THE DIALOGUE TO DATE
"The Socially Active Renunciate" was the moniker we used to discuss Guru Nanak's ideal person - a Gurmukh. The stanzas under consideration contrasted Guru Nanak's vision of an ethical and moral life (and therefore the basis of an ideal society) with those of the naath yogis.
There was never any doubt - or disagreement - during our discussion that Guru Nanak was unequivocal in declaring that the yogi, like the brahmin and the qazi, had gone astray - " ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ" [GGS:662]. He dismissed their external symbols and esoteric practices, stressing instead, the need to cultivate virtues like contentment, compassion, reflection and dignity of labor.
Guru Nanak also questions the yogi's abstention from worldly involvement - an impetus that we saw was directly tied to the hindu view of an illusory and unreal world. In contrast, Guru Nanak has persistently - and repeatedly - stressed that the world is the true handiwork of the Creator, "Nanak sachi ke sachi kar," and an arena for the practice of righteous action to achieve a just society.
We are partners and true co-creators with Hukam and alignment with it becomes our true goal.
One strand of thinking that persisted throughout our discussion seemed to lament the fact that "we search for something larger, magical, mystical, vismaadic or divine and it never departs from our consciousness. And in the process very few of us pick up the practical knowledge and wisdom hidden therein, ready for assimilation, use and benefit. Even during the interpretative process, our perception is mostly motivated towards the divine only." Unless I am mistaken it was somewhat evident in this study as well.
This view suggested that ‘like an algebra class, the learning of the Japji text is over. In these stanzas, Guru Nanak is using many more examples to practice what we have learned so far, like a tutorial."
The hope was that there would be some discussion around it. We will return to this topic in our current discussion since this is an important point.
THE MESSAGE - Stanzas 32-33
The generally accepted (traditional) interpretation of stanza 32 is that Guru Nanak is here describing the methodology of what is commonly known as Simran or Naam Japna. The process starts with mechanical repetition of the tongue which in turn triggers a deepening awareness that leads ultimately to the center of one's being. The spiritual accomplishment of those who have practiced this discipline invariably provokes a desire in those less successful to imitate - or put it another way, the real thing always inspires counterfeits. In the end, though, Grace is the clincher.
Like stanza 32, stanza 33 is conventionally thought of as a statement of the degree to which humans have conscious will - that is, the power to effect true change. Guru Nanak here seems to be reminding us that it is the force of the Creator that runs the writ around here. We are able to do the things we do simply because the force of this Creator runs through us as well and gives us our inherent capacities.
The word "jugat," which appears in line 6 of stanza 33, " ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਜੁਗਤੀ ਛੁਟੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ" is of special interest. It has various connotations in Gurbani but for our purposes, we will focus on its meaning as method or way of life.
We need to dwell on what this way of life is that will lead us to the Truth - "ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਜਾਣੈਜੀਉ" [GGS:468] and can be received only from the Guru, "ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈਜੁਗਤਿ"[GGS:522]
Could it be that the real import of line 6 in stanza 33 is not what is generally believed - that we have no skill or method to traverse the course of life? I would suggest that if we pause after 'na', as "ਜੋਰੁ ਨ, ਜੁਗਤੀ ਛੁਟੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ" the meaning changes dramatically - it suggests that success (in any endeavor) rests on the cultivation and practice of the right method which includes the skills mentioned in the previous line, "ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ" understood as reflection, thought, and knowledge.
There is also the notion of "jot-jugat" in gurbani, alluding to spiritual experience and way of life and how this experience was passed from Guru to Guru,” ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ" [GGS:966]. What experience and way is being transferred here?
In looking to the Guru for the right way, one discovers that virtually every reference to "jugat" or way is accompanied by the need to understand Hukam. Is stanza 32 a description of a technique or is it a statement against mechanical repetition?
THE TEXT - RENDERED IN ENGLISH
ਇਕ ਦੂ ਜੀਭੌ ਲਖ ਹੋਹਿ ਲਖ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਲਖ ਵੀਸ ॥
If I had a million tongues, multiplied twenty-fold more,
ਲਖੁ ਲਖੁ ਗੇੜਾ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਗਦੀਸ ॥
And a million times each tongue proclaimed Your Name.
ਏਤੁ ਰਾਹਿ ਪਤਿ ਪਵੜੀਆ ਚੜੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਇਕੀਸ ॥
That is the path, whose steps ascend to You.
ਸੁਣਿ ਗਲਾ ਆਕਾਸ ਕੀ ਕੀਟਾ ਆਈ ਰੀਸ ॥
Hearing of the sky, crawling ants wish to fly
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਕੂੜੀ ਕੂੜੈ ਠੀਸ ॥੩੨॥
Nanak, through Your Grace are we but received - all else is drivel. //32//
ਆਖਣਿ ਜੋਰੁ ਚੁਪੈ ਨਹ ਜੋਰੁ ॥
The power to speak or remain silent is not ours,
ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਮੰਗਣਿ ਦੇਣਿ ਨ ਜੋਰੁ ॥
Nor the power to beg and grant
ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਜੀਵਣਿ ਮਰਣਿ ਨਹ ਜੋਰੁ ॥
Life and death is beyond our control.
ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਰਾਜਿ ਮਾਲਿ ਮਨਿ ਸੋਰੁ ॥
The power to rule, to acquire, or even calm the mind is not ours
ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥
Nor the power to remain mindful, reason or contemplate
ਜੋਰੁ ਨ ਜੁਗਤੀ ਛੁਟੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥
The way to deliverance is beyond our ken
ਜਿਸੁ ਹਥਿ ਜੋਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਸੋਇ ॥
Only You have the power to create and to tend
ਨਾਨਕ ਉਤਮੁ ਨੀਚੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥੩੩॥
Nanak, none is low or high in Your presence. // 33//