520.The Man in Blue – Benti Chaupaí

According to the Sikh Rehat Maryada we should as part of our nitnem daily read Tav Prasád Svayé, Jáp Sahib and Benti Chaupaí. These are texts that are found in the ‘Dasam Granth’.

I think that Tav Prasád Svayé and Jáp Sahib are in tune with the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, but I feel uneasy about Benti Chaupaí.

In this article I will highlight words or phrases in Benti Chaupaí that I do not understand. I hope that others will help me to come to a better understanding. I would prefer a dialogue about facts over a debate on opinions.

I will restrict myself to the discussion of the 25 verses that are specified in the Sikh Rehat Maryada as being part of the nitnem banis.

Hamré dust sabhai tum ghávho – Destroy all my enemies – 1st line of verse 2
Does dust mean wicked and ghávho stab ? Stab all the wicked ?

Sabh bairan ko áj sanghriyai – Destroy all my enemies today – 2nd line of verse 3
Sanghriyai = companions ? Bairan = alien ?

Chun chun satr hamáré máríhi – Kindly kill all my enemies after singling them out – 4th line of verse 4

The above translations are by Harban Singh Doabia. I am not convinced that he has translated correctly, and I wonder about these ‘enemies’ and the ‘killings’. These verses, whether they are written by Guru Sahib or not, date from the period when the Mughal regime saw the Sikhs as their enemies.

But Gursikhs see God’s presence in all, and have no enemies. Of course when those that see us as their enemies attack us or other communities we have not just the right, but the obligation to protect ourselves and others.

But even then, as the Bhai Ghanaya story illustrates, we keep seeing those ‘enemies’ as our fellow human beings.

Another way to look at these quotes is to consider the enemies as the five ‘thieves’ that steal away our balanced state of mind. Please let us know what you think.

I am not interested in a debate on whether these verses have been written by Guru Gobind Singh or by person or persons unknown.

I want to come to a better understanding of Benti Chaupaí, and want to establish whether it is in tune with the Guru Granth Sahib.

As we all should know it is Guru Gobind Singh who emphasised the key role of the Guru Granth as the eternal Guru of the Sikhs.

To react to this column either use the comments button underneath or send an email to
harjindersingh_amritsar@yahoo.com

Published in: on August 10, 2012 at 9:12 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , ,

519.Man in Blue – The Sikh Identity

I am an Amritdhari Sikh and wear the five Ks and a turban. I do this because the Guru asked me, and because I believe it is a useful part of my spiritual discipline. My turban and beard make me a recognisable Sikh, but that does not mean that I am a Sikh because I look like one.

I am not a Sikh because I took amrit and I am not a Sikh because my parents were Sikhs (they were not). The definition in the Sikh Rehat Maryada is quite clear : the main element of being a Sikh is following the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib and the example set by the Gurus through their Gursikh way of life.

The SGPC is rarely able to do anything that is in line with Guru’s Teachings. But this time they have been caught by their own foolishness. Under pressure of the Badal Dal the union government issued a notification saying that only those who have uncut/unshaven etc hair can vote in the SGPC elections.

The 2011 SGPC elections were held on that basis, but have since been successfully challenged by another un-Sikh outfit : the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation. I do not think that the Supreme Court has ruled on the merits of being Keshdhari or Sehajdhari, but on the grounds that a law should not be changed by a notification.

The Sikh identity is defined by behaving as the Guru taught us. Live in the world, but do not be ruled by it, see God’s presence in all, be ready to serve all, make an honest living, think about God with all you do, recognise that there are people in all traditions who are true Students of the Teacher of Teachers etc, etc.

I know too many ‘Keshdhari’ Sikhs who practice none of the above and a good few moné who do quite well. It is impossible to make a relevant voters list of ‘Sikhs’ based either on the status of their hair or on who their parents were.

Looking the part without living the part is useless. If you call yourself an athlete but do not train and do not have a disciplined way of life you are living a lie.

The Gursikh that we should all try to be, regardless of being amritdhari, keshdhari or mona, is like a spiritual athlete. Some of us might reach to Olympic level, others play in the local league, but all should try to get nearer to God by following Guru’s teachings. Going by the Guru Granth Sahib (our eternal teacher) this way of life is not defined by the length of your hair, the length of your kachhera or by any other outward sign.

Walk in hukam, walk with God, be her/his humble child; if you do not see God in all you will not see God at all; be different and look different, these are the kind of  things a Gursikh should practice.

If you wear all or part of the Sikh uniform but have no Sikh behaviour you are like an empty shell. Sikh or Khalsa behaviour without the uniform does has value. Just like good the Muslims and good Yogis that Guru writes about can attain to God, so can good moné. But being ‘pure from outside and dirty inside’ means that you are a hypocrite, and Guru does not like hypocrites at all !