Guru Granth Sahib does not focus on any one religion. It tells us about social justice, women’s empowerment, the art of living and much more, write M P SINGH and GURMEET SODHI
The Guru Granth Sahib is the epitome of universal brotherhood and is revered by Sikhs as their living Guru. They respectfully refer to it as Sahibji. The basic tenet of the Holy Scripture is that the Almighty — Ek Onkar — is only one. He is the creator and is omnipresent in his creation. He is giver and doer. All colours and qualities emanate from Him. God has no colour, no shape and no name, but his devotees praise Him by many names and in many ways, based on their intellect, knowledge and perception.
We all have within us the same jyoti that emanates from the Almighty — ‘Sab mein jyote jyote hai soi tis de karan sab mein chanan hoi.’ Another beautiful line promoting this philosophy is ‘Mere prab khel rachaya; koi na kisi jaya upaya’ — ‘God created this universe with people, each different from the other; the uniqueness of creation is that none resembles the other.’ One may share common features like looks and ancestry, but a perfect resemblance is impossible. There is a strong message of diversity here. Guru Nanak bows before this diversity and says that he respects every person who remembers the Almighty, even by different names.
The scripture emphasises more on internal engineering than worldly rituals, blind practices and outer appearances. The stress is on accepting His will with humility, love, devotion, charity and fear in all deeds. Surrendering to His will, love and devotion is more important than the name and the path one follows.
The Granth Sahib is not focused on any one particular religion or region; it advocates the concept of social justice, women’s empowerment and the art of living. It projects a different way of thinking that is detached from vices; Even while performing worldly duties, one can raise one’s spirit by singing the glory of the Almighty and attain ultimate bliss. It respects and accepts all religions and favours dialogue and not a debate to project superiority of one over the other.
The baanis are not for or against any particular religious sect, group, friend or enemy. They reflect only on human frailties or ill-conduct and consider them as vices or enemies of a human being. With the blessings of a true guru, one overcomes these weaknesses and is effortlessly freed from the cycle of birth and rebirth. The essence of this thought pervades the entire Granth Sahib.
While freeing human beings from the bondages of rituals and pretense, it guides us to follow a pristine way of life; this is made possible by internalising the divine teachings and connect ing the soul with the Almighty. The direction of the Granth, thus, is mainly towards Guru Chintan,Atma-Parmatma chintan and Milan. Considering everything to be in His order, the Granth does not chastise either the tormentor or the tormented.
The vanikaars of the Granth are spread over a period of about 500 years (1163-1679). It has an eclectic mix of messages in myriad languages and dialects by baghats and saints from across the country belonging to different castes, ethnicities and religious groups.
The Granth Sahib embodies in it not only the vanis of six Sikh gurus from Punjab but also of 15 bhagats and saints from different regions — Kabir, weaver from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; Namdev, calico printer from Maharashtra; Ravidas, shoemaker from UP; Trilochan, Brahmin from Maharashtra; Dhanna, cultivator from Rajasthan; Sain, barber from UP; poet Jaidev from Bengal; Pipa, the king from UP; Surdas, the blind poet; Baba Farid, Muslim saint from Punjab; Parmanand from Maharashtra; Sadhana, butcher from Sindh; Bhagat Beni and Ramanand from UP; Bhikhan, Sufi saint from UP and a few more devotees.
The thoughts of these composers blend the moment they are placed next to each other, mostly in the form of dialogue. Thus, the structure and creation of the Granth Sahib is pluralistic.
The scripture maintains that the beauty of the universe lies in its diversity or plurality, and that it must be preserved with piety and reverence. No country, caste, religion or community can ever exist peacefully without subscribing to the ideals of plurality. In absolute terms, it means that if we wish to grow and progress, we must have a firm belief in this philosophy.
The scripture, which has been awarded the status of the Guru, propagates and glorifies, without reservation, the message that the well-being of a country can be directly judged through a diagnosis of the health of pluralism. We must, therefore, at all times work towards its protection and preservation.
Since the last two or three decades, there have been talks about clash of civilisations. There have been intense discussions on this subject too. We find these clashes highly pronounced in West Asia, Africa and even in our own north-eastern states. Why is this happening? This is because of one upmanship, where one community or race thinks that its way is superior to others.
The primary source of conflict is identity, culture and language. At such times, we need a philosophy that can save the world from conflict. Pluralism turns out to be the only philosophy that can save and defend it. And for this, we need to promote the tradition of dialogue. This is the thought process of Guru Granth Sahib, a scripture that transcends the boundaries of caste, creed and religion.