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  In the Guru's footsteps
In the Guru's footsteps

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A Visitor from Rome

A Visitor from Rome

At the beginning of the 17th century, many Europeans came to India. In those days India was well known for its wealth and variety of faiths. It was called a 'Golden Sparrow.' Many of the visitors came as traders and their purpose was to get rich by trade. Some others came as missionaries to spread their religions.

Rome was the capital of Italy. It was well known as the centre of Christianity. The king of Rome sent a missionary to India. The missionary travelled up and down the country for many years. During his travels he met many Moslem saints and Hindu Pandits. He had heard a lot about Sikhism from a Masand (agent) and wanted very much to see the Guru in person. He wanted to know more about Sikhism through a discussion with the Guru. Therefore he came to Kiratpur (Punjab) and stayed there for two days.

When he met the Guru he asked him a number of questions about Guru Nanak and the later Gurus. He said, "There have been so many prophets. Who is the True Saviour?"

"The prophets and the Gurus enlighten us," said the Guru. "They make us aware of God and they show us the right way to lead our lives. It is our good actions, truthful living and love for God and His creation which will save us. None of the prophets can save us if our actions are bad. It is not the prophet who saves anybody, but it is his teachings that, if followed, lead us to salvation. The sad fact, however, is that we attach more importance to prophets themselves and forget the teachings they leave for us during the time they live among us."

"How did God create life on our earth?" asked the missionary.

God and His works are best known only to Him. But we Sikhs believe that

"The True Lord created the air,
Air gave birth to water;
From water sprang forth life,
And the Lord is within everything he created."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
"Which is the best religion?" enquired the missionary. "The best of all religions," said the Guru, "is to meditate on God's Name and to act rightly."

"Dear "Sir," said the missionary, "I have travelled through almost the whole of India and have seen people observing caste and calling the low caste people inferior. What is your idea about caste?"

"Caste and rank," said the Guru, "depend on actions. The pride of caste is folly and the root of evil. The whole creation is God's work. As a potter makes different vessels from the same clay, so has God made different men to please Himself. Each of us is composed of the same elements. No one is high and no one is low. Being the sons of the same father we are all equal. We are all bound by our actions and without God's grace there is no salvation."

"Whom do the Sikhs call a saint?"

"A saint is he who is aware of the presence of God at all times,
He regards the will of God as sweet,
His only support is the Name;
He is as humble as the dust under anybody's feet
He finds comfort only in God's praises,
And regards friends and foes alike.
He knows none as well as God."
(Asa 5 Guru Granth Sahib)
 "What importance should man attach to pilgrimage?"
"If you want to gain true knowledge
Make people's welfare your aim in life.
When you master your five senses,
Life itself will become a pilgrimage."
(Rag Asa Guru Granth Sahib)
"Is it necessary to have a Guru?"
"Dear brother ! the medicine of God's name is within all of us,
But without the Guru we do not know how to use it.
The perfect Guru administers it with necessary rare,
And the disease is cured once for all."
(Gauri Bawan Akhri)
"Why don't the Sikh Gurus work miracles?"
"Miracle delude fools only,
Who have no God in their hearts.
Except the true Name, Nanak has no miracle."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
"Is there any merit in alms-giving?"
"Yes, he who earns by honest labour and gives something out of that in charity, has found the true way to the Lord."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
"Does knowledge lead to salvation?"
"No, knowledge must be supported by actions. Some people repeat the words of knowledge like the cawing of a crow, but their hearts are full of greed, falsehood and pride. Without the true Name and good actions they will not find peace."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
"Who are the chosen people of God?"
"The Lord's chosen are those who are absorbed in His Name.
For them there is no fear of birth or of death.
They have attained the Lord.
Great honour is theirs in all regions."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
"What is your idea of life after death?"

"Human life is a stage in a long journey of the soul. Death destroys only the body but the soul leaves the body and finds a new dwelling. It is like a person casting off his old worn-out clothes and putting on new ones. Our soul is a part of God, but soiled by sin it keeps on changing forms until it once again becomes pure enough to merge with God."

The missionary was very much impressed by the Guru's way of life and his religion. He is said to have praised the Guru very much in his writings.

"Truth is above everything; but higher still is true living."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
"He who looks on all men as equal is religious;
Religion consists not in wandering to tombs,
Nor to places of cremation, nor sitting in silence;
Religion consists not in wandering in foreign countries,
Nor in bathing in the places of pilgrimage.
Remain pure amidst the impurities of the world;
Thus shall you find the way to religion."
(Guru Granth Sahib)
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