Question from a satsanggi:

WJKK WJKF Manjeet ji, pray all is well. Firstly thank you for the continuous messages, explanations on bani and Shabads to help ease the current situation. I really appreciate it and am very grateful.

I need a small favor. The sanggat does a homeless langgar sewa monthly here in Virginia. My daughter is one of the community members.

One question from many others is requesting quotes from SGGS and how it pertains to this sewa. We need the Angg, quote and English translation. This is a request from the American Sikhs as they want to highlight on their website the reason and link to SGGS with regards to langgar.

The question is- Do you draw inspiration from Sikhism (stories about the gurus, quotes from the SGGS, or other sources) when doing sewa? Can you provide an example?

Kindly advise. Thank you 🙏🏽

Bhai Manjeet’s response:

Naam is the central message of the Sikh Gurus.

But Naam is not merely for recitation. As you take to Naam you must live the wisdom of Naam.

Naam is essentially attributes of Nirankar. We get these attributes (gunn) from the Satguru. As these gunn abide in you, you must also live those gunn. On the path of bhagti (loving devotion to One Formless, Nirankar Ji), you must put into practice whatever gunn you are blessed with. Bhagti is not a mere intellectual exercise.

Without practicing these gunn, there can be no real bhagti. Guru Nanak Dev Ji tells us in Japji Sahib.

“Vinn gunn kitay bhagat na hoye”(pauri 21-SGGS Ang 4).

ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥

(Without practicing virtue there can be no true devotional worship of the Lord).

So, Sikhi is dynamic and pragmatic. We must live a life of service to humankind, whilst being attached to God within ourselves.

From that premise springs the Sikh institution of langgar.

The Sikh Gurus from the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji encouraged the concept of the Guru’s Kitchen where Guru Ka langgar was served.

This was served in a revolutionary setting. It did not matter which caste you belonged to. All sat at the same platform and ate a common meal. Women were treated as equals and sat in panggat to eat Guru Ka langgar.

In SGGS Ji we are told of the langgar which was served during the Gurgaddi of Guru Angad Dev Ji.

We are told.

“Langgar chale Gur Shabad Har tote na aavi khatiye”(Ang 967)

ਲੰਗਰੁ ਚਲੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਆਵੀ ਖਟੀਐ ॥

( The Gurus Kitchen was open. Shabads were read. The supplies never ran out).

We are also told of Mata Khivi Ji (mahal of Guru Angad Dev Ji), who helped and supervised the operations of the langgar.

“Balwand Khivi nek jan jin bahuti shaoo patrali” (Ang 967)

ਬਲਵੰਡ ਖੀਵੀ ਨੇਕ ਜਨ ਜਿਸੁ ਬਹੁਤੀ ਛਾਉ ਪਤ੍ਰਾਲੀ ॥

(Balwand says Mother Khivi was a kind woman who gave leafy shade to numerous people)

“Langgar daulat vandiye rass amrit kheer gheyalee”

ਲੰਗਰਿ ਦਉਲਤਿ ਵੰਡੀਐ ਰਸੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਖੀਰਿ ਘਿਆਲੀ ॥ (Ang 967)

The wealth of langgar was freely distributed together with sweet tasting kheer(rice pudding with milk), which had generous doses of ghee.

In Raag Sarang, Guru Nanak Dev Ji states. (Ang 1245).

“Ghaal khaye kich hatho dey ; Nanak rah pechaney sey”

ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥

(One who earns an honest living and shares some of his earnings : Nanak, such a person has recognised the Path (to the Lord).

God is described as Sach.

“Aad Sach jugaad Sach hai bhi Sach Nanak hosi bhi Sach” (Japji – Ang 1).

ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥੧॥

Sach is normally translated as True. But it also means Eternal, Perfect, Imperishable, Fair, Infinite and so many other shades of meaning.

To recognize or to realise this Sach Guru Nanak Dev Ji tells us in Asa Ki Vaar. (Ang 468).

“Sach ta par jaaniye ja riday Sacha hoye”

ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਚਾ ਹੋਇ ॥

(You will only realise the True One when He abides in your heart).

And as He resides therein..

“Kurh ki mal utray tan kare hasha dhoye”

ਕੂੜ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਉਤਰੈ ਤਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਹਛਾ ਧੋਇ ॥

(The filth of falsehood departs and the body gets cleansed).

“Sach ta par jaaniye ja Sach dhare pyaar”

ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਚਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥

(You realise the True One as love for Him wells up within you)

“Naao sun man rehsiye ta paaye mokh dwar”

ਨਾਉ ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨੁ ਰਹਸੀਐ ਤਾ ਪਾਏ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥

(Such a person gets exhilaration when he hears the Name and attains the Gate of Salvation)

In the same Slok Guru ji also says.

“Sach ta par jaaniye ja sikh sachi ley”

ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਿਖ ਸਚੀ ਲੇਇ ॥

(You get to realise the True One if you receive true teachings)

And one who has imbibed true teachings (from the Guru’s Shabad), he will conduct himself in this way.

“Dya jaane jee ki kich punn daan kare”

ਦਇਆ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਅ ਕੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਕਰੇਇ ॥

(He will have mercy upon other beings and will do charity to others).

Thus the concept of sharing langgar springs from “dya”, compassion for others.

Dya is a Godly attribute, a gunn of the Divine.

At many places in SGGS Ji, we are told of God’s Merciful nature.

God is.

“Sada sada sada dyaal ; simar simar Nanak bhye nihaal”(Ang 275, Sukhmani Sahib)

ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਦਇਆਲ ॥ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਏ ਨਿਹਾਲ ॥੮॥੯॥

(Forever and ever and ever He is Merciful ; remembering Him continuously in mediation you get wondrously enraptured).

Bhagat Parmanand Ji has one Shabad in SGGS Ji at Ang 1253.

The Shabad is startling in that Bhagat Ji looks graphically at what man has failed to do.

The first two lines of the Shabad are.

“Te nar kya Puran sun kinna ; anpavnee bhagat nahi upji bhukhe daan na deena”

ਤੈ ਨਰ ਕਿਆ ਪੁਰਾਨੁ ਸੁਨਿ ਕੀਨਾ ॥ਅਨਪਾਵਨੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਉਪਜੀ ਭੂਖੈ ਦਾਨੁ ਨ ਦੀਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

(O man what have you achieved by listening to the Scriptures ; loving devotion(for God) has not welled up in you, nor have you fed the hungry).

Feeding the hungry is an act of merit and if sincerely done with the Guru’s sewa in mind, it attracts Grace.

At Ang 15 Guru Nanak Dev Ji tells us it is good to serve the downtrodden and less fortunate ones.

Guruji says.

“Nicha andar neech jaat nichi hu att neech ; Nanak tin ke sang saath vadiayo siyo kya rees ; jithe neech samiliyan tithey nadar teri bakhsees”

ਨੀਚਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨੀਚ ਜਾਤਿ ਨੀਚੀ ਹੂ ਅਤਿ ਨੀਚੁ ॥ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਡਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਰੀਸ ॥ਜਿਥੈ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਲੀਅਨਿ ਤਿਥੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਖਸੀਸ ॥੪॥੩॥

(In utter humility Nanak seeks the company of the lowly, the lowest of the low; I keep their company; why should I seek out the mighty; where the lowly are cared for, there You shower Your Glance of Grace).

We are told of the sakhi during the times of Guru Hargobind Ji.

A Sikh, Bhai Sewa Das brought a pot of honey when he went to meet the 6th Satguru Ji.

To his surprise, the Satguru refused the pot of honey. Upon enquiry, Guruji told Bhai Sewa Das that along the way he had refused a request by a hungry Sikh for some honey. Bhai Sewa Das had told the Sikh, Bhai Kattu Ji that the honey was only for the Satguru and he would not share it with anyone else.

Guruji told Bhai Sewa Das “Gareeb ka mooh Guru ki golak” i.e. feeding the mouth of the hungry and poor is truly putting your offerings into the Guru’s golak. The Sikh Gurus practiced what they preached and declared any offering as useless if it did not help to relieve the needs of the poor and hungry.

In a stirring Shabad at Ang 656, Bhagat Kabir Ji addresses God. Bhagat Ji tells God.

 “I love to do Your devotional worship; But I cannot do it if I am hungry : Here, take Your Rosary away”

“Bhukhe bhagat na kijje : yeh mala apni lijje”.

ਭੂਖੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥ਯਹ ਮਾਲਾ ਅਪਨੀ ਲੀਜੈ ॥

In Raag Gond at Ang 873, Bhagat Kabir Ji says thus.

” Dhan Gopal Dhan Gurdev”

ਧੰਨੁ ਗੁਪਾਲ ਧੰਨੁ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ॥

(Blessed is the Lord of the World : Blessed is the Divine Guru).

Then Bhagat Ji says that the grain which feeds the hungry is also Blessed. Food helps them to blossom forth.

“Dhan anadh bhukhe kaval tehkev”

ਧੰਨੁ ਅਨਾਦਿ ਭੂਖੇ ਕਵਲੁ ਟਹਕੇਵ ॥

Bhagat Ji then says it is God who provides the grain (food).

“Aad Purakh te hoye anadh”

ਆਦਿ ਪੁਰਖ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਅਨਾਦਿ ॥

And as you relish your food, you should lovingly recite His Name.

“Japiye Naam ann ke saad”

ਜਪੀਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਨ ਕੈ ਸਾਦਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Bhagat Ji concludes the Shabad by saying that Food is indeed blessed by which faith for the Lord wells up in your mind.

“Dhan anadh Thakur man maaniya”

ਧੰਨੁ ਅਨਾਦਿ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ॥੪॥੮॥੧੧॥

Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Asa Ki Vaar tells us we should be in shukrana with every morsel of food. Guruji scolds those who do not express their gratitude to God for the food they receive.

“Jit mukh Naam na uchre bin Naave rass khaye : Nanak eveh jaaniye tit mukh thooka pahe” (Ang 473)

ਜਿਤੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਊਚਰਹਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਰਸ ਖਾਹਿ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਏਵੈ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਤਿਤੁ ਮੁਖਿ ਥੁਕਾ ਪਾਹਿ ॥੧॥

There are some sakhis about Guru Nanak Dev Ji. One sakhi says Guruji was given some money and told by His father, Mehta Kalu Ji to do some business. Guruji came upon some hungry sadhus and spent the money on them. In Sikh lore this is known as “Sacha sauda”, the True trade. There is a grand gurdwara at Churkhana (now in Pakistan), where this Sacha sauda is said to have taken place.

Feeding hungry souls is embedded in the Sikh psyche’. But it is important to remember that sharing langgar is sewa of the Satguru. Sewa of the Satguru is done in utter humility. One should be grateful to be part of Satguru Ji’s sewa. This is known as “nishkaam sewa”, i.e. just being happy to serve in the Guru’s Cause with no motives in mind.

I have confined my comments to langgar sewa. Guruji’s sewa is not limited to langgar only. Sewa of the Satguru has numerous forms.


Manjeet Singh


April 7th, 2020.