550TH CELEBRATIONS: “If You Must, Bow to Him,” Said Guru Nanak


By Zile Singh


Guru Nanak, in Japji Saheb says, “If you must, bow to him.  He is the primal being, pure without beginning or end.  He is the unstruck sound.  He is immutable through all time.”


According to the ‘Trimurti’ in Hinduism, there are three Gods – Brahma – the Creator; Vishnu – the Preserver and Shiva – the Destroyer. In fact, these are three different faces, attached to one body.   Similarly, in Christianity, the concept of ‘Trinity’ holds that there are three co-eternal persons –the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.  Islam also believes in a Merciful, Benevolent and Omnipotent Allah.   Science has proved that the  material world consists of   electrons, neutrons and protons.   Nanak, on realization, pronounced that there is only one God or Supreme Power.  He called it   ‘Ek Omkar Satnam’ which is primal, pure, without beginning or ending.      Nanak’s concept of God is incorporeal, i.e. body-less or formless. To him, it is an ‘Unstruck Sound’. Because, only a body- less entity can be primal, pure, without beginning or without the end.  All bodily forms are subject to birth, death and corruption. Even if we do not agree that Nanak’s Ek Omkar Satnam is the same as the Soul in Hinduism, the Holy Spirit in Christianity and the Merciful and Benevolent Allah, without any form, in all the three religions mentioned above, we have to agree that Nanak’s Ek Omkar Satnam is a ‘conditioned principle’ according to which the whole universe is being created, sustained and destroyed over  time. This ‘conditioned principle’   fulfills the condition of being pure, primal, beyond birth and death. About the Universe, Guru Nanak says that it is ‘infinite’.  The Unstuck Sound, the Soul, the Holy Spirit and the Allah all are infinite and  incorporeal in nature.  We cannot touch or see these. We can realize these only through the mind and the body.


Guru Nanak’s life story tells us that he was a Saint and a Guru who would not bow before anyone whether it was a living being, a dead religious dogma and tradition.   He refused to bow before Mogul Emperor Babur and also the rituals and dogmas of his own Hindu religion.  Instead, he was in a constant bow ness of his complete solitude and meditation in which there was no leadership, no tradition and no authority.  This state of Solitude and meditative composure of Guru Nanak was a path that can take a person from many worldly pursuits   to Three and ultimately from Three to One.   This solitude, which is pure, primal and eternal, never beginning and never-ending, takes a human being away from all the transitory nature of worldly things.  To quote J. Krishnamurti, “We carry about with us the burden of what thousands of people have said and the memories of all our misfortunes.  To abandon all that totally is to be alone and the mind that is alone is not only innocent but young – not in time or age, but young, innocent, alive at whatever age – and only such a mind can see that which is Truth and that which is not measurable by words.”


According to Guru Nanak, the Creator, the Creation and  its Sustainer is the same in three different forms. To Guru Nanak, it is a journey from infinite to three and from three to one.   According to an English translation of three lines of a poem in Punjabi about Guru Nanak written by Bhai Gurdas:


He revealed that there is one supreme God.

He regarded king and beggar as equal.

He came to transform the people of the world.


Today, after 550 years of Guru Nanak’s birth, ‘transformation’ of human being has gone towards ‘radicalization’.  Instead of bowing to and serving the Truth (God) we have lined up to ask God to serve us.  We are praying to improve our financial condition; I have no job, give me a job.  All our prayers are, ‘give me, give me, and give me more.’   On the contrary, the fact is that God has already given us as much as we deserve.   Our prayers show that we are pressing God to serve us.  Sometimes, we challenge God and ask Him in a threatening tone to fulfill our unending desires.    Simone Weil, a renowned philosopher characterized prayer as  pure undivided attention.  Listening to that ‘unstruck sound within’ with undivided attention is the true prayer.  It is the true remembrance (Simran) of Ek Omkar Satnam.


Today, we find ourselves   more as disciples than as Seekers of Truth.  In religious matters, Guru Nanak refused to be a spoon-fed disciple.   He did not want to follow anything blindly. He was a man of freedom and a real Seeker of the Truth at any cost.  We on the other hand are not seeking through our deep introspection but are being guided by Maya and illusion.


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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