468.The Man in Blue – Maru M 5, Guru Granth Sahib P 1083/84

O slave of the inaccessible Lord God Allah, forsake thoughts of worldly entanglements. Become the dust of the feet of the humble fakeers, and consider yourself a traveller on this journey. O saintly dervish, you shall be approved in the Court of the Lord ||1|| Let Truth be your prayer, and faith your prayer-mat. Subdue your desires, and overcome your hopes. Let your body be the mosque, and your mind the priest. Let true purity be God’s Word for you ||2|| Let your practice be to live the spiritual life. Let your spiritual cleansing be to renounce the world and seek God. Let control of the mind be your spiritual wisdom, O holy man; meeting with God, you shall never die again ||3|| Practice within your heart the teachings of the Koran and the Bible; restrain the ten sensory organs from straying into evil. Tie up the five demons of desire with faith, charity and contentment, and you shall be acceptable ||4|| Let compassion be your Mecca, and the dust of the feet of the holy your fast. Let Paradise be your practice of the Prophet’s Word. God is the beauty, the light and the fragrance. Meditation on Allah is the secluded meditation chamber ||5|| He alone is a Qazi, who practices the Truth. He alone is a Haji, a pilgrim to Mecca, who purifies his heart. He alone is a Mullah, who banishes evil; he alone is a saintly dervish, who takes the Support of the Lord’s Praise ||6|| Always, at every moment, remember God, the Creator within your heart. Let your meditation beads be the subjugation of the ten senses. Let good conduct and self-restraint be your circumcision ||7|| You must know in your heart that everything is temporary. Family, household and siblings are all entanglements. Kings, rulers and nobles are mortal and transitory; only God’s Gate is the permanent place ||8|| First, is the Lord’s Praise; second, contentment; third, humility, and fourth, giving to charities. Fifth is to hold one’s desires in restraint. These are the five most sublime daily prayers ||9|| Let your daily worship be the knowledge that God is everywhere. Let renunciation of evil actions be the water-jug you carry. Let realisation of the One Lord God be your call to prayer; be a good child of God – let this be your trumpet ||10|| Let what is earned righteously be your blessed food. Wash away pollution with the river of your heart. One who realizes the Prophet attains heaven. Azraa-eel, the Messenger of Death, does not cast him into hell. ||11|| Let good deeds be your body, and faith your bride. Play and enjoy the Lord’s love and delight. Purify what is impure, and let the Lord’s Presence be your religious tradition. Let your total awareness be the turban on your head ||12|| To be Muslim is to be kind-hearted, and wash away pollution from within the heart. He does not even approach worldly pleasures; he is pure, like flowers, silk, ghee and the deer-skin ||13|| One who is blessed with the mercy and compassion of the Merciful Lord, is the manliest man among men. He alone is a Shaykh, a preacher, a Haji, and he alone is God’s slave, who is blessed with God’s Grace ||14|| The Creator Lord has Creative Power; the Merciful Lord has Mercy. The Praises and the Love of the Merciful Lord are unfathomable. Realize the True Hukam, the Command of the Lord, O Nanak; you shall be released from bondage, and carried across|| 15 || 3 || 12 || 

This is a pretty decent translation of the shabad in Rág Maru that in the 12th pauri contains the words ‘sábat súrat dastár sirá’. Between this translation and the original everybody can now make up their own mind about the meaning of the shabad.

Just looking at four words in isolation very rarely leads to a correct interpretation. Shabads like this addressing Muslims, often use words based on Arabic and Farsi, which does not make understanding of the shabad any easier.

Previous columns on this issue :

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

457.The Man in Blue – Khalsa Principles, Turban & the 5 Ks

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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.