PAINTIS AKKHARI, lit., a poem based on paintis or thirty-Five letters, is a composition in the form of an acrostic utilizing for successive verses the thirty-five characters of the Gurmukhi alphabet. The poem is sometimes attributed to Guru Nanak but mistakenly, for it is not included in the Guru Granth Sahib. Had it been Guru Nanak`s work it would have formed part of the holy corpus. It seems to have been composed by a Vedantin sadhu, apparently after 1604, the date by which the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib had been completed.

No historical account concerning the preparation of the Holy Book refers to Paintis Akkhari having reached the hands of the compiler, Guru Arjan, the Fifth Guru. The Naslhat Ndmd and Prdn Sangah or the manuscripts of the sufi saints such as Pilu, Shah Husain, Kahna and Chhajju which did reach him were rejected. Guru Nanak`s own poem in this style, called Patti, is incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib, wherein the letters are pronounced in Gurmukhi style as sassd, hdhd, kakkd, etc., and not in the Devanagri style as sd, hd, kd, etc., as happens in the Paintis Akkhari. Philosophically and religiously also the two poems have nothing in common.

The verses in Paintis Akkhari are arranged in the order of the Gurmukhi letters as they occur in the alphabet. The poem has seven stanzas, each with six to nine lines. The Name Nanak occurs once at the end of the composition. Stylistically, it is marked by simple versification nowhere reaching the sublimity of Guru Nanak`s poetry. Its contents relate to monistic metaphysics, i.e. the concept of monism, of supremacy of knowledge obtained through the true Guru and the experience of bliss in the realization of`That I am.` It preaches the complete identity of isvara and jiva, of a saint and a thief; and does not accept duality in any form. As for Brahm, Paintis Akkhari says that He is present everywhere.

He is the essence of the spirit, a nondoer and immortal. The One, indivisible and without a beginning, resides in an elephant, in an ant, and in all things from a straw to a mountain. He is the cause of causes and is still a non-doer. He is the light from which all light emanates. As the true jnana or realization dawns, all ignorance born of daulity vanishes. The ruler of the body, viz. the jiva (soul) transcends the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep and attains to the fourth, turyd, which is the state of Nirguna (unattributed) Brahman and which signifies the end of duality, of the notion of the empirical subject and object.The symphony of the sounds of un-struck music is heard, but only a yogi who has the ecstatic realization of unity with the Divine experiences this bliss.

The true Guru alone can grant the supreme gift of muklior liberation, for he gives true light, removes doubts and washes away the sins. He purifies the jiva by banishing doubt and annuls duality. One can realize advaita (nonduality) only when one surrenders oneself to the Guru completely. By the Guru`s grace are banished evil and malady. As one is rid of ignorance, of the false sense of duality, one experiences the supreme bliss. As one realizes one`s true self, all suffering ends and true knowledge dawns. One merges with Brahman as water merges with water. There is none without Vasudeva, 0 Nanak, He is the One, He is I, He is that. The Paintis Akkhari is one of the oldest acrostics on Gurmukhi characters. It was popular reading in Sikh homes until the rise of the Singh Sabha, which discouraged the recitation of this non-scriptural text. Older people still read it daily and derive solace from it.

References :

1. Sahib Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib .Darken. Jalandhar, 1962-64
2. Kohli, Surindar Singh. A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961