Selections from the sacred writings of the sikhs


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Nanak is prostrate at the feet of such seers!

Astapadi, 5; Pauri,7

ham krodh ar lobh moh, bins jae ahimev

O Lord, Nanak hath taken refuge in Thee:
Through Thy Grace, O Divine Guru, drive
Lust, wrath, greed, attachment, self-love, from his heart.

Astapadi, 6; Slok, I

jeh prasad arog kancan dehi

Fix thy thoughts upon that loving God By whose grace thy body remains sturdy and hale; Sing, O soul, His Name and attain bliss By Whose Mercy thou art saved from dishonour, Fall, O soul, at the feet of that Good Lord BY whose Favour all thy sins are hidden: Remember at every breath the Most High God By Whose Bounty thou transcendest sorrow; Nanak, serve the Lord with all thy heart By Whose Goodness thou hast attained the hard-won prize Of existence in the human body.

6; Pauri, 3

agam agadh parbraham soe

Not to be grasped or sounded is the living God;
He who contemplateth His Name shall be Saved.
Listen, O friends, Nanak entreateth ye
To the splendid virtues of living saints.

7; Slok, 1

sadh kai sang na kabhun dhavai

In the company of the saints The mind hankereth not wildly; In the company of the saints The soul attaineth to happiness; In the company of the saints Man glimpseth the invisible; In the company of the saints He endureth the unendurable; In the company of the saints We reach the heights of the spirit; In the company of the saints We enter the Lord’s Presence; In the company of the saints We acquire all thp. virtues;

In the company of the saints

We are aware only of God;
In the company of the saints
We are granted His Name, life’s treasure;
Nanak is ever a sacrifice
Unto the living saints.

7; Pauri, 4


man saca mukh saca soe

He who is true in heart and speech,
Who seeth none but the One Lord,
Such a one, Nanak, is Brahm-gyani

8; Slok, 1

brahm gyani sada nirlep

Who knoweth God liveth ever unattached Like the lotus unsullied by the pond’s water: Who knoweth God taketh no stain But, like the sun, warmeth and drieth all things; Who knoweth God looks on all things with equal eyes Like the wind that bloweth alike on the rich and poor man; Who knoweth God is unshakeably long-suffering Like the ground that one man diggeth, and another smeareth

with sandal-paste; .

This is the attribute of the knower of God:
His nature is fire-life, all cleansing.

Astapadi, 8; Pauri, 1

1 Brahm-gyani is one who has attained perfect knowledge and experience of God. He is a fully God-illumined soul who ever lives in the highest spiritual state. In the eight hymns, to follow, the character, personality and Spirit powers of a

Brahm-gyani are described.
brahm-gyani nirmal te nirmala
Who knoweth God is, of the pure, the purest,
Like swift-flowing water with which dust cannot mingle;
Light imbueth the mind o{ the man who knoweth God
Wholly, as the earth is wholly enwrapped by the sky:
To the man who knoweth God, friend and foe are as one:
Who knoweth God is without self-conceit:
Though he is the highest of the high,
Yet he keeps his mind in utter humility
Nanak, these only are Brahm-gyanis, the Knowers of God,
Whom God Himself in His Grace hath so made.

Astapadi, 8; Pauri,2

brahm-gyani sagal ki rina

Who knoweth God maketh himself the dust under other men’s

feet, Who knoweth God attaineth to ecstasy of spirit, Who knoweth God showereth compassion on all men, Who knoweth God can do no evil act, Who knoweth God regardeth all men equally, From his divine eyes he sheddeth nectar. Who knoweth God is free from all attachments: Noble and pure are the paths of the man who knoweth God. Who knoweth God is nourished by divine knowledge: Who knoweth God contemplateth none but God.

Astapadi, 8; Pauri, 3

brahm-gyani ek upar as

The man who knoweth God clingeth to God as his only stay,
Who knoweth God suffereth no doom,
Who knoweth God is steeped in humility,

In the man who knoweth God there is a constant goodness.

Who knoweth God hath no worldly entanglements,
Who knoweth God reineth his wandering mind,
Who knoweth God his deeds are godly,
Whatever he doeth beareth excellent fruit.
In the company of the man who knoweth God all shall be
saved Nanak, the whole world exalteth the man who knoweth God! Astapadi, 8; Pauri,4
brahm-gyani kai ekai rang
Who knoweth God dwelleth undisturbed in the love of God,
God abideth eternally with the man who knoweth God,
The Name of God is the stay of the man who knoweth God,
The Name of God is as his household and retinue.
The man who knoweth God is ever wakeful,
The man who knoweth God hath discarded all self-will,
In the mind of the man who knoweth God there is ever delight,
In the heart of the man who knoweth God there is ever

happiness. Who knoweth God abideth in peace and at rest – O Nanak, death shall not touch the man who knoweth God.

Astapadi, 8; Pauri,5
brahm-gyani brahm ka beta
The man who knoweth God is called a Brahm-gyani,
Who knoweth God loveth only the One God,
Who knoweth God is free from all cares,
Pure and true are the thoughts of him who knoweth God,
He becometh a Brahm-gyani whom God maketh so;
Great is the glory of the Brahm-gyani,
And only through great good fortune is a meeting with a Brahm-
gyani obtained.

One should make oneself a sacrifice unto the Brahm-gyam.

Even gods like Siva seek for a Brahm-gyani:

O Nanak, in the Brahm-gyani God himself indwelleth.

Astapadi, 8; Pauri, 6


brahm-gyani ki kimat nahi

The man who knoweth God cannot have a price set on him, All that is, dwelleth in the mind of the man who knoweth God, Who can sound the secret depths of the man who knoweth

God! Hail, eternal hail, unto him, unto him, the Brahm-gyani No words can express the greatness of the Brahm-gyani Who knoweth God is the master of all things Who can take the measure of the man who knoweth God? Only the Brahm-gyani knoweth the excellence of the Brahm­

gyani. The man who knoweth God is without ends or limits Nanak prostrateth himself ever to the man who knoweth God!

Astapadi, 8; Pauri, 7

brahm-gyani sab srist ka karta

The man who knoweth God is the creator of the universe,
Who knoweth God liveth for ever and dieth not,
Who knoweth God bestoweth goods of the body and spirit,
Who knoweth God is the perfect Lord of life,
Who knoweth God is the stay of the forsaken,
The man who knoweth God extendeth a saving hand over the humanity. The man who knoweth God hath the world under his control. Who knoweth God is one with the Formless One. Only a Brahm-gyani can acquire the glory of a Brahm-gyani Nanak, the man who knoweth the Lord is himself the Lord of all Astapadi, 8; Pauri, 8
urdhare jo antarnam
He who preserveth the Lord’s name in his inmost heart,
Who seeth the light of the Lord in all hearts,
And who at every moment prostrateth himself to the Lord
He is truly an Aparas,1 who will save all men. .

Astapadi, 9; Stok, 1

mithai nahi rasna paras

Nanak, among millions of men there is scarcely one Aparas
Whose tongue will not touch falsehood,

Whose heart, yearneth for the vision of the Immaculate One,

Whose eyes covet not the beauty of his neighbour’s wife,
Who serveth the Lord’s Saints and loveth them,
Whose ears will not hear evil spoken against any,
Since in his heart he deemeth himself lowliest of all men,
Who by the Guru’s grace has freed himself from all wickedness,
Has banished all evil desires from his heart,
Has conquered the passions, and is free from the five cravings!

Astapadi, 9; Pauri, 1

baisno so jis upar so prasan

He is a true Vaishnav on whom God’s favour hath alighted,
Who dwelleth apart from worldly entanglements
And performeth right actions without. seeking a reward for them. Such a Vaishnav lives a life of true piety: He seeketh no gain from any good deed he doeth, But setteth his heart only on the Lord’s service and the singing of the Lord’s praises;
And with his body and his mind remembereth ever the Lord,

And hath compassion upon all living creatures.

He holdeth fast to the Lord’s Name and inspireth others to meditate on it. Nanak, such a Vaishnav attains to the supreme state. Astapadi, 9; Pauri, 2


prabh ki agia atam hitavai

Be who in his heart ever loveth God’s ordinances

Is caIled a Jivan Mukt, who while still living is saved:

Be accepteth joy and sorrow with an equal mind:

Be is always happy and never set apart from God.

To him gold and dross are as one,

Nectar and strong poison are as one,

1 The Aparas were a sect who prided themselves on never touching coins or anything made of metal.

Honour and dishonour are as one,

The king and the beggar are as one.

He who deemeth that what God ordaineth is best Know him, Nanak, as a Jivan Mukt: who while still alive has found salvation.

Astapadi, 9; Pauri 7

ustat kareh anek pm ant na paravar

Innumerable are they who sing the praises of the Lord,
To whose glory there is no end, no limit:
Nanak, God hath shaped His Creatures
Of many kinds and endlessly diverse forms!

Astapadi, 10; Slok

karn karan prabh ek hai dusar nahi koe

The Maker and Ground of all things is the One Lord.
There is none to set beside Him.
Nanak is ever a Sacrifice unto Him
Who pervadeth sea and land and the sky and the underworld!

Aslapadi 11; Slok, 1

sukhi basai maskinia ap nivar talai

Those who have destroyed self-will and live in humility, Those, the meek, are happy. The haughty great Are consumed, O Nanak, as in a furnace By the fire of their own pride!

Astapadi, 12; Sloh, 1

jab lag janai mujh ie kich hoe

There can be no peace for man
So long as he thinketh that of himself he can do anything;
He shall wander from womb to womb in the cycle of births;
So long as he deemeth one man a friend and another an enemy,
So long shall he have no rest for his mind;
So long as man is in love with the illusory goods of the world
So long shall Dharmraj, the Justiciar King, continue to punish

him. It is by God’s Grace that man can be freed from bondage; And by the Guru’s grace, saith Nanak, pride and self-will are

removed! Asiapadi, 12; Pauri 4

sant saran jo jan parai

He who taketh refuge at the feet of the saints Hath entered on the path of his salvation: But he, O Nanak, who vilifieth the saints Falls into an endless cycle of births.

Asiapadi, 13; Slok, I
tajo sianap sur jano simro har har rae
My friends, discard the devices of worldly wisdom.

Remember only thy Lord, who is the Highest.

Set all thy hopes upon the Lord, saith Nanak:
So shall sorrow, error and fear depart.

Astapadi, 14; Slok, I
jion mandir ko thamai thaman
Even as a pillar upholdeth a temple-roof So the word of the Guru is a prop for the mind, As a stone can float over a river if a boat carrieth it So mortals are saved from sinking by clinging to the Guru’s

feet; As a lamp giveth light in the darkness, So, on encountering the Guru, there is light in the heart; As it is for a man, when lost in the wilds he suddenly findeth

his path So it shall be, like a sudden light, When he joineth the congregation of the saints. I crave for the dust under the feet of such saints: O God, fulfil the desires of Nanak’s heart!

Astapadi, 15; Pauri, 3

rup na rekh na rang kich

God hath no form, outline, or colour:
He transcendeth these three modes.
O Nanak, He conferreth on those who please Him
The gift of the knowledge of God.

Astapadi, 16; Slok, I

baran bar bar pradh japiai

Ever, ever, ever repeat the Name of the Lord:
Satiate thy mind and body by drinking its nectar.
The holy man who hath obtained the jewel of Thy Name
Will look, O Lord, on no other than Thee.
The Divine Name for him is wealth,
It is beauty and it is delight,
The name is his happiness, it is his companion.
He who has been satisfied with the savour of the Name
Shall find his whole body and soul absorbed in it.
To contemplate the Name rising, or resting, or sleeping
Is, O Nanak; the proper task of the man devoted to God!

Astapadi, 17; Pauri, 6

satpurkh jin janai satgur tis ka nau

He who knoweth the True Being,
Know him to be the True Guru;

O Nanak, the Guru’s disciple is saved by his companionship

And by singing the praises of the Lord!

Astapadi, 18; Slok, I

gur ke greh sevak jo rahai

The disciple who serves at the Guru’s feet,
And patiently obeys the Guru’s orders,
And has ceased to be full of self-will,
Ever in his heart meditates on the Name,
And abandons his will to the True Guru
Such a man’s doings shall prosper! .
He who serves the True Guru without seeking gain for his

service, Such a man shall attain to the Lord.

The servant on whom God showereth grace, Nanak saith, will acquire wisdom from the Guru. Astapadi, 18; Pauri, 2

sath na calai bin bhajan

O man, nothing shall go with thee from this world,
Except thy devotion to God!
The delights of this world are as dust.
Nanak, true wealth is repeating God’s Name!

Astapadi, 19; Slok, 1

sang na calas terai dhana

Thy riches will not go with thee:
Why dost thou cling to them so, O fool?
Son, companions, brethren, wife
Which of these will stand by thee?
Kingdoms, earthly delights, heaps of gold
Which of these Will lead you to deliverance?
Horses, elephants, chanoteers
Are a foolish pageantry and a false glory.
The fool forgets who gave him all these things:
Nanak, He forgetteth the Name, and afterwards repenteth.

Astapadi, 19; Pauri, 5

phirat phirat prabh aio

After wandering and wandering, O Lord,
I have come at last to take refuge in Thee.
Nanak’s humble prayer, O God, is
‘Let me be busy in Thy service!’

Astapadi, 20; Slok 1

so kion bisrai jo ghal na bhanai

Why forget Him

Who never letteth man’s efforts go for nothing.

Why forget Him, who acknowledgeth all service,

Why forget Him, who hath given thee all thou hast,

Why forget Him, who is the life of all things living,

Why forget Him, who preserveth us even in the fire, in the womb?

By the grace of the Guru some rare soul seeth God

Why forget Him who helps us out of the net of sin

And joins to Him even those who during many births had broken with Him?

The perfect Guru hath taught me this essential truth:

Nanak saith, Lord, Thy servant meditateth on Thee! Astapadi, 20; Pauri


sargun nirgun nirankar sun samadhi ap

Manifest in all things, He is also the Unmanifest Ground of all things:

He is Formless: He is Transcendent.

Out of Himself, Nanak, He made all things:

Into Himself all things are again absorbed. Astapadi, 21; Slok, 1

jeh ap racio parpanc akhara
When God made this illusion, the world,

He diffused the three mental states: stupidity, passion and tranquillity.

Good and evil then came to be spoken of,

So did the fear of Hell and the hope of Heaven.

All human temptations and earthly snares, Self-will, worldly attachment, doubt and fear, Pain and pleasure, worldly honour and dishonour Were set moving by God in inilUmerable shapes. It is all God’s play, and God is the spectator: When He lets the curtain fall, there is only God.

Astapadi, 21; Pauri, 7

jia jant ke thakara

O Lord of men and of the creatures,
Thou art present in all things:
O Nanak, One God is all pervading!
Where is there to be seen another?

Astapadi, 22; Slok, 1

gyan anjan gur dia

As a salve for our eyes, the Guru hath given us Divine knowledge: By which the darkness of ignorance is dispelled! By the Grace of God I met the Guru: And, saith Nanak, my mind is filled with light!

Astapadi, 23; Slok, 1

sant jana ka pekhan sabh brahmn

The saint seeth the Light of the Lord in all things:
In the heart of the saint there is nothing but faith,
The saint listeneth only to good words,
His heart is set on the Lord who pervadeth all things.
The code of the saint who knoweth God
Is to speak the truth to all men;
All that cometh to pass he accepteth

As being the Lord’s sweet Will.

For He knoweth the Lord as the Ground of all manifestations. He seeth God in the human heart, and in the world outside man. Nanak, on beholding the Lord, all men are enchanted! Astapadi, 23; Pauri 4


prabh ki ustat karo sant mit

Exalt the Name of the Lord, O my beloved saints,
With full awareness and single-mindedness!
In these Hymns of Peace there is calm of mind,
There are the Lord’s praises, there is His Holy Name!
He who hoardeth the Name in his heart shall be wealthy,
And all his desires shall be fulfilled;
He shall become a man of distinction, world-famous,
He shall obtain the highest spiritual state.
And shall not again endure death and rebirth.
Nanak, he who is blessed by the Lord
Shall depart after earning the wealth of the Name.

Astapadi, 24; Pauri 5


khem sant ridh sidh nav nidh

Repose, peace, wealth, the nine treasures,

Understanding, divine wisdom, all occult powers,
Knowledge, devotion, union with and meditation on God,
The highest knowledge, the benefits of bathing in holy places,
The four objects of life,1 the soul’s blossoming
As it flowers amid all things and is detached from all” things,
Beauty, good sense, grasp of reality
And the power of looking on all things with an equal eye,
These gifts shall be obtained by him who recites the Sukhmani
And who hearkens inwardly, Nanak saith, to the Name.

Astapadi, 24; Pauri, 6

1 The four objects of life are: (1) enjoyment (kama); (2) material interest (arth); (3) ethical living (dharma); (4) spiritual freedom (moksa).
jis man basai sunai lae prit
He in whose heart this Song of Peace indwelleth
Or he who heareth it with loving heart,
In him the Lord’s rememberance is awakened,
The pangs of death and new birth are destroyed,
His precious human soul forthwith obtains salvation;

His fame shall be spotless and his speech like nectar:

The Name of God shall now pervade his soul.
Sorrow and sickness, fear and doubt will vanish.
His acts shall be pure; men will call him a saint,
And his life shall be blessed with the highest glory.
Nanak saith: Because of these virtues
This is called Sukhmani, the Hymns of Peace!

Astapadi, 24; Pauri, 8


goel aya goeli kya tis danph pasar

Man, thou art a herdsman, pausing at a pastureland:
Why build thyself a grand and showy house,
When thy time is up thou must go hence;
Remember thy true abode.
Man, serve the true Guru,
Sing his praise with devotion,
Why be caught by the emptiness of insignificant things?

Though thou art here like a guest for the night

Who must part betimes in the morning,
Thou makest thyself busy with the world’s affairs:
Remember, this is a garden of flowers that must fade.

Why sayest thou: ‘This is mine, this is mine?’

Seek the Lord who hath given thee all thou ownest;
In the end thou must needs set on thy way
Leaving thy millions behind thee.

Saith Nanak: After countless births,

Thou hast attained to the prize of human form,
Set now thy thoughts on the Divine Name.
The day of thy summoning is near.

Sri Rag, page 50


ja ko muskal at banai

When a man is in dire straits
And there come none to help him,
When his enemies press hard on him
And his kinsmen desert him,
When he has lost all hope and help,

Let him only set mind on the Lord

And no harm shall touch him.
The Lord is the strength of the weak,
Unborn, Undying, Eternal, Through the word of the Guru

Know ye the True Lord.

When a man is weak

With hunger and wretchedness,
Not a penny in his pocket,
No one to give him kind word,
No one to help him in need,
All his work coming to nothing,
Let him only set his mind on the Lord
And he shall obtain a lasting kingdom.

When a householder wrapped in family

Is plagued by worries and by illnesses,
Is sometimes happy, sometimes sad,
Wandering in all directions,
But never peaceful, never at ease in his mind,
Let him only set his mind on the Lord
And both his body and mind will have joyous repose.

When a man has become the slave

Of lust, anger, worldly attachment,
When sordid greed has turned him into a miser,
When he has committed the four major sinsl
And become a bloody despot,
And though, moreover, he has never given a thought
To holy psalms of scriptures,
Let him only set his mind on the Lord
For one moment with real attention
And his soul shall be set free.

And a man may know by heart,

The four Vedas, the Shastras, the Simritis,
1 The four major sins according to Hindu tradition are: (I) seduction of teacher’s wife; (2) killing cows; (3) killing a Brahmin; (4) stealing more than two pounds of gold.
He may perfonn penance,. become an adept in the act of Yoga
He may visit all the places of pilgrimages,
He may carry out all the rites twice over,
He may prostrate himself in adoration after his ablutions,
But if the love of God is net in that man’s soul
To Hell he shall surely go.

And a man may possess lordship over others,

With every pleasure at command,

He has beautiful gardens to revel in, he speaks and he is obeyed; And his whole life may be passed in various enjoyments, Yet if such a man remember not the Highest, He shall die and be reborn as a crawling reptile. And a man may be rich, a gentleman of repute and impeccable manners; He may honour his father and mother, love his brothers and friends; He may have armies at command and all may honour him, Yet if such a man remember not his God Hell shall be his portion.

Or another man has a body without flaw and sickness,

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