KARTAR SINGH: It is quite clear from earlier discussion that God's Name is the Amrit: Elixir, and only perfect Apostles can reveal the light of the mystic Name of God. It has also been made clear that the Guru Granth is the Embodiment of the Spirit of the ten Gurus. But I have still not got a satisfactory answer to my first question: "What do you really mean by rasa: aesthetic flavour."
AUTHOR: I have not coined any new word. You know many types of rasas (flavour or juices), there is the rasa (juice) of sugar cane, rasa of grapes, honey. These are sweet rasas, or flavours.
KARTAR SINGH: Do you feel or experience similar sweet rasa by reciting the Sikh scriptures.
AUTHOR: You have had school education and have travelled abroad in Canada and U.S.A. but now you are asking questions as if you are quite ignorant about everything and have never enjoyed any rasa or divine power by reading and reciting Gurbani (Guru's Hymns). Have you not seen abroad the invisible power of electricity, gas, working behind factories, engines, telephones, gramophones and wireless communications.
KARTAR SINGH: I have seen factories run by power produced by electricity and gas, but gas and electricity are scientifically produced by scientific and chemical process.
AUTHOR: You do not see fire within the wood, stone or coal yet when you rub the two pieces of wood or stones, fire is ignited from within. Thus the inner fire is brought out of these things by a process and discipline. In the same way, our human body, mind and soul are so constituted that the Amritrasa lies hidden within us in a dormant form, but it can be acquired and known through the moral and spiritual discipline of Gurmat (Wisdom of the Gurus). Even while you are leading a normal earthly life, you can know, feel and experience the sweetness, the peace and fragrance in your human consciousness. This is what the Guru Granth says: "Listen O Sakhi, you will not know the taste of divine experience as long as the mind is not devoted to the Word of God (Shabad)".1 "Those who have experienced divine flavour (Hari rasa) forget all other rasas (flavours and tasty juices). After drinking the Elixir of the Name of God they are gratified and their desires and appetites disappear."2 "Those who have tasted and experienced the inspiration of divine Wisdom, have relished and known its flavour. Without experiential knowledge of divine Wisdom man wanders in delusion."3
"It is just like a dumb person tasting the supreme elixir, who, when asked its taste, cannot express himself."4 "I am enchanted by this sublime Experience. The Merciful Lord pervades all. On drinking the Elixir of His Priceless Name I feel like a dumb person who only smiles to express his joy."5 All these quotations from Gurbani (Sikh scriptures) make it clear that one cannot know the flavour of divine experience by merely learning and studying Gurbani as long as he does not contemplate the Name of God deeply and profoundly. The Name of God does not reside in the heart as long as one does not sincerely serve the Lord. Those who have tasted and experienced the flavour of spiritual life know perceptive flavour of this experience. He feels like a dumb person relishing delicious sweets but unable to express himself. I have tasted all delicious things. There is nothing so savoury and sweet as the aesthetic joy of the Name of God."6
The ambrosial Name of God
is the sweetest, purest truth in the world.7
The Name of God is sweet Elixir;
O saints of God, just taste and see it.
Through the Guru's inspired Wisdom
I became a seeker of this sweet Nectar.
I am no more mindful of insipid and evil tastes.8
The ambrosial Name of God is ever sweet;
Through the Guru's Word is it attained.9
The ambrosial Name is ever sweet,
Through the Guru's Word, it is relished.10
All the flavours and savours I have known
were all insipid and tasteless in the end,
On meeting the true Apostle of God,
I tasted the Amrit Rasa
It is the sweetest and most luscious ambrosia.11
All things we taste turn out to be bitter;
Only the true Name of God is ever sweet.
The devotees of God have known its taste,
and the saints have enjoyed and relished it from experience.12
KARTAR SINGH: I have read all these quotations from Guru Granth but I did not understand their inner meaning of Amrit rasa, and whether it is really sweet. Nor has any Sikh or saint explained to me so well that the Amrit rasa (divine flavour) is really sweet.
AUTHOR: Gurbani is very clear about it. It mentions all sweet things and then says that the Elixir of the Name of God is sweeter than all these things.
I have tasted sweet and dry fruits.
But Your ambrosial Name alone is sweet.13
Refined and native sugar is sweet,
Cow-buffalo's milk is sweet;
Molasses, honey and sugar cakes are sweet,
But the love of God O Farid,
is the sweetest of all things sweet.14
KARTAR SINGH: Bhai Sahib ji, all this discussion Sheikh Farid has now made clear to me that the Amrit rasa, the luscious nectar of His Name is sweet. But I can be convinced only if I can experience it and taste it or see it. Please reveal to me all the qualities of Amrit rasa and the technique of achieving it, so that I may also make an effort to achieve it.
AUTHOR: (looking at Kartar Singh) Yes indeed, I have answered two out of the following four of your questions
1. "Can Amrit rasa be achieved by every Sikh who accepts baptism?"
2. "Why have I remained deprived of Amrit rasa? What do I lack?"
3. "How did you come to know from my very recitation of Gurbani that I lacked rasa?
4. What are the meditations and contemplative practices (sadhanas) necessary for achieving Amrit rasa?"
Having answered the first two questions, I would now like to answer the other two. Bhai Gurdas gives the best answer to these questions in his Quatrains (Kobit Swaiyias):
The pilgrim and the seeker enquires about the right path to reach the place of the Beloved, but treads not that path and moves not in the right direction. How can he ever reach the native Land of the Beloved?
He asks a physician the treatment of maladies, but neither takes medicines nor refrains from taking what he is forbidden to eat or drink. How can the ailment of such a person disappear? How can such a person ever know what is spiritual health and peace?
A Bride studies and learns how to become a devoted, dutiful wife but indulges in sinful acts of disloyal and depraved wife with promiscuous intentions at heart. How does she expect her husband or lover to respect and love her or call her dotingly to his bed.
Merely by singing religious songs aloud or hearing scriptures formally, or closing one's eyes in pretentious meditations, no one can ever attain the state of spiritual enlightenment. As long as a person does not enshrine the sermons and the Word of the true Apostles of God in his heart, and after grasping it inwardly, he does not live a profoundly deep life of contemplation and meditation one cannot attain the supreme state of Enlightenment (param pada 15).
The Seeker who goes on seeking and searching his path to truth ultimately reaches it. He who becomes lazy and falters or puts off the search ceases to be a seeker and remains in wilderness.
If the bride goes to the lover's bed for union and enjoyment of love at night, she shall enjoy love and be happy, but if she misses the opportunity she will repent when the day breaks, and thereafter live in separation.
If the Chatrik (hawk cuckoo) open its mouth to receive the rain drops when it is raining, it feels satisfied and its thirst is slaked. If it remains silent and ignores the opportunity it cries in agony for rain drops when the rain stops.
A Sikh is one who on receiving the divine Wisdom from the Guru lives according to it. But if he is insincere and only pretentious in his devotion he shall ultimately repent.16
The first quatrain of Bhai Gurdas is very illuminating. It states that a Sikh should seek cure of all his mental and spiritual ailments from the perfect Guru by first receiving his inspired teachings as the medicine, and then using that medicine, taking precaution that he does not indulge in things forbidden. It means that on this path, living according to the moral principles of the faith is very essential. Like a loyal wife is commitment should be to God and the perfect apostle and he should not wander like a rootless woman after false gurus and pirs(religious teachers) or misleading cults of pretentious holymen. Let him like a faithful and loyal wife live within the orbit of his Beloved's love, and his own inner world of true devotion and worship of God.
Whatever interpretation one may give to these quatrains in the context of Sikh religion, it means that a Sikh should ceaselessly continue his search by contemplating the Name of God, and seek spiritual solace and enlightenment in Gurbani. Unless he lives a life of intense meditations he cannot attain a supreme state of Enlightenment. The second quatrain suggests that immediately after entering the path of Sikhism through formal initiation, one should seriously and consciously lead a meditative life and never be slothful, inert and morally irresponsible in his religious and spiritual duties. Whoever takes Sikhism seriously and treads the path with devotion, to him will the amrit rasa: aesthetic spiritual bliss, be revealed within himself. He will reach the stage of supreme perfection in which state he feels, he is immortal.
KARTAR SINGH: I still do not know, how my questions are satisfactorily answered.
AUTHOR: The answer to the first question is that only those Sikhs who achieve amrit rasa (divine nectar), after being initiated into the Sikh discipline and techniques of meditations in a formal way, receive the gurumantram from Panj Pyaras in baptism and then live according to the moral and spiritual code of Sikhism, leading an intensely contemplative life of ceaselessly meditating on the Name of God. The answer to the second question is that you no doubt entered the path of Sikhism in this formal way, but then you ceased to be a true seeker. Your search ended in wilderness. How could you reach the realm of the Beloved Lord? You did not even make an effort to reach the stage of achieving amrit rasa.
The answer to the fourth question is that you should understand what is said in Bhai Gurdas' Quatrains, quoted in the foregoing pages and sincerely take up the spiritual effort in the right direction. In the third question you ask: "How did I come to know that you had not tasted and achieved Amrit rasa? This is quite a simple thing. For any Sikh who is a serious contemplative of the Name of God, this is not difficult. Every Sikh contemplative who meditates on His Name and Gurbani deeply and profoundly develops all his human senses of smell, hearing, sight and movements to such refined perfection that he can not only feel, smell, see and hear the gross aspects of life and existence but also the subtle and finer forms of unseen life and powers; and these finer perceptions can be developed to a highly refined and exalted state of inner power and perfection. Just as our mental energy spreads all over the body, so also these finer spiritual powers spread throughout the inner being of man to such an extent that each hair on his body's pore becomes an inner radio and television station. He can see, perceive, feel and visualise even distant happenings and other people's emotions and feelings through the very pores of his body. No outsider is required to work this inner machinery. It automatically works from within through the Creator's divine mechanism.
KARTAR SINGH: I now understand that if a person is properly initiated into the Spirit of Sikhism, he can then attain amrit rasa ambrosial bliss. We are nowadays living in the most harrowing circumstances as political prisoners here. God alone knows when we shall be freed and get an opportunity to accept baptism formally and then be initiated into the spirit of Sikhism to achieve Amrit rasa (ambrosia).
AUTHOR: Amrit rasa: divine nectar, is not a gross element which I or anyone can take out of his pocket and put it into your mouth. As long as you are in prison contemplate the Name of God, recite Gurbani, pray to the Guru that you may enjoy Amrit rasa. It is possible that God may graciously bestow on you Amrit rasa. It is just possible that even while you are in prison you can attain Amrit rasa from Gurbani Sacred Hymns, by contemplating and reciting it. Listen to the assurance given by the Guru Granth in this direction.
The Sacred Hymns (Bani) are embodiment of the Guru,
The Guru's Spirit is manifest in Bani (Sacred Hymns)
There is amrit in the whole Gurbani (Sacred Hymns)
Let the sincere devotee obey what Gurbani teaches
The Guru will positively liberate such a one. 17
In the Word is the Spirit of the true Guru,
The true Guru reveals Himself in the Word.
The Guru through the Word reveals the path of liberation.18
There is only one sanctuary,
There is only one Lord God.
The egoists wander in wilderness
and achieve not access to the Inner Castle of the Lord.
If the seeker moves towards the inner Castle of divine refuge,
Contemplating His Name and ever remembering Him,
God at once reveals Himself
and meets the devotee without delay.19
Through the Guru's inspired Wisdom,
sweet becomes remembrance of His Name,
and sweet becomes a devotee's utterances.
The Vani (Bani) Hymns of the true Guru
is the Spirit of the supreme Being.
Turn your heart on the spirit of Gurbani (Sacred Hymns)20
As I listen to the Sacred Hymns: Gurbani
my mind and soul are entranced.
The mind is intoxicated with bliss
and has found rest in the Interior Castle of Self (nijghar)
In the Interior Castle one hears Unstruck Music
And the ambrosial bliss flows like unceasing stream.21
You recite these hymns everyday in the daily prayers and recitations of Gurbani here in prison. Now I hope you have grasped their inner meaning and significance.
1. Adi Guru Granth Guru Amar Das, Var Vadhans, p 590
2. ibid: Guru Amar Das, Var Maru, p 1088
3. ibid: Guru Amar Das, Sri Rag, p 33
4. ibid: Namdev, Sorath, p 657
5. ibid: Guru Arjan, Sarang, p 1205
6. ibid: Guru Arjan, Majh, p 100
7. ibid: Guru Amar Das, Malar, p 1259
8. ibid: Guru Ram Das, Bilawal, p 800
9. ibid: Guru Amar Das, Sorath, p 604
10. ibid: Guru Amar Das, Vadhans, p 559
11. ibid: Guru Ram Das, Gaudi Purabi, p 169
12. ibid: Guru Arjan, Var Gaudi, p 321
13. ibid: Guru Nanak, Gaudi Cheti, p 155
14. ibid: Shloka Shaikh Farid, p 1379
15. Bhai Gurdas : Kabit Swaiyias, verse 439
16. Bhai Gurdas : Kabit Swaiyias, verse 440
17. Adi Guru Granth : Guru Ram Das, Nat, p 982
18. ibid: Guru Ram Das, Kanada, p 1310
19. ibid: Guru Ram Das, Bilawal, p 836
20. ibid: Guru Ram Das, Kanada Ashtpa, p 1308
21. ibid: p 1308