In this pauri, the heat within the womb is compared with Maya in the outside world. Just as the child is nurtured in the womb through the grace of IkOankar (the Divine), the being whose consciousness is attached to IkOankar while living in the world remains unaffected by the influence of Maya.
jaisī agani udar mahi   taisī bāhari māiā.
māiā agani sabh iko jehī   kartai khelu racāiā.
tisu bhāṇā jammiā   parvāri bhalā bhāiā.
liv chuṛkī lagī trisnā   māiā amaru vartāiā.
eh māiā jitu hari visrai   mohu upjai bhāu dūjā lāiā.
kahai nānaku gur parsādī jinā liv lāgī   tinī vice māiā pāiā.29.
-Guru Granth Sahib 921
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
In the twenty-eighth pauri, the twenty-eighth step on the ladder, Guru Amardas posed a heart-rending question: Why have we forgotten IkOankar (One Universal Integrative Force, 1Force, the One) even though this divine force provided sustenance within the fiery womb of the mother? Moving on to the twenty-ninth pauri, the twenty-ninth step, Guru Amardas states: Just as there is fire in the womb, so is the Maya outside. Let’s pause and connect this thought with the previous step. Guru Amardas employs the analogy of the mother’s womb to explain that, just as the warmth in the womb is transferred to the child’s body, sustaining and nurturing the child, even though the original form of this warmth is fire, there’s a parallel in the outer world. We reflect on the nature of fire, typically a force of consumption. Yet, within the womb, it becomes a nurturing element sustaining life and offering protection–a different facet of fire. Similarly, in this world, there exists the physical body and Maya, the allure of material possessions and relationships–a fire that’s beguiling and captivating. This fire encompasses each being. Guru Amardas reinforces that just as there’s a fire in the womb, so does Maya exist in the world. The fire and the attachment to material possessions and relationships are identical in all their manifestations. This world play, the cosmic drama we’re witnessing and participating in, is the creation of the Creator. Birth happens according to the Creator’s will. A new child is joyfully received into the family, and there’s gratitude for this gift. However, the loving connection with the One is severed at birth as desires take root, and Maya begins to dominate. The being becomes entirely enmeshed in Maya, like a second skin, and the loving connection with the One dissipates. This Maya, a transient phenomenon born from the desire for material things and relationships, separates the being from Hari, the All-Pervasive, the 1-Light, giving rise to attachments and awakening other forms of love within the individual. Attachment to the temporary replaces the loving connection with the One. Through the grace of the Wisdom-Guru, the being can rekindle their loving connection with the One. Through divine grace, those who lovingly connect with the One discover that Maya, this alluring and enchanting fire, nurtures and shields them amidst the world’s fire just as it did in the womb. Guru Amardas concludes this ladder step by affirming, through the grace of the Wisdom-Guru, that those whose loving connection is established experience the Creator within Maya.

We reflect on the essence of fire, a force that burns and consumes without mercy. It’s a primal element, and as humans, we’ve not only tamed it but harnessed its incredible power for our survival and progress. We’ve delved deep into the heart of fire, understanding its virtues and learning how to flow harmoniously with its flames. Instead of being at its mercy, we’ve made it our ally, like the nurturing fire within the womb. In this sacred space of the womb, surrounded by the warmth of fire, the being and the Being were inseparably connected. Yet, outside the womb, in the vast world, we find ourselves encircled by the mesmerizing, enchanting, and seductive allure of Maya, which holds us in its thrall. The question that arises is how we can break free from this overpowering grip. The answer lies in maintaining an unwavering loving connection with the One while not allowing other forms of love to coexist within us. It’s the separation from the One that gives Maya dominion over us. The analogy of a mother and child exemplifies how this connection works. In their beautiful symbiosis, the fire serves as a protector because it’s an inseparable part of their existence. Similarly, Maya can serve as a shield when we remain indomitably linked with the One. But when this connection is severed, Maya creeps in, taking control and engulfing us. It obscures our vision, making us forget the One, the great Giver, and in its place, it creates a web of attachments and false forms of affection. This is a shared human experience; there’s no escape from its grasp. However, those beings who, through the grace of the Wisdom-Guru, have embraced a wisdom-oriented life find protection and nurturing within this world’s fire. Within the scorching fires of the world, they find not destruction but a shelter akin to the lotus in the muddy waters—a sanctuary untouched by the chaos around. It’s a rekindling of the loving connection we’ve always possessed, a reunion with the One, much like a river finding its way back to the vast ocean. The question that stirs within us now is this: Do we long to be reunited with the One, like a pilgrim traversing the long-forgotten path back to the hallowed sanctuary of our being?

We may ask ourselves: Have we lost sight of the profound miracle of life and the divine sustenance that exists even within a mother’s womb? As we explore the analogy of fire in the womb and its parallel with Maya in the external world, how does this perspective challenge or enrich our understanding of material possessions and relationships? What is our ideal relationship with Maya, and how can we align it with our journey? How do we perceive the One within the intricate cosmic play around us? Does this reshape our understanding of the One within the vast play of existence?