2019 is Nanakshahi550.
The world is celebrating with Nagar Kirtans, Conferences, Art Exhibitions, and so much more.
I ask myself, “how am I going to celebrate?”
I pick up Bhai Sahib Bhai Vir Singh’s book, Guru Nanak Chamatkar and begin my celebration of delving into the narratives of my Beloved Patshah (Sovereign). The narrative that holds me is the one that takes place at Mount Sumeru with the Sidhs (proven ones in yogic order) so I choose to translate it hoping that every word gets absorbed into my being.
Mount Kailash shivers in awe.
Nanak the Master has set foot.
Its residents, the Sidhs, are shocked.
The Sidhs: “Which power has brought you up to this sacred mountain? Who do you worship?”
The Master: “I worship IkOankar (1-Ness).”
The Sidhs: “What is your name?”
The Master: “Nanak is my name.”
The Sidhs: “You are not a sidh, nor do you look like a sadhu (renunciate). You seem to be a family man. If you are hoping to attain salvation by coming to this sacred mountain, then you have chosen the wrong path.”
The Master: “Salvation is only possible when one is truly humble. If one thinks highly of one’s self, one remains in ego. Where there is ego, there can be no salvation.”
The Sidhs realize this is no ordinary traveler. Their tone changes.
The Sidhs: “Dear Nanak, tell us: what is happening in the world below?”
The Master: “Truth is the moon. Falsehood is darkness. Right now, the world is in darkness. The moon is not visible. Religion has vanished from earth. Evil has become the order of the day.”
The Sidhs: “Is there no one to stop this evil?”
The Master: “The ones who call themselves Sidhs are hiding in the mountains. Who, then, is left to guide the world?”
The Sidhs: “Our disciples are in the world. They go from house to house spreading our teachings.”
The Master: “Your disciples themselves are without religion. They only know how to rub ash on their bodies and beg for food. There is no one capable to show the true path to the people. There is no consideration for right or wrong. Everyone is running after greed.”
The Sidhs: “Are the rulers not looking after the welfare and rights of their people?”
The Master: “The rulers have become the source of suffering. Fear has made the people weak and hypocritical. They have become powerless. Their mindset has become that of slaves.”
The Sidhs: “What about the priests? Are they not helping the people?”
The Master: “The priests enact theatrical performances from mythology. Their disciples play music and the priests dance. It has become quite a show. They go from house to house collecting money and distributing good luck charms for people to wear. Such has become the condition of the priests.”
The Sidhs: “What about the Mughal rulers? Are the mullahs (Muslim trained in Islamic law and doctrine) not dispensing justice?”
The Master: “The mullahs have become corrupt. They take bribes and deny the people their rights. There is no justice left. Love for money has become paramount.”
The Sidhs: “Nanak, are you a householder or are you ‘in renunciation?’”
The Master: “Define a householder and someone ‘in renunciation.’”
The Sidhs: “We consider a family man absorbed in worldly affairs and desires as a householder. Someone ‘in renunciation’ is one who has left his home and family and is detached from worldly matters and longings.”
The Master: “On your path, can a family man remain detached from worldly desires?”
The Sidhs: “Absolutely not! It’s impossible.”
The Master: “Your interpretation of householder and a person ‘in renunciation’ is incorrect.”
The Sidhs: “Why don’t you tell us the correct meaning?”
The Master: “A householder is one who lives in this world with his mind detached from worldly desires. He earns honestly and shares his wealth. A person ‘in renunciation’ is one who is immersed in the love of IkOankar and desires nothing else. So, whether a person lives with his family or leaves his family, it is of no consequence. Renunciation is detaching the mind from worldly desires and not renouncing family. Therefore, there is no difference between a householder and a person ‘in renunciation.’ Both can remain detached from worldly desires.”
The Sidhs: “It seems you have not completely understood what I meant. Can a person be a householder and be ‘in renunciation’ at the same time?”
The Master: “Detachment from worldly desires has to be of the mind. It is not necessary for the body to renounce home and family. A householder is considered ‘in renunciation’ while living with his family if his mind is detached from worldly desires.”
The Sidhs: “Are you saying that the scriptures are untrue and all those who have renounced the world are wrong?”
The Master: “Untrue is one’s own mind or one’s own behavior. A true renunciate is one who has mastered control over the five senses and is detached from worldly desires.”
The Sidhs: “We renounce the world to keep away from worldly attachments. We practice yoga to control our bodily passions. How do you control the mind and body?”
The Master: “When Nam (Divine Identification) enters one’s consciousness, the passions of one’s body instinctively become controlled. Nam is Divine love. Nam is the anchor of life. The company of sadh sangat (saintly beings) also helps in controlling the mind.”
The Sidhs: “We ask our disciples to stay silent for long periods of time. On your path, is remembrance of the Divine done by the tongue? Do you ask your disciples to keep their lips shut and remember silently? Or, is there another way?”
The Master: “I ask them not to waste their time in idle gossip. They must speak when it is necessary. They need to perform their worldly chores in recitation and simran (Remembrance). When recitation becomes natural, the bliss experienced will prevent them from needless chatter.”
The Sidhs: “Through yoga, we can reach the Tenth Door and then the mind goes into sunaya (emptiness). Your disciples practice recitation while living in the world. How can they reach this extraordinarily high state of sunaya?”
The Master: “According to your way, sunaya is emptiness; a state of thoughtlessness. It is non-living. However, the Tenth Door is a living spark that is All-Pervading. Like the reflection of light on water ignites the water, in the same way, our Tenth Door emits light.
When the mind becomes crystal clear through Nam, this spark ignites and illuminates our being. We don’t go into a state of thoughtlessness on reaching the Tenth Door. Reaching the Tenth Door is reaching the living spark within us.”
The Sidhs: “Through our practice of Hatha yoga, we are able to live for hundreds of years. How do you win over the span of life?”
The Master: “When consciousness is permeated in Nam, one experiences an awakening. An awakened person is living in the presence of the Divine. Past or future become meaningless. The present moment becomes the past and future moment. The person immersed in Nam is in all the moments—past, present and future—thus winning over time. The body is only a dress. What is the advantage of prolonging life by controlling breath? In sunaya, you are neither enjoying the body nor the consciousness. What is the benefit of living a lengthy life in unconsciousness?”
The Sidhs: “We ask our disciples to rub ash on their bodies; the moment they renounce the world, so that they look ugly, think of themselves as ugly, and therefore, they kill their ego and remain in humility. How do you teach humility?”
The Master: “We share with the disciples the ideals of service: recite Nam with your tongue, remember the Divine in your mind, do good deeds, and perform service with your hands. When service flows effortlessly, ego disappears and the disciple sees the divinity in all and is in essence serving the Divine. This is true humility.”
The Sidhs: “We play music by blowing the conch trumpet and that music helps our minds concentrate. What do your disciples do?”
The Master: “The mind may concentrate by the blowing of the trumpet. But blowing the trumpet during the morning, evening and night may be very helpful when one wanders the streets begging for food. Our devotees earn food by working honestly. They do not beg. They live their lives in Hukam (Divine Will). As far as the mind is concerned, we too sing praises of the Divine with music. You may call this our version of ‘the blowing of the trumpet.’”
The Sidhs: “Do you have a special way of overcoming anger?”
The Master: “Anger arises when one’s ego gets bruised. When someone goes against our wishes or if something is not done the way we want it done, we get angry. To control anger, we must learn to control the mind, because the mind is the instrument of ego. To overcome anger, one must remain in a state of forgiveness.
When a mistake is made, it is better to forgive. If it is repeated, reason with the person with patience while remaining in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a virtue; while anger is a fire that burns. When forgiveness becomes a state of mind, anger disappears.”
The Sidhs: “Do you have a special place of pilgrimage, where sins can be washed away?
The Master: “Nam is our place of pilgrimage. Nam is the bath; Nam washes everything.”
The Sidhs: “We worship Shiva and other gods. Whom do you worship?”
The Master: “The abode of the Divine is within the body. It is a Living Force, not a stone idol. Divine love is experienced when Grace is bestowed.”
The Sidhs: “How can one be truly detached while living with the family?”
The Master: “By living like a lotus. A lotus dwells in muddy waters, yet is unaffected by its surroundings. Similarly, a person immersed in Nam lives in the world yet is unaffected by its happenings.”
The Sidhs: “How is pain ended? How does one merge in Truth?”
The Master: “When Nam enters consciousness, pain ends. Without Nam, one wanders endlessly. To merge in Truth, conquer the ego, still the mind, treasure Truth, become Truth-oriented and overcome the fear of death.”
ਸਾਧਿਕ ਸਿਧ ਗੁਰੂ ਬਹੁ ਚੇਲੇ ਖੋਜਤ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਫੁਰਮਾਣੈ ॥
ਮਾਗਹਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇ ਇਹ ਭਿਖਿਆ ਤੇਰੇ ਦਰਸਨ ਕਉ ਕੁਰਬਾਣੈ ॥
ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਖੇਲੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੋਈ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਸਭਿ ਜੁਗ ਆਪੇ ਵਰਤੈ ਦੂਜਾ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ॥੭੩॥੧॥
Many seekers, sidhs, gurus, disciples wander and search, per Your Command.
Beg for Nam; receive this gift; adore Your vision.
Imperishable Divine staged the play; being Guru-ward (this) realization occurs.
Nanak: In the entire word Divine-Self manifests; there is no other. 73.
Guru Granth Sahib 946
Inni Kaur serves as the Creative Director at the Sikh Research Institute. She is also the author of Journey with the Gurus; Sakhi-Time with Nani ji; Thank You, Vahiguru, and Daddy’s Turban.