A Spiritual Discourse
By Bikram Gill
Copyright 2015 Bikram Gill
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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A Spiritual Discourse is an English translation of ‘Sidh Gosht’, a discussion between Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, and a group of Master Yogis, Siddhas. In the composition the Siddhas ask Guru Nanak Dev spiritual questions, and Guru Nanak Dev answers them. ‘Sidh Gosht’ is part of a larger text, Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which is the present Guru of the Sikhs.
The present translation tries to present a literal translation, with a simple and concise presentation, keeping the metaphors intact, wherever possible (although the rhyme of the original text could not be maintained). The main intention of the present translation is to present the meaning of the original text, as per my understanding. Conversational English has been used. Where it is felt that an explanation may help in understanding the meaning of text, brief explanation has been added.
Table of Contents
Glossary of non-English terms used
Ramkali – Name of a musical scale, in which a particular composition has been written
Mehala – Refers to the Gurus of the Sikhs, another meaning is a palace (here, it could mean a palace of words)
Siddhas – One who has attained spiritual realization and supernatural powers
Guru – Spiritual master and mentor
Gurmukh – One whose face is turned towards Guru, one who walks the path shown by the Guru. One who is blessed by the Guru
Manmukh – One whose face is turned towards mind, one who walks the path shown by the ego, and does not have a Guru, spiritual guide or mentor
Maya – A creation of God. The power that creates the illusions of the world
Sikh – Student of Truth, seeker of true knowledge
Yogi – A practitioner of true yoga, which includes physical, mental and spiritual exercises, in quest of union with the absolute
Sanyasi – ascetic
Three qualities -
Tamo – A quality, under influence of which a person commits crime and other immoral activities.
Sato – A quality, under influence of which a person does good deeds like charity, service.
Rajo – A quality, under influence of which a person is passionate about worldly achievements.
Shastras, Simritees, Vedas – sacred religious texts
Siddhis – miraculous supernatural powers
Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna – Three primary spiritual nerves in the body, running along the spine.
Jamkal – messenger of death
Structure of the text
n. The translation is presented in normal text, starting with the number of the verse. Non-English words which are defined in the glossary appear as italics.
[Sometimes a brief commentary is added to clarify the meaning of the verse. Words from the glossary appear in Non-italicized form]
Ramkali, First Mehala, Discourse with Siddhas
One God, Grace of True Guru.
1. A company of Siddhas gathered sitting in yogic postures,
Offered salutations to the gathering,
We pray to the True One, Who is infinite and incomparable,
Cut off my head, and keep it in front of Him, offer my body and mind,
O Nanak, meeting Saints, truth is obtained, and one is easily blessed with glory.
[The ascetics salute their gathering, while Guru Nanak Dev tells them about devotion to One God, and the benefit of meeting saints. There are many definitions and meaning of term God. The God that we refer to in the present text, as per Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, is characterized by following qualities:
God is one, with none comparable to Him,
His Name is true and everlasting,
He performs all action,
He is without fear,
He is without enmity,
He is free from effects and constraints of time,
He is not born, and is self-created,
He is found by the grace of the Guru,
All the qualities and descriptions of God cannot be conveyed, and the above are some of the main attributes of God]
1. [Emphasis] Why wander, purity comes from truth,
Without the True Word, no one is liberated.
[Guru Nanak Dev conveys the central idea of the present discourse. The main idea is that no one gets liberation without the help of true words, while purity only comes by association with Truth, God. Wandering around in itself may not help.]
2. Who are you, what is your name, what is your path, what is your goal,
We pray, tell the truth, we are a sacrifice to saints,
Where do you sit, where do you live, boy, where do you come from, where are you going,
Speak Nanak, the ascetics listen, what is your path.
[The ascetics ask Guru Nanak Dev introductory questions.]
3. God forever dwells in every heart, I stay there, I walk as per the will of the True Guru,
I came from God, I go as per His will, I am Nanak, forever in His command,
I sit in a posture, contemplating the changeless God, this is the teaching I received from the Guru,
As a Gurmukh I understand and recognize self, I have merged in Truth.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers the first set of questions.]
4. The world-ocean is said to be difficult to swim across, how can one cross it,
Yogi Charpat says, Nanak give a true thoughtful reply.
To one who says he understands himself, what answer can I give,
Truly I speak, if you have crossed over, how can I argue with you.
[An ascetic, Charpat, asks how can one live a life successfully, and cross over the ocean of world successfully. The present world is compared to a big ocean, which is very difficult to cross in this life. Apparently, crossing over the ocean has desirable consequences, which we all could strive for, while being unable to do so may not be very pleasant.]
5. Like the lotus remains unaffected in water, like duck swims through river,
Fix the mind on the Word to cross over the world-ocean, O Nanak, speak God’s Name,
Remain isolated, enshrine one God in mind, remain without desires in midst of hope,
One who sees and shows others the inaccessible and incomprehensible God, Nanak is his slave.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers, live life like the lotus flower remains unaffected by the water, and a duck swims through river without water sticking to it. He suggests contemplating true words, taking support of words to cross-over, and speaking God’s Name. Guru Nanak Dev also suggests remembering God. His advice is to mentally remain unattached, in the midst of living a normal life.]
6. Listen lord, we pray, we ask for a true and thoughtful opinion,
Don’t be angry, give an answer, how can we find Guru’s door?
This restless mind, sits in true home, O Nanak, by support of the Name,
The Creator Himself unites us with Him, and makes us love the truth.
[The ascetics ask how can we find true master to guide us. Guru Nanak Dev answers that God Himself unites us, and mind is calmed by support of God’s Name.]
7. Away from shops and highways, we live among plants and trees in woods,
We eat roots and fruits for food, this is the wisdom of the Yogis,
We bathe at sacred places, obtain fruits of peace, and remain free from filth,
Disciple of Gorakh, Loharipa speaks, this is the method of yoga, to meet God.
[An ascetic, Loharipa, who is the disciple of the great yoga guru, Gorakh, tells of the way of yogis.]
8. In shops and highways sleep does not come, do not covet another’s home,
Without Name, mind has no support, O Nanak, hunger does not go away,
Within home of heart Guru has shown the city, where I carry true trade with ease,
Sleep little, eat less, O Nanak, this is essence of wisdom.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers Loharipa, and reiterates the importance of God’s Name. Guru Nanak Dev tells about carrying on the true trade, of repetition of God’s Name, within one’s heart. Being spiritually awake, and not craving for worldly things is emphasized.]
9. See the robes of the followers of Gorakh, King of yogis, wear ear-rings, begging sack and patched robe,
Among six schools of philosophy, and twelve sects of yoga, ours is one,
This is the way mind is instructed, and man does not get hurt again,
Nanak speaks, Gurmukh understands, this is the way yoga is attained.
[Yogis _ask Guru Nanak Dev to wear the dress of yogis, and join them. They also address Guru Nanak Dev as the King of Yogis. Guru Nanak Dev answers in the next verse.]
10. Always remember the word within, let this be the earring, stay away from ego and attachment,
Leave aside lust, anger, self-esteem, and through Guru’s word understand,
See God everywhere, let this be Your patched robe and begging pouch, O Nanak One lord would carry you across,
True God, True Name, weigh Guru’s true words
[Guru Nanak Dev emphasizes the importance of timeless virtues, of self control and faith in true word, over physical dress. The spiritual qualities that are emphasized are, always remembering true words, try to understand Guru’s words, and see God everywhere. Guru Nanak Dev assures us that God Himself would carry us across.]
11. Let detachment be your begging bowl, let the qualities of five elements be your cap,
Let the body be your grass-mat, and mind your loin-cloth,
Let truth, contentment, restraint be with you,
O Nanak, the Gurmukh contemplates the Name.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues emphasis on natural virtues over physical accessories and dress. Five elements along with their good qualities are the air (equanimity), water (coolness), space (lack of attachment), earth (patience) and fire (burns away impurity).]
12. Who is hidden, who is free,
Who is joined within and without,
Who comes, who goes,
Who is present in the three worlds.
[The ascetics ask few more questions to Guru Nanak Dev.]
13. He who is present in every heart is hidden, Gurmukh is free,
Word is joined from within and without,
Manmukh perishes, comes and goes,
O Nanak, Gurmukh knows that true God exists everywhere.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers the questions, telling that God is present everywhere, and that Manmukhs suffer transmigration. He also talks about the connection and importance of words.]
14. How is one bound, how is one eaten by the snake, Maya,
How does one lose, how does one gain,
How does one become pure, how is darkness removed,
Who understands this, is our Guru.
[The ascetics ask a few more questions.]
15. False thinking binds us, and causes us to be eaten by the snake,
Manmukh loses, Gurmukh gains,
Meeting the true Guru darkness goes,
O Nanak, by removing ego, one merges with truth.
16. Tie the mind to a void,
The swan does not fly, the wall does not collapse,
Know the natural cave as true home,
O Nanak, True God loves true person.
[In this verse God is referred to as absolute void, swan refers to the human soul, while wall refers to the human body. Natural cave, heart, is the true home of soul and God.]
17. For what reason have you left house, and become a recluse,
For what reason are you dressed like this,
What thing do you trade in,
How will you carry your companions across.
[The yogis ask Guru Nanak Dev the reason for leaving home, and the trade practiced by Guru Nanak Dev.]
18. In search of Gurmukhs I became a recluse,
Seeking the vision of the God, I have adopted this dress,
I trade in Truth,
O Nanak, Gurmukhs will go across.
[Guru Nanak Dev replies. Most likely the ascetics have asked Guru Nanak Dev regarding the reason for wearing a particular dress, a dress of a spiritual traveller, while the Guru Nanak Dev replies referring the human body as the dress for this life. Truth here refers to everlasting and permanent things, like God, knowledge of God, praise of God and the Name of God, while falsehood is the ephemeral world that we see around us. Trading in truth would be trading the moments and breaths of our own life, our capital in life, which we spend as we live through life, in obtaining the priceless wealth of Truth, filling our minds with the Name and praise of God. A true trader uses love and devotion to purchase the True merchandise, which are eternal supplies. Alternate would be to exchange our capital, breaths and moments of life, with the different ephemeral experiences of life.]
19. How have you changed the direction of your life,
What have you attached your mind to,
How have you stilled your hopes and desires,
How have you found the light within,
Without teeth how can iron be eaten,
O Nanak, think and speak your true opinion.
[In the question of the yogis, eating iron, refers to escaping the effects and hold of Maya. Light within refers to finding God within.]
20. Being born in the house of the True Guru, I erased the cycle of birth and death,
Attached my mind to the unstruck sound,
Hope and desires have been burned by the word,
By Guru’s grace, I found the light within,
Ate iron by removing the three qualities,
Nanak, the Liberator Himself liberates.
[Guru Nanak Dev replies that by becoming a disciple of the True Guru, and walking on his instructions, he escaped transmigration. Unstruck sound, is the primal sound, which exists in space without the presence of air, and is created without striking of two objects. Words end undesirable qualities, when we contemplate the words of wisdom, and accept the truth contained in them. Three qualities refer to Tamo, Rajo and Sato. Meeting with God is only possible by the grace of the True Guru and God (God and True Guru are one and the same, or rather True Guru is an aspect of God).]
21. What do you think about the beginning of time, in which home did the Absolute live,
What is said to be the earring of knowledge, who abides in all hearts,
How can the assault of time be evaded, how can we enter the home of fearless,
How can we know the state of easy contentment, how can the adversaries be defeated,
Guru’s words kill ego and attachment, then live in your own home,
Who recognizes the word of the creator who created the creation, Nanak is his slave,
[In the opening part, the yogis ask questions. Absolute refers to God. The adversaries are five, lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego.
Guru Nanak Dev answers. Again the importance of the Word of God is emphasized. Words have many qualities, some are known to us, and many are not known. One of the basic qualities of words is that they have the power to convince and mould our minds, once we understand and accept the knowledge contained in them.]
22. Where do we come from, where do we go, where do we remain,
One who knows the meaning of these words is a Guru, who has no greed,
How can we know the essence of the formless reality, How can we become a Gurmukh and love God,
He Himself is the consciousness, He Himself is the Doer, O Nanak think and speak,
We come from God’s command, go by God’s command, and remain in his command,
Through the complete Guru we earn truth, through the word we find the perfect condition.
[In this verse also there are question of the yogis in the beginning, while answers from Guru Nanak Dev follow.]
23. For the beginning we can only think and wonder, the absolute abided within self,
Unimaginable state, think over Guru’s wisdom, the True one lives in each and every heart,
By Guru’s words we dwell in the indescribable, find the essence of pure Lord,
Nanak, other actions not needed, Sikh serves and finds the way,
His wonderful command, soul recognizes the command and knows the true way,
One who removes self, is free from attachment, enshrines true God within, is a Yogi.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues to answer the questions. The words of the Guru can guide us to dwell in the prefect state, and find the essence of God. No other actions are needed to find God, only serve the Guru, and walk as per the will of God.]
24. From absolute the pure form emerged, formless became many forms,
If true Guru is pleased, supreme state is attained, one merges in true word,
One True God, only know One, ego duality depart,
Such a Yogi, recognizes Guru’s word, the lotus blooms within,
Dead while living, understands everything, knows within, the compassionate Lord,
Nanak, he is honored, realizes self in all beings.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues to answer the questions. Knowing and accepting Supreme God, we can get rid of ego and delusion. Blooming of the lotus refers to the emergence of the light of soul in the heart. Being dead while living refers to killing the mind, not being swayed by the fickle mind, but to keep it in control.]
25. True one emerges, merges in truth, pure one merges in Truth by grace,
False ones come, but find no rest, in duality they come and go,
Coming and going ends by Guru’s word, God Himself evaluates and pardons,
One who suffers pain of duality, forgets the Name, the abode of peace,
He understands, whom He Himself instructs, by Guru’s words he finds freedom,
Nanak, the Liberator liberates, ego and duality are eradicated.
[Coming and going refer to transmigration. Duality refers to identifying the creation as being different from One God. Only such a person understands reality, whom God causes to understand, through Guru’s words such a person finds freedom from bondage to Maya and transmigration.]
26. Manmukh forget, fear death,
Look in other’s homes and lose,
Manmukh is deluded, and roams the wilderness,
Losing their way, are robbed, chanting mantras in cremation ground,
Do not think about words, and speak ill,
Nanak, those colored with truth know peace.
[Looking in other’s home refers to comparing and feeling envy. Here again the importance of words is specified, and a Manmukh is said to be a person who does not reflect on the meaning of words, because of which they lose their way spiritually and are deluded.]
27. Gurmukh finds the fear of True One,
Gurmukh’s words polish the unrefined,
Gurmukh sings pure praise of God,
Gurmukh obtains supreme chaste state,
Gurmukh remembers God from every part of his body,
Nanak, Gurmukh merges in Truth.
[Here Guru Nanak Dev speaks of the blessed state of a person who follows the path shown by a true Guru. Gurmukh refers to an advanced spiritual state, and many of the experiences described here may take some time to manifest in an average seeker.]
28. Gurmukh is gratefully content, contemplates the Vedas,
Gurmukh is gratefully content, and swims across,
Gurmukh is gratefully content, and receives wisdom of words,
Gurmukh is gratefully content, comes to know the path within,
Gurmukh finds invisible and infinite God,
Nanak, Gurmukh finds the door to liberation.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues to talk about the blessed state of a Gurmukh. Swimming across refers to successfully live this life, and swim across the whirlpool of life. Vedas here could be understood as any of the spiritual texts of wisdom, and contemplating them, understanding and accepting the truth contained in them is more important than memorizing them, repeating them, or chanting them.]
29. Gurmukh thinks and speaks the unspoken,
Gurmukh leads a spiritual life in midst of family,
Gurmukh lovingly chants within,
Gurmukh obtains the word, and good conduct,
Knows the mystery of word, and causes others to know,
Nanak, burns the ego, and merges in God.
[Guru Nanak Dev further elaborates the state of a Gurmukh. In this verse again the mystery of the word, and importance of understanding it is conveyed.]
30. For Gurmukh Earth was set up by the True One,
Therein the game of creation and destruction,
Guru’s words color one with God’s love,
Colored with Truth, one goes home with honor,
Without true word, honor is not found,
Nanak, without Name, how can one merge in Truth.
[Here Guru Nanak Dev tells that the Earth was set up, by God, for a Gurmukh, where the game of creation and destruction is being continuously enacted. Here again the importance of words is highlighted. Also, the importance of Name of God is specified, which is needed to merge in Truth.]
31. Gurmukh obtains eight siddhis, all wisdom,
Gurmukh swims across the whirlpool, obtains true understanding,
Gurmukh knows the way of truth and untruth,
Gurmukh knows worldliness and renunciation,
Gurmukh swims across, and helps other cross over,
Nanak, Gurmukh is rescued by the Word.
[The benefits received by a Gurmukh are highlighted. Whirlpool refers to the ocean of life. Here again the importance of the Word is highlighted.
The fact is, for benefit of all worldly things, we need worldly objects, for example, for comfort of body we need physical accessories, but for the benefit of the intangible soul, we need intangible things, or words to guide us. Also, Name of God, a word, is the eternal companion and provision of the soul, which is the only thing of value that a person can take or earn from this life.
Complete description of the effect and power of words is probably not possible, and a comprehensive description of it is beyond the scope of the present text. Words of wisdom have been given a very high status in the philosophy propagated by Guru Nanak Dev, and among other things words are the spiritual guide and Guru. The effect of words is difficult to measure directly, but without them it might have been impossible for our civilization to develop as it has developed. Similarly from spiritual perspective, words help define the presence and characteristics of true God, so that we can think beyond the traditional demigods of mythology and forces of nature. Also, it is words again, which lay out the path that we need to travel in order to meet God, and be free from the bondage of life and transmigration, without the words of wisdom we would be lost.]
32. Colored with the Name, ego departs,
Colored with the Name, remain merged in Truth,
Colored with the Name, contemplate on the union,
Colored with the Name, find door to liberation,
Colored with the Name, understand the three worlds,
Nanak, colored with the Name, always peace.
[Guru Nanak Dev tells the state of a person who continuously remembers God, and repeats God’s Name verbally or mentally. More than that, colored with the Name would also mean to completely believe the power of the God’s Name, and take it as one’s support. Union refers to union with God. Three worlds refer to complete world, to all the life on land, in water and air.]
33. Colored with the Name, converse with siddhas,
Colored with the Name, forever practice penance,
Colored with the Name, perform excellent true works,
Colored with the Name, contemplate on virtue and wisdom,
Without the Name, everything spoken is useless,
Nanak, Colored with the Name, victory to them.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues to explain the benefits of remembering God and repeating God’s Name. Also, he tells that without the Name, words spoken are useless, and that one who is colored with the God’s Name is victorious in life, lives a useful life. Victory would refer to the living of a successful spiritual life, which has served its true purpose, of realizing God, and of not having lost this opportunity and being overwhelmed by the illusions of Maya.]
34. Name is obtained from the complete Guru,
Way of yoga, is to remain merged in Truth,
Yogis wander in twelve, sanyasis in six and four,
By Guru’s words, who remain dead while alive, find the door to liberation,
Without the word, attached to duality, think within and see,
Nanak, blessed and fortunate are they who keep the Truth enshrined in heart.
[Guru Nanak Dev explains that the Name of God is obtained from a True Guru, and that the true way of yoga is to always remain merged and connected to God. He tells that the sanyasi and yogis follow a number of schools of thoughts, but only the ones who mentally remain dead, who have control of their mind, find the door to liberation. Guru Nanak Dev tells that without the words of wisdom feeling of duality of the world does not depart. Duality refers to the feeling that the things in world are all different from each other and also different from God.]
35. Gurmukh lovingly focused, obtains the jewel,
Gurmukh recognizes the jewel, while thinking of God,
Gurmukh earns true action,
Gurmukh’s mind is pleased with the True One,
Gurmukh sees the invisible, when it pleases Him,
Nanak, Gurmukh does not get hurt.
[Guru Nanak Dev explains that the Gurmukh obtains the jewel of the Name of God. The Name of God is an intangible jewel, whose worth can only be evaluated by spiritually advanced beings, in the same way that only trained jewelers can identify genuine jewelry.]
36. Gurmukh is blessed with Name, charity and purity,
Gurmukh can easily concentrate the mind,
Gurmukh obtains honor in the Court,
Gurmukh obtains the Supreme Lord, the destroyer of fear,
Gurmukh does good deeds, and inspires others too,
Nanak, Gurmukh unites with the God.
[Court refers to the final court of God, where a soul is evaluated at the end of this life.]
37. Gurmukh understands the Shastras, Simritees and the Vedas,
Gurmukh finds the secret of each and every heart,
Gurmukh dispels enmity and opposition,
Gurmukh erases entire account,
Gurmukh is colored with God’s Name,
Nanak, Gurmukh recognizes the Master.
[Gurmukh _understands the religious and spiritual texts. The account of good and bad deeds of a Gurmukh are erased.]
38. Without Guru, wander, come and go,
Without Guru, work does not bear fruit,
Without Guru, mind is very unsteady,
Without Guru, unsatisfied, eat poison,
Without Guru, snake bites and kills on way,
Nanak, without Guru, all is lost.
[Come and go refers to continuous unending transmigration, to which every soul has been subjected to since the beginning. Without the guidance of a True Guru, the life of a person is wasted and painful. The snake of Maya kills such a person during the journey of life.]
39. Whom Guru meets alights across,
Sins are erased, virtues liberate,
Liberation, supreme blessing, think of Guru’s word,
Gurmukh is never defeated,
Body, a shop, mind, a merchant,
Nanak, easily deal in Truth.
[Alight across refers to successfully swimming across the ocean of life. The above verse highlights the benefits of meeting with a True Guru, listening to his teachings, and reflecting on his words. Body, the current abode of the soul is like a shop, in which we can trade in Truth (Knowledge of God, Name of God), and mind or soul is the merchant. The capital or currency used in trade is the moments or breaths of life, of which all have a limited quantity. We are free to spend our moments and breaths of life on anything we like, but it would be prudent to invest life’s moments on something eternal and truly valuable.]
40. Gurmukh is the bridge, built by the Master of Destiny,
Lanka robbed, demons annihilated,
Ramchand slays such Ravan,
Babhikhan’s secret, Gurmukh recognizes,
Gurmukh carries stones across ocean,
Gurmukh saves thirty-three crore.
[The above verse compares the important events in the ancient epic of India, to the living of a successful life. The epic tells of a story where an incarnation of God, Sri Ramchand, crosses over ocean using a bridge, with his army, to attack an evil king, Ravan. Using the secret disclosed by Babhikhan, that Ravan had elixir in his navel; Ramchand kills Ravan, slays Ravan’s demons and saves the prisoners. Similarly, the Gurmukh is the bridge which will save millions, when the mind, Ramchand, would kill pride, Ravan, using the secret disclosed by Babhikhan, a wise counsel. The secret is that the elixir is found at the source of word or sound, the navel, and that the word alone can destroy ego.]
41. Gurmukh ends comings and goings,
Gurmukh obtains honor in Court,
Gurmukh recognizes counterfeit, genuine,
Gurmukh easily concentrates the mind,
Gurmukh, in Court, praises God, and merges,
Nanak, Gurmukh is not in chains.
Gurmukh [_ends continuous transmigration, is honored in the court of God, and is free from the chains of Maya.]
42. Gurmukh finds the pure Name,
Gurmukh burns the ego, with words,
Gurmukh sings the praise of the True One,
Gurmukh remains merged in the True One,
Gurmukh, through True Name, has supreme honor,
Nanak, Gurmukh understands all worlds.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues to tell of the wonderful state of the Gurmukh.]
43. What is the root, it is time for what thoughts,
Who is your Guru, whose disciple are you,
What sermon, by which you remain unattached,
We speak, Nanak listen, you boy,
For these words, give us your thoughts,
How can the word carry across the whirlpool.
[The ascetics ask Guru Nanak Dev more questions, regarding what is the root of all things. What should a person think in current times. At last, they ask an important question, that how can the word carry one across life.]
44. Air is the beginning, it is time for Guru’s teachings,
Word is the Guru, contemplation of the sound is the student,
Speaking about the ineffable, I remain unattached,
Nanak, through the ages, Lord God is the Guru,
One word, think on the sermon,
Gurmukh puts out the fire of ego.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers that air is the root, and that the time is for Guru’s teachings. The Word is the Guru, and the contemplation of the word is the student. He remains unattached by speaking about the ineffable God. By thinking on the words of divine discourse of God, one is carried across.
Words in normal life are just considered as instruments of communication, but if we are to consider what is it that we have, which could be of use to the soul and mind, in this life and the next. Then we would realize that it might be words that reach out to our soul and mind, help move them in right direction, and could perhaps accompany them in afterlife. We need to remember that the journey of countless lives is traveled by the soul and not the body, and the provisions, if any, for that journey could not be physical. Name of God is the eternal provision for the soul. Different Names of God define few of the infinite attributes of God, and are part of the sermon or discourse on God.]
45. Wax teeth, how can one eat iron,
By which pride departs, what is that food,
How can one live in house of snow, wear dress of fire,
Which cave, where one remains immovable,
Whom should we know to be pervading here and there,
How can one concentrate, so the mind merges in mind.
[The ascetics ask more questions, regarding how can Maya and pain of the world be transcended, how can pride depart, and how does mind remain immovable.]
46. Ego, me, myself, eradicate from within,
Erase duality, become one,
World is hard for the illiterate manmukh,
Earning word, one eats iron,
Within, without, recognize one,
Nanak, fire is killed, through Guru’s will.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers, that we should eradicate the ego, and get rid of duality from our minds. Life is hard for a person who has little appreciation of the wisdom contained in words. By earning Guru’s teachings, living as per Guru’s instructions, one eats iron, transcends Maya. The fire of Maya can be put out only by Guru’s will.]
47. In fear of the True One, pride departs,
Know One, think on the word,
Word dwells, True One is within heart,
Body, mind, are calmed, colored with color,
Lust, anger, poison, fire depart,
Nanak, through the blessing of the beloved.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues to answer, that the fear of God, takes away pride. By thinking on the Guru’s words, and God, one’s mind and body are calmed. Beloved refers to God. Colored refers to colored with love for God.]
48. How is the face of Moon, cold and dark, enlightened,
How does face of Sun shine so brightly,
How can face of ever watchful Time be turned away,
By what knowledge is Gurmukh’s honor saved,
Who is the warrior, that slays time,
Give a thoughtful reply, Nanak.
[The ascetics ask how can the mind be calm as the Moon, how can the Sun of wisdom shine in the mind. How can one escape from the ever present fear of death.]
49. Uttering the word, moon gets boundless light,
When Sun dwells in house of Moon, darkness is effaced,
Make pleasure and pain same, take support of Name,
He Himself carries us across,
Know the Guru, mind merges in Truth,
Praying, Nanak, time does not eat.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers that by uttering Guru’s words the mind is calm as the Moon. When the Sun of knowledge is present in the calm mind, only then is the darkness of ignorance removed. Prayer and God’s Name are a great help and support to a person.]
50. The essence of Name, is known to the be the best,
Without Name, pain, time torment,
Essence finds essence, mind agrees,
Duality departs, one enters the house of One,
Air speaks, sky thunders,
Nanak, one easily meets with the unchanging Lord.
[Guru Nanak Dev says that the mind is satisfied when the essence of mind, soul, merges in God.]
51. Within is absolute void, without is absolute void, absolute void fills the three worlds,
Fourth state of the absolute void, who know, are free from virtue and vice,
In each and every heart, absolute void, who know this secret,
Timeless Being, Pure, Lord,
One who is colored with the Pure Name,
Nanak, such a being is Master of Destiny.
[Absolute void refers to the formless state of God, which is present everywhere. Fourth state means a state which is apart from the three worldly states of Rajo, Tamo, and Sato. One who realizes that God exists everywhere is himself God, has merged with God, one who is colored by God’s Name is himself the master of destiny.]
52. Absolute void, everyone talks of it,
Where is the absolute void,
Who are they, who are colored with absolute void,
They are like that, from what they originated,
They are neither born nor die, nor come and go,
Nanak, Gurmukh instruct their mind.
[The ascetics ask about the absolute void, the formless state of God. Guru Nanak Dev answers that people who are colored by the absolute void, God, are like God himself. They are free from transmigration.]
53. Nine doors fulfilled, tenth is full,
There absolute void resounds the music,
See the True Creator ever present,
Each and every place, Truth exists,
Hidden speech is revealed,
Nanak, such a one knows Truth.
[The body is believed to have nine physical doors, while the tenth door remains hidden. When the nine doors are satisfied, the tenth door is revealed. In the tenth door, the sound of the absolute void, God, is revealed. Then the person finds God ever present. The person to whom the hidden speech is revealed, such a person comes to know God.]
54. Effortlessly meeting God, peace happens,
Gurmukh is awake, does not sleep,
Enshrines the word of limitless absolute void,
Speaking the word, is free, and saves others,
Who act on Guru’s teachings, are colored with Truth,
Nanak, lose self, meet God, and be not separate.
55. Wrong thinking is chewed, what is that place,
Why is the essence not realized, one gets hurt,
Tied to Death’s door, no one can help,
Without the word, no honor remains,
How can one understand, and go across,
Nanak, illiterate manmukh does not understand.
[The ascetics ask, how can false thinking, delusions, be destroyed. Why does a mortal not realize the truth, and get hurt. Guru Nanak Dev replies that in the face of death no one can help, and again emphasizes the importance of words. The yogis ask how can true understanding come. To which Guru Nanak Dev replies that the Manmukh, who is not open to consider and accept wisdom, cannot understand.]
56. Wrong thinking is erased, by contemplating on Guru’s words,
Meeting the true Guru, one finds the door to liberation,
Manmukh does not understand the essence, burns away,
False thinking separates, causes hurt,
Accepting the Will, blessed with all virtues and wisdom,
Nanak, find honor in the Court.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers that the false thinking can be removed by contemplating the words of a Guru. False thinking is the cause of duality and delusion. He emphasizes that we should accept Will of God (whatever happens is the Will of God).]
57. True merchandise, one finds wealth,
Swims across, carries others across,
Effortlessly colored, one understands, finds honor,
The price of such, no one can estimate,
Wherever I look, there God is present,
Nanak, cross over, love Truth.
[Guru Nanak Dev stresses that one who recognizes true wealth, God’s Name, swims across, and helps others as well. Being colored with God’s Name and love, one understands. Such a person is priceless. One who loves Truth, God, crosses over.]
58. Where does the word dwell, speaking which, one can swim across the whirlpool of the world,
Breath, exhaled, extends to seven fingers of length, speak, what is the support,
Mind, speaks, plays, how can it be stilled, how can one see the invisible God,
Listen Yogi, Nanak speaks in humility, instruct your mind,
Gurmukh contemplates the True word, by grace one meets,
He is wise, He sees all, by perfect destiny one merges.
[The yogis ask, where does the word live, which can help us swim across. And what is the support for breath. How can mind be calmed, and how can one see God. Guru Nanak Dev replies, that a Gurmukh thinks over the True words.]
59. The word is ever present, God is invisible, I see Him wherever I look,
Like air, absolute void is ever present, He is the support of all qualities and no qualities,
By Grace, word comes to dwell in the heart, doubt leaves from within,
Body and mind become pure, pure speech, Name abides in the mind,
Word as Guru, swim across the whirlpool, here and there know One,
No Signs, no color, no darkness, no Maya, Nanak, word recognizes.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues the reply that the Word is present everywhere. The invisible God can be seen everywhere. Like air, God is ever present, and is support of all things. By grace of the God and Guru, when the True word comes to abide in the heart, then doubts depart. Name of God comes to abide in such a person and the person becomes pure in mind, body and speech. Guru Nanak Dev tells to consider the True Word as the Guru, and swim across the whirlpool of life, and know always God as One. The God, who has no attributes, is recognized with help of words.]
60. O Yogi, of the exhaled breath, seven fingers long, True absolute void is the support,
Gurmukh speaks the essence, churns, contemplates the Invisible and the Limitless,
Erasing the three qualities, enshrining the word, then, ego is lost,
Inside and out, know One, then Name of God is loved,
Understands the Sushmana, Ida, Pingala, when the unseen God Himself reveals,
Nanak, Truth is above the three, the word of the True Guru merges.
[Guru Nanak Dev answers that God Himself is the support of breath. Ego and pride are lost when one is free from the three qualities of Tamo, Rajo and Sato. When a person knows the same God abiding inside and outside, then one loves the Name of God. He understands the central spiritual nerves of the body, when God Himself reveals. God is beyond the three nerve channels and the word of the Guru alone can help in merging with God.]
61. Air is said to be the life of mind, what does air feed on,
Way of wisdom, what is it for a Yogi, what is the earning of a siddha,
Without word, taste does not come, O Yogi, the thirst of ego does not depart,
Colored with word, find the taste of elixir, remain fulfilled with Truth,
What wisdom, by which one can remain steady, what food satisfies,
Nanak, see alike pleasure and pain, through True Guru time does not consume,
[The ascetics ask, what does air feed on, air, which is the life of mind. What is the true way and earning of a yogi. Guru Nanak Dev replies that without the True Word, the thirst of ego cannot be quenched. But one who is colored with the love of the True Word, finds the true elixir, and remains satisfied with Truth. The yogis ask what is the food and wisdom by which one remains steady. Guru Nanak Dev replies that by seeing pleasure and pain alike one remains steady.]
62. Not colored in color, nor intoxicated with love,
Without Guru’s words, burn, strength is consumed,
Does not preserve the drop of seed, nor utters the word,
Does not control breath, does not worship the True God,
Unspoken narrative, remains balanced,
Then, Nanak, mind attains the Lord.
[Guru Nanak Dev warns that one who is not colored with love for God, does not find Guru’s words, and spiritually burns and feels exhausted. But one who speaks of the ineffable God, remains balanced, and finds God.]
63. By Guru’s Grace, one is colored,
Drinking elixir, intoxicated with Truth,
Contemplating the Guru, fire within is put out,
Drinking the nectar, soul finds peace,
Worshiping the True One, Gurmukh crosses over,
Nanak, contemplating some understand.
[Guru Nanak Dev tells that one is colored by love for God, only by the grace of the Guru. One who continually thinks of God, and contemplates Guru words, finds peace. But such a one is rare, who thinks over the Guru’s words and understands. Elixir is the Name of God. Any name referring to the Supreme Being, God, is elixir.]
64. This mind, elephant, where does it rest, where does this air reside,
Where does the word reside, O yogi, so that the mind’s wandering may cease,
By Grace one meets True Guru, then in home, this mind finds rest,
Self eats self, then one becomes pure, running mind rests,
How can one recognize the essence, know self, how can Sun enter the house of Moon,
Gurmukh eradicates ego from within, then, Nanak, then naturally merge.
[The Siddhas ask where does the elephant, the mind, rest. Where does the air live. Where does the word reside which can help in calming the wandering mind. Guru Nanak Dev answers that by meeting the True Guru, the mind rests in self. When one eats self-pride and ego, then one becomes pure and mind rests. The yogis ask, how one can recognize the essence, God, recognize self. Guru Nanak Dev replies that by eliminating ego one merges in God. How can mind be calmed, Sun enter the house of Moon.]
65. This mind, stable, resides in the heart, Gurmukh recognizes the essence,
In the navel, the air resides, Gurmukh, searching, realizes self,
The word, continuously resides in home of self, light of three worlds abides in the word,
Hunger for God, eats pain, one is satisfied with the True God,
The unstruck speech, Gurmukh knows, rare ones understand,
Nanak speaks, speaks truth, the color of Truth never goes away.
[Guru Nanak Dev continues the reply, that when the mind is stable it resides in the heart. Gurmukh recognizes God. Air resides in the navel. Gurmukh after searching realizes self. The word resides in self, and word is the light of all the worlds. Gurmukh realizes the unspoken speech and words.]
66. When this heart, body, did not exist, then where did mind reside,
When there was no support of navel lotus, then in which home did air reside,
When there was no form or shape, then where was the word absorbed,
When there was no creation by sperm and egg, then no value could be estimated,
When color, dress, form could not be seen, then how could God be known,
Nanak, one who is colored with the Name is an ascetic, now and then they see the True One.
[The ascetics ask where mind resided when there was no heart or body. Where did the air reside when there was no support of the navel. When there was nothing then where did the word exist. When there was no creation, then could the value of God be estimated. Before color, form, were created how could God be known. Guru Nanak Dev replies that one who is colored with God’s Name see the True God always.]
67. Heart, body, did not exist, O yogi, then the mind was detached and in the Absolute Void,
Without the support of navel lotus, air remained in its own home, unattached,
Without form, or shape, or caste, word was alone with God,
Without world, sky, the three worlds were filled by the light of God alone,
Color, dress, form were One, One wondrous word,
Without Truth, pure is no one, Nanak, this is the unspoken speech.
[Before heart and body existed the mind was absorbed in the absolute God. Air abided within self, unattached to any other thing. Before the creation, the word existed with God, alone. Before the worlds were created, God alone existed. Everything was word in the beginning. Guru Nanak Dev explains the unspoken speech, that without the Truth, God, no one is pure.]
68. What way, what way, did the world come about, man, what way, what pain would end the world,
From ego the world comes about, man, by forgetting Name pain comes,
By being a Gurmukh, contemplate the essence, ego is burnt by the word,
Body, mind become pure, pure speech, remain merged in Truth,
Through Name, remain unattached, keep Truth enshrined within,
Nanak, without Name, union is never attained, think within and see.
[The ascetics ask from where the world comes about. Guru Nanak Dev replies that the world comes from ego, and by forgetting God’s Name pain comes. Guru Nanak Dev emphasizes that without the Name of God, union with God cannot be attained, he asks the yogis to think this over, and understand. Name of God is a jewel, and only some aspects of its value can be understood. Also, a more detailed description of Name of God is beyond the scope of the present text.]
69. Some Gurmukh think on the true word,
To Gurmukh true speech is revealed,
Gurmukh’s mind is drenched, some rare understand,
Gurmukh dwells in the home of self,
Gurmukh recognizes the way of yoga,
Gurmukh, Nanak, knows One.
[Guru Nanak Dev explains that to a Gurmukh Truth is revealed, True speech and words are revealed. Such a person is drenched with love for God and Guru’s words.]
70. Without serving the True Guru, union is not attained,
Without meeting the True Guru, no one is liberated,
Without meeting the True Guru, Name cannot be found,
Without meeting the True Guru, begets great pain,
Without meeting the True Guru, great darkness of ego,
Nanak, without Guru, one dies, losing life.
[Guru Nanak Dev stresses the importance of Guru, a spiritual mentor, who can convey the wisdom. The importance of meeting a True Guru, and serving Him (service of True Guru, the words of wisdom, is the contemplation of the words). Without a True Guru, the game of life is wasted uselessly.]
71. Gurmukh wins over mind, killing the ego,
Gurmukh keeps Truth enshrined within,
Gurmukh wins over world, beats away Jamkal,
Gurmukh does not lose in the Court,
Gurmukh whom God unites, knows,
Nanak, Gurmukh recognizes the word.
[Guru Nanak Dev again highlights the qualities of a Gurmukh. Gurmukh kills the ego (after taking control of one’s mind), and recognizes the true words. A normal person may not recognize words of wisdom when truth is conveyed to them. Gurmukh does not lose in the Court of God. Gurmukh beats away the messenger of death; through remembrance and devotion to God (meaning of death, in context of the eternal soul, is different from the popular definition of the term, as applied to physical body). Death when applied to the soul refers to a state, which leads to rebirth in a physical body, and considering number of times the soul has been through this cycle, it may not be very desirable. From this perspective, the alternative to death, for the soul, is to be free from the bondage of transmigration.]
72. Final word on word, hear you, O Yogi, without Name there is no union,
Colored by Name, happy day and night, through Name one finds peace,
Through Name only, everything is revealed, through Name, understand,
Without Name, many are dressed up, True One has himself confused,
Name is obtained from True Guru, O Yogi, only then one finds the way of yoga,
Think, see in the mind, Nanak, without Name, there is no liberation.
[Coming to the close of the conversation, Guru Nanak Dev again emphasizes the importance of words. Without Name of God, there can be no union with God. Through the Name of God, one finds peace, and true understanding. Without the True Name, many have been confused, but outwardly wear religious and spiritual dress. Guru Nanak Dev asks the yogis to think this over, and realize that without the Name of God, there can be no liberation; the Name of God is the only priceless jewel that we can earn in this game of life, which will be of eternal value.]
73. Your state and extent, only You know, what can anyone say,
You yourself are hidden, yourself manifest, yourself experience all colors,
Sadhus, adepts, guru, many students, wander seeking, as per Your will,
Asking Name, get this beneficence, are a sacrifice to Your vision,
The imperishable Lord has staged this play, Gurmukh understands,
Nanak, through all ages, He Himself experiences, there is no second.
[Guru Nanak Dev tells that complete understanding of God is known to God alone. God has staged this play of the world, and God is present everywhere, in all things, and Himself experiences all creation, there is no other being experiencing the world. Many people wander seeking God, as per His Will. And some asking for His Name, receive the Name of God.]
References and further reading
Sach Khoj Academy Videos and Texts
Sidh Gosht, Mr. Kirpal Singh Chandan, Sikh Missionary College
Translations and commentary on by Prof. Sahib Singh, Bhai Manmohan Singh, Dr. Sant Singh Khalsa, and Fareedkot teeka
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About the author:
I have been working in the software industry for some time, and like to read in free time, watch informative videos, or go for long walks. I like learning about different religions and spiritual subjects, and am especially interested in learning and understanding the words of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Present work is my first translation, to share my understanding of the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, and I hope readers would find it helpful in their own journey in life.
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A Spiritual Discourse is an English translation of ‘Sidh Gosht’, a discussion between Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, and a group of Master Yogis, Siddhas. In the composition the Siddhas ask Guru Nanak Dev spiritual questions, and Guru Nanak Dev answers them. ‘Sidh Gosht’ is part of a larger text, Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which is the present Guru of the Sikhs. The present translation tries to present a literal translation, with a simple and concise presentation, keeping the metaphors intact, wherever possible (although the rhyme of the original text could not be maintained). The main intention of the present translation is to present the meaning of the original text, as per my understanding. Conversational English has been used. Where it is felt that an explanation may help in understanding the meaning of text, brief explanation has been added.