Wednesday 3 August 2011

Japji Sahib: The Sublime Compositions

Guru Nanak Dev is revered as much by the Sikhs as by many others.  Born in Punjab he strived to bring forth resurgence between man and God. He revealed the nature of the Infinite Truth which is beyond the comprehension of the intellect. He wrote 38 pauris of the Japji Sahib or recitation of God. It prescribes the most uncomplicated path to God-realisation. Japji Sahib is the essence of God in all his compassion.
Just as OM is considered as the Moola Mantra of the Vedas, Ikomkar, Sat Naam, Kartaa Purukh, Nirbhau, Nirvair, Akaal Moorat, Ajooni Saibhang, Gur Parsaad, is considered as the Moola Mantra of the Guru Granth Sahib. Expounding on the truth enshrined in the mantra is the entire Japji Sahib and elaboration of the Japji Sahib is the entire Guru Granth Sahib.
Ikomkar means Truth is one and Ik echoes the highest truth. Satnaam is his name because it is eternal immutable existence. Kartaa means doer and Purukh means conscious entity.
Nirbhau Nirvair is the Lord and is fearless, because there is no one higher than Him. He is Akaal Moorat because He is beyond time and without death or change. Ajooni means without birth and since God has no birthday, He was never born. No one created God and there is one ultimate cause of the universe which is Saibhang, self existing. He is himself Guru Prasad, the compassionate Guru and the Aadi Guru. Ikomkar is nothing but His Parsaad.
The Japji Sahib starts with an indication as to what is truth. Guru Nanak Dev says Truth was there in the beginning, it was there through the ages, it is there in the present and will remain in the future. That which remains in all three periods of time is called Sat, the Reality. Therefore, in our meditation, we must turn our minds towards the Changeless Reality.
By simply bathing in holy waters, one does not attain the Truth. The ‘bath’ represents one of the Karmas - actions we undertake in the world. For an action to serve as a means of inner purification, it must be done with bhakti i.e. devotion and faith.
Along with bath, chanting of mantras is essential. Hence Guru Nanak Dev has put water in the Gurudwaras for baths and Gurbaani, the scripture. The practice of bhakti and karma yoga should be an on-going process for inner purification.
By rational thinking, Truth cannot be attained. Truth is beyond body, mind and intellect and is the substratum behind all perceived or conceived things. The direct discovery of truth alone is self-realisation and all others mere indicators.
Nanak Dev points out that we should use our faculties as means to discover Truth. Therefore, speak that which is Truth, which is good for others and speak it with love. The calm mind is the result of genuine vairagya, dispassion. If there are lingering agitations, then you are running away from the situation and inactivity is not the solution.
Hence discrimination must be used to decide upon the correct activity which must be in pursuit of Truth. Guru Nanak says that even if you become the king of the entire universe, your hunger for sensual pleasures and objects will not get fulfilled. A desire has to be exhausted when the intellect is unable to convince the mind, or the mind is unwilling to listen to the intellect. Such desires should be exhausted to the limits of dharma, so that we finally rise above them.
Guru Nanak says that by becoming a scholar, one cannot attain Truth. He says  ego is untruth and it cannot take you to Truth. The entire suffering in the universe is because of false ego which identifies itself as a separate individual.
When the ego is removed, when the veil of ignorance is lifted, what remains is Truth, the one Reality. The laws of the universe are called as dharma –righteousness. Dharma is simply the essential nature of thing and the right way to transact with it.
The Guru says that ego is born out of ignorance of Truth. The veil of ignorance will go when ego is gone. Nobody can disobey His will, the essential law of nature. Destiny is self-created and will play itself out with certainty and we cannot escape it. He says that the entire universe has manifested because of His law. Even life comes into the body only because of His law.
The Guru says that when we do not have faith in His power, how can this limited personality with limited power envision His glory?. He says that from earth and dust, He makes a body, and in this mud plaster of the body, He breathes life.
In the billions of galaxies in this entire universe, He can see into the mind of each and every one of His creations.
At the end of the Guru Granth Sahib, it is said that what remains are the Lord and His name, and they remain as One. Guru Nanak Dev tells us to have faith in the existence of the one master who alone is true and with this faith, seek Him. He says that if we have the faith that God can give us everything, then ask for Him and not for things.
Guru Nanak Dev goes on to expound that however noble and pure the action might be, it can only get us another body, another birth. He has clearly underlined the importance of faith, and sadhana for a sincere spiritual seeker.
He says that in the beginning stages, all seekers need the help of a Guru, whether it be living Guru, the scripture or in another form, such as an idol, the Cross, or word ‘Ikomkar’ or cosmic forces. However, eventually, the form must be transcended to the Guru Tattva, the true essence behind the form, which is formless. Guru Nanak Dev says that Guru is the one God who appears as the destroyer, sustainer, creator and mother of the universe. By saying IK, Guru Nanak Dev has echoed the entire essence of the scripture, stressing that not only is He the single giver, but that He is ‘IK’, the one without a second.
(The write-up is based on the discourse given by Swami Swaroopananda, Director-In Charge, Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore and Acharya, Chinmaya Mission Australia, Far East & U.K.).
Article by : V. N. Gopalakrishnan
Source: Bhavan's Journal 28th February 2011
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