Our ability to listen 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 and is a shabad of 4 stanzas. This particular shabad forms part of the Kirtan Sohila, often known as the ‘bedtime prayer’ becuase it is intended to be the very last thing one reads or hears before sleeping. The word ‘Aarti’ here means the offering of worship. The shabad begins with an invocation to the Almighty who is realised with the grace of the Guru.

ਧਨਾਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਆਰਤੀ
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ਗਗਨ ਮੈ ਥਾਲੁ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਬਨੇ ਤਾਰਿਕਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਜਨਕ ਮੋਤੀ ॥
ਧੂਪੁ ਮਲਆਨਲੋ ਪਵਣੁ ਚਵਰੋ ਕਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਬਨਰਾਇ ਫੂਲੰਤ ਜੋਤੀ ॥੧॥
ਕੈਸੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ਭਵ ਖੰਡਨਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਰਤੀ ॥
ਅਨਹਤਾ ਸਬਦ ਵਾਜੰਤ ਭੇਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਨੈਨ ਨਨ ਨੈਨ ਹੈ ਤੋਹਿ ਕਉ ਸਹਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਨਾ ਏਕ ਤੋਹੀ ॥
ਸਹਸ ਪਦ ਬਿਮਲ ਨਨ ਏਕ ਪਦ ਗੰਧ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਗੰਧ ਇਵ ਚਲਤ ਮੋਹੀ ॥੨॥
ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥
ਤਿਸ ਕੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
ਗੁਰ ਸਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੁ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੩॥
ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਮਕਰੰਦ ਲੋਭਿਤ ਮਨੋ ਅਨਦਿਨੋ ਮੋਹਿ ਆਹੀ ਪਿਆਸਾ ॥
ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਰਿੰਗ ਕਉ ਹੋਇ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥੪॥੧॥੭॥੯॥
[663, Guru Granth Sahib]

In this shabad, Guru Nanak depicts all that we can see as being an offering in itself to the Almighty. As the devout worshipper prepares the thaali, the serving dish, in order to make an offering to their deity, so Guru Nanak breaks with traditional worship and exclaims all of existence is an offering to the Almighty. Guru Nanak is portraying the supremacy and uniqueness of the Almighty as being the sole creator of everything. If ever a devotional offering was made to the One Almighty, then the very majesties of the universe would be it.

In the Rahau lines, Guru Nanak sums up this idea by praising this beautiful offering from all creation, and exclaims that it is all in adoration to the Almighty. For example, the temple drums refer to the rhythmic beat that would accompany any devotional pooja or worship. In this shabad Guru Nanak explains to us how the reverberation of the shabad, the building block to everything – that which we could call Naam – represents this drum. All falls within it’s scope and dances to it’s beat.

God in Sikhi, The Akaal Purkh, is without form, limit or boundary. The Guru exclaims in this way how the Almighty had thousands of eyes, forms, feet and noses, but still has none! The thousands allude to both living beings and creation itself. The Lord has all of these because His light is in all, but He is also beyond categorisation. Guru Nanak is astounded at what he describes a wonderful play, one in which we are all actors, but the Almighty directs.

The Guru continues to explain this idea in the next few lines by stating that the Almighty is within us all and within everything. His is a shining light which connects us all. But it is only realised through the Guru, the one who brings light from the darkness, quite literally here. True worship is that which pleases the Almighty: to walk in step with Him; to respect that which exists and to be on the path of Truth towards realisation.

The shabad is concluded by Guru Nanak pleading with the Almighty to grant his only desire: to walk in step with him. There should be no other real desire, irrespective of what we may be doing in the World, than to merge with the Almighty and walk in step with Him.

Interpreted by Harwinder Singh Mander