Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd)
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Guru Arjan's Teachings
Once a group of the Guru's followers came from Kabul (Afghanistan). Night fell when they were about three miles from Amritsar, the place where the Guru lived. They lay down, hungry, to spend the night in the open fields. The Guru heard about this. He at once went there with food and hot water and washed the feet of the weary travellers. The travellers did not know that he was the Guru himself. The next day, when they reached Amritsar, they were surprised to find their helper sitting there on the Guru's seat. Sometimes the Guru even cleaned the shoes of his followers.
Hard work and prayer were the two things he did himself and preached to all. He did not believe in caste. Caste, is you know, is an idea that some people are good because they are born in high families, and some are bad because they are born in low families. The Guru hated this idea very much. He said, "When all are born of the same light, how can some be good and others bad?"
"Love of God," said the Guru. "Is far better than wealth in comforts." Even kings were no better than beggars in the eyes of the Guru.
The Guru did not like people being cheated by others. He also did not like people going to the river Ganges at Hardwar hoping to wash away their sins. He called this a superstition, and said, "If bathing can take away sins, then the frog is better than a man." "Bathing and washing," he said, "clean only the body. It is God's praise that cleans the soul and washes away all sins."
Guru Arjan had great faith in prayer. "More things," he said, "are done by prayer than a man can think of." This is what he wrote:- "He who lives in a ruined hut, with all his clothes torn; Who is born poor, has low caste and receives no respect; Who wanders from place to place, who has no friend or lover; Who has no money, no beauty, no relative and no helper; Is the king of the whole world, if only he loves God and prays to Him."
Guru Arjan taught people not to call any man "God." He said "God is never born and that is His greatness. If He were born like us, then He would be no better than we are." He regarded all religious men as the servants of God. He called himself an ordinary man, the slave of God. "God," he said, "Is far higher than all these good men. We are an His sons and as such we cannot know about God's birth. Man is but a very tiny particle of dust in this huge universe that surrounds him."
"Our body dies," he said. "But the soul never dies. What matters in this world and the next are our good deeds." Birth in human form," he said, "Is by good luck. He must not waste this life, but instead come nearer to God by doing good actions while in human form."
"Don't worry about the next world," he said, "Remember God because God's Name is to man as is a pillar to a large building."
The Guru wrote many hymns and one of his hymns, called Sukhmani ("Song of peace") is especially popular. It contains the gist of his teachings and anyone who read it is sure to understand the Guru's way.
"By love for God, happiness is obtained; By love for God, we feel no misery. By love for God, the filth of pride is washed away; By love for God, Man is ever clean. Hear, my friends, bear love and affection for God, Who is our life and soul and the support of every heart."
(Sukhmani, Guru Arjan)
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