Implementaion of Enternal Message of Guru Granth Sahib in Context of Solving Universal Human Problems of Modern Age.
Dr. Jaspal Kaur Kaang
In my research paper, I have approached Sri Guru Granth Sahib from the two points of view: theoretical and practical. On the theoretical side, it has been explained at length with the quotes from Gurbaani how Sri Guru Granth Sahib offers solutions for all the maladies arising out of the different aspects of modern life-style and presents a way out of the prevailing tensions which has over-powered the psyche of modern man and has emerged as a universal problem for whole of the humanity around the world. On the practical side, the actual impact of teachings enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib was assessed through the two-year Major Research Project allotted to me by the University Grant Commission, Govt. of India. During the course of the project, implementation of Gurbaani teachings at various situations were made and the impact was studied and documented in a very scientific manner. The results achieved were highly encouraging, thus, proving that implementation of Gurbaani teachings can play a pivotal role in providing solutions to the human problems in various fields. It was seen that such an implementation leads to creating harmony in the innerself and the outside world and ultimately creates environment of happiness and tranquility for the human beings.
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Body of Paper
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ETERNAL MESSAGE OF SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB IN THE CONTEXT OF SOLVING HUMAN PROBLEMS AT THE UNIVERSAL LEVEL
JASPAL KAUR KAANG
Professor of Guru Nanak Sikh Studies
Panjab University Chandigarh
The Paper is mainly focused on the relevance of the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in solving the problems being faced by human beings beyond the limitations of time, space, caste, culture, colour and creed. However, a note on the genesis of Sikh faith is given at the beginning followed by a brief description of the composition of Sikh scripture revered as Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Thereafter, the problems being faced by human beings around the globe are enumerated and a few quotes out of Gurbani have been reproduced in order to emphasize the applicability of the teachings enshrined therein to various situations of human life. Lastly, details of the study conducted during a research Project sanctioned by the University Grants Commission of India to the writer of this Paper on the subject of Gurbani teachings, have been briefly mentioned. The results of the study clearly indicate how Sri Guru Granth Sahib offers universal solutions to all the kind of problems human beings have been facing from time to time.
Sikhism was not initially launched as a religious institution, it was, actually, a movement of revolutionary reformation, not focusing on any particular sect or a single social aspect, it was devoted to the overall development of a human being and reorientation of social set-up in its totality. Addressed as it was to the whole of the humanity, it needed a pretty long duration to express itself completely. As if it were pre-planned, it took nine more generations of leaders and devout followers extending over more than two centuries to preach and demonstrate what Guru Nanak stood for. While going through history, one finds it hard to believe how formidable odds, unparalleled in the world, all the Sikh Gurus and their devotees had to face while upholding the cause set forth by Guru Nanak. Followers of Guru Nanak and those of other Sikh Gurus were known initially as Gurmukhs (those devoted to God). Later Gurmukh was assigned the epithet of Sikh (the one engaged in learning) because the latter term appeared frequently in the verses composed by the Gurus and the other saintly poets. In due course of time the movement got institutionalized as a faith and it came to be known as religion of Sikhs or simply as ‘Sikhism’.
Sikhism is, no doubt, the faith most modern in outlook, philosophy and tenets as conceived, practiced and preached by Guru Nanak, other Sikh Gurus in the lineage and their true followers. The philosophical concepts as propagated and practiced by the Sikh Gurus over a period of more than two centuries have a universal appeal and potential for practical applicability in human life in all parts of the world and for all times to come. In fact, tenets as espoused by Guru Nanak form the basis for Sikh teachings and whole of the edifice of the philosophy of the only Sikh scripture Holy Granth reverberates with the underlying spirit of these tenets.
ABOUT SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB
Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, declared that the Holy Granth of Sikhism would be the next and perennial Guru of the Sikhs.The Holy Granth was originally compiled in 1604 CE by Guru Arjan the fifth in the hierarchy. Original compilation included writings by five Sikh Gurus and 30 other learned personages. Originally called ‘pothi’, later it came to be known as ‘AdiGranth’. Guru Gobind Singh added Guru Tegh Bahadur’s verses to it and the revised version came to be known as ‘Damdami Bir’. Finally, it has come to be revered as ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’ (S.G.G.S.).
Present Bir (text of S.G.G.S.), running into 1430 pages, was adopted from the hand-written Birs prepared in the 19th century CE. Taken together, all the verses are called ‘Gurbani’ as the main thrust of these verses is building up faith in God and imbibing ethics out of this faith (the term ‘guru’ or ‘satguru’ is mostly used for God in these verses).Scripted in Gurmukhi, compositions are available chiefly in Panjabi, Sadhukari, Braj or these are mixed expressions. These verses are, further, based on 31 different musical patterns known as ‘ragas’.
The Holy Granth, as a scripture, is a wonderful compilation containing writings of 36 saintly figures who belonged to different regions, different communities, different sects, different professions and different stages of history. In itself it is a unique example of human tolerance, emotional integration and mutual understanding. The philosophy of Shri Guru Granth Sahib lays stress on adoption of high moral standards at the individual as well as social levels. Firm faith in benevolent God was developed in the face of oppressive feudalism, in contrast with cunningness and selfishness of the priestly class, people were blessed with humanitarian approach of the Guru; hollow religious rituals were replaced by direct communion with ever merciful God, instead of material cravings high moral values came to be inculcated, redemption for all was stressed and equality between man and man in every respect was vehemently preached when discrimination on different counts was so prevalent in the society . Hegemony of the elite feudal class as well as corrupt priestly classes was challenged boldly. Even voice was raised against different kinds of social evils.
All of the verses forming part of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, known collectively as Gurbani, contain thoughts which fall in line with the ideas propounded by Guru Nanak. A true Sikh is supposed to put the teachings contained in the Holy Granth in to actual practice in his or her life. This, for a Sikh, is the only way of worshipping God. The only rite Sikh religion prescribes for the devout is choral singing of hymns contained in the Holy Granth.
Main theme of Gurbani is to elevate the moral self of human beings through faith in God. God of Gurbani is formless and non-personal being manifest in whole universe and the laws governing it. For human beings, surrender to god’s being and universal laws (hukam) is the foundation of all ethics.ultimate aim of Gurbani is to enable a human being work for attaining the position of being ‘sachiar’, a really truthful person.
Although compiled in the medieval period of Indian lore, Sri Guru Granth Sahib has relevance in the context of modern people living not only in India but also for the whole mankind across the globe. All the human beings irrespective of their countries and colors are, today, face to face with similar problems born out of situations created chiefly by the modern life-style, intra-communal tensions and disturbances taking place vis-à-vis international relations. Moreover, the Holy Granth possesses potential for offering authentic guidance for all times to come and it will serve as a perennial guide for knowing and practicing universal philosophy for the welfare of the mankind at the global level.
Modern age is the age of science and technology but the advancement in the field of technology has affected the human life adversely to a great extent. It has put the mankind in a mad race for enhancing worldly effluence. Today man is engrossed in cut-throat competition with his fellow-beings in grabbing opportunities for acquiring maximum material possessions and comforts. In fact a sense of greed has overpowered his psyche and has robbed him of peace, happiness and self-control. Not only this, man can be seen adopting unfair means and criminal acts in order to fulfil his greedy designs. As a result crime and corruption have vitiated the whole social network leading to avoidable tensions and restlessness. People are losing tolerance fast and tensions are on the rise at the intra-communal and international levels. Erosion of ethical values and principles is the hall-mark of modern life and it results directly out of the peculiar life-style people around the world have adopted in all parts of the world.
Moreover, the modern life-style has spoiled the food habits of the people. Junk food, adulterated food, chemicals added to the food or fertilizers and pesticides used while growing fruit, vegetables, and other crops are not only proving harmful for human health but are also leading to various diseases in humans as well as cattle. Use of intoxicants and drugs is increasing day by day and is proving instrumental in squabbles and disturbances at personal and social levels. Use of modern gadgets such as computers, mobile phones and other machinery is also proving a big hazard for human health both physical and mental. Environment pollution is on the increase and it is affecting the human life everywhere in multiple ways
The modern life-style has also led to alienation and insecurity not only at the individual level but also at the national and international levels. On the one side all the countries are striving for forging unity through the U N O but at the same time regional polarization is also emerging in the shape of groupings such as G-20, G-8, SAARC, BRICS, ASEAN etc.
TEACHINGS OF GURBANI
Teachings of Gurbani have their relevance to the solutions for almost all types of human problems being faced by the humanity in the modern times. Gurbani highlights the modern trend of craving for more and more of material possessions quite appropriately:
ਦਸ ਬਸਤੂ ਲੇ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਾਵੈ ।।ਏਕ ਬਸਤੁ ਕਾਰਨਿ ਬਿਖੋਟ ਗਵਾਵੈ ।।
ਏਕ ਭੀ ਨਾ ਦੇਇ ਦਸ ਭੀ ਹਿਰਿ ਲੇਇ ।।ਤਉ ਮੂੜਾ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਾ ਕਰੇਇ ।।(P. 268)
Ḏas basṯū le pācẖẖai pāvai. Ėk basaṯ kāran bikẖot gavāvai.
Ėk bẖī na ḏe▫e ḏas bẖī hir le▫e. Ŧa▫o mūṛā kaho kahā kare▫i.
Gurbani advises that it is only through developing contentment that man can overcome his greed for material possessions.
ਅਨਿਕਭੋਗ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਕੇ ਕਰੈ।। ਨਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਵੈ ਖਪਿ ਖਪਿ ਮਰੈ।।
ਬਿਨਾਸੰਤੋਖ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਜੈ।। ਸੁਪਨ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਬ੍ਰਿਥੇ ਸਭ ਕਾਜੇ।।(P. 279)
Anik bẖog bikẖi▫ā ke karai. Nah ṯaripṯāvai kẖap kẖap marai
Binā sanṯokẖ nahī ko▫ū rājai. Supan manorath barithe sabẖ kājai
Gurbani finds solution to worries in surrendering to the will of God:
ਨਾਨਕਚਿੰਤਾ ਮਤਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਹੇਇ॥
ਜਲਮਹਿ ਜੰਤ ਉਪਾਇਅਨੁ ਤਿਨਾ ਭਿ ਰੋਜੀ ਦੇਇ॥(P. 955)
Nānak cẖinṯā maṯ karahu cẖinṯā ṯis hī he▫e
Jal mėh janṯ upā▫i▫an ṯinā bẖė rojī ḏe▫e.
ਉਦਮ ਕਰੇਦਿਆ ਜੀਉ ਤੂੰ ਕਮਾਵਦਿਆ ਸੁਖ ਭੁੰਚੁ॥
ਧਿਆਇਦਿਆ ਤੁੰ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਮਿਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਉਤਰੀ ਚਿੰਤ॥(P. 522)
Uḏam kareḏi▫ā jī▫o ṯūŉ kamāvḏi▫ā sukẖ bẖuncẖ.
Ḏẖi▫ā▫iḏi▫ā ṯūŉ parabẖū mil Nānak uṯrī cẖinṯ. ||1|
Gurbani exhorts human beings to shun unethical practices and to adopt constructive role in the society:
ਘਾਲਿਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ।।ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ।।(P. 1356)
ਮਿਠਤੁ ਨੀਵੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਗੁਣ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਤਤੁ॥(P. 470)
Miṯẖaṯ nīvī nānkā guṇ cẖang▫ā▫ī▫ā ṯaṯ.
In the same way Gurbani warns human beings against bad habits
ਨਿੰਦਾਭਲੀ ਕਿਸੈ ਕੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੁਗਧ ਕਰੰਨਿ
ਮੁਹਕਾਲੇ ਤਿਨ ਨਿੰਦਕਾ ਨਰਕੇ ਘੋਰਿ ਪਵੰਨਿ॥(P. 755)
Muh kāle ṯin ninḏkā narke gẖor pavann. ||6|
Gurbani takes it very seriously that human beings are suffering from diseases both mental and physical. In this context Gurbani offers the solution thus
Anik upāvī rog na jā▫e. Rog mitai har avkẖaḏẖ lā▫e.
ਸਰਵ ਰੋਗ ਕਾ ਅਉਖਦੁ ਨਾਮੁ॥(P. 274)
Sarab rog kā a▫ukẖaḏ nām.
Gurbani advocates love for environment
ਪਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਧਰਤਿ ਮਹਤੁ॥ (P. 08)
Pavaṇ gurū pāṇī piṯā māṯā ḏẖaraṯ mahaṯ.
ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਵਸਿਆ॥(P. 469)
Balihārī kuḏraṯ vasi▫ā.
In the face of increasing intolerance, hostile attitude, communal polarization, mutual distrust, strained relations and mounting terrorism at the national and international scenes Gurbani puts forth a model of harmonious and balanced social set up
ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ॥ (P. 611)
Ėk piṯā ekas ke ham bārik ṯū merā gur hā▫ī.
ਅਵਲਿ ਅਲਹੁ ਨੂਰੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕੇ ਸਭ ਬੰਦੇ॥
ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ॥ (P.1349)
Aval alah nūr upā▫i▫ā kuḏraṯ ke sabẖ banḏe.
Ėk nūr ṯe sabẖ jag upji▫ā ka▫un bẖale ko manḏe. ||1||
Gurbani has special message for providing woman with equal status with man. It warns man against showing disrespect to woman
ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ॥ (P. 473)
So ki▫o manḏā ākẖī▫ai jiṯ jamėh rājān.
Gurbani emerges as a great champion of human welfare and human rightsas it declares
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਬੁਰੇ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ ਕਰਿ ਗੁਸਾ ਮਨਿ ਨ ਹਢਾਇ॥
ਦੇਹੀ ਰੋਗੁ ਨਾ ਲਗਈ ਪਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਇ॥ (P. 1381)
Farīḏā bure ḏā bẖalā kar gusā man na hadẖā▫e.
ਹਕੁ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਉਸੁ ਸੂਅਰ ਉਸੁ ਗਾਇ॥
ਗੁਰੁ ਪੀਰ ਹਾਮਾ ਤਾ ਭਰੇ ਜਾ ਮੁਰਦਾਰ ਨ ਖਾਇ॥ (P. 141)
Hak parā▫i▫ā nānkā us sū▫ar us gā▫e.
Gur pīr hāmā ṯā bẖare jā murḏār na kẖā▫
Gurbanieven presents teachings which exhort human beings to save themselves from addiction to wine, intoxicantsand other harmful foods:
ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੇ ਤਨ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲੇ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ॥(P.16)
Bābā hor kẖāṇā kẖusī kẖu▫ār
Jiṯ kẖāḏẖai ṯan pīṛī▫ai man mėh cẖalėh vikār. ||1|| rahā▫o
ਮਾਣਸੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਣਿਆ ਮਾਣਸੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਇ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਮਤਿ ਦੂਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਬਰਲੁ ਪਵੈ ਵਿਚ ਆਇ॥
ਆਪਣਾ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਈ ਖਸਮਹੁ ਧਕੇ ਖਾਇ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਖਸਮੁ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ॥ (P. 554)
Māṇas bẖari▫ā āṇi▫ā māṇas bẖari▫ā ā▫e.
Jiṯ pīṯai maṯ ḏūr ho▫e baral pavai vicẖ ā▫e
Āpṇā parā▫i▫ā na pacẖẖāṇ▫ī kẖasmahu ḏẖake kẖā▫e
Jiṯ pīṯai kẖasam visrai ḏargėh milai sajā▫e
In this way, we can see that Gurbani offers solutions to all types of human problems right from the individual level up to the international level. Gurbani has, therefore, a universal appeal beyond time and regions.
The writer of this Paper was allotted two-years major research project for 2012-2014 by the University Grants Commission (U.G.C.), India on the subject application of teachings of S. G. G. S. in various spheres of human life. The main aim of the project was to study the impact of teachings of S.G.G.S. in solving human problems related to modern way of life. A strong case had been prepared by citing various situations directly touched in Gurbani.
PROBLEMS OF HUMAN LIFE
Two types of problems have been identified: first psychological and second physical.
Both types of problems are the outcome of similar situations such as stressful life, lack of ethics, materialistic attitude, competitive spirit, commercialism, consumerism, onslaughts of globalization, greed, selfishness, fastness in life, hurry involved in work-schedule, strained relations, harmful food habits etc.
AILMENTS (INDIVIDUAL LEVEL)
Psychological ailments include depression, tensions, anger, intolerance, worry, frustration, pessimism, sense of alienation, nervous breakdown, insecurity, paranoia etc.
Physical ailments include obesity, hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, AIDS, strokes, ulcers, hepatitis, insomnia, snoring, lack of immunity etc.
PROBLEMS (AT COMMUNITY LEVEL)
Human beings in modern times face problems at the levels beyond individual self as well.
Social : caste-system, strained relations ( especially disturbed matrimonial life), drug
addiction, gender discrimination (especially bias against women), neglect of
National: corruption, regional discrimination, undemocratic set-up, repression
of minorities, uneven distribution of wealth and opportunities
International: racial discrimination, fear of war, globalization, loss of cultural
identity, domination by corporate world
Various techniques were employed to study the impact of gurbani on human behavior such as
- Interviewing subjects as well as experts.
- Surveys conducted on devotees.
- Results attained by other organizations verified.
- Lectures delivered and feedback received.
- Groups involved in listening to recitation,
katha, keertan and naam-simran in Camps
i.e. over prolonged duration.
The hallmark of the study was to use evaluation techniques such as
- Tests based on DASS (depression-anxiety-stress-scale).
- Questionaires on normal routine followed for naam-simran, gurbani
recitation, listening to keertan etc.
- Psychological tests for emotional study and assessment of different
traits of personality.
Main results obtained out of the study were as shown below:
- It was found that Gurbani accepted as Guru surely helps an individual in recognizing his/her potentialities.
- Gurbani presents ‘sachiar’ as an ideal model for human-self.
- Gurbani offers effective solutions for all the physical and mental ailments born out of modern life-style.
- Life-style based on teachings of Gurbani is the best source of peace, harmony and bliss.
- Gurbani offers solutions to the problems being faced at the social,
national and international levels.
- Gurbani through its ethical humanism works for building bridge between spirituality and scientific approach.
From the above, it is obvious that the implementation of the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib have been proved very justified and relevant in solving all types of human problems at the universal level.
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About the Author
Working in Panjab University, for the last 38 years, I have translated the universal wisdom and ethical values represented in the lives and works of Sikh Gurus into the interdisciplinary pedagogical modules for the dissemination of value education through Punjabi Language, literature and culture. Moreover, as an administrator (being the member of Senate, Chairperson, Dean, Member of Finance Board and Member of Academic Bodies of various Universities), I gave my best to promote Mother Languages and Indian culture as directed by UNESCO and contributed to the reconstruction and the restructuring the policies, programmes and pedagogic practices to nurture the idea of Indianism. My objective is to spread all over the world, the eternal values symbolized by our great Gurus, which are more relevant in today’s world.