Unfortunately, most of the readily available translations and interpretations of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) are based on the literal / worldly meanings. For example, most of us have heard Bhais (Pujaarees) reciting the following Shabad in the Gurdawaaraas after ‘Sukhaasan or Sukh-Aasan’ (at night after reciting So Dar Rehraas, SGGS is put to rest in a special room or place):
- ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥ …: Jithai jaai bahai meraa satiguroo so thaan(u) suhaavaa Raam raaje…
‘ਸੋ – So’ = That – ਉਹ,
‘ਥਾਨੁ – Thaan(u)’ = Place – ਥਾਂ,
‘ਸੁਹਾਵਾ – Suhaavaa’ = Beautiful – charming, attractive, pious, ਸੋਹਣਾ, ਖੂਬਸੂਰਤ, ਪਵਿਤਰ, ਸ਼ੋਭਨੀਕ, ਸੁਖਦਾਈ…
The paid clergy (i.e., Pujaaree-Vaad), and the people who blindly follow them take the meanings of this Shabad literally. As a result, they take only a particular building, a particular room, a particular altar, a particular place, etc., to be the most beautiful place (‘ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ’).
That’s NOT what the Gurbani means by the forgoing Shabad.
The truth is, being Mayadhaaree, the self-serving Pujaaree themselves don’t understand. Their only goal is to make money (ਗੋਲਕ!, ਧੰਧਾ, business in the name of the Gurbani) and secure the return-business. Thus, in Mayaic consciousness, they are corrupting the Gurbani’s true Message or Wisdom.
First, the paid clergy is not qualified. Second, on account of Bikaars (lust, anger, greed etc.), people also want something as sublime as the Mool-Abidance or Aatamic-Giaan (Wisdom) and want it cheaply in the form of a ‘ready-made’ package. Thus, they put themselves in a position to be plundered by the religious conmen!
The Gurbani asserts that the mind clinging to Maya cannot be trusted.
- ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਤੀ ਜਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਰਤੇ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਇ ॥: Gurbani is understood from the Gurbani by those who are lovingly imbued with the Shabad (-Vichaar, Upadesh, Naam, Giaan or Wisdom…). (sggs 1346).
Now, what is that ‘Thaan Suhaavaa’ or ‘Beautiful’ place (‘ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ’) the Gurbani is talking about here?
Is it a particular building, or Is it a particular room in that building? Is it a particular altar? Is it a particular place, shrine etc.?
According to the Gurmat Wisom of the SGGS, NONE OF THAT! Why?
Accordingly, it’s also the mind that needs to become a Sikh, NOT a building or an object!
As we are repeatedly reminded in the Gurbani, whatever is seen with our naked eyes is nothing but Maya – ‘Koorh’, perishable, fleeting, temporary, false, Mithiaa, etc. That’s not the Gurbani’s Subject.
That said, clearly, the Beauty or Beautiful Place (ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ) mentioned in the gurbani cannot be a material or Mayaic place or an object!
- ਸਗਲ ਥਾਨ ਤੇ ਓਹੁ ਊਤਮ ਥਾਨੁ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਹ ਘਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ॥: O Nanak! Of all places, that (Heart-) place is the best – in which Heart the Divine Naam (Giaan, Divine Knowledge…) dwells (sggs 266).
In nutshell, when the Wisdom (Giaan or Bibek) Awakens in the mind, then that mind-place becomes ‘Beautiful’!
- ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ ॥ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੀ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਭਾਲਿਆ ਲੈ ਧੂਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਵਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾ ਕੀ ਘਾਲ ਥਾਇ ਪਈ ਜਿਨ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵਾ ॥ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਜਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਹਰਿ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਾਵਾ ॥੨॥: (The mind or Heart…) in which the True Wisdom (Satiguru-ਸਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) becomes established (Awakened), that (mind or Heart-) Place becomes Beautiful. Gur-Sikhs (learners of the SGGS) seek out that Place (in which the Wisdom abides) for they want to become like that. Gur-Sikhs who ponder on the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), their efforts fall in the right place. Those who adore the True Wisdom, are adored (by others). (sggs 450).
- ਗੁਝੜਾ ਲਧਮੁ ਲਾਲੁ ਮਥੈ ਹੀ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਥਿਆ ॥ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਜਿਥੈ ਪਿਰੀਏ ਨਾਨਕ ਜੀ ਤੂ ਵੁਠਿਆ ॥੩॥: I have found the hidden Jewel (of the Divine Wisdom…). My mind is enlightened (with it). O Nanak! Beautiful is the place (i.e., mind) where You dwell (i.e., Wisdom…). ||3|| (sggs 1096).
- ਜਹ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ॥: Wherever You come to mind, that (mind-) place is beautiful. (sggs 563).
In fact, to learn is to be a Sikh (ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ)!
- ਜਿਤੁ ਘਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਥਾਉ ॥: That Heart, in which Paarbrahm abides, is the most Beautiful Place. (sggs 218).
In other words, the ‘Beauty’ mentioned in the Gurbani is none other than the constant abidance in Mool (Jot Saroop, the Gurmukh Lifestyle, Sahaj, the state of living liberated or Jeevanmukti, Naam– or Shabad-Surti, Wisdom etc).
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇ ਕੈ ਹੋਹੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਭਾਈ ॥: O brother! Contemplating the Divine Naam, become fresh or healed (i.e., Virtuous, Wise…). (sggs 1193).
- ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਤ ਮਨੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਹੋਵੈ ॥: By living the Divine Virtues, the mind becomes fresh or healed (i.e., Virtuous, Wise…). (sggs 104).
Thus, it is the Spiritual or Inner ‘Beauty’ referred here in the Gurbani, not external or physical looks of a person, or a building, or a decorated room etc.
Accordingly, the Gurbani labors to make us understand the difference between the real ‘Beauty’ and the fading beauty so that we don’t make mistake of deeming false to be real.
- ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਹੂਣੀਆ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਧ੍ਰੋਹੁ ॥: O Nanak! without the Divine Naam, the beauty of Maya’s illusion — the enchanting world-appearance — is fake (sggs 707).
The majority of us are unable to see the Wholesome ‘Beauty’ of our True Nature (Jot Saroop) for It has become covered with the ‘filth’ or wall of ego or Haume. In other words, when the connecting link between Aatam and Parmaatam (the Universal Energy…) 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. Because, only the Gurmukhs understand the Gurbani.
- 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॥: 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 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, Kathaakaars, etc., ignore this very valuable message of the Gurbani. Probably it’s by design (i.e., craftiness)!
- ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਰਤਨਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਮਾਣਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: This body is the ‘Hari Mandir‘ (Hari’s Temple, but this secret) is revealed by the Jewel of the Divine Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan, Brahm Giaan, Divine Knowledge …). The Manmukhs do not know their Mool (Origin, Source, Root…); (on account of this ignorance, they) do not believe that the ‘Hari Mandir’ is within the human (body). ||2|| (sggs 1346).
Many think of the external religious places to be a most beautiful or Divine (i.e., Gurdawaaraa, so called Teerath, and so on). To the contrary, the Gurbani observes these places to be the corrupt places in this world.
Also, the Gurbani’s One Rabb is said to be everywhere and in everyone, here and now — NOT separate from man. In other words, although the Universal Energy is omnipresence, but is Fully Realized or Awakened (as Aatam-Giaan) in the Heart (or mind) of the true seekers. Hence, such Heart (or mind) is said to be the most Beautiful Place.
Also, 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 Pakhand of the self-serving Pujaaree system.
- 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).