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Nanak’s Jyot and Jugat
Guru Nanak’s Jyot and
The Sikhs believe in One Guru Light, the Jyot *.
(*or Joth where th is pronounced as in think.)
In the Bhatt Savaiyay in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) Guru Nanak
Sahib is referred to as the embodiment of the Jyot as follows:
ਜੋਤਿ ਰੂਪਿ ਹਰਿ ਆਪਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਹਾਯਉ ॥
The same Jyot was in the nine Guru-persons after Guru Nanak. Thus,
the start of the Guru-succession process is described as follows:
Joth Roop Har Aap Guroo Naanak Kehaayo ||
The Embodiment of Light, the Lord Himself is called Guru Nanak.
(SGGS Ang 1408)
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤੂ ਲਹਣਾ ਤੂਹੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਅਮਰੁ ਤੂ ਵੀਚਾਰਿਆ ॥
According to Sikh belief, the Jyot now resides in Sri Guru
Granth Sahib, the Shabd or Word Guru.
Naanak Thoo Lehanaa Thoohai Gur Amar Thoo veechaariaa ||
You are Nanak, You are Angad, and You are Amar Daas; so do I
(SGGS Ang 968)
Together with the divine concept of Jyot, the idea of Jugat
is also introduced in the Guru tradition.
Jyot and Jugat go together. From this twin- track
approach has emerged a whole-life socially active system which is
the miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) heritage of the Khalsa
Jyot can be conceptualised as a divine Source of Light which
shows the way to the ultimate Reality or Truth (Sacch). Jyot,
the Light, shows the path to God-centred love (through bhagti
and Naam meditation). It leads the way to the understanding
and loving acceptance of the Divine Law or Hukam Razaaee. It
leads to inner detachment from this life which is a passing phase,
and attachment to the Timeless, Eternal Reality, the Truth (Sacch).
For the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Sahib is the embodiment of Jyot as
Jyot-roop Guru capable of removing the duality, the illusion
of world-play, in his Sikh. Also, the Jyot-roop is extended
from the Guru to the Sikh as from one lamp is lit another and
countless others. In the Sikh tradition, the emergence (pragteo)
of the Khalsa is seen as the outcome of that (Guru-Sikh or Aapay
There are references in SGGS of Har jan becoming one with Har
i.e. when the devotee of Waheguru meditates on the Qualities of
Waheguru he or she merges with Waheguru. The duality of seeing the
Creator as distinct from creation is removed. Jyot teaches
us One-ness of the Creator Being and the created: to see God in all.
Ultimately, the Jyot is Waheguru, the Timeless and Wondrous
Enlightener described by Guru Nanak Sahib in his founding creed, the
So, what is Jugat? Literally, Jugat means the way or
the method. What is the jugat of doing or achieving
something? It refers to the process. Following inner freedom from
Jugat, re-engages a Sikh with this life in the Guru’s way.
It is the way or method of living shown by the Guru.
Jyot frees or disengages the Sikh from the duality of life
due to self-centricity (haomai) and then, in that free state
of mind of inner detachment, Jugat re-engages the Sikh
through social activism to serve the Creater and the created.
Jyot and Jugat twin-track approach to Sikhi living is
a unique gift of Guru Nanak Sahib.
It was through the process of Jugat that the Khalsa was
revealed in the Guru’s own image by Nanak X, Guru Gobind Singh. That
was the high point of Sikhi tradition on the Vaisakhi day in 1699.
Jugat has to do with practical Sikhi and the related
processes and procedures.
The ten Guru persons were the embodiment of both, the Jyot
ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ ॥
Sometimes, due to lack of clarity of Jugat, divisions are
created amongst the followers of the same path (or panth) of
Jyot Oha Jugat saae Seh kaaeiaa faer palatteeai
The Guru-persons shared the same Guru Light and the same way
(method); only the King [Nanak] changed His body.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 966)
Today, there is need to remind ourselves what Guru’s Jugat
means. There are some who ignore this essential component of Sikh
living, either through ignorance or by design. For most, there is no
problem with the Jyot aspect of Guru Nanak, but for some,
the Jugat aspect of the Guru, passed on to the Khalsa Panth
by Guru Gobind Singh, causes problems.
The Jugat and Jyot linked miri-piri
(temporal-spiritual) tradition symbolised by the institution of Sri
Akal Takht Sahib becomes politically inconvenient for some. The Sikh
Reht Maryada – the Code of Sikh Conduct and Conventions – evolved by
the Khalsa Panth, causes problems also.
Without a study of the lives of the ten Guru-persons who represented
the same Jyot-Jugat of Guru Nanak and who progressed the
Guru’s mission, it is not possible to interpret the divine Message
of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is both, universal and also specific
to the Sikhi way of life evolved over the centuries. In the Sikh
tradition, the lessons taught by the ten Guru-persons through own
lives regarding Jugat (lived Sikhi) cannot be ignored.
Any study of Sikh ideology and tradition would be incomplete without
understanding the inseparable Jyot-Jugat attributes of The
One Guru. Reference to the Word Guru, the SGGS, for guidance also
requires reference to the Jugat for practical
interpretation. This was taught in simple steps by the ten
Guru-persons up to the revelation of the Khalsa Panth, the high
point of lived-Sikhi tradition.
When the teaching period of the Jyot-Jugat Guru through ten
Guru-persons was over, the Jyot passed on to the Eternal
Shabd-Guru, Sri Guru Grath Sahib, while the Jugat resided in
the collective body of the Khalsa Panth, which became Guru Roop
Khalsa in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. That was the final
Command of Nanak-Jyot, Guru Gobind Singh.
The Jugat resides in the Khalsa Panth. The Jyot in
Sri Guru Granth Sahib guides individual and collective Sikh living
through the Khalsa Panth. That is the twin track approach to the
Guru, when seeking guidance.
Any other approach would lead to multiple, and sometimes
conflicting, interpretations of Shabd Guru, Sri Guru Granth
Sahib. We see that happening today.
There are obvious practical implications of the above Jyot-Jugat
approach to Sikhi living. When we feel that we have lost our way
then we seek guidance from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. However, Guru
Gobind Singh ji’s injunction is that correct guidance or
interpretation of the Shabd Guru is only possible at
collective Khalsa level. There are those today who would ignore or
even deny that injunction.
The ray of hope is that there are others pursuing the Sarbat
Khalsa tradition of collective decision making to revive the
Khalsa processes for the future guidance of the Panth.
The Guru’s Jugat was taught over more than two centuries
from 1469, the year of the arrival of “Jyot Roop Har Aap”,
Guru Nanak Sahib. The lessons taught by the Jyot-Jugat
Guru-persons over that period as part of Sikhi tradition, cannot be
The Panthic Sikh Reht Maryada - The Code of Sikh Conduct and
Conventions - is the Jugat derived collectively by the
Khalsa Panth from Sri Guru Granth Sahib as interpreted through the
lives and teachings of the Guru-persons from Guru Nanak Sahib to
Guru Gobind Singh. The definition of a Sikh in the Sikh Reht
Maryada includes belief in the “Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak
Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib” and “The utterances and teachings
of the ten Gurus”.
Sikh tradition is based on Simran or constant God awareness
through meditation on the Jyot, which leads to the desire to
serve the Creater Being by serving His creation.
It leads to the objective of halemi raj, a just regime in
which no one inflicts pain on another. It leads to willing
sacrifices to oppose tyrannical regimes. Today it is leading Sikhs
to care for the environment and the planet, the Mata Dharat
Mahat - the Great Mother Earth - and to responsible world
The Sikh tradition is derived from Guru-Jugat or way of
living. Understanding of the Jyot-Jugat Sikhi approach is a
pre-condition to the interpretation of Gurbani when seeking guidance
from Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Copyright Gurmukh Singh
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