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.
nāu terā niraṅkāru hai nāi laïai narki na jāīai.
jīu pinḍu sabhu tis de khājai ākhi gavāīai.
je loṛahi caṅgā āpaṇa kari punnahu nīcu sadāīai.
je jarvāṇā parharai jaru ves karedī āīai.
ko rahai na bharīai pāīai.5.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak concludes by challenging the theatricalities which purport to show us how to get to “heaven” in their system by striking fear in us. The real way to stay out of an unpleasant place is to live in the culture of 1-Identification, or Nam, where we learn to identify with 1Force. Our temporary identities begin to relate with the Eternal Identity. It is no use paying attention to what other people are telling us about what we must or must not do in order to attain some sort of peace.

Guru Nanak says, if you are really looking for goodness for your own goodness, then what you must do is, be virtuous. Do good things but be humble — become virtuous and act as if you are nothing.

Finally, there is mention of aging and the reality of this natural process. We can do anything we want to try and avoid aging, we can go to war with time and color our hair or get plastic surgery or buy the most expensive wrinkle creams, but aging will happen regardless, and it will come towards us at its own pace, not at the pace we set for it. We can fool ourselves into thinking that aging is not affecting us but it always is.

Here, Guru Nanak is referencing the sort of self-theater that we might have within us — these are the worlds we make up in our own minds to convince ourselves that nature will not take its course. We are all performers, even if we are not the ones dancing in the theater. We are all running in circles, stuck in the rat race, churning and churning, in our own ways. We are all performing for other people all of the time. We curate versions of our lives to post on social media platforms in hopes that we can convince ourselves and everyone else that we are happy and content and that we are not running in circles, with no end in sight, empty inside. We have wired ourselves to perform and curate and perform and curate, and so we do it even when no one is watching. We perform for ourselves in our heads and we perform for others out in the world, and because of this we have convinced ourselves that we know what is valuable and worth spending our time and energy on, but we are wrong. These bodies are not ours, and these minds are not ours either, but if we focus on the eternal formless One, we will understand how to distribute our beings in our bodies — how to use our existence, how to share our existence, what we will consume and what we will give.