Gurbani : On Rites for the dead
According to Pret Kriya1 you believe that by offering Pindas at Gaya and other places one gets emancipation. To appease the ancestors (dead) you do Shradha (fasting of Brahmins). On this subject your religious books say the followings:
In the days of Shradhas, the Pitar Puri (world of the dead ancestors) is empty. All of them descend on the earth for their food. If they are not offered food then they curse and return back. There is no act as good as that of Shradha. Sins, as great as the Sumair Mountain, are dissipated in a moment if one offers Shradha. One goes to heaven only through Shradha. (Atri Sanhita)
Before Shradha perform Homa in fire. If there is no fire, do Homa on the hand of a Brahmin, because Brahmin and Agni (fire) are the same thing2a. (Mannu Ch. 4, Sh. 292)
Pitars are not hungry for a month, if in Shradha rice, sesame, barley, mash (beans) and other vegetables are offered. With fish, added, the period is two months, deer meat is sufficient for three months. Lamb, birds, goat, chital, red deer, buffalo, pig, tortoise, and rabbit are sufficient for four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven months respectively. (Mannu Ch. 3, Sh. 267-277 and Vishnu Simarati Ch. 80)
If a Brahmin does not have Vaishnava Tilak on his forehead and be included in Shradha then the Pitars of the individual who offers Shradha are considered to serve themselves with ordure and urine. (Vridh Harit Sanhita Ch. 2)
Against the above superstitions Guru has ordained like this:
ਦੀਵਾ ਮੇਰਾ ਝਕ ਨਾਮ ਦਖ ਵਿਚਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਤੇਲ ॥ ਉਨਿ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਓਹ ਸੋਖਿਆ ਚੂਕਾ ਜਮ ਸਿਉ ਮੇਲ ॥1॥
ਲੋਕਾ ਮਤ ਕੋ ਫਕੜਿ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਲਖ ਮੜਿਆ ਕਰਿ ਝਕਠੇ ਝਕ ਰਤੀ ਲੇ ਭਾਹਿ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਪਿੰਡ ਪਤਲਿ ਮੇਰੀ ਕੇਸਉ ਕਿਰਿਆ ਸਚ ਨਾਮ ਕਰਤਾਰ ॥ ਝਥੈ ਓਥੈ ਆਗੈ ਪਾਛੈ ਝਹ ਮੇਰਾ ਆਧਾਰ ॥2॥
ਗੰਗ ਬਨਾਰਸਿ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਤਮਾਰੀ ਨਾਵੈ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਉ ॥ ਸਚਾ ਨਾਵਣ ਤਾਂ ਥੀਝ ਜਾਂ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਭਾਉ ॥3॥
ਇਕ ਲੋਕੀ ਹੋਰ ਛਮਿਛਰੀ ਬਰਾਹਮਣ ਵਟਿ ਪਿੰਡ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਪਿੰਡ ਬਖਸੀਸ ਕਾ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨਿਖੂਟਸਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥4॥2॥32॥
The One Name is my lamp; I have put the oil of suffering into it2b. Its flame has dried up this oil, and I have escaped my meeting with the Messenger of Death. ||1|| O people, do not make fun of me. Thousands of wooden logs, piled up together, need only a tiny flame to burn. ||1||Pause|| The Lord is my festive dish, of rice balls on leafy plates; the True Name of the Creator Lord is my funeral ceremony. Here and hereafter, in the past and in the future, this is my support. ||2|| The Lord's Praise is my River Ganges and my city of Benares; my soul takes its sacred cleansing bath there. That becomes my true cleansing bath, if night and day, I enshrine love for You. ||3|| The rice balls are offered to the gods and the dead ancestors, but it is the Brahmins who eat them! O Nanak, the rice balls of the Lord are a gift which is never exhausted. ||4||2||32|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 358)
ਆਇਆ ਗਇਆ ਮਇਆ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਪਿਛੈ ਪਤਲਿ ਸਦਿਹ ਕਾਵ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਮਖਿ ਅੰਧ ਪਿਆਰ ॥ ਬਾਝ ਗਰੂ ਡਬਾ ਸੰਸਾਰ ॥2॥
He came and he went, and now, even his name has died. After he left, food was offered on leaves, and the birds were called to come and eat. O Nanak, the self-willed manmukhs love the darkness. Without the Guru, the world is drowning. ||2|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 137)
ਨਾਨਕ ਅਗੈ ਸੋ ਮਿਲੈ ਜਿ ਖਟੇ ਘਾਲੇ ਦੇਇ ॥1॥
O Nanak, in the world hereafter, that alone is received, which one gives to the needy from his own earnings and labor. ||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 472)
ਗਿਆਨੀ ਹੋਇ ਸ ਚੇਤੰਨ ਹੋਇ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਅੰਧ ਕਮਾਇ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਝਥੈ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਸੋ ਮਿਲੈ ਅਗੈ ਪਾਝ ਜਾਇ ॥1॥
One who remembers the Lord is a spiritual teacher; the ignorant one acts blindly. O Nanak, whatever one does in this world, determines what he shall receive in the world hereafter. ||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 556)
ਜੀਵਤ ਪਿਤਰ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ਕੋਊ ਮੂਝਂ ਸਿਰਾਧ ਕਰਾਹੀ ॥ ਪਿਤਰ ਭੀ ਬਪਰੇ ਕਹ ਕਿਉ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਕਊਆ ਕੂਕਰ ਖਾਹੀ ॥1॥
ਮੋ ਕਉ ਕਸਲ ਬਤਾਵਹ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਕਸਲ ਕਸਲ ਕਰਤੇ ਜਗ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਕਸਲ ਭੀ ਕੈਸੇ ਹੋਈ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਮਾਟੀ ਕੇ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਾ ਤਿਸ ਆਗੈ ਜੀਉ ਦੇਹੀ ॥ ਝਸੇ ਪਿਤਰ ਤਮਾਰੇ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਆਪਨ ਕਹਿਆ ਨ ਲੇਹੀ ॥2॥
He does not honor his ancestors while they are alive3, but he holds feasts in their honor after they have died. Tell me, how can his poor ancestors receive what the crows and the dogs have eaten up? ||1|| If only someone would tell me what real happiness is! Speaking of happiness and joy, the world is perishing. How can happiness be found? ||1||Pause|| Making gods and goddesses out of clay, people sacrifice living beings to them. Such are your dead ancestors, who cannot ask for what they want. ||2|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 332)
ਇਹ ਮਨ ਮੈਲਾ ਇਕ ਨ ਧਿਆਝ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲ ਲਾਗੀ ਬਹ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਝ ॥
ਤਟਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਦਿਸੰਤਰਿ ਭਵੈ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀ ਹੋਰ ਵਧੇਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਲ ਲਾਵਣਿਆ ॥3॥
This mind is filthy and polluted; it does not meditate on the One. Deep within, it is soiled and stained by the love of duality. The egotists may go on pilgrimages to holy rivers, sacred shrines and foreign lands, but they only gather more of the dirt of egotism. ||3|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 116)
ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਮ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨ ਹੈ ॥
Why should I bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage? The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage. My sacred shrine of pilgrimage is spiritual wisdom within, and contemplation on the Word of the Shabad. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 687)
ਗਰ ਦਰੀਆਉ ਸਦਾ ਜਲ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਦਰਮਤਿ ਮੈਲ ਹਰੈ ॥
ਸਤਿਗਰਿ ਪਾਇਝ ਪੂਰਾ ਨਾਵਣ ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤਹ ਦੇਵ ਕਰੈ ॥2॥
The Guru is the River4, from which the Pure Water is obtained forever; it washes away the filth and pollution of evil-mindedness. Finding the True Guru, the perfect cleansing bath is obtained, which transforms even beasts and ghosts into gods. ||2|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1328)
ਜਲ ਕੈ ਮਜਨਿ ਜੇ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਮੇਂਡਕ ਨਾਵਹਿ ॥
ਜੈਸੇ ਮੇਂਡਕ ਤੈਸੇ ਓਇ ਨਰ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੋਨੀ ਆਵਹਿ ॥2॥
If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing in water? As is the frog, so is that mortal; he is reincarnated, over and over again. ||2|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 484)
Hindu: If your religion does not accept Shradhas then why did Guru Nanak perform Shradhas for his father and if you do not Kirya Karam (rites of the dead) then why did Guru Amar Das say in “Sadd” and then left his own body on Assu Vadi 10?
ਅੰਤੇ ਸਤਿਗਰ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਮੈ ਪਿਛੈ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਕਰਿਅਹ ਨਿਰਬਾਣ ਜੀਉ ॥
ਕੇਸੋ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਸਦਿਅਹ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਥਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਪਰਾਣ ਜੀਉ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਕਥਾ ਪੜੀਝ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਸਣੀਝ ਬੇਬਾਣ ਹਰਿ ਰੰਗ ਗਰ ਭਾਵਝ ॥
ਪਿੰਡ ਪਤਲਿ ਕਿਰਿਆ ਦੀਵਾ ਫਲ ਹਰਿ ਸਰਿ ਪਾਵਝ ॥
And why the Guru himself went to pilgrimage?
Sikh: Guru Nanak Dev Ji died on Assu Sudi 10 (lunar day) as it is given in the old Sakhis and Bhai Mani Singh Ji has also given the same date in Gyan Ratnavali. And that is the day celebrated in all Gurdwaras. The tenth of Shradhas (10th day in the month of Shradhas) has been given only by those who try to prove the importance of Shradhas. You should think for yourself, could Guru Nanak Dev Ji who condemns Shradhas in His hymns and refused to make offerings at Gaya go for Shradhas?
The other doubt5 that you have indicated about “Sadd” in reply to that we would say that you should read “Sadd Parmarath”. That should dispel your doubt. Here we would give you only a brief reply. Guru Amar Das Ji did not ordain to call any particular Brahmin, named Kesho. This word is an explanation of a hymn composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is in the same vein, e.g.
ਪਿੰਡ ਪਤਲਿ ਮੇਰੀ ਕੇਸਉ ਕਿਰਿਆ ਸਚ ਨਾਮ ਕਰਤਾਰ ॥
The Lord is my festive dish, of rice balls on leafy plates; the True Name of the Creator Lord is my funeral ceremony. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 358)
The hymn by Guru Amar Das Ji means: “After me, perform Kirtan of the Creator. It means do not listen to the stories of the gods and goddesses6. For me, meditation of the Waheguru is the calling of the Brahmin and singing of His praises is for me the reading of Puranas. Listen to the recitation of Gurbani alone. In place of various rites and rituals it is appropriate to give oneself to the Love of God. In other words, only the love of God helps the mortal to attain salvation. Rest is only indulgence, in vain indeed.”
If we accept the meaning of the Sadd in accordance to the wishes of the Hindus, then how can the following points be explained?
a) Guru Amardas Ji state sin his Bani:
ਸਤਿਗਰੂ ਬਿਨਾ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ॥
ਬਾਣੀ ਤ ਕਚੀ ਸਤਿਗਰੂ ਬਾਝਹ ਹੋਰ ਕਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥
ਕਹਦੇ ਕਚੇ ਸਣਦੇ ਕਚੇ ਕਚੀ ਆਖਿ ਵਖਾਣੀ ॥
Without the True Guru, other songs are false. The songs are false without the True Guru; all other songs are false. The speakers are false, and the listeners are false; those who speak and recite are false. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 917)
It is also given in the “Sadd”
ਅਵਰੋ ਨ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਗਰ ਕੈ ਝਕ ਨਾਮ ਧਿਆਵਹੇ ॥
Dwelling upon the Word of the Guru's Shabad, he does not know any other; he meditates on the One Name of the Lord.
Then how Guru could allow the reading of Puranas?
b) About the egotistical Brahmins and superstitious rituals Guru Amar Das Ji says:
ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਉਚਾ ਕੂਕਦਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਪਿਆਰ ॥
ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਰਹਮ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਮਨਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਗਾਵਾਰ ॥
ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਜਗਤ ਪਰਬੋਧਦਾ ਨਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥
ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਮਰਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਵਾਰੋ ਵਾਰ ॥1॥
The Pandits, the religious scholars, read and read, and shout out loud, but they are attached to the love of Maya. They do not recognize God within themselves-they are so foolish and ignorant! In the love of duality, they try to teach the world, but they do not understand meditative contemplation. They lose their lives uselessly; they die, only to be re-born, over and over again. ||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 86)
ਮਨਮਖ ਪੜਹਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਕਹਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਮਹਾ ਦਖ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥
The self-willed manmukhs read and recite; they are called Pandits-spiritual scholars. But they are in love with duality, and they suffer in terrible pain. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 128)
ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਹਤਾਜ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਰਾਤਾ ਬਹਤ ਦਖ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
ਜਮ ਕਾ ਗਲਿ ਜੇਵੜਾ ਨਿਤ ਕਾਲ ਸੰਤਾਵੈ ॥4॥ ਗਰਮਖਿ ਜਮਕਾਲ ਨੇੜਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥
Driven crazy, infatuated by Maya, they call themselves Pandits - religious scholars; stained with corruption, they suffer terrible pain. The noose of the Messenger of Death is around their necks; they are constantly tormented by death. ||4|| The Messenger of Death does not even approach the Gurmukhs. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 230)
ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੜਹਿ ਪੜਿ ਵਾਦ ਵਖਾਣਹਿ ਤਿੰਨਾ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥18॥
ਬਿਖਿਆ ਮਾਤੇ ਭਰਮਿ ਭਲਾਝ ਉਪਦੇਸ ਕਹਹਿ ਕਿਸ ਭਾਈ ॥19॥
The Pandits, the religious scholars, read, study and discuss the arguments; they do not understand. ||18|| Engrossed in corruption, they wander in confusion; who can they possibly instruct, O Siblings of Destiny? ||19|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 909)
ਜਿਨੀ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਬਹ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਹੋਰਿ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਜਮ ਪਰਿ ਬਧੇ ਮਾਰੀਅਹਿ ਜਿਉ ਸੰਨ”ੀ ਉਪਰਿ ਚੋਰ ॥1॥
Those who forget the Naam and do other things, O Nanak, will be bound and gagged and beaten in the City of Death, like the thief caught red-handed. ||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1247)
How could Guru Amar Das Ji, author of these hymns, ask for calling a Brahmin?
c) It is written in the “Sadd”
ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣਾ ਗਰ ਭਾਇਆ ਗਰ ਜਾਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਪਰਭ ਪਾਸਿ ਜੀਉ ॥……
ਹਰਿ ਧਾਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਸਤਿਗਰ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਧਨ ਧਨ ਕਹੈ ਸਾਬਾਸਿ ਜੀਉ ॥2॥
The Guru gladly accepted the Lord's Will, and so the Guru easily reached the Lord God's Presence. The Lord showered His Mercy, and blended the True Guru with Himself; He said, ""Blessed! Blessed! Wonderful!""||2||
Is it that there is darkness in the presence of God and he needs lamps? Is there lack of food also that there is need of flour of barley? If we say that saints perform these rites to keep the tradition and customs even then it is not appropriate because as spiritual heir of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Amar Das Ji was originator of the Sikh tradition. In no way he would encourage superstitions and old customs in his religion. In support of this see the history which has been described earlier. As the Guru was not encouraging Hindu customs and rites, Hindus had complained against Him to the Emperor Akbar. At the death of Guru Sahib no Hindu rites were performed. Clear proof of that is that the descendants of Bhalas do not light lamps at the death of an individual. It proves that Guru Amar Das Ji had ordered, especially to His sons, not to perform old rituals after him.
d) If we accept that Guru Amar Das Ji had allowed the recitation of Garrar Purana and Pret Kirya, it is saying in other words that the Guru said one thing and acted upon something else and the Guru tied by Yama went to Dharam Raja as Pret (ghost), etc. because by performing Pind, Patal, etc., through the Brahmins one can reach only the Yama Marg-path of Yama. Sach Khand – abode of truth- is not in their domain.
The question raised about the visits of the Guru to various places of pilgrims, we would say, the Guru did not go there to get emancipation. There the Guru tried to remove doubts of the ignorant. He was the real well wisher of the world and he did his best as to how the ignorance can be removed, as Bhai Gurdas Ji has said.
ਬਾਬਾ ਆਇਆ ਤੀਰਥੀਂ ਤੀਰਥ ਪਰਬ ਸਭੇ ਫਿਰ ਦੇਖੈ ॥
ਪੂਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਬਹ ਕਰਮ ਕਰ ਭਾਉ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨ ਕਿਤੇ ਨ ਲੇਖੈ ॥
Baba (Nanak) came to the pilgrimage centers and by participating in the ceremonies there he observed them minutely. People were busy in performing the rituals of the ceremonies but since being bereft of loving devotion, they were of no avail. (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar 1)
ਬਾਬਾ ਦੇਖੇ ਧਿਆਨ ਧਰ ਜਲਤੀ ਸਭ ਪਰਿਥਵੀ ਦਿਸ ਆਈ ॥....
ਚੜਹਿਆ ਸੋਧਨ ਧਰਤ ਲਕਾਈ ॥24॥
In his meditation, Baba found the whole earth burning (with the fire of lust and anger). Thus he went out to revolutionize humanity on earth. (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar 1)
The purpose of Guru Amar Das Ji to visit various places of pilgrims is given in the Guru Granth Sahib.
ਤੀਰਥ ਉਦਮ ਸਤਿਗਰੂ ਕੀਆ ਸਭ ਲੋਕ ਉਧਰਣ ਅਰਥਾ ॥
The True Guru made the pilgrimage to the sacred shrines, for the sake of saving all the people. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1116)
You should also consider what Guru Sahib did at these Tiraths. Did he perform the pilgrim according to the hindu rites or did he try dispel ignorance of the pilgrims? You should know that when Guru Nanak Dev Ji saw the pilgrims offering the sun in the east he started throwing water to the west. On being asked he said, “I am watering my fields in the West.” When the Hindus enquired how he could water his fields so far he replied, “How your water can reach to the ancestors and the sun in the sky?” At Kurukshetra he started fire during solar eclipse. At Jagan Nath he did not stand during Aarti of the idol and condemned the Aarti performed by lamps and preached the real Aarti (worship) of God.
At Mecca he slept with his feet towards Kaaba. On the objection by the keeper of Kaaba the Guru said, “Please turn my feet in the direction in which there is no house of God.” Thus the Guru explained that it is ignorance to believe God belongs to one country or one direction. There are more stories like this. All these illustrate that the Guru visited various pilgrimage places in the country and outside, in order to reform the people.
1) It is accepted in Hindu Dharma that without Pret Kirya one is not emancipated. It is of very little importance, how many good acts an individual has done in his life, but if his relatives do not perform Pret Kirya after his death he is not saved. (Garrar Purana, Ch. 7, Sh. 11-41)
Considering this Mannu gives the meaning of ‘son’ as one that saves his father. (Mannu Ch. 9, Sh. 138)
Mannu further says: If one has a son he goes to heaven, by virtue of grandson he stays in heaven for a long time. If one is blessed with great-grandson-son and reaches Surya Loka (world of the sun). (Mannu Ch. 9, Sh. 137)
2a) Mannu has not said that if one cannot have fire one could cook on the hand of the Brahmin. A scholar has commented on this writing of Mannu. With the chanting of “Swaha” the Brahmin and fire are equivalent in destroying the power that flows from the sovereignty of a nation and education.
2b) When Guru Nanak Dev Ji, during his travels, visited Gaya this hymn was composed. Story is like this: The Pundits of Gaya said to Guru Sahib “you should also make offerings for your ancestors.” Then Guru Sahib said, “I have already made offerings for my ancestors and relatives and their ancestors. I have performed such rites of ‘Lamps, Pital etc.’ that remove the darkness of ignorance. Then the hymn was composed.
3) To serve and respect parents, that is the real Shardha in Sikh religion. Ignorance is to try to provide for the dead. Those Sikhs who try to copy Hindus and say that Shardha is according to Gurmat are ignorant.
4) Guru Dariayo (Guru the river): Many Sikhs do not understand the real meaning. They run to throw the Karah Prasad in wells. On account of grease it could cause cough and could be a source of pollution in the well. O Waheguru, grant some understanding to these people that they give up their bad habits.
5) The oldest Janam Sakhi (biography of Guru Nanak Dev Ji) was procured by the Singh Sabha Lahore from the India Library (England) and the Punjab Government published that. Macaulife published another saakhi that he procured from Hafizabad. There is another by Bhai Mani Singh Ji. This story of Shradha is not in any of these. Such stories were added during the Misal period. At that time Sikhs were the rulers and they forgot their principles. Non-Sikhs took over the religious and other functions of the Sikhs and interpolated in the books whatever they desired.
6) Puranas like Garrar Purana relate only stories of gods and the city of Yama.