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JAP JI

BY

GURU NANAK SAHIB

FOREWORD

Jap ji is the key to Guru Granth Sahib which is the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. Jap ji is the ontology, the epistemology, the ethics and the whole theology. It is like the Sutras of the Vedas. Translations of Jap ji are in galore, but there are only a few in English. A translation must to a large extent, reflect the personality of the translator and the work of a prophet like Jap ji is bound to lose much of its beauty and intensity in a translation by a mortal being.  

Jap ji is in Pauris which literally mean steps. In aII there are 38 Pauris, with a shaIoka in the beginning and a shaloka at the end.  

Guru Sahib has devoted the first seven Pauris to 'Self consecration.' They describe four cultures which purify the emotions of the mind.

The first Pauri describes discrimination.

The second Pauri describes dispassion.

Third to the fifth Pauri are an elaboration of the above two Pauris. Thus the third emphasizes deep devotion which is necessary for cleaning the mirror of the mind. The fourth deals with the development of increasing consciousness. The fifth describes 'Trimaraga'- the three highways. 

The sixth Pauri discloses the 'Six Jewels of the Vendatist. Guru Sahib says 'Oh man there lie buried within your psyche Jewels. You must purify your tamasic emotions by taking the help of a competent guru, otherwise Hostile Forces will creep imperceptibly through the breaches made thereby.' 

The seventh Pauri stresses need for liberation.

Thence onward Guru Sahib has devoted 19 Pauris to 'Ascension' by emphasizing the practice of four disciplines by the enlightened mind follows:  

Eighth to the eleventh dwell an 'Sravana' i.e. listening.

Twelfth to the fifteenth deal with 'Mannen' i.e. meditation.

Sixteenth to the nineteenth speak of Nidhyasana' i.e. absorption.  

Twentieth to the twenty-sixth announce the great aphorism of Sama-Veda (Chandogya Upanishad) 'Tat tuam asi': i.e. That art thou. 

After the mind has ascended the 26th Pauri, in the 27th Pauri Guru Sahib reveals apocalypse i.e. vision of the divine. Here the verse rises to the highest pitch of sublimity. It essays to bring before our imagination the most wonderful state of Being. How beautifully Guru Sahib depicts what Shelley subsequently said in his memorable Iines:

The One remains, the many change and pass;

Heaven's light for ever shines, Earth's shadows fly:

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,

Stains the white radiance of Eternity _ _ _ 

Twenty-eighth to the thirty-first Pauris describe the terrestrial life of the evolved being, who now has 'Become'.

The thirty-second and thirty-third Pauris, shed a very sorely needed light and give a very clear lead, that even after the attainment of the liberated state there is continued need for 'Japam' and 'Surrender' i.e. constant begging of God's grace. How beautifully Guru Sahib shows that the psychic change demands divestiture of the mask of ignorance. Notwithstanding purification, the egotistic mental and physical movements prolong the old inferior consciousness and there is constant need for a spirit of adoration of the personal aspect of the Divine Spirit whenever the 'Jivanmukta' the liberated soul, is not absorbed in communion with the Absolute.

The thirty-fourth to the thirty-seventh Pauris describe various spheres of the soul's relative existence. The subsequent three Pauris deal with the celestial life after death. In the last, the thirty-eighth Pauri, Guru Sahib has epitomised Jap ji.

The final Shaloka was added by the second Guru Sahib, Angad. He immortalised an idea, which I may express by way of a rejoinder to Omar Khayyam.

'For in and out, above, about below,

It is nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,

T's all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days

Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays;

Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,

And one by one back in the Closet lays.'

_ _ _ _ _

But only they who remember God

Are not in the Closet laid,

In the Court of God through all labour ended,

With effulgent face they tread;

Nay, Countless others who kept their company

Are also with them saved.  

Thus Guru Sahib's pivotal philosophy is this:

The triple mode viz. sattva (light and good), rajas (passion and desire) and tamas (darkness and ignorance) rules our nature. We have to become witnesses of its working within us - abjuring first of all the last two components viz. rajas and tamas, and developing the first one viz. sattva. Uptil now the change has to be wrought by the will of the mental being within us through personal effort. Later on this sattva is also to be converted into the triple devine equivalent of 'Sat' (supreme repose and calm), 'Chit' (illumination and knowledge) and 'Ananda' (bliss and ecstasy). This comes with mental being having been replaced by the deeper psychic soul through divine grace.

From now onwards there occurs complete renunciation of our works to the Supreme Will and our limited human intelligence comes to be substituted by what Guru Sahib describes in thirteenth Pauri as an illumined and spiritual mind'. Actions now proceed not from the instincts of flesh and emotions but from the spiritualized self and divine Supramental Truth, Consciousness and Bliss force within us. Here dawns on the horizon an apocalyptic vision which Guru Sahib so beautifully describes in twenty-seventh Pauri. After face to face revelation of God the evolved being who now has 'Become' operates as a conscious instrument of the supreme Lord Worker and follows His mandate, not doing work for satisfying his emotional desires but reveling in the obedience of the omnipotent Will which Guru Sahib avers in thirty-third Pauri. In other words he comes out to be the 'True coin', which Guru Sahib describes in the last Pauri of Jap ji. He shares the omniscient Knowledge, enjoys the fathomless Love and is submerged in the limitless ocean of the Supreme Bliss of Existence. 

This in short is the inner change which comes out of regular reading of Jap ji with one mind before dawn and after bath. 

May the grace of Guru Nanak Sahib shine all including this humble writer.

August 1962

P. V. K

NOTE: The writer of the Book, Mr. Pritamdas V. Karamchandani, wrote a very moving Dedication to the Book, in the form of a Poem, which has been posted on this Website, and can be accessed by Clicking on the Link: DEDICATION .

 
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