HOLY SANT, HOLIER CHELAS AND BLIND SHARDALOOS
Disgraced pseudo “Godman” cum convicted serial and statutory rapist Ram Rahim Gurmeet Singh has been in the news lately – obviously for all the wrong reasons.
The ultimate shame that Singh is his surname, that Sikhs formed a large portion of his hundred thousand odd followers, and that he has been the subject of three Akaal Takhat dictates merits discussion on this forum: not on the jailed and disgraced sham of a culprit per se – but on the larger phenomenon of using “Godman-ship” to rob and loot innocent followers.
In Punjab alone there are some 20,000 deras – owned and run by people who claim to be mahapursh (godly elevated beings) and Sants (Saintly beings). Compare this figure to about 13,000 villages.
The Punjabi idiom Ett Chuki Tey Sant Nikul Aunda (A sant can be found behind every stone) has eventually come true.
Perhaps Old Mc Donald’s farm too has come to be inhabited by these so called Sants.
A Sant Baba here, and a Sant Baba there,
Every where a Sant Baba
Here a Sant, there a Sant,
Everywhere a Sant….
A group of hand-picked chelas (loyal followers) run the everyday affairs of the deras – many of whom have larger congregations than most historical gurdwaras.
Chelas comprise of school dropouts who are otherwise un-employable. Their primary qualifications are two: blind loyalty and an ability to appear good in flowing spiritual garb. Their primary functions are two: spread tall tales about being witness to the Sant’s non-existent miraculous powers and do propaganda of the dera’ Godman-ship. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves would be an apt analogy.
The ultimate reward for the Chela is of course to become the leader of the Forty Thieves when the pseudo Sant moves on to take his seat on the right hand side of God Himself ! Such succession is the reward of the blindest of blind loyalty. He pays it back by celebrating barsees of the dead pre-decessor till time immemorial and narrating tall fake tales about the “godly” powers of the deceased on such celebrations.
Of course his ultimate goal is to legitimize his own position. The unsaid message is that his predecessor was ‘godly”. Hence the decision to appoint him as the chosen chela was equally “godly.”
THE QUESTION THAT NEEDS ANSWERING.
Who or what is a SANT as per Tatt Gurmatt (authentic Sikhi)? Let’s look at our SGGS ji for the answer to this question.
The word SANT comes in the following contexts in the SGGS ji.
1. Sant refers to God. It is always in the singular form.
(SGGS 97 Rag Maajh M : 5)
ਭਾਗੁ ਹੋਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਸੰਤੁ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
Bhag Hoa Gur Sant Milaeya || Prabh Abnasee Ghar Meh Paeya
I am blessed that my Guru has united me with (Sant) God.
I have realized the Immortal Lord (Sant) within my own self.
(SGGS 622 Rag Sorath M : 5)
ਸੰਤ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਧਰਮ ਕੀ ਪਉੜੀ ਕੋ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਪਾਏ ॥
Sant Ka Marug Dharam Kee Pauree Ko Vadbhagee Paey ||
The way of the Lord (Sant) is via elevation of one’s mind to obtain the blessings of the Guru
(SGGS 13 Rag Gauri Poorbi M : 5)
ਕਰਉ ਬੇਨੰਤੀ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਮੀਤਾ ਸੰਤ ਟਹਲ ਕੀ ਬੇਲਾ ॥
Karo Beynantee Sunho Meyrae Meeta Sant Tehal Kee Beyla ||
Listen, my friends, I beg of you: now is the time to serve the (Sant) Lord!
2. Sant can also refer to the Guru. Again it is always used in the singular form.
(SGGS 776 Rag Suhi M : 4)
ਗੁਰੁ ਸੰਤ ਜਨੋ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਮੈ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਬੁਝਿ ਗਈਆਸੇ ॥
Gur Sant Jano Pyaraa Mai Mileya Meree Trisna Bujh Gaee-asey ||
I have realized my Beloved Creator through my Guru-Sant, O people; my thirst is quenched, and my yearning satisfied.
ਸੰਤ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕੈ ਏਕੈ ਕਾਮ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Sant Gobind Kai Eykai Kam ||1|| Rahao ||
The Guru (Sant) and God have a similar function. ||1||
3. Sant can refer to TRUE & GENUINE seekers of God. Hence it can be in the singular, plural or as the second party.
The root of the word SANT is SAT (meaning God). So the meaning of Sant is “one seeking to connect with SAT”.
In reality SANT in this context or its equivalent – SANTO, SANTEH, SANTAN all refer to us Sikhs. SANT is what our Gurus want us to be – the genuine seekers of SAT.
(SGGS 621 Rag Sorath M : 5)
ਸੰਤਹੁ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮਿ ਨਿਸਤਰੀਐ ॥
Santo Ram Nam Nisteree-eh ||
O Seeker Sikhs, the way to successful spirituality is to acquire Godly (RAAM) virtues (NAAM).
(SGGS 867 Rag Gond M : 5)
ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸੰਤਹ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲਿ ॥
Sas Sas Santeh Prithpal ||
With each and every breath, He cherishes the Seekers of Sat (Santeh).
(SGGS 10 Rag Asa M : 4)
ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਜੀ ਸਭਿ ਦੂਖ ਵਿਸਾਰਣਹਾਰਾ ॥
Har Thiavoh Santo Jee Sabh Dhukh Visaran-hara ||
Meditate on the Lord, O Seekers of the Sat (Santo); He is the Dispeller of all sorrow.
(SGGS 863 Rag Gond M : 5)
ਸੇ ਸੰਤਨ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਮੀਤ ॥ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮੁ ਗਾਈਐ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਨੀਤ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Se Santan Har Ke Merey Meet. Kewal Nam Gaeeh Ja Ke Neet.
Those Seekers of the SAT (Santan) are my friends. I only sing only the Virtues of the Lord in their company
Santeh, Santo and Santan are all plural forms and used for genuine souls who want to realize or connect with God through the Sant (Guru).
4. It is used for the class of people who either call themselves a SANT, or add it to their names, use it as a title, or desire to be called such by others.
Gurbani critiques this group of people on the following grounds :
A. The title is discriminatory because this class is saying we are higher than the lay people.
B. The title is an anti-thesis to the control of one’s ego. Calling oneself higher than others is not spirituality sanctioned.
C. Our Gurus did not support the use of “spiritual” titles that were in vogue then – Sri 108, Chatur Vedi, Duvedi, Trivedi, Sri 111 etc. (These titles were meant to denote how many religious books one had read of the 108 Upanishids, 18 Puranas and 4 Vedas).
True and genuine seekers of God are RARE. The word used to clarify this is VIRLA. It is the equivalent of one in a million.
So the term SANT SAMAJ (An Organization of SANTS) that is used in the Sikh community by a group of “Sants” as an interest group or pressure group is therefore a misnomer. How can there be a “samaj” of people who are VIRLEY?
This is what Gurbanis says of such people:
(SGGS 476 Rag asa Bhagat Kabir)
ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥
Oue Har Kae Santh N Aakheeahi Baanaaras Kae Thag ||1||
Do not call them SANT (their self proclaimed title) because they are frauds within the community of spirituality seekers (the word Benares signifies this community).
(SGGS 491 Rag Gujree M : 3)
ਹਿਰਦੈ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਕੈ ਕਪਟੁ ਵਸੈ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਕਹਾਹਿ ॥
Hiradhai Jinh Kai Kapatt Vasai Baaharahu Santh Kehaahi ||
Those whose hearts are filled with hypocrisy, who are called Sants only for their outward show.
Hence it means that though their mind is spiritually corrupt, they want to be labelled as a Sant.
Sant in Sikh History
In Gurbani itself, the spiritually elevated physical Gurus used only one word (Nanak) and numbers (Mehala 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9) to denote them as the composers. All the other contributors are labelled as Bhagats or Bhatts. None of them is referred to as a Sant.
The word used for Sikhs who sacrificed themselves is BHAI – Bhai Mardana, Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Dyala, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Taru Singh and a long line of others
Bhai means brother. There is equality among brothers. It does not discriminate. The word is not a “title.” Even the original Panj Pyarehs are respected as Bhai.
It is worth noting that no Sikh used the word SANT for himself until 1905 when the British bestowed the title of SANT on seven of their soldiers and sent them to the villages to do their bidding (which was to break the lay Sikhs away from the SGGS ji and make them beholden to the human Sants).
The downslope into bipreet practices (rituals contrary to Gurmatt) started from that point as more and more innocent Sikhs fell victim to such scams, unaware of the actual agenda to slowly brainwash them to ‘worship’ their Granth (instead of reading, understanding and getting enlightened by it) and do meaningless chanting instead of acquiring the actual message therein.
So we can safely conclude that the arbitrary use of the title Sant to denote any ‘godly man’ among Sikhs is indeed questionable and against the teachings in SGGS ji. Let us not fall for any ‘Sant Baba’ and the self-endorsed maryada (rules of conduct) of any ‘dera.’
All we will obtain from such people are more and more advents into the Snatan rituals and an elite pujaree class – both of which are vehemently condemned by our Gurus.
It is time to take a stand and revere ONLY the supreme and spiritual leader of the Sikhs, the SGGS ji and to seek spiritual guidance from Gurbani. Let us all pledge to walk on the path of Tatt Gurmatt (Authentic Sikhi) from now and not succumb to any teachings of any Sant.