Varied Spiritual Approaches in Gurmat - Vichār Sāgar

Painting (circa 1850) displaying Singhs in various service. Nirmala Sadhus teaching Gurbani in the bottom left, Singhs making Langar top left, Singhs making Shahidi Degh far right, Singhs distributing langar, etc.

Painting (circa 1850) displaying Singhs in various service. Nirmala Sadhus teaching Gurbani in the bottom left, Singhs making Langar top left, Singhs making Shahidi Degh far right, Singhs distributing langar, etc.

As mentioned previously on this site, Vichār Sāgar is a very important text in the curriculum of Udāsi, Nirmalā, Taksāl groups. This passage explains the different approaches toward spiritual practices. From one perspective there is a hierarchy leaning towards formless devotion/meditation [ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਉਪਾਸਨਾ] but this does not lessen the importance of other approaches, as they are also paths toward enlightenment [ਮੁਕਤੀ]. It should be noted that the multiple approaches are not seen as mutually exclusive from one another. Similar passages are found in Gūrū Gōbind Singh Ji's, Gōbind Gitā, and Bhāi Mani Singh Ji's, Sikhan Dian Bhagat Mālā

ਜੋ ਯਹ ਨਿਰਗੁਣ ਧਯਾਨ ਨ ਹ੍ਵੈਤੇ ਸਗੁਣ ਈਸ਼ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਕੋ ਧਾਮ ॥

If one is unable to perform impersonal meditation, he should fix his mind on the personal form of Ishvar.

ਸਗੁਣ ਉਪਾਸਨ ਹੂ ਨਹਿ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਤੌ ਕਰਿ ਨਿਸ਼ਕਾਮ ਕਰਮ ਭਜਿਰਾਮ ॥

If one is unable to perform personal worship, he should perform desireless actions devoted to Ram.

ਜੋ ਨਿਸ਼ਕਾਮ ਕਰਮ ਹੂ ਨਹਿ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਤੌ ਕਰਿਯੇ ਸ਼ੁਭ ਕਰਮ ਸਕਾਮ ॥

If one is unable to perform desireless actions, he should perform only good actions with desire.

ਜੋ ਸਕਾਮ ਕਰਮਹੁ ਨਹਿਂ ਹੋਵੈ ਤੌ ਸ਼ਠ ਬਾਰ ਬਾਰ ਮਰਿਜਾਮ ॥

If one cannot perform these actions then they must die over and over again.
— Vichar Sagar, sixth tarang, verse 169