Conflict in an increasingly smaller World is the topic for this edition of The Sunday Sermon followed by a reading and English interpretation of a shabad by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Dhanasree.

This shabad is written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Dhanasree.  Today’s hukumnama is one of great depth and substance that we cannot do justice to in such a short period of time.  As with all Gurbani, we advise that you take the time to listen, read, and contemplate this channt in your own time! It is a hymn of four verses where each verse has six lines.  The hukumnama begins with an invocation to the Almighty.

ਧਨਾਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਛੰਤ
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥
ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥
ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਦਸ ਪੁਰਬ ਸਦਾ ਦਸਾਹਰਾ ॥
ਹਉ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਸਦਾ ਜਾਚਉ ਦੇਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਧਰਣੀਧਰਾ ॥
ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਰੋਗੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਦਾਰੂ ਮੈਲੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਸਚ ਬਿਨਾ ॥
ਗੁਰ ਵਾਕੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਸਦਾ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਨਿਤ ਸਾਚੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਮਜਨਾ ॥੧॥
ਸਾਚਿ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਕਿਆ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਈਐ ॥
ਗੁਣਹਿ ਹਾਰੁ ਪਰੋਇ ਕਿਸ ਕਉ ਰੋਈਐ ॥
ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ਮਾਰੈ ਤਰੈ ਤਾਰੈ ਉਲਟਿ ਜੋਨਿ ਨ ਆਵਏ ॥
ਆਪਿ ਪਾਰਸੁ ਪਰਮ ਧਿਆਨੀ ਸਾਚੁ ਸਾਚੇ ਭਾਵਏ ॥
ਆਨੰਦੁ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਹਰਖੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਦੂਖ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਰਹਰੇ ॥
ਸਚੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ਮੈਲੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਚ ਮਨੇ ॥੨॥
ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮੀਤ ਮਿਲਾਪੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਨਾਵਣੋ ॥
ਗਾਵੈ ਗਾਵਣਹਾਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੁਹਾਵਣੋ ॥
ਸਾਲਾਹਿ ਸਾਚੇ ਮੰਨਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਦਇਆ ਮਤੇ ॥
ਪਿਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਭਾਵੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਨਾਵੈ ਬੇਣੀ ਤ ਸੰਗਮੁ ਸਤ ਸਤੇ ॥
ਆਰਾਧਿ ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਨਿਤ ਦੇਇ ਚੜੈ ਸਵਾਇਆ ॥
ਗਤਿ ਸੰਗਿ ਮੀਤਾ ਸੰਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਨਦਰਿ ਮੇਲਿ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ॥੩॥
ਕਹਣੁ ਕਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਇ ਕੇਵਡੁ ਆਖੀਐ ॥
ਹਉ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਨੀਚੁ ਅਜਾਣੁ ਸਮਝਾ ਸਾਖੀਐ ॥
ਸਚੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਾਖੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਭਾਖੀ ਤਿਤੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਮੇਰਾ ॥
ਕੂਚੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਲਾਦੇ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਚੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰਾ ॥
ਆਖਣਿ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਭਗਤਿ ਭੰਡਾਰੀ ਭਰਿਪੁਰਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਸੋਈ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਚੁ ਕਹੈ ਬੇਨੰਤੀ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਂਜੈ ਸਚੁ ਸੋਈ ॥੪॥੧॥
[687, Guru Granth Sahib]

In the first verse, Guru Nanak explains to us the futility in bathing at holy places if our minds, the thoughts and actions we undertake daily, our very hearts remain impure. Many people in South Asia believe that a magical occurrence will do what they do not wish to expend energy doing: attaining a higher state of consciousness. This is not the way as the Guru explains. Imagine travelling the great distance to our own revered Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, waking before dawn, bathing in the holy pool and then reciting the JapJi Sahib. Then going about your day or later that week or month without a care or thought to those that you pass, lying or cheating in your daily toil, intimidating people, showing intolerance to those who are not like you… this is what many of us do every day. The Guru began this verse by stating that he has undertaken baths at Holy Shrines too, but what is important that we don’t expect a magical experience to bring you salvation. The true Holy shrine where we should undertake such baths is the Name of the Almighty. If we can truly immerse ourselves in walking along His path, enlightenment will follow. It will be as if we have bathed on those ten special days of the Hindu spiritual calendar or as if we have bathed on the sacred tenth day, when the river Ganga was born, and when Ram defeated Raavan. Guru Nanak does not take away from those days of spiritual importance to Hindu people, instead he says that immersing in contemplation of the Almighty will be the same as undertaking those sacred baths.

In the second verse Guru Nanak lauds those who walk this path explaining how and why they no longer need to bathe at this Holy Shrine: It is because they are forever kept close by the Almighty. Not only are they removed form the cycle of life and death, but they become of the Lord, in essence offering salvation to others still doomed to rebirth. The Guru does not simply utter pretty words: the cure is given for this disease of non-contentment. We might think of being happy as the ultimate goal, but in fact the Guru tells us that what we really want is to be content. That means fulfilled by whatever state we might be in or whatever conditions we might be facing. The cure? You’re wondering what is this recipe for success to this divine endeavour?! Simple: contemplate and meditate, that will rid you of your ego, your attachment to the World, the World’s things and people, rid you of pride, of hate, of lust of all cares and concerns and wants or desires. That will put you into the state where you can become merged with the Truth. But this happens by the grace of the Guru. We are not following a man here who requests us to relieve ourselves of our home and money to buy a nice big car! The Guru is the Granth Sahib and we see Guru Nanak through the Guru Granth Sahib, they are one and the same. The Guru is the shabad, the word. Contemplate the word, by listening to it, reading it, discussing it and of course meditating on it. Ours is not a mantra to recite, but a vibrant manual for Divine realisation!

The Guru continues in the third verse by further alluding to how we can better reach this realisation. In contemplating the shabad we come to praise the Almighty. Guru Nanak espouses that by praising the Almighty along with others we can attain a greater good. Singing his praises as we do at the Gurdwara through Gurbani, through kirtan, through the Ardas, it helps us to grow and enhance our experience of the Divine. We never quite know who somebody is, irrespective of how close to us they might be. In the congregation of the Almighty there might be countless souls who are on the verge of divine realisation, there may be souls who have just begun the journey. But for sure, there will be the presence of those that are already merged with Him. The Guru teaches us that once attached to Him, once realised, those entities are the same as Him and like He they traverse all planes of reality and existence imaginable. When we begin to love, truly and purely, the Almighty’s company, then it is as if we have bathed in the Traveni, a place sacred to Hindus where the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati converge, found in Allahabad. This is considered an ultimate holy bath, an almost emancipating experience. In attaching ourselves to His name we do the very same wherever we might be.

In concluding Guru Nanak shares with us attributes of the Almighty. That he is limitless and that we know nothing of His expanse, we cannot put it into words. However, in following the Guru, the Divine shabad, we are able to learn of Him and become a part of him where we are beyond explaining His expanse. We come to realisation where we see Him everywhere. Everybody dies, but only some of us really live: it is those who attain His comprehension that really live. Sometimes we might think that Gurbani is not clear enough or repetitive or flowery in its wording. This is the naivety of the student. But in closing this hukumnama there is no mistake. Contentment, realisation, merging with the divine comes through constant devotion; regardless of what our lives lead us to do; there is nothing that He did not create so our devotion can manifest anywhere. Devotion is contemplation, purity of the heart and soul and meditation. Not too much to ask at all.

Interpreted by Harwinder Singh Mander