Selections from the sacred writings of the sikhs

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O Nanak, the gift of praising Him and adoring Him

Are the true Kings of Kings.

26


amul gun amul vapar

Priceless are His attributes, Priceless His dealings;


Priceless the stores of His virtues,
Priceless the dealers in them;
Priceless those who seek these gifts,
Priceless those who take these gifts.
Pricelessly precious is devotion to Thee,
Pricelessly precious is absorption in Thee;
Priceless His Law and spirit of righteousness,
Priceless His Mansions of dispensation;
Priceless His scales of judgement,
Priceless His weights for judging.
Priceless His gifts,
Priceless His marks upon them;
Priceless His Mercy and priceless His Will;
How beyond price He is cannot be expressed.
Those who try to express it,
Are mute in adoration.
The Vedas proclaim Him,
So do the readers of the Puranas;
The learned speak of Him in many discourses;
Brahma and Indra speak of Him,
Sivas speak of Him, Siddhas speak of Him,
The Buddhas He has created, proclaim Him.
The demons and the gods speak of Him,
Demigods, men, sages and devotees
All try to describe Him;
Many have tried and still try to describe Him;
Many have spoken of Him and departed.
If as many people as lived in all the past
Were now to describe Him each in His own way,
Even then He would not be adequately described.

The Lord becometh as great as He wishes to be. If anyone dares to claim that he can describe Him, Write him down as the greatest fool on earth.

27

sodar tera keha so ghar keha



Where is the gate, where the mansion
From whence Thou watchest all creation,
Where sounds of musical melodies,
Of instruments playing, minstrel singing,
Are joined in divine harmony?
In various measures celestial musicians sing of Thee.
There the breezes blow, the waters run and the fires burn,

There Dharmraj, the king of death, sits in state;

There the recording angels Chitra and Gupta write
For Dharmraj to read and adjudicate;
There are the gods isvara and Brahma,
The goddess Parvati adorned in beauty,
There Indra sits on his celestial throne
And lesser gods, each in his place;
One and all sing of Thee.
There ascetics in deep meditation,
Holy men in contemplation,
The pure of heart, the continent,
Men of peace and contentment,
Doughty warriors never yielding
Thy praises ever singing.
From age to age, the pundit and the sage
Do Thee exalt in their studies;
There maidens fair, heart bewitching,
Who inhabit the earth, the upper and the lower regions,
Thy praises chant in their singing.
By the gems that Thou didst create,
In the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage
Is Thy Name exalted;

By warriors strong and brave in strife,


By the sources four from whence came life,
Of egg or womb, of sweat or seed,
Is Thy Name magnified.
The regions of the earth, the heavens and the Universe
That Thou didst make and dost sustain,
Sing to Thee and praise Thy Name.
Only those Thou lovest and have Thy grace
Can give Thee praise and in Thy love be steeped.
Others too there must be who Thee acclaim,
I have no memory of knowing them
Nor of knowledge, O Nanak, make a claim.
He alone is the Master true, Lord of the Word, ever the same.
He who made creation, is, shall be and shall ever remain;
He who made things of diverse species, shapes and hues,
Beholds that His handiwork His greatness proves.
What He Wills He ordains,
To Him no one can an order give,
For He, O Nanak, is the King of Kings,
As He Wills so we must live.
28

munda santokh saram pae jholi

Going forth a begging,
Let contentment be thine earings,
Modesty thy begging bowl,

Smear thy body with ashes of meditation,

Let contemplation of death be thy beggar’s rags;
Let thy body be chaste, virginal, clean,
Let faith in God be the staff on which thou leanest;
Let brotherhood with every man on earth
Be the highest aspiration of your Yogic Order.
Know that to subdue the mind
Is to subdue the world.

Hail, all hail unto Him,


Let your greetings be to the Primal God;
Pure and without beginning, changeless,
The same from age to age.
29

bhugat gyan daya bhandaran

Let knowledge of God be thy food,
Let mercy keep thy store,
And listen to the Divine Music
That beats in every heart.
He is the supreme Master,
He holdeth the nosestring of creation;
In the secret powers and magics,
There is no true savour.
Union with God and separation from Him
Are according to His Will,
What each gets is his meed.
Hail, all hail unto Him,
Let your greetings be to the Primal Lord;
Pure and without beginning, changeless,
The same from age to age.
30

eka mai jugat vyai

Maya, the mythical goddess,
Sprang from the One, and her womb brought forth
Three acceptable disciples of the One:
Brahma, Visnu and shiva
Brahma, it is said bodies forth the world,
Visnu it is who sustains it;
Siva the destroyer who absorbs,
He controls death and judgement.

God makes them to work as He wills,


Be sees them ever, they see Him not:
That of all is the greatest wonder.
Hail, all hail unto Him,
Let your greetings be to the Primal Lord;
Pure and without beginning, changeless,
The same from age to age.
31

asan loe loe bhandar

God has His seat everywhere,
His treasure houses are in all places.
Whatever a man’s portion is
God at the creation
Apportioned him that share once and for all.
What He has created

The Lord for ever contemplates.

O Nanak, true are His works
As He Himself is the True.
Hail, all hail unto Him,
Let your greetings be to the Primal Lord;
Pure and without beginning, changeless,
The same from age to age.
32

ik du jibhau lakh hoe

Let my tongue become a hundred thousand tongues,
Let the hundred thousand be multiplied twenty-fold,
With each tongue many hundred thousands of times
I would repeat the holy Name of the Lord;
Thus let the soul step by step
Mount the stairs to the Bridegroom
And become one with Him.

On hearing of heavenly things,


He who can only crawl also longs to fly.
By God’s grace alone, saith Nanak, is God to be grasped.
All else is false, all else is vanity.
33

akhan jor na cupe jor

Ye have no power to speak or in silence listen,
To ask or to give away;
Ye have no power to live or die,
Ye have no power to acquire wealth and dominion and be vain,
Ye have no power to compel the mind to thought or reason,
He who hath the power, He creates and sees;
O Nanak, before the Lord there is no low or high degree.
34

rati ruti thiti var

God made the night and the day,
The days of the week and the months,
And He made the seasons;
He made winds to blow and water to run,
He made fire, He made the lower regions;
In the midst of all this He set the earth as a temple,
On it He set a diversity of creatures,
Various in kind and colour
Endless the number of their names.
All these lives are judged by their actions.
God is True and in His Court is truth dispensed;
There the elects are acceptable to Him,
And by His grace and His mercy
Honoured in His presence.
In that Court the bad shall be sifted from the good
When we reach His Court, O Nanak

We shall know this to be true.

35


dharam khand ka eho dharam

I have described the realm of dharma,


Now I shall describe the realm of Knowledge;
How many are the winds, the fires, the waters,
How many are the Krishnas and Sivas,
How many are the Brahmas fashioning the worlds,
Of many kinds and shapes and colours;
How many worlds, like our own there are,
Where action produces the consequences.
How many holy mountains to be climbed,
With how many sages, like Dhruva’s teacher,
Narada On the top of them.
How many adepts, Buddhas and Yogis are there,
How many goddesses and how many the images

goddesses; How many gods and demons and how many sages;

How many hidden jewels in how many oceans,
How many the sources of life;
How many the modes and diversities of speech,
How many are the kings, the rulers and the guides of men;
How many the devoted there are, who pursue this divine

knowledge, His worshippers are numberless, saith Nanak.

36

gyan khand mai gyan parcand



As in the realm of Knowledge wisdom shines forth,
And Music is heard from which myriad joys proceed;
So in the realm of Spiritual endeavour
The presiding deity is Beauty.
All things are shaped there incomparably,
The beauty of the place is beyond description;

And whoever even attempts to describe it,


Will certainly afterwards feel deep remorse:
Understanding, discernment, the deepest wisdom is fashioned

there. There are created the gifts of the sages and the seers.

37

karam khand ki bani jar



In the realm of Grace, spiritual power is supreme,
Nothing else avails;
There dwell doughty warriors brave and strong,
In whom is the Lord’s Spirit,
And who by His praise are blended in Him.
Their beauty is beyond telling,
In their hearts the Lord dwelleth,

They do not die and they are not deceived.

There dwell also the congregations of the blessed,
In bliss they dwell, with the true one in their hearts.
In the realm of Truth,
Dwelleth the Formless One
Who, having created, watcheth His creation
And where He looks upon them with Grace;
And His creatures are happy.
All continents, worlds and universes
Are contained in this supreme realm;
Were one to strive to make an account of them all,
There would be no end to the count;
World there is on world there, form upon form there,
And all have their functions as God’s will ordaineth;
The Lord seeth His creation and seeing it He rejoiceth.
O Nanak, the telling is hard, as iron is hard to hand.

38


jat pahara dhiraj sunair

In the forge of continence,


Let patience be the goldsmith,
On the anvil of understanding
Let him strike with the hammer of knowledge;
Let the fear of God be the bellows,
Let austerities be the fire,
Let the love of God be the crucible,
Let the nectar of life be melted in it;
Thus in the mint of Truth,
A man may coin the Word,
This is the practice of those
On whom God looks with favour.
Nanak, our gracious Lord
With a glance makes us happy.
Epilogue
pavan guru pani pita

Air like the Guru’s Word gives us the breath of life,


Water sires us, earth is our mother.
Day and night are the two nurses
That watch over the world,
And in whose lap we all play.
On good as well as our bad deeds
Shall be read His Judgement;
As we have acted,
Some of us shall be near to God
Some of us faraway.
Those that have meditated
On the Holy Name,
And have departed, their task completed,
Their faces are those of shining ones and, O Nanak,
How many they bring to liberty in their train.

II. SODAR-REHIRAS

(Evening Prayer)

I sodar tera keha so ghar keha (This, the First Hymn of the Evening Prayer is the same as the Twenty-Seventh Hymn of the Japji,

page 44)

2

SPAKE GURU NANAK


sun vada akhai sabh koe

On hearing of the Lord,


All men speak of His greatness;
Only he that hath seen Him
Can know how great is He.
Who can conceive of His worth
Or who can describe Him?
Those who seek to describe Thee
Are lost in Thy depths.
O Great Lord, of depth unfathomable,
Ocean of virtues!
Who knoweth the bounds of Thy shores?
All the contemplatives
Have met and sought to contemplate Thee;
All the weighers of worth
Have met and sought to weigh Thy worth;
All the theologians and the mystics,
All the preachers and their teachers
Have not been able to grasp
One jot of Thy greatness.

All truths, all fervent austerities, every excellent act,


Every sublime achievement of the adepts,
Are Thy gifts, O Lord: without Thee
No man could attain perfection;
But where Thou hast granted Thy grace to a man,
Nothing can stand in his way.
How vain are the words of those that seek to praise Thee,
Thy treasuries are already filled with Thy praises;
He to whom Thou givest freely,
What should he do but praise Thee?
Saith Nanak: The True One is He
From whom all perfection springs.
3 SPAKE GURU NANAK

akhan jivan visrain mar jaun

If I remember Him I live,
If I forget Him I die;
Hard very hard indeed it is
To contemplate His Name;
If a man hungers after His Name
In that holy hunger
He consumeth all His pains.
True is the Lord
True is His Name.
O Mother, how can He be forgotten?
Even in praising a tiny part of His Name.
Men grow weary but His true worth is not weighed;
If all men were to meet, and begin to try to exalt Him,
He would grow neither greater nor lesser by their praise.

He does not die, He does not suffer sorrow;

Ever He giveth, and never His store faileth.
This is the greatest wonder in Him,
That there never was nor there ever will be,
Another like to the Lord.

As great as Thou Thyself art, O my Lord,


So great are Thy gifts; as Thou madest the day,
So Thou madest the night also.
He who forgets Thee is low born
O Nanak: without His Name
Man is like the lowest of the outcasts.
4

SPAKE GURU RAM DAS

har ke jan satgur satpurkha
O Servant of God, True Guru, Truth’s true embodiment:
We that are low worms, seek our refuge in thee;
Mercifully bestow on us the light of the True Name.
O my friend, my divine Guru! set alight His Name within me;
The Name taught by my Guru is the help of my soul;
The praise of the Lord is my vocation;
Happy, most happy are the Lord’s people,
Who have faith in the Lord, who thirst for Him,
And with the gift of His Name their thirst is slaked.
Then in the company of the blessed: they exalt His virtues.
Unhappy, most unhappy are those,
To whom is not granted the sweet savour of His Name;
Death is their portion
Who have not sought their refugee
With the True Guru;
Nor have come to the congregation of the saints;
Accursed be their lives,
Accursed be the hopes they set on living.
The blessed who have entered into the companionship
Of the True Guru,
Are those on whose foreheads from the very beginning
This blessed fate was written.
Hail, hail to the holy congregation
In whose midst is the sweet savour of the Lord;
In the company of the saints, O Nanak,
The Lord sheddeth the true Light of His Name.

5 SPAKE GURU ARJAN

kahe re man citvai udam

O my soul, why art thou busy and troubled


When thou knowest the Lord will provide?
In the rocks and stones He hath set living creatures,

He putteth their food before them.

Beloved Lord, they who fall in with the company of the blessed,
Shall obtain their liberation.
By the grace of the Guru
They shall attain the state supreme;
Yea, though they were as the dry tree
They shall again be green.
Not on thy father or mother,
Not on the friends of thy household,
Not on thy wife nor on thy son,
Darest thou lean for thy daily bread:
The Lord provideth all
Why have fear in the mind.
The migrating cranes fly hundreds of miles,
They leave their young behind them.
Think, O Man: who feedeth the young birds?
God holdeth as in His palm
All the treasures of the world
And all the eighteen occult powers;
O Nanak, for ever ‘and ever
Make thy heart a sacrifice unto Him.
There is no end or limit to His Being.

6

SPAKE GURU RAM DAS



so purkh niranjan hari purkh niranjan

That Being is Pure; He is without stain;


He is Infinite and beyond comprehension;
All worship Thee, all bow to Thee:
Thou who art Truth and the Creator.
All creatures are Thine, for all of them Thou provideth;
O saint, meditate on the Lord: who makes sorrow to be

forgotten; He Himself is the Lord, He Himself is the worshipper; O Nanak, how insignificant is man.

Thou, O Lord, O One Supreme Being!
Thou art in every heart and soul,
Thou pervadest all things:
Some men beg for alms, some bestow them,
All this is the great game Thou playest.
It is Thou who givest and enjoyest the gifts,
I know of none other beside Thee.
Thou art the utterly Transcendent:
Infinite art Thou! Infinite art Thou!
How can I describe Thy attributes?
Unto those who serve and worship Thee truly
Nanak is a humble sacrifice.
They who think on Thee, they who meditate on Thee,
In this dark age have their peace.

They who think on Thee: they are saved, they are liberated;

For them death’s noose is broken.
Those who meditate on the Fearless One
Will lose all their fear;
Those who have worshipped the Lord,
In the Lord they are now mingled.
Blest and blest again are those
That have set their thoughts on the Lord.
The humble Nanak is a sacrifice unto them.

O Lord Thy inexhaustible treasure


Is filled and refilled with Thy worship;
O many and innumerable are the saints who adore Thee,
Manifold are their devotions;
They practise austerities and endlessly repeat Thy Name,
How many read the Smrities and Shastras, perform the six

Hindu Observances. But only those are truly saints Who have won the love of my Lord. Thou art the Primal Being, the Creator: None setteth bounds on Thee, there is none other so great; From age to age one and the same: Ever and ever art Thou the same: Immovable Creator. Whatever Thou wilIest, it is, As Thou act est, so Thy acts prevaileth. It is Thou who createst all things And by whose command all things pass away. Nanak singeth the praises of the Maker: the All-knowing.

7

SPAKE GURU RAM DAS



tu karta sacair maatda sain

Lord, Creator and Truth,


As Thy Will is, it is done; as Thou givest I receive;
All that is, is Thine: all men adore Thee;
Those whom Thou favourest have gotten the jewel of Thy

Name. The enlightened have sought it; the self-willed have lost it; It is Thou who settest apart and Thou who unitest.

Thou art the Ocean: all things are within Thee,
There is none other beside Thee
All the living are merely the game Thou playest;
By Thee, having fallen apart, one is set apart;
By Thee, being in union, one is united.
He whom Thou makest to know Thee he knoweth Thee
And his mouth shall be for ever full of Thy praises;

He who has truly served the Lord is happy

And with ease is absorbed into the Divine Name.

Thou art the Creator: all that is, is Thy handiwork;
There is none other beside Thee.
What Thou createst, that Thou seest and knowest.
Through the Guru, saith Nanak,
Thou art revealed in Thy Truth.
8 SPAKE GURU NANAK

tit sarvarq,e bhai lai nivasa


Man; thou dwellest in the world that is as a pool,
Whose waters God hath made as hot as fire.
Stuck in the mire of worldly love, thy feet cannot move forward,
I have seen people drowning in this swamp.
O heart, O foolish heart, why thinkest thou not on the One?
Through forgetting thy Lord, thy virtues have melted away.
I am not chaste nor honest, I am. not even a scholar;
Foolish and ignorant I came into the world,
O Lord, Nanak prayeth ever to seek
The sanctuary of their gathering
Who have not forgotten Thee.
9 SPAKE GURU ARJAN

bhai parapat manukh dehuria


Thou hast acquired this human frame,
This is thy opportunity to be one with God;
All other labours are unprofitable.
Seek the company of the holy and glorify His Name.
Strenuously prepare to cross this terrible ocean.
Thy life is being wasted
In love of the world’s illusions.

I have not repeated His Name,


Nor made penance, practised austerities, nor been pious;
I have not served my Lord’s saints nor thought of Him.
Nanak saith, my acts have been low;
Preserve me from shame O Lord,
Since I take my shelter in Thee.

III. SOHILA-ARTI

(Bed Time Prayer)

I SPAKE GURU NANAK

jai ghar kirat akhiai karte ka hoe vicaro

In the house in which men sing the Lord’s praises


And meditate upon Him,
In that house sing the songs of praise
And remember the Creator;
Sing the song of praise of thy fearless Lord,
Let me be a sacrifice unto that song,

By which we attain everlasting solace.

Day by day, ever and ever,
He watcheth over His living creatures;
The Bountiful Giver looks after one and all.
Who can set a price on His gifts,
Or say how great is He.
The year and the sacred day for the wedding is fixed,
Comrades! pour oil at the door to welcome the bride;
Give me your blessings, O friends,
I depart for my union with God.
The summons is sent to every house,
To every soul, every day, it, is issued;
Remember, O Nanak, Him who sends the summons,
The day is not far when you also may hear it.

2

SPAKE GURU NANAK



che ghar ehe gur ehe updes

Six the systems, six their teachers,1


And six their different teachings:
The Lord of them all is the One Lord
However various His aspects are;
O brother, follow that system
That sings the Lord’s praises:
There thy true glory lies.
Seconds, minutes, hours, quarters of a day;
Lunar and solar days make up a month,
Yet there are many times and many seasons;
One single sun runs through them all.
O Nanak, Thy Lord is likewise One,
However various His aspects are.
3

SPAKE GURU NANAK: THE ARTI

gagan mai thal ravi cand dipak banai

The firmament is Thy salver,


The sun and the moon Thy lamps;
The galaxy of stars are as pearls scattered,
The woods of sandal are Thine incense.
The breezes blow Thy royal fan;
The flowers of the forests,
Lie as offerings at Thy feet.
What wonderful worship with lamps is this
O Thou destroyer of fear!
Unstruck Music is the sound of Thy temple drums.
Guru Nanak says that Divine Wisdom is like the Sun and the six Hindu systems are like the seasons.

Thousands are Thine eyes,


And yet Thou hast no eyes;
Thousands are Thy shapes,
And yet Thou hast no shape;
Thousands are Thy pure feet,

And yet Thou hast not one foot;

Thousands are Thy noses
And yet Thou hast no nose.
All this is Thy play and bewitches me.
In every heart there is light:
That light art Thou.
By the Light that is of God Himself
Is every soul illumined:
But this divine Light becomes manifest
Only by the Guru’s teachings.
What is pleasing to Thee, O Lord
Is the best arti: worship with the lamps.
O Lord, my mind yearns for Thy lotus feet,
As the honey-bee forthe nectar of the flowers.
Night and day Lord, I am athirst for Thee,
Give water of Thy mercy to Nanak:
He is like the sarang: the hawk-cuckoo that drinks

only rain drops So that he may dwell ever in the peace of Thy Name.


4 SPAKE GURU RAM DAS

kam krodh nagar bahu bharia

With lust and with anger,
The city, that is thy body
Is full to the brim.
Meet as saint and destroy
That lust and that anger.
By God’s decree
I have found my Guru

And my soul is absorbed


In the love of My Lord.
Bow humbly to the saint
That is a pious act.
Bow to the ground before him
That is devotion, indeed.
The faithless know not,
The joy of the love of the Lord;
In their hearts
Is the thorn of self-love,
And each step they take,
It pierces deeper and deeper
And they feel pain and sorrow
Till they bring death on their heads.
The Lord’s chosen are absorbed in the Lord’s Name.
The pain of birth and the fear of death are broken.
They have attained the Imperishable Lord;
Great honour is theirs in all regions.
I am poor and wretched,
But I am Thine, O Lord:
Save me, O save me
Thou greatest of the great.
Thy Name, to Thy slave Winak
Is as his staff and his shield.
Only in the Name of the Lord I have found my comfort.

5 SPAKE GURU ARJAN

karon benti suno mere mita

I supplicate thee, my friend, to listen to me,

Here and now is the time to serve the saints;
Here, in this world, acquire the gain of godliness;
Thou shalt have ease enough in the world to come.

By day and by night the sum of the days decreaseth:


Seek the True Guru and balance thine accounts.
The world is awry, is illusionary. The man
Who knoweth God, the Brahm-jnani, is saved.
Whom God awakeneth to drink of His Name’s essence,
He knoweth the Unknowable, whose story can never be told.
Strive to seek that
For which thou hast come into the world,
And through the grace of the Guru
God will dwell in thy heart.
Thou shalt abide in His Presence,
In comfort and in peace
And not return ever
To be born and to die once more.
O God, Searcher of hearts,
O God, who dispensest to each of us
The fruits of our acts,
Fulfil one wish of my heart:
Nanak, thy slave, craveth
The boon that he may be made
The dust that clings to the soles of the feet,
O Lord, of the saints.

IV.


OTHER HYMNS OF GURU NANAK

I

moti ta mandir usrai ratni ta hoe jadao



Though the outer wall of thy palace be made of pearls,
Though it be studded with gems,
Though the inner walls be smeared with musk
And fragrant with sandal and agar wood,
Commingling with sweet saffron’s smell;
If these thy mind bewitch,
Beware, Man, lest thou forget
And remember not the Name of God.
God unremembered, life runs to waste.
I have asked my Guru
And he has convinced me
There is no other place but God.
Though thy floor be a mosaic of diamond and ruby,

And there be on the floor a couch, adorned with blood-red

stones. And though on the couch there reclineth A maiden bedecked with jewels, Her limbs aflame with passion, Even so, Man, beware, lest thou forget And remember not the Name of God.

Though thou art adept in Siddhis,

Endowed with occult powers,
And powers to acquire wealth;
Though thou canst change thy shape,
At WIll be seen or unseen.
Though men revere and adore thee,
Even so, Man, beware, lest thou forget
And remember not the Name of God.
Though higher than kings among men, thou art Emperor,
Seated on the imperial throne,

Warded by disciplined armies;


Though thy writ run the wide world over,
Nanak, it passeth like the wind,
Beware, Man, lest thou forget
And remember not the Name of God.

Sri Rag, page 14

2

kot koti meri arja pavan pian apaio



Were my span of life to extend to a million years,
And if I could live upon the air alone,
Never assailed by sleep, in a deep dark cave
Where neither the light of the sun nor the light of the moon,
Could pierce down to distract me,
Even so my God, I could not know Thy price,
Nor say how great is Thy Name;
True is the Formless One and Self-Existent,
On hearing the Word, one utters the Word;
If the Lord wills, then one has’ longing for Him.
Were I slashed to shreds and ground into pulp,
Wasted by fires and reduced to ashes,
Even so my God, I could not know Thy price,
Nor say how great is Thy Name.
Were I to hover like a bird soaring
Through skies innumerable,
And vanish beyond the range of mortal vision,
Self-sustained, not needing food or drink
Even so, my God, I could not know Thy price,
Nor say how great is Thy Name.
Had I studied unmeasured loads of books,
And become the master-scholar of their lore,
And had I a pen to write with the speed of the wind,
A pen filled with inexhaustible ink,
Even so my God, I could not know Thy price,

Nor say how great is Thy Name.


Sri Rag, page 14

3

ik til pyara visarai rog vada man mahi



This is the greatest sickness of the soul,
To forget even for a second, the Beloved.
There is no comfort hereafter
For him whose heart is empty of God.
Through the grace of the Guru
The tired soul has refreshment;
The praise of God banishes inner desire.
Day and night O anxious heart of mine
Say and repeat: Praise be to God.
But that man is rare indeed
Who never forgets the Name of God.
When the light of the soul blends with the Universal Light,
And the human mind commingles
With the Mind of all things,
Then our petty being,
With its violence, doubt and sorrow disappears.
Through the grace of the Guru
Such spiritual union taketh place
Blessed are they in whose hearts resideth the Lord.
Let that man be in love with the body,
And make the body his spouse
Who would fain live the life of the senses.
Love not that which endures not.
The Lord is the Spouse who on His couch
Enjoyeth the love of the Righteous.
The Guru thus having taught you,
Disciples: quench in the water
Of the Lord’s Name the four fires,
Cruelty, anger, greed and worldly love;
Then the lotus of the inner heart shall blossom;
Then the thirst of the soul shall be quenched with nectar.
Nanak, make the true Guru thy friend;
Then m the court of the Lord thou shalt be happy.

Sri Rag, page 21

4

amal kar dharti bij sabdo



O my foolish friend,
Know thus thy Hell and Heaven:
Thy deeds are the soil, the Guru’s words the seed,
The Divine Truth is the water
Whose runnels make fertile the fields.
The farmer who thus farms his fields
Will reap the fruits of Faith.

But know well, mere talk wins no profit;

The pride of earthly riches
And the delusion that is born
From the love of created forms,
These waste human life.
The mind, like a frog,
Wallows in the evil mud of the senses
And knows not that the lotus flower
Springs from the same pond;
That the Guru is like the honey bee,
Buzzing around it,
Daily reminding the frog of the lotus
Through his Word.
But how can they know
Whom the Lord hath not made aware.
All advice addressed to a mind,
Sunk in sensuality
Is so much waste of labour;
Those on whom descends the grace of God
Are His favourites;
They keep the Lord ever in their hearts.
Though thou keepest the thirty fasts,
Though thou sayest the five prayers daily with the

congregation, Beware, Beware, lest the evil One turn them all to naught. Saith Nanak: Truly would you tread Upon the path of life. Why then, do you gather worldly goods.



Sri Rag, pages 23, 24

5

tu daryao dana bina mai machli kaise ant lakan



Lord, Thou mighty River, all-knowing, all-seeing,
And I like a little fish in Thy great waters,
How shall I sound Thy depths?
How shall I reach Thy shores?
Wherever I go, I see Thee only,
And snatched out of Thy Waters I die of separation.
I know not the fisher,
I see not the net
But flapping in my agony I call upon Thee for help.
O Lord who pervadeth all things,
In my folly I thought Thou wert far,
But no deed I do can ever be out of Thy sight;
Thou who art All-seeing, all things Thou seest:
I am not worthy to serve Thee,
Nor do I glory in Thy Name.
Thy gifts are my portion, There is no other door
To which I may go;
This then is the humble prayer
Of Thy servant, Nanak:
Accept my mind and my body
As devoted unto Thee.

The Lord is near, the Lord is distant,

The Lord is in the mean between these two extremes;
He watcheth His creation,
He hears His creation, for He is the Creator;
Nanak, whatever the Lord wills,
That cometh to pass.

Sri Rag, page 25

6

machli jal na jania sar khara asgah



Vast and without bounds are the waters of the Ocean,
In them a fish swam
And did not spy the net;
It was very beautiful and clever:
Why then was it so unsuspecting?
Through its own acts the bait caught it,
And the moment of destiny cannot be changed.
Brethren ‘hearken unto me,
And through this parable
Learn how Death taketh man.
As the fish in the story, so is mortal man.
The fatal net is flung without a warning:
All, all are within the sway of death;
Only the Guru may check Death’s onslaught;
Truth makes us free, Truth destroys doubt,
Truth destroys every sickness of the soul.
May I be as a sacrifice unto those
Who have been judged true in the Lord’s Presence.
As the small birds of the air are helpless
Against the hawk swooping down from the skies,
And against the nets of the hunter below
Even so with mortal man.
Those whom the Guru protects escape in safety,
The rest are caught by the bait.
Without the protection of the Holy Name
One by one we are weeded out
And cast away
Comradeless, friendless.
True eternally and acclaimed to be true
Is the Lord, True is His Realm:
His Truth resides in the hearts of those
Who believe thus in His Truth.
Those who have attained the Guru’s wisdom
Are pure in heart and speech.

Pray to the Lord, to the True Guide,


That in Him thou mayest meet the Beloved Friend.
In this meeting the soul is happy
And Death dies of its own disease.
May I live in the Name,

May the Name in me be indwelling.

Without the Guru to teach us, we walk in darkness,
Without the Word, we have no understanding.
The Word of the Guru is light,
His Word’s light leads to the Truth.
There, Death has no existence.
His light is joined with Light.
Thou art our companion, Thou art Wise,
Thou blessest people with union
Through the Guru’s teaching,
Exalted by Thy Name, O Unbounded Being.
That to which the immortal Word of the Guru
Beareth eternal witness
Is the Abode of Immortality.
By His Will, all is created,
Through His Will, all life pulsates;
Under His Will, Death has dominion
Over all creation and all life.
By His Will also the blessed abide
In His Eternal Truth;
All-Pervasive, Omnipotent, is His Will.
Such, O Nanak, is the helplessness of Man.

Sri Rag, page 55

7

re man aisi har sion prit kar



Listen My heart!
Let thy love be that of the lotus for the pool,
Though the ripples shake the lotus and torment it,
It flowereth and loveth even more the waters.
Let thy love be that of the fish for the water
Without which they perish.

O my heart how shalt thou find freedom


Except thou find it through love;
In the hearts of His saints
God indwelleth,
To them He giveth the treasure of true devotion.
Listen, my heart: love God ceaselessly
As the fish loveth water:
The deeper the water
The happier and more tranquil the fish.
God alone knoweth the suffering
Of fish separated from the waters.
O my heart, listen:
Love God even as the Chatrik bird loveth the raindrops.
Rivers in spate and the drenched uplands
Are of no avail to the Chatrik;
Nothing but the raindrops can quench its thirst.

As a man sows, so shall he reap

That which the Lord ordaineth must come to pass.
O my heart, listen:
Love God as water loves milk.
The water must suffer, must evaporate
Before the heat can touch the milk.
God is the Separator, God is the Joiner:
The Lord is He that exalteth through Truth.
O my heart listen:
Love God as the Sheldrake in the fable loveth the sun;
It sleepeth not for a moment:
At night when it cannot see,
It considers the Beloved, who is close to be far.
The self-willed are involved in calculations,
But what the Lord ordaineth cometh to pass.
And howsoever hard a man endeavoureth,
Who can tell of His Bounds?
Only through the Guru’s teaching is this revealed;
In Truth alone is our peace.

Those who encounter the Guru


Achieve an indestructible love of God.
The Guru bestows Divine Knowledge
And unveils the mysteries of the three worlds
That man whose feet are set.
On the path of virtue
Never abandoneth the pure Name.
Gone are those free birds of the air,
Who had their nurture on the happy plains;
How transient is life?
All its sport but the fleeting joy of a moment.
Who is ever successfull,
Who wins any game
Except by the Will of God?
Without the Guru’s help we cannot bum
To nothingness the ashes of self-love;
For the Guru kindles in the human hearts
The fire of the love of God.
Through the Guru’s Word alone
There comes the moment of knowing:
‘My Self is that Self.’
Through faith in the Guru the True Self is known.
What else do we need to know?
The self is ever one with the Self:
This certainty is obtained through the Guru’s Word.
But those who are tied to their small selves
Shall not know this,
And separation and frustration is their lot.
Nanak, God is the one Way
God is the one Goal’

There is no other refuge.


Sri Rag, page 59

8

ram nam man bedhia avar kia kari vicar



My mind is pierced with the Name of God;
What else remains to hold my mind?
In the contemplation of the Word is bliss,
In the absorption of God is joy.
The name of the Lord is as my pillar;
Lord, may Thy will prevail.
O my heart!
The Will of God is ever just and true.
Give thy love, O heart, to Him;
Who hath created the mind and the body,
And who hath adorned them.
Slice thy body shred by shred,
Buru it as incense on the priestly altars,
Buru thy bones and thy brain
As faggots in the fire.
Such austerities, even though they were innumerable,
Are as nothing compared with the contemplation of God.
Have thy body sawn in two:
Have thy head severed from thy body;
Have thy body rotting in perpetual snows;
Even the acceptance of such penance
Cannot wash the mind clean of its evils.
Such penances are nothing as compared with the contemplation

of God. This have I found by test and trial. Give in alms golden mansions, Give scores of elephants, give high-mettIed steeds, Give herds of cattle, give pasture-lands; Yet the sin of pride hath not departed From the innermost courts of thy hearts; These are the true alms my Guru hath given me: A mind that is pierced with the Name of God.

There are many dogmas, there are many systems
There are many scriptural revelations,
Many modes to fetter the mind:
But the saint seeks for release through Truth;
Truth is higher than all these, and higher
Still is the life lived in Truth.
All that is, is great and high:
There is nothing base.
One Potter hath fashioned all the pots,
One Light pervadeth all Creation.
Through Grace is the Truth revealed
And none can resist Grace.

In the company of the holy congregation,

We attain to the Guru:
The love of the Guru and his peace are awakened in the mind,
We grasp the ineffable story of the Lord,
If the spirit of the True Guru is within us.
The soul then drinks nectar and feels peace;
And ‘honour is attained in the Presence of the Lord.
Divine Music is heard
In every soul reverberant,
Continuous, self-sustained, a revelation! Few are the Saints
Who are granted this understanding: Nanak, release from

bondage Comes from contemplating the Word, Forget not the Holy Name. Sri Rag, page 62

9

phakar jati phakar nau



Noble birth and great fame,
Are as worthless as dust:
God is the only protecting shade;
A man may boast to men of his own goodness,
But the truth about him will be known in God’s presence;
He whom the Lord exalteth, is exalted indeed.

Sri Rag ki Var, page 83

10


kabudh dumni kud kasayan

Perversity of the soul is like a woman of low caste,


Lack of compassion like a butcher woman;
The desire to find fault with others
Is like a scavenger woman,
The sin of wrath is like an utter outcast;
What use is it to draw a line around your kitchen I
If four such vices keep you company.
Make your discipline the practice of truth,
Make the square you draw round your kitchen
The practice of virtue;
Make the ceremonial cleansing of your body
The meditation of Holy Name.
Saith Nanak: Those alone shall be deemed good and pure
That walk not in the way of sin.
Sri Rag ki Var, page 91
11

kud, bol murdar khae

Nanak: such are the blasphemers,
Who set themselves up
As the leaders of the world;

They consume daily the forbidden fruit of falsehood,

And yet they preach to others
What is right and what is wrong.
Themselves deluded, they delude those also
Who follow them in their path.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 140

1 Hindus of extreme orthodoxy draw a line round their kitchen, and if anybody crosses that line, the food is polluted. Guru Nanak points out that food is not polluted by the presence of other people near it but by the evil passions and habits within us. What use will the outward and ceremonial purity of the cooking square be, when we are impure within? The four evils are compared with four women of

low caste.

12

je rat lagai kapdai jama hoe palit



If one smear of blood pollutes a garment
And renders it unclean, to be worn at prayer;
How can they that like vampires suck human blood pass as pure.
Nanak, before the Name of God is uttered by the tongue;
Let the heart first be cleansed;
All other outward appearances of piety are worthless.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 140

13


mehar masit sidak musala hak halal koran

Let compassion be thy mosque,


Let faith be thy prayer mat,
Let honest living be thy Koran,
Let modesty be the rules of observance,
Let piety be the fasts thou keepest;
In such wise strive to become a Moslem:
Right conduct the Ka’ba; Truth the Prophet,
Good deeds thy prayer;
Submission to the Lord’s Will thy rosary;
Nanak, if this thou do, the Lord will be thy Protector.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 140

14


panj nivajain vakht panj

Five prayers, five times a day,


With five different names;
Make the first prayer, truth;

The second to lawfully earn your daily bread;

The third: charity in the Name of God,
Fourth: purity of the mind,
Fifth: the adoration of God.

Practise these five virtues,


And let good deeds be your article of faith: the Kalma;
Then you can call yourself truly a Moslem.
By the practice of hypocrisy, Nanak,
A man is deemed false through and through.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 141

15


je dehai dukh laiai pap gareh do riih

Though my body be crippled with disease,


Though the relentless stars bring endless misfortune on me,
Though bloody tyrants fill my soul with terror,
Though all these miseries be at once heaped on my head,
Even then, my Lord, I shall praise Thee:
And I shall not grow weary of exalting Thy Holy Name.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 142

16


kia khadai kia paidhai hoe

What is the use of rich food and fine clothes,


When the Truth does not dwell within us?
What is the use of fresh fruit, of sugar, of butter,
Of flour and meat in abundance,
Of splendid raiments, and of soft beds,
And a life of sensual delight?
What use to a king his armies, his wise ministers and his brave

commanders, If in his heart he has not the Divine Name. Nanak, all these things are as dust.



Rag Majh ki Var, page 142

17


machi taru kia kare pankhi kia akas

The fact that the skies are without limit


Bothers not the bird;
The depths of water bother not the fish;
A stone is not sensitive to freezing cold;
What do the pleasures of married life
Matter to an eunuch?
If you smear a dog with sandal paste
It will not change its nature.
Reading of scriptures to the deaf
Is of no avail.
Offer a cow gold

And it will prefer to munch hay;

Can a blind man see
Surrounded by a blaze of fifty lamps?
Steel beaten for ever will not become as soft as cotton’
Ni’inak, such is the nature of the fool
Who always talketh foolishly.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 143

18


kainhan kancan tute sar

If bronze or iron or gold breaks


The smith weldeth it with fire;
When love is broken between man and wife
The birth of a child knits it up.
When the king demandeth a token of loyalty
And the good subject payeth his taxes,
There is a bond between the subject and the king.
When a hungry man is given food
He reneweth his bond with the world.
In times of drought and famine,
Heavy rains and the flooding of rivers
Retie a broken knot.

To deepen the ties of love


Tender speech is the linkage.
If anyone speaketh and practiseth Truth
He is linked to the Scriptures;
And the dead are tied to the living
Through their past virtuous deeds.
These are the ties, the links, the knots of the world.
But the only way to deal with a fool
Is to smite him on the face
When he uttereth his folly.
And between Man and God
The way to establish a tie
Is through the praise of the Lord;
Nanak, having pondered, saith this.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 143

19


ham zer zamin dunya pira masayaka raya

The grave lies at the end of the road for all living things


For the Master and his disciples,
For the prophets and for the kings;
The greatest of the earth
Are creatures of the moment that passeth;
Thou alone art! Thou alone art!
Rag Majh ki Var, page 143
20

na dev danva nara

Neither gods nor demigods nor men endure,

The adepts in mystery, those with magical powers,

Are all creaturely, are all mortal.
It is only God that endureth.
Thou alone art! Thou alone art!

Rag Majh ki Var, page 143

21


na dade dahind admi

The final vision of justice is not with Man, Nor with any creature in the Universe. The Lord’s alone is the vision of Justice; Thou alone art! Thou alone art!



Rag Majh ki Var, page 144

22


na sur sas mandalo

Neither the lunar nor the solar spheres,


Nor the dry land nor the waters over the earth
Nor the air nor the moving winds in the limitless spaces
Shall endure ever;
Thou alone art! Thou alone art!

Rag Majh ki Var, page 144

23


na rijk dast a kase

It is in no one’s power to give livelihood to another,


The Lord alone is the Sustainer of all,
The One endureth, naught else is enduring;
Thou alone art! Thou alone art!

Rag Majh ki Var, page 144

24


parindae na girah jar

Behold the birds of the air,


They build themselves no granaries;
They construct no tanks of water,

They depend on the forest trees,


And on the natural pools.
The Lord provideth them all.
Thou alone art! Thou alone art!
25

kal kati raje kasai dharam pankh kar udaria

This age is like a drawn Sword, the kings are butchers.
Goodness hath taken wings and flown.
In the dark night of falsehood,
I espy not the moon of Truth anywhere;
I grope after Truth and am bewildered.
I see no path in the darkness;
It is the obstinacy with which Man
Clings to his petty self-hood
That causeth this anguish;
Nanak asketh: where is the path of salvation.

Rag Majh ki Var, page 145

26


haun dhadhi vekar kare laya

I was a minstrel out of work;


The Lord gave me employment.
The Mighty One instructed me:
Night and day, sing my praise!
The Lord did summon this minstrel
To his High Court;
On me He bestowed the robe of honour
Of those who exalt Him.
On me He bestowed the Nectar in a Cup,
The Nectar of His True and Holy Name.
Those who at the bidding of the Guru
Feast and take their fill
Of the Lord’s Holiness
Attain peace and joy.

Thy minstrel spreadeth Thy glory


By singing Thy Word;
Nanak, through adoring the Truth
We attain to the All-Highest.
Rag Majh ki Var, page 150
27

dar ghar ghari dar dari daru jae

Entertain in the heart the fear of the Lord;
Through the fear of the Lord, all other fears are conquered.
Of what merit is any fear
That leadeth not to fearlessness
But to other and worse fears?
There is no other place of sanctuary, O Lord, but Thyself;
Nothing can come to pass but what Thou ordaineth;
What fear should we then have except the fear of the Lord.
All other fears are but phantoms
Of the mind, too much attached to the worldly things.
Man in himself hath no self-dwelling power
Either to live or die, to swim or drown.
All things are as the Creator ordajneth.
Birth and death are both by His Will;
His Will is supremely sovereign, heretofore and hereafter.
Violence, worldly love, greed and pride
Are insatiate like a restless river.
Unless the fear of God is thy food and drink,
Unless the fear of God is thy whole sustenance,
Degradation and death are thy lot, O Man.
He who putteth his trust in mortal man
Putteth his trust in mortality
God is, our last stay and our final help,
There is naught that He is not Lord of.

Nanak, His ways are hard indeed to expound.


Rag Gauri Guareri, page 151

28


avar pane ham ek jana

The flesh hath five weaknesses,


How single, and without help,
Shall I guard my House and my goods against them?
They are forever besieging me,
They break in when they can.
On whom shall I call for help?
Poor pitiful heart, repeat the Name of God;
Terrible, indeed, are the pangs of death that assail thee.
This God-built house of the body,
Of which the soul is a tenant, has many doors.
The five temptations that flesh is the heir to
Make daily raids upon it,
Whilst the soul disports itself in the delights of the senses
Thinking the house lent for a season
Shall last even for evet.
Death demolishes the house, removes from it
The indwelling life, and takes into custody
The soul, the house’s tenant:
Certainly the soul is solitary and lonely;
Death like a bludgeon, strikes him on the head
Who walked proudly, his neck arrayed in plumes,
Whose bride craved for ornaments of gold and silver,
Whose friends craved from his feasts, much food and drink.
Nanak, the man who commits sins for such trifles
Is bound hand and foot.

Rag Gauri Cheti, page 155

29


rain gavai soe ke divas gavaya khae

I have lost my nights in sleep,


I have lost my days in pursuit of sensual pleasures.
Oh, how cheaply we sell
This..precious human life.

Fool thou hast forgotten God;


Thou wilt have to repent hereafter.
Even on the morrow, utter shall be thy despair
On earth man sets no bounds
To his heaping up of wealth
But doth not desire the Lord, the truly Boundless;
Verily, they lose the Lord, who gain this world.

And if wishes were wealth, beggars would be millionaires:

Not by wishes but by deeds
Is the last goal reached.
Nanak, the Creator watcheth over His creation;
The Lord’s is the last Judgement:
But the how and the why of it no mortal knoweth.

Rag Gauri Bairagan, page 156

30


dudh bin dhen pankh bin pankhi

A cow is no use without milk,


Nor a bird without wings;
Vegetation withers without water,
A king without subjects is a hollow sham.
Those in whom the eyes of the spirit
Have not been opened
Are nothing without Thy Name.
In forgetting Thee, there is much sorrow.
Spare me that sorrow, O Lord,
May I never forget Thee.
Dim is the light of my eyes,
My tongue moveth but feebly,
My ears have lost their hearing:
My legs cannot move without a crutch.
This is what becomes of human life
When we do not serve God.
In thy heart’s garden plant
Like seeds, the Word of the Guru
And water thy garden with love:

And all thy orchards shall bear the precious fruitage


Of the Holy Name of God?
But oh poor helpless Man:
What can he ever achieve without God’s grace?
All living beings in the world, O Lord, are Thine;
And without Thine aid they wither and then they die’
All the joys and the struggles of life are Thy gifts,
But only by Thy Holy Name is that gift sustained:
To die to the petty self within us,
That, in truth, is everlasting life:
All other life is squandering, is death
Thus sayeth Nanak: May the Lord’s Will prevail.

Rag Asa, page 354

31


khurasan khasmana kai hindustan daraya

Though Khurasan has been shielded by Thee,


Though terror has struck at the heart of Hindustan,
Thou, O Creator of all things,

Takest to Thyself no blame;

Thou hast sent Yama disguised as the great Moghal, Babar.
Terrible was the slaughter,
Loud were the cries of the lamenters.
Did this not awaken pity in Thee, O Lord?
Thou art part and parcel of all things equally,
O Creator: Thou must feel for all men and all nations.
If a strong man attacketh another who is equally strong;
Where is the grief in this, or whose is the grievance?
But when a fierce tiger preys on the helpless cattle,
The Herdsman must answer for it.
A Kingdom that was a Jewel
Was wasted by the dogs,
No one will mourn their passing.
Praise, praise be to God
Who bringeth the people together and divideth them also.

The man who thinks himself great, And enjoys himself to the height of his heart’s desire In the Lord s eyes is no more than an insect Nibbling an ear of corn. The true profit of life is learning to die And repeating His Name, saith Nanak.



Rag Asa, page 360

32


jin sir sohan patian mangin pae sandhur

The tresses that adorned these lovely heads,


And were parted with vermilion,
Have been shorn with cruel shears:
Dust has been thrown on their shaven heads.
They lived in ease in palaces,
Now they must beg by the roadside,
Having no place for their shelter.
Glory unto Thee, O Lord of Glory,
Who can understand Thy ways, O God?
Surely Thy ways are strange and Thy dispensation!
When these whose heads are shorn were married,
Fair indeed seemed their bridegrooms beside them.
They were brought home in palanquins carved with ivory.
Pitchers of water were waved over their heads
In ceremonial welcome.
Ornate fans glittered waving above them.
At the first entry into the new home,
Each bride was offered a gift of a lakh of rupees;

Another lakh when each stood up to take her post in her new

home Coconut shreddings and raisins were among the delicious fruits, Served to thern at their tables. These beauties lent charm to the couches they reclined on. Now they are dragged away, with ropes round their necks; Their necklaces are snapped and their pearls scattered.

Their beauty and wealth were once their greatest asset Their beauty and wealth are their greatest enemies now Barbarous soldiers have taken them prisoners and disgraced

them God casts down, God exalteth, whomsoever He will.

If these folk had taken heed to the future,

Need they have been reduced to such plight?
Pursuing worldly love and sensual pleasure,
The princes of Hindustan have lost their heads.
Desecration and desolation follow in the footsteps
Of the Great Moghal, Babar.
None, none in Hindustan can eat his supper in peace.
For the Muslim woman the hour of prayer is past,
For the Hindu, the time of worship is gone;
How can they that were proud of their caste,
And punctilious in ceremonial performance worship now;
They who never thought of their own Rama
Are now denied the name of Allah.

Few, some very few,


From this havoc return home,
And others enquire of them
About their lost dear ones;
Many are lost for ever
And weeping and anguish are the lot of those who survive.
Ah, Nanak, how completely helpless mere men are.
It is God’s Will that is done, for ever and ever.

Rag Asa, page 417

33


SELECTIONS: ‘PATTI : ACROSTIC ON PUNJABI ALPHABET’

(i)


chachai chaya varti sabh antar .
Ignorance pervadet all creatures,
By Thine own ordammg, O Lord.
Doubt and delusion prevail:
Thy creatures suffer from ignorance
Of the true nature of Self-hood.
But through Thy grace, also they meet the Guru
Through whom ignorance is removed.
(ii)

papai patsah parmesvar vekhan ko parpanc kia


The Lord God is King.
For His own delight He created all the worlds.
He seeth, He knoweth, He comprehendeth all things.
From within and without,
There is naught that He doth not pervade.

Rag Asa Patti, 10, 24, page 433

34


tu sun harna kalia ki vadiai rata ram

O black buck, listen to me!


Why dost thou crave to break into the fenced-off fields?

The delight of cropping forbidden herbage

Lasteth but for a few days.
Thereafter there is sorrow in store.
Sorrow is the wages of sin
On which thou art intent.
Those who forsake God’s Name
Suffer in the flames of evil;
Delight of the senses lasts no longer

Than a surface ripple on water,


Than the lightning’s sudden flash.
Black deer, O my Soul, thou forgettest the Lord,
There is no peace except in the Lord,
Forsake Him not!
O black deer, O heart of a fool,
Hold on to the Lord:
Nanak wameth thee, by the other road
There lieth but death, but destruction.
O my soul, thou honey-bee,
Buzzing around the blossoms to rifle their sweets,
Hear me, thy sorrow is great:
I asked the Guru in so many words
‘What is the true path?’
And the Guru in so many words answered me:
O honey bee thou art lost in worldly flowers,
When the sun rises after death,
Thy soul will suffer as body scalded by oil.
Without the Word of the Guru
Man is stupid and cannot find his way,
He dieth and forever suffereth agony.
Forget not God, O heart of a fool, O honey bee:
On the other road lieth death,
On the other road lieth destruction, saith Nanak.
My soul thou art not a native of this world,
Wherefore then get caught in the net?
Entertain within thyself the Holy Name of God.
The fish like the human soul is ensnared in the net of death,
It weeps and gasps in agony,
And now she knows that life ever pleasant was a delusion.
Adore and cherish the Lord
And cast out baseless fears.
Pay heed, O my soul, to this admonition of Nanak:
My soul, that art not native to this place,
In thine inner depths cherish the true Lord.

As streaming rivers that start from the same source


Are separated but meet in the Ocean,
So do soul meet in the Infinite,
One in a million knows

That age upon age

The world’s illusions enchant and poison the soul
Those that contemplate the Guru
Learn easily and realIze God.
Those who do not cherish the Lord’s Name
Wander, deceived and bewildered;
Without such cherishing of the Lord’s Name,
Without the love of His Eternal Being,
Man can have no destiny except remorse and anguish.
Nanak utters a truth:
Through the Word of the Guru
The long estrangement of the soul and God end in meeting.

Rag Asa, page 438

35


SELECTIONS FROM ASA-DI-VAR

(1)


balihari gur apne diohadi sadvar

Countless times a day,


Hail, unto the Guru all hail.
Whose transmuting spirit has changed
Mortals into god-like saints.

(2)


pad pad gadi ladiai

One may read cartloads of books,


With caravan-loads of books to follow;
One may study shiploads of volumes,
And heap them pile on pile in his cellars;

One may read for years and on years,


And spend every month of the year in reading only
And thus read all ones life,
Right up to his last breath.
Of all things, contemplative life
Is really what matters;
All else is the fret and fever of the egoistic minds.

(3)


pardia hovai gunehgar

A scholar who sins will not be spared,


An unlettered saint will not be entrapped,
A man will by his actions and deeds,
Be judged and known good or bad;
Play not the game of life in such a way,
That you may be denied a place in His Presence.
The scholar as well as the unlettered man
By their deeds will be judged in His Court.
The self-willed and the boastful
Will suffer agonizing blows.

(4)


daya kapah santokh sut

Out of the cotton of compassion,


Spin the thread of contentment,

Tie the knot of continence,

Give it the twist of virtues;
Make such a sacred thread
O Pundit for your inner self.

Such a thread will not break,


Nor get soiled, be burnt, be lost.
Blessed is the man, O Nanak,
Who makes it part of his life.
This cotton thread, for a penny you buy
Sitting in a square, mud plastered,
You put it around the necks of others.

In the ears some words you whisper, O Brahmin,


And claim to be a spmtual teacher.
With the death of the wearer falls the, thread,
Thus without the thread he departs from the earth.

(5)


bhand jamiai bhand nimiai

Of a woman are we conceived,


Of a woman we are born,
To a woman are we betrothed and married,
It is a woman who is friend and partner of life,
It is woman who keeps the race going,
Another companion is sought when the life-partner dies,
Through woman are established social ties.
Why should we consider woman cursed and condemned
When from woman are born leaders and rulers.
From woman alone is born a woman,
Without woman there can be no human birth.
Without woman, O Nanak, only the True One exists.
Be it men or be it women,
Only those who sing His glory
Are blessed and radiant with His Beauty,
In His Presence and with His grace
They appear with a radiant face.
Rag Asa, pages 463-75

36


morin run jhun laia bhaine savan aya

Listen, my sisters, to the sound of the rain coming down the

water-spouts And to the exulting cry of the peacocks: It is the rainy month of Savan, O Beloved, Thy glance pierces my heart Like the point of a sharp dagger; It bound and bewitched me.

For one glimpse of Thee I make myself a sacrifice


Glory to Thy Holy Name!
When Thou choosest to dwell in my heart
Honour is mine, I am exalted.

When Thou forgettest me, I am as one abandoned.

O woman, smash thy bracelets by thy bed-side

With the bangles break thy arms,
What use this ornamentation,
When the Lord the lover is with another.
Not the vendor of the bangles,
Nor the bangles themselves,
Are such as would appeal to Him.
Arms that have not embraced the Lord
Burn in anguish.

All my friends have gone to their lovers,


I wretched, left alone,
Whither shall I go.
Friends, I am comely
But I please not the Lord.
I took pains to plait my hair,
Put vermilion in the parting,
But when I went to my tryst
I was utterly wretched.

I wept and the world wept with me,


The birds of the forests also wept,
But my soul in separation wept not.
In my dream He came and went away.
I wept copious tears,
I cannot come to Thee, O Lord
Nor send anyone to plead for me.
Blessed sleep revisit my couch once more,
It may be in my dream I shall see Him again.
Nanak, what offering shall I make to the messenger
Who will bring me a message from God my lover.
I shall cut my head and make a seat thereof,
And be attendance on him,
Why not die and be a sacrifice
When the Lord has forsaken thee?

Rag Vadhans, pages 557

37


jalo aisi rit jit mai pyara visrai

Give up the ways that turn thee from God Nanak, only that love is real Which leadeth men to the Lord. Rag Vadhans, Var, page 565

38

man hali kirsani karni sarm pani tan khet



THESE ARE THE SECRETS OF TRUE HUSBANDRY
The body is the field; let mind be the ploughman,
Good deeds thy ploughing,
Let thine honest strivings be the runnels
That irrigate the field.
Sow the seed of the Holy Name.
Make the clods of the field level with contentment;
Wear, as a farmer, the peasant garb of humility.

Then with the grace of God, His love will blossom.

Blessed is the peasant who farms in this wise.
And thou, great man, thy worldly goods will not go with thee;
Maya, the veil of illusion hath misled the world
And few indeed know this to be so.

These are the secrets of honest shop-keeping:


Our transient life is our shop,
And the Holy Name is the merchandise
With which we are entrusted;
Alertness of mind and purity of deed
Are the warehouses in which to store the Name.
Let thy dealings be with the saints;
They are sound, reliable customers.
Take a fair profit and be happy.

Travelling tradesman, let thy trade be in scripture;


And let thy wagon be drawn by the horses of Truth.
Gather good deeds for travelling expenses
And tarry not in thy way.

When thou reachest thy goal and tradest in God’s country heaven, After thy travels thou shalt enjoy thy peace.

Man set in authority,
Let devotion to God be thy service,
Let thy toil be faith in the Name.
Check thy mind from wandering after temptation;
Stand alert on guard against all evil,
So from all men thou shalt earn the praise,
And the Lord, thy Kind, will delight in thee
With a fourfold increase of His Love.

Rag Sorath, page 59:

39


jaisi mai avai khasm ki bani

As the word of the Lord descendeth upon me,


So I make it known friend Lallo;
With evil as his best man,
Bringing a crowd of sins as his bridal procession,
Like a bridegroom Babar hath hasted from Kabul,
To seize by force as his bride, O Lallo,
The wealth of Hindustan.
Modesty and righteousness have both vanished away,
Falsehood leading the van, holds the field,
O Lallo; Both the Qazi and the Brahmin are out of work;
The devil reads the marriage services.

Muslim women who read the Koran

In their agony will cry on God, O Lallo;
Hindu women of high caste or low caste
Will meet with the same dire fate.
Men will sing hymns in praise of murder, O Nanak;
And instead of saffron smear themselves with blood.

Though this is a city of corpses, Nanak exalteth the Lord in


And uttereth this true saying:
The Lord who made men, gave them their different stations:
He sitteth aloof from their doings and watcheth them all.

Just and true is the Lord; just and true is His


Just and true is the judgement He meteth out
As a warning to us all.

Bodies of men shall be rent like the shreds of cloth.


And let Hindustan remember what I now say:
The arrival of the Moghals shall be in ’78,
Their departure in ‘97
And then again shall arise the disciple of a Hero.
Nanak hath spoken the word of the true Lord now
And will proclaim the truth
At the true Lord’s appointed hour.

Rag Tilang, page 722

40


sagar main bund bund mai sagar

The drop of water is in the sea,


And the sea is in the drop of water;
Who shall solve this riddle?
Who knoweth the secret?
He from whom all creation came,
He who surveyeth that which He hath created,
He, the Lord, is the One knower of the secret;
And the man who understandeth this in his heart
Is freed from human bondage,
Is made at one with the Lord.
Here is another riddle!
At noon there can be sheer darkness of midnight,
At midnight there can be the blaze of the noonday sun;
At the centre of burning heat there can be freezing cold;
This is the riddle of life:
We could not have solved it without the Guru’s guidance,

No one else knows the answer however astute.

Master of Divine knowledge read me this riddle:

Man is born of woman and woman of man!
The Word leads to concentration
Concentration to knowledge,
That is the miraculous tale of the Guru’s Word.

The Eternal Light indwells in the human mind And the human mind is the emanation of that Light And our five senses are the Light’s disciples. . Nanak, may I be a sacrifice To those who cherish the unique Word of the Guru.



Rag Ramkali. Page 878

41 Dakhni Omkar

(i)

laj maranti mar gai



All shyness and hesitation has died away,
The veil of separation I have cast away;
My mother-in-law is no more there
To create doubt and delusion
And stand between me and my love.
My Beloved has sent for me to a love tryst,
In my heart is the joy of His Song;
In the embrace of the Beloved,
I feel lost in Him,
All doubts and delusions have departed
And the light shines within.
(ii)

kam krodh kayan ko gale

Lust and wrath waste the body,
As borax melts the gold.
But the gold that can stand the test of fire
Is valued highly by the goldsmith,
So it is with the souls.
Man is an animal,
And egoism is the butcher.
In the hands of the Creator
Is tbe saving grace.

Rag Ramkali, page 931

42


Sidh-Gosht
CAARPAT YOGI QUESTIONS
dunya sagar dutar kahiai

The sea of life is hard to cross,


flow can we safely reach the other shore?
NANAK ANSWERS

ape akhai ape samjhai

Thou hast stated the problem correctly,
What answer then, need I give thee?
As the lotus flower
Does not drown in the pool,
As the duck
Is not made wet by the pond.
As the flower thrusts upwards,
As the duck swims,
So with the mind intent
Upon the Word of the Guru

One can safely cross

The great sea of life,
Repeating the Holy Name,
Living in an aloneness
Utterly intent,
Upon the Alone
In a life of worldly hopes,
Purging the mind
Of worldly desires.
Nanak is the slave
Of the one who graspeth
The ungraspable
And maketh others grasp Him.

LOHARIPA YOGI PLEADS

hati bati rahai nirale

Know this the way of Yoga:


Shun towns and highways,
Live in the forests under the trees
On roots and wild fruit.
The Yogis must live
The contemplative life;
Also for purification
One must visit
The places of pilgrimages.

NANAK ANSWERS TO LOHARIPA

hati bati nind na dvai

Even while living In towns and near highways, Remain alert. Do not covet Any of the neighbour’s goods. Without the Divine Name We cannot attain inner peace Nor still our inner hunger. As the Guru has shown The real life of the city The real life of its shops Is a life within us. We must be traders in truth, We should eat but little, We should sleep but little, This, saith Nanak, is the core Of the idea of Yoga.

LOHARIPA EXPOSTULATES

darsan bhekh karo jogindra

But Yoga is a system
Which I beg thee to adopt,
Its symbols are patched coat,
Earings, a beggar’s wallet.

Out of the six: systems,


Adopt this system of Yoga,
Out of the twelve Yogi sects,
Enter ours, the leading one.
Though thou sayest, only those
Whom God hath enlightened
Have truly grasped God
Control thy mind by my rules
And thou canst attain Yoga.

NANAK ANSWERS

antar sabad nirantar mudra

My own system is constant,


Contemplation of the Word.
My way of wearing earings:
To discard pride and attachment,
My patched coat and beggar’s wallet:
Are seeing God in all things.
Only God can make me free.
The Lord is the Truth,

Truth is His Name, says the Guru,

He who will may test this.

A YOGI QUESTIONS

kis karan greh tajio udasi

Why hast thou left thy home,


Why wanderest thou like an hermit?
In what is thy trade?
How settest thou free thy disciples?

NANAK ANSWERS

gurmukh khojat bhae udasi

I left my home to look for a saint;


The desire to see the Lord
Hath made me a hermit.
My trade is in truth,
Through the grace of God
I shall set free my companions.

A YOGI QUESTIONS

kavan mul kavan mat vela

What is the source of thy knowledge?


To what period belongeth thy system?
Who is thy Guru, and who are thy disciples?
What teaching keepeth thee in detachment?
Tell us all this, my Child?

NANAK ANSWERS

pavan arambh satgur mat vela

With the beginning of the breath of life,


My system began also;
Its source is the Wisdom of the true Guru,
The true Guru is the Word,
And the human mind is the disciple.
What keepeth me in my detachment
Is meditating on the Ungraspable One,
Through the One Divine Word
God is made real to us,
And the saints destroy the flames,
Of attachment to the little self.
MORE QUESTIONS BY A YOGI

main ke dant kion khaiai sar

How can steel be chewed with waxen teeth?
What drug can cure ‘the disease of pride?
How shall we dress a snow man in fire?




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