This teaching lies at the heart of Sikh thought and life. The realisation that God lives in every heart like a reflection in a mirror, fire within wood and fragrance within a flower means that God is present within you and all beings and all things. Developing a relationship with the Divinity within makes you a mystic. Service of the Divinity in others makes you a revolutionary. Hence a Sikh is a saint and a soldier, a sant-sipahi. Note that the Gurus are not saying that God becomes a human being, or is a human being. Rather that the human being or more precisely the human mind-heart is the temple of God. God has made you to live in you and with you, but we have installed the idol of self-centredness and denial of God inside. As we remove this, God comes to dwell with and in us as intended. We have tried to seal off the temple so we can own it and big ourselves up, yet God is always knocking on the door of our conscience, and into our consciousness through the reality of everyday life in the cosmos. The Truth is within us and all around us. It is not hidden from us; we are trying to hide from it. We were made to flow, to leak lovingkindness from God – gurprasad/grace – to all things – meeta/sweetness/lovingkindness. By blocking it we make meanness and ultimately weep tears of regret wishing, pleading for another chance to do things right. We wish we could change things. As we open the door, we appear to lose what we had bottled up, but actually more flows through us coming in on all sides. In time we are re-made by the force of the flow, re-born, having given ourselves up to love. We weep tears of joy and thankfulness for the chance. One in the flow, still the flow and channel are separate. Lovers unite in oneness, yet beyond that want otherness. They do not seek to devour the other, but to enjoy the other in their otherness.
So God wants us to be. S/he has made humans perfect in form and function. Accepting this Sikhs do not cut their hair, nor have any fear of the menstrual cycle regarding it as perfect. For religions this was regarded as a curse, divine punishment, etc. Since women were regarded as unclean they were not allowed to perform religious rites and were banned from holy places during their cycles. The Gurus taught that such views were themselves the real filth and thus liberated half of humanity. Realising that God is in us and wants our success, has made us for success means that one is free from doubts and thus all fears, except fear or mindfulness of the face which you have to show your Creator and Well-wisher. For at all moments we are in the Court of God and at all days it is the Day of Judgement when all secrets are revealed and we are judged, our good deeds against bad, our witnessing of God vs. our denial for fear or favour among the world, our flowing in lovingkindness or our meanness, our private power trips. This is what the Guru means by nimrata/ humbleness/ emptiness. Where I am not, You are. When the idol of self-centredness has been removed by us, God’s Doings become visible – the saviour of those who seek Him, the destroyer of powerful evil-doers, saviour of prostitutes, hypocrites, punished sinners, those of all who turn to Him from within different faiths or with no faith, e.g. bhagat Namdev. God is known to us as qualities – as Light, as Love, as Mercy, as Forgiveness, as Guru. Guru does not refer to a person, but to Grace and Enlightenment. Hence the Guru is eternal. The Sabd or Word is God living in every heart; externally as Guru Granth Sahib Ji it cleans the rust of forgetfulness of God imparted by the colour of the world; it takes us back to what we all know to be true, in the secret chambers of our hearts and deepest layers of the mind. Through music it applies the dye of God more easily. One interested in fitness has a regime. Hence the code of conduct or reht maryada has a uniform structure for gurdwaras – training centres, and a basic regimen for the individual disciple of the Guru – Khalsa, one consciously trying to turn one’s life to God, in particular transforming the five energies of life – pride, anger, lust, greed and attachment through the five k’s – kara – slave of God, kirpan – martial artist, kachera – sexuality for and within family context, kanga – all things perish like your body is perishing, ie dead strands of hair, and kesh – keeping natural form, freedom from slavery to daily fashions. The turban represents the spiritual sovereignty of the individual, a crown, for freedom in God means freedom from secular or religious powers.
While the form of the Khalsa sets Sikhs apart from others, arguably the philosophy of Gurmat sets Sikhs more apart. If the human is the temple of God then there is no such thing as place of pilgrimage, since God is within; no special time, since God is always there; no special priest since God wants to be with you directly like husband and wife without a third party. The Gurdwara is where you receive the teachings – Guru Granth and practical exercises – Guru Panth. On site you are expected to follow them, e.g. cover your hair. The turban is not your crown but God’s for God is seen in the godly as a cow is seen in a calf. The godly are known by their deeds and while it is easy to dismiss any religion it is hard to dismiss any good person. Other religions of the time disagreed with the Gurus new message – Buddhists and Jains do not believe in God, Hindus believe in varna meaning colour based caste system, where the conquering peoples such as the Brahmins are twice born and the conquered people, the dalits allegedly pollute others and so were not allowed into temples or to drink the same water. The Gurus included the writings of dalits in the Guru Granth and made many wells which all used. In Guru-ka-langar all cook and eat together. Caste as it exists among Sikhs has relevance for only two things – politics and marriage. But for Hindus it still has huge relevance for religious attendance – Brahmin men are still the only ones to interpret scripture and determine the special times for the idols, worship of 33 million gods and goddesses, etc. and for absence and disqualification of land ownership, use of wells for dalits. People without caste were regarded as out-caste, malech and were not allowed to eat with people with castes. Though it includes all non-Hindus, over time it was reserved for Muslims who are regarded as malech. Muslims, like Christian regard heaven as their privelege. Christians believe Jesus is God – to reject Jesus is to reject God and to go to hell. Muslims believe all previous revelations were distorted and the one law of the One God in its final form is known only to them. Those who obey the law are the Muslims, those who disobey the kafirs, rebels who will be punished in hell. In this life it is the duty of the law-abiding to stop the activities of the law-rejecting through persuasion where possible, ie conversion, or force where necessary. Namdev writes that the Hindus are blind and the Muslims one eyed. The Hindus have neither One God, nor one humanity. The Muslims have one God, but divide humanity.
For the Guru, creeds mean nothing, deeds are what count. Everyone is necessary and needed. All slip away from the law of love, unchanging through time and space. All are born with perfect natural form – all beings are Sikhs – seekers. The Guru – Inner Light – is in all. Daring to defy the world to walk in your Inner Light, to bathe in it, to inspire others, to care for oneself as God cares for you and wants you to be, to be a temple for all where the Light of God is clearly visible. To reject any person is to reject God. Thus, a Sikh opposes meanness, zulm, oppression, but not the person. Bhai Kannayya saw the Guru in all, friends and foes and so provided water to all, and on the orders of Guru Gobind Singh, dressed their wounds also. The Sikh opposes zulm in oneself and others, the self-killer and world-butcher, killer of conscience. Zulm for oneself and zulm for others. God’s burden is light – love. Love is the rope from darkness to light. Love knows no why? Love does not force itself, but offers choice. One chooses to Love, or chooses not to. In choosing not to, one destroys oneself, in fear or favour of the world. In going with the flow of love, one becomes incomparably great, a channel for the greatness of God, a light for the blind, an inspiration to the cowards, a loving being, a spiritual hero recognised by all warm hearts, appealing to all but the most darkened minds and envied by them. The Truth is within you and all around you. Love has made you for a home to dwell in. Love knows no why? The law of love binds all from angels to demons, we get what we choose, but in our hearts and cleared minds the obvious choice, the wonderful, joyous choice, our first instinct is God’s voice, the deepest nature of the universe itself. God does not want to punish you, but wants you and helps to make right choices. When you slip, He is there to pull you up, if you would but reach and trust in God’s actions – Saviour, Forgiver, Purifier, etc. We are never abandoned or alone whatever we have done or think we have done. We Are made from Love for Love through Love and by Love. Living Matters – It Is Dancing Love.
Dr Kanwar Ranvir Singh