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Using Hindu Icons as parchar in Gurmat ?


tSingh
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source: from article written by kamalroop singh on the blog

'The Nirmala Sikhs used Hindu icons to teach about Sikhi.'

Incorrect. Maybe the Udasin, but I've not found anything to suggest Nirmalay had murtian of devtas in their deras, in any of the maryadas written, in 19th century literature, in their mangalacharans, etc. Their line was always advaitvad/nirguna upasana. In fact I've rarely come across puranic material in nirmala compositions and commentaries. We should be careful not to propogate misinformation.

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No. You cannot represent a three hundred year tradition by referring to one text alone! The 'hindu icons' you are referring to is the ONE and only instance that i have seen (from literally 100s of texts) in which there are a couple of hand drawn images of mahakal and mahakalika (Pandit Tara Singh Narotam's Sri Gurmat Nirnay Sagar). One text hardly constitutes 'Nirmalas' generally. It cannot come down to 'I saw it once therefore they are all like that'. Read the great works by Pandit Ishar Singh, Pandit Nihal Singh Kavinder, Pandit Gulab Singh, Pandit Gurdit Singh, Mahant Dyal Singh, Pandit Sher Singh, Sant Sampuran Singh, Pandit Atma Singh, Pandit Hardev Singh, Mahant Ganesha Singh, Pandit Nihal Singh Gobind mandir wale, Pandit Gobind Singh, Sant Tehil Singh, etc, etc and you get a more rounded idea of where the Nirmal Bhekh is coming from.

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What is the Saraswati Mangal, Invocation to Durga etc, in Pan. Gulab Singh Nirmala's work? That is what I meant by Icons. E.g the Nirmala Panth draws on Hindu mythological icons to explain Gurmat.................

e.g the semiotical use of Hindu icons in Nirmala texts...........

"representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it".

Pandit Ishar Singh, Pandit Nihal Singh Kavinder, Pandit Gulab Singh, Pandit Gurdit Singh, Mahant Dyal Singh, Pandit Sher Singh, Sant Sampuran Singh, Pandit Atma Singh, Pandit Hardev Singh, Mahant Ganesha Singh, Pandit Nihal Singh Gobind mandir wale, Pandit Gobind Singh, Sant Tehil Singh

I take it your going to post me photocopies. Thanks in advance for your generous spirit Sant TSingh Ji. :)

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TSingh wrote:

"'The Nirmala Sikhs used Hindu icons to teach about Sikhi.'

Incorrect. Maybe the Udasin, but I've not found anything to suggest Nirmalay had murtian of devtas in their deras, in any of the maryadas written, in 19th century literature, in their mangalacharans, etc. Their line was always advaitvad/nirguna upasana. In fact I've rarely come across puranic material in nirmala compositions and commentaries. We should be careful not to propogate misinformation."

At the expense of sounding pedantic and arrogant (maybe fascist depending on the mood), the word icon refers to two dimensional images like pictures not to statues. For statues it is the word idol that is used. This is the established use of these words since the times of the councils. The difference between idol and icon is a fundamental one. Some Nirmala works do contain pictures of deities like Mahakal etc.

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Kamalroop while you are on the subject of Mangalcharans and pointing the finger at the Nirmala samparda like all nihangs do then what about the opening mangal in the Sri Sarbloh Granth, "Sri Laxmi Ji Sahi"

Is that no the same?

kam you might have just opened up new set of can of worms there, After all sri sarbloh granth was rediscovered by nihangs from udasin dera. Study udasi mat to study some of influence on nihangs rehne behne. In essence every group has some influence on one another so no one group itself can claim supermacy in the panth.

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Guys, lets smell the real coffee here and stop bickering among ourselves ( in this case eg- nirmale vs nihangs)..you got people from panthic.org already discussing about re-launching singh sabha lehar movement against old traditional sikhi. ..wait last time i checked they already launched new pseudo singh sabha lehar with same old whining/doubts against bhai gurdas ji varan, bhatta daie svaiey, sri dasam granth.

Whilst, I beleive traditional orders of Sikhi have some elements which are not aligned with Gurmat but old tradional orders still has managed to give tat nichor of Guru Sahiban Di Mat without rejecting any sacred scriptures, kabits, vaaran than new singh sabha types- bhausaria , afghanism, modern day akjers who like to sleep on and off with bhausarias, kala afghana/missionary types.

so lets get on with it, first of all acknowledge there are certain elements in old traditonal sikhi which are not aligned with Gurmat and make an effort to fix it, then do some real parchar of adhatamic sikhi instead of claiming supermacy... no need to convince anyone...once beauty/depth of sri guru nanak sahib sikhi is shown, people will automatically attached with Advait Gurmat Sidhant which is base of old traditional sikhi.

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I have examined the Mangals very carefully in Sri Sarbloh Granth Sahib Ji, Maya Lakhshami, in terms of exegesis of the scripture, is not Maya Lakhshami in the Hindu sense of the word. It is talking about an attribute of God.

As for Nirmala scriptures, Bahadur Ali Shah, and Tirath Singh are the Nirmala scholars. I cannot claim to be an expert, they both have years of experience. However compared to most others Sikhs, I can truely say that I have had exposure to the main scriptures, at least. Mokh Panth Prakash, Pan Gulab Singh Nirmala, taken from a folio from an extant manuscript, has a mangal to Saraswati, then the Devi, then Ram, then Parmatma, then Guru Gobind Singh. Here are the first few lines:

Please change to Gurbaniakhar font.

<> sÃsiq sRI gxyswX nm:]

Dohrw] dvImwqwswrdwsrdieMdsmhws]

bMdopdpMkjsdwkrosumiqpRkws]1]

sMkrCMd] gxnwQdwsinvwiemsqbMdnwpgDwr]kirXochoaurrwmkojsudyhubuiDaudwr]

Ik Oankar Svasati Ganeshaya Namah.

Dohra. Devi Mata Sarda Sarad Ind Sam Has.

Bando Pad Pankaj Sada Karo Sumati Prakash.1.

Sankar Channd. Gan Nath Dasani Vai Mastak Bandana Pag Dhar.

Kariyo Cho Or Ram Ko Jas Dehu Budh Udar.

This scripture is the Vedantic arguments against Buddhist and Jain doctrines.

The mangal's in Nirmala literature are different in style to those in Dasam Granth Sahib Ji, and Sarbloh Granth Sahib Ji. In my opinion they are iconic, in terms of Durga and Saraswati. This does not surprise me considering that the Nirmala Sampradava is a school based around interpreting Indian Sanskrit scriptures, into Gurmukhi. This was started by Guru Gobind Singh himself. To break the hegmonic domination of the Brahmans. Therefore texts that have the manglacharan in Braj, are translations of the original Sanskrit mangals, in Granths. This could be one argument to support the claim that Nirmala's are Khalsa, and not a Vedantic School.

All the best,

Kamalroop Singh

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Bahadur, with due respect, read my earlier post about there only being one text rather than 'some' as you say. A question - please list for me the 'other' Nirmala texts which include icons/images of devtas that you refer to?

Sant Kamalroop Singh Ji, you can't seriously expect me to believe that a mangalacharan is the same as an icon?! Mangalcharans are not designed to 'teach' you something, they are exactly what they say they are, an invocation. A 'two dimensional representation' is not a mangalcharan. Surely everyone knows that traditionally prior to study one begins with a mangalacharan to sarasvati. That is not the same as 'teaching through hindu icons'.

Neo, this is important because if I said 'Nihangs teach other Nihangs through icons of Ganesh' because I once came across one Nihang who happened to have drawn a picture of ganapti, I'm certain that would be considered naive and ill informed and I would be picked up on it.

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Sant Tirath Singh Ji,

Mahakal, has been represented as an Icon, in two dimensions, by Pan. Tara Singh Narotam. Therefore semiotically the word, Mahakal is an icon itself, to Narotam Sahib.

Let me expand further, the Nirmala Sikhs use symbols from Hindu mythology, to explain Sikh principles. However compared to Dasam or Sarbloh Granth, or even Guru Granth Sahib, there is a greater emphasis on:

Saraswati, the Devi, Ganesh and Ram.

In the invocation would you argue it is invoking an attribute of God? Or an image of Sarawati, etc? I would add here that in my opinion, the Nirmala scriptures speak for themselves, they are based on Vedantic philosophy and style.

By the way in tradition the Mangalcharan is the teaching itself. As knowledge comes from the Ist Dev.

Furthermore in the Nirmala scriptures the teaching involves, Hindu symbology, imagery, stories and examples. Icons do not have to be Idols, or Images. All icons comes from words, and more importantly what words actually mean, as well as what they are analogous to.

Icon:

"representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it"

All the best,

Kamalroop Singh

Sant Kamalroop Singh Ji, you can't seriously expect me to believe that a mangalacharan is the same as an icon?! Mangalcharans are not designed to 'teach' you something, they are exactly what they say they are, an invocation. A 'two dimensional representation' is not a mangalcharan. Surely everyone knows that traditionally prior to study one begins with a mangalacharan to sarasvati. That is not the same as 'teaching through hindu icons'.

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If that is your definition of an icon then Gurbani is replete teachings using Hindu icons. Again I have to seriously question how many nirmala texts you have read by the suggestion that there is a greater amount of references to sarasvati, ganesh, ram and the devi. There isn't. The focus is on advaita, which by its nature is concerned with Braham rather than devtay. This is not the case for Udasi literature.

A mangalacharan in a prakaran literature does not necessarily contain namaskar, vastunirdesh, and ashirvad, nor the four anubandhs found in shaastra. A perfect example is the one you quote above, which bears no resemblance to the content of Moksh Panth Prakash which is solely concerned with the nature of tatpad, tvampad, akhandarth and jivanmutki from the perspective of advaita through purva-pakshi-sidhanta.

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Where is Saraswati or Ganesh used in this context in Gurbani? The Ist Dev's mentioned in the Nirmala texts are not invoked or mentioned in Adi, Dasam or Sarbloh Granth Sahib. Infact instead of the Devtas, the Guru's invoke, Vahiguroo, Sri Akal, Sat Guru etc. Hence the mangalcharans, and main body of early Nirmala literature, is Vedantic. Guru Gobind Singh appears, after Ganesh, after Devi etc.

If there is difference in other primary source Nirmala literature please englighten me. I am here to learn and to share.

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'The Ist devs mentioned in the Nirmala texts'...again, you only are talking about one granth by Pandit Gulab Singh Ji, a mangalacharn to Ganesh that doesn't reappear in Bhavrasamrit for example. Its pretty clear by reading the works of Pandit Gulab Singh ji, rather than just his mangalacharan, that his Ishtadev is Guru Maharaj as it is is consistent across all his works and his subject is nirguna braham (rather than devtay). We are talking about the content of these works here. That is where the teaching lies.

There isn't a clear link between advaita and devtapuja, hence ramanuj, madhvacharya and others writing so vehemently against it.

Other Nirmala granths? Pick up any.

As for Gurbani, as we all know Sri Dasam Granth and Sarbloh Granth are replete with various references to the devi. Whether you interpret that as the maya-shakti of Ishvar or the actual devi is up to the interpretor. Regardless, Guru Maharaj was conveying teaching through the widely recognised narratives about the devi. That is a lot more of what you are talking about than a mangalacharan to an auspicious deity, prior to a teaching about nirguna Braham. Lets be clear;

- two texts have been cited

- one does not use 'hindu icons to teach'

- there is a vast number of nirmala works out there without any notion of 'hindu icons' being used to teach

- therefore your statement is incorrect

Whether Nirmalas are hindus is not the issue (and is admittedly a little more complicated). I'm talking about whether Nirmala granths use icons through direct imagery or through puranic narrative, or sarguna attributes, and the answer is that for the mast majority of that literature...no.

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Moksh Panth Prakash is THE key nirmala work! The CONTENT of that granth defines the nirmal bhekh, not the mangalacharans. No, I'm not making myself clear. What I am talking about here is questionnable generalisations based upon one specific citation, taken out of context. Simply put gapanati, sarasvati and the devi don't arise in nirmala literature as vehicles to teach Gurmat principles.

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I must warn against incorrect use of terminology here. In religious studies icons refer to two dimentional images only. If talking about texts and the evocation of divinities one would use the word characters or any other suitable literary term. The word icon here is totally out of place and it should be dropped at once.It simply has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. A word or name is not an icon.

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"The mangal's in Nirmala literature are different in style to those in Dasam Granth Sahib Ji, and Sarbloh Granth Sahib Ji. In my opinion they are iconic"

The term iconic is completely out of place here.

"I have examined the Mangals very carefully in Sri Sarbloh Granth Sahib Ji, Maya Lakhshami, in terms of exegesis of the scripture, is not Maya Lakhshami in the Hindu sense of the word. It is talking about an attribute of God. "

1. There is no "Hindu" sense of the word Mahalakshmi

2. It is a term found in the Shakta Tantra tradition that refers to God as feminine and as the origin of all Her manifestations as Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati etc.

3. The author of that mangalacharan is thus evoking the idea of an origin of all manifestation, the Divine.

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I didn't bring the term Iconic, into debate. Sant Tirath Singh quoted one line out of neo-sikhism.blogspot.com. So we are all arguing over one line and the term iconic. I have defined what I meant by iconic. I.e. the semsiological use of language, and analogous usages, that come from Hinduism.

I totally agree Hindu is a modern construct. However some people who believe in Mahalakhsami are definately "Hindu". As for the Shakta Tantra tradition definately, but is it fair to confine Maha Lakhsami to this tradition in modern terms?

In terms of the exegesis, from what I understood if it, Maha Lakhsami represents the multiplicity of God, e.g the ability of the same entity to morph into unlimited forms and attributes. Therefore on point 3. we agree.

Sant Tirath Singh Ji, the copy employed by me of the Adhiatam Ramayan by Pandit Gulab Singh Ji, is illustrated with a depiction of Shiv Ji. However this may have been added in by the scribe rather than the writer.

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I concur with Bahadur. I have never seen the word icon being used to refer to textual descriptions of the attributes of a deity or the divine before. Kamalroop Singh ji, please stop using the word 'sant' to address me.

Because a copy of adhyatam ramayan has an image of shiv ji appended to it no bearing on the content of the text nor the intention of the author! Surely you would not make the same conclusion about the illustrated manuscripts of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib or Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I've seen images compiled into all sorts of handwritten granths on various topics, and as we all know, in the 19th century it was not uncommon for granths to have illustrations added to them when being copied at the behest of their patron. The very old copies of Pandit Gulab Singh Ji's works I've seen in private collections and kept by Nirmalay i've met have been simple unbound editions, including Adhyatam Ramayan.

So going back to that original point a long time ago, Nirmalay do not use images or icons or visual representations of devtas or bhagvan to teach Gurmat principles.

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