Getting caught up with life is the topic of this edition of The Sunday Sermon followed by a reading and English interpretation of a shabad by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Suhi.

This shabad is written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Suhi and is a shabad of 5 stanzas. It would appear that this shabad is a direct reply to a hymn of Sheikh Farid Ji, further in Raag Suhi on page 794. In that particular shabad, Sheikh Farid Ji uses termnology similar to that of Guru Nanak’s shabad here: the boat, the ocean and the Lord’s reward for devotion to the Lord. Whilst Sheikh Farid Ji writes in a sorrowful tone of the opportunities wasted by man in life, Guru Nanak replies in this shabad with the simple task required to merge with the Almighty, utilising the same imagery.

ਸੂਹੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥
ਜਪ ਤਪ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ਬੇੜੁਲਾ ਜਿਤੁ ਲੰਘਹਿ ਵਹੇਲਾ ॥
ਨਾ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਨਾ ਊਛਲੈ ਐਸਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ॥੧॥
ਤੇਰਾ ਏਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੰਜੀਠੜਾ ਰਤਾ ਮੇਰਾ ਚੋਲਾ ਸਦ ਰੰਗ ਢੋਲਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਸਾਜਨ ਚਲੇ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਕਿਉ ਮੇਲਾ ਹੋਈ ॥
ਜੇ ਗੁਣ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਗੰਠੜੀਐ ਮੇਲੇਗਾ ਸੋਈ ॥੨॥
ਮਿਲਿਆ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਵੀਛੁੜੈ ਜੇ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਹੋਈ ॥
ਆਵਾ ਗਉਣੁ ਨਿਵਾਰਿਆ ਹੈ ਸਾਚਾ ਸੋਈ ॥੩॥
ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਨਿਵਾਰਿਆ ਸੀਤਾ ਹੈ ਚੋਲਾ ॥
ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਹ ਕੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬੋਲਾ ॥੪॥
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਹੈ ਸਹੇਲੀਹੋ ਸਹੁ ਖਰਾ ਪਿਆਰਾ ॥
ਹਮ ਸਹ ਕੇਰੀਆ ਦਾਸੀਆ ਸਾਚਾ ਖਸਮੁ ਹਮਾਰਾ ॥੫॥੨॥੪॥
[729, Guru Granth Sahib]

Guru Nanak begins with the analogy of life being a stream or river. Through each birth and death man remains still on the river, merely in a different body, time and place. To successfully cross the river and complete the journey, a person needs to construct a boat of some strength and magnitude. Guru Nanak gifts us with the designs of such a boat that we shall not even feel the waves, the tide or any storm. It is a boat built of contemplation and self-control. To contemplate, to meditate on the Almighty is the key too realisation. As in life, when we focus our thoughts and actions on any one particular thing, we can achieve unimaginable feats. When we contemplate Him, the Akaal Purkh, we can realise Him. But we need to remain disciplined in this regard, such must be our self-control, the second material to build our boat. We are not SUnday Sikhs: One day we close our eyes for Him, another day we close our eyes and sin! We must remain true to ourselves throughout and our life must reflect that which we purport to contemplate. We do not rid ourselves of our daily work and schooling to contemplate, we put it into practice as we commit ourselves to our schedule.

The rahau lines are a wonderful declaration of the importance of meditating on the Name of the Almighty. The robe that is my life, Guru Nanak writes, is eternally dyed in the colour of my beloved Almighty’s Name. On a number of occasions in this shabad, Guru nanak refers to the Almighty as the groom and himself (or mankind) as the bride. THis is to further the ideal that when we become realised, when we attain salvation, we become merged into The Almighty himself. His name is that which we are to recognise and tune into. If we can do that, then we can walk in step with the Amighty and merge with Him.

The shabad continues with a reference to our departed friends, possibly here Guru Nanak responding to Sheikh Farid who asks the question of departed friends further in Raag Suhi. The Guru puts simply that if those companions of ours who have already departed were virtuous and forthright, then the Almighty would merge them with him and put an end to their death and rebirth in this World. So often we consider our loved ones whom we have lost and we consider where they must be now. THis is a futile exercise, for if they merited an extinguish of their comings and goings then, the Lord will take care of that. We are not in a postion, nor should we distract ourselves by judging who may or may not have attained the Almighty’s grace.
As the shabad continues…

Those who have truly merged with the Lord will never leave. Their journey across the river is over.

If we can awaken from the I-amness that is prevalent in all of us; if we can take on the illusory World and realise there is something more; then we can put to bed our ego and become devoted to the Almighty. If we become Truthful completely in our lives then we can receive the nectar, the thirst-quenching Truth of the Almighty. The Guru uses the analogy of us (mankind) being the bride and the Almighty being the groom. If we follow the Guru then we can do that which pleases our husband and sew a robe of devotion to Him.

The Guru brings the shabad to a conclusion by alluding to the real value of the imagery used here: the husband, being the ALmighty, is so dear to Guru Nanak. In return for our service as maidens, we the brides find our soul-mate in the Almighty.

Interpreted by Harwinder Singh Mander