The Purpose of Creation
The Sikh gurus have not entered into any technical discussion about the why and how of creation. They have described creation as the outcome of the Will of God:
“All forms came into being by his Order. That Order cannot be described in words. All life was created by His Order and His Order regulates all progress.”
There was a time when there was no universe:
“For countless aeons there was darkness. There was neither the earth nor the skies; there was only the infinite Order. There was neither day nor night, neither the sun nor the moon.”
“When it pleased Him, He created the universe,”
but none knows when it came into existence:
”What was the hour, what was the time, what was the lunar and the solar day, what was the season, what was the month, when the universe came into being?
The Pundits did not know the hour otherwise they would have stated it in the Purāṇas. The Qazis did not know the time, otherwise they would have put it down in the Quran.
The Yogins do not know the lunar or the solar day; none else knows the month or the season. The creator who fashions the universe alone knows all these things.”
When the Siddhas asked of guru Nānak:
“Give us your views about the beginning of all this. In what state did He dwell before the thought of the creation crossed His mind?”
“Reflection on how all this began leaves me lost in wonder. Even before the creation He was omnipresent.”
The Sikh gurus do not subscribe to the doctrine of the creation being without beginning and without end, though they do hold that the process of creation and destruction has been repeated any number of times.
Guru Arjun likens the whole process to the show of a juggler:
“When the juggler gives a show, he appears in various forms and garbs. When he takes off the disguise he alone is left. Who destroyed forms that were seen? Whence did they come and where did they go?
Numberless waves rise in water. Various ornaments are fashioned out of gold. Sowing of many kinds of seeds has been tried, but when the fruit ripened the selfsame seed came out of it.
One space fills all the vessels, when the vessel breaks, space resumes its unity. Doubt, greed and attachment are all the various forms of māyā. When doubt is destroyed only He remains:
He is indestructible and never dies. There is no coming or going. The perfect guru has removed the impurity of ego and Nānak has achieved the supreme state.”
Some thinkers have denied the very existence of what is visible. The gurus hold that though all that is seen is subject to constant change, still it is a reality:
“He himself is real and what He has created is also real. His actions are real and so is His creation. From the root of reality, reality springs.”
“Real is Thy universe and real are their parts. Thy lokas are real and their form too is real. Whatever is done by Thee is real. All Thy reflections are real.”
“This saṁsāra is the abode of the true One. The true One dwells in it.”
Hence there is no question of our being in a dreamland of unreality. Life is real. The whole creation has a purpose behind it, but that purpose is revealed to man only when he destroyed his I-am-ness.
In some systems of thought two more entities besides God have been postulated, matter and souls. It has been argued that a potter must have day and a wheel to make a vessel.
To create the world, therefore, God must have some materials and instruments. This is not the view of the Sikh gurus:
“All forms and colours are from One, all the various combinations of air, water, fire, etc. Know them as the different hues of the Master. There is one Wonder, absolutely One, but such a realization comes through the guru only to a few.”
“Thou art the tree, it is Thy branches that have blossomed. From invisible Thou becamest visible. Thou art the ocean, the foam and the bubble, we find none else besides Thee.
Thou art the thread and Thou art the beads, Thou art the knot and the chief bead at the head. The same Lord persists, in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. None else is seen besides Him.”
He is thus, the efficient, the material and the final cause of creation.
What is the purpose of this creation?
“The Lord sustains the universe for the saint,” which, in other words, means the perfection of the human soul.
In the Sikh Scripture the word saint has been used for a man who is in tune with the Infinite every moment of his life. A perfect man has been defined in similar terms:
We have come into this world with some capital bestowed upon us by the Great Banker and we are to live our lives in such a way as not to waste that stock-in-trade but to increase it a hundredfold so that at the time of return we may be greeted with a warm welcome.