447.The Man in Blue – Más, Más; Vár Malár kí, Slok M1, P 1289

Pahila másah nanmiá másai ander vás.
First, one is formed from flesh, and then one lives in flesh.
Jíu pái más muhi miliá had chanm tan más.
When one obtains life one’s mouth takes flesh; one’s bones and skin are in flesh.
Másahu báhar kadiá manmá más girás.
One comes forth out of flesh, and takes a mouthful of flesh at the breast.
Muhu másai ká jíbh másai kí másai andar sás.
The mouth is flesh, the tongue is flesh; his breath is in flesh.
Vadá hoá víáhiá ghar lai áiá más.
One grows up and is married, and brings [the spouse of] flesh home.
Másahu hí más úpjai másahu sabho sák.
Flesh is produced from flesh; all relatives are made of flesh.
Satigur miliai hukam bujhíai ta ko ávai rás.
When one meets the True Guru and understands the Hukam, one will be reformed.
Áp chhuté nah chhutíai nának bachan binás.
Releasing oneself one does not find release; Nanak, through words one is destroyed. ||1||

My excuses for any mistakes I have made in the transcription and the translation of this slok. I use Sikhítothemax and I check the translation using my Guru Granth Sahib dictionary. This shabad has not too many very difficult words.

There are two sloks that discuss ‘flesh’ or meat in this Vár. The second one usually gets most attention but the first one also needs serious víchár.

I think that in the first six lines Guru writes against the idea that flesh is polluting. We are all made of flesh, the womb is of flesh and our family is of flesh. Making a link between the first six and the last two lines is more challenging. It is of course ‘hukam’ that all creatures are made of flesh, just as all creation is part of hukam.

Meeting the Satguru we will understand God’s hukam (that all are made of flesh ?) and we will be reformed. In the last line ‘releasing’ probably means release from the cycle of birth and death, which is also the release from ‘flesh’ and from all other material things. We cannot release ourselves (by living according to our own rules ?), it is by God’s blessing that we will be ‘mukat’ or liberated.

At the end of the cycle of birth and death our atma will merge in the Paramatma and we leave our bodies behind. That does not mean that ‘flesh’ is bad or polluting. It is what we do with money, flesh, houses, cars and other ‘worldly goods’ that makes them into good and useful things or maya.

Once in Southall my wife went into a shop that sold Panjabi sweets but also non-vegetarian Panjabi snacks. She was together with a Námdhári and as soon as he discovered that meat products were on sale he almost ran out of the shop. It illustrates that although Námdharis often are very nice, they are not Sikhs.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, Lady Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru

What is that funny man trying to do ?

The British leaving India

Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten
Jawaharlal Nehru
Edwina Cynthia Annette Ashley

446.The Man in Blue – Sabat Surat, Maru M 5, P1084

Sabat Surat, Maru M 5, P1084

Káiá kirdár aurat yakíná
Let good deeds be your body, and faith your bride.

Rang tamásé mán hakíná
Play and enjoy the Lord’s love and delight.

Nápák pák kar hadúr hadísá hadith sábat súrat dastár sirá (12)
Purify what is impure, and let the God’s Presence be your religious tradition. Let your total awareness be the turban on your head. ||12||

Translating Guru’s shabads is not easy, but when you do it you are forced to really think about Guru’s teachings. Translation is a form of víchár, which should not be an intellectual exercise, but involve all your faculties.

In this shabad Guru addresses Muslims and uses many ‘Muslim’ words. It is also a shabad that still requires a lot of work after translating word by word.

I have read all the 15 verses (pauris) of the shabad but I have selected verse 12 for further study, as in that verse the words ‘sábat súrat dastár sirá’ are used. The expression ‘sábat súrat’ does not figure anywhere else in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Translating word by word the first line becomes ‘body – manner – woman – faith’. It is quite a leap from the first two words to ‘let good deeds be your body’, but this interpretation does fit in the context of the shabad. Getting from ‘woman – faith’ to ‘and faith your bride’ is easier to understand.

‘Rang tamásé mán hakíná’ equals ‘colour – show – enjoy – God’. In gubani rang (colour) often means love, tamasa means show, mán means enjoy and hakíná stands for God, which I would make into ‘enjoy God’s show of love’.

‘Nápák pák kar’ is ‘make the impure pure’ and ‘hadúr hadísá hadith’ my Guru Granth Sahib dictionary translates into ‘in the presence of God’. Then we get to the second part of the last line which is often thought to be a message that we have to keep our hair intact and wear a ‘dastar’, which is Farsi for turban. 

My dictionary agrees with the Sikhítothemax translation above, Manmohan Singh translates ‘sábat súrat’ as ‘complete body’ but then the sentence is (make your) complete body the turban on your head, which makes less sense than the Sikhitothemax translation. Knowing that the shabad talks to turban wearing Muslims the association with unshorn hair seems far-fetched.

Turbans in those days were not only worn by some classes of ‘Indians’ but also by the ruling Mughals, and as Farsi was their court language they used the word dastar. Just like in pauri 28 of Japji Sahib Guru tells the yogis that they should wear the earrings of ‘santokh’, here the Guru says to the Muslim that the dastar on his head should be made of ‘total awareness’. This might not be the only valid interpretation of the text, but I just cannot see any justification for the traditional interpretation of this part of the shabad.  

445. The Man in Blue – Sikh Illegal Immigrants

Since June I have been staying in Belgium, which is in the European Schengen Zone. Within the Schengen Zone one visa is valid for all countries and there is no border control between member states. I can travel from Belgium to all Schengen countries without having to show a passport or ID card.     

Parents in Panjab villages are willing to pay lakhs of rupees to crook ‘travel agents’ who promise to bring their children into that Schengen Zone, where as we all know the roads are paved with gold.

The ‘travel agents’ smuggle their charges to countries like Turkey and then just push them across Greek border. Border guards of both countries recently used such ‘immigrants’ for target practice.

But many still think that once you make it across the Schengen border then you got it made. Local Sikh communities are used as support networks, whether they want it or not. And hopefully it will rain nice crisp Euro banknotes.

Recently I met a young Panjabi who had been in Europe for about ten years. He had bad years and not such bad ones, he had floated from country to country and he had not really achieved anything.

There is work for illegals in all European countries and their over-regulated economies need them. But illegals are usually underpaid, illegals have no job security of any kind and illegals often end up doing the work legal workers do not want to do. As an illegal you are vulnerable.

Some illegals get so desperate that they go into crime. I heard that some illegal  Panjabi women worked as prostitutes as that was the only way to earn enough money to pay back those crook ‘travel agents’.

As an illegal it is very difficult to stick to the Sikh way of life. How can people who constantly live in fear be Sikhs without fear ? How can you follow the path of honesty if your life is based on a lie ?

It should not be such a bad life for young unattached people. You just take your chance and if it works that is fine, but if you have to go back to Panjab that is not a disaster either. But the reality is that those people who are forced to return have not earned enough to justify the high fee paid to the ‘travel agent’.

I lived in Panjab for four years and I know that there is more than money that motivates youngsters to emigrate. But because of the present climate in Europe, where most countries want to crack down on immigration, it might be better to stay home. Or maybe young Sikhs should move to Indian states that have policies that benefit the people and not the politicians. There are Sikh communities and Gurdwaras in Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram and Hyderabad !