This pauri (stanza), revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib, is accompanied by five saloks. The first salok comprises four lines and conveys that by renouncing self-interest and submitting to the Owner, a servant enjoys the happiness and closeness of the Owner. The second salok contains two lines and conveys that efforts to conceal the truth are futile despite all attempts. The third salok comprises five lines, while the fourth and fifth include two lines each. These three saloks highlight the inalienable fact that an immature friendship and egotistical love are temporary. This pauri advises seekers to be ever obedient to the Owner.
mahalā 2.
nāli iāṇe dostī vaḍārū siu nehu.
pāṇī andari līk jiu tis da thāu na thehu.4.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak focuses on the questions we wrestle with as we form new relationships and maintain relationships we already have: which matters more to us? Friendship with the ignorant or love with the great? This is where we are caught up so often, measuring our relationships up against each other, trying to find the relationships that give us the largest net gain, calculating at every moment who will serve us best. Maybe with the ignorant, we get to make ourselves feel big, we get to feel important and looked up to, and we like the feeling of being placed on a pedestal. Maybe in friendships with those who are great or “bigger” than us, we get to ride their coattails up the ladder of social status and power, we get to feel honored that they keep us around, we get to feel powerful by proxy. But, for both of these types of relationships, Guru Nanak says, it is like we are drawing a line in the water. How long do they last? Only a moment, and then it is as if the water was never touched in the first place. These relationships are temporary and short-lived and ultimately do nothing for us in the long run.