AKAL MURATI, a composite term comprising akal (nontemporal) and murati (image or form), occurring in the MulMantra, the root formula or fundamental creed of the Sikh faith as recorded at the beginning of theJapu, composition with which the Guru Granth Sahib opens, literally means `timeless image`. Elsewhere, in the compositions of Guru Ram Das (GG, 78), and Guru Arjan (GG, 99, 609, 916 and 1082), the expression Akal Murati reinforces the original meaning of Divine Reality that is beyond the process of time, and yet permeates the cosmic forms. The nontemporal Being transcends the spacetime framework and, as such, is Formless. However, in its manifest aspect, the same Being assumes the cosmic Form. The Sikh vision of God combines the Formless and its expression in natural forms, the transcendent and the immanent, the essence (spirit) and existence (creation). The expression `Akal Murati` lends itself to interpretation in two ways. The exegetes, who treat it as one term, take akal in the adjectival form that qualifies the substantive murati, the whole expression implying Everlasting Form equivalent to the Supreme Being. Those approaching the pair akal and murati severally, treat both the units independently, each expressing an attribute of the Divine Reality, believed to transcend time and space, yet manifest in spaciotemporal forms. But, despite the divergence of approach, both interpretations agree in substance, i.e. the featureless eternal Reality assumes features and modes of empirical existence. To put it differently, `Akal Murati` presents a synthesis of nirgun and sag"un facets of the AbsoluteGod of Guru Nanak`s vision. It however does not embrace the notion of incarnation. Nonincarnation is a basic theological postulate ofSikhism.
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