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|PICTURES OF SIKH GURUS
of pictures of Gurus is a collection of such pictures
that many sikhs like to collect and display at their
home and offices, but before you go to the
gallery, please allow us to share the views of Dr.
Gurbax Singh on the subject just for your better
Let us discuss the Sikh philosophy regarding pictures
of the Gurus. According to the Sikh principles,
not the physical features of his body, but the words
said by the Guru are the 'Guru'.
Lessons given in the sacred Gurbaani are the 'Guru'.
A disciple who obeys Gurbaani, will surely achieve
the goal of human life.
The holy hymns spoken by the Gurus, Bhagats, and
other contributions, were compiled and installed
as 'Shabad Guru' in the Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar.
No pictures or idols of the Guru (none were there),
were allowed to be placed in the buildings or depicted
on its walls. For making the environment aesthetic
and soothing to the mind, flowers, geometrical figures
and other artwork was engraved on the walls of the
Harmandir Sahib. Pictures and paintings of the Gurus
are conspicuous by their absence.
One wonders how the false pictures of the Gurus
and even their plastic, wooden and metallic idols
appeared, not only in the houses of the Sikhs but
also in many Gurdwaras. This is nothing but Brahmanical
philosophy displacing the Sikh faith from the Sikh
houses and their places of worship.
It can easily be known from the historical records
as to how fake pictures and then statues of the
Gurus entered the Harmandir Sahib and Sikh houses.
What seems to be extremely difficult is, how to
throw them out of the Gurdwaras and the Sikh psyche.
Not only a few credulous Sikhs, some traditional
preachers and even a few educated Sikhs have started
believing in Guru pictures. They think that keeping
pictures of the Gurus in the houses is the Gurmat
method of showing respect to the Gurus and obtaining
their blessings. Some Sikhs have been seen garlanding
the Guru pictures and serving food to them for 'Bhog',
a practice prohibited for the Sikhs.
Not all Sikhs, of course, have reached the stage
of worshipping the Gurus' pictures/paintings as
the Hindus worship their idols, but a large number
of them are on their way to do that. Some scholars
want these pictures (all are surely fake) to be
destroyed whereas others suggest that only their
worship be prohibited.
Bhai Gurdas explains that the picture of the Guru
is his "Word", Gurbaani, which a Sikh is to love.
The history of the imaginary Guru pictures
is briefly stated below.
When the Keshadhari (Long Haired) Sikhs during the
18th century were forced to leave the villages and
live in the forests, the non Keshadhari disciples
took care of the Sikh Gurdwaras and the historical
places. These disciples did not board the ship of
Sikh Faith; they only held it in their hands but
keep their feet stuck in the Hindu Boat. The Brahmanical
influence, which was still holding their mind, obliged
them to depict popular mythological scenes on the
walls of the Gurdwaras as they were traditional
depicted on the walls of the Hindu temples. When
the pictures of the Hindu gods and their consorts
appeared on the Gurdwara walls, the pictures of
the Gurus had also to appear as a natural sequence.
All pictures, of course, differed and were subject
to the imagination of the painters. The pictures
from the walls moved on to the paper and were printed
in large numbers to reach every Sikh house and every
Gurdwara. Only a few vigilant managers did not permit
any kind of pictures, howsoever 'genuine' or 'superior'
they were claimed to be, to come even near the boundary
of the Gurdwaras. Once the pictures of the Gurus
were accepted as 'true' and 'good' by the masses,
how could anyone stop them from taking the form
of idols and statues ? Unfortunately, it appears
that they are here to stay at least for the time
During the 18th century, not only the non-Sikh but
anti-Sikh rituals were practiced in Gurdwaras without
any objection because the Khalsa had moved to the
forests. The sacred places were managed by the Sanatni
(Brahmanical) Sikh or by those Mahants who still
believed in Hindu rituals even after associating
themselves with the Sikh faith.
When the Sikhs lost their Raj in Panjab in 1849,
they had time to turn their thoughts towards their
faith. They were surprised to find Sikhism already
pushed out of the Gurdwaras by Brahmanical rituals.
The worship of idols, whether of the Hindu gods
or of the Sikh Gurus, is prohibited for the Sikhs.
However, both were worshipped by the Sikhs in the
precincts of the Harmandir Sahib.
No true pictures of the Guru exist, though some
have been claimed to be true pictures. One 'true'
picture is totally different from the other 'true'
picture. Most of them are modern paintings. Some
old sketches / paintings are also available, but
all are based on the imagination of the painters.
No Guru permitted his painting to be made in his
time, because it is against the philosophy of the
Sikh faith as mentioned earlier. We should not have
Guru pictures in our houses or Gurdwaras. Instead
we should have Gurbaani hymns written and hung for
our guidance in our house.
Bending/bowing before the pictures or garlanding
them is prohibited even if they were true pictures.
The Sikh philosophy tells that 'words' said by the
Guru are the 'Guru' (now Guru Granth Sahib). We
bow not before a book, as some persons think, but
to the 'Gian' (knowledge) therein.
|Now do you still
think, there is a need left to go to the picture