The Sikh Gurus and the Bhakti Movement

"Kabir, the creation is born of the Light, and the Light is in the creation....

"Kabir, the creation is born of the Light, and the Light is in the creation. It bears two fruits: the false glass and the true pearl."  ANG 325

The Sikh Gurus and the Bhakti movement shared many similarities as well as a number of differences. Sikhi is not simply an extension of the Bhakti movement but a new movement entirely. While the Bhagats shared some of the same beliefs as those expressed by the Gurus, the Bhagats were not able to make a clear break from their religious heritage. Bhakti is the path of devotion to and love of the One. The Sikh Gurus on the other hand were able to make that clean break to form a new pathn which grew and has survived the test of time, unlike many of the Bhakti reform movements which did not.

Why was the Sikh Path different from the Bhakti path? Guru Nanak Dev Ji took the natural love and devotion of the Bhaktis and expanded it to the entire world. While the prayer of the Bhakti is: "Oh my beloved, I long to be with you. Bless me with your Darshan" the prayer of the Sikh is "Sarbat da Bhala," May the entire world be blessed and enlightened. This understanding,that it's not just about Union with the Divine, but it's about the entire humanity rising together in blessing.

Sikhs consider the works of the various Bhagats in Sri Guru Granth Sahib as being equal to the writings of the Guru's themselves and as such, deserving of the same respect and reverance.

Similarities in Bani

  • Outspoken criticism of the caste system.
  • Stern condemnation of idol worship.
  • Harsh attacks on the hypocrisy of the priestly class and ritualization of religion.

Differences in Bani

  • Bhagat Kabir believed that either one should become a householder and do good actions or he should become a Vairagi and renounce the world. Guru Nanak believed only in the path of the householder.
  • Kabir was a strict vegetarian and strongly believed in the doctrine of Ahinsa, non destruction of any life; man, animal or even a flower. The Sikh Gurus did not believe in this Hindu practice.
  • Bhagat Ravi Das believed in a physical heaven, while the Sikh Gurus did not believe in a physical concept of heaven. The Sikh heaven is to merge and become one with God.

PS: Beloved Satguru Nanak broke down the walls separating Hindus and Muslims... but now the Sikhs of Punjab are again raising these walls of exclusiveness, saying that they are the only true Sikhs of the Khalsa. I only know my own experience since I received Guru Ji's Amrit: "Nanak uttam Neech na Koi" No one is better or worse. No one is higher or lower. There is no "true" Sikh. Either one is Guru Ji's Sikh and belongs to him, or one belongs to the things of the world

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