In this salok, a typical scenario of a being’s life is presented. The being is born into this world with several hopes and desires. In pursuit of those desires, they forget death. However, death is inevitable. In the court of IkOankar (the Divine), only good deeds performed in this world are helpful to the being.
sāḍhe trai maṇ dehurī   calai pāṇī anni.
āio bandā dunī vici   vatiāsūṇī bann̖i.
malkalmaüt jāṁ āvasī   sabh darvāje bhanni.
tin̖ā piāriā bhāīāṁ   agai ditā bann̖i.
vekhahu bandā caliā   cahu jaṇiā dai kann̖i.
pharīdā amal ji kīte dunī vici   dargah āe kammi.100.
-Guru Granth Sahib 1383
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
This salok is by Sheikh Farid, one of the 15 bhagats (devoted beings) whose composition is included in the Guru Granth Sahib. ‘Farid’ is a title associated with individuals revered in the Islamic tradition. The Farid who composed this salok is Fariduddin Ganj-i-shakar (Treasure of sweetness), the pioneer of the Chishti Sufi order. In this salok, Farid does not direct anyone on what to do, which contrasts with an imperative communication style. While commenting on the hypocrisies of people, he does not mock people. Instead, irrespective of the disciplines one may practice, Sheikh Farid answers questions by lovingly teaching how to cultivate a personal relationship with the 1, IkOankar (One Universal Integrative Force, 1Force, the One). He is known for his radical devotion, as he addressed religiosity with a unique approach. This dedication elicited him notoriety in the medieval period, particularly in the late 12th to 13th century, among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. 

Sheikh Farid uses colloquialism to remind us that an average human body does not need much to survive, sustain, and grow. The gnawing discontent within us does not let us put a full stop simply at the necessities. Every human being comes with hopes and expectations, continuously propelled further by desire. Parents cultivate expectations with their children; people do it with their spouses, and children do it within their social circles and networks. Ultimately, before anyone realizes it, everyone is part of a never-ending cycle of incessant wanting from oneself, each other, and even the Divine. When death comes for us, none of the fulfillment of our desires can save us from it. The invocation of the word ‘malkalmaut’ refers to the messenger of death named ‘Azrael’ in Abrahamic religions; it also overlaps with the Indic name for the messenger of death, Yama. Bhagat Faird affirms that when the time comes, nothing and no one can stop the mighty ‘Azrael’ or ‘Yama’ from taking us – there is no escape. Assuming permanence, we invest extensively in our relationships, even if they are ready to let us go. The same body whose needs we fulfill is eventually tied to a funeral pyre or placed in a coffin, carried off on the shoulders of loved ones, or tucked away in a car respectively. Our death turns into a spectacle for the people whom we spent our entire lives loving. Sheikh Farid’s words remind us about the impermanence of life. Assuming we have lots of time, we continue accumulating knowledge and hoarding ideas, but what we think or plan carries no weight. The intellectualization and philosophizing of ideas have no meaning without principled action. Different religious traditions have diverse ideas of a life beyond death. Still, Sheikh Farid, addressing himself, reflects and says that nobody knows what lies beyond where we are today on this earth. Invoking the importance of the present, we are reminded that the dwelling place of the Divine is here and now, and everything we do today and here is what matters. 

Sheikh Farid makes it simple yet vivid for us. The tone of the composition weaves Sheikh Farid’s message sequentially. He begins by listing the necessities we require and then reminds us that without reflection, we only stretch our lists in greed. Despite fostering and fulfilling our desires, we find nothing that can keep death at bay, as it is inevitable and powerful. The exact relationships we choose over the relationship with the 1, IkOankar, carry us to the cremation and burial grounds. In those moments, we may realize that our entire life was spent chasing a seemingly endless futile cycle of wanting. We spent our whole lives turning a deaf ear to our voice, which longs for union with the 1. We feed our existence with what we think we want and never contemplate what we seek. If we genuinely wish to discover an authentic insight into our seeking, we ought to reflect on the pattern of our desires and ask: Is this cycle subject to an end? If not, where does it end? With what does it end? Can we become free from the “box” we have locked ourselves in and will die in it? Is the continuous accumulation of wealth, commodities, and relationships genuinely bringing us joy, or is it masking a longing waiting to be discovered?