his lips: "Ek Oankar, Satnam, Karta Purakh, Nirbhao, Nirvair, Akaal Moorat, Ajoonee Saibhan, Gur Prasaad." (One God, Name Truth, Sole Doer, Without Fear, Without Favour, Beyond Time, Beyond Birth and Death, Realisable by the Grace of Guru.)

So beginning from the Very Beginning and taking spiritual heros of all times of all humanity along and with heavenly Mool Mantra on our lips let us now take the next step on our journey with Nanak.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Drowning of Baba Nanak in the river Kali Bein

The drowning of Baba Nanak in the river Kali Bein is the first incident with which his Travels really began. Because it is after this incident that he resigned from his service (of a storekeeper with the Jagirdar Dault Khan of Sultanpur), gave up all his worldly belongings and went to sit in the cremation grounds of Sultanpur. From which then going on the actual journey was only a matter of time.

By sitting in the cremation grounds the new Baba may just have indicated to the people around that their Nanak of yesteryears had died and been burnt. While he himself had gone beyond all relationships it may have been his way to help people digest the fact before actually leaving them.

Anyway, in this post our main concern is as to what may have actually happened with Baba Nanak what otherwise has come to be known as Nanak's drowning in the river Kali Bein. Did he really drown? Did he swam across and sat in meditation?

Or was this "drowning in the river" thing actually a symbolic continuation of something, some pattern much higher which all the great spiritual masters and especially those in whose names new religions were later to be born had to play out?

Much has already been written about Nanak's drowning or swimming across and sitting on meditation, it is this later aspect which we will try to bring to light specially for the educated elite here.

Nothing wrong with those who said Nanak drowned in the river. One never knows when a ripe soul may suddenly have what is variously known as the experience of Self-realisation, God realisation, or even of becoming God (Deus Factus Sum) as some have called it.

When one undergoes such an experience one no longer remains attached to one's body-mind, almost totally at least for initial some time. It is quite possible that Nanak may have had the sudden experience as soon as he entered the waters of river Bein.

Then Nanak would have remained no more attached to his body. He may have actually drowned if the evolutionary surge of the One in the form of one unified force, which acts right from big bang in various ways and at various levels and even from within one's body through what has come to be known as Kundlini shakti would not have had an other plan for him. In which case it would not have taken a great effort from it to push Nanak to the embankment, may be a few kilometres away, much like sometimes an innocent child is saved from death in a freak accident which otherwise has taken a toll of all others. With the net result that while our Nanak of yesteryears would have really drowned our Nanak of the future swam across and sat lost in the indecribable effulgence of His newly realised status.

Drowning for three days, or eight days as per Janamsakhi of Bhai Mani Singh, may just point to the fact that Nanak regained a semblance of his former separate self to some extent only after three or eight days after which he may have remembered where he was and returned to his people at Sultanpur.

Those who said that Nanak may have swam across and sat in meditation would also be true because though from new Nanak's side he may not be even aware of his spacio-temporal surroundings for those three or eight days for lesser mortals from temporal side who cannot think beyond meditation as to one's highest spiritual stance he may well be said to be just sitting in meditation - as if he was still left with anything separate from him to meditate upon! Yet all is in order.

But what is not in order is to treat this incident as an isolated one and leave the things at that, more about which we will write in our next post.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beginning from the Very Beginning with Baba Nanak

The aim of this blog is not to present the whole life of Baba Nanak, with the usual photos and Gurdwaras which rather came into existence much later. This has been done by many people many times over, to the extent of even losing the interest of the present-day far-developed mind. This blog will rather assume that people who are reading this blog already know basics of Nanak's life.

Here our main concern will be with his Travels (Udasis) and the stories connected with them. And even those are to be taken more as the journey of a soul further taken over by all Soul, by One in the body of Baba Nanak, than of Nanak himself in usual flesh and blood. For, the Nanak in usual flesh and blood was really takenover by the One from the day he is said to have drowned in the river Kali Bein as we will explain later.

That Nanak was then no longer anybody's son, brother, husband or father. That Nanak was then beyond all relations. Prior to that, that Nanak may have been a Hindu, post that he was neither a Hindu nor a Musalman. Because the One which had taken over him was Itself none. It was the same for all, and it was this One, also called Ek Onkar by Baba Nanak, which was thenceforth seeing and speaking Its Truth through Baba Nanak.

As often happenes with such experiences much later Baba Nanak may have regained a semblance of his separate self, yet he could never forget the fact that he was just an instrument in the hands of the One, a fact which he often alluded to in many of his hymns in the gurbani like "Jaisi mein ave khasam ki bani tesra karin gyan ve lalo." He knew the One was ever his "khasam," his master now.

So, while for most people Nanak began his Travels from Sultanpur, Punjab, for us in this blog he began from much, much beyond, from much beyond even space and time, from the primordial One from which in fact every separate soul/entity and even the universe begins and to which it finally returns.

Let us ourselves begin from Here by surrendering to this One as we promised in the previous post in terms of surrendering to the presence of Baba Nanak, for the presence of Baba Nanak is the presence of this very One now. And it is only by so doing that we will really be able to understand the stories to be encountered on the way otherwise called miracles or "miracles of Baba Nanak."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Travelling with Nanak

Travelling with Nanak on his Travels is not the same as travelling to any of his gurdwaras.

Travelling with Nanak is to feel the presence of those gurdwaras at every step of the journey.

Travelling with Nanak is to actually manifest Bhai Gurdas's words "Jithe Baba pair dhare puja asan thapan soa (wherever Baba sets foot that is a place of worship)."

Travelling on Nanak's Udasis' route is to be in continuous worship of Nanak.

Travelling with Baba Nanak on his journeys is not to reach any destination. Here the journey itself is to be the destination.

Travelling with Nanak is to surrender to his presence step by step so that at some point of the journey you yourself rise above the distinction of Hindu, Musalman, Sikh rather than merely remember his words "Na ko Hindu na Musalman...(There is no Hindu, no Muslim)".

Travelling with Nanak will be an endeavour to merge with the vision of Nanak step by step so that then when you will encounter any Mandir, Masjid, Gurdwara on the way you will immediately recognise it to be of the same One God only differing in name.

Travelling with Nanak will be to finally come home to the Nanak within and thus do away with the need of any jounrneys outside.

Travelling with Nanak will be to finally come to your original pristine pure state, the state hardly distinguishable from the One.

Note: Photo of Guru Nanak's khadave(wooden sandals) above courtsey http://www.lakhpatsahibji.com/index.htm

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

From the clash of civilisations towards harmony of civilisations

Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539), the founder of Sikhism, was equally famous for his four long Travels called Udasis. According to sikhiwiki.org (http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Udasis_of_Guru_Nanak) he is believed to be the second most travelled person in the world, the first being Ibn Battuta of Morocco.

Beginning each time from Punjab, India he travelled to all four directions - North, East, West and South - and visited almost all neighbouring countries and their important religio-cultural places. He is believed to have covered, mostly on foot, more than 28,000 kms during the period from 1500 to 1524.

Wherever he went he mesmerised people with his messages of "All Humanity is One" and "There is only One God for all only differeing in Name" conveyed through various means such as singing of songs, story-telling and situational dramatics.

Given the present noise of "clash of civilisations," remembering his Travels and through them his message of "All Humnity is One" is a dire need of the times. And there will be no better way to do this than to put the Travels on the tourism map of the world. Though to be done in parts, Humanity then will have 28000 kms to travel with Guru Nanak and in the process really soak-in his message.

Writing about the Travels and eventually putting them on the tourism map of the world is the endeavour of this blog.


1. For the purposes of routes followed by Guru Nanak though I will consult all the available literature in the form of various Janamsakhis and specially the 2004 edition of the book "Atlas -Travels of Guru Nanak" authored by Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh and published by Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala. For the final outcome I too will leave it to the "khasam (Lord/Master)" for, ultimately all is 'His' work and less one plans it with one's smaller self the better.

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