Kaise Man Tarega Re - Translation and Discussion

 Introduction and Video - Kaise Man Tarega Re

This beautiful shabad was written by Bhagat Namdev, the saint poet from Maharashtra.  I continue to celebrate Bhagat Namdev's 750th birth anniversary by creating several media projects based on his poetry.  The odds were against him but despite Bhagat Namdev being from a family of cheepas, or calico printers, he was able to swim across the toxic ocean of life to meet Paarbrahm and describes his experience in this shabad. Guru Nanak found this shabad inspirational and sang it in a raag he created himself, Raag Asa, the raag of hope.

In this blog I start out with the lyrics of the shabad and the traditional translation in English, followed by a discussion of some of the words in the shabad. In the end I have posted lyrics in Hindi and Punjabi. 

Lyrics and Translation in English

Āsā - Shabad by Bhagat Namdev

Pārbarahm jė cẖīnĥsī āsā ṯe na bẖāvsī.
Rāmā bẖagṯah cẖeṯīale acẖinṯ man rākẖsī. ||1||

Kaise man ṯarhegā re sansār sāgar bikẖai ko banā.
Jẖūṯẖī māiā ḏekẖ kai bẖūlā re manā. ||1|| rahā▫o.

Cẖẖīpe ke gẖar janam ḏailā gur upḏes bẖailā.
Sanṯėh kai parsāḏ nāmā har bẖetulā. ||2||5||

Aasaa - Translation by Bhai Manmohan Singh

He, who sees the Supreme Lord, likes not other desires.
He thinks of Lord's devotional service and keeps his mind free from care.

O my soul, how shalt thou cross over the world-ocean filled with the water of vice?
Beholding the false worldly valuables thou has gone astray, O my mind. Pause.

Thou hast given me birth in a calico-printer's house (O Lord), but I have attained the Guru's instruction.
By saints' grace, Nam Dev has met his Lord.

Original Translation 

If you understand infinity, desires will not trap you
By remembering Raam, your mind will be free of worries

O mind, 
How will you swim across the world full of toxins?
Seeing this false maya you have gone astray!

Despite being born in a calico-printer family, I was blessed with the Guru's teachings
With the blessings of saints, I was able to meet Hari

Vocabulary and Shabad Discussion


The shabad is sung in Raag Asa, Guru Nanak's raag of hope. Aasaa (also Asa) means hope and is the same as the hindi word Asha.  This is the fourth raag in the Guru Granth Sahib after Raags Shriraag, Maajh, and Gauri. It is said that Guru Nanak composed this raag himself.  Guru Nanak has written several shabads in composed a vaar, a ballad in Asa as well. This is one of my favorite raags and I have recorded many of Guru Nanak's shabads in Raag Asa: Vadde Mere Sahiba, Baba Jai Ghar Karte Keerat Hoye, and Balhaari Kudrat Vaseya.  Several other Guru's and bhagats have written shabads in raag Asa; some of my favorite Asa shabads include Bhinni Rainariye Chamkan Taare, Tera Kiya Meetha Lagai, and Sant Kabir's Paati Torai Malini.


Pārbarahm or Paarbrahm (u). transcendent Lord. Paarbrahm is made of two words: Paar and Brahm where paar means "beyond" or "across" and brahm implies ultimate reality (from the Sanskrit brahman). The verb "brihate" in sanskrit is used for something that is expanding. Brahmaand refers to the universe.  In this shabad, paarbrahma beautifully implies the ultimate reality that is found across the ocean. In Sanskrit paar also means "higher" in some contexts, and "highest or supreme."  So paarbrahm is the "Supreme Brahman" that which is beyond all descriptions and conceptualizations. 

Par according to Sanskrit-English Dictionary by McDonnell: “पर pár-a [leading beyond: √2. pri], 1. of place: farther, than ; remoter, ulterior; opposite (shore); next (life); 2. of time: past, previous; future, subsequent; following (ab.); latest, extreme (age), high (time); 3. of amount: exceeding, more than ; remaining over; 4. of sequence: following, coming next after ; repeated: each successive; 5. of degree: superior, higher, better, worse, than ; supreme, pre-eminent, best; utmost, deepest, greatest; 6. of range: transcending ; etc.”

Usage of Paarbrahm (para brahma)

  • In Advaita Vedanta, the Para Brahman is defined as nirguna brahman, or brahman without form or qualities and is a state of complete knowledge of self as being identical with the transcendental Brahman, a state of mental-spiritual enlightenment. It contrasts with Saguna Brahman which is a state of loving awareness. Advaita Vedanta non-dualistically holds that Brahman is divine, the divine is Brahman, and this is identical to that which is Atman (one's soul, innermost self) and nirguna (attribute-less), infinite, love, truth, knowledge, "being-consciousness-bliss".

  • Paarbrahm versus Pooran BrahmBhai Gurdas wrote a poem about Guru Nanak (Kal Taaran Guru Nanak Aaya) where he says, Paarbrahm Pooran Brahm Kaljug Andar Ik Dikhaayaa (ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਇਕ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ).  Which means, "[Guru Nanak] showed [through his own example] in this dark age (kalyug) that, the one with all the attributes including form (Pooran Brahm) and the one beyond all attributes (Paarbrahm) are the same and identical. 

  • Toon Paarbrahma Beant: Guru Ramdas in Raag Asa sings, Toon Paarbrahm be-ant be-ant ji tere kya gun aakh vakhaanaa (ਤੂੰ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੇਅੰਤੁ ਬੇਅੰਤੁ ਜੀ ਤੇਰੇ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਣ ਆਖਿ ਵਖਾਣਾ ॥). You are the endless endless Paarbrahm; how can I say your virtues? Raga Aaasaa 4, Sohilaa, 1, 2:4 (Guru Granth Sahib, page 11).

  • The sixth element: Here is another way to look at it from the point of view of Sankhya philosophy:  The universe -- or brahmand -- is made of five elements. This universe maybe called prakriti of the Sankhya philosophy.  It is really the same as maaya. However, there is a sixth element, the truth, also called purusha, which is beyond the universe is the same as paarbrahma.  Guru Gobind Singh in Sanyasa calls this the aatam tatva or the 'soul element'.


Bhagat Namdev says Cẖẖīpe ke gẖar janam ḏailā literally meaning "I have obtained birth in the family of chhipa".  The word chhipa is derived from the word chhaap, which means print; chhaap can be a noun as well as a verb.  Some people have their last names as chheepa.  The chheepa (alternatively spelled Chhipa, chheeppa chhippa, or chhimpa) are a community or clan of people with ancestral roots tracing back to India. They are found in the state of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Sindh and Punjab. 

It is said that the community was originally found in Nagaur in Rajasthan. After their settlement in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the community took up the occupation of dyeing and printing clothes. The community speak Marwari and Gujarati, and many can still be found mainly in Rajasthan and in north Gujarat, in the districts of Ahmedabad, Nadiad, Baroda and Bharuch. 

Chheepa is often translated as "calico printer." Calico is a raw form of cotton we often call 'khaddar." Calico fabric is a plain-woven textile, made from half-processed and unbleached cotton fibers. It’s a coarse and rough fabric, but not as sturdy as denim or canvas, nor as fine as Muslin. Calico is generally very cheap due to its unfinished nature, and it often remains un-dyed and raw.

The cheepa clan were categorized as one of the lower classes in the Hindu caste system. The relevance here is that the shabad is about crossing the toxin filled ocean of the world; being born in a lower class chheepa family Bhagat Namdev did not have the opportunity to learn about the vedas, the highest knowledge of Brahman. Still, with the grace of the guru's teachings he was able to "meet" Hari

Lyrics in Punjabi and Hindi

ਆਸਾ ॥

ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਜਿ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਸੀ ਆਸਾ ਤੇ ਨ ਭਾਵਸੀ ॥
ਰਾਮਾ ਭਗਤਹ ਚੇਤੀਅਲੇ ਅਚਿੰਤ ਮਨੁ ਰਾਖਸੀ ॥੧॥

ਕੈਸੇ ਮਨ ਤਰਹਿਗਾ ਰੇ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਬਿਖੈ ਕੋ ਬਨਾ ॥
ਝੂਠੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੈ ਭੂਲਾ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਛੀਪੇ ਕੇ ਘਰਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਦੈਲਾ ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਭੈਲਾ ॥
ਸੰਤਹ ਕੈ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਨਾਮਾ ਹਰਿ ਭੇਟੁਲਾ ॥੨॥੫॥

आसा ॥

पारब्रहमु जि चीन्हसी आसा ते न भावसी ॥
रामा भगतह चेतीअले अचिंत मनु राखसी ॥१॥

कैसे मन तरहिगा रे संसारु सागरु बिखै को बना ॥
झूठी माइआ देखि कै भूला रे मना ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥

छीपे के घरि जनमु दैला गुर उपदेसु भैला ॥
संतह कै परसादि नामा हरि भेटुला ॥२॥५॥