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.