A Great Preacher of Peace and Harmony

One day, the Guru went into the river Ravi for a bath. A voice came to Him from the music of the waters saying,

Oh Nanak! I am with thee. I have given thee my Name. To this Name be thou dedicated. Repeat my Name – Sat Naam. Mingle thou with men uncontaminated by the world. Worship my spirit and power. Meditate on my Glory. And serve the poor and the needy as thyself.

No sooner had He the call, He, like Buddha and Mahavira, left His hearth and home to bring men nearer to God so that they might enjoy in fullness the ecstatic bliss lying untapped within. People wondered why He was forsaking His wife and children.

To their taunts the Guru replied:

I am leaving them to the care of Him Who cares for all of us. The world is in the grip of deadly flames, and I go to extinguish the invisible fire which is enveloping all mankind.

If we look critically with the eye illumined by the Master, we will find that we are living in the Holy Hill of God. All places of worship have been made on the pattern of the human body, the God-made temple for our worship. The Hindu temples are dome-shaped at the top in the likeness of the human head. The mosques besides the central and side domes have arches in the shape of foreheads. The churches and synagogues have steeples, tapering upward in the formation of a nose. Again, the faithful in the various religions believe that God is Light and Sound. The symbols of this Inner Light and Sound adorn all our places of worship in imitiation of the Reality within. But the True Worship lies in opening the Inward Eye, the Single Eye or Shiv Netra to see the Divine Light and in unstopping, the Inner Ears to hear the Divine Music, the Akash Bani or the Bang-e-Ilahi. The outer performances, without having a glimpse of the Spirit and Power of God – the Light and Sound Principle –, are just like a blind man saying, 'God is Light,' though he has never known what Light is. The manifestation of the Jyoti or Noor within is a vision of God, or having a darshan, as it is called. All this and much more comes through the Grace of a Competent Master. With this right perception and right understanding there follow right speech and right actions all on their own. The Kingdom of God for which we so fervently pray, day in and day out, will then actually come on the earth-plane.

It comes not by observation, lo! it is within thee,

say all the Sages and Seers.

Guru Nanak wanted to reform religion – to lift it from the formal and conventional to the simple and the practical Etymologically the term religion comes from the roots, re – back – and ligio or ligare – to bind. Religion then is something that binds and unites the soul to Oversoul or God. When Masters come, those who meet Them and come into Their close contact, derive the maximum benefit of getting their souls linked with the manifested Light and Sound of God. The social religions come into being after the Masters pass away. They are made, no doubt, with a noble purpose, the purpose of keeping the teachings of their Founders alive. As long as practical men remain in the social orders, the followers continue to get the benefit as before. Later on, for want of such practical men, these social orders acquire rigid formations and the very institutions set up with the noblest intentions and the best of motives, become iron-clad prison houses and begin to stagnate and stink with hair-splitting polemics in which the spirit gets lost under the mass of dead verbiage.

The purpose of religious education is to draw out the best in man and make him an integrated whole, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. That religion is best which turns out more and more ideal persons with a harmonious development in all their parts.

The highest objective of Sikh religion is to turn out Khalsas. A Khalsa is One Who witnesses within Him the Pooran Jyoti – the supreme Light of God in full effulgence. Similarly, a Hindu is one who makes manifest in him the Jyoti of Ishvara and listens to the Unending and Unstruck Music of the soul – Anhad and Anahat Nad –, the symbols of which he adores and worships outside in his temples and shrines by lighting candles and striking bells. A True Muslim is one who sees the Noor of Allah or the Light of God and hears the Kalam-e-Kadim – the Voice of God, the most ancient music or song ceaselessly going on within him. A True Christian likewise is one who bears testimony to the Light of God and hears the Sound of God which transforms him into an awakened spirit at the mount of transfiguration.

Nanak put great emphasis on direct experience of the Divinity that lies within us; for mere reading of the scriptures and observing the rites and rituals of worship, cannot take the place of the Reality. These are the elementary steps but not enough in themselves. Nanak was a Poet-Saint and a bard of the open secret, a preacher of the Spirit and Power of God enlivening the humankind. He went from place to place, chanting the Sacred Name and preaching the Love of God. He visited Hindu places of pilgrimages, the Muslim shrines, and other holy places.

Closer is He than the very life-breath and nearer than the hands and feet.

As Laotse said:

Without going out of doors, we may yet know (the essence) of the world.

This essence is called the Naam, the Sat Naam, the Eternal Word. His life was dedicated to preaching the practice of the Holy Word. He taught the people that in the Holy Word was hidden a great healing power which healed all the ills of life.

He loved the Hindus and the Muslims alike. Speaking to the Hindus, He said:

Praise and glorify God five times, as the Muslims offer prayers to Allah five times a day.

Speaking to the Muslims He said:

Make the will of Allah your rosary. Be ye a Real Musalman after renouncing your little self.

At this, quite a few Muslims involuntarily cried aloud:

God is speaking to us in Nanak.

Even when in Mecca He taught the doctrine of strict monism or the Unity of Godhead. Interpreting the wisdom of the Prophet, He uttered the name Allah with the same reverence as He did the name of Hari. On seeing him, Shaikh Farid greeted Nanak with the words: Allah Hu or Thou art Allah.

The Guru replied:

Allah is the only aim of my life. Oh Farid! Allah is the very essence of my being.

All call on the One God by different names, may be Ram, Rahim, Allah, Wah-i-guru and the like.

There are many lovers of God, and He is the life-giving force to all of them. Although bearing the badge of different religions, all have the same ideal before them – to worship the indwelling spirit called by so many names.

There is no caste,

said the Guru,

for we claim brotherhood with all.

Each one of His followers was lovingly addressed as a Bhai or a brother. All are Bhais – brethren –, whether kings or slaves, the rich or the poor.

No caste and creed counts in the court of the Lord. He who worships Him is dear unto Him,

said the Guru.

He mingled freely with the poor, the down-trodden, the outcaste and the neglected. He accepted the invitations from the poor, in preference to those of the rich, who, He knew, invited Him for self-glorification, and whose earnings were anything but righteous.

He considered that there was no sin greater than the spirit of separateness which went against the solidarity of life in the brotherhood of man and worked for disruption in society. This prophet of unity and oneness saw the higher harmony in all the faiths in the Religion of Man – the worship of God and the service of God in man. He wanted the followers of all faiths to sit together as seekers after Truth, seeking communion with the Almighty. The highest religion teaches us to reverently study and experience in full consciousness the living presence of God, as like-minded students in a class.

When questioned at Mecca as to whether He was a Hindu or a Muslim, He frankly and fearlessly declared that was neither the one nor the other in particular because He discerned the spirit of God in both.

When asked which of the two religions, Hinduism or Islam, was superior, He said:

Without good acts, the professors of both the religions shall perish.

In one of His hymns, He says:

To him whose delusion of the mind is gone, Hindu and Muslim are alike.

At Baghdad, the people questioned Him as to which sect He belonged; He replied,

I have renounced all sects. I only know the one True God, the Supreme Being Who is on the earth, in the Heaven and in between, and in all directions.

On being further pressed as to Who He actually was, He replied:

This body, compounded as it is of the five elements, is being illumined by the Light of God and is just addressed as Nanak.

Again and again, He warned His disciples against the sin of separateness. In a beautiful passage He declared:

Numberless are Thy worshippers and numberless Thy lovers, numberless Thy Bhaktas and Saints, Who lovingly fix Their thoughts on Thee. Numberless the musical instruments and the sound thereof and so are Thy musicians.

In the course of His travels, He had with Him two attendants, one a Hindu and the other a Muslim: Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana. He poured His Love to all, setting at naught all conventions, creeds, castes, and colour bars. He was a brother of the poor, the criminal and the persecuted. His socialism was vibrant with Love born of God and not atheistic in character. Growing out of a vision of God’s Love, it flowed into the hearts of men as brothers in God.

A new Indian nation can be built even now, but not in blind imitation of the West. We must accept the vital message of the Seers, the Prophets and the Saints of the East Who are well conversant with the conditions of our society, and have a rich Spiritual Heritage behind Them.