Thursday, November 29, 2018

"Guru Nanak Sahib" or "Guru Nanak Dev"?

Some time ago, I went to a function where I was stopped by an Uncle Ji. He said to me, "It is incorrect to call Guru Sahib "Guru Nanak Dev Ji". Hindus have corrupted us and added the name "Dev" to claim Guru Nanak Sahib Ji was a Hindu. Instead we should call Guru Sahib - Guru Nanak Sahib Ji or Baba Nanak... Look even Muslims call Guru Sahib - Baba Guru Nanak, not Guru Nanak Dev Ji."

Considering this Uncle Ji was a zealous preacher of the Sikh Rehat Maryada document and would probably have different interpretations to any Gurbani I quote, I thought I would reply back using the Sikh Rehat Maryada document. So I said, "Uncle Ji, the Sikh Rehat Maryada, in the first chapter where it defines a Sikh, states Guru Sahib's name as "Guru Nanak Dev Ji"." He replied, "The scholars at the time the Sikh Rehat Maryada was made were not aware of these things. This is a new discovery by the present day modern scholars of the Panth." I had already guessed who these "modern scholars of the Panth" are, who are more wise than the all the scholars, saints and respected Sikhs from Guru Sahib's time till now.

He continued, "Look "Dev" is a Hindu name. What does it have to do with Sikhi?" I replied, "What about "Guru Angad Dev Ji" and "Guru Arjan Dev Ji"?... Gurbani also mentions Guru Nanak Dev." He replied, "Where "Dev" is mentioned with the Guru, it means "Daivee Shaktee" (possessor of Divine-Power), not "Dev" as a Hindu name that makes the Guru into another Devta (god) of the Hindus." I was thinking, if he accept that "Dev" means the possessor of divinity or divine-power, then what's the problem!

I replied, "Guru Ram Das Ji named his son, "Maha Dev". The third and fourth Gurus' name have "Daas". Guru Nanak Dev Ji's and Guru Ram Das Ji's sons had the name "Chand" in their names. Following your logic, all these names are linked to Hindus names and therefore must be rejected." He replied, "No, you are not getting what I am saying. You are not trying to understand. Guru Nanak Sahib Ji sounds much better than Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Baba Guru Nanak or Pir Nanak, sounds better than Guru Nanak Dev. Guru Nanak Dev is only a modern invention."

The conversation cut short and did not continue. But it made me thinking, how much of a Hindu-phobia some people have that they are coming up with weird theories to reject things that are supported by Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Dasam Bani, the writings of Bhai Gurdaas Ji, and other Panth accepted sources of Sikh history. What next - Hindus drink water, so we have to stop drinking water?

Before getting caught up in anyone's argument, we should always check to see if what the person is saying matches Gurbani. Now, when we read Gurbani, you will realise that Guru Arjan Dev Ji calls the first Guru - "Guru Nanak Dev". See below:
ਕਬੀਰਿ ਧਿਆਇਓ ਏਕ ਰੰਗ ॥ 
kabeer dhiaae-o ek rang ||
Kabeer meditated on the One Lord with love. 

ਨਾਮਦੇਵ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਬਸਹਿ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ 
naam-dev har jeeo basehi sang ||
Naam Dev lived with the Dear Lord. 

ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਧਿਆਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ 
ravi-daas dhiaae prabh anoop ||
Ravi Daas meditated on God, the Incomparably Beautiful. 

ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਰੂਪ ॥੮॥੧॥ 
gur naanak dev govind roop ||8||1||
Guru Nanak Dev is the Embodiment of the Lord of the Universe. ||8||1|| 
(Raag Basant - Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Ang 1192)

Someone else on the Internet claimed, "Look, Guru Sahib it referred the majority of the time as "Guru Nanak" in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. So, even if it "Guru Nanak Dev" is mentioned once in Gurbani, we should "Guru Nanak" instead." Using that logic, makes no sense. What appears more often "Nanak" or "Guru Nanak"? The answer is - "Nanak". So does that mean, we should not say "Guru Nanak", and just refer to Guru Sahib as "Nanak"? I am sure, everyone with some sense would say "no".

Furthermore, there is another Shabad in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in which Giani Harbans Singh translates the word "Dev" to be attached to the name of Guru Nanak Ji:
ਮਿਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਜਗਤ ਗੁਰ ਕੇਰੈ ॥੨॥੧॥੩੪॥ 
mil naanak dev jagat gur kerai ||2||1||34||
Please come and meet (Guru) Nanak Dev, the Guru of the World. ||2||1||34||
(Raag Kaanraa - Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Ang 1304)

If people have such a "phobia" with the name "Dev" then what will they do where it says "Guru Arjan Dev" in Gurbani?
ਜਪ੍ਯਉ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ ਅਰਜੁਨ ਦੇਵ ਗੁਰੂ ਫਿਰਿ ਸੰਕਟ ਜੋਨਿ ਗਰਭ ਨ ਆਯਉ ॥੬॥ 
japayo jinh arjun dev guroo fir sankatt jon garabh na aayo ||6|| 
Whoever meditates on Guru Arjun Dev, shall not have to pass through the painful womb of reincarnation ever again. ||6|| 
(Svaiyye Mahalla 5 - Bhatt Mathura - Ang 1409)

Then if study Bhai Gurdaas Ji's Bani, it is clear that he refers to Guru Sahib as "Guru Nanak Dev" as well. In Vaar 1, Bhai Gurdaas Ji clearly gives the title "Guru Nanak Dev Ji" to the first episode relating to Guru Sahib's life:

Pauri 24:
੨੪ : ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਜੀ ਦਾ ਪਹਿਲਾ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ 
24 : gur naanak dev jee daa pahilaa prasang 
First episode of Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Then in Vaar 26, there are episodes or Pauris that are given the title of "Guru Nanak Dev":
੨੧ : ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ
21 : guroo naanak dev
Guru Nanak Dev 
੨੨ : ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ22 : guroo naanak dev
Guru Nanak Dev 
੩੦ : ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ30 : guroo naanak dev
Guru Nanak Dev

Then the second Kabit of Bhai Gurdaas Ji, it says Guru Sahib's name as "Nanak Dev" three times:
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ॥
satigur naanak dev, paarbrahm pooran brahm ॥1॥2॥ 
Vahiguru (Lord) who is transcendental and immanent in the form of Guru Nanak Dev.
(Pauri 1)

ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ॥੨॥੨॥ 
paar-brahm pooran brahm, satigur naanak dev ॥2॥2॥ 
Satgur (True Guru) Nanak Dev is the immanent form of God.
(Pauri 2)

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵੀ ਸਭ ਧਿਆਵਹਿ ।
satigur naanak Dev, dev devi sabh dhiaavehi ।
All gods and goddesses contemplate on the True Guru, Guru Nanak Dev. 
(Pauri 3)
One can respectfully refer to Guru Sahib as "Satguru Nanak Ji", "Guru Nanak Paatshaah Ji", "Guru Nanak Sahib Ji" or "Guru Nanak Ji". However, if someone criticises someone for respectfully saying "Guru Nanak Dev Ji" and saying it is wrong to say it, then it is pretty clear from the above, that the person claiming such a thing is ill-informed. No modern-day Sikh, irrespective of how much a scholar they may claim to be, can be wiser than Guru Arjan Dev Ji or Bhai Gurdaas Ji.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Guru Nanak Dev Ji - The Light of the world...

ਬਲਿਓ ਚਰਾਗੁ ਅੰਧ੍ਯਾਰ ਮਹਿ ਸਭ ਕਲਿ ਉਧਰੀ ਇਕ ਨਾਮ ਧਰਮ ॥ 
balio charaag andhyaar mehi sabh kal udharee ik naam dharam || 
(Guru Nanak is) the lamp lit in the darkness; all are saved in this time, through the One Name and faith in the Dharam (preached by Guru Nanak). 

ਪ੍ਰਗਟੁ ਸਗਲ ਹਰਿ ਭਵਨ ਮਹਿ ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ॥੯॥ 
pragatt sagal har bhavan mehi jan naanak gur paar-braham ||9|| 
O Lord! It has been revealed in the worlds that Your servant Nanak is God in form of the Guru. ||9|| 
 (Svaiyye Mahalla 5 - Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Ang 1387)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Dhan Baba Deep Singh Ji...

15th November marks the Shaheedi Divas (martyrdom day) of Anokhe Shaheed (the unique martyr)- Baba Deep Singh Ji. Baba Ji’s Shaheedi (martyrdom) illustrates the power of Amrit, Gurbani and Naam. The All-Powerful Guru can make anything happen. He can make a Sikh smile and recite Japji in bliss whilst being sawn alive, make a Sikh happily accept being cut piece by piece and not move an inch of their body, and make a Sikh fight with their severed head held in the palm of their hand. 
Baba Deep Singh Ji was a master 15 languages, scribe of 5 Saroops of Satguru Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, a Saint-mystic absorbed in Naam, a Sarbloh warrior that was matchless on the battlefield, a leader that knew how to unite the Panth, a Parchaarik (preacher) who inspired countless, a scholar who learnt the meanings of Gurbani from Satguru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj, an embodiment of Seva (selfless-service), and a banner of justice who protected the poor and weak. 

ਪਉੜੀ ॥
pauRee ||

ਧੰਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਜੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਚਰਣੀ ਜਾਇ ਪਇਆ ॥
dhan dhan so gursikh kahee-ai
jo satgur charnee jaae peyaa ||
Blessed, blessed is that Sikh of the Guru, who goes and falls at the Feet of the True Guru.

ਧੰਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਜਿਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ਮੁਖਿ ਰਾਮੁ ਕਹਿਆ ॥
dhan dhan so gursikh kahee-ai
jin har naamaa mukh raam kahiaa ||
Blessed, blessed is that Sikh of the Guru, who with his mouth, utters the Name of the Lord.

ਧੰਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਮਨਿ ਅਨਦੁ ਭਇਆ ॥
dhan dhan so gursikh kahee-ai
jis har naam suni-ai man anad bheyaa ||
Blessed, blessed is that Sikh of the Guru, whose mind, upon hearing the Lord's Name, becomes blissful.

ਧੰਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਜਿਨਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਲਇਆ ॥
dhan dhan so gursikh kahee-ai
jin satgur sevaa kar har naam leyaa ||
Blessed, blessed is that Sikh of the Guru, who serves the True Guru, and so obtains the Lord's Name.

ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਕੰਉ ਹੰਉ ਸਦਾ ਨਮਸਕਾਰੀ ਜੋ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਚਲਿਆ ॥੧੮॥
tis gursikh kau hau sadaa namaskaaree
jo gur kai bhaanai gursikh chaliaa ||18||
I bow forever in deepest respect to that Sikh of the Guru, who walks in the Way of the Guru. ||18||
(Raag Vadhans - Guru Amar Daas Ji - Ang 593)

Thursday, November 08, 2018



This Wednesday marked the Sikh festival of ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ (also spent ‘Bandi Shhor Divas’), which coincides with the Indian cultural festival and holiday of Diwali. This whole week Sikhs across the world will be celebrating this festival.

Bandi Chhor Divas, literally meaning the day of liberation, celebrates the release of the sixth Guru of the Sikhs from prison along with fifty-two other political prisoners whose release was secured by the Guru’s refusal to leave prison without them in 1619.

The 17th century intolerant and cruel Emperor of India, wary of those who might oppose his tyrannical rule, arrested the sixth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, who was speaking up for social and religious justice and fighting injustice. Others were also imprisoned in a fort converted as a prison called the Gwalior Fort.

After falling in and receiving advice from various saints, the Emperor realised his error in imprisoning the Guru in which the Light of God shined. As the festival of Diwali approached, the Emperor ordered the release of the Great Guru. To his surprise, the Guru refused to leave unless all the other political prisoners were released at the same time.

The Emperor decided to compromise and said that anyone who could hold onto the Guru’s clothes could be freed with him. He thought that at the most, two or three of his fellow prisoners would be able to go with the Guru through the fort’s narrow passage to freedom. In the event, the Guru walked to freedom followed by all the 52 political prisoners holding onto robe made with 52 flowing segments sewn to it. The Guru became known as ‘Bandi Chhor Daathaa’ (the Giver of Freedom).

The story reminds Sikhs to put the wellbeing of others before our own; in this case the freedom and human rights of the Guru’s fellow captives. Bandi Chhor Divas is a useful reminder to the rest of us to make concern for others part of our daily lives.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Amritsar Visit: Meeting the 'Karhah Prashaad' Sevadaars

Some years ago I watched a video documentary on YouTube that was made by a non-Sikh lady on how Karhah Prashaad is made at Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji. It was very disappointing to see that in the video documentary a non-Amritdhari with cut-hair helping to cook the Karhah Parshaad and then those who carry the Prashaad from the Kitchen were non-Amritdhari cut-haired individuals. Sikh Rehat Maryada was clearly being violated. It was disheartening that where the tradition of Langar being prepared and served by the Khalsa has been mostly lost in the Panth, now the tradition of the Karhah Prashaad being made and served by the Khalsa was lost in the most central shrine of the Sikhs.
ਰਹਿਤ ਬਿਨਾ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦ ਵਰਤਾਵਹਿ |…ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ ਜਮ ਕਰੈ ਖੁਆਰ |੧੦| 
“A person who doesn’t maintain Rehat distributes Prashaad… Guru Gobind Singh Ji says that that person will be disgraced when death comes.”
(Thankhahnama: Bhai Nand Lal Ji, p. 58

During last month's visit to Panjab, I decided to find out where and how the Karhah Prashaad is made at Sri Harmandir Sahib. When I went to the Karhah Prashaad counter and asked the Sevadaar that I would like to see where Prashaad was made, the Sevadaar replied politely that we can come behind the counter through a door further down. When we entered the area, I was surprised that all the Sevadaars were so welcoming and friendly. There was a small room where the manager for the Karhah Prashaad sat. He, along with all of his colleagues were so friendly and polite. We were welcomed and given full respect. We explained that we wished to see where the Karhah Prashaad is made. A Sevadaar took us up some narrow steps that spiralled upwards. It would be difficult for an outsider to to venture upwards without being guided. Upstairs there was a room that had no windows and was hot. There were a number of large Sarbloh Karhaahees on large stoves. 

There was one Singh preparing the Karhah Prashaad. In one Karhaahee there was a mixture of sugar and water being boiled, and in another the Karhah Prashaad was being made. The Sevadaar told us that he is Amrithari, and that only Amritdharis are allowed to cook Karhah Prashaad. He said unauthorised persons are not allowed in this area, however the cleaners are sometimes non-Amritdharis and sometimes guests may come up to view what is happening, however the cooking and transporting of the Karhah Prashaad is done by Amritdhari employees of the SGPC. 


When we went back downstairs we went pass the area manager's office to say thanks. All the Sevadaars were again so polite and welcoming. I shared how I had seen a video documentary on Sri Harmandir Sahib and hence I wanted to see where and how Karhah Prashaad was cooked. The Sevadaars explained that the documentary must have shown Karhah being cooked in the Kitchen of Guru Ram Das Langar. He explained that they have Karhah or Halwa as a dessert, and in the cooking of Langar the rules are relaxed, even though in theory it should be only Amritdharis cooking and serving.

The Sevadaar shared that the Karhah Prashaad served in the early morning hours at Sri Darbar Sahib comes from the Dera of Baba Sham Singh. This Degh is made and served by Rehatvaan Singhs and is eaten by Bibekis and Sarblohis. The Degh offered within the inner sanctum of Sri Darbar Sahib, i.e. the Degh that is offered into your hands whilst sitting down in Sri Darbar Sahib, is made and served by Amritdhari employees of the SGPC. However, the manager shared that the Degh served outside at the entrance and exist of Sri Darbar Sahib near Darshani Deori, has Karhah Parshaad touched by non-Amritdharis. The reason for this is that anyone and everyone can get Prashaad from the counter, which is given in leaves or a steel plate. They take it up to the Prashaad counter near Darshani Deori to have Kirpan Bhet (tucked with a Kirpan). Half the Prashaad is put in a large serving vessel and the the rest the individual keeps. So all the Karhah Prashaad collected in the large serving vessel that is later distributed at the Darshani Deori by Sevadaars who standing and ready to distribute Prashaad, is not suitable for Bibeki Singhs.
ਭਾਦਣੀ, ਹੁਕਈ, ਕੁਰਹਿਤੀਏ ਪਾਸੋਂ ਕੜਾਹ (ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦ) ਕਰਾਏ, ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ |
“One who gets a shaven-head person, a smoker, or someone who has committed a Kurehat (cardinal prohibition) to give Prashaad, becomes liable for Thankhaah (religious disciplinary action).”
(Thankhahnama: Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji, p. 102)

I then asked about the "Pinni Prashaad" that is offered in packets. They explained that "Pinni" is just a name. It's not actually a "Pinni". The "Pinni Prashaad" is actually Karhah Prashaad mixture without water, which is packed by Amritdharis in a room next to the office we were sitting. I was told if you add hot water to the mixture in the packet, you would get Karhah Prashaad. The "Pinni Prashaad" was for those people who for whatever reason, e.g. health reason, cannot visit Sri Darbar Sahib, but wish to have Prashaad.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Interview: Story of Bhai Pal Singh (France)

"ਪੁਲਸ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਕੁੱਟਦੀ ਰਹੀ ਤੇ ਮੈਂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਦਾ ਜਾਪ ਕਰਦਾ ਰਿਹਾ..."

"The Police kept beating me, and I kept chanting Vahiguru..."