SO THAAN SUHAAVAAਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥:
Jithai jaai bahai meraa satiguroo so thaanu suhaavaa Raam raaje (sggs 450).
What is essential for all of us to know is what most of us do not know: the Wisdom, Virtues, Gur-Giaan, Shabad-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi...
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...
Literally, "ਸੋ - So" = That - ਉਹ
"ਥਾਨੁ - Thaan(u)" = 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", perishable, fleeting, temporary, false, Mithiaa, etc. Accordingly, the Gurbani urges us not to be attached to 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 a material or Mayaic place.
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 Giaan of the Gurbani is of the Omnipresence Brahm, the Gurbani indicates that nothing is more Beautiful then the Heart in which is Awakened to its Joti-Saroop (Pure Consciousness, Essential Nature... ) - that is the most "Beautiful" Place.
- ਜਿਤੁ ਘਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਥਾਉ ॥: That Heart, in which Paarbrahm abides, is the most Beautiful Place. (sggs 218).
- ਧਰਤਿ ਸੁਹਾਵੀ ਤਾਲੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਜਲੁ ਛਾਇਆ ਰਾਮ॥: Dharati suhaavee taal suhaavaa vichi Amrit jalu chhaaiaa Raam: (Within whom the Lords') Name-Water (that bestows upon one the Aatmic-Jeevan, Spiritual or Divine Life, Gurmukh Lifestyle...) is contained, That person's body-field or body-land becomes Beautiful, and that person's Heart-pond becomes Beautiful. . (sggs 783).
In other words, the “Beauty” mentioned in the Gurbani is none other than the constant abidance in Aatmic-Giaan (one's Joti-Saroop, 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.
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਨ ਕਾ ਰੂਪ ਰੰਗੁ ॥: Hari Naam is the Beauty and Delight of Jan (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat...). (sggs 264).
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇ ਕੈ ਹੋਹੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਭਾਈ ॥: O brother! Contemplating the Divine Naam, become fresh or healed (i.e., Virtuous, Wise...). (sggs 1193).
- “We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every particle is equally related; the eternal One.” (Emerson).
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, decorated rooms, 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.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਹੂਣੀਆ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਧ੍ਰੋਹੁ ॥: Nanak naam vihooneeaa sun dar maya dhrohu: O Nanak! Without the Divine Naam, the beauty of Maya’s illusion — the enchanting world-appearance — is fake (sggs 707).
- Physical beauty too has no importance, for a rosy face is made pale by the scratch of a single thorn (Rumi).
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 Divine 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.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਤਿਮਰ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅਧੇਰੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ ॥: O Nanak! The Divine Wisdom is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh, and the pitch darkness of ignorance is dispelled (sggs 512).
- ਧਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਸੋ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਥਾਨੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਥੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਧਰੇ ਵਿਖਾ ॥੧੯॥: Pauree || Haou balihaaree tinn ka(n)ou jo Gurmukh sikhaa...: Pauree: I am a sacrifice to those Sikhs who have become the Gurmukhs. Those who meditate on the Lord's Name (I want) their Darshan. Listening to the Kirtan (from them), I sing the Lord's Praises contemplate Har-Jas in the mind; with Love I praise the Lord's Name, and eradicate all my sins. Blessed, blessed and Beauteous is that body-place, where my Guru places His Feet ( of Giaan or Wisdom - i.e., that body-place is Blessed in which the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom has Awakened...). ||19|| (sggs 650).
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!
- ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਰਤਨਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: This body is the "Harmandir" (Hari's Temple, but this secret) is revealed by the Jewel of the Divine Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan, Brahm Giaan, Divine Knowledge ...). (sggs 1346).
To make it easy to understand the 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 Divine Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad...) 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".
- ਕੋਕਿਲ ਹੋਵਾ ਅੰਬਿ ਬਸਾ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਹੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਦਰਸਨਿ ਰੂਪਿ ਅਪਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: Kokil hovaa anb basaa sahaj sabad beechaar. Sahaj subhaai meraa sahu milai Darsan roopi appar ||2||: (Kokil or cockoo is known for her love of the mango tree, and resting on it she sings sweetly. If my love for Truth becomes like cockoo's love for the mango tree, then) I become a cuckoo, live in a mango tree (i.e., I love the Lord, Naam...) and by being estabilshed in Sahaj (Natural State of Being - ਆਤਮਿਕ ਅਡੋਲ ਅਵਸਥਾ) I would contemplate (focus my consciousness on) the Shabad. (Because, only by being estabilshed in Sahaj - Natural State of Being, ਆਤਮਿਕ ਅਡੋਲ ਅਵਸਥਾ) I would meet and Darshan the Beautiful Lord. ||2|| (sggs 157).
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 Divine is everywhere and in everyone (the Infinite Lord pervading the entire creation as omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience Energy) - within everyone, here and now.
- ਜਿਹ ਧਿਰਿ ਦੇਖਾ ਤਿਹ ਧਿਰਿ ਮਉਜੂਦੁ ॥: Jih dhhir dekhaa tih dhir moujood: Wherever I look, there I see (the Divine) Presence (sggs 84).
- ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਪਸਰਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ ॥: O Nanak! The"Ekankaar" is expanded in many ways. (sggs 296).
- ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮੈ ਜੋ ਮਿਲੈ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥: Who unites deep within his Soul (ਜੋ ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮਾ ਵਿਚ ਮਿਲੇ – “Antar aatamai“), (only he) is said to be United (sggs 791).
- ਸਚਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਵਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਸੋਈ ॥: Sachaa saahib mani vasai vasiaa mani soi: The True Saahib (God) dwells within the mind; the mind that realizes this blends into Him (sggs 420).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਖੋਜੈ ਹੋਰ ਸਭ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਈ ॥: Gurmukhi hovai su kaaiaa khojai hor sabh bharami bhulaaee: One who becomes a Gurmukh, Spiritual Being, searches within the body; all others just wander around in confusion (sggs 754).
- ਜਹ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ॥: Wherever You come to mind, that (mind-) place is beautiful. (sggs 563).
In other words, although the Divine Energy is omnipresence, but is Fully Realized or Awakened (as Aatam-Giaan) in the Hearts of the seekers. Therefore, the Heart is said to be the most Beautiful Place.
Also, the Gurbani's Guru is not the physical body.
- ਭੂਲੀ ਭੂਲੀ ਮੈ ਫਿਰੀ ਪਾਧਰੁ ਕਹੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਜਾਇ ਸਿਆਣਿਆ ਦੁਖੁ ਕਾਟੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਸਾਜਨੁ ਉਤ ਹੀ ਠਾਇ ॥: Bhoolee bhoolee mai phiree paadharu kahai n koi. Pooshahu jaai siaaniaa dukhu kaatai meraa koi. Satgur saachaa mani vasai saajan ut hee thaai: Confused and deluded (for a long time - ਬਹੁਤ ਚਿਰ ਤੋਂ ਖੁੰਝੀ ਹੋਈ), I wander around, but no one shows me the straight Way (right or clear Path - ਪੱਧਰਾ ਰਾਹ). (I keep wandering and) asking the wise people, if anyone can rid me of my suffering (confusion and delusion). When the Satgur (Sach Daa Giaan, Brahm-Giaan, Shabad-Giaan, etc.) abides within the mind, then God is (also) seen at the same place (that is, within - ਭਾਵ, ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਭੀ ਓਸੇ ਥਾਂ ਹਿਰਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਹੀ ਮਿਲ ਪੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ) (sggs 1087).
- ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾਂ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਰਤੈ ਜੋ ਸਿਖਾਂ ਨੋ ਲੋਚੈ ਸੋ ਗੁਰ ਖੁਸੀ ਆਵੈ ॥: Gursikhaa andar satguru vartai jo sikhaan no lochai so gur khusee aavai: The True Guru pervades inside (in the Hearts of) His Gur-Sikhs; the Guru is pleased with those who long (ਚਾਹੈ, ਤਾਂਘ ਕਰੇ...) for His Sikhs. (sggs 317).
But the greedy and selfish Pujaaree system and people who follow the Pujaaree 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, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, 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 take it literally. The ignorant and greedy Pujaarees don't want people to understand and cannot make people 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 crafty Pujaaree group is 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.
Again, here is the Gurbani's edict on the real Beautiful Place (Embellished, Immaculate, Blessed, Pure, ਸੋਹਣਾ, ਧੰਨ...):
- ਜਹ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਵਿਸਰਹਿ ਤਾ ਲਾਗੈ ਹਾਵਾ ॥੧॥ Jah chit aavahi so thaan suhaavaa. Jit velaa visrahi taa laagai haavaa ||1||: Wherever (God) come to mind, that Place (i.e., that mind, that Heart, etc.) becomes blessed. (O God!) The moment I forget (You), I become stricken with regret ||1|| (sggs 563).
- ਜਿਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਹੈ ਤੇ ਜਨ ਸੁਘੜ ਸਿਆਣੇ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥: Jin antari hari hari piaar hai te jan sugharr siaane Raam raaje: Those whose hearts are filled with the love of the Lord' Name , (in the Lord's eyes, they) are the Wisest and Beautiful people (elegant, clever, dextrous, etc.). (sggs 450).
- ਗੁਝੜਾ ਲਧਮੁ ਲਾਲੁ ਮਥੈ ਹੀ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਥਿਆ ॥ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਜਿਥੈ ਪਿਰੀਏ ਨਾਨਕ ਜੀ ਤੂ ਵੁਠਿਆ ॥੩॥: Gujhrraa ladhamu laalu mathai hee paragatu theeaa. Soee suhaavaa thaanu jithai pireeae Nanak jee too vuthiaa ||3||: The Jewel (God, Naam, Aatmic-Giaan...) that was Hidden (within my body) has been found - it is Awakened on my forehead (the Light of Giaan, Enlightenment). O Nanak! Beautiful and exalted is that Heart, where You dwell. ||3|| (sggs 1096).
- ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥: Jithai jaai bahai meraa satiguroo so thaanu suhaavaa Raam raaje: O Lord! Where (i.e., that Heart in which) Satguru (Gur-Giaan, Shabad-Giaan...) becomes established (Awakened), that (Heart-) Place becomes Beautiful (sggs 450).
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 tricks of the Pujaaree.
- ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੧ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਰੁਖੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਫੁਲੁ ਫਲ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥ ਰਸਿ ਰਸਿਆ ਹਰਿਆ ਸਦਾ ਪਕੈ ਕਰਮਿ ਧਿਆਨਿ ॥ ਪਤਿ ਕੇ ਸਾਦ ਖਾਦਾ ਲਹੈ ਦਾਨਾ ਕੈ ਸਿਰਿ ਦਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: Salok M:1 ||: Nanak gur santokhu rukhu dharamu phal giaanu...: Shalok, First Mahal: O Nanak! The Guru-Tree (which is the embodiment of the True) Contentment, whose Flower is Dharma, and Fruit is Divine Knowledge (Aatmic-Giaan, spiritual Wisdom...). Watered with the Lord's Love, it remains forever green; through Grace, meditating (ਧਿਆਨਿ, focusing on the Gur-Shbad, this Fruit of Giaan) ripens. (That person who) eats this (Knowledge- or Giaan-Fruit) enjoys God-Union. Of all the gifts this is the Greatest Gift. ||1|| (sggs 147).
- ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਅਬ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਗੁਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਦੀਆ ਸਮਝਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਆ ਅਬ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਕਤਹੂ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥੪॥੨॥: kahi Kabeer ab jaaniaa gur giaan deeaa samajhaai...: Says Kabeer! Gur-Giaan has made me understand/know/realize the Lord. (With Gur-Giaan) I have met the Lord (within); and now, my mind does not wander around at all. ||4||2|| (sggs 1103).
— T. Singh