Sikh Concept of God

Jarnail Singh
Sydney, Australia

Ever since Homo sapiens evolved into thinking beings, they have been troubled, agitated and obsessed by two questions day in and day out. In order to get rid of this restlessness they have been trying to find an answer to these questions by unravelling the mystery of life and death on earth and the origin of this universe. The entire spectrum of knowledge that sapiens have accumulated so far is in fact nothing but an effort to get an answer to these questions. History is witness to the fact that they have been finding answers and revising them as their knowledge increased. Religion is also an attempt to answer these questions. In fact the concept of God in religion is an answer to these questions. However different religions have different concepts of God. This write up is an attempt to understand the concept of God the way it is defined in Sikhism.

Guru Granth Sahib

God has been defined in Sikhism in the opening verse of the text Sikhism is based on. It is called Guru Granth Sahib. There are few things about Guru Granth Sahib that distinguishes it from other religious texts and these things are relevant to the understanding of the concept of God in Sikhism.

  1. This is the only religious text that has been written, composed and edited by the Sikh Gurus themselves during their lifetime. This project was initiated and completed first by Guru Arjan (the firth Guru) in 1604 and then tenth guru (Gobind Singh) added verses of the ninth Guru in 1704 to give it the final shape. (Some scholars are of the opinion that the ninth Guru did it himself sometime before he was arrested and beheaded by Aurangzeb). It has 1430 pages in total and 5894 verses known as Shabads.
  2. This is the only religious text that includes verses written by those belonging to other religions provided their views are in consonance with the concept of God of Sikh Gurus.
  3. This is the only religious text that has used science (mathematics) to safeguard it from future adulteration. All the verses have been compiled into separate Ragas or musical patterns. In that Raga verses are segmented into different genres and then every single line in every verse is counted and totalled at the end with a running total of all the verses provided both at the end of each writer and also at the end of the set of verses in that Raga. Guru also added a verse titled “Mundavni” which means closing stamp at the end of the text. This safeguard worked very well and no one was able to change or interpolate inside the original text. People did try it but they could add to the text only at the end which makes it illegal and the reader can ignore it if he or she want to. The original text has 1429 pages and the last page called “Raagmala” is generally considered an illegal addition.
  4. This text also takes care of the possible misinterpretation. Most of the verses contain a line that is classified as its “Rahao” (which means pause) signifying that this line contains the essence of the verse. Direction to the reader is to pause and ponder here so as to understand the crux of the matter discussed in the verse. This was an innovation in editorship. Looks like this was initiated by Guru Nanak himself when he started collecting verses in the book he carried with him all the time. No one before the compilation of Guru Grant Sahib has used this technique.
  5. The entire Sikh philosophy revolves around its concept of God which is succinctly explained in the opening verse of Guru Granth Sahib. This opening verse is popularly known as “Mool Mantra” (Basic tenet). It was composed by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of Sikh religion. It has been repeated (in complete or abridged form) more than five hundred times to hammer home its significance and to ensure that the reader is not distracted or disoriented. It is a kind of direction to the reader to interpret the verses keeping in mind the concept of God explained in this “mool mantra”.
  6. Guru Granth Sahib contains verses from 6 Sikh Gurus. (The other four Sikh Gurus did not compose any verse.) Those days every poet in the Indian subcontinent used his/her name at the end of their verses as a stamp of their authorship. So Gur Nanak used “Nanak” in his poetry and the following five Gurus who composed verses also used the same pen name “Nanak”. However at the time of compiling Guru Granth Sahib the verses of all the six Gurus have been differentiated by using the words “mahla” (meaning body) 1,2,3,4,5 &9. Use of the same pen name has a very subtle meaning. It is a testimony to the fact that all the Gurus after Gur Nanak were only expounding the viewpoint presented by him.
  7. The verses of poets other than Sikh Gurus included in Guru Granth Sahib were collected by Gur Nanak himself from different places in the Indian subcontinent during his travels. Prof Sahib Singh in his Darpan (Exposition of verses in Guru Granth Sahib) has proved this beyond doubt by providing internal evidence from Guru Granth Sahib itself. During his four travels in four directions, known as “Udasis”, Guru Nanak covered about 30 thousand kilometres on foot in a span of 20-25 years. During these travels he visited all the known learning centres of his time and held discussions with those in charge of those centres. Most of his verses are about these discussions. There is historical evidence showing that he always carried a book (supposed to contain his own poems and also those collected by him) with him during his travels. Bhai Mardana, a maestro in classical music, accompanied him during these travels. Guru Nanak used to sing his verses to the classical tunes on “Rabab” (a lute like musical insturment) by Mardana to hammer home his point of view.
  8. The immediate reason to compile Guru Granth Sahib is said to be the adulteration attempts in its verses by some adversaries of Guru. However it was part of the original plan by Guru Nanak who started collecting these verses in a book he always carried with him. Guru Nanak has foreseen this possible adulteration and pollution of text. He knew the fate of other religious texts. There are multiple versions of Vedas, Bible and Quran. History has proved him right. What happened to the verses of Kabir and Namdev outside of Guru Granth Sahib is a testimony to the fact that the right step was taken at the right time.
  9. The compiling of Guru Granth Sahib became a big news in the sub-continent. Many contemporary poets like Peelu approached Guru Arjan for inclusion of their verses in the Granth. Even though they were very famous and popular, they were denied this privilege as their work could not reach the ideological benchmark set by Guru Nanak.
  10. The language of Guru Granth Sahib is also very important. It was a revolutionary break from the tradition. Even though the script used in entire Guru Granth Sahib is Gurmukhi (1) and bulk of it is in Punjabi language and its dialects such as Lehndi, Sindhi, Dogri, Multani or Saraiki etc., it has also verses in other languages such as Persian, Sanskrit, and Braj. It was a revolution in the sense that it was the first religious text written in the language and idioms people used in their day to day life. Hindu religious text used Sanskrit and Islamic text used Arabic. Gur Nanak and his successors were very learned persons well versed in all the major languages used in the sub-continent. They could have easily used Sanskrit as their medium of expression but they chose Punjabi because Sanskrit was out of reach of the general public. Sanskrit was called “devbhasha” (the language of angels) and Sudras were not even allowed to learn it. The common man spoke and understood Punjabi. Hence Guru used this language and not only adopted it as their medium of expression but also made consistent and successful effort to make sure that everybody can read and write it. The second Guru (Angad) is said to have created a Punjabi alphabet to teach this language to the public at large.

Concept of God in the Opening Verse

Now let us understand the Sikh concept of God as explained in the opening verse. The opening verse of Guru Granth Sahib runs like this.


ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

English transliteration:

Ekonkar, sat naam, karta purakh, nirbhou, nirvair, akaal moorat, ajooni, saibhm, gur parsad.

One thing that stands out is the mathematical start to this verse. It starts with Punjabi digit one to reinforce the oneness of God. Digit one is followed by the letter ਓ and together ੴ is pronounced as “ekonkar”. (2) The meaning of this verse in nutshell is like this. Before this cosmos came into existence God was in a compressed state called “Ekonkar”. Creating the eternal laws, God expands and resides in its creation operating these laws without any fear or enmity. God being beyond the limits of time does not take birth, exists on its own and can only be understood through knowledge sifted by the discerning intellect. To understand this concept in detail it is best if we divide this opening verse into three parts.

Ekonkar, sat naam, karta purakh: First part relates the story of creation. It has been stated multiple times in Guru Granth Sahib that before the creation or expansion of this cosmos God was in its compressed form called Ekonkar. And it has been further stated that this expansion has happened many times and once this expansion collapses the whole creation relapses back to the form of Ekonkar. (3) So Ekonkar is the state of God before it expanded or exploded into this Cosmos or when this expansion collapses back into its singularity. The next word in this verse is “Sat”. It means something everlasting and true. The next word “Naam” means the order or laws by which God created this cosmos. (4) It is somewhat similar to what “word” means in Bible. Together as “Sat Naam” these words are often chanted in Gurdwaras and in private by Sikhs. The next word is “Karta” which means creator. And word next to it is “Purakh” which distinguishes the meaning of “Karta” as creator from what is normally understood in religious texts. The word “Purakh” means the spirit, the force, the energy that pervades this cosmos. So combined together “Karta Purakh” means the creator who is not separate from the creation but is the energy that permeates its creation continuing the creation or expansion. So God in Sikhism is not someone separate from his creation. There is no difference between the creation and the creator. Collating the meaning of these three words we get the story of creation as described in the opening verse. From its compressed form called Ekonkar God is continually creating and expanding into this cosmos by eternal laws. In the beginning of this explanation I stated that Guru has used mathematics to reinforce the oneness of God. Most religion say that God is one. Christians, Jews and Muslims – they all say and vouch for this. Even Hindus say that their Trinity of Gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) are manifestation of one God. But it does not take you long to realize that God of Hindus is different from God of Christians or Muslims. Which means that God is not one. These religions treat God the creator as separate from its creation. But concept of God in Sikhism treats creation and the creator as one. God has been stated in Guru Granth Sahib as an entity permeating and enjoying its creation. (5) Since there is only one cosmos or creation, and only one creator permeating this creation. So there can only by one set of laws operating this cosmos? Further since there is only one set of Knowledge or wisdom to understand these laws, there can only one Guru or teacher. (6) Guru here does not mean a person but knowledge or wisdom that helps us to understand and appreciate our life and this cosmos. This is the only logical way to reinforce and justify the oneness of God otherwise God is different in different faiths and history is witness to the fact that this has led to so many bloody conflicts. It was this basic tenet of Sikhism that led to the inclusion of verses of those belonging to other faiths in Guru Granth Sahib. What mattered most was not the faith they were born in but their vision and philosophy of life.

Nirbhou, Nirvair, Akaal Moorat, Ajooni, Saibhm: Second part of this verse enumerates the characteristics of this creation. Creation is happening without any fear or enmity. Since there is no difference between the creator and creation, these characteristics also describe the creator. One thing to be noted here is that God has not been described in its usual and traditional description as omnipresent, omniscient or omnipotent. These epithets become superfluous once we do not differentiate between the creator and the creation. These epithets assume that there is or there could be some opposition to God. Sikhism deny this categorically. All creation, good or bad (as per our thinking), stems from God. Coming to the characteristics mentioned in this part of the verse, “Nirbhou” means without fear and “Nirvair” means without enmity. The laws of creation are operating without any fear nor do they favour anybody as they do not have enmity towards any one. In fact nothing in this cosmos, animate or inanimate, good or bad, is something which is not a part of God. So there is no question of any favour or fear. These two characteristics also rule out the possibility of any miracle which is fundamental to many other religions. No one can interfere or change the operation of this cosmos which goes on ruthlessly as per the laws. The next word in this part is “Akaal Moorat”. “kaal” in Punjabi means time and prefix “A” gives it negative or opposite meaning. So “Akaal” means something which is not bound by time or is beyond time, and “Moorat” here means energy. (7) Hence “Akaal Moorat” is that energy which is beyond time. Everything else in this Cosmos is functioning within a time frame or age. We all have an age to live. All animals, plants, the Sun, the galaxies have an age. Even our universe is said to have an age to live and die thereafter. Everything has an age or time to live because time itself was created concurrently with this creation. But God was there before this creation in the form of “Ekonkar” and will go back to this form after the implosion of this creation. So God is beyond time or “Akaal”. It will be pertinent to note here that a very popular name of God among Sikhs is “Akaal Purakh”. The next word in this part is “Ajooni”. Now if God does not exist within any precincts of time, then the logical conclusion is that God does not take birth. That is but “Ajooni” means in Punjabi. This characteristics of God rejects the concept of reincarnation prevalent in many religions. It also rejects the rebirth of God in any form because every birth has a death for sure while God is beyond death and time. Guru felt so strongly about this that referring to the celebration of birthday of Lord Krishna as birthday of God in India Guru says that the face that utters this should get scorched. (8) At another place referring to the same story Kabir asks that if (as the story goes in Hinduism) God was born as Lord Krishna as the son of Nand then who was the father of Nand and when there was no earth or sky where did this Nand, who is said to be father of God, reside. God that Kabir knows does not get into any trouble (unlike Lord Krishan) and does not have a father or mother. (9) Now if God does not take birth then how did he came into existence? The next word or characteristic is an answer to this question. “Saibhm” means something that comes into existence on its own. Repudiating the concept of idol worship prevalent in Hinduism and many other religions Sikhism states it in crystal clear terms that no one has created or can create God. In fact the question of creation does not arise as God was, is and will always be in existence for all times to come. (10) Besides it has been stated in Guru Granth Sahib that no one knows and will ever know God in full. God is remembered with adjectives like “Agaadh” (unfathomable) or “Agam” (Unreachable) or “aprumper” (infinite) at every single page of Guru Granth Sahib. If we do not know and nor will ever know God in full, how can we describe the origin of God. Whosoever is doing so is telling a fib. Given the above facts it is logical and safe to assume that God is “Saibhm” i.e. one who came into being on its own. No one knows and nor will ever know when and how.

Gur Parsad: Just as we cannot measure this cosmos to its exactness, but we can still understand and realize the enormity of its vastness, similarly even though we cannot describe God in full, we can still comprehend and realize it. How can we do it? Third part of this opening verse is an answer to this question. It has two words “Gur” and “Parsad” in it. Gur, Guru and Satgur are synonymous words in Sikhism. One major pitfall in the understanding of this word is its association with Sikh gurus in person or any other person known as Guru. Even though Sikh Gurus were known among the Sikhs and others as gurus but they never called themselves a guru in the sense this word is used in Guru Granth Sahib. They were careful enough to maintain this distance and difference as Guru in Sikhism is not a person but something that eradicates our ignorance. Something that is beyond death or birth, something that pervades this cosmos. (11) The text Granth Sahib is also called Guru in this sense. The text itself is not Guru but the knowledge, the guidance that we get from it is Guru. It is noteworthy that in Guru Granth Sahib multiple times Guru is called “bibek” meaning discerning intellect or rational thinking that seeks truth. (12) It goes without saying that all knowledge that mankind has gained so far is the outcome of our rational thinking. That is how Guru leads us from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light. It is symbolically stated in Guru Granth Sahib that the locked secrets of the order that operates this cosmos can only be opened with the key from Guru. (13) History is witness to the fact that man has been able to unravel the secrets of nature only with the help of logic, reasoning and rational thinking. The second word “parsad” means blessing. Knowledge of God or understanding of God is not something that can be force learned, it is a blessing, a kind of gift. In fact all knowledge is like this. No one can work hard to be an Einstein or Darwin. Einstein is born not made. It is for this reason that Sikhism denounces practices like austerity, self-denial or torture, asceticism and other rituals for spiritual upliftment. Joined together “Gur Parsad” means blessing of Guru. We can understand or realize God only with the blessing of the Guru. Let me make it clear here. Blessing does not mean that it is a random lottery drawn by Guru to be given to any person on the street. It is the fruit of hard work. Remember that Guru is not a person but knowledge that eradicates our ignorance. We need to work hard for this knowledge but it will bear fruit only when blessed by Guru. Even Einstein has to work hard to be an Einstein. There is no mathematical formulae of hard work to earn this blessing. Because there are millions of variables that cannot be captured in a single formulae. But we still have to work hard but whether it will bear fruit or not is up to God or Guru. Just as we cannot be a referee and a player at the same time, similarly we cannot judge our own work in this context. This judgement by Guru is his blessing.

Traditional Concept of God Vs Sikh Concept of God

It is clear that the concept of God in Sikhism is a novel concept, totally different from the traditional religions. It is a revolution or coup against the traditional religious thought. The main reason for this break from the traditional concept is that unlike most of the existing religions, Sikhism is not based on any revelation or spiritual intimations. Instead it is based on a thorough analysis of all the existing religious texts plus a keen and astute observation of nature and society. As I said before, Guru Nanak and his successors were erudite and well taught persons who were also proficient in multiple languages. They did a very deep and thorough analysis of the existing religions and the society they lived in. Being a precocious child, Guru Nanak quickly acquired knowledge leaving his teachers wonderstruck. At the tender age of 9 he challenged the family priest about the rationale behind the sacred thread (janeau or upanayana) and refused to wear it. His reputation as a genius and knowledgeable person secured him the job of a treasurer or revenue minister (14) for Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi of Sultanpur who controlled the whole of Punjab and Saharanpur (present day UP) state. Guru Nanak served in this position for more than a decade. It is noteworthy that besides being located on the trade route from Lahore to Delhi, those days the city of Sultanpur was also famous centre of Islamic education. Even Aurangzeb and Dara Skoh are said to have got their education from Sultanpur Lodhi. Earlier during 1st to 6th century AD, when it was known as Sarwmanpur, it was a great learning centre for Buddhism. Guru Nanak used this opportunity to mingle and converse with the scholars at Sultanpur Lodhi. His tenure as finance minister for such a large state helped him understand the economic and political structure of the society he lived in. Once he formed his ideas in full, he decided to share it with the world at large. He was absent from his official duties for three days during which he was chalking out his plan and strategy.(15) Everybody including the Nawab were worried about him. When he came back after three days he apprised them of his decision to leave his job and go on travels to share his ideas with world at large. He did not renounce the world and became a sanyasi or mendicant. By this time he was a married man with two kids. He received his dues amounting to Rs 847 for his job as a treasurer. (16) It was a huge amount worth many millions in today’s terms. He took his family and kids to his in laws and bought more than 100 acres of land for them. Having ensured their safety and financial security, he launched on his journeys. That was the start of spread of Sikhism. He carefully selected the route of his travels so that he can visit all the known learning centres of his time and engage in fruitful discussions with the religious heads wherever he went. To enumerate the divergence of Sikh concept from the traditional concept of God, we can list following points.

  1. Sikhism replaces blind faith with logic, rationality and reasoning as a means to realize and understand God. There is lot of stress on being rational or “bibeki” in Guru Granth Sahib. “Bibek” is a Punjabi word meaning discriminating and perceptive intellect that can sift truth out of falsehood and help you choose the correct path. So much so that “bibek” has been called Guru, the one who unlocks the secrets of god and nature, the one who takes you out of darkness into light. Emphasis and focus on being rational makes Sikhism a close cousin of science leaving traditional religions (like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism to name a few) way behind as its very distant relatives.
  2. Unlike traditional religions Sikhism does not make any illogical and irrational claim to know God in full detail. Instead its focus is to understand God. It does not say when God created this earth and universe or what happens after our death. Its focus is to understand the way god operates this cosmos and be a knowledgeable but subservient partner of this operation. As per Sikhism this is what will give us the real happiness and peace of mind.
  3. There is a very popular truism or cliché that says that all religions are different paths leading to the same destination called God. This is an irrational but clever way of justifying all religious practices. Sikhism rejects this and instead believes that no matter which religion one belongs to, one has to follow the same path to reach God. You don’t even have to belong to any specific religion to follow this path. Even an atheist can follow this. There are three basic minimum requirements to tread on this path. “Kirat Karo” i.e. practice an honest living; “Naam Japo” i.e. Understand and follow the order operating this universe; “Vand Shako” i.e. be empathetic and share your resources and knowledge with the needy.
  4. Sikhism identifies two forces operating, but controlled by God, in this universe. One is responsible for all the creation and is driven by hubris or ego, greed, anger, love and lust. Everybody has it and no life is possible without it. This is called “Dhaat”. The other force is the understanding of this operation that helps to get in sync with God. This is called “Liv”. Each one of us have both forces in us but in varying proportions. “Dhaat” is the mad race that mesmerizes a person in such a forceful way that he starts living in a pipedream and becomes oblivious of everything around but his own self. Even the harsh reality like death does not come to his mind. “Liv” is the force of reason and rationality that punctures this pipedream and help him see the bigger force operating behind this force of “Dhaat”. This is the force of the order by which God is operating this universe realized by “Liv”.
  5. Sikhism rejects the theory of incarnation of God. Guru makes a very astute observation that all those worshipped today as incarnations of God or his prophets were in fact kings or influential persons of their times. Guru further said that even these people were unable to describe God in full.(17) If they were really an reincarnation of God or sent by God, then they should know God in full for sure. But none of them did. In a beautiful verse at page 350 Guru juxtaposes the petty achievements of the so called incarnations of God in Hinduism with what God has done or is capable of doing. When translated into English it shows how petty are the achievements of these incarnations as compared to God who created this cosmos. At the most they killed a rival king or a bad person while God created this atmosphere and seamed fire with water.(18)
  6. Sikhism does not believe in rebirth or transmigration of soul. The theory of transmigration or metempsychosis believes that a certain part of an individual persists after his/her physical death and is transferred to one or more successive lives. This immortal part is called “aatma” i.e. spirit or soul. Sikhism does believe that there is a cycle of birth and death going on perpetually on this earth, but it rejects the idea of transmigration of soul into different bodies. It is interesting and illuminating to note that the word “aatama” appears only 11 times in 1429 pages of Guru Granth Sahib and that also in the meaning of self and not soul or “aatama” which is said to be migrating into different bodies. This is an incontrovertible and irrefutable proof of the negation of the theory of transmigration of “aatama” or soul. The basic premise of this theory is the concept of karma that decides the next birth the soul or “aatama” will take on. Guru demolishes this premise by asking what type and who performed the karma to trigger the start of this creation. Guru further says that instead of karma, this cycle of birth and death is just a show enacted by God himself. No karma is involved now or at the start.(19)
  7. God in Sikhism is devoid of any supernatural element. There is no place for miracles as God runs this universe in a set order and does not allow anyone to interfere in this order. This order operates without any fear and enmity towards none.
  8. Sikhism does not recognize any middleman between God and man. God in Sikhism does not function through any prophet or messiah. At the end of the day apart from your own good deeds no one, be it Jesus, Mohammad, Rama or Krishna or any other prophet, will come to your rescue. What matters is the work you do, not the faith or prophet you follow.
  9. Priest plays a pivotal role in traditional religions but they do not play any important role in Sikhism. In fact after observing the role played by Brahman (Hindu Priest), a Yogi and a Qadi (Muslim Priest) Guru Nanak called them instruments of destruction in society.
  10. Sikhism rules out the existence of atheism. Traditional religions have concepts like apostate or “Kafir” for those who do not have faith in their gods or atheists for those who deny the existence of god altogether. Sikhism denies the possibility of someone being an atheist. It is possible to deny the existence of traditional God, but it is not possible to deny the existence of God as described and conceived in Sikhism. Even if you deny the existence of God, the laws by which God operates this universe still apply on you. In fact Sikhism looks at the issue differently. All of us are either “manmukhs” (following the dictates of our minds) or “gurmukhs” (following the dictates of our rational intellect or Guru).
  11. God in Sikhism is dynamic as opposed to the static god in traditional religions who created this universe and is now sitting in his heaven. As opposed to this God in Sikhism is active in his creation, enjoying and controlling it.
  12. There is no concept of heaven or hell in Sikhism. There is no such place as heaven or hell. In fact to have a desire for such a place is considered a kind of distraction from the path of God.
  13. There is no set doomsday for verdict by God in Sikhism. God is instantly deciding every moment.
  14. The existence of Satan is also denied. Everything good or bad is coming from God as per the operation of its inexorable laws.
  15. All rituals like idol worship, pilgrimages to wash your sins away, donation for a place in heaven, worship or prayer by priests on your behalf etc. are severely denounced and jettisoned in Sikhism.

Theory and Practice

One final question is if what I have described above is really practiced by Sikhs in their lives or in Gurudwaras. The answer is both yes and no. At the moment Sikhism is in the firm grip of the python called Hinduism and there is a persistent effort to destroy its uniqueness so as to make it easy to swallow. However there are still enlightened Sikhs who practice the real Sikhism. Dirty politics is also playing its part. A web of fictitious mythical stories have been built around the lives of Sikh Gurus to confuse and misdirect the readers. Dasam Granth, a parallel text to Guru Granth Sahib, has been created to bamboozle and mislead the Sikhs. Even though practice by Sikhs is important, but what is even more important is to know if Guru Granth Sahib provides philosophical and theoretical support to this concept of God. I have given adequate references from the text to support my assertions. An average Sikh in todays’ world might be disoriented from the right path due to some misguidance, duress or compulsion but it also becomes incumbent upon the intellectual community of the world to come forth in support of the truth. Not that truth is helpless. But because it is in our own interest to do so. In the end I would like to quote Guru Nanak again. At page 1245 he says that “Prudence lies in serving the Truth, this will earn you respect. Prudence lies in understanding the Truth and sharing it with others. Nanak says this is the right path, all else is a distraction.” ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥ {ਪੰਨਾ ੧੨੪੫}


References & Notes:

  1. “Gurmukhi” means from the mouth of Guru. It got its name because Guru Angad, the second Sikh Guru, organised the script in a systematic way and created an Alphabet for teaching this language to people. Verses of Kabir who lived in Varanasi and Dhanna who lived in Rajasthan is incontrovertible evidence of this language being spoken in the entire north India including present day Pakistan. His initiative bore fruit and within few decades there was 100% literacy rate among Sikhs. However the forces opposed to Sikhism started a false but successful propaganda that Punjabi script has been created by Guru Angad. This created a chasm that still persists between Punjabi language and its non-Sikh speakers. The hidden purpose of this propaganda was to fence these non-Sikhs away from Sikhism.
  2. Recently some scholars have started challenging this pronunciation which in my opinion is neither supported by Guru Granth Sahib nor by history. Stalwarts in Sikh scholarship like Prof Sahib Singh and Bhai Kahn Singh support this pronunciation. I believe these scholars who challenge this pronunciation have been carried away by the thrill of being different or “original”.
  3. To support this assertion some example quotes from Guru Granth Sahib along with their English translation are given below.
    • ਕਈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਕੀਨੋ ਬਿਸਥਾਰ॥ਕਈ ਬਾਰ ਪਸਰਿਓ ਪਾਸਾਰ॥ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਇਕੁ ਏਕੰਕਾਰ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 276 (Billon ways of creation, Billion times expansion, Rests in Oneness all the time.) Page 276
    • ਨਾਨਾ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੀਨੋ ਬਿਸਥਾਰੁ॥ਪ੍ਰਭ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 284 (The imperishable Creator resting in Oneness, Expands into multiple creations.) Page 284
    • ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਕਰੇ ਬਿਸਥਾਰੁ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਾਂ ਏਕੰਕਾਰ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 294 (Expands at his will, At his will collapses into oneness ) Page 294
    • ਜਲਿ ਥਲਿ ਮਹੀਅਲਿ ਪੂਰਿਆ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸਿਰਜਨਹਾਰੁ॥ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਪਸਰਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਏਕੰਕਾਰ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 296 (Filled to the brim are land, water and sky, God is spread out and extant in all directions in different ways.) Page 296
    • ਏਹੁ ਪਰਪੰਚੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਕਰਤੈ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਤੈ ਸਭ ਕਲ ਧਾਰੀ॥ਹਰਿ ਏਕੋ ਸੂਤੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਜੁਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸੂਤੁ ਖਿੰਚੈ ਏਕੰਕਾਰੀ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 507 (Sustained by his energy is this Creation, Once he defuses this energy everything collapses into a singularity.) Page 507
    • ਸਾਂਗ ਉਤਾਰਿ ਥੰਮਿਹਓ ਪਾਸਾਰਾ॥ਤਬ ਏਕੋ ਏਕੰਕਾਰਾ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 736 (Once this spectacle of creation is over, then it is The One, the only one) page 736
    • ਬਰਨੁ ਚਿਹਨੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਰਚਨਾ ਮਥਿਆ ਸਗਲ ਪਸਾਰਾ॥ ਬਣਿਤ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਜਬ ਖੇਲੁ ਉਝਾਰੇ ਤਬ ਏਕੈ ਏਕੰਕਾਰਾ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 999 (Cannot be described or recognised by this transitory creation, Once this act of creation ends, then only oneness remains) Page 999
    • ਏਕੋ ਤਖਤੁ ਏਕੋ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ॥ਸਰਬੀ ਥਾਈ ਵੇਪਰਵਾਹੁ॥ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਕੀਆ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣ ਸਾਰੁ॥ ਓਹੁ ਅਗਮੁ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਏਕੰਕਾਰ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 1188 (One kingdom, one ruler, Pervades every space unchallenged, Creating everything, this oneness is unfathomable) Page 1188
    • ਹਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਏਕੰਕਾਰ ਸਾਚਾ ਸਭੁ ਜਗਤੁ ਜਿੰਨਿ ਉਪਾਇਆ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 1113 (Remember and meditate on this singularity that expanded into this universe) Page 1113
  4. Guru explains this in detail at page 284 of Guru Granth Sahib. Original verse in Panjabi with its English translation is given below.
    ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲੇ ਜੰਤ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਖੰਡ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸੁਨਨ ਗਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਆਗਾਸ ਪਾਤਾਲ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਆਕਾਰ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਪੁਰੀਆ ਸਭ ਭਵਨ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਉਧਰੇ ਸੁਨਿ ਸ੍ਰਵਨ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਆਪਨੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਮਹਿ ਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਏ ॥੫॥ {ਪੰਨਾ ੨੮੪}
    (Naam creates and supports all creatures; Naam forms and sustains entire cosmos; Naam causes creation of all religious texts: Naam is the base of all knowledge; Naam maintains all regions; Naam shapes all forms; Naam props up all realms; Understanding this Naam is enlightenment; the blessed one get this understanding; They get deliverance from illusion and realize the truth.)
  5. As in the following verse it has been stated repeatedly in Guru Granth Sahib that God first created itself then created the laws of creation. And now he is enjoying the creation sitting in and being a part of it. This in nutshell is the meaning of the following verse at page 463
    ਆਪੀਨੈ੍ਹ ਆਪੁ ਸਾਜਿਓ ਆਪੀਨੈ੍ਹ ਰਚਿਓ ਨਾਉ॥ਦੁਯੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਸਾਜੀਐ ਕਰਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਡਿਠੋ ਚਾਉ॥ਪੰਨਾ 463
  6. ਇਕਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਪੰਨਾ 646 (The unique knowledge has one teacher, and one way of learning)
  7. The traditional and popular meaning of word Moorat is picture or shape. But it has also been used in Guru Granth Sahib meaning similar to Sanskrit word “Satya” which in English would be energy. Bhai Kahn Singh has supported this meaning in the opening verse we are discussing and has also quoted another example of usage of this word in this sense from page 1252 of Guru Granth Sahib in his Mahaan Kosh.
  8. ਸਗਲ ਪਰਾਧ ਦੇਹਿ ਲੋਰੋਨੀ ॥ ਸੋ ਮੁਖੁ ਜਲਉ ਜਿਤੁ ਕਹਹਿ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਜੋਨੀ ॥੩॥ ਜਨਮਿ ਨ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਾ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਰਹਿਓ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੪॥੧॥ {ਪੰਨਾ ੧੧੩੬} (Singing a lullaby to the idol is root cause of all ills, Face that utters the birth of God be scorched. God does not take birth not does he die. Nanak says God permeates this cosmos.) Page 1136
  9. ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ ਜੁ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਨੰਦ ਕੋ ਨੰਦਨੁ ਨੰਦ ਸੁ ਨੰਦਨੁ ਕਾ ਕੋ ਰੇ ॥ ਧਰਨਿ ਅਕਾਸੁ ਦਸੋ ਦਿਸ ਨਾਹੀ ਤਬ ਇਹੁ ਨੰਦੁ ਕਹਾ ਥੋ ਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸੰਕਟਿ ਨਹੀ ਪਰੈ ਜੋਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਆਵੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਜਾ ਕੋ ਰੇ ॥ ਕਬੀਰ ਕੋ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਐਸੋ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਮਾਈ ਨ ਬਾਪੋ ਰੇ ॥੨॥੧੯॥੭੦॥ {ਪੰਨਾ ੩੩੮-੩੩੯} (You say Nand is father of God, then who is father of Nand. Where was this Nand when there was no land or sky? God does not take birth, no is ever in trouble. Kabir says God does not have father or mother.) page 338-39
  10. ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥੧॥ (True before the beginning, True throughout the ages, is true now & will always be true) Page 1
  11. ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਨਾ ਆਵੈ ਨਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਹੈ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ Page 759. (My Guru is not born nor does he die. An imperishable entity that pervades everywhere.)
  12. ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਮੈ ਸੋ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਬਿਬੇਕੋ + Page 793 (Says Kabir discerning intellect is my guru) ਬੂਝੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ॥੪॥ Page 355 (You get to the truth with discerning intellect)
  13. ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਤਿਨਿ ਦੀਆ ਤਾਲਾ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਗੁਰ ਸਉਪਾਈ॥ਅਨੇਕ ਉਪਾਵ ਕਰੇ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਵੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਰਣਾਈ॥ਪੰਨਾ 204-5 (The key to the locked house of God is with Guru. Try hard you may, but you need help from Guru to open it.) ਗੁਰੁ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਪਾਹੂ ਨਿਵਲੁ ਮਨੁ ਕੋਠਾ ਤਨੁ ਛਤਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਤਾਕੁ ਨ ਉਘੜੈ ਅਵਰ ਨ ਕੁੰਜੀ ਹਥਿ ॥੧॥ ਪੰਨਾ ੧੨੩੭ (Mind is a house with body as its roof. House is locked and key is with Guru. Only Guru can open the door of this house, none else has got the key) Page 1237
  14. One popular but incorrect statement found in many books is that Guru Nanak did a petty job of weighing the grains at Sultanpur. We know for sure that Guru Nanak bought more than hundred acres of land with earnings from his job. This land is still attached to the Gurudwara in Kartarpur (now in Pakistan). If he was doing a petty job, he could not afford to buy such a big property.
  15. There are some mythical stories about Guru Nanak having a dive in the river and disappearing for three days to meet God in heaven who gave him instructions. These stories are myths created to subvert the core of Guru Nanak’s philosophy.
  16. Information about this amount is taken from a video by Dr Manzur Ejaz titled “Classical Poets – Baba Guru Nanak”. Video is available at the following link
  17. ਜੁਗਹ ਜੁਗਹ ਕੇ ਰਾਜੇ ਕੀਏ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਕਰਿ ਅਵਤਾਰੀ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਭੀ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਕਿਆ ਕਰਿ ਆਖਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥੭॥ Page 422. (Kings who rulled in different ages are being called avatars of God. Even they are unable to fathoms the depths of God.)
  18. “Creating air God stations earth in space, and seams fire with water. You call Ram great who killed a foolhardy Ravana. O God, your greatness can not be described. You pervade everywhere like a thought. God creates and controls all beings on earth and you call Krishna great who controlled a king cobra. O God, you don’t have a husband or wife, you are subtly diffused everywhere. Brahma and Vishnu got lost in wilderness trying to find the end of this universe. God is beyond description, you can’t call Krishna great because he killed Kansa. You call Vishnu great for solving the dispute between gods and demons. But look God is invisible and visible providing equitably to everyone.” The original verse in Punjabi is a beautiful read. ਪਉਣੁ ਉਪਾਇ ਧਰੀ ਸਭ ਧਰਤੀ ਜਲ ਅਗਨੀ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ਕੀਆ ॥ ਅੰਧੁਲੈ ਦਹਸਿਰਿ ਮੂੰਡੁ ਕਟਾਇਆ ਰਾਵਣੁ ਮਾਰਿ ਕਿਆ ਵਡਾ ਭਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਕਿਆ ਉਪਮਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਖੀ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਤੂੰ ਸਰਬੇ ਪੂਰਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜੀਅ ਉਪਾਇ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਹਥਿ ਕੀਨੀ ਕਾਲੀ ਨਥਿ ਕਿਆ ਵਡਾ ਭਇਆ ॥ ਕਿਸੁ ਤੂੰ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਜੋਰੂ ਕਉਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਆ ॥੨॥ ਨਾਲਿ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਰਦਾਤਾ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਭਾਲਣ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਆਗੈ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਕੰਸੁ ਛੇਦਿ ਕਿਆ ਵਡਾ ਭਇਆ ॥੩॥ ਰਤਨ ਉਪਾਇ ਧਰੇ ਖੀਰੁ ਮਥਿਆ ਹੋਰਿ ਭਖਲਾਏ ਜਿ ਅਸੀ ਕੀਆ ॥ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਛਪੈ ਕਿਉ ਛਪਿਆ ਏਕੀ ਏਕੀ ਵੰਡਿ ਦੀਆ ॥੪॥੭॥ {ਪੰਨਾ ੩੫੦}
  19. When there was no life, then what karma initiated this cycle of birth and death. This is a show enacted by God. ਜਬ ਕਛੁ ਨ ਸੀਓ ਤਬ ਕਿਆ ਕਰਤਾ ਕਵਨ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਿ ਆਇਆ॥ਅਪਨਾ ਖੇਲੁ ਆਪਿ ਕਰ ਦੇਖੈ ਠਾਕੁਰਿ ਰਚਿਨ ਰਚਾਇਆ॥ਪੰਨਾ 748
  20. Guru says that the qazi does not side with truth and eats filth of lies, Brahman tortures others then takes a cleansing bath, and the yogi is distracted and does not know the right way. All three have become instruments of destruction in the society. ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥੨॥ Page 662

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