THE DIALOGUE - TO DATE
We conclude the Japji this week with a consideration of the epilogue which appears as a Salok (a poetic form) after the 38th stanza. The Japji was an obvious place to begin: its placement at the very beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib is a testimony to its importance and tradition has it that the fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan, declared it to be the quintessence of Gurmat - of which the entire Guru Granth Sahib was only an amplification.
Apart from being the most important liturgical text, it is the most popular as well. Hundreds of translations and interpretations of it exist.
The subject matter of the Japji - as we have re-discovered - is perennial and one that will be continuously revisited by successive generations. The Japji speaks of universals: what is Truth and how do we uncover it, if at all? What is our purpose and where on Earth are we going? How do we live life at an existential peak - at our fullest potential? How do we live and die with dignity?
Guru Nanak has given us a repertoire of ideas to chew on: Hukam, Haumai, Suniyeh, Maniyeh, Panch, Dharam and the Five Khands, among others. He is an exemplar in courage - the courage to question and challenge existing myths (as he did) and the conviction to speak the truth.
Above all, he has shown us The Way - emphasizing that everyday life is sacred; that what passes for spirituality is not just a Sunday affair at the gurdwara; that God is truly in the details of everyday living.
To experience this, he enjoins us to transform ourselves by cultivating the qualities of continence, patience, discernment, to love and live with knowledge and discipline.
On a personal note: when we began this journey, an important objective was to forge an authentic community of seekers, coming together to reflect on gurbani, and in the process, develop true fellowship through a melding of the minds, where individual egos dissolve in a larger bonding.
I note with much gratification that we have indeed made a quantum leap in the direction that Guru Arjan has pointed to:
Meeting is not a meeting,
Unless one bonds together
In harmony of Spirit ||3|| [GGS: 791]
As we move along, suggestions and feedback are vital for continuous improvement - individually and collectively. So please do not hesitate to speak your mind, either on the forum or directly to the convener (via email or phone).
THE MESSAGE - Salok
This salok reiterates the underlying connectedness of all creation by stressing the mix of common elements in us. As members of a single commonwealth, our actions and deeds will be the ultimate judge of how we end up - embraced and welcomed or sent back for remedial training until we get it right. Success here is measured by the degree to which we are able to draw on the power of attentive hearing (dhyan) to connect with the Word. Put another way, how well we execute the script of our lives, how fully do we draw from the creative potency of Naam to bring about individual achievement and social good.
This week, let's take a respite and share our personal experience on this journey that we have collectively undertaken. Suggestions have been made and some issues that popped up had to be tabled because of time - feel free to bring up what you feel is pertinent to the discussion at hand.
THE TEXT - RENDERED IN ENGLISH
ਪਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਧਰਤਿ ਮਹਤੁ ॥
Guru, the breath of life; water the sire;
And the great earth, womb of all being.
ਦਿਵਸੁ ਰਾਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਦਾਈ ਦਾਇਆ ਖੇਲੈ ਸਗਲ ਜਗਤੁ ॥
Nursed by Day and Night, nurtured in their lap is the world at play
ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਬੁਰਿਆਈਆ ਵਾਚੈ ਧਰਮੁ ਹਦੂਰਿ ॥
Good deeds and bad will all be weighed
ਕਰਮੀ ਆਪੋ ਆਪਣੀ ਕੇ ਨੇੜੈ ਕੇ ਦੂਰਿ ॥
By our actions we are in Your presence or afar
ਜਿਨੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਗਏ ਮਸਕਤਿ ਘਾਲਿ ॥
They who have centered on Your Name, their labors are done
ਨਾਨਕ ਤੇ ਮੁਖ ਉਜਲੇ ਕੇਤੀ ਛੁਟੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥
Nanak, their faces aglow, they are free to go;
ferrying others across with them. //1//