Guru Amar Das ji and Seva

Guru Amar Das ji doing Langaar seva in a village of Punjab, by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Amar Das ji – Langar Seva

My painting of Guru Amar Das ji highlights Ram Naam in action.

When we are talking about Ram Naam, we are talking about Responsible Actions and Meditation, Seva and Simran.

While I was painting Guru Amar Das ji Maharaj, I wanted to show Guru ji in a state of tranquility, and show how his profound sense of peace and total freedom spills out into everything he does.

This is seva.

Guru Nanak Dev ji ki bani –
ਧੌਲੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਾ ਪੂਤੁ ॥ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਥਾਪਿ ਰਖਿਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਸੂਤਿ ॥
Dharma is the son of Compassion, and together with Patience, it maintains the world.

Guru Nanak Dev ji says that Dharma or Responsibility is born of Kindness. Only that action can be considered Dharmic or Responsible, which comes from kindness, from compassion.

When Bhai Kanhaiya ji was feeding water to both the Sikh and Mughal soldiers on the battlefield, he did so out of compassion.

Bhai Kanhaiya ji, Sikh Art for your home, by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Bhai Kanhaiya ji

Compassion forms the basis of Seva.

When we are talking about Responsible Actions or Seva, and when we are talking about compassion, we must look at our lives and evaluate how responsible and compassionate we are in our day to day activities. This includes eating and what we eat.

When people think about Seva, they never think about eating. Eating is something we do 3 times a day. Many people eat less, only once a day. Many people eat more, up to 4-5 times.

One type of Seva is what we prepare for others. The other seva is what we choose to eat.

Ancient humans had to eat whatever they could find. But modern technologies have made survival much easier. Now that our survival is taken care of we can eat a little more responsibly.

What we eat can be Seva in itself.

We may say it is our personal choice what we eat. But we must understand that this “personal choice” has many victims involved.

These victims feel pain.

But their screams happen behind closed doors so we do not hear them. Their right to life is trampled upon, when we choose to eat them or what comes out of their bodies.

When we eat in a way where we don’t take their life and we don’t take what comes out of their bodies, then this is a great Seva.

Guru Angad Dev ji and Meditation

Guru Angad Dev ji was the second guru of the Sikhs. His contributions towards the development of the Gurmukhi script is one of the highlights of this painting.

Guru Angad Dev ji, Sikh Guru, Sikh Art by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Angad Dev ji – The Graceful One

You might notice that Guru ji is doing something in this painting. You might notice that he is in meditation.

What is meditation?

Fundamentally, meditation is a process whereby you lose yourself.

Guru Angad Dev ji ki bani –
ਅਖੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਕੰਨਾ ਸੁਨਣਾ ॥  
See without eyes. Hear without ears.

ਪੈਰਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਚਲਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਹਥਾ ਕਰਣਾ ॥  
Walk without feet. Do without hands.

ਜੀਭੈ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਬੋਲਣਾ ਇਉ ਜੀਵਤ ਮਰਣਾ ॥
Speak without tongue. This is living with true freedom*.

(* Guru ji uses the phrase “dead while alive”.
When you are dead, you are free from the bondage of life. So he is talking about that state of freedom from life while you are still alive.)

Guru Granth Sahib, 726

This is not a theory. This is a practical way of living.

This is observable within yourself, if you pay attention, and it will transform how you view all of life and how you live it.

Take a few minutes and do it with me now.

When you look within yourself, you will see there are sensations of the body.

Feel your hand from the inside, you will feel subtle vibrations, blood flow and maybe even a heartbeat in your hand.

Now within your mind, there are a stream of thoughts and emotions.

As you are reading this, there may even be a string of this exact sentence you are now reading, being said in your mind.

All of these you can see very easily.

But what may be hidden from view is that there is something behind the thoughts and emotions.

There is a feeling of self, that I exist, that I am watching these sensations in my hand and thinking my thoughts.

While reading this, you might think, I am reading it. There is an ‘I’ – the reader who is reading this sentence.

There is the thought or sensation you are feeling and then there is a separate observer feeling the thoughts and sensations.

This is the ‘I’.

Just like how you are becoming aware of this sentence, become aware of the sense of the reader, who is reading the sentence.

Can you see that ‘I’, that reader?

Many of us may not be able to see it at first, and may need to retry.

If you cannot, start again from the bodily sensations and then see your thoughts and feelings, and then see that there is a sense that someone is aware of those sensations, thoughts and feelings.

Become aware of that ‘I’.

If you lose it, go back and try again.

Become aware of the ‘I’ until it is just like any other object, like a thought or the feeling of an itch on your skin.

Again, I am not speaking theoretically or philosophically. This is something you can see within yourself.

Just like you can see this sentence on the screen, you can see there is a feeling of someone reading it.

It is a feeling like any other, albeit more subtle.

If you take a few minutes to look within, you will feel your bodily sensations, you will see your thoughts come and go, and you will also see your sense of self.

This ‘I’ also has its story, which we have connected to it.

I – have this body and these eyes, ears, hands, etc

I – hold such position in society

I – have been through this and that

I – am misunderstood, whom no one seems to get

I – have done so much for my family

This is who I am, we think.

Become aware of that feeling.

Become aware of that ‘I’ who was previously feeling the sensations of the body and thinking the thoughts, become aware of it, until it is also being felt or seen just like the sensations and thoughts.

When you see that this ‘I’ is also seen then in that moment, there is no ‘I’ that sees, but rather there is simply the act of seeing, there is no ‘I’ that hears, there is simply act of hearing, there is no ‘I’ that walks, there is simply the act of walking, there is no ‘I’ that does things, there is simply the act of doing.

ਅਖੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਕੰਨਾ ਸੁਨਣਾ ॥  
See without eyes, Hear without ears.

You are no longer identified with the body. You are no longer identified with the contents of your mind, including your sense of self, I. There is simply pure awareness. Seeing, hearing, walking, doing, are simply happening.

This is the goal of meditation.

Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and Consciousness

The Ninth Guru of the Sikhs and the Protector of the world, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, was born today. The portrait of Guru ji that you see below is part of a larger painting. I have made some small improvements to this piece and have made it available to purchase just Guru ji’s portrait.

Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, Sikh Guru, Sikh Art by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Tegh Bahadur ji – Meditating in Bakala

Guru Tegh Bahadur ji had many great insights to share with us. I have been contemplating his teachings for quite some time. Today I want to share one of his hymns with you.

Guru ji says –

ਜਾਗ ਲੇਹੁ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਜਾਗ ਲੇਹੁ ਕਹਾ ਗਾਫਲ ਸੋਇਆ ॥
Wake up!
O mind, wake up!
Why are you asleep unconsciously?

ਜੋ ਤਨੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਸੰਗ ਹੀ ਸੋ ਭੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਹੋਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Your body which has been with you till now, will not stay with you in the end.

ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਬੰਧ ਜਨ ਹਿਤੁ ਜਾ ਸਿਉ ਕੀਨਾ ॥ ਜੀਉ ਛੂਟਿਓ ਜਬ ਦੇਹ ਤੇ ਡਾਰਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਮੈ ਦੀਨਾ ॥੧॥
Your mother, father, children and relatives, whom you love, will throw your body into fire, when you pass away.

ਜੀਵਤ ਲਉ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਜਗ ਕਉ ਤੁਮ ਜਾਨਉ ॥
These relationships are there only while you are alive, know them [as an activity of the body, which will perish].

ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਇ ਲੈ ਸਭ ਸੁਫਨ ਸਮਾਨਉ ॥੨॥੨॥
Guru Tegh Bahadur ji says – sing the praises of Consciousness, all these things [body and its relationships] are a dream [within consciousness].

– Guru Granth Sahib, 726

Your parents, your aunts and uncles, your children, your other relatives, your teachers, your religious leaders, your employers, your governments, none of these are going to remain.

They cannot support you forever. They will either change with time or pass away.

Your body too, will pass away.

There is only one authority in the world that will support you till the end.

The only thing that will support you is Consciousness.

Consciousness is the screen where the story of your life is being played out.

If everything in your life was a lie, if all that you knew was fake, if everything you held dear turned out to be a smoke show, the only thing real in all this is Consciousness.

The experience may be false but the awareness of the experience can never be false. What you see may be fake, but the fact that you are seeing it, is not fake.

If you don’t think the world is fake, just give it some time, the world will show you its fakeness. People will reveal themselves to you in due time.

But Consciousness – This is the one thing you can rely on as 100% real in all instances of your life.

Along with the option to purchase prints, there is a longer contemplation in the link below, which you can listen to, as you watch the painting unfold.

Guru Hari Rai ji – New Painting

Guru Hari Rai ji, also known as Guru Harrai or Guru Har Rai, is the seventh Guru in the lineage of Guru Nanak Dev ji.

Guru Hari Rai ji is the liberator of all, humans and animals alike. In this painting, Bhagat has depicted Guru ji as a blissful sovereign being, whose presence uplifts all beings.

Guru Hari Rai ji, Guru Harrai, Guru Har Rai, Sikh Guru, Sikh Art by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Hari Rai ji – Blissful Sovereign

A revolutionary step, that Guru ji took, has been largely been ignored by the sikh tradition.

What was this step?

Celebrate Diwali with Guru Hari Gobind ji

Hundreds of years ago, today, the sikh community celebrated Diwali with Guru Hari Gobind ji, after he returned from the Gwalior Fort.

Guru Hari Gobind ji, commonly known as Guru Hargobind, is the sixth Guru in the lineage of Guru Nanak Dev ji. Guru ji was granted Gurgaddi at the young age of 11, after his father, Guru Arjun Dev ji, was unjustly executed by the Mughal ruler Jahangir.

After his father’s martyrdom, Guru ji emphasized a need for self-defense within the sikh community. However this shift soured the relationship with Jahangir further. Feeling insecure or threatened or simply suspicious, he had Guru ji imprisoned in the Gwalior Fort.

Many years later, upon Guru ji’s release, along with the 52 imprisoned kings who held the tassels of his robe, he arrived at Amritsar. The sikhs rejoiced. They had been celebrating Diwali for the victory of God over Ego, of Shri Ram over Ahankar. Today they had an additional reason for celebration, having been reunited with Guru ji after many years

Guru Hari Rai ji, Guru Harrai, Guru Har Rai, Sikh Guru, Sikh Art by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Hari Gobind ji – Defender of Saints

Guru Hari Gobind ji is the vanquisher of armies, and a benevolent warrior. In this painting, Bhagat has depicted Guru ji with an aura of Bir Ras, the Essence of Warriors…