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
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 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
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
with Men for Pieces plays;
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
In the Court of
God through all labour ended,
face they tread;
others who kept their company
Are also with
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
May the grace of Guru Nanak Sahib
shine all including this humble writer.