Random Calligraphy

Personal Reflections from an Imperfect Pen

My Photo
Location: New Mexico

Publications: Japji Sahib: The Song of the Soul by Guru Nanak translated by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa. Anand Sahib: The Song of Bliss by Guru Amar Das translated by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa. Available through www.sikhdharma.org.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Anand Karaj: Lavaan: The Sikh Marriage Ceremony

There is a search that every human being goes through in life. It is a search so primal, so instinctual in us that endless songs have been sung about it. Plays written. Paintings painted. Philosophies expounded. It is an urge so strong that we are willing to lay down our lives for a taste of it. To leave the known completely behind and plunge into turbulence and chaos for it.

It is the search for Love.

And if there is one experience that can create bitterness, hatred, disappointment, or vengeance stronger than any other experience – it is when what we thought was Love disappoints us. Betrays us. Plays a game with us. I have written this before in other essays. And I write it again now. If there is ever a nuclear war, the moment that the first button for the first warhead gets pushed, the real cause behind it will be a person whose heart was simply so broken that life meant nothing anymore. And all the politics to justify it will just be the excuse.

This search for love that we play out with each other is one of the most powerful forces on earth. And yet we spend more time and energy learning how to drive an automobile than we do understanding how to manage and harness the longing for love, the pursuit of it, and the fulfillment of it.

Thank God Guru Ram Das showed us a way.

In the Engagement Shabads, Guru Ram Das gives us a way to prepare ourselves for marriage. Both the earthly marriage of husband and wife, and the heavenly marriage of the soul with the Divine One.

In the Lavaan, Guru Ram Das continues the lessons. Giving us practical instructions on the attitude one needs to have towards marriage. On the gifts that can come when the marriage is based on following the teachings of the Shabad Guru. And, by the Fourth Round, expressing the tremendous ecstasy that happens when, through marriage, we learn to merge into Love.

For the last couple of months, I have slowly been working on a translation of the Lavaan. Which is not perfect – but which I am grateful to share with you today.

What did working on this translation show me?

That society is based on the family. And if we truly want to have a peaceful, loving society, that begins with purity in the relationships between men and women. It isn’t possible that the connection and communication between men and women can be unkind, deceptive, confused, exploitive, game-playing – and then somehow there will be peace in the world. What happens at the global level is an amplification of what happens each and every day between the smallest pieces, so to speak. The simple and humble relationships that we cherish and hold most dear.

The fundamental reality that the Guru teaches is that the Light of the One dwells in all. We need to recognize it in ourselves first, and then recognize it in each other. And when our mating rituals take place in that Truth, in that Reality, then the frequency of peace and awareness it creates can bring the Divine down from the Heavens. Can cause Heaven and Earth to merge into One.

Marriage is not about what we desire. It’s not a promise that life will unfold according to our dreams, to what we want, to what we hope for. The Sikh marriage is a commitment to work out our karmas together under the Guru’s guidance, protection and instruction. That is the work that brings us to Anand – to bliss – to the state where every action reflects the reality of the soul. Not that we should be rich or not rich, have status or not, be successful in the world or not, have children or not. It’s a total surrender. We give ourselves to the Guru, we clear our karmas together, and in that process, our awareness changes, our consciousness changes, and the Love of the One is born within us. Together we merge into that Love, that One. That is where marriage can take us, if we commit to each other and to the path and teachings of the Shabad Guru.

The Anand Karaj and the Anand Sahib are also very related. Marriage is the work by which the adults realize the state of Anand. And the Anand Sahib is the guidance given by Guru Amar Das to the child about how to live life from the purity of the self. Parents and children together, as a family, as a unit, pursuing this study of how to live in the world from the reality of their own Spirit. If successful, that family unit would become so complete, so satisfied – there would be nothing outside of itself that it needed. These souls, at the Guru’s feet, clearing their karmas, building a life of truth, compassion, service and understanding. What a world would come from such a family.

What a world once came from those kinds of families.

Maybe I am idealizing a bit. I know I have a tendency to do that. But maybe for me, and for the countless people in the world who wished their upbringing could have been a little more peaceful…maybe this vision of a family developing Anand as a central part of their life…maybe that just seems like a promise of hope….for the future…

Marriage to create the security for the family that here, in this house, the Guru reigns and the blossoming of the soul’s destiny is the highest priority.

This translation is so pale and paltry compared to the original Gurmukhi. Guru Ram Das’s words are so powerful and mystical. There is so much happening in just a few words. And also between the lines – how they relate to each other and reference each other. It’s difficult to capture all that is being conveyed in translation. It’s as if Guru Ram Das is writing a ceremony of initiation into a totally different mystical reality. So please forgive if this reads too weak in places. There was no way to capture all that’s there in the original.

Here, for better or for worse, is my own humble attempt to translate the indescribably beautiful instructions of Guru Ram Das’s Lavaan.

Guru Ram Das’s Lavaan
Siri Guru Granth Sahib
Page 773-774

Oh Divine One
Within all

In this First Round
Of the marriage ceremony

We completely commit
To living a life
Filled with worldly duties
And obligations.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

The Divine Frequency
Reflected and captured in scripture
Commit to Dharma
To the path of compassionate
Truthful living.

This will allow you
To turn your back
On those habits of mind
Which bring pain
To yourself and to others.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

Commit completely
To Dharma
To the path of compassionate,
Truthful living.

On the Divine
Within everything

And the Divine Identity
Within yourself.

The sacred books

To your Divine Identity.

The Sound of Wisdom
That takes you to Truth
Is the perfect Guide
And Teacher.

Have reverence for this Sound.
Respect and meditate on it

The painful memories
In your subconscious mind
Created from the mistakes
You’ve made,
And the harm
You’ve done
Will be destroyed.

Your life will flow
With ease.

And your inner reality
And outer reality
Will merge
In endless bliss.

By tremendous good fortune
The mind
Has become attached
To the sweetness
Of the Divine Essence
Continually present
In all.

Servant Naanak says
In the First Round
We have begun
To create
This sacred life work. (1)

Oh Divine One
Within all

In this Second Round
Of the marriage ceremony

We intermingle our being
With the Sat Guru
The Sound of Wisdom
That guides us to Truth

And we acknowledge
This Sound of Wisdom
As our perfect protector.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

The fear in our mind
Gives into
The Fearless One

Destroying our egocentricity
Which creates so much filth
Inside us.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

Unpolluted fear

(The fear of the Inner Being
To not reach
Its destination).

We sing,
Celebrating the qualities
Of the Divine Essence
Within all.

We see
The Divine Essence
Within all

And this happens
By being in the
Of the Power
That balances and unites
The Sun
And the Moon

The Lover
And her Beloved.

The Divine Identity
Inside me
Sees that Power
In all my surroundings.

The Master of Creation
Resides complete and full
In all.

And without

We intermingle our being
With that One
Infinite Lord.

As servants
Of the Divine
We sing
With absolute happiness.

Servant Naanak,
By walking
The Second Round

The Unstruck Sound
That cuts through the ego
Resounds. (2)

Oh Divine One
Within all

In the Third Round
Of the marriage ceremony

The mind
Transcends its attachments
And becomes filled
With light and love.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

The saintly servants
Intermingle their being
With the Divine

And by tremendous fortune
Come to receive
The Divine Essence
Inside themselves.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

Through the experience
Of the Divine Essence
We find
Our own purity.

Singing of the
Virtues and qualities
Of the Divine

Our own mouths speak
In the Divine Frequency.

By tremendous fortune
The saintly servants
Receive this experience
And they talk about
The Infinite, Indescribable story.

Within my heart
The Divine beats

The melody
Of Infinity
Grows within us

By meditatively repeating
The Essence of the Divine

What an amazing destiny
Is on our foreheads
Oh Beloved One.

Servant Naanak
That in this
Third Round

The experience
Of the Divine Essence
Takes root
Inside of us,
Oh my Beloved,

And the mind
Becomes free. (3)

Oh Divine One
Within all

In the Fourth Round
Of the marriage ceremony

Through the experience
Of the Divine Essence
Inside of ourselves

The mind
Has surrendered
To the Universal Flow
And lives in ease.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

The one who flows
With the integrity
Of the Teacher’s words

Intermixes her being
With that Divine Essence.

By fixing her attention
On the Divine

Her mind and body
Are made sweet.

Darling One
Who created
The balance and union
Of the Sun
And the Moon.

Fixing her attention
On the Divine Essence
Within the Creation
Sweetness comes.

My Lord and Master
Is pleased.

Night and day
I live totally attuned
To the Divine Essence
Through Love.

The thoughts
Of the mind
Have realized
The fruit –

The Master of Creation.

The Divine
Its Identity within me
To play the music
Of the Infinite
Stronger and stronger.

The Divine Essence in all,
The Transcendent Lord,
The Coordination Consciousness

They are the One
All of this work.

The wealth
Of absolute happiness
Comes into my heart
Through the Divine Spirit
Within me.

Naanak declares
In the Fourth Round

By receiving the experience
Of the Divine Essence

We find union with
Our Invincible
Undying Lord. (4)


Blogger Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa said...

Oh my sister--ji!

It's sooo beautiful. It has moved me even more than the engagement shabds did--and I didn't think that was possible.

May we all realize this divine union--if not with another person--then with the one that is within all.

Blessings to you and thank you!

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think I finally have a better understanding of the rounds in a marriage ceremony.

I thank you from my heart and soul for providing this gift for us all.

The gift of truly understanding.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Ji,

Thank you deeply for your amazing explanation on my blog on multiple lines of English translation to one line of Gurbani, and yes I do understand now. The reason why I asked because one day, with your complete permission ofcourse, I would've loved to include your translations in Sikher - the Gurbani Searching Application. But it poses an interesting challenge to include multiple lines of English to one line of Gurbani. I will however look into it in case you wish to include your translation at some point in the future.

My journey into finding good pronounciation started with a hearing a recording of Yogi Bhajan repeating lines of Gurbani unlike how mainstream Sikhs pronounce them today. It really made me think deeply about it. It would be a great start if there was some CD/Recording of Yogi Bhajan reciting the Nitnem because he understood the Naad in its entirety. So I have yet another question, do you know of any recording of him which exists? And if not, do you know anyone who does? Thank you in advance Ji!!! And I look forward to hearing from you.

Satnaam. All Light to You.

Kindest regards,

Jasdeep Singh.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Bobcat said...

Among all your very clear words, the meaning of this one sentence from the second round of Guru Ram Das’s Lavaan eludes me. Perhaps if the subject of the second clause were made clear, I would understand: who/what is "destroying our egocentricity"?

The fear in our mind
Gives into
The Fearless One

Destroying our egocentricity
Which creates so much filth
Inside us.

Thank you so much for all you do!

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not mean to intercede in your discussion with Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa, but perhaps I can give you my thoughts on what you're seeking. Egocentricity simply means a person who is ego centred. This is a person who is not conscious enough to recognise the effects of their actions on their own life and the people around them, and a person who is too concerned with their own circumstances to realise the reality of their destiny in life, which is to realise God within themselves. Such a person is said to have the frequency of self-centredness or "I", whereas spirituality is to do with selflessness or "Thou". By submitting to God and giving away our mind, body and soul to God, we surrender this ego that blocks us from the reality of life and death, cause and effect, and we merge into the undifferentiated consciousness, God. I hope that helps in some way.

Satnaam. All Light to You.

Kindest regards,

Jasdeep Singh.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Ek Ong Kaar Kaur said...

Sat Nam, Bobcat.
Thanks for the good editorial catch.

The line might read better:

The fear in our mind
Give into
The Fearless One

Who destroys our egocentricity
The source of so much filth
Inside us.

How's that?


Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

12:06 PM  
Blogger Ek Ong Kaar Kaur said...

Sat Nam, Jasdeep Singh ji.

Many blessings to you and thank you as always for your comments.

It would be a blessing to have the translations included in Sikher - but I do deeply understand the challenge of how to relate these translation to lines of Gurbani. When I do the translation work, I keep notes of which Gurbani phrase relates to which lines of English. But how that renders through a computer program is another question. So if you'd like (it'll take time to do this, but I'm willing to begin) - I can perhaps put together a Word document that has the Gurbani/English line equivalents and get that to you. If you can be patient with me to get that together. Perhaps that could be of use.

Every language is unique and the problem of translation is always - are you conveying what the original language is talking about? Or are you just "flattening" the original meaning to have it make sense in a different language?

As for recordings of Yogi Bhajan doing the Nitnem. There is a bootleg recording of him reciting Japji Sahib that is floating around. It's not sold anywhere - but it is in existence. Kind of underground. Sorry I can't be more help - if I can find a source for it, I'll let you know - but I have heard one out there and it's quite powerful.

Many blessings again and if there's any other way I can be of service, kindly let me know.

With Divine light.

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sat Nam Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Ji,

Waheguru! Wow! Thank you for that information! It would be an absolute privelege to have your translations included in Sikher and a Word document that has the Gurbani/English line equivalents of your translations would be exactly what we would need to do that. I am ofcourse at your complete service to help you in this task in any way you need. I know this task shall be a challenging one, but its benefits shall be incomprehensible.

If you wish, I could prepare for you a document/spreadsheet/database with all the Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and then it would be a case of copying and pasting in the relevant translation to each line. This way we can ensure that the format of the document/spreadsheet/database is designed so that extracting the translations is straightforward.

I'm very surprised that a recording of Yogi Bhajan reciting Gurbani is so difficult to find! It's such a shame that such precious recordings are not made more accessible by those who have them. By Guru's Grace, we will find a source when the time is right :).

God bless and kind regards,

Jasdeep Singh.

8:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home