This composition is based on the Panjabi folk poetic form Alahania related to death. In the first stanza, it is stated that death is inevitable and is as per the command of IkOankar (the Divine). The being is, therefore, advised to connect with IkOankar. In the second stanza, unlike the worldly understanding, death is considered good. For a dignified death, the being is encouraged to lead a truthful life in the remembrance of IkOankar. The third stanza conveys that the death of such beings is honorable, and it advises all beings to live in humility. In the fourth stanza, these ideas are summed up by affirming the temporariness of the world. It reminds us that every being who has come to this world has to leave it in the end. IkOankar alone knows the workings of this world. Therefore, instead of crying over death, live in the remembrance of IkOankar.
vaḍahansu  mahalā  1.  
āvahu  milahu  sahelīho     sacṛā  nāmu  laehāṁ.  
rovah  birhā  tan       āpaṇā  sāhibu  samm̖ālehāṁ.  
sāhibu  sam̖ālih   panthu  nihālih     asā  bhi  othai  jāṇā.  
jis    kīā   tin    līā     hoā  tisai    bhāṇā.  
jo  tini  kari  pāiā   su  āgai  āiā   asī  ki  hukamu  karehā.    
āvahu  milahu  sahelīho   sacṛā  nāmu  laehā.1.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  579     
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
In the first stanza, Guru Nanak says, come, gather, O feminine-friends! Let us recite the eternal Nam. The Guru addresses all the seekers as feminine-friends, sahelis, truth-oriented seekers, inviting them to join together in the community as they mourn. As described in the introduction to Alahania, in the folk tradition, female relatives of the deceased sing the songs of sorrow together, mourning and crying, and displaying their grief. Here, the Guru’s invitation is toward something else: remembrance of the eternal Nam (Identification with IkOankar). This mention of feminine friends is important because, in the actual folk culture of that time, women were doing most of the labor of grieving and forming community in times of sadness. The Guru goes on to acknowledge the sadness of the occasion while also reframing it: let us cry about the separation of the body. Let us care for our Sovereign. If we are to cry, let it be about the separation of the body, about our separation from IkOankar (One Creative and Pervasive Force, 1Force, the One). If we are to care for something, let us care for our Master, our Sovereign, IkOankar. Again, the Guru repeats, let us care for the Master. Let us look at the path. We will also have to go there. Let us look ahead! Let us remember that we will also depart! In that acknowledgment, the implication is that we ought to spend our time here fruitfully. We ought to prepare ourselves for that inevitable departure. We are reminded that we are created from That One. That One will also take us away. The will of IkOankar is the only thing that prevails. When whatever is written by IkOankar for each being comes to fruition, there is no command we can give to rival that Command. The Guru ends by repeating the first line, emphasizing what we can do: come, gather, O feminine-friends! Let us recite the eternal Nam. 

When we mourn the deceased, we tend to get together to reflect on their life and deeds. The Guru gently redirects our focus toward reflecting on the One instead. What is the use of reflecting on someone already dead? They were created and came into this world, so they inevitably had to leave. We know this! Once a person is born, they spend their allotted time here and are called to depart. Why is our focus on that individual when the larger phenomenon is that the Command is operating here? What are we grieving for, and what ought we be doing instead? The answer from the Guru is that we ought to reflect on the One. We ought to practice remembrance of and Identification with the One. We ought to care for that One, that Sovereign under Whose Command we exist. This is our own Master. We ought to take care of our own Master and take ownership of that relationship. We ought to cry out of longing for connection with IkOankar, not out of grief for the one who has departed. This body exists for remembrance. Are we fulfilling that purpose? If we can engage in these things, we can figure out the way to live, the way to walk this path, and the way to fruitfully spend our time before we, too, must depart. 

These bodies have been steeped in various indulgences, affairs, and tasks in the world, and they have been kept from Identification with IkOankar. If we only focus on death, which is inevitable and is itself part of the Command, we will not be able to engage in remembrance and Identification. But if we understand death as part of the Sovereign’s command and instead take care to be in remembrance of That Sovereign, we will be able to resolve the greatest pain of all: that of separation from the One. Will we gather with those feminine-beings, those seekers who are struggling, and rely on one another to resolve this pain? Will we cry from a place of longing and separation? Will we care for our Sovereign and keep our eyes on the path ahead, not with fear and trepidation, but with a sense of what must be done to prepare? Will we prepare?