Category: Guru Arjan

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Human birth is a wonder.  There are so many improbabilities that are to be overcome for everything to happen smoothly.  It is a miracle how smoothly things have gone for so many of us on earth. 

Father's seed and mother's blood came together in the fire of the womb to conceive a baby.  And while everything else gets digested in this abdominal firepit, this baby is nourished in the womb for several months. Can you imagine living in a slimy, dark firepit with your head turned upside down. The baby not only survives but thrives in this treacherous place. How?

The baby gets saved because it remembers Satnam, the essence of the truth.  The baby does not have an ego. The baby does not think that he is the doer. The baby acquiesces. The baby completely surrenders to the will of God. In that sense, the baby does not forget God for an instant.

Every birth is a victory among a terrible fire.  Every life has the same opportunity ... the opportunity to win in battle in this burning world.  Those who forget oneness, lose the battle of life. There is no peace for the forgetful.  Peace is found in the remembrance of oneness. Peace is found in the singing of oneness.

O survivors of the fire of the womb, remember that the human birth was a wonder to start with. This life can also become a wonder if you remember to sing the song of oneness.

(From Jaitsri ki vaar by Guru Arjan Dev)

pauVI ] (706-6)pa-orhee.Pauree:

rkqu ibMdu kir inMimAw Agin audr mJwir ] (706-6)rakat bind kar nimmi-aa agan udar majhaar.From egg and sperm, you were conceived, and placed in the fire of the womb.

(nimeya:  nee rakhna, laying a foundation, foundation of birth = conception, like in bhand jamiyeh bhand nimiyeh in Asa ki vaar)

aurD muKu kucIl ibklu nrik Goir gubwir ] (706-7)uraDh mukh kucheel bikal narak ghor gubaar.Head downwards, you abided restlessly in that dark, dismal, terrible hell.

(bikal -from vyakul, confused)

hir ismrq qU nw jlih min qin aur Dwir ] (706-7)har simrat too naa jaleh man tan ur Dhaar.Remembering the Lord in meditation, you were not burnt; enshrine Him in your heart, mind and body.

ibKm Qwnhu ijin riKAw iqsu iqlu n ivswir ] (706-8)bikham thaanahu jin rakhi-aa tis til na visaar.In that treacherous place, He protected and preserved you; do not forget Him, even for an instant.

pRB ibsrq suKu kdy nwih jwsih jnmu hwir ]2] (706-8)parabh bisrat sukh kaday naahi jaaseh janam haar. ||2||Forgetting God, you shall never find peace; you shall forfeit your life, and depart. ||2||

I'm researching "Sar-anjaam" which is used by Guru Arjan Dev in a poem, "Sar-anjaam Laag Bhavjal Taran Kai." While most translations say it means "getting ready," based on its classical usage the meaning is closer to end result/complete.  So the meaning of the line goes from "Get ready to cross the ocean of life" to "Complete Ocean Swim to" -- and so in addition with the first meaning, an alternative meaning of the line is "Complete yourself to swim the ocean of life."  And then "Saranjaam Laag" - "complete yourself" becomes a mantra by itself that can be meditated upon. This makes sense because it rhymes with several other phrases in the poem.  

ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥

ਲੋਇਣ ਲੋਈ ਡਿਠ ਪਿਆਸ ਬੁਝੈ ਮੂ ਘਣੀ
लोइण लोई डिठ पिआस न बुझै मू घणी ॥
Loiṇ loī diṯẖ piās na bujẖai mū gẖaṇī.
I have seen, but my thirst is not quenched

ਨਾਨਕ ਸੇ ਅਖੜੀਆਂ ਬਿਅੰਨਿ ਜਿਨੀ ਡਿਸੰਦੋ ਮਾ ਪਿਰੀ ॥੧॥
नानक से अखड़ीआं बिअंनि जिनी डिसंदो मा पिरी ॥१॥
Nānak se akẖṛīāʼn biann jinī disanḏo mā pirī. ||1||
O Nanak, those eyes are different, that see my love.

Saas Saas Simro Gobind - Translation

Listening to the complete Guru
I come in the vicinity of oneness 

Remembering oneness in every breath
I erase all the pain inside 

Asking for the dust of Saints' feet
I abandon fleeting waves of desire

Renouncing my ego, praying with Saints
I cross life's ocean of fire 

Bowing down to the complete Guru
I fill my coffers with divine wealth

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This is the week of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan.  I found the following article by K.S. Bains very interesting: it talks about the achievements of Guru Arjan that are often overlooked ... 

Seed of the faith
K.S. Bains on the first Sikh martyr, who changed the course of Sikhism

The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev changed the path of progress of the Sikh religion. While paying homage to him on his martyrdom day, we generally highlight the compilation of the Adi Granth and the construction of the Golden Temple as his main contributions. No doubt, these are two very concrete statements of crystallisation of the Sikh religion, the former becoming the seat and the latter the holy book, the two bases of any religion. However, we generally overlook his other very significant contributions.

Hari Ram Gupta, in his book, History of Sikh, observes:

"Guru Arjan, Fifth in succession, was the first Guru born as a Sikh. He proved himself an original thinker, illustrious poet, practical philosopher, great organiser, eminent statesman, shining sage, saint and seer, composer of music, scholar, founder of tanks and towns, embodiment of love, humility and service, and the first martyr to faith. He was a dutiful son, conciliatory brother, loving husband, inspiring father, beloved master and devoted servant of God. He possessed a tender heart but resolute will. He was forgiving but fearless, firm in his faith like a rock, but never a fanatic. He completely changed the external aspect of Sikh religion."

There are enough occurrences in his life to write about each of the qualities mentioned. That will require volumes. I will dwell only on two aspects, namely, putting finances on a sound footing and encouraging trade and commerce.

The fourth Guru, Guru Ramdas, had started the institution of angtias to accept offerings from the Sikhs from their allotted areas and pass on the same to the guru. Another similar category was asand, a slightly higher position than that of a sangtia. Taking a cue from the Muslim system of zakat, he called upon his followers to contribute daswandh, or 10 per cent of their income, to the Guru. Sangtias/masands were asked to encourage the Sikhs to contribute and make collections on behalf of the Guru. To strengthen the system and make it workable on a long-term basis, he laid down that the sangtias/masands could keep tith, or 33 per cent of the offerings with them as their service fees and pass on the remaining two-thirds to the Guru. This system worked well and helped the Guru in taking various measures in the expansion of Sikhism. We all know about his great work in constructing gurdwaras, townships and the like. With the regular flow of finances, the entire system of collecting funds was streamlined, thus helping the Guru with his plans.

He encouraged his followers to take to trade and commerce. There were three reasons behind this. First, most of the followers at that time were subsistence farmers and did not enjoy proper social status. Trading increased the income of the farmers. Alongside, it encouraged the coming up of a stronger agricultural class who started enjoying higher social status and got some surplus to spend and live well.

Secondly, another section of society, the traders, became his followers. His followers not only traded in the adjoining areas but went right up to Kabul and beyond for trading in dry fruits and more importantly, horses. Initially, they brought horses for the purpose of trading and earning a profit. However, gradually, they started keeping the animals for their own use, too. Owning a horse was a symbol of great social status and superiority.

Gupta observes that this made them fearless and free from caste prejudices. There is, however, another aspect that is of greater significance. Slowly, with the owning of horses Sikhs started acquiring proficiency in riding and tent-pegging. They also started going for shikar and became adept in the use of various arms that are normally a part of cavalry.

Thirdly, these owners of horses and their attendants became ready raw material for forming an army, should such a need arise. It did happen in the time of the sixth Guru. Now, the question arises whether such a development was something which happened on its own or the Guru could foresee the shape of things to come. He was aware of the fact that as the religion expanded and the organisation became well-ordered and well-knit the finances and social status of the followers improved and they started living in style, they were bound to come into conflict with the state. The author of Dabistan observes, "Some of the Sikh Gurus took to agriculture and others to trading. They became good horsemen, created their own identity and acquired the position of a separate state within the Moghul State."

A few days before his martyrdom, the Guru sent to his 11-year-old son a bel fruit with five copper pieces as a token of nominating him as the next Guru. He also sent an injunction through the Sikh who carried the bel: Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain his army to the best of his ability. The rest, as they say, is history.

Guru Arjan Dev gave the Sikhs their church and their holy book. With these, the Sikh became a separate identity as distinct from Hindus and Muslims. The Faith acquired a strong spiritual, doctrinal and organisational base and became a potential force in encouraging a social revolution in Punjab. Khushwant Singh has observed Arjan Devji "became the seed of the Sikh church as well as Punjabi nation."
[From Sukhmani Sahib]

sarab Dharam meh saraysat Dharam.
Of all religions, the best religion
har ko naam jap nirmal karam.
is to chant the Name of the Lord and do good deeds.

sagal kir-aa meh ootam kiri-aa.Of all religious rituals, the most sublime ritual
saaDhsang durmat mal hiri-aa.
is to erase the filth of your dirty mind in good company.

sagal udam meh udam bhalaa.Of all efforts, the best effort
har kaa naam japahu jee-a to chant the Name of the Lord in the heart, forever.

sagal baanee meh amrit baanee.Of all speech, the most ambrosial speech
har ko jas sun rasan the one spoken after hearing praises of the Lord.

sagal thaan tay oh ootam thaan.Of all places, the most sublime place,

naanak jih ghat vasai har naam. ||8||3||O Nanak, is that heart in which the Name of the Lord abides. ||8||3||

The Words

Charan Kamal Prabh Kay Nit Dhiayaon
Kavan sumat jit preetam paon

Kavan Sanjog milaon prabh apnay
Pal pal nimakh sadaa har japnay

Aisi kirpa kart parch mercy
Har Nanak bisar na kahoo beray


I meditate continually on the lotus feet of love.
What wisdom will lead me to attain my love?

What blessed destiny will lead me to meet my love?
Each and every moment meditate on love.

Bless me with such mercy my love
that I may never ever forget you.
The Sweet Master

My master speaks sweetly
I have grown weary of testing him,
but still, he never speaks harshly.

He doesn't know bitter words
He overlooks my shortfalls
and remembers every iota of service
His inherent nature is to purify

He dwells in every heart
He's nearer than the nearest
I seek the sanctuary of this master,
the sweet one, my dear friend.

- Guru Arjan
Mith Bolra Ji Har Sajjan Swami Mora

More on Raag Suhi and this shabad:

Suhi Mahalla 5 Chhanth

Mith Bolara Ji Har Sajjan Swami Mora
Hau Sammal Thakki Ji
Oh Kade Na Bolai Kaura

Kaura Bol Na Jaane Pooran Bhagwane
Avgun Ko Na Chitare
Patit Paavan Har Birad Sadaye
Ik til nahi Bhanne Ghale

Ghat Ghat Vasi Sarab Nivasi
Nerai Hi Te Neraa
Nanak Daas Sadaa Sarnaagat
Har Amrit Sajjan Mera

Chamkan Tare by Guru Arjan
Music and Vocals: Shivpreet Singh (California)
Drums: Raul R (Florida)

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Brahmas and Shivas
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