2. The World | Sikhi
2. The World
Sikhism proclaims the dynamic reality and authenticity of the world and life:
"God created the world of life and planted Nām therein, making it the place of righteous activity." “God created the world and permeated it with His Light."
Since Nām has not only created the world but is also supporting, controlling and directing it, the same cannot be unreal or Fruitless. His Immanence in this world guarantees its being a place of righteous action:
"True are thy worlds and thy universes; true are the forms Thou createst. True are Thy deeds." "True is He, True is His Creation."
The world being real, creative work and virtuous deeds are of fundamental importance.
"The Guru contemplates God by word, thought and deed."
"Earth is the true abode of Righteousness."
"Truth and continence are true deeds, not fasting and rituals."
"Good, righteousness, virtue and the giving up of vice
are the way to realize the essence of God."
The above quotations affirm unambiguously the reality and significance of human life. Practices involving direct or indirect rejection of life have been denounced.
There is a hymn in the Guru Granth by Farid which would seem to suggest that the world is not real or is a place of suffering:
While recording it in the Guru Granth, the fifth Guru has introduced, along with it, another hymn of his own. It is a clarification to dispel the contrary impression. He writes,
"Beauteous, O Farid, are the garden of earth and the human-body."
The Guru further states -"Deride not the world as it is the creation of God."
This emphatic assertion about the reality of the world is a clear departure from the Indian religious tradition. The Gurus were extremely conscious of this radical and fundamental change they were making.
That is why, both in their lives and in their hymns, they have been laying stress on this aspect of their spiritual thesis, lest they should be misunderstood on this basic issue.
Living in this world is not bondage for them but a rare opportunity.
Not only is God benevolently developing and guiding the world in which He is immanent, but each one of us is "yoked to his task and each is assigned a duty to perform.”
The persistent interest of God in the creative movement is also obvious from the fact that the Gurus call Him Protector, Father, and a Just Administrator.
While discussing the concept of God of Attributes, Will and Grace, we have indicated its far-reaching implications about the reality of the world and the spiritual primacy of moral life therein.
These aspects of God intimately connect Him with the world which is their only field of operation. Consequently, the Gurus' message and mission also relate to this world, wherein alone their mission could be fulfilled.
No prayer has been expressed with greater depth and intensity than the one for the 'gift of Nām'.
Nām being the Benevolent Supporter and Director of the world, the gift of Nām to the devotee only means an enlightened, loving and creative interest in the world and its development.
How can one claim to be a devotee of God or Nām and ask for its gift and, yet decline to toe the line of God, namely, of nurturing and advancing the processes of creativity and construction in the world.
It is for this reason that the Gurus have strongly condemned all ascetic and escapist practices. "One reaches not Truth by remaining motionless like trees and stones, nor by being sawn alive.”
In India, generally, the householder's duties were not believed to be conducive to higher spiritual attainments. That is why one had to renounce worldly activities and take to the life of a hermit or Sannyāsin.
As against it, all the Sikh Gurus, excepting the eighth Guru, who passed away at an early age, were married householders. Till the last days of their lives, they worked creatively and carried out their mission in the social and political fields.
Seen in the context of Indian tradition, the ideals and institutions of Sikhism are entirely different.
For the Gurus the world is a place of beauty. Man's struggle therein provides an opportunity for his progress. Hence the arena of man's and mystic's work has to be in life and life alone.
It is only the challenges of life that enable man to show and test his moral and spiritual fibre. It is his deeds in the world that alone form the basis of his spiritual assessment.
The Guru, therefore, emphasizes that "one gets not to God by despising the world."