Guru Nanak's Jyot and Jugat

Guru Nanak's Jyot and Jugat

Gurmukh Singh OBE

The Sikhs believe in One Guru Light, the Jyot *.
(*or Joth where th is pronounced as in think.)

In the Bhatt Savaiyay in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) Guru Nanak Sahib is referred to as the embodiment of the Jyot as follows:

ਜੋਤਿ ਰੂਪਿ ਹਰਿ ਆਪਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਹਾਯਉ ॥
Joth Roop Har Aap Guroo Naanak Kehaayo ||
The Embodiment of Light, the Lord Himself is called Guru Nanak.
(SGGS Ang 1408)

The same Jyot was in the nine Guru-persons after Guru Nanak. Thus, the start of the Guru-succession process is described as follows:

ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤੂ ਲਹਣਾ ਤੂਹੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਅਮਰੁ ਤੂ ਵੀਚਾਰਿਆ ॥
Naanak Thoo Lehanaa Thoohai Gur Amar Thoo veechaariaa ||
You are Nanak, You are Angad, and You are Amar Daas; so do I recognize You.
(SGGS Ang 968)

According to Sikh belief, the Jyot now resides in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Shabd or Word Guru.

Together with the divine concept of Jyot, the idea of Jugat is also introduced in the Guru tradition.

Jyot and Jugat go together. From this twin- track approach has emerged a whole-life socially active system which is the miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) heritage of the Khalsa Panth.

Jyot can be conceptualised as a divine Source of Light which shows the way to the ultimate Reality or Truth (Sacch). Jyot, the Light, shows the path to God-centred love (through bhagti and Naam meditation). It leads the way to the understanding and loving acceptance of the Divine Law or Hukam Razaaee. It leads to inner detachment from this life which is a passing phase, and attachment to the Timeless, Eternal Reality, the Truth (Sacch).

For the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Sahib is the embodiment of Jyot as Jyot-roop Guru capable of removing the duality, the illusion of world-play, in his Sikh. Also, the Jyot-roop is extended from the Guru to the Sikh as from one lamp is lit another and countless others. In the Sikh tradition, the emergence (pragteo) of the Khalsa is seen as the outcome of that (Guru-Sikh or Aapay Guru-chelaa) process.

There are references in SGGS of Har jan becoming one with Har i.e. when the devotee of Waheguru meditates on the Qualities of Waheguru he or she merges with Waheguru. The duality of seeing the Creator as distinct from creation is removed. Jyot teaches us One-ness of the Creator Being and the created: to see God in all.

Ultimately, the Jyot is Waheguru, the Timeless and Wondrous Enlightener described by Guru Nanak Sahib in his founding creed, the Mool Mantar.

So, what is Jugat? Literally, Jugat means the way or the method. What is the jugat of doing or achieving something? It refers to the process. Following inner freedom from self-centred attachment, Jugat, re-engages a Sikh with this life in the Guru's way. It is the way or method of living shown by the Guru.

Jyot frees or disengages the Sikh from the duality of life due to self-centricity (haomai) and then, in that free state of mind of inner detachment, Jugat re-engages the Sikh through social activism to serve the Creater and the created.

Jyot and Jugat twin-track approach to Sikhi living is a unique gift of Guru Nanak Sahib.

It was through the process of Jugat that the Khalsa was revealed in the Guru's own image by Nanak X, Guru Gobind Singh. That was the high point of Sikhi tradition on the Vaisakhi day in 1699.

Jugat has to do with practical Sikhi and the related processes and procedures.

The ten Guru persons were the embodiment of both, the Jyot and Jugat:

ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ ॥
Jyot Oha Jugat saae Seh kaaeiaa faer palatteeai
The Guru-persons shared the same Guru Light and the same way (method); only the King [Nanak] changed His body.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 966)

Sometimes, due to lack of clarity of Jugat, divisions are created amongst the followers of the same path (or panth) of Sikhi.

Today, there is need to remind ourselves what Guru's Jugat means. There are some who ignore this essential component of Sikh living, either through ignorance or by design. For most, there is no problem with the Jyot aspect of Guru Nanak, but for some, the Jugat aspect of the Guru, passed on to the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh, causes problems.

The Jugat and Jyot linked miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) tradition symbolised by the institution of Sri Akal Takht Sahib becomes politically inconvenient for some. The Sikh Reht Maryada - the Code of Sikh Conduct and Conventions - evolved by the Khalsa Panth, causes problems also.

Without a study of the lives of the ten Guru-persons who represented the same Jyot-Jugat of Guru Nanak and who progressed the Guru's mission, it is not possible to interpret the divine Message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is both, universal and also specific to the Sikhi way of life evolved over the centuries. In the Sikh tradition, the lessons taught by the ten Guru-persons through own lives regarding Jugat (lived Sikhi) cannot be ignored.

Any study of Sikh ideology and tradition would be incomplete without understanding the inseparable Jyot-Jugat attributes of The One Guru. Reference to the Word Guru, the SGGS, for guidance also requires reference to the Jugat for practical interpretation. This was taught in simple steps by the ten Guru-persons up to the revelation of the Khalsa Panth, the high point of lived-Sikhi tradition.

When the teaching period of the Jyot-Jugat Guru through ten Guru-persons was over, the Jyot passed on to the Eternal Shabd-Guru, Sri Guru Grath Sahib, while the Jugat resided in the collective body of the Khalsa Panth, which became Guru Roop Khalsa in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. That was the final Command of Nanak-Jyot, Guru Gobind Singh.

The Jugat resides in the Khalsa Panth. The Jyot in Sri Guru Granth Sahib guides individual and collective Sikh living through the Khalsa Panth. That is the twin track approach to the Guru, when seeking guidance.

Any other approach would lead to multiple, and sometimes conflicting, interpretations of Shabd Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. We see that happening today.

There are obvious practical implications of the above Jyot-Jugat approach to Sikhi living. When we feel that we have lost our way then we seek guidance from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. However, Guru Gobind Singh ji's injunction is that correct guidance or interpretation of the Shabd Guru is only possible at collective Khalsa level. There are those today who would ignore or even deny that injunction.

The ray of hope is that there are others pursuing the Sarbat Khalsa tradition of collective decision making to revive the Khalsa processes for the future guidance of the Panth.

The Guru's Jugat was taught over more than two centuries from 1469, the year of the arrival of "Jyot Roop Har Aap", Guru Nanak Sahib. The lessons taught by the Jyot-Jugat Guru-persons over that period as part of Sikhi tradition, cannot be ignored.

The Panthic Sikh Reht Maryada - The Code of Sikh Conduct and Conventions - is the Jugat derived collectively by the Khalsa Panth from Sri Guru Granth Sahib as interpreted through the lives and teachings of the Guru-persons from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh. The definition of a Sikh in the Sikh Reht Maryada includes belief in the "Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib" and "The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus".

Sikh tradition is based on Simran or constant God awareness through meditation on the Jyot, which leads to the desire to serve the Creater Being by serving His creation.

It leads to the objective of halemi raj, a just regime in which no one inflicts pain on another. It leads to willing sacrifices to oppose tyrannical regimes. Today it is leading Sikhs to care for the environment and the planet, the Mata Dharat Mahat - the Great Mother Earth - and to responsible world citizenship.

The Sikh tradition is derived from Guru-Jugat or way of living. Understanding of the Jyot-Jugat Sikhi approach is a pre-condition to the interpretation of Gurbani when seeking guidance from Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

© Copyright Gurmukh Singh (U.K.)
Please acknowledge quotations from this article
Articles may be published subject to prior approval by the author