An engineer by training, Maneshwar S. Chahal has served in the IAS in punjab and in the central government. His illustrious career has seen him as CMD of a public sector bank and he was also a member of the punjab state human rights commission. He admits to literature being his first love and in all probability, his true calling. A voracious reader all his life, he has also a few short stories to his credit. The study of spiritual literature, especially relating to the sikh religion, has been his passion. He has to his credit now, three books in the series 'way to god in sikhism.'
This book is the third in the series 'way to god in sikhism'. The first of the series dealt with guru nanak's japji sahib, the bani that has rightly been called by that great mystic and scholar bhai gurdas the key to the sri guru granth sahib. That bani spells out the basic tenets of guru nanak's philosophy, which then are elaborated in the sri guru granth sahib (sggs). These tenets were to become the foundation on which is built the sikh nation, with the tenth nanak, guru gobind singh completing the edifice on that momentous baisakhi day in 1699 ad.
The second book dealt with the asa di var, the bani which further emphasized the guru's message and where the guru offers some trenchant criticism of the way the socio-religious polity had developed in this part of the country at that time. It can be said that the asa di var makes the clearest statement of guru nanak's iconoclastic vision of a simple life of devotion to the one lord, eschewing the unthinking ritualism that had crept into the social and religious observances at that time, and offering practical comments on the way our daily lives should be lived.
The present volume deals with jap sahib, which is one of the three banis of the tenth nanak included in the nitnem. These are: 1) jap sahib, 2) the sawaiyye; both forming part of the morning prayers, and 3) the benti chaupayi, which is recited every evening as part of the rehras sahib. These carry forward the teachings of guru nanak, using slightly different style and idiom but staying totally true to the spirit of the message.
Guru gobind singh, the creator of the khalsa, was a great scholar, magnificent poet, warrior extraordinaire and an unmatched leader of men. Above anything else, the guru was a mystical seer who was in constant touch with the lord. His message is always with us in the form of these compositions, which every sikh is required to recite daily. It is a reality, however, that many of us are not always aware of the meaning and the exact import of what is being recited.
Trying to explain what the guru had intended us to understand, is a truly daunting task. Firstly, because the guru was vouchsafed a vision of the divine, which our limitations of intellect and our flawed minds cannot, perhaps, truly grasp. Secondly, it is inevitable that any divine seer, who brings to us the lord's word, has perforce to resort to words, with the inevitable limitations that language imposes on the transmission of thought. It is also a fact that seers everywhere almost universally accept that the lord is unfathomable, and is beyond the capacity of words to delineate. The master seeking to convey his vision of the divine knows what he has experienced, but most of us can easily miss the true import of the master's words because of the problem of putting the vision into the narrow confines of words, and then our own limitations in interpreting those words.
Luckily, there are many learned ones whose understanding of the message is clearer than the rest of us. It helps that they have left for us commentaries to make somewhat easier our task of trying to understand this divine message. Prominent among these learned ones are the great mystic and gifted poet bhai vir singh, and the renowned scholars of the guru's message, prof. Sahib singh and bhai joginder singh talwara. Their work is, however, in punjabi, which is often not within the ken of a large number of those who seek the one lord. There are hardly any detailed commentaries on these banis in the english language.
This humble effort seeks to fill that gap and to bring this divine composition to those who do not find themselves comfortable with the punjabi language, or otherwise have problems in comprehending the concepts and the terminology used.
The learned reader may find it helpful to read this along with the `japji sahib', the first book in the 'way to god in sikhism' series. This commentary, though, is complete by itself, and should suffice to explain the guru's message.
This is presented in full knowledge of the difficulty and the magnitude of the task. It has been a lot of very hard, though enjoyable, work, but this labour of love may still contain many shortcomings, or errors in interpretation. If so, these are the result of your humble interlocutor's limitations, for which forgiveness is sought in advance.
It is commanded of a sikh, as part of the daily code of conduct, to follow the nitnem, which literally translates as 'daily routine'. The question of what should be the code of conduct, or rehat, for a true sikh had long been a matter of convention and custom, and inevitably there was scope for different interpretations of what was required of a sikh in his daily life and in social interaction. The need was felt by the leaders of the community to standardize the practice and provide a uniform code so that every sikh could know exactly what he was required to do as a member of the sikh panth. The rehat maryada -code of conduct - was therefore evolved by the sgpc, the sri gurdwara prabandhak committee, through a long process of consultation with sikh scholars and persons important in the religious and social fields among the sikhs. The purpose was to synthesize and standardize the prevalent rehatnamas, many of which existed at that time but with no single document which could be considered as authoritatively laying down the code conduct to be adopted for the sikh nation. As part of this, it was necessary to lay down, inter alia, the precise form of prayers, to be uniformly followed by all practicing sikhs. For a body of men that aspires to be called a nation. Homogeneity r this respect is as essential as any other social prescription.
What constitutes a 'nation'? The basic definition is that it constitutes a culturally homogeneous group of people, larger than a single tribe or community, which shares a common language, institutions, religion, and historical experience.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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