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LOST IN TRANSLATION Gurbani– Improper Translations? Within the Sikh psyche, the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji is honored as being the perpetual embodiment of the Guru. Nanak IV expounds the primacy of Gurbani– the latter Granth’scontent- thus, ‘Bani is the Guru and the Guru the Bani. Within this Bani resides the divine ambrosia…’ (1) Nanak X, within his supplementary Sri Sarbloh Granth, augments this distinction further by proclaiming the supremacy of the Adi Granth owing to it’s status as being the ideology of the ten Nanaks themselves, ‘Seekers of the Divine- akin to the sun with it’s twelve rays so too does the Guru possess twelve forms. The visible manifestation of Divine power resides within the Granth as doctrine and within the Khalsa. Thy slave Gobind proclaims that all victory belongs to the Supreme Master; the true Guru’s form is now the Guru Granth.’ (2) The sun, utilized here as a metaphor for the timeless Akal, is commonly referred to as Surya in Indic mythology. It’s twelve rays are understood to represent the twelve solar sub-deities whose powers combined represent Suraya’s full prowess. (3) The ten physical forms of the Nanaks, their doctrines within the Granth and the latter’s implementation by the Panth embody the full sum of the Akal’s prowess; it is for this reason then that the Granth is identified as being the form of the true Guru for within it resides the doctrinal manifestation of Divine power from which emerges the power of the Panth in both the spiritual and temporal paradigms. (3) In light of the latter, it is easy to comprehend why the Sikhs revere the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji as a living monarch; within it’s pages resides the very essence of Sikh philosophy and being. Prior to his demise, in 1708 A.D., Nanak X ratified the contents of the Adi Guru Granthand subsequently consecrated it as Guru Ad perpetuam. This by no means was an innovative step which can be solely credited to the latter Nanak alone. Nanak I, during his worldly sojourns, had already proclaimed the supremacy of the word as such: ‘The word (of the Guru) is indeed the Guru tout court; the consciousness is the disciple…’ (4) That word, now contained within the aforementioned Granth, was ultimately acknowledged as Guru for all perpetuity thus ratifying Nanak I’s eradication of all physical differences between the Guru and the Guru’s ideology. Prior to colonialism, and contrary to popular belief, a plethora of scholarship abounded on the Adi Granth and it’s primacy in the Sikh world. The Nirmala and Udasi traditionalists, parallel to scribing superlative manuscripts, also prepared extensive commentaries on the Granth and it’s historicity. (5) The famed 18th century Nihung savants Akalis Deep Singh and Mani Singh prepared numerous folios detailing the philosophical facets of the Granth, it’s relation to the allegorical Dasam Granth and it’s historicity in light of mythologized hagiographies and more down to earth accounts. (6) Tragically these voluminous manuscripts no longer reside with the collective Panth– a majority languish in private collections with a particular percentage having been reported missing and/or having been confiscated by the Indian Armed Forces during the Bluestar fiasco. In the post-colonial era, and in a changed world, Sikh literati was confronted with the challenge of preserving the essential nuances of Gurbani as it’s forebears had done once. Its efforts were for naught. The onset of colonialism had seen the effacement of Gurmat, as comprehensive paradigm, and the emergence of the polar extremes of Sanataanism and Abrahamic vis-a-vis the Adi Granth. This dichotomy is best represented by the histories of both the Amritsar Singh-Sabha and the Lahore Singh-Sabha, both being organizations which were dedicated to confronting the rising literary offensives being launched against the Sikhs by evangelical proselytizers, Hindu radicals and Muslim zealots. (7) The Amritsar Sabha consisted of Sikh traditionalists, particularly those from the British backed Dharam Duja Nirmal Panchiyat Akhara, who: ‘saw the Sikh Panth as one among the myriad streams constituting “Sanataan Dharma,” the so-called eternal tradition that identifies its source of authority as the Veda. These self-styled ‘Sanataan Sikhs’ can be traced to those groups that refused to take Khalsa initiation on the grounds that the “Khande-Ka-Pahul” ceremony polluted their ritual boundaries and threatened their Caste status which they regarded as primary.’ (8) The Lahore Sabha, composed of anglophile elite, meanwhile articulated a vision of Sikhiwhich radically differed from that of it’s Amritsar counterpart: ‘Their evolving vision of Sikh tradition came to be known as Tat Khalsa, that is, Sikhism devoid of popular custom and a return to a real or imagined golden age…’ (9) Eventually the Lahore Sabha, enjoying the patronage of intellectual heavyweights of the day, triumphed over it’s more vague Amritsar fellow. The result was that the philosophical comprehensions of Gurbani began to sporadically swing from one extreme to another; from Sanataan to Abrahamic and vice versa. The middle path of Gurmat was eventually discarded. Even in the 21st century, translations of Gurbani from both schools of thought are often misleading and lacking any contextual grounding. We present two case studies below. Study One: The Pitfalls of Comparative Analysis. The Lahore Singh-Sabha, with the aid of the printing press and a proficient grasp of English, produced endless streams of literature aimed at a fast-growing class of Sikh intellectuals who ceaselessly devoured text after text on Sikh fundamentals and praxis. Even into the mid-twentieth century the words of Bhai Khan Singh Nabha, Professor Gurmukh Singh and Bhai Vir Singh-all prime functionaries of the Lahore Sabha- were treated as being sacrosanct and no opposition against them was tolerated. These men, in order to confront the Sanataan school of thought, had interpreted Sikhiin Abrahamic norms of the day. Comparative philosophy-analyzing the similarities and variations among religious ideologies- naturally formed the backbone of their works as their prime target was to refute the offensives being launched against the Sikh faith by other faiths. The purview of their works can be judged from the fact that all ratified translations of the Adi Granth, even today, are judged against their criterion. In circa 1960 A.D. Dr. Gopal Singh, influenced by the aforementioned Sabha, published his dual volume English translation of the Adi Granth. Accurate, to a degree, the translation nonetheless omitted the more salient facets of Sikh philosophy. ‘He… knows his Master and Compassion comes into him, (and) becomes eternal he: he dies not thereafter…’ (10) In Sikh theology the immaculate Akal is often described as being formless and devoid of all dichotomies. Dr. Gopal Singh’s translation, borrowing heavily from Calvinistic doxa, superficially adjudges Akal and God to be the same hence attributing the latter’s masculinity to the former who is essentially without form. In 1962 A.D., Manmohan Singh would present his own English-cum-Punjabi transliteration/translation to the Sri Akal-Takhat for distribution to the Sikh world at large. Again, akin to Gopal Singh’s work, Manmohan Singh’s work is also evidently reliant on Abrahamic principles and even obfuscates comparative philosophy with the Gurbani itself! A sterling example is Manmohan’s translation/transliteration of the below Pauri by Nanak I. A translation of the original Gurmukhi should read as follows: ‘ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਕਹਾਵਣੁ ਮੁਸਕਲੁ ਜਾ ਹੋਇ ਤਾ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥ To identify yourself as a Muslim is difficult; but if you are, then and only then will you be known as one. ਅਵਲਿ ਅਉਲਿ ਦੀਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਿਠਾ ਮਸਕਲ ਮਾਨਾ ਮਾਲੁ ਮੁਸਾਵੈ ॥ To be a true Muslim first accept the primal deen (deen being religion with primal defining it as the first of all religions i.e. numenon vis-a-vis Sikh philosophy (11)) as being sweet. Just as a file scraps away rust, discard all aggrandizement by distributing your possessions among the needy. ਹੋਇ ਮੁਸਲਿਮੁ ਦੀਨ ਮੁਹਾਣੈ ਮਰਣ ਜੀਵਣ ਕਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਵੈ ॥ Becoming such a Muslim, tread the path of the Saints (the primal deen) and all your delusions about life and death will be effaced. ਰਬ ਕੀ ਰਜਾਇ ਮੰਨੇ ਸਿਰ ਉਪਰਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਮੰਨੇ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਵੈ ॥ Accept the Divine writ, accept the doer above your head and obliterate all ego. ਤਉ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਰਬ ਜੀਆ ਮਿਹਰੰਮਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਤ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥੧॥ When the above are met only then, oh Nanak, are mercy and compassion displayed to all beings and only then can one call oneself a Muslim.’ (12) The above translation is based on preceding cantos which cut to the heart of Islamic practices, ‘ਪੰਜਿ ਨਿਵਾਜਾ ਵਖਤ ਪੰਜਿ ਪੰਜਾ ਪੰਜੇ ਨਾਉ ॥ (The Islamic credo) enjoins 5 different prayers for five different times. ਪਹਿਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਹਲਾਲ ਦੁਇ ਤੀਜਾ ਖੈਰ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥ The real 5 prayers (vis-a-vis Gurmat) are the prayer of integrity; the prayer of honesty; the prayer of universal good. ਚਉਥੀ ਨੀਅਤਿ ਰਾਸਿ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਜਵੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਨਾਇ ॥ The prayer of self-virtue and the prayer of singing (Vahguru’s) panegyrics. ਕਰਣੀ ਕਲਮਾ ਆਖਿ ਕੈ ਤਾ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਸਦਾਇ ॥ With these five prayers is also the kalma of faith; of righteous living- if imbibed, then you are a true Muslim. ਨਾਨਕ ਜੇਤੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ਕੂੜੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਪਾਇ ॥੩॥ Oh Nanak, if such prayers and such a kalma are not accepted then one only earns falsehood.’ (13) Who is a Muslim vis-a-vis Islam? The Shadaah– the Islamic testimony of faith- defines a Muslim as being one who believes, ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is his final Prophet…’ (14) Let us now look at Manmohan Singh’s analysis of this Shabad and how he attempts to distort the essence of the Pauri: ‘ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਕਹਾਵਣੁ ਮੁਸਕਲੁ ਜਾ ਹੋਇ ਤਾ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥ It is difficult to be called a Muslim; if one is truly a Muslim, then he may be called one. ਅਵਲਿ ਅਉਲਿ ਦੀਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਿਠਾ ਮਸਕਲ ਮਾਨਾ ਮਾਲੁ ਮੁਸਾਵੈ ॥ First, let him savor the religion of the Prophet as sweet; then, let his pride of his possessions be scraped away. ਹੋਇ ਮੁਸਲਿਮੁ ਦੀਨ ਮੁਹਾਣੈ ਮਰਣ ਜੀਵਣ ਕਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਵੈ ॥ Becoming a true Muslim, a disciple of the faith of Mohammed, let him put aside the delusion of death and life.’ If only Manmohan Singh had bothered to properly contextualize the Shabad in light of it’s predecessor would he have realized that he was shooting himself in the foot. His comparative analysis ultimately merges with his translation in such a way that no demarcations can be drawn. The original Gurmukhi does not mention either Prophet or even Muhammad! How Manmohan Singh came to the conclusion that this Shabad explicitly instructs Muslims to be Muslims as per the Quranic criterion is beyond any sane individual especially when the Shadaah and Gurbani are scrutinized side-by-side. The latter emphasizes the renouncing of Islamic doxa whereas the former emphasizes it’s preservation; in an attempt to somehow reconcile two polar philosophies, Manmohan Singh’s work fails to preserve the essence of the original Shabad and instead twists it’s meaning to provide an altogether divergent perception of the Sikh ethos. Study Two: Analyzing the middle path through varied lenses. The twentieth century witnessed not one, not two but at least five translations of the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji- though a certain portion of Sikhs opine that Sant Singh Khalsa’s translation, carried out under the aegis of the controversial Yogi Harbhajan, is nothing more than sheer plagiarism owing to it’s facsimile with Manmohan Singh’s multi-volume work. (15) Not all translators relied exclusively on the literary milestones established by the Lahore Singh-Sabha. The more adventurous ones acquired the literature produced by the Amritsar Sabha and offered a middle ground analysis i.e. an amalgamation of both the Sanataan and Abrahamic comprehensions of Gurbani. Doubtless these middle-men paid lip-service to the socio-political facets of Nanakianism, but when it came to incorporating the latter in their works they miserably failed. The Sanataan school, owing to it’s root in Vedant, does not emphasize the householder’s life but rather the diametric opposite i.e. the quietest attitude to life. These particular translations, then, rely heavily on Indic mythology and concepts to provide a comprehension of Gurbani which is the polar opposite of it’s Abrahamic counterpart and also Gurmat. Juxtapositions and self-contradictions are the order of the day where these translations/transliterations are involved. Bhatt (itinerant minstrel) Kaal-or Kalh- whose compositions are housed in the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji proclaims the following vis-a-vis Nanak I: ‘ਗਾਵਉ ਗੁਨ ਪਰਮ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ ਦੁਰਤ ਨਿਵਾਰਣ ਸਬਦ ਸਰੇ ॥ I sing the Glorious Praises of the most exalted Guru Nanak, the Ocean of peace, the Eradicator of sins, the sacred pool of the Shabad, the Word of God. ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੰਭੀਰ ਧੀਰ ਮਤਿ ਸਾਗਰ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੰਗਮ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਧਰੇ ॥ The beings of deep and profound understanding, oceans of wisdom, sing of Him; the Yogis and wandering hermits meditate on Him. ਗਾਵਹਿ ਇੰਦ੍ਰਾਦਿ ਭਗਤ ਪ੍ਰਹਿਲਾਦਿਕ ਆਤਮ ਰਸੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਾਣਿਓ ॥ Indra and devotees like Prahlaad, who know the joy of the soul, sing of Him. ਕਬਿ ਕਲ ਸੁਜਸੁ ਗਾਵਉ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਜੁ ਜੋਗੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਮਾਣਿਓ ॥੨॥ KAL the poet sings the Sublime Praises of Guru Nanak, who enjoys mastery of Raaj Jog- the Yoga of meditation and success. ||2||’ (16) Firstly, the original Gurmukhi makes mention of Raaj Jog but does not provide the latter’s definition as is done by the anglophonic transliteration. Kaal’s compositions, it must be understood, are not intended for singular reading but rather as a continuation of his predecessors’ words. No mention is made of Nanak I being either a recluse or a hermit by prior Bhatts. Several demi-gods, however, are mentioned and after providing a brief sketch of their actions they are cataloged as being individuals who attempted to align faith with state i.e. religion and politics. Raaj Jog, then, in light of the latter does not define Raja Yoga i.e. Asthanga Yoga but rather the union/demarcation of faith and state. The demi-gods, as implied by the Bhatts, attempted to harmonize both political and religious nuances. They were essentially kings with spiritual tendencies; Nanak I, in contrast, however was not a monarch in the worldly sense. Rather, he was a Guru who challenged the politico-religious nuances of his day and perfected a principle of Raaj Jogwhich mandates the spiritual seeker to practice his field whilst residing in the day-to-day life of the world. Why does Kaal sing praises of the Guru? The Sanataan perception ascribes this to the Guru being a practitioner of Asthanga Yoga, but Kaal’s words (if contextualized properly) reveal another meaning altogether; Sikh spiritualism goes hand-in-glove with the faith’s emphasis on socio-political liberation. This, essentially, is true Raaj Jog. Kaal’s succeeding canto reinforces this principle: ‘Kapila, and the other Yogis sing of Guru Nanak. He is the Avataar, the incarnation of the Infinite Lord. Parasraam the son of Jamdagan, whose axe and powers were taken away by Raghuvira, sing of Him. Udho, Akrur and Bidar sing the Glorious Praises of Guru Nanak, who knows the Lord, the Soul of All. Kaal the poet sings the Sublime Praises of Guru Nanak, who enjoys mastery of Raaj Jog.’ (17) Sources: (1) Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ang. 982. (2) Sri Sarbloh Granth transliteration, vol.ii, ang. 496. (3) Singh J; (1981) Percussions of History, pg. 164, Nanakshahi Trust, Punjab. (4) Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ang. 943. (5) Prof. Sahib Singh; (1996) About the Compilation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 17. (6) Accessed from https://www.sikhnet.com/news/baba-deep-singh-great-warrior-and-scholar-sikhism (7) Accessed from http://www.discoversikhism.com/sikhism/singh_sabha.html (8) Mandair P.A; (2013) Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury Publication, pg. 83. (9) Jones W. K; (1992) Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages, State University of New-York Publishing, pg. 204. (10) Accessed from http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/SGGS_translations (11) See S.Kapur Singh, Sikhism for the Modern Man. (12) Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ang. 141. (13) Ibid. (14) Accessed from http://www.islamweb.net/en/article/134495/who-is-a-muslim (15) Accessed from http://sikhfreepress.org/headlines/2667/american-yogis-distort-sikh-scripture (16) Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ang. 1389. (17) Ibid. https://tisarpanthdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/a-matter-of-translation/
Guest posted a topic in GUPT | ANONYMOUSVaheguroo Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguroo Ji Ki Fateh! We all know that sex outside marriage is considered a "bajjar kurehat", however technically the Sikh Rehat Maryada only applies to Amritdharis. Rehats change all the time, and were not written by the Guru, I trust the SGGSJ becuase it is unchanged and everything we need is in the Guru Granth, with that being said, I have some questions. Here are the following questions I have: 1. Does the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji advise against Sex outside marriage? Im not talking about leaving your own wife for another, im talking about having sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend in the context of a long term relationship where you will eventually get married. 2. Does any historical rehatnama or hukamnama advise against Sex outside marriage? PLEASE PROVIDE DIRECT SOURCES FOR EVERYTHING PLEASE REMEMBER THAT IM TALKING ABOUT SEX OUTSIDE MARRIAGE WHEN NOT ALREADY IN A RELATIONSHIP Thank you Vaheguroo Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguroo Ji Ki Fateh!