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June 2009 No 01
July-Aug 2009 No. 02
Sept.-Oct. 2009 No. 03
Nov.-Dec. 2009 No. 03
 
             Nov.-Dec. 2009 No. 03 A bimonthly Newsletter of InterFaith Foundation, India
     
Interfaith logo
The Samagam
for harmony of faiths and brotherhood
 
  President/Editor
Dr M M Verma

Advisory Board
Swami Shantatmananda Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi
Air Chief Marshal
Dr N C Suri (Retd.)

Prof. Tahir Mahmood Former Chairman, National Minorities Commission & Vice-Chairman, Law Commission of India
M K Kaw
Fromer Education Secretory, Govt. of India
Tara Gandhi Bhattacharya
Vice-Chairperson, Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Smriti
Dr Mohini Giri
President, Guild of Service
Justice A S Qureshi
Former Judge,
Gujrat High Court
Prof M H Qureshi
Shree A M Khwaja Chair, Jamia Millia
Prof Madhu Khanna Professor of Indic Religion, Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion & Civilizations, Jamia Millia Islamia
Prof R P Singh
Head, Deptt. of Philosophy, JNU
Dr V P Vaidik
Chairman, Council for Indian Foreign Policy
Maulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi
President, All India Organization of Imams of Mosques


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Teachings of Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak, the founder of  Sikh religion, was an apostle of peace, unity, love and human brotherhood. He is loved and respected all over the world by followers and scholars of all persuasions - Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh and others for his unique contribution to the moral and spiritual progress of  mankind. His religion is universal in character.  Guru Nanak was the prophet of ecumenism and he appreciated whatever was valuable in other religions. Ecumenism doesn’t call for relinquishing one’s own religion; on the contrary, here a man transcends to a spiritual freedom and accepts other expressions regarding the meaning of man’s existence.  For Nanak, religion is realization—a spiritual anubhav and not an intellectual exercise or sophism. He dauntlessly rejected empty symbols like smearing of ash, earrings, shaven heads, blowing of conches and such like items for show off.

Nanak said: Religion is not a ceremonial piety or pilgrimage, undertaken for the sake of ostentation and social status. “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim,” said Nanak. He does not believe in the ultimacy of distinctions between a Hindu and a Muslim. He goes beyond such distinctions and fosters a universal religion.     

Guru Nanak denounced all the external marks of holiness, fasts, pilgrimage and penances. He rejected asceticism and renunciation of the world. He taught that even a householder was equally acceptable to God as much as a hermit; and secular business did not come in the way of emancipation. Religion doesn’t ask you to escape from time, renounce your home, hold a beggar’s bowl and go for food from door to door. Religion means that you remain untainted in the midst of impurity and blossom like lotus. Guru Nanak clarified: Righteous men of all faiths and nations share in the life eternal. Holiness is found amongst the followers of all religions.

 


Guru Nanak, as a revolutionary, strongly condemned the corrupt and evil practices,  prevailing in  religious and social institutions. He  also condemned the exploitation of ignorant masses by the clever and greedy Brahmins and Mullahs. He launched the bitterest attack against the caste system and the hierarchical character of the Hindu society. Nanak said: Not the family background or social status, but deeds and merits matter alone in the Court of the Lord.   He also rejected the evil practice of Sati. But he never attacked Hinduism or Islam or their institutions in their original form. He wanted to reform them in a peaceful and not in a violent or revolutionary manner. He believed in peaceful persuasion to achieve his goal.

Nanak differed  with the leaders of other BhaktiSchools. Unlike  Ramanand, Kabir and Chaitanya, Nanak concentrated from the beginning on social reforms and Nam Simran. Unlike many others, he rejected renunciation of the world. His outlook  was non-sectarian and it had no mythology, no traditions and no ambiguities. Unlike others,  Nanak alone founded the  institution of guruship for carrying forward his mission. Unlike others, he dislodged Sanskrit from the position which it had occupied as the only language of the Hindus, although some Bhakti school saints also preached in their local languages. Unlike other leaders of the Bhakti School, who believed in Rama and Krishna as reincarnations  of  God, Nanak advocated that God is formless, timeless, ever present and not subject to  birth and death.



Mul Mantra

Guru Granth Sahib begins with the famous composition of Guru Nanak, the Japji Sahib, which every Sikh is enjoined to recite every morning. The Japji Sahib opens with the Mul Mantra, which is the basic creed of Sikhism. It reads thus: ‘There is but one God, satya by name, the creator, all- pervading, without fear, without enmity, (how can He be inimical to his own creation), his existence is unaffected by time, He does not take birth,( He can’t come in a womb),He is self- existent, All things work as decreed by him.

By his command the souls came into existence.  He is the creator of Maya, the World and the Brahma, and also of all eternal beings-- Avtars, Prophets and Gurus. The sun, the moon, the earth and water will not last for ever. But he is immovable unlike all his creation and all objects in which he is manifested. He is the cause of all creation and the cause is under his jurisdiction.

The unity of God is emphasized at the very outset to wean away the disciples from the worship of many gods and goddesses.

We should see him both inside  our souls and also outside. The Lord is near, he is not far.  There is one way, one love, one beauty that shines through air, water and fire.  He gives life and takes it away. Whatever he wills,  happens.  It is all his glory. He was ever there, is there and shall ever be there. The world comes and goes. All objects, including the sun, moon, stars and earth move, but  He does not move since He  is all –pervasive. Everything exists within the Supreme Spirit. He is the  dispenser of the fruits of our actions and the supreme arbiter of our joys and sorrows.

The Name fills the whole creation; there is no place where the name is not.(Japji Sahib p.19). Contemplation on the name implies that we live, move and have our being in him. The realization of his presence rids us of all evil propensities.



Deeds

Guru Nanak says: A man”s religion is known by the deeds he performs and not merely by the outer symbols. However, robes, forms, rites, rituals and ceremonies, which do not lead to righteous deeds, will not take a man far on the path of spiritual progress. The real problem is to rid the mind of evil propensities, and if that is not done, all other austerities are of little use.

In a hymn in Rag Maru, Guru Nanak has beautifully portrayed how our own deeds are the cause of our misery, which we suffer from. To cure the soul of the long standing melody of egoism is the goal of life. Impelled by egoism, a man engages in selfish activities which nourish his individuality, lead to feeling of mineness and strong desire to possess worldly goods. This continued struggle for possession drives him into lust, attachment, anger and greed. Ultimately, we have to reap the fruit of our own doings. . The writ was prepared according to one’s own deeds.

In Rag Maru, Guru Nanak says; “mind is the paper, actions ink, bad and good deeds are the two writings (being engraved) on it ….. ensnared more and more, day by day, with what merit wilt thou liberate thyself….. the mind has been converted into dross……but it can again be changed into gold.”

In Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak describes spiritual development in the various Khands (stages) of Dharma (righteousness).  Man is the architect of his own fate but to change the course of his life, he needs the advice of the Guru, who hath covered the path that leads to bliss.

Guru Nanak says: Use your understanding to examine the commodity before trading in it. Religious life is an experience. One can

understand the significance of the Guru’s teachings only when one practices it. Guru is the ladder; the boat, and the raft laden with the name of Hari. Guru is the ship to cross the ocean of Sansar.  One gets the true Guru with His Grace. When it pleases Him, the soul goes to bathe in the pool of truth and becomes pure.

Guru Nanak proclaimed, there is only one religion, let anybody practice truth.  Mere assuming the forms of a particular creed or donning robes of a particular order is of no use. None will ever enter paradise without good deeds. All men are wayfarers, when the writ comes, they will depart without delay. He who boasts of being a Hindu or a Muslim is in vain. All will have to render account at his door. Without righteous deeds, none will get salvation. The discipline is the same for all. The examiner wants to see your answers, your performance and awards accordingly. He is not interested in knowing your name or the caste. A man will not go far on the path of spiritual progress without doing righteous deeds.

Guru Nanak does not divide men on the basis of creed, colour, race or countries. For him, men are of two kinds….. Gurmukhs (God- oriented, who seek good of all) and Manmukhs (selfish). Brahmin is one who practices Jap, Tap and exercises restraints to that end. A tree is known by the fruit it bears, so a man’s religion is known by the deeds he performs. The real question is to rid the mind of evil propensities. If that is not done, all our austerities are of no use.

The basis of spiritual life is ethical conduct. The pure heart will find God. Truth resides only in pure heart. With the diet of greed inside and much falsity in speech, why are you washing your body from outside. Shun greed, give up calmy and falsehood, then you will be rewarded through the Guru’s teachings.

When understanding is defiled by sin, it is washed by the love of the Name. Forms and symbols in a creed are useful only when we understand the meaning which they convey.

Guru Nanak preached: All men are equal. No one is low. No one is high. If there is a low caste, I am the lowest of the low. A man’s caste and faith are determined by the works he performs. Caste can gain nothing. Truth within, will be tested.

Guru Nanak taught : Discipline of the Name wins God’s grace and brings salvation. A sacred place is one where there is the Name.  Knowledge imparted by the Guru is the real Tirath, ever auspicious to dip in.The real problem is how to get rid of the evil

propensities of egoism. How to revive the longing for the reunion?  Nanak taught: ceaseless remembrance of God  is the only remedy.  Man can progress spiritually even when engaged in worldly activities. By contemplating on Name and doing good deeds, even in the midst of sensual pleasures, one remains detached.

“Rare are such men in this world, whom after testing, God has gathered unto his treasury. They have rid themselves of the bonds of caste and colour, and given up greed and mineness. Imbued in the name, they have become spiritual, full of purity, having put an end to the dirt and misery of egoism. Nanak washes the feet of such God- oriented saints in whose heart is enshrined the True One.”

 
 
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