- Who is a human being? Who am I? This is a fundamental question that many people ponder. This post would present a perspective shared by Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and my understanding of the concepts.
- Difference between a person and God, is similar to difference between a ripple and water. Ripple has its own existence which is an extension or projection of water. Within context of this analogy, assuming water is eternal, ripple is ephemeral while water is permanent.
- Second analogy describing relationship between a person and God, is that of a gold ornament and gold. Same material, gold, is used to fashion many different ornaments. Ornaments could be melted multiple times to make new ornaments, while the essential quality of underlying material, gold, remains the same.
- A ripple attached to its own form of an ephemeral ripple will be troubled by realizing that its existence is for a finite time. A ripple which identifies itself as part of water, will find rest even if it merges back in water.
- A person is separated from God by own previous actions. Union with God is the only option to provide a stable state to a person.
Following verses from Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji present different perspectives to understand self. One important aspect while reading scripture is that the mind has to deal with multiple perspectives and analogies which sometimes are not always comprehensible or may appear contradictory. I find it is a good practice to read scripture with an open mind, take in the ideas without judging them immediately, and letting mind work on them. As time passes and mind gets a chance to think through the concepts, the ideas become clearer.
Reference verses with commentary:
ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥
ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥
ਜਉ ਪੈ ਹਮ ਨ ਪਾਪ ਕਰੰਤਾ ਅਹੇ ਅਨੰਤਾ ॥
ਪਤਿਤ ਪਾਵਨ ਨਾਮੁ ਕੈਸੇ ਹੁੰਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਜੁ ਨਾਇਕ ਆਛਹੁ ਅੰਤਰਜਾਮੀ ॥
ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੇ ਜਨੁ ਜਾਨੀਜੈ ਜਨ ਤੇ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥੨॥
ਸਰੀਰੁ ਆਰਾਧੈ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਦੇਹੂ ॥
ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਸਮ ਦਲ ਸਮਝਾਵੈ ਕੋਊ ॥੩॥
You, me, me, You, what is the difference,
Like gold and bangle, water and ripple.1.
If I do not sin, O limitless Lord,
How would You be called Redeemer of fallen.1.pause.
You who are Master, are All-knowing,
Devotee is known by God, Master by His devotee.2.
Body contemplates, give me this wisdom,
Ravidas, parts are same, some rare one instructs.3.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 93:27-34]
This verse tells the difference between God and a person (and soul). The soul is the entity which has the ego, and is aware of its separate existence as a person or being. God is the Supreme God, the Creator of the world. The difference between God and a person (soul) is like difference between water and a ripple on the water surface, or like a gold ornament and gold.
In a way the ripple and the ornament are definitely water and gold respectively, but the form and life of ripple and ornament is short-lived. A ripple merges back in water, while an ornament gets melted to create new ornaments.
The verse tells of unique relationship between a Devotee and God. God is revealed by His devotees, while a devotee's power rests in God. Whatever a devotee seems to accomplish and becomes famous for, is the work of God. If a devotee worships a powerless god, the accomplishments would have more talk than substance.
At the end of the verse, Bhagat Ravidaas asks for this wisdom, and points out that few can impart this wisdom, that the parts are same as the whole.
ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥
ਅਨਲ ਅਗਮ ਜੈਸੇ ਲਹਰਿ ਮਇ ਓਦਧਿ ਜਲ ਕੇਵਲ ਜਲ ਮਾਂਹੀ ॥੧॥
When we are, then You are not, now only You, I am not,
Intense gust, like wave in ocean, only water in water.1.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 657:43-44]
When a person focuses on its form of a limited and temporary wave, it misses to see itself as part of the larger eternal ocean. When the soul focuses on its form being part of the ocean, then existence and limitations of a small wave lose significance and disappear. This is an easy concept to explain and understand, but difficult to experience and internalize.
The veil which keeps a soul separated from God, is its own ego. A soul finds it very difficult to see something larger which is based on dissolving its own existence first. It can happen in an instant, or it can take a lot of time.
ਬਹੁਰਿ ਹਮ ਕਾਹੇ ਆਵਹਿਗੇ ॥
ਆਵਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਤਿਸੈ ਕਾ ਹੁਕਮੈ ਬੁਝਿ ਸਮਾਵਹਿਗੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Why we shall come again,
Come, go by command, merge on understanding His command.1.pause.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1103:30-31]
The verse explains that people come and go as per God's command. Coming and going also refer to birth and death. By command I understand a set of natural and physical laws which govern this world. And it is by understanding these laws that people can act such that they are free from transmigration. The laws have been created by God, and are referred as God's commands in the verse.
One of the laws is that people will reap what they harvest. Another law is that salvation depends on whether a human being believes in the power of the Name of God, well enough to be able to remember the Name when it matters. It is only by understanding these laws that a ripple can happily merge back in water, transcending the life of the humble ripple.
ਕਾਟੇ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਤਿਮਰ ਨਿਰਮਲੀਆ ਬੁਧਿ ਬਿਗਾਸ ਬਿਬੇਕਾ ॥
ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਫੇਨੁ ਜਲ ਹੋਈ ਹੈ ਸੇਵਕ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਭਏ ਏਕਾ ॥੧॥
Cutting ignorance, darkness cleansed, discerning wisdom blossoms,
Like water ripple, foam, become water, the servant and Master become one.1.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1209:25-26]
This verse tells that darkness of ignorance can be removed by cultivating discerning wisdom. I believe wisdom can be cultivated by understanding words of wisdom, and ignorance cannot be removed by rituals. Discerning wisdom causes the humble ripple to identify itself as part of water.
ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਪੂਰਨ ਹੈ ਅਲਿਪਾਤਾ ॥
ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਪੂਰਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਬਿਸਥੀਰਨੁ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜਿਉ ਰਚਨੁ ਕੀਆ ॥
The Detached One is perfect in each and every place,
Perfect expanse in each and every place, created like a water ripple.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1236:44-45]
Water is present in all water ripples. Gold is present in all gold ornaments. Similarly God is present in all creation, and all expanse.
ਕਬੀਰੁ ਪੂੰਗਰਾ ਰਾਮ ਅਲਹ ਕਾ ਸਭ ਗੁਰ ਪੀਰ ਹਮਾਰੇ ॥੫॥
Kabir is child of Ram, Allah, all teachers and prophets are our.5.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1349:40]
In this verse Bhagat Kabir calls himself as a child of God. The Names used to identify God are popularly used by different religions. This verse highlights that The Monotheistic Diety is One by definition, irrespective of number of Names used by different religions and denominations to identify The Supreme Diety.
Another aspect presented in this verse is that all saints and prophets of The Monotheistic Deity deserve our respect and admiration, irrespective of religion or denomination. We can learn from all of them.
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬਾਰਿਕੁ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ਰਾਖਨ ਕਉ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਮਾਈ ਬਾਪ ॥੨॥੧॥੧੪॥
O Nanak, child does not know anything, God cares like mother, father.2.1.14.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1341:30]
This verse tells that like an ignorant child is protected by parents, similarly God acts as our mother and father, and protects us. You might ask, why then does God allow His child, a human being, to suffer - for more details regarding this question please refer first verse of a previous post, https://cloudverse.blogspot.com/2019/12/on-action-destiny-and-free-will.html.
ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਹਰਿ ਪਿਤਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮੇਰੇ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਦੇਹੁ ਮਤੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਵੀਐ ਰੇ ॥
We children, my God, Lord, Father, give me understanding, by which I may find God.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1118:10]
This verse again tells that we are like children of God. The verse goes on to ask God for understanding, so that a person might find God. This is an important message in this verse. If we do not ask for understanding, do not seek it, then it is unlikely that we will get understanding. If we do not want to find God, then it is unlikely he will reveal Himself. We need to seek God with the mind of a child, and not like a proud adult.
Few people with a rational bend of mind might scoff at the idea of humbling self before an imaginary entity like God, to seek understanding. A rational mind would rather seek to find concrete steps, which can be replicated at will in a controlled environment, to find and understand God (and prove His existence or non-existence). I personally believe if there are concrete steps that can be replicated at will to find and understand God, then the concrete steps and the laws that govern these steps become more powerful than God - these steps and laws control God. God becomes bound by such natural laws, which does not conform to the definition of a monotheistic God. Personally I have no need for a god who is bound by natural laws, and would argue that such an entity is not even God. Some more thoughts related to these points can be found in my free ebook published earlier on Smashwords, Irrational, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/918120.
ਬਾਲ ਸਖਾਈ ਭਗਤਨ ਕੋ ਮੀਤ ॥
Childhood helper, friend of devotee.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 863:5]
This verse tells that God was our first friend, like a childhood friend. When a person becomes a devotee of God, God again becomes a friend to the person. This is a unique statement. God does not become an overlord to a devotee, which probably God could, but God establishes a relationship of companionship with His devotees. This is one of the ways by which a person could find his or her first friend, by becoming a devotee.
ਅਪਨੀ ਉਕਤਿ ਖਲਾਵੈ ਭੋਜਨ ਅਪਨੀ ਉਕਤਿ ਖੇਲਾਵੈ ॥
ਸਰਬ ਸੂਖ ਭੋਗ ਰਸ ਦੇਵੈ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥੧॥
ਹਮਰੇ ਪਿਤਾ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਦਇਆਲ ॥
ਜਿਉ ਰਾਖੈ ਮਹਤਾਰੀ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਕਉ ਤੈਸੇ ਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪਾਲ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਮੀਤ ਸਾਜਨ ਸਰਬ ਗੁਣ ਨਾਇਕ ਸਦਾ ਸਲਾਮਤਿ ਦੇਵਾ ॥
ਈਤ ਊਤ ਜਤ ਕਤ ਤਤ ਤੁਮ ਹੀ ਮਿਲੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੰਤ ਸੇਵਾ ॥੨॥੮॥੩੯॥
In Own way feeds food, in own way plays,
Gives all comfort, pleasure, taste, merges with mind alone.1.
Our Father, Sustainer, Compassionate,
Like mother preserves a child, similarly God nurtures.1.pause.
Friend, Companion, Lord of all qualities, always permanent God,
Here, there, wherever, anywhere, You are the reality, bless Nanak with service of saints.2.8.39.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 680:27-32]
This verse tells more on the relationship between God and a human being. God is like a parent to human beings, and feeds and sustains them in His own different ways.
You might ask, why then do people die of hunger? I don't know. God has taken care of me well, that is all I can say. Probably people die of hunger because some people have been given free will to hoard agricultural land parcels, and hoard food produce for trade and profit; and such people exercise their free will to hoard and keep food away from others.
Probably the people who die of hunger did not preserve the harvest, to sustain them during winter when there will be no harvest. Earth and human life has its seasons, and a harvest in one season has to sustain people until the next harvest. I believe this is how this world works. Everybody understands this, but few act on it, because they have the free will to ignore the laws and ways of this world. But the laws of this world do not bend to accommodate human trespass.
Whatever be the reason for hunger and suffering in this world, my primary concern has been understanding my position in the larger scheme of things, and not exactly understanding the larger scheme of things themselves. So there is not much that I can say on matters concerning larger humanity in general.
ਅਸਥਾਵਰ ਜੰਗਮ ਕੀਟ ਪਤੰਗਾ ॥
ਅਨਿਕ ਜਨਮ ਕੀਏ ਬਹੁ ਰੰਗਾ ॥੧॥
ਐਸੇ ਘਰ ਹਮ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਸਾਏ ॥
ਜਬ ਹਮ ਰਾਮ ਗਰਭ ਹੋਇ ਆਏ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਜੋਗੀ ਜਤੀ ਤਪੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਚਾਰੀ ॥
ਕਬਹੂ ਰਾਜਾ ਛਤ੍ਰਪਤਿ ਕਬਹੂ ਭੇਖਾਰੀ ॥੨॥
Stationary, mobile, insect, moth,
Many births, made many colors.1.
Such houses we built many,
When we came to womb, O God.1.pause.
Yogi, abstinent, ascetic, celibate,
Sometime sovereign king, sometimes beggar.2.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 325:56-58 and 326:1-3]
This verse tells of the various births that a being takes before and while appearing as a human. To use the above analogies. A gold ornament, a human being, has been melted and recast into multiple ornaments since eternity. A ripple dies to re-emerge as another ripple on the surface of water. And this game continues eternally.
ਭ੍ਰਮਤ ਫਿਰਤ ਬਹੁ ਜਨਮ ਬਿਲਾਨੇ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਧੀਰੇ ॥
ਲਾਲਚ ਬਿਖੁ ਕਾਮ ਲੁਬਧ ਰਾਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਬਿਸਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਹੀਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Wandering, roaming, many births passed, body, mind, wealth did not become steady,
Greed, vice, lust, avarice dyed, mind has forgotten the precious God.1.pause.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 487:22-23]
This verse describes the eternal journey of a soul. Most of us have made this journey, but here too in this life we are unable to find stability. Sometimes wondering when it will be time to leave this life too.
During this journey we forget God, and mind has been dyed by various vices that we are attracted to.
ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਛੋਡਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭਇਓ ਮੀਨਾ ॥
ਪੂਰਬ ਜਨਮ ਹਉ ਤਪ ਕਾ ਹੀਨਾ ॥੧॥
Like leaving water, fish is outside,
Previous birth was devoid of devotion.1.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 326:20-21]
I believe these are very important lines concerning our lives. It tells that the primary reason why a human feels miserable is that one did not practice devotion in previous lives. This verse tells about the seasons of the soul. A soul eats the harvest in this life, that was planted in a previous season or life. If nothing useful was sown, then there will be no particularly useful harvest in this life.
A fish outside water feels suffocated, and unable to move freely. Many people feel trapped in their current lives also, much like a fish out of water. Trapped in places, jobs, family, financial and social obligations, unable to spend their days freely.
An indirect teaching of this verse is that in the season of this life, it will be wise for a person to sow devotion. Practice devotion to One God, which gives eternal harvest, enough to sustain a soul till eternity.
ਹਮ ਕੂਕਰ ਤੇਰੇ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ ॥
ਭਉਕਹਿ ਆਗੈ ਬਦਨੁ ਪਸਾਰਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
We are dog of your court,
Bark in front, stretching face.1.pause.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 969:34-35]
The verses here explain different perspectives which are sometimes difficult to understand when taken together. The complexity of concepts related to human existence make use of analogies essential, and each analogy describe one aspect of existence, but seldom describe all aspects.
Present verse gives an analogy of being of the nature of a dog. A dog guards, is faithful and alert. These are qualities which are essential for practicing devotion also. A person has to guard one's mind from unnecessary thoughts of greed, anger, lust, attachment and pride. A person has to be faithful to the idea of being devoted to God, and not be swayed by other shallow promises. Finally a person needs to be alert to new developments which might shake a person's faith, and protect one's mind from constant attack of frivolous thoughts.
Please refer the last verse in the post, to get a different and more concrete perspective of the basic idea presented in this verse. Why exactly do we need to be alert when God controls everything in this world? Will not God take care? Please refer the last verse.
A more literal interpretation of this verse would be that a devotee also guards the intellectual concepts of a theological system. Presenting the ideas, giving clarifications, and answering questions about a system.
ਅਬ ਤਉ ਜਾਇ ਚਢੇ ਸਿੰਘਾਸਨਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਹੈ ਸਾਰਿੰਗਪਾਨੀ ॥
ਰਾਮ ਕਬੀਰਾ ਏਕ ਭਏ ਹੈ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਸਕੈ ਪਛਾਨੀ ॥੬॥੩॥
Now go and climb the throne, meeting the Lord of the world,
God, Kabir, have become one, nobody is able to recognize.6.3.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 969:30-31]
This verse tells of final state of a devotee. A state in which a ripple realizes that it is just part of a larger water body. A state in which a gold ornament realizes that it's essential nature is gold, irrespective of the form of the ornament. It is in this state that the devotee becomes one with God, and it is difficult to tell the difference between God and a devotee.
Many religious and spiritual systems describe different final states of a spiritual practice. Some promise heaven, some promise nirvana (freedom from transmigration), while others promise spiritual powers. All the possible states may not be mutually exclusive. As per my understanding the final stable state is union with God, a state where a person becomes indistinguishable from the Supreme Entity.
Using the previous analogies, a ripple will never be stable until it realizes that it is all of water, and it leaves its attachment to being a ripple. A gold ornament will never realize it is gold, same as in all other gold ornaments, unless it leaves its attachment to its present form. This form of spiritual practice is essentially about developing a percipient perspective and realization, rather than practicing rituals or discipline. Rituals and discipline can help develop discernment, but they are never the final goal.
ਮਾਟੀ ਕੋ ਪੁਤਰਾ ਕੈਸੇ ਨਚਤੁ ਹੈ ॥
ਦੇਖੈ ਦੇਖੈ ਸੁਨੈ ਬੋਲੈ ਦਉਰਿਓ ਫਿਰਤੁ ਹੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਜਬ ਕਛੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਤਬ ਗਰਬੁ ਕਰਤੁ ਹੈ ॥
ਮਾਇਆ ਗਈ ਤਬ ਰੋਵਨੁ ਲਗਤੁ ਹੈ ॥੧॥
ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਰਸ ਕਸਹਿ ਲੁਭਾਨਾ ॥
ਬਿਨਸਿ ਗਇਆ ਜਾਇ ਕਹੂੰ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥੨॥
ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਬਾਜੀ ਜਗੁ ਭਾਈ ॥
ਬਾਜੀਗਰ ਸਉ ਮੋੁਹਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਬਨਿ ਆਈ ॥੩॥੬॥
Puppet of clay, how it dances,
Sees, sees, hears, speaks, runs and roams.1.pause.
When it obtains something, then it is proud,
When illusion goes, then it starts to weep.1.
Mind, word, deed, trapped in sweet pleasures,
On death, where it goes and merges.2.
Ravidas speaks, world is a wager, brother,
The Architect of the wager, I have come to love.3.6.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 487:13-20]
This verse compares a human body to a clay puppet, and describes the normal state of a human being. Human body is made up of clay for most part, and after death the body merges back to Earth. Like a puppet show, the human body does all the actions like a puppet. As in a puppet show the human body displays pleasure on receiving good things, while it displays grief when it suffers a loss or when an illusion is broken.
The verse further speaks of the pleasures of mind, deed and words, that a person experiences during life, and asks the reader to ponder where does the person go at the time of death. Bhagat Ravidas finally tells that the world is a wager, a place where people place bets, bets with eternal consequence. He further tells that he is in love with the Architect of this world, God.
In this verse, the world is called a sport, a drama, a game, a wager, and God as someone who has set the game. It is difficult to know or understand why this would be so, but that is how it is. Of all the synonyms for word game, I believe the word wager is the closest translation.
Human civilization has progressed for hundreds of years, and made excellent progress, but the very basic questions of theology and spirituality still remain unanswered. I mean these questions have been answered, but there is no way to confirm whether the answer is correct or not. Some of the basic questions on purpose of human life, nature of human soul, and nature of God. People can spend their entire life pondering them, without making any progress on these questions, humanity has spent many centuries.
Many religions proclaim that human actions and choices in this life would affect a person's eternal destiny. And whatever choice a human being makes regarding spirituality or religious matters in this life, it is likely to be a function of faith, and not science. And this choice will have an eternal consequence. From this perspective, this life and world does look like a gamble, making a choice without enough information. The only certain way to win this gamble is to be friends with the One who owns the gambling house and is the Creator of the game. Be in love with the Creator, not because that is the only way to transcend this wager, but also because He has countless other qualities and is our only constant companion.
ਕਿਰਤਿ ਕਰਮ ਕੇ ਵੀਛੁੜੇ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਰਾਮ ॥
ਚਾਰਿ ਕੁੰਟ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਭ੍ਰਮੇ ਥਕਿ ਆਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਸਾਮ ॥
ਧੇਨੁ ਦੁਧੈ ਤੇ ਬਾਹਰੀ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਕਾਮ ॥
ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਾਖ ਕੁਮਲਾਵਤੀ ਉਪਜਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਦਾਮ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਨਾਹ ਨ ਮਿਲੀਐ ਸਾਜਨੈ ਕਤ ਪਾਈਐ ਬਿਸਰਾਮ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਘਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕੰਤੁ ਨ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਈ ਭਠਿ ਨਗਰ ਸੇ ਗ੍ਰਾਮ ॥
ਸ੍ਰਬ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਤੰਬੋਲ ਰਸ ਸਣੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਸਭ ਖਾਮ ॥
ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਕੰਤ ਵਿਹੂਣੀਆ ਮੀਤ ਸਜਣ ਸਭਿ ਜਾਮ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਕੀ ਬੇਨੰਤੀਆ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਦੀਜੈ ਨਾਮੁ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਨਿਹਚਲ ਧਾਮ ॥੧॥
Separated by deeds, actions, have mercy, unite us God,
Wandering four corners, all ten directions, tired, came to refuge of God,
Cow without milk, is not useful anywhere,
Without water, crop withers, value is not created,
Not meeting Husband Lord, how can we find rest,
The house in which Husband God does not appear, such towns, villages are furnace,
All make-up, betel juice, along with body, are all incomplete,
Without God, Lord, Husband, All friends, beloved, are like Jaam,
Request of Nanak, be merciful and give Name,
Lord, God, unite us, God whose home is steady.1.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 133:9-18]
This verse give many different details about our existence. We have been separated from God due to our deeds and actions. Only God and God's home is steady in this world. And when a soul is tired of its eternal journey, or its eternal unsteady existence, it has to turn to God to find stability.
God has been described using many different words like Parent, Friend, Master and others depending on the context of the verse. In this verse God has been described primarily as a Husband. From a spiritual perspective a soul is considered to be a feminine entity (irrespective of the type of body that it resides in), while God is the only spiritual masculine entity**. So in this sense the union of God and a soul is much like a union between spouses, the only thing which will make the soul steady. Without God, all interactions of soul with others only bring it closer to death and transmigration (Jaam, sometimes pronounced yum, is the messenger of death).
The verse finally end with a prayer by Guru Sahib, requesting God to be merciful and grant His Name, and eventually unite us with Himself.
**Note: Verse: "ਇਸੁ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਏਕੁ ਹੈ ਹੋਰ ਸਗਲੀ ਨਾਰਿ ਸਬਾਈ ॥ Translation: In this world, is One Man (Lord), other all are women (wife). Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 591:39" - As I understand this verse is that in essence God has no gender. But when souls manifest in non-physical plane, God is the only masculine principle, while all souls are feminine. While in physical plane souls inhabit bodies of both genders. This is just my understanding, and I hope I am accurate.
ਹਉ ਗੋਸਾਈ ਦਾ ਪਹਿਲਵਾਨੜਾ ॥
ਮੈ ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਉਚ ਦੁਮਾਲੜਾ ॥
ਸਭ ਹੋਈ ਛਿੰਝ ਇਕਠੀਆ ਦਯੁ ਬੈਠਾ ਵੇਖੈ ਆਪਿ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੭॥
ਵਾਤ ਵਜਨਿ ਟੰਮਕ ਭੇਰੀਆ ॥
ਮਲ ਲਥੇ ਲੈਦੇ ਫੇਰੀਆ ॥
ਨਿਹਤੇ ਪੰਜਿ ਜੁਆਨ ਮੈ ਗੁਰ ਥਾਪੀ ਦਿਤੀ ਕੰਡਿ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੮॥
ਸਭ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਇ ਆਇਆ ॥
ਘਰਿ ਜਾਸਨਿ ਵਾਟ ਵਟਾਇਆ ॥
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਹਾ ਲੈ ਗਏ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਚਲੇ ਮੂਲੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੯॥
Am a wrestler of Master,
I met Guru, have High plume,
All have gathered in arena, God sits, sees Himself, Sir.17.
Instruments play, drums, trumpets,
Wrestlers came, circle around,
I floored five strong men, Guru gave pat on back, Sir.18.
All came and gathered,
Go home, changing paths,
Gurmukh go, taking profit, Manmukh go, losing capital, Sir.19.
[Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 74:19-27]
This is a fascinating verse, and I believe very important to understand our position in this life. Shakespeare wrote, "All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;", but it reduces role of people to actors, with no real consequences and make-believe problems.
I believe, as the above scripture tells us, "All the world's a wrestling arena, And all of us are wrestlers. Not fighting each other, but fighting five primal vices." The five vices, or temptations, are Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh, and Ahankar (Lust, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Ego/Pride).
This is a metaphor describing a particular aspect of human existence, a constant struggle within and without, starting from birth and possibly ending at death. A human being is a wrestler who belongs to God, the Master. This life is a spiritual wrestling arena where victory or defeat could have eternal consequences. The five challengers are the fundamental vices who tempt a human being to commit sins, and eventually lose the match. The vices are the root of most of the sins that a human being commits, and not succumbing to their temptations is the primary spiritual battle each of us have to go through in this life. Also in this wrestling match the vices outnumber each one of us, so keeping like-minded good company helps in our battles.
As per my understanding, in traditional wrestling matches in India, the prominent wrestlers arrived on the arenas dressed in turbans and plumes, with accompanying flourish of trumpets and drums. Every person takes pride in following teachings of a Mentor, a Guru, and a high plume signifies the confidence and pride of the wrestler in the teachings of his or her Guru.
As with every wrestling match, there are consequences. There is victory or loss. There is hurt, and bleeding. And most importantly there are adversaries. Presence of a spiritual struggle is a common concept in many spiritual systems, and here we find that more specific details of the struggle have been described.
People ask why is there struggle and suffering in this life? One possible answer is that human life on Earth is a setup for a spiritual wrestling match, the parameters and conditions for which no player remembers till the time of the match. With full and proper knowledge there will be no real match, as people would know the consequences. The prize is eternal destiny of individual soul. Scriptures tell us that during our eternal journey, a soul rarely gets a chance to enter this human life, which is not unsurprising considering the eternal prize at stake.
In this spiritual arena on Earth, people accept teachings of one of the many available mentors, a Guru. And based on the teachings and understanding try to live their life in best way possible, keep vices at bay. Everybody watches the competition, including God Himself. A wrestler goes about life struggling with different vices and temptations, taking action, suffering the consequences of these actions and choices. Sometimes turning out victorious, and sometimes not.
When this wrestling match ends (when individual life ends), our future paths are reset depending on how each one of us perform in the match. Best way to win this match is to be a Gurmukh. Gurmukh is one who has face turned towards Guru, and follows the instructions of the Guru. Guru is a word for a mentor, and implicitly means that the Guru knows the correct path and gives correct instructions. Onus of finding a real Guru, or Teacher, is on each person. I try to follow the teachings of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, although I need to be a much better student.
Best way to lose the match is to be a Manmukh. Manmukh is one who has face turned towards self, towards own ego, and does what a person feels right. Implication being that human life is short, and a human being is unlikely to find real useful knowledge without finding a proper mentor, a teacher who could equip a person with useful knowledge and teaching to live this life, and defeat its various temptations.
The capital with which we enter this arena of human life is number of breaths for this life. For simplicity, I sometimes refer to this concept incorrectly as amount of time we have in this life, or moments in life. Scriptures tell us that when number of breaths are exhausted for an individual, the individual departs from this life (or arena). A Gurmukh is most likely to win something valuable in return for this life, while a Manmukh is most likely to lose the capital (spend life without getting anything in return). So human life is a spiritual wrestling match, with an accompanying wager!