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Reflect on the Knower

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Wednesday
,
20
January
2021

Reflect on the Knower

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Wednesday
,
20
January
2021
sikhism
Persian Voice
Shabad
Guru Wisdom
Podcast
⟵ Back to articles

Reflect on the Knower

Persian Voice in the Guru Granth Sahib

Wednesday
,
20
January
2021

Sabad is Infinite; we are very 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 as used in the original Sabad and avoid terms like God or Lord.

Sabad is Infinite; we are very finite. This is our understanding at the moment, which was different yesterday and may evolve tomorrow, as we deepen our relationship with the Sabad.

ਤਿਲੰਗ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
tilaṅg mahalā 5.
Tilang, Fifth Embodiment:
ਮੀਰਾਂ ਦਾਨਾਂ ਦਿਲ ਸੋਚ ॥
mīrāṁ dānāṁ dil soc.
O Leader reflect in heart and mind on the Knower.

ਮੁਹਬਤੇ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਬਸੈ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਹ ਬੰਦੀ ਮੋਚ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
muhabate mani tani basai sacu sāh bandī moc.1. rahāu.
Love dwells  in the mind and the body, O Eternal Sovereign, the destroyer of bondage.1. Pause-Reflect.  

ਦੀਦਨੇ ਦੀਦਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕਛੁ ਨਹੀ ਇਸ ਕਾ ਮੋਲੁ ॥
dīdane dīdār sāhib kachu nahī is kā molu.
Attaining a glimpse of the Master is invaluable.

ਪਾਕ ਪਰਵਦਗਾਰ ਤੂ ਖੁਦਿ ਖਸਮੁ ਵਡਾ ਅਤੋਲੁ ॥੧॥
pāk parvadagār tū khudi khasamu vaḍā atolu.1.
The pure Cherisher, You are by self, great, immeasurable Master.1.

ਦਸ੍ਤਗੀਰੀ ਦੇਹਿ ਦਿਲਾਵਰ ਤੂਹੀ ਤੂਹੀ ਏਕ ॥
dastagīrī dehi dilāvar tūhī tūhī ek.
Lend me a hand O Courageous! You and You, alone are the One.

ਕਰਤਾਰ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕਰਣ ਖਾਲਕ ਨਾਨਕ ਤੇਰੀ ਟੇਕ ॥੨॥੫॥
kartār kudrati karaṇ khālak nānak terī ṭek.2.5.
O Creator! The Master and the Creator of the creation, you are the refuge of Nanak.2.5.
   - Guru Arjan Sahib in Rag Tilang | Guru Granth Sahib 724

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.

In this Sabad (Divine Word), revealed by Guru Arjan Sahib in Rag Tilang, the Guru walks us through the journey of becoming vast like IkOankar (1-Ness). This Sabad utilizes Persian and Sanskrit origin language, among other influences, to create a hybrid form of language. Much of the Persian vocabulary is found in modern-day Urdu usage as well.

The Sabad begins with the word mīrāṁ, which if interpreted based on its Persian origins, would literally mean “my leader.” It is potentially also a shortened iteration of mīr-e-mīrān (میرمیران). Mir is a wise leader or headman, pluralized as mīrāṁ (میران). Guru Arjan Sahib is calling our attention to his leader, our leader, mīr-e-mirān, literally the leader of leaders. This leader carries the ultimate wisdom, described here as dānāṁ (دانا) or the wise/knower. This is where our reflection should lie. Although dil (دل) means heart, the word broadly encompasses terms for heart, soul, and mind. There is a call here to guide our attention to an orientation rather than a siloed off part of ourselves; therefore, dil in this context can be interpreted as the urging to look within.

In looking within, one absorbs love or muhabat (محبت) in body and mind, for the Eternal Sovereign. Sovereign here is written as sāh (شاه) or King, reimagined in the Sikh paradigm as the ultimate Being, rather than a fleeting holder of patriarchal, human-made power. This Eternal Sovereign is the emancipator of bandī (بندی), or the prisoner, in this case, all of us who are bound by ego. Our new orientation is not toward the fulfillment of personal gain, but rather toward attaining a mere glimpse of the Master, to see or dīdan (دیدن) and accomplish the act of meeting or dīdār (دیدار), the One.

The One is pure or pāk (پاک), free of the limitations that plague humans. Here, the Creator is called parvadagār (پروردگار), an old Persian term rooted in the word parvar (پرور), or cherish, and the word degar (دگار), another or more specifically, another time. Literally speaking, this describes the Creator as the one who cherishes, again and again. The Creator is khud (خد), meaning “self” in Persian, as in self-evident. Khud is the root of the most common word for the Creator in Persian, khudā (خدا) because the Creator is the only entity that is technically self-evident, dependent on no other.

Guru Arjan Sahib calls out for dastagīrī (دستگیر) from the roots dast (دست) or hand and gīr (گیر), to grasp. Together dastgīrī means to aid or assist, but the word can also mean arrest or capture in Persian. This lends itself to a reminder: when we become vast and seek solace in IkOankar (1-Ness), we receive the assistance we crave. When we try desperately to hold onto things or people we believe to be “ours,” an illusion born out of ego’s separative nature, we do not receive dastgīrī. We are simply entangled. IkOankar, the One, is dilāvar ( دلاور) or brave, and the Creator referred to in the last line as khālak (خالق), is self-evident through pure Creation-power or kudrat (قدرت), coming from Islamic terminology to describe Allah’s power.

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.

Revised:

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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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