Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus

Monday, August 31, 2009

SIKHS & Gurus

S I K H S, Gurus

by Dale Brown

The Sikh religion which started over five hundred years ago in the Punjab region of northern India has been a lightning rod up to the present day. Like Buddha and other Hindu reformers, their religious revelations have gotten them in trouble with Muslims, by promoting women as equals to men, and with Hindus for not submitting to the authority of Hindu priests.

While Europe was going through the reformation with the likes of Calvin and Luther, India was struggling with a reformation of its own. What started as a movement of Hindu dissenters should be commended for its revolutionary belief in one God (Sat Nam, "True Name"), and the denouncing of the caste system and idol worship. Guru Nanak (1469-1539) the first of the ten gurus from which comes the Adi Granth (sacred writings of the Sikhs), said: "To worship an image, to make a pilgrimage to a shrine, to remain in a desert, and yet have the mind impure is all in vain; to be saved, worship on the Truth."

Influenced by the Sufi mystics and a reformed Hindu sect called Bhakti, the peaceful followers of Nanak were transformed by years of persecution at the hands of Muslims, and Hindu Brahmins who sport their tilak (mark of the upper-caste) on their forehead. Guru Arjan Dev who compiled the collection of writings of the Granth was killed by Janangir, the Mughal Emperor in typical Muslim fashion. Burning sand was poured over his head while he was forced to sit on a hot iron plate. He was finally drowned in the River Ravi after he had been dipped in scalding hot water.

This inflamed the once peaceful Sikhs into a militant force that rallied around the event of their religion’s first martyr. A history of violent conflict between the Sikhs and Mughal authority followed. A radical brotherhood with a distinctive code of conduct and dress was formed through the teaching of the tenth and last guru, Gobind Singh during his thirty-three year rein. This was in part a reaction to what had happen to his father who on threat of death by Mughal governor Aurangzeb and in captivity in 1675 made the bold statement, "The Prophet of Mecca who founded your Religion could not impose one religion on the world, so how can you? It is not God’s will." He was quickly beheaded after witnessing the public torture and murder of three of his closest friends.

One might see a hint of Christian influence in the actions taken by Gobind Singh when in March 30, 1699 he baptized five Sikhs of different castes to form the brotherhood of the Khalsa, or "pure ones." He then had them in turn baptize him, thus throwing insult in the face of the historically powerful Brahmin caste doctrine of social control which worked in cahoots with the Muslim leaders. When Gobind died of a wound to the chest from an assassin’s knife the decision was made that there would be no more gurus, the Granth would be the embodiment of a living guru. A democratic style government had developed with the literature of the previous gurus as their guide. Sikh principles of fighting against injustice has lead them into many conflicts with India’s feudal lords.

The surname Singh ("lion") of Indian Sikhs sheds light on their history of macho prowess. Conflict between the Sikh empire and the more recent Indian government was seen clearly splashed across the headlines 1984 when the Indian army torched the Sikh’s revered shrine, the Golden Temple of Amritsar. Sikh bodyguards soon inflamed the situation by assassinating Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Sikhism was made popular in the U.S. by Yogi Bhajan who, in the name of "sacred science," taught kundalini yoga to his followers. The Hindu practice of yoga literally means to "yoke" to the universal self.
By holding to the doctrine of karma and rebirth (reincarnation) the Sikha reject the Jewish and Christian doctrine of resurrection, heaven and hell. The Hindu concept is that one can be freed from the wheel of rebirth (samsara) only by religious devotion. The Bible teaches says however, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
Jesus had much to say about truth

He said, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31 & 32). He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father but through Me" (Jn. 14:6). He also said, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. (Jn. 16:13&14).

As S. Radhakrishnan wrote, "Gurus are human and not divine."
Jesus, however, was born of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, was the Son of God. He was able to prove His divinity by raising from the dead after a terrible death on the cross.
The Sikhs, by Patwant Singh, Doubleday 1999
The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs, George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1960

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