The true path of realization can never be coloured by false rituals and superstitions.
Once Guru Nanak went to Haridwar and saw a large number of pilgrims taking bath in the sacred water of river Ganga. Everyone was engrossed in the performance of an outward ritual, trying to clean the body without purifying the mind.
Guru Nanak also noticed some persons standing in the river towards the east direction and throwing water in the same direction. When questioned, they replied that the water would reach their dead ancestors and make them happy and satisfied. The Guru went into the river and started throwing water in the opposite west direction. When interrupted by others and asked to explain his action, the Guru replied he was trying to water his fields. The pilgrims were amused and asked, ‘How can you water your fields which are so far away from here?’ “If this water cannot reach my fields only a few hundred miles away from this place, how can it reach your ancestors who are, as you say, thousands and thousands of miles away’, asked the Guru.
The true path of realization can never be coloured by false rituals and superstitions. ”The seed of the teachings of the Guru cannot germinate except in the field of ethical conduct, constantly irrigated by the waters of Truth”, says the Guru.
But why do we tread the path of wrong notions full of ignorance? Perhaps it is our greed, our lust for worldly things which we want to gain without any hard work but with the performance of rituals. This greed also leads one to take shelter in false gurus and instead of attaining a blissful state of mind, the person suffers and roams endlessly. What is the remedy? How to seek solace?
Guru Nanak’s faith shuns any kind of ritual, especially idol-worship and useless rituals. His path is a way of simple life based on Truth. The Guru writes, ‘Dirty hands, feet and body can be washed clean with water; Soiled clothes washed clean with soap, but when the mind becomes dark with sin, Divine love alone can restore it to purity’.
If one is looking for miracles, Guru Nanak says, ‘I have miracle of the True Name(Satnam). The only approved way to remember the ‘Almighty’ is ‘Nam-simran’-to recite Shabad-Gurbani. But it does not mean one should renounce the world. The Sikh of the Guru believes in hard work-Kirat Karni and he does not shy away from sharing his earnings with others-vaand chchakna. The Guru’s Sikh lives an active life of a householder and attains salvation while performing all his duties. Guru Nanak says, ‘Not the yogi’s garb and ashes, not the shaven head, not long prayers and rituals, nor the aesthetic way, But life of truth and love, amid the world’s temptations, is the secret of spiritual life’.
For Guru Nanak, a good conduct of a person was far more important than his religion, caste, gender or creed. What really matters is truthful living. He says, ‘Truth is higher than everything, but higher still is truthful living’. Be humble by helping and serving others, avoid hurt or injury to people, immerse yourself in Nam-simran and seva so that your pain and anxiety may go and peace may come to your mind. This is the only mantar Guru Nanak has offered to transform one’s life, not the one based on superstitions and futile rituals. On the auspicious occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in the coming year, it is time to shun all false practices and embrace Truth.