This edition of The Sunday Sermon asks if we are all looking for the same thing followed by a reading and English interpretation of a shabad by Guru Ram Das Ji in Raag Jaitsree.
This shabad is written by Guru Ram Das Ji in Raag Jaitsri and is a shabad of 4 stanzas. This particular shabad can be recited or sung with a variation to certain notes of the melody as depicted by use of the phrase House 1. This is done to enhance the mood of the music accompanying these words. The shabad begins with an invocation to the Almighty who is realised with the grace of the Guru.
ਜੈਤਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੪ ਘਰੁ ੧ ਚਉਪਦੇ
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ਮੇਰੈ ਹੀਅਰੈ ਰਤਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਰਿ ਬਸਿਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਹਾਥੁ ਧਰਿਓ ਮੇਰੈ ਮਾਥਾ ॥
ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੇ ਕਿਲਬਿਖ ਦੁਖ ਉਤਰੇ ਗੁਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੀਓ ਰਿਨੁ ਲਾਥਾ ॥੧॥
ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਭਜੁ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਭਿ ਅਰਥਾ ॥
ਗੁਰਿ ਪੂਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਵਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਮੂੜ ਭਏ ਹੈ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਤੇ ਮੋਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਨਿਤ ਫਾਥਾ ॥
ਤਿਨ ਸਾਧੂ ਚਰਣ ਨ ਸੇਵੇ ਕਬਹੂ ਤਿਨ ਸਭੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਕਾਥਾ ॥੨॥
ਜਿਨ ਸਾਧੂ ਚਰਣ ਸਾਧ ਪਗ ਸੇਵੇ ਤਿਨ ਸਫਲਿਓ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਨਾਥਾ ॥
ਮੋ ਕਉ ਕੀਜੈ ਦਾਸੁ ਦਾਸ ਦਾਸਨ ਕੋ ਹਰਿ ਦਇਆ ਧਾਰਿ ਜਗੰਨਾਥਾ ॥੩॥
ਹਮ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਗਿਆਨਹੀਨ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਕਿਉ ਚਾਲਹ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੰਥਾ ॥
ਹਮ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਕਉ ਗੁਰ ਅੰਚਲੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਚਲਹ ਮਿਲੰਥਾ ॥੪॥੧॥
[696, Guru Granth Sahib]
There are 2 concepts vital to the makeup of being a Sikh that meet us in this hukumnama. Firstly, the relationship that Sikhs have with The Guru. We are students, learners, followers and disciples, but of who? The Guru. He is the Master and a Sikhs actions or lifestyle reflect the teachings of His master Guru Nanak. When the Guru blesses us indicated here by touching our foreheads we become at One with The Name. Here is the second concept – that of the Almighty’s Name. The Almighty is formless and without equal. Our God is not the traditional God sitting high in the heavens. The Almighty in Sikhi is everything, all sustenance, creation, planes and all Worlds. The Almighty is everything. His Name is therefore not a name in the traditional sense that we understand a name to be. We meditate on His Name, we contemplate Him, but His Name is more than a word, rather a state. It is Truth. Guru ram Das tells us here that when the Guru places his hand on your forehead you become blessed with His name and your debt is lifted, all past discretions are erased. This is an indication to the lines on a persons forehead which traditionally South-East Asian people believe tell the tale of your life. When the Guru graces you, when you begin to walk on His path, truthful living will be yours and Truth itself will become your standard bearer.
The Rahau lines here reiterate the very essence of The Guru’s message: if we are true to ourselves and to the spirit that is within each and every one of us, inside everything, we reach a realisation where contentment is no longer an issue. We become content. If we do not look inside our souls, look ourselves in the mirror, analyse our deeds and thoughts, then we are kidding ourselves as to what we truly are. Our lives are then mundane trudges through the seasons. Life is then without any real value.
Fear prompts many of us not to look inside or ask ourselves the difficult questions that we freely pose to others or conjure up in a fantastical dream. But in doing so, we become proud and are forever lost in the rat-race. There is no end to the illusory World. In your town or city, you might be rich, but when you travel abroad you will find someone richer. There will always be somebody one step ahead because in the illusory World as one strives to take the lead, so do others. And inevitably as one might pull ahead for short while, so will another! The illusory World is for fools, for the paymaster is corrupt and the chief executive unreal. When caught up in the “I’m going to buy this, we will do it this way” lifestyle, you are devoid of the folly of such actions and take on a greater sense of self-illumination. You still don’t look inside yourself or ask yourself the difficult questions. Your life has been wasted.
The value of being humble is one that can be taken literally and not have any value. In our work places, to continuously ask the employer what to do next, gain a reply, but then do as you choose to is not humility. The value of humility is knowing where your strength lies and utilising it when the need arises, or knowing where the strength of another is appropriate and supporting them the best you can. The value of humility is taking the time to do what you can without reneging from your own responsibilities. There are so many who look to solve the problems of their neighbour, when their own homes are ablaze with mischief. Humility is indeed a great virtue, but one which when practised impurely is not a virtue at all. The 4th Guru Nanak states that he hopes the Almighty could grant him the wish of being the slave of the slaves of His Slaves. A slave twice removed of the Almighty. Not a slave of the Almighty, but twice removed. This is in reference to the line preceding it where the Guru states that those who have served the feet of the Saints have led fruitful lives. The saints are the slaves of the Almighty and so the Guru wishes to serve those who have served the saints. The Guru, our benevolent master, wishes to serve us, his students the Sikhs, who walking along His path have led fruitful lives by serving the Saints. This is the definition of humility for us here: when the teacher wishes to serve his student, then a good student reflecting the teacher, will be a truly humble soul and realisation is natural.
Finally, the Guru asks here the question here of himself and in our guise, if I am succumbing to the illusory World, am not yet realised and know not how to live well, then how can I walk Your path? It’s a poignant question because if we are mere mortals without having attained salvation then how are we going to attain realisation? The Guru asks the question that we should ask when we look inside ourselves, this is the beauty of Guru Nanak. The response follows in just as sublime fashion: Guru Nanak himself asks the Almighty to gift him his sash, as the father of the bride passes his daughter the groom’s sash in a Sikh wedding ceremony, so that he can walk in step with the Almighty. These are not mere fanciful words! Walking in step with the Almighty might have heavenly connotations for those of us who still think of God as a physical entity. But the Akaal Purkh, Almighty One as Sikhs believe is everything and everywhere. Therefore, the Guru gives a gem of wisdom here: walk in step with the Almighty, play in tune with Creation, exist in harmony with reality! When the seasons change, our diets, metabolism and physicality changes accordingly. With advancing age our mind, body and ability alters by advancing and sub-ceding accordingly. Global activity and nature, the laws of science are what we need to walk in step to in order to walk in step with the Almighty. Guru Hargobind Sahib wore both a temporal sword and a spiritual sword, Guru Gobind Singh culminated some 240 years of teaching in the Khalsa, both a sant and sipahi, a saint and a soldier for precisely these reasons. If we can continue to live in this World, but not become OF this World then truly we have been blessed by The Guru to walk along His Path to the Almighty and realisation.
Interpreted by Harwinder Singh Mander