The Compassion of Guru Nanak Sahib

The Compassion of Guru Nanak Sahib

Gurmukh Singh OBE
"[O my Lord], having conquered Khurasan, Babar, the Mughal, has terrified Hindostan (India). Do You not feel responsible [because You are the Creator] when You send the invader Mughal as the Angel of Death? When people are screaming in agony, do You not feel any compassion for their suffering?"
(Guru Nanak Sahib, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Raag Asa Ang 360)

Horrified by the terror unleashed by Babur, the Mughal invader who descended on India from the North-West with his hordes, Guru Nanak Sahib turned to the Creator Lord for divine intervention. The questioning complaint and plea is that of an innocent child turning to own Father for help.

Like the questioning complaint of an innocent child turning to own father for help, Guru Nanak Sahib turned to His Spiritual Father, the Creator Lord, when He saw the terror unleashed by Babur, the invading Mughal, who descended on India from the North-West with his plundering hordes.

How relevant is Guru Nanak Sahib's plea invoking divine mercy today, as we watch the poignant scenes on our television screens of terror being inflicted on innocent people in the name of religion. We have seen hundreds of thousands fleeing the terror unleashed by the forces of the Islamic State (IS) and other belligerents in the Middles East, all in the name of religion. Videos released by boastful religious zealots show throats of innocent captives being slit as 'sacred' religious passages are recited! 'Jihadi' fighters carrying naked swords, herd women and children like slaves. Hapless victims have been buried alive to save ammunition. These are scenes reminiscent of the middle ages.

We saw indiscriminate rockets rain down on the towns of Gaza killing hundreds of innocent civilians. Young and old, little children and women, none were spared

In the 21st Century we watch helplessly as terror and oppression continues to be inflicted by misguided religion. That is what Guru Nanak Sahib (1469 - 1539) saw in his times and founded his religion on compassion (daya).

He told the misguided cruel Muslim ruler to be a true follower of Islam, "A Muslim is he who is kind hearted" (SGGS Ang 1084)

He was touched by the social oppression justified by the degrading caste system sanctioned by the Manuwadic varan ashram. He told the Hindu to wear the jeneu (sacred thread symbolic of caste) made from the cotton of compassion. He told the high caste Brahmin, "Make compassion (daya) the cotton, contentment the thread, continence the knot and truth the twist" of your sacred thread. (SGGS Ang 471)

He told Hindu and the Islamic ruler of his day,

"In the next world caste and power count for nothing"
(SGGS Ang 469)

Guru Sahib's compassion had no limits. At a very young age, knowingly, he invoked his father's wrath by spending all the money he was given to do business, on food to feed the hungry. Thus started the Sikh institution of Langar, the community kitchen. That same compassion is at work hardly 10 Kilometers from the Syrian border where a Sikh charity, Khalsa Aid has started a bakery to feed thousands of refugees. Again following in the Guru's footsteps Sikh charities are at work in Kashmir supporting and feeding the victims of floods regardless of their religious backgrounds. A very different sort of 'jihad' (dharam yudh) to sustain life than to destroy it.

Thus, the Light (Jyote) of Guru Nanak passed through ten human forms to build a theo-social system, and the egalitarian Sikh institutions of Sangat-Pangat (Congregation and indiscriminate community kitchen serving all), were built on compassion.

It is no co-incidence that the first of the Beloved Five, the Panj Pyaray, was named Daya Singh (the Compassionate Lion) the Khalsa. Even the sword, the last-resort defender of the weak and the defenceless was named Kirpaan, the compassionate defender of human dignity and honour. Even the Tenth Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh's use of arms for a just cause showed compassion in the field of battle by not only not striking a fallen foe but offering him water and medical care. The Khalsa ultimate objective of halemi raj (regime) is built on compassion: a regime in which no one inflicts pain on another. (SGGS Ang 74 )

Today we live in a world which is continually being brought to the brink of disaster due to lack of compassion. Religion is misinterpreted to spread terror and communal disharmony.

Following in the footsteps of Guru Nanak Sahib, we pray to the Timeless Lord, to save the burning world; to save all humankind no matter which religious path one chooses to follow.

In our Ardaas (supplication) we recite Guru Nanak Sahib's concluding prayer:

"May all enjoy well-being through Your [Compassionate] Will.""

© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.)
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