By Karminder Singh Dhillon | The Sikh Bulletin |
This shabd is composed by Guru Nanak ji in Asa Rag and is recorded on page 360 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The complete shabd is as follows.
ਖੁਰਾਸਾਨ ਖਸਮਾਨਾ ਕੀਆ ਹਿੰਦੁਸਤਾਨੁ ਡਰਾਇਆ ॥
Khurasan Khasmana Kiya Hindustan Draya.
ਆਪੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਰਤਾ ਜਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੁਗਲੁ ਚੜਾਇਆ ॥
Apey Dos Na Deyi Karta Jum Kar Mugal Chareya.
ਏਤੀ ਮਾਰ ਪਈ ਕਰਲਾਣੇ ਤੈਂ ਕੀ ਦਰਦੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥
Eyti Mar Pyee Kurlanney Tain Ki Dard Na Aiya.
ਕਰਤਾ ਤੂੰ ਸਭਨਾ ਕਾ ਸੋਈ ॥
ਜੇ ਸਕਤਾ ਸਕਤੇ ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ ਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਰੋਸੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Karta Tu Sabhna Ka Soyi.
Jay Sakta Saktay Ko Marey Ta Mun Ros Na Hoyi. Rahao
ਸਕਤਾ ਸੀਹੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਪੈ ਵਗੈ ਖਸਮੈ ਸਾ ਪੁਰਸਾਈ ॥
Sakta Seeh Marey Paiy Vagey Khasmeiy Sa Pursayi.
ਰਤਨ ਵਿਗਾੜਿ ਵਿਗੋਏ ਕੁ’ਤੀ ਮੁਇਆ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਕਾਈ ॥
Ratun Vigarr Vegoe Kuti Moeya Sar Na Kayi.
ਆਪੇ ਜੋੜਿ ਵਿਛੋੜੇ ਆਪੇ ਵੇਖੁ ਤੇਰੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥੨॥
Apey Jorr Vichorrey Apey Vekh Teri Vadeayi.
ਜੇ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ਧਰਾਏ ਵਡਾ ਸਾਦ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥
Jay Ko Nao Dhraye Vdda Saad Krey Mun Bhanney.
ਖਸਮੈ ਨਦਰੀ ਕੀੜਾ ਆਵੈ ਜੇਤੇ ਚੁਗੈ ਦਾਣੇ ॥
Khasmey Nadri Kirra Avey Jaytay Chugaiy Danney.
ਮਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਜੀਵੈ ਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਏ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥੩॥੫॥੩੯॥
Mar Mar Jevay Ta Kich Paye Nanak Nam Vkhanney
This shabd stands high on the list of mistranslated shabds; with one of its verses (the third one) being (mis)translated as Guru Nanak expressing his “dismay” that the Creator “allowed the slaughter of innocent people” and bewailed the Creator by asking “didn’t you feel compassion?” (Sant Singh Translation).
The shabd is further (wrongly) described as being composed pertaining to the attack of Babur and narrated to the Mogul conqueror Babur as advice.
Gurbani is Sarab Sanjhi; by which is meant it is never occasion, location, era or person specific. This means that while Gurbani is always composed at some location; may be composed to draw from specific occasions and events; and may be uttered in the presence of person or persons – the composition is never meant for any specific location, any particular occasion or for a certain person(s).
All of Gurbani is composed for use in all locations, all occasions, all eras and all persons. Gurbani is spiritual in nature and meant for the whole of humanity throughout time.
Specifying Gurbani for specific locations, occasions and person(s) is a human failing. It arises from our failure to explore the true spiritual messages of Gurbani within shabds. It originates out of our folly of wanting to understand Gurbani only in the literal sense.
UNDERSTANDING THE SHABD
This article attempts to provide Tatt Gurmat (Authentic SGGS based Sikhi) meanings to the verses by using the Gurbani Framework – a method which uses Gurbani within the SGGS to explain Gurbani.
The Rahao verse contains the gist of a shabd. It is the verse that contains the primary principle of the entire shabd. It is thus the verse that provides the context for the remaining verses. All remaining verses of the shabd revolve around this gist verse; and must thus be understood within the context provided by the Rahao verse.
We shall start by looking at the Rahao verse of the shabd under discussion.
ਕਰਤਾ ਤੂੰ ਸਭਨਾ ਕਾ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਜੇ ਸਕਤਾ ਸਕਤੇ ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ ਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਰੋਸੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Karta Tu Sabhna Ka Soyi. Jay Sakta Saktay Ko Marey Ta Mun Ros Na Hoyi. Rahao
Karta – Creator. Tu – You. Sabhna Ka – Of all. Soyi – From ਸਾਰ ਲੈਣ ਵਾਲਾ; provider, protector. Jay – in the event, if. Sakta – Powerful, strong; prevalent. Saktay – Sp. Powerful, Overbearing Vices. Kao – Them. Marey – Lit. kills, eliminates, overcomes. Ta Mun (with sihari) – Within one’s mind. Ros – Grievance, Objection. Na Hoyi – Not have.
Note: As is the case with Gurbani, its messages are addressed to the mind. The words ਸਕਤਾ Sakta, ਸਕਤੇ Saktay, ਮਾਰੇ Marey and ਰੋਸੁ Ros are thus interpreted in the context of the mind.
O Creator, You are the Provider of All. A Mind that Prevails Over Overbearing Vices Will Have No Grievance Within Itself (Regarding the fact that You are the Provider of All).
The common translation of this verse is: O Creator Lord, You are the Master of all. If some powerful man strikes out against another man, then no one feels any grief in their mind. (Sant Singh MD). This literal translation is erroneous on the following four grounds.
One, why would Guru Nanak – a man of love, peace and God – feel no grief for the powerful fighting the powerful? He would feel grief at any and every kind of violence between mankind. In fact, fights between powerful opponents are more destructive and truly wasteful than between weaker opponents. Guru Nanak would express more grief if the powerful fought the powerful.
Second, in such a translation, the first verse of the Rahao appears to have no connection with the second. The first talks about God being the master of all. And the second suddenly shifts gears towards the powerful fighting the powerful! What is the relationship between these two disjointed assertions? There appears to be none; and that is not because the composer of the verse sufferts from a defect but because the translation is faulty.
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Third, in such a translation, the first verse and the second become contradictory. If the Creator is the master of all – then he is the master of the fighting parties too – whether they are weak or powerful. So what then is the need to feel grief over one type of fight and not over another.
Fourth, such a translation takes away the spirituality of the message. What is the spiritual message in saying “there is no grief if the powerful fight the powerful?” How can a spiritually inclined mind feel no grief? Worse, the (mis)translations seem to suggest that the strong fighting the strong is acceptable.
The conclusion therefore is that this verse is not about any external fight between external forces. It is about our mind accepting that the Creator is the provider of all and our mind not having any grievances or complaints to that effect (ਤਾ ਮਿਨ ਰੋਸੁਨ ਹੋਈ Ta Mun Ros Na Hoyi). For such acceptance to take place, and for such grievances to not exist, our mind must prevail – be strong (ਸਕਤਾ Sakta) enough to overcome (ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ Kao Marey) the strong overbearing vices (ਸਕਤੇ Saktay) within our mind.
This shabd conveys spiritually rich messages pertaining to living virtuously that are derived from within the context of living under social, political and cultural systems that are or can be inhibiting.
Guru Nanak is providing spiritual (and temporal) pointers to enable virtuous living within such a context. The overall message is that political, social and cultural subjugation should not be allowed to come in the way of our spiritual goals. They should also not be blamed for our spiritual failings; neither should one blame the Creator. The Rulers and the Ruled are creations of the one single Creator. Fear can be eliminated from within our mind if we accept this premise. (Verse 1 and first part of Rahao).
If one rejects such a premise, then one will blame the Creator for it – a misplaced action. The self and the self alone bears responsibility for allowing fear to cripple one to the point of spiritual death. Fear can be eliminated from within our mind if we accept this premise. (Verse 2).
In spiritual death, the mind has to endure the pain of a vice-filled life – the accountability of which accrues to one’s self. The result is a conscience that is destructed by temporal greed and thus estranged from the Creator. (Verses 3, 6 & 7) Temporal survival lures the self to make claims of virtuous-ness while reveling in selfish indulgences.
(Verse 9 & 10) The Hukm pertaining to spirituality is plain: One needs to live a life liberated from vices, and realization of the Creator within must be created by the self. The mind is the entity that is fully empowered to do this. Only then is grace realized, says Nanak. (Second part of the Rahao Verse, Verses 8 & 11).
All these messages are applicable to the entirety of humanity across the entirety of social, cultural and political systems that we live in.
(This is an abridged version of the article that appeared in The Sikh Bulletin (December 2022 – Volume 24 Number 5, Special Edition). It was reproduced with courtesy from Karminder Singh Dhillon, Selected Gurbani Shabds, KL: 2020 page 202– 215) Book is available from https://sikhivicharforum.org/store/
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