This pauri (stanza), revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib, is accompanied by two saloks. The first salok, comprising four lines, describes the Divine-play (ras) in creation. This salok suggests that nature performs in the Divine-play in which parts of time and natural elements are characters. The second salok, comprising twenty-six lines, contains four parts. The first part constitutes a satirical narrative of a theatrical performance (ras lila) carried out by actors, performers, or street artists. The second part contrasts the life-play of servants of IkOankar (the Divine) and those of performers entangled in materialistic lifestyles. In the third part, the Guru contrasts desperate performers’ narratives with those doing service out of love for IkOankar. The fourth part satirically compares street artists’ dance rotations to repetitive devices rotating endlessly on their axis to demonstrate how many are trapped in seemingly endless cycles of earthly plays. This pauri reaffirms that to remember Nam in complete love and surrender is to be imbued with IkOankar.
m: 1.
vāini cele nacani gur. pair halāini pheran̖i sir.
uḍi uḍi rāvā jhāṭai pāi. vekhai loku hasai ghari jāi.
roṭīā kāraṇi pūrahi tāl. āpu pachāṛahi dhartī nāli.
gāvani gopīā gāvani kān̖. gāvani sītā rāje rām.
nirbhaü niraṅkāru sacu nāmu. kīā sagal jahānu.
sevak sevahi karami caṛāu. bhinnī raiṇi jin̖ā mani cāu.
sikhī sikhiā gur vīcāri. nadarī karami laghāe pāri.
kolū carkhā cakī caku. thal vārole bahutu anantu.
lāṭū mādhāṇīā angāh. paṁkhī bhaüdīā laini na sāh.
sūai cāṛi bhavāīahi jant. nānak bhaüdiā gaṇat na ant.
bandhan bandhi bhavae soi. paiai kirti nacai sabhu koi.
naci naci hasahi calahi se roi. uḍi na jāhī sidh na hohi.
nacaṇu kudaṇu man ka cāu. nānak jin̖ mani bhaü tin̖ā mani bhāu. 2.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak takes us through four parts. First, there is a continuation of the satirical narrative of a theatrical performance being carried out by actors, performers or street-artists. Guru Nanak shifts the subject of discussion, focusing on the performers now, not the audience. Instead of enjoying the Divine play being staged in the cosmic theater by the formless One, the performers spend their time putting on artificial earthly plays about the incarnations for the entertainment of the crowd. Guru Nanak describes the dust in their tangled hair, emphasizing that they do all of this for the sake of earning a living, so willing to do anything for the entertainment of others that they fall up and down the stage with their hair everywhere. When they have finished, those in the audience return home, entertained, and the performers prepare to do it all again the next day, empty inside.

In the second part, Guru Nanak praises 1Force (IkOankar, One Universal Integrative Force, also referred to as 1-Ness) as the Creator of the entire universe and focuses on 1Force’s attributes: formless, fearless, and eternal. The Guru reminds us that what really matters is the formless One, fearless and eternal — that this is what the whole world is really made of.

In the third part, Guru Nanak contrasts the narrative of the performers who do anything to earn money with that of those doing real service, out of love for the 1Force. Those who serve the 1Force in excitement and grace are the real devotees. Their lives become saturated with spiritual ecstasy. Those serving the formless One are not doing so in order to earn anything — they are doing so because their mind is excited. The performers go home exhausted from falling over themselves all day in order to earn money. Those who serve the One go to sleep each night excited for the day to end so that they may get up in the morning and serve the One again. These are the devotees who understand and reflect on the Wisdom’s instructions. These are the ones who, in grace, cross the world-ocean successfully (their lives are successful).

In the fourth part, Guru Nanak lists out various things which spin in circles to compare them to the dance-rotations of the street-artists: potter’s wheels, hand mills, spinning tops, churning sticks, grain threshers, and birds flying in circles. Those people who are in the physical theater performing for the audience day after day are like these mechanical motions, going in circles, just doing the job and going through the motions. There is no end to it — they keep revolving in their small circles. Guru Nanak is speaking about what we might call the rat race today, or corporate slavery, or any of the other countless ways we go through the motions of everyday life like machines, fulfilling our roles in our small circles. This all plays back into the previous discussion on the Command versus earthly commands — we distract ourselves from the Command and trick ourselves into thinking we are following the command by fulfilling our roles in the world, as we go through the motions, as we infinitely churn and churn and churn until we cannot churn anymore.

We do this every day, and, Guru Nanak says, there is no eventual fruitfulness that will come from it. We can keep counting how many times we have circled or churned or spun around, but no matter how many times we have done so, there is no end, no destination in sight. Those dancers keep dancing in circles, and though they make the public laugh for a moment, they return home crying and feeling empty. They will not get anywhere, achieve any sort of real-life successes, or prove anything because they are too busy going through the motions. Dancing and jumping around are done to excite and entertain the mind, but what about those who slave away doing those things for our entertainment? Put yourself in their shoes. We may be entertained, but what about them?

We are all so caught up and dizzied by our infinite circling, we earn our livings and we go home feeling empty inside, just as the performers do. Forgetting 1Force, we dance in circles, we experience momentary emotions, but we leave the world in despair. All of the ways we entertain and distract ourselves do not affect us in a meaningful way. These things are not rooted in love for 1Force. It is only those minds which have reverence, that have love for 1Force. It is this reverence and love for 1Force that stops us from going in circles and fills our emptiness.