PHUNHK, plural of phunha, a word derived from the Sanskrit punha meaning `again`, is the name of a poetic metre in which a particular term or phrase occurs repeatedly in each chhand or may be in each verse of a poem; in the Guru Granth Sahib it is the title of a composition comprising twenty-three quatrains, following the Gdthd verses. The term repeated in Guru Arjan`s Phunhe is harihdn which is also said to be another name of the phunha poetic measure. According to a tradition, Harihari was also the name of Guru Arjan`s sisterinlaw (wife`s sister). These verses were, it is said, addressed by the Guru to her as she wanted, in compliance with a Punjabi custom, to hear some verses from the bridegroom (Guru Arjan) at the time of his marriage.
Modern exegetes interpret the term to signify he hari (0 Hari, i.e. 0 God). Phunhe is a poem of deep devotion of the longing of the `woman` for the `spouse` who is of unparalleled beauty. Utterly incapable are her lips of uttering His praise (1). She has tried all the sixteen embellishments known to women, but without Him all are vain (3). She dedicates her life and all its embellishments to Him and hopes to receive Him on the couch of her heart (2). She craves for the Lord`s Name like a chatrik longing for the svdntidrop (11). She failed to capture Him in her dream and now she seeks His footprints (13).
When the yearning is so great, God intervenes. His saints succour the seeker and lead him to the Divine Being beholding whom all sorrows depart. In his hands lie all the miraculous powers, all the nine treasures and all joys of the earth (7).The saint is the healer who rids man of all his maladies, sins and sorrows (23). The saints themselves partake of the ambrosia of God`s Name and they impart this priceless gift to others (22). The places visited by such saints and devotees become blessed (18).
To end the cycle of transmigration and to realize the Supreme Being, the devotees constantly meditate on the Name (6). The reference to the newly constructed town of Ramdaspur (present day city of Amritsar) and the holy tank there proclaims, by implication, that a holy dip in the ambrosial water of the Divine Name purifies the seeker of all sloth and sin and brings to him the Divine vision (10).
1. Sahaddrth Sri Guru Cranth Sahib. Amritsar, 1964
2. Kohli, Surindar Singh, A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961