THE path of spirituality is not a highway that one may tread easily. It is an arduous and an uphill task, tortuous and difficult.
    In Katha Upanishad, we find:

        Awake, arise and get illumination by sitting at the feet of Masters.
        The wise say this way is sharp as a razor and as difficult to walk on.

Farid, a Muslim divine of great repute, says:

        O Farid! Get up and tread the world over in search of some
          Godly man, for then alone can you be truly blessed.

In the Holy Koran this path is termed Pul-i-Sirat, and is described as "sharp as a razor's edge" and "narrow as a hair."
    Bhai Gurdas also speaks of Gur Sikhi (Master's Path) in the same words, "narrower than a hair and sharper than a razor's edge."

        Because strait (narrow) is the gate, and narrow is the way,
          which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
                                                                                                                                        MATTHEW 7:14

In the Vedas, too, there are texts prescribing countless rules and regulations for the performance of yogic asans and sadhans so difficult that the thought of them makes one's hair stand on end.
    With such hardships ahead, how can a puny child of clay, powerless as he is, constantly ridden by mind and matter, entangled in the meshes of blind infatuation and beset with desires, anger, greed, attachment and egoism, escape unscathed by himself and become a successful pilgrim on the Path?
    In such a weird setting, all baffling and bewildering, with no way out, God takes mercy on His creatures. He Himself comes down in vile man's attire, to suffer woe so that His children may be blessed. But again the same trouble confronts us.
    To understand the teachings of the Master and strictly follow them from day to day, to confide in him and to completely surrender one's self, body and soul, to his will, is not an easy thing to do. Unless God and Satguru both take pity on a jiva, he cannot possibly see through to Reality and escape from bondage.

        Himself the Master of the Universe, He may
          draw in a jiva, and effect a union.

We with our limited understanding cannot even listen comprehendingly to the Master's words.
    But in the fullness of time when it so pleases God, He brings about a meeting between a jiva and a Sant Satguru, who establishes his contact with Naam - the power of God or God in action - the Primal Sound Current, wherewith a jiva is gradually led on and on until he reaches the source and the fountainhead of Shabd or the Sound Current.

        Those who serve not Truth wither away like a broken reed,
        O Nanak! Whom the Master blesses gets linked with Naam.
        With a special merit alone one meets a Satguru;
          and he brings about a union between Surat and Shabd.
        Meeting with a Master is a pure gift of God, and so is the union
          with Hari Nam (God).

The Master is in the likeness of God, though in physical raiments. He, too, is endowed with the same attributes as God Himself. He, too, comes to save the sinners and administer His Saving Grace among the rest. He washes the jivas clean of their sins and gives the gift of Naam, which acts as a sovereign remedy against all ills, physical, accidental and spiritual.

        My Master takes away all sins and I depend on him. Forgive all
          my trespasses, O Master! Nanak prays for this alone.
        Great are the blessings of a perfect Master.
         With the worship of Hari comes eternal bliss.
        The union with the Lord is the gift of a perfect
          Master. Eternally forgiven, I now soar limitless and free.

The seventeenth century English poet Dryden, speaking of Christ, tells us:

        See God descending in thy human frame; the offended,
          suffering in the offender's name.
       All thy misdeeds to Him imputed see; and all His righteousness
         devolved on thee.

The grace of the Master is as limitless as his greatness, so much so that he forgives even those who talk ill of him and accepts them as his very own.

        One who talks ill of the Master may yet turn around,
         To find his saving grace leading him to his fold.

Countless are the persons whose sins are forgiven and are safely ferried across the sea of life.

        With Shabd he burns to ashes the Karmic impressions of many a soul;
        Like a Captain, he pilots the ship through many a shoal.

The Master truly is God. He is a sea of heaving compassion. All kinds of gifts eternally flow from him like perennial springs of cool and refreshing water.

        Narain (Creator) in Guru is compassion incarnate and a true friend;
         In his pleasure is everything, and Nanak is a sacrifice unto him.

The greatest gift of God and Guru is just one thing - Naam. They always bestow upon their devotees the blessings of Naam, and thus bring about their salvation.

        Devotees of God ever revel in Naam; with saving grace
          they ever march on.
        The very sight of Him is a rare blessing; the truly blessed
          can have it; with the mercy of the Merciful, Satguru confers
          the gift of Naam.

In this world and hereafter, there is no gift greater than that of Naam.

        Priceless is the treasure of Naam; a True One may grant it at his will.

One can secure the gift of Naam and thereby find an approach to God through Satsang and Satguru.

        Whomever the Master may bless, he may have the Love of the Lord.
         The compassion of God comes into commotion when one
           is truly blessed by a Sadh, O Nanak.

The saving grace comes through contact with Naam, and continuous cherishing of His love and saving grace in turn helps the other way. Both grace and Naam work in reciprocity and help in developing each other.

        O Nanak! Naam comes from grace alone. There is no friend
          other than Ram Naam.
        Getting above the Pairs of opposites, stick to Naam and He shall bless.
        The moment I forget Truth, that moment is wasted.
        Remember Him with every breath, and His grace shall be with us.

His grace descends by acceptance of His bhana (will) and recognition of His hukam (commandment).

        He who knows His hukam has no occasion to regret;
        O Nanak! engrave the gift of His Naam on thy soul.

The seed of Naam, once sown by a Saint, cannot but fructify - no power can stop it; and the jiva must sooner or later reach the goal, viz., self-realization and God-realization.

        Truth one gets through grace alone; none has the power to stop Its growth.
        Naam is watered by death-in-life, and Gurumukhs do it;
          God grants them this treasure and none can snatch It.

Even Kal (Time) and Maya (Delusion) can have no effect on the seed of Naam, for It is conceived in a region much higher than their domains.
    Besides, the sower of the seed - the Satguru - is Sat Purush Himself (His manifested form); and so Ishwar (Niranjan, Lord of the Subtle Region) and Parmeshwar (Om, Lord of the Causal Region) cannot interfere in his work.

        The gift of the Guru is eternal;
          It has the saving grace for the recipient.
        The Shabd of the Master reigns supreme, O Nanak!
          The Master is no one but God.

The blessings of the Supreme Lord are limitless and do not at any time suffer from scarcity, but one partakes of them only by extraordinary merit. A particle of grace is enough to save a jiva from the ceaseless cycle of transmigration.

        Once He showers His blessings, there is an end to endless births;
        As comings and goings cease, one at home finds eternal rest.

It is only the Gurumukhs who get this grace and not the manmukhs.

        O Nanak! He does all by Himself, and Gurumukhs enjoy His favor.
        The bitter words of the Master taste sweet;
        His sweet words are a boon all his own;
        His words, whatever they are, bear fruit in abundance,
        But the idle words of others go in vain.

One works out Naam through His grace alone.

        Thy grace alone helps in developing the power of Naam;
       Without any shortcomings, one ever engages in Naam.

Man by himself is just a helpless creature and can do nothing. He must not therefore feel vainglorious for what he seemingly does.

        God alone is the Doer of all acts;
        He knows the innermost secrets of all hearts.

The panacea for all ills and the only way to win God's grace is perfect surrender in all humility at the feet of the Master Soul.

Chapter Twenty-seven  Contents