The Guru Solves the Riddle

Continued from "The Divine Order - Japji Sahib Part II"

Guru Nanak’s Japji Sahib - III

Pauri – 4

Sacha Sahib Saach Nai Bhakhia Bhau Apar
Akhen Mange Dehi Deh Dat Kare Datar
Pher Ke Agae Rakhiaye Jit Dise Darbaar
Muhon Ke Bolan Boliye Jit Suni Dhare Pyaar
Amrut Wela Sach Naun Vadiai Vicharu
Karmi Ave Kapra Nadri Mokh Dwaar
Nanak evain Janiye Sabh Aape Sachiar

Supreme Master with Truth as name
is eulogized only by feelings of abundant love
Even in praises one seeks and beseeches,
Yet the Lord keeps on bestowing
What should then one offer
that one gets a glimpse of His court?
What language should one speak
that we may merit His love?
Contemplate and meditate
His glory during the holy hour
Karma caused this human birth
yet only by His grace does one attain liberation
Says Nanak,
Thus understand this way
the One all-in-all is the Truth.

Through this Pauri an excellent relationship between the Supreme and the individual is being established. Guru Nanak addresses Him as “Sacha Sahib” − true or Supreme Master; thereby making the devotee a subservient who always seeks and the Lord continues to give.

The entire verse seems to focus on the code of conduct required to be followed to appreciate and respect this relationship.

A question is posed as to what should be our offering that one may get the glimpse of His divine court? This question needs attention. We all go to the temple and boast of having “donated” or given as charity “our contribution” in some form or the other. With this “giving” is the feeling “I gave”. Do we truly give if we remember that all Creation is His – from the smallest flower to our so-called amassed wealth?

The riddle is simple – “What should we be our offering …?” Guru Nanak does not seem to provide an answer to the question and leaves it for the disciple / devotee / reader to contemplate and discover the answer.

As subservient to the Master, isn’t Guru Nanak implying to actually offer (surrender) our own ego – the mundane “I”?

Guru Nanak lays complete emphasis on the spoken word. The power of the spoken word is highlighted with yet another question in the line “Muhon Ke Bolan Boliye, Jit sun Dhare Pyaar.” (What kind of language should one use while addressing the Lord that listening which He should love us more?) There is no direct answer offered by Guru Nanak to this question either. Both the preceding and this question compel the devotee /listener / reader to contemplate, meditate and translate.

Guru Nanak is hinting in these questions to (a) to surrender oneself completely to the Lord with a complete feeling of “Thy Will be Done” and (b) to always offer gratitude (thanksgiving) as our prayer and worship to the Supreme for the infinite bounties that have been bestowed upon us.

In our day to day life, “Muhon Ke Bolan Boliye” lays emphasis on the spoken word. Isn’t it true that most of our social relationships get marred only due to the twist of the tongue?

In the next line “Amrit Vela .....” after the two questions, Guru Nanak gives a crystal clear direction. The Guru asks us to recount the greatness and glory of the Supreme Master, the Lord, in the ambrosial hour.

Amrit Vela is that brief moment of time when we are neither asleep nor awake. This period occurs when we are about to fall asleep and when we are about to wake up. Our consciousness is relaxed and at ease − not engrossed in the conflicts of dualities. It is at that time that we can experience silence, a feeling of tranquility. If we are at that time attentive, we can hear the vibrations of the energy – the source – that flows behind our breath. Immersing and becoming one with that energy is like an embrace with our beloved which gives us an experience of fulfillment and a sense of completeness. There are at that moment no desires, no wants, no if and no buts. It is as if that moment has become eternity and the prayer is simply a feeling of gratitude and thanksgiving.

No wonder, Guru Nanak, wants us to be alert of the amrit vela and offer our prayers of gratitude to the Supreme.

Viewing this line from our day to day life, one can say that Guru Nanak is aware of the lethargy with which we all live and consequently build tendencies of procrastination. To conquer this stupor, the Guru gives total importance to start one’s day early by offering thanksgiving to the Great One. To say the least, this highlights disciplined and regulated pattern of living.

And, when one leads a disciplined life, one merits love and respect.

Karma – or the law of action and reaction – and the concept of reincarnation is further highlighted in the end. This human body has been attained as merit of the previous lives and the purpose of this human birth is a God given opportunity for one to attain liberation – as proclaimed by the masters. Yet this liberation is possible only when one realizes one’s real Self (Jeevatman) and its connection with God (Paramatam), the only Truth.

Pauri - 5

Thapia Na Jaye Kita Na Hoye
Aape Aap Niranjan Soye
Jin Sevia Tin Payea Maan
Nanak Gaviye Guni Nidhaan
Gaviye Suniye Mann Rakhiye Bhau
Dukh Parhar Sukh Ghar Lai Jaye
Gurmukh Nadam Gurmukh Vedam
Gurmukh Rahia Samai
Gur Isar Gur Gorakh Barma
Gur Parbati Mai
Je Haun Jana Akhan Nahi
Kehna Kathan Na Jayee
Guran Ik Deh Bujhai
Sabna Jiyan Ka Ik Daata
So Mein Visar Na Jayee

God can neither be installed nor shaped
For the untainted One exists unto himself
Those who serve merit honor
Says Nanak, Sing the glories of the great One
Sing and listen with a heart full of love
Shedding miseries, take home all joys
Guru’s word is the sound of sounds
Guru’s words are the Vedas
In Guru’s words He pervades
The formless Guru is the One personified
as Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma
As also the mother Goddess Parbati
If, at all, I know, I shall not say
The inexpressible cannot be expressed
The Guru has the secret that solves the riddle
Of all creation He alone is the benefactor
This I should never forget

The Mulmantra of Japji Sahib says “Ik Onkar Satnam” followed by the Jap which says that God is the only Truth and infinite in both as formless and infinite as the ever expanding cosmos. Keeping this in the backdrop, Guru Nanak proclaims that God cannot be installed. Can infinity be contained in a temple?

God is Ajuni – unborn and Saibham – self-effulgent; and beyond all attributes – hence Niranjan or without blemishes, untainted, flawless and pure. God simply is and there is no need to create Him because whatever form we will give to the formless, will be imperfect.

How will we then realize Him? Guru Nanak says that by serving the Sahib. Remember the previous Pauri, where Guru Nanak established relationship between God and devotee as that of Supreme Master and subservient. Those who followed this relationship i.e. revered and worshipped God through service have felt His presence. (Jin Seviya Tin Payea Maan). Here then, service is being declared as the highest form of prayer.

Now the question arises: “Service to whom”?

We come across a pestering beggar. At times, we take out few coins from our pocket and give it to him – to simply get rid of the beggar’s nuisance. At other times, we even make a statement, “Come on guy, you are young, why don’t you work?” In both cases, our ego is very much there. There is no service in this and neither is there recognition of the fact that the beggar too is part of the same creation.

True service is to do every act, as a service to God. When as a householder, providing food to our own children, do we get a feeling that we are feeding Him or are we burdened with the idea, “What is my life? All day I have to slog so that a meal can be put on the table?” When watering our lawn or trimming the bushes, do we get a feeling that we are simply being in His divine order or is it yet another chore which if not done will warrant a violation from the City? When attending a customer, do we treat him as God himself who has come to do some business with us or are we simply contemplating how to fleece the customer? As a doctor, when treating a patient, do we get the feeling of healing His wounds or is the mind busy contemplating ideas of how to conduct more tests?

Any act done by us with a feeling of “I am the doer” or with a maxim of “give and take” becomes ego related work. Notice here, even with this attitude if we “so-called” succeed, we boast of “our” achievement and if we fail, we blame it on our destiny or God. Thus the “I” refuses to be accountable and this happens, because we try to navigate our lives without God.

Whereas, when we work with the perception of “service to God”, then we become burden free of the results. Whatever the outcome, then it is His Divine plan. In other words “service to God” means carrying out all our actions and duties without any attachment to the results – this eliminates the “I”. Therefore, work thus done gets appreciated and merits respect because such service becomes worship.

Gaviye Suniye Mann Rakhiye Bhau …” – Sing and listen with feelings full of love is emphasized by Guru Nanak. We go to temples or sit down in our home to conduct prayers. Notice, most of the time we are parroting words which have been crammed up, while our mind is wandering somewhere else conducting its own speculative business.

Guru Nanak says that those who keep feelings of love and faith on the Supreme, alive – i.e. have no doubts then only “Dukh Parhar Sukh Ghar Le Jaye” they stay in eternal bliss.

Is Guru Nanak not implying here to praise from the rooftops the goodness of others?

Gaviye Suniye Mann Rakhiye Bhau
Dukh Parhar Sukh Ghar Lai Jaye

The application of the above lines in our work-a-day life clearly reveals the secrets of the science of speech. Guru Nanak lays emphasis here on the need to have a heart full of love and compassion for others. Only when we are full of love and compassion, can we remain poised and only then, our words appeal to the other and similarly the speech of the other person can be truly appreciated by us. Only then, one can find harmony and joy in one’s life. By doing so, all miseries depart and joy will come home. Anger, frustration, envy, greed are all miseries and occur when we lack “Bhau” or loveable feelings.

Suniye (Shravana – the art of listening) is further elaborated extensively by Guru Nanak in Pauri # 8 through Pauri # 11.

Once again the greatness of the preceptor – the true Guru – is explained. The sound of all sounds “Nadam” resides in the words uttered by the Guru – “Gurmukh” – which in turn are the Vedas. Guru is Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and their consorts, personified.

A little more understanding is required here on the usage of the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh – the “Gods” of Creation, Operation and Destruction. These conceptual symbols also stand for the three gunas (traits or tendencies) which serve as the fundamental operating principles of Prakriti [1] – universal nature – which are called: sattva, rajas and tamas. As per Samkhya philosophy, these gunas are associated with the process of creation, preservation, and destruction respectively.

In my understanding, by stating “Gur Isar Gur Gorakh Barma…”, Guru Nanak says that the Guru being fully experienced with the gunas is therefore able to help the disciples /devotees to evolve and progress towards their understanding of “Ik Onkar Satnam”.

Having said that, the egoless Guru Nanak, true to his name states that “even if I know, I shall not say, for it is impossible to express the inexpressible”.

It seems that in this Pauri, all that was said so far was a riddle. Thus, Guru Nanak ends the Pauri by saying that the Guru has the secret or the technique that solves the riddle:

In the entire creation, God alone is the benefactor and that “I” should never forget that. The ending lines are again repeated in the next verse.

It is by comprehending the power of this secret – the Gur – and living with this remembrance at all times, can we find the real change in our lives. It makes us view everything, not in fragments but in totality. Our attitude changes and life becomes harmonious and peaceful by always remembering that “Ik Onkar Satnam” – the all-pervading energy (God) – is the eternal Supreme Cause and the inexplicable force behind all forms of life.

Pauri – 6

Tirath Nava Je Tis Bhavan
Vin Bhane Ke Nai Kari
Jeti Sirath Upai Vekhan
Vin Karma Ke Mile Layee
Mat Vich Ratan Javahar Manik
Je Ik Gur Ki Sikh Suni
Guran Ik Deh Bujhai
Sabna Jiyan Ka Ik Daata
So Mein Visar Na Jayee

Bathe would I at holy places,
only if I have got His pleasure
If I have pleased Him Not,
then why should I?
When I see His vast creation
Without any action (Karma) I have it all
The intellect contains rich latent gems
It unfolds by listening to the Guru’s teaching
The Guru has the secret that solves the riddle
Of all creation He alone is the benefactor
This I should never forget

The legend has it that if one bathes in the holy waters of the Ganges or other holy places, all sins are washed away by the river. While the water may wash the body, how can it cleanse the mind − the cause of the evil deeds?

Besides, does the legend indirectly imply that one may continue to sin and then atone oneself by taking a bath (periodically) in the holy waters?

Also, one needs to just look at the people who go to such pilgrimages, when they return. They are full of pride and arrogance expecting cheerful applause and flamboyant welcome; more respect from their family, neighbors and clan. What should have really been left behind is brought back strengthened manifold. Ah, the Ego!

In this Pauri Guru Nanak discreetly condemns the ritualistic approach. The Guru says that if one has endeared himself to God, then it is as good as having bathed in the holy waters, else what good is such a ritual if one is not cleansed of the filth of one’s ego. Till such time we proclaim that “I did the Ganga Ishnan or performed the ritual” then as “I” the doer, we are still clinging to our ego. However, once we have surrendered ourselves totally to the divine order and divine will of God, then it is as if having already taken the holy bath!

In order to acquire one has to put in effort and action (Karma) but, Guru Nanak in this Pauri exults in the joy of counting blessings; the infinite bounties that Mother Nature has blessed everyone to enjoy. And all these bounties are given to us without any of our effort. All that we see created in nature is the divine gift of God to all creation.

Yes, in the normal work-a-day life, we have to work, earn money and spend that for even a small loaf of bread. But when we work with the idea of “I am the doer” then the work (action) becomes toil. However, when our actions become work as worship, as a service, as subservient to the Supreme Master (Sahib), then God becomes the doer and He provides. The emotion and feeling of love in this kind of action is so strong, that one is always in a state of gratitude. One stays calm, composed and relaxed and “work” of any nature does not become toil or hardship.

It is then when one can say that “all the bounties are given to us without any of our effort”.

It is with this attitude of subservience to the Supreme Master (Sahib) that one can truly listen to the Guru. However, if the ego is present when listening then our mind will start debating, weighing pros and cons; resultantly we will be faithless and entrenched in doubt. In such a scenario how can one listen?

Listening to the Guru means going with a clean slate – i.e. totally empty. It is this emptiness that the Guru fills with his teaching. And once that is assimilated, one awakens as if it were from a deep slumber, the heart opens up and the jewels of life – peace, harmony, compassion, gratitude, love, bliss, remembrance of God at all times – all unfold. Everything is fulfilled.

And with this the Guru solves the riddle: in the entire creation, He alone is the benefactor and that “I” should never forget that.

mentioned in the Pauri as the Hindu goddess Parbati (Parvati) – the consort of Shiva.

Continued to "Longevity and God's Grace - Japji Sahib - IV"

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More by :  Rajender Krishan

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