Unspoken Speach-Akath Kathaa

Akath” (ਅਕਥ) is ordinarily translated as “unspoken”, “unutterable”, “unspeakable”, “unmentionable”, etc. And “Kathaa” (ਕਥਾ) is ordinarily translated as “speech”, “discourse”, “exposition”, etc. The choice of the words “unspoken”, “speech”, etc. is unfortunate, but there are difficulties in translating; for in the English language there are no exact equivalent to certain words.

Baabaa Nanak says: “speak the Unspoken Speech”. That is, express the inexpressible or utter the unutterable — “Akath Kathaa “, “Akath Kahaanee “, and so on. The word “speech” or “speak” looks like doing (physical action). He says, “speak the Unspoken Speech” or “speak without a tongue” – Vichaar, within. This is how one can speak the unspeakable, and this is how one can speak without a tongue – through Vichaar, within (i.e., without physical receptors).

It sounds paradoxical. In fact this material existence is by its very nature paradoxical. For example, if there is life, there is death. If there is love, there is hate. If there is happiness, there is misery (Dukha), so on and so forth. Human language is also limited, hence paradoxical. Therefore, many religious and spiritual assertions appears to be paradoxical. This is why people continually go on debating, arguing, hating, killing, and fighting in the name God and religion.

Baabaa Nanak seems to be asking us to do, which cannot be done through physical action. In other words, he seems to be urging us to do, which can only be experienced within, which can only be Realized within (“ਬੂਝਣਾ”), or which happens only within, naturally and spontaneously (Sahaj). But how?

  • ਅਕਥ ਕਥਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਜੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥: Aakath kathaa veechaareeai je satigur maahi samaai: (One can) Contemplate (Vichaar) the Unspoken Speech, if (one) merges in the Satigur (ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਦੇ ਉਪਦੇਸ-ਸਚ ਦੇ ਗਿਆਨ-ਵਿਚ ਲੀਨ ਹੋ ਜਾਣਾਂ…). (sggs 62).
  • ਹਉ ਮੈ ਕਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਤੂ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਹਉ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਬੂਝਣਾ ਏਹ ਅਕਥ ਕਥਾ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: Boojhahu giaanee boojhanaa eh akath kathaa mann maahi: When one acts in egotism, then You are not there Lord (i.e., ਮੇਰੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਪਰਗਟ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦਾ-not Awakened within). Wherever You are (i.e., ਮੇਰੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਪਰਗਟ-Awakened within), there is no ego. O Giaanee (O Wise one!), understand that this “Unspoken Speech” is in your mind (sggs 1093).

The Gurbani urges us to become the Gurmukhi (Spiritual Being who has Realized Gurmati, Shabad-Giaan…) to “speak the Unspoken Speech” – Realization of the Indescribable, remaining dead while yet alive (i.e., Jeevanmukta), attaining “ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਣੀ” (the state of Nirvana), etc. (“ਅਕਥ ਕਹਾਣੀ ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਣੀ ਕੋ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝਏ ॥”: Akath kahaanee padu nirabaanee ko viralaa gurmukhi boojhe, sggs 844).

In nutshell, “Akath Kathaa” is that, which can only be Reflected upon within (Vichaar) – ਅਕਥ ਕਥਾ ਵਿਚਾਰੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੈ. In that sense, it cannot be spoken – ਦੱਸੀ ਨਹੀ ਜਾ ਸਕਦੀ. Because, it is beyond the power of the physical receptors: tongue, ears, hands, feet, etc.

  • 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).

Here the Gurbani is directing our attention to the Divine Hukam which can only be Experienced/Understood/Realized (“ਹੁਕਮੁ ਬੂਝਿ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਈ ॥”: Hukam boojh param pada paaee, sggs 229).

The Gurbani also tells us that a Manmukh (opposite of the Gurmukhi) – because of his false intellect (ਝੂਠੀ ਮਤ, ਹੋਛੀ ਅਕਲ…) – cannot “speak the Unspoken Speech”.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਬੁਧਿ ਕਾਚੀ ਮਨੂਆ ਡੋਲੈ ਅਕਥੁ ਨ ਕਥੈ ਕਹਾਨੀ ॥: Manmukh budhi kaachee manooaa dolai akathu n kathai kahaanee: The intellect of a Manmukh (who follows his own mind, self willed…) is false; his (Mayaic) mind wavers and wobbles, and he cannot speak the Unspoken Speech (sggs 1233).

The Gurbani also shows us the means by which we all can understand (ਪਰਾਪਤੀ) – attain, realize, or know, this “Akath Kathaa“:

  • ਆਵਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਪਿਆਰਿਹੋ ਅਕਥ ਕੀ ਕਰਹ ਕਹਾਣੀ ॥ ਕਰਹ ਕਹਾਣੀ ਅਕਥ ਕੇਰੀ ਕਿਤੁ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਸਭੁ ਸਉਪਿ ਗੁਰ ਕਉ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਮੰਨਿਹੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇਰਾ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਸਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਕਥਿਹੁ ਅਕਥ ਕਹਾਣੀ ॥੯॥ ਏ ਮਨ ਚੰਚਲਾ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਕਿਨੈ ਤੂ ਸੁਣਿ ਮੰਨ ਮੇਰਿਆ ॥ ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਣੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਏਤੁ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਤ ਮੋਹਣੀ ਤਿਨੈ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਠਗਉਲੀ ਪਾਈਆ ॥ ਕੁਰਬਾਣੁ ਕੀਤਾ ਤਿਸੈ ਵਿਟਹੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਮੋਹੁ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਚੰਚਲ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੧੦॥ ਏ ਮਨ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਤੂ ਸਦਾ ਸਚੁ ਸਮਾਲੇ ॥ ਏਹੁ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਤੂ ਜਿ ਦੇਖਦਾ ਚਲੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਲੇ ॥ ਸਾਥਿ ਤੇਰੈ ਚਲੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਨਾਲਿ ਕਿਉ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਈਐ ॥ ਐਸਾ ਕੰਮੁ ਮੂਲੇ ਨ ਕੀਚੈ ਜਿਤੁ ਅੰਤਿ ਪਛੋਤਾਈਐ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਤੂ ਹੋਵੈ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਲੇ ॥ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਤੂ ਸਦਾ ਸਚੁ ਸਮਾਲੇ ॥੧੧॥: O (Guru’s) dear Satsangi Jan! Let us (together) talk about the indescribable Creator. Let’s inquire into this “Akath Kahaanee” as to by what means we can attain (This “Kahaanee” of the “Akath” – ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ ਮਾਣਨ ਦਾ ਸਹੀ ਰਸਤਾ, true way of Realizing spiritual Bliss, ਪਰਾਪਤੀ…). (This is how to attain – ਪਰਾਪਤੀ – this “Kahaanee” of the “Akath” – ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ ਮਾਣਨ ਦਾ ਸਹੀ ਰਸਤਾ ਇਹ ਹੈ) Surrender all body, mind, wealth to the Gur (i.e., stop worrying about body, wealth, etc., – worldly worries, Mayaic or ਸੰਸਾਰਿਕ ਫਿਕਰ, etc. – and surrender selfhood, Haumai, egotism, ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ…); obey the Hukam, and (like this-by obeing the Divine Hukam and freeing ourselves from the external noise of the body, mind , wealth, etc.- we can) attain (this “Kahaanee” of the “Akath”). Obey the Guroo’s (ਪ੍ਰਮੇਸਰ) Hukam, (then, that is, by obeying the Divine Hukam – ਭਾਣਾ – ) the True Bani is Sung (i.e., otherwise “ਸਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ” cannot be sung). O Nanak! Listen, O Saints, (if you want to narrate, then only) narrate the “Akath Kahhanee ” (i.e., otherwise keep quiet or don’t speak nonsense…). ||9|| O (my) fickle mind, through cleverness (worldly cleverness, tricks – ਚਲਾਕੀਆਂ ਨਾਲ), no one has attained (“Akath Kahaanee”, ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ, spiritual Bliss…). Listen, O my mind! Through cleverness (worldly cleverness, tricks – ਚਲਾਕੀਆਂ ਨਾਲ), no one has attained (ਕੋਈ ਪਰਾਪਤੀ ਨਹੀ). This Maya is an enchantress, which keeps people strayed in doubt; this charming Maya was created by Him who has spread this illusion. (Therefore, O my mind! Instead of being sacrifice to Maya, be) sacrifice to Him who has made attachment so sweet (worldy love…). Says Nanak, O (my) fickle mind! No one has attained (ਕੋਈ ਪਰਾਪਤੀ ਨਹੀ). ||10|| O my beloved mind! Forever remain imbued in the Realization of the Creator within. This the mind’s family (i.e. senses and their sense-objects) which you see will not go along with you; then why do you focus your consciousness on it? Don’t do anything that you will regret in the end. Listen to the Teachings (ਗਿਆਨ, ਸਿਖਿਆ…) of the Satiguroo – these will go along with you. (Therefore) Says Nanak, O beloved mind! Remain imbued (within) in the Truth forever. ||11|| (sggs 918).

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