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Talking Stick

The Art of Seduction:
The Talking Stick Colloquium # 90

Convenor: AMRIT KAUR




"sabhey kant maheliyaa suggliaa kareh seegaar"

We are His wives; we adorn ourselves for Him.
We dress ourselves in bright red to gain His attention.
But love is not won by bargaining;
A counterfeit coin gilded with gold is soon found out and spells ruin.
How does a woman win attention of the Lord?
Lord, she who is pleasing to Thy sight is in nuptial bliss;
Thy mercy is her adornment
.  [Guru Nanak, GGS:53.19]

I am taken by this shabad at different levels. Each time I read it or sing it, it reveals a new message.

It first caught my attention because of its celebration of the love between man and woman, that is, between spouses. It sings of adorning oneself for one’s lover, of dressing up in finery, of being pleasing to the other, of enjoying nuptial bliss.

Instead of looking down on human love, as many other traditions do, Sikhi celebrates it and then uses it as a model of love between a human being - bride, wife, spouse - and God, the Lord, the groom.

At other times, I get caught in the line, “… love is not won by bargaining”.

I like that. You entice your lover … through seduction and pleasure, not by making deals and bargains.

It gets me thinking about how we deal with God in our daily lives. In our prayers, for example. Or in the “good deeds” that we perform.

What is our intention when we practice charity? To help the needy, or to expect a proportional return from God? That is, do we do good deeds in life for the sake of doing them, or merely because we expect to be rewarded in return?

What do we have in mind when we do our paatth, our daily nitnem? Or an akhand paatth?

To adorn ourselves, to make ourselves “pleasing”?

Or to bargain?



What are the thoughts and emotions that go through your mind when you read this shabad?

How can we be counterfeit in our dealings with God? Do we gild ourselves to hide the dross or do we transform ourselves into what genuinely pleases Him? How does one please Him? What are the adornments that would work for us to entice His love? 

I would love to know what you do to “win” His attention. And what, from your perspective, does that “attention” entail?

[Translation of the shabad is by Khushwant Singh]

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 10, 2012, 7:38 AM.

In 1989, as a young and naive lad, I risked my life by going to the Darbar Sahib in deliberate defiance of the Indian Government's ban on 'foreigners' to Punjab. The intense feeling for the Creator for me personally came down to me through the ecstasy of the shabad I encountered on that dangerous visit! That ecstasy was/is greater than any before or since. I had been seduced by the shabad.

2: Prakash Singh Bagga (Indore, MP, India), September 10, 2012, 8:44 AM.

It should be an accepted truth of life that a person is always demanding or wishing something or the other from his Guru. There is nothing wrong in doing so. When we say our Guru is ever giving, then why the hesitation for wishing anything. A child has no limits to what he or she wishes from parents.

3: Kamaldeep Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 10, 2012, 1:10 PM.

I have recently come to love this metaphor. For me it represents one of the primary ways to view our relationship with God. Feelings of submission arise as this shabad was read and that being honest in one's approach is paramount. One becomes counterfeit when there is no sincerity or desire to improve; instead there is only wrong motivation to attempt to win over God through shortcuts and deception. Naturally, becoming genuinely pleasing is better than gilding oneself, as when tested, one will not succeed because one was in fact aiming for a state of hollowness. One should not feel that the goal is unattainable, instead overcoming any feelings of inadequacy and striving to improve whole-heartedly is always better. Rising early in the morning and comprehending the Nature of God [GGS:2], having altruistic sincerity at heart which manifests and increases via seva [GGS:1142] and aiming for an equanimous state of mind through meditation [GGS:1428] are all practices which are fundamental to such an approach. Adorning ourselves in virtue is essential to 'winning' God's attention. These include, but are not limited to, contentment, humility, and purity in one's mode of thought [GGS:6]. Further still, we are taught that self-control, patience, and love are also required to become pleasing to God [GGS:8] in the Japji. Of course there is a whole host of other wholesome qualities we are instructed to cultivate (adorn ourselves with). There is no goal per se, instead there is only nadar - God's grace. This is what causes enlightenment to arise from within [GGS:133]. Fruits such as prosperity, success and pleasure then naturally follow the practitioner like a shadow [GGS:1320].

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The Talking Stick Colloquium # 90"

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