Precepts-Related

There are two numbers that are associated in Gurbani [and in most religious thought] with God – Ek and anant, agant or one and infinite.  Both apart from conveying specific numerical sense in common parlance are also the shared symbolism for the very unique, incomprehensive-able Divine power.

Transcendent is associated with ek and immanent with anek, even anant.  Whether this happens through division or divine ability to expand and retract is in the realm of conjecture but the concept explains the Guru’s thought on the way the Divine is both karta and bhugta. The state of sunya, or nothingness, is not zero but another expression for an infinite void.

But if we want to play with numbers, 1 divided by zero is infinity and if divided by infinity the result is accepted as zero. Infinity is not just one set – any subset of infinity is also infinite. Infinite therefore is infinitely divisible and shunya is not quite the zero we think. Extending mathematical analysis may not add to our comprehension of God as we accept it but presents some interesting insights into how early metaphysical thought may have influenced.

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Jagjit* ji is right provided we have a clarity on what constitutes the sangat. Gurdwaras have several enclosures and different activities go on separately in them. That is a common practice. If by sangat we mean all within the larger precinct of the Gurdwara, this practice can be faulted but if it is associated with each enclosure, then there is no reason for raus.

The situation gets even murkier when we envision a nagar kirtan – multiple activities, with fluid flow of devotees and tamashais between them. Is sangat only a body of devotees sitting in an enclosure or those who are in a mobile mode are included.  How about the Palki aagman situation at Darbar Sahib – is it one sangat inside, outside and in between and how many concurrent liturgical activities are going on.

I submit that the problem in this case is not two activities in one sangat but the activity that in terms of its liturgical importance is considered more sacrosanct was relegated to another smaller enclosure so that kirtan may proceed in the main hall.  This kind of practice is common in the Diaspora especially when akhand path is being conducted in the main hall and for that period all other activities are carried out in makeshift enclosures.

*Jagjit Singh is a Delhi based author. His publications include ‘The Sikh Tree’.

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Gurtej ji said in response to Gurmeet ji’s observation “However I did not find anything in support of ‘japna‘, ‘dhiyana‘, ‘simarna‘ as mentioned by you.”

To me also such stages do not seem to be evident from gurbani. Gurbani approach is holistic, multi dimensional, growth in spiritual understanding as one dwells on naam as it pervades all around, not just a word or phrase and ponders over it and tries to live by it in the light of one’s evolving understanding of hukam.

I would not dissuade any body from naam jaap the way it is commended by Gurmeet ji and some others but would hesitate in suggesting it as the norm. The reason is that if we do it, it may soon become like yoga with its own rigor in observance rituals. I also wonder if all of us who ritualistically recite Banis daily find the practice helpful in understanding the Banis or promoting khoj and veechar. Committing to memory and ability to recall does help khoj and veechar but daily recitation – I am not sure. There is another factor too. If naam jaap as it is being promoted now were the intent of Gurbani, the tradition would have had some elements that point to that understanding by the sangat.

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We may also remember that the number of vaaks or hukams that we may read per SRM tradition is very finite. A sampling can be seen in the work of K S Duggal’s book Guruvak [UBSPD 1999]. Guru’s vaak cannot be circumscribed as finite. Guru is infinite. He is always ‘nava niroa‘. He never becomes ‘purana‘ and that infinite ever newness happens in our consciousness the way we receive and grasp the message in our evolving consciousness and the reality of our temporal life.

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The differences of opinion between Virinder ji and Kulbir ji have come up for some comments from our fellow members. Madho Singh ji made a comment intended to put a stop to the acrimony addressed to Kulbir Singh. Jodh Singh, Kirpal Singh and Parminder Singh have spoken about the learning value that they have found in the various write ups circulated by Virender ji. Charan Singh has talked of the learning he has seen in the writings of both Virinder Singh and Kulbir Singh.

I had no intention of intervening but feel compelled to share some perspectives. I think our internal attempt at scotching acrimony is a mature response by a group because all said and done intervention by moderators should be rare if at all needed. Though for those of us who have been participating in these forums, such instances were there.

The question however that is important to me is to try and understand what may be at the root of this divide. I am not sure if the responses we have witnessed give an indication of that. For this we may have to look back into the writings of both these participants on GLZ and also Sikh Diaspora in case of Virinder ji. There is a major ideological divide that separates the two. My sense is that beneath the veneer of his very logical and refined writings Kulbir ji believes in the composite of Sikhi that includes bana and bani. Virinder ji on the other hand has been very vocal about the futility of bana and even though he has moderated his writing of late, the sub text in his writings continues to be that, now presented using words like spirituality, sabd guru says etc.

I do believe that both Kulbir ji and Virinder ji have a deep sense of piety. Both have contributed to our discussions and in their own ways enriched them.  Possibly both have served the community through their activism. And yes both have love and respect for gurbani. But they do seem to have different view of praxis and tradition that makes for their conflicted views.

It is not my intent to bring back an extended debate on bana and what sabd guru says or does not say on the subject. At the same time it is for members to make out what is the message individuals are trying to convey.

The adage that memories are short is true. Also true is the fact that anything if repeated again and again begins to sound like the accepted and shared wisdom. These are the risks inherent in the real world and also in the virtual one. If Deras are doing so well as compared to mainstream Sikhi proponents, and what we are seeing is the dominant expressed view in this divide, our gullibility perhaps goes beyond the villages of Punjab.

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Thank you Madho Singh ji on your exposition on haumai. I can grasp the importance of present moment awareness in our conscious lives but I am rather intrigued by your remark that ‘One of the most important factor of our ego is our bondedness with the concept of time, past, present and future with absolutely no significance given to the present. For an average person it is almost nonexistent, which in reality, is the domain of the Divine.’

Haumai is a continuing influence on our thoughts, positions and actions. Apart from ruminating over them or planning ahead, the actual manifestation of state of our haumai takes place in the present. This momentarily becomes past and the continuum leads into the future. This continuum plays into developing an understanding on haumai and how it influences our temporal pursuits and spiritual search.  If we fail to connect with the divine within, could it be that our haumai is not yet transformed enough rather than it is inactive in the present or insensitive about the importance of present. May be you would like to elaborate it a bit further. The Guru also says – theerathh naae n outharas mail karam dhharam sabh houmai fail lok pachaarai gath nehee hoe naam bihoonae chalasehi roe – Bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, filth is not washed off.  Religious rituals are all just egotistical displays. Pleasing and appeasing people saves no one. Without Naam, they shall depart weeping – Ramkali M V, p. 890. Could this discipline of awareness, absent linkage with naam, help us to discover the divine within? Would it not likely suffer from the same limitations that constrain karam dharam?

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Thank you Charan ji for expounding further by saying ‘It is this Jio we connect with rather than Prana, (the given name of a self, the senses, the budh, the intellect etc.)’

I understand that this is the inner divine presence or divine light, or divine spark or inner divinity that we try to connect with in all our spiritual pursuit.

I also tend to think that human propensity to be not aware of the act of breathing is part of hukam. This like so many other body functions goes on per its own cycle/rhythm and thus leaves the human the ability to live a life engaging with outside of his/her own self [physical & spiritual] rather than be self focused in an inversion of narcissism.

Body the Gurus say is the microcosm of the universe and jiv atma is the microscopic divine spark. We know that visible diversity exists in the form and therefore each form has its own unique blend of external manifestation and internal processes – in other words the hukam as it operates within the diversity has a universal component and a tailored component. The soul also has its own universal divine origin but gets surrounded by haumain and carried over janam janam ki mail [demerits accumulated over incarnations] plus residual karma that makes it unique. Our individual identity is a composite of the both plus what is received, transmitted and acquired.

Inner divinity is ensconed within this envelope, which is lodged in the body and draws relevance, identity and opportunity to transform only in this setting with the body part playing its role – as a facilitator of the worldly attachment and also spiritual yearning. This makes this inner need get linked to the continuity and discontinuity that is part of hukam – the ongoing life struggle where the dominant play is of life being born and lost in our midst everyday.

My sense is that we have to understand haumai in this total context. It influences, guides and controls our action choices in all endeavor. Gurmukhs are blessed with nadar and their haumain is transformed i.e. becomes congruent with or aligned to hukam and reza. There should be total harmony in the way a Gurmukh’s life plays out. That harmony is inner harmony; yet outer manifestation of conflict or painful temporal position could be righteously necessary for hukam to prevail. This is the difference that separates the Sikh concept – sant/sipahi from the sant only.

To connect with the inner Self is a universal urge. The paths to it can be and are different. I laud the effort to explain haumain in the context of the current wave of present moment awareness. My only submission is that let us find a wholesome explanation. I would have liked to dwell also on manmukh and bharamaya hoa jiv in this context but we have to catch a flight going back from CA to the East Coast. I thank you and Madho Singh ji for your interest and continued effort to help us all understand better.

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