Hymns of Guru Nanak

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Hymns Of Guru Nanak (The Sikh religon - Max Arthur Macauliffe)


Man addicted to intoxicants

THE following was addressed to a man addicted to intoxicants:

The Giver gave man a pill of the intoxicant illusion.
In his intoxication he forgot death and enjoyed pleasure for four days.
The abstainers[1] obtained truth to keep them in God's court.
Nanak, know the True One alone as true.
By serving Him man obtaineth happiness and proceedeth with honour to His court.
The true wine is that which containeth the true Name; it is prepared without molasses.
I am a sacrifice unto those who hear and explain this.
Man is known as properly intoxicated when he obtaineth a place in God's court.
Bathe in the water of virtues; apply the perfume of truth to thy body;
Then shall thy face become bright, and the One Giver bestow hundreds of thousands of gifts on thee.
Inform God, with whom resteth happiness, of thine unhappiness.
Why forget Him who owneth thy soul and life?
All clothing and food are impure without Him.
All else is false; what pleaseth Thee, O God, is acceptable.

[1. Sofiân. These must not be confounded with the Sûfis of Persia whose predilections are in the opposite direction. By abstainers are here meant the truthful.]

Where is God, etc

A Sikh called Prema asked the Guru where God resided, in what. state He dwelt, and how He could be found. The following was the Guru's reply:-

The virtues of the virtuous woman are blazoned abroad; she who is not virtuous regretteth it.
O woman, if thou desire thy Spouse, practise truth. He cannot be obtained by falsehood.
No boat or raft will take thee to the distant Beloved.
My Lord is perfect; His throne is secure.
He whom the perfect Guru maketh holy, shall obtain the True and unrivalled One.
God's palace is beautiful; it is adorned with bright gems, rubies,
Pearls, and diamonds; it is surrounded by a golden fortress, and is an abode of pleasure.
How shall I scale the fortress without a ladder? By meditating on God through the Guru I shall behold Him.
The Guru giving me God's name is my ladder, my boat, and my raft;
The Guru is the lake, the sea, and the boat; the Guru is the sacred stream.
If it please God, I shall go to bathe in the true tank[1] and become pure.
He is called the most perfect; He reposeth on a perfect throne.
His seat is perfectly beautiful; He fulfilleth the hopes of the hopeless.
Nanak, if man obtain the Perfect One how can his virtues decrease?

[1. The Guru is meant.]

Devotion is necessary

A man can only find favour with God by devotion:--

Accursed is her life who is separated from her Spouse she is ruined by mammon.
Like a wall impregnated with kallar she crumbleth down day and night.
She obtaineth no rest without the Word; without her Beloved her grief departeth not.
O woman, what are thine adornments without thy Spouse?

Thou shalt not obtain entrance into God's court; being false thou shalt be despised.
The Lord is wise and forgetteth not: He is true and a great husbandman.
He first prepareth the ground, then soweth the seed of the true Name.
From the name of the one God the nine treasures are
produced, and man obtaineth the marks[2] of His favour.
What shall be the condition of him who accepteth not the Guru's doctrine?
The blind[3] man hath forgotten the Name; the perverse is stone-blind.
His transmigration shall cease not; he shall be ruined by death and birth.
Woman may buy sandal, kungu,[4] and red lead for the partings of her hair,
Distilled aloe wood, sandal, betel, and camphor in great quantities;
Yet, if she please not her Spouse, all her preparations are vain:
All her enjoyments are vain, and all her adornments are useless.
Until she is permeated by the Word, how shall she obtain honour at God's court?
Nanak, blest is the woman who loveth her Spouse.

[1. That is, man's heart.

2. A reference to the thappâs, or marks, put on crops before being divided among the partners of the land.

3. That is, spiritually blind.

4. A red composition, principally of saffron, used by women to ornament their foreheads.]

The Guru's idea of creation

From the True One proceedeth air, from air water,
And from water the three worlds; light was infused into every heart.
The Pure One becometh not impure: he who is imbued with the Word obtaineth honour.

Guru Nanak composed the following after a conversation with Samangir, a Sanyasi, at Talwandi. The Guru maintained the excellence of his own system and the advantage of repeating God's name obtained from the Guru:--

If I turn myself into a woman, the Enjoyer will enjoy me.
Love not that which appeareth transient,
The Spouse enjoyeth on His couch the pious virtuous wife.
Having under the Guru's instruction obtained God's name as the water, quench the four fires.[1]
The lotus of the heart shall then bloom, and thou shalt be completely. satiated with nectar.
Nanak, make the true Guru' thy friend, and thou shalt obtain happiness[2] in God's court.

Address to a trader

The following is a homily addressed to a trader called Ramu whom the Guru met at Kartarpur:--

Trade, O trader, and take care of thy merchandise.
Buy such goods as shall depart with thee.
In the next world is a wise Merchant who will be careful in selecting the real article.
O my brother, utter God's name with attention.
Take with thee God's praise as thy merchandise, so that, when the Merchant seeth it, He shall be satisfied.
How shall they whose wares are not genuine, be happy?
By trading in counterfeit goods the soul and body become counterfeit.
Like a deer shared in a noose, such a trader shall suffer great misery and ever lament.
The counterfeit shall not be received in the great God's treasury, and they shall not behold Him.
The counterfeit have neither caste nor honour; the counterfeit are none of them acceptable.
The counterfeit who do counterfeit work, shall lose their honour in transmigration.

[1. The four fires are--hinsa, cruelty; moh, worldly love; krodh, anger; and lobh, avarice.

2. Sach, literally truth, but in the compositions of the Gurus the word often means happiness.]

{p. 265}

266. Follow the Guru's word

Nanak, instruct thy heart by the Guru's word and advice.
They who are imbued-with the love of God's name have no load of sin and no superstition.
They in whose hearts God dwelleth are without fear, and great shall be their gain by repeating His name.

The omnipresence of God:--

He Himself is the Relisher; He Himself is the relish
He Himself is the Enjoyer;
He Himself is the robe; He Himself the couch and the Spouse--
My Lord, who ]is dyed with love, pervadeth everything--
He Himself is the fisherman and the fish; He Himself is the water and the net.
He Himself is the lead of the net; He Himself is the bait within it.
O my friends, my Darling is in every way playful.
He ever enjoyeth the virtuous wife; see what a state is mine![1]
Nanak representeth, Thou art the lake, and Thou art the swan;
Thou art the lotus and the water lily, Thou art pleased on beholding them.[2]

The following was a remonstrance to a Mulla and a Qazi who had entered on a discussion with the Guru:--



He is the Lord who hath caused the garden of the world to flourish[3] and grow green,
And who restraineth sea and land; hail to the Creator!
Thou must die, O Mulla, thou must die.
By all means fear the Creator.

[1. Who, not being virtuous, am divorced from God.

2. The lotus opens its leaves by day and the water-lily by night. God is the sun and moon which behold them by day and night alternately.

3. Maula, a name of God in Arabic, The Hindi verb maulna means to bloom or blossom. There is in the original a pun on the word.]

{p. 266}

267. Who is a Mulla or Qazi?

Thou art a Mulla or a Qazi only when thou really knowest God's name.
Even if thou be very learned thou must depart; none may remain when his measure of life is full.
He is a Qazi who hath renounced pride, and made the name of God alone his support.
He is, was, and shall be: He was not born, neither shall He die; True is the Creator.[1]
Thou prayest five times a day, and readest thy Quran and holy books.
Nanak saith, when the grave calleth, man shall cease to drink and eat.


The following was composed in a devotional paroxysm. Some suppose that it was uttered at Makka in reply to Qazis who had asked the Guru to tell them of the God he adored:--

Persuade thy heart to sing God's name with every breath thou drawest.[2]
How great is He to whom one playeth and singeth, and where doth He dwell?
All Thy eulogists continue to praise Thee with affection.
Father, God is inaccessible and endless.
Pure is the Name; pure is the place of the true Cherisher.
How great Thy sovereignty is cannot be known; no one knoweth how to describe it.
If a hundred poets were to be found, they could not describe a particle of it, though they sang their utmost.[3]
Nobody hath found Thy worth; every one as he hath heard describeth Thy glory.
Priests, prophets, saints, faithful men, martyrs,
Shaikhs, Strivers, Qazis, Mullas, Darweshes who have arrived at God's gate,

[1. True here apparently means abiding, eternal.

2. Also translated---As far as it can fix its attention.

3. Literally--even though they cried over it.]

{p. 267}

268. Blessings with reciting

Obtain further blessings if they continue to recite God's praises.
He consulteth no one when He createth; He consulteth no one when He destroyeth; He consulteth no one when He giveth or taketh.
He knoweth His own might; He acteth and causeth others to act.
He beholdeth all men with favour, and bestoweth on those who please Him.
Neither His place nor His name is known, nor how great His name is among other names.
How great is that place where my Sovereign dwelleth!
None can reach it; of whom shall I inquire the way?
High or low caste influenceth not God when He maketh any one great.
Greatness is in the hands of the Great One; He giveth to whom He pleaseth.
He regenerateth man by His order without any delay.
Everybody crieth 'Give me much, much ', in the hope of getting it.
How great shall the Giver be called who giveth countless gifts!
Nanak saith, O God, Thy storehouses are full in every age, and never is there a deficiency.

Qazi and Pandit ask the Guru

It is said that a Qazi and a pandit asked the Guru how man could find God and be blended with Him. The following was the reply:--

All are wives of the Spouse and adorn themselves for Him.
In trumpery red dresses have they come for His inspection.[1]
Love is not obtained by hypocrisy; counterfeit gilding degradeth.
In this way God the Spouse shall enjoy the wife.
The good wife is pleasing to Thee, O Lord; of Thy favour Thou decoratest her.

[1. Literally-to be counted by Him.]

{p. 268}


She is decorated with the Guru's word; her body and soul are with her Beloved.
With hands clasped she standeth waiting on Him, and offereth Him true supplication.
She is imbued with the love of her Darling; she dwelleth in fear of the True One; and, when dyed with His love, her colour is the true one.
She is called the handmaiden of the Beloved, and answereth to the name of Lali.[1]
Her true affection is not sundered; the True One blendeth her with Himself.
Her soul is imbued and saturated with the Word; I am ever a sacrifice unto her.
She who is absorbed in the True Guru, shall not sit down a widow.
Her Beloved is an abode of pleasure ever voting and true; He neither dieth nor is born.
He ever enjoyeth His virtuous wife, and casteth true glances on her as she obeyeth Him.
She maketh truth the parting of her hair, and lovelier dress and ornaments.
She maketh the indwelling[2] of God her sandal, and the tenth gate her chamber.
She lighteth the lamp of the Word, and weareth God's name as her necklet.
She weareth on her forehead the jewel of love, and she is beautiful among women.
Her beauty and wisdom are charming, and true is her infinite love.'
She knoweth no man but her Beloved; it is only for the True Guru she feeleth love and affection.
But thou who art reckless on a dark night[3] how shalt thou pass it without the Beloved?
Thy bosom shall burn, thy body shall burn, and thy mind shall burn, O woman.

[1. The jewel or precious one.

2. Chit wasâia; also translated--mental restraint.

3. In spiritual ignorance.]

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270. God as Husband

When woman enjoyeth not her Husband, her youth passeth in vain.
Her Husband is on the couch; his wife sleepeth and knoweth not His presence.
While I sleep, the Beloved awaketh; whom shall I go to consult?[1]
Nanak, the true Guru, having taught me love, hath caused me to meet God, and I abide in His fear.

The mind is impure until it receives instruction from a true religious teacher:--

When the mind is impure the body is impure, and the tongue impure'.
The mouth is impure by uttering impurity; how shall it be made pure?
The heart cannot be cleansed without the Word; from the True One truth is obtained.
O girl, what happiness is there without virtue?
Brahmans read books aloud, but understand not their meaning.
They give instruction to others as a business matter.
They wander about the world preaching falsehood; while they who abide by the Word are the best.
How many pandits and astrologers study the Veds
They glorify battles and enmities;[2] but from quarrels resulteth transmigration.
However much they tell and preach what they have heard, man shall not be freed from his sins without the Guru.
All call themselves virtuous, but I possess no virtue.
Beautiful is the woman who hath God for her Spouse; that God pleaseth me.
Nanak, she who is united with God by the Word shall not be separated from Him.

The following was addressed to Hindu devotees whom the Guru met in his wanderings in the Himalayas:--

[1. That is, there is no remedy for my negligence now.

2. The epic poems Ramâyan and Mahâbhârat.]

{p. 270}

See also