INTRODUCTION – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
We have had more requests for this service than any other. We found this a bit surprising since there are so many websites carrying questions and answers. So what is the reason for these requests? The possible reasons that come to mind are:-
People do not always access these websites – if this is the case than another website like ours will not make any difference.
The questions answered are not exactly the ones people want answered; perhaps they already know the answers – an unlikely reason in our opinion.
Readers are not quite satisfied with the answers – again not a fair assessment since some of the answers we have seen are pretty good.
Perhaps the language used is outside the grasp of most – there may be some truth in this.
Our youth are not impressed with our stereotyped answers – again there may be some truth in this.
It may possibly be an excuse for not practising Sikhism. This is true in may cases as most people look for an excuse and want to put the blame on others, for example the reason often given for not visiting the Gurdwara is that the committee running the Gurdwara are not competent.
We think the real answer is a mixture of the above and cannot be ascribed to any one particular reason.
Through this section of the website we will start with answering simple questions first (though there is nothing quite simple when it comes to spiritual matters), gradually progressing on to more difficult issues.
In the process of answering questions we, ourselves, hope to learn a lot and together we will unearth hidden treasures the Sikh Heritage has to offer.
We look forward to a positive response from our readers and would welcome their valued comments on a regular basis.
Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
Question 1: Who is the founder of Sikhism?
Guru Nanak. He was born in 1469 at Talvandi, a small village forty miles from Lahore, which is now in Pakistan
Question 2: How would you define Sikhism?
Sikhism is a way of life. Sikh, literally translated, means a student, a learner, a seeker and in this context a seeker of Truth and Devine Knowledge. Therefore, Sikhism is a way of leading one’s life in a manner which assists in seeking the Truth. A Sikh does this by living his life based on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and his nine successor Gurus. He must believe in the teachings of his Gurus as demonstrated through actions and writings. The current and Eternal Guru is the Jagdi Jyot (Living Light) Guru Granth Sahib, which contains the writings of six of the Sikh Gurus and several saints.
Guru Nanak lays emphasis on practicing noble virtues. He says “Whilst Truth is the highest virtue truthful living is even higher”.
Question 3: Is there a God?
Surprising even some people coming from the Sikh background ask this question.
GOD: a simple logic
The fact that people inquire about the existence of God itself is perhaps a realisation that there is something which you cannot quite explain. I will try and explain this without the help of ‘spiritual jargon’ for a better term, which you may not appreciate at this stage. So I will take the lay person’s approach.
If you look at the world as you see it, there is nothing in the world, as we know it and see it, which does not have a maker or a creator. All the comforts of life we enjoy have been created, manufactured or produced by someone.
For a creation there has to be a creator. Even the logic of our mind (which is not always right for making all spiritual deductions) tells us this much. Therefore there is a power that created the world and the planetary network with such precision.
Our Earth interacts with other planets (Moon, Sun etc) in the outer space. Earth orbits the Sun roughly 366 times it rotates about its axis – this takes a year which is equal to 365 solar days. The point, I am making, is the precision with which the mechanics work just like the precision of a watch watch. Such precision cannot come without an architect, an engineer or a scientist of infinite talents. This Primal Architect is the Super Power we refer to as God.
Scientists claim the Earth and the other planets in the Solar System formed out of the solar nebula, disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun.
They say it took millions of years for the Earth to cool down to form a solid crust when water began accumulating in the atmosphere. The Moon and the other planets followed soon afterwards. Now, common sense tells us that such fusion of dust and gas cannot result in such precision if this was merely an accidental act of nature. The planet Earth and life on it are the creation of a Master Creator with no equal. This Master Creator we refer to as God.
Guru Nanak refers to this Creator as ‘Karta Purkh’ and he says Truth is His Name. He is the One Universal God.
Question 4: How do you define God?
First of all the question is wrong. God cannot be defined – He has no limits. He is infinite and endless; He is everywhere [SGGS Page 597].
Perhaps the question should be rephrased as:
What is your perception of God?
Who is God?
How can we best describe God?
These are equally impossible questions to answer.
Take the first one – perception. Now God has innumerable qualities – infinite. One may perceive God by a number of His qualities. Each person’s perception will, therefore, be different since God’s qualities are limitless.
Who is God? He is the Supreme power (shakti) behind all creation – may be one way of answering this question. But who has seen God? How can we describe Him? We cannot even describe properly the moon even though we can see it. We do not yet know, for sure, whether there is life on Mars. These are things we know of and we can see – yet our knowledge of these is limited and taken years and considerable amount of research to find out what we know about planets of our galaxy. How then can someone claim to answer this question? Only someone equal to his status can describe Him.
Guru Nanak listed the following qualities of the One Universal God In his Mool Mantar:
Truth is his Name; the Creator; without fear; devoid of enmity or hatred; timeless is his image; not begotten and beyond the cycle of life and death; realised only by the grace of the guru.
(a) Does anyone know what God looks like? (b) Can we experience the presence of God
The answer to part (a) can be found under answer (3) above. He has no form, no color and no features; no social class or race.
Although God is hidden from our eyes yet his Light is within each and every heart and He reveals himself through the shabad or sabad (the Word). Enshrine the Name of the Lord, within your heart. But this can only be done if you first vacate your heart of the existing tenant – houmai (ego, egoism, I-ness, me-ness). His Light will not shine within as long as me-ism or I-ness still occupies the heart and soul of the person.
How do we meditate on Lord’s Name (Naam)?
Discipline is very important.
kar isnaan simar parabh apnaa man tan bha-ay arogaa.
Each day, after your cleansing bath praise the Lord and your body and mind will become free of (physical, mental and spiritual) ailments. (SGGS 611)
Only in the Sanctuary of God you will overcome obstacles and bring about a new dawn of good fortune into your life. Remind yourself that Lord’s praises, as enshrined in the Guru’s shabad, are the best utterances and then constantly sing them, listen to them, and read them. The Lord will then shower his love, mercy and blessings upon you.
One does not need to run to the forest or become a recluse. Although early morning is the best time to meditate, but with the right mindset, discipline and resolve this can be done at any time of the day. Meditate on your Guru and his teachings sitting right within your own home. This will enable to enshrine the Name of the Lord within your heart. The Perfect Guru always speaks the Truth and he says that True Peace is obtained only from the Lord – SGGS 621. There is no better way to meditate than this.
Gurbani lays repeated stress on repeating the name of God. What name of God do we repeat?
The most common chanting amongst Sikhs is ‘WaheGuru’ repeated as many times as you like. A variation is: WaheGuru (4 times) and SatNaam (4 times), and then repeating the cycle or the other way around, i.e. SatNaam followed by WaheGuru.
Another version of the simran (in simple singing mode) is:
Bolo or japo (say) WaheGuru, WaheGuru, WaheGuru Ji; SatNaam, SatNaam SatNaam, Ji. Repeat the cycle as many times as you wish. This version is often practiced in congregations, with the Saadh Sangat joining the Hymn singers.
Some chant in a simpler form SatNaam-WaheGuru, SatNaam-WaheGuru, SatNaam-Waheguru as many times as one likes.
There are other variations but the ‘magic’ words are SatNaam and WaheGuru (may also be written as Satnaam, Waheguru). Thus the actual pattern is not important but the focus of the chanter on Primal Lord is critical.
Whilst the jaap of WaheGuru and SatNaam can often take the devotee to a spiritual ecstasy and frenzy, the Paath of Mool Mantra is done (normally sitting down) in a calmer and settled state gradually tuning the mind to the Primordial Energy (Primal Lord). Early hours of the morning are best suited to this type of simran, although again as noted earlier any time with the true resolve is also rewarding.