How do we recognize The One?
Devagandhari Sovereign 10
Do not mark any other except The One.
That Divine is ever capable of destroying and carving, recognize That as the Creator. Pause-reflect.
So what if the stone idols are worshiped in many ways with great love and consciousness?
Hands are tired of touching the stone idols, but there is no power in hands.
Rice, incense, and lamps are offered; the stone idols do not eat anything.
O ignorant! What power does a stone idol have that it can grant you a boon?
Reflect in mind, speech, and action that if a stone idol had any life, it would have given you something.
There is no liberation in other ways except in the refuge of The One Owner.
Devagandhari musical mode invokes mood and emotions of effort and contentment.
C(h)in, c(h)inha, or c(h)ihn is a Sanskrit term that means symbol, mark, sign, or logo. It also refers to the form and figure. In Hinduism, signs identify a particular deity, implying this is the one or the auspicious one with these marks or identifiers. Its most common practice among Hindus is idol worship. However, the phenomenon of identifying “God” or “Divine” is global, not limited to South Asia. The question is, what is the outward physical appearance of The One?
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the Sovereign, emphatically declares: Other than the One, there is no other mark that can be acknowledged. The One Divine was, is, and will remain fully capable of destroying and carving. And That One Divine is recognized as the Creator. My Sovereign tells me The One is known as the Divine and the Creator; there is no particular mark of the 1’s form or figure because all forms and figures are destroyed and carved. None whatsoever!
My Sovereign rhetorically asks: What has one gained by worshiping the stones in myriad ways with immense love and intention? Stones are also called s(h)ila or s(h)aligram and are marked for a deity, their form, and figure. In fact, while worshiping, the hands became so tired from bathing and caressing the idol. But even then, no Siddhi was gained, which meant no power or proven supernatural ability was achieved. My Sovereign tells me not to pass my entire life worshiping idols, be they marked by stones or personalities. I must not make a discipline out of idol worship as a means of income or display. Instead, I must continuously devote myself to recognizing only The One in everything and everywhere. I must be self-vigilant about demonstrating love and intention in my modes of worship.
My Sovereign provokes thoughtfulness: You make the offering, you light the incense and lamps, you prepare the rice dish, and so on. But the stone eats nothing. Lapsi is a sweet rice dish (or other grains) made with ghee, milk, nuts, raisins, and other dried fruits prepared during Hindu ceremonies to serve an idol. O ignorant and foolish person, does this idol have any Siddhi or power? Can it really grant you any boon, wish, or blessing? My Sovereign tells me to offer my bodily strength, my intellectual rigor, and my monetary assets to The One, not to idols. My Sovereign also tells me to seek the connection with The One, not powers and wishes.
My Sovereign further probes: Think! Does this idol have any life or not? If not, then what can this lifeless idol give you? Introspect; reflect mentally, verbally, and in practice. You will discover there is only one thing that works: enter the sanctuary of The One, the Owner of the Universe. That is where you find freedom. This is it; this is the way. My Sovereign tells me to completely grasp that only life begets life. Embrace only the sanctuary of The One, and personalize the relationship to make the 1 my Owner.
Note: We are very finite; our understanding is finite too. We aspire to deepen our relationship with the Guru. In this translation and commentary, we focused more on meaning, context, and message and less on literalism and poetics. We aspire to learn and live the message to end our separation from the 1.
This artwork, inspired by Guru Gobind Singh’s composition, illustrates multiple ways in which idol worship is a misdirected and incomplete way to try to recognize the One. The composition says that idols, gods, goddesses, deities, etc., are all partial understandings. In this piece, I have illustrated multiple examples of this incomplete worship: Stonehenge, Maori Pouwhenua carvings, a statue of a Hindu god, and the Teotihuacan pyramids are all examples of physical, tangible, embodied worship. Some are understood to be protectors, some grant blessings, some provide guidance and some sacred mark land. However, this composition points out that they are all ineffectual compared to the ੧/IkOankar/the One. Worship of thought and fixations of the mind are harder to illustrate. Nonetheless, I have represented them here. Multiple figures, praying and worshiping in different ways and directions, are all placed in the greenery. They do not see that the One does all these idols are purported to do and more. This is illustrated by the ੧/IkOankar/the One in the background enveloping the idols and the space around them. Rice, incense, lamps, and offerings of many kinds are placed before the idols. They prove ineffective, illustrated by the incense that swirls up and out of the artwork's frame.
Note: Where there is greenery, there is ‘natural life.’ I situate the readers, the learners, and seekers, those engaging with the composition there. In every artwork, I have placed ੧, a reference to IkOankar, the One, without limiting it to an object-based depiction such as a sun or a moon. The colors are chosen intentionally to evoke a particular interpretation or adhere to a cohesive color palette to show the relationship between the ten compositions of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.
ਦੇਵਗੰਧਾਰੀ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੀ ੧੦
ਇਕੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਦੂਸਰ ਸੋ ਨ ਚਿਨਾਰ॥
ਭੰਜਨ ਗੜ੍ਹਨ ਸਮਰਥ ਸਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਜਾਨਤ ਹੈ ਕਰਤਾਰ॥ ਰਹਾਉ॥
ਕਹਾ ਭਇਓ ਜੋ ਅਤਿ ਹਿਤਿ ਚਿਤੁ ਕਰਿ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਿਲਾ ਪੁਜਾਈ॥
ਪਾਨ ਥਕਿਓ ਪਾਹਨ ਕਹ ਪਰਸਤ ਕਛੁ ਕਰਿ ਸਿਧਿ ਨ ਆਈ॥੧॥
ਅੱਛਤ ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਅਰਪਤ ਹੈ ਪਾਹਨ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਖੈ ਹੈ॥
ਤਾ ਮੈ ਕਹਾਂ ਸਿੱਧਿ ਹੈ ਰੇ ਜੜ੍ਹ ਤੋਹਿ ਕਛੂ ਬਰੁ ਦੈ ਹੈ॥੨॥
ਜੌ ਜਿਯ ਹੋਤ ਤੌ ਦੇਤ ਕਛੂ ਤੁਹਿ ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕਰਮ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ॥
ਕੇਵਲੁ ਏਕ ਸਰਣਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਬਿਨੁ ਯੌ ਨਹਿ ਕਤਹਿ ਉਧਾਰੁ॥੩॥੧॥੯॥
devgandhārī pātisāhī 10
iku binu dūsar so na cinār.
bhañjan gaṛhan samrath sadā prabhu jānat hai kartār.1. rahāu.
kahā bhaïo jo ati hiti citu kari bahu bidhi silā pujāī.
pān thakio pāhan kah parsat kachu kari sidhi na āī.1.
achchat dhūp dīp arpat hai pāhan kachū na khai hai.
tā mai kahāṁ sidhdhi hai re jaṛha tohi kachū baru dai hai.2.
jau jiya hot tau det kachū tuhi man bac karam bicāru.
kevalu ek saraṇi suāmī binu yau nahi katahi udhāru.3.1.9.