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Learn humility by seva

Wednesday, 22 February 2006 - 10:27pm IST

Humility is developed by erasing its opposite, which Sikhs call ‘humain’, self-centred pride, or ego, writes Ramesh Seth.

In the Sikh religion, humility is considered a great virtue. Humility is developed by erasing its opposite, which Sikhs call ‘humain’, self-centred pride, or ego. It is the ego which stands in the way of God realisation. It can be erased by seva, or service, and complete submission to Waheguru, or God. A Sikh serves God by serving other people.

Guru Ram Das was perhaps the most self-effacing of the 10 Sikh gurus. The fourth guru, he built the holy Amrit Sarovar and established the city of Amritsar around the Sarovar. His son, the fifth guru, Arjun Dev, built the magnificent Golden Temple in the Amrit Sarovar. Not much is known about the personal life of Guru Ramdas. However, there is a beautiful story about his sense of humility.

Once, Baba Sri Chand, the elder son of Guru Nanak, came to meet Guru Ramdas. Baba Sri Chand was not part of the Sikh mainstream, but being Guru Nanak’s son the Sikh gurus who followed the founder, gave him the highest respect. So, even on this occasion Guru Ramdas treated Sri Chand with utmost respect.

Baba Sri Chand was much older than Guru Ramdas. Because of his years, he had the privilege to joke at the expense of the younger man. It is said that during the meeting he passed a remark at the long beard of Guru Ramdas, “Why have you grown such a long beard?”

Without taking affront at Baba Sri Chand’s remark, Guru Ramdas replied, “My Guru had told me to use this long beard to wipe the holy feet of great men like you.”

And he immediately bowed down and started wiping Babaji’s feet with his beard.

Baba Sri Chand was taken aback at such display of humility by the reigning guru of the Sikhs. Embarrassed, the Baba chuckled sheepishly and said, “Yes, that is the difference between you and me. You have completely erased your humain. I have not been able to do so. No wonder, Guru Amardas chose you as his successor to lead the Sikhs. You fully deserved to be the guru.”

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