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Sep 11, 2018

Time To Take A Break, Says Guru Granth Sahib

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An integral part of the Guru Granth Sahib is ‘rahao’ -- threshold, pause, a silent moment -- asking Sikhs to pause, contemplate and integrate. Rahao is a point when consciousness should return, when one should connect the Guru’s teachings with the Sikh way of life.
 
The word ‘rahao’ is derived from ‘raha’ or ‘therau’ in Punjabi which means ‘to remain’, ‘to fix’, ‘to be there’. It always appears at the end of a stanza of Gurbani.  The line or stanza containing ‘rahao’ presents the central theme of the Bani . Rahao extols Sikhs to recite (or listen to) the Bani, then to pause and reflect on the message that the gurus enshrined in the Bani.
 
 ‘Rahao’ was added by the gurus with a purpose. The Bani is not to be recited mechanically. The way of the Guru does not lie in any magical mantra, uttering it blindly without submerging oneself in its inner meaning. Shabad, the Word, is to be internalised and applied in everyday life. Integration of the spiritual with the mundane brings peace to disciples. The Guru says, ‘bhagat janaa kai man bisraam. Rahao’—Then there is peace within the mind of the devotees. Pause’.
 
Rahao is a spiritual thread which gives direction and explanation as well. Sometimes the word ‘rahao’ appears with the numeral 1 (One). The Onkar Shabad, composed by Guru Nanak, presents the main theme in rahao verse. The Guru says, ‘Hey Pande, if you want to write anything, write the divine Name’. Fifty-four verses contemplate on the Supreme. Everything originated from Onkar, Wahe Guru, the only power. Then why to discriminate and divide the world? Guru Nanak writes, ‘Were I given a hundred thousand tongues instead of one, /And the hundred thousand multiplied twenty-fold, /A hundred thousand times would I say, and say again, /The Lord of all the worlds is ONE’.
 
Guru Nanak asks followers to destroy the icons of superstition, caste system, meaningless rituals, detect and avoid fake gurus and so on. He prefers to be on the side of the poor and vulnerable. He says, ‘Lowly among the lowliest, the lowliest of all, Nanak is with them’. He was all for equality, love and devotion. Above all, seva (service) and charity form the main pillars of his philosophy.     
 
 In ‘Japji Sahib’, Guru Nanak describes the virtue of sunana, listening, and manana, implementation. By listening to the Word, man tries to emulate the one he follows. He becomes wise and nirbhau, fearless; and courageous, contended and without any feeling of enmity towards others -- nirvair. The devotee learns truth and all his fears are dispelled. This stage encourages followers to live a truthful life. Hence, listening leads to understanding the ways of God, develops consciousness and helps one attain salvation.
 
‘With contemplation on the Guru in the heart, with the tongue repeating the Guru’s name, with the eyes beholding the true Guru, saturated with the love of the true Guru, one attains place of honour in Sachkhand, the Lord’s home’, writes Guru Nanak. There should be total harmony of internal and external aspects of Nam-Simran which can happen only with reflection and contemplation, that is, rahao.
 
In anticipation of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations in the coming year, let’s pause, reflect and internalise his teachings in a true and honest manner. As the Guru says, ‘I live His teachings. One who follows Him knows himself and is submerged in Truth’.       
 
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