Concepts in sikhism



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CONCEPTS IN SIKHISM
Cognitive Psychology—Mind Map Approach
To Understanding Sikhism
For the
Second Generation Sikh Children

Produced by


Dr. J. S. Mann, M.D.

&

Dr. S. S. Sodhi, Ph.D.


Address: 22 Woodbank Terrace

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada, B3M 3K4

Phone: (902) 443-3269



Table of Contents
AGAMPUR or AGAMPURA, (Major Gurmukh Singh)…….….……………………1

AHIMSA. (L. M. Joshi)………………………………………………………………….2

AKAL (Wazir Singh)…………..…………….……………………...……..……………6

AKAL MURATI (Wazir Singh)…………………………………………………….…11

AMAR PAD (Major Gurmukh Singh)………………………………………………..13 AMRITDHARI (Piara Singh Sambhi)……………….……………………………….14 ANAHATA-SABDA (L. M. Joshi)……………………………….…………………15 ASCETICISM (L. M. Joshi)…………………………………………………………..18 BHAGAUTI (J. S. Neki, Giani Balwant Singh)…………………………………....22 BHAKTI (J. S. Neki)…………………………………………………………………...28 BHANA (Wazir Singh)………………………………………………………………34 BHOG (Noel Q. King)…………………………………………………………………..37 BOLE SO NIHAL, SATI SRI AKAL (G. S. Talib)………………………………..…40 BRAHMGIANI (D. K. Gupta)…………………………………………………………50 BUDDHI (J. S. Neki)………………………………………………………………....53 DAN (Taran Singh)…………………………………………………………………..56 DASAMDVAR (L. M. Joshi)……………………………………………………..…60 DASVANDH (Wazir Singh)………………………………………………………....66 DAYA (J. S. Neki)……………………………………………………………………....69 DEATH (J. S. Neki)……………………………………………………………………72 DHUNI (Major Gurmukh Singh)……………………………………………………...76

DIVAN (Taran Singh)………………………………………….………………………78

FIVE EVILS (L. M. Joshi)………………………………………….…...……..………80

FIVE KHANDS (Ram Singh)…………………………………….……………………89 FIVE SYMBOLS (J. S. Neki)………………………………………………………….93 GIAN (Dharam Singh, Major Gurmukh Singh)……………...…………………..101 GOD IN SIKHISM (G. S. Talib)………………………………...………………….105 GRANTHI (Murray J. Leaf)…………………………………..……………………114 GURDWARA (Fauja Singh)………………………………..……………………117 GURMANTRA (Taran Singh)……………………………………..………………...122

GURMAT (Wazir Singh)………………………………………………….………….126

GURMATA (K. S. Thapar)…………………………………..………………………131

GURMAT SANGIT (M. J. Curtiss)…………………………………………………136

GURMUKH (J. S. Neki)…………………………………….….………….……….…166

GURMUKHI (Hardev Bahri)……………………………….………….…….………169

GURPURB (Harmandar Singh)……………………………………………………175 GURU (W. Owen Cole)…………………………………………….………….….…178 GURU KA LANGAR (Prakash Singh)…………………………………………….190 HUKAM (Gurbachan Singh Talib)………………………………………………….196 HUKAMNAMA (Ganda Singh)…………………………………………………..…203 HUMAI (Ego) (Taran Singh)……………………………………………………..…206 ISHVAR (Major Gurmukh Singh)…………………………………………………218 JATHA (Bhagat Singh)……………………………………………………………….220 JHATKA, (Piara Singh Sambhi)………………………………………………….....223 JIVA (J. S. Neki)……………………………………………………………….….….226 JIVAN-MUKTA (Wazir Singh)……………………………………………….……..228 KAM (L. M. Joshi)……………………………………………………………………232 KAMAL (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………………………...235 KARAH PRASAD (Taran Singh)………………………………………………...…239 KARMA, THE DOCTRINE OF (K. R. S. Iyenger)……………………………....242 KATHA (Taran Singh)…………………………………………………………….246 KESADHARI (Piara Singh Sambhi),……………………………………………..248 KHALSA (Ganda Singh)………………………………………………………..…251 KIRTAN (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………………………...253 KRODH (L. M. Joshi)………………………………………………………………...259 LAVAN (Dharam Singh)…………………………………………………….…….…261 MAN (J. S. Neki)………………………………………………………………..….263 MANMUKH (J. S. Neki)………………………………………………………..……268 MARTYRDOM (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………….….…270 MAYA, (Wazir Singh)………………………………………………………………285 MIRI-PIRI (Major Gurmukh Singh)……………………………………...………288 MOH (L. M. Joshi)…………………………………………………………………….293 MUKTI (J. S. Neki)……………………………………………………………………295 MUL MANTRA (G. S. Talib)……………………………………………………….301 NADAR (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………………………..306 NAM (L. M. Joshi)………………………………………………………………….310 NAM JAPANA, KIRAT KARNI, VAND CHHAKANA (W. O. Cole)………….315 NISHAN SAHIB (Parkash Singh)………………………………………………….319 NITNEM (Noel Q. King)……………………………………………………………322 ONKAR (D. K. Gupta)……………………………………………………………326 PAHUL (Taran Singh)………………………………………………………………..332 PANGAT (Bhagat Singh)…………………………………………………………340 PANJ PIARE (S. S. Ashok)…………………………………………………………342 PAPA (L. M. Joshi)………………………………………………………………….347 PATH (Taran Singh)………………………………………………………………….357 PATIT (W. O. Cole)…………………………………………………………………359 PUNN (L. M. Joshi)………………………………………………………………...…362 QUDRAT (G. S. Talib)…………………………………………………………….371 RAHIT MARYADA (S. P. Kaur)……………………………………………………375
RAHITNAME (Taran Singh)………………………………………………………...380 SAHAJ (J. S. Neki)………………………………………………………………….390 SAHAJDHARI (Kirpal Singh, B. Harbans Lal)…………………………………396 SANGAT (K. Jagjit Singh)…………………………………………………………399 SANGRAND (Taran Singh)…………………………………………………….….404 SANT (W. H. McLeod)………………………………………………………………406 SANT TRADITION (David C. Scott)…………………………………….………..409 SARBATT DA BHALA (Kulraj Singh)…………………………………………..415 SARBATT KHALSA (Major Gurmukh Singh)………………………………….419 SARDAR (Ganda Singh)……………………………………………………………424 SATI (Sohan Singh)…………………………………………………………………425 SEVA (J. S Neki)……………………………………………………………………429 SHABAD (W. H. McLeod)…………………………………………………………..433 SHARDHA ((L. M. Joshi)…………………………………………………………….439 SIKH (Ganda Singh)………………………………………………………………….445 SIKH COSMOLOGY (Gurdip Singh Bhandari)…………………………………448 SIKHISM (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………………………457 SIKHISM AND CASTE SYSTEM (Jagjit Singh Chandigarh)…………………473 SINGH (Ganda Singh)………………………………………………………………484 SIROPA (Major Gurmukh Singh)…………………………………………………487 SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB (Taran Singh)………………………………………489 SUKHMANI (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………………….…520 SUNN (L. M. Joshi)…………………………………………………………………...527 SYMBOLISM IN SIKHISM (Taran Singh)…………………………………533 TANKHAH (Balbir Singh Nanda)…………………………………………………..539 TATT KHALSA (Sudarshan Singh)………………………………………………...544 TRANSMIGRATION OF THE SOUL (K. T. Lalwani)…………………………...546 TURBAN (Piara Singh Sambhi)…………………………………………………….551 UNTOUCHABILITY AND SIKHISM (G. S. Talib)………………………………..554 VAHIGURU (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………………….....558 VAHIGURU JI KA KHALSA VAHIGURU JI KI FATEH (G. S. Talib)..……..564 VAK (P. S. Sambhi)…………………………………………………………………...568 WOMEN IN SIKHISM (G. S. Talib)………………………………………………...570 YOGA (H. K. Kaul)……………………………………………………………...……575
AGAMPUR or AGAMPURA, (Major Gurmukh Singh) lit. city unapproachable or inaccessible (Skt. Agamya plus pur or pura). The word appears in one of the hymns of Guru Nanak in Asa measure where it is used to signify God’s abode or the ultimate state or stage of spiritual enlightenment and bliss. Another term used synonymously in the same hymn is nijaghar, lit. one’s own real home signifying the ultimate sphere of jivatima. The relevant stanza first raises the question: “Tell me how the city unapproachable is reached,” followed by the answer, “By discarding such measures as japu (mechanical repetition of God’s name), tapu (bodily mortification) and hath nigrahi (forced control of the senses).” Realizing the Guru’s Word in practice is prescribed as the right path to agampur (GG, 436).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahig Ji. Amritsar, 1959

M. G. S.


AHIMSA. (L. M. Joshi) The term ahimsa is formed by adding the negative prefix a to the word himsa which is derived from the Sanskrit root han, i.e. ‘to kill’, ‘to harm’, or ‘to injure’, and means not-killing, not-harming, not-injuring. The commonly used English equivalent ‘non-violence’ is inadequate as it seems to give a false impression that ahimsa is just a negative virtue. Ahimsa is not mere abstention from the use of force, not just abstention from killing and injuring; it also implies the positive virtues of compassion and benevolence because not-killing and not-injuring a living being implicitly amounts to protecting and preserving it and treating it with mercy. The commandment not to kill and not to offend any living being arises from a feeling of compassion and from a sense of respect for every sentient being. The injunction that one is defiled and becomes sinful by killing and harming a living being is a kind of warning to those who are heedless of the principle of compassion. It thus strengthens the doctrine of compassion and reinstates the sentiment of respect for life. The injunction that the practice of ahimsa is meritorious is likewise a kind of promise of reward to those who are compassionate and sensitive to all forms of sentient existence. Ahimsa may embrace a variety of motivation—compassion for living beings, earning religious merit, achieving self-purification and dread for the sinful consequences of violence and cruelty. For all these motives there is a scriptural authority in India.

In addition to the word ahimsa, we have at least three others yielding the same sense. In Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edict No. 4, we have avihimsa and anarambha, while in the old Pali canonical texts we have the phrase panatipata veramani. The word avihimsa is another form of the word ahimsa, non-killing, not-injuring, inoffensiveness, harmlessness, kindness, compassion, benevolence, and love. The word anarambha (or analambha) means not-slaughtering (living beings in sacrificial rituals). The phrase panatipata veramani (Skt. Pranatipata viratah) means abstaining from destroying a living being.

It is now generally admitted that the principles of ahimsa originated outside the fold of the Vedic tradition. The non-Vedic ascetic sages, known as munis and sramanas, were perhaps the first teachers of the doctrines of ahimsa and karuna or compassion. However, its clear mention and its exposition as an important element in religious life are found only in the later Vedic age which is also the age of the earliest historical sramanas such as Parsvanatha, Kapilamuni, Kasyapa Buddha, Vardhamana, Mahavira and Sakyamuni Buddha. Parsvanatha (circa 750 BC) is known to have taught the fourfold moral restraint (caturyama) which included the practice of ahimsa.

On the other hand, however, the ancient Brahmanical literature gave only partial sanction to the practice of ahimsa and continued to respect the custom of slaughtering animals in sacrificial rituals. It shows that originally it was a principle peculiar to the Sramanic tradition. The slaughter of animals was, of course, prescribed by the rite, but the practical object of this slaughter was to admit animal flesh for food.

Sikhism accepts ahimsa as a positive value, and there are numerous hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, advising man to cultivate the ethical values of daya (compassion) and prem (love). It, however, does not accept ahimsa as a mere absence of himsa or violence. Love, justice, equality, self-respect and righteousness are some of the overriding social values to guarantee which even himsa would be permissible.

Sikhs’ social and ethical values are all derived from their metaphysical doctrine. Sikhism believes in the unicity of God, who in His manifest form pervades the entire creation. Thus, all the created beings in this phenomenal world are his manifestation and intrinsically one with Him. This idea of inherent unity of being with the Supreme Being debars man from using himsa or violence against another being because that would amount to hurting the Divine. This ontological doctrine of divine unity is in Sikhism the basis of all positive values of ahimsa such as social equality, love, compassion, charity and philanthropy. Guru Arjan, in one of his hymns, adjures man “not to injure anyone so that thou mayst go to thy true home with honour.” Mercy or compassion towards living beings is said to be equivalent in merit earned by pilgrimage to sixty-eight holy spots. This religious value attached to the practice of mercy affirms the principle of ahimsa . Guru Tegh Bahadur, Nanak IX, also says that one of the marks of a wise man is that he does not terrorize others nor does he allow himself to be terrorized by others.

The Sikh tradition is also replete with instances of sacrifices made for the sake of justice, righteousness and human freedom. Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down their lives to vindicate the right to freedom and religious belief. The creation of the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh, Nanak X, and the use of sword as sanctioned by him were also to vindicate the same values. The positive values of ahimsa like compassion, love, universal brotherhood, freedom and self-respect must prevail. However, if these are violated, man must resist. When all peaceful methods for such resistance are exhausted, the use of sword, so says Guru Gobind Singh, is lawful (Zafarnamah, verse 22). The use of sword, however, is not for any personal gain or advancement; it has to be for the general good. Thus was the doctrine of ahimsa reinterpreted. The Gurus affirmed their faith in its positive values, but if himsa became necessary to resist and defeat the forces violating these values, it was not considered antagonistic to ahimsa.

BIBLIOGRAPHY



  1. Davids, T. W. Rhys, “Ahimsa” in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. Ed. Hanes Hastings, Edinburgh, 1964

  2. Jack, Homer A., ed., Religion for Peace. Delhi, 1973

  3. Harbans Singh, Peace Imperatives in Sikhism, Patiala, 1991

L. M. J.
AKAL (Wazir Singh), lit. timeless, immortal, non-temporal, is a term integral to Sikh tradition and philosophy. It is extensively used in the Dasam Granth hymns by Guru Gobind Singh, who titled one of his poetic compositions Akal Ustati , i.e. In Praise (ustati) of the Timeless One (akal). However, the concept of Akal is not peculiar to the Dasam Granth. It goes back to the very origins of the Sikh faith. Guru Nanak used the term in the Mul Mantra, the fundamental creedal statement in the Japu, the first composition in the Guru Granth Sahib. The term also occurs in Guru Ram Das, Nanak IV, who uses it in conjunction with murat in Siri Raga chhants (GG. 78) and in conjunction with purakh in Gauri Purabi Karhale (GG, 235). The term occurs more frequently in Guru Arjan’s bani (e.g. GG, 99, 609, 916, 1079 and 1082). We encounter the use of the term akal in Kabir as well.

It may be noted that the term akal has been used in Gurbani in two forms: (a) as a qualifier or adjective, and (b) as a substantive. In the expression akal murati. The first part is often treated as a qualifier, even though some interpreters take the two words as independent units, viz. akal and murati. In the Maru Raka Kal and Akal have been clearly used as substantives by Guru Arjan and Kabir. Guru Gobind Singh more often than not treats the expression as a noun. Akal Ustati is the praise of Akal and “Hail, O Akal, Hail, O Kirpal!” of Japu also takes the related expressions as substantives. The meaning of Akal in this context is ‘timeless’, non-temporal’, ‘deathless’, ‘not governed by temporal process’, or ‘not subject to birth, decay and death’. This appears to be negative coining in each case. But the intent is affirmative. Akal as deathless or non-temporal implies everlasting reality, eternal being, or Transcendent Spirit; it further implies Eternity, Being, or Essence. The linguistic form may be negative, but the semantic implication is unmistakably affirmative.

Guru Gobind Singh in his Japu in the Dasam Granth, has designated the Supreme Reality Akal. It is the same Reality that was given the epithet of sati in the Guru Granth Sahib. ‘Sati’ is the primordial name of the Eternal Being (GG, 1083). All the names that we utter in respect of God are functional or attributive names. The basic reality is nameless, in Guru Gobind Singh’s terminology anama. But even the Nameless can serve as a name. When we say Brahman is featureless, ‘featurelessness’ becomes its feature. Nirankar (Formless) is a name, and so are other epithets so coined. To signify what they regard as the Eternal Spirit, beyond the pale of time, temporality or cosmic processes, the Gurus have chosen the terms sati and akal. Vahiguru is a positive saguna substitute for the negative nirguna term Akal.

Guru Gobind Singh’s bani is a repository of concepts and terms, especially of the epithets relating to ‘time’. Besides Kal and Akal, he uses Maha Kal (macro-time) and Sarb-Kal (all-time) to indicate a Being above and beyond the eventful times of the universe. For him, Kal itself is a dimension of Akal, the only difference being the process that characterizes temporal events, and the eternality of Akal. Every occurrence or event has a beginning and an end, each event is a link in the on-going process of Time. The cosmic drama or the wondrous show of the world is all a creation of Time. The power of Time controls worldly events; the only entity independent of time is Time itself, and that is Akal, the Timeless One. That is how God is both Time and Timeless in Guru Gobind Singh’s bani. The temporal aspect of Time is the immanent aspect, the presence of Spiritual Essence in each worldly occurrence. It is the ‘personality’ of the Supreme, the chit or consciousness of sat-chit-anand. The other, transcendent aspect, is the Eternal, the Beyond, the Inexpressible, the Fathomless, Nirguna Brahman, assigned the name Akal, the Timeless One or the One-beyond-Time.

Akal is not a fixed, unmoving substance, but the dynamic spiritual principle of the entire cosmic existence. The phenomenal world emanates from the Spirit, and the Spirit permeates the world. Akal in Sikh weltanschauung is not mere consciousness, bland and void, but is the Creative Spirit, as the expression Karta Purakh implies. In other words, creativity is the core of Akal. And it is creativity that is manifest in the dimension of Kal. Acting through Time, the Timeless One creates worlds and beings of the worlds. It is through creativity that the Timeless One transforms itself from nirgun to sargun, from the aphur state into saphur state, from the pre-creation sunn, or dormant essence, into cosmic existence.

The creativity of Akal is not confined to the timeless and temporal aspects of the Supreme. Through its sargun facet the nirgun assumes the character of the Divine, of the gracious God, the loving Lord or Prabhu of the devotees. From ‘It’ the Ultimate becomes ‘He’, the person with whom communication is sought and established. From ‘Akal’, He becomes ‘Sri-Akal’. The Sikh slogan and popular form of greeting Sati Sri Akal Sikh sums up the concept that the timeless Being is the singular Eternal Reality. The phrase combines the concepts of Sati and Akal, implying that the Eternal and the Timeless are one; Sati, itself is the Everlasting Lord-beyond-Time. Thus, the creative essence turns the metaphysical Being into active principle of the world, into conscious Power involved in the cosmic process, into Hero or Master of the world, cherishing His creation with benign joy. Being the beneficent Lord, He lends some of His creativity to the created beings. Humanity draws its creativity and creative energy from the Divine reservoir of creativity.

Valour and heroism are pronounced characteristics of the Sikh tradition. The Akal of Guru Gobind Singh is All Steel (Sarb-Loh), symbolically applauding valour. Guru Nanak had applied the epithet of Jodha-Mahabali-Surma to the valiant in Japu, 27 (GG, 6). Guru Gobind Singh, Nanak X, expresses His creativities with terms such as Sarb-Kal (Japu, 19, 20), Sarb-Dayal (Japu, 19, 23, 28), Sarb-Pal (Japu, 28, 45). He calls Him Glorious and great, Super-form, Yogi of yogis, Moon of moons, Melody of melodies, Rhythm of the dance, Liquidity of waters, Movement of the winds. He is Akal as well as Kripal, the Compassionate Lord. In fact, the whole composition of Japu, with its wide range of attributive names for the Timeless Being focuses on the Akal-Kripal unipolarity. The impersonal appears through all persons, the Timeless encompasses all temporal beings emanating from His Essence. He transcends the human world, yet He is full of compassion for all. His timeless essence permeates the temporal existence.

The concept of Akal, central to Guru Gobind Singh’s Japu has percolated to the social, political and cultural aspects of Sikh life. Inspired by its theme, they call the Gurus’, bani Akali-Bani. The political wing of the community is known as Akali Dal. The slogan Sati Sri Akal has become a form of greeting for the Punjabis in general. The process had been initiated much earlier, half a century before the advent of Guru Gobind Singh on the scene. The Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, had already identified the throne built at Amritsar as Akal Takht—the Throne of the Timeless one.

BIBLIOGRAPHY


  1. Kapur Singh, Parasaraprasna (Reprint). Amritsar, 1989

  2. Gopal Singh, Thus Spake the Tenth Master, Patiala, 1978

  3. Talib, Gurbachan Singh, Selections for the Holy Granth. Delhi, 1982

  4. Jodh Singh, Bhai, Gurmati Nirnaya, Lahore, 1945

W. S.
AKAL MURATI (Wazir Singh), a composite term comprising akal (non-temporal) and murati (image or form), occurring in the Mul-Mantra, the root formula or fundamental creed of the Sikh faith as recorded at the beginning of the Japu, composition with which the Guru Granth Sahib opens, literally means ‘timeless image’. Elsewhere in the compositions of Guru Ram Das (GG, 78), and Guru Arjan (GG, 99, 609, 916 and 1082), the expression Akal Murati reinforces the original meaning of Divine Reality that is beyond the process of time, and yet permeates the cosmic forms. The non-temporal Being transcends the space-time framework and, as such, is Formless. However, in its manifest aspect, the same Being assumes the cosmic Form. The Sikh vision of God combines the Formless and its expression in natural forms, the transcendent and the immanent, the essence (spirit) and existence (creation).

The expression ‘Akal Murati’ lends itself to interpretation in two ways. The exegetes, who treat it as one term, take akal in the adjectival form that qualifies the substantive murati, the whole expression implying Everlasting Form equivalent to the Supreme Being. Those approaching the pair akal and murati severally, treat both the units independently, each expressing an attribute of the Divine Reality, believed to transcend time and space, yet manifest in spacio-temporal forms. But, despite the divergence of approach, both interpretations agree in substance, i.e. the featureless eternal Reality assumes features and modes of empirical existence. To put it differently, ‘Akal Murati’ presents a synthesis of nirgun and sagun facets of the Absolute-God of Guru Nanak’s vision. It however does not embrace the notion of incarnation. Non-incarnation is a basic theological postulate of Sikhism.

See AKAL.

BIBLIOGRAPHY



  1. Talib, Gurbachan Singh, Japuji—The Immortal Sikh Prayer-chant. Delhi, 1977

  2. Trilochan Singh, “Theological Concepts of Sikhism,” in Sikhism. Patiala, 1969

  3. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism, Lahore, 1944

  4. Jodh Singh, Gurmati Nirnaya. Ludhiana, 1932

W. S.

AMAR PAD (Major Gurmukh Singh) or amarapad, also called paramapada (highest step), turiapada or turiavastha, is the stage of deathlessness or immortality. In the Guru Granth Sahib the term has been used for the highest stage of spiritual enlightenment which is also the highest state of self-realization, the equivalent of God-realization. This is the stage of ultimate release.

See MUKTI and JIVAN-MUKT.

M. G. S.

AMRITDHARI (Piara Singh Sambhi) (amrit, lit. nectar, commonly Sikh sanctified initiatory water+ dhari=practitioner) is one who has received baptismal vows of the Khalsa initiated by Guru Gobind Singh (30 March 1699) and abides by them and by the panj kakari rahi, distinctive insignia introduced by the Guru on that day comprising five symbols each beginning with the Gurmukhi letter “ k ” (pronounced “kakka”) or its Roman equivalent “k”. These are kes (long unshorn hair and beard), kangha (a comb to keep the hair tidy), kirpan (a sword), kara (a steel bracelet worn about the wrist), and kachh (short breeches worn by soldiers).

See PAHUL.



BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Sikh Rahit Maryada, Amritsar, 1975

  2. Kapur Singh, Parasaraprasna, Amritsar, 1989

  3. Sher Singh, Giani, ed., Thoughts on Forms and Symbols in Sikhism. Lahore, 1927

  4. Uberoi, J. P. S., “The Five Symbols of Sikhism,” in Sikhism. Patiala, 1969

  5. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990

P. S. S.

ANAHATA-SABDA (L. M. Joshi) figures variously in the Guru Granth Sahib as anahada-sabad, anahada-tura, anahada-jhunkara, anahada-bain, anahata-nada, anahada-bani and anahada-dhuni and in the Dasam Granth as anahada-bani and anahada-baja. The word anahata is from the Sanskrit language. It occurs in Pali and Prakrit texts as well. In the Sanskrit original, it implies unstruck; it stands for pure or immaculate in Pali and for eternal in the Prakrit. The suffix words like sabad or sabda, tura, jhunkara, bani and dhuni stand for word, rhythm, sound or speech. Thus, anahata-sabda would mean the unstruck or pure eternal sound. In a theistic system, anahata-sabda would signify an eternal voice symbolizing the reality of God. Indeed, Kabir uses the word anahata as an epithet of God who is of the form of Light (joti sarupa anahata). This interpretation is paralleled in Guru Nanak’s Japu where he refers to God, the Creator, as the original, the pure, the beginningless and the eternal (adi anilu anadi anathati). The Gurus have employed almost all the technical terms of Tantra and Hathayoga first used by the siddhas, nathas and yogis, but they have, at the same time, re-evaluated and reinterpreted these doctrines and practices. However, the former were neither theistic in outlook or bhaktik in practice: their path was chiefly that of ascetic yogis. On the other hand, Sikhism believes in the non-dual dynamic reality realizable through bhakti or loving devotion. Thus, the concept of anahata-sabda in Sikhism had to be understood in the light of the Sikh concept of Reality which cannot be realized through tantric or hathayoga methods, but through nam-simran, i.e. constant remembrance of His Name—hari ki katha anahad bani (GG, 483). In the Sikh ontological view, this mystic sound (anahati-sabda) has no meaning if it does not relate to the glory of God. The use of tantric and hathayogic terminology has to be given a theistic and devotional content to understand it fully in the Sikh context. In Sikhism, the mystic sound in itself is not of much significance, but what matters is the source of this sound. Unlike the hathayogis who believed that the source of this sound (nada or sabda) is the kundalini passing through the susumna, the Sikh scripture declares that he who strikes the instrument and produces the sound is no other than God. It is the constant mindfulness of God (nam simran) which has to be made the life-breath (prana-pavana) of the devotee; controlling his left and right nerves (ida and pingala), he cultivates the central nerve (susumna), and then starts the reverse process by turning the life-breath upwards. When this life-breath made by nam-simran passes in the reverse order through the susumna, it pierces all the six plexuses on its upward march and it then settles in the void (ultat pavan chakra khatu bhede surati sunn anaragi—GG, 333). The Gurus are not concerned with the details of nadis, cakras, and kundalini; their central concern is to bear the eternal sound signalling the omnipresence of the Almighty. When this is achieved, by the grace of God (gurprasadi) the self realizes its innate nature spontaneously (sahaja-subhai), enjoys the innate bliss (sahaja-sukha), becomes free (nirmala) of all impurities, merges into the emptiness trance (sunna-samadhi) and attains supreme peace (nirban pada) which characterizes the fourth station (chautha pada). It is not necessary to stress that the anahata-sabda heard by the released sages is not a physical sound to be heard with the physical ears. One has to ‘kill’ one’s sinful existence and live an immaculate existence called jivan-mukti; then alone can one hear the anahada-bani.

BIBLIOGRAPHY



  1. Eliade, Mircea, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom. Princeton, 1969

  2. Bhattacharya, Haridas, The Cultural History of India. Calcutta, 1969

  3. Jodh Singh, The Religious Philosophy of Guru Nanak. Varanasi, 1983

  4. Chaturvedi, Parasuram, Uttari Bharat Ki Sant Prampara, Allahabad, 1963

L. M. J.

ASCETICISM (L. M. Joshi), derived from the Greek word askesis, connotes the ‘training’ or ‘exercise’ of the body and the mind. Asceticism or ascetic practices belong to the domain of religious culture, and fasts, pilgrimages, ablutions, purificatory rituals, vigils, abstinence from certain foods and drinks, primitive and strange dress, nudity, uncut hair, tonsure, shaving the head, circumcision, cave-dwelling, silence, meditation, vegetarianism, celibacy, virginity, inflicting pain upon oneself by whips and chains, mutilation, begging alms, owning no wealth or possessions, forbearance and patience, equanimity or impartiality towards friends and foes, eradication of desires and passions, treating the body as something evil or treating human life as a means of achieving ultimate release or union with God—all these are subsumed under ascetic practices.

The history of Indian religiousness presents the ultimate in the development of the theory and practice of asceticism. Evidence of the existence of ascetic practices in India has come down to us from the most ancient period of known history; archaeology and literature have documented its growth as a pan-Indian religious phenomenon; all the systems of religious thought that have ever appeared on the soil of India have been influenced in varying degrees by the philosophy and terminology of asceticism. Ancient Indian literature abounds in ascetic terminology and there are numerous terms which refer to ascetics or to diverse ascetic practices. Muni, yati, bhiksu, yogin, sramana, tapasvin, tapas, mundaka, parivrajaka, dhyanin, sannyasin, tyagin, vairagin, atita, udasina, avadhuta, digambara, etc. are terms frequently used in Indian religious tradition.

Non-theistic systems such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sankhya-Yoga provide instances of ascetic culture in its classical form. All these Sramanic systems of faith are predominantly ascetic though their philosophical theories place varying degrees of emphasis on bodily askesis. Forms of asceticism differ in Jainism and Buddhism, the former being an extreme instance of it. Asceticism is the heart of Jaina caritra or acara which, along with jnana and darsana, constitutes the way of moksa.

In the Buddhist form of asceticism, there is no metaphysical dualism of God and the world, or of soul and the body. Phenomenal existence is viewed as characterized by suffering, impermanence and not-self. The aim of ascetic culture is to go beyond this sphere of conditioned phenomena. The keynote of Buddhist ascetic culture is moderation; self-mortification is rejected altogether; tapas is a form of excess which increases dukkha. The aim of ascetic effort is to secure freedom from suffering; this ascetic effort is to be made within the framework of the Middle Way.

Among all schools of Indian ascetics the guru or preceptor is held in the highest esteem. No one becomes an ascetic without receiving formal initiation (diksa) or ordination (pravargya) at the hands of a recognized teacher who is himself an ascetic of standing. Practice of various kinds of physical postures (asanas), meditation, study of Scriptures, devotional worship, discussion on subjects of religious and philosophical, importance, going on pilgrimage to holy places, giving instruction to the laity, accepting gifts of dress materials and food-stuff, and radiating good will and a sense of religiousness and piety, are the usual facets of the life of Indian ascetics. Ascetic way of life, in any religion is the way of self-mortification. Injury to others is however disallowed. But Sikhism which of course emphasizes the importance of non-violence never lets this dogma to humiliate man as a man and accepts the use of force as the last resort. Says Guru Gobind Singh in the Zafarnamah: chu kar az hamah hilte dar guzasht/halal astu burdan ba shamshir dast (22). Sikhism denies the efficacy of all that is external or merely ritualistic. Ritualism which may be held to be a strong pillar of asceticism has been held as entirely alien to true religion.

Sikhism which may be described as pavrtti marga (way of active activity) over against nivrtti marga (way of passive activity or renunciation) enjoins man to be of the world, but not worldly. Non-responsible life under the pretext of ascetic garb is rejected by the Gurus and so is renunciation which takes one away to solitary or itinerant life totally devoid of social engagement. Says Guru Nanak: “He who sings songs about God without understanding them; who converts his house into a mosque in order to satisfy his hunger who being unemployed has his ears pierced (so that he can beg); who becomes a faqir and abandons his caste; who is called a guru or pir but goes around begging—never fall at the feet of such a person. He who eats what he has earned by his own labour and yet gives some (to others)—Nanak, it is he who knows the true way” (GG, 1245). Here one may find the rejection of asceticism and affirmation of disciplined worldliness. A very significant body of the fundamental teachings of the Gurus commends non-attachment, but not asceticism or monasticism.

The necessity of controlling the mind and subduing one’s egoity is repeatedly taught. All the virtues such as contentment (santokh), patience (dhiraja), mercy (daya), service (seva), liberality (dana), cleanliness (snana), forgiveness (ksama), humility (namrata), non-attachment (vairagya) and renunciation (taiga), are fundamental constituents of the Sikh religion and ethics. On the other hand, all the major vices or evils that overpower human beings and ruin their religious life, such as anger (krodha), egoism (ahankara), avarice (lobha), lust (kama). Infatuation (moha), sinful acts (papa), pride (man), doubt (duvidha), ownership (mamata), hatred (vair), and hostility (virodh) are condemned. Man is exhorted to eradicate them but certainly not through ascetic self- mortification. Sahaj is attained through tension-free, ethical living, grounded in spirituality.

In Sikhism all forms of asceticism are disapproved and external or physical austerities, devoid of devotion to God, are declared futile. An ascetic sage who is liberated from all evil passions is called avadhuta in Indian sacred literature. Guru Nanak reorientates the concept of avadhuta in purely spiritual terms as against its formularies. The sign of an avadhuta is that “in the midst of aspirations he dwells bereft of aspirations” suni machhindra audhu nisani/asa mahi nirasu valae/nihachau Nanak karate pae” (GG, 877). An ascetic is defined again as “one who burns up his egoity, and whose alms consist in enduring hardships of life and in purifying his mind and soul. He who only washes his body is a hypocrite” (GG, 952).

BIBLIOGRAPHY


  1. Hall, T. C., “Asceticism,” in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. Ed. James Hastings, Edinburgh, 1969

  2. Eliade, Mircea, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom. Princeton, 1969

  3. Chakraborty, Haripada, Asceticism in Ancient India. Calcutta, 1973

  4. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944

  5. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990

L. M. J.

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