The Sikh Nagar Kirtan is the topic for this edition of The Sunday Sermon followed by a reading and English interpretation of a shabad by Guru Ram Das Ji in Raag Dhanasree.

This shabad is written by Guru Ram Das Ji in Raag Dhanasree. It is a hymn of 2 verses where each line is longer than the prose that we might come to expect from a hukumnama.

ਧਨਾਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੪ ॥
ਸੇਵਕ ਸਿਖ ਪੂਜਣ ਸਭਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਸਭਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਊਤਮ ਬਾਨੀ ॥
ਗਾਵਿਆ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਥਾਇ ਪਾਵੈ ਜਿਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨੀ ॥੧॥
ਬੋਲਹੁ ਭਾਈ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਭਵਜਲ ਤੀਰਥਿ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਦਰਿ ਤਿਨ ਕੀ ਊਤਮ ਬਾਤ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਥਾ ਜਿਨ ਜਨਹੁ ਜਾਨੀ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਆਪੇ ਗੁਰੁ ਚੇਲਾ ਹੈ ਆਪੇ ਆਪੇ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚੋਜ ਵਿਡਾਨੀ ॥
ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਪਿ ਮਿਲਾਏ ਸੋਈ ਹਰਿ ਮਿਲਸੀ ਅਵਰ ਸਭ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਓਹਾ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਨੀ ॥੨॥੫॥੧੧॥
[669, Guru Granth Sahib]

Guru Ram Das Ji begins by identifying that anybody who calls themselves a sikh or follower of God, comes to His door, His temple or church, to sing His praises. As Sikhs of Guru Nanak we visit the Gurdwara to collectively rejoice and praise the Almighty through kirtan, reading of gurbani and making the Ardas (petition). But the fourth Guru Nanak warns us that this type of blind worship alone is futile. We are only brought into the Almighty’s gaze if we truly take to heart what we are reciting. If we hear the Guru’s word, read the Guru’s word and look the part of the Guru’s word without contemplating, questioning and gaining from it, then we are merely actors staging a play. The Almighty is not so easily fooled! We have to live the Guru’s dictate; as Guru Nanak said, truth is the highest virtue, but higher still is truthful living. Putting into practice what we preach is the greatest compliment that we can pay to ourselves and the Guru. If we truly do so then we can begin to understand the Almighty.

The world is often described in Gurbani as a terrfiying ocean which we must cross. Our lives from birth to death do not depict the journey across the ocean. The soul experiences countless incarnations on it’s journey across this ocean; the journey is only completed when we merge with the Almighty. On this ocean, Guru Ram Das Ji explains in these rahau lines that we must make recourse to a shrine, that of the Almighty. This beacon amidst the crashing waves and thundering conditions is where we can praise the Almighty, and also advance our being. As the Guru continues, we learn that devotion alone is not enough in the Lord’s court. The fourth Guru utters the word saints in this line as if he is speaking only to them, but is in fact speaking to us all. Saintly worship alone does not yield the Almighty’s favour; we must come to fully comprehend the Almighty. Knowledge comes from listening, contemplating, questioning and learning. Putting this into practice in our every day life reveals the Guru and I/you, the Sikh, will achieve realisation.

The Guru concludes this shabad by reiterating that the Almighty is not an entity or deity beyond our comprehension, but nor can He be encapsulated into a limited physical form. Gurbani time and again alludes to the ideal that the Almighty is everything. All manner of atoms, particles and molecules, anything that can be possibly imagined is a manifestation of the Almighty. He is the cause of all and the sole creator. For us to merge back into that Almighty and rid ourselves from ignorance of this divine union, we should forsake all else to please the Almighty. Sikhi is a way of life and not a religion. Those are not merely pretty words. Sikhs embrace the World and live within it, but to follow in the steps of the Guru, to learn successfully from our teacher, we must not fall foul by becoming of this World. A water-lily floats across a pond. It is in the water but remains beyond immersing itself and becoming lost in the depths. We live, work, eat and drink throughout our time in this life; we rejoice, grieve, toil and rest; but throughout all of those moments, if we can maintain our awareness of a higher reality, a greater Truth then perhaps we too will become realised people and merge with the Almighty.

Interpreted by Harwinder Singh Mander