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A Study of the Fifth Pauri in Asa Ki Var

A Study of the Fifth Pauri in Asa Ki Var

Asa Ki Var is found in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji from page 462 to page 475. It is an ode or lyrical verse meaning “A Ballad of Hope.” In the Asa Di Var bani, there are saloks (verses) prior to each of the 24 paurees (stanzas).

Let’s take a look at the fifth pauree on page 465. There are two saloks prior to this pauree. Going by the Rahao principle, the main message of the entire collection of the two saloks and pauree is contained in the pauree’s final verse ‘Ko Rehai N Bhareeai Paaeeai.’

Each of the two saloks being illustrative or explanatory of the pauree would have their own sub-messages. Each of these sub-messages would be found in the final verse of each salok (in the absence of a Rahao Verse),

The First Salok

Gharreeaa Sabhae Gopeeaa Pehar Kannh Gopaal ||

Gharreeaa and pehar are unit measurements of time. One gharreea equals 24 minutes and one pehar is of 3 hours. As time passes by in minutes into hours and days, so will the gopees and Kan Gopal (actors) cease to exist.

Gehanae Poun Paanee Baisanthar Chandh Sooraj Avathaar ||

The props and the ornaments used for the play will remain as will the elements of wind, fire and water. The moon and the sun will remain but not the actors who took their role as avatars (deities).

Sagalee Dhharathee Maal Dhhan Varathan Sarab Janjaal ||

All the material wealth of this earth will become mere entanglements if there is no understanding, if there is no gyaan.

Naanak Musai Giaan Vihoonee Khaae Gaeiaa Jamakaal ||1||

Guru Nanak says, without gyaan or divine knowledge, one gets trapped in the pursuit, possession and loss of material wealth in such a way that one is devoid of self realisation and is devoured by the ‘messenger of death.’ 

The final verse reads ‘Naanak Musai Giaan Vihoonee Khaae Gaeiaa Jamakaal.’ The word Musai means to get cheated, and Jamakaal means the end of time, of life.

The central message thus is that without gyaan, one’s life is just a seasonal drama for people to see and laugh or cry at. Time will continue

to pass on and so will we – having achieved nothing. Acting out His play will take us nowhere. Only by living His Will (Hukam) can we seek the truth through the shabad. Our life is meaningless without this truth. The intellectual creavity of the Guru diverts the mind from small plays of life to the cosmic wonder that is lasting forever‬‬‬.

The Second Salok 

Vaaein Chaelae Nachan Gur || Pair Halaaein Faeranih Sir ||

Oudd Oudd Raavaa Jhaattai Paae || Vaekhai Lok Hasai Ghar Jaae ||

The students play the musical instruments while the teacher dances. Engrossed in his choreography the dancer sways his head to the music. In doing so, dust is stirred up into the air and it lands on the heads of the seated musicians and the dancers themselves. The audience laughs, and

goes home entertained.

The focus of the troupe is on their performance.  They are into the dance, the music and the act. They have got used to getting themselves showered with the dust stirred up by their own members. The audience goes home entertained by the play and the dusty flair. Nobody gets connected to the wisdom or the spirituality of the scriptures. No transfer of knowledge takes place. Nothing changes in their life and its outlook.

Rotteeaa Kaaran Poorehi Thaal || Aap Pashhaarrehi Dhharathee Naal ||

Gaavan Gopeeaa Gaavan Kaanh || Gaavan Seethaa Raajae Raam ||

For the sake of food/earning a living, the musicians do their best to be in tune and rhythm while the dancers dance their best to impress the crowd, even to the extent of rolling onto the dirt ground. These actors dance and

sing out their lines as gopees and Krishna in the Krishan Leela. In the Ram Leela they sing in the roles of Ram and Seeta.

The performers give an impression that they have performed a religious duty. The audience too feels that they have involved themselves in an act of piety by attending the “religious” play. In reality, the performers are creating an impression just to earn a living or impress as great artists. All are deluded and no one attains any upliftment. 

The same applies to kirtani jathas and parchaaraks. If their main objective is to make money or be popular then that’s where it stays. They become crowd- pleasers. Gurbani describes this as “Log patiyae   kachhu na paiye”.  However those who yearn to spread the word will focus on just that and not expect material returns. They will constantly improve and learn with this truthful mission in their hearts and minds.

Nirabho Nirankaar Sach Naam || Jaa Kaa Keeaa Sagal Jehaan ||

Saevak Saevehi Karam Charraao || Bhinnee Rain Jinhaa Man Chaao ||

Sikhee Sikhiaa Gur Veechaar || Nadharee Karam Laghaaeae Paar ||

The true Lord’s shabad (gospel) is fearless and formless. The fearless and

formless One created  the  entire  universe. How wonderful it is that the formless creates form.

Only he can serve such a Lord who by His teachings is always mindful and in chardi kalaa (high spirits). Such a servant/devotee’s life will be like a cool peaceful night where he sleeps soundly with a clear conscience.  The guru’s wisdom has taught me, and with the blessings of His grace, I will rise above myself and cross over to my inner self. 

Koloo Charakhaa Chakee Chak || Thhal Vaarolae Bahuth Ananth ||

Laattoo Maadhhaaneeaa Anagaah || Pankhee Bhoudheeaa Lain N Saah ||

Sooai Chaarr Bhavaaeeahi Janth || Naanak Bhoudhiaa Ganath N Anth ||

The oil presser, the spinning wheel, the grinding stone and the potter’s wheel, the countless desert whirlwinds, the spinning top, the churning sticks and the birds that fly to and fro in a flock, all such life forms are in a cycle, spinning on a spindle.  Nanak says in reality, all these countless and endless actions are futile.

Bandhhan Bandhh Bhavaaeae Soe || Paeiai Kirath Nachai Sabh Koe ||

Nach Nach Hasehi Chalehi Sae Roe || Oudd N Jaahee Sidhh N Hohi ||

Nachan Kudhan Man Kaa Chaao || Naanak Jinh Man Bho Thinhaa Man Bhaao ||2||

We are in a bondage where our actions are like a dancer serving the bonds. Bondage to material wealth will make us spin in circles and not reach anywhere. Our dance is choreographed by our choices. Lost in maya (illusion) we laugh when we are dancing but we will cry when we depart, having achieved nothing. We would not have elevated our consciousness or become complete.

In worldly pleasures we dance with joy without the fear of reality. Only those who fear of missing or of not realising the ultimate truth will have love in their hearts for His Naam /Hukam/ Shabad.

What is is truly amazing in this salok are the metaphors that Guru Nanak ji is using – that of Krishen, his Gopis, their dress and their ornamentations. These metaphors are not the subject matter of Guru ji’s messages, but they are used because people on the path of spirituality can identify with them.

The 5th Pauree

Naao Thaeraa Nirankaar Hai Naae Laeiai Narak N Jaaeeai ||

Your Hukam is your formless roop.  By adhering to Your Hukam, one can create heaven around oneself by not doing wrong.

Jeeo Pindd Sabh This Dhaa Dhae Khaajai Aakh Gavaaeeai ||

This body and life are given to us by Him, and He alone sustains them. How He does it is beyond comprehension.

Jae Lorrehi Changaa Aapanaa Kar Punnahu Neech Sadhaaeeai ||

If you desire to do any good for yourself then perform good deeds. Serve mankind, remain humble and do not take any credit for doing so.  

Jae Jaravaanaa Pareharai Jar Vaes Karaedhee Aaeeai ||

By erasing signs of old age you cannot prevent aging. It will show up in many other ways. Time waits for no man. The gravity of time will eventually pull us down. The physical self will be humbled. 

Ko Rehai N Bhareeai Paaeeai ||5||

When time is up you have to go. 

The central message is that we have limited time and since we don’t even know how much that time is, don’t waste it on meaningless actions. Seek your ‘heaven’ while you can.

So there are two saloks and one pauree.  If we put the three central verses of each of these three together, we will see a thread that runs through the three beads as follows:

  • Central verse of Salok One:

Naanak Musai Giaan Vihoonee Khaae Gaeiaa Jamakaal

(Gyaan Vihunee means unenlightened)

  • Central verse of Salok Two:

Naanak Jinh Man Bho Thinhaa Man Bhaao

(Love and respect of our Creator)

  • Central verse of Pauree 5:

Ko Rehai N Bhareeai Paaeeai

(The transience / temporary-ness of life itself)

It is all about life itself – a life that is governed by transience as Hukam. A life that is wasted if conducted in an unenlightened state. A life that becomes worthy and successful if lived towards achieving the love and respect of our Creator.

The other verses in each salok provide an abundance of detail about the concepts in each of the above-mentioned central verses. 

What and how do we relate the gopis and kaan gopal to the units of time?

The answer to that question is in pauree 4. Pauree 5 is a continuation of 4. But we can still get hints from pauree 5. 

Krishen and the gopees are metaphors for leela (play). Plays depicting his life are called raas (that’s in pauree 4). Krishanleela is a musical play that

enacts the life  events  of Krishna, and most  of  its  focus is on Krishna’s playfulness with the gopees (maidens), especially  with Radha.

This play thus becomes an entertaining presentation as well as a form of   story-telling to the masses.‬‬‬ Guru ji is telling us that our life plays out just like a play if we don’t get enlightened. 

How to get enlightenment? The hukam (Divine Will) tells us how to merge with Him while you can. Submit to his hukam and earn His grace.  Make yourself worthy of His grace.

Thus Pauree 5 provides the answer to the hidden question in the preceeding pauree (pauree 4) of how to earn His grace. It is in His hukam, which is the shabad.