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The guru-shisihya tradition among the Nirmalas


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This is another controversial one. In a sense it is a much needed clarification.

It is Nirmala tradition to be initiated by one's 'vidyaguru', 'gurdev' or simply 'guru'. The use of this term usually makes SGPC types and others beyond, recoil in horror with a 'I told you so' attitude. Although this was touched upon on the useful sarbloh.info website, to my mind it was dealt with rather badly by using the term 'dehdhari guru' which is common nowadays to designate heterodox groups like the radhaswamis and namdharis among others.

It is held within the Nirmala tradition that after the first five were sent to Sri Chetan Math, when they returned, under the direction of Bhai Dya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh, they then were directed to teach other Singhs. By the time Pandit Gulab Singh is writing, he is referring in his texts after the mangalacharan to Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh, to guru Maan Singh, his hazoori Singh vidyaguru. The sequence of the mangalacharans is vital to understanding what is meant by it.

As has been alluded to in other things I've written, the Guru (the functional meaning of which varies from a teacher through to a means to enlightenment) is three fold; Parmatma in its formless aspect. Secondly parmatma in its sargun aspect and revealer of the yug dharma (Guru Maharaj) - this aspect is referred to as the ishtadev, or focal point. This is only then followed by the third form, the vidyaguru or individual who deepens ones understanding of the revealed path. This is the distinction with namdharis and radhaswamis, that the ishtadev has and always will be Guru Maharaj.

What function does the vidyaguru perform? In most cases they arrange for the chela's learning of brahmvidya, whether that be with themselves, or away in an established vidyala. For example, Pandit Gulab Singh is sent to Kashi by his gurdev. This however is only one aspect of the relationship. The 'tradition' element; in other words, the means by which having acquired this brahmvidya HOW it is carefully interpreted and built into gurmat marg, is also undertaken by the gurdev. By studying the vidyaguru's actions, behaviour, and hearing his or her own understanding the shish is given a model of how to live and practice.

I feel this is the most important part of the relationship. It is the means by which learning does not push Nirmalay into heterodoxy. For example, from my own experience, my time spent with my gurdev always calms me, increases my sense of unattachedness in a positive sense, and places the central focus upon the virtues Gurbani stipulates of calm-mindedness, compassion, unattachedness, pyar, and patience. I found also that this only comes through spending a lot of time observing my gurdev in different contexts and situations.

Another important example. I was recently on a train journey to Vrindavan having to listen to a pseudo gyani/baba speaking to some interested bibis. He went on and on and on. Total verbal diarrhea. None of it was wrong or offensive, but as much as he talked, I found it hollow. It reminds me of a great sakhi I heard recently. A father is frustrated by his son who refuses to listen to his advice to stop smoking. Out of desparation he takes his son to a fakir to convince the boy. The fakir says come back in a year. After the year has passed again the father and son return. The fakir sits down and convinces the young lad immediately to never smoke again. The father then asks, why could you not have done that a year ago? The fakir explains that he chewed tobacco back then. On the father's request he immediately stopped but needed a year to really be able to convey the truth of his advice. In otherwords, if the ideas presented have not been embodied by the person presenting them, they more often than not have little effect, they are hollow intonations. This is something I have found, that a person who has embodied such virtues will not necessarily need to say much for others to be inspired.

Now back to history. It has been only since the Singh Sabha that this traditional terminology has lost common parlance. For example in the British accounts of the consequence of Baba Bir Singh Naurangabad's death in a poltically motivated armed struggle between two Sikh forces, it was the people of Punjab who labelled this an act of 'gurumarr'. Even early Nanaksar personalities such as Baba Meehan Singh make reference to one among them called guruji. Likewise among Sevapanthi and Udasi literature frequent references are made to 'guru', including Sobha Ram's extensive 'Gurbilas Baba Sahib Singh Bedi'. For the Sevapanthis he was a guru. What does that mean? It means that he was an embodiment of brahmgyan whose words were carefully heeded. He was not however understood to be the ishtadev of that yug.

In practice among Nirmalay, usually this shish spends their formative years with their gurdev. Usually, upon the gurdev's mahasamadhi, and upon being given the mahanti of the akhara, the whole process begins again with the now well learned, experienced and well modelled shish making his own chelas.

In modern times, whether they call him Bhai Sahib and feign disapproval for traditional gestures of respect for him, Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh Ji functions in very much the same model. His advice is taken as the means by which to interpret and practice Gurmat. If anything he seems to have made bolder reforms and stipulations than most, such as changing one of the panch kakkars and his ideas on raag mala, but thats another very long, well trodden and nasty debate.

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The issue is quite simple, Sikhs today have an attitude that everything that makes up our own cultural heritage only begun with the Gurus and pre-that time nothing of the sort existed and if it did they conveniently ignore it or brush it off with cursory comments.

Kesh, Dastaar, bearing of Arms, Nirgun Worship, challenging orthodox traditions that had become diluted over time etc etc are not things that appeared out of thin air with the arrival of Guru Sahib alone.

Likewise the title Guru is not unique to Sikhs - tSingh I have the same issue from modern groups (i.e. Sant Samaj, AKJ, Taksal etc etc) when I refer to my music teacher as Guru Ji, so the issue you describe with respect to the Vidyaguru for spiritual discussion can only be expected.

My music teacher is known to all his students as Guru Ji and I certainly do not see him as some dehdhari Guru!!! The word is akin to Ustad, which I would use if it was a Muslim teacher (but I learn music from a Hindu Pandit).

On a tangent, it is interesting to note that Guru Nanak was historically referred to as Baba Nanak (the Guru title coming into popular vogue much later) and the only other "Baba" being Baba Gurditta, primarily because "ancient texts" indicate that he looked like Guru Nanak Dev Ji...however, many Sanatanists love to harp on about the importance of "Baba" Buddha Ji, however in reality the "ancient texts" show that he was never "Baba" but a "Bhai" like everyone else of his status...perhaps on another thread if the forum would like we can look into this aspect and discuss the implications of Bhai Buddha Ji becoming "Baba" Buddha Ji and historically validity of the commonly heard sakhis today (re: giving a tilak to the Gurus, blessing the Gurus with the Sodhi lineage, bestowing 'shastar vidiya' etc etc) and who or rather which group in particular amongst Sikh writers are responsible for introducing these contortions of history and why...

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With the power entrusted in me by my little friends and siblings and being in a semi-sound mind after two glasses of soda-pop, AND having read every website written about 'Panthic matters' created by my own little friends, I hereby declare you all Anti-Panthic and agents of RSS, GOI, SAD, Kala Afghana, FBI, CIA, CBI, Al Qaeda, and the IRA.

P.S. yo mama shops at Harrod's! :!:

Merry X-Mas

Fateh Singh

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wow that's a lot of power and authority u got fatehsingh. Will you b my guru?

Niranjana the thing you mentioned about baba budha ji from a convo with singhs in india the term baba was given to baba budha ji only after he had taught shashtervidya to Guru Hargobind maharaj and helped in creating the akaal sena. On naming the akaal sena after bhai budha he affectivly became their shastarvidya guru and hence got the title Baba. This also accurd with Baba Fateh singh ji sahebjada (whose shaheedi purb is soon akaaal) as he is attribted to having started the budhdal or having influenced their dress sense depending on who you ask he too is regarded as baba.

So one could conclude that whoever played a major role in the formation of dal panth (budha dal nihang singh etc) was promoted to Baba and this promotion technique then became more common and was applied to anyone regarded as cool and great like sants jathedars etc

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Gurfateh Sadh Sangat Ji,

This is a great post, it will reveal major misconceptions here that modern day groups have in their mind on samparda's.

I concur fully with my brother- tsingh. Great post, you have put it nicely pretty much what i thought, just had a hard time putting into words.

Modern days groups have a hard time understanding the concept of guru(gurdev/teacher) and satguru sahiban. They fully ignore the context of these two terms. They accuse samparda's of having cultish mentality (guru- shish relationship/sant-chela relationship), they question that relationship saying sri guru granth sahib ji is teacher of teachers(i have no doubts), but they question why you need a guide or another teacher? They don't know deciphering arths of gurbani is not work of agyani-tom, dick harry, but bhramgyani who has merged with dhur ki bani by shabad surat abhyaas, they are only ones give the sangat guidance to understand gurbani by using correct standard (context, various interpertations on level of understanding- shabad arth, antriv arth with uthanka). Calling bhramgyani an vidya gurdev or gurdev is not manmat, in hindustani culture - guru/gurdev is a teacher, thats what it means.

If shish uses proper context to call bhramgyani an guru(teacher), i dont see any harm in it and it does not mean that shish is calling his teacher or comparing his teacher as satguru sahiban ( guru nanak dev ji avtar in kalyug).

Also modern day groups also have a problem with samparda's- use sant (personality) ie- give naam , jugti to the jaiagaso. They accuse samparda's of lacking using panj pyares (guru pyares) as an guidance to the sangat.

I agree with them to some extend that panj pyares should be used in matters, however, history* also tells us- that bhai dya singh ji was consider an mukhi (out of respect/satkar) by other beloveds, there is no doubt they were all bhramgyanis and mukht atama and history shows us that bha dya singh ji wasgiven jathedari within panj pyares di seva. Mukhi panj pyara- bhai dya singh ji dont neccasarily have to consult with other pyares before doing parchar because he was considered mukhi, there was no need for him to call other pyares in the sangat in cases of - giving atam updesh, jugti to the sangat.

*History- soraj parkash granth chapter of bhai dya singh ji giving atam updesh to the sangat alone.

So if mahapursh in a samparda(Dera) gives naam or jugti to his shish, i dont think there is anything wrong with that.

Virkarat -Sant dalel singh ji maharaj used to give naam amrit to his shish without following sanaskar amrit (khanda amrit). I don't think thats anti-panthic , whole purpose of amrit is naam amrit anyway, if bhramgyani gave naam amrit without following outer aspect of amrit maryada that amrit is still valid only because he/she is bhramgyani not any of your joe-blow singh. To be fully politically correct, such amrit cannot be called as khanda da amrit however, it is 100% internal naam amrit (naam/shabad/gurmantar) which gurbani talks about.

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Dynamic - I cannot believe what I am hearing! I pity the fool who worships humans! Humans cannot be trusted! They are liars! You have been cheated and lied to! I was born part cyborg so I'm totally in Chardikala... AKAAAAAAAAAL!!!

N30 - Yo don't be dissin' Bhai Joe-blow Singh Khalsa jee aiite? He's totally chardikala like, he has so much.... hair, and love.... He's totally like, massive, gangster, hiphop, rock'n'roll, cowabunga cool. I still remember how much pyaaar and shardaa he had while we were behind the school building shooting rats. He put gasoline and burnt EACH AND EVERY rat to ashes - TELL ME ONE OTHER PERSON IN THE MODERN HISTORY WHO HAS DONE SO!!!


Your silence says it all.

btw u're also one of dem anti-panthic agents!

(P.S. this is the part where I cover my ears and shout)


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  • 2 months later...

i read this post again, i love this to bits, again modern day groups are not familiar with the puratan concept of guru, fully aligned with gurbani and gurmat- unfolded in the puratan mangalcharan:

~Puratan MangalCharan ~

Firstly meditating upon Aatam Dev

Nirmal Jot, of Sat Chit Anand Svaroop

Then I bow to the lotus feet of Ishtadev

SatGuru Maharaj, Dasaan Patshahian di Jot

Finally I offer salutations to my Gurdev/Murshid

, under whose guidance.

All efforts blossom forth

Sat Sri Akaal !

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Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ke Fateh,

I also face same problem with most of the modern Amritdharis. Actually, we've unable to understand the core meanings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji though they say that we're not understanding the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

We need to understand that:

Where in Guru Granth Sahib Ji it is written that hate some religion or people. Guruji does NOT allow us to hate anyone even though the other person or religion is trying to prove that Sikhs are part of Hindus. We belong to a religion which even quenches the thirst of its enemies in the battlefield. Guru Gobind Singh Ji didn't say that we should not give water to injured enemies. But as a matter of fact Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked to provide medication to injured enemy soldiers. If our Gurus have ordered us to do such things to our enemies, then how could we hate and say bad to other religions that are trying to prove that we're part of them???

Secondly, most of the modern Amritdharis looks down upon anyone (including other Amritdharis) that goes to Sant/Mahapurash/Brahmgyani. They normally say that Sant/Brahmgyanis claim themselves as Gurus and as you are following dehdhari Gurus, you're going against the order of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. But they need to understand this very clearly that NO Sant/Brahmgyani claims himself as Guru. They're here just to let us know how to reach the GOD BY FOLLOWING GURU GRANTH SAHIB JI.

Sant do NOT preach anything outside of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Most people normally ask that if you're Amritdhari who has taken Amrit from Panj Payaras, then why you need to go to Sant/Brahmgyani?

The answer is: We go to Sants because only a Brahmgyani can give us a Naam Jugti. If any one payara from among Panj payaras is Bramhgyani, then he can give naam de jugti to the jaiagaso. But if there is no Bramhgyani within Panj Payaras, then we need Bramhgyani to guide us for the meanings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and for naam de jugti. This was different in older times when all the Panj Payares were Brahmgyanis, now these days see how many from us are Amritdharis and Brahmgyanis???

Brahmgyani can disclose the very core meaning in Gurbani. Each tuk can be understood in different meanings according to the avastha. But Brahmgyani can disclose the actual meaning of Gurbani to us.

Everything in the world can be easily achieved with jugti/technique and same thing applies to jeev atma if GOD wants jeev atma to get out of 8400000 juni.

This jugti/technique can ONLY be taught by someone who has already one with GOD or say who has achieved GOD and anyone who achieved GOD is called Bramhgyani (knower of Bramhgyan).

But yes, I do believe that there are some persons who are acting as Sants, but they are not. For them I would say that we should NOT say bad to them, because they are in bana (outer) and we should respect their outer bana and there is no way that we can test whether he is a true Brahmgyani or not.......in-fact we should never ever try to test Brahmgyani....... how could we as a human-beings detect/test a Brahmgyani, we're NOT even able to differentiate between a actual pool of water and false pond on a hot day from some distance..............during a hot day on the road it looks like there is water on the road but when we go near it was just our wrong thinking......this is so called Mirage effect........we are misled by our brain and eyes............the point here is our senses are bound to be deceived because of the effect of maya.

Only Brahmgyani can remove this parda of maya and help us to see the reality by taking us near to RAAB.

Thirdly, modern Amritdharis don't believe that Hell, Heaven, 33 crore devte, Good Spirits, Bad Spirits, Ridhi-Sidhi etc. etc exists........ they simply call these things as RSS da agenda or manmat. These things DO exist, but Guruji has warned us NOT to follow these things.......means that we should not do worship of 33 crore devte, and we should not have the craze for Ridhi-Sidhi because these things are part of maya which may divert us from ONE path. But we can NOT refuse it's existence.

I don't have the vast knowledge as most of you guys have.

Raab sab de sir te apna mehar barea hath rakhe

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DB - I am aware of the theory that you have outlined concerning the "Baba" title for Bhai Budha Ji, however reading through historical texts and looking at how this assertion comes to be accepted provides quite an interesting revelation...perhaps best for another thread as my initial post was simply using this as a passing reference further tsingh's comments.

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I asked a question on the nirmalas a while ago . it went unanswered. can su,one tell me that the 5 Sikhs who went to kashi to recieve vidya at behest of Guru Ji , they all had singhs as their name, altho this was about 10 years before the revelation of khalsa panth. weere these thier original names ?if no what were? its not on sarbloh.com

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  • 2 years later...

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