ONE SUBSTRATUM — AADHAAR

ਤਿਸਹਿ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਸਰਬ ਕੋ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥
O my mind, meditate on the One
who's the substratum of all (sggs 51)
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The material world of gross objects, names and forms is finite, temporary and ever changing. But the Infinite Consciousness, on the other hand, which is the Substratum of this fleeting world is Changeless, All-pervading, and Eternal. Behind the apparent multiplicity of this manifold universe, the One Unchanging Substratum (Adhaar or Support) persists in all its splendor. That's the True Self. The Gurbani asks we must embrace and meditate on this One Divinity, which is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent. The scriptures, and the Mahaatamaans of the world generally seem to concur on this point. For example, in the very beginning of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, there is the declaration "Ik Oankaar", meaning "There is One God".

  • ਤਿਸਹਿ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਸਰਬ ਕੋ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥: Tisahi dhiaavahu manu mere sarab ko aadhaar: O my mind, meditate on the One who's the Substratum of all (sggs 51).
  • ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਸਭ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਉਪਾਈ ॥: Oankaar sabh srisatti upaaee: The One Universal God created the entire Universe (sggs 1061).
  • ਤੂੰ ਸਾਝਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਬਾਪੁ ਹਮਾਰਾ ॥: Toon saajhaa saahib baap hamaaraa: O Universal God, You are the Father of all (sggs 97).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦੀਸੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਏਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ॥ਆਤਮ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਕਰਣਹਾਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਨਾ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥: Brahm deesai Brahm suneeyai ek ek vakhaaneeyai. Aatam pasaaraa karan haaraa parabh binaa nahee jaaneeyai: The One Unique Reality is seen everywhere, the Unstruck Celestial Music is heard everywhere, the One Creator is present in all creation; there is none else than He Himself everywhere (sggs 846).
  • ਆਸਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਨਾਮਦੇਉ ਜੀ ਕੀ     ਏਕ ਅਨੇਕ ਬਿਆਪਕ ਪੂਰਕ ਜਤ ਦੇਖਉ ਤਤ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਬਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਬਿਮੋਹਿਤ ਬਿਰਲਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਸੂਤੁ ਏਕੁ ਮਣਿ ਸਤ ਸਹੰਸ ਜੈਸੇ ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਅਰੁ ਫੇਨ ਬੁਦਬੁਦਾ ਜਲ ਤੇ ਭਿੰਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਪਰਪੰਚੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕੀ ਲੀਲਾ ਬਿਚਰਤ ਆਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਭਰਮੁ ਅਰੁ ਸੁਪਨ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਸਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਮਨਸਾ ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੀ ਜਾਗਤ ਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ॥੩॥ ਕਹਤ ਨਾਮਦੇਉ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਰਚਨਾ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਘਟ ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਕੇਵਲ ਏਕ ਮੁਰਾਰੀ ॥੪॥੧॥: Aasaa baanee sree Naamadeou jee kee: Ek anek biaapak poorak jatt dekho tatt soee. Maya chitr bachitr bimohit biralaa boojhai koee ||1|| Sabh Gobind hai sabh Gobind hai Gobind bin nahee koyee. Soot ek man sat sahans jaise ot pot prabh soee ||1|| Rahaaou || Jal trang ar phen budbudaa jal te bhinn na hoyee. Ih parpanch paarbrahm kee leelaa bichrat aan na hoyee ||2|| Mithiya bharam ar supan manorath sat padaarath jaaniaa. Sukirat manasaa gur oupadesee jaagat hee man maaniaa ||3|| Kahat Naamadeou har kee rachanaa dekhahu ridai beechaaree. Ghat ghat antari sarab niranti keval ek muraaree ||4||1||: Aasaa baanee sree Naamadeou jee kee: In the one and in the many, God is pervading and permeating; wherever I look, there He is. (But) a rare person understands this (ਭੇਦ), because (generally the Jeeva - the individual beings) are fascinated (deluded) by the Maya's colorful imagery. ||1|| God is All (i.e., everywhere and everything), God is All (i.e., everywhere and everything); without God, there is nothing at all. As one thread holds hundreds and thousands of beads, So is (God) woven into All (i.e., everywhere and everything). ||1||Pause|| The waves of the water, the foam and bubbles, are not distinct from the water. (Similarly) this manifested world is the Play (Leelaa) of the Supreme Being; reflecting upon it, we find that it is not different from Him. ||2|| (Watching this Leelaa) the man believes worldly objects (ਪਦਾਰਥ) to be True (permanent, etc.), but they are like objects (ਪਦਾਰਥ) seen in the dream (i.e., untrue) - "ਮਿਥਿਆ ਭਰਮੁ " (Mitthiyaa Bharam). Un to whom the Guru bestows Good Understanding (ਭਲੀ ਸਮਝ), his mind stands awakened (from delusion, untruth, "ਮਿਥਿਆ ਭਰਮੁ", etc.), and his mind accepts this (that the worldly objects are Mithiya, unreal, impermanent, etc.). ||3|| Says Naam Dev, reflect upon this in your heart that this is the Creation of the Lord. In each and every heart, and deep within the very nucleus of all, is the One God (i.e., in this entire Creation, only One Lord pervades in everyone and everywhere). ||4||1|| (sggs 485).
  • To God belongs the East and the West: whithersoever you turn, there is the Presence of God. For God is All-pervading, All-knowing (Quran, ii:115). It is He who hears all things, and is (ever) near (Quran, xxxiv:50). He is with you wheresoever you may be (Quran, lvii:4).
  • Infinite worlds come and go in the vast expanse of Consciousness, like motes of dust dancing in a beam of light (Vashishta Yoga). "Experiencing one's own Self in all beings and all beings in the Self, one attains the highest Reality -- and not by any other means" (Vedas, Kevalya Upnishad, 10). "Multitudes of people are like the million dewdrops in which the one sun is reflected. Untold millions of them , but only one sun. So is our relation to the Eternal One" (Vedas). "O God, You are all-pervading, and thus You are everything" (Bhagavad Gita 11:40). "I am in all bengs and all beings in me" (Ashtvakra Gita, 5:4).
  • When asked by the Pharisees where the Kingdom of God lies, Jesus replied: "they shall not say, Lo here, or, Lo there; for behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Bible, Luke 17:21.)
  • Long is the night to the sleepless; long is the league to the weary; long is worldly existence to fools who know not the Sublime Truth (Buddha, Dhampada, 60).
  • Kinhee teraa antt na paaiaa: O Lord, nobody can find you limits (Guru Gobind Singh Jee).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥: Nanak naamu dhiaaeeai sabhanaa jeeaa kaa aadhaaru: O Nanak! Contemplate (think over...) the Naam, the Support of all beings (sggs 29).

Also, it is not as this Sublime and Subtle Substratum is only located "there yonder" or "up there". In fact, there is nothing "up there", which is not within, here and now. In other words, this Substratum is situated within each person - all beings, places and things - equally, here and now. The very Support of our life, it is this Infinite Factor, the Homogeneous Oneness, the highest plane of Pure Consciousness, which runs in and through all and everywhere. This is the Supreme Truth. However, owing to our present conditioned state, we do not see this Truth.

  • ਜਾ ਕਾ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਸਿ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਆਪੇ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਅਕਾਰੁ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਘਟ ਘਟ ਘਟਿ ਸਭ ਘਟ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥੩॥ ਨਾਮ ਰੰਗਿ ਭਗਤ ਭਏ ਲਾਲ ॥ ਜਸੁ ਕਰਤੇ ਸੰਤ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਹਾਲ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਰੰਗਿ ਜਨ ਰਹੇ ਅਘਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਨ ਜਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਪਾਇ ॥੪॥੩॥੫॥: Jaa kaa ant na jaanas koi. Aape aap niranjan soi. Aap akaar aap nirankaar. Ghat ghat ghat sabh ghat aadhaar. ||3|| Naam rang bhagat bhaye laal. Jas karte sant sadaa nihaal. Naam rang jan rahe aghaai. Nanak tin jan laagai paai.: No one knows God's limit. He Himself is the Immaculate Lord (everywhere beyond Maya). He Himself is formed ((i.e. this visible world ), and He Himself is formless. Situated in each and every heart, He is the Support of all hearts. ||3|| Through the Love of His Name (Bhagti or devotion), the devotees become His Beloveds. Singing the Praises of the Creator, the Saints are forever in Bliss. Through the Love of His Name, the Lord's humble servants remain satisfied (i.e. free fom the craving of Maya). Nanak falls at the feet of those humble servants of the Lord. ||4||3||5|| (sggs 863).

To further understand this point of Oneness, consider some of these illustrations mentioned in the Gurbani. Though the ocean is one; however, it is the substratum for countless waves, wave-lets, foam, ripples and bubbles. These waves and wave-lets, ripples, foam and bubbles have no existence apart from the ocean. They all merge out of the ocean, exist in the ocean and ultimately sink themselves back into the ocean. So too is life. The matter ripples out of the Supreme Consciousness to form the universe, and ultimately we all merge back into the Homogeneous Oneness. Gold is the substratum for all ornaments made of the gold. As all golden ornaments are expression of the one gold, upon melting of all ornaments, the gold still remains as gold; nothing happens to it. Golden ornaments have no existence independent of the gold. Similarly, the endless forms of the One Eternal Subject are expression of the very same One Divine Cosmic Power, and they have no existence separate from Him. Clay or mud is the cause of all clay-pots. These clay-pots of countless shapes, colors, efficiencies, names, etc., are possible only when the support of these pots, the clay, exists. So too is the same Divine Consciousness; which is cause and support of individuality in all of us. Beads or pearls of a rosary are fashioned in many shapes and sizes. However, they are strung on one thread common to all. Similarly, the One Supreme Essence or Creator is woven into His creation, by His multi-energies (Adi Shakti). He Himself is the sun and the rays emanating from it. As the rays of the sun spread out everywhere, the One Divine Spirit pervades each and every heart. In the night, one may see a thousand images of moons reflected in as many different pots filled with water. Although the reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same one moon. Similarly, the One Akaal Purukh, the One Timeless Principle, reflects through all beings, things and places.

  • 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).
  • ਮਾਟੀ ਏਕ ਅਨੇਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਜੀ ਸਾਜਨਹਾਰੈ ॥ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਪੋਚ ਮਾਟੀ ਕੇ ਭਾਂਡੇ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਪੋਚ ਕੁੰਭਾਰੈ ॥੨॥ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਸਚਾ ਏਕੋ ਸੋਈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਕੀਆ ਸਭੁ ਕਛੁ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਨੈ ਸੁ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਨੈ ਬੰਦਾ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਈ ॥੩॥: Maatee ek anek bhaanti kar saajee saajanhaarai. Naa kashu poch maatee ke bhaande naa kashu poch kumbhaare||2|| Sabh mahi sachaa eko soyee tis kaa keeyaa sabh kish hoyee. Hukam pashaanai su eko jaanai bandaa kaheeyai soyee||3||: The clay is the same, but the Fashioner has fashioned it in various ways. There is nothing wrong with the pot of clay - there is nothing wrong with the Potter||2|| The One True Lord abides in all; by His making, everything is made. Whoever realizes the Hukam of His Command, knows the One Lord. He alone is said to be the Lord's slave ||3|| (sggs 1350).
  • ਜਿਉ ਪਸਰੀ ਸੂਰਜ ਕਿਰਣਿ ਜੋਤਿ ॥ ਤਿਉ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਰਮਈਆ ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ ॥: Jiyu parsee sooraj kirin joti. Tiyu ghat ghat Ramayeeyaa oti poti: Just as the light of the sun's rays spread out, the Lord permeates each and every heart, through and through (sggs 1177).
  • ਹਭ ਸਮਾਣੀ ਜੋਤਿ, ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਘਟਾਊ ਚੰਦ੍ਰਮਾ ॥: Habh smaanee joti jiyu jal ghataayoo chandramaa: God's Light is permeating all, like the moon reflected in all the waters of the pitchers (sggs 1099).

When we say that the One Creator (Kartaa Purukh) is the Substratum of all, it simply means there is no difference between the Creator and His creation, just as there is no difference between the ocean and its waves, gold and the gold-jewelry, clay and the clay-pots, and so on. Our body and mind create the barrier, which is the cause of apparent differences or diversity where there is none. When the barrier is transcended, the notion of differences disappear. In other words, if we are one with the Supreme Consciousness (Gurmukh state), there is the sense of "Sabh gobind hai sabh gobind hai", and we see the whole universe as our own Self. As the flower is composed of many petals, but is one flower. Similarly, the world consists of many regions, countries, cultures, religions, languages, races, and people, but there is just the One - "Sabh gobind hai sabh gobind hai".

  • ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਵਸਹਿ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਥੋਰਾ ॥: Ghat ghat vaseh jaaneh thoraa: God dwells in each and every Heart, but only a few know this (sggs 562).
  • ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥: The One God is our Father; we all are the children of the One God (sggs 611).
  • ਸਗਲੀ ਜਾਨਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਮਉਦੀਫਾ ॥: Saglee jaan karo mauleephaa: Let your daily worship be the knowledge that God is everywhere (sggs 1084).
  • ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਤੇਰਾ ਰੂਪੁ ॥: Jo deesai so taeraa roop: Whatever is seen, O God is Your form (sggs724).
  • ਏਕਾ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਹੈ ਜੀਅ ॥: Ekaa surati jete hai jeea: There is One Awareness among all Jeeva or beings (sggs 24).
  • ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਮੈ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਇਕੋ ਦਾਤਾ ॥: Sabh jag fir mai dekhiaa har iko daataa: Roaming over the entire world, I have seen the One God is the only Giver (sggs 510).

No one knows the complete expanse of this non-dual Supreme Factor, but He is the knower of all. Further, this All-pervading Eternal Essence is mentioned in the Gurbani to be the Creator (Kartaa Purukh), Timeless or Undying (Akaal Moorti), Unborn (Ajoonee), Self-existent (Saibhang), Unmanifest, Changeless (Nihachall), Formless (Nirankaar), Inaccessible(Agmaa), Unreachable or Unapproachable (Agamm), Unrivaled or Incomparable (Apaaraa), Incomprehensible (Agochar), Invisible (Alakh ), Inscrutable (Abhevaa), Infinite (Beant), Unfathomable (Athaahaa or Agaadh or Agaah), Immaculate (Niranjan), and so on. He contains nothing other than Himself, hence Ever-Pure. He is the Dynamic Truth and Absolute Freedom.

  • ਅਗਮੁ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਮਿਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਗਲ ਘਟਾ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥: Agam agochar mit nahee paa-ee-ai sagal ghataa aadhaar: The limits of the Inaccessible, Unfathomable Lord cannot be found; He is the Support of all hearts (sggs 1221).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥੪॥੭॥੪੦॥: Naanak naam dhi-aa-ee-ai sabhnaa jee-aa kaa aadhaar ||4||7||40||: O Nanak, meditate on the Divine Naam, the Support of all beings ||4||7||40|| (sggs 29).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥: Barahm gi-aanee kai naam aadhaar: The God-conscious being takes the Divine Naam as his Support (sggs 273).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਾਮ ਆਧਾਰ ॥: Gur kai sabad naam aaDhaar: Through the Gur-Shabad, I take the Divine Naam as my Suppport (sggs 1275).

Why this Truth is not apprehended by all of us, all the time? It is because the thick veil of our false ego-sense or Haume (I-am-ness) has blinded us. In other words it is because we have superimposed false self (limitations of the psycho-physical personality) on top of the Real Self (Joti-Svaroopa)! To put it otherwise, in the Infinite Ocean of the formless and peaceful Self, the wind of the finite ego-mind generates the playful waves of manifold names and forms - the phenomena of the universe and empirical Jeeva (individual selves). These all vanish and return to the Ocean of the non-dual Self as the illusion is overcome. The subject of superimposition is further dealt with in the separate article entitled "Superimposition".

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org