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Introduction To 'The Guru Nanak's Divine Message Japji' By Jaspinder Singh Grover
Jap Ji Sahib is the fundamental morning prayer of the Sikhs, composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, being the first composition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It consists of the mool mantra followed by 38 stanzas of bani and then a slok. But why is recitation of Jap Ji, with full understanding of each and every word of it, so important? It is because Jap Ji can act as a spiritual guide for every human being by answering many of the fundamental questions that crop up in the mind of any humble seeker. It possesses the potential to act as a light which can initiate any person on a spiritual journey by clearing various doubts about the real nature of God, His attributes, how the world came into existence, with whose command it functions, the various stages of spiritual progress, the method of realizing the Supreme, the significance of following the Divine Will, how everything in nature is governed by the Divine Will, the method and importance of getting rid of one's ego and how it helps in God realization, how different people see Him in different forms, how the Divine Ordinance holds the reigns of this world, the grandeur of that Benevolent Lord, the importance of His Grace in achieving Him, how to become capable of receiving His Grace and the method of attaining Him.
The mool mantar presents the attributes of God and real nature of the Supreme one who runs the cosmos and whom we are to worship. It affirms that God is one and exists unchanged through different ages permeating every iota of this universe. He is fearless, free from birth and death, evolved from Himself, inimical to no one, True in the present and future. He can be achieved only by the Grace of True Guru. Mool mantar is followed by the bani Jap Ji.
The first stanza tells us that the only way God can be attained is by following His Will or 'Hukam'. It discards all other methods (like maintaining physical cleanliness, meditating in silence, acquiring all material objects, application of one's wits) to attain liberation and unison with that one God as illusory. The second stanza illustrates as to how ,everything works according to the Divine Will and how understanding of this Will is attained by losing one's ego. The third stanza states how the different beings express his different qualities and greatness but none can express completely or accurately what his real form is, though millions have tried to do so innumerable times. The fourth one answers two very important questions as how to get a glimpse of His Divine Portal and become worthy of His love. The fifth stanza talks about some qualities and attributes of the Divine and reveals that the different names like Shiva, Paravati etc represent that one God only. The sixth one discards ritual purification like bathing at holy places suggesting that all holy places can be discovered within by adhering to the Divine Will. The seventh stanza emphasizes that all worldly accomplishments are worthless without his Grace. Stanzas eighth to eleventh express the fruits and rewards of listening His Name. By listening is implied singing Lords praises which may be in the form of kirtan or by recitation of Gurbani. By so doing man attains the status of austeres, saints and Demi Gods, gains awareness of the secrets of nature, becomes fearless of death, gets rid of the burden of his sins, attains the respect and reverence enjoyed by the learned, gains intricate knowledge of the Vedas and other religious scriptures, earns the virtue acquired by bathing at sixty eight pilgrimages, attains the status of scholars, saints and kings and gains awareness of the secrets of the unfathomable life ocean. Stanzas 12 to 15 talk about accepting His Divine Will and the state of a believer who does so. A believer's state is indescribable. He gains wisdom and knowledge of the secrets of the entire cosmos. His mind is attuned to a higher consciousness being not obstructed by the obstacles of this world. He becomes free from the cycle of births and deaths, earns respect and reverence before departing for the next world. A believer finds the door to emancipation and guides others across the worldly ocean. All needs of such a believer are directly fulfilled by God. Stanza sixteen discusses the state and grandeur of the one who has heard and believed the Divine Will. His mind is fully trained to contemplate the Divine, thus he is accepted by the Divine as His own and he shows others the way to follow suit. Such men are honoured at the Divine portal. This stanza further discusses the greatness of God and His creation which cannot be demystified by ordinary mortals. The seventeenth one discusses the countless humans who are absorbed in devotion chanting His Name, in austerities, in reciting scriptures such as Vedas, in living the detached lives of recluses, in contemplating His qualities, in seeking truth, in charities, in bearing the brunt of weapons on their faces or in silent meditation. But none of them is able to perceive the real nature of God or His creation by such means. Stanza eighteen says that there are countless who indulge in negative activities but all this happens in accordance with the Divine Will. Stanza nineteen expresses the Grandeur of that great Lord's Name which permeates the entire cosmos and how words fail to express his magnanimity. Stanza twenty explains that our sins can be washed only by chanting of Lord's Name, and that one takes along to the next world an account of his good and bad deeds. But one can escape the karmic law (wash away his sins) by chanting the Divine Name. The twenty first states that virtuous tasks like charity, pilgrimages or austerities earn one only miniscule of honour, so the real objective should be to chant Lord's Name. Then it talks about the mystery of world's creation. The twenty second talks about the inexpressible magnanimity of this universe. Stanza 23 and 24 further establish that no one can make an estimate of God's grandeur or of His creation. Stanza 25 iterates that God is the bestower of all bounties, though people at large remain thankless for the precious gifts that He grants and His greatest gift is the blessing to chant His Name. Stanza 26 establishes that the great Lord is beyond all measures and all efforts to gauge His expanse can only be fruitless. Only the great God Himself knows of the magnitude of His greatness. Stanza 27 affirms that all entities of this universe, living and non living, sing His praises and He is the Supreme authority who runs this universe. Stanza 28 and 29 specify the virtues that one must imbibe and the objectives that one should yearn for in this life. It is further urged that one must respect the Immaculate Lord who controls everything in this universe. Stanza 30 and 31 declare God to be the real Doer, the real Creator and Controller of every activity in this cosmos. Stanza 32 instructs that a person can attain God only through His Grace by losing his ego, all other efforts being useless. Stanza 33 establishes the Divine Omnipotence and how individuals possess no ability or power of their own. Stanza 34 mentions how God created this earth and how the Karmic law operates to reward and punish people. This is in the region of Dharma Khand (the realm of Spiritual Duty). Stanza 35 mentions the knowledge attained in Gian Khand (the realm of knowledge). Stanza 36 specifies how the mind is shaped in Saram Khand (the realm of spiritual action). Stanza 37 specifies the attributes of a devotee as he progresses into Karma Khand (Realm of Divine Grace) and then Sach Khand (Realm of Truth) and his heightened levels of awareness. Stanza 38 mentions how one can one can become worthy of Lord's benevolence. Jap Ji ends with a slok by Guru Angad Dev Ji, the second Guru of Sikhs, which describes the Lord's creation, mentions the operation of Karmic law and reaffirms that those who chant Lord's Name can successfully cross the worldly ocean.
|Author||Jaspinder Singh Grover|