Where is your compassion

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Where Is Your Compassion? Article by Gurdip Singh, Singapore

ਕਾਇਆ ਰਤਿ ਬਹੁ ਰੂਪ ਰਚਾਹੀ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਕਉ ਦਇਆ ਸੁਪਨੈ ਭੀ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੨॥
Kāiā raṯ baho rūp racẖāhī. Ŧin ka▫o ḏaiā supnai bẖī nāhī. (2)
Those who love their bodies and try different looks,

do not feel compassion, even in dreams. (2)

Compassion is a spiritual quality that is unique to mankind. The ability to see the suffering of others and take actions to help alleviate that suffering is one of the noblest human traits - a precious gift that our Creator has bestowed upon us. Thus, qualities like sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern and caring are all manifestations of compassion.

ਜਿਨਿ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਦੀਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਮੋਈ ॥
Jin ṯan man ḏīā suraṯ samoī.
He gave me body and mind, and infused consciousness into my being.

But more often than not, our habitual patterns as well as our prejudices, beliefs and judgements leave little room for spontaneous expressions of compassion and we become numb to the problems of those we share this planet with. And even when we do allow ourselves to feel this noble experience, we tend to focus our energies toward the well-being of humans alone, and neglect the plight of all other creatures.

ਮਿਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥੧॥
Mil māiā suraṯ gavāī.
Joining with Maya, the spiritual consciousness is lost. ((1))

Scenes of ethnic Albanians fleeing their homes in Kosovo has doubtless pulled a string in many a heart, and there are some among us who are moved into giving something in charity. But do we not feel pain as well as we see hundreds of thousands of pigs in Malaysia being culled in response to a deadly viral outbreak? Perhaps there is something in the depths of human consciousness that is telling us that we are all interconnected. The pain of others inexplicably become our pain as well. But we're in a state of denial and complacency.

ਜੀਵਤੁ ਮਰੈ ਤਾ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਸੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਸਰਬ ਦਇਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਾ ਕਉ ਮਿਲੈ ਵਡਾਈ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਸਰਬ ਜੀਆ ॥੨੪॥
Jīvaṯ marai ṯā sabẖ kicẖẖ sūjẖai anṯar jāṇai sarab ḏaiā. Nānak ṯā kao milai vadāī āp pacẖẖāṇai sarab jīā. (24)
He who dies while living realises everything, and develops inner compassion for all.

O' Nanak, he obtains true glory, who recognises the Lord in all creatures.

Throughout our scriptures, our Gurus have enjoined us to show compassionate behaviour to all - regardless of species. When we say in our ardas, Sarbat da Bhalla, we are offering a prayer on behalf of the whole of Creation. And though many people in our community have resorted to philosophical speculation in their desperate attempts to devalue the lives of animals, and thereby justifying their consumption of meat and animal abuse, one cannot help but notice that our Gurus have left us with ample instructions to act otherwise.

ਦਇਆ ਧਰਮੁ ਤਪੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੋ ਜਿਸੁ ਕਰਮਿ ਲਿਖਾਧਾ ॥
Ḏaiā ḏẖaram ṯap nihcẖalo jis karam likẖāḏẖā.
Compassion, righteousness and Lord's service are eternal...

The verses that have been included here are a mere sampling of those that are available. It is my sincerest hope that they will bring about a transformation that will help us live our lives more completely as the Khalsa. Failing that, I hope these verses will at least plant a seed of enquiry in the minds of readers and open them to the possibility that the actions of the meat-eating sections of our community may be inconsistent with divine law.

More Gurbani

SGGS pg 330
There is One Soul and it pervades all the bodies.
SGGS pg 723
When thou sayest that one God abides in all,

Then why killest thou a fowl?
O' priest, say thou if this is God's justice?
Thy mind's doubt is dispellest not.

SGGS pg 1102
Thou killest life, and deemest that as a religious act;

Tell me, O' brother, what callest thou an irreligious act?
Thou callest thyself an excellent sage,
Then whom callest thou a butcher?

SGGS pg 201
With mouth's sweet tune he recites the scriptures,

(but) the mortal shirks not from killing sentient beings.

SGGS pg 332
You behead living beings,

And worship lifeless things.
In the end, great shall be your suffering.

SGGS pg 1253
Cruel violence has not left thy mind,

and thou have not cherished mercy for living creatures.

SGGS pg 322
Do not cause pain to any creature,

Go back to your Home with honour.

  • By Gurdip Singh, Singapore (some of the translation of Gurbani is by the author)

See also

Five Virtues
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Sat Santokh Daya Nimrata Pyare
(Truth) (Contentment) (Compassion) (Humility) (Love)


  • 1. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
  • 2. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990
  • 3. Avtar Singh, Ethics of the Sikhs. Patiala, 1970.

Above adapted from article By J. S. Neki

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