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‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ & ‘Chardi Kala’— Understand Two Core Principles of Sikhism

‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ & ‘Chardi Kala’— Understand Two Core Principles of Sikhism

‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ & ‘Chardi Kala’— Understand Two Core Principles of Sikhism

Ardas ends with this phrase:

‘ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਚੜ੍ਹਦੀ ਕਲਾ ॥ ਤੇਰੇ ਭਾਣੇ ਸਰਬੱਤ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ ॥

Let us delve into the meaning of the two terms one by one.

Meaning of Chardi Kala:

It is an expression that depicts an ever-optimistic, happy and buoyant mind-frame. One might ask how can that be humanly possible — because life often hands us all with obstacles and adversities. There will be moments of happiness, true, but we cannot deny the sorrow that is bound to engulf us at some moments. But the principle of ‘Chardi Kala’ asks us to change our perspective. We cannot always plan or foresee what will happen in our lives or the lives of those we care about, but we should take heart in fact the Almighty sees everything and the world goes on as per His divine will.

This is where the concept of ‘Bhana’ comes in. It refers to the divine will. Everything that we do— all our pain and pleasure, is subject to the divine will. Guru Granth Sahib Ji says: 

“Whenever He pleases He creates the expanse (of the world of time and space) and whenever He desires He (again) becomes the Formless One (all by Himself)”

‘Bhana’ is also closely associated with ‘Hukum’ which signifies order or command. One should note that ‘Hukum’ does not mean that human beings are bereft of free-will. But we cannot determine all aspects of our lives. For instance, we cannot control which household we are born into, and we always cannot control some aspects of our health or health of those we love. Our lives, therefore, has a delicate balance between free will and divine will.

Some of us have certainly heard this from our parents or grandparents that “jo likhea hoya, ohi hona” (Translation: Only that will happen which has been written). So if we cannot dictate everything, then we should let go of the pretense and anxiety associated with events which our beyond our control. It is only logical to stay in high spirits or ‘Chardi Kala’. It is submission to God’s will, and acceptance that even if we go through hardships in life, they serve a greater purpose.

This positive attitude allows us to look at life with a renewed appreciation and help us face turbulent times in our lives.

Meaning of Sarbat Da Bhala:

It outlines a core principle of Sikhism, and it signifies a belief that often echoes throughout Sikh scripture.

In Punjabi, the phrase means “welfare of all” or “may good come to all”. By asking Sikhs to include the phrase in every ‘Ardas’, Sikh Gurus had set an exceptionally high moral standard for all adherents to follow i.e. they should pray not only for their own well-being, but for the well-being of everyone. It induces a sense of universal brotherhood, all rooted in Guru Nanak’s philosophy that all human beings are created by God and all should be treated equally. A common analogy used in this context is that of a potter and a goldsmith. A potter creates pots of varying shapes and sizes, but they all have come from the same soil. A goldsmith may make ornaments of wildly different designs, but they all come from the same gold.

Similarly, all creatures may look different, or have a different behavior or purpose in life, but they all come from the same Maker. Essentially, we can say that there are no “others”. There is only One. 

Gurbani teaches us humility and an understanding of oneness of not just humanity but all living creatures. But we are marred by excessive pride and ego, and it clouds our ability to realise this.

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