What is essential to know is what most of us do not know: Virtues, Giaan-Wisdom, Bibek-Budhi, Internalizing the Enlightening Message of the Guru’s Shabad…
Unfortunately, most of the readily available translations of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) on the internet are based on the literal / worldly meanings. For example, most of us have heard the self-serving Pujaarees (clergy) reciting the following Shabad in Gurdwaras 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 satiguru so thaan suhaavaa Raam raajae: (sggs 450).
‘ਸੋ – So‘ = That – ਉਹ,
‘ਥਾਨੁ – Thaan‘ = Place – ਥਾਂ,
‘ਸੁਹਾਵਾ – Suhaavaa‘ = Beautiful etc.
A totally literal interpretation of the above verse readily available on the internet reads: ‘Wherever my True Guru goes and sits, that place is beautiful, O Lord King.’
The self-serving clergy (Pujaaree) and their ignorant followers, and those who do not want to read and understand the Gurbani themselves blindly accept such literal meanings of the Gurbani.
As a result, they take only a particular building, a particular room, a particular altar, a particular place etc. to be the most beautiful, sublime or blessed place (‘ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ’)!
That’s NOT what the Gurbani means in the forgoing Shabad.
Most people, on account of Bikaars (i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride) want to realize something as sublime as spiritual Wisdom or Mool-Abidance and want it cheaply in the form of a ‘ready-made’ package. As a result, they put themselves in a position to plundered or cheated by the religious conmen! The Gurbani asserts that the mind clinging to Maya cannot be trusted.
Furthermore, the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) asserts that the Gurbani can ONLY be understood FROM the Gurban itself!
- ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਤੀ ਜਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਰਤੇ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਇ ॥: The Gurbani is understood from the Gurbani itself by those who with love remain imbued with the Gur-Shabad (Vichaar, Upadesh, Naam, Giaan or Wisdom…). (sggs 1346).
Having said that, what is that ‘Thaan Suhaavaa‘ or ‘Beautiful’ place (‘ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ’) the Gurbani is talking about?
Is it a particular building? Or is it a particular room in a building? Or is it a particular altar? Or is it a particular place, shrine etc.?
NONE OF THAT, according to the Gurmat Wisom of the SGGS! How so?
The SGGS speaks from the level of the mind, NOT from the level of attachment (ਮੋਹ), love of Maya or worldly temptation and their corrupting influences.
The Gurbani asserts that it’s 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 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!
Instead, the Gurbani is talking about the mind ;enlightened with the Gur-Giaan (Guru’s Wisdom, Bibek, Virtues).
- ਸਗਲ ਥਾਨ ਤੇ ਓਹੁ ਊਤਮ ਥਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਹ ਘਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੮॥੩॥ : Nanak, of all places, the most sublime place is that mind in which the Divine Naam (Giaan-Wisdom / Virtues) dwells. ||8||3|| (sggs 266).
In nutshell, when the Wisdom Awakens in the mind, then that mind-place becomes the most sublime, good, noble, blessed, 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॥: O God, blessed or beautiful is that place (i.e. mind) in which the Satiguru (True Wisdom-ਸਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) becomes established (Awakened). Gur-Sikhs (learners of the SGGS) seek out that Place (i.e. the mind) in which the Wisdom abides for they want to become like that. Gur-Sikhs who ponder on the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues), their efforts fall in the right place. Nanak, those who adore the True Wisdom, are adored by others. ||2||(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! blessed or beautiful is the place (i.e. mind) in which God is realized. ||3|| (sggs 1096).
- ਜਹ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਵਿਸਰਹਿ ਤਾ ਲਾਗੈ ਹਾਵਾ ॥੧॥: (O God!) the blessed or beautiful place is that mind in which you are remembered. The moment I forget You, I sigh in grief. ||1|| (sggs 563).
We are here in this world to Awaken the divine Wisdom (Aatm-Giaan) within: learn and understand through churning the Gurbani and then live it in daily life (Saas Saas-every breath).
In fact, to learn is to be a Sikh (learner-ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ)! We are here in this world to Awaken the Wisdom / Virtues within and then live it in daily life (Saas Saas-every breath).
- ਊਚਉ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਣਾ ਊਪਰਿ ਮਹਲੁ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥: The divine Abode is Higher than the highest beautiful place (i.e. realization of Divine Conscience within is most exalted). (sggs18).
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਨ ਕਾ ਰੂਪ ਰੰਗੁ ॥: Hari Naam is the Beauty and Delight of Jan (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat…) (sggs 264).
The Gurbani asserts that nothing is more Beautiful then the Heart or the mind which is Awakened to its Jot Saroop (Mool, Pure Consciousness, Essential Nature… ) — that is the most ‘Beautiful’ Place.
- ਜਿਤੁ ਘਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਥਾਉ ॥: That mind, in which Paarbrahm is realized, is the most blessed or beautiful Place. (sggs 218).
In other words, the ‘Beauty’ mentioned in the Gurbani is none other than the mind’s constant abidance in its Mool (Source, Jot Saroop, the Enlightened or Gurmukh state of the mind).
In short, one is able to behold his own True Beauty through the mirror of the Gurmat Wisdom, Truth or Virtues (ਗੁਣ) . This ‘Beauty’ alone is.
- ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇ ਕੈ ਹੋਹੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਭਾਈ ॥: O brother! Contemplating the Divine Naam, become spiritually rejuvenated (i.e. Virtuous, Wise…). (sggs 1193).
- ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਤ ਮਨੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਹੋਵੈ ॥: By living the Divine Virtues, the mind becomes spiritually rejuvenated. (sggs 104).
Whatever one perceives in the state of unconditioned Consciousness is Beautiful. Whereas, whatever is perceived through tarnished or conditioned consciousness is ‘filth‘.
With the Wisdom Awakened in the mind or consciousness (Surat), one’s thinking becomes divine, and senses become righteous. Such person can be anybody and anywhere in the world.
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 (Wisdom / Virtues), one is deceived by captivating Maya — the worldly temptations and their corrupting influences. (sggs 707).
The majority of us are unable to see the Wholesome ‘Beauty’ of our Original Nature (Jot Saroop) for It has become covered with the ‘filth’ or wall of egotism or Haumai. In other words, when the connecting link between Jeev and God (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 Mind – the Enlightened or Gurmukh beings. Because, only a ‘rare‘ Gurmukh reflects on the Gurbani.
- ਬਾਣੀ ਬਿਰਲਉ ਬੀਚਾਰਸੀ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੪੦॥ : Only a RARE Gurmukh (Enlighted State of the Mind) Reflects on Gurbani. This Bani is of the Satguru and through it, one abides in his own True Self within. ||40|| (sggs 935).
- 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 One Creator 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.
- 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 locations to be most beautiful or Divine (i.e. Gurdwara, so called Teerath etc.). To the contrary, the Gurbani observes these places to be the corrupt places in this world.
Also, the One Creator in the Gurbani is said to be everywhere and in all, here and now — NOT separate from man.
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 greedy and self-serving Pujaaree.
- ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮੈ ਜੋ ਮਿਲੈ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥: A person can be called God-connected who is connected with God from within. (sggs 791).
- ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: (That person who performs all sorts of religious rituals and is devoid of Virtues) such person acquires no Spiritual Wisdom, no meditation), no Dharma and no focus. (sggs 935).
Further, the Gurbani teaches us of all pursuits/practices/efforts the most sublime is:
- ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ॥ : Of all Dharma the most sublime Dharma is to realize the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) and emulating them to perform deeds free of corrupting influence of Maya (live a clean/spiritual life). (sggs 266).
- ਸਗਲ ਕ੍ਰਿਆ ਮਹਿ ਊਤਮ ਕਿਰਿਆ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਲੁ ਹਿਰਿਆ ॥ : Of all religious rituals the most sublime ritual is to clean the filth of the corrupting thoughts with the Guidance of the Guru (by Internalizing the Enlightening Message of the Shabad). (sggs 266).
- ਸਗਲ ਉਦਮ ਮਹਿ ਉਦਮੁ ਭਲਾ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਜੀਅ ਸਦਾ ॥ : Of all efforts the most sublime effort is, for the mind to realize the divine Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (sggs 266).
- ਸਗਲ ਬਾਨੀ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਨੀ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਜਸੁ ਸੁਨਿ ਰਸਨ ਬਖਾਨੀ ॥ : Of all Bani (spoken words) the most Amrit Bani is to listen and utter Naam — live a daily life of Wisdom / Virtues. (sggs 266).
Hence, in a nutshell, the Gurmat Wisdom SGGS teaches us that (1) the real beauty is in one’s good thoughts, words, and actions (i.e., mind, Soch-ਸੋਚ), character, conduct or behavior, ਚੰਗਾ ਕਿਰਦਾਰ, etc. (2) because one’s gross body-frame is nothing but a bundle of bones, skin, blood, and filth.
- ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਮਜੀਠੈ ਰੰਗਿ ਰੀ ॥: Imbue this beautiful mind of yours with the Majeeth-like lasting color of the Divine Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (sggs 400).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਚਾਮ ਲਪੇਟੇ ਹਾਡ ॥: Kabeer, do not be so proud of your (body, after all it is just a bundle of) bones wrapped up in skin. (sggs 1366).
Thank you sister Ramneek Kaur JI for taking the time to reply. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!
Thank you J Ji for taking the time to post comment.
Excellent post T Singh Ji !