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The Prominent Five and the Force
|by Rajender Krishan|
Guru Nanak’s Japji Sahib – VII
Panch Parvan Panch Pardhan
The “five” approved are the prominent five
Who or what are these five approved and prominent?
In the court of God, the sages get respect. One who is truthful, contented, and courageous, follows Dharma (the divine order) and is compassionate – the possessor of these five qualities – is a sage.
A sage is also the one who is a jeevanmukta – a liberated soul – who has conquered the five evils or vices i.e. Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment) and Ahamkara (pride).
Another aspect of five is “Panchtatva” or “panchamahabhutas” − the five elements − Prithvi (Earth), Jal (Water), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Akash (Space) – that make up the entire universe. These elements are also symbolic of discipline (for Earth), accommodativeness (for water), purity (for fire), freedom (for air) and universality (for space).
Yet, another aspect is the group of our five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Dhyana means attention. In Pauri # 10, Guru Nanak said “Suniye Lage Sahaj Dhyan” and it was inferred that Dhyana means to awaken inside and listen to the sound of silence – and that it is possible to meditate only when the mind is not engaged in the debates of internal dialogues.
We relate to life through our five senses, and attention is concealed within each of these five senses. When a specific sense points outwards, the attention too moves outwards with that sense thereby making us oblivious of the other senses. Our knowing is through the attention and not through the senses. Logically then if attention is withdrawn from all the five senses, then what remains is the one. That one, Guru Nanak says is Dhyana or attention − the master of the five senses.
Eyes see, ears listen, hands touch, nose smells; but can any of these perform on their own? Who collects the information and connects them? If we are distracted while looking or listening, then the information gathered and experienced is misplaced and we end up being confused. It is Dhyana or attention that unites these and makes us experience the sight, sound, touch, odor etc. Dhyana is thus the Master and the senses are its slaves.
Our elders always teach us not to become slaves of the senses. What they imply is that whatever we do, we must do with full attention only then we can know because knowledge itself is attention.
Moving further, Guru Nanak says that we must consider well before we say anything about God. Can we really say anything about God who has no beginning, no end and is infinite? And even if we do, whatever we will say will not be true. Whatever little one can say about God is “not this, not this” as explained in Advaita Vedanta with the Sanskrit expression neti neti. (Neti is derived from na + iti “not so”). It is found in the Upanishads and is a keynote of Vedic inquiry.
If we say, “God is this …” we are merely limiting the limitless, the inexpressible. Guru Nanak, therefore, emphasizes that the work of the Doer “Karta Purakh” is infinite and impossible to be assessed.
Next, Guru Nanak says that religion is the foundation which supports the entire existence. Remove the foundation and the cosmos will be in chaos.
The verse reads,
When translated reads,
Legends and mythological tales all over the world have emphasized gravity by declaring that the earth stands on the shoulders of a bull, a snake or the legendary Atlas
Guru Nanak through this verse explains very clearly that the mythical “Bull” is Dharma (religion) and is born of Compassion (Daya); and being tied by the (soot) sutra  of contentment, it creates equilibrium. Religion means Compassion.
Tulsidas, who came after Guru Nanak and is famous for his “Ramcharitmanas” says similarly:
In Buddhism, compassion or karuna is at the core of the Buddha’s teachings.
In Christianity, God is spoken of as the “Father of Compassion” and the “God of all comfort” in Corinthians.
The key words here are Dharma, Compassion, Contentment and Equilibrium. Religion means compassion. Without compassion contentment cannot be established. Thus, the Masters teach that one should become contented within and be compassionate without and, both the feelings of contentment and compassion should be balanced – in equilibrium. The emphasis is on equilibrium or balance. One cannot be satisfied or lead an orderly life without maintaining an ideal balance.
The verse follows with:
One, who understands this riddle, realizes the truth and can rationalize that a mere bull cannot carry the burden or size of the earth!
Having thus explained that religion is the basis of existence, Guru Nanak say that “Dharti Hor Pare Hor Hor, Tis Te Bhaar Tale Kavan Jor” – meaning there are many worlds, many planets, many spheres … What force upholds such magnanimous masses?
Today we talk about galaxies, milky ways, black holes and the scientists affirm that the entire cosmos is managed by the force called Gravity which maintains the cosmic order.
Guru Nanak explains Gravity as Dharma – the child of compassion - which establishes contentment and creates equilibrium.
The grandeur, the vastness of existence, the innumerable creatures of various shapes and forms are all due to His writ, Guru Nanak expresses wonder when he says who can know and write the account of this marvel, this mystery. It is overwhelming to even say that if it were written, how great it will be! The power behind these countless forms is infinite; the opulence of bounties is not even conceivable. This infinite expanse got created by one verse and it contains oceans of life that are simply diverse.
The realization of this amazing wonder, the awareness of the supremacy of God culminates into an ecstatic moment when Guru Nanak says,
“Varia Na Javan Ek Vaar” means may I simply offer my entire self to celebrate the bliss and grandeur of Mother Nature – Qudrat – Prakriti. “Varia” literally translated means ‘sacrifice’ and in Punjabi language, the word is commonly used by parents when they are euphoric and rapturous on the achievements of their little children. The common statement is “Main Qurban Jaavan, Main Sadke Jaavan, Main Vari Jaavan” which all mean – ‘May I be sacrificed for your sake’. Vari is akin to nichhaawar (sprinkle, shower). All imply intense love in the moments of ecstasy, euphoria, jubilation.
This is the feeling of Guru Nanak on his experience of the wonder and marvel of nature because he is absolutely ecstatic.
“Varia Na Javan Ek Vaar” is both a statement and a question. The question is “How do I think about this phenomenon which is infinite, limitless and happens every moment?” And the answer is that “I cannot, even if I make an offering of myself.” In the answer is the feeling of gratefulness, gratitude and thanksgiving.
This is real prayer.
Guru Nanak says, “Whatever pleases you, O Lord, is best for me. Thy will be done!”
In this prayer, there are no wishes, no desires, no wants; there is only gratitude, only thanksgiving. There is complete surrender of the seeker with absolute conviction that in “Thy Will” whatever comes to pass is good for me and whatever does not come to pass is not good for me. God is my protector; God is eternal, the formless, and the almighty.
We need to understand the essence of this Pauri by understanding that Guru Nanak tells us to seek the Guru behind the five senses − Dhayana (attention) as it is Dhayana that leads to awareness. As the awareness increases, we should live our lives with clarity of contentment within and compassion without. The more compassionate we become, more sincere will be our contentment. The real prayer will, on its own accord, then become one of gratitude and thanksgiving – “Thy Will be Done”.
 Sutra in Sanskrit means aphorism or rule. Literally, it means a thread or line that holds things together.
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