ਤਿਲੰਗ ਬਾਣੀ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀ
tilaṅg bāṇī bhagtā kī kabīr jī
Tilang, utterance of the Bhagat Kabir Ji:
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ikoaṅkār satigur prasādi.
1-Reality by the grace of the eternal Guru.
ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਇਫਤਰਾ ਭਾਈ ਦਿਲ ਕਾ ਫਿਕਰੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥
bed kateb iphtarā bhāī dil kā phikaru na jāi.
The Vedas and the [Abrahamic] books are aspersion O siblings; they do not rid the heart of worry.
ਟੁਕੁ ਦਮੁ ਕਰਾਰੀ ਜਉ ਕਰਹੁ ਹਾਜਿਰ ਹਜੂਰਿ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥੧॥
ṭuku damu karārī jaü karahu hājir hajūri khudāi.1.
Take one breath fixed on the Creator, [you will find] the ever-present Presence.1.
ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥
bande khoju dil har roj nā phiru paresānī māhi.
Humble servant, search within your heart each day, not ambling in confusion.
ਇਹ ਜੁ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਸਿਹਰੁ ਮੇਲਾ ਦਸਤਗੀਰੀ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ih ju dunīā siharu melā dastagīrī nāhi.1.rahāu.
This world is a magic-show; there is no handholder.1. Pause-Reflect.
ਦਰੋਗੁ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਖੁਸੀ ਹੋਇ ਬੇਖਬਰ ਬਾਦੁ ਬਕਾਹਿ ॥
darogu paṛi paṛi khusī hoi bekhabar bādu bakāhi.
Reading and chanting falsehood, people become happy, swelling with untold pride and ignorance.
ਹਕੁ ਸਚੁ ਖਾਲਕੁ ਖਲਕ ਮਿਆਨੇ ਸਿਆਮ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੨॥
haku sacu khālaku khalak miāne siām mūrati nāhi.2.
The Eternal Creator is that which lies within creation, not the idol of the dark-skinned [Krishna].2.
ਅਸਮਾਨ ਮੵਿਾਨੇ ਲਹੰਗ ਦਰੀਆ ਗੁਸਲ ਕਰਦਨ ਬੂਦ ॥
asmān myiānē lahaṅg darīā gusal kardan būd.
Within the skies lies the melody of the sea for you to spiritually bathe in.
ਕਰਿ ਫਕਰੁ ਦਾਇਮ ਲਾਇ ਚਸਮੇ ਜਹ ਤਹਾ ਮਉਜੂਦੁ ॥੩॥
kari phakaru dāim lāi casmē jah tahā maüjūdu.3
With each thought constantly inward, seeing all of existence.3.
ਅਲਾਹ ਪਾਕੰ ਪਾਕ ਹੈ ਸਕ ਕਰਉ ਜੇ ਦੂਸਰ ਹੋਇ ॥
alāh pākaṅ pāk hai sak karaü jē dūsar hoi.
Allah is the purest of the pure; doubt it only if there is another.
ਕਬੀਰ ਕਰਮੁ ਕਰੀਮ ਕਾ ਉਹੁ ਕਰੈ ਜਾਨੈ ਸੋਇ ॥੪॥੧॥
kabīr karamu karīm kā uhu karai jānai soi.4.1.
O Kabir, Grace flows from the Compassionate; only the Creator knows [what the Creator] does.4.1.
- Bhagat Kabir 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 Kabir, a staunch critic of the religious figures that wielded textual authority in his era, begins this Sabad by labeling bed (the Vedas) and kateb (the “books,” referencing the texts of the Abrahamic faiths) iphatarā (iftarā). Iftarā (افترا in Persian) is an aspersion, slander, an attack on one’s integrity. He says they will not rid the dil (دل , heart) of phikaru or fikr (فکر) meaning “thought” in Persian, but carrying the specific connotation of worry or anxiety in Urdu.
Bhagat Kabir urges one to turn away from the scriptures and instead sit and take one dam (دم , breath) sitting fixed in place or karārī ( قراری). In this state, one is in hājir or hazar, in residence or presence that is fixed in nature, in a state that is the opposite of being on a journey, and can at this moment see the ever-presence of the Creator (khudā). The Creator is never lost or meandering, is always ever-present. When one meaningfully accesses this presence, they can experience the state of being hajūri or hazori (in the presence of the Superior). One may read these lines and assume Bhagat Kabir recommends meditation as a superior means of religious reflection over textual engagement. The verses that follow reveal a statement that is not prescriptive but rather descriptive.
The next call to action is for us, those of us who are bande khoju (بنده خاضع) or humble servants, are to search dil har rōj (دل هر روز), our hearts each day, rather than ambling about in paresānī (پریشانی , confusion, born of anxiety). The chaos all around us is tempting to fixate on, but ultimately this dunīā (دنیا , world) is full of falsehood and illusion like a siharu melā (سحر میله , magic show). No other human can soothe this reality, for we are beholden to the same degree. There is no one who can act as an aid, a comfort, a dastagīrī (دستگیری , hand-holder).
Moving back to those who wield scriptural authority, their status is built on falsehood as well. They read darōgu (دروغ , lies) which make them happy, yet they are bēkhabar (بی خبر , ignorant) and bādu (باد , literally “swelling,” figuratively “pride”) to an untold or bakāhi degree. In the next line, the IkOankar paradigm, which reconfigures how we engage with the Divine, comes into full force. Bhagat Kabir says the haku (حق , Eternal by nature of being the Divine Truth), sac (also Divine Truth) khālaku (خالق , Creator) lies miānē or within khalak (خلق , creation) and not the idol of the “dark-skinned” (a reference to Krishna, the incarnate of Vishnu that is depicted as being dark-skinned).
Bhagat Kabir invokes a paradigm in which there is no separation between Creator and creation. The need for any intermediary, whether it be a textual expert, a Brahmin to read the Vedas or a Qazi to interpret the Quran or an object for ritualistic worship such as an idol of Krishna, is abolished with this statement. The Creator lies within us. Every person, every idol, will one day perish or decompose, but the existence of IkOankar is Eternal. Therefore we can find an Eternal connection to the Divine within our own hearts and minds. We can unfold the vastness within us to reflect all of the infinite qualities of the Creator.
Likewise, we can fold the principles that we seek through our external rituals inward, such as that of gusal, or the purification requirement before prayer in Islam. We can bathe ourselves spiritually through engagement with beauty, described here as lahaṅg darīā (لحن دریا, the melody of the sea). If we dāim or constantly attune our thoughts towards the direction of lā (لا, inside) we can see with our eyes or casmē (چشمه), all of existence or maüjūd ( موجود). Bhagat Kabir reminds us that IkOankar, the Creator, known as Allah to those with an Islamic background, is the pākaṅ pāk (purest of the pure). Only sak (شک, doubt) can create dūsar (literally, two-headed, دو سر) or duality. We are left with a reminder that the Creator’s true nature is too vast for our total comprehension and that only the Creator can know why and how the Creator acts. We must work relentlessly to attune ourselves, and indeed, the answers will not be handed to us by the scholars of the Vedas or other religious scriptures.
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.