In this Sabad, the being is advised to contemplate the Nam of IkOankar (the Divine) rather than indulge in unnecessary affairs. Through this contemplation of Nam, the being’s mind remains uninfluenced by worldly attachment and sorrows. They recognize that whoever has come into this world will finally depart. It is of no use mourning the departure of another when one also must eventually depart.
re  man    tero  koi  nahī   khinci  lei  jini  bhāru.  
birakh  basero  paṅkhi  ko   taiso  ihu  sansāru.1.  
rām  rasu  pīā  re.  
jih  ras  bisari  gae  ras  aür.1.  rahāu.  
aür  mue  kiā  roīai   jaü  āpā  thiru  na  rahāi.  
jo  upjai  so  binasi  hai   dukhu  kari  rovai  balāi.2.  
jah    upjī  tah  racī   pīvat  mardan  lāg.  
kahi  kabīr    citi  cetiā   rām  simari  bairāg.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  337  
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
This composition is by Bhagat Kabir, one of the 15 bhagats (devoted beings) whose compositions are included in the Guru Granth Sahib. This composition is in Rag Gauri, a musical mode associated with winter and the afternoon’s strongest sunshine. It is an emotional and intimate mode, capturing the pain of a prolonged or seemingly permanent separation. In the Guru Granth Sahib, this pang of separation is coupled with hope and the understanding that while the pain is difficult, it can still be overcome when one feels the 1 in one’s consciousness.

Bhagat Kabir initiates the composition, prompting us to pause and reflect. He states, O mind! Drink the essence of the Nam of Ram. The taste through which other tastes were forgotten. Without passing judgment on the things we enjoy, we are urged to contemplate the nature of the experiences we accumulate. Bhagat Kabir uses the term ‘ras,’ which literally means flavor but figuratively signifies ‘essence.’ It emerges first with Ram, symbolizing the Beautiful Charming One, a synonym for IkOankar (One Universal Integrative Force, 1Force, the One.) This essence of Ram is what we recognize as the Nam or Identification with the 1. It is this essence that stabilizes the transient mind. It is this ‘flavor’—the entanglement in the sea of temporary pleasures—that prevents us from experiencing the true contentment of the everlasting essence of the Nam. We are reminded that all other flavors of life, whether triggered by physical, intellectual, or emotional experiences, are temporary, whereas the essence of the Nam is eternal. This essence transcends temporality and limitations, surpassing any other experience in refinement. The joy derived from every book we read, every concert we attend, and every vacation we embark on inevitably concludes, yet the infinite experience of the 1 knows no end. Everything else pales and fades away when compared to something lasting, something finer. Similarly, when we experience the Nam, worldly flavors no longer have their sway over us. We might feel compelled to persist in or relish specific experiences merely due to the time, energy, and effort invested, even if they no longer serve us. However, the beauty of the essence of the 1 fills us effortlessly, reminding us of what true joy feels like and lifting the veil of false amusement we have grown accustomed to.

In the first stanza, Bhagat Kabir admonishes, O mind! No one is yours; do not, having pulled, take the load (of others upon yourself). This resolute directive to the mind prompts introspection. When no one truly belongs to us in this worldly realm, why do we insist on claiming ownership over them? Why do we shoulder the collective responsibility and forcefully bear its weight? Through this rhetorical question, Bhagat Kabir questions why we burden ourselves with responsibilities that were never assigned to us. Bhagat Kabir’s dialogue with the self addresses a typical behavioral pattern where we take on more than we can handle to feel significant, needed, or simply wanted. Unconsciously, in our endeavor to ‘save the world,’ we neglect ourselves. This tendency permeates our lives — at home, at work, and relationships. We often overcommit and, in the end, underdeliver. Just as temporary as the roost of a bird on the trees, so is this world. Yet, despite its transient nature, we persist in investing ourselves deeply in its dramas, clinging to a false sense of permanence. We needlessly burden ourselves by laying claim to what is not ours to those who are not ours. When we inevitably shed this weight upon the death of a loved one, we mourn the loss of something we were never meant to carry. This burden of responsibility leads us astray from what is genuine and eternal — the 1.

In the second stanza, Bhagat Kabir questions, Why should one weep at the death of another when one’s own self does not remain steady? Bhagat Kabir shares the experience of being liberated from the overwhelming sorrow typically felt during death. It prompts us to reconsider our conventional understanding of death and strive for the same freedom available to all. The profound dialogue between Bhagat Kabir and the mind urges us to reevaluate our habitual behaviors and their implications. We often mourn and anguish over the passing of a loved one, prompting us to ponder why we react in this manner. Bhagat Kabir poses a rhetorical question: since death is an inevitable reality that everyone must face, why do we respond with grief? Why do we struggle to accept departure as a natural part of existence? Is it death itself that causes suffering, or is our inner turmoil an unconscious reaction to the societal misconceptions ingrained within us?

In the third stanza, Bhagat Kabir concludes, From where consciousness originated, it is immersed there. This line underscores Bhagat Kabir’s deep conviction in continuous remembrance of the 1, from whom we all originate. He affirms that such remembrance supersedes all else, including the fear of death. Simultaneously, he redefines masculinity, referring to those immersed in the ultimate essence of the Nam as the brave ones. These individuals live in detachment and transcend all other sensory pleasures.

The contemplation of time’s fragility and the reevaluation of fulfillment are poignant lessons from Bhagat Kabir. We are presented with a choice: to dedicate our lives to pursuing fleeting pleasures or to invest in rekindling our forgotten connection with the 1. Rediscovering what has been lost requires us to ask ourselves challenging questions. When faced with the loss of loved ones, do we confront our own mortality, or do we allow fear to obscure our understanding of the 1? Confronted with the inevitability of death, can we question our attachment to worldly pursuits, acknowledging their impermanence in the broader scheme of existence? As we navigate the sorrow of loss, how do we embrace the opportunity to contemplate the transient nature of life, seeking deeper significance beyond the temporal through Nam?