Night and day, the days of our lives wear away. Night and day both bear witness
to this loss.The blind, foolish, Manmukh (material being) is not aware of this;
death is hovering over his head (sggs 1061).

The ancient Indian system divides the night into four parts called Pahar. Mortal's life is compared by the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) to these four parts or watches of the night. It further explains to us as to how we mortals waste each part of our life-night in vain (sggs 74). Also, the Gurbani shows us as to how we can make the best use of each part of our life-night.

As the night has beginning and end, so does the human life. Both are born; both go through childhood and youth before becoming old and weary; and ultimate, both vanish. Thus, one thing is permanent in life: Change. Body is born, it goes through changes every moment of its existence, and ultimately it dies. This is the story of mortal's entire life-night.

First Part of The Life-Night

As indicated in the Gurbani, it is in accordance with the Hukam (Divine Law...) that Soul is placed into the womb. In upside-down position, we dwell in the utter darkness and heat of  the womb for close to ten months. How does the Jeev (individual being) survive there? 

This life is given for the sole purpose of re-establishing our lost relationship with our Mool (JSource, Origin, Jot...). As one is born into this world of names and forms, his material mother and father are delighted to see his face. Caught in emotional attachment, Maya, they love their newborn. This emotional attachment to family members and worldly affairs is compared by the Gurbani to "a ocean of fire, worst pain and anxiety, ruins, deep dark pit, horrible hell, something totally worthless, cursed living, illusion, passing shade of a tree, ignorance,  foolishness, intoxicants, pool of mud", etc.

How can this first part of life be saved? At this stage, infant's mind is innocent — free of emotional attachment or false ego.  Without meditation, however, one is sure to get drowned in the love of duality (Doojaa Bhaav). Therefore, in the very onset, the Gurbani reminds us not to get caught in emotional attachment to the child, instead, one must remember and reflect upon the Divine to whom the child belongs. Such pious family environment also helps the infant develop Spiritual inclinations instead of material or evil instincts. 

The Gurbani says that we harvest and eat exactly what we have planted for ourselves in this body field (Khet). Further, if the seed is planted on right time, it will bring the best harvest. Similarly, if the seed of  God's Name is planted in this first Pahar or first part of one's life, it will certainly grow into a healthy tree of Bhagti through the subsequent Parts of life. Otherwise, this very rare and difficult to attain human life will go in vain. Second Part Of The Life-Night

Childhood passes into youth. Through this transition, the child and parents become emotionally attached to each other without realizing that at the end, nothing will be theirs. Consequently, what sustains us in the mother's womb takes the back seat.

Without the seed of Bhagti planted in the first watch of life, one becomes intoxicated with the wine of youth and beauty. The fullness of youth rises in him like waves in the storm, and tosses him around. Day and night, he is engrossed in lust. As a result, the Pure Consciousness he was born with becomes conditioned. Instead of God's Name (Giaan...), all sorts of other worldly tastes seem sweet to him. In other words, the Truth gets replaced with falsehood, binding us to the cycle of repeated pain and delusion. Instead of clinging to the Giver, we cling to His gifts! From parents we pick up the feeling of "I, me, mine, and you", resulting in attachment to the love of duality (Doojaa Bhaav, Maya). Consequently, instead of becoming God-conscious, we becomes body-conscious (egoistic). Blinded by such mental madness, we loose the faculty of discriminative intellect (Bibek-Budhi), and then we cannot distinguish between good and evil. How can we salvage this second watch of life? The Gurbani reminds us here that the road ahead is treacherous, death never devours anyone, and that emancipation comes only by the Purity. Therefore, the Gurbani's advice is as follows: by becoming a Gurmukh (Spiritual Being...), Reflect on the Divine Name. The Gurbani also reminds us that rituals and religious ceremonies are of no use. Third Part Of The Life-Night

The mind of a mortal whose consciousness is focussed on lust and material possessions, gets entangled in worldly and household affairs. As a result, he becomes entangled in emotional attachment to his wife, children, relatives, friends, parents, and so on. Anger and greed follows the lust. With the waves of greed rising up within, one thinks of nothing but how to accumulate more and more material wealth. This is like "gathering poison" (Maya), says the Gurbani.

In such a bewildered state of mind, one becomes completely confused, doubt-ridden and superstitious; wasting his precious time and energy uselessly. Here the Gurbani reminds us again that attachment to material wealth, property, etc., are Maya's trap thus false. In the end, one must leave these behind, and depart alone in sorrow. While caught in the bondage of Maya, it's impossible to practice Dharma. Under the influence of the mighty waves of greed, one avoids Shabad-Vichaar and Spiritual Company. Before one knows, youth wears itself out, and old age triumphs. The white hair come and land upon the pool of the head. The intellect leaves us, and the wisdom departs. Death draws closer and closer. Now, all one can do is repent for the evil deeds he committed and suffer the consequences.

Instead of gathering "poison" (Maya), the Gurbani's advice is to trade in Dharma. Further, we are urged by the Gurbani to engage in Shabad-Vichaar, so that we can be assured union with our Mool within.

Fourth Part Of Life-Night

At this stage of the life-game, one's body grows old and weak, eyes go blind and cannot see, ears do not hear any words, tongue is unable to taste or speak, shoulders are weighed down by the tyrant of old age, he lives only with the help of others, and finally breath comes to its end. At the final moment, the reaper comes to reap what he has planted in the previous Pahars of his life-night. The death seizes one. All his weeping and wailing then is of no avail. In an instant, one becomes a stranger!

Thus, we get exactly what we practiced throughout our life — we reap what we sow. The entire life-night spent without Spiritual Virtues, wisdom (Aatam-Giaan), detachment, and devotion to the real Mool, etc., becomes consigned to suffering. Thus, for the mentality we cultivate throughout our lives, we, the Manmukhs, suffer.

However, one who practiced Dharma throughout their life-night, and served the Mool within each and every instant comes to realize the Naam-Surti or God-consciousness (Shabad-Surti) at the end (Self-realization). As a result, one becomes a Gurmukh, living liberated, and do away with the pains of repeated suffering.  On the contrary, one who does not realize the Mool, remains a Manmukh. Thus, the Gurbani teaches us to know Mool, and we must take pleasure in loving devotion (Bhagti) while keeping the Mool . Upon becoming immersed in the Mool within, one enjoys undivided ecstasy within, and do away with the effects of pains of birth, old age, disease, and death.

— T. Singh

Updated on Thursday, March 15, 2012 3:18 PM (PST)

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