It gives me great pleasure to present to the public this book, being an English translation with necessary marginal notes, of the Hindi Commentary of Shri Vinoba Bhave on Japuji. Japuji, Guru Nanak's great philosophical-spiritual text, has aroused India-wide interest for its profound insight into the spiritual and moral life, and the guidance it affords to man to order his life if, search for the Infinite and to realize high ideals. As stated by the Translator, it has been commented upon a large number of times in the various Indian languages, and by now several versions in English also exist. Like the Gita, with which it calls comparison, it has an inexhaustible appeal, which makes it a rich mine to work for the interpretation of spiritual ideals.
Shri Vinoba Bhave's Commentary is his gift of love to the people of the Punjab, who should be grateful to this man of God and noble ideals for this interpretation of their sacred text from a wide spiritual and humanitarian point of view. In the count of the large number of commentaries on Japuji, Shri Vinoba's should occupy a place with the best. This is marvellous in view of the fact that he was exploring an undoubtedly difficult text, expressed in a mixture of medieval Punjabi and Braji Hindi. But the spiritual thought of India, in essentials and fundamentals, being common and at base, closely integrated, a pure-hearted and sincere seeker from one region can easily understand and appreciate the spiritual thoughts contained in the religious works of other regions. It is this, along with the high calibre of the mind of Shri Vinoba which has helped him to produce this profoundly satisfying work.
Punjabi University, Patiala, has already put out a large volume of literature on the study of religion, besides other themes. It is hoped, this book will initiate English-knowing seekers after truth and students of religious thought everywhere, to the genius and vision of Guru Nanak and the Sikh religious tradition of which he is the Founder. With these few words I commend this book to the reading public.
Japuji contains the essence of the spiritual! vision, Guru Nanak towards the close of his life, after he had done with his 'Pilgrimages' in quest of Truth, composed it. It has made a deep appeal to my heart. In 1940 when I was in jail in the course of 'Individual Satyagraha', I studied it for the first time. At that time I was compiling the Marathi hymns of Namdev. Some of his hymns in Hindi are also included in the Guru Granth. That prompted me to get a copy of the Guru Granth and read it through to find out what of Namdev is included in it. In those days a Sikh fellow-prisoner of mine used daily to recite Japuji. In those days I could follow it only vaguely, and did not have the means to understand it better. Certain of its portions do not lend themselves to spontaneous understanding-such for example, as Karam Khand ki Bani Jor (stanza 31). Therein Karam stands for divine grace. Karam is from the Arabic. Bere what is expressed is the from the seeker's expression takes, when he is the recipient of divine grace. In this state he finds union with the Lord Creator.
During my tour of Punjab, I had to enter into an intimate relationship with its people. In view of that I made afresh a study of Japuji. This influenced me deeply. Even while dreaming in my sleep, I would recall Guru Nanak's words. On contemplation one enters into the deeper meaning of these words. The more one thinks on these, the more one meets in them. I wish to communicate their influence on me to the Indian people at large.
In the Indian tradition both kinds of Scriptures are found those of the detailed exegetical type and those in the terse epigrammatic form. Japuji falls in the latter category. Its thirty- eight stanzas, each called a Pauri (step), its opening enunciatory fundamental creed (Mul Mantra) and the Slokas (distiches) marking the Finale, together contain in themselves the essence of the religious life in a compendious from. The presentation of this essence is not couched in terms only of faith, but embodies a thought-structure. It comprises the path of enlightenment (Jnan), Meditation (Dhyana), Devotion (Bhakti) and Ascesis (Sadhana), all in conjunction. As in the eighteen aphorisms of Ishopanishad the essence of Vedanta is expressed, so in Japuji too is expressed the essence of Philosophy, Moral Thought, Metaphysics, Japuji however, does not have that extreme terseness as Ishopanishad. Its thirty-eight stanzas equal in length one hundred and sixty Anushta p verses of Gita, which means that in length it is about one-fourth of that.
There is but one God whose name is true, the Creator, devoid of fear and enmity, immortal, unborn, self-existent; by the favour of the Guru.
REPEAT HIS NAME
The True One was in the beginning; the True One was in the primed age.
The True One is now also, 0 anak; the True One also shall be.
By thinking I cannot obtain a conception of Him, even thoush I think hundreds of thousands of times.
Even though I be silent and keep my attention firmly fixed on Him, I cannot preserve silence.
The hunger of the hungry for God subsideth not, though they obtain the load of the worlds.
If man should have thousands and hundereds of thousands of dev.ces, even one would not assist him in obtaining God.
How shall man become true before God? How shall the veil of falsehood be rent?
By walking, 0 Nanak, according to the will of the Commander as preordained.
Each prayer contains some fundamental chants intended for meditation on them, as in the Bhagavzt creed the Dwadash- akshara Mantra; in the creed centred in Rama the Tryodash- akshara Mantra; in the Shiva cult the Panchakshara Mantra. In the same was the fundamental chant of the Sikh faith is this Mul Mantra, enunciated by Nanak the Seer. Such chants are not 'written' or composed, but 'revealed'. The seers find them flashed on their spiritual vision. In the Islamic tradition such revelation is called 'Wehi '.
In the beginning of this Aphorism is written the digit (I), not the word One. All religions have based themselves on the unity of God. Omkar (Oankar) is a sound-symbol, a syllable. A word such as this is all aid in meditation. Omkar (Oankar) is believed to embody the essence of Divine Knowledge. The Upanishad and Gita have both employed it in this sense. In enunciating this syllable, Guru Nanak has maintained that ancient tradition. An entirely new idea, built purely on the repudiation of a pre-existing one, proves to be sterile, A new idea basing itself on one pre-existing, yields the beauty of the new along with the strength of the old. As a matter of fact. in this way it acquires added beauty. Jesus aid, 'I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil'. The Prophet of Islam too said, 'I have come to confirm.' Guru Nanak has done what these great men did. This has added force to his teaching.
Out of the innumerable names of God, Guru Nanak has selected the one called 'Sati-Nam,' (the Eternal Holy Truth). This implies that in the pursuit of this Truth, philosophy and the spiritual quest are united. Truth is taken to be the essence of God, which accords well with our age of the scientific quest. In Gita this has been elaborated into the formula 'Om Tat Sat' (Om the Eternal).
Karla Purukh: : This formula is compounded of two words signifying that God is the Creator of the universe. Also he is All-mind. 'Purukh' specifically implies that not Nature, but God is the Creator. From non-sentient creation further non-sentient creation results: Some thinkers have actually stated that the basic creative force is non-sentient Nature. Science also attempts to formulate its theory of creation. It is possible that all creation has a mind. But the use of 'Purukh' attaches to God a value independent of His creation. Even if the Creation be assumed to be non-sentient, the Creator, anyway is a mind, a consciousness. In the other event of the creation possessing a mind, the concept of the creative mind is not repudiated.
Nirbhau, Nirvair : The mind gets fixed on these two remarkable attributes. Usually such negative attributes are not applied to God; positive attributes alone are generally employed in this contest. No cause whatever can exist to make God wear Fear or Rancour. The use here of these attributes is intended to impress upon the devotee the necessity of cultivating the qualities of freedom from fear and rancour or malice.
Sat Sri Akal is the formula usually employed by the Sikhs.
In the 'Rosary of Names' compiled by me I have also included the names Akal (Timeless, Eternal) and Nirbhaya (Fearless). By Akal- Murati is implied that which is beyond time. God is such. Ajuni is unborn, uncreated. Saibhang is Swyambhu, self-created- implying that all that exists proceeds from Him, while He does not originate in anything else.