GURU NANAK: A Good Conscience Is The Best Divinity


By Zile Singh


“ Ek Omkar Satnam” – Guru Nanak


It is 1959.  Then, Haryana and Himachal were  part of Punjab.   In Class 5th, there is a small Chapter  on Guru Nanak in the syllabus in my  Social Studies book.  In addition to his brief life-sketch, an interesting story reads like this, “It  is a dark night.  The village is asleep.  Nanak’s mother was worried because the night was more than half and the lamp in Nanak’s room is still burning. She hears his voice of singing. She says, “Go to sleep my son.  It is going to be dawn.”   Nanak tells her, “Mother,   the Sparrow hawk, (Papiha) voicing Piyu, Piyu, Piyu! is still calling his Beloved who is on the next tree.  My Beloved is so far away.  I have to sing for lives before my voice reaches Him.”  In my village, there is a Panchakki for grinding grains into flour.  Often, its owner runs it late at night. It generates a sound like ‘Tuk, Tuk, Tuk! The sound can be heard for over a mile. It is more penetrating during silent nights of a village.  While studying at night, I remember Nanak’s reply to his mother.  I compete with the Panchakki as Nanak competes with the Sparrow hawk.   Till I hear the Tuk, Tuk, I also burn the midnight oil.   This is my mystical union with Guru Nanak. Nanak says, “ Be True to Your Duty – Kirat kar”.


Let us dedicate ourselves to Guru Nanak and his teachings during this 550th year of his incarnation. Guru Nanak attacked all the   Superstitions in  society.   He cut the fetters of our feet and freed us from the captivity of the complex and complicated environment of that day. If we want to celebrate him, we have to follow his teachings and his ideas.  His teachings are eternal and evergreen.  Instead of teaching any organized religion, he gave us a socio-spiritual and the moral order without any austerity, celibacy, sanyas etc. while performing our duties as a householder.  God, to him was his Beloved who does not require any offerings or eulogy in any form to bestow His Grace on us in return.  Without our asking He is bestowing his love and grace on all, high or low.   How comically he poked fun of the people who were offering water to the Sun and people who were objecting his feet pointing towards Mecca.      After all, life is really simple; we ourselves create the circumstances that complicate it.


All of us are aware of the story preceding the birth of the Japuji Saheb.   Nanak and Mardana were singing on the bank of a river.  It was total darkness.  Nanak silently stepped  into the river.  He could not be traced for three days.  By then it was certain that Nanak had drowned.  Nanak surfaced on the third day.  The first words he spoke became the Japuji Saheb – “He is one.  He is Omkar, the supreme truth.  He is the creator, beyond fear, beyond rancour.  His is the timeless form.  Never born, self-creating.  He is attained by the guru’s grace.” The story  is true and yet not true.  It is true in the sense that  it gives an eternal truth and it is untrue because it is only symbolic. It is impossible to stay underwater for three days.   The symbolic part is that unless you lose yourself completely, until you are, He cannot be.  You are the obstacle.  Here, ‘you’ means your ‘ego’ your ‘multiplicity’ and your assumption of a ‘doer’.   When the ego is eliminated, when you disappear, whatever is left before your eyes is God himself.  God is not a person – He is Energy beyond form.  Nanak said that his God is not in the books, neither in the Vedas nor the Semitic texts.  He is just a presence in every living and non-living beings.  His light permeates in the whole universe.


According to Guru Nanak, there is only one reality.  Truth is only one – Ek Omkar Satnam.  All names are given by man.  Even Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Nanak and Kabir are given names. None of the names given by man can carry you far. A name or a mantra can create an illusion that it is carrying you somewhere on a higher pedestal, but finally you find that it is like an ox in a Persian wheel. The Ox, with eyes closed, circles from morning to evening, reaching no where.  When the  mind becomes void of words, Omkar becomes audible within man.  Omkar is not a man made sound but the resonance of the being of the existence.  It is ‘Unahat Nad’.  In common parlance it is ‘dhur ki bani’. All sounds are created with the help of the two.  But it is a frictionless and nonstruck sound.  Nanak said that there is only one thing worth doing.  Meditate on the glory of  Ek Omkar Satnam, the true name, the Unahat  Nad.  You will gain nothing by going to temples making various demands.  Nothing will result from worship and sacrifices, by offering leaves, flowers and money, because what sense is there in offering him what is already his.  In order to remember Guru Nanak, let us ride his boat of  “ Kirat kar; Vand Chhak and Naam Jap” and move beyond words into silence and divinity where we all belong.   Nanak and his Gurbani are not only to recite and  read but to act upon.

“A good conscience is the best divinity.”


Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca


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