An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Sikhism, Hinduism and the Truth

Ek Omkar
I recently came across a blog site, which is fairly interesting.  It had an article, where the author was trying to denigrate Vedas and Hinduism in contrast to Sikhism.  He tried to suggest that Guru Nanak Dev came up with a new group as a “better” alternative to Hinduism.  So, the author starts the article thus:

Here’s a reminder of why our Gurus asked us as Sikhs to steer away as far as possible from Hinduism and the Vedas – and leave the intricacies of the latter to pre-occupy our Hindu brothers and sisters.

Sikhs, however, are to concentrate on only one thing: worship of the One, while serving humanity … and the only guide we needed for all the answers was to be Guru Granth Sahib.

The commenters also follow the footsteps of the author in their general view of the competitiveness between the religions.

Somehow all this does not make any sense to me.  I have not read the Gurbani.  I am not an expert or even a basic student of Sikh scriptures.  I know Sikh Gurus in how they lived their lives from their stories and what they said in whatever little I have heard.

I find nothing but the Eternal Truth in their words.  Sikhism’s greatest gift was to illustrate the verity of Karma and Devotion via the lives of actual living humans.

Just like Nanak or other Gurus, countless Rishis and Yogis also spoke the Eternal Truth.  There is no competition in it.

Eternal Truth is one.  It was the Truth when there was no Nanak.  It was the Truth when he was there.  It is still there when there is no Sikh Guru in his physical form.

One can be better that other, if one is giving something more important or more “Truth”.  The Truth that one talks of in this context has no “levels” or Grades.  It is All or None.  Either one is established in Truth.  Or one is not.

Somehow for the followers of Enlightened Masters, it has become very important to show their Master’s “Unique-ness”.  It is a way to get distinctive by proxy.  If my Guru is the Greatest, then I become great as well.  We all fall prey to this kind of thing.

Except that the Gurus and Masters – the real ones – aren’t in that race.  Yes, there are incidents of Masters who aren’t even Enlightened acting as the “Real Thing”, which one can’t discount in any sphere of life.  But between two Realized Masters, there is no competition.

I have always seen Hinduism as an Ocean.  An ocean which was created by and which in turn touched every shore and had every kind of wave and life possible in it.  Every way to the ultimate was researched, tried out and perfected.  Some liked one way and used it to its fullest and promoted that.  Others went for another way.  Hinduism is not a stock.  It is a flow.  Dharma is what the search was for Indians prior to the advent of Religion on our shores.  And everyone realized that Dharma is Eternal or Sanatan.  That is why the “Path” to Realization or God was always known as “Sanatan Dharma”.  The adjective is redundant.  It is like saying Blue Sky.  Sky is Blue.  But for the uninitiated it was important to bring out the distinction.  Just as Guru Nanak Dev expressed the same truth in his Japji very clearly.

No matter what way one selected, the ultimate aim was always to know one’s own “Essence”.  All the wisdom, all the words, all the Vedas and all the Granths do not themselves give you liberation.  They prepare – if you are receptive and open enough – you so you can be ready and seek it yourself.

Guru Nanak Dev also had a way.  He also perfected it and used it to raise many to a Full life.  Whether he used the components that had been used before or he came up with his own innovations is a moot point.  The important point is that he did what very few are capable of doing.

Interestingly, I have not come across a single Master who has hailed the scriptures.  Yet everyone of them borrows from them and quotes them, knowing it to be the building blocks of Truth.  Every one of them, without exception.  Even more, after not giving enough importance to the scriptures, the Masters have gone on to give their own wisdom, which became scriptural books unto themselves.

So, are all the Masters schizophrenic?

Or were they trying to tell us something that we have not completely grasped?

When a Nanak or a Krishna says that Vedas will not take you to the Ultimate (Yes, both say so in their message very clearly).  Are they denigrating the Vedas?  Or are they trying to convey the uselessness of words, if they haven’t penetrated your defenses of self-illusion?

Yes, Vedas for normal people are of no use.  If you do with them what you have been doing, then they are of no use.  For the Vedas to become the gateway to the Ultimate, everything about you must change.

It is possible that reading of Vedas may bring you to that point.  But for that, certain change should occur in you.  If that has not happened, then Vedas are useless.  Even a Guru is useless.  If Vedas can’t awaken you, then how can a Granth?

No amount of wisdom, no words, however lofty can get one to Realization.  Only knowing one’s essence can.  (See the extract from Japji below, where the precept is clearly spelled out in a rather logical step by step argument).

Unfortunately, just as we use Vedas or a Guru Granth Sahib or Gita as a night time read, we use a Guru as an Entertainment channel.

Not only we can’t help behaving so, but we – short of any self-worth – want to use the scriptures and the Gurus to assign some worth to our selves.

Lack of self realization and honesty of spiritual purpose in tact, we cannot do better.

I am not talking of Sikhism in particular, but in general.  We all have failed our Gurus and our Sages in many ways.  We can’t seem to understand them and want to create a unique pedestal for them, little realizing that their entire lives went about in their attempt to be all inclusive and all encompassing.  If they were to stand apart and be unique, then any way to be all-encompassing and inclusive would not have happened.

You can’t include everyone in you, while you want to be different.  You have to BE everyone and everything to include them.

So, those who are all encompassing are not ordinary – but more ordinary (Extra ordinary) than most of us.  They are so ordinary, that they include everyone’s life in them.  And that inclusiveness ironically stems from their Enlightened Realization of their One-ness (Ordinariness that is Extra over the rest) with everything.

 


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