This pauri (stanza), revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib, is accompanied by two saloks. The first salok comprising six lines, proposes and establishes the perspective of Guru Granth Sahib against the backdrop of the popular understanding of ages in the Sanatan tradition. In the second salok, which comprises fourteen lines, each age correlates to each Veda, symbolically describing the prevalence of all four ages. The end of the salok imparts a lesson in adoration of IkOankar (the Divine). This pauri conveys that an individual can only cross the world-ocean with wisdom from the Guru.
saloku m: 1.
nānak meru sarīr kā   iku rathu iku rathvāhu.
jugu jugu
“Word ‘jug’ is a measurement of time. As per the Hindu religious-scripture, belief in four yugs is popular. These are Satyug, Treta-yug, Dvapar-yug, and Kaliyug. The beginning of a yug is called ‘sandhyā’ and its end is called ‘sandhyānsh.’ The extent of these both is one-tenth of each yug. As per the years of deities, the length of all four yugs is counted thus: Satyug or Krit Yug 4,800 years, Treta-yug 3,600 years, Dvapar-yug 2,400 years, Kaliyug 1,200 years. A deity’s year is equivalent to an ordinary person’s 360 years. Accordingly the length of four age based on the human years is: Satyug 1,728,000 year, Treta-yug 1,296,000 years, Dvapar-yug 864,000 years, Kaliyug 432,000 years. The collective of the yugs is called ‘mahāyug.’ Two thousand yugs together constitute a ‘kalap’ which is equivalent to one day and night of Brahma. Hundred years of such days and nights constitute one lifetime of Brahma. As per Manusmriti, the length of four ages is: Satyug 400 years,Treta-Yug 300 years and Kaliyug 100 years. Count and description of these yugs varies in Puranas, Mahabharat and Ramayan, etc.” –Piara Singh Padam, Srī Gurū Granth Sanket Kosh, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1987, page 159-60.
pheri vaṭāīahi   giānī bujhahi tāhi.
In some manuscripts the word form ‘satijugi’ is also available.
rathu santokh kā   dharamu agai rathvāhu.
tretai rathu jatai kā   joru agai rathvāhu.
duāpuri rathu tapai kā   satu agai rathvāhu.
In this place, form ‘kalijugi’ is found in the manuscripts, which is correct as per the writing style of the Guru Granth Sahib. The ending sihārī (short vowel, ‘i’) on the ‘la’ of ‘kali’ being a part of the word stem, is retained under all circumstances.
rathu agani kā   kūṛu agai rathvāhu.1.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak begins the first verse of the ballad by situating us in the four eras according to Hinduism. The biggest mountain in Indian mythology is referenced, and Guru Nanak says, the body is the mountain. There is a chariot, and a charioteer for every era, and the charioteer that is driving it. In every era, the chariot remains the same. However, both the driver and what they are driving towards changes in every era. Guru Nanak situates us in this system but then gives us a unique understanding of the system.

The four eras in Hinduism create a timeline of linear decline or degradation of virtues as we move from the first to the fourth age. In the first age, Satyug (the Age of Truth), contentment was the goal, and righteousness was driving towards it. In the second age, Treta, self-restraint was the goal, and power or strength was driving towards it. In the third age, Duapur, meditation or austerity (physical actions for spiritual gain) was the goal, and charity was driving towards it. In the fourth age, Kalyug (the Age of Darkness), restlessness was the goal, and trash and lies are driving towards it.

Guru Nanak disrupts the traditional narrative and says that these eras keep changing and only the insightful can figure this out. It is not that these eras exist only in a linear timeline — it is that we exist in these eras, these states of existence or states of mind daily, depending on what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. Our behaviors throughout a day can take us through many different states of existence. There is daily disruption. Guru Nanak takes us out of time and eras and instead seems to be saying that we have the potential to live through all of these eras without one lifetime, or within one day, based on the things that drive us, the goals we have, and the ways we are driven to them. So what is it that drives us? What are we allowing to drive us?