O Servant of the Unattainable

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Friday
,
28
May
2021
sikhism
persianvoice
podcast
shabad
guruwisdom

O Servant of the Unattainable

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Friday
,
28
May
2021
sikhism
persianvoice
podcast
shabad
guruwisdom

O Servant of the Unattainable

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Friday
,
28
May
2021
sikhism
persianvoice
podcast
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.
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ਮਾਰੂ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
mārū mahalā 5.
‍Maru, Fifth Embodiment:

ਅਲਹ ਅਗਮ ਖੁਦਾਈ ਬੰਦੇ ॥
alah agam khudāī bande.
O servant of Khuda,  the unreachable Allah
ਛੋਡਿ ਖਿਆਲ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਕੇ ਧੰਧੇ ॥
choḍi khiāl dunīā ke dhandhe.
Abandon these false pursuits of worldly imaginings.

ਹੋਇ ਪੈ ਖਾਕ ਫਕੀਰ ਮੁਸਾਫਰੁ ਇਹੁ ਦਰਵੇਸੁ ਕਬੂਲੁ ਦਰਾ ॥੧॥
hoi pai khāk phakīr musāpharu ihu darvesu kabūlu darā.1.
Become the dust of the feet of the saints, stay a traveler, such a  dervish, accepted at the Court.1.

ਸਚੁ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਯਕੀਨ ਮੁਸਲਾ ॥
sacu nivāj yakīn musalā.
Truth the prayer, conviction the prayer-space.

ਮਨਸਾ ਮਾਰਿ ਨਿਵਾਰਿਹੁ ਆਸਾ ॥
mansā māri nivārihu āsā.
Overcome your desire, renounce your wishes.

ਦੇਹ ਮਸੀਤਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਉਲਾਣਾ ਕਲਮ ਖੁਦਾਈ ਪਾਕੁ ਖਰਾ ॥੨॥
deh masīti manu maülāṇā kalam khudāī pāku kharā.2.
Body the mosque, mind the Mullah, enshrine the Divine Word as pure and genuine.2.

ਸਰਾ ਸਰੀਅਤਿ ਲੇ ਕੰਮਾਵਹੁ ॥
sarā sarīati le kammāvahu.
Let pure practice be your Shariah.

ਤਰੀਕਤਿ ਤਰਕ ਖੋਜਿ ਟੋਲਾਵਹੁ ॥
tarīkati tarak khoji ṭolāvahu.
Let your spiritual order be to relinquish, then search.

ਮਾਰਫਤਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਹੁ ਅਬਦਾਲਾ ਮਿਲਹੁ ਹਕੀਕਤਿ ਜਿਤੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਨ ਮਰਾ ॥੩॥
mārphati manu mārahu abdālā milahu hakīkati jitu phiri na marā.3.
Let control of your mind be your spiritual destination-through the authentic knowledge of meeting with the exalted ones; you will never die again.3.

ਕੁਰਾਣੁ ਕਤੇਬ ਦਿਲ ਮਾਹਿ ਕਮਾਹੀ ॥
kurāṇu kateb dil māhi kamāhī.
Perform [the wisdom of] the Quran and Abrahamic texts within your heart;

ਦਸ ਅਉਰਾਤ ਰਖਹੁ ਬਦ ਰਾਹੀ ॥
das aürāt rakhahu bad rāhī.
Restrain the ten feminine senses from straying into wrongdoing.

ਪੰਚ ਮਰਦ ਸਿਦਕਿ ਲੇ ਬਾਧਹੁ ਖੈਰਿ ਸਬੂਰੀ ਕਬੂਲ ਪਰਾ ॥੪॥
panc marad sidaki le bādhahu khairi sabūrī kabūl parā.4.
Tie up the five masculine vices with faith, benevolence and patience lend timeless acceptance.4.

ਮਕਾ ਮਿਹਰ ਰੋਜਾ ਪੈ ਖਾਕਾ ॥
makā mihar rojā pai khākā.
Let compassion be your Mecca and the dust of the feet of the Divine your fast.

ਭਿਸਤੁ ਪੀਰ ਲਫਜ ਕਮਾਇ ਅੰਦਾਜਾ ॥
bhisatu pīr laphaj kamāi andājā.
Let practicing the spiritual teacher’s word be your measure of paradise.

ਹੂਰ ਨੂਰ ਮੁਸਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇਆ ਬੰਦਗੀ ਅਲਹ ਆਲਾ ਹੁਜਰਾ ॥੫॥
hūr nūr musaku khudāiā bandagī alah ālā hujarā.5.
The Creator is the sun, the light, the fragrance, servitude to the almighty Allah is the prayer chamber.5.

ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਸੋਈ ਕਾਜੀ ॥
sacu kamāvai soī kājī.
Only the one who practices truth is a Qazi.

ਜੋ ਦਿਲੁ ਸੋਧੈ ਸੋਈ ਹਾਜੀ ॥
jo dilu sodhai soī hājī.
Only one who searches and purifies the heart is a Haji.

ਸੋ ਮੁਲਾ ਮਲਊਨ ਨਿਵਾਰੈ ਸੋ ਦਰਵੇਸੁ ਜਿਸੁ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਧਰਾ ॥੬॥
so mulā malūn nivārai so darvesu jisu siphati dharā.6.
Only one who saves themselves from evil is the Mullah, one who accepts Divine praise as their support is the dervish.6.

ਸਭੇ ਵਖਤ ਸਭੇ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਲਾ ॥
sabhe vakhat sabhe kari velā.
At every time, at every moment.

ਖਾਲਕੁ ਯਾਦਿ ਦਿਲੈ ਮਹਿ ਮਉਲਾ ॥
khālaku yādi dilai mahi maülā.
Remember the Creator, within your heart, the Master.

ਤਸਬੀ ਯਾਦਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਦਸ ਮਰਦਨੁ ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਸੀਲੁ ਬੰਧਾਨਿ ਬਰਾ ॥੭॥
tasbī yādi karahu das mardanu sunnati sīlu bandhāni barā.7.
Let remembrance and controlling ten masculine vices be your rosary, good conduct, and self-restraint your circumcision.7.

ਦਿਲ ਮਹਿ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਸਭ ਫਿਲਹਾਲਾ ॥
dil mahi jānahu sabh philhālā.
You must know internally that it is all temporary.

ਖਿਲਖਾਨਾ ਬਿਰਾਦਰ ਹਮੂ ਜੰਜਾਲਾ ॥
khilkhānā birādar hamū janjālā.
The clan, the brothers, all these worldly entanglements.

ਮੀਰ ਮਲਕ ਉਮਰੇ ਫਾਨਾਇਆ ਏਕ ਮੁਕਾਮ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਦਰਾ ॥੮॥
mīr malak umare phānāiā ek mukām khudāi darā.8.
Monarchs, rulers, nobles, they are all fleeting; the only permanent destination is the Divine court.8.

ਅਵਲਿ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਦੂਜੀ ਸਾਬੂਰੀ ॥
avali siphati dūjī sābūrī.
First, Divine praise, second, patience.

ਤੀਜੈ ਹਲੇਮੀ ਚਉਥੈ ਖੈਰੀ ॥
tījai halemī caüthai khairī.
Third, humility,  fourth, generosity.

ਪੰਜਵੈ ਪੰਜੇ ਇਕਤੁ ਮੁਕਾਮੈ ਏਹਿ ਪੰਜਿ ਵਖਤ ਤੇਰੇ ਅਪਰਪਰਾ ॥੯॥
panjvai panje ikatu mukāmai ehi panji vakhat tere aparparā.9.
Fifth, control the five to One destination. These are the five omnipresent prayers.9.

ਸਗਲੀ ਜਾਨਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਮਉਦੀਫਾ ॥
saglī jāni karahu maüdīphā.
Let your daily worship be knowing it is all One.

ਬਦ ਅਮਲ ਛੋਡਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਹਥਿ ਕੂਜਾ ॥
bad amal choḍi karahu hathi kūjā.
Let the abolishment of bad deeds be the vessel you carry.

ਖੁਦਾਇ ਏਕੁ ਬੁਝਿ ਦੇਵਹੁ ਬਾਂਗਾਂ ਬੁਰਗੂ ਬਰਖੁਰਦਾਰ ਖਰਾ ॥੧੦॥
khudāi eku bujhi devahu bāṁgāṁ burgū barkhurdār kharā.10.
Let the realization of 1-Creator be your call to prayer, O prosperous one, let this be the untainted instrument.10.

ਹਕੁ ਹਲਾਲੁ ਬਖੋਰਹੁ ਖਾਣਾ ॥
haku halālu bakhorahu khāṇā.
Let righteous truth be the food you consume.

ਦਿਲ ਦਰੀਆਉ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਮੈਲਾਣਾ ॥
dil darīāu dhovahu mailāṇā.
Let the river wash over the pollution of your mind.

ਪੀਰੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਭਿਸਤੀ ਸੋਈ ਅਜਰਾਈਲੁ ਨ ਦੋਜ ਠਰਾ ॥੧੧॥
pīru pachāṇai bhistī soī ajrāīlu na doj ṭharā.11.
One who realizes the spiritual Master attains a state of heaven, Azrael (the Angel of Death) does not cast them to hell.11.

ਕਾਇਆ ਕਿਰਦਾਰ ਅਉਰਤ ਯਕੀਨਾ ॥
kāiā kirdār aürat yakīnā.
Let good deeds be your body, and faith your bride.

ਰੰਗ ਤਮਾਸੇ ਮਾਣਿ ਹਕੀਨਾ ॥
raṅg tamāse māṇi hakīnā.
Enjoy the wondrous spectacle of Divine Truth.

ਨਾਪਾਕ ਪਾਕੁ ਕਰਿ ਹਦੂਰਿ ਹਦੀਸਾ ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤਿ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਿਰਾ ॥੧੨॥
nāpāk pāku kari hadūri hadīsā sābat sūrati dastār sirā.12.
Purify the impure, let the whole of existence be the Hadiths and the turban on your head.12.

ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਮੋਮ ਦਿਲਿ ਹੋਵੈ ॥
musalmāṇu mom dili hovai.
To be Muslim is to be kind-hearted.

ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਦਿਲ ਤੇ ਧੋਵੈ ॥
antar kī malu dil te dhovai.
To wash away the pollution within the mind.

ਦੁਨੀਆ ਰੰਗ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਨੇੜੈ ਜਿਉ ਕੁਸਮ ਪਾਟੁ ਘਿਉ ਪਾਕੁ ਹਰਾ ॥੧੩॥
dunīā raṅg na āvai neṛai jiu kusam pāṭu ghiu pāku harā.13.
To not approach these colorful distractions, to be pure like the flower, the ghee, the greenery.13.

ਜਾ ਕਉ ਮਿਹਰ ਮਿਹਰ ਮਿਹਰਵਾਨਾ ॥
jā kau mihar mihar miharvānā.
One who is blessed, blessed by the ever-Compassionate
ਸੋਈ ਮਰਦੁ ਮਰਦੁ ਮਰਦਾਨਾ ॥
soī maradu maradu mardānā.
That alone is a worthy man.

ਸੋਈ ਸੇਖੁ ਮਸਾਇਕੁ ਹਾਜੀ ਸੋ ਬੰਦਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਨਜਰਿ ਨਰਾ ॥੧੪॥
soī sekhu masāiku hājī so bandā jisu najari narā.14.
That one alone is the Sheikh, the preacher, the Haji, the Divine servant, the one given Divine consideration.14.

ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਾਦਰ ਕਰਣ ਕਰੀਮਾ ॥
kudrati kādar karaṇa karīmā.
The Creator is omnipotent and performs [endless] Grace.

ਸਿਫਤਿ ਮੁਹਬਤਿ ਅਥਾਹ ਰਹੀਮਾ ॥
siphati muhabati athāh rahīmā.
Praise and love of the Compassionate are unfathomable.

ਹਕੁ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਸਚੁ ਖੁਦਾਇਆ ਬੁਝਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਬੰਦਿ ਖਲਾਸ ਤਰਾ ॥੧੫॥੩॥੧੨॥
haku hukamu sacu khudāiā bujhi nānak bandi khalās tarā.15.3.12.
Realize the True Command of the Creator, O Nanak, your bondage will be finished; you will be carried across.15.3.12.
   - Guru Arjan Sahib in Rag Mārū| Guru Granth Sahib 1083

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.  

This Sabad (Divine Word) revealed in Rag Maru by Guru Arjan Sahib uses a high degree of Persian terminology to illuminate a reflection on Islamic practice. Aspects of the Sufi path to the Divine are called upon and reimagined in particular. As this is a longer Sabad, it is helpful to reflect on the messages here in stages as there are specific emphases from beginning to end. For the sake of uncovering the overlooked intricacies of the Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib, words brought into the historical South Asian and Sikh lexicon via the spread of the Persian language will be elaborated on in particular.

The first lines offer a call for humility, grounding, and reframing. Guru Arjan Sahib calls out to all of us, the bande (بنده ) or servants of khudā ( خدا ), the Persian term for the Creator, of alah ( الله ), the Arabic and Islamic term for Creator, who is agam, Sanskrit for unattainable. He calls for the abandonment of khiāl (خیال ) or illusory imaginations, which tie us to what we fail to perceive as a fleeting world or dunīā ( دنیا ). It is time to take our perception of self down a notch, so to speak, and to embody the humility not just of the humble traveling darves  (درویش ) or Sufi saint, but the dust that lies upon their feet. With this degree of humility, we flow into the path of the Creator, and we are kabūl ( قبول) or accepted at the Creator’s door.

Now that a new framing has been established, Guru Arjan Sahib shifts into a reflection on how one may orient their practice, speaking here in an Islamic context that would resonate with Muslim audiences of the era. He speaks of the musalā (  مصلا) or prayer space, of Mecca (makā, مکا ), of rojā (روزہ ) or fasting, of the religious teacher or maülāṇā ( مولانه). Guru Arjan Sahib invokes aspects of Islam as a whole, such as Shariah (sarīati, شريعة), in addition to particular frameworks that Sufis use to guide their path to the Divine.

For Sufis, Shariah is the body of knowledge that the entirety of the Islamic public is to be aware of, and therefore the starting stage in the process of full access to the Divine. The next stage is to become versed in the knowledge provided by a tarīkati  ( طريقة‎ ) or Sufi order, where a murshid conveys knowledge only comprehensible by a select, learned few. This allows the development of the third stage or hakīkati (حقيقة), which is the knowledge that stems directly from the Divine Source. Once a Sufi reaches the fourth or final stage of mārphati (معرفت ), spiritual truth naturally flows and no longer has to be actively sought, for the immersion in the Divine is so complete that each action and each word spoken is a blissful experience.

The Sufi intention to become so immersed in 1-Ness that each experience is blissful fits within the Sikh paradigm. One needs no master or teacher besides the Guru, and the Guru is available to all. A path is chiseled out and formed when one chooses the Guru’s way, day in and day out. Repetition or knowledge of texts does not inherently reorient; one must choose to absorb messages in their heart.

A practice only carries meaning if it forms an orientation toward 1-Ness. Guru Arjan Sahib speaks of the importance of an acute awareness of the ten feminine senses, the five masculine vices, of maintaining khairī (خیر ) or benevolence, sābūrī ( صبوری) or patience, and of focusing not just on far-flung mental images of Mecca or a paradise in the afterlife, but on the immediacy of the sun, light, and fragrance all around us, all formed by Allah.

The next repeated message is to remember that human-made authority can be misleading. The hājī (حاجی) who has been to Mecca, and the Qazi (kājī,قاضی ) who is versed in Islamic legal scholarship, may purport to have Divine authority, but their words are meaningless if they are not committed to practicing truth or searching and purifying their own heart at every time or vakhat (وقت ). There is a shift away from external symbols again, such as the tasbī ( تسبیح ) or rosary, and toward internal work, in this case, working on bridling one’s vices. Regarding human-made authority and power structures, Guru Arjan Sahib says, you must know that these clans, these brothers, these headmen or mīr (میر ), these malak ( ملوک) or rulers, these umare ( امیر) or nobles--they are all phānāiā (فانی ). They are temporary, fleeting, mortal. They are janjālā ( جنجال ), a loud, busy, noisy distraction from That which is true and eternal. Mukām  (مقام ) in Sufism is a spiritual destination, one that cannot be taken away. Guru Arjan Sahib reminds us that the only mukām is the Creator. The only servitude or bandagī  (بندگی ) we should submit to is that of the Creator.

Guru Arjan Sahib then speaks again on reframing sets of prescribed practices as sets of values. Aval ( اول) first, one absorbs siphat ( صفت) or the attributes of the Divine, through the act of praising the Divine. Second, there is a call to absorb sābūrī (صبوری ) or patience; a principle regularly invoked in Islam as well. In essence, all of one’s maüdīphā which stems from the word “vazifa” ( وظیفه) or duty, can be inscribed in values rather than rituals. One need not wait for the call to prayer or bāṁgāṁ ( بانگ) to hear the Divine; one does not need to rely on a human-made instrument or burgū ( بوق, trumpet). We are surrounded by spiritual knowledge and riches at all times and can experience the state of being barkhurdār ( برخوردار ) or prosperous.

When we are so immersed that hak (حق ), or righteous truth, becomes the food we consume (بخوره, bakhorah), when the darīā (دریا ) or river of the Divine washes over the pollution of our mind, we can attain a state of bhistī ( بہشتی) or heaven, while still living. We can live in the wondrous tamāse (تماشا) or the spectacle of Divine truth, and live in a vastness that extends far beyond the confines of the Hadiths (hadīsā,حدیث ) the secondary texts in Islam, or the dastār, which here refers to the Islamic turban worn by the learned. This vastness renders human-made authority insignificant. Within this new orientation, the ego is eradicated, values are pāk (پاک ) or pure, and we are no longer guided by fear. Fear of death is at the root of many acts of wrongdoing by humans, but once this fear is let go, the need for the threat of retribution melts away as well. This liberation from fear and doj ( دوزخ) or hell, is represented by a reference to Azrael (ajrāīl, عزرایل), the Angel of Death in the Abrahamic faiths.

Guru Arjan Sahib lived and sacrificed his life in service of the Sikh path, yet he affirms that should one continue to live by the Muslim path, all the wisdom revealed here remains accessible. He tells his audience that a true Muslim is one that is kind-hearted and pure, one that stays unbothered like the flowers and greenery and unaffected by distracting temptations. The Creator is omnipotent through the ultimate creative power or kudrat ( قدرت ) and performs endless karīm (کریم ) or Grace to all, as we are all manifestations of IkOankar (1-Ness). One must simply choose to give this ever-present Grace the appropriate najari (نذری) or consideration. The praise (siphat,صفت) and love (muhabat, محبت) of the Compassionate (rahīm,رحیم ) Creator are unfathomable. Should we work tirelessly to attune and orient ourselves to the hak hukam ( حق حکم ) or True Command, our bondage we feel in this heavy world will be finished, khalās (خلاص ), and life will become smooth like the flow of a river. In this state, we are now carried across with ease.

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 Surender Pal 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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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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