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Talking Stick

The Talking Stick Colloquium - Mool Mantar

Convenor: RAVINDER SINGH TANEJA

 

SESSION ONE

 

The following is the inaugural topic and will be in place from Monday, January 4 to 10, 2010.

On Monday every week -  a verse, or a combination of verses that share a common theme, will be presented here, accompanied by a narrative. The supplementary text is merely to serve as a place holder or receptacle over which readers are invited to build an exchange of ideas through their own interpretations, comments, questions, ruminations, meditations, etc. This will enhance and enrich the narrative.

The dialogue around each verse - or theme - will conclude on Sunday of each week. And a new round will begin on the following (Monday) morning.

Please post your input at the bottom of this page, as instructed therein.

Guidelines for Engagement

We will approach this dialogue from a Sikh perspective. It will help us to not assume any knowledge but keep an open mind.

1      As participants, we will be frank and honest but not disrespectful or antagonistic.

2     We are to be as brief as possible in our responses, and avoid long-winded sentences.

3      We are to try and stick to a simple and straightforward, everyday mode of conversation.

 

 

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC 

The Mool Mantar

 

    Ik oaʼnkār - One God, Being and Becoming

    Saṯ nām - Named Truth, Essence of Existence

    Karṯā purakẖ - Creator Person,

    Nirbẖao Nirvair - Without Fear, Without Malice,

    Akāl Mūraṯ - Timeless Form,

    Ajūnī - Untouched by Birth and Death

    Saibẖaʼn - Uncaused, Self Existent

    Gur Parsāḏ - Revealed by the Grace of the Guru

 

The Guru Granth Sahib opens with a preamble or credal statement, better known to Sikhs as the Mool Mantar.

The frequency, with which it appears through the Guru Granth - hundreds of times in full or abbreviated form - and its placement as a leitmotif to virtually every new section of the Granth, attests to its doctrinal centrality.

Indeed, the Mool Mantar is Guru Nanak's testimony to his revelation and experience of the mystical Truth, expressed in words - insofar as it can be captured in language.  

Just as the Japji is considered to be a prologue to the Guru Granth, the Mool Mantar constitutes the quintessence of the entire Granth and, by extension, the underpinning of a Sikh life.

Traditional Sikh commentaries have followed the Indian tradition of also referring to the Mool Mantar as a mangalacharan, or an ode of joy. Other Indian religious texts often commence with a mangalacharan as an invocation, addressed to a specific deity, seeking its blessing before an important undertaking.

The Gurus appear to have followed this convention in compiling the Guru Granth Sahib - but with a difference.  

Part of the genius of the Gurus lay in being able to use conventional forms to deliver a radically different message. The Mool Mantar and the Japji, as we shall see, offer examples of using conventional forms and existing terminology but infusing a radically different meaning and perspective.

The concepts in the Mool Mantar may appear to be difficult to comprehend, but that should not discourage us. The way to understanding is hinted at in the Mool Mantra itself: Gur Prasad or invoking the grace and guidance of the Guru.

Since this is not meant to be a lecture on theology, we will proceed with the assumption that readers are familiar with these terms and have their own understanding of what they mean. We want to avoid theological hair splitting.

The brief overview is meant to be a starting point. The translations (of the Mool Mantar) have been borrowed freely with some insertions (modifications) made - all in the spirit of encouraging a dialogue.

Ik Oankar - One Being and Becoming Reality

The use of an alpha numeric to symbolize the One Ultimate Reality illustrates how the Guru has used a conventional form - in this case, a term - to deploy a new meaning.

By affixing a numeral "1," to the traditional representation of the Hindu trinity, "Oankar," Guru Nanak, in one stroke, swept aside Brahma, Vishnu and Siva as the conglomeration that represented the creative, regenerative and destructive processes of the cosmos, respectively. 

Instead, Guru Nanak pointed to the One, "Ik", represented by the symbol "Ik Oankar," as alone being worthy of worship. The extended line above the "ooraah" denotes infinity or endlessness (in Punjabi, ik ras), signifying that there is just One Universal Truth and Ultimate Reality that controls all existence.

Sat Nam - the True Essence - the Essence of all Existence - the Sacred

Nam is the central doctrine in the Guru Granth, being "the only fixture in Guru Nanak's house." (GGS:1136).But it comes wrapped in manifold layers of meaning, usage and nuance that cuts across linguistics, philosophy and mystical symbolism. Only a tentative sketch can be attempted here - if at all.

Nam, literally 'name', represents the essence or spirit of the thing named. Sat denotes 'true' (or truth), as well as existence. Put together, sat nam becomes the true essence of all existence.

In gurbani, nam has been used variously as the cause of all creation, the methodology for individual salvation, God's creative intent, and ultimately God itself.

Karta Purakh - Creator Person

The word "Karta" signifies a doer and is used here to mean that the One is the Creator. "Purakh" is used in multiple ways in Gurbani: as signifying a person (form); as the motivator, one who gives the life force; and omnipresent.

The use of the word 'person' for God should not mislead us into believing that God is a person. Here, the term signifies the cosmic person, without form, that permeates everything.

For Guru Nanak, God is Purakh in the sense that it is homogenized in its own creation, like butter in milk and the wave in the ocean. 

Nirbhau Nirvair - Without Fear or Malice

Fear is a built-in human trait and malice is its byproduct. The fear of physical death and of social irrelevance (a kind of death) is constantly upon us, inspired by our limited, finite sense of self. In our mistaken zeal, we become grasping, fastening ourselves to things, people, titles, and money. Malice is a natural concomitant to Fear. No fear, no malice.

God, being complete unto Itself, does not share these traits with us.

Akal Moorat - Timeless Form

God is not subject to time, which is another way of saying that it is not terrestrial, is not subject to the degradation and recycling inherent in a three dimensional existence. Moorat or form (image) emphasizes existence. This timeless Being is existent and is the archetypal Form of all things.

Ajuni Saibhang - Unborn Self Caused

To be unborn (ajuni) is akin to being uncaused, or self-caused (Saibhang) in this case.

Gur Parsad

This revelation (as expressed by Guru Nanak) is open to all of us through the grace of the Guru (the Enlightener).

*   *   *   *   *

Strictly speaking, the Mool Mantar is not a part of the Japji, the subject of our subsequent dialogue. However, the Japji is never recited without first invoking the Mool Mantar, which makes eminent sense.

We will, accordingly, spend the first week of the Talking Stick Colloquium reflecting on the Mool Mantar in preparation for our subsequent deliberations on the Japji.

*   *   *   *   * 

SOME POINTS TO PONDER

In a broad sense, this dialogue is all about examining our lives as Sikhs - our inherited belief system and values, and their role and connection to our daily lives. But a broader discussion has to start with some specifics.

In order to trigger the conversation, it might be useful to reflect on and comment on some of the specifics offered below:

-   What is the significance of placing the Mool Mantar at the beginning of the Guru Granth and then reiterating it over and over again?
-   How does the Mool Mantar serve to be the 'key' to the Japji and of The Guru Granth itself?
-   How does the rest of the Japji and The Guru Granth pick up the cue from the Mool Mantar?
-   Is it correct to say that the Mool Mantar constitutes the very quintessence of The Guru Granth? 

 

January 4, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Tejwant Singh (Nevada, U.S.A.), January 04, 2010, 10:57 AM.

The Mool Mantar: Sikhi's Blueprint and Roadmap - You'll find my article on the subject in the 'Poetry' Section of sikhchic.com, or - use the following link: http://www.sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?id=474&cat=3

2: Leena (California, U.S.A.), January 04, 2010, 12:06 PM.

This "Mool Mantar" appears 33 times. There are other forms (mangals) as well: 1) - "IkOankar Satgur Prasad" appears 522 times; 2) - "IkOankar Satnam Gur Prasad" appears 2 times; 3) - "IkOankar Satnam Karta Purakh Gurprasad" appears 9 times. There are numerous books, seminars, audios trying to describe the meanings and it seems never-ending. Many spiritual leaders or so called enlightened masters from different religions have given their interpretations as well. And the truth is that when anyone following a spiritual path in any religion comes across the Mool Mantar and its meanings, they find it very captivating and truly believe that the essence of One God and Its existence is very beautifully captured in these few words. If one knows the whole Japji Sahib's or Guru Granth Sahib's meaning, one might believe that the Mool Mantar is the essence, but just by contemplating on Mool Mantar, one cannot understand the value and meaning of Japji Sahib.

3: Jasvinder (Hamilton, New Zealand), January 04, 2010, 1:23 PM.

The very fact that the Mool Mantar has been put in the beginning suggests that this is the Truth about God in a few, simple words ... if we want to remember Him and find Him. He/She is an energy which is 'out of this world', which can keep on charging us while we are living in this physical world, and our Gurus experienced this energy ... and gave us guidance in the form of Guru Granth Sahib so that we too can find God for ourselves through our own experience.

4: Atika Khurana (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 04, 2010, 4:52 PM.

"God being complete unto Itself, does not share these traits with us" - However, in gurbani there is a reference: 'Man toon jyot saroop hain' (GGS:441). If we are a reflection of the divine light (or, as the author says elsewhere, God is homogenized in Its own creation), then do we also share an existence that is not bound by physical death? Are the traits of God described in the Mool Mantar, also within the reach of humans? "God is not subject to time, which is another way of saying that It is not terrestrial" - This implies that only things on earth are subject to time. First, I don't think that the present-day physicists would agree to that claim. Second, I think in order to understand God as 'timeless', we need to first know what 'time' means. Can we use our current understanding of time to understand 'timeless' as defined by Guru Nanak? The word 'Oankar' originates from the word 'Om' or 'Aum', which is the sacred syllable in Hinduism. There are numerous references one can find on the web which point to Aum's symbolization of the trinity in Hinduism. However, there are a few instances where it is also suggested that Aum represents the unity of the three divine energies, it is representative of one universal truth - one primordial sound. It would be interesting if someone could share more information about this. Is it true that the concept of One Universal God was also present in Hinduism?

5: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 05, 2010, 4:27 AM.

Thanks to Leena (California) for giving us the breakdown count) of the Mool Mantar. Her observation that the process of finding the meaning of the Mool Mantar or bani is "never-ending" is spot on - and just the way it should be. The Truth in each one of us wants to be revealed and thus the process is "never-ending." Guru Nanak's appeal (as you put it) is precisely because he is speaking to the "essence" of all religions. Akita (Columbus) raises some serious philosophical questions that need input from all of us. I will start by touching on these and invite others to chime in. To Atika's first query, "do we also share an existence that is not bound by physical death?" - I will offer that there are numerous intimations in gurbani that would suggest such an existence. Readers, would you agree? To Atika's second question, "are the traits of God described in the Mool Mantar, also within the reach of humans?" I would point to the testimony of gurbani which asserts that by "reflecting on the qualities of the divine, one becomes divine-like", to say that this is certainly an aspirational goal. "Time" is somewhat more complicated and I would request the participants to take a stab at it. It would be interesting to get different perspectives. Similarly, what do readers think about the fact that the notion of a universal God is present in Hindu thought, pre-Guru Nanak.

6: T. Sher Singh (Guelph, Ontario, Canada), January 05, 2010, 9:06 AM.

I particularly like the fact that you have deftly avoided ascribing gender to God while translating the bani for The Talking Stick. I know it is inconvenient and cumbersome for translators to continually avoid the temptation to resort to "Him", "Her", or even "It". But it is do-able, as you've demonstrated, even though it requires a bit of patience and diligence. There are, of course - I hasten to add - a number of instances in the Guru Granth where the use gender is not out of place, and should be retained, as originally intended. For example, when the metaphor of God as the bride-groom is being used!

7: R. Singh ( Brampton, Ontario, Canada), January 05, 2010, 4:24 PM.

It is the thesis statement that is the foundation stone of the whole thought-process in The Guru Granth. Interpreted in the light of this statement, gurbani is not confused with or rendered a syncretism of Islam and Hinduism ... a common error made by scholars who get caught up in the popular idiom and cultural nuances.

8: Gurpal Singh Bhuller (Chester, Virginia, U.S.A.), January 05, 2010, 9:28 PM.

Thank you, Ravinder Singh ji, for this initiative. I am glad that you started with the Mool Mantar. Reciting it though has become rather ritualistic in our faith - and I doubt if that was the intent. In my humble opinion, the Mool Mantar also asks us to do some introspection and begin the process of meditation and contemplation to realize the Naam within, of accepting the "Karta Purakh" - and recognizing that we are part of that creation. We recognize that our Creator is Nirbhau and Nirvair, but as we recite, we need to introspect and ask, "Are We"? In front of the SatNaam who is also Akal Murat and Ajooni, can we have any ego or haumai? We then ask for Gur Prasad - the Guru's blessings to help us while we meditate on the Eternal One who Was, Is and Forever will be the Truth. By looking at the Mool Mantar in this way, one internalizes the message and it helps us as individuals to use the bani as a tool to prod us down the "right" path.

9: Gurdev Bir (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A..), January 06, 2010, 12:17 AM.

Ravinder has put a lot of time and thought to translate it effectively in English. He has very carefully parsed the Mool Mantar, to which not much is left out. Atika's perceptiveness on the subject provokes more thought and study, which is exactly what Ravinder has wanted to do. The Mool Mantar in essence lists some of the characteristics of the Creator as best as can be described in words. One can guess that the Mool Mantar being reiterated so many times is a reminder from the Guru to remember the Creator's qualities as we go along this journey towards enlightenment. On the subject of Time (Akal), it entered human consciousness when the earth and moon orbits were established (the years and months). The Creator fashioned all this matter, which then spawned this concept of time, so how is He subject to His own creation? I may be off the mark on this concept of time as compared to the Bani's notion of time.

10: Leena (California, U.S.A..), January 07, 2010, 12:22 AM.

I often come across the same question about "Mool Mantar". Our "un-enlightened" human mind seems to grasp most of the words in Mool Mantar except for "Akal Moorat". One simple translation can be "a form that exists in all times (past, present and future) at the same time". Still, we can't explain it without taking Time as one of the dimensions. Tried to read up on some explanations from enlightened ones though - one explains it thus: to experience this "timeless form", if you sit just with your eyes closed, you are unable to make out what your age is, you can feel the same inside at the age of 50 as you were in the age of 15, as if time has not passed for the world within you. Our body is no more than a piece of clothing to our timeless entity. The IkOankar origin is very well explained in audio provided by Giani Thakur Singh ji (Patiala Wale) in his translation of Guru Granth Sahib and in more detail in his translation of Japji Sahib. I did not find any written material on it; can summarize it if anyone is interested.

11: I. Singh (Chelmsford, MA, U.S.A.), January 07, 2010, 7:53 AM.

T. Sher Singh has pointed out that Ravinder Singh has done a good job of not using gender-specific terminology in interpreting the Mool Mantar. I agree. However, I would like to point out that it is also pertinent to not use terminology borrowed from other Semitic/ Christian faiths. For example, I really don't see how IkOankar ends up being "One God". You could do "One Divine ..." or "One Force", etc. 'God' has connotations of being of Christian origins thus with attributes confined to that faith (e.g., God is Transcendent). Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't match with the fundamental precept of our faith that the Divine is both Transcendent and Immanent(source: Principal Teja Singh - 'Outline of Sikh Doctrines'). For a good discussion on how to translate gurbani in a gender-neutral and non-denominational fashion, see the paper by Nikky Guninder Kaur on the subject.

12: James G. (Dublin, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 07, 2010, 8:47 AM.

I'm Catholic and I just read the Mool Mantar for the first time. While reading I could not help but compare it to The Apostle's Creed and I noticed beautiful similarities between them - of which I want to discuss the first lines only. The Apostle's Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. 1) In the Creed, the word "I" comes before the word "God". While in the Mool Mantar, there is nothing before the words "One God". 2) In the Creed, God is defined as "the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth". While in the Mool Mantar, God is described as "Being and Becoming". I must admit that I like the Mool Mantar phrasing and understanding better than The Apostle's Creed. I know that for Catholics the Creed is a statement of faith but God should always be first in everything we do. The Mool Mantar begins with One God plus it's description of God as being and becoming feels more open, less confining and ever changing. Next to this, the Creed sounds like some kind of title. If this is the kind of faith discovery that these articles are going to inspire, then I for one look forward to next week's session!

13: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 08, 2010, 6:19 AM.

Thank you, Gurpal Singh ji, for pointing out that without introspection, mere recitation is just an empty ritual. The goal is indeed to embody the qualities we are reflecting on ("Nirbhau japai, Nirbhau hovey"). Perhaps we read the meaning of "jap" too literally to mean mere recitation. I. Singh ji is spot on when he alludes to the pitfalls of using borrowed terminology. The thought was to use what was "generally" accepted (however inadequate) and allow readers to pitch in (as you have) so that we could together make new meaning. You will agree, I hope, that regardless of the term used, it will fall short, because words are defining and therefore confining - making for an interesting conundrum. Now-a-days, "Consciousness" appears to be replacing "God". Just yesterday, I stumbled upon an interesting description of "Consciousness" which I share: "acausal, non-local, quantum-mechanical interrelatedness." It struck me as accurate but inelegant.

14: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), January 08, 2010, 3:26 PM.

Along with many, I too have argued that the "Mool Mantar" encapsulates the entire teachings of Sikhi and the rest is commentary. I could further argue that we explore the unique alphanumeric coined by Guru Nanak "Ik Oankar." With this formulation begins the Mool Mantar. This unique alphanumeric constructed by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhi, postulates one God, not a Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh God, but one that is common to all and embraces all creation. If we can see the oneness in the creator and creation, there is then no room left for distinctions in race, caste, creed, gender, color or national origin. The Ultimate Reality has no gender, form, race or color. Then to refer to God as uniquely "He" or "Him" reflects the paucity of language and its usage. So, differences between "them" and "us" vanish. And then, as the Guru Granth says, "I see no stranger!" Ik Oankar, then, becomes the first and foremost teaching of Sikhism. Equality, liberty, fraternity and even justice are inherent in it; it encapsulates the entire Sikh worldview. Does this alphanumeric not become most significantly THE credal statement of Sikhi?

15: Jasvinder (Hamilton, New Zealand), January 08, 2010, 8:41 PM.

In terms of understanding God and its qualities and who we are as human being, we are, I think, beings who have been given this body/ costume made out of Hummus/ matter, and the One Supreme Being, God/ Waheguru as we call 'Him' is just a being as well like us. He (I will just use 'he' for convenience here) never takes a body/ costume. We all are souls and he is the Supreme Soul. He is the divine light - a kind of energy (as described in Mool Mantar) ... and we are like Him too. We share he same qualities as he has, only difference is that He is an ocean of all those qualities, he is the powerhouse and we the batteries who get charged by coming in contact with him (as mentioned above, we can have divine qualities in us if we pursue it). I suspect that there is a lot of description about God as such in our scriptures, but are there any references that describe who we are as human beings? I have read a little in the Upanishads (hindu scriptures) that there is lot of references to God being the Supreme Soul and we humans as souls, and that we both are eternal. As I understand it, He is the param-aatma (Supreme Soul) and we all are aatmas (souls), and all the devis, devtas (Ram, Krishna) and prophets like Buddha, Mahavir, Jesus, Moses ... and our Ten Gurus ... were all mahan-aatmas, as they had experienced God for themselves and they could guide us according to their own understanding of God. I don't know if thinking like this is just a concept or reality, but thinking like this works for me and explains many things logically. So my question is, who am I? This might be another topic for another day, but I would like if someone could enlighten me whether there are any references about this in our Sikh scriptures.

16: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 09, 2010, 7:37 AM.

Thank you, James, for giving us a Catholic perspective. We hope you will be an active participant. I have found (at least in my mind) a lot of similarity between naam, shabad and guru with the catholic trinity. The question of Time, Atika, is difficult to address here, but is, nonetheless, foundational. For interested readers, I just this morning read (in the Wall Street Journal) an interesting review of a book on Time (coincidince?) entitled 'From Here to Eternity' by Sean Carrol, a CalTech theoretical physicist. Interestingly enough, he is nowhere near an answer on what is Time at the end of the book than he was at the beginning! Much like St Augustine who said, "If no one asks (what is time) I know what it is, but if I am asked, I cannot explain." From the perspective of gurbani, there is the notion of "kaal" (time) and "mahakaal" (would it translate to Time with a capital "T") that we should reflect on. Also, in the West, the arrow of time is linear and unidirectional (forward) but Eastern thought posits a circular motion. But, of course, I don't have the answer either!

17: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), January 10, 2010, 7:14 AM.

WRAP-UP: The fundamental idea of this series is a continuing education program for ourselves that becomes a lifelong engagement with the Word. It is clearly off to an excellent and inspiring start. There are so many awesome contributions from so many readers that it would take an essay to address each. Some reflect on the qualities of the divine. This is natural because a literal rendering of the Mool Mantar automatically leads one in that direction. But let's not separate what is divine from its human essence and existence. The divine, too, is with us and within us, even though at times it appears divorced from our earthly existence. We often rue the fact that reciting the Mool Mantar has become just that - recitation and repetition - and that it leaves our lives unchanged and untouched. This reminds me that in grade school factoids are taught by recitation and repetition, be they elementary arithmetic, chemistry or the rudiments of language skills. In early education, such techniques have a time-honoured place. The essence of growing up is to move beyond recitation to internalize the factoids into a narrative that can manage and steer a life. Hence, the exercise may not be entirely pointless, even when progress towards conscious awareness of its meaning is not so apparent. In fact, the meaning of meditation includes in its practice the state of mindful awareness. I was touched by the parallels with the Apostles Creed. Clearly, the human heart has yearnings that are universal; they transcend fences that define languages, religions, cultures and nationalities. The essence of the Mool Mantar, indeed of its very beginning - Ik Oankar - that I have commented on in an earlier post here, focuses us unmistakably on that universality. A wonderful discussion, thanks to the readers. The next chapter will be no less.

18: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 10, 2010, 8:07 AM.

Thank you, Dr I.J. Singh, for your elegant summary of this week's dialogue. A reminder that we will proceed to the actual text of the Japji, tomorrow (Monday, January 11) - starting with the first stanza. Looking forward to your continued participation on this journey of discovery and spiritual formation, climbing the inner mountain with Guru Nanak as our Guide.

19: Harbans Lal (Arlington, Texas, U.S.A.), January 10, 2010, 10:24 PM.

Contrary to how the Mool Mantar has been translated here and elsewhere, the sacred words of faith are not a collection of adjectives describing God as an entity somewhere out there. Rather, they enunciate the relationship of a human being with the Creator and sketch out a strategy for the evolution of human consciousness to become god consciousness. Thus, the phrases contained in the Mool Mantar are a cluster of adjectives that describe the inner experience of divinity. "Within this body are all treasures of the Divine identity; they are discovered through contemplating the Guru's Shabad, says Guru Amar Das." Thus given words and phrases are meant to be recited and meditated upon by a seeker to realize oneself as a fulfillment of the life goal of attaining god-like consciousness. Its practice is to awaken to new dimensions of who we are with respect to our 'Journey of Self Awareness'. The goal of the practice is to transform our awareness from separation to unity. In unity, we perceive only divine power, express only love and freedom. In revealing human life as an opportunity, Guru Nanak outlined the transformative method by which all those who practice may now escape the prison of animal instincts and ego nature; they may actually realize the highest forms of joys and exaltation ... "Like God," Guru Arjan wrote (GGS:1076), "a worshiper of God is like unto the God. Being in a human body deem him not distinct from the God. As water waves rise in various ways, but water merges in water again." Guru Amar Das further says (GGS:441): "O my mind, you are the embodiment of the Divine Light - recognize your own basis." This is exactly the purpose of reciting the sacred words embedded in the Mool Mantar. ("O my mind, you will become the one you serve and emulate and your deeds will transform accordingly." Guru Amar Das, GGS:755). After describing various stops on the spiritual journey, Kabir (GGS: 1372) concludes that the humble servant of God should be just like God. With this introduction, I wish to translate the Mool Mantar in this light again but the note may exceed the limits. Those who wish to read my translation may read it in my recent article in "Theology of Moolmantar", Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 11: (1),pp. 9-24, 2009.

20: Hardeep Singh (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), January 13, 2010, 2:50 PM.

Regarding the first two lines of the Mool Mantar, here is my perspective or interpretation for myself, in the context of the period in which Guru Nanak revealed it to us: Ek Onkar : There is One Integrating Universal Divine Force. ONE takes away any duality or multitudinous forms. Integrating (implies that the Force optimizes between Creation, Preservation and Destruction). The word Force (hukam), because it propels the system. And Universal because it is greater than anything and encompasses everything. That was Nanak's submission about the Force. The second question is: How will one identify/ recognize or realize it? Here is Nanak's submission: SatNaam: Naam (or Name in English) implies identification and 'Sat' means 'Truth'. So Nanak submits that 'Realization of Truth' is the Force's identification. Wherever and with whatsoever means, one realizes The Truth (in him-/ her-self), he/ she feels the presence of this Divine Force.

21: Hardeep Singh (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), January 13, 2010, 3:34 PM.

About the rest of the Mool Mantar: The next five phrases (karta purakh, nir bhao, nir vair, akaal moorat, ajauni, sai-bhang) are the attributes of this Divine Force. And the last phrase is: GurParsad: The Divine Force can be realized by the Grace of the Guru and His teachings. After submitting this great revelation, Nanak humbly submits to us that this Divine Force which can be realized by the presence of the Truth - the Truth that has been in existence since ages and will always be there till infinity (aad sachh, jugaad sachh, hai bhi sachh, Nanak hosi bhi sachh). I also interpret it as Nanak submitting to us that wisdom does not have a patent. It has been there since ages and will always be realized till infinity in different shapes, forms, cultures and faiths. What a disclaimer to the Great Wisdom Nanak revealed to us. Hail Nanak! Hail Nanak!

22: Himmat Singh (United Kingdom), February 16, 2010, 10:36 AM.

Even though the discussion is over, I would like to say it was very interesting to read the various viewpoints tendered. That put forward by Harbans Lal ji appealed most, and his referenced article was found on Saabt.org. It is pretty much as I see the Mool Mantar. I don't think Guru Nanak is trying to point out attributes of any external God, but instead, following self-realization, is speaking of the attributes a soul (any soul) can attain upon liberation. Upon liberation, one becomes one with God, as part of the One God like a drop of water is part of an ocean. One is an eternal truth (i.e., requires no Naam); One's own body, will and soul is the cause of all the changes that occur to oneself in life; One is fearless of any material circumstances; One does not hold any grudge or malice; One is the image of the deathless Lord; One's soul is without birth; One's soul is self-existent and always will be; One attains such a state with the grace of one's inner Guru, a seed instilled by the One God that one returns to upon liberation from the cycle of reincarnation.

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