Sikhi and Dhamma
If you go to the Golden Temple one of the most interesting things you will observe are some Tibetan pilgrims who come to pray there, bowing down at each of their steps. These people are Buddhists who may belong to one of the numerous sects of Tibetan Buddhism, who regard Guru Nanak as Guru Rinpoche. Guru Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Tibet and they regard the Guru as a reincarnation of the precious one, ‘Rinpoche’.
There are many teachings in common – the middle path of living, the importance of congregation called sangam/sangat, the importance of meditation, the individual’s responsibility for their destiny, even the archetypal images of the warrior monk, in Gurmat the saint-soldier tradition.
The temple complex was originally built by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das on a pool famed for alleged healing powers and also a former site of meditation of Siddhartha Gatauma (the Buddha)
Sikhs equally have great reverence for Buddhist teachers. It is a matter of no small pride that a Sikh escorted the Dalai Lama to India when he exiled Tibet. Indeed, Punjab, the Sikh homeland, was formerly called Gandhara, the home of Mahayana Buddhism. This goes back to a period when the Dhamma was revered by almost half the people of the world. The main difference is that whereas the Buddha-nature is held to All Pervasive but people must make efforts to realise it, the Guru-nature is also All-Pervasive but reaches out to everyone. It is a matter of effort against Grace. However, in reality the difference is perhaps a matter of emphasis since the Mahayana tradition lays a special stress on compassion inherent in the universe finding expression in the figure of the Bodhistavva. On the other hand, the Sikh tradition also speaks of the need to choose; otherwise, there is no gift of life, and Universal Amazing Grace is not a gift, but an imposition.
There are portions of the Guru Granth Sahib which have close relations with Buddhist thought. For instance, many of the sloks of Baba Kabir are strikingly similar to Zen koans. Moreover, while he condemns the practise of hajj (Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca), he speaks highly of the ‘bald heads’. These may have been shaven Buddhist monks. After Buddhism rose to ascendancy in India, the brahmins (Hindu priests) worked for its elimination through massacres of monks, conversion of Buddhist meditation centres into temples, claiming that Buddha was an incarnation of the god Vishnu with the implication that to revere Buddha one must also revere Vishnu, adoption of some of its teachings such as vegetarianism (unknown to the Hindus who composed the Rig Veda which mentions the sacrifices and eating of horses), and corruption of its techniques such as tantra.
Similar patterns may be seen today with regard to the Sikhs. Attacks on Golden Temple, genocide of Sikhs, targeting of amridharis, creation of myth of Dusht Daman and Hemkunt Sahib (the alleged Hindu rishi who was reborn as Guru Gobind Singh), adoption of principles such as the removal of caste restrictions and, in particular, langar the Sikh communal kitchen, and continual claim that Sikhs are hair-keeping Hindus established to protect Hinduism from Islam through military means which is a distortion of the purpose of the revelation of Khalsa as vanguard of new world order (Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj).
At best, the Sikh may be an individual seeker for escape from the world or mukti in which case Khalsa is interpreted as ‘pure’ – Khalis. This, of course, destroys the raj of the Khalsa, the world-transformation which is integral to the Sikh unity of Meeri-Peeri, universal spirituality and spiritual revolution. The present attacks on the Sikh faith shed light on the elimination of Buddhism from Indian soil, and equally the history of Buddhism provides a warning to Sikhs about the techniques which may be marshalled against them.
The destruction of Buddhism in India means that many of the obvious and interesting parallels such as use of terms like “sunnya” (the Void), “nirvana”, “nau nidhs” (nine jewels) have not been explored by the Sikh scholars whose lens are coloured by the jaundiced eye in which the Dhamma was misrepresented in India. There may be even more not so obvious parallels. For instance verses of Gurbani state, “The responsibility of humankind is to walk along the Royal Road of the Law –
This message is sent with His sacred horse and proclaimed as the Guru’s Word by beat of drum” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji: 142).
The wind horse (lung da) of Tibetan Buddhism is a horse which brings happiness and good fortune, which is symbolised by the jewel of its back, wherever it goes. This jewel or mani is the philosophers’s stone that transforms people from lead to gold, from self-centred to Life-centred. God and God’s Name is considered as the jewel in the Sikh tradition as the Law is in Buddhism, but in both traditions, Buddha/Guru-bani or Guru’s Word is also the philosopher’s stone, and also the sangat or fellowship. In the sangat one comes to realise the nine jewels of meditation.
The image of the wind horse is printed on prayer flags which as the wind blows sets the horse in motion carrying prayers for happiness and good fortune to the ten directions. It is interesting in this connection that Guru Gobind Singh is depicted in iconography riding a blue horse, with a white hawk on his arm. One difference between Gurmat and Buddhism is the clear monotheism of the Gurus as against the agnosticism or even atheism of some proponents of the Dhamma.
“All the Buddhas created by Thee, proclaim Thee.” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p.6)
It is often said that Buddha was an atheist, but from a Sikh perspective it may be argued that he was simply silent about the existence of a God or not, since he regarded it as irrelevant to his method.
Guru Nanak In Tibet: A Buddhist Viewpoin
If you go to the Golden Temple one of the most interesting things you will observe are some Tibetan pilgrims who come to pray there, bowing down at each of their steps. These people are Buddhists who may belong to one of the numerous sects of Tibetan Buddhism, who regard Guru Nanak as Guru Rinpoche. Guru Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Tibet and they regard the Guru as a reincarnation of the precious one, 'Rinpoche'.There are many teachings in common? the middle path of living, the importance of congregation called sangam/sangat, the importance of meditation, the individual's responsibility for their destiny, even the archetypal images of the warrior monk, in Gurmat the saint-soldier tradition. Sikhs equally have great reverence for Buddhist teachers. It is a matter of no small pride that a Sikh escorted the Dalai Lama to India when he exiled Tibet. Indeed, Punjab, the Sikh homeland, was formerly called Gandhara, the home of Mahayana Buddhism. This goes back to a period when the Dhamma was revered by almost half the people of the world.
GURU NANAK IN TIBET - A BUDDHIST VIEWPOINT
Tarungpa Tulku (As published in the Indian Express, March 6th, 1966) It gave me great pleasure when I was asked to write this article as I have wanted for a long time to say something about my impressions of the Religion of the Sikhs in India, and my connections with it. After my escape from Tibet, I lived as a refugee in India for several years, alongside so many of my countrymen. There I had the great good fortune to be looked after by a Sikh family, by Baba Bedi, his English wife, and their three children. While I was with them, I was able to visit many of the Sikh holy places and I was given hospitality there.
My interest in Sikhism is not only a personal one, however. In Tibet, Guru Nanak is revered as an emanation of Guru Padmasambhava. Many of our pilgrims visited Amritsar and other holy places which they looked upon as equal in importance to Buddha-Gaya. They always said that the Sikhs treated them with great respect and were very hospitable: " as our expression goes, they bowed down to their feet." It seems that the Sikhs really practice the doctrine of their religion; perhaps they are the only ones who give such wonderful dan a to travellers.
Most Tibetans know that Guru Nanak visited Tibet, and the mystical ideas of our two religions are very similar. I have noticed that the Sikhs never worship images in their shrines, but that there is in the centre the book, the Guru Granth Sahib. In our tradition, one of the last things that the Buddha said was that in the dark age after his death he would return in the form of books. "At that time," he said, "look up to me and respect me." Just as we do not believe in mystifying rituals, so in the Sikh ceremonies, it seems that the people simply read and contemplate the words of their text, so that no misunderstandings arise.
I was interested in the Sikh symbolism of the three daggers: in Buddhism, a knife often appears as the cutting off of the roots of the three poison, greed, hatred and illusion. I was also very interested in the Sikh practice never to cut one's hair, as this is also the practice among Tibetan hermits and contemplatives. The most famous of these was Milarepa, who said that there were three things that should be left in their natural state; one should not cut one's hair, dye one's clothes, nor change one's mind. It is true that most Tibetan monks wear yellow, and shave their heads; these are practices that come from India, and symbolise humility and detachment from worldly things. Outside the more organized monastic tradition, however, the emphasis is that the natural goodness and power of growth within should be allowed to develop freely without interference from outside.
Both Guru Nanak and the Buddha said to their followers that the real nature of the universe should not be limited by the idea of personal god and gods. Those who made offerings at their shrines should remember that the whole universe was the power offering offered before and to itself. Although Guru Nanak did not think of himself as a founder of a new school of thought, it seems that there is very much in common between our philosophies.
When I return to India, I hope to increase understanding of the Sikh religion among Tibetan people, and it is my wish one day to translate the Guru Granth Sahib into Tibetan. Now I am living in England, and I can see that much good might be accomplished by Sikhism in England, and Europe and America, and I wish success to everyone whose concern this is. A GURDWARA REVERED BY LAMAS TOO: Nestled deep in the Himalayas, about 25 km from the town of Leh, is the Gurdwara, Pathar Sahib. The Gurdwara was built in 1517 to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak Dev. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev reached Leh via Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet and Yarkhand. The place is revered by both the local lamas and Sikh sangat. Currently the Army is looking after the gurdwara. As per a legend, there lived a wicked demon who terrorised the people in the area where the gurdwara is situated. The people prayed to the Almighty for help. It is said that Guru Nanak heard their woes and came to their aid. He settled down on the bank of the river below the hill where the wicked demon lived. The Guru blessed the people with sermons and became popular in the area. The locals called him Nanak Lama. The demon got into rage and decided to kill Guru Nanak Dev.
One morning when the Guru was sitting in meditation, the demon rolled down a large pathar (boulder) from the hilltop, with the intention of killing the Guru. The boulder came rolling down and when it touched the Guru's body, it melted like wax. The Guru kept on meditating unhurt and undisturbed. Thinking that the Guru had been killed, the demon came down and was taken aback to see the Guru deep in meditation. In a fit of anger, he tried to push the boulder with his right foot, but as the pathar had already melted like wax, his foot got embedded in it. On seeing this, demon realised his own powerlessness as compared with the spiritual powers of the great Guru. He fell at the feet of Guru Nanak Dev and begged for forgiveness. Guru Sahib advised him to get rid of his wicked ways and asked him to lead a life of a noble person. This changed the life of the demon, who gave up evil deeds and started serving the people.
Guru Nanak Dev thereafter continued his holy journey towards Srinagar via Kargil. The pathar pushed down by the demon, with the imprint of the body of Guru Nanak Dev as also the foot imprint of the demon, is at present lying in Gurdwara Pathar Sahib. It is said that since the visit of Guru Sahib (in 1517) to 1965, the local lamas held pathar sacred and offered prayers to it. To visit the gurdwara, one can take, a flight to Leh from New Delhi and stay in a hotel at Leh. As Leh is located at a high altitude, one can have breathing problems due to the paucity of oxygen. Visitors are advised to consult their doctors before embarking on this journey. The 25-km road from Leh to the Gurdwara Pathar Sahib is in good condition. Visitors can go by bus or taxi. The Gurdwara Sahib is located next to the road. (By Surinder Kaur Bains)
This is the inside of the beautiful Gurudwara known as "Pather Sahib" constructed in the memory of Guru Nanak, about 25 miles away from Leh, Tibet http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php?title=Image:Pil2.gif
In his lifetime Guru Nanak traveled to distant places and one such place was Tibet. Guru Nanak is well respected by Tibetan Buddhists who consider him a saint; The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Buddhists in Tibet, has confirmed it in his discussions with some Sikh leaders and that Tibetans revere Guru Nanak as a Buddhist saint under the name of Guru Gompka Maharaj. According to the local legends of North Sikkim, some people approached Guru Ji with an appeal for help. The lake had remained frozen during most of the year and rendered it incapable as a source of water. Guru Nanak Dev Ji is said to have touched the lake with his foot, and it has never frozen since. Guru Nanak's footprints, a robe and a water-carrying utensil are preserved in a nearby place called Lachen Gompha. Here the locals refer to Guru Ji as Rimpoche Nanak Guru who on his way to Tibet had rested there. Some grazers projected another problem to Guru Nanak Ji. Due to the effect of altitude, their virility was affected. They requested the Guru to do something about it. Guru Nanak blessed the lake, saying, "Whosoever takes the water of this lake will gain virility and strength and will be blessed with children." The people of the area have firm faith in Guru's words and consider the water of the lake as nectar. A Gurdwara was constructed in eighties to commemorate Guru Nanak's visit to the place A story they tell is that Guru Ji had brought with him a rice meal packed in banana leaves, as is the custom even today in banana growing areas. The two commodities were unknown to the hill folks. Guru Ji having noticed their inquisitiveness bestowed them with a share of this strange cereal. They displayed forethought and instead of eating it sprinkled the rice over the meadow and buried the banana packing in a corner. Today the village harvests a rich crop of rice and bananas.
This is a picture of gurdwara in Sikkim India where locals hang scriptures along with Nishan sahib and hang sikh scriptures in prayer in bodhic style.It is believed guru nank dev ji visited this place and dug his walking stick at a place there ; where stick has grown into a tree which has trunk in stick shape and leaves are below the rounded trunk which looks like handle of stick.An amrit kund was also made to appear there by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
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