Both this column and the next one start from Guru Gobind Singh’s instruction that after him the Sikh Panth should be ruled by ‘Guru Granth – Guru Panth’.
Somebody explained to me that the 10 Guru’s were like ten classes of a school, and that entering Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa was like matriculation. Under Tenth Guru the people who were always ruled from above by various Maharajas and Sultans were fully emancipated and were able to rule themselves under the guidance of the Guru Granth Sahib.
But ‘Guru Granth – Guru Panth’ is not just relevant when you discuss leadership in Sikhism. If it was adhered to by the Sikhs it would end the silly discussion over the Dasam Granth. Sikhism is a liberal tradition and we are free to read any book, both from outside our own tradition, from the margins of Sikhism or from within it.
Our Guru is the Guru Granth Sahib. We do not have sufficient evidence to decide who the author is of the various elements that make up what is now known as the Dasam Granth. But we can study the Dasam Granth and see which parts are in tune with the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib and which are not.
We should bear in mind that Guru might have collected or retold some of the stories, without seeing them as sources of Sikh teachings. Many scholars have collected or retold Greek, Celtic, Germanic or Nordic ancient stories without seeing them as sources of eternal truth. These stories, like the puránas, can give you important clues to the culture and the history of their times.
The writings of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal are not included in the Guru Granth Sahib, like the shabads of our bhagats, but they are seen as sources of Sikhism. These two authors were contemporaries of our Gurus and were close observers of Sikh history. They are important sources of information about our Gurus and their time, but they are not part of the eternal Sikh Guru, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Bhai Gurdas writes about the mul mantr and the gur mantr, terms that are not found in the Guru Granth Sahib. What Bhai Gurdas calls the mul mantr is given prominence in the Guru Granth Sahib, both in its full version (Ik Ongkar to Gurprasad) and in various shortened forms. The ‘gur mantr’ (Vahiguru) is only found four times in the Guru Granth Sahib, and is not called gur mantr’.
The conclusion from this evidence is clear. We can do simran on all ‘God Words’ that we find in the Guru Granth Sahib or in other sources, as long as their meanings are not in conflict with the teachings of our eternal Guru.
What Bhai Gurdas calls the mul mantr is a very important statement of Guru’s vision of God, and of course we should meditate on it. But meditating means ‘thinking about’ and not mechanical repetition of a word or combination of words.