Japji Sahib

Japji Sahib Meanings | Part #2

These blogs are derived from Sri Guru’s Satsangs on Shri Japji Sahib, giving a brief interpretation of the Pauris by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. For a deeper understanding, we encourage you to watch the Japji Sahib Series.

Pauri # 2

हुकमी होवनि आकार हुकमु न कहिआ जाई ॥
हुकमी होवनि जीअ हुकमि मिलै वडिआई ॥
हुकमी उतमु नीचु हुकमि लिखि दुख सुख पाईअहि ॥
इकना हुकमी बखसीस इकि हुकमी सदा भवाईअहि ॥
हुकमै अंदरि सभु को बाहरि हुकम न कोइ ॥
नानक हुकमै जे बुझै त हउमै कहै न कोइ ॥२॥

After introducing it in the preceding Pauri, Guru Nanak Dev Ji now describes how the entire creation is working under that Hukam, that is, the Divine’s Will of God. Hukami, as stated above refers to the God Himself, while Hukam is His Will or the cosmic laws and principles that govern this entire existence. This Pauri explains how God has Himself transformed into the entire creation and is operating it through His Divine Will. All the worldly experiences are an outcome of His Will only. And as one gets aligned with the Hukam, then the false self (ego) fades away.

Meaning:

हुकमी होवनि आकार हुकमु न कहिआ जाई ॥

God (Hukami) has Himself taken the form of this entire creation. This can be easily correlated with the Big Bang Theory, which describes the formation of this grand universe from a gigantic explosion in the the dormant energies. Thus, the entire creation is His manifestation only and He resides in everything. However, the magnitude of his Will (Hukam) is so phenomenal and multidimensional that it cannot be expressed in mere words, nor fully comprehended by our limited minds. The only way to understand Him is through experience. For instance, we cannot understand the Sun and its science in its entirety, but we can experience it thorough its light and warmth.    

हुकमी होवनि जीअ हुकमि मिलै वडिआई ॥
God (Hukami) has taken the form of individual souls (Jeev) too. Thus, He is present in all the creatures. Again, this can be correlated to the phenomena of microcosm. Further, abiding by the God’s Will (Hukam), leads to a state of greatness – where one attunes with the Supreme by becoming Nirbhau and Nirvair.

हुकमी उतमु नीचु हुकमि लिखि दुख सुख पाईअहि ॥
God (Hukami) never discriminates based on social status, for he resides within beings of all castes and creed, whether ‘upper’ or ‘lower’. With this line, Guru Nanak Dev Ji denounces all social evils like untouchability and caste-based prejudices, which were widely prevalent during those times. Further, it is only through God’s will (Hukam) that one encounters pain and pleasure based on one’s karmic accounts.

इकना हुकमी बखसीस इकि हुकमी सदा भवाईअहि ॥
To the pious ones, God (Hukmi) bestows his Grace so that they can attain salvation through devotion and spiritual wisdom. While to the impious, God puts them in an almost endless cycle of transmigration.    

हुकमै अंदरि सभु को बाहरि हुकम न कोइ ॥
Everything and everyone is bound by God’s Will. Nothing in the entire expanse of this grand universe can operate outside the will of God. Such is the extent of His will that it is hard to even imagine about it, what to say about understanding it.      

नानक हुकमै जे बुझै त हउमै कहै न कोइ ॥२॥

Whosoever understands the mystery of God’s will and gets attuned with it, is liberated from the shackles of Ego (Haume). As we understand and embrace God’s Will, our ‘doer-ship’ goes away. And when is no doer left, God himself becomes the doer! This answers the question from the first Pauri as to how one could break the wall of illusion – following the Hukam dissolves our ego and eliminates the wall of ignorance.    

Purport:

Through this Pauri, Guru Nanak Ji propounds the Divine Leela happening all across the universe. It may be difficult to comprehend the entire cosmic play, but as human beings, it is important for us to be aligned with it willingly because there is no way we can be out of it. Once we are aligned with it, we can experience transformation in our lives and gradually our ego (the biggest impediment) starts dissolving. What’s left afterwards is pure bliss.  

Practicing Hukam in our day-to-day lives

The Divine Will (Hukam) always follows the “Law of Causation” and “Free Will”. According to the law of causation, every effect has a cause, and by removing the cause, the effect can be removed. Free Will is our ability to identify and choose the right cause that can help remove the effect.

We often tend to associate several causes with an effect, which leads to confusion and suffering. To make this clear with a simple example, let us assume that a child’s hand got burnt while playing around the fire. This burning (effect) could be associated with multiple possible causes – the fire, mother’s negligence, child’s own carelessness, child’s karma and finally, the child’s ignorance about the nature of fire that it heats and burns whatever comes in its contact. Out of the above, the primary reason for child’s pain is the ignorance within. Once the child understands the nature of fire, his ignorance towards it goes away and he shall never repeat such an act. This is how we can use our Free Will to identify the correct causes.

The entire struggle of life is that due to ignorance, we attempt to find and fix the causes outside whereas the basic cause is within us. Changing something inside is much more sensible than changing several things outside. The entire focus of Spirituality is to brig the transformation within. By using the free will when we identify the right causes inside and make the right efforts to remove them, we are operating under the Hukam and this becomes our path to liberation.

 Pauri # 3

गावै को ताणु होवै किसै ताणु ॥
गावै को दाति जाणै नीसाणु ॥
गावै को गुण वडिआईआ चार ॥
गावै को विदिआ विखमु वीचारु ॥
गावै को साजि करे तनु खेह ॥
गावै को जीअ लै फिरि देह ॥
गावै को जापै दिसै दूरि ॥
गावै को वेखै हादरा हदूरि ॥
कथना कथी न आवै तोटि ॥
कथि कथि कथी कोटी कोटि कोटि ॥
देदा दे लैदे थकि पाहि ॥
जुगा जुगंतरि खाही खाहि ॥
हुकमी हुकमु चलाए राहु ॥
नानक विगसै वेपरवाहु ॥३॥

Context

After talking about Hukami and Hukam and their influence on the entire creation, in this Pauri Guru Nanak Dev Ji explains how numerous people, who aligned with the Hukam, have sought to describe God through various forms of expression as per their intellectual capacities. Though in actuality, all these are remain incomplete descriptions, for no one can grasp or explain the Supreme in entirety.

Meaning

गावै को ताणु होवै किसै ताणु ॥

Those who have aligned themselves with the Supreme, sing about His eminence & glory to the best of their abilities. They aspire for that intensity in devotion that lets them convey more of His greatness.

गावै को दाति जाणै नीसाणु ॥
Those who are in tune with Him, sing about the generous rewards bestowed by Him, as an expression of His grace. Whatever righteous they do, they regard all that as an outcome of His compassion. 

गावै को गुण वडिआईआ चार ॥
Some beings sing about His qualities and excellence through all the forms of wonder, praise and admiration that they can express.

गावै को विदिआ विखमु वीचारु ॥
Some, taking the basis of their existing knowledge, sing about Him and His intense, enigmatic wisdom.   

गावै को साजि करे तनु खेह ॥
Some sing about Him as the One who creates the body, instills Life into it and ultimately turns it into ashes. This line should make us wonder why we as human beings get so attached with the events of birth and death, if He is the One responsible for both of them.

गावै को जीअ लै फिरि देह ॥
Some sing, that He is the giver and taker of Life. He is the One who keeps moving the life energies from one body to another.

गावै को जापै दिसै दूरि ॥

To some, He appears to be very far beyond they can imagine.

गावै को वेखै हादरा हदूरि ॥
To some He is right here, witnessing each and every thing being done by us.

कथना कथी न आवै तोटि ॥

There is no end to His descriptions. So many beings have attempted to describe Him and His Hukam in so many ways, yet all those descriptions remain incomplete. 

कथि कथि कथी कोटी कोटि कोटि ॥

Countless have attempted to describe Him in countless ways, but He is beyond all expressions. Yet, this limitation doesn’t stop those who aligned themselves with Him to keep finding new ways to sing His glory!

देदा दे लैदे थकि पाहि ॥

The One who is the giver is giving constantly and unceasingly. He is giving to the extent that those receiving would be overwhelmed with awe and wonder. While we as human beings are just taking it all, without ever feeling a moment of gratitude towards that benevolent God.

जुगा जुगंतरि खाही खाहि ॥
Ages have passed, generations have gone by, but the entire creation is still receiving what all He has been giving.  

हुकमी हुकमु चलाए राहु ॥

God, through His Will, sustains the entire existence. He creates all these events and experiences in our path, so that one day we, being His manifestation, can return and become One with Him. Even though we repeatedly make the wrong choices, God never stops caring for us, nor does He lose hope. The benevolent One keeps recalibrating the path for us so that anyhow, we become aligned with Him, that is, become Nirbhau and Nirvair.

नानक विगसै वेपरवाहु ॥३॥

Guru Nanak Ji says that Hukami is always in bliss, is detached and evolving. Here, detached doesn’t mean non-caring. On the contrary, it means loving and caring. He keeps defining the path for us to reach back to Him. He keeps bestowing His grace on us repeatedly, despite our ignorance towards His Hukam. Therefore, there is no end to His Love, yet God is detached and doesn’t get upset from our ignorance. Such is His Hukam and His divine compassion towards all creatures.  

Purport:

Numerous have tried, but none could ever express His greatness completely. As humans, we are an infinitesimal part of that boundless existence, so all our descriptions and explanations cannot be absolute. They are correct from different perspectives, but still inadequate. This way, Guru Nanak Dev Ji rescues us from the confusion that may be caused from such diversity of descriptions and scriptures. What is essential for us to understand is that as a loving Master, He is always creating ways for us return and merge with Him. We must be sincere ion our efforts, and salvation would arrive His Grace. For all that He has given us, for all that He keeps giving, we must invoke a profound sense of gratitude for His benevolence.   

Pauri # 4

साचा साहिबु साचु नाइ भाखिआ भाउ अपारु ॥
आखहि मंगहि देहि देहि दाति करे दातारु ॥
फेरि कि अगै रखीऐ जितु दिसै दरबारु ॥
मुहौ कि बोलणु बोलीऐ जितु सुणि धरे पिआरु ॥
अम्रित वेला सचु नाउ वडिआई वीचारु ॥
करमी आवै कपड़ा नदरी मोखु दुआरु ॥
नानक एवै जाणीऐ सभु आपे सचिआरु ॥४॥

In this Pauri, Guru Nanak Dev Ji shows us how we can be one with Him, what we should do, what we should say, what we should offer so that we can align with His Will. The Pauri once again emphasizes the importance of Grace (Nadari) and that salvation is possible only through His grace, though our efforts are important.  

Meaning:

साचा साहिबु साचु नाइ भाखिआ भाउ अपारु ॥

God (Hukami, Sahib) is eternal and so His Will (Hukam). They have persisted across past generations, and shall do so for all forthcoming generations. Whosoever has sought to express Him, has done so with immense Love. Guru Nanak Dev Ji has beautifully revered God by calling Him Sahib. This name in itself reflects so much love and devotion that we can instantly feel a strong connection. In spirituality, such beautiful salutations help in invoking and strengthening our devotion towards the Higher. Because only with such a deep connection can we understand His Hukam, make the right choices and progress on the Path.

आखहि मंगहि देहि देहि दाति करे दातारु ॥
All beings pray to Him, continuously asking for various things and He keeps obliging them by fulfilling their wishes unceasingly. There is no seeming end to such wishes and desires, because the fulfilment of one leads to several others.    

फेरि कि अगै रखीऐ जितु दिसै दरबारु ॥
God is fulfilling our wishes and giving us so much. Since everything is His, what to offer at His feet in return so that we are able to align with Him and experience His presence. The way to do this is to invoke the feeling that it is only by His Grace we have received everything, and by His compassion we have found the path of salvation. With these thoughts, our ego starts dissolving.      

मुहौ कि बोलणु बोलीऐ जितु सुणि धरे पिआरु ॥
What to speak in His praise, so that we can win His love for us. All words are also His only.    

अम्रित वेला सचु नाउ वडिआई वीचारु ॥
The way to experience God is that during the auspicious hours of Amrit Vela, we enter into communion with the Divine and contemplate on His greatness, thinking about all that He has bestowed us. Immerse yourself in the gratitude for his endless blessings.

Despite having received so much, many of us tend to whine and complain about things we do not have. Sri Guru says that the cumulative outcome of our complains reinforces the belief that “God does not exist”. But when we start expressing gratitude for all the things, our belief in God strengthens. We develop a mindset of thankfulness, as a result of which we feel His presence all around. So, contemplating about God and thanking Him in the early hours of Amrit Vela helps us experience Him. 

Significance of Amrit Vela:

All our ancient scriptures, irrespective of what religion they are from have emphasized the importance of “Amrit Vela or Brahma Mahurat” for one’s spiritual growth. It has been considered the most auspicious and ideal time for practicing yoga, meditation, worship or any other similar religious practices. Going by the scriptures, Amrit Vela (Creators Hour, Brahma Mahurat) starts one hour thirty-six minutes before the time of sunrise, is forty-eight minutes of duration and accordingly, ends forty-eight minutes before sunrise.

For instance, if sun rises at 6:00 AM, then Amrit Vela begins at 4:24 AM and ends at 5:12 AM. Contemporary findings show that this duration can also be considered of three hours – two hours before sunrise and one hour after sunrise. With this approach, Amrit Vela starts at 4:00 AM and will end at 7:00 AM.

Waking in these hours has several benefits:

  • Mostly beings are in a state of sleep, so there is minimum thought vibrations in the atmosphere.
  • According to Ayurvedic sciences, the period between 2:00 to 6:00 AM is the time of Vaata. It naturally makes our:
    • Body more flexible
    • Mind more creative
    • Gives speed to our thoughts & actions
  • According to Medical Sciences,
    • Melatonin hormone is released from Pineal Gland. It helps improve cognitive abilities like memory, clarity etc.  
    • Brain also releases Cortisol hormone (anti-stress hormone) which eases our mind and body.
  • According to Yogic Sciences, Prana Vaayu and Apana Vaayu are active at this time.
    • Prana is intake of cosmic energy in our system
    • Apana means release of air outwards, thus detoxing us from negativity.

Thus, when we wake up in Amrit Vela and contemplate about God and express gratitude towards Him, all the above factors help bring us closer to Him.

करमी आवै कपड़ा नदरी मोखु दुआरु ॥

The kind of human life that we get is a result of our Karmas. Upon waking in Amrit Vela, our karma begins to align in a way that changes the fabric of our mind and brings our body in a state of discipline. Our surroundings becomes conducive and they facilitate our journey towards the Supreme. Having said that, it is His grace (Nadari) only that opens the door to liberation (Mokh Duaar). It is by His grace only, that the wall of illusion gets dissolved.  

नानक एवै जाणीऐ सभु आपे सचिआरु ॥४॥

O Nanak, behold the omnipresence of the True One, for all that happens is through Him only.

Purport:

Through this Pauri, Guru Nanak Ji gives us the practical way to align with the Supreme. He talks about waking in the auspicious hours of Amrit Vela and how it gives us the time and a conducive environment to contemplate and be grateful to God. It helps us transform at multiple levels. Several religious scriptures and spiritual texts emphasize the importance of Amrit Vela and thus we seekers should embrace it as a part of our spiritual routine. Furthermore, Guru Nanak Ji gives the value of Grace (Nadari). Our karma may help create favorable conditions for traversing the path, but the ultimate door to liberation opens through His grace only.


Compiled by Bharat Bhushan Prabhu, New Delhi

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