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

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

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

Exactly who, why, and when it was attributed these names – “Mool Mantra” and “Mangla Charan” – is beyond the scope of this post. Undoubtedly, in Sikhi, there is tremendous confusion created by the illiterate, crafty and free-loading (ਮੰਗ ਖਾਣੇ) Pujaaree groups, the Pujaaree system, Baabaa-Vaad or Deraa-Vaad

Considering 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…). In the term “Mangla Charan”, in Sanskrit, “Mangala” essentially means auspicious and “Charana” means conduct of life.

Just as fragrance is boxed in the flower, and the light of the sun is hidden in the colors, similarly, the Essence of the One Truth and Brahm-Giaan (Divinine Knowledge) is summed up in this opening composition of the SGGS.

Although 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. It 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.

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

This opening composition of the SGGS has nine statements as follows:

  1. ੴ : Ik Oankaar
  2. ਸਤਿਨਾਮੁ: Satinaam(u),
  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

In nutshell, the first eight statements indicate the Divine Qualities (ਗੁਣ, ਲਛਣ, qualities, characteristics, indications, Virtues…) of the “Ik” or One (i.e., One Universal Energy or Rabb which pervades in everybody and everywhere (ਫੈਲਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ) – Nirgun and Sargun.

  • 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).
  • ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਵਸਿਆ ॥: Sacrifice unto (the Formless Universal Energy, Hukam…), who abides in “Kudrat” (Nature…). (sggs 469).
  • ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਇਹੁ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਅੰਸੁ ॥ ਜਸ ਕਾਗਦ ਪਰ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਮੰਸੁ ॥੪॥੨॥੫॥: Says Kabeer! This (i.e., soul that dwells within) is Raam’s Ansh (part…). It is like the ink on the paper which cannot be annulled or expunged (i.e., both the soul and Parmeshar are linked to each other as the paper and the ink on it). ||4||2||5|| (sggs 871).

Briefly, the One, All-pervading (System or law of Nature, Universal Energy, Hukam, Truth…) of which we are the part (“ਅੰਸੁ “) is:

  1. “Ik” or One (All-pervading – “ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਵਸਿਆ”,
  2. Satinaam(u) =  “Sati” or Truth + “Naam(u)” or Wisdom = Eternal Naam or Wisdom – “ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ”,
  3. Creator, Doer –”ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ”,
  4. Fearless (cannot be frightened),
  5. Without enmity,
  6. Not bound in time,
  7. Unborn – does not take birth,
  8. Saibhang = Sai (from Svai) + Bhang) = self + dissolve; Capable of self-dissolution – “ਭੰਨਣ ਘੜਣ ਸਮਰਥੁ ਹੈ”,
  9. The last, ninth statement shows us That “Ik” or One is realized through the “Gurprasaadi-ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ”. However, it’s important to recognize that since the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…) Divine or Rabb dwells within all beings, then the Divine Grace must also be present within all beings! This ninth statement – Gurprasaadi” – is made of two terms, “Gur” and “Prasaadi“. The term “Gur” indicates Wisdom (or Giaan-ਗਿਆਨ…) as described in the preceding eight statements. “Prasaadi” (or Prsaad, Parsaad) translates as “Grace”, “Nadar” or “Kirpaa“. Hence, “Gurprasaadi” implies that the  One Truth is realized with the Grace of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom (Light of the Spiritual Knowledge or the Divine Wisdom of the SGGS, ਗੁਰੁੂ ਦੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀ ਰੋਸਨੀ…).
  • ਦ੍ਰਿੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿਓ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜੀਉ ਮਇਆ ਕਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (The Divine – who is within me) has shown mercy and has implanted “Giaan Mantra” (i.e., implanted Mantra of Wisdom within my mind). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 701).
  • ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨਾਮ ਰਤਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: The Jewel of Giaan (Wisdom) is obtained from the Guru (sggs 1044).

However, for the grant of This Grace of the Guru (Giaan or Wisdom…), we need to understand the Gurbani through the earnest Shabad-Vichaar, and then apply its Wisdom to daily life. In other words, we need to bring our divided consciousness (duality or two-ness of the mind) in tune with the One Universal Energy through the Gurbani’s Divine Wisdom  (Brahm-Giaan).

  • 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).

In nutshell, without taking the Wisdom (Giaan) of the SGGS, Gurmukh Lifestyle cannot be understood and lived.

  • 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).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਧੁ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਬਾਝੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਡੁਬਾ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: O Nanak! The (worldly) love of a Manmukh is blind (i.e., ignorant, disconnected from Truth…). Without Gur-Wisdom (Gur-Giaan), the world (i.e., the worldly people are) drowning (in ignorance, falsehood…). ||2|| (sggs 138).

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

Wisdom of the entire Gurbani is called Mantra

As noted above, neither Baabaa Nanak nor Guru Arjan Dev Jee (the compiler of the SGGS) named this opening composition of the SGGS as “Mool Mantra“, “Mangla Charan”, etc.! 

However, one thing is crystal clear – it is the Wisdom (Giaan, Upadesh, Shabad, Naam…) of the ENTIRE GURBANI that is called “Mantra” in the SGGS!

To say it otherwise, NOT few selected words, Not few selected lines, or Not few selected verses but, spiritual Knowledge or Teaching of the ENTIRE 1,430 pages of the SGGS is referred to as “Mantra” by all writers of the SGGS.

  • ਸਚੁ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਤੁਮਾਰਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਣੀ ॥: (O Parbhu!) True is Your Mantra, Amrit Bani is Your True Mantra. (sggs 562).
  • ਗੁਰਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚੁ ਦੀਤਾ ਰਾਮ ॥: The Guru has given the Mantra of the Shabad, the True Divine (Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…). (sggs 576).
  • ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੀਓ ਮਨ ਮੰਤਾ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਨ ਕਤਹੂ ਜਾਤਿ ॥੧॥: (The Satigur)  gave my mind the Mantra of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad…), which perishes not, nor goes anywhere. ||1|| (sggs 681).
  • ਮਹਾ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਥੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਈ ॥੪॥੨੩॥੫੩॥: Nanak tells the Mahaa Mantra, which is remembering and applying the Divine Virtues (Truth, Wisdom…) to daily life. ||4||23||53|| (sggs 814).
  • ਬਾਣੀ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖਨ ਕੀ ਮਨਹਿ ਉਤਾਰਨ ਮਾਂਨ ਕਉ ॥: Bani of the Great Men is the Mantra; it eradicates pride (i.e., all Bikaar) from the mind. (sggs 1208).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕਹਿਆ ਮਾਨੁ ਨਿਜ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਸਚੁ ਜਾਨੁ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਇਹੈ ਨਿਸਿ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਹੋਇ ਕਲ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ਲਹਹਿ ਪਰਮ ਗਤਿ ਜੀਉ ॥: (O mind!) obey the Guru’s Upadesh (Shabad, Naam, Wisdom…); this is your own personal treasure – know this Mantra as true. With this – Night and day –  you will be happy (peaceful, Blissful) and obtain supreme “Gati” (expansion-development-progress-blooming of intellect or Budhi). (sggs 1403).

Although, there is reference of term such as “Mantra” within some verses in the SGGS, however – as we are time and again reminded by the SGGS – the important thing to remember is that all Mantras are in the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad, Bani…).

  • ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੀਓ ਗੁਰਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ॥: The Guru has given me the Mantra of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtue, Truth, Shabad…). (sggs 190).
  • ਨੰਨਾਕਾਰੁ ਨ ਹੋਤਾ ਤਾ ਕਹੁ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਨੋ ਜਾ ਕਹੁ ॥: (Maya) cannot obstruct their life-journey, whom the Guru has given the Mantra of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtue, Truth, Shabad…) (sggs 257).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨ ॥: Through the Gur-Shabad, (my) mind accepts (the Naam as) Mantra. (sggs 864).

Clearly, just repeating, for example, “Waheguru, Waheguru…” or some other word by the tongue or rosary is NOT the GURBANI’S Naam Japnaa or Naam-Sevaa!

Instead, the Gurbani’s Naam-Jap is to (1) UNDERSTAND the GUR-GIAAN (Wisdom, Upadesh) of the entire Gurbani, (2) and then live it or apply it to the daily life, while alive, here and now! 

  • ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਣਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੰਤ ਜਨਮ ਭ੍ਰਸਟਣਹ ॥ ਕੂਕਰਹ ਸੂਕਰਹ ਗਰਧਭਹ ਕਾਕਹ ਸਰਪਨਹ ਤੁਲਿ ਖਲਹ ॥੩੩॥: That mortal who lacks the Gur-mantra (Guru’s counsel, advice, Wisdom, Upadesh, ਸਲਾਹ), cursed and fallen (depraved, polluted…) is his life. That wicked person is a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, a snake (in this very life, here and now, not after death). ||33|| (1356).

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