In the recent past in Malaysia there has been a concerted effort by a Non Governmental Organisation called Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) to discourage the Sikh sangat from reading Banis (sacred writings) contained in the Sri Dasam Granth Sahib (SDG) based on their unfounded claims that it is “NOT WRITTEN BY GURU GOBIND SINGH JI” , that lack the backing of any hard evidence and/or historical facts. I know this is going to hurt many, but looking at the situation I am forced to say that “there are many gullible members of the Sikh sangat and Gurdwara committee members who blindly support these Real Deviationists as a result of lack of religious knowledge and education”. I shall deliberate more on this state of ignorance later in this article.
Recently during the Chinese New Year holidays my family and I decided to drive up North to Penang (my hometown is Butterworth) to spend some time with my brother’s family. While attending a Gurdwara function in Butterworth I met an old friend with whom I’ve had several heated discussions on matters related to Sikhi. It was not long after our exchange of Gurfatehs (A Khalsa Greeting) that we found ourselves engaged in yet another one. Only this time it was matters related to the authenticity of Sri Dasam Granth Banis. To drive home his point he quoted the following verse from Sri Anand Sahib which is one the most misused shabads by the Kala Afgana ideologists.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨਾ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ॥
Saṯgurū binā hor kacẖī hai baṇī.
Without the True Guru all other word is false.
ਬਾਣੀ ਤ ਕਚੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥
Baṇī ṯa kacẖī saṯgurū bājẖahu hor kacẖī baṇī.
Without the True Guru every other word is false. All other sermons are but false
(SGGS Ji, Ang: 920)
The meaning in English given above is derived from Dr Manmohan Singh Ji’s work. The literal meanings in English given above are one of the the root causes of the problems that the Sikh Panth is facing today at large, and also the main reason why the irresponsible organisations like the MGC, are taking advantage of, to mislead the ill educated and ill informed sangat.
The problem is, my old friend used the above shabad to back his claim that anything that is not written by the Guru is false. Hence, since the SDG is not written by the Guru it is therefore “false bani’. He also went on to say the Sikh Rehet Maryada (SRM) does not allow the singing of Bani from SDG except the Jaap Sahib, Tuaparsad Sawiyes and the Chaupai Sahib. My immediate response to him was if the above interpretation of the shabad is correct, then why does the SRM allow the singing of Varan Bhai Gurdas and Ghazals of Bhai Nand Lal Ji, since the writers are also not Gurus. Guess what, I couldn’t believe my ears when he responded saying that the allowing of the above mentioned varan and ghazals is a mistake in the SRM that needs to be corrected. I didn’t know whether to laugh at him or cry for his bad karma.
Dear Sadh Sangat Ji, the above response is however not to be taken lightly. The following points need to be noted seriously here.
- It only confirms the fact that the ultimate aim of the Kala Afganis is to eventually remove the above mentioned two important canons (a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine) from the Sikh Panth. The attack that on SDG Banis will eventually move on to Varan Bhai Gurdas, Ghazals Bhai Nand Lal, Raag Mala, Bhat Bani, Bhagat Bani and so forth.
- The Kala Afgana ideologists do not care nor accept the credibility of historical evidence or facts that prove the authenticity of Varan Bhai Gurdas Ji as the “Key to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji” as commanded by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji Himself. This sheer disregard for hard evidence or facts is a common trend that I noticed among them when it comes to SDG banis as well.
Analysis of The Meanings of The Shabad
Lets look at the meaning of the above stated shabad as given in two different teekas (commentaries) of SGGS JI as below.
1. Sri Ameer Bhandar by Giani Kirpal Singh Ji of Bhai Mani Singh Ji’s Taksal Based in Amritsar.
This Teeka is popular among Damdami Taksal gianis who use it widely as their reference. I personally use this as my main reference. I am providing a screen shot of the relevant lines and meanings given in punjabi in Image 1.
In the First line ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨਾ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ there are two meanings given.
1st Meaning: Apart from the True Guru’s Banis, all other banis are false. This is because Guru’s Bani is God’s creation while all other bani is human creation.
2nd Meaning: ਸਤਿ = Truth = Independent of the three dimensions of time, ਗੁਰੂ = worthy of worship and full of consciousness whom is God, without His Nam, all other Banis are false. Any bani that does not contain the praises of God or Guru will send us towards a decline state. Hence, such bani is considered false.
In the second line ਬਾਣੀ ਤ ਕਚੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ the meaning given is as follows:
Without the True Guru, all other bani is false, and truly all other bani is false. This is so because such bani is created by people who have not done enough devotional worship of God through Nam. The Gurus first carried out God’s worship through Nam, shaped themselves through Sadhna, carried out Jap Tap, seva, Nam Japna at Amritvela, lived a truthful and contented life, held a firm faith in the Will of God. They purified themselves through the above deeds before uttering the Bani. This is why the Guru’s Bani is True.
How I Would Apply the Meanings
The 1st meaning is quite similar to the one that is given by Dr Manmohan Singh however there is a 2nd meaning which requires equal consideration when adopting and applying the shabad in our lives.In fact both meanings should be combined and applied in case to case basis.
For example, in the case of the 1st meaning, I would consider Pop songs, Hindi Songs, Bhangra, and other worldly oriented poetry as false bani because these banis mostly create negativity and invoke the effects of the five vices (lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego). This is the state of decline mentioned above in the meaning. Even books that have no spiritual content such as novels, those of worldly knowledge and magazines can be considered to be false bani. The 1st meaning should be applied in cases where arguments arise on whether or not pop songs or bhangra music should be allowed in Gurdwaras.
Sadly however, MGC and many of the uneducated committee members in Malaysian Gurdwaras allow such false songs in the premises of Gurdwaras during Vasakhi and Lohri celebrations. Are we not shooting ourselves in the foot by disallowing SDG and other Gurmat related banis instead?
However, I would not consider those writings that have spiritual or Godly value or praises of God (Nam) to be false as explained in the 2nd meaning. Examples of such writings are Varan Bhai Gurdas Ji, Ghazals Bhai Nand Lal Ji, poetry by prominent scholars, saints and poets which connect us to God and bring about spiritual effect on our minds. There is a treasure house of literature written by great Sikhs of the times of the Guru such as Bhai Mani Singh, Darbari Kavis (poets) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and great scholars like Giani Gian Singh, Dr Vir Singh which can be considered as true bani by virtue of the spiritual and Nam effect contained in it.
2. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan by Professor Sahib Singh
The meaning based on this reference is as follows.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨਾ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ॥
ਗੁਰ – ਆਸ਼ੇ ਤੋਂ ਉਲਟ ਬਾਣੀ (ਮਾਇਆ) ਦੀ ਝਲਕ ਦੇ ਸਾਹਮਣੇ ਥਿੜਕਾ ਦੇਣ ਵਿਲੀ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ
The effect of bani that does not contain Guru’s Asha, in other words Maya or worldly related bani is, it causes us to waiver (from spiritual path).
ਬਾਣੀ ਤ ਕਚੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਾਝੋ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ॥
ਗੁਰ – ਆਸ਼ੇ ਤੋਂ ਉਲਟ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਨੁਖ ਦੇ ਮਨ ਨੂੰ ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ ਦੇ ਟਿਕਾਣੇ ਤੋਂ ਹੇਠਾਂ ਡੇਗਦੀ ਹੈ
Bani that does not contain the Guru’s Asha causes the spiritual bliss of the human mind to fall.
So again in this reference the emphasis is on writings that contain the Guru’s Asha and not on whether it is written by Guru Himself. As I understand Guru’s Asha is Guru’s teachings or Gurmat. As long as the writings being recited in the Gurdwara contain the teachings, principles or doctrines of Gurmat then they are perfectly acceptable. The meaning here is similar to the 2nd meaning in Sri Ameer Bhandar given above where bani that contains praises of God or spiritual content is considered to be true bani. Such bani is also Gurmat.
Many Sikhs Have Become a Gullible Lot
The cancerous problem with the Sikh society today is that, despite the advancement of the internet and information technology we have become less educated and knowledgeable in our religion. We prefer to read romanised versions of documents that are less informative and void of the original message as compared to the Gurmukhi version. Due to our lack of command of the punjabi language and it’s vocabulary we have shunned the ancient and original literature that is rich and overflowing with not only spirituality but also much worldly knowledge that is relevant even today and the future.
As a result we have become the victims of certain egotistical, corrupt and evil Kala Afganis whose agenda is to misinform, misguide and mislead gullible Sikhs like many of us under various catchy slogans like Ek Granth Ek Panthand Leadership of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. We have failed to see through their veiled tactics due to our lack of Sikhi knowledge. A clear example is the meaning of the above shabad which can be easily misused to mislead us.
Take Action NOW!
During the times of our Gurus even Pandits from Hindu Faiths were allowed to do katha (deliver sermon) from the Faith’s literature such as the Vedas and Puranas. There is a sakhi (story) which narrates the story of a Pandit Neta Nand who used to deliver katha of Garud Puran (A book of Hindu Faith) in the Darbar (court) of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji which shows the open mindedness of our Gurus to literature of other faiths. If we were to apply solely the 1st meaning of the above shabad then it contradicts Guru Sahib’s action of allowing the katha of Garud Puran in his Darbar. Our Gurus never contradict their actions as far as Bani is concerned. The sakhi further proves that our Gurus considered any writing that connects us to God as True Bani.
Today however, we Sikhs have become so closed in our minds that if there were to be a katha on vedas organised in a gurdwara, all hell would break loose in the community. We think by having such a katha is Brahmanvad (Brahmanical practice). Our unwillingness to study and understand other Faiths, is caused by our lack of efforts in reading and understanding the ancient Gurmukhi literature, which is full of information from the Hindu Religion, that can help us understand SGGS JI. The SDG is one such literature created by Guru Gobind Singh Ji himself. It is in fact a Teeka (commentary) to SGGS JI that can enhance our understanding of the message of the Guru. In fact in the ancient times the SDG was put on par with the SGGS JI in the Takhats, sampardavan (orders such as Taksal, Nirmalas, Udasis, Nihangs) and some gurdwaras in general.
We need to return to our roots, which is learning of ancient Sikhi gurmukhi scriptures. We need to bring learned scholars who can impart this knowledge to us and our children. When our knowledge base is strong then no Kala Afgana ideologist can sway us from the true path of Sikhi.
Image 2 Guru Angad Dev Ji Opened Centres of Learning to Develop The Gurmukhi Alphabet
I hope the article has helped you understand the perspective on the differences of true and false Bani and appreciate the importance of learning gurmukhi to enable us understand the real message of SGGS Ji and SDG sahib Ji. Should you have any questions or views to share, please fell free to share in the comments box. Meanwhile if you’re interested in reading the Sakhi of Netanand in gurmukhi, please download the PDF file from the image link below.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
Click below for PDF File Download
- Sree Ameer Bhandar by Giani Kirpal Singh Ji
- Pehli Pothi-Sri Guru Granth Sahib Steek-Taksal Sri Damdama Sahib
- Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan by Prof Sahib Singh ji