The answer to the above question is “NO”.There is no place for miracles in Sikhism. Guru Nanak and his successors rejected the idea of miracles. For that reason, I personally do not believe in miracles. One might be wondering, why I wrote this article? This article is the result of one comment posted on my last article titled “Guru Har Krishan ji and the fake Sakhies”. The objective of this write up is to highlight some points to indicate that miracles are not consistent with our Gurus philosophy.
I always welcome comments or feedback on my articles, regardless of the views. That is how we learn and grow. This particular comment stated that the writer of the article seems ignorant that life of the Sikh Gurus is always full of miracles e.g. the harvest grazed by buffaloes were more green and grown, the shadow of a cobra to protect Guru Nanak’s face from hot Sun, the turning of Kaaba, Guru Nanak’s dead body was disappeared, ultimately his coffin was divided in to two halves, one part was buried and the other half was cremated etc. Also, it was said that there is lots that could be written on miracles in Sikhism. I decided to write the response in the form of an article which is as follow:
I am well aware of the mythical sakhies(miracles) mentioned and many more. These sakhies were written to insult the greatness of our Sikh Gurus, as they add nothing more than discredit Gurus personalities.Guru Nanak had unique revolutionary liberating philosophy of Universal Humanism – liberty, love, respect, justice, equality and welfare to all( sarbat da bhala). Guru Nanak observed the Indian society that was plagued by poverty, slavery, ignorance, corruption, injustice, cruelty, greed, tyranny, superstitions, exploitation, falsehood, caste system, oppression and no self- esteem. This was all due to the most ruthless evil rulers,their administrators and corrupt mythical religious leaders of that time.
Sikh Gurus and thousands of Sikhs sacrificed their lives for humanity( human rights). Guru Arjan was ordered to sit on a hot plate while hot sand was poured over his head. Guru Tegh Bhadur was beheaded and his 3 followers were tortured to death. One was boiled in a cauldron, second was sawed into two pieces and the third was burned alive with cotton wrapped around him. Young Sahibzades were bricked alive and many more atrocities were committed.
The individuals who believe in miracles in Sikhism, I would like to ask them the following questions:
- Why did Guru Nanak not apply miracles to supply food and other essentials of life to Indian society to get rid of hunger, sickness and poverty?
- Why did Guru Nanak not apply miracles to free the society from the claw’s of the corrupt rulers and administrators?
- Why did Guru Nanak not apply miracles to spread his message while staying at home with his family?
- Why did Guru Nanak write in Babar bani that no Mughal was blinded?
- Why did Sikh Gurus not apply miracles to change the psyche( thinking) of the Muslim rulers? Such as Guru Arjan’s martyrdom by Jahangir, Guru Tegh Bhadur’s martyrdom by Aurangzeb and Guru Gobind Singh’s life long struggle with Aurangzeb and his administrators. This could have saved thousands of innocent lives.
- Why did the Gurus not apply miracles to do sarbat da bhala?
- Why did Guru Gobind Singh not apply miracles during the siege of Anandpur sahib and in battles of Chamkaur and Khidraney dee Dhaab?
- Why did Guru Gobind Singh not apply miracle to stop the flood in Sarsa rivulet( Nadi) or lower the water level?
The above questions clearly indicate that Sikh Gurus rejected the idea of using Karamatt (miracles). Sikh Gurus believed in Akal Purkh (Creator, Law of nature, Cosmic law) and did not interfere with Divine law (Hukam). In the following Gurbani verse Guru Nanak explained that karamatt is nothing compared to Lord’s grace of Naam(virtues):
Pahira agan hivai ghar badha, bhojan sar karai.
If I dressed myself in fire, and built my house of snow and made iron my food.
Sagle dukh pani kar piva, dharti hak chalai……….SGGS, M1, Pg.147
And if I were to drink in all pain like water, and drive the entire earth before me;
In simple words Guru Nanak said if I were able to do all these unnatural things by using karamatt e.g dress myself in fire clothes,build my house with snow, my teeth so strong I can chew iron as food , I drink all sufferings and sorrows like water and have command over every thing on this earth, all these will give me only Haumai(ego, pride, I-ness and self-centeredness). None of these miracles would provide any benefits to humanity( Seva or service to the public) or lok-bhlaie. Guru Nanak emphasized the importance of Gurbani Vichaar or gyan (knowledge). Knowledge is a virtue and it elevates body, mind and soul. One must have knowledge to differentiate Truth from Myth, good from bad, or real(authentic) from fake. The following examples describe the importance of knowledge in SGGS:
Gyan anjan gur diya, angyan andher binas.
Har kirpa te sant bhetia, nanak mun pargas. SGGS, M 5, Pg 293
Guru gave me the knowledge: the darkness of ignorance is dispelled. By the Lord’s grace, I have met the sant(Guru), O’Nanak, my mind is enlightened.
Ugvai soor na jaapai chand, jah gyan pargas agyan mitant SGGS, M 1, Pg 791
When the Sun rises, the moon is not visible. Where the light of wisdom illuminates, ignorance is dispelled.
Satgur sabad ujaaro deepaa,
binsio andhkaar tih mandar ratan kothree khulhee anoopaa. SGGS, M5, Pg 821.
Through the lamp of the Guru’s word, where the light of wisdom is lit, the beautiful chamber of virtues likened to jewels is opened and the darkness of ignorance is dispelled from that body.
The Gurbani message:
“The mystery of turning ignorance into wisdom, weakness into strength and vice into virtue lies in seeking the grace and wisdom of the Divine. We can’t spread light if we ourselves are dark from within. Let us use the candle of Gurbani’s wisdom to light ourselves within”. AWAT, vol.4, iss. 42,pt. 4 (Oct. 19, 2017)
Exclusion of myths in Sikhism :
A true story in Sikhism must be factual, purposeful, relevant, reasonable, practical, truthful, logical and scientific, otherwise it’s considered a myth.. It must be consistent with Guru’s personality and Guru Granth Sahib’s(SGGS) philosophy. Most importantly if it’s a karamatt, it must be beneficial to humanity.
Let’s examine the Sakhies listed in the comment:
- The harvest grazed by buffaloes more green and grown
- The cobra provided shade to Guru ji
- The turning of Kaaba
- Guru Nanak’s dead body disappeared
- The coffin divided in two parts
These above sakhies are very elementary, we learned them in elementary school. With advancement in knowledge, they are all considered mythical as they are not logical.
It is not natural or logical for the grazed crops to be more green and grown within couple of hours, so it is a myth.
The cobra head is only few inches wide, not big enough to cover a human face. What benefits this sakhi had provided to humanity? It is not normal for a wild cobra to provide shade to humans lying in hot Sun. The sakhi does not meet any of the above exclusion points, so it is a myth.
The Kaaba, a stone structure or a building with fixed foundation in ground is impossible to be moved or tuned. The way the sakhi is narrated, is not logical or scientific so it is a myth. As a matter of fact, this sakhi is about Guru Nanak’s teaching to the caretakers( devotees) at Kaaba. Guru Nanak explained them that God is not only present in one direction, actually the God is omnipresent. This explanation changed their psyche( thinking) about the presence of God, but it did not change or turn the direction of the Kaaba .If someone narrates this sakhi with logical explanation, then it would be considered a wonderful true story. If you say Kaaba was moved or turned, then, it is a myth.
Guru Nanak’s dead body disappearing, is definitely a myth. Medically speaking, a person is declared dead when his/her heart stop functioning. Guru Nanak defined death as loss of consciousness (“muei surt badh ahankar” SGGS, M1, Pg152), which is very similar to modern medical science. Therefore a dead body can not move itself unless someone moves it. Guru Nanak never called himself God and always called himself a human being. During my professional career, I have seen many dead bodies and never seen any disappeared. This sakhi has no logic or scientific explanation, so it is a myth.
Guru Nanak’s coffin was divided into two parts, this is an other myth. I have never heard in all history of mankind, that someone’s coffin was divided into two parts. Our great Guru did so much for us (Sikhs & non Sikhs) and we couldn’t even provide him last service(funeral) in one piece. I understand there were Hindus and Muslims, they all waned to do the funeral their way. It has been said that Guru Nanak had several million followers(Sikhs) at time of his death. One wonders why none of them was at his funeral? Why only Hindus and Muslims were there? Where was Guru Angad at that most important time? Why did Guru Angad not perform the funeral service? I am certain that Guru Angad and many Sikhs were there at the time of the funeral. Guru Angad must performed the last service and completed the cremation ceremony. In other words no dead body was disappeared and no coffin was divided into two parts. There is nothing great about these 5 sakhies apart from they just highlight the ignorance of the believers in miracles.These last two sakhies are so disgusting, it would make a normal person sick to his stomach. It is true but sad, that, our Sikh kathakars or preachers take pride telling these mythical stories in Gurdwaras and the Sikh sangat honour them with money. It is often said, that, the Sikh history was written by non Sikhs or anti Sikh groups, but our Sikh kathakars and preachers instead of rejecting these mythical sakhies, they actually promote these so called historical sakhies(myths) in our Gurdwaras.
In summary above listed 5 sakhies are myths, as they did not pass the test of logic, truthfulness, purpose, practicality, scientific and definitely no benefits to humanity. All these sakhies do not comply with SGGS’s philosophy and Guru Nanak’s personality. We Sikhs take pride telling that Sikhism is the most modern and scientific religion which does not believe in rituals and miracles. However, most of our Gurdwaras are full of rituals and most of the stories(sakhies) told there are myths(miracles).
I wish Waheguru(Creator) bless Sikh sangat with somatt(wisdom), so they should be able to do critical analysis of the mythical sakhies, when narrated in our Gurdwaras. I would like to thank Ajmer Singh Randhawa the author of the comment for inspiring me to write this article.
Ramjit Singh Mann
Acknowledgments:My special thanks to Dr. Gautam Srivastava, Dept. Of Computer Science, Brandon University for his expert help in editing this article.