What is Sach Khand?
Sach Khand (“Realm of Truth”) is the Sikh concept of Liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is achieved by the Guru’s Grace and through meditation and Simran, remembering the Divine. There are two understandings of Sach Khand in accordance to Gurbani. The first is Sach Khand as a spiritual state of being liberated whilst alive through immersing oneself in the Divine Truth and becoming inseparable to the Truth (i.e. God’s Light). The second is Sach Khand as a spiritual realm or spiritual place where the blessed souls go after death.
—– UNDERSTANDING SACH KHAND AS A SPIRITUAL STATE OF PROGRESSION —–
Once a devotee attains Self-realization, he becomes situated in this final realm of Truth (Sach Khand), the ultimate stage of Spiritual experience of linking with the Absolute. Sach Khand is a state of mind that you enter when you are alive. It is a state beyond duality or description, a state of Eternal Wonder and Light, which can neither be made to order or give to an another person as a gift. It can be known only in personal experience. It’s also called in the Gurbani “Chautha Pada” (Fourth State) because it is beyond three qualities of Maya. Some other names for it include “Sehaj Avasthaa” or “Turiaa Avasthaa” (Supreme State), “Param Anand” (Bliss), “Jeevanmukti” (living liberated), and so on. It is a state of existence in which the soul (Aatma) of the individual is linked and united with the Parmaatmaa (Supreme Soul), like a drop of water in the ocean.
ਸਚੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਚੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਸਚ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਚਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥
“Meeting the True One, Truth wells up. The truthful are absorbed into the True Lord.”
At this point, the pure devotee or seeker has become one with God within. Here, he identifies himself with the One True, Formless, Infinite Consciousness. Linked with his Origin, the Absolute Reality, his Soul links with the Spirit just as rivers merge with the ocean. This is the journey of an Spiritual aspirant. This journey begins from a material plane and ends at the Spiritual Plane.
—– UNDERSTANDING SACH KHAND AS A PLACE OR REALM OF SPIRITUAL BEING —–
According to Japji Sahib, God is formless and his realm is Sach Khand. Just as the sun resides in one place but its rays are everywhere and felt everywhere, so is the nature of God. When God created Creation, He placed His jot or His light within it. Creation has his light within it and so it is not separated from him. When someone becomes spiritually enlightened through Naam, the light of God is seen from creation as well. Guru Raam Daas Sahib Ji says:
ਜਿਉ ਸੂਰਜੁ ਕਿਰਣਿ ਰਵਿਆ ਸਰਬ ਠਾਈ ਸਭ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਵੀਜੈ ॥
“As the rays of the sun spread out everywhere, the Lord pervades each and every heart.”
According to Sikhi the ultimate goal of a Sikh is Sach Khand which is far greater than any heaven(s), as believed by other religions. It is a state of union with God in which the soul forever enjoys spiritual bliss rather than physical pleasures like the heaven(s) of the Bible, Quran or Tohrah.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji went to bathe in the River Vein one day and did not come back out for 3 days. Guru Ji came back out and described how he had gone to Sach Khand and received a special mission.
The beginning of the concept of Sach Khand can be in the fact that Guru Nanak Sahib Ji has first talked of this place. Bhai Gurdas Ji says that Guru Nanak Sahib Ji was called to Sach Khand and given Naam from God himself and then the mission to spread this path of Naam (Gurmat).
ਬਾਬਾ ਪੈਧਾ ਸਚ ਖੰਡ ਨਾਨਿਧਿ ਨਾਮ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਪਾਈ ॥
“Baba (Nanak) reached Sach Khand (the Realm of Truth) where from he received Naam, the storehouse of nine treasures and humility.”
(Bhai Gurdaas: Vaar 1, Pauri 24)
Guru Nanak Sahib Ji himself writes about this calling to Sach Khand or “Mehal” in this shabad:
ਪਉੜੀ ॥ ਹਉ ਢਾਢੀ ਵੇਕਾਰੁ ਕਾਰੈ ਲਾਇਆ ॥
ਰਾਤਿ ਦਿਹੈ ਕੈ ਵਾਰ ਧੁਰਹੁ ਫੁਰਮਾਇਆ ॥
ਢਾਢੀ ਸਚੈ ਮਹਲਿ ਖਸਮਿ ਬੁਲਾਇਆ ॥
ਸਚੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਾਲਾਹ ਕਪੜਾ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
ਸਚਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਆਇਆ ॥
ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਖਾਧਾ ਰਜਿ ਤਿਨਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
ਢਾਢੀ ਕਰੇ ਪਸਾਉ ਸਬਦੁ ਵਜਾਇਆ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਲਾਹਿ ਪੂਰਾ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨੭॥ ਸੁਧੁ
“Pauree: I was a minstrel, out of work, when the Lord took me into His service.
To sing His Praises day and night, He gave me His Order, right from the start.
My Lord and Master has summoned me, His minstrel, to the True Mansion of His Presence.
He has dressed me in the robes of His True Praise and Glory.
The Ambrosial Nectar of the True Name has become my food.
Those who follow the Guru’s Teachings, who eat this food and are satisfied, find peace.
His minstrel spreads His Glory, singing and vibrating the Word of His Shabad.
O Nanak, praising the True Lord, I have obtained His Perfection. ||27||Sudh||”
So it is clear that Sach Khand is a place. It is clearly not a place that is “physical” in that of course it has no rules of physics or matter, but it is in fact a spiritual realm. It has been described in Gurbani as a palace like that of a King or Guru Sahib’s Darbaar.
ਵਡਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਦਰਬਾਰੁ ਸਚਾ ਤੁਧੁ ਤਖਤੁ ॥
ਸਿਰਿ ਸਾਹਾ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਚਉਰੁ ਛਤੁ ॥
“The Darbaar of Your Court is glorious and great. Your holy throne is True. You are the Emperor over the heads of kings. Your canopy and chauree (fly-brush) are permanent and unchanging.”
Guru Sahib has said that describing this place is impossible. The only accounts we have are from Satguru Ji. A description of this place is:
ਸਹਜ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨਾ ॥ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਚੁ ਥਾਨਾ ॥
ਤਹਾ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਸਾਧ ਗੁਣ ਰਸੈ ॥ ਅਨਭਉ ਨਗਰੁ ਤਹਾ ਸਦ ਵਸੈ ॥੬॥
ਤਹ ਭਉ ਭਰਮਾ ਸੋਗੁ ਨ ਚਿੰਤਾ ॥ ਆਵਣੁ ਜਾਵਣੁ ਮਿਰਤੁ ਨ ਹੋਤਾ ॥
ਤਹ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ਅਨਹਤ ਆਖਾਰੇ ॥ ਭਗਤ ਵਸਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਆਧਾਰੇ ॥੭॥
ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਾ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਰੁ ॥ ਕਉਣੁ ਕਰੈ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਸੁ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਨਿਹਚਲ ਥਾਨੁ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਤਰੈ ॥੮॥੪॥
“Through the Praises of the Lord, devotional worship, spiritual wisdom and the essence of reality, eternal bliss and the imperishable true place are obtained. There, in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, the Lord’s Glorious Praises are sung with love. There, in the city of fearlessness, He dwells forever. ||6|| There is no fear, doubt, suffering or anxiety there; there is no coming or going, and no death there. There is eternal bliss, and the unstruck celestial music there. The devotees dwell there, with the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises as their support. ||7|| There is no end or limitation to the Supreme Lord God. Who can embrace His contemplation? Says Nanak, when the Lord showers His Mercy, the imperishable home is obtained; in the Saadh Sangat, you shall be saved. ||8||4||”
Sach Khand is a spiritual place of bhagti (devotional worship) and true knowledge. Sach Khand is a place of total bliss and is eternal. The Saadh Sangat (company of the Holy) resides there forever and they are carefree. This Saadh Sangat is continuous there. There is no death or fear. There is only bhagti and bliss and they live on the sustenance of kirtan. They sit in the presence of Waheguru and enjoy the bliss forever.
Another description in Gurbani is:
ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਗੁਫਾ ਤਹ ਆਸਨੁ ॥ ਕੇਵਲ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਤਹ ਬਾਸਨੁ ॥
ਭਗਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਗੋਸਟਿ ਕਰਤ ॥ ਤਹ ਹਰਖ ਨ ਸੋਗ ਨ ਜਨਮ ਨ ਮਰਤ ॥੩॥
“They sit there, in the cave of deep Samaadhi; the unique, perfect Lord God dwells there. God holds conversations with His devotees. There is no pleasure or pain, no birth or death there. ||3||”
This shabad describes the spiritual state of someone who has reached Dasam Duaar (the tenth spiritual gate of the body) and in that state they can experience Sach Khand and see Waheguru in conversation with his Bhagats (devotees).
ਸੂਹੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
ਸੂਖ ਮਹਲ ਜਾ ਕੇ ਊਚ ਦੁਆਰੇ ॥ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਵਾਸਹਿ ਭਗਤ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥੧॥
ਸਹਜ ਕਥਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਅਤਿ ਮੀਠੀ ॥ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਕਾਹੂ ਨੇਤ੍ਰਹੁ ਡੀਠੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਤਹ ਗੀਤ ਨਾਦ ਅਖਾਰੇ ਸੰਗਾ ॥ ਊਹਾ ਸੰਤ ਕਰਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਰੰਗਾ ॥੨॥
ਤਹ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਜੀਵਣੁ ਸੋਗੁ ਨ ਹਰਖਾ ॥ ਸਾਚ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵਰਖਾ ॥੩॥
ਗੁਹਜ ਕਥਾ ਇਹ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਣੀ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਣੀ ॥੪॥੬॥੧੨॥
“Soohee, Fifth Mehl: His Mansions are so comfortable, and His gates are so lofty. Within them, His beloved devotees dwell. ||1|| The Natural Speech of God is so very sweet. How rare is that person, who sees it with his eyes. ||1||Pause|| There, in the arena of the congregation, the divine music of the Naad, the sound current, is sung. There, the Saints celebrate with their Lord. ||2|| Neither birth nor death is there, neither pain nor pleasure. The Ambrosial Nectar of the True Name rains down there. ||3|| From the Guru, I have come to know the mystery of this speech. Nanak speaks the Bani of the Lord, Har, Har. ||4||6||12||”
This great palace is a place of happiness where the Bhagats reside. Inside Guru Sahib describes how sweet this sight is. The Sants there always do kirtan (sing the praises of the Lord) and enjoy the bliss. There is no birth or death or sadness or anything else and amrit naam rains down. Only through Satguru Ji has this place of spiritual being been discovered.
Guru Nanak Sahib Ji experienced the Sat Sangat (true congregation) in Sach Khand. Guru Ji has blessed us on this earth by creating Sat Sangat here with the same Bani he heard there. Bhai Gurdaas Ji says:
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੱਚਾ ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਸਾਧ ਸੰਗਤ ਸਚੁਖੰਡ ਵਸਾਯਾ ॥
“The true Guru is true emperor who has founded the abode of truth in the form of the Saadh Sangat, the congregation of the saints.”
(Bhai Gurdaas: Vaar 7, Pauri 1)
The analogy of the sun is given by Gurbani to explain the nature of Waheguru.
ਜਿਉ ਸੂਰਜੁ ਕਿਰਣਿ ਰਵਿਆ ਸਰਬ ਠਾਈ ਸਭ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਵੀਜੈ ॥
“As the rays of the sun spread out everywhere, the Lord pervades each and every heart.“
In that stage of Dasam Duaar, this can be seen and the sights of Sach Khand can also be seen while living in this body.
Sachkhand does not mean annihilation. It is not a state of nothingness. The soul is merged but not destroyed. Once again it’s hard to talk of things like this. But this is clear to me from Gurbani which tells us:
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ਨਿਸੰਗੁ ॥
“The Gurmukh comes and goes without fear.”
Bhagat Ravidas jee when describing Sach Khand says:
ਬੇਗਮ ਪੁਰਾ ਸਹਰ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਦੂਖੁ ਅੰਦੋਹੁ ਨਹੀ ਤਿਹਿ ਠਾਉ ॥
ਨਾਂ ਤਸਵੀਸ ਖਿਰਾਜੁ ਨ ਮਾਲੁ ॥ ਖਉਫੁ ਨ ਖਤਾ ਨ ਤਰਸੁ ਜਵਾਲੁ ॥੧॥
ਅਬ ਮੋਹਿ ਖੂਬ ਵਤਨ ਗਹ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਊਹਾਂ ਖੈਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਕਾਇਮੁ ਦਾਇਮੁ ਸਦਾ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੀ ॥ ਦੋਮ ਨ ਸੇਮ ਏਕ ਸੋ ਆਹੀ ॥
ਆਬਾਦਾਨੁ ਸਦਾ ਮਸਹੂਰ ॥ ਊਹਾਂ ਗਨੀ ਬਸਹਿ ਮਾਮੂਰ ॥੨॥
ਤਿਉ ਤਿਉ ਸੈਲ ਕਰਹਿ ਜਿਉ ਭਾਵੈ ॥ ਮਹਰਮ ਮਹਲ ਨ ਕੋ ਅਟਕਾਵੈ ॥
ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਖਲਾਸ ਚਮਾਰਾ ॥ ਜੋ ਹਮ ਸਹਰੀ ਸੁ ਮੀਤੁ ਹਮਾਰਾ ॥੩॥੨॥
“Begumpura, ‘the city without sorrow’, is the name of the town. There is no suffering or anxiety there. There are no troubles or taxes on commodities there. There is no fear, blemish or downfall there. ||1|| Now, I have found this most excellent city. There is lasting peace and safety there, O Siblings of Destiny. ||1||Pause|| God’s Kingdom is steady, stable and eternal. There is no second or third status; all are equal there. That city is populous and eternally famous. Those who live there are wealthy and contented. ||2|| They stroll about freely, just as they please. They know the Mansion of the Lord’s Presence, and no one blocks their way. Says Ravi Daas, the emancipated shoe-maker: whoever is a citizen there, is a friend of mine. ||3||2||”
In the last stanza Bhagat Ji says that the Bhagats (devotees) can come and go as they please and there is total freedom there.
This explains the army of Shaheed Singhs that many Gursikhs have experienced. These Gursikhs are special souls that have been given this seva (service or duty) and they come on this earth as well.