Guru Nanak’s Concept of God

Guru Nanak’s Concept of God

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston)

ABSTRACT. The God of Guru Nanak’s Sikhi does not exist external to His creation. Creation is, in essence, an extension of the Creator. In that sense, then, the God of Sikhi resides within creation or nature. Guru Nanak advocated that the entirety of the universe that we see around us is essentially an expanded form of the Creator Himself. Within the Sikh Scripture, the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS), God is depicted by a symbol that Guru Nanak created – ੴ. The first part of the symbol ੧ is the numeral one. It represents the oneness of the Creator with His creation. The second part, the open Oorra ਓ, represents the entirety of creation. Taken together, the symbol represents the notion that creation is an extension of the Creator and that the Creator and His creation are the same. On this basis, then, the God of Sikhi resides within creation. By extrapolation of this principle, God resides within the human being. He lives within all human beings. This is because all human beings are created in His light. Guru Nanak prescribed two additional facets to his notion of God. God in Sikhi is referred to as ਹੁਕਮੀ Hukmi – the quintessence of the law of nature. It is a core principle of Sikhi that nature operates on a set of laws and principles, which are termed as ਹੁਕਮ Hukm within the AGGS. One may hence equate Hukm to the Law of Nature or Law of the Universe. These laws of nature or ਹੁਕਮ Hukm is thus the God of Sikhi. Guru Nanak postulated that since the Creator or ਹੁਕਮੀ Hukmi was within creation, then these laws of nature were written within creation too, or in his own words ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ Nanak Likhiya Naal. The realization of God within was thus the realization of the Hukm within, or in Guru Nanak’s words ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ Hukm Rajayee Chalnaa. Guru Nanak prescribed a second facet about the God of Sikhi to enable Sikhi to acquire a meaningful and practical component towards the betterment of humanity and humanity. Guru Nanak’s God is a conglomeration of divine virtues ਦੈਵੀ ਗੁਣ. Within the divinity of Guru Nanak and the spirituality of Sikhi, to realize God within was to realize divine virtues. In other words, to become Godly was to become divine, which in turn was to become virtuous.


A clarification about the parameter deployed in this essay needs to be laid out at the outset. The framework within which the arguments of this piece are presented is Sikhi – which means the philosophical foundations that Guru Nanak laid; the spiritual messages of Guru Nanak and 34 other composers of Gurbani that are contained within the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS); and the body of enlightenment that is termed as the spirituality of ੴ.

This framework of Sikhi is contrasted with that of Sikhism – which, in turn is taken to mean the institutionalized religion that Sikhs practice in current times.

The God of Sikhi is not the God of Sikhism. It requires no more than a cursory examination to realize that all aspects of the religion of Sikhism – its beliefs, practices, and rituals – indulge in the notion of a God that is no different from the God of virtually all other existing religions, so much so that when it comes to the notion of God, Sikhism has nothing new to offer to the world of religions. Just like the God of other religions, the God of Sikhism is separate from and is above and beyond His creation; who sits up in the heavens; who runs the universe through the process of micro-management; who brings and removes calamities and disasters; and who needs praying to, worshipping and pleasing.

The religious Sikh of today looks up to the heavens for a praise-thirsty God sitting up there, prays to that God for miracles to resolve his worldly affairs, and makes offerings to please that God. The religious Sikh begs, pleads, and implores this God; plants his forehead at the feet of this God and rubs his nose on the ground as his act of the highest order of worship of this God; and lives in continuous fear of the wrath of this God. (Dhillon, 2022a).

All facets of the institution of Sikhism, namely the clergy that consists of granthis, ragis, parcharaks, and kathavachaks; the Gurdwaras as the central body of the practice of Sikhism; the majority establishments of the religion with which a vast majority of Sikhs associate themselves, particularly the deras, taksals, and sampardayi outfits; and writers, speakers, and content creators related to or otherwise influenced by these establishments – promote the notion of such a God – a God that is not dissimilar to the God of all other religions. The one and perhaps only difference being that the God of Sikhism has been allotted a different name.

The name of the God of Sikhism – Vaheguru – is considered a mantra to be chanted by the self or by hired hands to please this God to obtain material wealth and cures for diseases as well as other askings. The rich philosophical principles of the concept of Nam (as postulated by Guru Nanak and the AGGS) have been stripped bare by such religious Sikhs to being a “name fit for parroting and chanting complete with breathing techniques imported from other belief systems. In fact, the entire compositions of the AGGS have been similarly reduced as fit for reciting and chanting. The religious Sikh thus makes deals with this God to undertake recitations of Akhand patths, sehej patths, and Sukhmani patths if God would solve his problems.

But this God of Sikhism is not the God of Sikhi. This is not the God of Guru Nanak either. Nor is it the God of the AGGS. If at all, this God is both critiqued as a concoction of the clergy and soundly rejected in Sikhi. It may be worth noting at the outset that the word “Vaheguru” was never used within the AGGS by any of its 35 composers to refer to God. (Dhillon, 2023a, 2023b). For instance, Guru Nanak has 947 shabds comprising 5,600 verses in the AGGS. He did not use the word “Vaheguru” even once in his entire bani – not for God, not for anything at all. Hence, the total and complete acceptance of “Vaheguru” as the name of God by Sikhs today establishes the dichotomy between Sikhi as the philosophical foundations of Guru Nanak and the AGGS and Sikhism as the institutionalized religion that the Sikhs practice in current times.

There are three primary assertions within this essay. The first is that the God of Sikhi is not only not the same as the God of Sikhism but that the notion of the former is a repudiation and rejection of the latter.

The second assertion is that Guru Nanak rejected all prevalent religious beliefs, practices, and institutions. Taken as a whole, he rejected, effectively, the notion of institutionalized religion. He rejected every foundational component of organized religion – the clergy, rituals, and symbols (all of which have ironically rooted themselves in Sikhism as it stands today). In place, Guru Nanak advocated spirituality, humanity, and the unity of both. He replaced the twin instruments of religion – fear and promise – with blissful love for all creation and humanity. The God of religion did not fit into his spiritual designs; Guru Nanak thus rejected that God. The God of Guru Nanak, and by extension, the God of Sikhi, consisted of a distinctive notion that fitted his spiritual parameters of spirituality, humanity, humanity, love, and bliss in the here and now.

The third assertion is that the clergy that consists of granthis, ragis, parcharaks, and kathavachaks; the Gurdwaras as the central body of Sikhism; the deras, taksals, and sampardayi outfits; and writers, speakers, and content creators associated with Sikhism preach, promote and propagate the God of Sikhism based on their claims that such a God is indeed supported within the AGGS. These individuals, groups, and establishments within Sikhism have either inadvertently missed grasping the notion of God that exists within the pages of the AGGS or have purposively neglected, ignored, and rejected it altogether because the God of Sikhi does not serve the twin objectives of fear and promise that form the basic designs of the religion of Sikhism that has come to exist today. So much of the self-preservation designs, livelihoods, and futures of these individuals, groups, and establishments are invested in the religion and God of Sikhism that the consideration of any view other than its perpetuation is unthinkable for them. The religion of Sikhism cannot exist without this clergy-created God of Sikhism. The only calculation for its proponents, therefore, is to perpetuate its existence, even at the expense of misinterpreting the AGGS.

This state of affairs, however, cannot obliterate the fact that the notion of God as contained within the framework of Sikhi that is espoused within the philosophical foundations that Guru Nanak laid, and within Gurbani and which forms the primary consideration of realization and enlightenment within the spirituality of ੴ is unique and distinctive. Gurbani makes it clear that the God of religion is a clergy-concocted notion, which, together with the entire gamut of related notions, runs the chariot of religion on the wheels of real fears in the here and now and unreal promises in the future, including the afterlife. It is thus worthy of critique and has been precluded from the spirituality of Sikhi.


The God of Sikhi is symbolized as ੴ.

ੴ is Guru Nanak’s depiction of the Creator. It captures – originally and concisely – the core essence of the notion of God in Sikhi. It depicts the spiritual genius and devotional brilliance of Guru Nanak. One is hard-pressed to find so much divinity, spirituality, and humanity being captured – in so few syllables – as is embodied in this amazingly illuminative concept of ੴ – elsewhere. This is perhaps because ੴ is a graphic, an illustration, or a drawing, if one prefers, that is worth a thousand words.

Most Sikhs understand ੴ to mean that there is one God or that God is one. Consequently, then, for such Sikhs, theirs is a monotheistic belief system. This is probably because we have put a lot of emphasis on one aspect of the illustration, namely the numeric component as being represented by the numeral ੧ on the left. The second part of the illustration – the open Oorra ਓ is often missed, even if it is equally if not more important. Then, there is the third part –the interaction between the ੧ and the open Oorra. It is argued that the intersection between the ੧ and the open Oorra, the nexus between them, or the overlap between both aspects of the graphic is the crucial aspect that lays out the notion of God of Sikhi.

If we consider the most common pronunciation of ੴ as Ek Oangkar (ਓਅੰਕਾਰ), then right at the beginning of it – consisting of the first three alphabets – we have the word Eko. In a sense, then, this is the interaction. Eko is the intersection, the overlap, or the nexus, as mentioned above. Eko means one-ness and becoming one. Eko also means one within everything. It further means one extends into everything. Taken as a whole, Eko then means one becoming all.

When we consider the concept of Eko then ੴ represents the One Creator within creation. ੴ represents the One Creator extended to become creation. As Gurbani says

ਏਕ ਰੂਪ ਸਗਲੋ ਪਾਸਾਰਾ ॥

Eyk Roop Saglo Pasara.

AGGS, M 5, p. 803.

One Form Extended into Everything.


ਇਕਸੁ ਤੇ ਹੋਇਓ ਅਨੰਤਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਏਕਸੁ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਏ ਜੀਉ ॥

Ekas Tay Hoeyo Ananta Nanak Ekas Mahe Smaye Jio.

One Manifested into Multitudes (of Creation), Nanak the One is Imbued Within the Multitudes.

AGGS, M 5, p. 131.

It’s clear, therefore that ੴ as Guru Nanak’s depiction of the Creator is his rendering of the notion that creation was the manifest extension of the Creator. The first part of the symbol, Ek, depicted as the numeral one ੧, represents the one-ness and the unity of both the Creator and His creation. The second part of the symbol, the open Oorra ਓ, represents the manifest extension of the Creator into creation. In other words, the open Oorra ਓ represents the Creator flowing onto and extending into His creation to become one.

This is what is meant by the interaction between the two parts of ੴ, the intersection between the Ek and the open oora, the nexus, and the overlap between the left side and the right side of the graphic. It needs to be noted that this is a two-way process. Seen from left to right – the one Creator extends into the entirety of creation, and seen from right to left – the entirety of creation is the manifestation and abode of the one Creator. This, then is the practical or operative meaning of Eko, which translates as “one and the same.” The Creator and His creation are ਇਕੋ Eko – one and the same.

Consequently, then, in Sikhi, there is no concept of a God out there or a God up there. Sikhi does not have a God distinct or separate from His Creation. Sikhi does not ascribe to the notion of a God who sits up there while creation is down here.

Guru Nanak’s concept of the Creator then, is that the Creator is within His creation. The following verses of Guru Nanak establishes this notion.

ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਵਸਿਆ ॥ਤੇਰਾ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ਲਖਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Balhari Kudrat Vasia.Tayra Unt Na Jayi Lkheya. Rahao.

AGGS, M 1, p. 469.

Vasia is to reside, while Kudrat refers to nature as creation. Hence, the phrase Kudrat Vasia means “the one who resides within His creation.” The meaning of the verse is: I Am in Veneration (Balhari) of You Existing Within Your Creation (Kudrat Vasia). Your Limits Are Beyond Fathom. (Dhillon, 2020b p. 193)

Here is another set of verses, also of Guru Nanak, that establishes the above notion.

ਆਪੀਨੈ ਆਪੁ ਸਾਜਿਓ ਆਪੀਨੈ ਰਚਿਓ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਦੁਯੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਸਾਜੀਐ ਕਰਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਡਿਠੋ ਚਾਉ ॥

ਦਾਤਾ ਕਰਤਾ ਆਪਿ ਤੂੰ ਤੁਸਿ ਦੇਵਹਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਸਾਉ ॥

Apeenaiy Aap Sajeyo Apeenaiy Racheyo Nao.

Duyi Kurdrat Sajeeaiy Kar Asann Dittho Chao.

Daata Karta Aap Tu Tus Deveh Kreh Psao

AGGS, M 1, p. 464 (Dhillon, 2020b, p. 87-88)

The Creator Is Self-Created, and the Creator Created the Law of Nature. The word Nao within the phrase ਆਪੀਨੈ ਰਚਿਓ ਨਾਉ Appenaiy Recheyo Nao comes from the word Niyem, which means order, structure, rule, and law.

The meaning of verse two is He Expanded Himself into Nature, Residing Within, to Oversee it in Earnest. The phrase ਕਰਿ ਆਸਣੁ Kar Asann depicts such a situation and makes clear that the Creator exists within His creation.

The meaning of verse three is You, O Creator, Are Extended into Creation. The phrase ਕਰਹਿ ਪਸਾਉ Kreh Psao means extended into. ਪਸਾਉ Pasao comes from the word ਪਸਾਰਾ Pasara, which means extended.

In summary, then, four things are made clear by Guru Nanak in the set mentioned above of verses. First, that creation is all an extension of the Creator; second, that creation is a manifestation of the Creator; third, that the Creator is extended into creation; and fourth, that the Creator is manifested within His creation.

Here is yet another set of verses of Guru Nanak that further establish the above mentioned depictions of Guru Nanak’s God.

ਸਲੋਕ ਮ: ੧ ॥

ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਕੈ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥ਵਖਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਸੁ ਬੰਦਾ ਹੋਇ॥

ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਹੈ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਜਾ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਇ ਤ ਕਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥

ਸਿਦਕੁ ਕਰਿ ਸਿਜਦਾ ਮਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਖਸੂਦੁ ॥ਜਿਹ ਧਿਰਿ ਦੇਖਾ ਤਿਹ ਧਿਰਿ ਮਉਜੂਦੁ ॥ ੧ ॥

Slok M: 1.

Kudrat Kar Kaiy Vseya Soye. Vakhat Vicharay So Banda Hoye.

Kudrat Hai Keemat Nahi Paye. Ja Keemat Paye Ta Khee Na Jayey.

Sidek Kar Sijda Man Kar Makhsood. Jeh Dhir Dekha Teh Dhir Maujood.

AGGS, M 1, p. 83

The phrase ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ Vseya Soye in the first verse means the Creator resides within His creation. The phrase ਵਖਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ Vakhat Vicharay in the second verse means the premise of spirituality is to recognize this reality in a timely fashion. The phrase ਸੁ ਬੰਦਾ ਹੋਇ So Banda Hoye in the second verse means recognizing this premise is to recognize humanity.

The meaning of the first two verses is thus as follows: The Creator Resides Within the Creation that He Created. To Recognize Such in a Timely Manner is to Recognize Humanity.

The meaning of the third verse is: Creation is Beyond Value and Beyond Narration. This is because the Creator Himself is beyond value and beyond narration. And because the Creator who is beyond value resides within His creation, His creation becomes beyond value.

The meaning of the fifth verse is: O Mind, Make this My Objective. The objective is specified in the sixth verse, which translates as follows: That I See the Creator Within Everything and Everyone.

What, then are the consequences of all the above to our practical spirituality? Three implications are worthy of consideration. The first is that it brings humanity into our spirituality.

The Creator is within creation. He is, therefore within each and every human being. Once we start to accept that He is within all, then our perspective toward all human beings transforms into one of love, peaceful coexistence, and mutual respect. The principle that the God of Sikhi is within all human beings is discernible from the following couplet of verses.

ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਖਾਲਕੁ ਖਲਕ ਮਹਿ ਖਲਕ ਵਸੈ ਰਬ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਮੰਦਾ ਕਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਾਂ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੋਈ ਨਾਹਿ ॥

Mehla 5.

Freeda Khalak Khaluk Meh Khaluk Vsaiy Rabb Mahe. Manda Kis No Akhiaiy Ja Tes Ben Koyi Nahe.

AGGS, M 5, p. 1381.

The word ਖਾਲਕੁ Khalak refers to the Creator and ਖਲਕ Khaluk (from Khalqat ਖਲਕਤ) to human beings within Creation. Guru Arjun is thus saying in the first verse: Fareed, the Creator is Within His Creation, and Within His Creation is Where He is Realized. The meaning of the second verse is: What Part of Creation Can I Deem Bad When There is None Without Him Within? (Dhillon 2022b).

Kabir makes the same point, using the same terms – ਖਾਲਕੁ Khalak and ਖਲਕ Khaluk in his verses as follows.

ਲੋਗਾ ਭਰਮਿ ਨ ਭੂਲਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥

ਖਾਲਿਕੁ ਖਲਕ ਖਲਕ ਮਹਿ ਖਾਲਿਕੁ ਪੂਰਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਸ੍ਰਬ ਠਾਂਈ ॥ 1 ॥

Logha Bharm Na Bhulho Bhayi.

Khalek Khaluk Khaluk Meh Khalek Pur Raheyo Srab Tthayi(n).

AGGS, Kabir, p. 134

Meaning: Have No Illusion, O People. The Creator Is Within Creation; Creation Is a Manifestation of the Creator in The Complete Sense.

Kabir is thus effectively saying that the Creator is within creation in the total and absolute sense, and anything to the contrary is simply an illusion.

So that’s the first consequence of the God of Sikhi being thus considered. Spirituality must co-exist with humanity. If we cannot see God in all of His creation, we cannot see him at all. That’s because the Creator resides within his creation, and creation is an extended form of the Creator.

The second consequence is that the Creator exists within me. He will thus have to be realized within. Guru Teg Bahadur ji has made this point within his verses as follows, providing two specific illustrations to allow us to appreciate the notion that the Creator resides within us.

ਧਨਾਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ 9 ॥

ਕਾਹੇ ਰੇ ਬਨ ਖੋਜਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਸਦਾ ਅਲੇਪਾ ਤੋਹੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਮਾਈ ॥ ੧ ॥

ਪੁਹਪ ਮਧਿ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਸੁ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਮੁਕਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਜੈਸੇ ਛਾਈ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਸੇ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਖੋਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥

Dhnasri Mehla 9.

Kahey Ray Ban Khojan Jayi. Sarab Nivasi Sda Alaypa Tohi Sang Smayi.

Pohp Madh Jion Bas Basat Hai Muker Mahe Jaisay Chchayee.

Taisay Hi Har Bsaiy Nirantar Ghatt Hi Khojho Bhayi.

AGGS, M 9, p. 684

Meaning: O Mind! Why Search The Creator Outside In The Wilderness? He Resides Within You, As He Resides Within All and Everything. Just Like Fragrance Resides Within a Flower, And Just Like an Image Within a Mirror. Similarly, He Resides Within Us, That Is Where We Will Realize Him.

The third consequence is that we will treat all of creation – animate and inanimate – with care,

love, and respect, whether they are our forests, oceans, or rivers. We will appreciate the entirety of creation, whether it is the air around us or outer space. We will responsibly share this world with everyone and everything – including the animal and plant kingdoms. That’s because all of these are the abode of the Creator. ੴ is Guru Nanak’s message to us towards this practical effect. It’s Guru Nanak’s way of telling us to be filled with one-ness—the one-ness with the Creator on the one hand, and one-ness with His creation on the other. Most importantly, to be filled with one-ness towards humanity.

All of these practical objectives required the notion of a God that flowed onto and extended into His creation to become one with creation. It required the notion of the Creator and His creation being ਇਕੋ Eko – one and the same. It required a God who could not be distinguished and differentiated from his creation, humanity, and humanity. It required the notion of a God that could be seen within everything and everyone. It was the God of a spirituality that needed to co-exist with humanity. It required a Creator who was to be realized within. This was the God of Guru Nanak, the God of Sikhi, the God of the AGGS.

Guru Nanak, the AGGS, and Sikhi ascribe a second facet to such a God – as discussed below.

The God of Sikhi is symbolized as Hukm, the Law of Nature.

Guru Nanak refers to the Creator as Hukmi ਹੁਕਮੀ, meaning the quintessence of the law of nature. The word ਹੁਕਮ Hukm appears in a variety of grammatical forms within the AGGS some 500 times across its 1429 pages to signify the centrality of the law within which creation operates, functions, and remains sustainable. The first two stanzas alone, of the first composition of the AGGS named Jup, contain this word 12 times to anchor the point that Hukm was a core facet of the God of Sikhi. The God of Guru Nanak and the AGGS can neither be understood nor articulated sans the notion of Hukm. Taken in its totality, Hukm is the God of Sikhi. The God of the AGGS is in essence, Hukm. The following set of verses captures this central idea of Sikhi.

ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਆਕਾਰ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਕਹਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਜੀਅ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥

Hukmi Hovan Akaar Hukm Na Khyea Jayee. Hukmi Hovan Jea Hukm Milaiy Vadeayee.

AGGS, M 1, p.1.

Creation (ਆਕਾਰ Akaar) Is by The One Who is The Embodiment of the Law of Nature (ਹੁਕਮੀ Hukmi), Even If the Law Cannot Be Stated (In Its Entirety). Life is Created by The Embodiment of the Law of Nature (ਹੁਕਮੀ Hukmi), as is its Glory.

It is a core principle of Sikhi that nature operates on a set of laws and principles, which are termed as ਹੁਕਮ Hukm within the SGGS. One may thus equate Hukm to the Law of Nature or the Law of the Universe. Guru Nanak postulated that no part of nature was exempt from Hukm.

The verse is

ਹੁਕਮੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹੁਕਮ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥

Hukmeiy Ander Sabh Ko Bahar Hukm Na Koye.

AGGS, M 1, p. 1.

Everything is Within Hukm; no Part of Nature is Exempt from Hukm.

To make the point that the God of Sikh was indeed Hukm, another way of putting the translation of the above verse would be that everything was within God, and no part of nature was exempt from God.

Guru Nanak further advocated that the Hukm for every element of creation was within the element itself. The verse is:

ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥

Hukm Rajayi Chalna Nanak Likhiya Naal. AGGS, M 1, p. 1.

Live Life Within the Flow of This Hukm Because the Hukm for Every Element of Creation Was Within the Element Itself.

Again, to make the point that the God of Sikh was indeed Hukm, the above translation could well be stated as “live life within the flow created by God within…”

Such a postulation is not unlike the fact that the laws of nature about the growth and development of a seed were within the seed, not without. The Hukm for the seed was inherent within the nature of the seed itself. How and under what conditions it would sprout, die, grow, or flourish, etc., were all contained within this very nature (of the seed).

Since the God of Sikhi is within, and the realization of this Creator is within; it follows that as Hukmi, God is in operation within. It cannot be that the Creator is within us but that His Hukm is not or that His Hukm is without.

Four points are thus discernible from the discussion thus far and worth noting. First, the Creator is within. Second, the realization of the Creator is within. Third, His Hukm for us is, therefore within (The Hukmi cannot be within us sans His Hukm). The fourth consequential point is that virtually everything else about Sikhi is also within. For instance, the accounting of our deeds is within, too. Pre-existing notions of judgment by an external God or external “entities” such as Dharam-raj, Chiter Gupat, Lekha, etc., are thus redefined in Gurbani as processes that occur within.

Spiritual or divine living according to Sikhism was thus to realize the Hukm and to live life within the flow of this Hukm. Guru Nanak posed the question pertaining to the ‘how’ of spirituality and proceeded to answer it in terms of Hukm in the following set of verses.

ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਐ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ ॥ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥

Kiv Schiara Hoeyey, Kiv Kooray Tootey Paal. Hukm Rajayi Chalna Nanak Likhiya Naal.

AGGS, M 1, p. 1.

How, Then, Do I Become a Creator-Realized Being Within? How Do I Remove the Obstacle of My Non-Realized State Within? Nanak, The Way to Realize the Creator Within is to Remain Within the Confines of and Abide in Sehej (Chalna) of His Hukm, as Contained Within Me. (Dhillon, 2020a p.91-92)

For all practical intents, the message within the above couplet was to live life within the flow of this Hukm because the Hukm for every element of creation was within the element itself.

Attempting to live life in contravention of the Hukm was not only against the laws of nature as the God of Sikhi and hence futile; the attempt and the effort were a wasteful expense of one’s life and a recipe for disaster. One primary Hukm about life pertained to choice and consequences. Guru Nanak postulated it as the “Sow as you reap Hukm” as described in the verses below:

ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਆਵਹੁ ਜਾਹੁ ॥ ੨੦ ॥

Apey Beej Apey Hee Khah. Nanak Hukmee Aveh Jah.

AGGS, M 1, p. 1.

Nanak, to Reap as One Sows, is The Hukm of the Creator About My Cycle of Spirituality. (Dhillon, 2020a p. 156)

This Hukm provided that the outcomes of life at any given moment were the result of prior choices – made in the form of thoughts, speech, and actions. If the consequences were deemed unsuitable, then it is the choices that need to be altered. The notion of blaming an external God sitting up in the heavens and micro-managing the universe for one’s outcomes in life is critiqued in the Sikh scripture. The verse is:

ਦਦੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੇਊ ਕਿਸੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਕਰੰਮਾ ਆਪਣਿਆ ॥

ਜੋ ਮੈ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੀਜੈ ਅਵਰ ਜਨਾ ॥

Daday Dosh Na Deyu Kisay Dosh Krama Aapnneya.

Jo Mein Keeya So Mein Paya Dosh Na Dejaiy Avar Jnaa.

AGGS: M 1, p. 433.

No One Bears Blame for My Deeds Except Myself. What I Reap is What I Sowed, I Hold Not Anyone Else Responsible for It.

The notion of “praying to God” for the outcomes of one’s choices to be changed essentially meant that one was “praying” for the Hukm to be violated. Such “praying” was no more than attempting to live life in contravention of the Hukm of our choices. Guru Nanak made it clear that nothing was above Hukm, and as such, altering, changing, or violating Hukm was not an option for spiritual life. The verse is

ਹੁਕਮੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹੁਕਮ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥

Hukmeiy Ander Sabh Ko Bahar Hukm Na Koye.

AGGS, M 1, p. 1.

Everything is within Hukm; no Part of Nature is exempt from Hukm.

It appears that this facet of the God of Sikhi, namely the inevitability of Hukm within (ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ Likhiya Naal) in the form of choice and consequence (ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹੁ Apey Beej Apey Hee Khah), is the one that is most unacceptable to the propagators and practitioners of the religion of Sikhism. The entire gamut of prayers, ardas, chantings, and repeated recitations that form the central activities and rituals of the religion is aimed at circumventing the consequences of one’s choices. A cursory examination of the intentions behind the activities mentioned above and rituals in a Gurdwara makes the point clear. At the individual level, parents of a child who has not studied and is thus ill-prepared for his exams are seen conducting recitations of banis with an ardas for the child to be accepted into medical school. Individuals who are otherwise unqualified are seen doing Sukhmani recitations for their overseas visa approvals. Unemployable persons and individuals who live unhealthy lifestyles are engaged in prayers and ardas to circumvent the Hukm of outcomes for their poor choices. At the societal level, Gurdwaras conduct Akhand patths for calamities (caused by human behaviors) such as floods and pandemics to be removed by their God. This is because the God of Sikhism is seated up in the heavens and creates these disasters. This God then waits for human beings to suffer and to cry out for them to be removed and does so only if enough human beings plead for the catastrophes to be stopped.

As pointed out above – and going by the illogic of a God first creating calamities and then waiting for human beings to suffer and plead for their termination – is not the God of Guru Nanak. The God of Sikhi is within the human being who is consequently empowered with the capacity, ability, resources, and intellect to make the right choices and understand the Hukm of choice and consequences. The irony is that our clergy, granthis, ragis, parcharaks, kathavachaks, writers, speakers, and content creators promote the notion of their God through the lens of Hukm as well – albeit a distorted lens. The most common adage of such people is that “without His Hukm, even a leaf cannot swing.” The fact that this is a corrupted and self-serving exegesis of Guru Nanak’s concept of Hukm notwithstanding, such a distortion aims to suggest that Guru Nanak, Sikhi, and the AGGS advocate the notion of a God sitting up in the heavens who micromanages creation to the point of deciding if and when a particular leaf swings. One wonders why Sikhs remain caught up in such archaic and impractical notions of God when Guru Nanak told us that the laws of nature that are built into creation determine the growth, flourishment, and movement of everything, so much so that these laws were God as much as God was these laws.

Guru Nanak, the AGGS, and Sikhi ascribe a third facet to God – as discussed below:

The God of Sikhi symbolized as Divine Virtues ਦੈਵੀ ਗੁਣ.

A critical prong of Sikhi – aimed at making the world a better place, instilling humanity, and bettering humanity – was for the individual to discard basic human vices and adopt divine virtues. Five basic human vices were listed by Guru Nanak – Ego, Greed, Attachment, Desire, and Anger. The terms used in the AGGS are Ahangkar, Hangkar, Garab, and Abhiman for Ego, Lobh for Greed, Moh for Attachment, Kaam for Desire, and Krodh for Anger. Since these five vices were interlinked in the sense that one most certainly led to the other and given that an unlimited number of evils emanated out of these basic five, keeping these five in check was the key to avoiding spiritual death and creating spiritual life. The verse is

ਪੰਚ ਦੂਤ ਤੁਧੁ ਵਸਿ ਕੀਤੇ ਕਾਲੁ ਕੰਟਕੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ॥

Panch Doot Tudh Vas Keetay Kaal Kantuk Mariya.

AGGS, M 3, p. 917.

Having Controlled My Five Vices, I Have Eliminated Spiritual Death. (Dhillon, 2020d, page 76).

Divine virtues were also unlimited, given that divinity itself was unlimited. One can thus find an entire gamut of verses within the AGGS that speak of virtues such as love, contentment, kindness, compassion, service, courage, and humanity. The advocacy pertaining to this aspect of spiritual living was for the Sikh to understand the nature of any number of virtues: accept, adopt, practice, habitualize, inculcate, and internalize them within one’s daily living and thus become virtuous. The verse is:

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਬਣੀਐ ॥

Satgur Ki Bani Sat Saroop Hai Gurbani Banneay.

AGGS, M 5, p. 304.

The Messages of the Creator-Connecting Guru Are Divine; Become Them.

Within the parameters of Guru Nanak’s teachings, becoming divine was becoming virtuous. In a nutshell, then, becoming divine in the here and now, was the essence of Sikh spirituality.

Given the defining of God as being within creation and human beings; and given the primacy of living in the Hukm and aspiring to become divinely virtuous – God was not a subject of finding, meeting, meditating upon, discovering, uniting with, looking up to, praying to or pleading with. The God of Sikhi was a subject of realization. The term used for realization in the AGGS is Jup. The first composition of the AGGS on pages one till 7 – authored by Guru Nanak – is named Jup and lays out 38 incremental stanzas that form the “rungs of a ladder” for the human mind to ascend towards obtaining the realization of the Creator within. (Dhillon, 2020a p. 85).

The realization of God was the realization of the primacy of Hukm and the realization of divine virtues. The realization of God was the realization that God resided within every human being and every living thing. The realization of God within was the realization of the need to become divine through living a virtuous life towards becoming divinely virtuous. Guru Nanak puts it this way

ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥

Venn Gunn Keetey Bhagat Na Hoey.

AGGS, M 1, p. 4.

There Can Be No Divinity Sans the Realization of Divine Virtues.

In other words, there could be no realization of God without the realization of divine virtues. The realization of divine virtues was the realization of God. This was because Guru Nanak’s God was a conglomeration of divine virtues.

Given the emphasis on the notion of realization, the basic focus of the AGGS is enlightenment. The verse is:

ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਇਸੁ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਕਰਮਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਏ ॥

Gurbani Es Jug Meh Chanan Karm Vseiy Mun Aiye.

AGGS. M 5, p. 67.

The Messages of Gurbani are Enlightenment that Bring About Realization Within.

One needs to be enlightened as a pre-cursor step towards realization. There can be no realization sans enlightenment. The basic objective within Sikhi is thus to elevate the human being from a point of un-enlightenment or inner darkness to one of inner enlightenment that would lead to realization within. The verse is:

ਏਤੁ ਰਾਹਿ ਪਤਿ ਪਵੜੀਆ ਚੜੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਇਕੀਸ ॥

Eyet Rah Pat Pavreeah Chareeah Ekees.

AGGS, M 1, p.7.

This Journey of Realization of the Creator Within is One of Elevating the Human Mind into a State of Becoming One.

The AGGS is a manual for a living – by understanding, inculcating, and internalizing which messages – one becomes enlightened about things such as God, Hukm, and virtuous living. Such enlightenment allowed for an individual to become spiritual towards the goals of serving humanity, being one with humanity, and making the world a better place to live. The AGGS also provides enlightenment pertaining to a whole host of futile and vain acts such as rituals, penances, pilgrimages, offerings, etc., in the name of a God that needs pleasing, fearing, and worshipping. In this sense, then, Sikh spirituality is one of being enlightened to the point of actively investing one’s lifetime towards becoming a better human being and leaving the world a better place than the one that one was born into.

The God of Sikhi symbolized as Nam ਨਾਮ

The word Nam ਨਾਮ appears some 5,500 times within the AGGS. Even if one puts aside its meaning, context, and usage, the frequency of its appearance alone suggests its centrality within the AGGS. It is argued that Nam is, in essence a philosophical reference to the God of Sikhi.

Adherents of the institutionalized religion of Sikhism have interpreted Nam ਨਾਮ to mean “name.” The God of Sikhism is thus prescribed the name “Vaheguru,” and the adverbs of Nam, such as “Simran” and “Jup,” are translated as repetitious recital and chanting of God’s name. A vast gamut of English translations translates ਸਤਿਨਾਮ Satnam – the first word used by Guru Nanak after his symbolic representation of God as ੴ as “True Name” – ignoring both the grammar of the word ਸਤਿ Sat as denoted by the vowel of sihari as well as its Sanskrit origin – to suggest that Sikhism had the “true name” of God (as Vaheguru) while the rest of the world was indulging in names that were “untrue” or “false.”

Examining the meaning, context, and usage of the word Nam within the AGGS makes clear that it actually refers to the two critical facets of the God of Sikhi, as postulated by Guru Nanak and discussed above, namely Hukm and divine virtues. The following verse of Guru Nanak makes the first meaning of Nam (as Hukm) clear.

ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ਬੁਝਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥

Eyko Nam Hukm Hai Nanak Satgur Deeya Bujhaye Jio.

AGGS, M1. Pp 72.

The Nam About the One (Creator) is Hukm Nanak, the Satguru Provides This Enlightenment.

The following set of verses is further evidence of Nam referring to Hukm or the law of nature.

ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲੇ ਜੰਤ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਖੰਡ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ ॥

ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸੁਨਨ ਗਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ॥

ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਆਗਾਸ ਪਾਤਾਲ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਆਕਾਰ ॥

ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਪੁਰੀਆ ਸਭ ਭਵਨ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਉਧਰੇ ਸੁਨਿ ਸ੍ਰਵਨ ॥

Nam Kay Dharay Saglay Jant. Nam Kay Dharay Khand Brehmund.

Nam Kay Dharay Simrat Beyd Puran. Nam Kay Dharay Sunan Gyan Dhiyan.

Nam Kay Dharay Agas Pataal. Nam Kay Dharay Sagal Akaar.

Nam Kay Dharay Puriya Sabh Bhavan. Nam Kaiy Sang Udray Sun Sarvan.

AGGS, M 5, p. 284.

Nam Kay Dharay ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ is a phrase that is common for the entire set of verses. Its literal translation would be: “In accordance with Nam” or “on the basis of Nam. The concepts that exist “on the basis of Nam” according to the verses above are Saglay Jant ਸਗਲੇ ਜੰਤ (all living things); Khand Brehmund ਖੰਡ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ (the Universe); Simrat Beyd Puran ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ; Sunan Gyan Dhiyan ਸੁਨਨ ਗਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ (knowledge, enlightenment, wisdom); Agas Pataal ਆਗਾਸ ਪਾਤਾਲ (planets and celestial bodies); Sagal Akaar ਸਗਲ ਆਕਾਰ (All of creation); and Puriya Sabh Bhavan ਪੁਰੀਆ ਸਭ ਭਵਨ (worlds and realms).

The contextual meaning of Nam Kay Dharay ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ in these verses must therefore be one that fits all the above mentioned concepts. Given that this is an Ashtpadee, the context must come from the Salok that precedes this pada (para). The Salok is:

ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥

ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੰਗੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਗੁਣ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਿੰਨ ॥

ਤਿਸਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁਪ੍ਰਸੰਨ ॥ ੧ ॥

Salok. Roop Na Reykh Na Rung Kich Treh Gunn Tay Prabh Bhin.

Tisay Bujhaye Nanaka Jis Hoveiy Soparsan.

AGGS, M 5, p. 283.

Nanak, blessed in Joy, Is the One Who Realizes the One Who Has No Form, No Shape, No Color, and Is Beyond These Three Characteristics.

The first verse of this Slok is descriptive of the Divine. And the second of His realization within is the joy of spirituality. Within this context, then, the word ਨਾਮ Nam within the Ashtpadee that follows it refers to Divine Hukm or Law of Nature. The contextual meaning of the phrase Nam Kay Dharay ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ is thus “in accordance with Divine Hukm or Law.

So, the meaning of the verses of the Asthpadee is that The Entirety of Creation Exists in accordance with the Divine Law. The Universe Functions in accordance with the Divine Law. The Simratees, Vedas, and Puranas Came into Being in accordance with the Divine Law. Realization, Knowing, and Contemplation Come into Being in accordance with the Divine Law. (Dhillon, 2023c).

It is worth noting that there is no judgment on the validity or otherwise of the Simratees, Vedas, and Puranas within this set of verses. It is a neutral statement that these texts did not come about from outside the realm of Hukm. The Hukm about writing texts is the result of the use of our intellect – thinking, writing, and analytical skills – to produce such texts. It is the dictate of Hukm or the law of Nature that human beings are endowed with intellect. It is this endowment through Hukm that allowed the texts to come into existence. (ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ Nam Kay Dharay Simrat Beyd Puran).

Within the parameters of the argument that Nam is, in essence a philosophical reference to the God of Sikhi, its second allusion is towards divine virtues. The following verse clarifies not just the distinction between Nam and name but also that Nam refers to virtues.

ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ ਕਥੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਜਿਹਬਾ ॥ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਪਰਾ ਪੂਰਬਲਾ ॥

Kirtem Nam Kthay Tayray Jehba. Sat Nam Tera Pra Poorbla.

AGGS, M 5, p. 1083.

All the names that I utter (ਕਥੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਜਿਹਬਾ Kthay Tayray Jehba) are descriptive of your virtues (ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ Kirtem Nam). Your foundational (ਪਰਾ ਪੂਰਬਲਾ Pra Poorbla) virtue (ਨਾਮੁ Nam) is that you are eternal and permanent (ਸਤਿ Sat).

The word ਸਤਿ Sat is derived from and is the Punjabi version of its Sanskrit form ਸਤਯ Satyay. It means eternal, perpetual, and permanent. Since this word is a virtue of God, the word Nam as its suffix can only mean virtue.

The use of the word ਸਤਿਨਾਮ Satnam as the first by Guru Nanak after his symbolic representation of God as ੴ in the preamble or commencing verse of the AGGS is an indication of Guru Nanak’s intent to say that the first, primary and foremost virtue of my God ੴ pertains to its eternal, perpetual and permanent nature.

The following set of verses makes this assertion clearer.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸਿਖ ਕਉ ਨਾਮ ਧਨੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਿਖੁ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਹੇ ॥

Satgur Sikh Kao Nam Dhan Deye. Gur Ka Sikh Vadbhagi Hay.

AGGS, M 5, page 286.

Satgur Gives the Sikh the Treasure of Divine Virtues. The Sikh of the Guru is thus Blessed.

It would be meaningless to translate the verses as “Satgur gives the treasure of God’s name. Human beings create all of God’s names, and one is no different in value than the other. Here is another verse that supports the assertion mentioned above.

ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥ ਸਾਥਿ ਨ ਚਾਲੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਸਗਲੀ ਛਾਰੁ ॥

ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਮਾਵਨਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਧਨੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ੧ ॥

Salok. Sath Na Chailaiy Ben Bhajan Bekheya Sagli Chaar.

Har Har Nam Kmavna Nanak Eh Dhan Saar.

AGGS, M 5, p. 288.

My Devotion Towards God Within Supports My Spirituality; All Else Is Worthless. Acquire Divine Virtues, Nanak, This Is a Spiritual Treasure.

It would be similarly meaningless to translate the second verse with the word Nam as “Acquire God’s name… A name is not meant to be acquired or inculcated (ਕਮਾਵਨਾ Kmavna); divine virtues are.

Here is yet another set of verses that support the above assertion.

ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਸਾਜਨ ਸੈਨਾ ॥

ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਮੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਵਡੈ ਭਾਗਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਲੈਨਾ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Nam Jpho Mayray Sajan Saina.

Nam Bina Mein Avar Na Koyi Vdaiy Bhag Gurmukh Har Laeyna. Rahao.

AGGS. M 4, p. 366.

Realize Divine Virtues O Mind. I Have No Recourse Sans Divine Virtues; Blessed are Those Who Acquire Them from the Guru’s Messages.

Given that Sikhism’s clergy – granthis, ragis, parcharaks, and kathavachaks have propagated the notion that Nam refers to the “name of God,” they have mistranslated Gurbani concepts such as Jappna ਜਪਣਾ, Simran ਸਿਮਰਨ, Dhiaonna ਧਿਆਉਣਾ as reciting, parroting, chanting, etc. for the simple reason that these are the only activities that can associate with a “name.” (Dhillon, 2022a). The proponents of chanting would, for instance, translate the above verses as Chant the name of God. I have no recourse sans chanting; blessed are those who chant. The four questions that need asking are, firstly, “Why is the Guru promoting chanting? Secondly, “What is so blessed about being able to chant.” Thirdly, “Was not the whole pre-1468 religious world already chanting? And finally, “did not our Guru’s already consign chanting to the dustbin of spirituality –as the following verse makes clear?

ਰਾਮੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥

Ram Ram Karta Sabh Jug Firey Ram Na Paiya Jaye.

AGGS, M 3, pp 555.

The Entire Spiritual World Goes About Chanting, But None Realized Him.

The notion of chanting, repeated calling of the name, and fixed period of recitals of a particular name of God is accepted within the parameters of Sikhism the religion because it fits the notion of the God of Sikhism who sits up in the heavens and who needs praying to, worshipping and pleasing. Chanting and repeatedly calling the name is considered an act that significantly pleases God. Within such a parameter, then, Nam is translated (wrongly) as “name” and Jup as “chanting” (wrongly too).

The God of Guru Nanak, Sikhi, and the AGGS, on the other hand is one who is to realize within. Within this parameter, Nam is, in essence a philosophical reference to two facets of the God of Sikhi – Hukm and divine virtues, and Jup is to realize. Hukm and divine virtues are the subject of realization. Nam ਨਾਮੁ, which represents both these aspects of the God of Guru Nanak, is the subject of realizing. All this is because the God of Sikhi is the subject of realizing.


This essay has sought to provide a discourse on the God of Sikhi as advocated within the AGGS. An accurate depiction of this God has firstly required that it be contrasted with the God of Sikhism as the institutionalized religion that Sikhs practice in current times. Such contrast is necessary to establish the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the God that Guru Nanak presented to us.

Within the AGGS, God is depicted through a symbol that Guru Nanak created – ੴ. It is a God that is in one-ness with, an extension of, and resides within His creation. By extrapolating this principle, the God of Sikhi resides within all human beings.

To root the notion of the God of Sikhi into a spirituality that functioned towards the betterment of humanity, humanity and the everyday life of a Sikh, Guru Nanak ascribed two additional meaningful and practical components, namely that the God of Sikhi was the quintessence of the law of nature ਹੁਕਮੀ Hukmi and a conglomeration of divine virtues ਦੈਵੀ ਗੁਣ. Guru Nanak used the concept of Nam ਨਾਮੁ to represent both these aspects of the God of Sikhi.

The God of Sikhi was the subject of realization within. Such realization involved the realization of both Hukm and divine virtues. To be realized of God was to become Godly or become divine. Within such parameters, to become divine was to become Hukm-abiding and to become virtuous.

While the God of Sikhism, by virtue of it being no different from the God of virtually all other pre-1468 religions, has nothing new to offer to both the world of religions and humanity, the God of Sikhi in being a novel, unique, and distinctive notion of Guru Nanak offered the human being an opportunity towards making the world a better place, instilling humanity and bettering humanity.

NOTE: All transliterations, translations, and interpretations of verses presented from within the AGGS in this essay are the author’s work unless otherwise indicated.

Article is Reproduced from Understanding Sikhism Res. J. Vol. 25, No. 1, 2023, page 33-46.


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555th Parkash Purab of Guru Nanak

555th Parkash Purab of Guru Nanak.

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD.

The 1st of Baisakh Nanakshahi Sammat 556, which coincides with 14th of April 2024 marks the 555th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth. This issue of the Sikh Bulletin is dedicated towards commemorating this event. It is our way of sharing the joy of the advent of Guru Nanak with the Sikh world in general, and our readers in particular.

The joy will nevertheless be tempered with the stark reality that Sikhs have got the birth date of their founder wrong. It would have been excusable had Guru Nanak been born 5,555 years ago. Dates do get fuddled over periods of time that run that long. But Sikhi is the youngest spirituality, and it’s an event that happened just 555 years ago.

What’s more baffling is that Sikhs had the date right until the past 200 years or so. Historian M.A McAuliffe has said that the Sikh world had the date of Guru Nanak’s birth correct till 1816 – when the Sikhs enjoyed Khalsa Raj under Maharaja Ranjit Singh; and their religious leader was Nirmla Gyani Sant Singh as head granthi of Darbar Sahib. The Benares trained Nirmla convinced the Maharaja to use his office to have Nankana Sahib celebrate Guru Nanak’s birthday in Katak – November – for the first time in 1816. It would take another hundred years before the Katak date would become acceptable to the Sikh world at large. So that’s 200 years of celebrating it on the wrong date after 346 years of celebrating it on the correct date.

One can thus surmise a number of reasons why Sikhs have gotten the Parkash date of Guru Nanak wrong. It was a deliberate act by persons or groups of people who controlled Sikh institutions, the Sikh historical narrative and, by extension, the Sikh psyche. The birth date was altered in accordance with a specific and disturbing agenda of these persons or groups.

But control over their institutions, historical narratives and their psyche is now in the hands of Sikhs themselves. So why has the Sikh world continued to celebrate the Parkash Diharra of Guru Nanak on Katak Di Puranmasi – which corresponds to November 15th in 2024 – and is, in reality, the birthdate of Guru Nanak’s rebel and disowned son Baba Sri Chand? Why is the Sikh religious leadership helpless or worse, crippled in wanting to make the change? Why does the SGPC – the leading Sikh religious body that on governs all historical Gurdwaras and the Akal Takhat – list the correct date its official website but celebrate it on the wrong date?

Is it because Sikh institutions, Sikh historical narratives and the Sikh psyche is in the hands of Sikhs in name only, and the real keepers of all three are aligned with the very forces that altered the birth date from 1st of Baisakh to the Puranmasi of Katak to serve their specific and disturbing agendas? After all, the leading institutions that are in the business of robbing Sikhi of its Nirmlata or uniqueness through acts such as muddling the Nanakshahi Calendar issue; mixing up Sikh beliefs, practices and festivals with those of other belief systems, and insisting that Sikhi has its roots in Snatanism – amongst a myriad of other such nefarious acts – are the sampardayi, dera and taksali outfits that have their origins in Nirmla and Udasi schools of thought. And after all, one hundered percent of the Jathedars of the five takhats and the granthis of these takhats are schooled in these outfits.

Keeping in line with Sikh character and penchant for form over substance, the Sikh world will undoubtedly get excited over the figure 555 come 15th of November 2024. There will be calls to organize 555 Akhand Paths and hire helicopters to load up with 555 different varieties of flowers flown in from all over the world and rain them over Darbar Sahib Amritsar and or Nankana Sahib.

There will be calls for Darbar Sahib and or Nankana Sahib to be lit with 555 lamps and perform a fireworks show with 555 types of fireworks. Businesses would make and sell rosaries with 555 beads and publish and sell photos of Guru Nanak with the figure 555 superimposed on the image. Sikh individuals would donate 555 in their local currency to their local Gurdwaras on that day. Some rich Gurdwara run by diaspora Sikhs may want to install a 555-kilogram dome made of gold on the roof.

Elsewhere there would be calls for individuals to recite the Jap bani or just mool mantar 555 times; and calls for Sikhs to dip themselves 555 times in the pool at the various Gurdwaras. The list of possible permutations for what Sikhs can do with the figure 555 is endless. Very few would stop to ask if any of the things they are doing or being asked to do were sanctioned or critiqued by the very person to whom they are all being dedicated – Guru Nanak. Rare would be the Sikhs who would ask “but what can we do about disseminating the messages of our founder Guru? Could we even get to 5 of his basic messages? Rare too would be those Sikhs who would ask “what lessons are we teaching our children in all of this.” Even rare would be those Sikhs who would ask “But isn’t 15th November the wrong date to begin with;” or “why are we celebrating Guru Nanak’s birthday on the date when Sri Chand was born?”

The Sikh Bulletin thus decided to play its part in doing what we think is the right thing to do – which is to raise awareness regarding the most basic fumble that defines the Sikh world. We have resolved to dedicate this issue to the celebration of Guru Nanak’s Parkash Purab and to do so on the correct date – the 1st of Baisakh. The Editorial Team has put together a number of essays and articles relating to the life and messages of Guru Nanak. The Shabd Vichar section looks at a shabd composed by Guru Nanak namely ਲੇਖੈ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਬੋਲਣਾ ਲੇਖੈ ਖਾਣਾ ਖਾਉ ॥ Laiykhaiy Bolann Bolnna Laikhaiy Khanna Khao(n). The anchor article of this issue discusses the concept of God as advocated by Guru Nanak. A special essay that explains the dynamics behind the moving of Guru Nanak’s Parkash Diharra from 1st Baisakh to the Puranmasi of Katak is included in this issue.

We wish our readers an enlightening Khalsa Divas and a fabulous Nirangkari Gurpurab.

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston)


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