December, 30, 1997 – Healing the divisions

Guru Gobind Singh, Tenth Guru of Sikhs, compiled the whole Guru Granth Sahib from memory, adding precious hymns by his late father, Guru Teg Bahadur, but did not include his own writings. These were kept as a separate collection, known as Dasam Granth. Controversy has arisen over the authorship of some of these writings. Some Sikhs doubt that Guru Gobind Singh wrote them all. Maharaj ji asked Guru Gobind Singh, who responded by putting a flower garland over the scripture, so Maharaj ji took this as a sign that all the writings are his. Nevertheless, scholars have asked him to organize a major seminar in which top academics will study the scripture in depth.

In the process of preparing the seminar, Maharaj ji is also summoning the press to brief them about Dasam Granth. Today a reporter has come from a major English daily newspaper, Times of India. He says he has been writing about religion for 30 years. Instead of concentrating on Dasam Granth, he brings up a lot of issues about religion in general. Maharaj ji loves questions, so a fascinating dialogue unfolds.

Reporter: Seeing the world as it is today, is God like this?
Maharaj: This is the subject of those who have experienced that which some call Brahm, some call Rab, not of everyone. Others are under pressure of their karmas. Those who have spoken thus had seen Him.

Reporter: But can karma be proved? According to karma theory, there is a cause and effect relationship. It leaves no room for repentance or forgiveness that would absolve one of gruesome crimes.

Maharaj: When a person kills, he is uncontrolled.

Reporter: Suppose I hit him. I say, “I’m not responsible. It was God in me.” So am I just a puppet?

Maharaj: This cannot be said. When you push someone, the feeling comes inside you that it is not correct. If we meditate and keep faith in God, then perhaps we will change before harming someone.

Reporter: I have no quarrel with that. Reading books will make me a better human. But am I not responsible for my actions? The human heart is the origin of all evil. I cannot say it is the result of my past actions. I feel I have a choice of good or evil.

Maharaj: Why does a person meditate? To understand from within what is that Power which makes me act.

Reporter: I cannot think of a divine force compelling me to do a wrong act. The world has philosophies which contradict each other. Otherwise all religions would not exist. They have fundamental differences.

Maharaj: No. One thing is sure: Our methods are not the same, but our goal is one.

Reporter: I agree, but there are fundamental differences. Hinduism says it’s karma—cause and effect. Christianity says your filthy acts can only be forgiven by grace. In Hinduism here is nothing in between. In Christianity, there is a feeling of sinfulness, a wide gulf between me and God. What we should do is accept our differences and live in peace.

Maharaj: You cannot force anyone to believe anything. You can change people by ideas and convincing them. In the Bible it is said that Jesus suffered for us and was crucified. It means that he thus took all our bad karmic load from us and freed us. All believe in karma. But this is the difference. One idea is that you suffer according to your karmas. The other is that karma can be changed.

If you believe that all religions speak of worship, what does that mean? It means shedding bad karmas and developing good karmas. If you don’t speak of worship and prayer, you will think that some religions don’t believe in karma.

Reporter: I feel the whole problem of our world—lack of peace, poverty, injustice—is manifestation of the evil in the human heart. I feel that through self-effort a person cannot improve himself. I fell in a deep well. I cannot come out unless someone outside pulls me out. I feel what we need is a heart transplant.

Maharaj: The impact of karma lasts so long as we don’t do puja (worship) and path (scripture reading) to clean our past deeds. Guru Gobind Singh says that Khalsa is one who burns his past deeds. Karma lasts so long as you do not have God-realization. Worship is like making a fire and continue adding wood to it, so that only light is left.

Reporter: If I murder, will that do justice to the victim?

Maharaj: If you were enlightened, then perhaps you wouldn’t do that.

Reporter: I don’t agree that enlightenment protects you from sin. It comes from the evil within me. It only goes away when I recognize the evil in me. I see that man is very wicked. When I was a young man, I was going to temple. My family lost everything through corruption. I don’t deny there is goodness. But there is overwhelming evil in man’s fallen nature, even though he was created in the image of God. I feel it will get worse and worse.
Maharaj: Why do puja then? Our subject is the existence of God and karma. Messengers have come from that University. As Guru Nanak says, “Kali Yuga is so hot that only His Name cleans. Plant His Name.” Why? Your mind is sick and you need medicine.

Reporter: True. But that requires conviction that I am sinful.

Maharaj: The Guru says, “Tuhi Muhi—You are me.” Not that I am You. It is actually a matter of humility. It means I have come to know that You are doing everything within me.

Reporter: I have difficulty in identifying with Him. I have no power.

Maharaj: But you can say, “I am a particle of Him.”

Reporter: How can an unholy thing be part of a holy thing?

Maharaj: Why not? Who was Lord Krishna? He came in worldly form, but enlightenment spoke from within him so that he influenced others. First we must think that the One who created us is pure and holy. Then why can’t we see Him?

Reporter: True. But I can’t say I am God.

Maharaj: A good student will always say, “The qualities You have blessed me with are Yours. I’m not worthy.”

Reporter: There is the issue of original purity vs. original sin. See a small baby—it may get angry, tell lies. Parents don’t teach children these things. What does it show?

Maharaj: Both things come from God. Assume this. Then understand that the child is not new. He has come from many previous births.
Then the conversation shifts to Guru Gobind Singh. Maharaj ji tells the reporter:
Guru Gobind Singh saw that there was lawlessness, tyranny, low character. He made a goal to improve this. He had to leave home and everyone to do so, but he didn’t mind for the sake of his goal. His children were also martyred. He laughed and said, “I have come into this world to give my offerings, because I have met the One who is without worry or fear. I am just manifesting His qualities. People fight for their own self-interest, but I am manifesting His divinity to show that He has no such interest.” He lost everything, but he said, “None of this affects my love for God.” He showed how the power of God works through a person. The more you see Him, the more you find Him endless.

Reporter: If I am God, I don’t have to worship anyone else?

Maharaj: The student who hasn’t even read the primer may ask questions of a PhD level! These people did so much meditation that their mind became so clean that they said, “It is not me—It is You.” If you are intelligent, you will understand this as God’s gift. Then the student remains a student.

This enlightened wisdom is within us. We take a diet of worldly things, but it doesn’t feed the mind. The only food of the mind is to love God and society.

Reporter: I don’t disagree. All religions say the same. I have studied all religions but I am arguing only on the basis of the Bible. Until you have a conviction of sin, you will think good and bad are two sides of the same thing—no morality.

Maharaj: You can’t say that. There is a great difference between saying “Welcome” and “Get out!”

Reporter: The thing is that I do what I don’t want to do, and don’t do what I want to do. I don’t know what is pulling me down.

Maharaj: That is the thing: Belief in dharma develops your capacity to do what you choose.

Reporter: The flesh pulls me down, the spirit draws me up.

Maharaj: No. The body is a vehicle. It carries the mind.

Reporter: By flesh I mean all bad worldly qualities.

Maharaj: Dharma’s role is to uplift you.

Reporter: Rituals are externals that cannot change the human, not even by good works.

Maharaj: It’s a matter of your faith—how you do offerings. But the crux is that the mind changes. Offerings without love are wasted.

Reporter: I totally disagree with emphasis on good works. Man looks at the outer things, God looks at the inner.

Maharaj: In His house it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor. He recognizes only a heart full of love. He wants only love. He gives it and takes it.

We are still in doubt. We are disturbed about what we see in society. From morning to night, look only at what good deed you may have done. If you have an inner fight about what others are doing, you are becoming unnecessarily tired.
After discussions of various saints and noble people, the reporter at last asks about the upcoming Dasam Granth seminar: “Do you think that by this seminar you will be able to achieve harmony between religions?”

Maharaj answers,
The mission of Gobind Sadan is that where there are doubts, to invite all theories and cure the issues. We celebrate the days of all prophets here. Then we listen to their words. The whole mission of God in this place is to end the divisions.
The reason for celebrating all the holy days is to change people’s minds and develop love. I don’t have much faith in charity. We work and share. This is the programme of Gobind Sadan. I have full faith that people change after coming here.