Sikh Philosophy And Religion
‘Sikh Philosophy And Religion’ is the second edition of Nirmal Kumar’s 11th Guru Nanak Memorial Lectures to the Punjabi University, revised and updated. A brilliant and very useful Glossary of 21 pages has been added to this new edition, which lucidly explains the keywords to Sikh learning.
The translations done by the author of some of the songs in the Guru Grantha Sahib, composed by the Gurus and other saints, are born of love, profound knowledge and dedication. They have the power to instantly bring the core of the Guru’s message to the reader.
The book has been divided in six chapters – Approach to Heritage, The Real, Love, The Unreal, The Discipline and Revolt against their Times. They have been further subdivided into 23 topics, to facilitate the readers, so they can grasp the gist of the Guru’s ideas about subjects that have ever been of interest to humanity. It is a comprehensive work. The ideas, in spite of being profound, have been explained with precision, clarity and reasoning. The style shows that the work is born of a thorough integration of inspiration and study.
The concept of Viniyoga that runs in Indian thought parallel to the concept of Yoga could not have been made simpler for the benefit of the lay reader and the researchers, alike. In recent years, writers have shown commendable interest in Yoga of the individual soul with the Divine – the common theme of all Indian schools of philosophy. The scholars have not paid attention to the discipline of Viniyoga, which was of even more interest than Yoga to the Gurus. Yoga means a total union of the imperfect soul, which has been wandering through several incarnations due to the load of its ignorance, with the perfect Divine Light, suddenly and instantly. Viniyoga means unity of the less illuminated with the fully blossomed. This union is the union of the unequal. It retains the humility, imperfection and individuality of the soul and yet allows its union with the WaheGuru. It can be attained, according to the Gurus, by the uplifting power of true love. The ignorant devotee can aspire to unite with theWaheGuru, who is both the fully blossomed love and the fully blossomed knowledge. His Nirvana consists of getting a seat in the assembly of saints in Gyankhanda, where the individual can get further illuminated under the direct rays of the WaheGuru, to get rid of ignorance and attain a closer union with the Divine Light, after dispelling its ignorance. The soul that has attained the Gyankhanda is free to come down to earth to help other struggling souls, and attain a still higher liberation through noble and selfless deeds, i.e. Shubha Karma. It has not yet attained total union with the WaheGuru. Here the soul that is already on the path of total liberation, in the light of the WaheGuru, can experience the blossoming of another lotus in its heart, more luminous than the earlier one. It is here that it hears the divine music, the Nad Anahad. It ascends to a higher state of the liberation of the soul – The Sachkhand. Here, having conquered its ignorance, the soul rises higher to get totally merged in theWaheGuru, the Nirankar Purusha.
Love is of paramount importance in Sikhism. It is even more important than knowledge. Even the warriors and the knights in Sikhism are expected not to forget, even in the frenzy of war, that they are fighting for the conquest of love. Even in war, he is not supposed to aim at senseless massacre of the enemy. The author has etched out this unique concept of a true warrior, who does not submit to cruelty even in war.
Even the love of a couple in this world is of supreme importance to the Gurus. They never degraded it, due to its sexual content. The author has shed light on this aspect to tell the ordinary householders that, according to the Gurus, a couple true in love to each other needed nothing more to attain Nirvana. This revolutionary idea of the Gurus only emphasizes the need to tell the people that the nuptial knot is a discipline that takes to Nirvana, only if the two remain sincere to each other.
It is a delightful work that projects Sikhism as a true mirror of the wisdom and wonder that India is.