Kal Taran Gur Nanak Aaiya

Bhai Gurdass Ji Vaar 1 Pauree 23    

The Coming of Guru Nanak

ਸੁਣੀ ਪੁਕਾਰ ਦਾਤਾਰ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਗ ਮਾਹਿੰ ਪਠਾਯਾ॥

Suni Pukar Datar Prabh Guru Nanak Jug Mahe Pthaya

Mankind’s Cry for Humanity is Answered in the Advent of Guru Nanak

ਚਰਨ ਧੋਇ ਰਹਿਰਾਸ ਕਰ ਚਰਨਾਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਿੱਖਾ ਪੀਲਾਯਾ॥

Charan Dhoe Rehras Kar Charnamrit Sikha Pilaya

He Set Out to Proclaim the Path of Godly Spirituality Through Instilling Divine Messages

(Rehras – Persian. The Path (of Godly Spirituality). Sikha – from Sikhya – Messages. Chanramrit Pilaya – Lit. initiated into the fold; Instilled.)

ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਅੰਦਰ ਇਕ ਦਿਖਾਯਾ॥

Parbhram Puran Bhram Kaljug Ander Ek Dikhaya

Guru Nanak Instilled the One-ness of the Manifest Omnipotent Creator Amongst Mankind

ਚਾਰੈ ਪੈਰ ਧਰੰਮ ਦੇ ਚਾਰ ਵਰਨ ਇਕ ਵਰਨ ਕਰਾਯਾ॥

Charey Paer Dharam Dey Char Varan Ek Varan Kraya

Through the One-ness of the Creator, He Instilled the One-ness of Mankind

(Char Varan – Lit. 4 castes; mankind. Charey Paer Dharam Dey – Lit. All four phases of religion; One-ness of Spirituality of the One Creator.)

ਰਾਣਾ ਰੰਕ ਬਰਾਬਰੀ ਪੈਰੀਂ ਪਵਣਾ ਜਗ ਵਰਤਾਯਾ॥

Rana Runk Brabri Paeri Pavna Jug Vartaya

Within His Proclamation of Equality Guru Nanak Inculcated Humility Amongst Mankind

(Rana Runk Brabri – Lit equality between the ruled and ruling; Equality. Paeri Pavna – Lit. fall at the feet; Humility.)

ਉਲਟਾ ਖੇਲ ਪਿਰੰਮ ਦਾ ਪੈਰਾਂ ਉਪਰ ਸੀਸ ਨਿਵਾਯਾ॥

Ulta Kheyl Pirum Da Paera Upar Sees Nivayea

His Love for Humanity is Unique in His Exceptional Humility Towards Mankind

(Ulta Khel – Lit. uncommon occurrence; Unique. Pirum – love.)

ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਬਾਬੇ ਤਾਰਿਆ ਸੱਤਨਾਮ ਪੜ੍ਹ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਸੁਣਾਯਾ॥

Kaljug Babey Tariya Satnam Parh Mantar Sunaya

The Baba Served Mankind Through His Messages of Divine Virtue

(Mantar – Message. Satnam – Virtue of the One who is in Existence, Divine.)

ਕਲਿ ਤਾਰਣ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਯਾ ॥੨੩॥

Kal Taran Gur Nanak Aiya

Gur Nanak’s Coming Is in the Service of Mankind

Bhai Gurdas Vaar Vaar 1 Pauree 23.

English Translation: Karminder Singh, PhD.

Articles · International Media Reports

Crossing Over the Literal to the Real Messages of Gurbani

Crossing Over the Literal to the Real Messages of Gurbani

Karminder Singh, PhD.

The Spirituality of Gurbani does not have a language intrinsic and inherent to it. The objective and focus of the messages of Gurbani are to bring about a realization of the Creator within the human conscience. The language of our daily usage does not have the required vocabulary for this core Gurmat concept, for its process, outcome and objective.

Bhagat Kabir has captured this reality in one of his verses in a Bani in Gauree Rag titled Bavan Akhri (52 alphabets).

ਬਾਵਨ ਅਛਰ ਲੋਕ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਛੁ ਇਨ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਏ ਅਖਰ ਖਿਰਿ ਜਾਹਿਗੇ ਓਇ ਅਖਰ ਇਨ ਮਹਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ੧ ॥ Bavan Achur Lok Trey Sabh Kich En Hee Mahe. Ey Akhar Khir Jahengey Oey A Khar En Mein Nahe. SGGS 340

Bhagat ji’s spiritual acumen is laser sharp in that he uses the word ਅਖਰ (Akhar) in two different meanings in the second verse above. One meaning is derived when used as one complete word ਅਖਰ (Akhar) and here it means alphabet or character as the DNA of our temporal language. Another form of similar usage is ਅਛਰ Achur (in the first verse above) which carries the same meaning as ਅਖਰ (Akhar).

In the other meaning it is considered as consisting of two words ਅ + ਖਰ (A + Khar). The root word thus becomes ਖਰ (Khar) and the ਅ (A) becomes a prefix. This root word is used as the third word of the second verse as ਖਿਰਿ ਜਾਹਿਗੇ Khir Jahengey). Since the meaning of ਖਰ (Khar) is “destructible”, the meaning of ਅ + ਖਰ (A+ khar) therefore is the “indestructible, permanent, eternal” – in reference to the Creator.

The word ਅਖਰ (Akhar) then would have two different pronunciations in its two usages in the second verse above even if spelt the same way. In the instance that it means alphabet and character it would be pronounced continuously as one word. In the second instance it would be pronounced with a pause between the prefix and the root word. The meaning of the above verse is therefore:

The Entirety (Sabh Kich) of Knowledge of Our Past, Present and Future (Lok Trey) Is Encapsulated in the 52 Alphabets (Achur). Yet These Alphabets (Akhar) Get Exhausted (Khir Jaengey) in Matters of the Eternal (A+khar) And Permanent (Spirituality) Pertaining to the Creator Because they are both not Within Them.

Kabir’s message is thus the point of this editorial, the concern of which writing is the challenge in understanding Gurbani.

Needless to say the writers of Gurbani have had no choice but to use the language of the temporal world to get their spiritual messages across. And we too have no choice but to understand, interpret and explain the spirituality of Gurbani in the same defective (spiritually) temporal language. In our everyday language then, the default mode for interpreting the messages of Gurbani is literal.

The spiritual journey that is based on Gurbani thus becomes as unique as it is intricate. In simple terms the journey of discovery of the messages of Gurbani is one that has to be travelled from the ਅਖਰ (Akhar) into the ਅ +ਖਰ (A+Khar). It’s a journey that has to be crossed over from the literal into the domain of spiritual messages. It’s a journey that necessitates an intellectual discovery that involves a huge leap – an intellectual one, albeit – from the banks of the literal, to the other side where the deeply rich and intended spiritual messages lie.

This is a task that is arduous and challenging. But it should necessarily be deeply fulfilling, satisfying and rewarding because the joy of knowing the intended messages is immense and beyond comparison for the believing Sikh.

This then is our Simran. Our Jup. Our Tup. This is our Meditation, our Sadhna, our Contemplation. This is our Nitnem. This is our Aradhna, our Prayer. This is our Paath. This is our Pooja – worship of the Shabd. All spiritually defined and not literally interpreted, of course.

The writers of Gurbani were aware of the nature of this task. They have provided adequate milestones and sign boards along our spiritual journeys to make sure we get to the intended destination of the envisioned messages.

At the most basic of levels, the Rahao is one of the primary signboards. It is not to be missed, but has been glossed over, in our inability to make the leap from the literal to the spiritual.

Translated literally, Rahao means “Pause.” But such a translation begs the question: Pause for what purpose? The attempted answer is “Pause to allow contemplation.” This in turn begs the question: Why do we need to pause to contemplate on just one verse within the shabd; why not the other verses? And what about shabds that do not have the Rahao (Pause) Verse? No need or contemplation there at all?

Long bannis such as Sidh Goshat have just one verse as Rahao, and 437 more without. All are equally intricate and complex requiring lots of contemplation and research to get to the real meanings. So why are we asked to “pause and contemplate” on just one?

We would thus need to go beyond the literal just to understand this one concept called Rahao.

At the very core each shabd in the SGGS has three contexts – first, it is a poetic rendition; second, it is composed in a particular rag and hence has a musical component; and third but most importantly there is a spiritual message for the reader within each shabd.

The non-literal meaning of the word Rahao would therefore have to have separate interpretations for each of these three contexts. It is the title verse for the poetic rendition on account of the fact that the location normally accorded for the title (right on top of any composition) is taken up by the name of rag and the author – for instance Bilawal Mehla 5. So the author of the shabd has no choice but to embedded the title verse within the body of the shabd. The word Rahao is therefore added to indicate that this particular verse is indeed the title verse.

Second, every shabd is poetic, which means it is meant to be sung in devotion. At the most basic level, the structure of an Indian musical composition (on which the Gurbani Kirtan is based) there is usually one asthai and multiple antras. The composition begins with the asthai and is followed by the first antra. It reverts to the asthai and on to the second antra. And back to asthai and third antra. And so on.

The implication is that the asthai is sang multiple times and each of the antras get only one mention each. So within the parameters of a musical composition the Rahao is the asthai verse. The reason why it is to be sung multiple times will become clear when the third meaning within the third context is made clear.

Third, every shabd also contains a spiritual message. As the title verse, the Rahao verse represents the core message around which the rest of the shabd or bani revolves. The Rahao verse is the gist message while the remaining verses are illustrations, examples, cases in point, supporting arguments, justifications, and rationalizations. Or they are explanations, validations, clarifications and corroborations. In other words, they revolve around the Rahao verse which acts as the anchor of the entire narrative of the shabd or banni.

Now it becomes clear why the Rahao verse is also the asthai when singing. This is to enable the verse with the gist meaning to be recited repeatedly so that the principal message gets ingrained in the singer, listener and learner. It allows the Rahao verse to become the take home verse and take home message, and allows the non-Rahao verses to assist in the ingraining of the core message.

It is argued that this is what happens when we cross over from the literal to the spiritual side of the river of spirituality that is Gurbani. Standing on the banks of the literal, the Rahao was visible merely as Pause. But when crossed over, the meaning of Rahao began to become clearer as it took contextual meanings that acts as a guide, signboard or milestone for getting to the real messages.

In shabds where there is no Rahao verse indicated, the above three principles, when applied tell us that the final or concluding verse of the shabd plays that role and function.

There are other signboards on the journey of discovering the messages of Gurbani.

Context is another one that must never be missed, but is, so often. Verses are not to be interpreted as standalone; but always connected to the previous and the next. Clergy, writers and researchers are fond of throwing in a single verse in an attempt to justify their chosen argument.

It has to be said that even if we took spirituality out of the equation of Gurbani, the poetry is such that one can make just about anything one desired from a single verse. Perhaps this is the reason why literal translations are actually preferred by those among us whose intent is not to inform or educate, but merely to prove our points – whatever they may be.

But we know that Gurbani is not written in single verse form. The building blocks of Gurbani are saloks, shabds, paurees, ashtpadees, chhantts, vaars, bannis – long and short that range from a selected number of verses being put together as paragraphs and then collectively into sections, and then constructed into bannis.

There is a narrative in each paragraph, section and banni. Individual verses must therefore be taken as part of the entire narrative.

It may be worth mentioning the one simple pointer I have often shared with students of my Gurbani class: that if you don’t understand one verse, read the one preceding it. If it still eludes you, read the one following it. If the meaning still evades you, go back two, three, four or more verses. Go back to the shabd preceding or to the one following it if necessary. Because that is how the editor of the SGGS has arranged it all. And also because this is how context is built and deployed to provide for a holistic narrative that is Gurbani – para by para, section by section and bani by bani.

Another signboard worth paying attention to is that meanings of words and pre-existing concepts are re-defined specifically for Gurbani – often in a revolutionary way. And that these redefined and recalibrated meanings are always found within the 1429 pages – never outside. This redefining – as challenging and arduous as it is – is the one that truly helps us complete the crossing over from the literal to the spiritual and thus get enlightened in the real sense.

Guru Nanak mentions this arduous challenge in the closing salok of his seminal Jup bani as ਗਏ ਮਸਕਤਿ ਘਾਲਿ ॥ G-eiy Mushakat Ghaal. SGGS 7. Perhaps to drive home the point of the arduousness, he uses Arabic (mushkat) and Sanskrit (ghaal) terms that carry the same meaning side by side.

Bhagat Farid terms it as ਵਾਲਹੁ ਨਿਕੀ ਪੁਰਸਲਾਤ Valho Nikki Purslat. SGGS 1377. The literal translation of which is: the crossing of a bridge that is narrower that a strand of hair.

The crossing being editorialized here may not be this narrow. But it is no less challenging.

Bhagat Kabir describes it as ਇਕ ਅਵਘਟ ਘਾਟੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਹ ਚੜਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਕਬੀਰ ॥ Ek Avghat Ghatee Raam Kee Theh Charr Rahio Kabir. SGGS 1373 – the climbing of a steep cliff.

This is why the getting to the spiritual messages of Gurbani – or the crossing over from the literal of the shabd to the spiritual of it – should be our Simran. Our Jup. Our Tup. Our Meditation. Our Nitnem. This should be our Aradhna, our Prayer. This ought to be our Paath. This should be our Pooja – worship of the Shabd. It ought to be our Spiritual Journey traversed within the 1429 pages of the SGGS.

Left standing on the literal banks of the river of Gurbani – spirituality, Simran, Nam, Jup and Tup are no more than chanting of one word, mantra or shabd over long hours while sitting or standing in fixed positions. Pick up any English translation of Gurbani and this is how these words are translated.

Having crossed over on the other side however, we will realize that these concepts mean internalization, realization and inculcation of divine virtues (Nam) within our conscience.

From the literal banks of the river, Nitnem, Path, Aradhna, Pooja, and Spirituality mean no more than reciting fixed compositions, offering prayers, attending religious functions and treating the Granth of Gurbani as an article of worship in its physical form through ornamentations, decorations, gold canopies, air conditioned rooms and even food in some cases.

Having crossed over to the other side however, we will realize that our Nitnem ought to be the daily strive to get to the messages of the shabd, our worship the inculcation of divine virtues, and our spirituality the ultimate aim of BECOMING the messages and virtues.

I have endeavoured to illustrate my observations above by attempting to provide an authentic Gurbani based understanding of one shabd of Guru Teg Bahadur ji as contained on page 633 of the SGGS ji – ਇਹ ਜਗਿ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਕੋਈ Eh Jug Meet Na Dekheyo Koee.

Also provided – as a comparison – is a clearly literal translation of the same shabd as done by Sant Singh Khalsa MD in his English Translation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Webmaster’s Note: This article first appeared in The Sikh Bulletin Vol 3/2019. The SB can be accessed at


Articles · Shabad Vichar

Eh Jug Meet Na Dekhiyo Koyee ਇਹ ਜਗਿ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਕੋਈ

ਇਹ ਜਗਿ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਕੋਈ ॥ Eh Jug Meet Na Dekhiyo Koyee.

Karminder Singh PhD

The shabd is composed by Guru Teg Bahadur ji and is contained on Page 633 of the SGGS. The complete shabd is as follows:

ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੯॥ Sorath Mehla 9

ਇਹ ਜਗਿ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਸਗਲ ਜਗਤੁ ਅਪਨੈ ਸੁਖਿ ਲਾਗਿਓ ਦੁਖ ਮੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Eh Jug Meet Na Dekhiyo Koyee. Sagl Jagt Apney Sukh Lageyo Dukh Mei Sang Na Hoyee.

ਦਾਰਾ ਮੀਤ ਪੂਤ ਸਨਬੰਧੀ ਸਗਰੇ ਧਨ ਸਿਉ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ ਜਬ ਹੀ ਨਿਰਧਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਨਰ ਕਉ ਸੰਗੁ ਛਾਡਿ ਸਭ ਭਾਗੇ ॥੧॥

Dara Meet Poot Sanbandhi Sagreh Dhan Sio Lagey. Jub Hi Nirdhan Deykhio Nar Ko Sang Chad Sabh Bhagey

ਕਹਂਉ ਕਹਾ ਯਿਆ ਮਨ ਬਉਰੇ ਕਉ ਇਨ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਲਗਾਇਓ ॥ ਦੀਨਾ ਨਾਥ ਸਗਲ ਭੈ ਭੰਜਨ ਜਸੁ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਬਿਸਰਾਇਓ ॥੨॥

Kho(n) Kha Yia Mun Baorey Kao En Sio Neho Lagayeo. Dina Nath Sagl Bhei Bhanjan Jus Ta Ko Bisrayeo

ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ ਜਿਉ ਭਇਓ ਨ ਸੂਧਉ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਜਤਨੁ ਮੈ ਕੀਨਉ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਾਜ ਬਿਰਦ ਕੀ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੁਹਾਰਉ ਲੀਨਉ ॥ ੩ ॥

Suan Puch Jio Bhayeo Na Sudho Bahot Jatun Mein Kino. Nank Laj Bered Ke Rakho Nam Tuharo Leno.


Guru Teg Bahadur ji has a total of 115 shabds and saloks in the SGGS. Our clergy – kathakars, ragis and kirtenias in particular, and even some translators – have given a self-invented collective description to his shabds – namely that the bani of the ninth master is ਵਿਰਾਗਮਈ ਬਾਣੀ Vairagmayee Bani.

The word ਵਿਰਾਗ Vairag translates as renunciation, monasticism, and non-attachment. In practical terms it would mean freedom from worldly attachments. Our clergy tell us that Guru Teg Bahadur’s bani captures grief caused by separation or bereavement. For these reasons then, compositions of the ninth Guru are staple for kirtan and katha sermons during death ceremonies in our Gurdwaras.

For the serious student of Gurbani, such categorization is a disservice. It attempts to paint 115 deeply rich, diverse, varied, and spiritually rewarding creator –realization messages with just one flat brush of renunciation.

What has been the root cause of such simplistic and flawed categorization of the bani of Guru Teg Bahadur as contained within the SGGS?

Part of the fault lies with the slanted life-story of the ninth Guru that has been presented by agenda-driven writers and repeated ad-nauseum by our clergy to the Sikh masses. One sakhi (story) has it that on the occasion of the wedding of his uncle, young Teg Bahadur had been provided with a new outfit. He walked out of his home and came across a youngster who was in need of clothes. Teg Bahadur disrobed and offered all his clothes to this youngster.

Thi event, according to the sakhi’s proponents, is clear evidence of the Guru possessing ਤਿਆਗੀ Tyagi or renunciation traits from an early age.

A second sakhi has it that the Guru sat in meditation for some 33 years in an underground cellar. This again is evidence of him having renounced his youth, family and a significant portion of his own life.

A third story is that his original name was ਤਿਆਗ ਮੱਲ Tyag Mal (literally: Staunch Renunciator). His parents had named him to reflect the epitome of renunciation that the child was expected to become. But upon his grandfather – Guru Hargobind realizing his swordsmanship abilities while taking part in one of the sixth Guru’s wars – he was re-named Teg Bahadur – to reflect the epitome of swordsmanship that Tyag Mal – the epitome of renunciation – had now transformed into.

The sakhi does not explain the contradictions of how someone sitting in an underground cellar for 33 years could have simultaneously undergone training to become a swordsman par excellence and show the skills in an actual war. Neither does it say how his parents had misjudged in giving him the name Tyag Mal – something that had to be subsequently changed to reflect his true nature.

Neither do these sakhis tell us how and why the renunciation trait of the Guru continued to reflect itself in 115 shabds and saloks that the Guru composed even after his name was changed from Tyag Mal to Teg Bahadur.

The truth is of course that these sakhis are concocted to fit the conclusion that the Guru’s bani is all ਵਿਰਾਗਮਈ Vairagmayee – focussed on ਤਿਆਗ Tyag – renunciation.


Beyond the sakhis, a major part of the fault towards flawed conclusions about Guru Teg Bahadur’s deeply rich and spiritual bani lies with literal interpretation rooted in literal translation. In fact, this is the core problem. So much of attention is paid towards getting accurately to the literal, that the point of the shabd – its message – is missed altogether.

Sant Singh MD’s English translation of the SGGS provides the following interpretation for the shabd under discussion.

ਇਹ ਜਗਿ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਕੋਈ ॥ Eh Jug Meet Na Dekhyo Koyee

In this world, I have not found any true friend.

Comment: Why is the Guru lamenting about his “inability” to find a true friend in this world?” Is finding a “true friend” in this world the objective of the kind of spirituality that is advocated by our Gurus in Gurbani? Did all the other Gurus have “true friends in this world”? If finding a true friend is indeed a requirement for spirituality, then it is an impossible task because the next two verses say there can be no true friend or relative even within one’s family.

ਸਗਲ ਜਗਤੁ ਅਪਨੈ ਸੁਖਿ ਲਾਗਿਓ ਦੁਖ ਮੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Sagal Jagat Apney Sukh Lageo Dukh Mein Sang Na Koyi. Rahao

The whole world is attached to its own pleasures, and when trouble comes, no one is with you. ||1||Pause

Comment: If the Guru is aware that the whole world is attached to its own pleasures, then shouldn’t one’s “inability to find a true friend in this world” (the lament in verse one above) be a given and a constant in life?

Secondly, having someone to be with when one is in trouble does not add to one’s spirituality. Having no one does not take away from it. So why would the Guru – as author of this shabd -be lamenting over this very mundane fact of temporal life?

Obviously, the translation as provided is literal, and one needs to cross over into the spiritual realm to get the spiritual message of this Rahao couplet. Such a translation, although hitting bulls eye on the literal, misses the point because it falls short of getting to the message.

ਦਾਰਾ ਮੀਤ ਪੂਤ ਸਨਬੰਧੀ ਸਗਰੇ ਧਨ ਸਿਉ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ Dara Meet Poot Sanbandhi Sagrey Dhan Ko Lagey.

Wives, friends, children and relatives – all are attached to wealth.

ਜਬ ਹੀ ਨਿਰਧਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਨਰ ਕਉ ਸੰਗੁ ਛਾਡਿ ਸਭ ਭਾਗੇ ॥੧॥ Jub Hee Nirdhan Deykhiyo Nur Ko Sang Chad Sabh Bhagey.

When they see a poor man, they all forsake his company and run away.

Comment: The translations provide no more than a temporal and superficial knowledge that is applicable – in some, but not all cases – in the external, physical life sense. Such knowing does not add substantial value to our spiritual journeys within.

In any case, the “wife and child” of Guru Teg Bahadur were not attached to his temporal “wealth.” So this verse does not apply to the author of it. Obviously then, this cannot be the intended meaning of the verse.

ਕਹਂਉ ਕਹਾ ਯਿਆ ਮਨ ਬਉਰੇ ਕਉ ਇਨ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਲਗਾਇਓ ॥ Kaho Kha Yia Mun Baorey Ko En Sion Neho Lagayeo

So what should I say to this crazy mind, which is affectionately attached to them?

Comment: As social beings, how else is one supposed to conduct ones’ self within the institution of family (and friends and relatives too) if not in the affectionate sense? Will our spiritual journeys be enhanced if we become less affectionate to the ones’ we love?

Again, the challenge is to rise above the literal. The next two verses are translated as:

ਦੀਨਾ ਨਾਥ ਸਕਲ ਭੈ ਭੰਜਨ ਜਸੁ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਬਿਸਰਾਇਓ ॥੨॥ Dina Nath Sakal Bhei Bhanjan Jus Ta Ko Bisrayeo.

The Lord is the Master of the meek, the Destroyer of all fears, and I have forgotten to praise Him.

ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ ਜਿਉ ਭਇਓ ਨ ਸੂਧਉ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਜਤਨੁ ਮੈ ਕੀਨਉ ॥ Suan Pooch Jio Bhayeo Na Sudho Bhot Jatn Mein Keeno

Like a dog’s tail, which will never straighten out, the mind will not change, no matter how many things are tried.

Comment: Because both verses are literally translated, they appear contradictory. The first one says I have “forgotten” to praise Him – suggesting that the issue is a minor one pertaining to forgetfulness; and can thus be overcome by “not forgetting to remember.”

The second verse is saying “like a dog’s tail which will never straighten out.” The suggestion here is that the issue is NOT minor (forgetfulness) but massively deep rooted; and can NEVER be overcome.

The concluding verse is translated as:

ਨਾਨਕ ਲਾਜ ਬਿਰਦ ਕੀ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੁਹਾਰਉ ਲੀਨਉ ॥੩॥੯॥ Nanak Laj Berd Ke Rakho Nam Tuharo Lino

Says Nanak, please, Lord, uphold the honour of Your innate nature; I chant Your Name.

Comment: “I chant Your Name” as a translation for “Nam Tuharo Lino” is entirely literal. If “chanting the Name” was all there to it then why are the above problems being presented as intractable “like a dog’s tail that will never straighten out”? Anybody and everybody should be able to chant their problems away.

Overall comment: The shabd has been translated purely literally. Its interpretation does not venture beyond the temporal, superficial, external and physical life realm.

In this sense then, such an interpretation does NOT provide any NEW revelations relevant to our temporal life even. This is because we already know that there is nothing permanent in this world. We know that family, friends, acquaintances are transient and their relationships with us are sometimes dependent on their personal and selfish interests. So at the very best, such interpretations help reinforce existing beliefs about our temporal life. Nothing more.

Gurbani is much more than that. It is primarily spiritual. Its BASE and CORE is spiritual. We need to get to that core so that it can be of value to our spiritual journey towards realization of the Creator within our mind and conscience.


The primary challenge lies in the crossing over from the literal to the spiritual messages that are contained within the verses of the shabd. We need to interpret messages in the way they were intended to be – to add value to our spiritual journeys, enhance our spiritual processes, and help us achieve the aim of Gurmat spirituality, which is the realization of the Creator within our mind and conscience.

The primary actor in our spiritual concerns, journey and objectives is the CONSCIENCE. The secondary actors are our MIND and our SENSES as windows to our temporal world.

This means that the concepts and terms in the shabd must be given spiritual meanings. The spiritual interpretation of the shabd is thus as follows.

ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੯॥ Sorath Mehla 9

ਇਹ ਜਗਿ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਸਗਲ ਜਗਤੁ ਅਪਨੈ ਸੁਖਿ ਲਾਗਿਓ ਦੁਖ ਮੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Eh Jug Meet Na Dekhyo Koyee. Sagal Jagat Apney Sukh Lageo Dukh Mein Sang Na Koyi. Rahao

Comment: The world (JUG) of the CONSCIENCE is our INNER spiritual state. The acquaintances (MEET) of our CONSCIENCE are our SENSES. The joys (SUKH) of our Senses are those relating to the TEMPORAL. The sorrows (DUKH) of the Senses are when the joys of the temporal are denied.

So the meaning of the first verse, which is also the Rahao verse is:

The World of My Spirituality is Such. My Senses Relate to My Conscience Only in Their Own Temporal Joys and Sorrows.

The second verse reads:

ਦਾਰਾ ਮੀਤ ਪੂਤ ਸਨਬੰਧੀ ਸਗਰੇ ਧਨ ਸਿਉ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ Dara Meet Poot Sanbandhi Sagrey Dhan Ko Lagey.

Comment: The companion spouse (DARA MEET) of my conscience is my MIND. The offspring (POOT, SANBHANDHI) of my MIND are my thought processes that emanate out of the interaction of my mind and my senses. The presumed wealth (DHAN) of my mind is temporal gains. The poverty (NIRDHAN) of my mind is temporal losses. They relate to my conscience (LAGEY) when they see temporal gains in doing so, and extricate themselves (SANG CHAD SABH BHAGEY) when their assessment of the relation is one of temporal losses (NIRDHAN).

The meaning of the second verse, thus is:

My Mind and its Thought Processes Relate to My Conscience Only in Their Temporal Gains.

ਜਬ ਹੀ ਨਿਰਧਨ ਦੇਖਿਓ ਨਰ ਕਉ ਸੰਗੁ ਛਾਡਿ ਸਭ ਭਾਗੇ ॥੧॥ Jub Hee Nirdhan Deykhiyo Nur Ko Sang Chad Sabh Bhagey.

They extricate themselves from my conscience in their Assessment of Temporal Losses.


ਕਹਂਉ ਕਹਾ ਯਿਆ ਮਨ ਬਉਰੇ ਕਉ ਇਨ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਲਗਾਇਓ ॥ Kaho Kha Yia Mun Baorey Ko En Sion Neho Lagayeo

Kaho Kha – What do I contemplate. Yia Mun – This Mind of Mine. Baorey – Unrealized – En Sion – these temporal gains and losses (from previous verse) . Neho Lagayeo – Attached, dependent, imbued.

What Do I Contemplate Within My Spiritually Unrealized Mind that is Imbued in Such Temporal Gains and Losses

Note: this verse is continued on to the next.

ਦੀਨਾ ਨਾਥ ਸਕਲ ਭੈ ਭੰਜਨ ਜਸੁ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਬਿਸਰਾਇਓ ॥੨॥ Dina Nath Sakal Bhei Bhanjan Jus Ta Ko Bisrayeo.

Dina Nath – Creator Lord, Master. Sakal – Lit. Character. Bhei – Fears. Bhanjan – Destroy, Eliminate. Bhei Bhanjan – Fearless. Jus – Lit. Praise, appreciation; sp. of Divine Virtues. Ta Ko – Of. Bisrayeo – Neglect, Disregard

In Disregard of the Appreciation of Divine Virtues of the Creator Lord and of Fearlessness towards Temporal Losses?

BLUE – Context from previous verse.

ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ ਜਿਉ ਭਇਓ ਨ ਸੂਧਉ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਜਤਨੁ ਮੈ ਕੀਨਉ ॥ Suan Pooch Jio Bhayeo Na Sudho Bhot Jatn Mein Keeno

Suan – Lit, dog; sp. metaphor for greed. Pooch Jio – Lit. tail wagging, metaphor for excitement. Sudho – Correct a defect. Bhayeo Na – Fails to. Bhayeo Na Sudho – Unrepentant. Bhot – Plenty, Innumerable. Jatn – Effort. Mein Keeno – Undertaken by me.

My Divine Virtue Disregarding Mind Remains in Greed and Excitement Towards Temporal Gains, Unrepentant, Despite My Innumerable Efforts

BLUE – Context from previous verse couplet.

ਨਾਨਕ ਲਾਜ ਬਿਰਦ ਕੀ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੁਹਾਰਉ ਲੀਨਉ ॥੩॥੯॥ Nanak Laaj Berd Ke Rakho Nam Tuharo Lino

Laaj – Dignity. Berd – Slave. Rakho – Maintain, elevate. Nam – Divine Virtues. Tuharo – Your. Lino – Lit, take; sp. Imbibe.

Comment: The dignity (LAAJ) of my conscience is maintained when my Conscience is the master of my spiritual process. This dignity is lost when my mind and senses remain within the pull of their temporal gains, losses, joys and sorrows.

My conscience in its state of being a slave (BERD) is the outcome of it being made a slave (BERD) to my mind, senses and the thought processes that result.

The meaning of the verse thus is:

The Elevation of the Dignity of My Conscience (LAAJH BEIRD KEE RAKHO) Is What I Seek in The Journey of Imbuing Your Divine Virtues Within.


It is clear that a purely literal translation of the above shabd FAILS to provide any NEW revelations relevant to our temporal life even. Messages such as there is nothing permanent in this world; family, friends, acquaintances are transient; and their relationships with us are sometimes dependent on their personal and selfish interests et; are already within the domain of the average human understanding. Such messages make Gurbani common place, mundane and even humdrum – which certainly is not the case.

This real and priceless value of the messages within Gurbani pertain to spirituality. The messages of Gurbani are intended primarily to ADD VALUE TO OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS and PROCESSES. The primary actor in our spiritual concerns, journey and objectives is the CONSCIENCE. The secondary actors are our MIND and our SENSES as windows to our temporal world. The messages of Gurbani are intended to help us achieve the aim of Gurmat spirituality, which is the realization of the Creator within our mind and conscience.

Even though the messages are ultimately intended for the spiritual empowerment and awakening of our conscience, they need to follow the pathway that begins with our senses and leads to our mind.

For this purpose, then, it is necessary to cross over from the literal to the spiritual messages that are contained within the verses of the shabd. This is our challenge as adherents and followers of the messages of Gurbani.

It is hoped that readers are able to see the value in the attempt to do just that for this deeply rich, diverse, varied, and spiritually rewarding creator –realization messages that are embedded within this one shabd of Guru Teg Bahadur ji.

Webmaster’s Note: This article first appeared in The Sikh Bulletin Vol 3/2019 under the title of Shabd Vichar. The SB can be accessed at

Articles · Shabad Vichar

Kahey Poot Jhagrut Haon Sang Baap.

ਕਾਹੇ ਪੂਤ ਝਗਰਤ ਹਉ ਸੰਗਿ ਬਾਪ


ਕਾਹੇ ਪੂਤ ਝਗਰਤ ਹਉ ਸੰਗਿ ਬਾਪ ॥

Kahey Poot Jhagrut Haon Sang Baap.

Karminder Singh, Phd.

This deeply spiritual and divine shabd is composed by Guru Ramdas ji and is contained on page 1200 of the SGGS.

The literal translation of the first verse is: O Son, Why Do You Argue with Your Father. It is a Sin to Argue with The One Who Fathered You and Raised You. (Sant Singh MD Khalsa)

The common interpretation of the shabd is that it was composed by the fourth Guru both as a reprimand as well as advise to his elder son Prithi Chand. Professor Sahib Singh, in his Darpan writes the following towards the end of his translation of this shabd.

ਗੁਰੂ ਅਰਜਨ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰਿਆਈ ਮਿਲਣ ਤੇ ਬਾਬਾ ਪ੍ਰਿਥੀ ਚੰਦ ਨੇ ਪਿਤਾ-ਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਵਿਰੋਧਤਾ ਕੀਤੀ । ਤਦੋਂ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਇਹ ਉਪਦੇਸ਼ ਕੀਤਾ । Translation: Prithi Chand opposed his Father-Guru upon the conferment of Guruship to Guru Arjun. This (shabd) was the advice given to him at that point.

The origin of this story is a book titled ਉਥਾਨਕਾ Uthanka. The meaning of the word ਉਥਾਨਕਾ Uthanka is “introductory information.” According to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha’s Mahan Kosh (Encyclopaedia) Uthanka is a book whose author is unknown and it contains the “reasons and circumstances” behind the composition of selected shabads.

There is no denying that Prithi Chand opposed Guru Ramdas ji’s decision pertaining to the transition of Guruship to Guru Arjun because he wanted the position for himself.

He had been entrusted with major responsibilities by Guru Ramdas ji pertaining to the finances, logistics and administration of the Ashram of the fourth Guru at Amritsar. He had thus expected that the Guruship would be handed down to him.

He turned on his father after the announcement that his youngest brother Arjun was appointed Guru instead.

The issue that needs examination is whether this deeply rich and spiritually meaningful shabd has anything to do with the behaviour of Prithi Chand; and whether it is addressed to him.


Continue reading “Kahey Poot Jhagrut Haon Sang Baap.”



Dr. Karminder Singh Dhillon

Simran and Sikhi

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston)


SIMRAN ਸਿਮਰਨ is a Sanskrit word that translates literally as remembrance. Its Punjabi equivalents are ਯਾਦ Yaad and ਚੇਤਾ Chayta. The evening Sikh prayer Sodar (ਸੋਦਰ) contains a verse that uses the word simran to denote remembrance.

ਊਡੈ ਊਡਿ ਆਵੈ ਸੈ ਕੋਸਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਪਾਛੈ ਬਚਰੇ ਛਰਿਆ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਕਵਨੁ ਖਲਾਵੈ ਕਵਨੁ ਚੁਗਾਵੈ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਸਿਮਰਨੁ ਕਰਿਆ ॥

Udey Uud Avey Seiy Kosa Tis Pachey Bachrey Chariya. Tin Kavn Khalavey Kavn Chugavey Mun Meh Simran Kareya (SGGS page 10).

Guru Arjun uses the illustration of the florican – a migratory bird which flies out long distances in search of food; leaving its young behind. Despite the distance, separation and the continually arduous task of finding food that the bird has to perform, remembrance of its offspring remains a constant. (ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਸਿਮਰਨੁ ਕਰਿਆ Mun Meh Simran Kareya).

The spiritual equivalent of remembrance is contemplation.

Sikhi places primary importance on contemplating the Creator at all times. Guru Arjun says in SGGS page 263


Continue reading “SIMRAN and SIKHI”

Diwan Talks by DR Karminder Singh Dhillon

Ek Pita Eks ke Hum Barik ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ

Dr. Karminder Singh Dhillon


ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ਘਰੁ ੨ ਚਉਪਦੇ ॥

Sorath Mehla 5 Ghar 2 Chaupadey.

SGGS Page 612

ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥ Ek Pita Ekus Kay Hum Barak Tu Mera Gur Hayi.

Ek Pita – One Creator. Ekus Kay – Of that One. Hum – We. Barak – Children, offspring Tu – You. Mera – Mine. Gur – Guru, Enlightenment. Hayi – Are, is, have.

O Guru, You Have Enlightened Me that We Are All Children of the One Creator.

ਸੁਣਿ ਮੀਤਾ ਜੀਉ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਬਲਿ ਬਲਿ ਜਾਸੀ ਹਰਿ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਦੇਹੁ ਦਿਖਾਈ ॥ ੧ ॥ Sunn Mita Jio Hmara Bal Bal Jasi Har Darsan Deh Dikhayi


Continue reading “Ek Pita Eks ke Hum Barik ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ”