Author: Sukhdeep Kaur
According to Gurbani, Saturday marked the beginning of the New Year. The Sikh calendar aligns with the Bikrami sammat calendar which started 57 years prior to the current Gregorian calendar. Thus, March 14th is the 1st day of Chet and the beginning of the year 2077.
Chet, the first month in the Sikh calendar, begins on "sangrand" in March with the unveiling backdrop of Spring. The word "Chet" means to contemplate, remember, or turn attention towards. Sangrand is the time when the sun passes from one constellation of stars to the next. "Sangrand" is a term derived from the sanskrit word "sankrant." The first part, "san" means "in a positive way." The second part, "krant" means "change." Hence, sangrand is the day of moving forward to the next month.
ਬਾਰਹ ਮਾਹਾ (Baarah Maahaa) means 12 months. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, there are two Baarah Maahaa banis. The first is by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is on angs 1107 to 1110 in Tukhaari raag. The second is by Guru Arjan Dev Ji and is on angs 133 to 136 in raag Maajh.
This beautiful bani illustrates the pain felt when separated from one's beloved. Guru ji, with the light of gurmat, instructs and provides spiritual wisdom for each month that brings change in one's life - minds, hearts, and souls.
The bani ਬਾਰਹ ਮਾਹਾ ਮਾਂਝ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ਘਰੁ ੪ (Baarah Maahaa Maajh Mahala Panjvaan Ghar Chautha) has 14 parts. It begins with:
ਕਿਰਤਿ ਕਰਮ ਕੇ ਵੀਛੁੜੇ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਰਾਮ ॥ किरति करम के वीछुड़े करि किरपा मेलहु राम ॥ By the actions we have committed, we are separated from You. Please show Your Mercy, and unite us with Yourself, Lord.
ਚਾਰਿ ਕੁੰਟ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਭ੍ਰਮੇ ਥਕਿ ਆਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਸਾਮ ॥ चारि कुंट दह दिस भ्रमे थकि आए प्रभ की साम ॥ We have grown weary of wandering to the four corners of the earth and in the ten directions. We have come to Your Sanctuary, Lord. - (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ang 133).
In the first pauri, which is the manglacharan of this bani, there is a "benti/ardaas" (humble request or earnest supplication) put forth at Vaheguru ji's "charran" (feet). The "benti" emphasizes how the soul's separation from the supreme soul is due to it's own past actions/karam. It seeks to merge the consciousness with the shabad "dhunee" (tune, sound). With Guru ji's kirpa, it can unite with Vaheguru ji once again.
Ardaas is a precious gift that enables us to reach out to Vaheguru ji. Gurmukhs explain the beautiful meanings behind the letters in the word "ardaas" as follows:
"Aaira" (A) - "antarjaami" (all-knowing/inner-knower of our hearts) "Raaraa" (R) - "rakhwaalaa" (always takes care of us) "Dadda" (D) - "daataar" (the giver of grace) "Sassaa" (S) - "sahaaraa" (the provider of support)
The first pauri is followed by "vichaar" (contemplation and spiritual guidance) for each of the 12 months. Guru Arjan Dev ji beautifully provides guidance on how a Sikh is to live their life in each month, progress on their spiritual path, and unite the soul with the universal/supreme/divine soul, Waheguru Ji.
There are six main topics that flow through this beautiful Bani:
1. Guru ji giving us spiritual wisdom 2. Spiritual love 3. Separation from Vaheguru ji 4. Reunion with Akaal Purakh 5. Bringing humility into our lives 6. Bliss experienced through union with Waheguru Ji
For the first month of the year, Guru ji says,
ਚੇਤਿ ਗੋਵਿੰਦੁ ਅਰਾਧੀਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਘਣਾ ॥ चेति गोविंदु अराधीऐ होवै अनंदु घणा ॥ In the month of Chet, by meditating on the Lord of the universe, a deep and profound joy arises.
ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਮਿਲਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਰਸਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਭਣਾ ॥ संत जना मिलि पाईऐ रसना नामु भणा ॥ Meeting with the humble Saints, the Lord is found, as we chant His Name with our tongues. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ang 133).
Those whom we love dearly, always dwell in our thoughts. When meditating humbly upon the eternal Lord, the knower of all hearts, He embraces our hearts, and comes and dwells in our minds. With His grace, our mind blossoms forth when it remains in remembrance of Govind. Separated into two parts, "Go" means "Gurbanee, spiritual wisdom," and "vind" means "can be found through." Thus, Vaheguru ji can be found through the Guru's bani. In order to understand the meaning of the word "anand," it is also to be broken down into two parts. "Anan" means "without," and "d" means "dubda, duality, doubt." Where there is only the One in the mind, there is anand, bliss that can never be taken away as it is a blessing from God. In the "anand ghanna" state, the mind elevates above worldly pleasures to a state of having no desires, and merges with Akaal.
By sitting in the presence of true saints and reciting naam, one is blessed with inner "anand" (bliss). If one's heartfelt longing is to reach this state of "anand," then one must meditate on Govind and learn from those who have already travelled the path. In this month, one humbly falls at the feet of the saint who is able to reunite the separated soul with the universal soul. Thus, the beginning of Spring in the month of Chet, is symbolic of the blossoming of a yearning to receive Vaheguru ji's darshan within the heart, and the soul to be alleviated from the pain of separation from her sweet Beloved.
At the end of this bani, there is a pauri in which Guru ji asks Vaheguru ji for the blessing of the gift of Naam to be bestowed in their heart. This is a blessing that can only be received with the Divine's Grace.
When the new year begins, "ladivaar" (continuous) katha of the Baarah Maahaa Maajh bani is also started. At the beginning of each month, after the hukumnama has been given at amrit vela, the month and it's guidance from this bani is read out loud. Later, on the same day, katha is done on the specific part of this bani that relates to the month.
While referring to ideas of rejuvenation, renewal, and regrowth, Spring is also a time of awakening in nature. Increasing daylight and warmer temperatures cause new plant growth to "spring forth." As the season unfolds, roots are revived and seek nourishment from the earth, young green shoots and plants reach for light, and trees start to grow their leaves back. Snow begins to melt, and through falls and rivers, starts making its way to reach its destiny in the ocean. The season also welcomes baby squirrels (pups), bunnies, ducklings, and baby deer (fawns) - a few of the many adorable and cute animals that abound come Spring. Thus, nature itself signifies when the New Year is beginning while warmly rekindling hope to merge with the Divine.
Vaheguru ji pervades through the consciousness, inner-minds, and hearts of all. Trapped in illusions, we are separated from Vaheguru ji and experience pain. Gurbani soothes all heartaches and sufferings with the immortal nectar of Naam. When we refrain our minds from getting entangled in transitory worldly pleasures, and commit to a self-discipline enriched with honesty, humility
humility and unshakable faith, our hearts open up to welcome in "Sache" (true, timeless) "Patshah" (highest emperor, King of the spiritual realm) ji's sweet "charran" (feet). Remembering that the Lord abides in our hearts, may His praises always be upon our lips, His seva (selfless service) in our hands, and sincere love for Him beat in our hearts.
As we begin this new year, may Guru ji bless us with the warmth of His sweet embrace and guide us as we walk towards the Lord, a path about love and faith. With the grace of Guru Arjan Dev ji Maharaaj, may we begin to grasp the deeper meanings of Gurbani and open our hearts to unwavering reliance and faith in His guidance. By leading our lives as instructed by Guru ji, may our minds drip with the nectar of Gurbani and merge with the ocean of peace. Meditating upon the One, may we take inspiration from Guru ji and lead selfless lives with integrity, confidence, generosity, humbleness, and resilience, while serving humanity and advocating for social justice.
With Shabad-Guru as our guide and Vaheguru ji's Grace as our support, may we never waiver from advocating for fairness, righteousness, and kindness.
We all hold a shared responsibility to stand up in protection of truth, imbibe lessons of resistance, live with compassion, and to fearlessly speak up when injustices, suffering, and pain have been inflicted. Cherishing the blessings of ambrosial pearls received during amrit vela, may we each channel our unique gifts to empowering silenced voices, shattering systemic barriers, and challenging harmful behaviors with the balm of maturity, sound logic, and research-based knowledge. By engaging in thought-provoking global conversations with grace and diplomacy, and addressing fabricated stories and misinformation with well-articulated questions, we can actively thread together the fabric of changes needed in our world.
As the year unfolds, may our hearts experience inner-joy, blossom with courage when facing adversity and unforeseen challenges, invite the light of our beloved Guru ji to shine forth the path of truth, and remain humble when blessings are bestowed upon our lives. Together, let's take on a relentless work-ethic and consciously create non-judgmental environments for expression, sensitivity, inclusivity, and unity. It is only through a collaborative spirit bathed in the rays of reciprocal respect, that the seeds of understanding, mutual-support, awareness, healing, empathy, intuition, and consideration for the feelings of others be sown, cultivated, and nurtured in our hearts.
As the sweet author of our lives continues to write our stories, may we each be blessed with the opportunity to start a ripple that turns into a wave that embraces our globe with nurturing love, sensitivity, understanding, gentleness, and the warmth of selfless service to humanity. As the ink of love flows with the fragrance of Spring through Vaheguru ji's pen, may our stories receive His mercy and our minds blossom forth with His Grace.
Placed humbly and whole-heartedly at the sweet feet of my dear, beloved Guru ji, may the words above serve in His honor. This writing piece has been informed by insights and understandings received while listening to kathas done by Sant Baba Jagjit Singh Ji Harkhowal Wale, Bhai Pinderpal Singh Ji, Bhai Sukha Singh Ji (U.K.), and YouTube videos by Jaswinder Singh Ji (California). Details on the Bikrami calendar, direct references to it by our Guru Sahibaan, and comparisons to other calendars can be found on the YouTube channel Jass78.
Author: Sukhdeep Kaur