These verses by Guru Nanak Dev with which the Adi Granth—the holy scripture of the Sikhs—begins are among the sublime compositions in World literature. They form the most important prayer of the Sikhs and are recited daily by many.
Swami Swaroopananda grew up as a child listening to the teachings of Sri Guru Nanak Devji and Lord Krishna from his grandmother. At an early age, he left thriving family business in Hong Kong to seek answers to questions that arose within him. He went through intensive monastic training and an exhaustive study of the scriptures under the esteemed tutelage of the world renowned master of Vedanta, Swami Swaroopananda, and the current head of Chinmaya Mission, Swami Tejomayananda.
Swami Swaroopananda unfolds a practical application of Sri Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings, especially relevant to our times. His exposition on lk Onkaar, Japji Sahib and Nauvan Mahala Shlokas stirs the hearts of all his listeners. He has spoken in various places in India and abroad, universities like Harvard, Boston and the London School of Business, and also in many prominent Gurudwaras.
Swamiji’s insight into the problems and anxieties of our youth has also led to the blossoming of many Yuva Kendras, where teenagers and young adults learn to cope with the varying challenges of modern life.
Guru Nanak Devji is the first of the ten gurus revered by the Sikhs. During his lifetime, he not only realized the Truth, but also tirelessly spread the knowledge about the Absolute Reality and the path that leads to it. He is in every way a saint of the highest order.
Guru Nanak Devji was a merchant of humble origin and yet he redefined the traditions of religion. His objective was to bring forth resurgence between man and God, entirely free of caste, creed or stipulation. This then, is where the Japji Sahib begins, where no man-made shrine or structure acts as an arbitrator, and where no priest intervenes between God and man in his journey beyond the realms of earth. Here, the seeker can perform the final surrender, to worship not an image, but become one with the Almighty; releasing him from his prison of bondage and liberating him to the pinnacle of peaceful existence.
One does not have to be extraordinary to understand the knowledge given in the Japji Sahib. In the annals of any civilization, it is rare to find the word of God given in its entire essence in so simple and powerful a manner. The words spoken here are both profound and practical, a sacred passage, a place for crossing over, where the divine touches on the dejected and human, where man and God can join together as one.
From time immemorial, Indian culture has demonstrated a show of strength in its spiritual teachers, saints and seers. Nowhere else have there been so many guardians of spiritual enlightenment, so many lovers of God. But then this is India, the home of Sant Ramdas, Tulsidas, Surdas, Meerabai,Tukaram, kabir, Buddha, Ramakrishna. Adi Shankara has walked this land, as has Vivekannada and many other masters. In the 15th century AD, when blind ritualism was at a peak and Hindus were being forcefully converted by the invading Mughals, it was at this crucial time that Guru Nanak Devji was born in the village of Kartarpur, in Punjab, and subsequently wrote down the 38 pauris of the Japji Sahib.
History has shown that whenever a saint appears, he endeavours to explain the true significance of the practicing religion and reveal this essential knowledge of the Truth which is universal. In this moment of time, from his own inquiry and meditation, Guru Nanak Devji has revealed to us the nature of the Infinite Truth which is beyond the comprehension of the intellect, where all opposites are pacified, the suffering silenced, the ego non-existent and only his glory to be felt. This direct realization of God, the infinite Truth, in all its beauty and resplendence, said to be indescribable in word, where many a sage and saint have stayed in its ecstasy and become silent upon its discovery; yet from his super consciousness, out of his love and compassion, Guru Nanak Devji came back to worldly consciousness and found words, literature and expressions by which to communicate this truth to man. This composition is beyond praise. It is the most effortless expression of the Self; it is a revelation of the Ultimate Reality. And for that moment, it dwarfs all that has ever been written, in fact, all that could ever have heard before. Guru Nanak Devji titled it the Japji, meaning, recitation of God. And so it was that Guru Nanak Devji spoke the words here given. Remember, this was not a religion, at least not then. Religion was to follow. Such is the magnitude and consequence of his words.
The Japji Sahib is the perfect text. Prophet, sages, saints, writers, critics and teachers have yet to find descriptions enough in their God-realization, and as such, it has reverberated throughout the world as the touchstone for imparting the Truth to all men without exception, leaving not a shadow of doubt that any man can rise to state of God-realization.
A devotee may disappoint God, but God has never failed his devotee. Since humanity came into being there has never been any individual who has sought and trusted fully in God and come away disappointed or denied. There is no such instance. The Japji Sahib is the essence of this very God in all his compassion. It is Guru Nanak Devji’s gift of Truth to the world, so that we may feel what he felt and rejoice in what he had found bliss. No matter to whom it is given, to have received it is your blessedness. Hold this treasure and crown yourself with eternal golden glory.
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