In Part-2 of this interview, Dr Devindar Pal S. probes with some really tough questions. I believe one needs to break away from old shackles before truly considering to be set free. Dr. Karminder S. provides some fabulous insights..
Q1: What are the authentic sources of Sikh philosophy.
For me, it is the 1429 pages of the SGGS. All other sources have to be authenticated on the benchmark of Gurbani. In my own research, up to 90 percent of texts such as Janam Sakhis fail the test of Gurbani.
The same can be said of some 35 or so “Classical Sikh Texts” such as Suraj Parkash – all of which were composed by the Benares-educated and Snatan minded Nirmlas. All of these texts contain large chunks of entries that are in complete contradiction of the principles of Gurbani – and the Sikh intelligentsia of today does not seem to have a way out of this conundrum. The only way out is to benchmark them all on the touchstone of Gurbani.
Q2: What makes Sikh Gurus’ philosophy original and unique?
It is original because the 35 composers of Gurbani walked the path that they speak of. The evidence of this lies in the nature of the composition, which is in the first person. Guru Nanak said: Nanak Gya Japey Jaye. Meaning Nanak’s Realization (Japey) is Derived (Jaye) from Walking the Path (Gya).
It is unique because it is for the entirety of humanity. There are no dogmas, rituals, rites etc. All these things are limiting because each of them rules out – from the fold of spirituality – certain groups and classes of people. If the Sikhi of today is full of dogmas, rituals, rites, practices etc. – it is because we have got entangled in a desire to limit Sikhi to only ourselves. We are thus no longer unique and no different from everyone else.
Q3: Some scholars claim that Sikh Gurus laid down the foundations of a new social order. Do you agree?
The primary function of social order is to maintain the status quo. Various components of society work together to support this status quo. The spirituality of Sikhi is inherently opposed to the status quo and places a premium on progress, upliftment and elevation. Guru Nanak, when defining his path, said: Eyt Rah Pat Pavreah Charreah Hoey Ekees. My path (Rah) is one of upward mobility/upliftment (Pavrreah) and elevation (Charreah).
Spirituality can function within all kinds of social orders. The Gurus worked with whatever social orders existed then. That is because the Gurus knew that the human being had the inherent capacity to lift oneself out of harmful and destructive social orders.
Q4: What is the relevance of Sachiara, as envisioned by Guru Nanak in his Jap composition?
A Sachiara is a Realized being. Realized in Divinity through the Realization of Divine Virtues. A Sachiara is one who has become Divine.
Its relevance in the modern context is that being Sachiara is our contribution to the elevation of humanity. A Sachiara impacts upon making the world a better place than the one we inherited. Its other relevance is that becoming a Sachiara is practical spirituality.
The Gurbani flow chart is first to understand virtues, then believing in and accepting them, then practicing and habituating them in our daily lives, then inculcating them and finally becoming them. All 7.9 billion people that inhabit the world can become Sachiara. That’s the relevance of Guru Nanak’s Sikhi for the 21st century.
Coming up next…
Look out for Part-3 of the interview where Dr. K provides further in-depth views and answers to the following questions:-
- What is the Sikh perspective on life, death, and reincarnation?
- Do Sikhs believe in an afterlife? Do they believe in Heaven/Hell, salvation?
- Does Sikh Gurus’ philosophy encourage belief in miracles?
- How can Sikh Gurus’ Philosophy help in the cultivation of scientific temper in society?
Didn’t get a chance to read Part-1 of the interview? No problem.
Do you have further question related to part-1 or part-2 of the interview? Do share them below in the comments section and I will try to get Dr. K to answer them for you.