This pauri (stanza), revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib, is accompanied by three saloks. The first salok comprises six lines and describes the prevalence of falsehood and the lack of truth resulting from the harmful effects of Kaliyug (present times). The second salok consists of ten lines and depicts how the world lives under vices’ influence. No one is untouched by the impact of vices. The third salok includes four lines and illustrates that though all consider themselves to be supreme respectively, in the court of IkOankar (the Divine), the only measure of one’s greatness is the honor one receives. This pauri depicts the helplessness of individuals and that only individuals on whom IkOankar bestows the enlightenment of Wisdom (Guru) may escape the influence of falsehood and merge with the Truth.
saloku m: 1.
saci kālu
In some manuscripts (for example manuscript dated 1690 CE, that is available at the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sri Amritsar) we encounter ‘sacu kālu’ instead of ‘saci kālu,’ which seems correct as per the writing style of the Guru Granth Sahib.
kūṛu vartiā   kali kālakh betāl.
bīu bīji pati lai gae ab kiu ugvai dāli.
je iku hoi ta ugavai   rutī ruti hoi.
nānak pāhai bāharā   korai raṅgu na soi.
bhai vici khuṁbi caṛāīai   saramu pāhu tani hoi.
nānak bhagtī je rapai   kūṛai soi na koi.1.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak situates this first verse in reference to Indology’s old systems from previous ages or eras, where the idea was that in a certain age, a certain principle governed existence, and certain things drove our behaviors. In the first of these eras, in the age of truth and truthful living, the principles that drove our behaviors were religion, duty, righteousness, law, etc. In this verse, there is a departure from these old systems and earlier eras, because the current era we are in, the Guru reminds us, is the era of darkness, not truth. In the era of darkness, there is a lack of truthful living — falsehood has spread everywhere, and humans have become out of tune with life, wandering around like ghosts.

Guru Nanak tells us that, where in the first age, the principle of religion or duty were the driving forces of human behavior, in this age of darkness and falsehood, we cannot turn to those same things to help us. Those who practiced truth and restraint and partook in various rituals in accordance with the religious codes of the earlier ages did leave this world with honor. But in this age, those same practices cannot be fruitful, because this age is one of duality. We cannot plant seeds of truth in hopes that they will bloom, because the seeds have already been split, the soil is depleted, the season is not right, and the environment will not allow for growth to occur.

So then what is the thing we must practice to make it through this age of darkness? How do we color ourselves now? How do we bloom? Guru Nanak says that we do this through love and devotion. Guru Nanak uses the extended metaphor of dyeing fabric to explain what coloring ourselves in devotion looks like in the age of darkness and falsehood. If one is to be dyed in devotion, the Guru says, then one must first make sure that the thing to be dyed is clean — just as you cannot dye fabric without doing the proper preparations, to make sure it takes its color and holds it. To make ourselves clean, to prepare ourselves to be dyed with love, we must first prepare ourselves with reverence and effort. In this age, we are surrounded by filth and falsehood, so even if we are mentally prepared to be dyed, that is not enough, because of all that surrounds us. This is an offering by Guru Nanak on what to do in this era at a much larger level — to color ourselves by being in reverence and making an effort. This coloring makes us part of Nam culture, or the culture of Identifying and connecting with 1Force (IkOankar, One Universal Integrative Force, also referred to as 1-Ness). If we are able to dye ourselves in devotion of 1Force, the Guru says, then even in this age of falsehood and darkness, falsehood will not influence us.