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Japji - Meditation On Truth By Carol Marshall

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Jun 1, 2004
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Ms. Carol Marshall’s appraisal of the Japji indicates that she has delved deep into the poem. Her description of the poem as a ‘reminder’ and an ‘inspirer’ is extremely telling. No less telling is her summing up of the substance of the poem: the poem tries to understand God and man’s relationship to Him. Add to this, her observations that God is Truth and only His grace, which is won through active efforts, helps us understand the truth; and you have come very close to the apprehensions of the Japji’s basic tenets.

In the ambrosial hours of fragrant dawn,
On Truth and greatness ponder in meditation. -- Guru Nanak


The Sikh Japji or Morning Prayer quite easily could contain at most all the essential points of the Sikh religion. Since, according to the prayer, prayer alone makes the soul whole, there is little wonder why each morning is started by prayer, and especially this one. The Japji seems to be a reminder and inspirer for each believer to not only review his faith as he says prayer; but by meeting each tenet again, he is filled with the emotion, the idea, and the spirit of faith. It charges the day to come with meaning, purpose and incentive for further understanding of the faith.
Most important for life is the knowledge of relationship with God, that He exists; hence the prayer begins:
"There is One God"
After this statement, the prayer continues to try to understand, explain God and man's relationship to Him. God is Truth, and it is the aim of life to understand this Truth; only by God's grace can this be done. And yet,
"The mind.....shall be opened if thou but try and hearken to the Guru's Word."
The prayer goes on to explain what happens. "By hearing the Word....", and how one lives as a believer. But most important is the word "try".
Now, the prayer mentions that action alone is in the book of Fate predestined, so concern with action should be little. But "In the Realm of Action, 'effort' is supreme, nothing else prevails," and perhaps the best manifestation of this are those who have the "fashioned consciousness, understanding, mind, and reason" of "the genius of the sage and seer, the power of men superhuman," those who try to understand God. For it is only trying and by effort that man realizes what his position in life, and in this man-God relationship, is. Only he who has tried can say:
"What might have I to praise Thy might? I have not power to give it praise."
Or,
"How shall I know Thee, how describe, praise and name?"
And then the answer:
"He who knows, hath no ego and no pride."
And yet it is on a note of reality and finality that the prayer ends.
Man is in the lap of time and the world is our playground, here one makes the decision to play, or toy with life, or to make it meaningful by pursuing Nanak's path. Truth, God is eternal; the question is how will man respond. Will he try?
The prayer instills a desire to do so, to praise God, and tells of the rewards and joys of such a response. Certainly, the Morning Prayer is important both theologically as well as for the spiritual stability of a believer. The Japji orients one's mind towards a religions life, as each day begins.
 

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