JOTI SVAROOPA - THE ORIGINAL STATE

Thus says Nanak: O my mind, you are the embodiment or the
True Image of the Divine Light (i.e., God) -
recognize your Mool (Origin, Source...). ||5|| (sggs 441).
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All forms are a result of the play of the five elements or Maya, including the human body. With the form of the body, false ego-sense appears. False ego-sense means accepting this body as oneself. All our miseries or sufferings begin after this false "I" consciousness has arisen. Thus in reality the source of our pain and troubles is none other than this psychological construction called ego (Haume). Due to material conditionings, the consciousness mistakenly attaches itself to the body, and, in this body identity, it then works through innate tendencies, attributes, dispositions or Maya. In this ignorance, we take our physical body as the base point and see ourselves existing in time and space. When the consciousness or the life-breath deserts the body, dissolution occurs and the false "I-am-ness" along with everything disappears. Just as when there is no sugar, there is no sweetness.

  • ਕਾਇਆ ਮਿਟੀ ਅੰਧੁ ਹੈ ਪਉਣੈ ਪੁਛਹੁ ਜਾਇ ॥: The body is (just) the blind dust (ignorant, innert in itself, etc.), go and ask the soul. (sggs 511).
  • ਕਾਂਇਆ ਹੰਸ ਥੀਆ ਵੇਛੋੜਾ ਜਾਂ ਦਿਨ ਪੁੰਨੇ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਏ ॥: Kaaneiaa hans theeaa vaeshorraa jaan din punnae maeree maaeae: The body and the Soul are separated, when one's days are past and done, O my mother (sggs 579).
  • ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਦੇਹੀ ਕਾ ਆਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਘਟਿ ਵਧਿ ਕੋ ਕਰੈ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥੪॥: Panch tatu mil dehee kaa aakaaraa. Ghat vadh ko krai beechaaraa ||4||: The five elements join together, to make up the form of the human body. Who can say which is less (elements), and which is more (elements)? ||4|| (sggs 1128).

As stated in the preceding verses, the body is made of the five elements. Whatever has appeared due to the play of the five elements has no substance; for it is temporary. When the elements are no longer, the body ceases to be. Only that which was there before the body will remain after the body is finished. What was their prior to the body or what remains after the body is the Ultimate Reality — original, unconditioned, undying, unborn, changeless, self-illumined, timeless, boundless, without name and form, and without identity. And that Universal Principle is "Joti" or "Light" on which this temporary state of ego-consciousness or three qualities of Maya has come and gone. This Eternal Factor is also called God, Waheguru, Parmaatmaan, Raam, Satgur, and so on.

  • ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੀ ਤਤ ਅਨੂਪ ॥: Joti saroopee tat anoop: He is the Embodiment of Light, the incomparable essence (sggs 344).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਖੋਜਿ ਲਹਹੁ ਘਰੁ ਅਪਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੫॥: Nanak khoji lahau ghar apnaa hari aatam raam naam paya ||5||: O Nanak, search and examine your own inner being, and attain the Supreme Soul (i.e., see the All-pervading Lord within), and the Lord's Name ||5|| (sggs 1039).
  • ਏਕ ਕ੍ਰਿਸਨੰ ਸਰਬ ਦੇਵਾ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵਾ ਤ ਆਤਮਾ ॥: Ek kirasanam sarab devaa dev devaa ta aatamaa: The One Lord is the Divine God of all gods; He is the Divinity of the individual Soul (sggs 469).
  • ਆਤਮ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਲਹੰਤੇ ॥: Aatam mahi paarbraham lahante: Within the Soul, find the Supreme Lord (sggs 276).
  • ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨੈ ਸੁ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੇ ॥: Aatam cheenai su tatt beechaarae: One who understands his own Soul, contemplates the essence of Reality (sggs 224).

"Joti" (or Jyoti / jot etc.) simply means light. The word "Svaroopa" (or Saroop etc.) is made of two words, namely "Sva" and "Roopa". The first part "Sva" means "your own", and the second part "Roopa" means "true state, true image, true embodiment, etc.". We are That "Joti-Svaroopa" — the true image or true state of God prior to the movement of the false ego-sense (Haume). The true Dharma of the Soul (Mool...) Truth. The Soul has no other religion.

  • ਆਪੇ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੀ ਬਾਲਾ ॥: Aape joti saroopee baalaa: (the Lord) Himself is the embodiment of Light, and the Great (ਸਭ ਦਾ ਵੱਡਾ-Exalted, Eminent, etc.) (sggs 1021).
  • ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਆਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਜੀ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਰੰਗੁ ਮਾਣੁ ॥ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਤਾਂ ਸਹੁ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਮਰਣ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਤਾਂ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਆਈ ਵਜੀ ਵਧਾਈ ਤਾ ਹੋਆ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥ ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Man toon joti saroopu hai aapanaa moolu pashaanu... (sggs 441).
  • ਸੋਹੰ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੀਐ ਸਬਦਿ ਭੇਦਿ ਪਤੀਆਇ ॥: Soham aapu pchhaaneeai sabadi bhedi pteeaai: (When one's mind) is pierced through by the Shabad and is confided (in the Shabad, then one) recognizes within himself that, "He is me" (i.e, then he knows that his Real Nature and God's Nature is one and the same - ਤਦੋਂ ਇਹ ਪਛਾਣ ਆਉਂਦੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਮੇਰਾ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦਾ ਸੁਭਾਉ ਰਲਿਆ ਹੈ). (sggs 60).
  • ਤਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਬਾਈ ਸੋਹੰ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥: Tat niranjan joti sabaaee soham bhed na koee jeeo: The essence, the immaculate Lord, the Light of all — I am He and He is me — there is no difference (sggs 599).
  • ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥ ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥: Tohee mohee mohee tohee antar kaisaa. Kanak katik jal trang jaisaa ||1||: You are me, and I am You—what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves ||1|| (sggs 93).

The Gurbani believes there is only One "Joti-Svaroopa" in all. It is the True Base (Adhaar) or Substratum for all. As ocean is the base of the wave, similarly, the "Joti-Svaroopa" is the Substratum of our ego-consciousness. Ocean is the metaphor for the the Mool, and the wave is the metaphor for the false ego, individual identity or manifestation of the objective world. Our body is the food for this false ego-sense without which the manifestation or Maya is not present. When the wave subsides, only ocean remains, which was there before the wave. Similarly, when the false "I" consciousness subsides, only the "Joti-Svaroopa" remains, which was present prior to the appearance of the physical body.

  • ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੀ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਮਉਲੋ ॥: Joti saroopee sabh jag maulo: He is the Embodiment of Light; through Him, the whole world blossoms forth (1083).
  • ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਸਭ ਵਥੁ ॥: Joti saroop jaa kee sabh vath: He is the Embodiment of Light; all beings belong to Him (sggs 1150).

The Gurbani thus indicates God created the man in His true image: "Joti-Svaroopa". From a practical standpoint, what it means is that if God gave the man His true image than He must have given the man his Divine Qualities as well — truth, harmony, patience, forgiveness, purity, selflessness, love, goodwill, compassion, kindness, contentment, knowledge, mercy, humility, even-mindedness, broadmindedness, peace, joy, faith, moral excellence, discerning intellect, temperance, self-confidence, forbearance, devotion, modesty, sympathy, fearlessness, and so on. But our "Joti-Svaroopa", the Original state of our True Being, is not clearly seen all the times. It is not clearly seen when we let the wall of our false ego stand in the way. When we overcome this false ego-sense, we become one with our "Joti-Svaroopa". A person is good or bad, depending upon to what extent he has been able to eradicate his false ego and manifest the godly Qualities or Divine Nature in him. Hence, as repeatedly reminded by the Gurbani and the wise men, to manifest our "Joti-Svaroopa" through every particle of our being and live a Divine Life must be the goal each one of us has to set for himself.

That "Joti-Svaroopa" — which was present before the birth of the body and which will be there after the body is gone — is also present now. But we neither know it nor understand it. Our animal nature is the cause of this forgetfulness. According to the Gurbani, the difference between our animal nature and our True Nature is as between darkness and light, between ignorance and knowledge, between bondage and liberation, between death and life, between impurity and purity, between falsehood and truth. That is to say, when we think we are the body, then we are not in the state of "Joti-Svaroopa", and vice versa. Thus, based on the mentality we have cultivated for ourselves, some are closer to our "Joti-Svaroopa" in this life, and some are yet far away or even drifting farther apart.

  • ਕਰਮੀ ਆਪੋ ਆਪਣੀ ਕੇ ਨੇੜੈ ਕੇ ਦੂਰਿ ॥: Karmee aapo aapanee ke nerrai ke doori: According to their own actions, some are near (Akaal Purukh or God), and some are far away (sggs 8).
  • ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਮਹਿ ਬਰਤੈ ਆਪਾ ਪਸੂ ਨ ਬੂਝੈ ॥: Jabb lagu joti kaaiaa mahi baratai aapaa pasoo na boojhai: As long as the Divine Light remains in the body, the beast (unenlightened person) does not understand the Self (sggs 692).
  • ਨਿਹਫਲੰ ਤਸਿ ਜਨਮਸਿ ਜਾਵਤੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਨ ਬਿੰਦਤੇ ॥: Nihafalam tasi janamas jaavat braham na bindate: Life is useless, as long as one does not know the Divine (sggs 148).
  • ਜਿਨਿ ਆਤਮ ਤਤੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍‍ਆਿ ॥ ਸਭ ਫੋਕਟ ਧਰਮ ਅਬੀਨਿਆ ॥: Jini aatam tatu n cheenhiaa. Sabh fokat dharma abeeniaa: Whoever does not Realize the Essence or Reality of the Soul (ਆਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਅਸਲੀਅਤ...), all his religious acts are of no value - worthless (sggs 1351).

Therefore, so long the Divine Light remains in the body, we are urged by the Gurbani shunning our animal nature so that we may know our Essential State (Mool). This is the purpose of life. And it cannot be accomplished after death. Once the body-essence has left the body, it will be pronounced dead and useless. Because the moment the body is finished, the memory of life and everything we had prior to death will disappear with it. Just as we have no memory of the period prior to the appearance of the body, similarly, we will not remember anything after its disappearance. That's why time and again we are asked by the Gurbani to utilize each breath or consciousness to unravel the mystery of our "Joti-Svaroopa", while incarnated in this body.

  • ਜਿਤਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਪਾਰੁ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨਿਆ ॥: Jitaa janam apaar aap pashaaniaa: Obtain Eternal Life by Realizing the Self (sggs 522).
  • ਪ੍ਰਣਵਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋਇ ॥: Pranvati Nanak giaanee kaisaa hoi. Aapu pashaanai boojhai soi: Prays Nanak, of what nature is the Giaanee (the Wise one, the knower of the Truth...)? (A true Giaanee is he who) recognizes his (Mool-ਮੂਲ, Source, Origin, Essential Nature, etc.), such (Giaanee-ਜੋ ਆਪਣੇ ਅਸਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਪਛਾਣਦਾ ਹੈ) Understands God (sggs 25).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥: Jan Nanak binu aapaa cheenai mitai na bhram kee kaaee: O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s own self (Mool, Original, or True Nature, etc. - ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one's True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684).
  • ਸੋ ਬਉਰਾ ਜੋ ਆਪੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਨੈ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨੈ ਤ ਏਕੈ ਜਾਨੈ ॥੪॥: So baouraa jo aap na pachaanai. Aap pacchaanai ta eko jaanai ||4||: Man is crazy without Self-realization. When he knows himself (ਆਪਣੇ ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਪਛਾਣ, the Reality of his Being, his True Nature, etc.), only then he comes to know the One (All-pervading Truth). ||4|| (sggs 855).
  • ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਤਮ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਧੈ ॥: Raam Naamu aatam mahi sodhai (sggs 274).
  • ਜੇ ਸਉ ਵਰ੍ਹਿਆ ਜੀਵਣ ਖਾਣੁ ॥ ਖਸਮ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਸੋ ਦਿਨੁ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥੨॥: Je sau varaiaa jeevan khaanu. Khasam pashaanai so dinu paravaan ||2||: If one were to live and eat for hundreds of years, that day (of one’s life) alone would be approved (ਕਬੂਲ, ਭਾਗਾਂ ਵਾਲਾ, acceptable, true, authentic, etc.), when he Recognizes his Lord (his Mool - Source within). ||2|| (sggs 349).

In summary, Aatmaan (Mool...) is the basis or seat and is of the nature of "Joti-Svaroopa". That is our Original Nature or godly status. This all-pervasive Cosmic Consciousness illumines the body, thus is the knower of this body field ("Khet"). So if we wish to see God, the Gurbani asks us to move within and have His "Darshan" in the Aatmaan. The Gurbani further tells us that the one who has realized himself as "Joti-Svaroopa" becomes God-like himself; for God lives in us as "Joti-Svaroopa" in our inner psyche, as our own Self. But we are ignorant of it. To remove this cover of ignorance, the Gurbani wants us to continuously remind ourselves that God is not faraway, but always present within the body.

  • ਜਿਨੀ ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨਿਆ ਪਰਮਾਤਮੁ ਸੋਈ ॥: Jinee aatam cheeniaa parmaatam soee: Those who understand their own Soul, are themselves Parmaatam (sgg 421).
  • ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਬਸਤ ਰਿਦ ਮਹਿ ਖੋਰ ॥:Pritam basat rid mahi khor: My Beloved lives in the cave of my Heart (sggs 1121).

As indicated in the Gurbani, the steps for realizing one's "Joti-Svaroopa" — the state of deliverance — entail eradicating the false ego-sense, renouncing the crooked ways of the objective world, and transcending the three Gunas of Maya. To accomplish this task, the conviction that "we are the Joti-Svaroopa and not the physical body" is must. Shabad-Vichaar is the indispensable aid.

  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥੩॥: Ootam karanee sabad beechaar ||3||: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad - Shabad Vichaar ||3|| (sggs 158).
  • ਪ੍ਰਥਮੇ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਦੁਤੀਆ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਲੋਗਾ ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਦੁਰਜਨ ਮੀਤ ਸਮਾਨੇ ॥ ਤੁਰੀਆ ਗੁਣੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਸਾਧ ਪਛਾਨੇ ॥੨॥ ਸਹਜ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਬਾਧਿਆ ॥ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪ ਅਨਾਹਦੁ ਵਾਜਿਆ ॥ ਮਹਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਸਿਉ ਰਾਤੀ ਧਨ ਸੋਹਾਗਣਿ ਨਾਰਿ ॥੩॥: Prathme tiaagee haumai preet ... (sggs 370).
  • : Gurmukh hovai so mukat kaheeai manmukh bandh vichaare: One who becomes spiritual being is said to be liberated, while the poor materialists are in bondage (sggs 796).

The Gurbani also assures us that this "Joti-Svaroopa" — the Original State or true image before selfish "I-ness" ever dawned on us — can be experienced spontaneously at this very moment. There is no need to go anywhere. We can know the Truth right where we are, in the midst of the happenings of Maya. It is freedom in bondage, or Jeevanmukti while incarnated (the state of living liberated). In essence, it is the mind completely detached from the world, which has withdrawn itself within itself. The best example of this as given in the Gurbani is the lotus flower on the water — it is on the water, but not wet. Similarly, as indicated in the Gurbani, if we live in the world and yet not of it, we can become established in the "Joti-Svaroopa", here and now. That is to say, the real freedom (Mukti) or the spiritual Light dawns when we transcend the relativist realm of time and possession and identify only with the Pure Consciousness within, not with the bundle of memories, habits or tendencies called body.

  • ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥ ਰਹਹਿ ਇਕਾਂਤਿ ਏਕੋ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਆਸਾ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰਾਸੋ ॥ ਅਗਮੁ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੋ ॥੫॥: Jaise jal mahi ... (sggs 938).
  • ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: (Yoga) is attained by remaining unblemished in the midst of the worldly filth (Maya) — this is the way to attain Yoga (sggs 730).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਨਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: Nanak man hee te man maaniya na kish marai na jaayi: O Nanak, through the (Higher) mind, the (lower) mind is satisfied, and then, nothing comes or goes (sggs 514).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org