Hymns of Guru Nanak 12

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God is known by meeting the true Guru and implanting his instruction in the heart.
When pride departeth, doubt, fear, and the pain of transmigration depart.
By the wisdom of the: Guru the Unseen is seen, Man's intellect becometh exalted, and he is saved.
Nanak, repeat the spell of God in whom the three worlds are contained.


To engage in ritualistic practices is of no avail:--

To give a feast, make a burnt offering, offer alms, perform penance and worship, and endure bodily pain for ever are all of no avail.
Without God's name salvation is not obtained; the holy man obtaineth it by the Name.
Without God's name it is useless to be born in the world.
To eat poison, to speak for the sake of poison (mammon) without the Name is to die an unprofitable death and wander in transmigration.
To read books, discuss grammar, and pray three times a day are all of no avail.
Without the Guru's instruction, O mortal, where is salvation? without Gods name man is entangled and dieth.
Even though man take up the beggar's staff and pot, and adopt the hair-tuft, the sacrificial thread, and the dhoti of the Hindus, go to places of pilgrimage, and wander far and wide,
Yet shall he not find comfort without God's name; he who repeateth it shall be saved.
Even though man weave his hair into a crown, apply ashes to his body, doff his clothes, and wander naked,
Yet shall he be not satisfied without God's name; it is under the stress of prenatal acts man assumeth a devotional garb.
Thou, O God, art in all creatures that are in the water, the dry land, the nether regions, and the firmament.
By the favour of the Guru preserve Thy servant; Nanak stirring God's elixir hath drunk it.

{p. 371}


The following was written with buoyant feeling after the departure of a cold winter in the north of India:--

All hail to the great month[1] in which spring ever beginneth.
Ever and ever remember the Sustainer of the earth, and thy heart shall rejoice.
O silly man, forget thy pride,
Subdue thy pride and meditate on God in thy heart adopt the most excellent virtues.
Good acts are the tree, God's name its branches, religion its flowers, divine knowledge its fruit,
Attainment of God its leaves, and the dispelling of mental pride its dense shade.
They who behold God's power with their eyes, hear it with their ears, and repeat the true Name with their tongues,
Obtain the full wealth of honour and tranquilly meditate on God.
The great season hath come, be careful and do good works.
Nanak, the pious who continue absorbed in God shall be perennial and never wither.


The following is a refutation of the general Indian ideas on the subject of impurity:--

There is no impurity in songs,[2] there is no impurity in knowledge;[3]
There is no impurity in the moon's or sun's different phases;

[1. Basant, the Indian spring, is generally considered to begin between the 12th and 14th of March.

2. As supposed by the Musalmans.

3. The Brâhmans assert that the Veds should not be communicated to women and Sûdars. During the period of Brâhmanical ascendency in India the Sûdars were forbidden under pain of death to read the Veds--they might only repeat God's name. Among the Sûdars are included all women.]

{p. 372}

There is no impurity in corn, there is no impurity in ablution;[1]
There is no impurity in rain which falleth everywhere
There is no impurity in earth, there is no impurity in water;
There is no impurity contained in air.
There are no virtues, Nanak, in the man who is without a guru.
It is he who turneth away from God whose mouth is impure.

The Guru mentions things which confer purity on men of different classes:--

Nanak, the following handfuls[2] of water are pure if any one know how to fill them-
Divine knowledge for the Pandit, continence for the Jogi,
Contentment for the Brahman, alms out of what he hath himself earned for the family man,[3]
Justice for the king, meditation on the True One for the learned.
Although water when drunk will quench thirst, the heart cannot be washed with it.
Water is the generator of the world, and shall finally destroy everything.

The futility of idolatry:--

Thou in thy house keepest an idol with its attendant gods:[4]
Thou washest it and worshippest it;
Thou offerest it kungu, sandal, and flowers
Thou fallest at its feet and propitiatest it to the utmost
Yet it is by continually begging of men thou clothest and supportest thyself.

[1. As supposed by the Jains, who avoid water.

2. Chuli, as much water as can be taken in one hand. Water is taken in handfuls by Hindus and drunk as grace before and sometimes after meals accompanied by sacred texts. Hindus also use water in the same way when taking solemn oaths.

3. As contradistinguished from the almsgiving of thieves out of their plunder.

4. Such as Lakhshmi, Garur, Ganesh, &c.]

{p. 373}

For such foolish acts shalt thou receive the punishment of the foolish.
The idol giveth thee not when hungry, nor preserveth thee from death.
It is like a foolish quarrel among the blind.

God has no partner, wherefore supplication should be made to Him direct:--

If Thou have any partner, O God, I will speak of Thee in his presence.
But Thou hast no partner, therefore will I praise Thee to Thy face. Thy name giveth sight to the blind.

One of the Guru's reflections on this degenerate age:--

In the Kal age men have faces like dogs, and eat carrion.
They bark as they utter falsehood, and have no regard for honesty.
They who have no honour while alive, shall have an evil reputation after death.
What is destined taketh place, Nanak; what the Creator doeth cometh to pass.

They who deceive men by selling them charms and amulets shall not find salvation:--

Accursed the lives of those who write God's name to sell it.
They whose crop is spoiled require no place for a harvest-heap.
They who are devoid of truth and modesty will receive, no assistance hereafter.

The ways of wisdom:--

Call not by the name of wisdom the wisdom which is spent in wrangling.
By wisdom the Lord is worshipped; by wisdom honour: is obtained.
It is by wisdom what is read is understood, it is by wisdom alms are properly bestowed.
Nanak saith, these are the ways of wisdom, all else are ways of wickedness.

{p. 374}

The virtues and practices which are most potent to secure deliverance:--

They who make truth their fasting, contentment their place of pilgrimage, divine knowledge and meditation their ablutions,
Mercy their idol, and forgiveness their rosary, are foremost in God's favour.
Nanak, few there are who make the right way their loincloths, meditation on God their cooking squares,
Good deeds their frontal marks, and God's love their food.

Better to live by honest labour than by begging:--

Men without divine knowledge sing hymns.
The hungry Mulla maketh a home of his mosque.[1]
One man who earneth nothing slitteth his ears;[2]
Another becometh a beggar and loseth his caste.
Touch not at all the feet of those
Who call themselves gurus and pirs, and go begging.
They who cat the fruit of their. labour and bestow something,
O Nanak, recognize the right way.


Some moral commandments:--

Cease to covet another's wife and another's goods; shun the deadly sins of pride,
Evil inclinations, slander, Pind lust and wrath the executioners.
The inaccessible and illimitable God dwelleth in man's heart.
He shall obtain nectar in his own heart, whose conduct is according to the Guru's precious instruction;
And who considereth woe and weal and the blame and praise of the world as the same.

[1. He spends all his time in his mosque, so as to receive the more alms.

2 The Jogi.]

{p. 375}

Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are obtained from God's name; the love of God is obtained by association with the saints.
Day and night profit is obtained from God's name given by the beneficent Guru.
He on whom the Creator looketh with favour obtaineth instruction from the Guru's words.
The body is the palace, the temple, and the house of God; into it He putteth His eternal light.
Nanak, the pious are invited to God's palace; He will blend them with Himself.


The Guru by familiar Indian examples expresses his love for God:--

The chakwi will not sleep at night in the absence of her mate.
When the sun riseth she gazeth on her beloved, and boweth, and toucheth his feet.
O my Beloved, dear to me is Thy love, which shall be my companion.
I cannot live for a moment in this world without Him so much do I thirst for Him.
The lotus on the lake on beholding the sunbeams of heaven naturally rejoiceth:
O my Beloved, such is the longing 1 feel in my heart that my light may be blended with Thine.
The chatrik without water crieth 'Prio, prio!' and screameth aloud.
There is terrible thunder, it raineth on every side, but without its special raindrops the chatrik's thirst departeth not.
The fish which is born and liveth in water, obtaineth weal and woe according to its previous acts.
It cannot live for an instant without water; its death or life dependeth on it.
Woman is separated from her Beloved who liveth abroad; she sendeth Him a message through the true Guru.

{p. 376}

All cry out 'Prio, prio!', but they can only obtain their Beloved if it please the Guru.
The Beloved is with us; He ever associateth with the true; He blendeth with Himself those on whom He looketh with favour.
God is the life within all lives; He pervadeth every heart.
Through the Guru's favour He is manifest at home, and men become easily absorbed in Him.
Arrange thine own affairs, O man; the Lord of the earth is the Giver of happiness.
When by the Guru's favour man findeth God in his heart, then, O Nanak, his burning is extinguished.


Prayers ought not to be offered for worldly advantages:--

They who offer prayers shall die, and so shall they who are prayed for.
Nanak, it is not known where they shall be placed by God's order.

The punishments that await the impenitent wicked:--

Some have chains on their necks and are being led off to prison;
But by recognizing Him who is the truest of the true, they shall be freed from their bonds.
He who obtaineth favourable destiny knoweth the True One.
Man's fate is decided by God's order; when man goeth before Him he shall know this.
Recognize the Word which will cause thee to cross the terrible ocean.
Thieves, adulterers, and gamblers shall be pressed like sesame;
Slanderers and backbiters shall be carried away by the flood.
The pious who are absorbed in the True One shall be known in God's court.

{p. 377}

Worldly advantages distract men's minds from devotion:--

Empire, wealth, beauty, nobility, and youth are five robbers;
These robbers have robbed the world without respect for any one.
They who fall at the Guru's feet, however, rob them.[1]

The Guru's humility, the transitory character of human life, and the efficacy of the Name:--

The world is very transient like a flash of lightning;
Yet, foolish heart of mine, thou thinkest not of the grave.
I am low and wretched; Thou, O God, art an ocean of generosity.
Grant me only one thing-Thy name; the poisonous things of the world please me not.
By the skill of God even a fragile vessel holdeth water.[2]
Thou art omnipotent; 1 have come into the world by Thy power.
Nanak, the dog of Thy court, is growing madder every day for Thy love.
The world is fire, God's name is what cooleth it.

The bliss of divine composition:--

Blest the paper, blest the pen, blest the ink-bottle, blest the ink,
Blest the writer, Nanak, who writeth the True Name.
He who batheth in the immortal water of divine knowledge taketh with him the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage.


A satire on Hindu sects and ritualists:--

Jogis go to ruin in twelve sects, Sanyasis in ten.
The Jogis, the Kaprias, and the plucked-headed Saravagis without the Word have halters round their necks.

[1. That is, deprive them of the power of robbing.

2. A frail mortal may be possessed of divine knowledge.]

{p. 378}

They who are tinctured by the Word are perfect Bairagis,
Who beg to obtain alms in the wallet of their hearts that their love may be fixed on God alone.
The Brahmans read the epic poems before devotional acts, and cause others to perform them
But without knowing God they know nothing; the perverse are separated from God and miserable.
They who obtain the: Guru's instruction are pure, and shall be honoured at the true court.
Night and day they love the jewel of the Name, and are blended with the True One in every age.
All religious acts, purifications, austerities, devotion, penance, and pilgrimages abide in the Word.
Nanak, if the true Guru be found, he will unite man with God, when sorrow and sin and death shall be no more.


The feats of the Jogis and the tenets of the six religious systems of the Hindus are ineffectual to secure salvation:--

The niwali feat,[1] the suspension of breath in the dorsal chamber;[2] the turning the brain into a still, making expiration and inspiration like the Jogis, and suspending the breath are of no avail.
Without the true Guru man knoweth nothing; he is led astray in error, sinketh, and dieth.
The fool is defiled, and the more he washeth, the more is he defiled; the filth of his heart shall never depart.
All religious acts are vain except the repetition of the Name; they are like conjuror's tricks which deceive the spectators.
The six religious duties are contained in the name of the Bright One.

[1. This consists in passing a tape through the body to cleanse the stomach and intestines--a feat of the Jogis.

2. The Jogis assert that they can draw breath from the lower vertebral column to the brain., and suspend it when they please in its passage. We shall further on find that the passage is called the serpent's way. When the breath finally reaches the brain, it is said to distil nectar which produces a state of exaltation.]

{p. 379}

Thou art, O God, an ocean of merits; in me are demerits.
The pursuit of worldly things is a foolish and sinful act.
The blockhead thinketh too highly of himself, and cannot understand his duty.
The perverse desire fascinating wealth, and their speech is evil.
According to the Hindus foul is the ablution of the Chandal, and vain are his religious ceremonies and decorations.
False is the wisdom of the perverse; their acts produce strife.
In the impure man is pride; he obtaineth not the flavour of the Lord.
Insipid the pleasure of doing other than the repetition of God's name.

See also