In the current times of pandemic with despair, panic, and hopelessness all around, superstitions and supernatural fantasies become reliever of spiritually weak people but this takes society backward. Presenting a chapter of the book, ‘Sole Enemy of a Sikh, Brahmanism’ to explore the mentality behind this in the light of Gurbani.
Many times, such incidents took place that is beyond human understanding. People often attribute such events as miracles. The priesthood often exploits this weakness of human naiveté, resulting in the exploitation of common man. There is no denying that the power of faith has a profound effect on humankind and enables it to withstand the greatest calamity. The Sikh has to put complete faith in the Guru, with which the Sikhs attain the supreme state of ‘Nirbhau’. That is why ardaas (prayer) is part of every Sikh’s daily routine.
Medical science also uses the power of a patient’s faith to evaluate the effectivity of drugs. Without being informed to the patient, the patient is given a drug resembling medication without actual ingredients of the drug (such as sugar pill); its effect is checked against the actual medication. In many experiments, the patient gets cured just by sugar pill because of his faith in medicine and the doctor. This phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘placebo effect’ by medical science. But likewise, when the so-called saints give medicines or amulets to their disciples, and if that brings good effect due to placebo, people get exploited considering it as a miracle.
Science gives an explanation of many such events, and many of them may not be answered. The point is not to debate whether miracles actually happen or not. The point of the discussion is— being influenced by miraculous stories, human beings expect miracles to evacuate them from hardships, which makes them spiritually weak and enslaves them. This takes them away from the Divine Command ‘Nirbhau’. When a man’s belief makes him weak due to fear and hatred instead of empowering him with the virtues of Nirbhau (fearless) and Nirvaer (without hate), then it is called superstition or blind-faith, not faith.
In Christianity, for bestowing the title of sainthood to someone, prerequisite is to present proof of any obvious miracle. Miracles are very important in Islam also. For Muslims, the spring water of ‘Zam-Zam’ in Mecca is of great importance because the incident of the eruption of spring is related to the miracle by Prophet Ismail, son of Prophet Ibrahim. However, Gurbani candidly rejects the importance of miracles.
He himself is the Supreme, Master of all; wealth and miraculous powers are external (hindering) tastes. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 1, page 6)
Riches and miracles are all attachments; through them, the Naam (virtues) does not come to dwell in the mind. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 3, page 593)
Without the Naam (virtues), all eatables and wearables are worthless; cursed are miraculous powers, cursed are miracles. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 3, page 650)
Not only Guru Sahib describes the desire to attain miraculous powers as external tastes, attachment, and curse; but Guru Sahib explains the original miracle as well:
That alone is miraculous power, and that alone is a miracle when boon of Carefree (relaxed) mindset is bestowed.
O Nanak, when the Naam (divine virtues) abides in the mind of the Gurmukh (Guru’s disciple); this is miraculous power, this is a miracle. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 3, page 650)
When the seeker imbibes the divine virtues of Ekankaar under the aegis of SatNaam, this is indeed one of the greatest miracles.
But what is the reason that despite so clear ideology, the Sikh history, which we often hear, is filled with miraculous stories? Someone portrays Guru Nanak Sahib oozing blood from the breadcrumbs in one hand while milk from the other, some narrate story about turning of Mecca (Mecca is the name of the city, Kaaba is the religious place), some talk about Guru Gobind Singh Ji doing penance at Hemkunt in his previous birth, someone shows Baba Deep Singh Ji running with his head in his left hand, some narrate the story of Rajni’s limped husband getting healed by taking dip from the holy tank and many more such stories.
To understand what the mentality behind these miraculous stories works, it is important to understand the cobweb of Brahmanism. Brahmins have written voluminous scriptures filled with mythological stories and have been preaching them fervently. Many gods and goddesses have been imagined. One deity flows the Ganges River out from his Jatas (tress), another has an elephant’s head on its body, one puts the sun in his mouth, there’s one who destroys the enemies with a Sudarshan Chakra (supernatural Beyblade), and a goddess with eight arms destroys the demons. These stories certainly filled the pockets of the Brahmins, but they had a very poor impact on society. These miraculous stories broke out as a curse on society. Because ordinary man distanced himself from the Creator, the virtues of which he can never adopt. People began to look to supernatural powers for the smallest of their problems. Horoscopes, amulets, mantra chants, and many other rituals became the backbone of faith in order to overcome the minor obstacles of life. The spiritual condition of the masses turned towards decadence. Where the priesthood exploited the spiritually weak society, there was also a loot by invaders. The invaders not only plundered the country’s wealth, but also dishonoured the womenfolk.
But in Sikh history, where the First and Sixth Guru Sahibs were imprisoned by Mughal emperor Babur and Jahangir, Fifth Guru attained martyrdom in Lahore prior to which was brutally tortured, then Ninth Guru attained martyrdom at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Tenth Guru sacrificed his four sons, all for sovereignty and the protection of faith. Due to Guru Sahib’s lead by setting the example, the conduct of the Sikhs became so strong that even mammoth tasks appeared small before them. As a result, the chains of slavery were broken, and Khalsa Rule under the leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was established. It was one of the most unique events in the history of mankind. But the miraculous stories of the Guru Sahibs have also become a curse for Sikh society today. Sikhs too have got trapped in rituals under the influence of miraculous stories. People are expecting to fulfil their wishes with fake rituals, such as parroting of Gurbani, observing days like full moon, no moon, and bathing in ponds of historical importance, service to so-called saints, worshipping of graves, and so on. If someone argues that a man cannot hold his severed head in his hand, then the reply is, if the elephant’s head can be fixed on a man’s body, then why not? This is to justify a lie resorting to another big lie.
In the year 2014, the prime minister of India Narendra Modi made a statement at a conference of scientists that plastic surgery in India was from the ancient times, Lord Ganesh being evidence, because only a surgeon would have attached an elephant’s head to Ganesh’s body. The statement was ridiculed in the world over, but none of the Ganesh devotees protested arguing that they worship Ganesh as lord considering it a miracle, while the prime minister referred to him as a patient who was treated by a plastic surgeon of that time. Not the patient, but it is the doctor who cures illness receives the honour in society. How can there be opposition? The belief in miracles not only spiritually weakens the human being, but the intellect becomes shallow and so the ability to ask questions is eliminated.
In today’s Sikh society, there is an influx of arrogant Malik Bhagos who have gathered wealth through corruption or dishonest ways. So-called saints are often seen enjoying the hospitality of these Malik Bhagos, as they can’t see blood oozing out of their bread. In fact, even at Guru Nanak’s time, there was no bleeding from Malik Bhago’s bread. But how could caste-arrogant Malik Bhago be able to endure that Guru Nanak Sahib has rejected his lavish meal and hospitality in his Haveli (mansion), but preferred to stay in the shack of Bhai Lalo who was not only poor but also from the so-called low caste? It was a huge blow to the pride of Malik Bhago. No one had informed him this before that as per the divine law, a low-caste poor man managing to eat roti of millet (kodra) through honest means is way greater than the dishonest upper-caste rich man. The wealth collected by dishonest means which is the entitlement of the poor is actually the blood of the poor in the eyes of Guru Sahib, but so-called saints of today lack the vision to see this blood:
If clothes are stained with blood, the garment becomes polluted.
Those who suck the blood of human beings, how can their consciousness be pure? (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 1, page 140)
The condition of Sikh society today is very pitiable. The Indian constitution rejects our independent identity and considers us as Hindu. People who committed genocide on Sikhs in 1984 are not only moving freely, but are also ruling the state. The Sikhs, who once were the ruler of a vast empire, are being ruled by their killers today. Punjab’s water is being looted, and the land is fast progressing to become a desert. The need of the hour is to reject the hope for miraculous powers, embrace the virtue of Nirbhau (fearless) by raising the conscience through the teachings of Gurbani, and improve the future of the Panth embracing Chardikala (higher spirits).