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Baavan Akhree (The 52 Letters) Shabad Questions

Discussion in 'Intellectual Translations by SPNers' started by Ishna, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. Ishna

    Ishna
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    Gurufatehji

    On panna 250 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan begins a shabad called Baavan Akhree (The 52 Letters), in Raag Gauree. This shabad goes from angs 250 to 262 and includes shaloks which open a paurhee which usually references a letter of the Gumukhi alphabet.

    I have some questions about this composition, if you would indulge me, please. :)

    Why do you think some letters are at the beginning of multiple paurhees, for example LALLA at paurhees 11 and 12 (which is towards the middle of ang 252), and why do you think some paurhees don't seem to start with a letter at all, like paurhee 13?

    Are all the 52 letters actually represented in the composition?

    Do you think there's a reason why Guruji put the letters in the order that he did? Starting with Oan (which is meant to be Urah?) but instead of going to Aira he goes to Sassa? Was the Gurmukhi alphabet displayed in a different order 430 years ago?

    And don't you think it's interesting how he started and finished this composition with a specific and incredibly beautiful shalok, as follows:
    ਸਲੋਕੁ
    Salok.
    Shalok:

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਮਾਤਾ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਪਿਤਾ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਪਰਮੇਸੁਰਾ
    Gurḏev māṯā gurḏev piṯā gurḏev su▫āmī parmesurā.
    The Divine Guru is my mother, the Divine Guru is my father; the Divine Guru is my Transcendent Lord and Master.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਸਖਾ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਭੰਜਨੁ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਬੰਧਿਪ ਸਹੋਦਰਾ
    Gurḏev sakẖā agi▫ān bẖanjan gurḏev banḏẖip sahoḏarā.
    The Divine Guru is my companion, the Destroyer of ignorance; the Divine Guru is my relative and brother.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਦਾਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਉਪਦੇਸੈ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਮੰਤੁ ਨਿਰੋਧਰਾ
    Gurḏev ḏāṯā har nām upḏesai gurḏev manṯ niroḏẖarā.
    The Divine Guru is the Giver, the Teacher of the Lord's Name. The Divine Guru is the Mantra which never fails.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਪਾਰਸ ਪਰਸ ਪਰਾ
    Gurḏev sāʼnṯ saṯ buḏẖ mūraṯ gurḏev pāras paras parā.
    The Divine Guru is the Image of peace, truth and wisdom. The Divine Guru is the Philosopher's Stone - touching it, one is transformed.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰੋਵਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਮਜਨੁ ਅਪਰੰਪਰਾ
    Gurḏev ṯirath amriṯ sarovar gur gi▫ān majan apramparā.
    The Divine Guru is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage, and the pool of divine ambrosia; bathing in the Guru's wisdom, one experiences the Infinite.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਕਰਤਾ ਸਭਿ ਪਾਪ ਹਰਤਾ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਪਤਿਤ ਪਵਿਤ ਕਰਾ
    Gurḏev karṯā sabẖ pāp harṯā gurḏev paṯiṯ paviṯ karā.
    The Divine Guru is the Creator, and the Destroyer of all sins; the Divine Guru is the Purifier of sinners.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਆਦਿ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਜੁਗੁ ਜੁਗੁ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਮੰਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਉਧਰਾ
    Gurḏev āḏ jugāḏ jug jug gurḏev manṯ har jap uḏẖrā.
    The Divine Guru existed at the primal beginning, throughout the ages, in each and every age. The Divine Guru is the Mantra of the Lord's Name; chanting it, one is saved.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮੇਲਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਹਮ ਮੂੜ ਪਾਪੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਲਗਿ ਤਰਾ
    Gurḏev sangaṯ parabẖ mel kar kirpā ham mūṛ pāpī jiṯ lag ṯarā.
    O God, please be merciful to me, that I may be with the Divine Guru; I am a foolish sinner, but holding onto Him, I am carried across.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਨਮਸਕਰਾ ॥੧॥
    Gurḏev saṯgur pārbarahm parmesar gurḏev Nānak har namaskarā. ||1||
    The Divine Guru is the True Guru, the Supreme Lord God, the Transcendent Lord; Nanak bows in humble reverence to the Lord, the Divine Guru. ||1||

    Many thanks. :mundakhalsaflag:
     
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  2. spnadmin

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    ishba ji

    I am not sure if this answers your question. The use of acrostic - a poetic format - was popular in poetry during the times of the Guru Sahibhan both in Asia and in Europe. If you take each of the first letters per tuk and write them out as a single line they will form another verse. So that is the thing to do. Find out what the first letters spell out. Or in this acrostic, find what the first letters are clues to. They are pointing to something.

    The particular order of the letters - you have questions about that - are what they are in order to create the verse Guru Sahib had in mind.

    The motivation behind it is artistic/poetic and adds interest to the bani, more focused appreciation. Guru Arjan Dev's poetic talents are inarguable. Both Guru Nanak and Guru Amar Das ji also used the acrostic, as did Bhagat Kabir ji, and they probably inspired Guru Arjan Dev to try his hand at it.

    Your questions about motivation are probably too specific to be answered. It was their poetic decision. The important thing is not to read a magical mystery meaning into this which some do. There is a sakhi of Guru Nanak creating his first acrostic as a child in school which spelled out to be line of Gurbani. One has to question the truth of this.

    All the acrostics are listed in this table of contents for Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. http://www.sikhs.org/english/eg_index.htm
     
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    #2 spnadmin, Oct 15, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  3. spnadmin

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    Completely off topic, but thanks for stressing the pauree. I think this one tuk reflects important meaning on the Shabad of the Week, for this week, and how to understand it.

    ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰੋਵਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਮਜਨੁ ਅਪਰੰਪਰਾ ॥
    Gurḏev ṯirath amriṯ sarovar gur gi▫ān majan apramparā.
    The Divine Guru is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage, and the pool of divine ambrosia; bathing in the Guru's wisdom, one experiences the Infinite.
     
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  4. Ishna

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    Admin ji

    Thanks for your response! My questions were worded incorrectly, what I was going for is "is there a reason the letters are in the order they're in? Am I missing something about it?" You've said its an acoustic poem - I was going to say that in my intro but I wasn't sure if its a poem using the opening letters to form words vertically or if its a poem based on the alphabet with no vertical word, if that makes sense.

    Are you saying there's a word in there? If so don't say what it is and I won't either but Ill spend my evening now trying to work it out. If we keep quiet about the word then it remains an "Easter egg" in the Gurbani for others to discover too.

    Its really interesting to learn about all the different poetic devices employed in Gurbani.
     
  5. spnadmin

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    Ishna ji

    It is an acrostic poem not an "acoustic" poem. An Acrostic is an arrangement of letters that spell something out by way of encryption of sorts. So if you take each letter that begins a tuk and write it out in a sequence you will see not just a word, but a verse. Usually. However in this particular acrostic, the letters are a series of clues to other words that together contain a hidden message.

    Yes the arrangement is deliberate and in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji they are listed from top to bottom, vertically.

    Spies in the past used this approach before the days of the Turing machine to transmit coded messages. Now there are actually algorithms to unwind an acrostic code. They are still used in the digital universe but can be very complex using multi-directonality (vertical + diagonal + skipping lines +skipping spaces, etc). Yes it is like an Easter Egg lol something there is inside lol

    so

    Happy Easter
    Is a pagan greeting
    So he told me
    For a pagan holiday
    And he let me know
    If he were forced to celebrate
    Then he would rebel
    Hell had no fear for him.

    So we have H I S F A I T H

    That is a short example of how the typical acrostic works.

    Acrostics do not have to be top/down vertical, they just have to take a direction and be consistent about it. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji they are vertical. I posted a link that shows you where they all are earlier.
     
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  6. spnadmin

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    I agree on the Easter Egg strategy. This one is exactly like an Easter Egg hunt, or a treasure hunt. Why should we do all the work. A team of other members can read Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Ang 250-262, list out the letters and decode the message. Then we have many rather than a few on this remarkable journey of Gurmat studies.
     
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  7. Ishna

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    Sorry, I meant to say acrostic but my phone's autocorrect thought it would be more likely I wanted the word 'acoustic'. Someone needs to invent a Gurbani friendly smart phone teehee. :)

    I think the title of the shabad is what confused me, "The 52 Letters", like it was an alphabet poem with no coded spy message inside.

    As the Punjabi words won't jump out at me yet, do you know if the letters that form the message are just the letters Guru Arjan Sahib highlights, like LALLA in my opening post, or if its the first letter of each tuk of the whole composition or just the tuks of the paurhis?

    Many thanks and I'll check your link to acrostics in Gurbani now - I was reading Shabad of the Week before as you mentioned it resonates with this opening verse here. Slow down woman! hehe
     
  8. Ishna

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    That contents page is so awesome!! That's being printed and going in The File. Thanks so much for sharing!!
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    It starts about half-way down Ang 250 http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Page&g=1&h=0&r=1&t=1&p=0&k=0&fb=0&Param=250

    to the tuk beginning with the word ONG
    ਓਅੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੀਓ ਅਕਾਰਾ ॥
    telling us that ooura will be the first letter. That is the clue to what to look for. Ask yourself what the ooura is pointing to ?

    We then come to another ONG for Ooura

    Then we keep on going until we get to the word SASSA, with
    ਸਸਾ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਸੋਊ ॥
    and continue to ang 262 until it stops. Now we have all the clues and all the pieces of the puzzle. That is all the help from me on this.

    Guru Sahib is using a system based on pauree, so he is skipping salokas and some paurees
     
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  10. Luckysingh

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    I'm lost here !!!:kaurfacepalm:
    I can't fit or find no puzzle or message !!
     
  11. spnadmin

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    Luckysingh ji

    Look at the words that are highlighted, such as Ong or Sassa or Rarra. Not every line will have one, and you have to page through starting on Ang 252. These letters start a particular tuk. They point to a clue in the line or tuk that is part of a larger verse. If I give more help and tell you what the clue is then you will have the answer. That is why I am not doing it. Once you have all the clues they should all add up to the larger verse which is the message.
     
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  12. Ishna

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    Aaaahhh I give up! *hmph*
     
  13. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Actually...our GURU SAHIBS ( bhagts included) were so much into spirituality that while ALL of us CANNOT see anything in mere alphabets ...UNLESS..these alphabets are joined together to make WORDS and Sentences...An "A" is simply a useless "A"...unless its used as in America !!! BUT the Gurus saw so much even in just the ALPHABETS....so to Guru Nanak ji, Guru Arjun Ji and Bhagat Kabir Ji..the alphabets are important in themselves !!! Hence the bavan Akhrees of all 3 !!

    THERE are no HIDDEN PUZZLES and no RIDDLES buired inside the SGGS ...everything the Guru wants us to see and know is on the TABLE.

    Of course with the advent of Books and Films like Da Vinci Code etc..people are beginning to look for such "codes" in the SGGS too A complete waste of time..(IMHO) becasue then that becoems a another RITUAL...while others mumble their lives through nitnem...others waste time looking for puzzles and riddles and hidden codes..others spend their lives bathing in sacred waters...to ME..SGGS is for PRACTISING to CHANGE...
     
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  14. Ishna

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    Good points Gyani ji... It wasn't just letters which radiated Ik Onkar's presence to them, but numbers too (or should I say "Tu"...).

    I don't think the question in this thread about Guru Arjun Sahib Ji's Baavan Akhree in is whether or not it contains a "hidden code" but is more about appreciating the poetic architecture in this particular shabad.

    You can appreciate the architecture of a good building whilst still conducting business within it. :)
     
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  15. spnadmin

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    Ishna ji, There really is a message. And your idea of architecture is spot on. Acrostics were very popular in Guru Sahib's time as they were in the poetry of the west as well. As you say, using acrostics was a way of enhancing our understanding of the structure of the verses and the larger shabad.

    I would sit down and reconstruct the riddle but it is going to be time-consuming. Each letter points to a word and all the words together contain a Gurmat message. That is 52 words, then to be translated, to get to the finish line. We reach a point where we have to decide how to spend the precious few hours we have with Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji --- and so either it is solving riddles or contemplating the shabad.

    One last thought though. In the Spotlight is an article by Karminder Singh Dhillon who asserts that our simran is the close and continuous partnership we form with each and every word of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. That is our naam simran. To study the words that make up the message then is yet another way to stay focused on each and every letter, word and sound. It is that kind of deep concentration on the message that brings our heads around. When really focused nothing can disturb our concentration, and we spend hours of quality time with the Guru. That is a long sight better than sitting for hours listening to a dharma talk given by a rambling sant-baba ji. Solving the 52 letter puzzle is another way to become totally absorbed in Gurbani. So maybe I am convincing myself to take a day off from SPN to work on this.
     
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  16. Ishna

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    Admin ji, please don't take precious time out of your week on my account! Perhaps if you can give me an idea of the first couple of paurhis I'll get a better idea of what you're seeing to look for myself. But only if its possible and not too much to ask.
     
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  17. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    SpnAdmin Ji...you are welcome to try the puzzle solving...but my thoughts...sikhs couldnt even go beyond the superfiicial..they saw a word "Amritsar" and they dived straight into the BEAS WATERS flowing around the darbar sahib and made that the be all and end all...they saw the word Harmandar..and again ended up at Darbar sahib Amritsar and beleive they have ARRIVED at the destination...Journey is over...what simpletons...
    would they understand the puzzles ??..People do crosswords, sudokos etc to WHILE AWAY THE TIME...as an entertainment...the SGGS Gurbani is not a while away..its not entertainment..thats why i beleive there no puzzle that needs to be solved to get the Gurus Message..its on the table...
     
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  18. spnadmin

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    Gyani ji

    I know that - it is just another puzzle. The point however is it is fun. I think you can trust me not to go dipping in BEAS WATERS.
     
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