ENCOUNTERS OF NANAKSDAS WITH CHRISTIANS
A NOTE FOR THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE INTELLIGENT SIKH BOYS AND GIRLS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 8 AND 12 YEARS
(1) November 1958 – Birmingham, UK. The first Gurdwara built by Sikhs at Smethwick a suburb of Birmingham was in a big Church which the Sikhs had purchased alongwith its 5-6 acre land for a sum of only £10,000, when the exchange value of pound was Rs. 13.40/- only. The attendance at Churches had gone down tremendously and on account of this the padre could not be paid as well as the annual repairs of the Churches could not be carried out. The Christians were averse to pull down the Churches and felt happy if somebody could utilize the Church as such.
(2) June 1969 – Glasgow. I stayed for a month at the Doctors residency of Gartnavel Mental Hospital before I could find my own house. I found that there were 20 medical students of both sexes who were looking after the patients during the night for which they were provided with free boarding and lodging. I learnt from them that none of them was prepared to take any money from their parents for their studies after the age of 18 years. They were all earning and paying for their medical studies. They were very devoted hard working men and women who were not going to Church at all. On discussing with them I learnt that all of them did believe in earning their daily bread by honest means. I explained to them that even though they were against practicing any religion and did not read Bible, this was the essence of Christianity which they were practicing.
(3) June 1970 – Kalmar, Sweden. My wife was working as a Consultant Anesthetist at this place and was staying in a flat owned by a retired 75-year-old doctor. I spent a week with her. One day the doctor discussed with me that he and another 75-year-old man were the only two persons who were paying for the repair of the beautiful church across the road by the side of the sea and he is extremely worried as to what is going to happen to this church. The Govt. was not prepared to take over and look after the church. He explained to me that I would be able to judge the society by the behaviour of his three children. His first born son who was 45-year-old was living with a woman and had two children. He refused to undergo any type of marriage ceremony. His 35-year-old daughter refuses to get married and wants to live with a person of her choice later. His youngest child, a 30-year-old daughter agreed to undergo an engagement ceremony to oblige her parents for which he had arranged a big party inviting 500 persons. After the ceremony she started living with the person without undergoing any type of marriage ceremony. In Swedon, the police at that time would register any man and woman living together as husband and wife and saw to it that the father paid for the upkeep of his children up to the age of 18 years. Any man deserting his wife would be hauled up and made to pay 25% of his income to the mother of his children up to the age of 18 years. This was making the family stay together under the same roof even if they were leading a promiscuous life. During my stay abroad for 5½ years mostly in UK (1958-61 and 1969-71) I found that by and large the vast majority of people were honest hardworking and believed in a work culture. The professors and teachers were always available to the students during lunch breaks and even after the working hours.
(4) March 1974 – Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. I went on deputation from PGI, Chandigarh to this institute from September 1973 to September 1976, as Professor of Radiotherapy. Professor Nambudipad, the Director of CMC called in a Cancer expert, Dr Utne from USA for three months to work in my department. Dr Utne informed me when he was leaving CMC that he had been charged to discuss and try his best to convert Dr Singh to Christianity. Within a few days Dr Utne remarked that he cannot teach me any Radiotherapy or management of Cancer because his personal knowledge of both was far inferior and on the other hand he would learn about the subject from my department. He said that he is also a preacher of Christianity in USA and he would like to discuss Christianity with me. I was mighty pleased and conveyed to Dr Utne that I was myself trying my level best to read the Bible and understand Christianity. Every morning as the head of my department I was supposed to call in every member of my staff to my office and start the day after reading a page from the Bible. I asked Dr Utne to explain to me the essence and greatness of Christ and Christianity because nearly half the world population was Christian. He informed me that Christ had martyred himself for the sake of humanity. Christ would not only pardon our sins but would also intercede on behalf of all Christians and recommend their pardon to God that he had laid down his life for Him. Dr Utne informed me that we can always depend on the grace and benevolence of Christ on account of the suffering of the Christ for our sake. I explained to Dr Utne, that this is very different as compared to the philosophy of Guru Nanak, the founder of our religion. I said that I am prepared to agree with him that Christ was the son of God. Guru Nanak on the other hand regarded himself as the dust underneath the feet of the servants of God as stated by him in his Bani as recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib whom the Sikhs revere as their living Guru. Guru Nanak acted as a Guru or Teacher to guide the humanity and show them the path of righteousness. He did not claim that he was an agent of God but taught how to lead a religious life and how to control our five basic urges of lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. I brought to his notice regarding the genesis and the structure of the universe as described by Guru Nanak. According to Guru Nanak, there was total darkness for aeons of years when the Primal Lord created the universe by His Will in a moment. Our scripture (Guru Granth Sahib) describes 9 continents, innumerable galaxies containing uncountable solar systems and that the infinite extent of the universe cannot be comprehended.
It is repeatedly stated by our Gurus beginning with Guru Nanak that there are 4 modes of reproduction: from eggs, from placenta, self reproduction (like that in bacteria, viruses and moulds.) and reproduction by seeds etc in the plant world.
Guru Nanak had traveled to the prominent places of pilgrimage all over India and beyond. He had traveled from Assam in the east to Mecca and Baghdad in the west, from Himalayas in the north to Sri Lanka in the south discussing with religious leaders and singing Gurbani that is the revealed words of the Lord accompanied by his low caste Muslim childhood friend Mardana playing on the Rabab (a stringed instrument like Sitar). He traveled for about 28 years commencing in 1499. He was preaching a religion of humanity to all. He exhorted Muslims to be good Muslims and there are several Shabads (or poems) addressed specifically to the Muslims. He recorded that the Muslims reciting the Namaz five times a day should have five basic virtues. He was preaching Brahmans the quality of a true Brahman. He met the Sidhs in the snow up the Mount Kailash and reprimanded them that if the religious teachers would shun the society and are praying for their personal salvation then who would guide the public about the path of truthful living. He was preaching all over that instead of worshiping their personal gods, the Hindus should worship the one Creator of the Universe and stop quarreling amongst themselves.
Guru Nanak wrote, “that in the present dark age (Kalyug), the kings have become butchers and true religion has flown away. In the moonless night of falsehood, the moon of truth is not visible.” “The Qazi who administers justice, takes bribes and delivers judgments. Brahmin literally ‘slays’ life and takes ablution. The ‘blind’ Yogi does not know the path. All three are leading the masses towards ruination.” In the morning community singing in every Gurdwara, Guru Nanak highlights the demoralization and corruption of the Indian society.
Dr Utne ask me to summarize the core ideology of Sikhism. I put before him two compositions or Shabads of fifth Nanak which epitomize the Sikh theology in a nutshell.
“Koee boley Raam Raam Koee Khudaye”….. Some address Him as Raam and some as Khuda. Some pray to the True Master and others to Allah. You are the cause and effect of everything, bless us with Your mercy. Some bathe at holy places, others perform Hajj. Says Nanak: He who realized Lord’s will, realized His mystery.
“Na Hum Hindu Na Musalmaan” ….. We do not keep fasts, nor do we observe the month of Ramzaan. We serve only the One, who protects us in the end. The One Lord, the Lord of the World, is our Allah. He administers justice equally both to the Hindus and Muslims. We are neither Hindus or Muslims. Our body and breath of life belong to the One called Allah or Raam.
After about two weeks Dr Utne requested me to provide him with a thick “karha” for his wrist. He started wearing the “karha” and this was noticed by everyone in CMC. When questioned Dr Utne conveyed to the authorities that he cannot understand two points. Firstly what made Miss Brown select Ludhiana in the heart of the Sikh area as the place of her missionary activity and secondly as to why the Sikhs have not converted all of them to Sikhi. Dr Utne conveyed to me that whatever discussion we had showed that Christianity was an old religion and that is why the younger generation in the space age was rejecting the unscientific ideas mentioned in the Bible. The modern child is surprised that why should Christ pardon the sins committed by individual and also they do not accept the story of genesis as given in the Bible. Dr Utne was convinced and conveyed to me that Dr Singh all Christians are potential Sikhs. The day, you Sikhs just convey to the school children all over the world as to what is given in Guru Granth Sahib, then at least all the Christians would become believers in the Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikhs have not to preach their religion. The Sikhs have only to provide the essence of Guru Granth Sahib in a small booklet of 30-40 pages and make it available to school children all over the world. Not only the children would become admirers of Guru Granth Sahib but strife would disappear from the world. Dr Utne conveyed to the authorities that he would not be able to convert Dr Singh to Christianity but he is confident that if he stays in CMC for three months, he would go back wearing a turban. Dr Utne was made to return to USA after a month.
(5) 1982 – Auchim Peters, a third year Medical Student from Hamburg visiting Surgery Department of PGI after corresponding and getting due sanction from the Director PGI, Auchim reached my residence on one Sunday morning carrying his baggage tied to his back. I learnt from him that he is a son of a rich banker but according to the custom of his age, he had refused all monetary help from his parents after he attained the age of 18 years. For the very expensive training from the Medical Degree he was earning his money by becoming an ambulance driver in the night and weekends. He was also performing duties in ICU ward of hospital whenever possible. He had saved the money for his trip to PGI. I was surprised to learn that he had walked from the Delhi Airport to the inter-state bus terminus at Kashmiri Gate Delhi a distance of about 20 kilometers to save money and wanted to stay for the night at my place and them he was confident that some post-graduate students of PGI would accommodate him in their hostels in turns. He also confirmed that he along with his generation was against going to the church. I explained to him that he was practising a true religion by leading his life in this manner. He was planning to spend three months in the following years either at Bangkok or Rangoon (Burma) and in the last year in USA.
(6) 1995 – Mauritius. I happened to talk to a Christian Architect who had become a Buddhist a month earlier during a ceremonial lunch. He explained to me that he came across a small booklet written by Dalai lama about Buddhism and found that this was a better religious life as compared to Christianity. He discussed with his wife and eight-year-old son and all of them became Buddhist and converted a room into a Buddhist Temple containing a Statue of Buddha. He was surprised when I explained to him briefly the essentials of Sikhi. He was amazed that being such a modern and scientific religion there is no small book on Sikhi in any library. He wanted me to urgently produce a book of not more than 100 pages containing the history and ideology of the Sikhs.
(7) October 2002 – Oswal Hospital Ludhiana. At a conference on Radiotherapy and cancer organized by the hospital Dr. Hoskins from Vancouver came as a participant. I inquired from Dr. Hoskins that he must have come across several Sikhs in his town and what does he know about the Sikhs. He remarked that “I have seen their noisy processions and that they are a law and order problem for their country.” I had the small booklet on Guru Granth Sahib – Light House of Humanity and asked Dr. Hoskins to read a few lines from the book. When he read, “Men of charity gift away the riches they gather through sin……. Women love their men for their money……. The Kazi mutters Khuda-Khuda (God) and accepting bribes does injustice………..Greed like that of a dog, cheating and slander…….and self-praise are our actions”. He read underneath Guru Nanak and asked me, Who was Guru Nanak? I informed him that Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism. He was extremely surprised and felt that how could Guru Nanak be the founder of the religion which was being portrayed by the Sikhs at Vancouver. He was very happy to get the small booklet containing extracts from Guru Granth Sahib.
The Sikhs are spending crores of rupees during 2004 to celebrate the various centenaries connected with various events from the Sikh History. The mega event was held at Amritsar which was visited by millions of Sikh and President and Prime Minister of India had been invited to participate in the function on 1-9-2004. Similar celebrations are being held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib in various countries of the world. Prince Charles attended a big function held at the Royal Albert Hall at London. There is hardly any mention in the world media regarding the contents of Guru Granth Sahib. No one knows that Guru Nanak had been preaching to Muslims of Mecca to imbibe true Islam and practice the same. Very few in the world know that the foundation stone of the central Shrine of Sikhi, the Darbar Sahib Amritsar better known as Golden Temple had been laid by a Muslim Divine, Hazrat Mian Mir. The Tenth Nanak Guru Gobind Singh had helped militarily Bahadur Shah, the son of the killer of his father and four sons (Emperor Aurangzeb), to capture the throne of Delhi, which was his legal right. The sixth Nanak Guru Hargobind had given land in a town founded by him for construction of a mosque which is still in existence. The Sikhs have yet to propagate about the significance of the fives symbols of the Khalsa i.e. Kesh (Uncut Hair) indicating the kinship of the Khalsa with the Primal Lord; Kangha (Comb); Karha (iron or steel bracelet) to withhold the Khalsa from performing any evil deed; Kachhera (specially designed underwear to remind Khalsa against adultery) and Kirpan(small sword, the emblem of the sovereignty of the Khalsa).
Nanaksdas, Dr Kuldip Singh FRCS, CHANDIGARH PUNJAB.
NOTE: As recently as a month ago, India celebrated on a Grand scale – Grander than any scale ever seen before, the 350th Birthday of The Tenth Nanak – Guru Gobind Singh Ji, but sadly the same sentiments expressed by Dr Kuldip Singh ji expressed above about Previous Centenaries and celebrations prevailed….more attention and praise was heaped on how big the langgar was, how long the processions were, how well the accommodation arrangements were and how huge and well lighted decorated air conditioned…..the pandals and etc etc were and NOT MUCH was disseminated/discussed about the Philosophy, the wars, the works, the poetry, the Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Not much effort was made to connect Guur Gobind Singh Ji to the previous Nine Nanaks and How He accomplished the Finale of what began in 1469 in 1708 by placing the Guru Granth Sahib Ji on the Gurgadee THRONE of Nanak as the Final and ONLY Guru to guide the Khalsa For Eternity. Sadly we Sikhs are still stuck in the same rutt…We continue to be fascinated by the shining glass while we discard the diamonds and pearls.