The True Guru is the Merciful Giver;
He is always compassionate (sggs 302).

Granths or scriptures have given certain description of the characteristics of a real Satguru. Inner renunciation, Love, Compassion, Mercy, selflessness, and Kindness, Dharma, Truth, Brahm-Giaan (spiritual wisdom) etc. can generally be found in a real Satguru. He is the "Merciful Giver" who showers all equally (i.e. no partiality) with His Grace. There is no distinction of rich or poor, king or beggar etc. This is His very Nature, just as the sun's nature is to give light and warmth impartially. Not only that, also He will never give up his saintly (godly) Nature even though he come across countless evildoers. It's like the sandalwood — even when sandalwood is surrounded by poisonous snakes, it does not give up its soothing aroma. If He displays His Nature to the contrary, then he is not a saintly person. Because a saintly person is not a killjoy, unkind, hardhearted, unfeeling or revengeful. As a matter of fact, the Satguru is revered in the spiritual tradition as God Himself. He goes where the sick (suffering from Aatamic Bimaaree) people are.

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਭੇਟਿਓ ਸਦਾ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਲ ॥: Satgur bhetiou sadaa kirapaal: I have met the True Guru, who is merciful forever (sggs 200).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਦਾਤਾ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਦਇਆ ਸਦਾ ਹੋਇ ॥: Satgur daataa daiaal hai jis no daiaa sadaa hoi: The True Guru is the Merciful Giver; He is always compassionate (sggs 302).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਦਾ ਦਇਆਲਾ ਮੋਹਿ ਦੀਨ ਕਉ ਰਾਖਿ ਲੀਆ ॥: Satgur meraa sadaa daiaalaa mohi deen kou raakh leeaa: My True Guru is always merciful; He has saved me, the meek one (sggs 383).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸਦਾ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੈ ਅਵਗੁਣ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Satgur sadaa daiaal hai avagun sabad jalaae: The True Guru is forever merciful; through the (those who surrender to Him) His Shabad burns away their demerits (sggs 583).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸੰਤੁ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਸੰਤਈ ਜਉ ਕੋਟਿਕ ਮਿਲਹਿ ਅਸੰਤ ॥ ਮਲਿਆਗਰੁ ਭੁਯੰਗਮ ਬੇਢਿਓ ਤ ਸੀਤਲਤਾ ਨ ਤਜੰਤ ॥੧੭੪॥: Kabeer sant na chhadai santayee jayu kotic milai asant. Maliaagar bhuyangam bedhiyo ta seetaltaa na tajant: Kabeer, the saintly being does not forsake his saintly nature, even though he meets with millions of evil-doers. Even when sandalwood is surrounded by snakes, it does not give up its cooling fragrance (sggs 1373).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸਦਾ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਵਿਣੁ ਭਾਗਾ ਕਿਆ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਏਕ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਸਭ ਊਪਰਿ ਜੇਹਾ ਭਾਉ ਤੇਹਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: Satgur Sadaa Dayal Hai...: O brother, the True Guru is forever merciful; without good destiny (those who are in the sway of Maya and do not surrender to Him), what can anyone obtain (from the Guru)? (The Satguru lovingly) looks alike upon all, but we receive the fruits according to our own motives (ਭਾਵਨਾ, ਨੀਅਤ, etc.) (sggs 602).

Now, let's take a look at the following Shloka that appears on page 307 of the SGGS. If this Shloka is translated word-to-word (superficial meaning), then it gives one a hint that the Satguru could also be curse-happy (who goes around cursing people), cruel, killjoy, unkind, hardhearted, unfeeling, hateful or revengeful etc. But, as stated before, the Satguru cannot be all these negativities. He only radiates Positive Energy. Here is one of the English translations of this Shloka available in the market. As we can see it's confusing to say the least.

  • ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੪ ॥ ਧੁਰਿ ਮਾਰੇ ਪੂਰੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੇਈ ਹੁਣਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਮਾਰੇ ॥ ਜੇ ਮੇਲਣ ਨੋ ਬਹੁਤੇਰਾ ਲੋਚੀਐ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਮਿਲਣ ਕਰਤਾਰੇ ॥ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਢੋਈ ਨਾ ਲਹਨਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਗੁਰਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ॥ ਕੋਈ ਜਾਇ ਮਿਲੈ ਹੁਣਿ ਓਨਾ ਨੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਜਮੁ ਜੰਦਾਰੇ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਬਾਬੈ ਫਿਟਕੇ ਸੇ ਫਿਟੇ ਗੁਰਿ ਅੰਗਦਿ ਕੀਤੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰੇ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਤੀਜੀ ਪੀੜੀ ਵੀਚਾਰਿਆ ਕਿਆ ਹਥਿ ਏਨਾ ਵੇਚਾਰੇ ॥ ਗੁਰੁ ਚਉਥੀ ਪੀੜੀ ਟਿਕਿਆ ਤਿਨਿ ਨਿੰਦਕ ਦੁਸਟ ਸਭਿ ਤਾਰੇ ॥ ਕੋਈ ਪੁਤੁ ਸਿਖੁ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਕਾਰਜ ਸਭਿ ਸਵਾਰੇ ॥ ਜੋ ਇਛੈ ਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਇਸੀ ਪੁਤੁ ਧਨੁ ਲਖਮੀ ਖੜਿ ਮੇਲੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਿਸਤਾਰੇ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਨਿਧਾਨ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਿਚਿ ਜਿਸੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਉਰ ਧਾਰੇ ॥ ਸੋ ਪਾਏ ਪੂਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਜਿਸੁ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਲਿਖਤੁ ਲਿਲਾਰੇ ॥ ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਾਗੈ ਧੂੜਿ ਤਿਨ ਜੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਮਿਤ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥੧॥: Slok Ma: 1 || Dhur maare poorai satguru saeee hun satgur maare ...: Slok Ma: 1. Those who were cursed by the Perfect True Guru, from the very beginning, are even now cursed by the True Guru. Even though they may have a great longing to associate with the Guru, the Creator does not allow it. They shall not find shelter in the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation; in the Sangat, the Guru has proclaimed this. Whoever goes out to meet them now, will be destroyed by the tyrant, the Messenger of Death. Those who were condemned by Guru Nanak were declared counterfeit by Guru Angad as well. The Guru of the third generation thought, ""What lies in the hands of these poor people?"" The Guru of the fourth generation saved all these slanderers and evil-doers. If any son or Sikh serves the True Guru, then all of his affairs will be resolved. He obtains the fruits of his desires - children, wealth, property, union with the Lord and emancipation. All treasures are in the True Guru, who has enshrined the Lord within the heart. He alone obtains the Perfect True Guru, on whose forehead such blessed destiny is pre-ordained. Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of those GurSikhs who love the Lord, their Friend ||1|| (sggs 307).

Clearly, the above translation of the Shloka from the standpoint of its word-to-word meaning gives one an impression of contradiction to the basic concept that "Satguru Sadaa Dayal Hai..". (The True Guru is forever merciful...). How can this contradiction be reconciled? Apparently, if translation of a Shabad without being aware of the context in which it was originally uttered is relied upon then the translation may (unknowingly) create confusion, controversy and contradiction. This Shloka is the case in point.

Based on what the author has heard or read, this is his take on it. Once, on his way, Baabaa Nanak visited the city of Lahore. During his visit there he noticed something. Then he said something. What was it?

This was the query raised by devotees that had once gathered around the fourth Guru, Guru Raam Daas Jee. The devotees specifically asked Guru Raam Daas Jee as to what happened during Baabaa Nanak's visit to the city of Lahore? The Shloka on page 307 of the SGGS uttered by the fourth Guru Raam Daas Jee is in context to that episode (Ghatanaa) during Baabaa Nanak's visit to the city of Lahore. Also, it touches upon what transpired subsequent to his visit.

When Baabaa Nanak visited the city of Lahore, among other sinful activities (Bikaars), he saw the city full of slaughter houses, in which the countless animals were slaughtered early morning each day for human consumption. In Indian spiritual traditions, early morning hours are considered very conducive for Rabb Dee Sifat Slaah (Naam-Simran, meditation, God's Praises etc.). But, instead of that, during the early morning hours all Baabaa Nanak could hear were the shrieks of animals being slaughtered all around the city. The goal of a saintly person is to usher ignorant people (Manmukhs) away from sinful or negative activities (Karma). However, when people are very much engrossed in abominable life style (Manmukh life style), it's not that easy for them to give up the old habit pattern suddenly. It is said that there Baabaa Nanak uttered the following verse (of course out of compassion for all beings):

  • ਲਾਹੌਰ ਸਹਰੁ ਜਹਰੁ ਕਹਰੁ ਸਵਾ ਪਹਰੁ ॥: Lahore saharu jaharu kaharu savaa paharu: The city of Lahore has become like poison, because here, for quarter of the day (until dawn, instead of Naam-Simran, God's Praises etc.) calamity and violence (against animals slaughtered for human consumption) take place (sggs 1412).

Offhand, one may conclude perhaps this was the curse (Sharaap) Baabaa Nanak gave to the people of Lahore. This is what most of us (if not all) have been hearing from Bhais, Giaanees, Parchaaraks, Raagees etc. If this is true, then there is the contradiction to the basic concept of "Satguru Sadaa Dayal Hai ..". (The True Guru is forever merciful...). But as we will see, it's not true: there is no contradiction whatsoever. Because, as discussed earlier, a saintly person has nothing but selfless love and compassion for the suffering beings, humans and animals alike. Disguised in these words of Baabaa Nanak "Lahore saharu jaharu kaharu savaa paharu" was his mercy for Lahorians!

It's a well established fact that it takes time for people to give up their old habits, particularly any abominable habits. For example, if a person is addicted to meat-eating and is suddenly told that he must not eat meat, he can not do so. Also, if one is attached to drinking liquor and suddenly told that the liquor is no good, he can not accept this advice. However, One can be restricted and encouraged to give up addiction of any sort gradually. Similarly, Baabaa Nanak's love and compassion for the Lahorians was to fructify gradually, during the third and the fourth Mahal, thus giving Lahorians sufficient time to amend their ways. The aim of the Great Souls is to redeem and reclaim all, not just a few selected or privileged ones. As there is a different medicine for different diseases, similarly, the Great Souls have different ways to help the suffering beings. One medicine cannot cure all diseases!

During the time of the second Mahal, Guru Angad Dev Jee, it's said that the people of Lahore came to see him in Khadoor Sahib and asked for forgiveness for their sinful activities and the way they behaved during Baabaa Nanak's visit to their city. Knowing the past, the present and the future, Guru Angad Dev Jee told them to work out their Karma.

Then, it's said that during the time of the third Mahal, Guru Amar Daas Jee, the Lahorians came again and visited Guru Amar Daas Jee at Goindwaal and asked for forgiveness. Also, Guru Raam Daas Jee, who was from Lahore himself, served the third Guru Amar Daas Jee at that time. Later, Guru Raam Daas Jee was given the Gurgadee and thus became the fourth Guru. It's said that Guru Amar Daas Jee, out of compassion for all Lahorians, uttered the following verse:

  • ਲਾਹੌਰ ਸਹਰੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰੁ ਸਿਫਤੀ ਦਾ ਘਰੁ ॥: Laahor saharu amritsaru sifatee daa gharu: Now the city of Lahore has become a pool of Amrit (nectar), the home of God's Praise (sggs 1412).

The Shloka of Guru Raam Daas Jee on page 307 of the SGGS "Dhur maare poorai satguru....." simply explains all this in a poetry form! As we can see, word-to-word translation sometime can be pretty confusing. Please note that the author neither claims to be a writer nor a scholar of Sikh history nor SGGS. Therefore, the author asks for forgiveness for any inconsistency herein (i.e. Bhul Chuk Maaf).

At present most of us are slaves of our senses. But if one does Satguru's Will (surrender of false ego-sense or Haume; developing qualities like humility, truthfulness, contentment, spiritual wisdom etc.; seeking of the Holy Company; becoming a Gurmukh etc.) His power will flow in him and his senses will become his slave. The Satguru is the repository of good qualities only. Hence, the world receives only goodness from such being. Those who take to spiritual life and follow devotional practices (Naam-Simran etc.) recommended by the Satguru, become fertile fields in which good virtues and qualities are cultivated. This implies that the man himself is the architect of his own destiny.

  • ਜੇ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਰਣੀ ਫਿਰਿ ਓਹੁ ਆਵੈ ਤਾ ਪਿਛਲੇ ਅਉਗਣ ਬਖਸਿ ਲਇਆ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਗਇਆ ॥: Je gur kee saranee fir ohu aavai taa pishhale aougan bakhas laiaa. Jan Nanak anadin naam dhiaaiaa har simarat kilavikh paap gaiaa. (sggs 307).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸਦਾ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਵਿਣੁ ਭਾਗਾ ਕਿਆ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਏਕ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਸਭ ਊਪਰਿ ਜੇਹਾ ਭਾਉ ਤੇਹਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਈਐ ॥੪॥੬॥: O brother, the True Guru is forever merciful; without good destiny (those who are in the sway of Maya and do not surrender to Him), what can anyone obtain (from the Guru)? (The Satguru lovingly) looks alike upon all, but we receive the fruits according to our own motives (ਭਾਵਨਾ, ਨੀਅਤ, etc.) (sggs 602).. O Nanak, when the Naam, the Name of the Lord, comes to dwell within the mind, then self-conceit is eradicated from within ||4||6|| (sggs 601-602).

— T. Singh