“So much agony were they put through
So much anguish did they suffer
Were you not, O God, moved to compassion?”, asks Guru Nanak.
Compassion or daya is regarded as the basis of “dharma” (righteousness). It means kindness, sympathy, love and mercy for one and all. Its essence lies in “suffering in the suffering of all beings”. The feeling of compassion is the most important of all the virtues and in fact, as says the Guru, the “earth is held together by dharma which itself is born out of compassion”.
Compassion is never selective. It is not reserved only for one’s family or community only. On the other hand, a compassionate person does not discriminate but shows compassion towards all. And how can he be indifferent towards others when God is not, who is “all merciful”, “dayalum”, “karta-purakh”. Waheguru is full of compassion and compassion only. No wonder, he showers His grace on all the creatures of the earth.
Compassion is a divine quality and is viewed as the highest moral virtue. In Sikhism, compassion is the best antidote to violence. The Sikh Gurus and their followers have always sacrificed their lives to defend dharma and to safeguard the rights of the weak and downtrodden people. A true Sikh shows mercy and does not harbour ill feelings. Guru Nanak says, “One imbued with daya chooses to die himself rather than cause others to die.”
One cannot call himself a religious or godly person if he instigates others to unleash violence on innocent people. The garb of a sadhu and the feeling of “hatred” cannot co-exist. The Guru says, “The merit of pilgrimages of holy places 68, and that of other virtues besides, equal not compassion to living beings.”
A true compassionate person believes in forgiving others. To forgive is divine. Forgiveness acts as a moral link between the self and others. It is a remedy to anger and frustration. Anger leads to self and social destruction. “O krodh, O father of strife, you have no compassion. You have a powerful sway over vicious men who dance to your tunes as does the monkey…”, says the Guru.
You can forgive only if you have compassion. It is like a cleansing process. “Forgive others and you shall be forgiven.” “Why would you expect God to forgive you if you can’t forgive others?” “To practice forgiveness is the true fast, good conduct and contentment. Disease does not afflict me, nor does the pain of death”, says Guru Nanak. The Supreme Lord is the perfect forgiver and we should be like Him.
As we forgive others we ourselves are healed. It helps in the realisation of the truth and elevates the person to a higher level. Forgiveness and compassion calms the mind and bestows divine grace (Gurprasad) which directs the Sikh towards self-realisation. It helps in meditation leading to a state of bliss. In Sikhism, congregational meditation in the form of Shabad Kirtan is given utmost importance.
Hence, where there is forgiveness, there is God. As one learns to control anger, to forgive others and to show compassion, our haumai and ego is dispelled and one attains a state of happiness and bliss. Guru Nanak says, “Who have truth as their fast, contentment as their sacred shrine for pilgrimage are amongst the finest people. So are those who have spiritual wisdom and use meditation as their cleansing bath. Their deity is kindness, and forgiveness becomes their chanting beads.”...