Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Essence of japji - Mul Mantra

Ek Ong Kaar

(One Universal Creator God)


(True is his name)


(Creative Being Personified)


(No Fear)


(No Hatred)


(Image Of the Undying)


(Beyond Birth)




(By Guru’s Grace)


(Keep repeating his name)

Aad Sach Jugad Saach Hai Bhi Sach Nanak Hosi Bhi Sach

(True In The Primal Beginning. True Throughout The Ages. True Here And Now. O Nanak, Forever And Ever True. )

This is the only definition of Mul-Mantra which almost all are familiar with. But, there is more to it. Much much more to it, which this topic tries to cover.

The Mul-mantra enunciates Guru Nanak Ji’s concept of God. It is a positive affirmation of the unity of God – an external Lord who is transcendent as well as immanent.

We can say that the Mul-Mantra is the initial seed sown by Guru Nanak Ji, Japji saheb ji is the plant born of that seed & the whole guru granth saheb ji is the leaves & branches of that tree. It gives in-depth of what there is in the mul-mantra & in the Japji.

Let’s start the Mul-Mantra tour.


Ek-Ong-Kaar is the combination of 3 words, ‘Ek’ + ‘Ong’ + ‘Kaar’. Many places in the Guru Granth saheb ji it is stated that everything is nothing but atomically a sound, a vibration. There is power force (Which we call the Almighty one) that runs the entire universe, & all the creation (all which is known to the humans & that too which is not known) & which is the source of that sound – ‘Ek’. From that one sound, comes vibrations of different frequencies – ‘Ong’ which takes the physical form – ‘Kaar’. But even we all are his creations. So, are we different from him??? Not at all. We are a part of that supreme 1. Thus the creator is not something outside, not somewhere far or somewhere unreachable. He is within u & all. Just that you have to experience it, ignite that spirit.

The first word in the Mul-Mantra is the digit 1 (Not in words). Guru Nanak Ji himself pronounced it as Ek-Ong-Kaar (Or Ek-Ang-Kaar)

Guru Nanak Ji purposely placed integral ‘1’ before Ong-kaar. He could have expressed the unity of God by a verbal expression, but did not choose to do so. The integral ‘1’ is unique in that all other numbers are nothing but an expansion of a sum of it, or ‘1’ is multiplied by that number. Secondly, this number is such that the antithesis of odd or even does not exist in it. The Symbol ‘Ek’ is thus an unmistakable sign to conclusively indicate unity. Thirdly, (Guru Nanak Ji used the digit 1& not the word) as he wanted to emphasize that the universe had emanated from one God & not from void or zero, the state of dispassion or lifeless, unconscious matter. Guru Nanak Ji has, in Rag Maru (In Guru Granth Saheb Ji, Pages 1023 – 1038) eluded that before the beginning of the creation, there was nothing but chaos & chaos for millions of years, but even that time the One Lord was there, & he was wrapt in himself in his eternity, in absolute transe, was alone & detached, had no rival, & sat in judgment over himself. Only his order (Hukum), prevailed, & he created Universe out of himself.

He is one only; there is no other to equal him. (Words may change their meanings & concepts in course of time, but the connotation of a numeral is always the same & unchangeable). It emphasizes the unity of God in unmistakable terms. Guru Nanak Ji’s emphasis on 1 was because the populace had forgotten the One God, & was running after the minor gods & goddesses who were nothing but his creation only.


It’s composed of ‘Sat’ & ‘Naam’.

The literal meaning of ‘Sat’ is Truth. But in context of the sum total of Guru Nanak Ji’s testaments, it would be apt to translate it as ‘Eternal’. It is only God who has no beginning, no end, is not subject to change. He was, is & shall forever be alike. (Just our vision of seeing him changes)

The literal meaning of ‘Naam’ is The Name, rather than the Divine Name. In Guru Granth Saheb ji, ‘Naam’ for all practical purposes is synonymous with shabad (Word). Divine name is not something distinct from the almighty. It instead is revelation of, & coextensive with, the infinite one. It is expression of the nature & being of God in terms comprehensible to human understanding. According to Guru Nanak Ji, before creation of the universe, there was the infinite one engrossed in himself, in trance, in his true name, his true glory & his true throne. When he created the universe, he breathed his own light in his creation. In Japji Saheb Ji (Pauri – 19), Guru Nanak Ji says: “Whatever he created was (Manifest of) his name; There is no place where his name does not pervade.”

‘Naam’ Therefore is the universal light or spirit which is all-pervading & immanent in all his creation. Besides, ‘Naam’ is object of meditation. The contemplation of the divine name helps in realization of the lord in self. The ‘Naam’ kindles the inner light & helps in its mingling with the Supreme light.

The name of God & names of God are quite distinct & are not to be confused. The Guru Granth Saheb ji uses various names of Gods prevalent at the time, such as ‘Bhagvan’, ‘Gobind’, ‘Gopal’, ‘Ishwar’, ‘Ram’, ‘Allah’, ‘Rabb’, ‘Rahim’, ‘Khuda’, but these are not essential. ‘Naam’ is the total expression of God, manifest & un-manifest. It is expression of his light or spirit which is immanent in his creation.

Now summing up all the discussions on ‘Sat-Naam’, its very easy to understand that even you are his creation. You are him & he is within you & all. Realize that ‘ONE’ within you, that ‘Name’, that ‘True-Name’, ‘Sat-Naam’.


‘Karta’ means the creator. God is the creator. He created the universe. Before the creation of the universe, the power of creation lay in the Supreme Being. Guru Nanak Ji has dwelt upon the attributes of his supreme being, who is also the creator & spread his light in his creation. The creator is indistinct from God. There is no parallel to him. He is omnipotent. Through his power are winds, water & fire; and the earth is created out of dust. All is through his power, for he is the creator lord. His name is the holiest of the holy.

‘Purakh’ simply means All-Pervading; who pervades in each & every particle. In context of human body, the word ‘Purakh’ gives the meaning of soul, & in context of the universe, it means God. Its literal meaning is Person. In Guru Granth Saheb ji, the word ‘Purakh’ has been used in various contexts meanings person, man, great man, God, Soul, All-Pervading, etc.

Guru Nanak Ji has used adjectives to illustrate to illustrate the attributes of the ‘Purakha’ who is the only Eternal entity, distinct from other persons. He is from the very beginning (adi Purakh), All-pervading & eternal (Sat Purakh), Creator (Karta Purakh), Immortal (Akal Purakh) & without the duality of maya (Niranjan Purakh)

‘Purakh’ is such, is the Universal Mind or Soul (Parmatama) which is omnipresent & omniscient. The human mind or soul (Atma) formed part of the universal mind or soul before it was parted, & eager for communication. Guru Nanak Ji used this imile to delineate God as the supreme bridegroom & his creation as the bride eager to meet him. ‘Purakh’ is therefore that being, mind or soul which is All-Pervading.


Literal meaning is without fear. The word is to be interpreted in sum total of Guru Nanak’s testament. In Asa-De-Vaar pauri 4, its written that:

bhai vich pavan vahai sadvaa-o.

(In the Fear of God, the wind and breezes ever blow.)

bhai vich chaleh lakh daree-aa-o.

(In the Fear of God, thousands of rivers flow.)

bhai vich agan kadhai vaygaar.

(In the Fear of God, fire is forced to labor.)

bhai vich Dhartee dabee bhaar.

(In the Fear of God, the earth is crushed under its burden.)

bhai vich ind firai sir bhaar.

(In the Fear of God, the clouds move across the sky.)

bhai vich raajaa Dharam du-aar.

(In the Fear of God, the Righteous Judge of Dharma stands at His Door.)

bhai vich sooraj bhai vich chand.

(In the Fear of God, the sun shines, and in the Fear of God, the moon reflects.)

koh karorhee chalat na ant.

(They travel millions of miles, endlessly.)

bhai vich siDh buDh sur naath.

(In the Fear of God, the Siddhas exist, as do the Buddhas, the demi-gods and Yogis.)

bhai vich aadaanay aakaas.

(In the Fear of God, the Akaashic ethers are stretched across the sky.)

bhai vich joDh mahaabal soor.

(In the Fear of God, the warriors and the most powerful heroes exist.)

bhai vich aavahi jaaveh poor.

(In the Fear of God, multitudes come and go.)

sagli-aa bha-o likhi-aa sir laykh.

(God has inscribed the Inscription of His Fear upon the heads of all.)

naanak nirbha-o nirankaar sach ayk.

(O Nanak, the Fearless Lord, the Formless Lord, the True Lord, is One)

In short, “In his fear, nay DISCIPLINE, is the universe, the wing, rivers, fire, earth, sun, moon, stars, divine heroes, demigods. The writ of Lord’s discipline is over the heads of all. The formless one, eternal, is alone without fear or discipline of any other. He alone is ‘fearless’, all other incarnated gods, demigods, are dust before him”

‘NirBhau’ therefore means sovereign. He alone is the sovereign & the whole universe, the globe, the galaxies & nether regions, move within his discipline, as ordained by him.

Each & everywhere it is emphasized that the divine is present in you too. So the ‘NirBhau’ has to be within you, & it is. Just realize that & you will become fearless. But how to do that ? Very simple, just shed your ego. Don’t hide behind the so called fact that it’s you who have done & created things. Its not you, it’s him; he is making you perform & do everything. Accept this fact, you will be fearless.

(There is a whole article posted here regarding ego, do take time to read it)


Literally means without enmity, but the translation does not seem to apt in context of Guru Nanak Ji’s hymns. The infinite lord is the Supreme Being, without parallel. He is sovereign & the universe is in his discipline. There is no equal to him. Therefore, there is no question of his having an enemy to challenge him. ‘Nirvair’, in this context means that he is without inner contradictions, or inconsistencies which pull him apart. ‘Nirvair’ therefore, means harmonious.


‘Akal’ literally it means timeless. He who has a beginning, has an end. The almighty is without beginning & has no end. He is not subject to birth or death. He is not encompassed within the limits of Time. ‘Akal’ therefore means Immortal.

Being immortal, the Supreme Being is not without form. He is both ‘Nirgun’, un-manifest & ‘Sargun’, manifest. It is in the latter form that he can be expressed in definite shape.

In Guru Granth Saheb ji, ‘Akal’ & ‘Murath’ have come together at a number of places to give the meaning, the being who is Immortal. He is embodied, but it is his spirit that lies in his products. The Almighty embodies in finite forms but is himself infinite. ‘Murth’, therefore, means Embodiment.


The Almighty is beyond the pale of birth & death. There is no cause of his coming into being. “He has neither father, nor mother, nor sons, nor kins, nor wife”. Guru Nanak Ji rejects the Hindu doctrine on incarnation of God In human form. “He works through all ages; He is always Harmonious, He is not involved in strife, nor comes nor goes”. ‘Ajuni’ therefore, means non-incarnated.


Self-existent. There is no cause for his existence. He is not produced from other being. He is himself cause & effect of his existence. He is produced from the self.


Who was Guru Nanak Ji’s Guru? There is no other answer than God himself. Here, Guru Nanak described him as ‘Gur’, the teacher, preceptor, enlightener. Guru Nanak Ji has used the word ‘Gur’ for the Infinite one.

‘Parsad’ refers to bountiful. Guru Nanak Ji here describes the element of Grace in God. It is from this aspect of His personality, that Guru Nanak develops his doctrine of Grace. Other equivalents used are ‘kripa’, ‘nadar’, ‘mehar’, ‘karam’, ‘bakshish’, ‘bhana’, ‘taras’. All these have some degree of difference in interpretation. ‘Parsad’ is a positive form of his attribute, that he is the giver. “His many bounties cannot be recorded. He is great giver & has no particle of covetousness”

There are 10 gurus, and their light of the first Guru permeated the following ones, and that light now vests in Guru Granth Saheb Ji. As such, ‘Gur-Parsad’ is interpreted as, “By Grace Of Guru’s Word”, which is contained in Guru Granth Saheb Ji.


As lots & lots of his virtues are discussed above, there don’t arise any further explanation or reason to again emphasize on the fact as to why to always remember him. This ‘Jap’ simply says that only. Keep repeating his name (Let is be ‘Waheguru – Waheguru’, ‘Ram-Ram’, ‘Allah – Allah’, etc as long as its taken in his love rather than some worldly demands)

Imagine you are in love (with the opposite sex of course), and when I say in love, I really mean madly in love with that person. It’s obvious that you will continually remember & repeat his / her name in your mind.

Similarly, this is the love what Guru Nanak Ji speaks of. Love lord like this. Believe me; you will really love this love.

In Japji Saheb Ji too, there are these lines:

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.)

Aad Sach Jugad Saach Hai Bhi Sach Nanak Hosi Bhi Sach

Normally, this line is defined as:

True In The Beginning.

True Throughout The Ages.

True Here And Now.

O Nanak, Forever And Ever True.

But a very important thing missed out there is that, when we say ‘Aad Sach’, normally it means that the God is true from the beginning of time. So here we are restriction him in the domain of time. As he himself created the time too, he was true not from the beginning of time, but even before it.

PS. This was the interpretation of the Mul-Mantra by daas. I am very well aware of the fact that already this has been decoded, but this gives a bit different taste. I am not telling that others are wrong, just that different people have different perspective of seeing the same thing & this is mine after long research & personal experiences.

Next post onwards, the main Pauris of Japji will start. Although posting them will be delayed by 15th may as I have my final exams. I know that there has to be no excuse to this kind of cause, so I will try to write & post the same as & when I get time before that.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh.