(Spirituality: What it is — chapter 2.4)
Links to sub-headings…
2.0 True Religion is Universal Love and Remembrance of God
2.1 All Men Have Equal Privileges From God
2.2 Religious Differences
2.3 Remembrance of God
2.4 The Fundamental Truths
2.5 Place of Rites and Rituals in Religion
These are common in all religions and point the same Way. Religious truths, whether social, ethical or spiritual, have a common ideal and a common objective. Man should lead an ethical life, serve mankind, be of help to all others in this earthly sojourn, and should know himself and then develop God-knowledge and God-consciousness leading ultimately to God-head.
The word religion, as the term indicates, is a great binding force that links man back to his Creator, Whom he, by his entire absorption in the mundane affairs of life, has entirely forgotten through having become identified with the world. Love of man and love of God, as also faith in God and living contact with ‘God-in-Action’ or the ‘Holy Ghost’, ‘Ek-aumkar’ or the ‘Word,’ is the universal religion that has been given to the world by the saints from age to age. It is eternal and unchangeable for all times.
All the scriptures, the world over, teach the same thing, namely, that one should engage in good and pious acts, take hold of the saving life-chord within and, riding on the Sound-current, reach the home of his Father. God is the Ideal and one should worship Him with love and devotion, and people should serve one another with love.
St. Paul always exhorted mankind:
“By love serve one another.”
The Vedas tell us to remember and worship God in congregations (Atharv Veda: 3:30-5).
There is no virtue higher than to have firm faith in God, to commune with His holy Word and to render loving service to His creation. This, in fact, is the true and universal religion, common for mankind, eternal and unchangeable.
Guru Arjan, speaking of the highest and holiest Truth at the core of all religions, refers to contact with the ‘Shabd Dhun’, the Sound Principle which is the primal manifestation of God and the causeless Cause of the entire creation.
“The highest and the holiest in all religions
enjoins communion with the Word of God, and good actions.”
— Gauri M.5
“There is no virtue higher than to sing of the Lord
(the Divine Melody) and to associate with His elects.
O Nanak! these boons one gets only through the writ
of the Most High and not otherwise.”
— Sorath M.5
It was because of this that Guru Arjan, while compiling the sacred scriptures of the Sikhs, the Granth Sahib, collected therein the sayings of the various Master-souls — Hindus, Mohammedans and Sikhs — without caring for their vocation in life, high or low. In it we find the sayings of Sant Kabir (a weaver by profession), Nam Dev (40) (a calico-printer), Ravi Das (41) (a cobbler), Dhana Jat (42), Baba Farid (a Mohammedan), and others of the Khshatriya (43) class. Such godly souls come into the world, untrammeled and free, with a specific mission, the dispensation of the Saving Grace of the Lord for those who listen to them and follow their teachings.
It is a proof positive of the fact that Reality is One, though it has been named differently by different sages in different places and at different times. Such Master-souls, whenever and wherever they appear on the scene of life, impart to the erring humanity lessons m humanitarianism and godliness and instill in the people the love of man and God, but above all put them on the Path leading Godwards. They, imbued with the spirit of God, are freethinkers and try to make mankind free from the watertight and narrow limitations of fossilised religions and religious beliefs, so that they may bask in the sunshine of God and sing of His glory.
Saints look after and take charge of the souls and not of the raiment of the body, with its various denominational hall-marks. They try to form and cement the brotherhood of man and tell us of “The Way Out” of the body, by the process of “Soul-withdrawal”, and “The Way In” to the spiritual world beyond, by means of a contact with the Holy Ghost or Naam. They come to unite individual souls with God and not to disrupt this relationship wheresoever it is already in existence.
Their sole object is to unite all mankind in the silken bonds of love and not to create schisms and splits. Maulana Rumi tells us that God, speaking to Moses, reprimanded him with the words:
“I sent you into the world to unite people unto Me,
And not to lead astray such as were already united with Me.”
No religious barriers stand in the way of God-men. They serve as beacon lights in the stormy sea of life. In fact, they have love for all religions and actually give life and light to them all without which these gradually, in course of time, grow dull, drab and lifeless like a body without the life-giving Spirit.
Guru Nanak, for instance, went on pilgrimages to far-off Mecca in Arabia, to Sangladip, or Ceylon, in the South, and Burma and China in the East. He gave to the people everywhere the benefit of his teachings the same as he did to Hindus in Benares and Hardwar, the sacred places of Hindus. He carried the same message of Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man to every place.
God-men love all the saints, past and present, irrespective of creed or colour. God-intoxicated people sit together as tipplers in the tavern of God. There existed a fraternal relationship between Guru Arjan, Hazrat Mian Mir (44) and Bhagat Chajju (45). Guru Har Gobind (46) provided a mosque for worship for the Muslims.
Guru Gobind Singh had equal love for the Hindus, the Muslims and men of all other denominations. When he was hemmed in by the Turks (47) on the plain of Machhiwara (48), it was the Muslims who helped him out of the trying impasse and saved his life.
Bhai Kanahya Singh, one of his followers, supplied drinking water and tended alike to the wounded Muslim and Hindu soldiers on the field of battle. When complained against by the ignorant Sikhs for his alleged treacherous conduct, he told the Master that as he flitted about on the field with his water-skin to serve the thirsty and the dying, he witnessed in one and all alike the same light as was in the Master. The Guru thereupon blessed him for having correctly imbibed his teachings.
“When once the ignorance is dispelled,
all distinctions between the Hindus and the Muslims,
and in fact among all the sectarian people,
drop off and vanish like airy nothings.”
— Guru Gobind Singh
God is the substratum and Life-Principle for the entire creation — even of the heretics and the agnostics. As He loves all, so do saints who are dyed in His very colour.
Once Moses, sharing a meal with someone, felt a rude shock in the depth of his heart when he saw that his companion had offered no grace before taking the food; but God reprimanded him, for he had no business to be dissatisfied with one whom He (God) in his unbounded mercy provided with food.
Such Master-souls have great and unbounded love for one and all, no matter if some of them be the worst of sinners, the most despised and hated by society. No person has a right to address God as Father, unless he is prepared to love his fellow beings as his brethren. All life springs from His and as such, there should be no discrimination between high and low, the faithful and the heretic. One may not know the Father: that is a different thing, but he is born of the Father and that is all one need know and act upon.
(40) Naam Dev: Indian saint, calico printer by profession
(41) Ravi Das: Indian saint, cobbler by profession
(42) Dhanna Jat: Indian Hindu-mystic and poet, 15th century
(43) Khshatriya: warrior and ruling caste
(44) Hazrat Mian Mir: Indian Sufi-saint, 17th century
(45) Chajju Bhagat: Indian saint, a contemporary of Guru Arjan Dev, 16th century
(46) Guru Hargobind: 6th Guru of the Sikhs, 17th century
(47) Turks: referring to the Turco-Mongol descend of the Mughal emporers, the Islamic rulers in India, 16th/17th century
(48) Machhiwara: forest in Punjab where Guru Gobind Singh went after the second battle of Chamkaur