IS POMP AND SPLENDOR RESPECT?
The Story of Three Fathers
One member from the Hindu community and another member from the Muslim community complained to a judge asking him, “Why is a Sikh father respected more than our fathers?”
The judge replied, “We need to find out, but can you please bring your respective fathers with you tomorrow?”
Next day, the judge asked both of them, “Have you brought your father with you?” Both the community members replied “Yes.”
The Judge said, “Present them to me.” The Hindu pointed out his father to the judge saying he is here right next to me. The Muslim told the judge “My father is also right here.”
The Judge looked at them but he remained silent so after a while, both community members asked the judge, “Why are you silent?” The Judge replied, “I am waiting for the Sikh and his father.”
A little while later, there was hustle and bustle outside. A very well decorated van arrived. When it stopped, a few people immediately laid a carpet outside the van leading to the court’s entrance door.
The Sikh man came out of the car escorting his father whilst his brother came out holding an umbrella canopy high over the father. Another brother was bowing all the way and a sister sprinkled rose petals on the ground. Another sister led a chorus “our father is the best, our dad is magnificent….”
Whilst this was going on, other members of the Sikh family entered the courtroom and set up a high cushioned seat for their father.
The father was then brought in total respect to sit on the high chair. Here all the family members bowed in deep reverence one by one before their father and then said in unison, “Dear father you are the greatest.”
The Judge looked at both the Hindu and Muslim members and said, “Now have you got your answer to why a Sikh father is so respected?
Without a word, both stood with their heads held low.
Suddenly the Sikh father spoke up.
Sikh Father: Honourable Judge, may I please address the court?
Judge: Yes, you may. You have earned the right to do that.
Sikh Father: You see, respected judge. My family has put up a great show of respect. They do that everyday. Sometimes even twice in a day. The eldest does it thrice daily. It’s a magnificent show.
Judge: Please carry on.
Sikh Father: You see, that’s what my family THINKS respect and reverence is. That’s how THEY want it to be.
Judge: Please explain.
Sikh Father: But they have never ONCE asked ME how I want to be respected.
Judge: Don’t stop. Please continue.
Sikh Father: They DON’T LISTEN to me. They DON’T want me to SPEAK. They DON’T OBEY me. They DON’T FOLLOW my instructions. They DON’T DO what I want and DON’T CARRY OUT what I ask them to do!
Judge: Is that so?
Sikh Father: It gets worse. Most of the time they do the EXACT reverse of what I say, the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I want. When I say “don’t do this”, they go about doing just that.
Judge: Oh my!
Sikh Father: See judge, my family is very happy THINKING that’s all there is to respecting their father. And that in this pompous show they have utmost respect for me. The other communities are envious seeing the way I am treated on the outside. The whole world has been taken in by the grand show of a ritual they just put up for your court to witness.
But I am CRYING deep within me. The unlucky father is one who is never listened to by his own family. Unluckier is the one whose advice is ignored. Unluckiest is one who is NEVER obeyed but subjected to the GRANDEST show of POMP and SPLENDOR for the whole world.
Judge (wiping tears): Do you have any last words?
Sikh Father: Yes, I do. But will my family listen to me? They NEVER have.
Have we ever asked OUR GURU how HE wants to be respected?
Have we been misled to treat OUR GURU only externally?
Do functions like processions reflect respect for OUR GURU?
What is TRUE RESPECT for our FATHER GURU?
Some responses from our Sikh Brothers and Sisters
- The value I derived from the story is that the externalities shown (rumala, chaur etc) are NOT signs of respect. Personally, I would do the external acts of devotion too, out of sheer love, but it is the message of God that I seek and crave for. However I feel that the message in the story was incomplete /unsaid. Does our Father’s message to us mean as much as his presence alone? I know the answer to that is apparent, however, are the next steps apparent? Are we leading ourselves in the right direction? Are we making ourselves competent enough to understand our Father? These questions hovered in me today. We each need to take steps to move in the right direction to understand and imbue Gurbani in us. Then only we can say ‘I do listen to you my darling Father. I don’t just cherish your physical form.’
- Our little minds can never know how best to serve our guru, how our guru can be pleased, how we can obtain the guru’s blessings but Gurbani can show us the way. Via gurbani vichaar we can get the gist of that knowledge. We can discuss and analyze without any malice towards those who disagree with us. Our intention will be to accept Gurbani messages by comparing and matching with our own life experiences.
- Guru ji does not need to be pleased. We can try to please Guruji all we want but he isn’t pleased unless we shine in our conduct using his messages. The Guru has given us the guidelines and by accepting these revealed guidelines, we can do our best via righteous actions and ultimately achieve inner peace.
- Using techniques of akhand paths etc does not please. Let’s follow Gurbani revelations, put them into actions and try not to stray from the revealed path. It is actually quite simple although people like to make this complicated by adopting useless rituals.
- I personally would agree to listening to one’s conscious voice but I somewhat struggle with rational thinking. Sometimes I feel that I am adding or subtracting to what the inner or conscious voice dictates. We have seen from many life experiences that when we do something wrong a clear voice keeps troubling us. But when we do something noble or inspirational that truly benefits others rather than ourselves, we find an immense sense of joy that we cannot express. So clearly the Creator’s presence within us is interacting with us. What remains is whether we CHOOSE to listen or ignore that voice.
- I believe every action of Guru Nanak is defined by the Creator’s direction. Guru Nanak is the vessel of the Creator’s thoughts and direction and the wisdom was offered via him and he has made himself so transparent that what others see is the Creator’s manifestation through Gurbani.
- Although everything is in the Hukm, our ability to align to Hukm assures us an inspirational journey of growth. Engaging without listening, not seeking to understand and not accepting our limitations curbs our experience of our inner true potential.
- I believe the Shabad Guru helps us internalise Hukm’s interaction and this enables the connectivity within us to a level where we can engage at an intuitive process. Wisdom offered is through internalizing the whole process of sunnai and manna – it is not mine but the Creator’s inspiration flowing through me.
- It gets complicated when we invoke our uncontrolled emotions together with the knowledge and intelligence that we would have gained from a society that is as lost as we are. I feel that finding our way through this web of experiences is complicating indeed. Hence the need to read and understand Gurbani.
- If Shabad Guru as our guide, then ‘sunnai’ and ‘mannai’ would suggest that we use intelligence on our journey into seeking answers. As the shabad at other places too suggests, ‘akli sahib sayviay.’ Serve your master with intelligence/wisdom. And wisdom can only be obtained through intelligence – knowledge plus life experiences. Both are necessary. That’s how rational thinking would then play its role.
Some Insights from Gurbani
(SGGS Rag Gauri M : 4)
ਸੇ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਜਿ ਤੁਧੁ ਧਿਆਇਦੇ ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੀਐ ॥
Se Vadbhagee Je Tudh Dheyandey Jin Satgur Milieh ||
Those who have met the God-connecting Guru and who seek to realize You are very fortunate.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਬਣੀਐ ॥
Satgur Kee Banee Sat Saroop Hai Gurbanee Banieh ||
The Guru’s Bani is the embodiment of the Creator; we realize Him by becoming Banee (inculcating the messages of Gurbani).
(SGGS 314 Rag Gauri M : 3)
ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਜਿ ਦਿਤਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਸਿਖੀ ਕੰਨੇ ॥
Updes Je Ditha Satguru So Suneya Sikhee Kaney ||
The Sikhs accept the Teachings imparted by the Guru.
ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਭਾਣਾ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਚੜੀ ਚਵਗਣਿ ਵੰਨੇ ॥
Jin Satgur Ka Bhana Maneya Tin Charee Chavgan Vaney ||
Those who accept the Guru’s instructions get imbued with Love of the Creator.
ਇਹ ਚਾਲ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ ਗੁਰ ਦੀਖਿਆ ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨੁ ਭਿੰਨੇ ॥੨੫॥
Eh Chal Niralee Gurmukhee Gur Dheekheya Sun Man Bhiney ||25||
This is the unique spirituality that emanates from the Guru’s mind – listen and accept it to obtain spiritual joy. ||25||
(SGGS 963 Rag Ramkali M : 5)
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਣੀ ਅਮਿਉ ਰਸੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ॥
Amrit Banee Ameo Ras Amrit Har Kaa Nao ||
Gurbani provides eternal spiritual life that is embodied in the virtues of the omnipresent Creator.
ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਹੁ ਸਚਾ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਆਉ ॥
Updes Suno Tum Gursikho Sacha Eyhai Suao ||
Listen to these Teachings, O Sikhs of the Guru. These messages link us to the Creator.
What then is True Respect?
Pomp and splendour can only represent fervor or blind faith but such actions can never replace the inner respect that OUR GURU desires and deserves. OUR GURU is a lighthouse of knowledge, GYAAN SOORAJ that we must read and internalize; and aim to lead a life as per the directions we are given.
It is the understanding and living as per Gurbani that is true respect.