GUJARI KI VAR MAHALA
GUJARI KI VAR MAHALA 3 is one of the four vdrs composed by Guru Amar Das structured in the form of a vdr or folk poem adapted to a spiritual theme. The Vdr, as the title indicates, falls in the Gujari musical measure, fifth of the thirty-one rdgas in the Holy Book. This rdga is usually sung a little after dawn, though in the Sikh tradition considerable freedom is exercised in choosing the hour for reciting this and other rdgas. At the head of the Vdr is given the direction as to the tune to which it had best be sung.
The tune recommended is that of the ballad eulogizing the chivalry and physical prowess of Sikandar who attacked and vanquished Biraham (IbrahTm), kidnapper of the young bride of a Brahman. The Vdr comprises twenty-two pauns or stanzas of five rhyming lines each. Each of the pauns is preceded by two slokas or couplets or double couplets constituting a quatrain. All slokas are of Guru Amar Das`s composition too, except one, preceding the fourth paun, which is by Bhakta Kabir and which is also repeated among his 243 slokas recorded towards the close of the Scripture under the title “Salok Bhagat Kabir Jiu Ke” (slokas of Bhakta Kabir).
As in the case of other vdrs, the slokas were added to the pauns by GuruArjan at the time of the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib. The technique of composition of vdrs demands collocation of opposites of many types, some side by side, others successively in different units of the composition. Confrontation of ideas, emotions and persons is presented again and again to reinforce the polarization in the mind of the reader. Gujari ki Vdr maintains throughout a contrasted parallel to wean the mind of the seeker from mdyd, illusory pursuits, and turn it towards devotion. The pairs of opposites here may be formulated in a variety of ways.
These may be visualized as contrasted characters of gurmukh and manmukh or as contrasted attitudes towards truth and falsehood, good and evil, the material and the spiritual. The interrelationship of the forces surrounding both the positive and tlie negative poles constitutes the central theme. Around the positive pole revolve love of God`s feet, practice of God`s Name, possession of God`s grace, reflection on Guru`s word, obedience to Guru`s will, true way of life, everlastingness, and the gurmukh, whereas the negative pole is surrounded by love of mdyd, otherness, uncertainty, worldliness, obliquity, sleep, i.e. ignorance, suffering, futility of life, and the manmukh.
All the items/forces surrounding each pole are related to one another and some of them are in a symbolic garb and inwardly mean the same thing as some other items. The positive and similar other items could be subsumed under the concept of truth and the negative ones and their correlates under falsehood. This universe came into being under the Will of God. Initially, there was complete vacuum and the only existence then was that of the Lord alone who Himself was nirankdr, i.e. without form. He created this world along with mdyd and its triple progeny, the three gunas, and made man attached to it.
However, man can see through the illusory mdyd and achieve union with the Lord provided he meets the true Guru with the grace of God, and under instruction of the Guru sheds his ego and constantly meditates on the Lord`s Name. This theme has been brought out with the help of pairs of opposites two contrasted characters, gurmukhand manmukh, and two contrasted attitudes relating to truth and falsehood. Hukam, God`s command, which caused the creation of this Universe of mdyd and its triple progeny, is also His own creation: in fact, it is an aspect of Him. It is under His hukam that man takes either to mdyd and forgets his Creator or to his spiritual Preceptor who enables him to become worthy of acceptance at the Divine portal.
The former arc called manmukh and the latter gurmukh and the text points to the contrast of their moral conduct and psychological motivations. Since both of them are equally subject to His hukam which in due course brings all men under Divine grace and liberates them, the former do not stand condemned eternally. Hukam which causes this polarity abolishes it as well. The Sikh way of life as expounded in this Vdr, as also in the rest of the bam in the Guru Granth Sahib, expects of the seeker to keep constant guard over the evil propensities.
He is told that the most potent weapon to fight ego and its progeny lust, greed, anger, pride, infatuation is the Name of God.Constant remembrance of His name prepares man both intellectually and emotionally for submission to His hukam willingly and spontaneously which, in turn, leads him to the realization of Truth. A special feature of the Vdr is the sustained expression in it of wonder at the Divine sublimity which helps arouse emotions of awe in human mind not only with regard to God but also with regard to everything relating to Him. The true Guru who shows the way to God, the way itself, the man who treads this path and the fruits of his labours are all sources of wonder.
The emotion of awe has two dimensions.When man experiences it, the objective reality that stimulates it is magnified immeasurably; on the other side, the subjective self undergoing it is felt to be diminished in an inverse ratio. The expression of this emotion is intended to arouse in man feelings of humility. Without humility which implies shedding of ego and surrendering oneself completely to the Will of God, neither the greatness of God`s hukam is realized nor human action subordinated to it. Every quality of God is the expression of His hukam which is beyond human comprehension.
The infinity of God is in fact the infinity of His hukam and the experience of awe is an experience of the immensity of hukam and its manifestation and nature and humanity. Humility and obedience to hukam are also related as means to an end: humility leads to hukam and hukam to Truth. Absence of humility, or its reverse, i.e. the presence of pride or ego, renders man incapable of having faith in a Guru. He fails to break his own shell and come out into the vast open world. Such an egoridden person always regards his own limited self as overwhelmingly important and fails to be impressed by the infinity and immensity of the Lord Creator.
Man must liberate himself from what in the Sikh tradition are called five vices as well as from their common source, haumai, which, in turn, results from attachment to may a. A manmukh responds negatively to the urge of his atman, which is part of the Eternal, and suffers. He is content to remain bound down to the five vices which lead him from one crisis to another in his life. Only by developing humility and surrendering himself to God`s Will, he breaks out of his obstinacy and becomes the object of His grace. It is the guidance of the true Guru and His grace which enable him to swim across this worldocean triumphantly.
The language used in Gujan ki Vdr, as elsewhere in the compositions of GuruAmar Das, is simple Punjabi of the Majha (central) tract of the Punjab a region where he spent almost all of his creative life. It certainly has some influence of the Sant Bhakha, but the text is almost free from words of other languages which were not by then completely assimilated into the Punjabi idiom. The subtlety of thought nowhere hinders the lucid flow of poetry. The symbol as well as image used is traditional, but they both do enrich the poetic quality of the Vdr which eloquently sums up the Sikh way of life as enunciated by Guru Nanak.
1. Kohli, Surindar Singh, A Critical Sl.udy of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961
2. Talib, Gurbachan Singh, Bani of Gum Amur Das. Delhi, 1979
3. Bishan Singh, Giani, Bdi Varan Sahk. Amritsar, n.d.