image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Vaisakhi 1699: The High Point of Guru Nanak Jote-Jugat Mission - (Part I: Introduction)

      In Sikhi tradition the Guru Jote (Divine Light) was in Guru Nanak Sahib. Jugat was the way or the method for Sikhi living shown by the Guru. He laid down the foundation of Sikh ideology and institutions on the three pillars of Sikhi living: Naam Japo, Kirat Karo & Wand Shako (Constant Waheguru remembrance while living an honest and productive life, and sharing with those in need).

      Thus, started the Guru tuition period of Sikhi living from 1469 to Vaiskahi 1699. As we celebrate the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Parkaash this year we trace the progress of the Guru Jote-Jugat from Guru Nanak Sahib to the emergence of the Khalsa in 1699. I propose to devote a few columns to this important topic leading on to Vaisakhi 2019 celebration in April. Some repetition is unavoidable and maybe even desirable.

The challenges which Sikh ideology, institutions and distinct theo-political Qaumi identity face, are many. In Sikhi, Jote is the Divine Light (the Universal Spirit) and Jugat the way. It is the guiding principle in Sikhi living or the Sikh reht (code of conduct). Jote and Jugat go together and manifest as the Miri-Piri (temporal-spiritual) twin track Sikh way of life. Sikhs are guided by the teachings enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib as interpreted by the lives of the Ten Guru-persons from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh. Jote-Jugat is an unbroken continuity in Sikh tradition from Guru Nanak Sahib through the nine other Guru-persons who followed, to Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

For the above reason, Gurbani interpretation is only possible with reference to the Sikhi reht lived by the Ten Guru persons. There are attempts to separate Sri Guru Granth Sahib from the lives of Ten Guru Sahiban and the collective interpretation of Gurbani by the Guru Roop Khalsa Panth. Such attempts by the hi-jackers of Sikhi &ndash an apt expression coined by Dr Karminder Singh of Malaysia - are divisive and dangerous.

Those who hold that Sikhi(sm) is a religion only that the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib are universal and that they prefer to follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib only, tend to deny the interpretation of Gurbani in our practical lives. That interpretation of Gurbani into lived Sikhi was done by the Guru-persons and the Guru Khalsa Panth with great sacrifices. The Sikh Reht Maryada is the interpretation of Gurbani into a Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions as the final outcome of Jote-Jugat twin track approach to Sikhi. Denying the Sikh Reht Maryada amounts to denial of Guru and Khalsa history (ithaas) and tradition.

The collective authority for correct interpretation of Gurbani resides in Guru Roop Khalsa Panth. That authority was bestowed on the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh. The approach to the interpretation of Gurbani is holistic with reference to ALL the Bani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Otherwise, selective quotations of Gurbani to suit own thinking (manmat) lead to divisive gurudoms and deras at one extreme and self-appointed interpreters of Gurbani and Sikhi according to own biases at the other extreme. (Continued next week)

Gurmukh Singh OBE