e often hear the Bani of Salok Mahalla Nauvan when we partake in a Paath Bhog (completion) ceremony. In this article, we will explore the significance of this Baani and dive into the first Salok.
This Bani of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji addresses those who are deeply engrossed in worldly affairs, trapped in Maya (worldly illusion) and temporary pleasures. It also mentions those who have attained oneness with the Divine, having merged with the Source from which we all originate.
Throughout the Bani, Guru Sahib Ji repeatedly reminds us of the inevitability of death, urging us to awaken and reflect upon the purpose of this precious life bestowed upon us. The Bani was added to Guru Granth Sahib Ji by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1706, at Sabo Ki Talwandi in Damdama Sahib.
The Mangla Charan
The Bani commences with the Mangala Charan - ‘Ik Oangkaar Satgur Prasaad’. ‘Ik’ meaning ‘that One,’ representing the primal source from which everything originates. It refers to a time when the creation had not yet come into existence, and only the formless One prevailed. Guru Sahib Ji also highlights the significance of the primordial sound through which the entire creation emanated.
ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ ॥
ਤਿਸ ਤੇ ਹੋਏ ਲਖ ਦਰੀਆਉ ॥
This primal sound still resonates today, sustaining everything in existence. It is the energy and power of Akaal Purakh Ji (Timeless Being), creating and concluding all phenomena.
‘Kaar,’ derived from ‘Lagaataar,’ signifies the Creator's continuous immersion within their creation. The One who brought forth all creation remains constant, stable, and unchanging, while forms within the creation are subject to transformation. ‘Satgur Prasad’ means that the realisation of this eternal truth can only be achieved through the grace and guidance of the Guru, who is fully immersed in the Supreme Source.
Structure and Terminology
The Baani is structured in Saloks, which are poetic couplets consisting of two lines with rhyming words. Salok can be interpreted as ‘Sa-Lok, that world’, referring to a place where one can establish a connection with the formless Divine and experience true peace and bliss. The term 'Mahala' can be understood as a happily married bride or someone in loving service, just as a bride serves her husband. Here, Guru Teg Bahadur Ji refers to themselves as the (ninth) bride in service to Akaal Purakh Ji.
Diving into the First Salok..
ਗੁਨ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗਾਇਓ ਨਹੀ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਕਾਰਥ ਕੀਨੁ ॥
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਮਨਾ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਲ ਕਉ ਮੀਨੁ ॥੧॥
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji warns that those who have not sung the praises of Gobind (God), have wasted their lives in futility. Guru Sahib Ji implores the mind to meditate and sing the praises of God.
Guru Sahib Ji draws our attention to the limited nature of human life. Our breaths are numbered, and one day they will come to an end. Hence, the importance of making this life meaningful is emphasised. Material accomplishments hold no significance if one fails to appreciate and sing the praises of the Divine.
The Fish and the Water
Guru Sahib Ji explain that just as a fish loves and thrives in water, Gursikhs develop a similar affection for Vaheguru. By realising the presence of Vaheguru within and without, we too can experience fulfilment and connect with the source of life. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji compares the fish's dependence on water for survival to our reliance on Vaheguru. Just as a fish gasps for air when removed from water, individuals who neglect their connection with Vaheguru suffer spiritually. On the other hand, those who devote time to Seva (selfless service), Simran (meditating on Vaheguru), and Sangat (visiting and spending time in the holy congregation) build their connection with Vaheguru and thrive by this love.
ਖਾਲਿਕੁ ਖਲਕ ਖਲਕ ਮਹਿ ਖਾਲਿਕੁ ਪੂਰਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਸ੍ਰਬ ਠਾਂਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Our existence is interwoven with the presence of the formless One. By meditating, serving, and building a loving connection for Vaheguru, we can make this life successful. As Guru Arjan Dev Ji says on Ang 748 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji,
ਭਾਗਠੜੇ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਤ ਤੁਮੑਾਰੇ ਜਿਨੑ ਘਰਿ ਧਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ॥
Your Saints are very fortunate; their homes are filled with the wealth of the Lord's Name.
ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਗਣੀ ਸੇਈ ਇਹ ਆਏ ਸਫਲ ਤਿਨਾ ਕੇ ਕਾਮਾ ॥੧॥
Their birth is approved, and their actions are fruitful. ||1||