During the times
of the Sikh Gurus (mid-1500s to early 1700s), the two main faiths
in India were the indigenous Brahmnical Hinduism
and the foreign Arabic religion of Islam.
An old painting (c. 15th Century) depicting a banquet laid out for
a Mughal King.
Many adherents of each of these great religions at
that time were constantly at each other’s throats arguing
that their respective faith was the best and only true one.
This brought about a lot of communal tensions often
resulting in bloodshed. The true 'Bhagats' (meaning
devotees/Saints/Guru) of God be they Muslims, Sikhs,
Hindus etc. (a good many of whose works are found
in the universal Sikh scripture Adi Guru Durbar) in India, sought
to stem these communal tensions and stop the resulting violence.
Contemporary paintings of a Muslim Sufi saint (left) and a Hindu
(right) sadhu (holy man)
Here are a series of quotes that illustrate the depth
of their teachings from the Adi Guru Durbar, Dasam
Guru Durbar and the spiritual ballads of Bhai Gurdas
(scribe to the 5th Sikh Guru) designed to negate religious bigotry,
fanaticism and fundamentalism.
The third Sikh Guru Amardas spoke thus:
‘To a Hindu’s house comes a Hindu
Reading Mantras, he puts the sacred Hindu high cast string on
But even wearing this string he does evil.
Their [ritualistic] bathing is not acceptable [to God when internally
their mind is not cleansed of vices and sin].
The Muslim praises his faith.
But without a spiritual Guide he finds no place [in heaven].
Everybody asks for the path to heaven [salvation] but only a
few go there. Without good conduct one cannot attain
You go to a Yogi to seek the method of enlightenment.
He puts earrings in your ears [converts you to his faith].
Wearing earrings he travels the world [seeking enlightenment].
Yet the Creator is everywhere [even in his house, so there is
no need to travel].
How many beings there are so are there [Religious] ways.
Yet when the call comes [from God/Death] no one can delay.
He who whilst living appreciates God he can recognize him in
the next world.
To call yourself Hindu, or Muslim [just by name] is of no worth.
All will be judged at the door of God. Without good
deeds no one attains salvation.
He who recognizes the truth of truths, [Nirankar God] whilst
alive says Nanak, he will not be judged in next world.’
(‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Ramkali Ki Var, Pa.951)
The tenth Guru Nanak, Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh,
‘He [God] remains unaffected by good or
This all the people in the world know.
He is not won over by magic.
Being hypocrites no one attains onto Him.
The whole world is entangled in itself.
No one has recognized highest God.
One [Hindus] worship mausoleums, one [Muslims] worship graves.
In both [mausoleums and graves] is not God.
They both [Hindu and Muslims] are involved in arguments with
each other [over Religion].
From them the master [God] stay’s distinct.
When all doubts of other [than God] has been dispelled.
For him [who acknowledges one God] who is a Hindu and who a
Muslim? [He makes no distinction but sees all as men of God].
One holds Tasbi [Muslim rosary], and one a Mala [Hindu rosary].
One the Koran and one the Puraan reads.
Arguing [over their religions] the fools have died.
Neither had been deeply coloured in colour [ of love] of God.
They, who have been coloured with the colour [of love] of one
They, forsaking sense of worldly shame [unmindful of the conventional
norms of Muslims and Hindus] have danced [in joy of loving the
one Nirankar God]. They who have recognized the
primal God as one [of all mankind].
They have not let feelings of discrimination [against others]
enter the mind.’
(‘Dasam Guru Durbar’, Chaubis Avatar)
An old painting (c. 18th century) of a Muslim Mosque
(left) and a recent photograph of a Hindu Mandhir (left)
Bhai Gurdas commented on the religious quarrels of
‘Four the castes, four the [divisions
of Hindu] religion in the world,
[1. Nirankari- Hindus that worship formless God.
2. 'Butt-Pujari' - Hindu Idolaters.
3.Maya (Parakirt meaning nature) Pujari - Hindu worshipers of
spirits of nature.
4. 'Nastic' - Atheist Hindus, such followers of Kapil Muni founder
of Samkhya tradition etc.]
of Hindus and Muslims.
Self interest, slander, egocentricity, squabbling and forcefulness
[meaning forceful religious conversions by certain individuals
to their faith].
Ganga and Banares Hindus claim [as religious centers] Mecca
and Kabba claim Muslims.
Circumcision is [symbol] of Muslims and Sandal paste mark with
sacred thread are of Hindus.
Raam [Hindus claim as name of God] Rahim [Muslims claim as name
of God] both says there is but only one Name.
[Here religion of God meaning their own particular religion]
but both are misled.
Forsaking [True Sanatan wisdom] of Vedas and Katebas [Muslim/Semitic
religious texts] in false attachments and greed, the world [both
religions] have adopted way of Satan [religious bigotry].
Truth has been left to one side Quarrelling with
each other Brahmins and Mullahs die caught in cycle of transmigration.’
(Bhai Gurdas Dee Var 1 – Verse 21)
When in Mecca, Muslims cornered Akali Guru Nanak and
asked this question:
‘The Muslim priests gathered and questioned matters
God has made a great expanse no one can speak of His creations
Searching texts they asked, who is great Hindu or Muslim?
The revered one said without righteous actions ultimately both
will have regrets.
Both Hindus and Muslims just because they are of Hindu or Muslim
[religion] will not have support in the divine court.
The colour of Safflower washes off [Meaning just belonging to
a particular religion is irrelevant]. Muslims and
Hindus harbour ill-will and malice towards each other but Raam
Rahim [The Guru combines Hindu and Muslim names for God to form
new name for God] stand together as one.
The world follows the path of Satan.’
(Bhai Gurdas Dee Var 1 - Verse 33)
An old manuscript depicting the holy Kabba at Mecca. All Muslims
must make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to the great Kabba at least once in
Bhagat Kabir (born a Hindu but raised
a Muslim) on similar lines to Akali Guru Nanak, Akali Guru Amardas,
Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh and Bhai Gurdas had earlier commented
upon the quarrelling Muslim and Hindu fanatics of his time thus:
'Worshipping idols have Hindus died, the Turks [Moghals] die
bowing their heads [Moghals being Muslims bowed to Mecca when
One cremates [Hindus] the other buries [Muslims] both [conflicting
with each other over outward form of religion] appreciate not
Oh my mind darkness [of ignorance of true spiritual path] pervades
Reading poetry poets [in pride of their verses] die Kapar [Shiva
following mendicants] die visiting shrines such as Kedar [Shiva’s
shrine in the Himalayas].
Yogis die in pride of their dreadlocks they thus do not appreciate
Gathering wealth have kings died buried have they great treasures.
Studying the Vedas the Pundits [Hindu hereditary priestly cast
the Brahmins] have died the women [die] looking at their complexions. With out contemplation of Raam [God] all were ruined,
consider this well.
Who has attained salvation without contemplation of Har [Eternal
God] says Kabir?’
(‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Raag Sorath, Pa.654)
The great Muslim Sufi saint of his time, Kabir realised the
path of the true Sanatan (eternal) way of the One Almighty
Many times the religious bigots and fanatics are but
arguing about the one same thing, only they refer to it employing
different terminology. Bhai Bhelo a disciple of
Akali Guru Arjan Dev in the same universal Sanatan spirit as his
‘Call it a Tegh [a sword] Hindus Muslims call it Shamsher.
Bhelo there is no other distinction, they just call it different
Hindu say Guru, Muslims call Him [God] Pir.
Bhelo it is same as the difference between Abh [Persian name
for water] and Nir [Hindu name for water].
Hindus call it [heaven] Surg and Muslims call it Bhisht. Bhelo there is no difference Namskar [Hindu salutation]
and Salaam [Muslim salutation] are the same.
Hindu says there is only one [God] Muslims say there is no other
[God but one].
Bhelo without company of holy men ones mind is not content [in
knowing that Nirankar God of all is one].
When the dividing superstition vanishes then there is no other
[all are seen as men of God]. Bhelo there is only
one Brahm [highest God] the blind [ignorant] are not absorbed
(‘Siri Guru Gobind Singh Deh Darbari Ratan’, edited
by Piara Singh Padam, Pa.20)
A photograph of a beautiful curved Sword with a
watered steel blade and highly decorated hilt and scabbard
In Sanatan Sikh thinking all beings who acknowledge
and seek the one true Nirankar God and see this same God in all
beings at all places are Sanatan Sikh’s. A Sikh meaning, ‘searcher
of the ineffable truth the true spiritual path’. Bhai Gurdas
‘Searchers, searchers, search for knowledge,
the arguers argue and get lost [in petty thoughts].
They [arguers] are as if they who desire cow’s milk but
are instead milking an elephant.’
(Bhai Gurdas dee Var)
Symbolic within Indian mythology and scripture
as representing order from chaos and wisdom from ignorance