Theology of Moolmantar
Bhai Harbans Lal
The opening verse of Sri Granth Sahib is given the primary position in the Sikh theology that enunciates the relationship of a human being with the Creator and sketches out a strategy for the evolution of human consciousness to God consciousness. The opening verse is among the poetics, i.e., imaginative writings of Guru Nanak that are assigned the status of divine revelation.
It is traditionally recited among Sikhs as moolmantar. In gurmukhi Punjabi it reads as below:
< siq nwmu krqw purKu inrBau inrvYru Akwl mUriq AjUnI sYBM gur pRswid ]
This verse was given a primary position in the Sikh theology. Guru Arjun considered this verse worthy of inaugural to his monumental works of compiling Sikh Scripture, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He assigned the moolmantar verse the first place on the first page of the Guru Granth Sahib.
The Guru Granth is the Sikh scripture with the rank of the eternal Guru among the Sikhs. Being the first verse on the first page of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib it is believed to embody the most basic or sacred words of the faith. Being the scripture’s opening, it has acquired an extraordinary significance for its followers and become the subject of continuous discussion among Sikh scholars.
This verse is recited by Sikh congregations as moolmantar, though no such title is given to it in the Holy Book. Even Bhai Gurdas who wrote a highly significant commentary on the verse did not use this title. The term has, however, gained currency in discussions among Sikhs because of its referent value.
The moolmantar occurs before the beginning of the Guru Nanak’s seminal composition, Jap, popularly known and read as Japji. Considered the formal statement of Guru Nanak’s spiritual and religious beliefs, moolmantar of Japji is the subject of discussion in many monographs.(1-2)
According to a Sikh tradition(3), Guru Nanak recited moolmantar upon his emergence from the vein river. The vein river incidence was the occasion that Sikh traditions accept as a juncture of the first divine revelation to Guru Nanak(4-5). The moolmantar composition was the first of the many hymns that Guru Nanak claimed as the knowledge from divine revealed to him during his first revelation.(3)
The moolmantar means the root mantar or mantra. Accepted scholarly etymology links the term mantra with the Sanskrit words ‘manas,’ meaning ‘mind,’ and ‘trâna,’ meaning protection or bringing under control. Thus, a mantar is a technique or practice employed to bring the mind under control for meditating on divine attributes towards attaining a state of higher consciousness.
In Indian theological literature, particularly in vernaculars of Hindu traditions, the word mantar or mantra stands for a secret word or phrase to be practiced and/or recited to invoke deities who perform miracles.6 These miracles are meant to fulfill the devotee’s desires and to impart occult powers to one who practices it. In Buddhist tradition the mantra is practiced as a word or verse to bring acquiescence and tranquility to mind.
In many other religious traditions of the East, a mantar is imparted usually as a secret word or phrase to a disciple by a holy man, a monk, a saint, a guru, or a yogi. In Punjab and certain other parts of India, the practice of imparting a mantar refers to the esoteric practice of initiating disciples by giving them naam (name) and inducting them into the inner circles of a sant (saint).
The Sikh gurus did not adopt the above described practices of mantra meditation; they disseminated their teachings of Gurbani and the rite of initiation freely and openly. During the times of Sikh gurus, the Guru would freely distribute the gift of the naam in the presence of holy congregation. This practice, called guru vartae in Sikh annals, was described by Sikh scholars of Guru Arjun’s court as follows:
lMgru clY gur sbid hir qoit n AwvI KtIAY ]
Krcy idiq KsMm dI Awp KhdI KYir dbtIAY ]
Langar, the free café of the Guru’s teachings, is always open, and its provisions may never run out. Its supplies were granted by the Creator to be freely shared, and they would never run out. – Balvand and Sata, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 967
It is not uncommon, however, to find many Sikh clerics who continue to follow the practice of giving mantar in a way similar to the Hindu custom. Even at the time of initiating a Sikh in the Khande-ke Pahul ceremony, the Hindu-like ritual of initiation is gradually being introduced.7 Furthermore, this mantra-giving tradition continues today among the Sikh sects of Naamdhari, Radhaswami, Nirankari, Ruhani Satsang and others.
Guru Nanak, obviously, did not approve of the contemporary naam-giving practices. His disapproval of giving naam through the mantra ritual is particularly significant in this context. He wrote:
iDRgu iqnw kw jIivAw ij iliK iliK vycih nwau ]
KyqI ijn kI aujVY KlvwVy ikAw Qwau ]
Condemned are the practices of earning livelihood by writing the divine numenon as an incantation on a piece of paper and then selling it for profit from gifts (guru dakhna) accepted from their disciples. Those who do it are actually devastating the seedlings, their initiates, not realizing that they will harvest no crop. – Guru Nanak, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1284
Sikh theologian Bhai Gurdas actually condemns those who subscribe to any mantra besides Guru Sabd or hymns of the Guru Granth for meditation or any religious practice.
iDRg ijhbw gur sbd ivxu hor mMqR ismrxI ]
The lips and tongue who recite any mantra accept Guru Sabd or hymns of the Holy Scripture deserve condemning. – Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 27, Pauri 10
Although the Sikh gurus discarded the tradition of mantra, they kept the term in Sikh vocabulary and reinterpreted its meaning differently for a Sikh. This was explained by Sikh theologian Bhai Gurdas, who wrote extensively on the practice of mantra. The following verses from his compositions encapsulate the use of mantra concept in Sikh tradition.
According to Bhai Gurdas, when a seeker comes to the Guru, he or she is given the mantra of faith and trust in meditative life. They are taught the life of naam, daan and isnaan, that is, persistently experiencing divine attributes, altruism, and life of deeds that cleanse body and mind.
Bwau Bgiq Bau mMqR dy nwm dwn ieSnwn idRVwXw]
Guru imparts the mantra of faith and conviction in spiritual life, and reinforces the practice of naam, daan and isnaan, that is, experiencing divine attributes, altruism and gratitude, and deeds that cleanse the body and the mind. – Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 5, Pauri 13
Bhai Gurdas further explains:
siqgur sbd suriq ilv mUlmMqR, Awn qMqR mMqR kI n isKn pRqIiq hY ]
The root mantra for Sikhs is to bring the consciousness in tune with the Sabd of True Guru; Sikhs do not have any other religious or mythical formulas or words meant to invoke deities. – Bhai Gurdas, Kabit 183
For a Sikh, Guru Sabd or teachings of the Guru as imbibed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is considered the only mantra of any significance. This may be further emphasized through the following quotations from Bhai Gurdas:
mMqR mUlu siqguru bcn iek min hoie ArwDY koeI ]
The teachings of a true Guru is the root mantra that is worth practicing with single mindedness. – Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 26, Pauri 9
mMqR mUlu guru vwk hY scu sbdu siqgurU suxwey ]
The root mantra is hymns of the Guru; it is the eternal teachings that the True Guru speaks to the seeker. – Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 40, Pauri 22.
Thus, there is no doubt that whenever there is a mention of any sort of acceptable mantra for a Sikh it always refers to the teachings or the hymns of the Guru as composed in the Guru Granth.
To Realize Life Goals
The sacred words of faith in moolmantar are meant to be recited and meditated upon by a seeker to realize oneself as fulfillment of the life goal according to the concepts guided by gurmat. They are embedded in Moolmantar which consist of a set of sacred words. There is an ocean of intelligence in this set of sacred words.
The moolmantar is not a secret, esoteric formula, but it is a statement of God’s attributes we humans should emulate so that we all can be elevated to become god-like. Its practice is to awaken to new dimensions of who we are with our ‘Journey of Self Awareness’. The goal of the practice is to transform our awareness from separation to unity. In unity we perceive only divine power, express only love and freedom.
There is an innate urge in each one of us to succeed, be happy and find fulfillment. However, there is no universal consensus as to how to be happy and fulfilled. Guru Nanak composed the moolmantar as the Sikh Articles of Faith. These sacred words were designed for an objective of meditative practices as an incredible opportunity to the civil society: the opportunity not simply to pray to God, obey God, fear God, or reject God, but in fact, to Become Like God.
In revealing this opportunity for humanity, Guru Nanak outlined the transformative method by which all those who practice may now escape the prison of animal instincts and ego nature; they may actually realize all the joys and verve, ‘like God.’ The practice of moolmantar is to attain a state of having necessary divine attributes and doing as God does.
Such a state is to be enjoyed by all exalted, embodied, and intelligent beings. According to Guru Nanak, we are destined to become God-like, but have been tricked into becoming inmates, posing as creatures of destiny, a ghastly spread between what we are and what we could be.
hir kw syvku so hir jyhw ] Bydu n jwxhu mwxs dyhw ]
ijau jl qrMg auTih bhu BwqI iPir sllY sll smwiedw ]
A worshipper of God is like unto the God. Being in a human body deem him not distinct from the God. As water waves rise in various ways, but water merges in water again.– Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1076
Through the opening verse of his composition in the Guru Granth, Guru Nanak teaches us that the more you recognize, practice and express your authentic self and inculcate the desired attributes, the more meaning, joy and fulfillment you will experience in your life. If you desire spiritual and personal growth, a change in your outer world, a new or better relationship with environments, a more fulfilling job, or more fulfilling life in general, then you may need to awaken your divine inner self.
mn qUM joiq srUpu hY Awpxw mUlu pCwxu ]
O my mind, you are the embodiment of the Divine Light - recognize your own basis. – Guru Amar Das, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 441
This exactly is the purpose of reciting the sacred words embedded in moolmanter.
ey mn jYsw syvih qYsw hovih qyhy krm kmwie ]
O my mind, you will become like the one you serve and emulate, and your deeds will transform accordingly. – Guru Amar Das, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 755
In short, the Sacred Words of moolmantar are meant to be employed in daily practices of mindfulness in order to achieve the life goal of inner realization. Their practice will lead any one to live a life at the level of inner soul; at a level where we truly know ourselves as divine-like, as the creators and the miracle-makers, and as the limitless intelligence.
Exegesis of the Mool Mantar
< Ik Onkaar, 1st term, consists of a numeral and a letter or more correctly two symbols combined into one. IK means indivisible One God as a virtual and eternal reality. Ik is followed by a symbol read as Onkaar, meaning IK’s manifestation in all the creations to include all worlds and all humanity, and all human beings with one soul residing within them. The Soul here is defined as the manifested extension of the ONE. Thus the whole creation and all creations are considered as ONE. One reality manifests in all creation that embodies the Infinite Wisdom (vwhguurU) in the nature and in the universe. In the colloquium of the civil society it may be abbreviated as One Spirit One World as it was presented to NGO assembly at the United Nations and adopted by reprehensive Sikh organizations and many non-Sikh organizations working on global platforms.
Guru Arjun explains the meaning of Ik Onkaar in the following hymn with multiple examples.
First he describes it with an example of drama players, magicians and jugglers. A player is usually an entertainer who entertains the audience by staging variety of plays that are made up of make-believe situations. The player plays many characters in many costumes. Here every character seems real in itself and believable engrossing the audience. But when the show is over, it is realized that the only reality in the show was the player. Rest was manifestation of the same player in many costumes and roles. There were many forms and many characters formatted with suitable costumes.
Similarly there are other examples cited in this hymn. Countless waves and bubbles are manifestation of water. Countless ornaments are manifestation of gold. The sky is reflected with apparent differences in many pots and pans full of water. Behind all those there is only one entity that provides for countless formats. Guru Arjun puts it like this.
bwjIgir jYsy bwjI pweI ] nwnw rUp ByK idKlweI ]
sWgu auqwir QMim@E pwswrw ] qb eyko eykMkwrw ] 1 ]
kvn rUp idRsitE ibnswieE ] kqih gieE auhu kq qy AwieE ]
jl qy aUTih Aink qrMgw ] kink BUKn kIny bhu rMgw ]
bIju bIij dyiKE bhu prkwrw ] Pl pwky qy eykMkwrw ] 2 ]
shs Gtw mih eyku Awkwsu ] Gt PUty qy EhI pRgwsu ]
Brm loB moh mwieAw ivkwr ] BRm CUty qy eykMkwr ] 3 ]
Ehu AibnwsI ibnsq nwhI ] nw ko AwvY nw ko jwhI ]
guir pUrY haumY mlu DoeI ] khu nwnk myrI prm giq hoeI ]
The actor stages the play, playing the many characters in different costumes; but when the play ends, he takes off the costumes, and then he is one, and only one. How many forms and images appeared and disappeared? Where have they gone? Where did they come from? Stop here and contemplate on the message of the hymn. Countless waves rise up from the same water. Ornaments of many forms are fashioned from the same gold. I have seen seeds of all kinds being planted – when the fruit ripens, the seeds appear in the same form as the original. The one sky is reflected in thousands of water pans and pots, but when the pots are broken, only the sky remains. Human minds are full of doubts, greed, attachment, corruption and numerous manifestations of Maya. When the human mind is freed from the layers of those misgivings one realizes that all is One Reality and its manifestation. At the end the Creator alone is imperishable; God will never cease. He does not come, and He does not go. Through these teachings, the Perfect Guru has washed away the filth of ego from my mind. Says Nanak, I have attained the realized state of mind. – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 737
This sacred word of Sikh faith enunciates the principle of the unity of humanity, environment and all creation. It states that human spirit is engaged in a collective growth process and oneness is the motive force in humankind’s collective evolution. This is Sikhee’s metaphysical and religious position. God is everything and everything is God ... the world is either identical with God or is a self-expression of His nature. Because of that everything that exists constitutes a sacred unity and this all-inclusive unity is divine. Every existing entity is only one Being; and that all other forms of reality are either modes of appearances of it or identical with it. Then, through Ik’s manifestation within us we are destined to be god-like.
One spirit and one unified world form the basis of unity among all humans; we may experience God by experiencing that unity of God’s creation. In God alone can we transcend the divisions inherent in our separatist attitudes of “mine” and “yours,” and “we” and “others.” This spirit lifts us from the narrow confines that divide us and that remain the source of prejudice and discrimination.
From the sacred symbol of Ik Onkaar may be derived another doctrine fully elaborated in the later verses of Japji. It is the doctrine of Hukam. It provides us with a sense of universe as God’s blueprint. This derivation is evident from the following hymn. It simply states that all laws of nature, regardless of how we are accustomed to defining and classifying them, are God’s purpose in action. They permeate into all creation and manifestation of ONE.
eyko hukmu vrqY sB loeI ] eyksu qy sB Epiq hoeI ]
rwh dovY Ksmu eyko jwxu ] gur kY sbid hukmu pCwxu ]
The Blue Print of God’s Will prevails throughout all the world. Everything arises from One. There may be seen multiple avenues but we must consider them as one. Through the Guru’s teachings we learn to realize God’s Will. – Guru Nanak, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 223
Ik Onkaar is followed by seven sacred words describing divine attributes that humans must emulate to be God-like. Their emulation is only a dynamic realization that those attributes are ours on account of the divine within us.
siq nwmu - God’s identity is the Truth so is our real identity, “Satnam” the truth identity; by meditating on Satnam we are liberated from our worldly identities. Our real identity is not our worldly name, worldly religion, nation, or profession, but truth is the name of the God, so is ours.
All the social identities are given to us to cope with everyday existence, but they work to convince us that we are those things that the labels describe. They pigeonhole us into many entities. Some are to preserve our evolutionary history; others are to trap us in the present or in the future, still others to enslave us to serve the culture and the society. As long as one can discriminate the identities for worldly chores as distinct from the real and eternal identity, it is alright. But, in reality, these identities fill our mind and keep it engaged in social bondage and mundane identities.
On the other hand, the sacred word of Satnam inculcates the Cosmic Awareness as our True Identity. As Guru Arjun said,
ikrqm nwm kQy qyry ijhbw ] siq nwmu qyrw prw pUrblw ]
You speak those names that are given to you or to indicate the deeds or professions. But Satnam identifies you with the Eternal Truth. – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1083
krqw purKu - The Guru urges us to meditate on God as “karta purakh,” the creative Soul, and to discover our creativity by identifying with God the Creator within us. This sacred word inculcates in us that we are not passive observers of reality, instead, we are creators in a partnership with the Creator God. Guru Arjun said:
ipqw hmwry pRgty mwJ ] ipqw pUq ril kInI sWJ ]
My Father has revealed Himself within me. The Father and son have joined together in partnership. – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1141
In the Guru Granth view, human soul is created not as a passive observer of reality but a partner in divine creativity. Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential. For example, evolution of human species is a unique creation. The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life. As creators in partnership with the Creator, we are not limited to evolving through tiny, incremental steps. With our potent imaginations, we can design and manifest dramatic and profound change. How remarkable! What an awesome responsibility. What fun! Our challenge is to break free of our present concept of limited reality to create brand new dreams that will bring the ultimate to life.
inrBau - Meditate on God as “nirbhau,” the fearless within you, says the Guru, so that you are liberated from your fear of all varieties, fear of helplessness, fear of people’s judgment, fear of the Day of Judgment, fear of disease and death, and all other fears.
Recent researches in behavioral sciences reveal that evil of fear makes people the most miserable social creatures. In today’s world, the challenge of ‘fearlessness’ is most consuming where all the objectives of modern life are to create a world of competition, meaning everyone should be afraid of competition from others for jobs, resources for life, natural or industrial; niceties of life are even judged from continuously causing fear among others and fear of not winning. Above all fears is imposed the fear of life and death.
Fearless state is so rare a phenomenon that how to achieve and maintain the inner harmony without fear has been the aim of all world thinkers. Amongst these, Socrates- ‘know thy self’ was the last attempt of a free mind to gauge its own depth and to attain inner harmony. Buddha renounced the world only in protest against fear of suffering and pain. Saint Kabir sought for the guidance to a path that leads to liberation from the incarceration of fear. He said,
dyv krhu dieAw moih mwrig lwvhu ijqu BY bMDn qUtY ]
O Divine Guru, show compassion on me, and put me on the path that may free me from incarceration of fear.
– Kabir, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 475
In Sikh philosophy the elevated consciousness of the fearless state begins with first strengthening of our belief that the fearless entity of the divine resides within us.
kwieAw ngir bsq hir suAwmI hir inrBau inrvYru inrMkwrw ]
The Eternal Master who is without fear, without vengeance, and is virtual entity abides in the body-village. – Guru Ram Das, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 720
Guru Arjun questioned as if where from a sense of fear would come if the fearless God is always with us.
Ehu AibnwsI rwieAw ] inrBau sMig qumwrY bsqy iehu frnu khw qy AwieAw ]
God is the eternal master. He is fearless and abides within you. Then from where should come your fears and fear instincts? – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 206
With the belief that the Fearlessness is a divine virtue and may be realized by meditation on nirbhau, Guru Nanak inculcated worship of the fearlessness through the sacred word of nirbhau in moolmantar. In its support, Guru Arjun wrote:
inrBau jpY sgl Bau imtY ]
By meditating upon the Fearless, all fears vanish. – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 293
Guru Ram Das had earlier stressed the same point when he had composed the following verse:
ijn inrBau ijn hir inrBau iDAwieAw jI iqn kw Bau sBu gvwsI ]
Those who meditate on the Fearless One, all their fears are dispelled. – Guru Ram Das, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 11.
It was this theology of fearlessness which impelled Guru Teg Bahadur to put forward a worldwide system of human behavior that would exclude any behavior which either inflicted fears on others or accepted fear of any one. In the following ‘shalok’ he lays out this rule for human behavior that a person of God should neither fear nor frighten anyone:
BY kwhU kau dyq nih nih BY mwnq Awn ]
khu nwnk suin ry mnw igAwnI qwih bKwin ]
One who does not frighten anyone, and who is not afraid of anyone else or anything else - says Nanak, listen my mind: call that person spiritually wise. – Guru Teg Bahadur, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1427
inrvYr - Meditate on God as “nirvair,” one without animosity or malice, so that you are able to look at others without those feelings, so that you may achieve that state of life in which you are free from ill feelings toward others, feelings that take away your power to love one another. Our feeling of “vair” (animosity) makes us see “vair” all around and perpetuate violence in the world.
ieku sjxu siB sjxw ieku vYrI siB vwid ]
If the One within me is my friend, then all around me are my friends. If there is animosity within, then all around is in conflict with me. – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 957
It is observed that Sikhs who practice meditation of moolmantar refuse to hate even their enemies; even those who wish them either eclipsed from this earth or be subjugated. They refuse to hate because they practiced nirvair attribute. They learn that hate takes away their power of love and reason; it deprives them of their triumph over the effects of their ill-will.
To learn to love and reason from the depth of their heart is the form of religious practice Sikhs learn from their moolmantar meditation. As Guru Gobind Singh made his congregation hear the explanation of Bhai Kanayia who was found offering water to the fallen enemy soldiers. To the Sikhs trusting and healing the enemy expressed the Sikhs’ belief in the presence of their Creator in front of them, explained Bhai Kanayia. It is their way of confirming their evolution to the higher God-like consciousness.
It is the meditation of the sacred word of Nirvair that the Sikhs’ world order is based on sarbat ka bhalla principle. This has been the dream and prayer of every Sikh for the past three centuries. Every Sikh individually and collectively makes the following statement and repeats this statement in his/her daily congregation. In Punjabi vernacular the wording of this statement is:
nwnk nwm cVHdI klw qyry Bwxy srbq kw Blw ]
May the Religion of the God’s Name, as taught by Nanak, increase and prevail in the world and may in the will of God there be good fortune of all humankind.
Akwl mUriq - Meditate on God as Akal Murat, Being Beyond Time, not subject to time cycles, free from life and death, says the Scripture. Our real Self never dies. Instead such a practitioner learns the real meaning of life and death by understanding the “Akal Murat,” nature of the real self.
mUlu pCwxih qW shu jwxih mrx jIvx kI soJI hoeI ]
Identify your real basis and origin, and then you shall know your Master, and so you will comprehend the real meaning of death and birth. – Guru Amar Das, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 441
AjUnI - Recognize that God is “ajooni,” beyond incarnations or reincarnation, one who is neither born nor dies.
When we live in animal consciousness we go through numerous lives of animal instincts and animal behaviors. Thus we live and die continually when we think and act like animals, when we live and think as social entities, or live in the lower forms of consciousness.
For example Guru Arjun illustrates how one may go through many animalistic states of mind and behaviors deprived of the spiritual vision bestowed by the Guru:
gur mMqR hIxs´ jo pRwxI iDRgMq jnm BRstxh ]
kUkrh sUkrh grDBh kwkh srpnh quil Klh ]
That mortal who lacks the Guru’s Mantra meaning Guru’s teachings - cursed and contaminated is that person’s life. That dupe lives just like a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, and a snake. – Guru Arjun, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1356
Rising to the divine consciousness of ajuni we are liberated from these comings and goings, reaching a true state of nirvana. This is in contrast to the ancient concepts of meditating one’s life away to end transmigration cycles into thousands of animal species. Guru Nanak prepares his followers to end the ever changing cycles of different forms of consciousness within a human life span.
sYBM - “Saibhang” is a state in which one is self-created, self-existent, self creating and beyond beginning or ending.
gur pRswid - In the meditation of Gur prasad a sense of gratitude is inculcated. The idea of meditation on moolmatar is that if we meditate on these sacred attributes and emulate those attributes in our consciousness and behaviors, we become God-like where we are liberated from the bondage of human existence and become one with God. However, this would happen only when we invoke blessing of Guru-in-God by meditation on “Gur prasad,” literary meaning by the Guru’s blessing and grace. When we realize and inculcate the meaning of gratitude we begin to live in gratitude and the gratitude becomes our eternal attitude.
Gratitude is a fundamental and universal spiritual principle in all religious traditions. Inculcation of gratitude let loose the underlying moral and spiritual forces in each one of us for the benefit of humanity as a whole and raises society to a higher level of culture. It helps us to open ourselves to connecting with God’s gifts that we enjoy every day. When the roots of spirituality are nourished by the water of thanksgiving, all cultures and religions become dynamic, creative and altruistic. The spirit of thanksgiving permits all of us to live side by side with people and environment in friendly cooperation. It promotes harmonious and peaceful relationships with environment. As such, it is relevant to the solution of the contemporary crisis from which humanity is suffering. Thus Guru Nanak ends his profound composition of moolmantar with the meditation on Gur prasad.
In summary, with meditation on moolmantar with full understanding of its meaning and the intention underlying its composition by Guru Nanak the objective of the Gurmat would be fulfilled. We would become awakened divine beings.
According to the Sikh scriptures, the mantar means a sacred word or a verse of Sikh faith to be imbibed in the deep consciousness as the sacred knowledge. In contrast to the usual meaning of a mantar which is to praise a deity, the commencing verse of the Guru Granth is meant to inculcate in human consciousness select attributes of God. The purpose is to prescribe practices and philosophy that elevate man to a god-like personality. The commencing verse of Sri Guru Granth Sahib referred to as moolmantar is taken as the essence of the Sikh philosophy. Therefore, the words in the composition of moolmantar may be re-defined as the Sikh Words of Faith or even the Sikh Articles of Faith in the accepted terminology of world scriptures. They draw our mind to divine attributes that our Guru identified to meditate upon. The idea is to elevate human consciousness to god consciousness within the human life span. By moolmantar practice every one will worship the Infinite and nourish the finite for metamorphosis to the god-like mind and consciousness which will then mirror God-like human behaviors. This was the objective of the Guru as Guru Nanak defined it.
ijin mwxs qy dyvqy kIey krq n lwgI vwr ]
He made angels out of humans, without delay. – Guru Nanak, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 462
NOTE: The verses from Sri Guru Granth Sahib are often not the literal translations but the author’s sense of central idea contained in them.
1) Bhai Vir Singh, Santhaya Sri Guru Granth Sahib, vol. 1, p 2,
2) Pritam Singh, ed., Sikh Concept of the Divine published by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1985.
3) Vilaytvali Janam Sakhi, translation by Kirpal Singh in, Janamsakhi Tradition: An Analytical Study, p. 74, Pub. Singh Brothers, Amritsar, 2004
4) Lal, (Bhai) Harbans, Guru Granth: A Unique Approach to Eternalize Revealed Theology, Studies in Sikhism and Comparative Religion, 23 (2), 2003
5) Lal, Harbans, Sikhism’s Revealed Theology, Sikh Review, 52: (6), 23-26, 2004
6) Lal, (Bhai) Harbans, Guru Granth Worship: The Sikh Way, Studies in Sikhism and Comparative Religion, 25 (1): 21-44, 2006.
7) Singh, Pashaura. Observing the Khalsa Rahit in North America: Some Issues and Trends, in The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora, eds, P Singh and N Barrier, pp 149-175, Manohar Publishers New Delhi, 1996.
8) Neki, Jaswant Singh, Ardas: Darshan Roop Abhyas (1989), Singh Bros, Amritsar, p 339.