Friday, May 12, 2006

Night Time Walk on the River Thames

I was listening to Katha (discourse on Gurbaani) at Park Ave Gurdwara a few weeks ago. Giani Ji said that Gurbaani refers to the world as “BHAV-SAGAR”, an ocean. Why has Guru Ji used the metaphor of on ocean with the world? In water you can either SWIM or you can DROWN. Similarly in MAYA (the illusionary world) we can either drown it or we can swim across it and use the world in a positive way in our soul journey.

The Guru Ji is described in Gurbaani as being the boat. Satguru Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji says:
ਗੁਰੁ ਜਹਾਜੁ ਖੇਵਟੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਤਰਿਆ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥
gur jahaaj khevatt guroo, gur bin tari-aa na ko-e.
The Guru is the Boat, and the Guru is the Boatman (to ferry across this world-ocean). Without the (help of the) Guru, no one can cross over.

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥
gur parsaad prabh paa-ee-ai, gur bin mukat na ho-e.
By Guru's Grace, one experiences Waheguru. Without the Guru, no one is liberated.

(Ang 1401)

ਗੁਰੁ ਬੋਹਿਥੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਬੇੜੀ ਤੁਲਹਾ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਪਾਰਿ ਲੰਘਾਇਆ ॥੧॥
gur bohith gur beRee tulhaa, man har jap paar langhaa-i-aa. ||1||
O mind! The Guru is the boat, the ship, the raft (to fery across the world-ocean); (taking refuge in the Guru) meditate on Waheguru, (whoever meditates and chants Waheguru) shall be carried across to the other side. ||1||

(Ang 1040)

On Tuesday night after doing some revision I thought I would for a walk across the Thames and get some fresh air. I put on my iPod and listened and sang along to Gurbani Kirtan while walking. I had the Shabad “Gur Jaisaa Naahee Ko Dev” (which translates as, "There is no deity equal to the Guru.") playing on repeat. I was walking alongside the river going towards the Tower of London and singing “Gur Jaisaa Naahee Ko Dev”. I paused and looked the flowing river. It reminded me of Giani Ji’s Katha. The river flowing looked beautiful. It seemed to flow quite fast; I suppose that’s bit like life. Life rushes along so fast and we get SWEPT AWAY without enjoying the moment and making EACH SWAAS (breath) fruitful.

It was about 10.15pm and so there were quite a few people out eating at restaurants on the riverside or drinking in the pub. While walking I noticed people smoking, drinking, couples engrossed in Kaam and a drunken man staggering. As I walked further up the riverside there was a HUGE SHIP (looked like a war ship) near the Tower Bridge. I have lived in London for three years. However, this was the first time I have walked down that side of the river since starting university. I didn’t even know where the London Dungeons were until Tuesday! Waheguru.

I looked at the huge ship and thought “ਸੱਚੇ ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹ, ਤੂੰ ਕਮਾਲ ਹੈਂ! O God, Amazing!” I was in awe looking at the ship. It reminded me of the Shabad that the GURU IS THE BOAT. I thought how wonderful. If you put IRON in water, it will sink to the bottom. Look at this ship! It’s huge, made of metal, and carries a heavy load and yet STILL FLOATING.

A boat can carry so much weight and not sink. A car will sink in a river with its weight. However, a car in a ferry will not sink. How amazing is this. We are imperfect and are full of AUGUNS (demerits). However, even with the weight of past paaps (sins) we can ferry across the world ocean on the boat of the Guru. Look at the Grace Sahib has done on us by offering us NAAM & GURMAT, however it is up to us to get up and take benefit of this gift. We have to commit ourselves to the Guru. As Bhai Gurdaas Jee (the contemporary of the first 6 Guru Sahibs and maternal uncle of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji) says: "Take the one step towards the Guru and the Guru will take millions of steps forward to welcome you."

As I walked back from Tower Bridge, I looked at the drunkards, the couples engrossed in Kaam and people smoking etc and I thought the whole world is drowning in vikaars, the whole world is drowning in KAAM (desires), KRODH (anger), LOBH (greed), MOH (attachment) and HANKAAR (ego). However, does anyone realise this? If you are drowning you need to call for help, but what does one do when he or she doesn’t know they are drowning. Rab Rakha.

“Dhan Satguru Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee” and “Aise Gur Ko Bal Bal Jaaee-ai, Aap Mukt Mohe Taare” kept ringing through my ears while seeing the boat and then seeing all these people around me. I thought how lucky are we to be blessed with such a huge boat, such a magnificent ferry, the SHABAD GURU, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Anyone who wishes to grasp hold of Guru Ji’s feet through reading, contemplating and following Gurbaani is ferried across this world ocean. Just as hundreds of cars can be loaded on a ferry and take across the channel to France, anyone who does NAAM JAPNAA and holds onto the Guru's Path will ferry across regarldess of the weight and mistakes they made in our past.

However, it is so sad when we are born as Sikhs, we are drowning in this world-ocean and not knowing that the LIFE-JACKET (i.e. Gurbaani) is right near us. Perhaps it’s so near that we don’t appreciate it. Waheguru. Guru Sahib says:
ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਭੇਟੇ ਕੰਚਨੁ ਨਾ ਥੀਐ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਲੋਹੁ ਬੂਡਾ ਬੇੜੀ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੩॥
bin satgur bhette kanchan naa thee-ai, manmukh lohu booddaa beRee paas. ||3||
The Manmukh, the self-willed person who follows their mind, is (like) iron, which without meeting with the True Guru - The Philosopher's Stone, cannot become transformed into gold. The boat of the Guru is very close to the iron like person, but he sinks (in the river of vikaars, corruption & wickedness). ||3||
(Ang 40)

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬੋਹਿਥਾ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਕਿਨੈ ਵੀਚਾਰਿਆ ॥
satguroo hai bohithaa, virlai kinai veechaari-aa.

The True Guru is the boat, but few are those who realize this.

ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਾਰਿਆ ॥੧੩॥
kar kirpaa paar utaari-aa. ||13||

Granting His Grace, He carries them across. ||13||

(Ang 470)


Puja said...

nice post Manvir ji, very thoughtful and inspiring.

anon said...

didn't u get scared

Anonymous said...

Dhan Hon Guru Ke always speak the truth....


Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Anonymous 1 jee,

What should I be scared of?

Guru Ang Sahaa-ee Hovan

Anonymous said...

"A boat can carry so much weight and not sink. A car will sink in a river with its weight. However, a car in a ferry will not sink. "

So true.

Anonymous said...

i thort u wud get scared of the drunkies n stuff
i know i defo wud

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Anonymous Jee,

I try and walk in places which are well lighted and used by the public, avoid walking right next to drunkards, avoid staring at them and keep a bit of distance (because on the way back a drunk man put his hand out to me and said "Sir, hand shake me." He seemed "friendly" but totally out of his head and very drunk. He became a bit aggressive when I didn't hand shake him and walked pass. But I didn't look back to see whether he was looking at me - but I could hear him shouting. Guru Rakha.)

Guru Ang Sahaa-ee Hai.

Prabhu Singh said...

Nice post, I also like the analogy of the car sinking without the ferry, I will probably remember this for a long time to come and relate this analogy to others.
I probably would have shaken the hand of the drunk. Having your darshan he knows that you can help him and wishes for your healing touch. This is part of our service as sons of Guru Gobind Singh. The challenge is to not let our egos interfere. We are capable of healing and helping people with our smiles, with our touch, with our encouraging words. I'm sure you've experienced this living in a well-populated area, people probably come to you for help a lot. I guess it depends on what the situation warrants. If he had some devious ideas in mind you may have picked that up, but sometimes people just want to touch that holy sight before them.
To the anonymous, in general there's no need to fear drunks, if you can't defend yourself, you're likely capable of out running them or out maneuvering them.

Puneet Kaur said...


as always a very inspiring post.its beautiful to read how well u relate Gurbani with life.

just one thing u mentioned the shabad "Aise Gur Bal Bal Jaaee-ai, Aap Mukt Mohe Taare”; if am not mistaken isnt it "Aise Gur Ko Bal Bal Jaaee-ai Aap Mukt Mohe Taare.."

am not sure but do check the shabad & post again for we shouldnt make any mistake while reading or writing Gurbani ji.

Guru Rakha

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Puneet Kaur Ji bhenji,

thanks for pointing out the typo. I have corrected it.

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Prabhu Singh Bhaji,

I understand where you are coming from. I personally felt "uncomfortable" with the man, although he smiled and said "Shake my hand." My inside instinct said not to shake his hand or go near him. However I did smile at him and put my hand up and waved.

In London there are a lot of schizophrenics and also you just have to be "extra" cautious compared to living in a smaller community.

tso said...

A beautiful post, Manvir Ji.

May God always keep you safe.

Anonymous said...

Manvir Ji:
enjoyed reading it. Yes! Waheguru is like ship who can take me across this world ocean only if I realize " I find his will to be sweet"

mandeep singh said...

My mum and dad have a convenience shop and we deal with drunks if that’s the right word to use everyday. Most of the drunks who buy alcohol (mainly cider) from our shop are generally nice people who drink to escape from life’s struggles but you do get the drunks who try and be friendly to get something out of it. I always make an effort to ask after the ones who drink to escape life through alcohol even a simple how’s things makes them feel that you show an interest in them and when I see them in the street always say hi and a smile always helps. No one wants to feel lonely in life and empty in side.

Anonymous said...

Very thought inspiring Manvir! I like the analogy of how, despite past paaps (sins) we can ferry across the world ocean on the boat of the Guru..i like it..very nice paaji :)

Anonymous said...

Very thought inspiring Manvir! I like the analogy of how, despite past paaps (sins) we can ferry across the world ocean on the boat of the Guru..i like it..very nice paaji :)

Prabhu Singh said...

That's cool Manvir I respect that feeling, experiencial truth is the one that you know to be true.
"In London there are a lot of schizophrenics and also you just have to be "extra" cautious compared to living in a smaller community."
I don't know if you mean Española by 'smaller community,' but I would say our little town has criminals like you wouldn't believe. Some of the stuff that goes down here is messed up. We have schizophrenics, psychopaths and people who are just demented. The newest drugs coming from any where in the world come here from Mexico on there way to other places in the US. Sometimes I run into people who I couldn't even guess what they're on. Like my former neighbors I just could not tell what all they were on when I went to meet them. My guess would be heroine and alchohol combined, sometimes though with some people I could not guess at all. When it just seems like they're drunk, I definitely get a weird feeling, but I usually feel like I can understand their state and don't mind interacting a little with them, if they're reaching out for help. Also people who've recently done heroine and aren't immediately looking for a fix, I've found to be not too bad either. I've seen different affects of heroine though, a different neighbor came over one time (a woman with a husband and kids) and I knew from before that she was an addict (she's skinny, her veins stick out, you can see little dots where the needle goes in), but this time she acted different then the normal heroine addicts that I see. Some people here have been doing it so long they're even capable of hiding it (sort of). Any way it's all about your gut instict, I guess I brought it up just to say that if you've never done it before, someday you might want to shake that guy's hand. People are going to see you for who you are, the son of Guru Gobind Singh, and if they're lacking hope, joy, spirit, they're going to gravitate towards something that looks like it can fill that void.