Nature of Reality, or God, is variously defined in Guru Granth Sahib. Absolute Reality is both immanent and transcendental. It is attribute-less and hence beyond description. It cannot be perceived or experienced by normal processes of human existence. Guru Angad Dev gives a beautiful description of this extra- sensorial experience in his bani. In this realm:
One sees but without the eyes,
One listens but without the ears,
One walks but without the feet,
One works but without hands,
One speaks but without the tongue,
Thus attaining life in death.
O Nanak, one meets the Lord,
after realisation of the divine law,
Guru Nanak travelled across India, and beyond its borders, to have discourse with saints, mystics, sidh-yogis and followers of different religious groups and sects. His discourse with sidh-yogis is famous and included in GGS under the title ‘Sidh-Goshth’. During the discourse, sidhas raise fundamental and probing questions of metaphysic primarily to test Guru Nanak and his mission. The Guru-Baba provides answers and explanations to their queries in profoundly convincing manner. Concept of Shunya is introduced and explained in Sidh-Goshth during this historic debate where the mission of Guru Nanak is established on a metaphysical plane as well as in a social frame of reference. Some of the queries of Sidhas, and precise answers provided by Guru Nanak, are given below concerning Shunya state of Absolute Reality:
Q: What can you tell us about the beginning? In what home did the Absolute dwell then?
A: We can only express a sense of wonder about the beginning. The Absolute thus abided endlessly deep within Himself.
In Sidh-Goshth Guru Nanak also clarified the existence of mind when there was no human body or existence:
Q: Where did the mind reside when there was neither the body nor the heart?
A: When the heart and the body did not exist, O hermit, Then the mind resided in Shunya the Absolute Reality.
[SGGS: 938, 940, 945]
Before the creation of universe, Absolute Reality existed in its Shunya phase. Guru Nanak in Japuji calls it ‘adi sach’. When the creation starts, both space and time are also created and this phase corresponds to ‘jugad sach’. In Maru Solhe composition, the process of creation is explained in a scientific way and the primordial state or existence or adi sach is identical with shunya phase:
Billions of years ago,
there was nothing but utter darkness,
There was neither earth nor sky,
and the Will of God prevailed,
There was neither day nor night, nor moon nor sun;
God sat in primal, profound Samaadhi.
When Absolute Reality is in its primal state or profound Samaadhi, it is shunya phase of existence. In mathematical terms, shunya is equated with the zero, or nothingness. In physics, shunya is equivalent to vacuum or prefect absence of matter. In recent years, physicists have introduced revolutionary concepts like vacuum polarisation, which considers vacuum devoid of matter but not of energy. Creation of particles can take place in vacuum state. Guru Nanak Dev illustrates in Maru Solhe the shunya phase with effulgence of power and energy:
In the Primal Void (Shunya), the Infinite Lord assumed His Power.
Shunya, in fact, represents the abode of God before creation:
And then, one dwells with the True Lord in His celestial home, the primal state of absorption in deepest Samaadhi.
And further in a similar vein:
Above them is the Immaculate Lord, the One universal creator;
They are lovingly absorbed in the profound, primal state of Samaadhi. Bhagat Kabir has given a new dimension to the Shunya concept:
Says Kabir, whoever is absorbed in Naam, remains lovingly immersed in the Primal (Shunya) Absolute Lord.
In brief, concept of Shunya, as introduced by Guru Nanak Dev in GGS, has far-reaching implications for understanding the philosophy of Sikhism. It has no parallelism with Shunyata philosophy of Buddhism. The concept of Shabad, Naam, Mind and Reality are relevant and related to the concept of Shunya. And hence its import Sikh metaphysics.
Again, we have some insights about concepts of Shabad and Anhat nad in Sidh-Goshth:
He enshrines the unlimited, absolute Shabad deep within. There, the unstuck sound current of the absolute Lord vibrates and resounds in Shunya.
Professor H.S. Virk retired as Head of Physics Department and Director Earthquake Research Center from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (India) in 2002. At present, he is working as Professor Emeritus in Indian Institute of Science and Religion in Pune.
He has got his Doctorate in High Energy Nuclear Physics from Marie Curie University, Paris in 1972, taught B.Sc. and M.Sc courses for 39 years, guided 18 Ph.D. scholars and published 310 research papers in the field of radiation physics, seismology and ion track technology. He has authored 15 books on scientific topics mostly in the Punjabi medium for the popularization of science.
Professor Virk has completed 16 Research Projects and his work is highly cited in earthquake prediction research and radiation physics. He has been a globe trotter and visited more than two dozen universities in Europe and America attending international conferences, as visiting/guest professor and guiding research. He was a Senior Associate of ICTP, Trieste, Italy from 1985-1990.
Professor Virk has been a member of various academic forums and professional societies in India and abroad. He is President of Indian Association of Physics Teachers. He is working on a Project: “Science and Religion in Dialogue with special reference to Sikh Religion”. His Project “Global Perspectives in Science and Spirituality” received an Honorable Mention Award by the John Templeton Foundation.