First Guru's First Advice

"Visar naahee daataar aapanaa naam daeh."

We, who claim to be Sikhs of Guru Nanak Dev Ji are filled with excitement and enthusiasm during this time of the year, as it is the Parkash Ustav (birth anniversary) of our founder Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The holy Guru Granth Sahib is the repository of the sayings of the Gurus along with other Hindu Bhagats and Sufis. Even the compilation of this Guru Granth Sahib was done by Gurus with their own hands. This makes this repository not only unique in the world, but also a true interfaith scripture. Now, on the occasion of the Parkash Ustav let us try to find the First advice of our beloved First Guru, who was Guru of Hindus and Pir of Muslims.

When we open the Guru Granth Sahib the first composition on the page one is Japji. Guru Ji starts it with an invocation which is known as Mool Mantra, and as it concludes we see the title; Jap - the title of first composition and the word means to recite. This composition is considered as the capsule that captures the essence of the complete scripture. It is believed that the entire Guru Granth Sahib can be considered as the exposition of Jap which is affectionately known as Japji Sahib. Guru Ji has first defined about whom this recitation is about. After the definition there are 38 stanzas that comprise the composition and that is followed by the concluding stanza.

Guru Ji starts the composition by describing the various religious practices of the times to become Truthful. Then in the concluding line of first stanza Guru Ji says that one become truthful by obeying the Hukam or order. In the second stanza Guru Ji has defined what is Hukam or Order. According to Guru Ji, Hukam is program or laws under which the entire universe operates. In the third stanza Guru has described how the human mind attempts to figure out Hukam, instead of trying to find how to comply with it. In the fourth stanza Guru Ji has posed a question on what should we place before God, and what we should utter so that God will be pleased that we have complied with Hukam? Guru Ji answers that question by saying that love for God are the language that will please God. It is the supreme language that will enable us to have conversation with God, a relationship with God and to become one with Him.

GuruNanakDevJi. (74K)In the first four stanzas Guru Ji has talked about the principles and next in the fifth stanza Guru Ji offers his advice by starting a new Chapter on how to conform to Hukam. Here Guru Ji introduces the aspect of Guru and how Guru can help in learning the language of love. Guru Ji declared that Guru is everything that is worth admiring, adoring and emulating. In the concluding line Guru Nanak Dev Ji presents first concrete advice of the Guru as:

gurw iek dyih buJweI ] sBnw jIAw kw ieku dwqw so mY ivsir n jweI ]
"Guraa eik daeh bujhaaee. Sabhanaa jeeaa kaa eik daataa so mai visar n jaaee." (SGGS, Ang. No. 2)
Meaning: The Guru has given me this one understanding: there is only the One,
the Giver of all souls. May I never forget Him!

So, in essence Guru Ji's first advice is that God is provider for everyone and that one should not forget Him. Forgetting Him means not being in compliance to His Hukam. Thus Guru Ji advice is that all our thoughts and actions should reflect that they are in alignment plus compliance of His hukam. The significance and benefit of complying with Guru Ji's advice has been clarified by Guru Ji in a line of stanza six as:

miq ivic rqn jvwhr mwixk jy iek gur kI isK suxI ]
"Mut vich rathan javaahar maanik jae eik gur kee sikh sunee."
(SGGS, Ang. No. 2)
Meaning: Within the mind are gems, jewels and rubies,
if you listen to the Guru's Teachings, even once.

The lives of subsequent Gurus starting with Guru Angad Dev Ji are the living testimonials of obeying the Hukam in their own lives. Now let us see what Guru Nanak Dev says about not forgetting the Hukam of the Creator. Guru Nanak Dev Ji has said:

AwKw jIvw ivsrY mir jwau ]
"Aakhaa jeevaa visarai mar jaao." (SGGS, Ang. No. 9)
Meaning: By remembering it, I live; forgetting it, I die.

Thus for Guru Nanak Dev Ji it is an elixir of life without which it Guru Ji feels like dead. So, we have seen that for Guru Nanak Dev ji and the subsequent Gurus the remembering the Creator and obeying the Hukam is paramount. For us being preoccupied with various challenges of life remembering does not come to us automatically. It becomes challenge for us. Naturally, our mind comes up with its own rationale and justification on our inability to remember the Creator. We are swept in such a strong current that we do not even step back for a minute or pause to check if the proposed action will be in conformance with the Hukam or am I trying to exercise my own judgment and my own thought process. 

So, on the occasion of Parkash Purab we may make our homage to Guru Ji with words of Guru Arjan Dev Ji as our prayer to God:

ivsru nwhI dwqwr Awpxw nwmu dyhu ]
"Visar naahee daataar aapanaa naam daeh." (SGGS, Ang. No. 762)
Meaning: Never forget me, O Great Giver - please bless me with Your Naam.

Let us pray that gracious God will listen to our heartfelt prayer and bless us with His remembrance that we never forget Him and all our actions reflect that thought process where conformance to Hukam was sole criteria. Guru Amar Das has Ji clarified what benefits will those reap who have incorporated the advice of Guru in these words:

nwnk iqnI shu pwieAw ijnI gur kI isK suxI ]
"Nanak tinee sah paaeiaa jinee gur kee sikh sunee." (SGGS, Ang. No. 785)
Meaning: O Nanak, they alone obtain their Husband Lord, who listen to the Guru's Teachings.

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