Humility: A Spiritual Journey – 7
Continued from Previous Page
The pride purges humility, but faith leads to humility and nurtures and augments it. In fact, faith and humility are at the root same. Pride makes faith impossible, but faith leads to humility. Faith and humility are more interconnected than we know or believe. Faith is the acceptance of our place as dependents on Almighty’s grace. Guru Arjan Dev Ji has succinctly defined the faith of devotees as:
“Taeraa bharosaa piaarae.
Aan n jaanaa vaesaa.1.”
— (SGGS, Pg. No. 912)
I place my faith in You alone,
O Beloved Lord.
I do not know any other way.
So, if we ask Guru Ji, how did he get it? Guru Ji shares with us that he realized his own limits, and sought the shelter of limitless God. He reaffirms his full faith in the Lord in these words:
“Mohai deen har har outt leetee.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 912)
Meaning: I am meek; I seek the shelter and support of the Lord, Har, Har.
Here we can see that there is complete acceptance of being dependent. This humility and acceptance of nothingness of self, removes every obstacle on the path of faith. Thus, developing humility is a spiritual activity, which nurtures faith. Faith is the powerful seed which becomes the roots of humility, and the outgrowths are our other virtues. Like a giant tree, it gives shade and fruit to mankind, and purifies the air. Let us refresh our definition of humility in order to relate it to faith. Humility is an admission of nothingness of the self, and seeking the help of the higher power to act on our behalf. In other words, true humility is thinking less of self and leading a life with that conviction. This feeling has been beautifully captured in Guru Granth Sahib in the words of saint Sadhana:
“Mai naahee kashh hao nahee kishh aahi na moraa. Aousar lajaa raakh laehu sadhana jan thoraa.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 858)
Meaning: I am nothing, I have nothing, and nothing belongs to me. Now, protect my honor, Sadhana is Your humble servant.
Sadhana’s words are a clear reflection upon the realization and acceptance of his own vulnerable position in the grand scheme of creation. This feeling of dependence is quite humbling, because it is always coupled with a prayer for the grace of Almighty. This disposition of the mind prepares the soul to always trust Almighty’s benevolence. Then one experiences that one is not alone and is always in the constant company of Almighty. It is this disposition alone that makes Sadhana ask in the subsequent lines — (not quoted here), why seek the shelter of lion — (God) if one is to be eaten by a jackal — (of material enticements)? Firm faith alone is the only answer. When we have firm faith, apprehensions completely recede from the heart and the mind instead faith completely fills the place.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji has beautifully captured this vulnerability of the mortal human capability very succinctly in these words:
“Aapan keeaa kashhoo na hoae. Jae sau praanee lochai koae.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 282)
Meaning: By one's own actions, nothing is accomplished, even though the mortal may wish it so, hundreds of times.
When one clearly reflects on their own limitations and vulnerabilities, then one opens the door to a higher power to intervene for him/her. After all we all are creatures made from dust, who return back to dust. In Gurbani this has been portrayed in these words:
“Maattee ko putaraa kaisay nachat hai. Dayky dayky suny boly dauirei Prqu hai .1.Rahau.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 487)
Meaning: — (The human is) Puppet of clay; (see) how does he dance? He is looking (here), looking (there), listens some, hears and speaks, and is constantly running around. 1. Pause.
All these actions and running around is because of material attachment, which takes him further away from God. Thus, allowing for the intervention of God in life nurtures faith. Faith seeks the dependence of that universal power and thus negates the egregious feeling of entitlement that is nurtured by ego. The person with faith does not seek his/her glory; instead he/she becomes fully confident and places oneself in the hands of Almighty. This eventuality can only be convincing to our ever-doubting mind, when it is corroborated with a page from history as the evidence. The historical evidence is like adding a relish and makes it delectable. Let us look at an incident from the life of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
Prithi Chand, eldest brother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji complained to Sulhi Khan, the revenue officer; who was visiting “Ha-Hery” village, that he was being denied his rightful inheritance of Guruship by his father, Guru Ram Das. Sulhi Khan responded that he was too busy to help, but asked Prithi Chand to seek the help of his nephew Sulbi Khan, who was an officer in the Mughal army. Prithi Chand got a note from Sulhi and delivered it personally to Sulbi. Sulbi Khan saw this as an opportunity to loot Amritsar. Sulbi Khan and his forces marched towards Amritsar. At night, they camped on the banks of the river Beas. There, Syed Hassan Ali, who was an ex-soldier of the Mughal army, came to visit Sulbi Khan. Hassan Ali said that he was ex-soldier in the royal army before he quit, and that the state owed him back wages for two years. Sulbi Khan refused to pay, but Hassan Ali persisted, and a heated argument ensued between them. Sulbi Khan said, “I have no knowledge of the arrears of pay. All your pending dues will be given to you on return to Lahore after due verifications.” As Hassan Ali insisted on arrears to be settled right away, the situation quickly escalated, with Sulbi Khan becoming angry and cursing. This infuriated Hassan Ali and he quickly drew out his sword, and a sword fight ensued. Hassan Ali swung his sword and with one blow, he beheaded Sulbi Khan. Then Hassan Ali quickly jumped into the Beas River and escaped. Seeing the whole spectacle unfold in front of his own eyes, Prithi Chand ran away for his own safety.
In contrast, when Guru Arjan Dev Ji was informed about Sulbi Khan’s advancing attack on him, he was unperturbed, and reposed his full faith in the Almighty by sharing these words of Guru Ram Das:
“Mai har bin tek dhar avar na kaae'ee too kartae raakh mai nimaaNee hae.13.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 1070)
Meaning: I have no other Support at all, except the Lord. O Creator Lord, please save me, meek and humble.
Guru Ji steeped in faith did not form an alliance with relations, friends, in-laws, influencers or the powerful for defense. When pressed further for concrete action, Guru Ji responded:
"Gareebee gadhaa hamaaree. Khannaa Sagal Raen Shhaaree. Eis aagai ko n ttikai vaekaaree." — (SGGS, Pg. No. 628)
Meaning: Humility is my spiked club. My dagger is to be the dust of all men's feet. No evil-doer can withstand these weapons.
So, Guru Ji had reposed complete faith in Almighty. But when Sulhi Khan was informed about the incident, he decided to take matters in his own hands and take revenge for the death of his nephew. Because of drought in the state of Punjab, the revenue collection had been low, so he used that as a pretext to attack. His ruse was to collect back taxes. Guru Ji was informed about the impending attack and was asked to seek royal intervention to ward it off. Guru Ji has recorded the suggestions of the informers from Lahore in his own words as:
“Prathhamae muthaa j pat-ree chalaavo. Dutheeeae muthaa dhue maanukh pahuchaavo. Thritheeeae mathaa kishh karo oupaaeiaa.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 371)
Meaning: First, they advised me to send a letter — (explaining the facts). Second, they advised me to send two men (delegation to personally provide the facts instead of a letter). Third, they advised me to make some effort and do something (meaning don’t take it lightly or leave it to fate).
Although, Guru Ji was counseled with three suggestions, replete with three separate courses of action, Guru Ji’s response was:
“Mai sabh kishh shhodd prabh thuhee dhhiaaeiaa .” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 371)
Meaning: But I have renounced everything, and I meditate only on You, God.
On their march towards Amritsar, Sulhi Khan and his forces stopped for a night at “Ha-Hery” where Prithi Chand again hosted them. Prithi Chand took him for a hunting expedition and on return they stopped by at Prithi Chand’s brick kiln for a visit. Sulhi Khan decided to take the tour riding his prized horse. While on the tour, the horse got startled by the raging fire of the kiln and lost control. The horse, along with Sulhi Khan fell into the burning kiln. Thus, the evil designs of Sulhi Khan were burnt along with him in the kiln. Thus, the holy city of Amritsar providentially escaped unscathed the painful experience of vandalism contemplated by the deceased Sulhi. Guru Arjan Dev Ji heard the news of the tragic demise of Sulhi Khan and thanked Almighty in these words:
“Sulhi tae naaraaein raakh. Sulhi kaa haathh kahee na pahuchai sulhi hoe mooaa naapaak.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 825)
Meaning: The Lord saved me from Sulhi Khan. Sulhi did not succeed in his plot, and he died in disgrace.
For a Muslim, the final resting of the body after death is by burial and not in cremation. Here we see that Sulhi Khan was burnt alive in a kiln. This death is truly an ignominious death for a person with abominable motives. Humility, deeply steeped in faith, was victorious. Guru Ji’s faith prevailed against the nefarious designs, which he characterized as disgrace. As long as we try forcefully to snatch all that do not belong to us, with the usurping outlook of mind steeped in pride, there will not be any room for faith. God will help and save only those who repose complete faith in Him. Despite the animosity of Prithi Chand and his attempts to kill child Hargobind, Guru Ji always wished wellbeing of his elder brother. He even offered prayers to Almighty for welfare of his brother in these words:
“Raakh laihau bhaae'ee mere kau prabh aagai aradhaas.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 619)
Meaning: Please, save my brother, O my Beloved! I offer this prayer to my God.
Gurus, by their own life examples, have shared with us the trait of accepting one’s place as a dependent, which only thrives in the grace bestowed by God. Humility is a disposition that prepares us to nurture and nourish complete faith. It is humility that brings the soul to a feeling of naught before God and in the process; it removes the hindrances and obstacles to faith. On our own we cannot even gauge or comprehend the pride that we carry or the arrogance that we exhibit. When someone points it out to us, we frequently have our own justifications ready, “No! This is not that way; I did not mean that.” and so on. If that does not work, then we may apologize even if we do not feel it. So, if we have to pray for humility then we will truly be at a loss for words. Guru Ram Das Ji has even taken care of that problem and provided us the words that should be our daily prayer as:
“Humarae avgun bahaut bahaut hai baar baar har ganath na aavai. Too(n) gunavanthaa har har daeiaal har aapae bakhas laihi har bhaavai.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 167)
Meaning: My demerits are so many and numerous; O Lord, they cannot be counted. I have sinned so many times, over and over again. You, Lord, are the Merciful Treasure of Virtue. When it pleases You, Lord, You forgive me.
These words steeped in deep faith are actually based on his own life experience. How an orphan child, who became a street vendor to survive, was crowned as the Guru by faith and humility alone. Guru Ji has shared about his transformation in these words:
“Hum rulatay firatay koiee baat n poochhataa gur satigur sa(n)g keeray ham thhaapay.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 167)
Meaning: I was rolling around in the dirt, and no one cared for me at all. In the Company of the Guru, the True Guru, I, the worm, have been raised up and exalted.
This is the power of prayer of faith which opens the door for God’s grace to do things that are right for us. Thus, a new divine nature is born where the narcissistic tendencies are replaced by the conviction that everything that takes place is per God’s bidding. There is only one desire and prayer in the heart, where faith resides, “I do not know, so I ask for handholding from God.” Guru Ji has expressed that state of feeling in these words and this could be used by us to describe the state of the self.
“Hum andhhulae andhh bikhai bikh raathae kio chaaleh gur chaalee.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 667)
Meaning: I am blind, totally blind, entangled in corruption and poison. How can I walk on the Guru's Path?
This is true lowliness of the heart and there is a complete absence of tendency to usurp, which is generally so pervasive all-around. Our desire should be to become completely empty and humble and be steeped in faith. The lack of humility makes one self-willed and self-absorbed. This trait makes man untrustworthy as Guru Ji has shared with us:
“Munamukhaa no ko na visahee chuk gaeiaa vaesaas.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 643)
Meaning: No one places any reliance in the self-willed — (manmukhs); trust in them is lost.
Thus we can see that the self-willed or the egoist loses trust of others, as they have a strong sense that “I can do it all by myself.” Because of this misplaced notion, one is convinced that he/she knows what ought to be done in any given situation. In contrast, the person with humility puts complete trust and faith in God. Guru Arjan Dev Ji has described this abiding faith in these words:
“Raam janaa ko raam bharosaa.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 194)
Meaning: The Lord's humble servants place their faith in the Lord.
He/she will pray to Lord, “Make me the apparatus through which Your will is done.” By doing so, one augments faith and trust through prayer. The prayer will be:
“Seel dhharam daya such naasith aaeiou saran jeea kae dhaanee. Kaaran karan samarathh sireedhhar raakh laehu naanak kae suaamee.” — (SGGS, Pg. No.1387)
Meaning: I have no humility, faith, compassion or purity, but I seek Your Sanctuary, O Giver of life. The All-powerful Lord is the Cause of causes. O Lord and Master of Nanak, please save me!
In resorting to prayer of faith the following qualities or virtues are nurtured within:
- Love and admiration
- Healthy fear of the Creator
Those, who have experienced this, have expressed their feelings in these words:
“Saanth Sehaj Rehas Mun Oupajiou Sagalae Dhookh Palaaein.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 713)
Meaning: Peace, tranquility, poise and delight well up in my mind, and all sorrows run away.
Thus the wandering mind is quietened and in a quietened mind, silence is nurtured. This becomes the fertile ground where all other virtues — (listed above) are nurtured. The mind becomes a nursery where divine virtues grow. In contrast, the wandering mind merely collects dust. Why should we compare mental clutter to dust, when the mind is not even exposed to dust? It is because the dust impairs clarity of thought, and where there is no clarity of mind, there will be wandering and vacillating. The doubting and unsure mind will generate fear, anxiety, worry, and misery. Such a state of mind will only fuel concerns of failure. Because when one does not remember the Creator, Almighty then:
“Karata chith n aavee fir fir lagehi dhukh jeeo” — (SGGS, Pg. No.751)
Meaning: But when one does not think of the Creator Lord, and so he is overtaken by pain, again and again.
So, we can see that when the Creator is forgotten there is pain, suffering, and misery in life. In fact, Guru Ji declares those without faith shall burn away in these words:
“Jis parateet na aave'ee bhaae'ee so jeeaRaa jal jaau.6.” — (SGGS, Pg. No.639)
Meaning: That soul, which does not place its faith in the Lord shall burn, O Siblings of Destiny.
But when Creator comes into our lives, His remembrance in humility, becomes a practice and faith is nurtured. When faith is nurtured then one lives life by these words alone:
“Jae Sukh Dhaehi Th Thujhehi Araadhhee Dhukh Bhee Thujhai Dhhiaaee.” — (SGGS, Pg. No.757)
Meaning: If You will bless me with happiness, then I will worship and adore You. Even in pain, I will meditate on You.
Humility nurtures faith by removing pride and by opening the soul to grace. Bhai Gurdaas has painted that picture in these words:
“Pairee pai paakhaak hoe dharageh paavai maan nimaanaa.” — (Bhai Gurdaas, Vaar 18.21)
Meaning: Becoming humble and falling at the feet he becomes dust and earns honor in the court of the Lord.
When faith is nurtured it blossoms within, and when one prays in humility, wishes get fulfilled. Now, this is the true capability of faith. Where there is feeling of nothingness, it becomes a fertile ground where the seed of faith sink deeper in ground and becomes roots of humility. Then in humility all the desires are fulfilled, as Guru Ji shares with us:
“Gur parasaadh maerai mun vasiaa joe maago so paavo rae.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 404)
Meaning: By Guru's Grace, He dwells within my mind; whatever I ask for, I receive.
In conclusion, faith is very significant. When one sees oneself as insignificant, and places complete faith in God, humility is nurtured there. Where humility is nurtured and cultivated, only there spiritual journey takes place. Thus faith can transform a mundane life, to a life of bliss. Bhagat Dhanna, was an ordinary farmer leading a mundane life, but un-flinched faith transformed his life, and today he is revered in Guru Granth Sahib.
Faith is a realization that there is my Creator, God. As I am His creation, He loves me unconditionally, with no demands or expectations in return. When I start loving and adoring Him, then a faith will be born within. It is faith alone that raises the sights besides our own selves. If the faith in the Creator is accompanied by low-levels of self-preoccupation, it will lead to humility. Thus faith becomes the foundation on which the edifice of spirituality based on humility is built. The faith may appear to be blind, but it is a faith of conviction, that my preceptor is all-knowing and is always right. It is not faith in the blind or charlatan but in the all-powerful Creator. Such deep faith evaporates fears from mind, and makes one fearless in life. When the situation demands, the person steeped in faith will even lay down his/her life for those convictions. Where faith resides Guru Ji says spiritual wisdom will be revealed making the person steeped in humility:
“Jaa kai ridhai bisavaiaas prabh aaiaa. Tat giaaan tis man pragattaaiaa.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 285)
Meaning: One whose heart is filled with faith in God the essence of spiritual wisdom is revealed to his mind.
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