What is essential for us to know is what we do not know: the Gur-Giaan or the Shabad-Giaan. Unfortunately, most of the the translations and interpretations of the Gurbani are based on the literal / worldly meanings. However, the Gurbani is Brahm-Giaan (Aatmic-Giaan, Divine Knowledge, Spiritual Wisdom, Divine Teachings, Gurmat...) which is Unlimited, Universal - Omniscience...
For example, literally, ਸੋ (So) = That - ਉਹ
ਥਾਨੁ (Thaan) = Place - ਥਾਂ
ਸੁਹਾਵਾ (Suhaavaa) = Beautiful (ਸੋਹਣਾ)
What is that "Beautiful" place? Is that place a particular building, a particular room in that building, a particular altar, and so on? None of that.
Why? The Gurbani speaks from the level of Aatmaan not from the level of Maya. As repeatedly indicated in the Gurbani, whatever we see with our eyes is nothing but Maya - "Koorh", false, perishable, fleeting, temporary, Mithiaa, etc. Accordingly, the Gurbani urges us not to have hunger for Maya or not to love Maya, but to transcend it.
This material world (Sansaar) is Maya or matter. The subject of the Gurbani is Aatmic-Giaan (spiritual Knowledge, Wisdom...). Therefore, the Beautiful Place (ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ) mentioned in the gurbani cannot be material or Mayaic.
Whenever we see beautiful things (i.e., a beautiful person, a beautiful place, a beautiful object, etc.), we admire them. We become obsessed with their beauty. We fall in love with them. In that moment of enrapture, we think they and their beauty are ever-lasting, and that there is nothing like it.
Physical or external beauty of things in this world is superficial – fleeting, temporary, or time-bound. This is not the Gurbani's subject.
The Gurbani is talking about the Aatmic-Giaan (spiritual Wisdom). We are here in this world to Awaken this Aatmic-Giaan within: learn and understand through the Shabad-Vichaar (to learn is to be a Sikh!), and then live it.
As the Teachings of the Gurbani are Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience, the Gurbani indicates that nothing is more Beautiful then the Heart in which is Awakened to its Joti-Svaroopa (Pure Consciousness, Essential Nature... ) - that is the most "Beautiful" Place.
In other words, the “Beauty” mentioned in the Gurbani is none other than the constant abidance in Aatmic-Giaan (one's Joti-Svaroopa, Mool, the Gurmukh Lifestyle, One Truth, Spiritual Perfection, Jeevan Padvee, Pure Consciousness, Light of Aaatam Giaan, Nowness, Natural State of Being - Sahaj, Jeevanmukti-the state of living liberated, Naam- or Shabad-Surti, and so on). It is through the mirror of Divine Qualities (ਗੁਣ) that one is able to behold his own True Beauty. This “Beauty” alone is.
Whatever one perceives in the state of Pure Consciousness is Beautiful. Whereas, whatever is perceived through tarnished or conditioned consciousness is “filth”.
Thus, it is the Spiritual or Inner “Beauty” referred here in the Gurbani, not external or physical looks (Maya).
In other words, the Gurbani’s Beauty is not in the beauty salons, buildings, etc. As time and again stressed in the Gurbani, the physical beauty (Maya) is fading, vanishing, changeful, deceptive, temporary or fleeting. Accordingly, the bodily beauty in the Gurbani is called “thief”, “useless”, “false”, “enemy”, or simply “fraudulent”. To put it otherwise, any beauty other than the “Beauty” of the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...) is like decoration on a dead body; for one day it must finish. Therefore, identification with it is like living in a grave of the dead body. The Gurbani labors to make us understand the difference between the real “Beauty” and the fading beauty as follows.
The majority of us are unable to see the Wholesome “Beauty” of our True Nature (Joti-Svaroopa, Mool ) for It has become covered with “filth” of ego or Haume. In other words, when the connecting link between Aatmaan and Parmaatam (the Source) is corroded, the inner “Beauty” becomes dimmed or obscured.
The Gurbani here speaks of how the Lord is realized by only those who are Pure in Heart - the Gurmukhs who are linked to their Mool within. Only the Gurmukhs understand the Gurbani, and thus they realize Aatam-Giaan (spiritual Wisdom). Because of Aatam-Giaan, they understand the Source (Joti-Svaroopa). Their Hearts are the most Beautiful Place. They are the Pure devotees.
The Gurbani also calls the body "Harmandir". The gurbani explains that deep in the cave of the Heart, the core of our personality, there resides the same Divine Factor in the body-"Harmandir" of each and everyone of us. It's not only strange, but also tragic and unfortunate that many Sikh writers, researchers or Kathaakaars ignore this very valuable message of the Gurbani. Probably it's by design!
To make it easy for to understand Truth, the Gurbani uses many examples (Misaal), similes, and so on. The cuckoo (Koil or Kokil) loves the mango tree and, in particular, will go and sit only on that mango tree that is mango-laden (or fruit-laden), and there she sings sweetly. Similarly, the Gur-Giaan (the Guru or the Lord's Wisdom) will awaken only in Pure Heart (e.g., the Heart of the Gurmukh). The Gurbani says that Pure Heart is the most Beautiful Place. In other words, since the Guru, the Lord or the Gur-Giaan will not awaken in an impure heart, that heart is "filthy".
Many think as a religious place to be a most beautiful place (temple, Gurdawaaraa, church, mosque, and so on).
To the contrary, the Gurbani observes these places to be the most corrupt places in this world.
In ignorance, many also think and believe that the Lord reside only in temples, Gurdawaaraas, churches, mosques, etc. This sort of ignorance is totally contrary to the Gurbani's Message. The Gurbani's One Lord is everywhere and in everyone (the Infinite Lord pervading the entire creation as omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience Energy) - within everyone, here and now.
In other words, while indeed the Lord - as omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience Energy - does reside in everything in this world, He is Fully Realized or Awakened (as Aatam-Giaan) in the Hearts of the seekers (by becoming like the Gurmukh). Therefore, the Heart is said to be the most Beautiful Place.
Also, the Gurbani's Guru is not the physical body. He is one and the same as the omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience Energy. Akin to the Lord, the Gurbani tells us that the satguru also resides within.
But those greedy and selfish people who really don't want to understand the Shabad (Realize Aatmic-Giaan, Knowledge, Wisdom...) take only a particular building, a particular room, a particular altar, etc., to be the most beautiful places. This is ignorance. This not the Gurbani's Subject.
In the Gurdawaaraas - after "Sukhaasan or Sukh-Aasan" (at night after reciting So Dar Rehraas, SGGS is put to rest in a special room or place) - most of us (over 99.9 percent category) might have heard Bhais (priests, Raagees, Granthees...), reciting "ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥... ".
Many of us (over 99.9 percent category) take it literally. The ignorant and greedy Bhais (priests, Raagees, Granthees...) don't want us to understand as to what the most Beautiful Place is. Because they themselves (being Mayadhaaree) don't understand it. Their only goal is to make money (ਗੋਲਕ!, greeed). So all their activities are Mayaic. In Mayaic consciousness, they are corrupting the Gurbani's true Message, Giaan...
Instead of explaining people the true Giaan of the Gur-Shabad, they find it easy to mislead them. Because, first, they are not qualified. Second, on account of our Bikaars (lust, greed, attachment, etc.), we want something as sublime as God Realization or Aatamic-Giaan and want it cheaply in the form of a "ready-made" package, thus, we put ourselves in a position to be cheated and fooled! The fraud Pujaaree Group and the fraud Sants are successfully cheating us left and right!
We allow them to cheat us. They know that we, in our ignorance, seek material favors of human beings, and asks the Lord for material things (this is not the Gurbani's Subject) as well. Furhter, we seek the company of those who have not performed any Shabad-Vichaar (let alone living the Shabad) and who themselves are badly caught up in worldly life.
The result seems to be that we (Sikhs) are worse off (spiritually speaking) than our ancestors who whatever they were before becoming Sikhs of Baabaa Nanak!
If we earnestly perform Shabad-Vichaar, live the Aatmic-Giaan (Gurmat, the Gurmukh Lifestyle) and refrain from seeking material favors, and from keeping the company of those who indulge in frivolous pursuits, we will be afraid of nothing, not even death.
Here is Gurbani again on the real Beautiful Place (Embellished, Immaculate, Blessed, Pure, ਸੋਹਣਾ, ਧੰਨ...):
The Gurbani indicates that Giaan, Dharma, and Dhiaan are all interconnected and are realized with the true Understanding of the Gur-Shabad. Rest is essentially all fraud of the greedy and clever tricksy (ਚਲਾਕ, ਮਾਇਆਵੀ - cunning, crafty, worldly-wise, etc.) on the name of religion and Gurbani.
— T. Singh
Updated on Monday, March 19, 2012 1:32 PM (PST)
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