NAM JAPANA, KIRAT KARNI, VAND CHHAKANA, i.e. ever to repeat God`s name, to be ready to engage in the labour of one`s hands and to be willing to share with others what one has gathered may be said to be the triple principle underlying Sikh ethics and way of life. This swiftly enunciated three way formula meant conjointly to form a single edict affirms that a Sikh should ideally be a man of a sensitive spiritual and moral conscience, always ready to put his hand to the wheel and never shying away from his duty. Actions of a morally oriented individual are directed not solely towards achieving his own welfare, but towards ensuring the good of society as a whole. By linking ndmjapand to the other two precepts, Sikhism declares that the basis of wholesome living is God centredness, compulsions and obligations of physical existence notwithstanding. At the same time, striving for spiritual well being of the self alone with dependence on others for subsistence is not a worthy ideal, nor is it correct to give free rein to one`s acquisitive nature without regard to the needs of others. For a Sikh the ideal life is that of a householder who, with the name and fear of God (and of God alone) always in his heart, earns his livelihood by honest labour and shares his victuals with the needy. In Sikhism, the way of the hermit or recluse is not approved.Ndm japand or ndm simaran, literally means to recite and repeat the name of God.

God`s names are myriad, but the one accepted among Sikhs is Vahiguru or Vahguru, which is the gurmantra. Gurugiven formula, they receive at the time of receiving the riles of initiation. In practice ndmjapand takes two forms. One is participation in worship in the sangat, i.e. believers gathered together to express or seek unity with God through singing and hearing His praises.

The other way is that of private meditation, with or without the help of a rosary. The two methods are not exclusive of each other; they are complementary and a Sikh is expected to use both. Attendance at sangat is as important as contemplation in solitude.”Repetition of God`s name erases doubt and delusion,” says Guru Arjan (GG, 814), and “expunging grief, pain and fear, it produces happiness everlasting” (GG, 456).

But mechanical repetition of Name is not enough. One has to realize the Divine as a reality and be in harmony with Him. As Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, has pointed out: “Everyone repeats `Ram, Ram`, but merely uttering `Ram` from one`s lips will not suffice; it is only when by the Guru`s grace Ram abides in the heart that one gathers fruit” (GG, 491); and. again: “Everyone has `Hari, Hari` on his lips, but very few have Him in the heart; they in whose heart the Lord abides, 0 Nanak, achieve mokh/muktior liberation” (GG, 565).

Ndm simaran, if it is to lead to union with God, depends on three things. The first is knowledge of the true nature of God as both nirguna (ineffable, abstract principle) and saguna (manifest, with attributes, knowable). This comes through a correct understanding of the Guru`s word. Knowledge must be accompanied by faith in the compassionate nature of God and in the guiding ability of the Guru.

Finally, ndm simaran itself is a Divine gift depending on nadaror God`s grace. To refer to the Sukhmani, “He on whom God through His favour bestows understanding, 0 Nanak, receives (the gift of) Harisimaran (GG, 263).Kirat kamior to work to gain one`s livelihood, besides signifying preference for grhastha or normal householder`s life, has a moral value. Kirat, in Punjabi, is not any work; it means labour of the hands, it means ghalor hard, honest work and honest calling.

Says Guru Arjan: “Kirat kamdvan sarab phal raviai hari niratire membering God with devotion and earning one`s living with honest labour is fruitful ever” (GG, 816). Kirat kamlis necessarily based on dharma or righteousness, and excludes exploitation of others. BhaT Gurdas (d. 1636) insistson dharamdi kirat ( Varan, 1,3; VI, 12; XL, II). Guru Nanak himself condemned exploitation in very strong terms.

He says: “If a garment is stained with blood, it is considered to have been polluted.How can then they who suck the blood of men be reckoned to have a pure mind?” (GG, 140). At another place he says: `To appropriate what by right is another`s is like eating hog for one (a Muslim) and cow for the other (a Hindu)” (GG, 141). Tlie story in the Janam Sakhis about how Guru Nanak preferred to eat the coarsest, but hardearned, fare in the home of a poor carpenter to rich viands at the banquet of a wealthy nobleman itself underscores the value of honest labour.

Kirat is central to the Sikh concept of sevd or self ab negating deeds of service. In sevd no task is considered inferior or degrading; in fact the humbler the task the more honourable it is for the Sikh engaged in sevd.No calling is considered low or mean in Sikhism, which totally rejects the caste system. Vand chhakand is perhaps best rendered into English as “sharing with others what one cats or earns.

” Guru Nanak observes, ” Do not put faith in one who styles himself a spiritual teacher but goes about begging. He alone, 0 Nanak, knows the way who lives by the labour of his hands and shares his earnings with others” (GG, 1245). These principles constitute the basis of the Sikh institutions of Guru ka Larigar (community kitchen) and dasvandh (tithes), setting apart of the obligatory one tenth of one`s earnings for communal purposes.

The central concern of the Sikh as a householder, viz. kirat harm, is on the one hand associated with and conditioned by ndm japand (says Kabir in one of his verses included in the Guru Granth Sahib: ” Let your body be engaged in work, but your mind must always be focussed upon God”), on the other, kirat, sanctified by ndm, must fulfil the mandatory injunction of vand chhakand to the exclusion of both exploitation and hoarding. Life regulated by the triple principle of meditation, work and social responsibility is, according to Sikhism, the means for an individual to fully realize his potentialities and to contribute towards the continuation and progress of society.

References :

1. Sabaddarth Sri Guru. Granth Sahib. Amritsar, 1969
2. Jodh Singh, Gurmat Nimaya. Lahore, 1932
3. Sher Singh, Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
4. Avtar Singh, Ethics of the Sikhs. Patiala, 1970
5. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990