by Harnaak Singh
The Miri-Piri (Saint-Soldier) concept is a basic concept in Sikhi. Encyclopaedia of Sikhism defines it as the “Spiritual” and “Temporal” ideology in Sikhi. It is one of the core concepts in Sikhi. The Encyclopaedia goes on to explain that Miri is temporal power (in the political sense) and Piri is the spiritual authority (spiritual headship of the temporal power).
Figure 1: Miri-Piri Nishan Sahib
The Miri-Piri concept was initiated by Guru Hargobind Ji in 1606 at Akaal Takhat.
Figure 2: Baba Buddha giving Guru Hargobind one of the Miri-Piri swords
What is this to a layman like me? How does it apply to me? Is it just a high-level concept wayabove my head left to the ‘powers to be’ at Akaal Takhat (and the other Takhats)?
There are some who even say the Miri-Piri concept is not relevant to our lives anymore!
Well at a collective scale (the whole panth), yes, the decisions lie in the domain of the Akaal Takhat (and the other Takhats)
But it is as relevant in our daily lives as eating our meals as we shall show below.
Miri-Piri concept encompasses our spiritual activities and temporal activities.
- The spiritual part is our relationship with God Vaheguru.
- The temporal part is our relationship and interaction with the creation.
This is how the Miri-Piri concept becomes relevant to each and every individual.
Miri-Piri means Saint-Soldier. Note that Saint comes first and then Soldier.
As we said the Piri or Saint part is our relationship with God. This is generally covered in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (source of Sant Ras). In a nutshell Piri is submission to God.
On the other hand, Miri or Soldier part is our relationship/interaction with the creation. This is generally covered in the Dasam Granth (source of Bir Ras). In a nutshell Miri is basically related to our success and failures while co-existing with the rest of the creation, bearing in mind that this relationship will come to pass as a matter of time KAAL. These will involve challenges, gains and losses at the very basic level. Essentially some will loose, and some will win. We have to soldier on in life no matter what. There are various ways people dream up to always be in winning situation. This dreamt up ways can be good or bad for example someone working hard for and exam to pass it is a good way and another cheating to pass it is bad. The proper way is to win by good means.
Figure 3: Miri-Piri Saint-Soldier
How do we know what is good and bad. That is were our Piri (Saint) part comes to the rescue. (NOTE: Saint-Soldier: saint first and then soldier)
What are the characteristics that govern this?
- The five EVILS lust, anger, greed, attachment, ego (Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh, Hangkar) lead us to the bad AND
- The five VIRTUES truth, contentment, compassion, righteousness (justice, moral standard, honesty integrity), patience (tranquillity, fortitude) (Sat, Santokh, Daya, Dharam, Dhiraj) lead us to the good.
The Miri part then teaches us how, based on our Piri knowhow, we interact with the creation for the benefit of all. This is what the Dasam Granth is generally about. It clarifies and extends on concepts in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as well gives copious examples on how to lead a moral life of quality in the creation.
Figure 4: The process: Piri to Miri to Creation
Let us take an example. Since Vaisakhi has just been round the corner I will use the very famous Shabad
a) “Deh Siva Bar Mohay …” which is the Khalsa Panth Anthem
as an example.
For eons we have been raising the Nisahan Sahib on Vaisakhi every year and recite/sing this shabad by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in Dasam Granth. This is asking for victory (success) in all our undertakings (see below).
Now there have been some ignorant quarters who propose
b) “Jo Tau Prem Khilan Ka Chao …”
as the Khalsa Panth Anthem. These ignorant quarters have no clue of the Miri-Piri concept nor a good in-depth understanding of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Notwithstanding this, these Moorakhs have the cheek to denigrate Dasam Granth. It is most likely these people are the ones who say Miri-Piri concept is not relevant to our lives anymore.
We will look into both (a) and (b) in the light of the Miri-Piri concept only analysing the two verses and the act of raising the Nishan Sahib. Remember in raising the Nishan Sahib we are soliciting victory for the Sikh Panth, the Gurdwara, the Sangat and ourselves in all our undertakings (i.e. it is the MAYA or materialistic part or our life). NOTE THAT WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR SUBMISSION OR FAILURE. This victory will be within the bounds of our knowhow from the Piri part. Putting it on the lighter side – No cheating! No cheating! Everything clean! Everything clean!
Deh Siva Bar Mohay
ਦੇਹ ਸਿਵਾ ਬਰ ਮੋਹਿ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਭ ਕਰਮਨ ਤੇ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨ ਟਰੋਂ ॥
God the source of power (ਸਿਵਾ), grant (ਦੇਹ) me this boon (ਬਰ ਮੋਹਿ ਇਹੈ) that I may not hesitate (ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨ ਟਰੋਂ) from performing good actions (ਸੁਭ ਕਰਮਨ ਤੇ).
This is a call to God to give me the power to interact in the creation in a righteous manner. For example, talking about examinations, I am asking God to help me study hard (not cheat) so that I will succeed in the examination.
This clearly is a call to God for help in this temporal world. I used examinations as an example but the same applies to any undertaking, getting a job, activities at the work place, going for war, starting a venture, starting a new year etc. The key thing is that these activities are done righteously. Righteousness will come easily in if I have got rid of my 5 evils and acquired the 5 virtues (SAINT before SOLDIER).
Now let us look at the proposed replacement for “Deh Siva Bar Mohay …”.
Jo Tau Prem Khilan Ka Chao
ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥
If you desire (ਜਉ ਤਉ) to play this game of love with Me (ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ), then step onto My Path (ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ) with your head in hand (ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ).
This clearly is surrendering myself to God. It is spiritual surrender, surrender of the mind MAN ਮਨ. This is the process where I would eliminate the 5 evils and acquire the 5 virtues. This will make it easy for the Miri (Soldier) part. Once again SAINT before SOLDIER.
It the Saint part is missing then I will succumb to the 5 evils in my interaction with the creation.
An Example: In the light of Vaisakhi, Nishan Sahib and Anthem
Every Nation raises its flag and whenever the flag is raised a NATIONAL ANTHEM is recited or sung for the success and betterment of the people of the Nation.
The Khalsa Panth has the NISHAN SAHIB as its flag. This flag is raised on Vaisakhi yearly and “Deh Siva Sung …” is recited/sung asking God for the success and betterment of the Khalsa Panth.
Figure 5: Nishan Sahib
There have been Moorakh Nindaks who have been calling for the banning of reciting “Deh Siva Bar Mohay ..” and replacing this with “Jo Tau Prem Khilan Ka Chao …”.
Note that “Deh Siva ..” is for success/victory while “Jo Tau …” is for submission.
Would one when being involved in an endeavour, a war for example, want “success” or “submission”? The answer to this question will clearly show which Shabad is the appropriate one.
These Moorakhs do not understand the idea of raising the Nishan Sahib. As said above the Nishan Sahib is the Khalsa Panth flag. When it is raised one must use the appropriate call for help from God for the betterment of the Khalsa Panth that it be victorious in its endeavours in righteousness. This has temporal righteousness hinged on spiritual upliftment.
However these Moorakhs have influenced a newly built Gurdwara whereby they are raising the Nishan Sahib in the morning before the Akhand Path is commenced and not singing ‘Deh Siva ..’ which means not asking Vaheguru for the betterment of the Gurdwara and their local Sangat. Is this correct?
Figure 6: From Building to Gurudwara by Guru Ji’s blessing
Considering the Miri-Piri (Saint-Soldier) concept Sri Guru Granth Sahib should come to the BUILIDNG and the Akhand Path done. This signifies the Piri part. We can say that this is Guru Ji’s blessing, akin to giving life to the BUILDING making it a GURDWARA. Then the Nishan Sahib is raised at the GURDWARA (not BUILDING), asking Vaheguru for the success and righteous actions related to the Gurdwara and the Sangat. This will be Vaheguru’s blessing for the Gurdwara and the Sangat.
I wonder what lies ahead for this Sangat in this temporal world, without the blessing of Vaheguru?