There appear to be three distinct but related parts in this stanza. The first part concludes at line 4 (ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਮਲਿ ਨਾਉ) and is a reiteration of the key message from the previous stanzas: that displays of external piety might win us some worldly praise and recognition but are ineffective for true spiritual formation. The destination is not physical travel to an external pilgrimage but a movement inward into the depths of our own being, " ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ" [GGS: 687]. The wisdom of the Guru is the true inner shrine.
The mode of travel inward is attentive listening (sunniyeh) or the art of cultivating the inner ear - that leads to communion with the Word (manniyeh).
The second part stresses the need for the cultivation of virtues or qualities becoming of a Sikh and necessary for the spirit of devotion, here referred to as 'bhagti'. Incidentally, Guru Nanak's "Suchahji" and Guru Arjan's "Gunvanti," both in Raag Suhi in the Guru Granth Sahib, are beautiful expositions of qualities that a Sikh should develop.
By listening to the Guru's instruction, a Sikh develops the qualities that result in loving devotion.
The third part raises questions of the origin of creation. By suggesting that answers to these questions are impossible, Guru Nanak is instructing us not to get bogged down in philosophical conundrums.
This is a meaningful milestone in our journey. Before we proceed next week to stanzas 21-24 - which seem to me to be related in their emphasis on the Infinity of creation and our limited understanding - I would recommend that we take a cue from Guru Nanak and pause here to reflect on what we have assimilated and absorbed so far.
Specifically, let's focus on the development of an ideal person within the context of gurmat.
Different terms (suggesting different attributes) have been used for the ideal person in gurbani such as - sachiyaar, gurmukh, sant, bhagat, gursikh, jan, sevak, and brahmgyani. What different attributes do we discern? How do they all come together in an ideal Sikh personality?
THE TEXT - RENDERED IN ENGLISH
Pilgrimage, austerity, piety and charity
May bring a little recognition - as little as sesame seed.
But listening, believing and loving Your Word
Is true cleansing in the shrine within.
All virtues flow from You - for I have none.
Without virtues, no Devotion is possible.
Salutations to You, the Creator, the Word.
The Truth, Beauty and Eternal
What time was it; what day of the week?
What season, what month - when You brought forth Your creation?
If the Pundit knew, it would be penned in the Puran;
If the Qazi knew, it would be recorded in the Quran;
The Yogi is clueless, as is everybody else;
You, the Creator, alone know the timing of Your Creation.
How shall I speak in praise, or describe you? How shall I know You?
Says Nanak, we pretend to know You by making bold claims,
Great Master, great is Your law; what You ordain comes to pass.
Nanak, any claim to know Your depths can only lead to regret.