Monday, March 19, 2007

Theme of Japji

Jap (Or Japu) means meditation. The object of meditation is god whose concept deciphered in the Mul-Mantra (which will be carried out later in this site)

In the very first stanze, Guru nanak ji raises two pertinent questions: “How is the Truth to be attained? How is the veil of falsehood to be torn aside?” (kiv sachi-aaraa ho-ee-ai kiv koorhai tutai paal).

These are the two sides of the same coin. Japji’s theme revolves around the answer to the twin problem. (Although Guruji answers the same question in the very next line as รจ hukam rajaa-ee chalnaa naanak likhi-aa naal). You can say, Japji oscillates to answer this same question giving various other examples.

In the process, Guruji dwells on the existing religious practices, his concept of god & announces his doctrine of Nam-Japna, meditation on his name for communication with the almighty, as light mingles with light & water mingles with water.


Man's Quest & aim


Man, originally part & parcel of the eternal reality, lies helplessly stranded on the stormy ocean of this phenomenal world. Tosses around by turbulent waves of inclement forces, he yeans once again to be ‘real’ rather than fake & phony. This will, he expects put an end to his woes on EARTH & also relieve him of the cycle of births & deaths.

The JAPJI shows him the way – It is to shun the cloth of ignorance, & hence arrive at the vision of reality. In such a state alone can Man be in living communication with God, whose being is Man’s true home as well as destination. However, the morbid consciousness of the self or ‘I’, ‘Me’, or ‘haumai’ or simply stating – ‘ego’ forms the wall that separates man from the divine spirit. To regain the much needed, vital vision; Man must rid himself of this ego.

Like Guruji commands: “Surrender your self to him & then the whole world will be yours.”


The 5 Realms OR Stages


As indicated earlier, human life in Guru Nanak’s view, is an incessant struggle for spiritual evolution & not merely a phase of static speculation. In its raw & untended state the human spirit roams uselessly by low animal instincts & lost in ‘misleading bylanes’. In this situation, man is not even conscious of any higher purpose, or of any nobler ideal. From this turbid state, he has to so evolve himself through persistent endeavor, as to rend / shun the ‘cloth of ignorance’ & attain the Ultimate Reality.

While the final goal is the realization of the Truth & the attainment of the ‘beatific vision’, this goal itself is attainable through a sustained process of spiritual discipline & experience. The discipline lies in annihilation of ego (haumai), through an unqualified acceptance of the divine will & imploring of the grace of the lord through loving devotion, Nam-Simran. In this connection, Guru Nanak Ji speaks of the 5 stages of mystic experience OR spiritual evolution & refers to these as ‘khands’ or ‘realms

The 5 khands are:

1) 1) Dharam khand

2) 2) Gian khand

3) 3) Saram khand

4) 4) Karam khand

5) 5) Sach Khand

The basic & initial realm is that of ‘Dharma’. In it every object, whatever its nature, is required to carry out on its duty for the fulfillment of the grand design of the creator. Accordingly, temporal entities, represented by days & nights, years & seasons, are seen performing their tasks dutifully; physical powers symbolized by air, water & fire too run their errands ungrudgingly; the spatial entities covered by earth, neither regions, in fact by the vast expanse of this universe as a whole, are also busy carrying out their assigned duties. Such is the dispensation of the realm of ‘Dharma’. Placed in this realm man has to discharge obligations; to tend to functions imposed upon him by the creator. In fact, a special responsibility devolves upon him, for endowed with superior consciousness; he is expected to carry on functions, both mundane & spiritual.

In the 32nd stanza of the Japji, Guru Nanak Ji says that the natural goal & challenge for the human spirit is to ascend the stairs my dear lord to meet for –

sun galaa aakaas kee keetaa aa-ee rees.

(Hearing of the etheric realms, even the meanest worms long to come back home.)

If the meanest worm’s yearning is to meet the dear lord, Man whom God planted on Earth as the ‘roof & crown’ (given the highest position) of things & created him ‘in his own image’, has it, as his inescapable & bounden duty, to try to deserve what the Almighty has endowed him with. Man’s placement is thus by itself a challenge for him to perform his duties which are subject to rigorous laws & rules of conduct & spiritual discipline. Man owes it to his maker to justify his very existence & to acquit himself with credit. There is an added incentive to man to do his duty, as he stands firmly assured that his ‘actions shall be judged by fairest norms’. The true & the false in him shall be distinguished & separated & he shall be duly rewarded for all the good he does & also be pushed farther from the master for all his failings & omissions. This consciousness, the Guru says, is to be gained in the realm, the Realm of ‘DHARAM

The next is the realm of knowledge or ‘GIAN KHAND’. In it man’s intellect steadily gets keener & his mental horizons widen. He starts perceiving Cosmos mysteries through deliberate intellectual effort. The vastness of this universe, its infinite variety & the grand design behind it, begin to unfold him in this realm. He, following Guru Nanak, begins to place his finger at the diseases spot, ‘haumai’, & as a result begins to experience a yearning to regain his paradise. A proper integration of Man’s spiritual powers & his intellectual faculties takes place at this stage; & he not only becomes aware of the beauty & the profundity of Creation, but also of the meaning & essence of things – deeper & far beyond what is manifest.

Armed with his awareness, he proceeds on to the next realm of spiritual endeavor, ‘SARAM KHAND’. Exquisite forms & beauty are the hall-mark of the images fashioned therein. Man’s intuition, understanding & insight, all are superbly forged there. In fact, man begins to acquire the vision of sages. His incessant labors in the spiritual filed ultimately qualify him to enter the next realm, the realm of grace – ‘KARAM KHAND’

The noblest & most exalted spirits abide in this realm, with their beings ever saturated in the love of the lord. The blessed doughty spirits & mighty heroes abide here with the love lord as their sole property. They are their purest selves with beings altogether untainted by any baser instincts. Even paragons of beauty, like Sita, assume their importance when they have the grace of the lord shining over them. The key to win his grace is in total involvement with his name divine which is itself its own reward & is indicative of the lord’s grace, ‘KARAM’

The long & arduous journey of the human spirit is by now well-nigh over; & it enters the realm of Truth – ‘Sach Khand’. This is the place from where the almighty showers his grace & issues forth his ordinances. Here Man’s spirit is face to face with the Ultimate Reality. If finds itself in constant communication with the Divine spirit, which is Man’s primal home & his final destination.

Guru Nanak Ji felt, that the individual’s spiritual evolution must be in a social context; for the individual’s moral, spiritual & social progress are inextricably linked with the social group which has nurtured him. Hence a sikh is expected to advance on the spiritual path in such a way as to become an instrument of salvation for others too:

Such as the lord’s name do meditate,

Their life’s toil duly sublimates / vanishes;

They advance in their spiritual journey,

Redeeming & helping many a more in that process.

Truly speaking, this is not just applicable to just Sikhs … It’s for the whole of humanity.


Formalities in religions & Religious practices


Guru Nanak Ji makes specific mention of some of the existing religions practices & totally rejects them or declares them inadequate for achieving union with God.

In Guru Nanak’s times, the people in northern India were either following traditional form of religion by performing pilgrimages to the wholly places & making offerings & obeisance to various gods & goddesses, or were under the spell of Naths & yogis who had a considerable sway, especially in the Punjab. Guru Nanak Ji sets both these paths aside.

He contends that unity with God cannot be achieved by pilgrimages & austerities, as also by showing mercy & giving charity which, however bring some merit, but are not sufficient in themselves as a driving force.

The external cleaning of the body by bathing myriads of times at holy places leads nowhere :

sochai soch na hova-ee jay sochee lakh vaar.

(By bathing at the so called holy places - 'pilgrimages', He cannot be cleaned of his inner self even if he baths hundreds of thousands of times.)

The above ^^^ is a bit controversial line which has different meanings from the different authors. This will be solved during the actual decoding of the PAURIS IN JAPJI.

Fasting does not cure craving for worldly goods, which rather gets accentuated.

bhukhi-aa bhukh na utree jay bannaa puree-aa bhaar.

(The hunger of the hungry is not appeased, even by piling up loads of worldly goods.)

The traditional hindu belief about the trinity, creator, preserver & the destroyer in Bhrahma, Vishnu & shiva is unreal & without foundation as these gods have no separate entity. It is his will only that prevails & they function within discipline. No, no … God himself is the Bhrahma, Vishnu & shiva. He performs all these functions & there no other separate entity. He is all alone & all in all.

(My apology to all the hindu readers OR Believers here … This is not my just my own personal interpretation, This is what Japji relfects & is also true because there is much bigger power ruling the supposed 3 gods - Bhrahma, Vishnu & shiva. To achieve the real truth, u need to have faith in the supreme lord rather than fall in pits of ignorance)

Guru Nanak Sets aside the doctrine of Naths & Yogis. God cannot be achieved by the vow of silence & going in a trance. Myraids of devices & clever nesses which formed an essential form of their tenets, are of no avail & not even one would help in obtaining access to him.

sahas si-aanpaa lakh hohi ta ik na chalai naal.

(Hundreds of thousands of clever tricks, but not even one of them will go along with you in the end.)

The extension of life span to four ages, nah, 10 times more, by the Hath Yoga, & attainment of name & fame all over the world, would not do to bring him any nearer. The working of miracles is in vain & empty show. For he himself is the nath, lord of all & in his world lies the yogis Worldliness harmony. The whole world is on his strings.

Besides, the futility of Yogis religious doctrine & practices, Guru Nanak Ji also disapproves his way of living, especially his earrings, bowl, wallet, ash-smeared-body, patched coat & the staff. All these lead one astray.

likh likh parhi-aa.

(The more one write and reads,)

taytaa karhi-aa.

(the more one burns.)

baho tirath bhavi-aa.

(The more one wanders at sacred shrines of pilgrimage,)

tayto lavi-aa.

(the more one talks uselessly.)

baho bhaykh kee-aa dayhee dukh dee-aa.

(The more one wears religious robes, the more pain he causes his body.)

saho vay jee-aa apnaa kee-aa.

(O my soul, you must endure the consequences of your own actions.)

ann na khaa-i-aa saad gavaa-i-aa.

(One who does not eat the corn, misses out on the taste.)

baho dukh paa-i-aa doojaa bhaa-i-aa.

(One obtains great pain, in the love of duality.)

bastar na pahirai.

(One who does not wear any clothes,)

ahinis kahrai.

(suffers night and day.)

mon vigootaa.

(Through silence, he is ruined.)

ki-o jaagai gur bin sootaa.

(How can the sleeping one be awakened without the Guru?)

pag upaytaanaa.

(One who goes barefoot)

apnaa kee-aa kamaanaa.

(suffers by his own actions.)

al mal khaa-ee sir chhaa-ee paa-ee.

(One who eats filth and throws ashes on his head)

moorakh anDhai pat gavaa-ee.

(the blind fool loses his honor.)

vin naavai kichh thaa-ay na paa-ee.

(Without the Name, nothing is of any use.)

rahai baybaanee marhee masaanee.

(One who lives in the wilderness, in cemetaries and cremation grounds)

anDh na jaanai fir pachhutaanee.

(- that blind man does not know the Lord; he regrets and repents in the end.)

satgur bhaytay so sukh paa-ay.

(One who meets the True Guru finds peace.)

har kaa naam man vasaa-ay.

(He enshrines the Name of the Lord in his mind.)

naanak nadar karay so paa-ay.

(O Nanak, when the Lord grants His Grace, He is obtained.)

aas andaysay tay nihkayval ha-umai sabad jalaa-ay.

(He becomes free of hope and fear, and burns away his ego with the Word of the Shabad)

Guru Nanak Ji used the words – Bramha, Vishnu, shiva, siddh, buddh, nath & others, simply to illustrate different functions performed by the almighty & to drive home the idea of One God, supreme, to different sections of society, in the language which they understand.


The Divine Will / HUKUM


Guru Nanak Ji develops gradually his answer to the twin – question, “How the truth to be attained? How the veil of falsehood he torn aside?” In the very next line, he provides the answer which lies in “submission to his Hukam, Divine order, which is ingrained in oneself”

So, the basic question rises from our side. What is Hukam? What is ingrained in oneself? These are the two aspects of the answer & needs closer examination.

Guru Nanak Ji proceeds in the next stanza, 2, to expound his concept of hukum:

“The hukum cannot be expressed in words. All form was created by hukum, that life was created through the hukum, & that greatness can be achieved in accordance with the hukum. As a result of hukum, some are high, others low; and in accordance with it, some get pain & suffering, others pleasure & joy. Through hukum, one is blessed & obtains union with God, & the other is condemned to everlasting transmigration. All subjects to the hukum, none is beyond the pale of this Authority. Says Nanak, if any one comprehends the hukum, he is purged of his ‘ego’ / ‘self-centeredness’”.

hukam rajaa-ee chalnaa naanak likhi-aa naal.

(O Nanak, it is written that you shall obey the Hukam of His Command, and walk in the Way of His Will.)

hukmee hovan aakaar hukam na kahi-aa jaa-ee.

(By His Command, bodies are created; His Command cannot be described.)

hukmee hovan jee-a hukam milai vadi-aa-ee.

(By His Command, souls come into being; by His Command, glory and greatness are obtained.)

hukmee utam neech hukam likh dukh sukh paa-ee-ah.

(By His Command, some are high and some are low; by His Written Command, pain and pleasure are obtained.)

iknaa hukmee bakhsees ik hukmee sadaa bhavaa-ee-ah.

(Some, by His Command, are blessed and forgiven; others, by His Command, wander aimlessly forever.)

hukmai andar sabh ko baahar hukam na ko-ay.

(Everyone is subject to His Command; no one is beyond His Command.)

naanak hukmai jay bujhai ta ha-umai kahai na ko-ay.

(O Nanak, one who understands His Command, does not speak in ego.)

Some conclusions which emerge from this description are as follows:

* As God in his fullness is Ineffable, beyond human comprehension, so too is the hukum in its full range.

* To a precise extent, it can be understood that it is the source of all forms, life, & distinctions in one’s conditions, e.g. of greatness, of differences between high & low, misery & happiness, salvation & transmigration, which seemingly are beyond human control.

* All are subject to hukum, rather "HIS HUKUM DIRECTS THE PATH."

* Understanding of hukum, leads to destruction of ‘ego’

Verily, ego is the veil of falsehood that prevents one from attaining the truth. Ego is the carbon which prevents ignition of inborn in self. When mind is decarbonised by hukum, ignition is obtained & inner self is illuminated.

Precisely, what is hukum? Somewhat later in Japji, Guruji says that god created universe through his word while stated in stanza 2 (in red above), the same is achieved through the agency of hukum. Obviously, ‘shabad’ (divine word) & ‘hukum’ (order), are consonants, whereas ‘Word’ & ‘name’ are synonyms. As such, hukum & name are congruous & harmonious.

His order is in ‘HIS NAME’ alone,

Through the true-guru, I realize it all.

As such, submission to hukum means listening to the voice of ‘maan’ (not human – man, its our inner soul – ‘atma’ OR ‘spirit’) & acting accordingly. The soul is in a state of separation from the supreme being, & yearns to unite with him. This is possible through meditation of his name which serves to ignite the inborn spirit & manifest God in self


Meditation of Name (Naam Simran)


What is the way to achieve such a state of mind & a vision of his court? What words should we utter to invoke his love? Guruji raises these two points & proceeds to give a simple reply:

Amrit-vela sach naao, vadiaaie veechar

At the ambrosial hours of the morning (amrit-vela), meditate on God the true name,

And converse on his greatness.

That is the only way to catch his sight, win his favour, achieve a robe of honor & reach the gate of salvation. Meditation is the means to catch his sight – receive his grace, his benediction – which leads to union with him.

Those who worshipped him certainly had the honor to have his vision. The true way is “to hear & believe of him with love, devotion & concentration of mind”. That makes us to shed the misery of this world & leads us to bliss, beatitude, and the home of happiness. When one hearkens to the indwelling name & ignites it, his mind becomes more precious& illuminated than the gems, jewels, & rubies. Such a mind becomes holy of holies, a sacred fount to bathe within. (Bathing at so called sacred places is of no use if mind is not pure).

God is the treasure house of excellence & there can be no meditation of his name without creating virtues in oneself. The virtues which are pre-requisite for one to be able to concentrate his mind on God are enlisted in various stanzas of JAPJI. These being chastity, compassion, contentment, devotion, discipline, divinity, faith, humility, knowledge, patience, renunciation, self-respect, truth & understanding. Most of these are connected with the purity of the mind, & when mind is defiled, it is cleansed by devotion to the name. So, it is the recitation of his name which transforms vicious of mind, which is the way to salvation from this world.

The recitation consists of uttering God’s name numberless times.

ik doo jeebhou lakh hohi lakh hoveh lakh vees.

(If I had 100,000 tongues, and these were then multiplied twenty times more, with each tongue,)

lakh lakh gayrhaa aakhee-ahi ayk naam jagdees.

(I would repeat, hundreds of thousands of times, the Name of the One, the Lord of the Universe.)

That surely is the path to ascend the stairs of lord & become one with him.

One who recites his name without leading a virtuous life does not catch his sight, receive his grace, benediction & achieve salvation. His efforts go waste because his mind is imbued with falsehood. Since he does not divest himself of ego, & submit to hukum, he is not equipped to acquire virtues.

Guru Nanak Ji proceeds to delineate the state of mind of one who hears his name with love & devotion, & whose mind is satiated with god, separately, & sums up his conclusions in first part of the next stanza.

One who listens to his name with devotion acquires courage, contentment, holiness, learning, royal, truth & wisdom. He learns of real nature of earth, the power that supports it, firmament, upper & neither regions, islands, continents, as also of shastras, smritis, Vedas & other scriptures. He learns of secrets of body & nature, & achieves scholastic distinction. By listening to his name, those who are blind in mind, see the way to salvation. One has no need for pilgrimage – his mind easily concentrates upon the god, & sounds the depth of sea of virtue. He conquers the fear of death. His sorrows & sins are destroyed, and he achieves a state of happiness & joy.

One who obeys him, concentrates his name in mind & realizes god in self achieves a state of bliss which is beyond expression. There is no paper or the writer to decipher it.

Kagad – kalam na likkhan haar,

Mane ka beh karne veechaar.

His mind, intellect & consciousness are molded with the name, & he acquires inner knowledge of spheres. He is virtuous, does not suffer punishment & is always absorbed in God. He not only himself achieves salvation, but also saves his disciples, & followers.

Such persons – who submit to his hukum, who believe him to be true, praise him, hear his name & obey him – are honorable in god’s estimation. They are the approved ones & leaders of men. They shed luster at his door, their mind filled with his name, is fixed on god alone. Lord is great & his seat is exalted, but his name which one realizes in self, is at a still higher pedestial.

Meditation surely is the means to catch his site & win his favour. But such meditation must be with full devotion, & of a virtuous mind. Sustained effort is necessary to find acceptance.


The Divine Grace


In Guru Nanak Ji’s schemes of things, ‘Nadar’, his site, divine grace, forms an essential part for achieving salvation. In Japji, the theme is writ large in various Stanzas. The salvation can be achieved only through his grace. It is a pre-requisite to attaining union with him.

The Significance of the theme lies in the fact that it conveys God’s recognition & acceptance of one’s labour by putting seal of the approval.

The grace of lord is on those who have meditated upon him with single mind, for they have found favour in his heart.


Cosmological Truths


Unlike many other prophets, Guru Nanak Ji makes no pretence to unfold the mystery of creation. Though various notions regarding the ‘Creation’ has been current, yet Guru Nanak Ji felt these had been fanciful & he had little rational basis. He therefore categorically rejects the traditional Indian & Semitic (Afro-Asiatic language group) beliefs as to time, size, sequence, & sustenance of the Universe. For anyone to try fix the date, time, season & circumstances of creation, would be something utterly presumptuous (or say - Going beyond what is right), for:

The lord that created the universe,

Has all these mysteries in his will.


He who claims to have the knowledge of lord & know his limits,

Will never be welcomed at lord’s door & will ever receive his displeasure.

Even as regards, the size & expanse of the universe, Guru Nanak affirms that :

Spheres (Like earth) are many & beyond our own,

And numberless beyond these.

It staggers human imagination to ponder how his one word created the cosmic expanse; & ‘Instantly ran a myriad streams of life therein’. Prior to this, the Guru, like other prophets, conceives an image of a state, in which the divine essence lay dormant for billions & trillions of years.

This, in a revealing canto in ‘Rag Maru’, the Guru calls the ‘dhundhukara’ – something analogous to the gaseous state of the present day scientific conception. In that state, regarded by the Guru as a state of quiescence (The condition of being temporarily inactive) or called – ‘sunn samadhi’ of the attributeless, nothing prevailed except his will.

Then he thought of manifesting himself, he created this huge expanse of myriads of diverse hues & forms. This he did with one word as if out of nothing. The vastness & variety of this manifest form is so bewildering that Guruji deems all speculations about it as futile:

Limitless his creation,

Its bounds were never known,

Millions have vexed to know its extent,

Yet no one has succeeded in that.

Guru Nanak’s stance is thus nearer the modern scientific view & it only cleanses people’s minds of the cobwebs of earlier fanciful & irrational beliefs, but also establishes the boundless enormity of the lord’s powers & the inscrutable nature of his will. It is indeed, refreshing to find that in a single stroke Guru Nanak Ji achieves two seemingly irreconcilable objectives:

1) Cleansing people’s minds of the ages-old irrational beliefs regarding the process of creation & the shape, size & sustenance of the cosmos,

2) Reaffirming & reinforcing their implicit faith in the divine order.


Dignity Of Human Life


As if by sheer force of tradition, numerous religious groups in India had, for ages, been running down human life on earth & even referring to the world itself as a mere illusion. The belief in the world being an illusion had also generated a measure of tiredness, laziness & purposelessness. Escaping into a world of fantasy was the direct outcome of this approach to life.

Guru Nanak Ji reversed this trend. By suggesting that ‘Latent in the spirit of man, rarest of gems do lie’:

mat vich ratan javaahar maanik jay ik gur kee sikh sunee.

(Within the mind are gems, jewels and rubies, if you listen to the Guru’s Teachings, even once.)

And that – ‘The sacred fount is within him’:

antargat tirath mal naa-o.

(cleanse yourself with the Name, at the sacred shrine deep within.)

He lent unprecedented dignity to human life. He revealed to the common man remarkable potentialities in his own being.

Kar-kar vekhai sirjanhar

(He created the creation with fond & concern view)

Nanak sache ki sachi kaar

(The universe thus created reflects his own image only)

But, even u are included in that creation. Means you yourself are his image. Then why criticize yourself & wander at places for peace & liberation? Everything is within you waiting for you to reveal it to yourself.

This restored people’s confidence in the world, which being in the image of its creator, was true & invested with a real purpose. Since God is Eternal Truth, how could the universe, which is a manifestation of his immanent self, be a mere illusion?

This new outlook on life & things, in the due course, caused a revolution in people’s attitudes & revealed to them fresh horizons for human endeavor.

Reaffirmation of life on this earth is, thus a very important aspect of Guru Nanak Ji’s teachings, particularly in the Indian Context, in which most creeds prefer to lay emphasis on a life of renunciation.


Conclusion of the Theme & Japji


Japji is not merely an exercise in pure metaphysical speculation. If it were so, it would have missed the solid substance of precise guidelines for Man’s spiritual, moral & even social endeavors – which are, of course, its chief merits. It expects Man’s mundane life to be moulded in accordance with ideals embedded in it, the chief of which are ‘to be truthful’ & ‘loving’; others being ‘to be fearless’ & ‘free of enmity’.

The last two are, in a way, concomitant of the first two, for MAN CANNOT BE TRUTHFUL UNLESS HE IS FEARLESS, and HE CANNOT BE LOVING TILL HE FORSAKES HATRED & ENMITY. Another, the fifth one, must not escape mention. This is the ‘acquisition of knowledge’ which has been recognized as an essential sustenance (food) for man:

Make divine knowledge sustenance,

And compassion be the steward.

This alone shall you taste of celestial melody

That vibrates in all hearts.

Indeed, in Guru Nanak’s philosophy of religion, knowledge, whether it comes through intuition or systematic reasoning, is a necessary stalk to stem the onslaught of blind & misguided faith. In fact, Guruji has else strongly pleaded for a ration view of life, nay even of religion:

Let reason shape man’s adoration of the lord;

Let sanity & reason fetch him honour & name;

Other people’s Reasoning will help decipher what man may scan;

Sanity (healthy mental state) will determine his acts of charity;

Of Sanity alone, O Nanak, is the enlightened path;

Save sanity, it is all the devil’s vaunt.

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