Guru Nanak, by means of a prologue, attempts a definition of the nature of the Almighty, indescribable as He is; referring to His timelessness, His primacy, His being the Uncaused First Cause of everything; and goes on to hint about the means by Which He may be reached. The theme is explored at greater detail as we proceed further, and the entire piece is neatly concluded with a stanza which matches the opening one with its concentration, its condensation and its literary excellence. The prologue is concerned with the nature of God and hints at the means to Salvation. The epilogue sums up beautifully the nature of God's creation and concludes with a song of triumph for those who attain Salvation.
The text as given constitutes the Mul-Mantra or the basic principles as taught by Guru Nanak. God is described as the One Supreme Being (Nirankar), the Unmanifest-Manifested (Ekankar), the Eternal Verity, the Conscious Spirit pervading all forms that emanate from Him-He upholding the whole creation. He is not apart from His creation, but is immanent in every form.
He being the Creator of all, has no equal and has therefore, none to fear or envy. Again, He is above causation, has a sure existence, but not subject to births and deaths.
He, the Timeless One, existing before time, in time and beyond time, is the only object of worship, and can be reached only through the favour of His Holy Word in Man.
Nanak sums up the different systems of human thought, preached for the realisation of oneness with God. He states their inadequacy to reveal the great Reality. Philosophy, intellectual power, outward observances, like the purification of the body (which cannot purify the sinfulness of the mind), keeping silence and fasting etc., are but futile endeavours to reach the Goal. There is only one way to reach Him, and that, says Nanak, is to make God's Will our own. His Will is already a part of our being, but we are not conscious of it. It is not question of finding or creating something new, but rather of attuning oneself to what is already there.
"Hukam'' or Will, itself, is something which no words can describe. It baffles all description. The real understanding of the Divine Will comes only by direct revelation to every soul. But, with a view to bring home some idea of it, the Master indicates the multifarious aspects directed by His Will. He then goes on to indicate the touchstone by which one may know those who have become one with His Will. The knowledge of the Divine Will means the destruction of the ego.
(1) The reference here is to the Law of Karma or the Law of Cause and Effect. Our joys and sorrows are all ordained-being the result of our past actions. "As one sows, so does one reap,'' is a common aphorism. Elsewhere, Nanak, has beautifully said:
Nanak, as a great Teacher, anticipates the confusion that might arise in the minds of some seekers by the study of various scriptures. These do not always say the same thing about God's Will, but there is no need for doubt and skepticism: for what they really describe is not God's Will (which in itself is indescribable), but its various workings and manifestations. God's Will pervades and directs His Creation, but it is something more, something that is itself and above and beyond creation.
God's Will is indescribable and the question arises-how may we become one with it? Guru Nanak replies that the best we can do is to sit in meditation at the early hour of dawn and commune with His Holy Word. Our actions and our efforts count no doubt-it is through them that we achieve human birth-but, says Nanak, we cannot earn Salvation, for it must come as the gift of His Grace. Guru Nanak, in the Jap Ji, turns time and again to this paradox, that Salvation is only possible through His Grace, yet we need effort to achieve this Salvation.
Communion with the Holy Naam-the Divine Word- together with meditation on His Glory, is the "open sesame" to the realization of the One Being. Word is the substance and the power by which all life is made. Holy communion with its rapturous strains, is a gift that can be attained only through a Living Master. In His company a life of holy inspiration and love of God is followed and the inner eye is opened to see the presence of God in all things. Nanak had hinted of this in the prologue itself and now proceeds to describe the greatness and importance of such a soul. A True Master is not a mere human being, but has become One with God, and as such contains in Himself the powers of all the gods and goddesses. He is veritably the Word made flesh and blood. The one lesson that such a Master teaches His disciples is to meditate always upon the Lord, the Creator of everything, and never to forget Him.
(1). The word used in the original is Gurmukh, which at once means the mouthpiece of God and the Master who leads His disciples on the Path of God.
(2). The Master possesses the knowledge of the Divine on which all scriptures are based.
(3). The Master displays all the attributes of the gods forming the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, symbolic of the principles of creation, preservation and destruction. Like Brahma, the expounder of the Vedas, He imparts Divine knowledge and thereby gives a new birth to His disciples-the birth in spirit. Like Vishnu He protects and preserves them from all harm and like Siva, He destroys all evil propensities in them.
(4). Similarly the goddesses: Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are symbolic of devotion, wealth and learning. He is a prototype of all these virtues.
In this stanza, Nanak develops more fully the paradox just touched upon in stanza IV. One cannot attain union with God through the observance of certain outward actions, viz: reading of scriptures, saying of prayers, going on pilgrimages, observance of silence, fasts and vigils, performance of rites and rituals, all of which but form part of Apra Vidya which prepare the ground for creating interest for higher life and developing devotion. You may make the best use of them. But these outer acts cannot give emancipation. They are by themselves meaningless. What matters is His glance of Grace. If one has received this, one is blessed indeed. And yet, if Salvation depends on God's love alone, let us not live in idleness. A life of inertia can lead nowhere and God helps those who help themselves. No doubt Salvation is achieved only through Grace, yet one must make oneself worthy of the same. And the only way to make oneself worthy is by following the Path taught by a true Master. By becoming conscious of the Divine Plan, we make His Will our own.
1. Karma: Action. This term in Indian thought refers to a very complex Hindu doctrine. It emphasizes belief that our present actions determine our future, not only in this life but in the life to come. There is nothing like chance. Man works according to a chain of cause and effect. Though spiritual salvation is not possible without Grace, yet, says Nanak, we must deserve that Grace by our Karmas or actions in this life or the lives preceding.
2. Guru: This term makes its appearance frequently in the Jap Ji and indeed is freely used in all the Sikh scriptures. It stands for a spiritual teacher and whenever Nanak uses it, He does not mean any person who sets up as a spiritual guide, but one who has reached the highest plane in the spiritual journey, who is no longer separate from the Almighty and has become His mouthpiece.
Through certain yogic practices one can prolong one's life and master super human and miraculous powers. But, says Nanak, these do not necessarily win God's goodwill, without which all is vanity. In fact, in a later stanza XXIX, Nanak unequivocally states that such supernatural powers, more often than not, become hindrances in the way of full realisation of God.
(1) Nanak here is referring to the ancient Indian doctrine of the four Yugas or cycles of time, which somewhat parallels the Western belief in the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Nanak makes frequent use of such concepts and doctrines from ancient Hindu lore; but He refers to them not in a spirit of scientific truth, but often as a Divine poet, who employs allusion and mythology to drive home His point.
Nanak, after a brief digression (Stanza VII) resumes the theme of the secrets of Spirituality. Having already told us that at-one-ment with God is made possible by making His Will as our own, this, in turn, by communion with the Word, whose secret is revealed by a Living Master, He now explains the fruit of such communion. One rises above physical consciousness and comes into Cosmic Awareness. One achieves the status of a True Saint and the mystery of creation stands revealed .
Kabir also makes the same statement: "When you transcend into the beyond, a subtle voice is heard. This voice only a 'Brahm Giani' can hear."
This inner voice, heard in moments of concentrated meditation, is not to be confused, as has often been done, with the voice of conscience. Our conscience is nothing more than the sum of our past actions, passing judgment upon our present ones. As such it varies from person to person. But the inner Voice of true meditation is something universal. something that does not change, but is the same for all.
The next three stanzas (IX, X and XI), carry on the theme of the fruit of communion with the Word, which makes possible all kinds of attainment, material, intellectual and spiritual, leading ultimately to the Godhead.
(1). Siddha: A man endowed with supernatural powers.
(2). Pir: A Muslim divine or a spiritual teacher.
(3). Sura: Gods.
(4) Nath: Yogin - an adept in yoga.
(5) Dhaul: It is the fabled bull, supposed to be supporting the earths and heavens, cf. footnote under VII ibid.
1. Sastras: The philosophical treatises of the Hindus.
2. Smritis: The ancient scriptures of the Hindus.
3. Vedas: The earliest books of human thought.
1. Ath-Sath: Literally these two words mean Eight and Sixty, i.e. sixty-eight. Nanak is once again making use of the Hindu belief that ablutions at sixty-eight places of pilgrimage bring purity from all sinful acts. see footnote under VII ibid.
2. Sahaj: This term refers to the state when the turmoil of the physical, astral and causal worlds with all their enchanted panorama, are transcended and The Great Principle of life is seen within.
Nanak, having tried to describe the fruit of communion with the Word, in the preceding four stanzas, now goes on to tell about the state of one who has attuned his will with the Divine Will which cannot be described, as His Will is beyond description. The idea of the controlling power in this world may be said to be the Divine Will. God Himself is Formless, but He assumed Form, He became the Word or Naam. It was from this Word that the various planes of creation sprang into existence, one below the other. He who practices the Word, i.e. withdraws his soul from the body and lets it be drawn up by the power of the Divine Music of the Word, can progress from one spiritual plane to another, until he reaches the very Source and becomes one with it. As he proceeds on the journey, his mental and spiritual horizons widen. His soul is cleansed of its past sins and freed from the binding chains of "Karma". It thus transcends suffering and escapes from the wheel of transmigration. Once one has attained true salvation, one can help others on the Path as well. Great indeed is the Power of the Word, but unfortunately there are very few who know it. All this occupies stanzas XII to XV.
(1) Yama: it is known to the men who know of the world Beyond, that at the time of shaking off the mortal coil, souls are ushered into the other world by certain messengers who are the angels of Death (Yamduts). Sinners are badly treated by them, while the others are invariably led before Yama, the king of Death. But one who practises the Word escapes Yama altogether; for he is received at the Astral World by the Radiant Form of the Master and is escorted by Him to the spiritual planes.
Holy communion with the Word or Naam, says Nanak, is the only means to achieve oneness with the Supreme Lord. No other means can procure for man this end. It is the Spirit Current, emanating from One Being, as it does, that forms all the spiritual and material planes, reverberating in and out of all of them. It comes down from the purest spiritual planes to Materio-Spiritual and thence to Material planes, changing in Sound as it posses through the different planes. The main sub-divisions of the spiritual and astral planes are five in number as given by various scriptures. It takes on five different Sounds as it passes through them. These five Sounds are termed by the Masters or those who are Adept in this Science, "panch Shabd" (or five Words): "Panch" also literally means "head" and Nanak, in this passage, refers to both these meanings. The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. All the Saints are conscious of the one and the same Word, which may be defined as the Five-Sounded Word. Naam, Bani (or Word) and Hukam (or Will) are used by Nanak almost synonymously. Those who are all along conscious of the Divine Word or God-head, become His mouthpiece and are called Sant. Such Ones are honoured in His Court and are His chief workers. It is the communion with this "Five-Sounded Word," which unites one with the Lord. All other means fail.
It is from this Word that the whole creation springs up and returns to It on its dissolution. It is resounding within all of us and man's body is verily God's living temple. The saints of all denominations speak of the same, as the only means by which to reach the ultimate Reality.
The Mohammedans call It "Bang-i-Asmani" or the Voice coming from the Heaven. Shamas Tabrez and Khawaja Hafiz Shirazi speak of the same as has already been quoted in the introduction. The Hindus express the same by the words "Nad" (Music of the Spheres), "Akash Bani'' (the Voice coming from the heavens) and "Udgit" (Music of the Beyond).
St. John, in the Bible, defined it thus: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him and without Him was nothing made that was made."
(1) The Hindus believe that the Word was "Eko-Aham Sahu-syam" meaning thereby "I am one and wish to become many". The Mohammedans say that the word was "Kun-fi-Kun" as "He willed, and lo, all the universe sprang up".
Guru Nanak, in this stanza, gives the picture of those engaged in good deeds, those who seek to reach Him in diverse ways. These set ways, though praiseworthy, are not to be compared to the God-vision made possible by communion with and practice of the Holy Word, by which means alone, one can make God's Will his own.
Having spoken of the pious, Nanak now lists the impious.
(1). The words used in the original are Mal and Bhakh. which mean eating unwholesome food and refer to non-vegetarian diet and intoxicants. Even vegetarian diet and otherwise harmless drinks, if procured by unfair means, are also classed as unwholesome and as such their use proves a positive hindrance on the Path.
Manifold is His beauty, and vast is His creation. It baffles all description. Words cannot picture it adequately. Yet if words are inadequate, they are the only means at our disposal. God Himself is nameless, and the various names by which He is described were employed by the Master-souls: and though these can never do full justice to the subject which is indescribable, yet they give us some vague idea and stimulate us towards the Path.
(1). The words count and countless are of little consequence for the Almighty. He who is immanent in everything and is the very life of the creation itself, knows every particle thereof.
Our souls have been wandering under the control of the mind and the outgoing faculties and have been defiled by impressions of the outside world, so much so, that we have become identified with the body and forgotten our own self and God. How to purify the mind from the dirt of sins and free the soul from the bondage of matter, forms the subject matter of this stanza. To make His Will one's own, by communion with the Ward, is the only means to this end. Actions, good or bad, fail to procure communion within, as they keep one attached to the outward observances, which bind the soul to matter. Lord Krishna says: "Good or bad actions are fetters, which equally bind the soul to the world, irrespective of whether they are of gold or of iron".
The horizon of mind is darkened with the mists of sin gathered in previous births. Until these are cleared away, the Sun of Divinity cannot shine Forth in full glory. Holy Naam - the Divine Word - and naught else clears the mists away and restores the mind to its original transparency. There is no holier sanctuary than that of the Purified mind.
(1) The inexorable Law of Karma or the Law of Cause and Effect also works under His Will.
Good actions like acts of mercy and charity although commendable in themselves do not have an important bearing on the highest spiritual attainment. They cease to be of consequence once the soul begins its inner journey from the "Til" or the third eye: "If therefore thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of Light." Matt 6:22. Borne along the Current of the Word, the soul reaches "Amrit-saar" or "Amritsar" or the Fount of Nectar, the Amritsar in man. There any impurities that may be still clinging to the soul are finally washed away. Thus the soul is made fit for the onward journey to the highest spiritual plane of "Sat Naam" which is of ineffable greatness and glory.
(1) Til: it literally means the mustard seed. Here it is used for the ganglion between and behind the two eyes. Hindus call it Shiv Netra or the Third Eye. In the Gospel it is termed as Single Eye. The Sufis call it Nakta-i-Saveda. It is the seat of soul in man. It is the first stage where the soul collects itself and is enabled to rise in the higher spiritual planes. Guru Ram Das, in this context, says: "Mind wanders away every second as it has not entered the Til." Bhai Gurdas has given a beautiful description of it in his Kabits and Swaiyas Nos. 140, 141, 213, 265, 269, 270 and 294. Kabir has also referred to Till, in his Dohas or couplets. Tulsi Sahib, tells us that mystery of God is revealed only when one penetrates behind the Til. (2) The sacred Fount of Nectar is the Amrit-saar or Amritsar in man. It is not to be confused with Amritsar, the sacred pool founded by Guru Ram Das (4th Guru) and completed in the time of Guru Arjan (5th Guru). The Sacred Fount, here referred to, by Nanak, is situated in the third spiritual plane, called the Dasam Duwar. The Mohammedans call it Hauz-i-Kausar and the Hindus term it as Prag Raj. It is here that the pilgrim soul gets its real baptism and is washed clean of all impurities and regains its pristine purity. (3) Truth or Sat Naam resides in Sach Khand, which is the highest of the five spiritual planes, where the Formless One dwells. This is explained in the stanzas assigned for the various planes at the of the text. (4) Pandits or the learned men conversant with hindu scriptures, like Vedas and Puranas-the ancient treatises. (5) Qazis or the Muslims learned in religious law and theology.
God's creation is manifold, and beyond human comprehension. The finite cannot conceive the infinite All attempts to know Him and His Creation fail. However, one thing, says Nanak, is certain and that is that everything emanates from the One Source.
Even if one, through communion with the Word, merges into the infinite, one still cannot fathom its depths, for the illimitable has no limits. It is enough that the stream loses itself in the ocean. Blessed are they whose hearts are filled with the Divine Love, and no earthly possessions compare with them.
God's creation is limitless. Many have tried to fathom its mystery, yet none can know Him, until they reach His height. The soul beholds Cod when it enters into "Sach Khand," the highest of the spiritual planes. How can it be otherwise ? How can one behold what is pure spirit with these material eyes ? One must transcend on the wings of the Word and one can only do so, through His Grace.
His bounty is supreme. Magnanimous, as He is, He showers His gifts on all alike whether good or bad. All have their share, none is ignored. He knows us all, better than we do, and bestows on us what is the best for us. But the greatest of His bounties is the gift of the Eternal Song. When He confers it on man, out of His Grace, it makes him the king of kings.
Nanak, in this passage, refers to the uniqueness of God's attributes. Not only is He unique and peerless but so are His regents (the Master-souls), who sell the priceless wares of His Holy Word. Many have sung His praises and countless more, to come, might do the same, nevertheless the Almighty has remained, remains, and shall remain unsaid.
(1) The word used throughout in this passage in the original is Amul. It is difficult to render it exactly by a single word in English. Literally it means priceless but is frequently used to mean incompatible and peerless, etc. Accordingly, both priceless and peerless have been employed in this translation. (2) Gopis: or milk-maids - the mythical admirers of Lord Krishna or Govind, who were said to be tireless in singing His praises. (3) Siva: An important Hindu deity. (4) Siddhas: Disciplined souls, i.e. sages and seers.
Nanak now sketches in highly lyrical language the picture of God watching from His abode His many creations, which bow before Him in reverence.
1. Dharam Raj: Keeper of the Law who dispenses justice to souls after they have left the body, according to their actions, whose record is maintained by Chitr and Gupt, the two recording angels. 2. Khanis: Nanak here refers to the four Khanis or categories of living creatures according to their mode of birth, to wit;
Nanak, now turning from His contemplation of the Almighty, concentrates on the kind of life required to reach His door.
During his time, Hinduism had precipitated itself into mere casteism and ritualism. The rites remained but the spirit was lost. The world was considered the root of all evil, and becoming a yogin and following certain set practises was thought the only means to salvation.
Nanak points out the inadequacy of such an outlook and stresses that it is the inner discipline and not the outer codes that bring true spiritual progress. Instead of the wooden ear-rings and mendicant's wallet of the yogins, he recommends contentment, self-respect and endeavor; instead of their body-smearing ashes, cloak and staff, he recommends constant meditation, preparedness- for death and the anchor of a living Master's teachings. Salvation is not the monopoly of the so-called yogins. It is made possible only by a certain spiritual condition and those who attain it, even if they are not yogins, may reach the Highest: and conversely those who are outwardly yogins but have failed to achieve this condition may never reach God's door. This spiritual condition, not only requires the rigorous inner discipline but enjoins a catholic outlook on life - an outlook where one looks on all as equals and sees His hand in everything.
(1) Aa-ee Panthi: it is the highest sect of the yogins. (2) Sagal Jamati: Classless class or class with no distinction between student and student, with boys from all sects and of all denominations, associating together in love and goodwill, and sitting together at the feet of one Master. (3) Aa-des: it is a compound word consisting of Aadi (the primal) and Eesh (God). It is a form of salutation among the yogins.
Carrying on his substitution of the outer practices
of the yogins by inner spiritual disciplines, Nanak recommends that we
should make Divine knowledge our food (man does not live by bread alone),
inculcate charity and mercy, and attune ourselves to the Music of the Divine
Nanak also forestalls the dangers that lie on the spiritual journey. Not only is wealth a hindrance, but the power one gains through self-discipline and partial spiritual attainment may itself become an obstacle in the way of fuller realisation. One begins to practise these occult powers and absorbed in them, one tends to forget the real goal. Nanak, therefore, warns us against this possibility. Once we have begun the journey God-wards. we must not rest, waver or wander on the Way.
(1). The reference here is to the symbolic rituals of the yogins. When their food is ready, the steward sounds a trumpet to call all the yogins together to partake of the same. Nanak, while addressing them, calls all to come to their goal and taste Divinity, or the Bread of Life, by communion with the Holy Word ringing within all and calling the faithful to the spiritual banquet. (2) Nath: Tbe yogins bow to Gorakh Nath. their Teacher. But Nanak advises them to own only one Nath or Master who is controlling the entire creation. (3) Ridh: It means wealth. (4) Sidh: The word used in the original is Sidh, i.e. to accomplish. It is generally used to suggest the mastery of Supernatural Powers. Nanak deprecates not only wealth but also the exercise of these powers as obstacles in the Path to the Highest. (5) Sanjog and Vijog: These are the terms used in the original text and stand for the twin principles of separation and union whereby the play of the Lord unfolds itself. By decree of the Lord, Man being separated from Him, is born in the world of action. Here he is led away into human error of attaching himself to the sensuous phenomena of the world. So long as he remains cognisant of the Divinity diffused in the world, he moves and has his being in Him. But when his petty ego cuts him off from the Lord and he asserts his independence and assumes the role of an active agent he unwittingly gets trapped into transmigration or the cycle of births and deaths. In physical life he suffers pain and misery until he regenerates himself by his innate desire for peace, and works therefor. This leads him to seek reunion with the Creator, the fountain-head of Everlasting Joy and Peace. But for this principle in Man for resurrection or reunion, there would he no spiritual awakening and no spiritual progress and the mighty play of the world would come to naught. Thus the twin-principles of Vijog (separation from the Lord) and Sanjog (the inherent desire for re-union with Him), control the motions of the world. "Our hearts find no rest, until we rest in Thee."-St. Augustine
Nanak now turns his attention from the means of salvation, to the working of God's creation. The universe moves on the triple principles concerned respectively with creating, sustaining and destroying. All these principles work according to His will and are only His agents. But though God watches over these agents, they paradoxically cannot know Him who is the Subjective and the Formless, since they are part of the objective creation.
(1) Maee: This word in the original, can mean both Mother and Maya (illusionary matter). Nanak, referring to the two meanings, regards Maya as a mother who has borne three sons, who symbolise the three principles that sustain her dominion. They are the three deities representing the Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the creator, the sustainer and the destroyer respectively; but all working only under His Will with no say of their own. Hence, Nanak enjoins the worship of the highest only and not gods and goddesses of a lower order.
And now Nanak, once again, returns to the Almighty Creator. He has His exalted abode in the different planes of all creation. Whatever arrangements He has made are made final and ultimate. He has made permanent laws in all spheres which set creation agoing. He is the Unchangeable Permanence.
But communion with Naam is hindered by the earthly desires that pull at our hearts; and lead us away from the subjective Truth to the outside World. How then is one to overcome these desires? Nanak enjoins that the way lies through "Simran" or constant remembrance of the Lord. Other saints and sages have said the same thing. The subject of Simran has been dealt With in more detail in the introduction.There are two powers working in man: the "Pranas" or motor currents and the spiritual or sensory currents. Many yogins endeavouring to reach the Highest have sought to withdraw both these currents. But the Masters (Guru Nanak among them) have taught that it is unnecessary to control the "Pranas." One may withdraw the sensory currents without touching the "Pranas" through "Simran" and through focusing one's attention behind the eyes at the seat of the soul. Once one has withdrawn the entire sensory currents (the body continues to function normally as regards respiration, digestion and circulation, etc.) to this point, the soul may travel further on the spiritual path. This is an easy and natural Way.The Master says: "O Nanak, learn to withdraw the Life-current whilst alive, Learn ye to practise such a yoga."Again, "Learn to die so that you may begin to live." -Holy Bible.It is this technique of withdrawal that Nanak is referring to in this stanza, though he does not analyse it in detail, as he has done this elsewhere in his teachings. He also reiterates that to achieve salvation through Naam, needs not only effort but also His Grace and Will.
(1) Ekis: The term used in the original text is Ekis or Ek-Ish: Ek means one and Ish means God, i.e. at-one-ment with God or union with One God. (2) Again, Nanak, is emphasising that for salvation, we need not only effort but also His Grace and His Will.
Carrying the idea of the necessity of His Grace and Will for man's salvation, Nanak observes that in other matters as well - in fact in everything - His Will is all in all.
From here begins the final part of Jap Ji. In it,
Nanak gives a rapid survey af the various spiritual realms that the soul
has to traverse in its Homeward journey. They are five in number:
The first is the Realm of Dharm, which the soul must fully realise before it can rise to the next higher spiritual plane above it. This is the stage where the embodied souls must work fully cognisant that it is He who made the world phenomena with all the immutable laws which bind one and all. The law of cause and effect nobody can escape. What a man sows, he must reap. There is none outside His domain. Men's actions go with them after their death and are weighed in the scales of God's Justice. Those found wanting are sent for judgment according to their actions. The only thing acceptable at his Court is "communion with and practice of the Divine Word." Those who adhere to it, are honoured.
(1) The last two lines- "Kach pakai uthe pa-aye, Nanak gia japey ja-aye" have been invariably interpreted by various translators, as stating that the true and the false are known there and can no longer deceive. But this does not appear to stand as it apparently ignores the fact that the lines follow on the reference to those honoured by God and the metaphor of "raw and ripe" suggests immaturity and maturity, rather than falsehood and truth.
Nanak, in this stanza describes the immense expansion of the soul s horizon when it enters "Gian Khand" or the Realm of Knowledge. Here the devotee sees the manifold nature with all created things. Here he begins to hear the rapturous strains of Melodious Song resounding through the whole creation. Here he feels excessive joy at the conception of Nature with her immutable laws, her infinity of forms and phenomena, multifarious creations and manifold blessings that he finds.
(1) Karm Bhumi: A place where one is endowed with a free will, and reaps the fruits of his own actions. This world is termed as Karm Bhumi for here reigns the principle of action and reaction or cause and effect. (2) Sumer: The golden mountain seen in this spiritual plane by the devotees. (3) Dhru: A saint proverbial for his steadfast meditation. (4) Danu: Demigods.
From the description of Gian Khand or the Realm of Knowledge, Nanak proceeds to describe, "Sarm Khand," or the Seal of ecstasy. Here everything is enchantingly beautiful and marvelously strange, and words are of no consequence. It is here that the soul becomes etherealised by the power of the Word and one gets an insight into the real nature of things.
In the Realm of Grace, man rises above the evanescent charms of the phenomenal world. He sees all nature standing submissively to serve at God's Feet. His Word purifies the soul of its sins and awakens the latent energies in it. Matter no longer blinds the inner vision. For him, the Lord pervades everywhere and he is now fully conscious of Him. Here one comes face to face with the Word in Its pure substance. And he now knows himself and his true origin, for he sees himself as of the same substance as God. Finally, the pilgrim soul reaches Sach Khand or the Abode of Truth. Here complete Oneness is realized and it sees all universes functioning according to His Will in devout awe and adoration. Even remembrance of such a vision is blissful, but the vision itself is such that no eye has ever seen, the heart cannot conceive and the tongue cannot describe.
(1) Sita: The wife of Rama known for her great devotion. (2) The word delusion here refers to the delusion of maya or matter. (3) Karara Sar: Literally it means, hard as iron; metaphorically, impossible.
Now Nanak, before concluding, lists the qualifications required of a devotee before he can succeed on the spiritual path. He sums up these qualifications as six in number. The first of these is chastity of thought, speech and deed. This is the first prerequisite for the dawn of Higher Life, and is the foundation on which the superstructure of spirituality is raised. Christ has also said: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Purity is, verily, the key that unlocks the door of meditation leading to the Mansion of the Lord. Secondly, one must develop patience, which enables one to bear cheerfully whatever may befall. Thirdly, one must have control over one's thoughts and cast away all desires to insure equilibrium of mind. Fourthly, steady, daily practice of, and holding communion with, the Word with full faith in one's Master. Fifthly, one should live in the devout awe of His Presence, stimulating one to untiring effort to achieve ultimate union with Him. And over all one must love Him with an intensity that burns up all impurities and blazes the way to His door.
(1) Chastity here refers not only to physical purity, but even more to the spiritual one, of spotless thoughts, words and deeds.
In this Finale, Nanak, by way of an epilogue, gives a complete view of life, its nature, its purpose, and its salvation. We are all like children, whom the mother earth nourishes. Each one sows the seeds of his actions and reaps the fruit thereof. God's justice is immaculate. They that act well move nearer towards Him; they that do not act well move farther away from Him. They alone who practise the holy Word will be saved-not only they, but countless more-their companions and disciples, through their good actions.
Here, all the living beings are likened to children. The water (i.e. sperm) is the father, giving them life. The earth, like a mother, affords them nourishment. Day supplies them with work and is, therefore, the male nurse-while the night lulls them to rest, as a female nurse. The breath of the True Master imparts the Divine Word, without which a man's soul is dead.