686. How does Sikhism react towards love ?

Love is pivot of Sikhism and is one of the cardinal virtues practiced and preached by the Sikh Gurus and their followers. In the Holy Granth the Gurus have extolled love to the skies. The Gurus believe that salvation is impossible without love. "Only they realise God who practise love," says Guru Gobind Singh. It is sad; however, that the "Love" has been misunderstood and misrepresented by a majority of the people in our modern society. As a result the divine virtue of love has been devalued by modern permissive society dominated by lust and carnal perversity and has come to be synonymous with "passion." The gratification of this passion in public and private is thought to be natural, civilised behaviour under the camouflage of the theories propounded by Sigmund Freud and others. There are moral laws that govern human behaviour, just as there are physical laws governing the material universe. Even modern psychologists and biologists seem to agree that spiritual and moral values are a great help in eradicating many of the human maladies of today. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion had realised this necessity about 515 years ago and declared ethics and morality as the basis of his religion. "Truth is the highest virtue," he said, "But higher still is the truthful living." Love according to Guru Nanak is the fundamental key to mental health and ideal social behaviour but it should be free from the over tones of sexual-overindulgence, pride and selfishness, and should be based on giving rather than receiving. He described love as pure, indivisible, inspiring and spiritual. On the spiritual plane the Guru has exhorted his disciples to inculcate love for God and take to NAM JAPNA (remembrance of God's Name). On the temporal plane he enjoined upon the Sikhs to love all human beings irrespective of their beliefs and ethnic origins. (DHARAM DI KIRT) and share it with others (WAND SHAKNA). Guru Nanak's refusal to dine with miser Duni Chand of Lahore and proud Malik Bhago of Emnabad are pointers towards what true love and fellow-feeling mean. The sermon to Duni Chand and Malik Bhago can be traced in the writing of modern psychologist word for word. "Not he who much is rich," says psychologist Erich Fromm in his book The Art of Living, "but he who GIVES much. The hoarder who is anxiously worried about losing something is psychologically speaking the poor, impoverished man, regardless of how much he has." According to Sikhism, the opposite of love is hatred born out of duality. It gives rise to Haumai (pride), selfishness, vanity and arrogance and leaves its victim with a sense of superiority. The self-centred, self-seeking and frustrated man is so much pre-occupied with himself that he wants everything for himself. Since the Guru considered "love for humanity" as the only measure of one's devotion to God, they suggested the ways and means of making their followers avoid the pitfalls of conceit and selfishness. Side by side with verbal and written instructions the Gurus started the institution of Langar (common kitchen) which is a training ground for love in terms of sharing and giving. Here the Sikhs place their offerings in cash or kind and do cooking, washing, brooming and distribution of food, etc., as a labour of love. Serving in a kitchen is thought to be a great meritorious act. Incidentally this is also a training ground for a healthy approach towards sex. Men and women of all ages work side by side in the kitchen and demonstrate the practicality of the Sikh principle : "Look upon women other than your wife, as mothers, daughters and sisters. Lustful glance for a Muslim is like eating pork and for a Hindu is like eating beef." (Bhai Gurdas) There is no restriction of race, caste, colour, belief or sex on entering a Langar. This once again demonstrates the altruistic philosophy of the Gurus who say "Thou are our father and we are all they children O LORD." Lack of pure divine love and fellow-feeling are the causes of most of the world's maladies today. The world is simmering with racial tension, religious persecution, political exploitation, regional and parochial nationalism and tribalism. Every day in the congregational prayer (Ardas) the Sikhs say "O Kind Father, Loving Father ... bring us into the fellowship of only MEN OF LOVE, in whose company we may remember thy name. Through Nanak may thy name be on the increase. May ALL MEN PROSPER by thy grace."

687. What is Sikhism's reaction towards music ?

Unlike some other religions Sikhism has no aversion for music. The Sikhs consider music as the food of the soul. The sacred devotional music in Sikhism is called "Kirtan." Wherever a few Sikhs assemble they sing the Gurus' hymns to the tune of a musical instrument. The necessity of music for spiritual refreshment was first realised by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. He not only composed his teachings in verse but also used 31 popular metres and tunes. Later the befriended a Muslim bard who was an adept musician. The Guru and the bard would sing the hymns on the rabab (a guitar). The 31 musical scores are very rarely sung nowadays but all the hymns are sung to a harmonium or any other musical instrument using modern tunes. Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, was particularly interested in music. He kept professional musicians for daily hymn singing and later when the professionals refused him, he asked his Sikhs to learn music. Music is thus an important part of Sikh faith and Guru Arjan says: "Devotional music is a valuable diamond The wise imbibe bliss through it."