10. The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani

Listening is not only an art but also a gift from God. Listening also could be said in other words that is hearing the words of someone. People pay attention to others on various levels. Some listen with reasoning, some with critical attitude, some other listen in an appreciative manner, but some with all-embracing manner, still more to say that some listen with affective behavior. Oxford Living Dictionary clearly defines listening as ‘to listen is to give attention to sound or action.’[i] Therefore, hearing become more important since it changes the very personality of a listener. It is conceived about Hindu fundamental Scripture that the words of Vedas were heard directly by Sages (Rishies). The very word Vedas stands for “what is heard” (śruti).

Keeping the importance of listening or hearing in mind, Shri Guru Granth Sahib also invites a devotee to listen and pay attention to what is being said. It is very important to note that Guru Granth places a great emphasis on paying attention to the Words (bani) of the Guru. The reason is that the word itself is depicted as Guru, “The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani. Within the Bani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained” (SGGS, p.982).[ii] His very Words contain Ambrosial Nectar hence, Guru Granth further gives call to a devotee to heed carefully the Words of Guru in such a manner that whatever being said should be understood explicitly. The result of this is that a devotee’s consciousness (Surt) or mind (soch) awakens and he becomes a complete man (saabat) or in other words liberated one (Jivan Mukta).

Since now a truth seeker has heard the Divine Word of Guru, who (mool purkh, adi purkh, sat purkh, pooran purkh) has come down from God, hence he or she achieves new qualities belonging to a liberated one (Jivan Mukta) that are the quality of a sage (Sidh), a Spritual Guide (Pir), a Master (Nath) and a god (Sur) (SGGS, p.2).[iii] For is it here in the hearing emancipation is also hiding, “If His humble servant believes, and acts according to the Words of the Guru’s Bani, then the Guru, in person, emancipates him” (SGGS, p.982).[iv] Thus, by hearing the Words of Guru, a truth seeker comes out from the wheel of birth and death (sansar-chakker). His very inner man buds with new life. He gets rid from his sins. By listening, a truth seeker attains a state parallel to that of gods (Jivan Mukta).

It is further said that if a truth seeker listens to the Words of Guru carefully, he does not need to go pilgrimage to pay homage and conduct ritual baths for his salvation. Listening has found great amount of value in the thoughts of Gurus. It has got first priority over any religious ritualistic code and conduct such as baths, offering homages and the like. Besides, the very Words of Guru (bani) has power to change one’s life thereby a truth seeker becomes truthful, content full with knowledge. “Listening-truth, contentment and spiritual wisdom. Listening-take your cleansing bath at the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage” (SGGS, p.3).[v] Hearing in this way is considered a path that puts a truth seeker on the track of salvation and bliss, Listening-intuitively grasp the essence of meditation. O Nanak, the devotees are forever in bliss” (SGGS, p.3).[vi]

In addition, if a truth seeker needs peace of mind then he or she is required to be on the path of listening since, it is hearing that brings peace in a truth seeker’s mind. The culmination of hearing is envisioned in the attainment of salvation or liberation. “Hearing the Name, the mind is delighted…brings peace and tranquility. Hearing… the mind is satisfied, and all pains are taken away. Hearing… one becomes famous… brings glorious greatness… brings all honor and status… salvation is obtained” (SGGS, p.1240).[vii] Therefore, Guru’s words (bani) not only remove the sins but also the bad karmas, “The Word of the Guru’s Shabad eradicates the karma of millions of past actions” (SGGS, p.1195).[viii]

A truth seeker should note that the Words of the Guru (bani) bring clear-cut understanding in his or her mind, Says Kabir, I have found that Guru, whose Name is clear understanding” (SGGS, p.793),[ix] for salvation is always found in having clearing understanding about what is being heard, But liberation does not come from learning without understanding” (SGGS, p.903).[x] Yes, it is true that the Words of Guru (bani) are most of the time beyond understanding for it contains the glory, splendor and majesty of unfathomable omnipresent divine (Akal Purakh), yet in order to have clear-cut understanding, light of those Words should fall on one’s soul, “The Word of the Shabad is his Guru and spiritual teacher, profound and unfathomable; without the Shabad, the world is insane” (SGGS, p.635).[xi]  

It is desired that a truth seeker should find such Guru through which not only sins are removed but also a person need not to come back in the cycle of re-birth (bhav-sagar),

“Adopt such a Guru, that you shall not have to adopt another again. Dwell in such a state, that you shall never have to dwell in any other.  Embrace such a meditation, that you shall never have to embrace any other. Die in such a way, that you shall never have to die again” [xii]

SGGS, p.327

since Guru can only release him from the fetters of wheel of re-birth (bhav-chakkar), hence Guru’s words must abide in him for in them alone he is going to find his emancipation (mokh), “The One Word of the Shabad abides within my mind. I shall not come to be born again” (SGGS, p.795).[xiii]

Since, listening has found such an important place in various religions that even the Scriptures like Vedas and Quran were written down for hearing. Beside, Shri Guru Granth Sahib also gave central place for listening of the Words of Guru (bani). Hence, this provokes us to seek the answers of few but vital questions pertaining to life and liberation (mukti). Where a Guru, who has power to remove sins and help a truth seeker escape from the clutches of transmigration, can be found his words (bani) should be listened to. Where would a truth seeker go to find such Guru, whose words can be conducive to a devotee to achieve peace and ultimate bliss (param ananad)? In order to attain salvation the path of listening has been suggested but how to listen that will change a devotee’s life remains a mystery. Where can such a Guru, whose words can abide in a devotee’s mind, be found? What should one do to become a sage (Sidh), a Spritual Guide (Pir), a Master (Nath) and a god (Sur)? The answers to these prevalent questions are given in the Granth Bible.

Granth Bible says that Satguru Jesus Christ is the Word of God,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”

John 1:1-3

This Word came down on earth to save a devotee, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form” (Philippians 2:5-7). Satguru Jesus Christ is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). He has the power to hold everything by his Words (bani) that includes a devotee’s liberation as well.

There are many times when Satguru Jesus Christ said to people to hear his words (bani), “Whoever is of God hears the words of God” (John 8:47), “Pay attention to what you hear” (Mark 4:24), “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). Satguru Jesus Christ Said that a devotee is a blessed person if he hears His words, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). In one of his teachings, He said about his family members in this way, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). Once, while giving teaching (brahm giyaan), He said like this, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

In fact, Satguru Jesus Christ went on saying,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one [world and worldly desires] will snatch them out of my hand” .

John 10:27-28

To add in it, He goes a step further in calling everyone to hear His voice for liberation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Satguru Jesus Christ knew the significance of his uttered Words therefore He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

In the light of aforementioned, His words are like fire that can consume our bad karma. They can even break a hard stony heart, “Is not my word like fire…and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29). The power of His word is so strong that it echoes cause for something to happen, “When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 51:16).  If fact His words (bani) have got such power that it will never fail,

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,so is my word (bani) that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose (Jivan Anand) for which I sent it”

Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus, the path of emancipation (paar utaara) is suggested in listening to the Words of Satguru Jesus Christ. But how to blossom this bliss (param annada) in a devotee’s life? The answer is given by Granth Bible as, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). It is faith that brings new life in a devotee’s inner man, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). This includes Realm of Truth (Sach-khand) as well. Saints in past, who followed Satguru Jesus Christ knew the importance of His words, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). They cherished in His word so much so that they stored His words in their very heart, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11), for they knew that, “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints” (Psalm 85:8).

As seen above also, since, He himself is the very representation of God, hence His words has power to give life, “For the grace (nadar) of God has appeared, bringing salvation (mokh dawar) for all people” (Titus 2:11). It is therefore commanded in Granth Bible that, “the word of Christ [should] dwell in you [devotee] richly” (Colossians 3:16) so that the clear-cut understanding about serenity (tikau), tranquility (chain) and bliss (param anand) would take place in a devotee’s inner being, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). But for some it is still valueless, “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17).

To summarize: First, a person should know that Satguru Jesus Christ is the Word and that Word is “the primal being” who came down on this earth. Second, Word in the form of Satguru Jesus Christ is the exact representation of invisible God in visible form. Third, this Word of whom we now know as Satguru Jesus Christ calls to everyone to hear His words for in them a truth seeker finds life and bliss. Fourth, saints in past and present kept/keep His Words (bani) in their heart for they know that they have got power to keep them from committing bad karma. Fifth, faith or trust is the path that a devotee should take when he or she listens to the Words of Satguru Jesus Christ, for faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Satguru Jesus Christ. 

Thus, whatever Guru Granth is speaking about hearing becomes explicit here without any ambiguity in it, “‘Hearing… the heart is illumined, and darkness is dispelled’…‘Hearing… sins are eradicated, and one meets the Immaculate True Lord’” (1240).[xiv]  To say this in one sentence, a devotee is urged to pay attention to the Words of Satguru Jesus Christ,

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance”

Proverbs 1:5

[i] https://www.lexico.com/definition/listen

[ii] ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ

[iii] ਸੁਣਿਐ ਸਿਧ ਪੀਰ ਸੁਰਿ ਨਾਥ ॥ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਧਰਤਿ ਧਵਲ ਆਕਾਸ ॥

[iv] ਗੁਰੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਕਹੈ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਜਨੁ ਮਾਨੈ ਪਰਤਖਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਿਸਤਾਰੇ ॥੫॥

[v] ਸੁਣਿਐ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਅਠਸਠਿ ਕਾ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥

[vi] ਸੁਣਿਐ ਲਾਗੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਗਤਾ ਸਦਾ ਵਿਗਾਸੁ ॥

[vii] ਨਾਇ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਮਨੁ ਰਹਸੀਐ ਨਾਮੇ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਆਈ ॥ ਨਾਇ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਮਨੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤੀਐ ਸਭ ਦੁਖ ਗਵਾਈ ॥

ਨਾਇ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਨਾਉ ਊਪਜੈ ਨਾਮੇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥ ਨਾਮੇ ਹੀ ਸਭ ਜਾਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਨਾਮੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥

[viii] ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਾਟੈ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਰਮ ॥੩॥੧॥

[ix] ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਮੈ ਸੋ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਨਾਓ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ।।4।।5।।

[x] ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਗਿਆਨਿ ॥

[xi] ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪੀਰਾ ਗਹਿਰ ਗੰਭੀਰਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਗਜੂ ਬਉਰਾਨੰ ।।

[xii] ਸੋ ਗੁਰੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਜਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਕਰਨਾ।। ਸੋ ਪਦੁ ਰਵਹੁ ਜਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਰਵਨਾ।। ਸੋ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਧਰਹੁ ਜਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਧਰਨਾ।। ਐਸੇ ਮਰਹੁ ਜਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਮਨਰਾ।।2।।

[xiii] ਏਕੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਪ੍ਰਾਨਿ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਬਾਹੁੜਿ ਜਨਮਿ ਨ ਆਵਾ ॥੧॥

[xiv] ਸੁਣਿਐ ਨਾਇ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਘਟਿ ਚਾਨਣਾ ਆਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੇਰੁ ਗਵਾਵੈ ॥ ਨਾਇ ਸੁਣਿਐ ਪਾਪ ਕਟੀਅਹਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਸਚੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥

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