Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The sleeping sovereign...

I was browsing through Sikhi blogosphere and noticed that a few bloggers had cut and pasted translations of a guru-vak recently.

ਰਾਗੁ ਸੋਰਠਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਭਗਤ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਕੀ
ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥
ਅਨਲ ਅਗਮ ਜੈਸੇ ਲਹਰਿ ਮਇ ਓਦਧਿ ਜਲ ਕੇਵਲ ਜਲ ਮਾਂਹੀ ॥1॥
ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥
ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਨਰਪਤਿ ਏਕੁ ਸਿੰਘਾਸਨਿ ਸੋਇਆ ਸੁਪਨੇ ਭਇਆ ਭਿਖਾਰੀ ॥
ਅਛਤ ਰਾਜ ਬਿਛੁਰਤ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੋ ਗਤਿ ਭਈ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥2॥
ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥
ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥3॥
ਸਰਬੇ ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕੈ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸਭ ਘਟ ਭੁੋਗਵੈ ਸੋਈ ॥
ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਹਾਥ ਪੈ ਨੇਰੈ ਸਹਜੇ ਹੋਇ ਸੁ ਹੋਈ ॥4॥1॥

One blogger, in addition to using the sikhitothemax translation, also intensely personalized the sabad for herself. It was great reading that. Guru-vaks (aka hukams) are precisely that. Personalized messages of the Guru to individual Sikhs as well as collective orders of the day. Whenever I hear or read this sabad of Bhagat Ravidas ji I recall the first time it was explained to me via a cassette recording kirtan.

Some of you may be familiar with the post 1984 Darbar Sahib attack kirtan and katha of Prof. Darshan Singh. These recordings were banned in India and some Gursikhs from Singapore had tapes copied and distributed widely. I had the opportunity to hear it while at home in Japan. I still have most of the cassettes BTW. Anyway, Prof. Darshan Singh personalized it for our collective in explaining the tuk regarding the sleeping sovereign (or in gender specific terms the sleeping king). He made the analogy something like this:

"Imagine if you will, a sovereign, while sitting on the throne, may fall asleep and start dreaming like he/she is a beggar. All around the sovereign, there is glory, freedom, actionable responsibility in reality, but in the dream there is intense poverty, slavery, oppression and despair. This is usually the state of humans in the context of their relationship with Vahiguru. More importantly, this was the state of the Khalsa collective prior to the recent events. The Panth is an inherent sovereign entity, and the current state of affairs in the country called India for the Sikhs is that of 2nd class citizens and slaves. The state of the Sikhs "was" like the sovereign who is asleep and dreaming. And, sadh sangat ji! Blessed be Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale for waking up the sleeping sovereigns!" Then there is a roaring interruption to his katha with jaikara after jaikara! The timeframe was summer of 1984 after the Darbar Sahib attack. I am sure many of you would be quite intrigued by it. I for one completely agree.

Of course, this sabad is very intense, has deep meaning and is universal in nature. At that time and context when Prof. ji interpreted it was very apt. I believe it still is. I truly believe if active Sikhs were to accept and realize that we sovereigns, then 80% kes-katal, and 80% drug addiction in Panjab would never occur.

Oh well, so this sabad also presents, in very imaginative and intriguing manners, the relationship of human action and reaction viz a viz human ego. It also, reemphasises the relationship of human and Vahguru that is unique to Sikh thought - ie. humans are inherently sin-less and the Guru is required to keep sin out; rather than the Christian thought of humans are inherently sinners and Guru or Prophet is needed to eradicate that sin. This is understood with the "kahi ravidas hath pai nerai..." tuk and the general "don't get fooled by duality" theme of the sabad which is the rahao di tuk.

So, let's wake up sovereigns. And remember Vahiguru is near...never far.


  1. Sovereignty will be attained only few in this lifetime. The desire or fire of want (things) is so high, that only few are able pass it through Guru Sabad.
    Attitude of sovereignty is seen by many a mere madness, think about what will we say about a man who sacrifice his children for righteousness and justice, in today's time!

  2. I'm sure we will hardly find any who will sacrifice himself or any of his family in todays time.....

  3. "...todays time..."

    Depends on how you define "today's time". Simple reading of our (Sikh) history of 1920's. One specific example is of Balbir Kaur and her son, during Jaito da morcha.

    Simple speaking with families of shahids of 1980's and 1990's in the pinds of Panjab will reveal that sons and daughters of Guru Gobind Singh were sacrificed. Whole families were sacrificed, and the mothers and fathers refused to help the police to tell them of their children's whereabouts.

    So...we need to stop thinking that the intense love filled intuitive "sidak" of the Sikh is a thing of that past. It does exist "in today's time" albeit in short supply. But then again even 1 guru ka sikh is sava lakh, so quantity doesn't matter.

  4. I was in India only in the 80's and 90's. The Sacrifices of recent past are a lot different than those of ancient times... I believe you know what the difference is... Any sensible Sikh will not compare the two... Now by that I don't mean that what happened in 80's and 90's to Sikhs is of lesser importance...

  5. Sifar,

    I humbly, yet completely, disagree with you. The sacrifices of the "past" are exactly same as the sacrifices of "present". How can sacrifice and martyrdom which are timeless traditions of Sikhi be different based on the artifical imposition of time frames.

    If you don't mean that the incidents of 80's and 90's was not of lesser importance, what do you mean when you say the "sacrifices were different"? If the incidents are equally important, they are not different.

  6. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Certainly, today there is need to identify our values, to tell the world is secondary. Our elders are sleeping; who will wake the youth then?

    The root cause is that Sikh values have been differentiated from the routine life, originally Sikh values are way to live. So easy simple and beautiful; if we understand. It will be easier to understand and relate the sacrifices even.

    -Preet Kaur.