This pauri (stanza), revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib, is accompanied by two saloks. The first salok consists of fourteen lines and discusses the ritual practices of Muslims, Hindus, Yogis, philanthropists, and corrupt individuals. In the last two lines, the first salok reaffirms the principle of the Guru Granth Sahib. The second salok, comprising ten lines, satirizes the belief amongst Muslims that internment is superior to cremation. This pauri focuses on the importance of Wisdom (Guru) for realizing IkOankar (the Divine).
salok m: 1.
musalmānā siphati sarīati   paṛi paṛi karahi bīcāru.
bande se ji pavahi vici bandī   vekhaṇ kaü dīdāru.
hindū sālāhī sālāhani   darsani rūpi apāru.
tīrathi nāvahi arcā pūjā   agar vāsu bahkāru.
jogī sunni dhiāvan̖i jete   alakh nāmu kartāru.
sūkham mūrati nāmu nirañjan   kāiā ākāru.
satīā mani santokhu upjai   deṇai kai vīcāri.
de de maṅgahi sahsā gūṇā   sobh kare sansāru.
corā jārā tai kūṛiārā   khārābā vekār.
iki hodā khāi calahi aithāu   tinā bhi kāī kār.
jali thali jīā purīā loā   ākārā ākār.
oi ji ākhahi su tūṁhai jāṇahi   tinā bhi teri sār.
nānak bhagtā bhukh sālāhaṇu   sacu nāmu ādhāru.
sadā anandi rahahi dinu rātī   guṇvantiā chāru.1.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak begins this ballad by giving us some observations on Muslims, Hindus, and other major religions and schools of thought of the time. Whereas in previous ballads, we saw a glimpse of the theatricalities, in this ballad, the listings explore the degeneration of these religions and schools of thought by looking at what people are busy doing. This is an exploration of the dominant cultural and religious paradigms of the time, and a statement on the similarities between what might at first be classified as diametrically opposed schools of thought. The reality is that their degeneration is rooted in the same things, even if it manifests in different ways. Guru Nanak is observing what particular religiosities have been reduced to, looking at the busyness and messiness of people and the ways their behaviors do not align with the religions or schools of thought they claim to be a part of. Whereas in the previous verse, theatricalities were the main distraction being described, here, there are three categories listed. A hyper-focus on laws and restrictions through ritual is just as distracting as a hyper-focus on cleansing and purification, which is just as distracting as an endless intellectual or philosophical quest for meaning and understanding.

These listings are not limited just to the traditions mentioned in this verse. We are all involved in these things. We see hybridizations of these categories, whether it is within the context of a specific religious community or in the context of the global spirituality industry. Within communities, we focus on checklists to measure ourselves and (more often than not) others against. Laws, restrictions, and rules are easy to get distracted by because they are easy and tangible things to orient ourselves around without doing any of the hard and necessary work of changing our behaviors. The same is true of cleansing rituals and pilgrimages, going to “sacred” spaces and hoping that the ritual purification will give us some sort of connection to the 1Force (One Universal Integrative Force, the One, 1-Ness).

As for the last category, we are all busy looking for meaning all of the time, on this endless quest to have access to what we think are the secrets of existence, to pull meaning out of things and explain what cannot be explained. In the context of the industry of spirituality, that means being preyed on, convinced into thinking that if we spend the right amount of money to have “meaning” spoon-fed to us, it will give us the answers we are looking for. But that same false sense of connection is transient — it plays with our immediate emotions and ultimately frustrates us.

And, Guru Nanak says in drawing the connection between the categories we broadly define as “law-oriented” and “spirituality-oriented,” those who say they are more spiritually-inclined because they do not concern themselves with the law are really no different than those who do. They are partners with the ones who make the laws. The spiritual and the political are intertwined. In the US context, that manifests as Christian leaders having relationships with political leaders and influencing policy. In the South Asian context, that manifests as Sadhus and Babas and other holy men acting as political partners with certain parties, helping them gain the votes they need by preying on their followers. The spiritual and the political are intertwined.

Guru Nanak then compares what people are busy doing to what those who are lovers of the 1Force are doing — what their behaviors are. The lovers of the One are not looking for mentoring in trying to figure out what the right laws or the right rituals are, or exploring questions that cannot be ultimately understood through logic, like what is nothingness. Instead, they are busy glorifying 1-Identification, or Nam — the ways in which we identify with, connect to, and experience the One. This is their life support. Those lovers of the One are the ones who praise the One, the ones who are in bliss and joy, day and night, who consider themselves to be the dust of people of virtues. These devotees can be from any walk of life, from any practicing or non-practicing traditions. The point is that their excitement is always there, they are always so excited to be praising the One, and they are humble in the way they live, looking for mentoring in the three qualities: Identification with the One, praise of the One, and the practicing of good virtues.