Way to God in Sikhism - Book 3
A Review by Principal Prabhjot Kaur
Author: Maneshwar S Chahal
Publisher: Prakash Book India Pvt. Ltd
Pages : 288; Price: Not given
A third in the series ‘Way to God in Sikhism’- the first two being Japji Sahib and Asa ki var- Jap Sahib is a beautiful production, perhaps the first of its kind in English, where the author critically examines all available literature on the subject before giving his own opinion. The book is dedicated to the seekers of Truth of all faiths, “for all faiths are but the roadmaps which lead ultimately to the same destination- the One Lord” says the writer.
The writer S. Maneshwar Singh Chahal, has done well to give a detailed and clear key to the punctuation of the original text in the very beginning. The reader not familiar with a different style and a combination of many languages used in the text, including Braj Bhasha, Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian which the tenth master was adept at, finds the guidelines quite helpful. ‘The Guru, in keeping with Sikhism’s robust upholding of humanism as the one and only one religion intentionally composed his bani using freely both the languages (Sanskrit and Persian/Arabic) as it suited his purpose.’ Thus the very language of the composition underlines Guru’s message of humanism.
The writer takes care to give a detailed biographical note of the Author of this great composition. The message of the composition is the same as that of the bani of the great Gurus i.e.; to sing praises to the Lord. The drum beat rhythm does leave an imprint of the personality of the saint soldier author. The author has also given a brief introduction to the writings the great Guru composed at Paonta Sahib where, the writer states, that Jap Sahib too was composed. Such is the beauty and import of the Bani that ‘as you recite those paeans to the Almighty, you will find resonance echoing within you, leading to an elevation of the spirit and the mind.’ No doubt, Jap Sahib forms a part of the daily recital of Banis by the Sikhs as ordained in the Sikh Rehat Maryada.
Jap Sahib has been composed in the Chhands, a poetic meter. A list of all the 22 meters along with the number of units in a particular meter has been given in the introduction at the very start of the book. 199 stanzas that form the body of the composition have been explained in 23 chapter, the title of each chapter denotes what according to the writer is the core message of that group of stanzas.
Chapter 1 is entirely devoted to explain the Mool Mantra in the form used by the tenth Guru i.e.; ik onkar satgur Prasad. The author has discussed the meaning in detail quoting at length from authors of the stature of Dr. Bhai Vir Singh and Dr. Sahib Singh.
Chapter 2 rightly entitled ‘How shall I name thee’ written in chhapai chhand- a poetic measure in six steps; is exclusively devoted to the first stanza wherein it is stated that the Lord cannot be named in one word which describes Him fully. He can only be described by His attributes. Hence in the rest of the composition only the words denoting His deeds and attributes have been given. Stanzas 2-28 have been explained in chapter 3 under the heading ‘Hail the Formless One’. Chapter 4 under the heading ‘Thou Art Unfathomable’ contains stanzas 29-43. The next chapter entitled ‘We Worship Thee, Lord of All’ explains in detail the meanings of the stanzas 44-61. Stanzas 62 and 63 have been explained under the heading ‘The All Pervading’ as it says God is all pervasive in water, in land and is unfathomable. Chapter 7 comprises of 10 stanzas from 64-73 and has been entitled ‘The Eternal One’; while chapter 8-‘Thou art Inexorable explains the meanings of stanzas 74-78. The next chapter no. 9 under the heading ‘The Prime Cause’ is devoted to stanzas 79-86, while stanzas 87-95 have been explained under the heading ‘The Bestower of All Virtue’, ‘The Lord Goeth Everywhere eplains in detail the meanings of stanzas 96-98. Four stanzas from 99-102, starting with the words “ਨ ਸਤ੍ਰੈ ਨ ਮਿਤ੍ਰੈ” have been grouped together and entitled ‘He ath no enemy nor friend, forever the invincible 103-132, whom none can divide133-141, destroyer and creator both 142-144, the savior 145-149, always with us 150-160, all salute thee alone 161-170, the abode of mercy 171-184, the light of all lights 185-188, like whom there is none 189-196, beyond the shackles of desire 197-199.
Appendix A at the end reproduces article 4 of Sikh Rehat Maryada which details the Banis a sikh is ordained to recite daily which no doubt includes Jap Sahib too.
The books included in the Select Bibliography given at the end shows the depth to which the writer has gone in his study.
The book is a valuable for the English reading public as along with the translation of the text, the transliteration of the original text has been done in Roman script so that the readers not knowing the languages of the composition do not find it difficult to know the pronunciation of the original words. A paperback edition, the book is beautiful to look at. But for some noticeable typing mistakes, the book is a valuable addition to Gurbani literature in English.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2013, All