What is the meaning of Sukhmani Sahib?
The word Sukhmani is rendered into English as “consoler of the mind.” The entire poem has been translated into English more than once under some commonly preferred titles, “Jewel of peace”, “Psalm of peace” or “Song of peace”, signifying the soothing effect it has on the mind of the reader. Sukh literally means peace or comfort and mani means mind or heart.The Sukhmani Sahib has structural unity. The composition consists of 24 Astpadis each of which begins with a Salok and is followed by 8 Pauris or stanzas. Each stanza has ten lines, which consist of five couplets. There is also the unity of theme: the perfection of man mentally. morally and spiritually. The Salok at the beginning of each Astpadi (canto) gives the gist of the 8 Pauris (stanzas) that follow this salok.
Guru Arjun Dev has sent us a Hymn of Peace. It is like a river of peace in which we can dip our soul. Bathing is a mechanical process, sometimes we do not feel refreshed. We feel new. We love ourselves. The clogged pores of the body are cleaned. The mind, too, becomes rectified by a mechanical process. I feel when we read Sukhmani, there is, unknown to ourselves, a strange effect on our minds. And there is a reflex action on the body. The mind mounts up to some delectable heights and the body becomes light and ethereal and soars with it. We feel bodiless. In this river of peace, we must plunge daily and refresh ourselves.
And when the mind is risen, we should kiss in every line and in every word the beautiful hands of our king who composed it for us. No hymns can give one the love- spark unless they belong to oneself. The French National song belongs to every French child and man and woman. When they all stand and sing, they become inspired thereby. So is the case with the Japanese national anthem. Songs fly away like birds without love’s fond ownership. Especially so is the case with this most sensitive song- Guru Grantha. He will not live with the dead as a mere book. Now we must, in a similar way, feel an intense personal love for this great universal anthem of Guru Arjun Dev. The Guru does not sing of a nation here.
It is a hymn which is to set all the victory yells of conquerors. It is a hymn which is to set all the loose screws of humanity- right. Once I was very much upset about the business that I was running. The people who worked with me were idiots. The neighbours vexed me. The friends taunted me, cursed me. The contractors cheated me. The financiers failed me, they always fail when it does not pay them to help others. Friends were either poor or indifferent. I had for days become as one insane. I fell out with everybody on the slightest provication. I lost my temper on every little mishap. My nerves were over- strung. I had no sleep for many nights.
I thoughts I was going mad. My servants thought that such unhingement would drive me to a lunatic asylum. They were all anxious about my mental health. Such was my condition. The clouds came, the cold wind from the north came. I laughed. My eyes closed. But the whole of its stands in sound in Sukhmani. Sukhmani is the Hari- Mandir built in song. It has the spiritual atmosphere of the presence of the celestial. And those who read Sukhmani to meet those angels meet them in its music.
I don’t say that the daily reading of it, like the namaz of the old Kazi of Sultanpur, is any graceful act. Gratitude demands that we should live, move and have our being in its rhythm. If we are sweetened by the Ideal, daily reading is power, occasional reading is love and not reading at all is union. Not reading is the most difficult. Occasional reading is getting into a rage of love. And daily reading is husbanding the powers which may be required by the master whenever He may so will.
But, Surely, reading like the namaz of that old Kazi even five times a day is making, to take a lesser example, ‘ La Marsellaise’ of the French dead by repeating it without the required pitch of music of a nation’s soul behind it with it. It is the occasion that lends its power to the music. Sukhmani has to be sung by us with a communal glow of our soul as His disciples.
Like Guru Grantha, whose one hymn has the same sculptured idea in it, as is inlaid in the whole of Guru Grantha, Sukhmani too is the repetition of the beautiful songs of the same. One sun off the face of the beloved. But the first message, both of Guru Granth Sahib and Sukhmani Sahib, are creating a great meaning. Music is higher than poetry in this sense. Poetry has meaning l. Music is higher than poetry in this sense. Poetry has meaning, but the highest poetry or music has no meaning, it has a subjective presence of the beautiful. It is the setting of a right spiritual attitude in us. It is the setting of a right spiritual attitude in us. It is the music of the Beautiful, the peace that the meeting with the beloved gives.
If a lost son comes home, and the mother goes up and meets him there is an atmosphere of ecstasy suddenly precipitated. That tearful, thankful ecstasy of the meeting is the kind of musical approach we have to make to Sukhmani. I am not telling of physical things. When Laila comes and meets Majnu, it gives Majnu a madness of a joy in which he forgets himself. The intense love which abstracts us from ourselves is the requisite sweetness for reading the music of Sukhmani. A thirsty longing to meet Guru Arjun Dev, a dumb wish to go barefooted to see him are preparations for the song of Sukhmani. It is music and it requires music of union, which is the highest, intensent passion of the human soul.
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