Mool Mantra

Following is the opening composition of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). The Author of this composition is Baabaa Nanak.

Some are heard calling “Mool Mantra”, and some are heard calling it “Mangla Charan”.

  • ੴ ਸਤਿਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ (sggs 1).

In the term “Mool Mantra”, both “Mool” and “Mantra” are Sanskrit words — “Mool” simply meaning “Root” (or Source, Primordial, Base, Foundation, Origin…); and Mantra simply meaning incantation (counsel, advice, or ਸਲਾਹ) of the SGGS. In the term “Mangla Charan”, in Sanskrit, “Mangala” essentially means auspicious and “Charana” means conduct of life.

Note that neither Baabaa Nanak nor Guru Arjan Dev Jee (the compiler of the SGGS) named this very first line of the SGGS as “Mool Mantra” or “Mangla Charan”!

Exactly who, why, and when this opening composition of the SGGS was attributed these names — “Mool Mantra” and “Mangla Charan” — is beyond the scope of this post.

Just as the fragrance is boxed in the flower, and the light of the sun is hidden in the colors, similarly, the Essence of the Divine Giaan (Wisdom) or Virtues is summed up in this so called “Mool Mantra”. Revealed by Baabaa Nanak, it’s the commencing or opening (first) composition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). It also appears (in full or short form) before the commencement of most of the Raagas within the SGGS. The Mool Mantra is said to encapsulates the Essence of the Message (Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam, Upadesh,  Naam…) of the SGGS, thus it’s the heart of the Sikh Thought.

In the Gurbani, there is reference of terms such as “Mool Mantra” and its meaning along with Beej Mantra, Naamu Mantra, Mahaa Mantra, Gur Mantra

  • ਮੂਲ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਰਸਾਇਣੁ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪੂਰਾ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੫॥: O Nanak! Hari Naam is the Mool Mantra, which is the Source of Nectar (ਸਭ ਰਸਾਂ ਦਾ ਘਰ-Home of Elixir, ਗਿਆਨ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ-Source of Giaan…). (Whosoever contemplate the Naam) attains the Perfect Lord. ||5|| (sggs 1070).
  • ਅਉਖਧ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਮੂਲ ਮਨ ਏਕੈ ਮਨਿ ਬਿਸ੍ਵਾਸੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਧਾਰਿਆ ॥: (Naam) is the Mool (Root, Source, Base, Foundation, Origin…) of all Mantra- the only Cure for the mind, and in (my) mind I have placed reliance (only on You) Lord. (sggs 675).

Thus – as time and again indicated by the Gurbani,  the important thing to remember is that all Mantras are in the Divine Naam:

  • ਬੀਜ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਉ ॥: Beej Mantru Hari Kirtanu Gaaou (sggs 891).
  • ਮਹਾ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਗੁਰ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਬਸਿਓ ਅਚਰਜ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੁਨਿਓ ਰੀ ॥੩॥: Mahaa mantru gur hirdai basio acharaj Naamu sunio ree (sggs 384).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੀਓ ਗੁਰਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ॥: Hari kaa Naamu deeo guri mantru (sggs 190).
  • ਨਾਮੁ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਨੋ ਜਾ ਕਹੁ ॥: Naamu mantru guri deeno jaa kahu (sggs 257).

Now, where is That “ਹਰਿ-Hari” (One Truth, ਸਚ, ਮੂਲ…) located?

The SGGS time and again reminds us it’s present within all of us as Universal Consciousness:

  • ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਰਮਈਆ ਰਮਤ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੇ ॥: The All-pervading Divine Ruler (of the Universe) Raam is contained in each and every heart. (One) gets connected to Him through the Gur-Shabad (sggs 172).
  • ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਮਾਹਿ: Hari japi Hirdai maahi (sggs 1370).

This opening composition of the SGGS called “Mool Mantra” has nine statements as follows:

  1. ੴ : Ik Oankaar
  2. ਸਤਿਨਾਮ: Satinaam
  3. ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖ: Kartaa Purakh
  4. ਨਿਰਭਉ: Nirbhou
  5. ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ: Nirvairu
  6. ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ: Akaal Moorati
  7. ਅਜੂਨੀ: Ajoonee
  8. ਸੈਭੰ: Saibhang
  9. ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ: Gurprasaadi

It is the most condense, brief, intricate and comprehensive composition indeed! Being the Base or Mool of the entire Sikh theology, the rest of the SGGS is said to be an elaboration or expansion of these statements.

In nutshell, the first eight statements indicate the Divine Qualities (ਗੁਣ, ਲਛਣ, indications…) of the One (i.e., Ik, One Universal Energy or Rabb which is contained, or spreaded, or expanded, or stretched, or pervaded in everybody and everywhere in the universe …).

  • ਹਿੰਦੂ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਉਚਰੈ ॥ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਕਾ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥ ਕਬੀਰ ਕਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੪॥੩॥੧੧॥: The Hindu utters the Name of Raam (i.e., Hindu thinks his God is only in the idol of Raam). (Similarly) the Muslim considers only  the Khudaa (as their God, somewhere up there in 7th sky). (However) Kabeer’s Divine is that which is pervading all over (ਫੈਲਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ, ਤੇ ਸਭ ਦਾ ਸਾਂਝਾ – the same one in all beings and everywhere) ||4||3||11|| (sggs 1160).

In addition, Rabb (Truth, or Wisdom, or Virtues, or System or law of Nature, Universal Energy…) is:

  • Eternal (ਸਦੀਵੀ, immutable),
  • All-pervading Creator,
  • Fearless (cannot be frightened),
  • Without enmity,
  • Not bound in time (ਸਮੇਂ ਦੀ ਗੇੜ ਵਿਚ ਨਹੀ),
  • Unborn,
  • self-illumined (Self-existent…),

The ninth statement shows us That “Ik” or One is realized through ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gurprasaadi -ਗਿਆਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਦੀ ਕਿਰਪਾ, ਗੁਰੁ ਦੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀ ਰੋਸਨੀ, ਗੁਰੁ ਦੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ…), that is, through the Grace of the Gur-Giaan.

  • ਬੀਜ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਸਰਬ ਕੋ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: Beej mantru sarab ko Giaanu (sggs 274).
  • ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨਾਮ ਰਤਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: The Jewel of Giaan (Wisdom) is obtained from the Guru (sggs 1044).

Gurprasaadi” is made of two terms – Gur” and “Prasaadi“. The term “Gur” indicates Giaan (Wisdom, ਗਿਆਨ…) as described in the preceding eight statements. “Prasaadi” (or Prsaad, Parsaad) translates as “Grace”, “Nadar” or “Kirpaa“. Hence, “Gurprasaadi” implies that Oneness with the One Truth is realized with the Grace of the Gur-Giaan (Light of the Spiritual Knowledge or the Divine Wisdom of the SGGS, ਗਿਆਨ ਸਰੂਪ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ…).

However, for the grant of This Grace, we need to understand the Gurbani through earnest Shabad-Vichaar, and then apply it to daily life. Thus, the Mool Mantra urges us to bring one’s divided consciousness (duality or Doojaa Bhaav) in tune (i.e., becoming Saabat, Pooran, Pooraa…) with the One Universal Consciousness through the Wisdom  (Knowledge, Gurmat, ਗਿਆਨ ਧੰਨ, ਨਾਮ ਧੰਨ…) of the Gurbani.

  • ਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: Guru is my Giaan (Knowledge or Wisdom…), the Guru is (ever) within my Heart; this is my meditation (Dhiaan, Reflection, contemplation …). (sggs 864).
  • ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਮੈ ਸੋ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਬਿਬੇਕੋੁ ॥੪॥੫॥: Says Kabeer, I have found that Guru, whose Name is “Bibek(u)” (Wisdom, Discerning Intelligence…). ||4||5|| (sggs 793).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਦਸ ਪੁਰਬ ਸਦਾ ਦਸਾਹਰਾ ॥: The Gur-Wisdom is Eternal sacred shrine of pilgrimage (for me, which is equal to) the congregation of ten (Holy days or festivals for me). (sggs 687).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥: The Gur-Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom…) is the Naam Padaarath. (Hence, the Guru) makes the Hari Naam firm (resolved, stable, strong, properly understood, ਪੱਕਾ, ਦ੍ਰਿੜ, etc., in the mind of the sincere seeker of Truth – ਜਗ੍ਯਾਸੂ…). (sggs 759).

In nutshell, it’s through the Grace of the Giaan (ਸਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ, Divine Knowledge, Spiritual Wisdom…) one may Realize, know, or understand Rabb (call whatever you like – Raam, Hari, Gobind, Allah…). Without Gur-Wisdom, the right manner of life of the Gurmat, (Knowledge, Upadesh or the Way or “Panthu-ਪੰਥੁ”of the SGGS) cannot be understood.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਪੰਥੁ ਨ ਸੂਝਈ ਕਿਤੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਨਿਰਬਹੀਐ ॥੨॥: Without Giaan (Wisdom, Virtues…), the way (right way of life) cannot be known. (One who knows the right way of living) cannot get along with (the one who does not know). ||2|| (sggs 229).
  • ਬਾਝੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਡੁਬਾ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: Without Giaan (Wisdom), the world is drowning (in ignorance). ||2|| (sggs 138).

In summary, this Sikh Fundamental Creed or “Mool Mantra” revealed by Baabaa Nanak summarizes the Essence of his Message. It sums up Sikh beliefs about the One Truth (Universal Energy, System or Law of Nature…) and encapsulates the entire Sikh theology.

Filed Under: Gurbani, Mantra, Mantar, Mool, Beej
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