Exploring the Sublime

Thank you for your sharing of thoughts. Mostly mastak seems to be used in gurbani along with bhag suggesting a sense of destined or pre ordained. A lot of these references would also seem to suggest that nadar is preordained; though that is not precluding prabh milea kail kilali possibilities.

I can only fathom that in the infinite permutations of paap, punn; gun, avgun; gian, agyan; budhimani, moorakhta; awareness, innocence et al the mastak bhag in a way defines our potential as a projection from our past. Our uddam, our seva and Gur kirpa, which can be momentary, when it pleases the Guru, plays out into this. Mas+tak is an interesting aside; depends how we break the word though possibly gurbani seems easier to grasp contextually rather than by grammatical analysis at least to a less lettered person like me. It is always educative to listen to your multi pronged search.

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Gurmeet ji. Thank you for a thoughtful analysis to unravel the mystery surrounding the path to liberation and our understanding of naam jaap.  We somehow continue to see naam jaap as one structured way. Innocent love and deep longing are a form of naam jaap. Gurus say that Akal Purakh is hungry for the devotee’s love and devotion – the expression is suggested [naam jaap] but not really in a prescriptive style. In Basant M V, p. 1192 Guru Arjan says – dhha(n)nai saeviaa baal budhh  thrilochan gur mil bhee sidhh – Dhanna served the Lord, with the innocence of a child whereas meeting with the Guru, Trilochan attained the perfection of the Siddhas.

If you read the entire shabad carefully you marvel at the variety of devotion that found divine acceptance. None has been decried – in fact the Guru says that – jih anugrahu t(h)aakur keeou aap  sae thai(n) leenae bhagath raakh  thin kaa gun avagan n beechaariou koe  eih bidhh dhaekh man lagaa saev – O my Lord and Master, You have shown Your Mercy to them. You saved those devotees. You do not take their merits and demerits into account. Seeing these ways of Yours, I have dedicated my mind to Your service. Gurmat promotes a strong theology of hope that encourages the path of sevna or seva from wherever one’s starting point may be. If there is earnestness in your seva it will likely find acceptance. The Guru is not trying to bind us down. Charan dhoe dhoe peena or khandai dhaar pahul peevan – both should enhance love for the divine and live in His hukam. These are covenants offering hope and inspiration for a devotee – not just vows of abiding by a code of living.

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Guru Nanak said gaveeai suneeai man rakheeai bhao and this tuk perhaps sums up the essence of his message for the seeking human. It is the state of internalisation that is the ultimate. Pondering, expanding our level of awareness and living by the precept is part of this process.  This is the stage where we are able to envision the glory and aesthetic beauty of the Divine. Vismad, khera, anand, naam khumari is to my mind a state of higher awareness above that of critical acceptance; inclusive, loving state of understanding righteousness. The same sense seems to emerge from dharam, gian, saram and karam khands.

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Thank you Charan Singh ji. I always find your reverential renditions very inspiring. I agree the subject of jorvay akhar or pad chhed is a separate issue and opens up much deeper issues – better left alone for now. You are right there is a resonance connection the way words are rolled over in music. That as you know is an area of improvisation by the musician – it again tends to focus the listener on a part and sort of transport consciousness to that ras. I have experienced different emotions listening to the same shabad by different ragis – it could be reflective of my different state of mind but also possibly how the Guru’s message was conveyed by the ragi. So there are and can be several intriguing potentialities.

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I agree with Charan Singh ji that our most important heritage is Guru Granth Sahib. Having said that let me venture that this heritage is the one that, the Gurus said, only grows by its spending.

Gurbani will be preserved and persevere if read, understood, lived, shared but wither away if it is preserved as preservation is understood. Darsan perhaps is not merely a vision of the akhar – jorvay or pad ched– but is envisioning the shabd within. This darsan is available to all hearts aching for it, of the blind included.

Preserving the likes of Akal Takht may have different meaning. As symbolic of the concept and guiding principle of miri-piri it imposes upon us the onus to understand the principles of miri-piri  and how to relate these to life. This has two clear aspects – how miri-piri influences our individual responses and how it is intended to affect our communal lives. I do not think we are clear about either. Next as a symbol of historical significance and memory aid Akal Takht has value and that is eminently served by it and all other preserved articles – buildings, weapons, dresses, birs and the like. Memory aids have also been built into our liturgy.

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In Sikh parlance panch doot are clearly identified and often appear conjointly in gurbani. At times their truncated versions are employed with sprinkling of other vices like ninda etc substituting. Kam and karodh mostly appear together in the manner two k’s of vices. In life too there is a nexus between the two.

Gurbani use of kam dominantly is in relation to libido. For desire that is at the root of all vices, the word trisna is used. There is no suggestion of kam as a means of realization of inner self. Any such inference about dominance of the self should therefore be carefully thought through. Significantly haumain and trisna often are used in tandem and indeed should have such a relationship being the drivers and instruments of our thoughts and action choices. Both are needed and both must be redirected guruward through Guru’s grace for mera man lochai gurdarsan taaeen is also an expression of desire but of union with the divine and such union is not rooted in libido.

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Kulwant ji, it could not be said better – Parkash of Guru Granth Sahib at Hemkunt makes it Baaekunth! Let that spirit rise in us and continue to inspire us. It is that kind of core belief in their Christian ethos that led to the great expressions you find in the European art, in great discoveries in space and science. It was the same kind of shared depth of devotion that helped create the great ancient sites associated with Hindus, Jains and Budhhists we see all over South Asia and even beyond. Human resolve comes through deep convictions rooted in a set of beliefs and a personal sense of the spiritual that may have infinite diverse expressions – the saphal being jo bhavai tudh bhagwanta.

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Thank you Madho Singh ji. You certainly have experienced peace and harmony practicing what you say – it is visible from your expression. I still am not quite on the same page though – may be several pages behind – so I seek your indulgence.

Now you say ‘Actually whole brahmand is all Parmatma and the breath is Parmatma entering your body in inhale. In exhale, you fall into Parmatma. You experience all that after you fully become one with the breath. You be with the breath. Dissolve in breath. Drown in breath.  Think nothing but breath. Why all that? Because breath is a miniature model of life or Parmatma.’

I agree that parmatma is pervading all the brahmand. I also accept that people who have practiced breathing-related disciplines have had success in enhancing concentration and even greater control over their body functions. There are several schools promoting such practices presently as also going back in time. I personally however have not pursued these methods. Now to my question – at your stage of progress along this path you see that breath is everything – breath is parmatma. Guru says – saakath niraguniaariaa aapanaa mool pashhaan rakath bindh kaa eihu thano aganee paas piraan pavanai kai vas dhaehuree masathak sach neesaan – You worthless, faithless cynic-recognize your own origin! This body is made of blood and semen. It shall be consigned to fire in the end. The body is under the power of breath, according to the True Sign inscribed upon your forehead [Sri Rag M I, p. 63]. This suggests that while breath does exercise power over our body, breath itself is constrained by the divine writ. Can we then call breath equal to or model of parmatma? Also since breath is mini parmatma, is focusing on the process of breathing [a biological process going on effortlessly, at least most of the time, as willed by God under hukam], the same as Sikh understanding of the stage of being connected with the divine within us?

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To my understanding the status of Guruship is total, complete and makes no distinction based on who wrote it. The compositions of Bhagats are preceded often by bani of — more likely for editorial necessity. Gurus have talked of khasam ki bani and sachi bani. The latter is understood to have been intended for creating awareness about many compositions being circulated as look alikes by detractors of the Gurus. It stands to reason to conclude that what was included in the Granth passed the kasvati of doctrine and purpose Gurus had in mind.  I think the character of Granth should inspire us to understand the Guru’s message in its broad canvas relevant to a life in grihast. This is not to suggest any compromises – only to be able to relate to diversity surrounding us in a harmonious manner.

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I had some time back presented a paper on Contentment based on Sikh thought and Muslim teachings for an international conference. I would be glad to send the full text including notes and references to those interested. I do want to say that I did not see tripti as a cause for dubidha in my search of both streams of spiritual thought. The only dubidha could be the continuing challenges that life poses – for as I seem to have concluded then ‘the contented are not content to be content’ may sound like a riddle but possibly has some truth.

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Kulwant ji, it could not be said better – Parkash of Guru Granth Sahib at Hemkunt makes it Baaekunth! Let that spirit rise in us and continue to inspire us. It is that kind of core belief in their Christian ethos that led to the great expressions you find in the European art, in great discoveries in space and science. It was the same kind of shared depth of devotion that helped create the great ancient sites associated with Hindus, Jains and Budhhists we see all over South Asia and even beyond. Human resolve comes through deep convictions rooted in a set of beliefs and a personal sense of the spiritual that may have infinite diverse expressions – the saphal being jo bhavai tudh bhagwanta.

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I think Rabinder ji’s understanding of karma and avagavan is correct.  The totality of Sikh thought encompassing spiritual pursuit even as actively engaged in the worldly life cannot be explained absent this concept without losing its moral and ethical anchor. I have called it closing the loop in another message. I see the question of atma, parmatma a part of the same totality of thought.

At the same time issue of narak swarg raised by Gurmukh ji needs elaboration and so does the difference in Sikh thought from the traditional Indian thought on karma, be it Hindu, Budhhist or any other. The latter is driving this slant in Sikh view as an argument to buttress anekta.

The rationalists and scientists are also pursuing it but their thought still seems only at a conjectural stage as I could gauge on another forum. My hope is that they will eventually find it difficult to tie loose ends and not being able to close the loop, review their positions.

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