OANKARU is a composition of Guru Nanak`s in the measure Ramkali in the Guru Granth Sahib. The full title of the barn is Rdmkali Mahala 1 Dakhani Oankaru. The title is explained differently by different scholars. According to one tradition, dakham is the adjective for the noun Oarikaru which is the actual name of the bdm. It is called dakham because it was addressed to the priest of the Oarikar temple in the dakhan (South), on an island in the river Narmada, in Madhya Pradesh.

According to another tradition, the designation of the bdm is Oankdru and the term dakham goes with Rdmkali, as Dakhani is a form of the Ramkali rdga. Many other instances of the titles written on similar lines are quoted in support of this view, as, for instance, Gauri Mahala 1 Dakhani and Vadaharis Mahala 1 Dakhani. In these barns, dakham stands for the rdgamor the measure of music. Oankdru is composed in the form of an acrostic, each stanza beginning with one of the letters of the script meant for writing Sanskrit. Some of the sounds of Sanskrit do not exist in the language used by Guru Nanak.

In such cases, prevalent equivalent sounds are used to represent the letters of the old script. For example, `j` is used for `y` and `b` for `v`. Oankdru opens with verses in praise of God who is remembered as the creator of all that exists, of time with all its different cycles, and of the entire universe. Then follows the verse of rahdu (pause) indicating the central theme of the bdm : 0 Pande, why are you involved in the writing of such idle hieroglyphics. Write the name of God alone. Hereafter begins the acrostic form.

The emphasis is on ethical and spiritual teaching.Men whose deeds fall short of their professions have been called moving corpses, i.e. corpses which only breathe. They are dead, spiritually. But even those so degraded have a chance of saving themselves if only they would make a total surrender to the will of God. If such a person devotes himself to Nam, his mind would be cleansed of worldly temptations and cravings.

The grace of the Guru will be a decisive factor in this process of spiritual regeneration. Temptation is the cause of suffering and sinfulness. Only those guided by the Guru`s wisdom overcome it.No rituals can be of any help, nor any intellectual or scholarly accomplishment. Renunciation of the world and ascetic practices are of little avail. The real Pandit or wise man is he who follows the path shown by the Guru and remains united with God while performing his worldly duty.

The language of the composition is a mixture of Hindavi and Punjabi. Words of PersoArabic origin are rarer here than in some of Guru Nanak`s other poems. The grammatical patterns are closer to those of Apabhrarisa. The style is simple without any conscious attempt at poetic ornamentation.

Yet certain artistic features are noteworthy. Striking specimens of the use of simile and metaphor as well as of alliteration are not infrequent. The poem has contributed to Punjabi many crisp maxims and aphorisms. For instance: gun vichdre gidm soihe who imbibes merit is the real knower, Giani (GG, 931) kdmu krodhu kdid kau gdlailust and anger consume the body (GG, 932); and lekhu na mitai he sakhijo likhid kartdri the destiny the Creator has written for you will not be erased, my friend (GG, 937).

References :

1. Sabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Amritsar, 1964
2. Hira, Bhagat Singh, Oankar Darshan. Delhi, 1977
3. Saluja, Jagjit Singh, Mul Mantar Sankalap te Vivechan. Ludhiana, 1982
4. Sahib Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan. Jalandhar, 1963