Isht (god) of ‘dasam granth’ Mahakaal-Mahakaali

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Until very recently, traditional Indian theologians used to understand and evaluate the worthiness of a religious tradition by an analysis of the trilogy of its asha (ultimate hope it conjured up), isht (nature of the god it worshipped) and upasana (the mode of worship it employed). The concept of a deity they worship is considered to be the key to understanding nature, character, ambitions and aspirations of the people who follow it as well as the philosophy that inspired it. It determines the character of the ‘flock’ it will produce and the kind of service to humankind that it will render. An analysis of the ‘dasamgranth’ reveals that Mahakaal-Mahakaali couple is the deity that it promotes. Every significant chapter (including the bachittarnatak portion) and section upholds Mahakaal-Mahakaali as the ultimate reality. Modes, means and manner of worshipping the couple is meticulously laid down and propagated. Wherever Mahakaal or Mahakaali is exclusively mentioned the other entity is implied. Mention of one is to be considered inclusive of the other.
Mahakaal, in Hindu mythology, is considered the more vigorous or intense form of Shiva and Mahakaali is likewise the intense (uggar) form of Parvati. Both are portrayed as warrior gods, armed to the teeth adorned with a garland each of severed human heads that alone covers their naked black bodies. The milder and vigorous forms are so apart that they jealously demand exclusive loyalty to themselves. Shiva worshippers can be even forcibly converted to worshipper of Mahakaal or Mahakaali.
This deity is known to Hindu mythology as the ‘aradhayadev’ of the Shakat denomination which has been numerically dominant in almost all periods of history of Hinduism. The Sakat mode of worship is summed up by the nemonic ‘five Ms’ or five ‘makars’ (just as the five articles of faith of a Sikh are known as five ks or kakkaars) each one beginning with the letter ‘m’. The five makkaars are: maas (flesh, human flesh?), maachhali (fish), mad (alcohol and other intoxicants), maithun (sexual intercourse) and mudra (pose, gesticulation, parched grain). In the baani of Guru Granth these practices are strongly held to be deplorable and depraved. Bhagat Kabir condemns them in the strongest words. Of more than 107 references to the sakats in Guru Granth, there is none that is complimentary. The same deity is worshipped by other sections or sampardais. Aghoris live in cremation and burial grounds like the deities they worship. They eat human,s flesh in addition to observing other makers. ‘Dasamgranth’ is replete with references of women killing their husbands and eating their flesh. There is also a reference to a Aghori ‘saint’ who devours one human body every day. Mahakaali is the patron goddess of thugs who waylay people rob their property and offer them as human sacrifice to her. (In Gond Measure the Fifth Nanak says, ‘losing their human dignity the sakats plunder people’). She is the favourite of dacoits. In our times both Man Singh of Chambalghati and Jagga of Maur worshipped her. Anandmath of Bankim Chander Chatterji has more details on the subject.
Mahakaal is particularly violent. In the field of battle he devours enemies, eats them up and drinks their blood. He is represented as remaining in fighting mode continuously for thousands of years and routinely kills 45 padam soldiers calculated to be 75 times the population of the world today.
Various religious books confirm this and much more about Mahakaal. He is known by several other names. In the ‘dasamgranth’ one of his more misleading names is Kaalpurakh or the lord of death, he is also Khargesh. He is taken to be the supreme god by those who worship him. Other Hindu gods, including Brahma, are represented as almost being his domestic helps. They run errands at his command. His hideous appearance is calculated to strike terror and fear of death in the heart of his enemies. Mahakaali too is a death dealing person who ‘more resembles a fury than a goddess’ according to one dictionary of Hindu mythology.
The mode of conversion to Mahakaal faith is mentioned in Charitropakhyan chapter which constitutes more than half the dasamgranth. A princess decided to convert her Shaivite teacher. He refuses. She threatens him that she would complain to the king that he had molested her. The Brahmin relented to save his life. ‘By this stratagem the Brahmin was coerced and his stones (Shivling et cetera) were submerged. He was converted as Mahakaal’s ‘sikh’ (the word ‘sikh’ used for the convert is again misleading) by administering alcohol and cannabis drink.’ This constitutes the initiation ceremony of that order.
The concept of evil existing in defiance of god and of the great harvester in Semitic religions, appears to have also been held by ancient Hindus. Promiscuity, licentiousness, the desire to enslave, employment of delusion and fear for the purpose, provide secure basis for the quintessential makaars of the Sakat belief held also by followers of Tantarism. The Khalsa rahit and kakars indicate an entirely different spiritual path for humankind to tread. It squarely stands in direct contradiction to the Tantric and Sakat belief system.
This vision of the Creator, Sustainer and the Harvestor (alluded to also in chutte til buar jio verse of Vaar Aasa), Who alone controls every aspect of Creation to the minutest detail, is the foundation upon which the building of Sikhi has been erected. Bhais Satta and Balwand allude to it in their Vaar included in the Guru Granth.
Potential of an awakened people to get rid of political, economic, social and spiritual tyranny was thwarted by the popularisation of such deities as Mahakaal. Guru Nanak’s total revolution began with freeing the human mind of ignorance, fear of death, delusion (bharam) and concepts derived from these. Guru shunned the idea of defiance of the Supreme Lord of Creation, he saw ‘in the nature there was no blemish but the mind’. He denied the concept of ‘original sin’ and emphasised the loving fatherly aspect of Akalpurakh who loved every created being as a kind Father and a Mother. In the very first nine words of Guru Granth he describes Akal as both fearless as well as bereft of deformity describable as enmity (He is Nirvair). According to the Guru, Akal could be known only as much as He chose to reveal Himself. Akal is the sole master of Creation. The Guru urged humans to shed all fear of death, to acknowledge Him alone as True Sovereign worthy of homage. Worldly kings and religious potentates were for him mere pretenders who ‘laid false claims’ to enslave people created free by Akal. For the first time in history Guru restored the innate autonomy of the human spirit and restored everyone’s right to worship freely and to seek worldly progress in the infinite light of spiritual and worldly wisdom made available to everyone by Akalpurakh, the Creator. Guru Gobind Singh summed up the Sikh faith by creating an Order Of the Khalsa to be the eternal harbinger and custodian of preaching of the Guru as well as the embodiment of virtues that describe Akalpurakh. Consequently the Khalsa was declared independent of every worldly control except that of the Conscience, which is also the aspect (guna) of the True Sovereign. It was an aristocracy of the virtuous created to act out the loving benign ways of the Ever True Eternal One.
If the above is correct, then we see that the teachings and inspiration of ‘dasamgranth’ stands in direct contradiction to that of the Guru Granth. Those who ascribe its authorship to Guru Gobind Singh, must explain when, why and how, the Tenth Nanak deviated from his teaching in the early nine human forms to such an extent as to create its anti-thesis? Authors of the ‘dasamgranth’ make it abundantly clear that they firmly repudiated every other affiliation since they have sought refuge in Mahakaal-Mahakaali ( pae gahai jab te tumai tab te kou aankh tarai nahi anio) Though the absurdity of the hypothesis is clear to those who reject the Tantrik book. Those who believe in it must also say what mechanism was employed to keep this earth shaking event of a huge paradigm shift a secret for more than three centuries? It will also have to be examined why the Guru kept on administering Khalsa pahul to people like Banda Bahadur up to the very last few days of his life.

The implication cannot be wished away, it has to be considered in all seriousness by all concerned.

[Gurtej Singh, May 9, 2016]