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Here is must read commentary by harry mann on bara maha composition in gurbani. Very profound..

Barah maha maajh mahala 5, ghar 4

(12 months, in the emotive nuance (raag) of maajh (indicative of separation/longing), by the 5th guru (mahala means large abode), ghar 4 (some believe this means ‘to the 4th beat’ and others who take the Persian influence see It as being a derivation of ‘gah’ which means microtone….the jury is still out on this). Regardless, the title, author, scale and either beat/microtones are used to set the stage for engaging your mind by disengaging the ego……..<this last part being key>

History: It was a tradition in northern India that people would go and hear words from someone who they deemed ‘saintly’ at the beginning of the month. The sangat asked the guru for something that is akin to this tradition. The guru presented this bani (I see this as being a way of reorienting people to their higher self, which we can say is our ‘supersoul’ that is currently like a bird that is chained down).So Sikhs started reciting this monthly as a collective. In the olden days, the Sikhs in turn would recite this so the aspect of self sovereignty came about to.

My understanding of gurbani entails understanding the ‘mood’ of the shabad and earlier I had stated that majh is indicative of yearning/longing/separation. I will use that to further contextualize the shabad.

I have cut and paste the shabad as it is seen on srigranth.org. I shall provide my own commentary underneath

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ

सतिगुर प्रसादि

Ik▫oaʼnkār saṯgur parsāḏ.

One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

Harry: Ik oangkar satgur parsaad(one that is unmanifested, is continuously manifested in creation as an energy that is experienced Through the bliss of true consciousness):

ਕਿਰਤਿ ਕਰਮ ਕੇ ਵੀਛੁੜੇ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਰਾਮ

किरति करम के वीछुड़े करि किरपा मेलहु राम

Kiraṯ karam ke vīcẖẖuṛe kar kirpā melhu rām.

By the actions we have committed, we are separated from You. Please show Your Mercy, and unite us with Yourself, Lord.

Harry: The mind in speaking to itself much like a soliloquy and reaffirming that it is separated from its source (the ‘ik’) due to impressions which have been left which are not conduciveness to harmony and oneness. In essence one is feeling that they are the cause of their own incompleteness. So the mind is appealing to its counterpart, the complete self, the consciousness to implore it to connect to that (one source…the ‘ik’).

ਚਾਰਿ ਕੁੰਟ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਭ੍ਰਮੇ ਥਕਿ ਆਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਸਾਮ

चारि कुंट दह दिस भ्रमे थकि आए प्रभ की साम

Cẖār kunt ḏah ḏis bẖarame thak ā▫e parabẖ kī sām.

We have grown weary of wandering to the four corners of the earth and in the ten directions. We have come to Your Sanctuary, God.

Harry: This section is indicative of doing ‘shubh karam’ (good deeds), In this case it would be tiraths (pilgrimages) and the emphasis is being laid on the fact that good deeds in themselves do not produce peace but rather a transformation of consciousness which would be an internal tirath or ‘shift’. So the mind has come ready to surrender to its own consciousness

ਧੇਨੁ ਦੁਧੈ ਤੇ ਬਾਹਰੀ ਕਿਤੈ ਆਵੈ ਕਾਮ

धेनु दुधै ते बाहरी कितै आवै काम

Ḏẖen ḏuḏẖai ṯe bāhrī kiṯai na āvai kām.

Without milk, a cow serves no purpose.

Harry: The utility of a cow comes in its ability to produce milk. This is alluding to the mind not having utility if it is not engaging with that oneness.

ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਾਖ ਕੁਮਲਾਵਤੀ ਉਪਜਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਦਾਮ

जल बिनु साख कुमलावती उपजहि नाही दाम

Jal bin sākẖ kumlāvaṯī upjahi nāhī ḏām.

Without water, the crop withers, and it will not bring a good price.

Harry: A crop that has endured a draught does not bring any profit. Similarly a mind that has not engaged in the bliss of engaging with that ‘ik’ is like an unprofitable crop in that it has not been utilized fruitfully.

ਹਰਿ ਨਾਹ ਮਿਲੀਐ ਸਾਜਨੈ ਕਤ ਪਾਈਐ ਬਿਸਰਾਮ

हरि नाह मिलीऐ साजनै कत पाईऐ बिसराम

Har nāh na milī▫ai sājnai kaṯ pā▫ī▫ai bisrām.

If we do not meet the Lord, our Friend, how can we find our place of rest?

Harry: Similarly, if we do not engage with the manifest in creation, how will the mind ever be in poise/peace/state of perpetual stillness.

ਜਿਤੁ ਘਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕੰਤੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਈ ਭਠਿ ਨਗਰ ਸੇ ਗ੍ਰਾਮ

जितु घरि हरि कंतु प्रगटई भठि नगर से ग्राम

Jiṯ gẖar har kanṯ na pargata▫ī bẖaṯẖ nagar se garām.

Those homes, those hearts, in which the Husband Lord is not manifest-those towns and villages are like burning furnaces.

Harry: In those homes (the mind-space) that that oneness (which takes on the form of a husband, where the true devotee has the virtue of a wife <this is actually a positive affirmation that in itself causes social change as it reverses the status of a female from being subservient to being the necessitated role required to obtain completeness). So, in that house where there is no husband (and recall the theme of longing), those towns and villages…meaning collective or human collective is like a burning furnace (indicative of strife and turmoil). This is evidenced in the number of killings endured during the Russian, Cambodian and Chinese revolutions where the manifestos were devoid of individual empowerment and growth.

ਸ੍ਰਬ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਤੰਬੋਲ ਰਸ ਸਣੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਸਭ ਖਾਮ

स्रब सीगार त्मबोल रस सणु देही सभ खाम

Sarab sīgār ṯambol ras saṇ ḏehī sabẖ kẖām.

All decorations, the chewing of betel to sweeten the breath, and the body itself, are all useless and vain.

Harry: As this is in raag maajh and the theme is one of longing and separation where the wife traditionally dolled herself for her husband and this is seen now when a wife/girlfriend etc looks to beautify herself for her better half; well all that useless. So in a spiritual sense, it is saying that all the techniques one may use to purify the mind are useless if they do not take one to the end goal of engaging with the ‘ik’

ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਕੰਤ ਵਿਹੂਣੀਆ ਮੀਤ ਸਜਣ ਸਭਿ ਜਾਮ

प्रभ सुआमी कंत विहूणीआ मीत सजण सभि जाम

Parabẖ su▫āmī kanṯ vihūṇī▫ā mīṯ sajaṇ sabẖ jām.

Without God, our Husband, our Lord and Master, all friends and companions are like the Messenger of Death.

Harry: In reference to the line above, this is reiterating the same point.

ਨਾਨਕ ਕੀ ਬੇਨੰਤੀਆ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਦੀਜੈ ਨਾਮੁ

नानक की बेनंतीआ करि किरपा दीजै नामु

Nānak kī bananṯī▫ā kar kirpā ḏījai nām.

This is Nanak's prayer: "Please show Your Mercy, and bestow Your Name.

Harry: Nanak makes one plea ‘please provide me with your identifying quality’. Okay, so this requires some deeper analysis. Water can only blend with water. Similarly, the mind needs to be of the same quality as consciousness to be able to blend with it. So if consciousness is identified as one that is un manifest, manifesting itself as the eternal stillness that is consciousness experienced as bliss (ik oangkar satgur parsaad), then one is asking to have the experience which can put this identity to the experience through that name

ਹਰਿ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਨਿਹਚਲ ਧਾਮ

हरि मेलहु सुआमी संगि प्रभ जिस का निहचल धाम ॥१॥

Har melhu su▫āmī sang parabẖ jis kā nihcẖal ḏẖām. ||1||

O my Lord and Master, please unite me with Yourself, O God, in the Eternal Mansion of Your Presence". ||1||

Harry: The mind is imploring ‘oangkar’ which is manifest within each of us as consciousness to engage the mind with it so that the mind can be in that mind-space of eternal stillness

The previous was a manglacharan, which is an introduction that sets the tone for the rest of the verses.

Now we go into the month of cheyt and how one’s mind should engage with the ‘ik’ (which is conciousness)

ਚੇਤਿ ਗੋਵਿੰਦੁ ਅਰਾਧੀਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਘਣਾ

चेति गोविंदु अराधीऐ होवै अनंदु घणा

Cẖeṯ govinḏ arāḏẖī▫ai hovai anand gẖaṇā.

In the month of Chayt, by meditating on the Lord of the Universe, a deep and profound joy arises.

Harry: In the month of cheyt, engage the mind by connecting to that ‘ik’ which is manifest in every aspect of creation (go-all of creation, vind/bind-that element that is manifest). By doing this, one will feel an inner peace well up in the mind making it profitable (as per the manglacharan) and it brings one closer to that entity it feels separated from. The mind also is in rest because it is not engaged in anything except the bliss of stillness.

ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਮਿਲਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਰਸਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਭਣਾ

संत जना मिलि पाईऐ रसना नामु भणा

Sanṯ janā mil pā▫ī▫ai rasnā nām bẖaṇā.

Meeting with the humble Saints, the Lord is found, as we chant His Name with our tongues.

Harry: by meeting and engaging our minds with those who have stillness in their mind, we can know and engage with that ‘ik’ (as a still mind is a great sounding board for a still mind) and one can give voice to that experience of knowing what the identifying quality is of that ‘ik’

ਜਿਨਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਏ ਤਿਸਹਿ ਗਣਾ

जिनि पाइआ प्रभु आपणा आए तिसहि गणा

Jin pā▫i▫ā parabẖ āpṇā ā▫e ṯisėh gaṇā.

Those who have found God-blessed is their coming into this world.

Harry: In reference to the cow that is there to provide milk, this is referring to the mind which has realized that oneness is ‘their’s meaning that it is manifest within them as conciousness and their coming to this world is fruitful as they’ve put their mind to good use.

ਇਕੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਜੀਵਣਾ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਜਣਾ

इकु खिनु तिसु बिनु जीवणा बिरथा जनमु जणा

Ik kẖin ṯis bin jīvṇā birthā janam jaṇā.

Those who live without Him, for even an instant-their lives are rendered useless.

Harry: In contradistinction to the line above, those who disengage their mind from that consciousness (‘ik’) for a brief second is not yielding any profit and they are losing and have diminished their relative utility

ਜਲਿ ਥਲਿ ਮਹੀਅਲਿ ਪੂਰਿਆ ਰਵਿਆ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਣਾ

जलि थलि महीअलि पूरिआ रविआ विचि वणा

Jal thal mahī▫al pūri▫ā ravi▫ā vicẖ vaṇā.

The Lord is totally pervading the water, the land, and all space. He is contained in the forests as well.

Harry: That conciousness is ‘govind’ as stated above as it is permeating the water, land and all space…..

ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵਈ ਕਿਤੜਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਗਣਾ

सो प्रभु चिति आवई कितड़ा दुखु गणा

So parabẖ cẖiṯ na āvī kiṯ▫ṛā ḏukẖ gaṇā.

Those who do not remember God-how much pain must they suffer!

Harry: Relative to the size (being a qualitative statement of size) of that ‘ik’, the mind loses out if it does not ‘re-engage’ with that conciousness as it is technically missing out.

ਜਿਨੀ ਰਾਵਿਆ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਤਿੰਨਾ ਭਾਗੁ ਮਣਾ

जिनी राविआ सो प्रभू तिंना भागु मणा

Jinī rāvi▫ā so parabẖū ṯinnā bẖāg maṇā.

Those who dwell upon their God have great good fortune.

Harry: The bliss and experience of this oneness or completeness within the mind is so rich and fulfilling that engaging with it is being very fortunate or leaves an impression that is positive (this is an answer to the opening line).

ਹਰਿ ਦਰਸਨ ਕੰਉ ਮਨੁ ਲੋਚਦਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਪਿਆਸ ਮਨਾ

हरि दरसन कंउ मनु लोचदा नानक पिआस मना

Har ḏarsan kaʼn▫u man locẖḏā Nānak pi▫ās manā.

My mind yearns for the Blessed Vision of the Lord's Darshan. O Nanak, my mind is so thirsty!

Harry: as an emotive state of anguish which is contextualized by raag maajh, the mind is pining to ‘see’ and engage with that one manifest (ik).

ਚੇਤਿ ਮਿਲਾਏ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਤਿਸ ਕੈ ਪਾਇ ਲਗਾ

चेति मिलाए सो प्रभू तिस कै पाइ लगा ॥२॥

Cẖeṯ milā▫e so parabẖū ṯis kai pā▫e lagā. ||2||

I touch the feet of one who unites me with God in the month of Chayt. ||2||

Harry: In the month of cheyt, the mind says that it will touch the feet, which is indicative of honoring the path of that person who helps the mind to unite with its source (the ‘ik’)

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