Navai Kai Rang - Japji Sahib Pauri 20

The words

This is the 20th pauri of Guru Nanak's long poem Japji Sahib. It is said that Guru Nanak composed this poem n Kartarpur on the right bank of the Ravi river towards the end of his travels. Many have called Japji Sahib the distillation of Guru Nanak's philosophy. From what I have experienced from listening to Japji over the years, Guru ji lays down a 40-step path for the soul bride to sing the essence of truth, Satnam. The initial and last steps are called shloka's and the 38 poems within are called pauris, which literally means steps. Devout sikhs like my grandfather and my parents recite Japji Sahib everyday in the morning. The lyrics and 3 alternative translations are below.

The music

I have been working on the music for this composition since several years. The idea was to interject the verses with chanting on Satnam. The harmonies are not computer generated as is for many arrangements these days; I took my sweet time and took over 100 takes for the different vocals in this track and layered them for the harmonies. So I want to especially thank my collaborators who had to wait a long long time before this was completed. In 2018, my friend and his wife David and Ana contributed some tracks to help with this. David Baynes (who also did the arrangement of Jo Mange from 2014, and played the guitar in Jin Prem Kiyo with me) played the guitar and bass for this track. Ana Milena Varona, a highly accomplished cellist, has played several cello tracks to make it sound like a string quartet. Both of them poured their hearts into this so if you enjoy the music, please send them your best wishes. 

Lyrics and Translation 

ਭਰੀਐ ਹਥੁ ਪੈਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ॥
भरीऐ हथु पैरु तनु देह ॥
Bẖarīai hath pair ṯan ḏeh.
When the hands and the feet and the body are dirty,

ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸੁ ਖੇਹ ॥
पाणी धोतै उतरसु खेह ॥
Pāṇī ḏẖoṯai uṯras kẖeh.
water can wash away the dirt.

ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
मूत पलीती कपड़ु होइ ॥
Mūṯ palīṯī kapaṛ hoe.
When the clothes are soiled and stained by urine,

ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣੁ ਲਈਐ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਇ ॥
दे साबूणु लईऐ ओहु धोइ ॥
Ḏe sābūṇ laīai oh ḏẖoe.
soap can wash them clean.

ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥
भरीऐ मति पापा कै संगि ॥
Bẖarīai maṯ pāpā kai sang.
But when the intellect is stained and polluted by sin,

ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥
ओहु धोपै नावै कै रंगि ॥
Oh ḏẖopai nāvai kai rang.
it can only be cleansed by the Love of the Name.

ਪੁੰਨੀ ਪਾਪੀ ਆਖਣੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥
पुंनी पापी आखणु नाहि ॥
Punnī pāpī ākẖaṇ nāhi.
Virtue and vice do not come by mere words;

ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣਾ ਲਿਖਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਹੁ ॥
करि करि करणा लिखि लै जाहु ॥
Kar kar karṇā likẖ lai jāhu.
actions repeated, over and over again, are engraved on the soul.

ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹੁ ॥
आपे बीजि आपे ही खाहु ॥
Āpe bīj āpe hī kẖāhu.
You shall harvest what you plant.

ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਆਵਹੁ ਜਾਹੁ ॥੨੦॥
नानक हुकमी आवहु जाहु ॥२०॥
Nānak hukmī āvhu jāhu. ||20||
O Nanak, by the Hukam of God's Command, we come and go in reincarnation. ||20||

When the hands, feet and the body are besmeared
they are washed clean with water;
When the clothes get dirty and polluted, they are cleansed
by soap;
When one's mind gets defiled by sin, it can be purified
only by communion with the Word.
Men do not become saints or sinners merely by words.
But they carry deeds with them wherever they go.
As one sows, so does one reap;
O Nanak, men come and go by the wheel(1) of birth and death
as ordained by His Will.

(1) The inexorable Law of Karma or the Law of Cause and Effect also works under His Will.
Good actions like acts of mercy and charity although commendable in themselves do not have an important bearing on the highest spiritual attainment. They cease to be of consequence once the soul begins its inner journey from the "Til" or the third eye: "If therefore thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of Light." Matt 6:22. Borne along the Current of the Word, the soul reaches "Amrit-saar" or "Amritsar" or the Fount of Nectar, the Amritsar in man. There any impurities that may be still clinging to the soul are finally washed away. Thus the soul is made fit for the onward journey to the highest spiritual plane of "Sat Naam" which is of ineffable greatness and glory.

Rhyming Translation of Pauri 20 by Swami Raama 

For full Japji:

The dirt from off the hands can clean
And face and feet may water glean.
When the garments have been stained,
With soap is stainlessness regained.
When sin and vice the mind may blight,
Love of Name will set it right.
A saint or sinner can’t be known
Merely by the speech he’s sown,
But language of the heart unveils
The action that a man travails.
“As you show, so shall you reap”
The fruits of action one may keep.
Nanak says:
A person comes and then he dies,
To order of the lord complies. ||20||

#GuruNanak #Japji #ShivpreetSingh #Satnam


  1. Beautiful song and it's meaning too. A person comes and then he dies, and life will end one day. Only these colors will remain after life in the end. Thank you all for taking us to the beauty of life. Life will end but it's beauty will remain to the end. Thank you so much Shivpreetsingh for sharing this beauty of a song. God bless all of you.

  2. A deep bow of thankfulness to all the musicians... Singers.. chorus... And the people who helped in any way in bringing this to us travellers. It soothes our souls and help us go forth with confidence. 💕 Love you all.