Many talk of the Birahaa; O Birahaa, you are the ruler.
Says Fareed Sahib, that body, within which Birahaa does not
well up - look upon that body as a cremation ground (sggs 1379).

"ਬਿਰਹਾ" -Birahaa - indicates intense longing and love of the Lord or pain of the sense of separation from Him. "ਸੁਲਤਾਨ" - Sultaan (or Sultan) - means the ruler. According to the the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), Birahaa is the Sultaan. The Gurbani says that our worldly love for other things is "transitory" at best, as long as we do not love our God. The Gurbani further states that that human body, in which there is no Birahaa, "burn it". Pretty strong words!

  • ਬਿਰਹਾ ਬਿਰਹਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਬਿਰਹਾ ਤੂ ਸੁਲਤਾਨੁ ॥ਫਰੀਦਾ ਜਿਤੁ ਤਨਿ ਬਿਰਹੁ ਨ ਊਪਜੈ ਸੋ ਤਨੁ ਜਾਣੁ ਮਸਾਨੁ ॥: Birahaa birahaa aakheeai birahaa tu sulataan. Fareedaa jit tanu birahu na oopajai so tanu jaan masaan: Many talk of the Birahaa; O Birahaa, you are the ruler. Says Fareed Sahib, that body, within which Birahaa does not well up - look upon that body as a cremation ground (sggs 1379).
  • ਹੋਰੁ ਬਿਰਹਾ ਸਭ ਧਾਤੁ ਹੈ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: hor birehaa sabh dhhaath hai jab lag saahib preeth n hoe: All other loves are transitory, as long as people do not love their God (sggs 83).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਸੁ ਪਿੰਜਰ ਮਹਿ ਬਿਰਹਾ ਨਹੀ ਸੋ ਪਿੰਜਰੁ ਲੈ ਜਾਰਿ ॥: Nanak jis pinjar mehi birehaa nehee so pinjar lai jaar: O Nanak, that human body, in which there is no Birahaa, take that body and burn it (sgs 89).

How can one tell if one has the true love of the Lord within? Loving God selflessly means loving all beings equally, because the same One God dwells in all. Such selfless love only gives, it does not take. It has no complaints either, for it is acceptance. In other words, the one who truly loves God will selflessly love all living things and selflessly serve them as needed (compassion). This is true Bhagti (devotion). This is the true Gurmukh Lifestyle. The Gurbani says:

  • ਉਮਕਿਓ ਹੀਉ ਮਿਲਨ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤਾਈ ॥: Oumakiou heeou milan prabh taaee: An intense longing to meet God has welled up in my heart (sggs 737).
  • ਇਕਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਦਾ ਸਚੈ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਾਤੇ ॥: Ik gurmukh sadaa sachai rang raate: The Gurmukhs are forever imbued with love for the True One (sggs 113).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਇਕਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Gurmukhi hovai su ekasu siou liv laaye. Doojaa bharamu gur sabadi jalaaye: One who becomes the Gurmukh contemplates the One (Lord - ਇਕ ਮਨ ਇਕ ਚਿਤ ਹੋ ਕੇ). (He) burns away duality (ਮਾਇਆ ਵਾਲੀ ਭੁੱਖ/ਭਟਕਣਾ) through the Gur-Shabad (Aatam-Giaan...). (sggs 115).
  • ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਪਿਆਰੁ ਹੈ ਜੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰੇ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ : Har bhagati har kaa piaar hai je gurmukh kare beechaar: By becoming a Gurmukh, if you reflect on this — devotion to the Lord is the love for the Lord (sggs28 ).
  • ਮਤਿ ਸਤ ਭਾਇ ਭਗਤਿ ਗੋਬਿੰਦਾ ॥ : Mati satt bhaai bhagat gobindaa: Wisdom, truth and love all come from devotion to the Lord of the Universe (sggs 1331).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਆਸਕੁ ਕਾਂਢੀਐ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਰਹੈ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ : Naanak aasak kaandheeai sada hee rehai samaai: O Nanak, he alone is called a lover, who remains forever immersed in absorption (sggs 474).
  • ਏਹ ਕਿਨੇਹੀ ਆਸਕੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: Eh kinehee aasakee doojai lagai jaai (sggs 474).

Clearly, the life is to be found in the fullness of Divine love; for love of the Lord is all-important. Those who have become Gurmukhs while alive, stand for the Ultimate Principle. That's why it's said that the Gurmukhs are not individuals because there is no false ego-sense (Haume) in them, and that they are beyond name and form even though they do have names and forms. In Transcendental love, there are no higher criteria than genuineness and sincerity. A Gurmukh places true devotion above everything else, and attaches little value to such factors as birth, intellectual attainments, physical prowess and wealth. The Lord is said to be as the essence of Bliss (Anand). The single-minded involvement and the determination of the Gurmukhs to seek God's Presence within enable them to experience this highest Bliss. There are many disciplines that lead to this, where one's mind is filled with inward attachment to God, and the mind begins to constantly dwell on Him with delight and never turns away in spite of distractions arising from worldly sufferings and worries. But the Gurbani draws our attention to the fact that such a state is hard to experience. Because it cannot be forced, for forcing and imposing will only destroy any possibility of love to grow.

  • ਪਾਂਚੈ ਪੰਚ ਤਤ ਬਿਸਥਾਰ ॥ ਕਨਿਕ ਕਾਮਿਨੀ ਜੁਗ ਬਿਉਹਾਰ ॥ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਸੁਧਾ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਜਰਾ ਮਰਣ ਦੁਖੁ ਫੇਰਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੬॥: Paanchai panch tatt bisthaar. Kanik kaamini jug biouhaar. Prem sudhaaras peevai koi. Janam maran dukh pher na hoi ||6||: On the fifth (day of the lunar cycle, remember that) the five elements have expanded outward (i.e., this universe is the play of the five elements). (But, forgetting this, the man) is occupied in the pursuit of gold and women (ਦੋਹਾਂ ਦੇ ਰੁਝੇਵੇਂ ਵਿਚ ਮਸਤ ਹੋ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ). How rare are those who drink in the pure essence of the Lord’s Love. (Those who do drink) they never again suffer the pains of old age and death ||6|| (sggs 343).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਚੀ ਆਸਕੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮੁ ਸਚਾ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: Gurmukhi sachee aasakee jitu preetamu sachaa paaeeai (sggs 1422).

Our familiarity with Birahaa is superficial. True Birahaa is neither physical nor external. It is the power (Sultaan) that creates the transformation the Gurmukhs experience. It opens up the heart like a blossoming flower. It removes all conditions and divisions. It breaks the hard shell of the false ego-sense (Haume). It is the Freedom from bondage of the mind to the past and the future. It leads us to live in the NOW. Thus, the mind can only be purified through enshrining love for God. If there is fire, there will be the smoke. Similarly, if there is sincere and intense "Birahaa", there will me the "Milan" (meeting or linking with the Lord).

  • ਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਰਹੁ ਲਗਾਈ ਜੀਉ ॥: Mai har naamai har birahu lagaaee jeeou: The Lord has implanted a longing for the Lord's Name within me (sggs 175).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਠਾਢੇ ਚਾਹਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦੁਆਰਿ ॥: Nanak thaadhe chaahahi prabhoo duaar: Nanak stands longingly at God's Door (sggs 1187).
  • ਹਉ ਰਹਿ ਨ ਸਕਉ ਬਿਨੁ ਦੇਖੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਮੈ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਰਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਲਾਈਆ ਜੀਉ ॥: Hou rahi na sakaou bin dekhe mere preetam mai antar birahu har laaeeaa jeeou: I cannot survive without seeing my Beloved; deep within, I feel the pain of separation from the Lord (sggs 174).
  • ਤਨਿ ਬਿਰਹੁ ਜਗਾਵੈ ਮੇਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਨੀਦ ਨ ਪਵੈ ਕਿਵੈ ॥: Tani birahu jagaavai mere piaarae need na pavai kivai: Separation from my Lord keeps my body awake, O my dear beloved; I cannot sleep at all (sggs 452).
  • ਨੈਣੀ ਬਿਰਹੁ ਦੇਖਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਰਸਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਨੀ ॥ : Nainee birahu dekhaa prabh suaamee rasanaa naam vakhaanee: With my eyes, I gaze lovingly upon my Lord Master. I chant His Name with my tongue (sggs 1199).
  • ਮੇਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਬਿਰਹੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਪਗ ਲਾਇਆ ॥ : Merai mani tani birahu gurasikh pag laaiaa: Within my mind and body, I have enshrined love for the feet of the Gur-Sikhs (sggs 493).
  • ਰੋਵਹ ਬਿਰਹਾ ਤਨ ਕਾ ਆਪਣਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੰਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਲੇਹਾਂ ॥: Rovah birahaa tann kaa aapanaa saahib sanmhaalehaan: Let us weep over the body's separation from the Lord; let us remember Him in contemplation (sggs 579).

Now perhaps we can appreciate as to why Baabaa Fareed Sahib calls Birahaa the "ruler", and states "that body, within which Birahaa does not well up - look upon that body as a cremation ground." Because such body is useless and worthless - a dead weight on this earth.

  • ਵਿਸਰਿਆ ਜਿਨ੍‍ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇ ਭੁਇ ਭਾਰੁ ਥੀਏ ॥: Visariaa jinh naam thae bhue bhaar thheeeae: Those who the Name of the Lord are a burden on the earth (sggs 488).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਹੈ ਨਕਟੀ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਬੇਸੁਆ ਕੇ ਘਰਿ ਪੂਤੁ ਜਮਤੁ ਹੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਰਿਓ ਹੈ ਧ੍ਰਕਟੀ ॥: Har ke naam binaa sundar hai nakatee. Jiou besuaa ke ghar poot jamat hai tis naam pariou hai dhrakattee: Without the Name of the Lord, the beautiful are just like the noseless ones. Like the son, born into the house of a prostitute, his name is cursed (sggs 528).

— T. Singh