The last lines of PauRi 16 set the stage for PauRis 17-19 of the Japji which share a common theme, namely the spectrum of human activity and the countless ways or paths that people undertake - for good or for evil.
The first two stanzas contrast the sacred and the profane. The third reiterates what Guru Nanak has emphasized all along: that no accounting of the Creation is possible; that everything is the writ of the Creator.
The significant thing to note here is the continuity and consistency of Guru Nanak's insistence on submission to Hukam – in the refrain ('jo tuDh bhaav i saai bhalee kar) as being the right way.
It is in this context that the role of the Panch as the chosen ones of importance comes into play, because they are the very embodiments of Hukam.
As we consider these passages, please compose your thoughts around:
We agreed that Guru Nanak here expresses a deep sense of awe and wonderment, of being beholden by the sheer diversity of life: an extreme sense of wonder and awe ('vismaad')
He recounts the countless who “repeat your name, adore, worship intone the scriptures and practice yoga.”
Then Guru Nanak is awe-struck by the existence of evil in the world: 'Countless the fools, the thieves, the swindlers; countless those who rule by force. And so on.
Is Guru Nanak telling us that good and evil co-exist, that they are part of Hukam?
What is the meaning of: 'jeta keeta teytaa nau// bin naavai nahin ko thau//'.
Here is an observation made by Professor Pashaura Singh on the 19th PauRI that we should also contemplate:
“The most important insight that emerges from stanza 19 relates to the significance of linguistic words ('akhar') to describe the divine message: 'By words (akhari) alone can we utter the divine Name; by words alone can we give You glory. With words alone can we tell of Your wisdom, with words sing hymns of praise. With words we write and recite scriptures, and words must be used to record our destiny. The One who records it is free from its trammels; whatever is commanded must surely come to pass.' Clearly, Guru Nanak maintains that the glory of Akal Purakh is sung under such aspects as are relative to the endowments of the seeker. In other words, Akal Purakh reveals himself to the devotee in terms of the constitution and faculties of the human mind, and in accordance with the needs of the age. The divine message is thus conveyed in common parlance reflecting the cultural code of the time. Indeed, no mode of cognition is capable of expressing reality-in-itself; what is apprehended is relative to the mode of apprehension, which determines the form in which reality is known. These points are made explicit in the clear distinction which Guru Nanak makes throughout his works between the divine message (bani) and its expression in actual words (akhar). In his Patti Likhi ("Thus was the Slate Written"), for instance, Guru Nanak proclaims that "those who through the grace of the Guru understand the divine mystery behind these letters (akhar) erase the debt [of karma] from their heads" [GGS:432]. Thus it is the meaning behind the words (akhar) and not the words themselves that constitute the locus of revelation in Sikhism. Similarly, in his Bavan Akhari (the "Fifty-Two Letters") Kabir maintains that "these letters (akhar) will vanish whereas those [mystic] syllables are beyond these letters" [GGS:340]. These scriptural passages clearly indicate a differentiation between the medium of [removed]akhar) and the divine message, a message which is by its very nature inexpressible. More precisely, language is primarily an instrument for articulating an approximation to the divine message. “