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Akal Ustat
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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 religion.


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 (see www.shastarvidiya.org for more details) who first asked him to translate these questions into English. As Nihang Niddar Singh admits, he did this with extreme reservation.

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 world.
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.

Questions-

(2) What is the form of 'Atma' (True self)?
(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 minds?
(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.


Granthi
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.

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