by Dr Harnaak Singh
Gur Vichar was alerted to a video showing Harinder from Sikhri claiming that Guru Nanak did not start a religion. In the video he claimed that “the advent of Guru Nanak” was to start a RAJ not a religion quoting references from Guru Granth Sahib.
In Part 1 we examined Harinder’s Claim 1 that those who say Guru Nanak started a RELIGION are all wrong. We showed this to be FALSE and attributed this to his shallow Sikhi knowledge.
In Part 2 Harinder’s Claim 2 that the term ‘SIKHISM’ and ‘RELIGION’ are not ours and Guru Nanak vehemently denounced the word Dharam was also shown to be FALSE. We showed that Guru Nanak did indeed profess a Dharam (Religion), not a RAJ and he definitely did not denounce Dharam.
In this part we will examine the validity of Harinder’s Claim 3 and also include the outcome of some previous analysis.
Harinder’s Claim 3: Through the verse “ਨਾਨਕਿ ਰਾਜੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ ਸਚੁ ਕੋਟੁ ਸਤਾਣੀ ਨੀਵ ਦੈ” Guru Nanak told us that he started a RAJ which is about RULES that we have to live by
The verse Harinder quoted to support his claim is:
ਨਾਨਕਿ ਰਾਜੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ ਸਚੁ ਕੋਟੁ ਸਤਾਣੀ ਨੀਵ ਦੈ ॥ Nanak established the kingdom; He built the true fortress on the strongest foundations.
This verse is from Ramkali Ki Vaar by Satta and Balvand. It is the 3rd verse in the 1st Paurdi of the Vaar. Just because of the use of the words RAJ and KOTH, Harinder claims that Guru Nanak started a RAJ. Incidentally this verse is not by Guru Nanak but by Satta/Balvand. So, it is not TRUE to say that Guru Nanak told us he started a new RAJ.
Along the same lines as Harinder, I could say based on the 3rd verse of 2nd Paurdi
ਝੁਲੈ ਸੁ ਛਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੀ ਮਲਿ ਤਖਤੁ ਬੈਠਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਟੀਐ ॥
The immaculate canopy waves over Him, and He sits on the throne in the Guru’s shop.
that according to Satta/Balvand Guru Nanak Dev Ji started a SHOP.
It becomes clear that direct interpretation of poetic writings without understanding the true intent of the composers of the Vaar is futile.
Analysis of Satta Balvand’s Vaar
Let us first, analyse the Vaar. The gist of the Vaar is:
In this Vaar, Satta and Balvand in their inspiration, look at Guru Nanak and the Gurus as Kings who started a Kingdom. The Vaar thus takes a regal tone and their language (e.g. Kingdom ਰਾਜੁ, Fort ਕੋਟੁ, King ਸਹਿ, Throne ਤਖਤੁ) used in the Vaar exhibits this. What this means is that regal language is used to express what Satta/Balvand want to express about Guru Nanak and the gurus following Guru Nanak up to Guru Arjan.
The contents of the Vaar also outline the SIKHI concepts (e.g. all Gurus are the same light or JOT; Guru is God incarnate; Guru is eternal; importance of obeying and dedication to the Guru; importance of Guru’s langgar; desired or divine qualities of meditation/ self-discipline/ truth; undesired qualities of pride, greed, envy, sexual desire, anger; … ) established by Guru Nanak (and the other Gurus) for Sikhi.
Sikhi as described by Guru Nanak (in Guru Granth Sahib) is a Dharam (religion) which outlines the process of learning to realise God. The basic elements of Sikhi are brought out through the Vaar. From this Vaar, we learn the appropriate relationship we should have with our eternal Guru (Guru Granth Sahib which is the Jot of Guru Nanak and all the Gurus).
The verses from Paurdi 1, from where Harinder concluded that Nanak started a RAJ meaning a Kingdom with governing rules, will be discussed now.
Verses 1 and 2:
Satta/Balvand humbly extol the greatness of those who chant NAAM, and who, in doing so acquire divine virtues and supreme status (God realisation) as a prologue to the Vaar and the Paurdi. This sets the setting for what they will pen after this … essentially Satta/ Balvand are going to pen about divine virtues and God realisation.
Note: in the second verse there is reference to divine virtues as brothers and sisters (ਦੇ ਗੁਨਾ ਸਤਿ ਭੈਣ ਭਰਾਵ ਹੈ). Are we going to say that the Satta/Balvand is talking about brothers and sisters? No! They are metaphorically using brothers and sisters to refer to the virtues of true brothers and sisters. The explanation is DIVINE VIRTUES (ਦੇ ਗੁਨਾ) are like (ਹੈ) TRUE (ਸਤਿ) brothers and sisters (ਭੈਣ ਭਰਾਵ), who will help to achieve (ਦਾਨੁ ਪੜੀਵਦੈ) God realisation or salvation (ਪਾਰੰਗਤਿ). Our brothers and sisters are something we can easily relate to, to understand the impact of divine virtues. So is the case with Verse 3.
Satta/Balvand then go on to state that Nanak established the KINGDOM (ਰਾਜੁ) with truth (ਸਚੁ) as the FORTRESS WITH A STRONG FOUNDATION STONE (ਕੋਟੁ ਸਤਾਣੀ ਨੀਵ ਦੈ). They are using regal terms to pen the teaching of Guru Nanak and the following Gurus they saw and perceived during their time with the Gurus. They also write about the succession of Guru Nanak up to Guru Arjan. Here RAJ means reign (the appropriate definition from Merriam Webster is – a quality exists to such a degree in a place or situation that it affects everything about that place or situation) and the clue to this is the word TRUTH.
The explanation of this verse is; in the reign (ਰਾਜੁ) which Guru Nanak started (ਚਲਾਇਆ); he exercised (ਦੈ) TRUTH (ਸਚੁ) as the KEY quality in this reign. This TRUTH is akin to a FORTRESS (ਕੋਟੁ) WITH A STRONG FOUNDATION (ਸਤਾਣੀ ਨੀਵ). In an empire, the FORTRESS protects THE EMPIRE from enemies. Likewise, TRUTH will protect the follower of the faith or religion, that Guru Nanak started, from its enemies (e.g. KAM, KRODH, LOBH, MOH, HANGKAR).
Verses 4 to 7:
These verses describe the installation of Lehna to Guru Angad and state that Guru is God incarnate. Also, the Jot of Guru Angad is the Jot of Guru Nanak.
Explanation by Manmohan Singh and Prof Sahib Singh
ਨਾਨਕਿ ਰਾਜੁ ਚਲਾਇਆ ਸਚੁ ਕੋਟੁ ਸਤਾਣੀ ਨੀਵ ਦੈ ॥
Nanak established the kingdom; He built the true fortress on the strongest foundations.
The explanation of Verse 3 translated to English is:
By Manmohan Singh: Nanak established God’s EMPIRE and laid a very strong foundation for the FORTRESS of TRUTH.
By Prof Sahib Singh: (This exalted Guru) Nanak constructing a TRUTH based FORT with a strong foundation started a RAJ (of Dharam).
Essentially Manmohan Singh and Prof Sahib Singh link the verse to God and Dharam (faith, religion). Our explanation of Verse 3 above is in line with their explanation.
Quite clearly, the gist of the Vaar talks about the relationship of a Sikh with the Guru, the installation of our first five Gurus and Dharmic (religious) concepts taught by our Gurus.
If the intent of Satta/Balvand was to compose about the RAJ (with a set of Rules), that Guru Nanak started, they would have listed the Rules of the RAJ which governs its followers. By rules of a Raj it is meant a method of governance onto the subjects to maintain the position of the King of the Raj and to exercise authority over the subjects. There are no such rules listed in the Vaar. What is listed is the desired qualities and undesired qualities which will benefit the followers. Note that the qualities that the followers acquire do not benefit the ‘ruler of the RAJ’ i.e. Guru Nanak. The benefits,
- of God realisation,
- escape from the cycle of reincarnation, and
- attaining salvation,
is to the followers.
How then, can ANYBODY CLAIM that the RAJ referred to by Satta/Balvand is NOT A RELIGION?
Conclusion on Harinder Sikhri’s Claim 3:
Satta and Balvand are talking about the DHARAM (Religion) Guru Nanak professed which he termed SIKHI (Sikhism) NOT a RAJ.
Harinder Sikhri’s use of Verse 3 Paurdi 1 of Satta/Balvand Vaar to justify that Sikhi is not a religion has no ground to stand on.
It would be a waste of time to look at other points he mentioned in his talk about ‘dialogue with people’, ‘world wouldn’t do’, ‘create own place at Kartarpur’, ‘set up Khadur Sahib’ etc. The very basis of his notion that SIKHISM is NOT a RELIGION is FALSE.
Gur Vichar has shared some analysis (see LINKS) on Harinder’s SOJHI Syllabus.
We can, from these articles, sum up the ideology Harinder/Sikhri subscribes to as follows:
- They do not accept the prescribed Gurmantar.
- They want to change the Dohra.
- They do not accept the LIVING Guru
- They reject authentic long-standing historical records.
- They consider Guru Granth Sahib as a book of knowledge.
- They selectively reject Hukamnama from Akaal Takhat.
Interestingly though Harinder in his talk refers to a Verse from Satta/Balvand Ki Vaar, he does not subscribe to the dedication to Guru stated in the Vaar. It is clear from this, that he does not accept the living Guru concept, taking Guru Granth Sahib to be a book of knowledge. The above summary also substantiates his shallow knowledge about Gurbani/Sikhi as well exposing his anti-Sikhi views.
Conclusion to Parts 1 to 3
We have seen that a religion is a belief in God and the rules are used to worship God. A Raj on the other hand, has a set of rules prescribed by the Raj to continue to exercise its authority.
Harinder’s claim that 95% of information out there that Sikhism is a religion is wrong, is incorrect. The fact is, it is his shallow understanding of Gurbani/Sikhi that has led him to his conclusion that Guru Nanak started a RAJ.
Guru Nanak says in Guru Granth that he started a Dharam (religion) (not a RAJ) which is also what Bhai Gurdas stated. However, a RAJ can use the tenets of religion in its rules. Contrary to what Harinder claims that Guru Nanak denounces Dharam, all the references to DHARAM in Guru Granth Sahib are positive. However, 80% of the references to RAJ have a negative connotation. So, we should rather say the RAJ NOT Dharam is denounced by Guru Nanak.
The use of the notion that NANAK RAJ CHALAIA SACH KOTH SATANI NEEVDAY means Guru Nanak set up a RAJ not a RELIGION is FALSE.
Previous analysis shows that Harinder Sikhri is against many Sikhi concepts e.g. reject prescribed Gurmantar, reject Guru Granth Sahib as LIVING GURU, consider Guru Granth Sahib as a book of knowledge.
Making such false claims and having anti-Sikhi views, HARINDER of Sikhri IS MISLEADING THE SANGAT.
So Sangat Ji, BEWARE OF HARINDER SIKHRI.
CALL FOR OPEN DISCUSSION WITH HARINDER OF SIKHRI
This is a serious matter and could involve financial aid for Sikh religion. We would like to call Mr / Dr? Harinder for an open discussion on his claim that Sikhism is not a religion. The most economical is through online means. We urge those interested to contact Gur Vichar.