AT THE LOTUS FEET OF THE PERFECT GURU
Translation and commentary by: Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
Guru Arjan Dev Ji (the Fifth Nanak) was born on 15 April 1563 to Mata Bhani Ji and Guru Ramdas Ji in Goindwal. He was the youngest of the three sons of Guru Ram Das Ji (the Fourth Nanak), the other two sons being Baba Prithi Chand and Baba Mahan Dev. From a very early age Guru Arjan Dev Ji showed strong spiritual leanings, so much so that it influenced his maternal grandfather Guru Amar Das Ji (the Third Nanak) to say "Dohita bani ka bohitha” (my grandson will be a fountain of Bani). Its evidence lies in the fact that he contributed 2,312 hymns to Guru Granth Sahib, the largest contribution of all
Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s shabad selected here for vichar (thought and analysis) is from Ank 623 of Guru Granth Sahib (GGS page 623). A basic translation is first given of each pankti (line) followed by the author’s commentary to the best of his knowledge. It is quite pertinent to say here that translating Gurbani correctly is an impossible task. Each translation is only as good as the author’s spiritual status and knowledge of the Sikh Scriptures. This is but a humble attempt on part of the writer.
TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY
ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੫॥(Sorath Mahalla 5)
ਗੁਰਿ ਪੂਰੈ ਚਰਨੀ ਲਾਇਆ॥ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਹਾਈ ਪਾਇਆ॥
gur poorai charnee laa-e-aa. har sang sahaa-ee paaei-aa.
Translation: The complete (all-knowing) Guru has enabled me to submit myself to the Will of WaheGuru (the Lord, the Supreme Being/Power) and now I feel I am attached to His Lotus Feet. I find He is always near me ready to assist me on my spiritual journey.
Commentary: Before we submit to the Will of the Lord we need a perfect Guru to guide us on our spiritual path.For a Gursikhthis can be none other than Guru Granth Sahib, the one and the only Living Guru of the Sikhs. Submission must not be halfhearted and must be complete in terms of body, mind, wealth and soul. In Anand Sahib (Pauree 8) Guru Amar Das Ji (the Third Nanak) says:
tun man dhan sabh saup gur ko hukam mani-ai paa-ee-ai
Surrender your body, mind, wealth, and everything to the Guru and accept the Lord’s without question. This is the only way to realise Him (GGS 918).
ਜਹ ਜਾਈਐ ਤਹਾ ਸੁਹੇਲੇ॥ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਮੇਲੇ॥੧॥
jah jaa-ee-ai tahaa suhaylay. kar kirpaa parabh maylay. ||1||
Translation: Wherever I go I remain in bliss. By His Grace I feel I amabsorbed in the Supreme Soul
Commentary: Being with the Universal Soul (commonly referred to in English as God) is an experience which only an enlightened person can feel. It is a sense, a mystic experience, of spiritual equipoise which cannot be put into words. Such a state of mind can only be achieved with the guidance of the Perfect Guru.
ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਭਾਈ॥ ਮਨ ਚਿੰਦੇ ਸਗਲੇ ਫਲ ਪਾਵਹੁ ਜੀਅ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਹਾਈ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ॥
har gun gaavhu sadaa subhaa-ee. man chinday saglay fal paavhu jee-a kai sang sahaa-ee. ||1|| rahaa-o.
Translation: O brother sing His praises with true and intense devotion. You will reap the desired rewards and find Him close to your heart, mind and soul. Pause.
Commentary: Remembering WaheGuru and singing His praises, the devotee goes through a cleansing process of the mind and soul. Physical cleanliness can be maintained with soap and water, however filth of the mind can only be washed away through Naam (i.e. simran – meditation)
In Japji Sahib (Pauree 20) Guru Nanak Ji explains:
When hands, feet and the rest of the body are dirty, water can wash the filth away. When one’s clothes are soiled and stained by urine, sweat and body waste soap will wash them clean. However, when one’s mind, intellect, conscious and soul are stained and corrupted by unholy living, it can only be cleansed by Naam (an intense devotion and love of the Lord’s Name).
Sitting in meditation, by closing both eyes, by itself is not of much use. Neither is visting holy places and taking pilgramage baths are of any use without sincere devotion. If one’s actions are not pious and truthful than such a person will come to grief in this world and the world beyond - Guru Gobind Singh - Tav Prasad Saviaye (9). Guru Ji finishes of the Ninth Svaiyiaaby proclaimng:
Sach kahon sun leho sabai jin prem kio tin hee prabh paio.
All ye listen to this truth: Only those who have true love and devotion for the Lord can realise Him.
ਨਾਰਾਇਣ ਪ੍ਰਾਣ ਅਧਾਰਾ॥ ਹਮ ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾਂ ਰੇਨਾਰਾ॥
naaraa-en paraan adhaaraa. hum sant janaan raynaaraa.
Translation: WaheGuru is the support and pillar of my existence and is the very essence of my soul. I, forever, wish to be the dust of the holy saints free of egotism and self-importance.
Commentary: He sustains us all. All His creation obeys the Order of His Will. He is the essence of our existence. All else is false, perishable or itinerant. We are an insignificant part of His creation and totally subject to His Will and Ordnance. We must live in constant awareness of this fact and foster humility of body, mind and soul. Shedding egotism is the main objective of a true devotee; there is no other way. As long as egotism is entrenched in our mind and conscious, our inner-self will never be acceptable as the home of the Universal Light (Jyot). To generate humility we must do both simran (meditation) and sewa (service), one without the other is of no avail. Again and again Gurbani tells us to seek the company of the holy persons and serve them with complete humility and without expectation of reward.
ਪਤਿਤ ਪੁਨੀਤ ਕਰਿ ਲੀਨੇ॥ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਹਰਿ ਜਸੁ ਦੀਨੇ॥੨॥
patit puneet kar leenay. kar kirpaa har jas deenay. ||2||
Translation: The holy saints bestow upon me the gift of His remembrance and even when I stray, transgress from my path into the realms of sin He picks me up and washes away my sins.
Commentary: Through constant remembrance and meditation a Sikh is able to purify his thoughts. Guru’s grace enables the devotee to stay focused on his mission and keep on the straight path (sachey marg – true path) of his spiritual journey. A bhagat’s (bhakta), i.e. devotee’s journey is by no means easy and requires constant guidance and support of his Living Guru, the one and only Guru Granth Sahib.
In Anand Sahib (Pauree 14) Guru Amar Das Ji observes:
khanni-ahu tikhee vaalahu nikee ayt maarag jaanaa.(GGS 918)
The path of the bhagat (devotee) is sharper than a two-edged sword, and finer than the human hair.
ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲਾ॥ ਸਦ ਜੀਅ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਖਵਾਲਾ॥
Paar-barahm karay partipaalaa. sad jee-a sang rakh-vaalaa.
Translation: The Prime Soul (i.e. WaheGuru) always looks after his devotee and provides sustenance and remains attached to His devotee’s soul. He is always on hand to help.
Commentary: The human soul (inner essence of the human body) originated from the Universal Soul (WaheGuru). The Lord created the human body and inserted the soul in it, the air injected life into the human body and the human instrument thus attuned came into play, i.e. into life.
The human body has ten dwars (gates, openings). Nine openings (the mouth two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, **** and the genital opening) are visible but the tenth gate is concealed. The tenth gate (known as the Dasm Dwar) will only open with Guru’s kirpa (blessings). This will require total devotion at the lotus feet of the Guru. When the Tenth Gate is opened, the human soul merges in the Universal Soul. The feeling and experience of ecstasy is indescribable. Thus, the Universal Light will nestle in the inner-self of a sincere devotee (sad jee-a sang rakh-vaalaa). This topic merits a separate article on its own).
ਹਰਿ ਦਿਨੁ ਰੈਨਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਈਐ॥ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਨ ਜੋਨੀ ਪਾਈਐ॥੩॥
Har din rain keertan gaa-ee-ai. bahurh na jonee paa-ee-ai. ||3||
Translation: Therefore. O brother, sing His praises day and night so that you are spared the cycle of life and death.
Commentary: Guru Granth Sahib lays a lot of emphasis on singing His praises (keerat, keertan). The nine gates (indriyas) mentioned above link us to the outer world and will make the mind wander leading to distractions and derail us from the righteous path into the trap of maya (materialism).
So how do we avoid the trap of materialism? Guru Nanak proclaims “Kalyug meh kirtan pardhana gurmukh japiyae lae dhiana” (GGS 1075). In this Dark Age singing His praises is the foremost way to achieve peace, tranquility and harmony in the world; the pious (gurmukh) must meditate in earnest on His Name. For the Jiva (devotee – soul)this is the best way to moksha (eternal bliss, unification with the True Lord).
ਜਿਸੁ ਦੇਵੈ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਬਿਧਾਤਾ॥ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਤਿਨ ਹੀ ਜਾਤਾ॥
Jis dayvai purakh biDhaataa. har ras tin hee jaataa.
Translation: Only he who enjoys His Grace knows the taste and bliss of the subtle essence of Lord’s presence.
Commentary: Not anyone merits His kirpa(grace, blessings) automatically. This has to be earned, deserved based on one’s present and past actions (karma). So when He showers His Grace upon a devotee, the devotee’s spiritual condition and spiritual experience are impossible to put into words. His subtle body (sooksham sareera) will be in a state of perfect equipoise and bliss. The un-struck celestial melody will vibrate in his subtle body. Only the devotee who tastes this celestial nectar knows its essence and value.
Anhaḏ ḏẖunee saḏ vajḏay unman har liv laa-ey (Guru Amar Das GGS 91)
The un-struck melody constantly vibrates within and uplifts my mind and consciousness to a level where I am absorbed in the Supreme Soul.
ਜਮ ਕੰਕਰੁ ਨੇੜਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ॥ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਰਣੀ ਪਾਇਆ॥੪॥੯॥੫੯॥
Jam-kankar nayrh na aa-e-aa. sukh naanak sarnee paa-ei-aa. ||4||9||59||
Translation: In the Lord’s Sanctuary one finds and enjoys spiritual bliss and the messengers of death cannot approach such a devotee.
Commentary: Guru Granth Sahib reminds us to live with the constant awareness of death. We must adopt a discipline (Rehit Maryada) and live our lives to that order. Every day should be lived with this awareness – akin to the boy scouts motto ‘Be Prepared’. Educating ourselves spiritually on the requirements of the soul, performing good deeds, serving humanity are all parts of building a CV (curriculum vitae) which will take us through the various khands (stages, realms) to reach our true and final destination – the door of Sach Khand (the Realm of Truth) and await His call to be absorbed into the Supreme Soul. Finally, the soul is free from reincarnation – the cycle of life and death. Again, this is another area which requires a separate article.
1 This is the first edition of the article – it may undergo changes for quality and accuracy. The author most humbly appeals to the saadh sangat to read this article with a positive frame of mind and link to the essence of Gurbani and avoid unnecessary deviations because of the use of a particular word or term, as translation into English will always create a degree of distortion because of vocabulary.
2 For simplicity I have referred to the masculine gender but, wherever appropriate, this should be read as including the female gender.
3 Differences of opinion are inevitable when interpreting Gurbani. The author most humbly regrets any inaccuracy or errors in quoting or interpreting Gurbani and prays Satguru grants him the boon of greater insight into understanding the Guru’s word. Positive feedback is always a great help future interpretation and analysis of the Guru’s Word.
© Rajinder Singh ’Arshi’ (26.5.12)
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