Naam, Daan, Ishnaan
The Name, Giving, Cleansing.
Of all of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings, the above is the distilled triplet that often defined the early Sikhs. It was this teaching, that by meditating on the Name of the One, giving to others, and living purely, that one may achieve mukti; the state of deathlessness. A state where there is no difference between you and the wonderment of all existence.
The early Sikhs would gather together to chant and meditate. Their practice and their teacher’s words were radical. They stressed a purely inward faith based on pure living and inward contemplation rather than external clothing, ritual, pilgrimage, and religious law, which differed from the day’s established religious dogmas. The difference with Sikhs and other spiritual movements with similar ideals of the day was that the Sikhs had a succession of Gurus rather than a single one that lead to the ascension of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the living Guru. Guru Nanak taught that by the grace of the mystical Guru that people are saved from the trappings of ego, anger, and all of our human shortcomings.
In countless writings of the Gurus, the Gurus write of being saved by the True Guru. That by listening to the teaching of the Guru and absorbing those ideals and dropping our petty neuroses, we merge with the One Being. Guru Ram Das Ji puts it so clearly in this oft sung bani:
“Within the deer is the heavy fragrance of musk, but it is confused and deluded, and it shakes its horns looking for it.
Wandering, rambling and roaming through the forests and woods, I exhausted myself, and then in my own home, the Perfect Guru saved me ||4||
The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani. Within the Bani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained.
If the humble servant believes, and acts according to the Words of the Guru’s Bani, then the Guru, in person, emancipates.” ||5|| Ang 982
The Guru is not something or someone external. It is within each person. It is the very ideal that we meditate on in order to conquer our shortcomings and simply exist in harmony with the shabd, the vibration that permeates all. It is the excellence that we bow in reverence and humility to. It is that which will always supersede worldly hierarchies. It is Truth. We call it Shabd Guru.
Just after Yogi Bhajan’s birthday, a 40-day sadhana of chanting the shabd “Ik Ardas” began. The shabd is another of the swa-yeh written in praise of Guru Ram Das Ji. It stresses the importance of sangat and the spiritual sanctuary the bard, Keerat, feels in the congregation of Guru Ram Das:
“I have heard that the most exalted Path of all is the Sangat, the Guru’s Congregation. Joining it, the fear of death is taken away.
Keerat the poet offers this one prayer: O Guru Raam Daas, save me! Take me into Your Sanctuary!” ||4||58|| Ang 1406
With each repetition of it, may we seek to create that sangat; A place of sanctuary and inspiration. May we remember where to look when things are down. May we turn to our ideals and not our fears and weaknesses when times are tough.