image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Guru Nanak Parkash 550 series: Sikhi is Practical Spirituality

   This week, I have picked up mainly two points for comment from a scholarly paper by Brig. Rawel Singh. The heading is Guru Nanak&rsquos concept of Practical Spirituality through Truthful living. Indeed, the Sikhi preached by Guru Nanak Sahib is practical spirituality. The same concept is expressed through the twin track Miri-Piri (temporal-spiritual) approach of Sikhi living evolved by the Guru Jot-Jugat over the Guru period from 1469 to 1708.

According to S Rawel Singh, this path of practical spirituality shown by Guru Nanak kills the dichotomy of spiritual and secular lives being different as there are no dogmas, rituals or superstitions. Dichotomy means division into two mutually exclusive parts -simply, two separate parts. Guru Nanak Sahib brought physical living and spiritual living (aatm ki reht) together as a whole-life system. While living an active life, a Sikh remembers and conforms to Naam or virtues and commands of the Almighty. Therefore, the religious path of Guru Nanak is that of practical spirituality.

Guru Nanak made heaven and hell meaningless. For a Sikh heaven is constant God awareness and abiding by His Hukam while living an active life of service, and hell is God forgetfulness while living a self-centred life of lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. We should conduct ourselves by Naam which is the other name for Divine commands or the laws of nature.

Practical spirituality through truthful living is also at the core of the concept of the Sikh doctrine of Double Sovereignty well described by Sirdar Kapur Singh in his essay: The Golden Temple: Its theo-political status (SGPC August 1998). The essence of the doctrine is that a man of religion must always owe his primary allegiance to Truth and morality and he must never submit to the claim of the secular []]or any] state to govern the bodies and minds of men and the whole of subsequent Sikh History must be seen as an unfoldment of this Sikh attitude, if it is to be properly understood.

S. Rawel Singh believes that Guru Nanak found no difference between basics of various faiths&hellip&hellipThe scriptures were written by their followers who tried to glorify their founders and tried to show that God likes only their religion. Yet, it is true that Guru Nanak rejected all that was practised in the name of religion in his day.

The difficulty here is to accept that Guru Nanak found no difference between basics of various faiths (S Rawel Singh). Dr J S Grewal wrote something along the lines that Guru Nanak rejected all that he saw being practised in the name of religion. Guru ji then gave His own interpretation of the basics of religions.

Maybe the difference between Sikhi and other main religions is that Sikhs can always cross-check actual practice against the Original Scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Other religions do have a problem in that respect when seeking their basic teachings because there is no original Source. The challenge today is that much that is practised in the name of religion is the cause of never ending global conflicts. Scholars need to re-discover the basics of religion as did Guru Nanak Sahib.

Gurmukh Singh OBE