Are we listening to our Guru’s Instructions?

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Condensed from Anand Chamatkaar,
Glimpses from the life of Baba Nand Singh Ji

gaaviaa suniaa thin kaa har thhaae paavai jin sathigur kee aagiaa sath sath kar maanee
Their singing and listening is approved by the Lord; they accept the Order of the True Guru as True, totally True.
– Guru Ram Das Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 669

A husband who lived in a distant land, once wrote a letter to his wife and family, asking them to ensure certain tasks he instructed were complied with. Everyone in the family read and listened to what was written in the letter, but the letter was neatly folded away into a corner in the cupboard. Twice daily, the wife would respectfully ensure the letter was well kept and would read it over and over. In affection of her husband, she would even pay her respects to the letter by burning incense, like one would do before the image of a deity. Day and night, she would wrap the letter in a beautiful, clean cloth and would bow to the letter.

When the husband returned after many many years, and asked his family whether they had received his letter, they all replied that they did. The head of the house went on further to ask whether the tasks he had asked had been complied with. But the family replied that they had taken great care of his letter and reverently paid their respects of love. The husband then told his family that the purpose of sending the letter was not to be kept reverently in safety, but had sent to ensure that the tasks asked were to be done without fail. The family had failed to comply with even a single instruction written in the letter. In disappointment, the man of the house stated that their taking of his letter was of no use to him.

This is exactly the message in what Guru Ram Das Ji says in the above shabad. In the complete writings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, man is instructed over and over, to recite the Name of Waheguru.

bhajahu guobi(n)dh bhool math jaahu
Vibrate, and meditate on the Lord of the Universe, and never forget Him.
maanas janam kaa eaehee laahu
This is the blessed opportunity of this human incarnation.
– Bhagat Kabir Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1159

What Bhagat Kabir Ji is saying in the above shabad is that the human birth has been blessed to us for the sole purpose of remembering Waheguru in meditation. Every sant, mahapursh, gyani and other spiritually elevated beings remind us, ‘Naam Jappo’ as this is the first instruction of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

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Baba Nand Singh Ji used to encourage the Sikhs to recite at least one complete reading of Guru Granth Sahib Ji – be it by beginning with as many recitations one can do of Naam Jap on the mala, Japji Sahib or Sukhmani Sahib. Many Sikhs get attached to other things and overlook the need to recite Naam that each one of us are instructed to do.

naam tul kachh avar na ho-ay
There is nothing equal to the Naam
– Guru Arjan Dev Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 265

Some Sikhs even pay Granthis and Gyanis and book Akhand Paaths in the hope that this seva will be accepted in the True Lord’s Court. This only amounts to a pious deed, whereas doing our Nitnem and meditating on the Name of God is what gets recorded as our aatmic kamaai (spiritual earning). To forsake our Nitnem (which every Sikh has been instructed to do daily) and think that seva of anything else (like booking Akhand Paaths and other Gurudwara seva) is acceptable, is a grievous misunderstanding.

Once a communist remarked to Baba Isher Singh Ji that the latter did not consider the former his equal. In return, Baba Ji asked the communist, ‘How can I consider myself equal to you? You eat meat, drink alcohol and consume all sorts of junk and then you do not even come close to Simran (meditation). Tell me, what connection do you and I have? Our connection is only with those that have forsaken falsehood, gossip, jealousy and the consumption of meat. One can only be free of these vices only if he/she practices Simran. Simran can be done and maintained only when we contemplate on the teachings of our Gurus.’

The communist further remarked that to be free of so many vices is next to impossible. BabaJi then said to him, ‘If you cannot forsake your vices, then comply with just one of my instructions – regularly recite your Nitnem and meditate on the Name of Waheguru. If there is any strength in the sincerity of your Simran, then the vices will be eradicated on their own. And if one does not comply with my instruction of Simran, then I cannot have even the slightest connection with that person.’

The virtue of Simran and Sangat can only be acquired through reading and listening to the instruction of our Gurus. Those that merely wear the robes of religion and divinity and yet from within have no spiritual earnings (kamaai of Naam Simran, Nitnem and vices forsaken) and are oppiste of what they show outside, will have wasted their human birth. Those that have forsaken their Nitnem, Sangat and Simran, consider that Kalyug (Age of Darkness) is seated on their chests and it is Kalyug that is stopping them from engaging in the remembrance of Waheguru’s Name.

Like the family that merely preserved and respected the letter from the head of the family but did not heed what was being instructed to them, likewise, we need to look unto ourselves and see if that is what we are doing too. If we are merely reading Gurbani and not trying to understand what the Guru is asking of us to do, it is to no avail. There is no use of covering Guru Granth Sahib Ji in all its expensive and royal coverings and bowing down in obeisance when we take little or no heed of even doing our Nitnem and going to the Gurudwara to earn the blessings of the Guru in Sadh Sangat.

If we step on the first rung of Guru’s teachings – that is listening to what the Guru says – then a day will come when we will be worthy of stepping onto the next rung – that of accepting what the Guru has instructed us to do.

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