'The Guru Has Given me the Understanding of Oneness [Advait]' - Jap Ji Sahib

The Great poet Santhok Singh, composer of the epic Gurpratap Suraj Prakash Granth

The prolific poet and historian, Kavi Santhōk Singh [1787-1843] was not only a historian but also a great scholar. Several years before writing the enormous historical book, Gurpratāp Sūraj Prakāsh Granth, Kavi Ji was commissioned by Maharājā Udai Singh in 1829 to write a commentary on Jap Ji Sāhib. Kavi Ji's deep knowledge of Vedāntā is strikingly apparent in his interpretation of the end of the 6th verse in Jap Ji Sahib [shown below].

ਗੁਰਾ ਇਕ ਦੇਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਈ ॥

ਸਚਿਦਾਨੰਦ ਕਾਹੇ ਤੇ ਗੁਰ ਦੇਤ ਹੈਂ, ਸੋਈ ਬਤਾਵਤ ਹੈਂ । ਅਦ੍ਵੈਤ ਹੈ ਏਕ ਹੀ ਪੂਰਣ ਸਰਬ ਮੈ ਇਸ ਬੂਝ ਕੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬੁਝਾਇ ਦੇਤ ਹੈਂ ।
The Guru here explains the concept [of Vahiguru] being ਸਚਿਦਾਨੰਦ  [Everlasting-Consciousness-of Bliss]. [Vahiguru is] Advait [non-dual], and that One that is everything I am also All of that, this is the understanding that Satguru has given.

ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਇਕੁ ਦਾਤਾ, ਸੋ ਮੈ, ਵਿਸਰਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥

ਸਬਰ ਜੀਅਨ ਕੋ ਜੋ ਏਕ ਦਾਤਾ ਹੈ ਸੋ ਮੈਂ, ਕਿਆ ? ਸੋਹੰ, ਇਹ ਬੂਝ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੋਂ ਨੇ ਦਈ, ਸੋ ਬਿਸਰੈ ਕਦਾਚਿਤ ਨਹੀਂ ।
All of the Beings  have One Giver, and I am That. How? The Guru has given the understanding of ਸੋਹੰ [I am That/Vahiguru]. May I never ever forget this [teaching]. 
Garab Ganjani Tika, page 53-54

Varied Spiritual Approaches in Gurmat - Vichār Sāgar

Painting (circa 1850) displaying Singhs in various service. Nirmala Sadhus teaching Gurbani in the bottom left, Singhs making Langar top left, Singhs making Shahidi Degh far right, Singhs distributing langar, etc.

Painting (circa 1850) displaying Singhs in various service. Nirmala Sadhus teaching Gurbani in the bottom left, Singhs making Langar top left, Singhs making Shahidi Degh far right, Singhs distributing langar, etc.

As mentioned previously on this site, Vichār Sāgar is a very important text in the curriculum of Udāsi, Nirmalā, Taksāl groups. This passage explains the different approaches toward spiritual practices. From one perspective there is a hierarchy leaning towards formless devotion/meditation [ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਉਪਾਸਨਾ] but this does not lessen the importance of other approaches, as they are also paths toward enlightenment [ਮੁਕਤੀ]. It should be noted that the multiple approaches are not seen as mutually exclusive from one another. Similar passages are found in Gūrū Gōbind Singh Ji's, Gōbind Gitā, and Bhāi Mani Singh Ji's, Sikhan Dian Bhagat Mālā

ਜੋ ਯਹ ਨਿਰਗੁਣ ਧਯਾਨ ਨ ਹ੍ਵੈਤੇ ਸਗੁਣ ਈਸ਼ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਕੋ ਧਾਮ ॥

If one is unable to perform impersonal meditation, he should fix his mind on the personal form of Ishvar.

ਸਗੁਣ ਉਪਾਸਨ ਹੂ ਨਹਿ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਤੌ ਕਰਿ ਨਿਸ਼ਕਾਮ ਕਰਮ ਭਜਿਰਾਮ ॥

If one is unable to perform personal worship, he should perform desireless actions devoted to Ram.

ਜੋ ਨਿਸ਼ਕਾਮ ਕਰਮ ਹੂ ਨਹਿ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਤੌ ਕਰਿਯੇ ਸ਼ੁਭ ਕਰਮ ਸਕਾਮ ॥

If one is unable to perform desireless actions, he should perform only good actions with desire.

ਜੋ ਸਕਾਮ ਕਰਮਹੁ ਨਹਿਂ ਹੋਵੈ ਤੌ ਸ਼ਠ ਬਾਰ ਬਾਰ ਮਰਿਜਾਮ ॥

If one cannot perform these actions then they must die over and over again.
— Vichar Sagar, sixth tarang, verse 169

The Merit of Being a Warrior - from Dasam and Sarbloh Granth

Guru Gobind Singh, flanked by his Beloved Army, while hunting a white tiger [circa 1800s] 

Guru Gobind Singh, flanked by his Beloved Army, while hunting a white tiger [circa 1800s] 

The foundation of the ਛਤ੍ਰੀਅਾ [warrior] tradition of the Khalsa Panth is based upon the great merit awarded to the ਹਠੀਆ (meticulously hardworking) ਤਪੀਆ (devotionally guided) Singhs, who would perfect their ਵਿਦਿਅਾ [science/art] of fighting in order to uphold ਧਰਮਾ [poorly translated as righteousness]. The ethos holds dear to the philosophy that even those ਰਾਕਸ਼ [evil minded/demonic] beings who work hard and meticulously, gaining the attributes of ਸੂਰਮਤਾਈ [warrior-ship], will be blessed by ਪਰਮਾਤਮਾ [the Supreme Self] with His darshan and will attain ਮੁਕਤੀ [liberation] whilst dying in battle against the Lord. 

From the Dasam Granth in Krishnavtar, the story of Kharag Singh speaks to this point when Kharag Singh tells Brahma he will not abandon his fight against Krishna:

ਪਰੀਯੈ ਨਹੀ ਆਨ ਕੇ ਪਾਇਨ ਪੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਗੁਰ ਕੇ ਦਿਜ ਕੇ ਪਰੀਯੈ ॥ ਜਿਹ ਕੋ ਜੁਗ ਚਾਰ ਮੈ ਨਾਉ ਜਪੈ ਤਿਹ ਸੋ ਲਰੀਯੈ ਮਰੀਯੈ ਤਰੀਯੈ ॥੧੬੮੮॥
Seek not the [worship] of anyone else’s feet but those of Hari, the Guru, and Brahmins. That [Vishnu, i.e. Krishna] whose name is recited throughout the four ages, against Him by fighting and dying one is carried across [the dreadful ocean of the world, and into liberation].
— Krishnavatar, verse 1688

Below is ਕਥਾ [discourse] of Giani Inderjit Singh Ji, student of Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Bhindranvale, describing the dialogue between Beerajnaad [the main antagonist in Sarbloh Granth] with Sarbloh Avatar. 

"[The Singhs would] engage in endless military exercises" - Naveen Panth Prakash [1880 CE]

Singhs preparing a marijuana laced drink called, Shaheedi Degh [the drink of the Martyrs] 

Singhs preparing a marijuana laced drink called, Shaheedi Degh [the drink of the Martyrs] 

[Gyani Gyan Singh describing the warriors of Guru Gobind Singh]

      ਸੁੱਖਾ ਫੀਮ ਸ਼ਰਾਬ ਕਬਾਬੈਂ ਛਕੈਂ ਜਿਤਿਕ ਮਨ ਭਾਵੈ ।

[The Singhs would] consume marijuana, opium, alcohol and kebab's to their hearts delight. 

      ਖੇਲੈ ਨਿੱਤ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰ ਬਨਨ ਮੈਂ ਮਾਰਿ ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਬਹੁ ਖਾਵੈਂ ।

They would constantly be engaged hunting in the forest, consuming and killing many deer. 

      ਘੋੜਨ ਪਰ ਅਸਵਾਰ ਹੋਇ ਕਰਿ ਸਜ ਕੈ ਸ਼ਸਤ੍ਰ ਸਾਰੇ ।

Riding atop horses, [the Singhs] adorn themselves fully with weapons.

      ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕੀ ਪਹਿਨ ਪੁਸ਼ਾਕਾਂ ਕਰੈ ਕੁਵੈਦ ਅਪਾਰੇ । 

In many different ways [they] adorn the dress [of a warrior], and engage in endless military exercises.
Naveen Panth Prakash, Poorabaradh Bisraam 62, verse 91.

This passage is from Naveen Panth Prakash [1880 CE], written by Gyani Gyan Singh Nirmala. Gyani Ji's works are well cemented in Sikh historical literature, with his words being recited daily during the Ardaas. The poetic, ਸਭ ਸਿਖਨ ਕੋ ਹੁਕਮ ਹੈ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਾਨਿਯੋ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ, finds it origin in the Naveen Panth Prakash. 

Why Blue [Neela] Bana? - Bansavalinama [1768 CE]

Gūrū Gōbind Singh flanked by his warriors in blue

Gūrū Gōbind Singh flanked by his warriors in blue


      ਤਾਂ ਸੀਸ ਕੇਸ ਰਖ ਸਿਪਾਹੀ ਕਰਨੇ । ਕਟਿ ਸ਼ਾਸ਼ਤ੍ਰ ਬੰਧਵਾਇ ਸਿੰਘ ਨਾਮ ਧਰਨੇ ।

[And the Guru remarked], Adorning [unshorn] hair on your head, you shall be warriors, fastening weapons to your waist, and adopting Singh [Tiger] in your name. 

      ਮਾਤਾ ਕਾਲੀ ਦਾ ਬਾਣਾ ਨੀਲਾ ਪਹਿਰਾਵਣਾ । 

[You shall] wear the blue dress of Mata Kali [The Dark Goddess] 

      ਕਰਨਾ ਜੁਧ ਨਾਲਿ ਤੁਰਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਮਾਰਿ ਹਟਾਵਣਾ ।293। 

Conducting war with the Turks you will kill and stop [their tyranny]. 

Bansāvalināmā, page 151, verse 292-293


Bansāvalināmā was written by Kesar Singh Chibbar, finalized in 1768 CE. The Chibbar family traces their family lineage back to Baba Gautham, who was a Sikh of Gūrū Nānak in the latter years of the Gūrū's life. Baba Gautham had three children, two sons being, Pairrā and Prāgā, and a daughter named Sarsuti.

Gautham's daughter [Sarsuti], had a son who was a teacher of Gūrū Gōbind Singh, and his brother Sanmukh Singh, was a warrior who received martyrdom at Chamkaur Sahib. 

Pairrā was the father of Chaupā Singh, who was a playmate of Gūrū Gōbind Singh. Prāgā was a warrior in the time of Gūrū Hargōbind, and fought in the famous Ruhele Jang [battle], killing Chandu's son Karam Chand, and Kaane's son, Bhagvaane and the grandson Rattan Chand. Prāgā's son, Davaarka Das had a son named Dargah Mal, who stayed in the congregation of Gūrū Hari Rai and Gūrū Har Krishan. The famous Bhai Mati Das and Sati Das were also from this lineage. Dargah Mal's son was Bhai Dharam Chand, who stayed in the congregation of Gūrū Gōbind Singh. Dharam Chand's son was Sardār Gurbaksh Singh, who under the orders of Mātā Sundari stayed with Bhai Mani Singh to run Harimandar Sahib in Amritsar Sāhib, this was around the year 1727-28. It was Sardār Gurbaksh Singh's son who was the author of this book, Kesar Singh. Originally there were 8-10 small books that Kesar Singh wrote, but these were complied and finalized in 1768 CE under the title Bansāvalināmā

Artist depiction of Mata Kali, The Dark Mother [Goddess] 

Artist depiction of Mata Kali, The Dark Mother [Goddess] 

"I am that Pure Infinite [Being]" - Vichar Sagar Granth

      ਜੋ ਸੁਖ ਨਿੱਤ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼ ਵਿਭੁ ਨਾਮ ਰੂਪ ਆਧਾਰ ॥

That Blissful, Everlasting, Consciousness, which is the support of all Names and Form [Maya]. 

      ਮਤਿ ਨ ਲਖੇ ਜਿਹਿ ਮਤਿ ਲਖੈ ਸੋ ਮੈਂ ਸ਼ੁੱਧ ਅਪਾਰ ॥1।

[That non-dual] which is not understandable with the mind [which is engrossed with vices] yet understandable with the mind [which has wisdom and unattached], I am that Pure Infinite [non-dual Being].  
[An uncertain pupil asks Nichal Das; why have you not first paid salutation to Shiv Ji or other important deities? Response below] 

      ਅਬਧਿ ਅਪਾਰ ਸਰੂਪ ਮਮ ਲਹਰੀ ਵਿਸ਼ਨ ਮਹੇਸ਼ ॥

I am That limitless, infinite form, whose waves are Vishnu and Shiva. 

      ਵਿਧਿ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦਾ ਵਰੁਣ ਯਮ ਸ਼ਕਤਿ ਧਨੇਸ਼ ਗਨੇਸ਼ ॥2॥

[my waves are] Brahma, the Sun, Moon, Varun Devta, the Messenger of Death, Shakti, Kuber, Ganesh. 
Vichar Sagar, Page 1

Nichal Dās (1791-1863), author of Vichar Sagar,  was a very prominent Vedāntist scholar. His work was written in Brij Bhāshā, and quickly became apart of the curriculum amongst the traditional scholarly lineage schools, the Udasi's and Nirmala's. The main point of the book was to expound upon the philosophy of Advāitā Vedāntā, the non-dualistic approach in the Vedas. The same philosophy underpins Gurmat, hence the start of every scripture begins with . The passage above is the 'Manglācharan', the beginning passage in salutation to their focus of worship, in Vichār Sāgar. Traditionally in Sikh literature, one would find Manglācharan's to , to Devi Ma Shakti, Nanak-Gūrū Gōbind Singh, and occasionally Ganesh. However this concept of recognizing, and using the Mantra of ਸੋਹੰ [I am That], That being the Infinite Ultimate Consciousness, is present in Gurmat.

      ਤਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਬਾਈ ਸੋਹੰ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥

That true immaculate all pervading consciousness, I am It, and It is Me, there is no difference between us. 

      ਅਪਰੰਪਰ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥੫॥੧੧॥

[That] Infinite, Master of All, Highest Ishvara; Nanak says through the Guru, I have merged with That.
Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 599

"Hail to the son of Shiva [Ganesh]" - Sarbloh Granth

A drawing of Ganesh atop the first page of a manuscript of Adi Guru Granth from the 1800s

A drawing of Ganesh atop the first page of a manuscript of Adi Guru Granth from the 1800s

॥ ਛਪਯ ਛੰਦ ॥ ਗਨਪਤਿ ਗੌਰੀ ਸੁਤ ਭਜਹੁ ਰਿਧਿ ਸਿਧਿ ਕੋ ਧਾਮ ॥

Worship the Master of the servants to Shiva, son of Parbati, and the house of all Ridh Sidh [mystical powers].

ਸੁਖ ਪਾਵਹੁ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਸਦਾ ਧਨ ਪਾਵਹੁ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮ ॥

Forever bless me with happiness always, along with wealth and rest. 

ਏਕ ਰਦਨ ਗਜ ਬਦਨ ਸਦਨ ਗੌਰੀ ਸੁਖ ਨੰਦਨ ॥

The one with One Tooth, the face of an Elephant, sitting [in the house of] Parbati as her son giving happiness [to all]. 

ਬੁਧਿ ਦਾਇਕ ਅਘ ਹਰਨ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਰ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਖੰਡਨ ॥

Giver of intellect, destroyer of pain, forever the destroyer of the Angels' [Demigods/Devtiyan] sins. 

ਸੁਬੁਧਿ ਗ੍ਯਾਨ ਦਾਤਾ ਹਰੀ ਅਘ ਪਾਪ ਨਿਕੰਦਨ ॥

Giver of great intellect, Oh Hari and destroyer of sins. 

ਗਨਪਤਿ ਗੌਰੀ ਦੇਵਿ ਸੁਤ ਜੈ ਜੈ ਸਿਵ ਨੰਦਨ ॥

The Master of the servants of Shiva, son of Parbati, Hail Hail to the son of Shiva [Ganesh]. 

Sarbloh Granth, Volume I, page 23

ਸਰਬਲੋਹ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ, ਭਾਗ ਪਹਿਲਾ, ਪੰਨਾ 23 


Upon reading this passage from Sarbloh Granth, one might question the scripture based on Guru Gobind Singh Ji's passage from a section called 'Devi Ji Ki Ustat':

      ਮੈ ਨ ਗਨੇਸ਼ਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮ ਮਨਾਊਂ ॥ ਕਿਸ਼ਨ ਬਿਸ਼ਨ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨਹ ਧਿਆਊਂ ॥

I do not remember Ganesha at the start of tasks, nor do I ever contemplate upon Krishna or Vishnu. 

However this contrast of perspective is nothing new in Gurmat. Depending upon the Sarguna or Nirguna perspective adopted in the poetry, different stances will appear. They are not contradictory, just as looking upon a tree with ones eyes is different than looking at the tree with a microscope. Both will appear differently, yet both are acceptable and not false. 

Similar instances occur within Adi Guru Granth Sahib when talking about Krishna.

      ਨ ਸੰਖੰ ਨ ਚਕ੍ਰੰ ਨ ਗਦਾ ਨ ਸਿਆਮੰ ॥

[Paramatmaa] has no conch-shell, no religious mark, no Mace, and is not dark coloured. 

      ਅਸ੍ਚਰਜ ਰੂਪੰ ਰਹੰਤ ਜਨਮੰ ॥

[Paramatmaa]'s form is [simply] Wondrous and is without incarnation. 

- ਆਦਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ, ਅੰਗ 1359

Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 1359 

Yet in the Bhattan Di Svaiyay, it describes Paramatmaa in the Sarguna form of Krishna as follows:

ਸੰਖ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਗਦਾ ਪਦਮ ਆਪਿ ਆਪੁ ਕੀਓ ਛਦਮ ਅਪਰੰਪਰ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਲਖੈ ਕਉਨੁ ਤਾਹਿ ਜੀਉ ॥

You are the one holding the conch-shell, the mace and lotus [Krishna], and You yourself deceived [Baliraja as Bavan Avatar], Oh Limitless Par-brahm, who can know your true extent? 

ਸਤਿ ਸਾਚੁ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ਆਦਿ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਸਦਾ ਤੁਹੀ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿ ਜੀਉ ॥੨॥੭॥

Truly you are the Changeless Form and caretaker of Lakshmi, From the beginning and forever [true] You are, Vahiguru Vahiguru Vahiguru Vah Ji. 

- ਆਦਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ, ਅੰਗ 1402

Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1402  

The following post will be from Vichar Sagar, which will demonstrate the Nirguna perspective very clearly. A standard in the curriculum of Taksals and Sampradyas for traditional scriptural learning; its main focus is dealing with the sophisticated perspective of Advaita [non-dualism].