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In this 'Botched Translations of Guru Granth Sahib ji' series, I want to highlight shabads, poems from Guru Granth Sahib, that have been translated incorrectly, which give the reader the wrong impression about the belief system of the author or about the message in Guru Granth Sahib ji. When I read the English translation of Guru Granth Sahib ji. I notice that there are certain mistakes embedded in these translations that are over-looked by most sikhs, who rely on them to make out the meaning of the shabad. These incorrect beliefs then become internalized and lead to incorrect understanding. The incorrect understanding is then propagated in real life and in online forums, it seeps into discussions and the mindset. One of the oft-quoted shabads of Nam Dev ji has him slowly paint a scholar into a corner, only to give him a lesson. Each time Nam Dev ji questions him, the scholar changes his religion. Bhagat Namdev ji notices this pattern a lot in native Indians, Hindus. There is a buffet of spiritual religious traditions laid out in front of them, and they take a little here and there. They wander through multiple Indian faiths, without learning anything. Namdev ji says, that unlike the Muslims who are strict to their faith, the Hindus are not strict on one faith. They keep tasting here and there on the buffet of faiths and this leads to their detriment. Nam Dev ji says it is good to stick to one religion and to practice its teachings. However this is only one eye. He adds that the one who has gyan is better than the one who is simply following a religion. The practical, the experiential knowledge of Atma, pure consciousness, is the second eye and the one who has both eyes is the most exalted in Namdev ji's view. He sets a high bar for Hindus and Muslims to strive for gyan and be strict to the faith they have chosen. However this shabad is twisted into something else, as told by Amardeep below. It is used to put down Hindus and Muslims, and it becomes a practice of Ahankar rather than something to strive for. There's a lot of misinformation about Bani of Nam Dev ji in Guru Granth Sahib. His words are twisted to mean things that he is simply not saying. The botched translation we will be looking at today is not itself botched but severely incomplete. So the meaning that is taken from the incomplete translation is often wrong. In this thread, we will delve into Bhagat Nam Dev ji's words and uncover the correct meaning. ਬਿਲਾਵਲੁ ਗੋਂਡ ॥ बिलावलु गोंड ॥ Bilāval gond. Raag Bilaval Gond ਆਜੁ ਨਾਮੇ ਬੀਠਲੁ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਮੂਰਖ ਕੋ ਸਮਝਾਊ ਰੇ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ आजु नामे बीठलु देखिआ मूरख को समझाऊ रे ॥ रहाउ ॥ Āj nāme bīṯẖal ḏekẖi▫ā mūrakẖ ko samjẖā▫ū re. Rahā▫o. Today, I, Namay, saw Vitthala, (another name of omni-present pure consciousness), and I will explain to those who haven't seen him. Bhagat Nam Dev ji converses with an ignorant scholar. ਪਾਂਡੇ ਤੁਮਰੀ ਗਾਇਤ੍ਰੀ ਲੋਧੇ ਕਾ ਖੇਤੁ ਖਾਤੀ ਥੀ ॥ ਲੈ ਕਰਿ ਠੇਗਾ ਟਗਰੀ ਤੋਰੀ ਲਾਂਗਤ ਲਾਂਗਤ ਜਾਤੀ ਥੀ ॥੧॥ पांडे तुमरी गाइत्री लोधे का खेतु खाती थी ॥ लै करि ठेगा टगरी तोरी लांगत लांगत जाती थी ॥१॥ Pāŉde ṯumrī gā▫iṯarī loḏẖe kā kẖeṯ kẖāṯī thī. Lai kar ṯẖegā tagrī ṯorī lāŉgaṯ lāŉgaṯ jāṯī thī. ||1|| Panday, I saw your Gayatri (another name of omni-present pure consciousness), grazing in the fields. Gayatri is a divine mantar that connects the chanter to the pure consciousness, thus it eats up negative actions, like a cow grazes a field. Since Gayatri took away all suffering, like a mother who cuddles her child, she was later personified as a Mother Goddess. Gayatri was also associated with the form of a cow, as the cow was a symbol for motherhood. So the farmer, thinking, Gayatri was a stray cow, beat her and broke her leg until she limped away. The scholar had no experiential knowledge of Gayatri, he did not really understand Gayatri to be able to defend her from Nam Devji criticism. So upon hearing this caricature of Gayatri, the Hindu scholar says he worships Mahadev, the God of Gods. Surely Namdev ji couldn't caricature Mahadev? ਪਾਂਡੇ ਤੁਮਰਾ ਮਹਾਦੇਉ ਧਉਲੇ ਬਲਦ ਚੜਿਆ ਆਵਤੁ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਥਾ ॥ ਮੋਦੀ ਕੇ ਘਰ ਖਾਣਾ ਪਾਕਾ ਵਾ ਕਾ ਲੜਕਾ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਥਾ ॥੨॥ पांडे तुमरा महादेउ धउले बलद चड़िआ आवतु देखिआ था ॥ मोदी के घर खाणा पाका वा का लड़का मारिआ था ॥२॥ Pāŉde ṯumrā mahāḏe▫o ḏẖa▫ule balaḏ cẖaṛi▫ā āvaṯ ḏekẖi▫ā thā. Moḏī ke gẖar kẖāṇā pākā vā kā laṛkā māri▫ā thā. ||2|| Panday, I saw your Mahadev (another name of omni-present pure consciousness), who was riding the bull. In the Parbati's house, the food was ready. She was going to take a bath. To guard her door, she took the turmeric paste applied on her body, and made a man to guard her. Meaning - Mother Nature created man out of matter. Then Mahadev came to the house to meet his wife. However this created man, did not recognize Mahadev and would not let him enter the home. Meaning - Pure Consciousness as Divine Father Spirit came to meet Mother Nature. Man was ignorant of his Divine Father, he could not recognize the Divine and would not let him enter his mind, due to his ignorance, wandering mind. Mahadev cut off his head. And later replaced with the head of an elephant, giving birth to Ganesh. Meaning - so the Diving Father destroyed man's ignorance and gave him enlightenment, transforming him into a transcendent being. The scholar had no knowledge of the deeper meanings to the stories of Mahadev. He had no actual faith in Mahadev. He thought who would kill a person for no reason? So then he says that he worships Ram. ਪਾਂਡੇ ਤੁਮਰਾ ਰਾਮ ਚੰਦੁ ਸੋ ਭੀ ਆਵਤੁ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਥਾ ॥ ਰਾਵਨ ਸੇਤੀ ਸਰਬਰ ਹੋਈ ਘਰ ਕੀ ਜੋਇ ਗਵਾਈ ਥੀ ॥੩॥ पांडे तुमरा रामचंदु सो भी आवतु देखिआ था ॥ रावन सेती सरबर होई घर की जोइ गवाई थी ॥३॥ Pāŉde ṯumrā rāmcẖanḏ so bẖī āvaṯ ḏekẖi▫ā thā. Rāvan seṯī sarbar ho▫ī gẖar kī jo▫e gavā▫ī thī. ||3|| Panday, I saw your Ram Chandra (another name of omni-present pure consciousness). His wife was kidnapped by Ravan. The scholar had no faith in Ram either; he could respond to this. So upon hearing this, the scholar realizes he doesn't worship any of them. He never had faith to begin with. He had no experiential knowledge, no deeper knowledge about the stories he read and analyzed. Bhagat Nam Dev ji then says ਹਿੰਦੂ ਅੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਤੁਰਕੂ ਕਾਣਾ ॥ਦੁਹਾਂ ਤੇ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਿਆਣਾ ॥ हिंदू अंन्हा तुरकू काणा ॥ दुहां ते गिआनी सिआणा ॥ Hinḏū anĥā ṯurkū kāṇā. Ḏuhāŉ ṯe gi▫ānī si▫āṇā. Hindu has no eyes but Muslim has at least one. However Enlightened being is the most intelligent. This use of the word ਸਿਆਣਾ and previous discussion gives context to what ਹਿੰਦੂ ਅੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਤੁਰਕੂ ਕਾਣਾ really means What eyes, or lack thereof, is Bhagat NamDev ji talking about? The Hindu does not have a religion, and he does not understand the deeper meaning. So the Hindu has 0 eyes. The Muslim at least has his religion however he does not have deeper knowledge. So the Muslim as 1 eye. However the Enlightened being, also practices religion and has deeper knowledge, that he has acquired through spiritual practice. So the enlightened one has both eyes. ਦੁਹਾਂ ਤੇ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਿਆਣਾ ॥ Within Hindus and Muslims, those who develop deep knowledge are the most exalted. ਹਿੰਦੂ ਪੂਜੈ ਦੇਹੁਰਾ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥ ਨਾਮੇ ਸੋਈ ਸੇਵਿਆ ਜਹ ਦੇਹੁਰਾ ਨ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥੪॥੩॥੭॥ हिंदू पूजै देहुरा मुसलमाणु मसीति ॥ नामे सोई सेविआ जह देहुरा न मसीति ॥४॥३॥७॥ Hinḏū pūjai ḏehurā musalmāṇ masīṯ. Nāme so▫ī sevi▫ā jah ḏehurā na masīṯ. ||4||3||7|| The Hindu worships the temple and the Muslim worships the mosque. Namay worships that where there is no temple nor mosque, meaning turiya avastha, state of pure consciousness. Isn't Nam Dev ji criticizing Hindus? Isn't he slandering their religions? Remember Namdev ji is criticizing his own people, Hindus are his own people. He has fought for them and he has represented them in front of kings. He wants to see them improve. He wants Hindus to follow a particular faith and stick to it. He wants his own followers to stick to the path that he has given them. In the previous shabad, he tells his followers to worship Ram, as instructed by the Bhagwad Gita. ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਗਹੁ ਮੀਤਾ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਣਵੈ ਨਾਮਾ ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਗੀਤਾ ॥੫॥੨॥੬॥ So Namdev ji is not trying to slander any religions here. He is not putting down the Gaytri, Mahadev, Ram, etc, as it is often interpreted by so-called "scholars". Instead, he is trying to paint the ignorant scholar into a corner and get him to admit that he is not really worshiping anybody so that by recognizing what he lacks, he may improve himself in that area. Nam Dev ji is trying to get him to adopt a certain path and do spiritual practice to gain deeper insight. Criticizing his own people? Where has Namdev ji represented Hindus? http://www.sikhawareness.com/topic/17024-muslim-sultan-tries-to-kill-namdev-ji-for-worshipping-vishnu-ji-translation/
Right now I am in the mood to correct things. So in this 'Botched Translations of Guru Granth Sahib ji' series, I want to highlight shabads, poems from Guru Granth Sahib, that have been translated incorrectly, which give the reader the wrong impression about the belief system of the author or about the message in Guru Granth Sahib ji. When I read the English translation of Guru Granth Sahib ji. I notice that there are certain mistakes embedded in these translations that are over-looked by most sikhs, who rely on them to make out the meaning of the shabad. These incorrect beliefs then become internalized and lead to incorrect understanding. The incorrect understanding is then propagated in real life and in online forums, it seeps into discussions and the mindset. One of the shabads I see the most, is a botched translation of Sant Kabir ji's shabad, where Kabir ji talks about the importance of your approach to Naam Simran. Do you approach Naam Simran to get something? What is it that you want to get out of it? Bhagat Kabir ji talks about the correct approach to Bhagati. He highlights a distinction in two approaches - the approach of Saint and the approach of Miracle-worker, who may appear similar to those who are unfamiliar. But what does the English Translation of this shabad say? Something completely unrelated. It is as I say, completely botched. Botched Translations of Guru Granth Sahib ji - Part 1 ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਨ ਮਹਿ ਭੇਦੁ ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ ॥ कबीर राम कहन महि भेदु है ता महि एकु बिचारु ॥ Kabīr rām kahan mėh bẖeḏ hai ṯā mėh ek bicẖār. Kabeer, it does make a difference, how you chant the Lord's Name, 'Raam'. This is something to consider. ਸੋਈ ਰਾਮੁ ਸਭੈ ਕਹਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਕਉਤਕਹਾਰ ॥੧੯੦॥ सोई रामु सभै कहहि सोई कउतकहार ॥१९०॥ So▫ī rām sabẖai kahėh so▫ī ka▫uṯakhār. ||190|| Everyone uses the same word for the son of Dasrath and the Wondrous Lord. ||190|| ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਿਬੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥ कबीर रामै राम कहु कहिबे माहि बिबेक ॥ Kabīr rāmai rām kaho kahibe māhi bibek. Kabeer, use the word 'Raam', only to speak of the All-pervading Lord. You must make that distinction. ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ ॥੧੯੧॥ एकु अनेकहि मिलि गइआ एक समाना एक ॥१९१॥ Ėk anekėh mil ga▫i▫ā ek samānā ek. ||191|| One 'Raam' is pervading everywhere, while the other is contained only in himself. ||191|| Now just read the Gurmukhi - ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਨ ਮਹਿ ਭੇਦੁ ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ ॥ कबीर राम कहन महि भेदु है ता महि एकु बिचारु ॥ Kabīr rām kahan mėh bẖeḏ hai ṯā mėh ek bicẖār. ਸੋਈ ਰਾਮੁ ਸਭੈ ਕਹਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਕਉਤਕਹਾਰ ॥੧੯੦॥ सोई रामु सभै कहहि सोई कउतकहार ॥१९०॥ So▫ī rām sabẖai kahėh so▫ī ka▫uṯakhār. ||190|| ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਿਬੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥ कबीर रामै राम कहु कहिबे माहि बिबेक ॥ Kabīr rāmai rām kaho kahibe māhi bibek. ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ ॥੧੯੧॥ एकु अनेकहि मिलि गइआ एक समाना एक ॥१९१॥ Ėk anekėh mil ga▫i▫ā (verb) ek samānā ek (verb). ||191|| Notice these 3 things as you read the Gurmukhi. 1. It does not say "Son of Dashrath" anywhere in the Gurmukhi, nor is it implied. 2. It does not say "Only to speak of all-pervading lord" anywhere in the Gurmukhi, nor is it implied. 3. It does not say "pervading everywhere" or "contained only in himself" anywhere in the Gurmukhi, nor is it implied. The English translation is mistranslated and is used to misrepresent this shabad. This is not what Sant Kabir ji is talking about and these are not the views he holds. This is not what Guru Granth Sahib ji is talking about either, and this mistranslated shabad is used to misrepresent the Guru. So the big question - What is this shabad actually talking about? ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਨ ਮਹਿ ਭੇਦੁ ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ ॥ कबीर राम कहन महि भेदु है ता महि एकु बिचारु ॥ Kabīr rām kahan mėh bẖeḏ hai ṯā mėh ek bicẖār. Kabir says there is a difference in how one says "Ram", let me share one thought. So now he mentions Kautakahar. Kautakhar are those people who perform miracles to entertain. Kabir ji is saying - ਸੋਈ ਰਾਮੁ ਸਭੈ ਕਹਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਕਉਤਕਹਾਰ ॥੧੯੦॥ सोई रामु सभै कहहि सोई कउतकहार ॥१९०॥ So▫ī rām sabẖai kahėh so▫ī ka▫uṯakhār. ||190|| All (saints) say "Ram" and so do the ka▫uṯakhār, those who perform miracles or entertain. (i.e. the saints chant Ram because they have Prem/love for Ram. The kautakhar chant Ram to obtain ridhi sidhi, power to perform miracles, which they will show off. The latter have Prem for ridhi sidhi not Ram.) ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਿਬੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥ कबीर रामै राम कहु कहिबे माहि बिबेक ॥ Kabīr rāmai rām kaho kahibe māhi bibek. Kabir says do say "Ram" but in saying it recognize this difference/ this thought (bibek). The difference is in intention! ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ ॥੧੯੧॥ एकु अनेकहि मिलि गइआ एक समाना एक ॥१९१॥ Ėk anekėh mil ga▫i▫ā (verb) ek samānā ek (verb). ||191|| That one merged in the many, and the other one merged in the One. "pervading everywhere" (noun) or "contained only in himself" (noun) are incorrect translations of these Verbs. ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ - is a verb, it's the act of doing ie. merging ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ - is a verb, it's an act of doing ie. merging That those who were after the power to perform miracles merged with (verb) those powers, meaning they never achieved mukti. But those (saints) who were after Ram merged with Him, the One (verb). They are both doing Bhagati but their intentions are worlds apart, this is what Kabir is talking about in this shabad. The bibek you need to have to do Bhagati matters as it ultimately determines what result you get. Why does Bhagat Kabir ji feel the need to point this out? Since both Saints and Miracle-Workers can do kautaks, miracles, to the unfamiliar eye it might appear that they are the same. To new student of meditation, it might appear that meditation should be done to achieve these miraculous powers. They might think that it is miraculous powers that makes one into a Saint. Sant Kabir ji guides his sikhs and tells them. There is a difference that must be recognized. The Saints are into Naam Simran, meditation, for Ram. The miracle-workers, kautakhars, are into Naam Simran for Kautaks. He says that those who are in it for Ram, merge with Ram, and those who are in it for miracles, merge with the many miracles. Bhagat Kabir ji is encouraging his sikhs to be in it for Ram. So you see now what Bhagat Kabir ji is talking about? He's talking about differences in goals and aims, differences in intentions and purpose. And this is absolutely clear if you just read the Gurmukhi. Just let that sink in. Bhagat Kabir ji is talking about aims and intentions. It doesn't say the word Saint in the Gurmukhi, either. Where are you getting that from? As you can clearly see, I wrote it as "(saints)"; I put it in brackets in my translation. So I know it doesn't say "saints" in the Gurmukhi. However it really is talking about saints even though Kabir doesn't use the word "saint". This is because in the very last tuk, he says that these "people" merge into the One, into Ram. Since they merged into the One, they can be called saints. ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ ॥੧੯੧॥ "That one have merged in the many, and one have merged in the One." One has become engrossed in the many kautaks/miracles, and the other one has merged into the One. Since the other one merged into the one, he can be called a saint. Again, Kabir ji's point is this - We know that Saints can also do miracles. We know that Kautakhars can also do miracles. So the naturally the question gets asked - Is there a difference? If so, what is the difference between the two groups? The entire shabad addresses this question. Kabir ji answers that the Saints meditate on Ram out of pure love. Where as Kautakhars, meditate on Ram to gain ability to show kautak. And this difference is important to recognize because it ultimately leads to those goals. It has to be kept in mind while chanting "Ram, Ram". If your goal is to achieve powers, then that's all you will get (ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ) . If your goal is to get Ram, then that's who you will get (ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ) . So here's same translation using different words. I won't use the word saint in brackets and you'll see that the meaning is the same. ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਨ ਮਹਿ ਭੇਦੁ ਹੈ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ ॥ Kabir says there is a distinction in saying "Ram", let me share this notion. ਸੋਈ ਰਾਮੁ ਸਭੈ ਕਹਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਕਉਤਕਹਾਰ ॥੧੯੦॥ That "Ram" everyone chants, that "Ram" the ka▫uṯakhār also chant. ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਿਬੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥ Kabir says definitely say "Ram, Ram" but in saying it recognize the distinction. ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕਹਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਗਇਆ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨਾ ਏਕ ॥੧੯੧॥ That one group, the kautakhars, has become engrossed in the many powers, and the other group has merged with the One (with Ram). It says ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ. Doesn't ਰਾਮੈ mean "all-pervading"? Isn't it an adjective? That wouldn't change the meaning I posted because that's what Ram means but when we are translating from Gurmukhi, we have to stick to the words. ਰਾਮੈ is not an adjective. ਰਾਮੈ is the same thing as ਰਾਮ. They are both the same name. For example, Kabir ji says - ਮੁਆ ਕਬੀਰੁ ਰਮਤ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਰਾਮੈ ॥੫॥੧੫॥ I died meditating on "Shri Ram" ਰਾਮੈ is the same thing as ਰਾਮ . In another example, Kabir ji says ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਰਮਤ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੪॥ Chanting "Ram, Ram" one attains peace. ਰਮਤ means to permeate ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ/Ram, Ram ਰਾਮੈ is the same thing as ਰਾਮ In this example, Guru Sahib says - ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਰਾਮੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਬਸਾਈ ॥ ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਕਤਹੂੰ ਜਾਈ ॥੪॥ Through the Guru's teachings, those who have enshrined "Ram Naam" (the name of Ram) in their hearts, they becomes Asthir, permanent, ie they become free of births and deaths. ਰਾਮੈ is the same thing as ਰਾਮ. Just like how ਨਾਮੈ is the same thing as ਨਾਮਾ (Namdev ji's nickname) ਜਨ ਨਾਮੈ ਤਤੁ ਪਛਾਨਿਆ ॥੩॥੩॥ Servant Namdev (ਨਾਮੈ) has recognized reality. So keep those examples in mind and read the tuk again - ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰਾਮ ਕਹੁ ਕਹਿਬੇ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥ Kabir ji says, do chant "Ram, Ram", and have this bibek while chanting. But does Bhagat Kabir ji make any distinction between Ram and Ram in another shabad? Bhagat Kabir ji makes absolutely no distinction. To Kabir ji they are the same. Bhagat Kabir ji in his other shabads refers to Shri Ram, Son of Dashrath, as the Archer, Purushotam, the Leader of Raghu Dynasty, amongst His other epithets. This is a big, multi-faceted discussion.