GuruJapji Sahib

Japji Sahib Meanings | Part #5

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 on YouTube.


Pauri # 16

पंच परवाण पंच परधानु ॥
पंचे पावहि दरगहि मानु ॥
पंचे सोहहि दरि राजानु ॥
पंचा का गुरु एकु धिआनु ॥
जे को कहै करै वीचारु ॥
करते कै करणै नाही सुमारु ॥
धौलु धरमु दइआ का पूतु ॥
संतोखु थापि रखिआ जिनि सूति ॥
जे को बुझै होवै सचिआरु ॥
धवलै उपरि केता भारु ॥
धरती होरु परै होरु होरु ॥
तिस ते भारु तलै कवणु जोरु ॥
जीअ जाति रंगा के नाव ॥
सभना लिखिआ वुड़ी कलाम ॥
एहु लेखा लिखि जाणै कोइ ॥
लेखा लिखिआ केता होइ ॥
केता ताणु सुआलिहु रूपु ॥
केती दाति जाणै कौणु कूतु ॥
कीता पसाउ एको कवाउ ॥
तिस ते होए लख दरीआउ ॥
कुदरति कवण कहा वीचारु ॥
वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१६॥

Context:

Having described the importance of Listening (Shravan) and Reflection (Manan) in the preceding eight Pauris, Guru Nanak Dev Ji now describes a being who has evolved from Shravan to Manan through the essential process of Experiencing. Such a divine being is referred to as a Panch. One might presume that the word Panch is derived from Sarpanch (head of a community or locality), but it has a significantly deeper meaning. It refers to a being who possesses five senses, yet is completely immersed in God; whose body is composed of the five basic elements, but whose Ahankaar (false ego) has completely dissipated. Thus, Panch is actually another name for Guru Tatva, or simply a Sadguru. In this Pauri, Guru Nanak Dev Ji also gives clarity regarding two key concepts of Daya (Grace) and Santosh (Contentment).

Meaning:

पंच परवाण पंच परधानु ॥  
Guru Nanak Dev says to follow the path illuminated by the Panch and have utmost priority (Pradhaan) for them in life. That is, we should be fully devoted to a Sadguru and follow their Agna.

पंचे पावहि दरगहि मानु ॥
Panch hold the highest respect in God’s court, for they live in perfect harmony with the Universe, God’s grandest manifestation, never causing any damage to it in any shape or form – neither through physical actions, nor through thoughts and beliefs. Moreover, they also inspire others to live in such harmony by helping them become Nirbhau (fearless) and Nirvair (all-loving).

पंचे सोहहि दरि राजानु ॥
A Panch holds the highest respect in the court of kings as well. This refers to the times when kings would seek a Guru’s counsel (also known as Raj Rishi) for taking important decisions.

पंचा का गुरु एकु धिआनु ॥
This can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, Dhyan (mindfulness) is the central ingredient that elevates a being to the enlightened state of a Guru. Secondly, Dhyan is also the art that a Panch masters and spreads for the welfare of the entire society.

जे को कहै करै वीचारु ॥
When a being transforms into a Sadguru, that is, experiences oneness with God, an intense compassion compels him to convey about that experience, so that others too aim for it. However, he deeply contemplates what to say, as expressing the Supreme through words is impossible.  

करते कै करणै नाही सुमारु ॥
To describe God is beyond the limited realm of words, one can only experience His infinite nature. And so a Sadguru innovates various meditation techniques that have the power to help others experience that which he is unable to express through words.

धौलु धरमु दइआ का पूतु ॥
The Dharma or the Divine Will created by the grace of the Creator is metaphorically compared to a bull that is sustaining the entire creation on its horns. Guru Nanak Dev Ji is conveying here that Dhaul or bull refers to Dharma, or all the laws on which this Universe operates. An alternate metaphysical meaning of Dhaul is Dhaval, which means light. It refers to the cosmic light emitted during the birth of this Universe (The Big Bang). And that Universe along with the Law running it is based on two fundamental principles – Daya and Santosh, as explained in the next line.

संतोखु थापि रखिआ जिनि सूति ॥
Daya and Santosh form the thread that binds the entire creation together in oneness. For a seeker, these are necessary virtues on the path towards experiencing God. Daya involves emotions of evolution and efforts of sympathy for others, while Santosh involves efforts of self-love and emotions of acceptance. For a Sadguru, the meanings of these principles change, as they are also the outcome of experiencing Oneness with God – Daya means best possible efforts outside to help others gain that experience, while Santosh means being perfectly in tune with God within.  

जे को बुझै होवै सचिआरु ॥
Those who solve these riddles, that is, those who know the true meaning of Dhaul, Daya, and Santosh, are able to understand the truth of this whole creation. They break the wall of illusion (ignorance) and experience oneness. 

धवलै उपरि केता भारु ॥
To completely ensure that we understand what Dhaul symbolizes and don’t assume its literal meaning – that of a bull holding the Earth on its horns – Guru Nanak Dev Ji describes how unrealistic the literal meaning is, by asking us to imagine the enormous weight on the bull in such an impossible scenario.

धरती होरु परै होरु होरु ॥
Guru Nanak Dev Ji continues to show the implausibility of the literal meaning of Dhaul, as not just this Earth, but countless other planets and stars exist in this entire creation.

तिस ते भारु तलै कवणु जोरु ॥
Let us assume there is a gigantic chain of bulls bearing the weight of the entire Universe, then what would be the base holding the tremendous load of the last bull in that chain? From this line and the previous two lines, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is making it absolutely clear that Dhaul does not refer to a physical bull but the cosmic light with which the Universe originated, and which is operating under the Dharma or Laws of Daya & Santosh.

जीअ जाति रंगा के नाव ॥
In this entire creation, there are countless forms of life bearing different names, species, color, and characteristics.

सभना लिखिआ वुड़ी कलाम ॥
All the beings who have experienced oneness with the Creator have tried to express it in their own devotion-filled ways, often through poetic expressions.

एहु लेखा लिखि जाणै कोइ ॥
Poetry that comes from a heart drenched in unconditional love can only be interpreted correctly by another such love-filled heart. All that has been written from different perspectives still has the same basics fundamentals and only a Sadguru’s heart can understand and interpret this commonality.

लेखा लिखिआ केता होइ ॥
There is no end to writing or describing the experiences of oneness.

केता ताणु सुआलिहु रूपु ॥
Those writings have used many figures of speech. Only a Sadguru knows which of them can take us closer to the experience.

केती दाति जाणै कौणु कूतु ॥
Only a Sadguru knows just how much that Supreme Power has blessed us, the rest of us can only speculate about it.

कीता पसाउ एको कवाउ ॥
The expanse of this creation is so vast, magnificent, and immaculate, that it can’t be measured or described. And yet, the air (or space) is the same everywhere. From a spiritual perspective, this also points to the fact that even though descriptions of God are manifold, the essence of them all is the same.

तिस ते होए लख दरीआउ ॥
There are countless streams of words flowing from enlightened beings describing God, but the fragrance (essence) of all those words is the same – that of the experience of oneness.

कुदरति कवण कहा वीचारु ॥
What can one say or even think about the limitless nature of God’s creation? 

वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
Before we attempt to thank God once, He blesses us with something new, such is His Grace! 

जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
Your (God’s) plan is always the best plan. You know before us and better than us all that is best for us as well as the entire creation. It is only wise for us to agree and abide by Your will.

तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१६॥
Oh eternal and formless One, You have been protecting us since eternity.

Purport:

In this Pauri, Guru Nanak Dev Ji regards Sadguru as Panch and describes how such pure souls are God’s most beloved, for they live in perfect harmony with Nature. He also helps dispel blind beliefs regarding a Dhaul (bull) holding the Universe on its horns, explaining that Dhaul refers to Dharma or the laws of the Universe, and how Daya (Compassion) and Santosh (Contentment) bind the creation together, which means they are virtues that we must imbibe to experience the oneness of creation. This Pauri also helps us realize the futility of our limited identities & perception when compared to the vastness of the Universe. This again highlights the importance of a Living Master (Guru, Panch) for seekers desirous about experiencing Self and God.


Pauri # 17

असंख जप असंख भाउ ॥
असंख पूजा असंख तप ताउ ॥
असंख गरंथ मुखि वेद पाठ ॥
असंख जोग मनि रहहि उदास ॥
असंख भगत गुण गिआन वीचार ॥
असंख सती असंख दातार ॥
असंख सूर मुह भख सार ॥
असंख मोनि लिव लाइ तार ॥
कुदरति कवण कहा वीचारु ॥
वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१७॥

Context: 

In the previous Pauris, Guru Nanak Dev Ji propounded about the Guru (or Panch), the infinite expanse of the Creator, His Creation, and the inability of us human beings to fully understand it. In this Pauri, He gives the various pious ways and deeds in which the seekers are engaged with a desire to be aligned with the Supreme. God is infinite, so the ways to reach Him are countless too. Despite the countless ways and countless seekers practicing them, it is difficult to realize the Infinite.

Meaning:

असंख जप असंख भाउ ॥
There are countless ways of remembering and loving God.

असंख पूजा असंख तप ताउ ॥
There are countless rituals for worshiping God, and countless ways for austerity and penance.

असंख गरंथ मुखि वेद पाठ ॥
There are countless holy scriptures and countless people are reciting God’s praises from these holy scriptures.

असंख जोग मनि रहहि उदास ॥
There are countless meditation techniques and countless people are practicing some or the other form of those techniques to keep themselves detached from the worldly clutches.    

असंख भगत गुण गिआन वीचार ॥
There are countless devotees who are contemplating His virtues and spreading knowledge of the same.

असंख सती असंख दातार ॥
There are countless righteous and altruistic people engaged in philanthropy and giving alms.

 असंख सूर मुह भख सार ॥
There are countless brave ones who have sacrificed themselves to uphold Dharma.

असंख मोनि लिव लाइ तार ॥
There are countless ones who have immersed themselves into silence and countless ones who have been meditating on the Supreme.  

कुदरति कवण कहा वीचारु ॥
What can said or thought about the limitless nature of God’s creation? 

वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
I barely express my gratitude for all of God’s blessings, before He blesses me with something new — such is the uninterrupted flow of His Grace. 

जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
Your (God’s) plan is always the best plan. You know before me (and better than me) what is best for this entire Creation. It is only wise that I agree and abide by Your will.

तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१७॥
Oh eternal and formless One, You have been protecting us since eternity.

Purport:

Countless beings have done countless pious deeds, yet did not get even the slightest experience of the infinite. For a seeker, it is almost impossible to traverse these countless paths or to know which among them will lead to the blissful experience of God. Thus, the path that leads to the experience of Oneness always goes through a Guru. Hence, it is essential to traverse on the path shown by a Guru instead of using a hit & trial approach on the countless other pious paths.


Pauri # 18

असंख मूरख अंध घोर ॥
असंख चोर हरामखोर ॥
असंख अमर करि जाहि जोर ॥
असंख गलवढ हतिआ कमाहि ॥
असंख पापी पापु करि जाहि ॥
असंख कूड़िआर कूड़े फिराहि ॥
असंख मलेछ मलु भखि खाहि ॥
असंख निंदक सिरि करहि भारु ॥
नानकु नीचु कहै वीचारु ॥
वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१८॥

Context:

Having described a few of many pious ways to experience God, in this Pauri Guru Nanak Dev Ji describes the many types of impious deeds and their practice.

Meaning:

असंख मूरख अंध घोर ॥
There are countless fools who are blind. Here, blindness refers to ignorance about the true source of eternal happiness. Their assumed source of happiness keeps varying with favourable and unfavourable circumstances in life. Such people try finding happiness

  • in changing situations 
  • in other things or people 
  • by changing others

It is important to understand that one can only find happiness within their own Self. Those who understand this and live accordingly, do not fall as the blind fools often do.

 असंख चोर हरामखोर ॥
There are countless thieves and crooks who are trying to steal from others. This is true not only in the materialistic world but also in spiritual world, where some people copy knowledge from others and spread it without ever acknowledging.  

असंख अमर करि जाहि जोर ॥
There are countless ones who are affluent but try to rule or dominate others, sometimes even to the extent of tyranny and oppression.

असंख गलवढ हतिआ कमाहि ॥
There are countless ones who are involved in heinous crimes like killing other beings.

असंख पापी पापु करि जाहि ॥
There are countless ones who are involved in all sorts of sins, and they do so continuously without any realization or repentance, sometimes even in the name of religion.

असंख कूड़िआर कूड़े फिराहि ॥
There are countless ones who are liars, dishonest, and involved in fraudulent acts. They are always entangled in materialistic pursuits.  

असंख मलेछ मलु भखि खाहि ॥
There are countless ones who want to remain entangled in the filth of worldly desires, vices, fear, and enmity.

असंख निंदक सिरि करहि भारु ॥
There are countless ones who are cynics and critics. Some of them even speak ill of a Guru, and thus invite a huge burden of unfavorable conditions.  

नानकु नीचु कहै वीचारु ॥
Guru Nanak Ji says there are countless such impious beings, and that it is futile to continue describing them beyond a point. 

वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
I barely express my gratitude for all of God’s blessings, before He blesses me with something new — such is the uninterrupted flow of His Grace. 

जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
Your (God’s) plan is always the best plan. You know before me (and better than me) what is best for this entire Creation. It is only wise that I agree and abide by Your will.

तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१८॥
Oh eternal and formless One, You have been protecting us since eternity.

Purport:

In this Pauri, Guru Nanak Dev Ji describes how countless people are engrossed in endless impious practices. As a seeker, it is important to understand that all such practices might give us temporary gratification in the materialistic world, but they take us further and further away from eternal and infinite happiness. All these are rooted in our ignorance and thus, dissolution of that ignorance is a must for us through the right connection with a Guru. Only a Guru can help us align with the God’s will and that is the only path.


Pauri # 19

असंख नाव असंख थाव ॥
अगम अगम असंख लोअ ॥
असंख कहहि सिरि भारु होइ ॥
अखरी नामु अखरी सालाह ॥
अखरी गिआनु गीत गुण गाह ॥
अखरी लिखणु बोलणु बाणि ॥
अखरा सिरि संजोगु वखाणि ॥
जिनि एहि लिखे तिसु सिरि नाहि ॥
जिव फुरमाए तिव तिव पाहि ॥
जेता कीता तेता नाउ ॥
विणु नावै नाही को थाउ ॥
कुदरति कवण कहा वीचारु ॥
वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१९॥

Context:

After describing some of the countless pious and impious practices, in this Pauri Guru Nanak Dev Ji describes Akshar (the divine cosmic sound), Akhari (one who has experienced God through the divine cosmic sound), and how Akhari spreads knowledge in accordance with the Divine will.

Meaning:

असंख नाव असंख थाव ॥
There are countless manifestations of creation – countless planets, stars, and even Universes.

अगम अगम असंख लोअ ॥
The countless manifestations of creation are beyond mind’s comprehension or imagination. 

असंख कहहि सिरि भारु होइ ॥
Thinking of the infinite expanse of creation puts a lot of stress on the mind as the question remains – how do we experience God? Or in other words, how do we become Nirbhay (fearless) and Nirvair (all-loving)? This is revealed in the next few lines.

अखरी नामु अखरी सालाह ॥
Akhari is one who has experienced God through Akshar (the divine cosmic sound). In other words, Akhari is a Sadguru. Akhari is the path to God, and also the source of endless praises for God. 

अखरी गिआनु गीत गुण गाह ॥
Through Akshar comes all of Akhari’s divine knowledge and songs in praise of the Supreme, who is full of divine virtues.

  अखरी लिखणु बोलणु बाणि ॥
Akhari never ceases writing and speaking about the Divine.

अखरा सिरि संजोगु वखाणि ॥
Akhari accumulates and consolidates the divine knowledge in his mind, and articulates it in a way so as to impart it to others.

जिनि एहि लिखे तिसु सिरि नाहि ॥
Akhari has no signs of wrinkles on his forehead, as there’s no effort involved in imparting the divine knowledge to others; it keeps flowing from him in a spontaneous and natural manner.

जिव फुरमाए तिव तिव पाहि ॥
Akhari’s knowledge and experience arrive as per the Divine Will, and it is the same knowledge that Akhari spreads further.

जेता कीता तेता नाउ ॥
Whatever is happening or is being done is all due to His mercy and grace.

विणु नावै नाही को थाउ ॥
There is no place in this entire creation where His grace is not present. 

कुदरति कवण कहा वीचारु ॥
What can said or thought about the limitless nature of God’s creation? 

वारिआ न जावा एक वार ॥
I barely express my gratitude for all of God’s blessings, before He blesses me with something new — such is the uninterrupted flow of His Grace. 

जो तुधु भावै साई भली कार ॥
Your (God’s) plan is always the best plan. You know before me (and better than me) what is best for this entire Creation. It is only wise that I agree and abide by Your will.

तू सदा सलामति निरंकार ॥१६॥
Oh eternal and formless One, You have been protecting us since eternity.

Purport:

His creation is magnificent and infinitely vast, with the Creator being present in every atom of the creation. A Guru or Akhari is one who has experienced the oneness of creation through Akshar (the divine cosmic sound), and tries to spread the divine knowledge and experience to seekers in a very spontaneous and natural way. Akshar is the source of all of Akhari’s knowledge, so whatever Akhari conveys is actually coming from the Creator Himself. Whatever is happening or is being done is all due to His mercy and grace. There is no place in this entire creation where His grace is not present.


Have a deeper understanding of above Pauris through Sri Guru’s Satsang on Japji Sahib:

Compiled by Bharat Bhushan Prabhu


Read the previous blogs on Japji Sahib Meanings: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Bliss of Wisdom is a blog for seekers who are in search of their real Self. It is published by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Delhi – a spiritual revolutionary movement founded by Sri Guru. She is a spiritual Master who has transformed innumerable lives through her logical explanations and effective meditation techniques. To know more, visit srmdelhi.org .

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