Hirdaa-the Spiritual Heart

The word ‘Hirda-ਹਿਰਦਾ’ (pronounced as Hirdaa) used throughout the  Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is often seen translated in English as heart.

In fact, this term ‘Hirda’ does not mean the physical heart that pumps blood in the body. Instead it hints towards a spiritual Heart that is Formless.

The physical heart that pumps blood in the body can be dissected by the surgeon’s knife, but not the spiritual or the formless Heart or ‘Hirdaa’!

The word ‘Hirdaa’ is derived from the Sanskrit word Hridayam (hrit + ayam), which simply means ‘this is the center’. Thus, the ‘Hirdaa’ mentioned here in the Gurbani is not physical; it is Spiritual.

In short, the term ‘Hirdaa’ in the SGGS is essentially used for the mind that controls man’s body, senses, thoughts and all his actions. 

Spiritual Center

This Formless Factor (Spiritual Center…) is the ਆਕਾਸ ਤੱਤ (Aakaas-Tatt, space, celestial void…) where Naam (Baanee-‘ਬਾਣੀ’), Anahat Naad (‘ਅਨਹਤ ਨਾਦ’), Anahad Sabad Naad (‘ਅਨਹਦ ਸਬਦ ਵਜਹਿ ਧੁਨਿ’), Sahaj Dhun (‘ਸਹਜ ਧੁਨਿ’), Hari Hari Dhun (‘ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਧੁਨਿ’), Panch Shabad Dhun (‘ਪੰਚ ਸਬਦ ਧੁਨਿਕਾਰ ਧੁਨਿ’), Shabad Dhun (‘ਸਬਦ ਧੁਨਿ’)…

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਪਾਏ ਵੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਸਚੇ ਘਰ ਬਾਰਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਨਾਦੁ ਸਬਦ ਧੁਨਿ ਸਚੁ ਰਾਮੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇਦਾ ॥੧੭॥੫॥੧੭॥: One who receives from the Satigur (the gift) of Reflection (on the divine Qualities, Wisdom…), he abides in the presence of that ever-abiding divine, keeping the mind paired (at the Mool) within. O Nanak! Within that man ever abides the Pure Naad of the Shabad. That person is always absorbed in the divine Naam. ||17||5||17|| (sggs 1038).
  • ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਅਨਹਤ ਤਹ ਨਾਦ ॥: Sunn samaadhi anahat tah naad (sggs 293).
  • ਪੰਚ ਸਬਦ ਧੁਨਿਕਾਰ ਧੁਨਿ ਤਹ ਬਾਜੈ ਸਬਦੁ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ ॥: Panch sabad dhunikaar dhuni tah baajai sabad(u) neesaan(u) (sggs 1291).

This Naad or Dhun ( ਨਾਦ, ਧੁਨਿ) is listened without the physical ears — it is listened with the inner ears of the Shabad-Vichaar!

  • ਅਖੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਕੰਨਾ ਸੁਨਣਾ ॥ ਪੈਰਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਚਲਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਹਥਾ ਕਰਣਾ ॥ ਜੀਭੈ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਬੋਲਣਾ ਇਉ ਜੀਵਤ ਮਰਣਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਕੈ ਤਉ ਖਸਮੈ ਮਿਲਣਾ ॥੧॥: See without eyes (i.e. if we look at the world by removing lust from the eyes etc.), hear without ears (i.e. if we keep the ears from the habit of hearing slander etc.); walk without feet (i.e. if we keep our feet from running in the wrong direction etc.), work without hands (i.e. if we use our hands without doing harm to others etc.); speak without the tongue (i.e. if we remove the habit of slandering others from the tongue etc.); this is how one dies alive. O Nanak! When one understands/recognizes Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature), then one realizes Truth (‘Khasam’-Master etc.). (sggs 139).

This Hirdaa (Spiritual Center…) is also indicated in the Gurbani by many other names such as: Dasam Duaar (‘ਦਸਮ ਦੁਆਰਾ’-Tenth Gate), Nij Ghar (‘ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ’), Begampura (‘ਬੇਗਮ ਪੁਰਾ’), Sachkhand (‘ਸਚ ਖੰਡਿ’), Gaganpuraa (‘ਗਗਨ ਪੁਰੁ’, ‘ਗਗਨ ਮੰਡਲ’), Sookh Mahal (‘ਸੂਖ ਮਹਲ’), Ratan Kotharee (‘ਰਤਨ ਕਮਲ ਕੋਠਰੀ’), Baikunth Nagar (‘ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਨਗਰੁ’), Param Purakh Kee Ghaatee (‘ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਘਾਟੀ’), Sunn Guphaa (‘ਸੁੰਨ ਗੁਫਾ’-Cave of Silence), Sunn Srovar (‘ਸੁੰਨ ਸਰੋਵਰਿ’-Pond of Silence…), Sunn Mandal (‘ਸੁੰਨ ਮੰਡਲਿ’-Sphere of Silence), Sukh Aasan (‘ਸੁਖ ਆਸਨ’-Seat of Peace), Heart Lotus (‘ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਮਲੁ’), True Temple (‘ਸਚੁ ਮੰਦਰੁ’, ‘ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਮੰਦਰੁ’, ‘ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ’, ‘ਸੁਖ ਮੰਦਰਿ’…), Innermost Light of us (‘ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਪਾਸਾਰਾ’), Inner sacred shrine of pilgrimage (‘ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੀਰਥੁ’), Aatam Teerath (‘ਆਤਮ ਤੀਰਥਿ’), Beautiful Abode or Place (‘ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ’), Grih (‘ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ’), etc.

  • ਨਿਜ ਭਗਤੀ ਸੀਲਵੰਤੀ ਨਾਰਿ ॥ ਰੂਪਿ ਅਨੂਪ ਪੂਰੀ ਆਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਵਸੈ ਸੋ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਸੋਭਾਵੰਤਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਈ ਕਿਨੈ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਜੰਤਾ ॥੧॥: Nij Bhagti is akin to a sweet (natured-ਮਿੱਠੇ ਸੁਭਾਵ ਵਾਲੀ…) woman; whose beauty is incomparable, and whose character is perfect (complete). The House (of the Heart) in which (this woman) dwells is such a praiseworthy House (Beautiful, ਸੋਭਾ ਵਾਲਾ). But rare are those who, by becoming the Gurmukhi, attain (this woman-ਨਿਜ ਭਗਤੀ or the state of Nij Bhagti) ||1|| (sggs 370).
  • ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਸੋਈ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਥਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਾਤਾ ॥ ਮਾਨਸ ਦੇਹ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਭੁ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਖੋਜੀਐ ਘਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਧਾਤਾ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਹਰਿ ਮੰਦਰ ਕੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਤਾ ॥ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਈ ॥੧੨॥: That alone (i.e., within the body) is the ‘Hari Mandir’ — Hari’s Temple — in which ‘Hari’ is Realized. (The human body is ‘Hari Mandir’ because) in the human body, by following the Gur-Bachan (Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani, Upadesh, Teaching, Utterance, Gur-Giaan…), Mool is Realized, and the ‘Aatam Raam’ (Mool) is seen pervading in all. So, don’t look outside this body, because the Creator resides within the Heart. However, the Manmukhs don’t appreciate the Essence ‘Hari Mandir’ (which is within the body, but by following their Manmukhtaa) they waste away their lives. (Although) the One (Mool) pervades in all, but He is Realized only through the Gur-Shabad (Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani, Brahm-Giaan…) ||12|| (sggs 953).
  • ਬੇਗਮ ਪੁਰਾ ਸਹਰ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਦੂਖੁ ਅੰਦੋਹੁ ਨਹੀ ਤਿਹਿ ਠਾਉ ॥: Begam Puraa sahar ko naaou (sggs 345).
  • ਸੁੰਨ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਬੈਸਣੁ ਕਲਪ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਪੰਥਾ ॥੧॥: Sunn giphaa mahi aasanu baisanu kalap bibarjit panthaa (sggs 334).
  • ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਲਾਗਾ ਸਹਜਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: Hirdai kamalu pragaasiaa laagaa sahaji dhiaanu (sggs 26).
  • ਦਸਮ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਅਗਮ ਅਪਾਰਾ ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਘਾਟੀ ॥: Dasam duaaraa agam apaaraa param purakh kee ghaatee (sggs 974).
  • The only beauty that lasts is the beauty of the Heart – Rumi

Thus, this Spiritual Heart (Spiritual Center…) is the seat of the Niraakaar Jot or the Mool (ਮੂਲ-Origin, Source, Jot Saroop). It is our Essential and Ultimate Nature. The Spiritual Heart is the Pure ‘I’, the Infinite Knowledge or Wisdom (‘ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੁ’). It is the Witness Consciousness, Observer of all of our thoughts, words, deeds (‘ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕਰਮ’, ‘ਸਭ ਨਦਰੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵੇਖਦਾ’).

  • ਹਿਰਦੈ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਹਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਤਿਤੁ ਘਟਿ ਹੈ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥੧॥: The human beings  whose Hirda abides in Hari (Mool), (their) Hirda becomes enlightened (i.e, they come to know how to live the right life). (sggs 27).
  • ਹਿਰਦੈ ਬਸੇ ਪੂਰਨ ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ ॥: Hirdai base pooran gur mant (sggs 290).

By becoming the Gurmukh, the Gurbani urges us to Experience this Hirdaa (Spiritual Center…), and not just to talk about it.

  • ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਗਲੀਈ ਢੂਢੀਐ ਕਥਨਾ ਕਰੜਾ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Divine Wisdom / Divine Knowledge (Giaan) cannot be found through mere words; to explain it is as hard as iron (sggs 465).

Thus, instead of just talking about it the Gurbani says our energy, efforts, and time would be best spent and served ‘Opening’ the Heart (Spiritual Unfoldment, Spiritual Development, opening the Tenth Gate –  ਗਿਆਨ ਦਾ ਵਿਗਾਸ) with the Grace of the Gur-Giaan of the Gurbani (Gurmat)!

  • ਨਗਰੀ ਏਕੈ ਨਉ ਦਰਵਾਜੇ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਬਰਜਿ ਰਹਾਈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਦਸਵਾ ਦਰੁ ਖੂਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਖੀਵਾ ਭਾਈ ॥੩॥: There are nine gates (or 9 openings: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one genital, and one anus) to the one city (of the body); restrain your mind from escaping through them. O brother! When the knot of the three qualities of Maya is untied, then the Tenth Gate opens up (Mool-abidance…), and the mind remains intoxicated (in that State of abiding in Mool) ||3||. (sggs 1123).
  • ਹਿਰਦੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਮਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥: O my brother! Contemplate Raam in your Heart (sggs 159).

As the Gurbani indicates, through the Shabad-Vichaar, more and more subtle Understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) about the ‘Hirdaa’ (Spiritual Center…) will be revealed. Then it serves as a means of Pure Knowledge (‘ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੁ’). The Gurbani asserts we really are That.

  • ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Thus says Nanak – O mind! You are embodiment of Pure Light (Pure Consciousness, Pure Nature, Original or Real Nature, Wisdom, Virtues – Jot Saroop …)! Recognize your Mool (ਅਪਣੇ ਆਪ ਦੀ ਪਛਾਣ, recognition of mind’s Original or True Nature – Jot Saroop…) ||5|| (sggs 441).
  • ਹਿਰਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਗੁਰ ਗੰਮਿਤ ਗਗਨ ਮੰਡਲ ਮਹਿ ਧਿਆਨਾਨਾਂ ॥: Hirdai pragaasu giaan gur gammit gagan mahi dhiaanaanaan (sggs 339).

Cave of the Heart

the Divine Factor is described by the Gurbani (sggs) as having its abode in a ‘beautiful place‘ located in the ‘cave of the Heart‘ (‘ਖੋਰ, ਗੁਫਾ’)!

  • ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਬਸਤ ਰਿਦ ਮਹਿ ਖੋਰ ॥: Pritam basat rid mahi khor: My Beloved lives in the cave of my Heart (sggs 1121).
  • ਇਸੁ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਇਆ ॥: There is a beautiful place Within this cave of the Heart (sggs 126).

But if we ask the surgeons or the wizards of biology who daily open up physical hearts with their scissors and scalpels, they will tell us that there are no ‘caves’, per se, in the heart or some ‘beautiful place‘! How can this be reconciled? What does the Gurbani really mean by it?

It is the Spiritual Center, which is essentially synonymous to various other terms such as Aatam, the cavity of Intellect, the cave of Intuitive Wisdom, the cave of Intuitive Poise, the faculty of Intuition, the cave of Celestial Bliss, the Celestial Home, the inner Home, the cave of Silence, the cave of deep Samaadhi, the cave of the body, deep or Sunn SamaadhiSukh-Aasan, profound or seedless trance, absolute void, Sahaj or natural state of inner Being, Tenth Gate, Chauthaa Pad or fourth state, Turiyaa Avasthaa, Tenth Gate (Dasam Duaar), Conscious Principle, Eternal Essence, the city of Baygumpuraa or BrahmpuraaSachkhand, Truth, Light, the Ultimate Resort of the Mool or Jot Saroop of all etc.

The Gurbani tells us we are always in It. It is the state where the mind is totally being bent toward its Mool or Jot Saroop with all Inner Perfection. To put it otherwise, it is the state of Heart-Lotus turned upright — the realized state of Pure Consciousness within or Gurmukh-Hood.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਸਹਜ ਸੇਤੀ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਈਐ ॥: As Gurmukh, understand the Naam in your Heart, and you will return Home (i.e., your Original Nature – Jot Saroop or Mool) with Intuitive Ease ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 1127).
  • ਉਲਟਿਓ ਕਮਲੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: The inverted Heart-Lotus turns upright (i.e., becomes detached from Maya…) by engaging in Vichaar. (sggs 153).

In short, since the ‘cave of the Heart’ is not the physiological cavity or hole in the heart. It is not an object, or a self-evident truth placarded before our eyes, or an immediate datum given to us within the range of our common experiences.

Here it simply indicates the the Seat Divine, where the All-pervading Omnipresent Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot saroop…) can be contacted, in the very Heart of the seeker. Hence, it is the core of the personality in the very seeker. It is the condition of the evolved Jeev – the Gurmukh-Hood!

  • ਖਖਾ ਇਹੈ ਖੋੜਿ ਮਨ ਆਵਾ ॥ ਖੋੜੇ ਛਾਡਿ ਨ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਧਾਵਾ ॥: KHAKHA (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet): When the mind (who has realized Giaan or spiritual Knowledge) comes to remain in the ‘Khorr’ (of Heart, Mool, Jot-Saroop, ਅੰਤਰ-ਆਤਮਾ ਰੂਪ ਖੁੱਡ ਵਿੱਚ, etc.), (then) it does not leave this ‘Khorr’ to wander in the ten directions. (sggs 343).

Lotus of Heart

The Gurbani also talks about the ‘Heart-Lotus’. More can be read in a separate article entitled ‘Regular Flowers Versus the Lotus of the Heart‘.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥: (Who serve their Satigur through the Shabad, their) Egotism is subdued, and the Heart-Lotus blossoms forth (sggs 161).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਰਿਦੈ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh, the (Heart-) Lotus blossoms forth, and the Heart becomes illumined (by the Divine Wisdom). (sggs 640).

4 comments

  1. The Gurbani says “Hari Naamaa” is the Keerati:
    •ਜਤੁ ਸੰਜਮ ਤੀਰਥ ਓਨਾ ਜੁਗਾ ਕਾ ਧਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ॥੨॥: (sggs 797).
    •ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਉ ॥: Gur kee keerati japeeai hari naaou (sggs 897).

    And, according to the Gurbani, Naam is Giaan (Gurmat, Aatam-Giaan, Bibek Budhi…):
    •ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥: Gur Giaan padaarath naamu hai hari naamo dei drirhaai (sggs 759).

    In nutshell, Keerati is the Vichaar of the “Tatu” (“ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੇ”). The Giaan or Bibek-Budhi (Divine Knowledge, discerning Intellect…) of the Gurbani shows us how:
    •ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਪੂਜਾ ਪਰਮੇਸੁਰ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੇ ॥: Punn daan poojaa parmesur hari keerati tatu beechaare (sggs 718).
    •ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਬਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ॥: Andinu Keertanu keval bakhyaanu: (sggs 281).

    In turn, Aatam-Giaan and the Divine Qualities (ਗੁਣ, Divine Virtues…) are indicated to be connected:
    •ਗੁਣ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਮਹਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: (931)

  2. Bhai T Singh ji
    Thank you for writing on Hirda.
    Self talking & singing har gun (gun gyan) in Hirda – is this Kirti of Har?
    Many thanks for Bhai Gurpreet Singh ji for contributions.
    Kind Regards Nirmal Singh

  3. Satkar jog gurmukh T.Singh jio
    Sat bachan ji.
    By becoming the Gurmukh, the Gurbani urges us to Experience this Hirdaa (Spiritual Center…), and not just to talk about it.
    ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਦਸਵਾ ਦਰੁ ਖੂਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਖੀਵਾ ਭਾਈ
    ਦਸਮ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਅਗਮ ਅਪਾਰਾ ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਘਾਟੀ
    ਹਿਰਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਗੁਰ ਗੰਮਿਤ ਗਗਨ ਮੰਡਲ ਮਹਿ ਧਿਆਨਾਨਾਂ
    regards
    Das Gurpreet Singh

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