To Be Truly Fragrant!

September 6, 2022

Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih!

The Guru Granth Sahib is a treasure house of various figurative expressions like imagery, symbolism, metaphors, similes, and so on. These expressions bring alive the mystic and spiritual experiences that are otherwise inexpressible through language and make them more relatable for a commoner. Most of these expressions draw parallels from South-Asian life and its surrounding environment, including nature, creatures, professions, faith and religion, socio-cultural mores, politics, and more.

Amongst these, symbolisms are the most pervasive in the Guru Granth Sahib. They are invoked to exhibit specific exemplary behavior or relationships to inform and reorient the human mind in the ideal direction.

Guru Arjan Sahib, in the fifth couplet of the Gatha composition, says, In the company of sandalwood, even a neem tree becomes sandalwood. Nanak: Bamboo tree resides near sandalwood, but because of arrogant intellect, it does not become fragrant.5.

Guru Arjan Sahib uses the symbolism of the trees to urge us to choose our company wisely. In the fragrant sandalwood tree company, even a bitter neem (Azadirachta indica) tree becomes fragrant like sandalwood. But, a bamboo tree in the sandalwood company does not become fragrant because of its hardness and height.

Bamboo trees have a coating that functions as a hard shell, a form of protection that does not allow the fragrance to enter. Those like bamboo trees are stubborn and arrogant, closed off to the fragrance of the virtuous ones. Even when the fragrance of the virtuous ones surrounds them, they will not be changed by that presence without chiseling themselves to remove their hard shells — their pride and stubbornness.

We pause.
We reflect.

We cannot become fragrant until we imbibe humility in the way that the neem tree is humble and can take on the quality of sandalwood despite its bitter or unpleasant fragrance. 

We cannot become fragrant if we have not cultivated the virtues through the company of those who are already fragrant in their thoughts and actions. The only way toward becoming fragrant is to become humble and open, remove our hard shells, and allow the company of the virtuous ones to change us from within.

Will we remove that coating?
Will we experience what it is like to be truly fragrant?

May we yearn to be truly fragrant.
May the Wisdom-Guru guide us!

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