Baba Jai Ghar Karte Keerat Hoye - Guru Nanak in Raag Asa

Bābā Jai Gẖar Karṯe Kīraṯ Hoe

While this Guru Nanak shabad is often recited, especially in evening prayers, I have not heard it sung much. I composed this in a simple Raag Asa tune a few years ago and this year is the first time I published a studio recording of this shabad. I hope you enjoy it, immerse into it, and share it with your minds and hearts as I have.

Ahsan Ali on Sarangi and Background Vocals

I am excited that this is first of many recordings that I am releasing which will feature Ustad Ahsan Ali, one of the leading Sarangi players from North India. Ahsan Bhai, a seventh generation musician from the Kirana Gharana, is not just a sarangi player and vocalist with intimate knowledge of Indian ragas, who has traveled worldwide and performed live at prestigious locales, he is an amazing composer with a great ear and penmanship for western harmonies and has composed music for Sardool Sikandar ji and Abida Parveen ji.

A note on the raag - Raag Asa

Raag Asa is named because of the feelings of "hope" it exudes; some suggest that it was created by Guru Nanak during his travels to a region called "Asa". Compared to other raags in Hindustani classical music it is a relatively new raag - approximately 500 years ago. Therefore the versions of raag Asa have not been codified by musicologists; perhaps I will do it sometime. Unlike other raags which generally have one time for singing during the day or night, Asa has two. In general there are two major forms of the raag - one that includes komal Ni and one that does not include a komal Ni. From what I have heard from researchers at the Patiala university, the Asa version that has the komal Ni (like the one in this shabad) is sung in the evening time. Komal Ni is generally not used in the version that is sung in the morning.

In this shabad, while the melody adheres to Raag Asa, the instrumentalists took liberties to go beyond the scope of the raag. Historically I would have not included tracks that did not adhere to the pure raag, but as I mentioned in a recent interview, I have been more accepting of deviations as long as the general mood of the shabad remains unchanged. For the vocalist at one point sings "Re Ga Ma Ga" as part of the background music - that is not allowed in Raag Asa but I still included it in this recording. Acceptance within the hukam is often liberating I have realized.

Free Ringtone:


ਰਾਗੁ ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ੧ ॥
रागु आसा महला १ ॥
Rāg āsā mėhlā 1.
Raag Aasaa, Guru Nanak.

ਛਿਅ ਘਰ ਛਿਅਗੁਰ ਛਿਅਉਪਦੇਸ ॥
छिअ घर छिअ गुर छिअ उपदेस ॥
Cẖẖia gẖar cẖẖia gur cẖẖia upḏes.
Six houses of wisdom, six teachers, and six sets of teachings.

ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਏਕੋਵੇਸ ਅਨੇਕ॥੧॥
गुरु गुरु एको वेस अनेक ॥१॥
Gur gur eko ves anek. ||1||
But the Teacher of all teachers is the One, who appears in so many forms. ||1||

ਬਾਬਾ ਜੈ ਘਰਿਕਰਤੇ ਕੀਰਤਿਹੋਇ ॥
बाबा जै घरि करते कीरति होइ ॥
Bābā jai gẖar karṯe kīraṯ hoe.
O Baba, the house (body/school) in which the Praises of the Creator are sung -

ਸੋ ਘਰੁ ਰਾਖੁਵਡਾਈ ਤੋਇ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
सो घरु राखु वडाई तोइ ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥
So gẖar rākẖ vadāī ṯoe. ||1|| rahā▫o.
in that house (body/school) rests true greatness. ||1||Pause||

ਵਿਸੁਏ ਚਸਿਆ ਘੜੀਆਪਹਰਾ ਥਿਤੀਵਾਰੀ ਮਾਹੁਹੋਆ ॥
विसुए चसिआ घड़ीआ पहरा थिती वारी माहु होआ ॥
visue cẖasiā gẖaṛīā pahrā thiṯī vārī māhu hoā.
The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and months,

ਸੂਰਜੁ ਏਕੋ ਰੁਤਿਅਨੇਕ ॥
सूरजु एको रुति अनेक ॥
Sūraj eko ruṯ anek.
From one sun come many seasons.

ਨਾਨਕ ਕਰਤੇ ਕੇਕੇਤੇ ਵੇਸ॥੨॥੨॥
नानक करते के केते वेस ॥२॥२॥
Nānak karṯe ke keṯe ves. ||2||2||
Of one creator there many forms ||2||2||

Reflection (June 2017)

Six teachings
Six are their teachers

And Six the houses of wisdom
Even though appearances differ
the teacher of all teachers
remains ONE

Minutes, Hours,
Days, Weeks, Months ...
From Just ONE Sun
come so many

Oh mind ...
the house in which
the creator's praises are sung ...
You should consider
that house to be
the greatest

Alternative Reflection (Nov 2012)

Six houses, six teachers, six philosophies.
But Guru's guru: One

Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and seasons,
All come from one: the Sun.

Nanak hail that house where
One's praises are sung

Notes on some words in the Shabad


Ghar is house or residence. In Gurbani it can refer to a house or it can be a metaphorical reference. It could refer to the residence of the soul or body, it could refer to the residence of humans, or earth, the residence of wisdom or scriptures (6 shastras of India), the house of worship or temple, and the house of thought or “Mann”/heart etc.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." (Corinthians 6:19-20)

Chheh Ghar - Six houses of wisdom or philosophy

Several Indian intellectual traditions were codified during the medieval period into a standard list of six orthodox systems or ṣaḍdarśanas (literally "good views"). The credit for codifying these "visions" is generally given to six different Gurus or Rishis as mentioned below:

Nyāyá, the school of logic, codified by Rishi Gautam
Vaiśeṣika, the atomist school, codified by Rishi Kashyapa
Sāṃkhya, the enumeration school, codified by Rishi Kapila
Yoga, codified by Patañjali
Mimāṃsā, the tradition of Vedic exegesis, codified by Rishi Jaimini
Vedanta, codified by Rishi Vyasa

The houses of God - Bible & Emily Dickinson

According to Hebrews 3:4 "Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Clearly there is agreement that all houses have His mark, in agreement with Guru Nanak. According to John 14:2, Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." While noted American poet Emily Dickinson doubts that authenticity of this house or these mansions in her poem '"Houses"—so the Wise Men tell me,' although she agrees that everyone wants to find His house and would readily start the journey if they knew where it was. 

Baba in arabic is a respected person. In this case it is the listener. In Gurbani, the emphasis is on recitation from the mouth and listening from the ears so our mind is enabled. The mind is the ear of the ear. So in this case, to make this shabad focused on myself internally, I use "mind" as the translation for Baba.

Karte Keerat

I have translated this as "praises of the creator" but this is a very simplistic translation. The meaning is very deep. The complete meaning of "Karte" can be obtained through a meditation upon the Mool Mantra. And the word Keerat has been translated by scholars in two ways: (1) from the Sanskrit Origin word "Keerti" which means Yash or grace or awesomeness (2) from the Arabic word "Qirat" which means recitation of the holy word. The essence of Gurbani is to find God within and around and thereby the "Karte Keerat" becomes imbibing the qualities of God. For example a "compassionate God" of Gurbani encourages us to absorb his compassion and emanate for the world.

When the mind contemplates on the "ONE", absorbs the "ONE" and then reflects the "ONE", the greatest house of wisdom then becomes our mind. A mind that is full of "ONE" -- lets call it a Onefull mind. If a Onefull mind is found, this wisdom encourages us to hold the greatest respect for it.

visue cẖasiā gẖaṛīā pahrā thiṯī vārī māhu hoā

Visue, chasiaa, gharee-aa, pehraa are units of time that were used historically in India. According to these, 15 blinks of eye equals 1 visua. 15 visue equals one chasa. Similarly, 30 chasas = 1 pal, 60 pal = 1 ghari, 7.5 ghareeaa = 1 pehr, 8 pehrs = 1 day (24 hours). A day is thitee; vaaree's are days of the week and maah's are months.