n this article, we will dive into the third and fourth Salok of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji’s Salok Mahala 9 Baani to address the age-old questions surrounding spirituality, youth and old age.
The Third Salok
ਤਰਨਾਪੋ ਇਉ ਹੀ ਗਇਓ ਲੀਓ ਜਰਾ ਤਨੁ ਜੀਤਿ ॥
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਜੁ ਹਰਿ ਮਨਾ ਅਉਧ ਜਾਤੁ ਹੈ ਬੀਤਿ ॥੩॥
The word Tarnaapo signifies youth, while the word Jara signifies old age. Guru Sahib Ji says that your youth has passed you by, and old age has taken over your body. People try many things to escape the reality of aging, but the truth is that in the end, old age is all-powerful and it does take over us. Our hearts sink as we grow old, and some even begin to avoid sharing their age. This is due to the fear of inevitable death.
Don’t look back and regret!
The reason Guru Sahib Ji makes us aware of this fact is to tell us that we must make good use of our youth and spend it wisely - remembering Vaheguru and serving his creation. It shouldn’t be so that one looks back and says, “All those years when I was active and in good health, I did not Jap Naam (chant Vaheguru’s name), did not go to Sangat (holy congregation), and did not do Sewa (selfless service). I didn’t earn any righteous acts, and did not fulfill my true purpose. All I did was work, play and rest!”
The Fleeting Nature of Life
ਦਸ ਬਾਲਤਣਿ ਬੀਸ ਰਵਣਿ ਤੀਸਾ ਕਾ ਸੁੰਦਰੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥
ਚਾਲੀਸੀ ਪੁਰੁ ਹੋਇ ਪਚਾਸੀ ਪਗੁ ਖਿਸੈ ਸਠੀ ਕੇ ਬੋਢੇਪਾ ਆਵੈ ॥
Gurbani tells us that in our twenties, we are enjoying life, then we get caught up in our physical appearances. We lose our youth chasing around the false things, and when we hit our fifties, we begin losing our natural strength.
We let the precious years of youth pass us by without giving it a thought about what we are indulging in, what kind of conversations we are making and where our time is going. Guru Sahib Ji says, remember, flowers don’t blossom forever, they wither away, and so will these pleasures of youth.
ਧਨੁ ਜੋਬਨੁ ਅਰੁ ਫੁਲੜਾ ਨਾਠੀਅੜੇ ਦਿਨ ਚਾਰਿ ॥
ਪਬਣਿ ਕੇਰੇ ਪਤ ਜਿਉ ਢਲਿ ਢੁਲਿ ਜੁੰਮਣਹਾਰ ॥੧॥
Do not Put it Off!
ਕਬੀਰ ਕਾਲਿ ਕਰੰਤਾ ਅਬਹਿ ਕਰੁ ਅਬ ਕਰਤਾ ਸੁਇ ਤਾਲ ॥
ਪਾਛੈ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਜਉ ਸਿਰ ਪਰਿ ਆਵੈ ਕਾਲੁ ॥੧੩੮॥
We keep telling ourselves that we will focus on this aspect of life when we are older, but Kabir Ji reminds us that now is the time to build a relationship with Vaheguru - the time to wake up early, commit to Sewa and do Naam Simran.
Guru Sahib Ji asks us to never delay a righteous act, for positive thoughts do not stay in our mind for long. It only takes us a moment for us to forget a positive idea, so we must act on it immediately.
ਨਹ ਬਿਲੰਬ ਧਰਮੰ ਬਿਲੰਬ ਪਾਪੰ ॥
Vaheguru is Peace
When we say that all the Paath stuff, Simran stuff, remembering God and meditating is for old age, we are actually running away from peace right now. We are delaying the experience of being a human being in its full capacity. But the Guru is saying - “I want you to do it now not later because why not experience what life is truly about now?” True life can only be experienced through meditation.Guru Teg Bahadur Ji tells us, Har Bhaj Mana, meditate on Vaheguru now, because with every moment, your life is reducing.
The advantage of starting now is that as habits are formed at a young age, Bhagti (devotional worship) becomes effortless for you. If in our early years, we never tried to sit down cross legged and focus - how would we do it in our later years?
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕਾਲਂੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਰਾਵਿਆ ਧਉਲੀ ਰਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥
The Fourth Salok
ਬਿਰਧਿ ਭਇਓ ਸੂਝੈ ਨਹੀ ਕਾਲੁ ਪਹੂਚਿਓ ਆਨਿ ॥
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਰ ਬਾਵਰੇ ਕਿਉ ਨ ਭਜੈ ਭਗਵਾਨੁ ॥੪॥
Insanity is defined as an act of repetition with no meaning. Guru Sahib Ji calls us crazy as we engage in many repetitive, meaningless acts. We spend hours on social media, engaging in meaningless conversations and go around enjoying ourselves at lush places. It is almost like Guru Sahib Ji, like a mother, is hurting for us, concerned for us, and says, “O my child, why aren’t you connecting? Why aren’t you meditating? That is where the Sukh and Santokh (peace and contentment) are!”
It is Never Too Late
To end, we must realize that even if you have reached old age, it is never too late to connect to Vaheguru.
ਅਜਹੂ ਕਛੁ ਬਿਗਰਿਓ ਨਹੀ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵੈ ॥
It might be difficult now, but it is never impossible. Even if you have one breath left, there is a possibility of connecting to Vaheguru and finding your true purpose.
ਨਿਰਬਾਣ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਕਰਤੇ ਕਾ ਨਿਮਖ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਜਿਤੁ ਛੂਟੈ ॥੧॥
So to those who are young - begin early and look beyond the momentary pleasures! To those who are old - if you have still got breath, you have still got opportunity. You will not lose if you surrender to the Guru’s command and build a life of Seva, Simran and Sangat.