I see Sikhism as a fundamental human aspiration for "Sarbat da Bhala" (the Universal Good) with the individual contributing through "Kirat Karo, Vand Chhako, Naam Japo" (Honest labour, sharing the fruits of your labour with your community, and remaining aware of the creator and the deepest goal of one's life).
Guru Gobind Singh vehemently denied all attempts at his own deification. In his autobiographical poem-story Bichitra Natak, he states categorically that anyone who calls him "God" would certainly go to hell in the literal sense of the term: "Moko jo Parmesar uchrein/ Te sab narak kund mein parhein."
Khalsa is essentially Guru Nanak's vision maturing into political consciousness. Since we now live in mass societies, the chief elements of that vision need to be applied on the appropriate scale.
Simply speaking, they translate into the vision of the welfare state implemented in universal franchise, food security, universal employment, fair wages, equitable distribution of wealth and resources, universal healthcare, universal education (holistic not materialistic) and breaking hierarchy.
When Guru Nanak emerged from the Wayin river near Sultanpur Lodhi after his enlightenment, stating that God is indeed the Truth and the one Creator of all, and that none is created Hindu or Muslim by Him:
"Ek Onkaar Sat Kartar
Na koyi Hindu, Na Musalmaan"
He was asked who taught him this or gave him this knowledge (as indeed Sikhs are asked to this day who the original Guru of their Ten Gurus was, and who was the Guru of the first Guru).
He answered simply "Nanak ka Guru Aap Nirankaar" (The Formless One himself is the Guru). It was to this Formless One, this Timeless Being (Akal Purukh) that the Sikh Gurus commended their followers and it is to the Akal Purukh that the Sikh refers in his everyday greeting to all human beings (which also doubles as his war cry when faced with injustice and evil) Sat Sri Akal. It is to the Almighty, the one Creator, the Single True Being who forms the Universal Soul, that the Sikh refers when he says Satnaam Waheguru.
To reduce this simple rational faith, easily accessible to, understood by and happily practised by even the poorest of the poor, lowliest of the low, the peasant, the artisan, the soldier as well as the merchant, the scholar, the landlord or the king in Punjab, with no intermediary except the beautiful and musical words of the Guru Granth Sahib, into a jaagir or estate split a thousand ways amid rulers, their satraps, their chhuttbhaiyaas, their henchmen, their go-betweens, their event managers, and the Babas, Sants, Mahants, Dera-Chiefs, Jathedars, Taksal heads and the worst kind of money-making opportunists, is indeed a strange way to pay tribute to the practical and philosophical legacy of the remarkable human being who founded the eminently straightforward and brilliantly transparent Khalsa Panth.
"Karta Kareem Soyi,
Raazak Raheem Ohi
Doosra na koyi
Kabhi bhool bharam maanbo
Hindu, Turuk sabhi, Haafiz Imaam Shafi
Maanas ki Jaat sabhey ekey pehchaanbo"
That's the simple message of Guru Gobind Singh that has drawn millions from across the globe to Patna to celebrate his legacy, and you don't need the Oxford English Dictionary or a galaxy of interpreters to tell you what it means.
The Guru puts paid to those who divide man from man, to distinctions of caste and even of creed in the face of the common humanity of all mankind. He then goes on to explain not just the indivisibility of Man from Man but the inseparability of Man from Nature and of Man, Nature and the Universe from God.
That is why the Sikh feels at home anywhere in the Universe—he knows he is an essential and eternal part of the Vishwaroop—the Creator made manifest in His Creation and as for spiritual or philosophical dialectics, what can beat the simplicity of "Thou art Me, and I am Thou, where then is the difference or duality?"
"Mohi Tohi, Tohi Mohi Antar Kaisa?" These are the words of Bhakt Ravidass ji, honoured and revered by the Gurus and the Sikhs alike, for truly there is no distinction between the Guru and the Sikh, both of whom worship at the altar of the Timeless one.
"I belong to the Khalsa, as the Khalsa belongs to me; We are immersed and contained in one another, as the drop in the ocean and the ocean in the water drop"—Guru Gobind Singh .
So no intermediaries, no patrons, no go-betweens, no tour guides are needed, thank you. The Gursikh knows how to find his Guru in Patna, in Amritsar, in Anandpur, in Nanded, as also in Fresno, in Calgary or Sydney, in London and in Birmingham without any help from busybodies—and that means me, the critic, as much as it means you, dear netas and babas, our so-called temporal and ‘spiritual’ leaders.
(The author prefers to remain anonymous)
[Also read: Firstpost asks if a BJP official's Guru Gobind Singh birth anniversary greetings violate a recent Supreme Court ruling]