This pauri, revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib, is accompanied by two saloks. The first salok comprises eighteen lines, and the second contains seven lines. Both saloks are concerned with the ‘disease’ of haumai (ego). The first salok depicts the overarching influence of ego on human life as the primary cause behind all human action, from birth to death. The second salok describes the Order as the source of this disease that can be cured by Grace alone. This pauri conveys that only those disciplined and content individuals engaged in upright endeavors while remembering true Nam, who do not involve themselves in ego and corrupt actions, find the great Master of boundless treasures.
salok m: 1.
haü vici āiā   haü vici gaiā. haü vici jammiā   haü vici muā.
haü vici ditā   haü vici laiā. haü vici khaṭiā   haü vici gaiā.
haü vici saciāru kūṛiāru. haü vici pāp punn vīcaru. haü vici narki surgi avtāru.
haü vici hasai   haü vici rovai. haü vici bharīai   haü vici dhovai. haü vici jātī jinsī khovai.
haü vici mūrakhu   haü vici siāṇā. mokh mukti sār na jāṇā.
haü vici māiā   haü vici chāiā. haümai kari kari jant upāiā.
haümai būjhai tā   daru sūjhai. giān vihūṇā kathi kathi lūjhai.
nānak hukmī likhīai lekhu. jehā vekhahi tehā vekhu.1.
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Guru Nanak explores the elements of what we might traditionally think of as ego, but instead of speaking about ego as a one-dimensional and inherently negative, the Guru is speaking of a sense of self, or I-ness. There are dimensions or elements of this I-ness, and instead of portraying it as a fundamentally “bad” thing, Guru Nanak discusses the ways in which it manifests, either as an assertion of the self, or a denial. This verse is about what happens when we assert our I-ness.

When we say something like “this is my car,” or “this is my house,” when we are claiming things and saying “I did this,” that is the result of an assertion of the self. A denial of the self from the angle of Maya (illusion) is a recognition of our senses of self as illusory and a shift toward I-ness in its original form, which leads to a sense of 1-Ness, (One Universal Integrative Force, or 1Force). I-ness when referring to the denial of the small self and the realization of the Self with a capital ’S’ is eternal, while the I-ness when referring to the assertion of the self and a disregard for the Self, is transient.

Guru Nanak is listing all of the things that happen when we are asserting our I-ness, until we arrive towards the end of the verse, where the question of how to solve this riddle of the two manifestations of I-ness (as an assertion or as a denial) is answered. It is when we have resolved our I-ness that we see the gateway to the One, or 1Force, and become free. Until then, we are caught up in our sense of self and in all of the binaries that exist. Until then, we are burned up from the inside out, anxiously angered or in pain, consumed with negativity and jealousy. The resolution of I-ness comes with deep knowledge of the self and the Self.

Part of that deep knowledge is that the One who gives the Command is also the One who writes it. But, depending on which lens of this I-ness we are looking at things through, that influences what we see. If we have not resolved our I-ness and shifted our sense of self to a sense of the larger Self, we will see everything around us as a game of ego. This is the understanding of I-ness that creates bondages. If we have gone through that shift in perspective, we will see everything as a denial of that negativity, and we will understand I-ness in a way that is more in line with its original form, as 1-Ness. This is the understanding of I-ness that frees us.

I-ness in this form is powerful, as we are asserting the original Self and denying the deceptive self. There is a sense of I-ness that is productive and necessary so that we do not float through the world with our hands thrown up in the air, convinced that nothing we do matters. Guru Nanak is not saying that we must destroy our sense of self so much that we do not act in the world. Instead, the sense of self shifts so that it becomes about the larger I-ness, and is no longer egocentric. There is an annihilation of the ego or the self, replaced by the Self, which happens when we have received the deep knowledge.

Once that deep knowledge is received, we become like rivers in the ocean. The rivers are still there, but once those rivers feed into the ocean, they do not claim that they are rivers anymore. Instead, they say “I am the ocean,” an understanding of that comes with deep knowledge of 1-Ness. An experience that comes with the Wisdom (the Guru, the one who brings enlightenment-light by dispelling ignorance-darkness). I-ness transforms into 1-Ness.