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Significance and the theme of ‘Anand-Bani’
The ‘Anand bani’ is the masterpiece of Shri Guru Amar Das Ji, the third Sikh Guru, incorporated in the Sikh Scripture (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) on pp. 917-22. It is composed in ramkali rag, a yogic measure of music. It is a most excellent text. 'This forty stanza hymn is the culmination point of the third Guru's poetic inspiration. The ramkali Anand is his magnum opus...the finest song of blissfulness in the golden anthology of world poetry, or better still, scriptural revelations. The Anand as the mirror of the personality of Guru Amar Das is truly the essence of all his philosophy and thought.1
The ‘Anand bani’ is written in ecstasy. Really it is the most beautiful expression of the Guru's analytical or spiritual experience. It is a beautiful lyrical composition, sublime with mystical heights. The reading of this composition gives the impression that different verses flow in a natural course. They need no effort to create rhyme and rhythm. These are the natural outbursts of spiritual devotion and calmness of the mind of Guru Amar Das.2 When a pauri after pauri is recited, it sends the mind into a state of spiritual poise, ‘sehj’.3 It provides peace of mind and spiritual happiness or joy to those who recite with faith and devotion.
The ‘Anand bani’ plays a vital role in the Sikh way of life. No Sikh ceremony is complete unless there is recitation of at least six pauris of Anand Sahib. The first five stanzas and the last one i.e. 40th are recited on the eve of birth (Naam karan) ceremony, Anand i.e. marriage ceremony and also during the death ceremony of the Sikhs. It may be the occasion of joy or mourning, ‘Anand bani’ is recited, prayer is offered and Krhah prasad distributed amongst the sangat. Thus the Sikh lives in this bani right from his birth till death.
It is an integral part of morning and evening service observed strictly at all the places of Sikh worship (gurdwaras) and as a matter of fact, the principal part of all the Sikh service for all times. Moreover, ‘Anand bani’ was one of the five banis recited at the time of preparation of Amrit, by Shri Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 A.D. at Anandpur Sahib, and is so recited till today. It has been added in the 'Nitnem' banis also. A Western scholar Mr. M.A. Macauliffe has rightly observed that 'The Sikhs believe that when the ‘Anand bani’ is read at the beginning of any undertaking, it is successful; if it be read in the morning, the day is passed in happiness.'4 Anand bani provides immense joy and inspiration to the devotee's soul to climb to the state of eternal bliss. Perhaps, for this very reason, the title of this composition is coined as 'Anand'.
A Sikh theologian calls ‘Anand bani’ a Master Key by which one can unfold the hidden aspects of philosophy. Its conceptual study finds out the philosophical facts about brahm, jagat, jiv, satguru, anhad, maya and anand etc. But it seems that the central theme of this composition is anand, which runs throughout all the forty pauris.
Generally, anand (Bliss) means perfect joy, enjoyment of divine power or heavenly joy. But its meaning is different in Sikhism. It means spiritual happiness. Other terms employed to explain this spiritual status are- ‘param pad’, ‘nirvan’, ‘mahaan ras’, ‘sehj pad’ and ‘vismad’ etc. In the ‘Anand bani’ itself ‘sohila’ and ‘mangal’ words are used to connote the meaning of ‘anand’. It is of non-physical and non-material character. It is a spiritual state of soul where all kinds of needs and requirements are fulfilled. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ramkali M.III 'Anand' (pauri 1-40, p. 922)
The concept of ‘anand’ as explained in the composition does not give the idea of a static mystic who has nothing to do with the society and the world. But on the other hand, it is the state of mind of the householder who performs his duties keeping his mind absorbed in contemplation all the time and remaining in a state of perpetual bliss or ‘anand’. Shri Guru Amar Das explains the concept of ‘anand’ that a person who is internally detached from the physical world and still continues to discharge all his responsibilities towards his family and other human beings, attains a state of bliss. (pauri 4 -7, p. 917) He lives in the world conducts all the social activities and serves his fellow beings to the best of his capacity. He enjoys the comforts, but does not get lost in the pleasures just as the lotus blooms in the water but its petals do not get wet and the duck floats carefree on the waters yet its feathers remain dry. This is the attitude of detachment of a person who lives in the world but still remains cut off from the evil effects of the worldly attractions of maya.
Another important point in the ‘Anand bani’ is that without the Guru's grace, it is not possible to realize the state of ‘anand’ while living in this world. The ideal man of gurmat controls all his sense organs with the guidance of the Guru. Guru plays a vital role for the realization of ‘anand’. He bestows his Grace on the devotee and initiates him towards self-realization. All kinds of griefs, pains and worldly sufferings vanish by hearing the word of the Guru. (pauri 3-40, p. 922) In the beginning of this composition Shri Guru Amar Das Ji explains that attainment of the true guru (satguru) is the attainment of Anand. (pauri 1.1, p. 917) Again; in the seventh pauri the Guru lays stress on the importance of the Guru's guidance. All talk of ‘anand’, but from the Guru's teaching alone is its essence realized. (pauri 1-7, p.917) Therefore, a Sikh is advised to recite the true bani (sachi bani) of satguru, which can be helpful in elevating human consciousness.
Shri Guru Amar Das makes a distinction between genuine (sachi) and spurious (kachi) bani. Without the bani of true Guru all other hymns are called spurious. (pauri 6-24, p. 920)
In this respect Shri Guru Amar Das also makes a mention of the Scriptures like Smritis and Shastras which talk of good and bad (paap and punn) but do not realize the essence of Reality. In other words, the Scriptures do make mention of the highest State of Realization but do not help us to realize the essence. (pauri 1-27, p. 920) It is realized only through the satguru who himself has realized it with the grace of the Guru a devotee's mind gets stabilized and immuned from the evil effects of maya. Here a question arises as to how it is possible for a seeker to be able to seek the Guru's Grace (nadar)
In the Anand bani, Guru Amar Das puts forth the criteria of ideal disciple who deserves Guru's Grace.
- Firstly, the devotee is required to surrender his complete self to Guru's guidance. Self includes body, mind and wealth (tan, man and dhan). Then he has to willfully accept the Divine law (hukam). (pauri 3-9, p. 918)
- Secondly, he is advised to abandon cleverness (chaturai). Guru Amar Das is of the view that stability of mind is not attained with worldly wisdom or intellectual understandings. (pauri 6-10, p. 918)
- Thirdly, it is suggested that one should not be engrossed in the worldly things which make a man to forget the real essence of the Supreme Reality. He has to shed the attachment path of the world and transcend the state of delusion. Guru Amar Das puts an example before his disciples that human beings get themselves entangled with their families and relatives (kutamb), who are perishable. They would not be helpful to them for the attainment of Spiritual Bliss. (pauri 2-11, p. 918) For this very reason, the third Guru warns that the devotee should not be permanently attached (kion chit laaye) with his progeny. The family attachment gives rise to greed and pride which are the offshoots of maya, the main stumbling block for human development.
- Fourthly, the seeker of Anand is prohibited to adopt the way of ritualism. In the 18th pauri, Guru Amar Das categorically says that stability of mind (Sehj) cannot be realized with the formal rituals. (pauri 1-18, p. 919) Here the Guru criticizes the Mimansa school of Indian Thought as absurd which believes that with the help of karam-kand one can attain perfection. He firmly asserts that it is only with the Guru's Grace that a seeker can attain the state of Sehj.
- Fifthly, it is suggested that the devotee should banish the love of the second or the other (duja-bhau). Here emphasis is laid on the undivided ness of mind. Those who develop a continuous desire for realizing Ultimate Reality, they achieve their goal while living in this mundane world and performing their responsibilities. In the words of Guru Amar Das, those who with the Guru's Grace get engaged in Him, the Supreme Reality, they achieve realization even while living in maya. (pauri 6-29, p. 921) Maya is described like the fire of womb of the mother which is present both outward and inward. (pauri 1-29, p. 921) Outward maya is manifest in the form of worldly objects. As soon as it starts functioning on human consciousness, a man is diverted from its ultimate goal. He forgets the Creator and gets dreadfully engrossed in the world. (pauri 4-29, p. 921) But with Guru's Grace, his senses can be withdrawn from absorption in maya and turned towards the experience of Hari. 'In this state bursts upon the self the mystic vision of Divine presence-immanence pervading in the entire universe.5 In the 36th stanza Guru Amar Das affirms that the world's poison by the spiritual vision is transmuted into the vision of Hari. (pauri 3•36, p. 922) The seeker sees through his sense organs everything in the world as the manifestation of Reality. With the Grace of Satguru, the human mind becomes inwardly pure and stable and the evil effects of maya become ineffective.
- Sixthly, to make one's mind stable, the devotee should always praise the Divine attributes of the Supreme Reality. He is advised to constantly meditate on the Name (Naam) of Hari. 'Grace comes naturally and easily through meditation. Naam creates a feeling of the realization of God's grace within oneself. This feeling of harmony ultimately results in the utterer becoming one with the Uttered.'6 As soon as the devotee's mind concentrates on one God (Hari), it sheds all the sufferings and pains of life. (pauri 1, 2-2, p. 917) It is the State of Anand which can be attained only with the grace of Satguru.
- 1. Taran Singh, 'Guru Amar Das's Anand', Fauja Singh (Ed), Perspectives on Guru Amardas, pp. 53-54
2. G.S. Talib, Thus spake Guru Amar Das, p. V 3. Taran Singh, op. cit., p. 61-1 he literal meaning of the term 'Sehj’ is that which is the true nature of man. It is the state in which poise or balance is attained and maintained. 4. M.A. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol. II, p. 130 5. G.S. Talib, op. cit., p. 380 6. G.S. Mansukhani, The Quintessence of Sikhism, p. 177
edited by Gurwinder kaur (Dr.)