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The 5 Spheres
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After Mantra Jaap (recitation of God's name) which one may do long as possible, the next step is to develop further from mere reading of liturgy Sikh. The progression takes the form of understanding Gurbani (Guru’s scripture), so as one may act upon its instructions.

Gurbani - the Guru's word
A photograph of an Akali Nihang Singh reading from
Adi Guru Durbar, the paramount sacred scripture for all Sikhs

The initial liturgy, which is a selection of readings from Adi Guru Durbar and Dasam Guru Durbar in general, is but a launch pad to push a Sikh into the full study of the three Sikh scriptures, original historical texts, classical arts Raag Vidiya, Shashtar Vidiya etc. and attaining 'Sampardaic' (traditional Sikh schools Udhasi, Nirmala, Seva Panthi and Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa) oral tradition. All the fore-mentioned are repositories of Gurmat in particular the three Sikh scriptures.

Gurmat Sangeet
A photograph of Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa
performing kirtan (devotional music) at a Gurudwara in Canada

Sanatan Sikh Shastar Vidiya
Nihang Niddar Singh demonstrates a throat-grabbing technique

It is Gurmat (Guru's thinking) which leads one to the road to appreciating what is Naam (the way to salvation) in serving Nirankar God. Akali Nihang Mohinder Singh explained Naam thus:

'Naam is Name/Name is that by which we refer to someone/something.
Nirankar (formless God) Vaeh-Guru is known by his divine Niyam (Law) Dharma (divine universal law of righteousness).
Since God is eternal His law is eternal, therefore, eternal law is Dharma.
Dharma is the divine law which underlies all creation and harmonises all creation.
Hence Naam Simran in the philosophy of Akali Guru Nanak,as contained in Japji Sahib, begins on entering the spiritual sphere of Dharm Khand’.

Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji, in Japji Sahib (Adi Guru Durbar, pg. 1 to 8), mentions five 'Khands' (spheres of spiritual ascent):

1. Dharam Khand (Sphere of righteousness)
2. Gian Khand (Sphere of knowledge)
3. Saram Khand (Sphere of hard work)
4. Karam Khand (Sphere of divine grace and action)
5. Sach Khand (Sphere of eternal truth)

The first of these Khands is, ‘Dharm Khand’. Hence Dharm Khand is the first step in appreciation of Dharma meaning Naam Simran.

As one contemplates upon the Almighty, one sees
the Almighthy within creation and sees beyond Maya (the illusion of creation itself)

Dharm Khand

Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji speaks of Dharm Khand (Sphere of Righteousness) thus:

‘In night, seasons, months, weeks.
Wind, water and earth.
Is bound the earth which is a house of Dharma.
On the earth are many life forms of a myriad different habits and ways.
Their names are beyond count
According to our previous Karma we appreciate this.
Truth is himself, truth is his court.
There the five elect find honour.
By glance of Satgur's grace are these elect marked.
Only there do we know who are ripened or un-ripened.
Says Nanak only there is the truth known.’
('Adi Guru Durbar', Japji Sahib)

In the first Khand, a person is shown by the Guru that there is a natural order of things in the universe. This world is a, ‘Dharm Sal’, a house of Dharma, a house of Vaeh-Guru, meaning a place of righteous actions.

All things perform their righteous set duties. Likewise, an individual learning from this natural order of things should find his/her place in this natural order. In other words, they begin their spiritual journey by seeing loving Vaeh-Guru in all and treating the world around them as a 'Dharma Sal' and thus respecting all things in it accordingly. It is only with Karma (deeds/destiny) that one can appreciate that the world is a 'Dharm Sal' and thus enter Dharm Khand.

The Guru further explains that many times this spiritual journey is impeded by one's own judgmental attitude towards others born of one's own self-conceit that "I know best and my way is best".

Consequences of Ego

Pride, anger, ignorance, lust, etc. are products of ego
and lead a person away from the path of inner enlightenment and spirituality

In conclusion, the Guru makes it clear in this stanza 33 of Japji Sahib, that God alone elects and honours the righteous and stands as judge in His court overall. There is no other to judge. So, the Guru teaches that we should not judge others, but leave that to Va-eh Guru. We are to perform righteous duty as best we can.

Hence, key points of Dharma Khand, the starting point of a Sikh's spiritual journey of ‘Naam Simran’, are:

- One starts one's spiritual journey according with ones Karma only
- Look upon world as 'Dharm Sal'
- Have opinions by all means but do not judge
- Act righteously having faith in God's justice

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