Shabad Vichar

Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ

Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD.

This shabd of Guru Arjun is found on page 1429 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). Most Sikhs are familiar with it. Guru Arjun ji gave it a unique title which makes it the starting point of this essay. The full shabd is as follows.

ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ Mundavni Mehla 5

ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥

Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo Sat Santokh Vicharo.

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥

Amrit Nam Thakur Ka Payeo Jis Ka Sabhs Adharo.

ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥

Jay Ko Khavey Jay Ko Bhunchey Tis Ka Hoey Udharo.

ਏਹ ਵਸਤੁ ਤਜੀ ਨਹ ਜਾਈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਰਖੁ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰੋ ॥

Eh Vast Tji Neh Jayi Nit Nit Rakh Ur Dharo.

ਤਮ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਚਰਨ ਲਗਿ ਤਰੀਐ ਸਭੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪਸਾਰੋ ॥ ੧ ॥

Tam Sansar Charan Lag Tariay Sabh Nanak Bhrm Psaro. SGGS 1429

UNDERSTANDING THE WORD ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ MUNDAVNNI.

An examination of the teekas, translations and discourse by clergy – parcharaks, granthis, ragis and katha vachaks indicates that two meanings of the word Mundavni are in use.

The first is a “riddle.” Proponents of the “riddle theory” – primarily taksalis and derawadis – say that Guru Arjun – the author of this shabd – created a riddle in the first verse by saying Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo (there are three items in the plate) but mentioned only two (Sat and Santokh) in the second part of the first verse Sat Santokh Vicharo. So the riddle is for the Sikh to find the third item. The “riddle theorists” then say that the answer is found in the second verse Amrit Nam Thakur Ka. The third item is Amrit Nam; the “ambrosial name of the Lord.”

There are a three problems with translating Mundavni as riddle. The first is that there isn’t a dictionary that says ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ Mundavni means a riddle.

The second problem relates to the necessity of a riddle. Why is the Guru providing a riddle for Sikhs to solve? And then providing the answer himself in the next verse? Gurbani is about providing answers and solutions, not riddles. Sikhs don’t go to Gurbani to solve riddles. We go there to get spiritual solutions.

The third problem is that there really is no riddle. The first part of the first verse says there are three items in the plate Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo and the second part of the same verse mentions three items (Sat, Santokh and Vichar) as Sat Santokh Vicharo. The second verse Amrit Nam Thakur Ka Payeo Jis Ka Sabhs Adharo is not providing the third or fourth item – it is clearly saying that Nam is the basis of all three in the first verse. (Sabhs Adharo).

The second meaning of the word Mundavni that is provided by some translators is “seal.” The view is that when Guru Arjun completed the Pothi Sahib, he affixed a seal of completion. The meaning of Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo therefore is that “There are three items in the Pothi Sahib: Sat, Santokh and Vichar. This second meaning is derived from an old practice in the royal palaces whereby the food prepared for the King is put into a plate (Thaal) for serving and a trusted aide would affix his seal to the plate to prevent impurities or poisons from being added by any persons.

This meaning poses the following problems. First, if Mundavni is indeed the seal of completion by Guru Arjun, then why is there more bani after the seal? There is a Salok Mehla 5: Tera Keeta Jato Nahi(n) Meinu Jog Kitoyi after the seal of completion. If the practice of royal households is used, it would mean that food is added to the King’s plate even after a trusted aide has affixed his seal – thus negating the seal altogether.

Second, we know that Gurbani is spiritual to the core. Making a statement as to the contents of Pothi Sahib can amount to a summary description, but it is not a spiritual message. The Guru (or anyone else) telling us that the SGGS contains three items does not add to our spirituality. Spirituality can only be enhanced by understanding, believing, accepting, internalizing, habitualizing and becoming the messages that are directed at the disciple of Gurbani. It would be spiritual if the Guru told us that “the following three things need to be inculcated within the plate of your mind and conscience.” It would be spiritual if the Guru told us that “adopting divine virtues was a necessary pre-requisite to such inculcation.”

The truth of the matter is that this shabd is all about spirituality. It contains spiritual messages that are directed at the reader. It is not a description of the contents of the SGGS. It is one additional message within the SGGS – just like all the other messages – the purpose of which is to help us elevate our spiritual awareness and enlightenment.

APPLYING THE GURBANI FRAMEWORK.

The Gurbani Framework says that Gurbani defines Gurbani. So the meanings of concepts used within Gurbani must be located from within Gurbani.

Guru Amardas has composed a salok on page 645 that mirrors the Mundavni shabd of Guru Arjun – almost verse for verse and concept for concept. The third Guru’s salok is as follows:

ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮ: ੩॥ ਥਾਲੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਤੈ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਹਰਿ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਮਨੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤੀਐ ਪਾਈਐ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਭੋਜਨ ਅਲਭੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਲਭੈ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਏਹ ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ ਕਿਉ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਕਢੀਐ ਸਦਾ ਰਖੀਐ ਉਰਿਧਾਰਿ ॥ ਏਹ ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਈ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾ ਲਧੀ ਭਾਲਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਸੁ ਬੁਝਾਏ ਸੁ ਬੁਝਸੀ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਘਾਲਿ ॥੧॥੮॥

Salok M: 3. Thalley Vich Teiy Vastu Payio Har Bhojan Amrit Sar. Jit Khadhey Mun Triptiey Payeay Mokh Duar. Eh Bhojan Alabh Hai Santo Labheiy Gur Vichar. Eh Mudavni Kion Vicho Kadheay Sda Rakheay Urdahar. Eh Mudavni Satguru Payi Gursikha Ladhi Bhaal. Nanak Jis Bhujaye So Bujhsi Har Paya Gurmukh Ghaal.

The similarities are clear. Guru Arjun says Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo and Guru Amardas writes Thalley Vich Teiy Vastu Payeo. Guru Arjun says Jay Ko Khavey Jay Ko Bhunchey and Guru Amardas Jit Khadhey Mun Triptiey.

We can make the following conclusions pertaining to both the Salok of Guru Amardas on page 645 and the Shabd of Guru Arjun on page 1429.

One, both compositions are similar. The subject matter is the same. It is evident that Guru Arjun was aware of Guru Amardas ji’s salok when he composed his own.

Two – given that the subject matter of both compositions are the same – both Gurus mean the same thing when they use the word ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ Mundavnni and ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ Mudavnni even if they are spelt differently. Guru Arjun used the vowel (tippi) while Guru Amardas wrote it without the tippi. If both Gurus intended to use the words differently and with different meanings – the subject matter of their compositions could not remain the same.

Three, we can now deduce that Mundavnias used within Gurbani – does NOT mean riddle. And it does not mean seal either. If it meant “seal” then we will have to accept that Guru Amardas ji had put the seal midway in the Pothi Sahib. A seal on page 645 of the SGGS does not and would not make sense. If, on the other hand, Mundavni meant a “riddle” then, beyond the fact that the shabd has no riddle to begin with in both the compositions – Guru Arjun would be repeating a riddle that was already posed and replied to by Guru Amardas. What use is a riddle when it is narrated a second time within the same text? A spiritual message is worthy of repeating on any number of occasions, but the same cannot be said of a riddle. Once a riddle is narrated and solved (on page 645) it loses its ability to be a riddle again on page 1429 of the same text.

Four, for all the reasons above, even if the dictionary meanings of the words ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ Mundavnni and ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ Mudavnni may mean seal and riddle in any of the multiple languages that are used in the SGGS; neither of these two meanings are applicable when ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ Mundavnni and ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ Mudavnni are used in Gurbani.

SO WHAT DOES MUNDAVNI MEAN?

Guru Amardas says of Mudavnni – ਏਹ ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ ਕਿਉ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਕਢੀਐ ਸਦਾ ਰਖੀਐ ਉਰਿਧਾਰਿ ॥ Eh Mudavnni Kion Vicho Kadheay Sda Rakheay Urdahar. Guru Arjun says: ਏਹ ਵਸਤੁ ਤਜੀ ਨਹ ਜਾਈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਰਖੁ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰੋ ॥ Eh Vast Tji Neh Jayi Nit Nit Rakh Ur Dharo. The use of the words Kion Vicho Kadheay (Guru Amardas) and Tji Neh Jayi (Guru Arjun) – point to the fact that Mundavnni and Mudavnni both refer to something that is permanent and never goes away once it is obtained. The words Sda Rakheay Urdahar (Guru Amardas) and Nit Nit Rakh Ur Dharo (Guru Arjun) point to the fact that Mundavni and Mudavnni is obtained permanently (Sda and Nit Nit) within the Mind and Conscience (Ur dhar).

Once we look at the rest of the verses of Guru Amardas ji, we get more pointers. Mudavnni is provided by the Creator-Connecting Guru (Eh Mudavnni Satguru Payi) and it is spiritually satiating (Mun Triptiey).

The clearest definition of Mudavnni is in the final verse Har Paya Gurmukh Ghal. Har Paya means the Realization of the Omnipresent Creator Within.

The meaning of Mundavnni and Mudavnni – as derived from within the subject matter of the two shabds that use it in the SGGS – is thus clear. Mundavnni means The Spirituality of Realization Within.

We can now begin to try to understand the meanings of the individual verses of Guru Arjun’s shabd.

UNDERSTANDING THE SHABAD.

ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ Mundavnni Mehla 5

The Spirituality of Realization. Mehla 5.

ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥

Thaal Vich Tin Vastu Payeo Sat Santokh Vicharo.

Thaal – Lit. Plate. Metap. Container. Sp. Mind. Vich – Lit. In. Sp. Within, internalize. Tin Vastu – Three things, items. Payeo – Lit. Put, placed. Sp. Realized. Sat – From Sanskrit Satya, In Perpetual existance; Creator. Santokh – Temporal contentment. Vicharo – Lit. Discourse. Sp. Divine enlightenment.

The Mind That Has Internalized Three Realizations; The Creator, Temporal Contentment and Divine Enlightenment;

Note: The intimate relationship between all three realizations is the main stay and foundational basis of Sikhi, Gurbani and Gurmat. Realization of the Creator (Sat) cannot happen without first being content with the temporal world (Santokh). So long as one is content with the temporal world, temporal desires, greed for temporal wants, attachment etc can never be replaced by virtues such as gratitude and appreciation. And the way to bring about Santokh is Divine Enlightenment – which is another word for Gurbani and the messages within it.

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥

Amrit Nam Thakur Ka Payeo Jis Ka Sabhs Adharo.

Amrit – Lit. From A + Mrit, Beyond mortality. Sp. Spiritual Life. Nam – Virtues. Thakur – Lord. Ka – Of. Nam Thakur Ka – Divine Virtues. Payeo – Lit. Put, placed. Sp. Realized. Jis Ka – Of which, that. Sabhs – All. Adharo – Basis.

Is One Which Obtains Spiritual Life Through the Realization of Divine Virtues That Are the Basis of All of Spirituality.

Note: This second verse is a continuation of the first. Their translations must thus be read together as one complete idea. The Mind That Has Internalized Three Realizations; The Creator, Temporal Contentment and Divine Enlightenment; Is One Which Obtains Spiritual Life Through the Realization of Divine Virtues That Are the Basis of All of Spirituality.

ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥

Jay Ko Khavey Jay Ko Bhunchey Tis Ka Hoey Udharo.

Jay Ko – One who, one which. Khavey – Lit. Consumes. Sp. Adopts. Bhunchey – Lit. Digests. Sp. Internalizes. Tis Ka – The one who, the one which. Hoey Udharo – Lit. Get saved. Sp. Attain the spiritual goal.

The Mind Which Adopts and Internalizes Divine Virtues Is the One That Attains its Spiritual Goal.

ਏਹ ਵਸਤੁ ਤਜੀ ਨਹ ਜਾਈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਰਖੁ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰੋ ॥

Eh Vast Tji Neh Jayi Nit Nit Rakh Ur Dharo.

Eh Vast – This thing, this Mundavni, this spirituality of realization. Tji – Discard, let go. Neh – Negate. JayiNit Nit – Lit. Daily. Metap. Permanently, eternally. Rakh – Lit. Keep, remain, retain. Ur – From Hirda – Mind and conscience, within. Dharo – Lit. Placed. Sp. Inculcated.

This Mundavni (Spirituality of Realization) Requires that Divine Virtues Be Never Discarded and Kept Permanently Inculcated Within.

ਤਮ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਚਰਨ ਲਗਿ ਤਰੀਐ ਸਭੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪਸਾਰੋ ॥ ੧ ॥

Tam Sansar Charan Lag Tariay Sabh Nanak Bhrm Psaro.

Tam – Lit. Dark. Sansar – World. Tam Sansar – Lit. Dark World. Sp. Vices-filled world. Charan Lag – Lit. Fall at the feet. Metap. Surrender, submit. Tariay – Lit. Swim. Metap. Sp. Traverse life. Sabh – All, entire, completely. Bhrm – Creator. Psaro – Lit. Extended. Bhrm Psaro – Lit. Creator extended into everything. Sp. Omnipresent.

Life Within a Vices-Filled World Is Traversed by Submitting Completely to The Omnipresent Creator, Nanak.

CONCLUSIONS.

  1. ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ Mundavnni and ਮੁਦਾਵਣੀ Mudavnni are used in Gurbani with a distinct and unique meaning to explain a spiritual concept of Sikhi and Gurmat; namely the Spirituality of Realization.
  2. The Spirituality of Realization (Mundavnni) is a state within the mind.
  3. The state of Mundavnni comes to exist when the Mind Internalizes Three Realizations; The Creator, Temporal Contentment and Divine Enlightenment. (Verse one)
  4. The basis of Mundavnni is the permanent adoption and internalization of Divine Virtues. (Verses two, three and four).
  5. The state of Mundavnni is kept alive by complete submission to the omnipresent Creator.
  6. Translating this wonderful spiritual concept of Mundavnni as “a riddle’ or “a seal of completion” would mean we would lose the magnificently spiritual messages that are contained within the shabd. Riddles and seals are never about spiritual growth and elevation. Realization of the Creator, Contentment and Divine Enlightenment is the essence of Gurbani based spirituality.
  7. May every seeker of Gurbani be blessed with the state of Mundavnni.

End.