In the Akal Ustat
(within Dasam Guru Durbar) are 10 'Dohras' (Verses) from 'Ank' (Number)
201 to 210. Within these verses, Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh
Ji has posed a number of questions. These questions are meant to
be pondered over and answered by each 'Gursikh'
(searcher of spiritual truth) be they of whatever
Akali Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji
A 19th Century fresco from the walls of Baba Atal Gurudwara, Amritsar
of the Sanatan
Sikh Guru (right), the great grandfather of Akali Nihang Guru Gobind
Singh the author of Akal Ustat
These questions can be said to be a 'barometer' by
which an individual can gauge one's own knowledge and understanding
of Sikhi on the 'Atmak' (spiritual) level. It is
at this level only that one begins to appreciate true
Sikhi meaning 'Sat Guru' (the true Enlightener):
Sat meaning 'Truth Eternal' Guru arises from 'Gu' = Dark (Ignorance)
and 'Ru' = Light (Knowledge) 'Sat Guru' therefore refers to 'that which leads
one from Ignorance to Knowledge'
In other words, 'Sat Guru' is that which leads one
to Truth that is Eternal.
Sadly, the vast majority of so-called 'Sikhs', never
mind non-Sikhs, are completely unaware of these
questions despite the fact that 'translations' of Akal Ustat are
widely available in Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and in English. Even from
those Sikhs who claim to have read Akal Ustat, all seemed to have
over looked these questions. This sounds astonishing, but not entirely
surprising considering the great level of ignorance prevalent in
so many so-called Sikhs of today.
It was the young men, whom Nihang Niddar Singh taught
the traditional Khalsa martial art of Sanatan Sikh Shastar Vidiya
for more details) who first asked him to translate these questions
into English. As Nihang Niddar Singh admits, he did this with extreme
It is not possible to 'translate' all the questions
directly into English because in order to answer any question, it
is essential to fully understand the question in all
it’s complexities, implications and nuances. The advice given
by Nihang Niddar Singh is for each individual desiring to sit this
test of Akali Guru Gobind Singh Ji, is that one has to read and
try to understand these questions in their original form. Even so,
due to overwhelming demand by his 'Shagirds' (students), Nihang
Niddar Singh has endeavored to put these amazing questions into
English, however, he asks all to forgive any shortcomings.
Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh Ji Starts his questions
in this wonderful manner:
'Tav Parsad [With the grace of the Almighty]
Dohra (name of verse)
Once Siri Atma [Primal Atma (self)/God] spoke to the mind.
That Who’s glory shines every where is the master of the
Say then, how is this glory manifested in all its varieties?'
'Akal Ustat', Dasam Guru Durbar
The mind to whom the 'Atma' (soul)
is speaking to above is that of mankind. That question, which has
been asked, its answer is what is understood as Naam
Simran in Sanatan Akali Nihang Sikhi. The questions
the Guru asks here after this question, and their answers in fact,
answer this above great question.
(2) What is the form of 'Atma' (True
(3) What is the thought behind creation?
(4) What is 'Dharma'?
(5) What is 'Karma'?
(6) What is creation?
(7) What is life?
(8) What is death?
(9) What is heaven?
(10) What is hell?
(11) What is cleverness?
(12) What is stupidity?
(13) What is 'Tark' (reasoning)?
(14) What is not 'Tark'?
(15) What is slander?
(16) What is praise?
(17) What is sin?
(18) What is 'Dharma'?
Some of the questions are asked twice by the Guru.
Here, the Guru desires a different answer to previous answer. Each
question and its answers are inter-linked to each other to produce
a whole picture of Sat Guru, meaning the ideology
and philosophy of Sat Guru which should appear at the end
of answering all the questions.
(19) What is Yoga?
(20) What is enjoyment of worldly pleasures?
(21) What is action?
(22) What is inaction?
(23) What is hard work ?
(24) What is controlling the senses?
(25) Who is a warrior?
(26) Who is giver of charity?
(27) What is 'Tantra'?
(28) What is 'Mantra'?
(29) Who is poor?
(30) Who is a King?
(31) What is happiness?
(32) What is sadness?
(33) Who is ill?
(35) Who is affectionate?
(36) What is essence of affection?
(37) Who is satiated?
(38) Who is healthy?
(39) What is thought behind creation?
(40) What is creation?
(41) Who is defiled?
(42) What is creation?
(43) Where is action superstition?
(45) Where is superstition destroyed?
(46) Where is happiness of consciousness?
(47) Where is knowledge of that which we can not grasp with our
(48) What is 'Naam'?
(50) What is self-control?
(51) What is knowledge and ignorance?
(52) Who is ill?
(53) Who is a worrier?
(54) Where is Dharma lost?
(55) Who is a warrior?
(56) Who is beautiful?
(57) What is secret of being at one with 'Sat Guru'?
(58) Who is the charitable one?
(59) Who is wise?
(60) What is knowledge?
(61) What is ignorance?
Here the questions end.
It must be noted that many of these questions can
be interpreted and rephrased in a different manner, therefore one
would derive at a different answer. For example, question (3) can
be interpreted as:
(3) Where are thoughts of creation contemplated?
Question (7) can be thought of as asking:
Where is death?
Most of the questions can also be coupled to form
one question. For example:
Question (5) and (6) can be combined to form:
What is the Karma of Dharma?
This coupling of questions alters their numbers. Hence,
the traditional Sanatan Sikh 'Gianis' (interpreters
of scripture) tended not to give a particular number
count of these questions.
A Sikh Granthi reading from Adi Guru Durbar, from TheIllustrated
London Times, 1846
Nihang Niddar Singh has only given a number count
for these questions so as the reader may have reference points.