I Am Blind, O Creator

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Monday
,
16
August
2021

I Am Blind, O Creator

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Monday
,
16
August
2021
sikhism
persianvoice
shabad
guruwisdom

I Am Blind, O Creator

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Monday
,
16
August
2021
sikhism
persianvoice
shabad
guruwisdom
Sabad is Infinite; we are finite. This is our understanding at the moment, which was different yesterday and may evolve tomorrow as we deepen our relationship with the Sabad. In this transcreation, we have chosen to keep the repeating words in the Sabad the same. We aspire to learn and retain the Divine attribute used in the original Sabad and avoid terms like God or Lord.
ਨਾਮਦੇਵ ਜੀ  ॥
nāmdev jī.
Bhagat Namdev.

ਮੈ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਕੀ ਟੇਕ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਖੁੰਦਕਾਰਾ ॥
mai andhule kī ṭek terā nāmu khundakārā.
I am blind; remembrance of you is my support, O Creator.

ਮੈ ਗਰੀਬ ਮੈ ਮਸਕੀਨ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਅਧਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
mai garīb mai maskīn terā nāmu hai adhārā.1. rahāu.
I am poor [alone],  I am meek, your Nam is my foundation.1. Pause-Reflect.

ਕਰੀਮਾਂ ਰਹੀਮਾਂ ਅਲਾਹ ਤੂ ਗਨੀਂ ॥
karīmāṁ rahīmāṁ alāh tū ganīṁ.
Generous, compassionate, Allah You are wealthy [free of wants].
کریم رحیم الله تو گنی

ਹਾਜਰਾ ਹਜੂਰਿ ਦਰਿ ਪੇਸਿ ਤੂੰ ਮਨੀਂ॥੧॥
hājarā hajūri dari pesi tūṁ manīṁ.1.
You are ever-present within, and before me, You are beneficent.1.
حضورا حضور در پیش تو منانی

ਦਰੀਆਉ ਤੂ ਦਿਹੰਦ ਤੂ ਬਿਸੀਆਰ ਤੂ ਧਨੀ ॥
daīāu tū dihand tū bisīār tū dhanī.
You are the river; You are the giver, You are very wealthy.
دریا تو دهند تو بسیار تو دانی  

ਦੇਹਿ ਲੇਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਤੂੰ ਦਿਗਰ ਕੋ ਨਹੀ ॥੨॥
dehi lehi eku tūṁ digar ko nahī.2.
You alone give, and You alone take away; there is no other at all.2.

ਤੂੰ ਦਾਨਾਂ ਤੂੰ ਬੀਨਾਂ ਮੈ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੀ ॥
tūṁ dānāṁ tūṁ bīnāṁ mai bīcāru kiā karī.
You are wise, You are clear-sighted; how can I make You something of thought?

ਨਾਮੇ ਚੇ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਬਖਸੰਦ ਤੂੰ ਹਰੀ ॥੩॥੧॥੨॥
nāme ce suāmī bakhasand tūṁ harī.3.1.2.
You are the Master of Namdev; You are the magnanimous One.3.1.2.
   - Bhagat Namdev in Rag Tilang | Guru Granth Sahib 727

Reflections on this Transcreation

Persian-based Sabad is challenging to read and understand for both native Panjabi speakers and native Persian speakers. Panjabi grammar is imported into Persian and vice versa, creating new deviations of standard word spellings. The language of Gurbani takes influence from the languages of South Asia at the time (Panjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Braj, and many more) in which the bani was revealed, but often defies the rules of language and poetry to create new meaning. The language of Gurbani stands alone; therefore, the following commentary was written to help guide readers through the meaning of this Sabad and enrich understanding.

Bhagat Namdev begins this Sabad (Divine Word) with descriptions of himself as blind, poor, and meek. Meanwhile, the Creator is positioned as that which supports, which can be relied upon, and can serve as a foundation. These seemingly contrasting states persist throughout the Sabad. As Bhagat Namdev describes himself as garīb or poor ( غریب), the Creator is described as both wealthy in the context of being free of wants (rooted from the Persian word “ghani”) and wealthy in the context of having riches. As Bhagat Namdev deems himself blind, he praises the Creator for being clear-sighted (بینا , bīnā).

Unlike many humans whose egos prevent the sharing of wealth, riches flow freely from the Divine. Allah is described with two words, both of which are among the 99 attributes of Allah as per Islam: karīm or generous ( کریم), and rahīm (رحیم ), commonly translated as “merciful” in the Islamic context, but better represented as the “compassionate” within the non-hierarchical Sikh paradigm. The Divine is beneficent or manānī ( منانی), and good fortune flows naturally, as proclaimed by Bhagat Namdev: You are the giver, You are the river (darīā, دریا ).

At the beginning of the Sabad, when Bhagat Namdev calls himself poor, he uses the word garīb (غری), which has a double meaning depending on the linguistic context in which it is used. Due to the hybridized nature of the language in this Sabad, both meanings can be invoked here. Garīb has deviated in modern Urdu and Persian usage, denoting “poor” in the former, and “alone” or “stranger” in the latter. Perhaps the feelings consuming Bhagat Namdev are both poor and alone, a stranger in his own mind. Later, we see this state of suffering remedied when he emphasizes the Creator’s omnipresence by repeating hājarā hajūri (hazoor meaning the present, with the particular connotation of being present in front of a superior authority). He says the Creator is ever-present both dari (inside) and pesi (before) him.

Usually, “hajūr” is used to describe the state of being present in front of a superior authority, and therefore we would assume Bhagat Namdev is portraying himself as “hajūr.” Yet here we see that hazoor is being used as another description of the Creator. This is an impressive linguistic trick; Bhagat Namdev is blurring the line between Creator and creation. He is both in the presence of a superior authority, yet the superior authority, which exists both within and before him, is in his presence as well. In Sikhi, there is no separation between the Creator and the creation. It is not that pieces of the Creator lie within each of us; it is that the entire vastness of the Creator, of all of creation, can be accessed within each of us.

Bhagat Namdev says, You alone give, You alone take away; there is no other at all. The nucleus of the Sikh paradigm is IkOankar, meaning “there is One.” As such, with 1 as the Ultimate Being, there is no other. Bhagat Namdev’s own conception of self is merely an illusion. The entanglements that mentally consume our minds come from our illusion of separation. IkOankar, as the Ultimate Being, is continuously in a state of vastness and therefore does not experience these states of confusion. Bhagat Namdev feels this possibility--of being entirely wise, entirely clear-headed, but the vastness is difficult for the ego-ridden human mind to comprehend. He asks, how can I make You an object of thought?

Credit

The Persian Voice of the Guru is an unprecedented effort to elucidate the meaning of the Guru’s word as written in the Persian language in Gurmukhi script. I would like to thank the SikhRI team for their invaluable contributions to making this series possible. Thank you to Harinder Singh for helping transcreate complex hybridized language and to Inni Kaur for reflections on how to convey the true essence of the Sabad. Much gratitude to Surenderpal Singh and Ebrahim Tahassoni for their insights in transcription, making it possible for this text to be read in multiple scripts. And most of all, thank you to  Jasleen Kaur, Damanpreet Singh, and Imroze Singh for their unwavering support.

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Written By

Research Assistant

Asha Marie Kaur is a Research Assistant with SikhRI. She has a BA in Political Science and International Studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she was born and raised.

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