Marriage in Sikhism by Sujan Singh
Marriage is a religious ceremony in which a man and a woman become life partners as husband and wife to establish a family and to indulge in worldly affairs. Marriages are consummated by different ceremonies in different religions. According to the ancient Hindu practices, marriage ceremonies involve having seven rounds called pheraas or laavaa around yagya fire amid chanting of mantras from ancient religious books. In Sikhism, the marriage ceremonies are consummated by having four laavaa around sacred Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji amid reciting of four laavaa from Sri Guru Granth Saheb (pages 773 – 774) written by fourth sikh guru, Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji. Sikh gurus have described a devotee as wife and God as divine husband in a number of shabads in Guru Granth Saheb Ji. In fact, the whole mankind is stated as wife and God its universal husband. The union of soul with the supreme soul, God, is ultimate aim of life of a sikh. Guru Nanak Dev Ji did not believe in renunciation of the worldly life and retreating to the forests to achieve union of soul with God. Neither had he believed in leading a life of celibacy to achieve union with God. Guru Gtanth Saheb teaches us that union with God cannot be achieved by wearing yellow robes or by dressing like sadhus but the union with God can be achieved in a family life by following teachings of the guru. The four laavaas recited at the time of consummation of sikh marriage prepare the would - be bride and the groom to lead a married life according to the teachings of Guru Granth Saheb. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikhism-marriage/23754-marriage-in-sikhism.html
At the spiritual level, these four laavaas describe four stages through which a devotee as a wife can be one with her eternal husband, God or in other words, a soul can achieve the union with God.
First Laav Har pahlri laav parvirtee karm driraaeaa bal raam jeeo Baani brahmaa ved dharam driro paap tajaaeaa bal raam jeeo Dharam driro har naam dhiaavo simrit naam driraaeaa Satgur gur pooraa aaraadho sab kil vikh paap gawaaeaa Sahej anand hoeaa wadbhaagee har har meethaa laaeaa Jan kahe Naanak laav pahlee anand kaaj rachaaeaa
At spiritual level, the first laav is the first stage to achieve the union of devotee’s soul with God. After death the soul leaves the body and remains without its physical being until it takes rebirth in some form. This state of soul is called Nirvirtee maarg .When a soul takes rebirth in human incarnation, it is said to have entered into Parvirtee maarg. Guru Ji teaches us that after entering into Parvirtee maarg, all our actions should be guided by the guru’s teachings as guru’s teachings or guru baanee is Brahmaa and vedaas written by Him. Guru banee is dharma and it is guru banee which will wash away all our sins. To be firm in dharma, it is essential to inculcate in our minds the qualities or Naam of God. All the ancient books also say the same that God’s Naam is dharma. Inculcation of Naam in our minds is possible only if we follow the teachings of true guru who will wash away all our sins. With great good luck, we will then experience divine bliss and God’s Naam will be felt sweetly by us ie, we will enjoy recitation of Naam, the name of God. This first laav will thus be the beginning of attainiattaining the stage of eternal bliss. At worldly level, Guru Ji teaches the boy and the girl through the first laav how to prepare themselves for their forthcoming marriage. Before marriage, both the boy and the girl are free from all worldly responsibilities. All their needs are met with by their parents. They mainly concentrate on their studies and are mostly worried about their future career. They are mostly unconcerned about their worldly life. In a way, both the boy and the girl are in Nirvirtee maarg. When they enter into a married life, it is similar to entering into the parvirtee maarg. Guru Ji’s advice through the first laav is that all actions in their future married life should be guided by the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji. They need not heed to the advice from other sources. For them Guru baanee should be the Brahma and His Vedas. Guru baanee should be their dharma and Guru baanee only will wash away their sins. They should inculcate in them all the qualities of God, the name of God or Naam. All their actions should be guided by Naam so that they can lead a married life which is based on truth, love, compassion, faithfulness, contentment and free from hatred, jealousy, malice, avarice, greed, ego etc. Ancient Hindu scriptures also say that the Naam is the real dharma. For inculcating Naam in their minds, they need a truthful Guru and for Sikhs, Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji is the truthful Guru. They can save themselves from all sins only by following the teachings of Guru Granth Saheb. When their minds would be tuned to Naam, they will feel an eternal joy and all the ceremonies connected with their forthcoming marriage will be full of enjoyment. Thus this will be the beginning of their marriage ceremonies which would be full of enjoyments.
Second Laav Har doojree laav sat gur purukh milaaeaa bal raam jeeo Nirbhau bhai man hoe haumai mail gwaaeaa bal raam jeeo Nirmal bhau paaeaa har gun gaaeaa har vekhai raam hadoore Har aatam raam pasaareaa suamee sarb raheaa bharpoore Antar baahar har prabh eko mil har jan mangal gaae Jan Nanak doojee laav chalaaee anhad shabad wajaae
At spiritual level, Guru Ji teaches that by following the teachings enshrined in the first laav, the devotee climbs the second stage. At this stage, a devotee has to fight with many internal enemies. He will have to keep the lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego under his complete control. These five enemies always stand in the way to purify the mind. They are the root cause of origin of desires to fulfil physical needs. The devotee will have to use them for good causes and will have to save himself from being led by them. There is other dirt which poisons the mind. This includes jealousy, lies, backbiting, earning money by wrong means, disobedience to elders, habit of stealing, etc. Guru baanee has enabled him to find his truthful guru ie Guru Granth Saheb. Now all the worldly fears from the above five enemies and the other dirt as stated above have disappeared from his mind. His mind has only one fear, the fear of God. His mind is freed by the Guru from the dirt of ego. Fear from God is a pious fear because it gives us freedom from the fear of all the above mentioned evils which may over power our mind. Now the devotee starts chanting the praises of God and starts feeling the existence of God within his mind as well as everywhere around him. He joins other devotees who have also attained the same level and starts chanting the praises of God with them. Gradually, the chanting of God’s praises becomes part of his existence and he starts experiencing the chanting of praises in his mind without uttering a single word from his mouth and without accompaniment of any musical instruments. Before entering into a matrimonial union, there are various types of fears in the minds of both the boy and the girl. The boy expects a lot of good qualities in the girl whom he is going to marry. He expects her to be beautiful, will mannered, well behaved, and respectful to his parents, with good aptitude, well educated and myriads of such other qualities. On the other hand, the girl nurtures much more types of fears than the boy. She will have to leave her parents home to live in an entirely new environment. She will have to spend her rest of life with entirely different t types of people. In place of her mother, father, brothers and sisters, she will have to deal with her mother-in-law, father-in-law, brothers- in-laws and sisters-in-laws respectively. In addition, she has the greatest fear about her would-be husband, about his habits, his behaviour, his intellect, his manners and myriads of other question about him. Thus different types of fears lurch in the minds of both the boy and the girl. Through the first laav, both the boy and the girl have integrated Naam in their minds through their truthful guru and both have started experiencing eternal joy. In the second laav, guru ji teaches the boy and the girl to have trust and full faith in their guru, ie, Sri Guru Granth Saheb and by doing so, their minds will become free from all types of fears. They will start thinking that whatever is destined by God for them that will be good for them. They have only one fear in their minds, the fear of God. This fear of God will eliminate all other fears from their minds and thus they will become fearless. In fact they now possess fearless fear in their minds which has eliminated all the worldly fears from their minds. There is now no ego in their minds. The fear of God is a pious fear as it drives away all the misgivings from the minds of both the boy and the girl about their would-be spouses. They now trust their guru that by guru’s blessings, they will have the type of the spouse which they have imagined. In fact they now have started feeling that God is always with them, around them and every where to help them in the forthcoming marital union. Instead of worrying about their future married life, they have now started chanting the praises of the guru and God who have eliminated all their suspicions about their spouses. Even the praises of God continue to be chanted in their minds without uttering a single word from their mouths. They chant the praises of God along with other married couples who are spending their blissful married lives according to the dictates of their guru, Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=23754
Third laav Har teejree laav man chaao bhaieaa bairaageeaa balraam jeeo Samt janaa har mel har paaeaa vadbhaageeaa bal raam jeeo Nirmal har paaeaa har gun gaaeaa mukh bolee har baanee Sant janaa vadbhaagee paaeaa har katheee akath kahanee Hirde har har hardhun upjee har japeee mastak bhaag jeeo Jan Nanak bolai chauthee laave har upje dhun bairaag jeeo
At spiritual level, Guru Ji teaches us that after following the teachings from the first and second laavs, the devotee now goes to the third stage of spiritual level. Now the devotee’s mind is freed from all worldly fears. He has only fear of God in his mind. He is always chanting the praises of God as if he has stepped into the spiritual world. He is now experiencing a divine bliss in his mind on the one hand and on the other hand a feeling of sadness is also coming up in his mind as he is distancing himself from all worldly pleasures. Thus on one side the devotee is happy that he is experiencing union with God and on the other side he is sad also that he is giving up worldly pleasures. But overall he is happy that the guru has enabled him to have meeting with God. With having a meeting with God, the devotee now always chants the praises of God. This he feels that it was his good luck that he has attained that state of mind. It has all happened due to the blessings of the guru. Now he has started knowing those secrets of God which cannot be explained by speaking from the mouth. Waves of God’s praises automatically crop up in his mind. This has happened because according to his past and present actions in life, it had become destined like that. Thus after following the guru’s teachings from third laav, pangs of distancing from worldly pleasures coming up in devotee’s mind are replaced with the joy of forthcoming union with God . At worldly level, both the boy and the girl have now full faith in the guru. They are now confident that whatever is destined for them by God that will definitely be good for them. But another type of grief is lurking in the minds of both the boy and the girl. The girl is to leave her parental home. She is sad that she will now lead a life without the love of her parents. She will be separated from her brothers and sisters. She will go away from her friends. Her spinster life would be replaced be more responsible family life. She will have to live with entirely different types of people whom she has never met before. The boy also is sad with the feeling that he will have to say goodbye to his boyhood days when he was indulging into a varied types of mischief. He used to be carefree enjoying with his friends in parties, outings, tours, variety entertainments, laughing sessions, mocking, gossiping, fun and all types of frolics. But both are happy that through God’s blessings both of them will get their choicest partners and would lead happy, enjoyable lives as now they have full faith in their guru. Thus both are now experiencing blissful sadness. The guru has been kind to them that they will get spouse of their choice. They have now started narrating the good qualities of their respective spouses. Along with chanting praises of their spouses, they also chant the praises of God and the guru who made possible this marital union. Now their minds are tuned with God and they have no fear of any thing happening against their wishes. All this has happened because it was destined by Almighty to happen like that. So after abiding the teachings of the third laav, both the boy and the girl have got rid of the feelings of sadness from their minds and they now keenly await their forthcoming blissful marital union.
Fourth laav Har chauthari laav man sahej bhaieaa har paeaa balraam jeeo Gurmukh miliaa subhaae har man tan meethaa laaeaa balraam jeeo Har meethaa laaeaa mere prabh bhaaeya an din har liv laagee Man chindeaa phal paaeaa suaamee har naam wajee wadhaaee Har prabh thaakar kaaj rachaaeaa dhan hirde naam vigaasee Jan Nanak bolai chauthi laavai har paaeaa prabh avinasee
At spiritual level, guru ji teaches us that after following the teachings of the three laavs, the devotee is now experiencing the eternal bliss in his mind. His mind is completely tuned to God. This state of mind is such that the mind is completely dead as regards the worldly desires. There is no place for the vices to enter the mind. The mind is free from hatred, jealousies, ill will to others, greed, ego, lust for worldly possessions etc. The mind always heeds to its inner voice and thinks what God desires it to think. This is the state of mind which is described as “living death”. The devotee has achieved this state of mind due to the blessings of the guru. God’s Naam is imbibed in every bit of the devotee’s body and mind. This has happened because God wished like that and also God liked that. Now the devotee is absorbed in God’s Naam in every moment of his life. Because of Naam, the devotee is getting accolades and praises from all and sundry. This whole process was started by God Himself. His Naam has completely occupied the mind of the devotee and the devotee is now experiencing the eternal bliss. In the end, the devotee has achieved complete union with God. At worldly level, all the preparations for the gala event are now complete. Both the boy and the girl have now complete faith in the guru. Both of them feel the presence of their spouse in their mind. Each has a spiritual picture of the partner in the mind. They have now imbibed each other in every bit of their body and soul. This all has happened due to the blessings and teachings of the guru. Each of them now day and night only thinks of each other. They are eagerly awaiting the forthcoming meeting of their physical beings. This has happened because God not only wished like that but liked it too. All the wishes of both the boy and the girl have been fulfilled. All the near and dear ones are now congratulating them. God had initiated this process and these festivities would now be completed by His grace. The girl now feels the presence of her would – be husband in her mind at all time. Similar is the state of mind of the boy also. Thus the union of minds of both the boy and the girl has taken place. Union of their physical beings is now eagerly awaited by them after the completion of the relevant ceremonies. Their forthcoming marriage will thus be in true sense the union of two souls into one soul while maintaining their physical beings as separate entities as appropriately mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Saheb Ji “Dhan pir eh naa aakheee baihen je kathhe hoe Ek hot doe moortee dhan pir kaheee soe.
Resource: Guru Nanak Ki Bani - Introduction