Thursday, 10 July 2014

Spiritual Goal and Sikh Identity - Sirdar Kapur Singh

God in His pleasure and discretion communicated with man through the word of the Guru, by filling the Guru’s personality with His presence to make the basic distinction between ‘revelation’ and ‘literature’, by assigning to the former the validity of the true guidance for man in matters 0f his ultimate concern.
The word of the Guru clearly distinguished the Sikh mysticism of personality from the hitherto accepted Jainist and Buddhist mysticism of infinite, the one that aims at the dental of self, the vehicle of God’s Will, and the other that aims at its complete annihilation.
The Sikh formularies sternly declare a fault-finding approach towards other religions as anathema. The fundamental dogma of Sikhism and its epiphany is that all the historical manifestations of the Sikh Gurus constitute one historical Personality in continuous movement through ten corporalities, and God of Sikhism is a God of revelation Who, on His Own initiative, presses towards revealing Himself. This dogma is the starting point of Sikhism and is fundamental to its understanding and practice.
From this concept of summum bonum follows the new definition of and also the new content of what Guru Amar Das imparted to the fundamental concept of the Absolute Reality, conceived as sat-cit-anand in Hindu spiritual tradition. True understanding and pursuit of this last component of the Absolute Reality, ananda, has engaged the Hindu mind throughout the ages, conceiving of it as the seedless and featureless  trance, where the mind, in its utter unflickering, emptiness, is somehow, awake and aware and altogether unsettled nothingness, and in another way, relating it to pure bodily well-being.
Mohsin Fani, a Zoroastrian contemporary of Nanak, the Sixth (1595-1649), on the basis of correspondence with the Guru, specifically mentions this Sikh dogma as fundamental to Sikhism. The dogma is reiterated at numerous places in the text of Guru Granth.
The scientific fact about Sikhism is that it is neither a syncretism, an amalgam of other religions and creeds, nor a sect of Hinduism or Islam, has been variously asserted from time to time by numerous authorities.
It is an autonomous, independent religion, complete and whole, with its validity inhering in its revelations and proclamations, such as are repeatedly made in its literature, and its historical movement. The newly developed science of religion and its critique categorise all higher world religions into mystic and prophetic religions. The basis of mystic religions is anonymous experiences of individuals.
'The prophetic religions, on the other hand, arise out of a confrontation of an individual, the Prophet, with God in the relationship of ‘I’ and ‘Thou’, in the phraseology made famous by Martin Buber (1878-1965). As an authority on the subject explains it, “What is important in the mystic acts is that something happens. What is important in the prophetic acts is that something is said.”
The religions taking their birth in the middle east, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are prophetic religions while those arising in India such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism are mystic or speculative religions. Sikhism is the only prophetic religion that ever arose in the east, i.e. India. The question of its sectarian or subordinate character and status in relation to any Indian religion, therefore, simply does not arise in any scientific judgement. This position is repeatedly asserted in Guru Granth itself.
This, along with the record left by, and pertaining to the great medieval and modern Christian mystics, as well as the prestigious Sufi tradition of Islam, reveals that the goals are of two kinds, distinct and distinguishable, one of the mystic religions and the other of the prophetic religions.
Reynold Nicholson writes explaining the nature and goal of Islamic mysticism that, “Unlike nirvana, which is merely the cessation of individual; the fanah, the passing away of the Sufi from his phenomenal existence, involves baqa. Baqa means the continuance of his real existence and personality. He who dies to Self, lives in God, and fanah, the consummation of his death, makes the attainment of baqa, the union with the Divine Life.”
The goal of Sikh mysticism, as revealed in Guru Granth and the Dasam Granth of Guru Gobind Singh, is indubitably the goal of baqa of Sufi mysticism, not irrecoverable dissipation and merger of personality in the neutral Absolute Reality, the Brahma, through nirvana and mukti, but perpetuation of personality.
This perpetual personality is through its phenomenal death and by its rise into unison with the person of God, so that the liberated soul, the brahmgyani, becomes a vehicle 0f God’s Will in transcendent relationship as well as in the creative process of God. That is what is meant when Guru Granth says that “a liberated soul is filled with zeal of cosmic welfare.” This is what is meant when the Guru (Gobind Singh) says that, though he had achieved “Complete and full unison with God,” yet God sent him back to propagate dharma.
This ultimate concern of man, according to Sikhism, the goal of establishing permanent unison with the Transcendent Reality, the person of God, Akal Purkh, clearly separates and distinguishes Sikhism as a religion, apart from and independent of the Hindu and Buddhist spiritual tradition. The claim of Sikhism as an independent and autonomous world religion is no naive or empty boast or a presumptuous claim. It is demonstrably valid and scientific assertion.
There are no songs of nirvana in the Sikh doctrine and no hungering for peace of nothingness, utter death, emptiness or immobile little rest, shanti, here.
Not scattering of personality or cleavage of individuality, karvat to achieve submergence into the sum total 0f eternal substance, Brahma, is the acceptable goal in Sikhism, nor unrealizable and unfulfilled human yearning for an utterly inaccessible God is the Sikh doctrine and vision of religion, quest, but an abiding unison of the nature of a love-duet between man and God. God, the Creator of man and the Immortal Brahma, is Sikhism’s teaching.


There is one dogma and one scientific truth without understanding both of which Sikhism cannot be properly appreciated. There are two approaches to understand and appreciate a religion — one valid and legitimate and the other invalid and arbitrary. The valid approach is that of auto-interpretation, i.e., interpretation according to the basic postulates and doctrines of that religion itself, and the other, arbitrary and presumptuous approach is that of hetero-interpretation, that seeks to evaluate and judge a religion according to postulates and norms hostile or alien of itself. This latter is the domain of polemics and confrontation and not of understanding and approbation. Hetero-interpretation is, in the poetic imagery of Gitanjali, as if “a jewel has come to the garden to test excellence of rose flower by rubbing it against its touchstone.” ln Sikhism auto-interpretation 0f religion alone is approved. The Sikh scripture lays down that, “a systematic approval towards a religion is alone fruitful and satisfying, while an attitude of acrimony and fault-finding is frustrative.”                                                                                

Related document:-

Sikhism - An Oecumenical Religion

Celebrating the Life and Works of Sirdar Kapur Singh