Over the years I have come to realize that we are all utter and thorough fools. There have been so many clues and indications, a huge amount of texts and sayings that scream the truth. Yet, we are all so determined to look at life only our way that we just ignore the obvious meanings in all of these and tend to add a complexity to them. I am not even anymore sure why we do this.
The “Japji Sahib” in my view is one such highly misinterpreted set of verses that I wonder if “Guru Nanak Ji” came down to the world today would he recognize it as his verses at all. Somehow we all tend to give a “divine” or “magical” or “God” or “Holy” connotation to all these teachings that we tend to lose the underlying meaning in all of them. The simple and straight-forward truth, screamed by the upanishads, the mrthyumjaya mantra, the Gayatri mantra and now Japji Sahib. The world around us is the reality of the senses and is different from the truth. To see the truth we have no choice but to stop interpreting the signals from the senses.
The below is my interpretation of the first verse in this very nice and meaningful set of verses. The first two verses I believe brings out very very clearly what has been said in the subsequent verses. Here I will only talk the first verse.
Sochai Soch N Hovee Jae Sochee Lakh Vaar || Chupai Chup N Hovee Jae Laae Rehaa Liv Thaar || Bhukhiaa Bhukh N Outharee Jae Bannaa Pureeaa Bhaar || Sehas Siaanapaa Lakh Hohi Th Eik N Chalai Naal || Kiv Sachiaaraa Hoeeai Kiv Koorrai Thuttai Paal || Hukam Rajaaee Chalanaa Naanak Likhiaa Naal ||1||
By thinking thoughts does not become reality, only a hundred thoughts will form
By silencing it is not silenced it stays alive deep inside you
By eating hunger is not satisfied this attachment for the world
A lot of courage and intelligence can be present nothing works
what is the truth what can we do to cross over to this truth
You act according to this impulse that you have yourself written
I can write a lot about each and every line in this Paudi. But the first sentence is the best. “By thinking, the thoughts do not become a reality, only a hundred thoughts will be formed”. How true!!! How many times have I thought to myself, Please Please Let this come true, or please please please let this not happen!!! And how many times have I realized, it does not matter what I think, what is happening is happening come what may!!
There is a very nice saying in again one of our very own Upanishads:
acintyam cintyamāno'pi cintārūpam bhajatyasau | tyaktvā tadbhāvanam tasmāt evamevāham āsthitaḥ ||
Thinking of the unthinkable only forms a thought of the unthinkable. Hence give up that thought knowing it will not last.
Which is what first sentence here also says. It is like this, if I took a computer and wrote a program to show the image of “fire” will I get heat? Can I add animation to it and think there is “fire” in the reality around me? Similarly, “the thought” is just a vibration in my mind which has not converted to reality and all it can do is form more thoughts.
The second sentence in this verse is even more true. I wonder how many times we have tried to control that thought that occurs to us. I have tried it a number or times and only realized that it has stayed deep within and surfaced again when I am caught unawares not guarding my thoughts. So, what is said in the first two sentences are perfectly true. Thoughts do not become reality, but they cannot be silenced also, they keep occurring. This hunger to keep thinking can never be satisfied as long as we live and stays with us for ever.
The next sentence is even more better. “A lot of courage and intelligence can be present, but nothing works”. Isn’t it true? Aren’t courage and intelligence just other thoughts that we have been talking about? Isn’t courage also a thought? Isn’t intelligence also logic which is a thought? Can one thought be used to make another into reality?
It is like someone once told me, skiing is more skill than force!!! In skiing you cannot turn by adding more force but you need to know exactly how much pressure to put on which toe. Exactly what this is, sure you can have courage and intelligence, however they cannot help solve the problem of thoughts, they will just form other thoughts. The key is to give up thoughts and that cannot be done by just adding more thoughts!
That gets us to the next very important question. So, “What is the truth? What can we do to get to it?”. Isn’t that critical? Only by knowing that snow has less friction did we know that force only is detrimental to it, it needs skill. We do not know about the truth at all, how do we know what is detrimental to understanding the truth? What can we do to get to it? Isn’t this what the Kena Upanishad also asked?
But the last of this is the best and leads us on subsequently into the next Paudi. “I act according to the impulse I myself have written”. “Nanak” I believe is interpreted wrongly as a reference to “God”, and “Hukam” interpreted as “Order or Command” and hence most of the common interpretations turn out to be “You act according to the command of God”. But that does not gel with what is written in the previous sentences. I think they need to translate to “Nanak” is a “person in the human form” or “Me” or “You” or “I” and “Hukam” is impulse. Hence that words “Hukam rajaee Chalnaa, Nanak likhiya naal” literally turns to be “impulse driving I move, I written words”.
So, put together and taking language into account, it comes to “I act according to the impulse I myself have written” which is what the Isha Upanishad also says. Do not look outside you, this impulse to do something is coming from within you and as long as this impulse stays so long you too stay!!!
Yes, the Japji Sahib is definitely a set of words that needs to be studied carefully.