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Varan Bhai Gurdas is the name given to the 40 Varan (Chapters) of writing by Bhai Gurdas ji. Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, referred to them as the, “Key to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib” . Bhai Gurdas was a first cousin of Mata Bhani, mother of Guru Arjan Dev. He was the first scribe of Guru Granth Sahib and a scholar of great repute. From his work it's clear that he had mastery of various Indian languages and had studied many ancient Indian religious scriptures.
This is quoted by Macauliffe in his book “The Sikh Religion” to express the importance placed by the Guru on Bhai Sahib's work, “The Guru, probably to make trial of his learned and able scribe Bhai Gur Das, whose compositions he admired, offered to insert them in the Granth, but Bhai Gur Das said that they were not worthy of such honour. The Guru complimented him on his modesty and ability, and said that whoever read Bhai's writings should acquire spiritual profit and instruction and faith in the teachings of the holy Gurus.”
Each of the 40 chapters of “Varan Bhai Gurdas” consists of a differing number of Pauris (sections, paragraphs). The composition is a collection of detailed commentary and explanation of theology and the ethics of Sikh beliefs as outlined by the Gurus. It explains Sikh terms such as; sangat, haumai, "Gun", Gurmukh, Manmukh, Sat, Naam, to name only a few. Many of the principles of Sikhism are explained in simple terms by Bhai Sahib and at times in many different ways.
The following is a quote from this collection of pauris:
ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਗੁਰ ਸਮਝਾਇਆ॥ ਆਸਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਿਰਾਸਿ ਨਿਰਾਸੁ ਵਲਾਇਆ॥
ਥੋੜਾ ਪਾਣੀ ਅੰਨੁ ਖਾਇ ਪੀਆਇਆ॥ ਥੋੜਾ ਬੋਲਣ ਬੋਲਿ ਨ ਝਖਿ ਝਖਾਇਆ॥
ਥੋੜੀ ਰਾਤੀ ਨੀਦ ਨ ਮੋਹਿ ਫਹਾਇਆ॥ ਸੁਹਣੇ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਜਾਇ ਨ ਲੋਭ ਲੁਭਾਇਆ ॥15॥ (Vaar 20)
Pauri 15 (Yoga-technique for Gurmukh)
Guru has explained the technique of yoga to the Sikh that be detached amidst all the hopes and cravings.
Eat less food and drink little water. Speak less and do not talk nonsensical.
Sleep less and do not be caught in any infatuation. Do not indulge in greed even in dreams.
– Varan Bhai Gurdas (Vaar 20, Pauri 15)
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