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UNIVERSAL MESSAGE OF SIKHISM

by Dr. Sukhraj Singh Dhillon, Ph.D.

    When we look at Guru Nanak's philosophy--Sikhism belongs to every human being and it carries a universal message in the true sense (sarbat da bhala). However, most of the Sikh Gurdwara's are ignoring the spiritual nature of our founding Guru's message in Gurbani. In most of the places, we Sikhs are spending time fighting, for example, over physical appearance--either forcing our views on others and cursing them or defending ourselves from those who are forcing their views. I meet Amritdhari Sikhs and those who are Non-Amritdhari. Most of us will agree that there will always be Amritdhari and Non-Amritdhari Sikhs and both can either sit together in Gurdwaras or divide our community into separate Gurdwaras. It's only the understanding of Gurbani and message that can practically improve our everyday living, and can keep us together within our own community and with the rest of the world.

Just two lines of Gurbani can change our attitude:

DOolu Drmu dieAw kw pUqu] sMqoKu Qwip riKAw ijin sUiq]

"Dhaul dharam daya (compassion) ka putu;
Santokh (being content or satisfied) thap rakhiya jin suti."
(Stanza 16, Japuji)

    This universal message contain two words: compassion (daya) and contentment (santokh). The righteousness is born out of compassion and contentment upholds the order of nature (5) (Dhaul dharam daya ka poot; santokh thap rakhiya jin soot).  The implication is: 

"Be compassionate to others;
Be satisfied within yourself!"

    There is a story in ancient Indian mythology. The earth is resting on the head of a bull. That bull carries the weight of this earth along with all its pains, sorrows, and miseries. If we think for a moment how frustrated we get with comparatively small family problems, such as when child is not doing well in school, or somebody gets sick, or somebody lost his/her job or got a divorce, and how something like losing a family member can leave us completely shattered, we can understand how powerful, how great that bull is carrying all the miseries, sorrows, and pains of the world on his head.

    Nanak is saying that religion is like that mythical bull. But he goes on to say that there is something even greater than that great bull. And that is compassion or kindness (daya). ("The bull of righteousness is born of compassion.")

    When Nanak is saying "Be compassionate to others!"--He is emphasizing the whole philosophy of Christianity. A Christmas Message says:

"The best part of a person's life
is not fame, wealth or ability.
The best part of a good person's life
is the little acts of kindness and love given to others.
You are remembered and respected
for the good you do for others."

    It is due to this philosophy that we see Christians doing great deeds of compassion -- whether it's adopting a child or feeding the hungry of the world. Mother Teresa was a good example of someone who is compassionate to others -- taking care of the poor of the poorest in Calcutta. Bhagat Puran Singh of Pingalwara in Amritsar was another example who took care of the poor and sick. That is compassion to which Nanak is referring.

    He continues to say in the second sentence, "Be satisfied within yourself." He is emphasizing the whole philosophy of eastern religions, which believe that happiness comes from within yourself. Buddhism refers to it, Jainism refers to it, and other eastern religions refer to it. Every person is made to attain knowledge, to exist, and to have a joyous nature; this triple nature of the self is called sat-chit-ananda (truth, consciousness, and bliss). And that is finding happiness within your self. "Being content or satisfied within yourself" provides the ultimate happiness or bliss. When we blame others for making us unhappy, we are referring to the wrong place, when we should be finding that something called happiness within ourselves. When we say someone upsets us or we lose happiness because, for example, our colleague got a raise, or our neighbor got a big house or expensive car or private jet, we ignore the fact that the problem is really within ourselves, and we are not communicating with our soul.

"Be compassionate (daya) to others;
Be satisfied (santokh) within yourself!"

    Just these two lines combine the philosophy of whole world: Christianity in the west and all the eastern religions. That is why we call Sikhism a universal religion. It is unfortunate that we Sikhs have gone away from the teachings of Gurbani and can't even practice as a religion of one community. All our life is wasted on dividing our community by concentrating on differences such as outward appearance and ignoring the universal nature of Nanak's message which our founder Guru preached to every Hindu, Muslim and others.

    If we could practice this universal message, imagine the satisfaction and happiness it would bring. But we should never do the opposite -- "be compassionate to yourself and expect other to be satisfied with what they have."

P.S. Parts of the text are taken from a recent Book Manuscript "SCIENCE, RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY: In Search of God" by Dr.S.S. Dhillon.

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