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Message of sukhmani

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This article is part of the series on the "Message of Gurbani"

The word Sukhmani is rendered into English as “consoler of the mind.” The entire poem has been translated into English more than once under the commonly preferred title, "Jewel of peace", “Psalm of peace” or “Song of peace”, signifying the soothing effect it has on the mind of the reader. Sukh literally means peace or comfort and mani means mind or heart also jewel ( ਮਣੀ in Gurmukhi can mean jewel, gem, precious stone

One of the fundamental texts of the Sikh faith, the Sukhmani presents a complete scheme of the teachings of the Sikh faith. While each astpadi has a fresh vision to impart, a particular aspect of Truth to unfold, the whole text may be regarded as the reiteration of basic themes such as Divine immanence, Divine compassion, abundance of grace, God’s succouring hand, the merit of devotion, of holy company and humility. With such reiteration, the composition as a whole has a remarkable gripping quality reinforced by the striking imagery which in stanza after stanza brings home to the seeker the truths he must own.

The Sukhmani comprises twenty-four astpadis or cantos, each comprising of eight Pauris or stanzas. They are composed in the metre chaupai. A salok or couplet precedes each astpadi. Also each Pauri consists of 5 couplets consisting of 10 Tuks or lines. The first seven stanzas of the astpadi explore the theme stated in the preceding saloks and the eighth sometimes sums up the astpadi but, more often, becomes a paean of praise placing the theme in the context of an overall vision of Eternal Reality. This structure is maintained throughout the composition, from Astpadi to Astpadi. The theme of the Astpadi may give the impression that no traceable progression of thought is taking place as in a philosophical work, but there is a continuing unity of spiritual and ethical tone throughout the text.

Summary of the message

Below is a table summarising the message of the 24 Astpadis in the Sukhmani Sahib. The table is broken down Astpadi by Astpadi:

Astpadi Message of the Bani in this Astpadi
1 sums up the benefits of contemplation and meditation. It tells that all physical pain and sorrow may vanish through the sincere remembrance of God's Holy Name and that man becomes physically healthy and morally strong. Such people find the inner strength to devote themselves to the public good and develop the endurance to overcome all worldly obstacles.
2

tells us that "practising holiness" reduces man's propensity to sin. It also provides an escape from the hardships of life. He comes to inner peace and spiritual joy.

3

the Guru states that any study of holy texts, the performance of austerities and various religious practices as giving away much in charity, cannot compare with the benefits obtainable by reading or listening to the Sacred Word. Meditation and nobility of conduct can provide a passport to the Divine Court.

4

stresses the need for good behavior, Man is a thinking animal and should think ahead to consequences of his actions. Learning and cleverness can not hide a filthy mind. Keep away form stealing and slander. Give up greed in all its forms and remember that all worldly things come to an end.

5

we learn to thank God for all his various gifts and treasures which He gives us. Man should compare himself to the less fortunate.

6

examples God's gifts to man: a healthy body, delicacies to eat, silks and jewels to wear and pleasant music to hear. Should we not thank the Lord for all His gifts by singing of His glory?

7

dwells on the attributes of the saints: their self control, their love and compassion, their solicitude for the welfare of other people. Joining their company brings hope and peace, they never turn any one away empty-handed.

8

Similarly to 7, an appreciation of the God-oriented man- the Brahm-giani -is found here. He is kind, patient, humble and care-free. He offers help and support to all without any inhibition. He is the refuge of the forsaken and the lost whom he accepts and treats like the members of his family.

9

Guru Arjan defines the various types of holy persons like the Pandit, Vaishnav, Bhagwati and touch-me-not, of these the best is the Jivanmuki, the liberated one who has acquired immortality while still alive.

10

This deals with the various types of people and substances, both good and bad. How the conceited men blindly follow their basic nature, while the seekers and seers who win God's grace, attain the goal of thIs life. Man's powers are limited; the more he knows, the less he knows.

11

The Guru tells us that the meek and the humble win God's love, while the haughty and the vain find no peace or joy. Man's desires are limitless as his cravings are beyond appeasement. It is only when his time comes that he may join the company of the holy and then he gets a glimpse of his light, within. Such a man knows True happiness for such a vision is powerfully blessed.

12

dwells on the lot of the boastful and the arrogant. Self-indulgent money-grabbers waste away their lives in eating and sleeping. If an egoist performs good deeds, he all too often only inflates his conceit. Pride and mental peace never go together.

13

tells us of the need to associate with saintly people and of avoiding their slander. A slanderer is spiritually insolvent and a corruptor of all. However, if the saint blesses him, he will get peace of mind and benediction.

14

points out that mortals, by their very nature, are fickle and way-ward; so no reliance can be placed on them. On the other hand, the holy ones are extremely helpful and convey to their disciples a true understanding of life and its goal.

15

tells us that just as darkness is dispelled by light, and a track in the wilderness is illuminated by a flash of lightning, so the Guru's instruction opens up our inner consciousness and reveals the hidden mysteries of spiritual life. This enables the seeker to throw away the garbage of worldliness and gather specially good merchandise which will bring both profit and honor.

16

the Guru refers to God as the Director, Playwright and Actor in His own plays, who assumes any role at any time and at any place. He also assigns parts in His play for individuals to act out.

17

the Guru emphasizes the qualities of a true servant of God, namely obedience and humility. A good master is pleased with a person who obeys him and is loyal to him. So a good and sincere disciple will be able to win the grace of God.

18

stresses the characteristics of a Seeker of Truth. He must give up his ego and surrender his mind to the Guru. The Guru will then enrich his mind with compassion and spirituality. The Guru will remove his tensions and sorrows and give him wisdom and joy.

19

Guru Arjan warns of the distractions of life. Why one spends all of one's life amassing wealth, which will ultimately be of no use? Or worldly knowledge and possessions which will be left-here on death. People should think of the things that will be helpful to them in the hereafter.

20

deals with the need of efforts for spiritual progress. Meditation is a progressive step on the road to Divinity. A love of virtue, goodness and a remembrance of the qualities that we associate with God, will make one noble and blissful.

21

the Guru tells of the pre-creation state. Before creation, there was a great void. Then God by His own will manifested Himself in His own creation. So the Universe came into existence, where different peoples play out their various roles.

22

there is a short list of God's attributes. He is the fountain of generosity and goodness. He selects people according to what he wants from them. He gives special protection to some but those who turn away from Him come to harm and grief.

23

tells us of the omnipotence of God. He created the fabric of the universe; He controls the stellar bodies. Mankind will be forever unable to understand their complexities, as he gropes for clues to their unravelment. True Seekers stand lost in wonder at God's power and excellence.

24

the benefits of the Sukhmani are expounded. The true devotee will be rewarded with health, culture, wisdom, peace and enlightenment through the sincere recitation and understanding of this Psalm of Peace. He will be crowned with glory both in this world and in God's Court.

See also


These are the Popular Banis of Sikhism

Mool Mantar | Japji | Jaap | Anand | Rehras | Benti Chaupai | Tav-Prasad Savaiye | Kirtan Sohila | Shabad Hazaray | Sukhmani | Asa di Var | Ardas

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