This composition is based on the Panjabi folk poetic form Alahania, related to death. This is the fifth and last Alahani revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib. The first stanza, while describing the temporary nature of the world, guides the being to contemplate Nam of the eternal Creator. The second stanza encourages the seekers to wish for each other’s union with the Creator. The third stanza states that comfort and suffering in life are as per the will of the Creator. The fourth stanza mentions that the time of the being’s departure from the world is inevitable. All will depart one day. No one dies with the dead. Those who grieve in remembrance of the Creator are the wisest.
vaḍahansu    mahalā  1.  
bābā    āiā    hai  uṭhi  calṇā   ihu  jagu  jhūṭhu  pasārovā.  
sacā  gharu  sacṛai  sevīai   sacu  kharā  saciārovā.  
kūṛi  labi  jāṁ  thāi  na  pāsī   agai  lahai  na  ṭhāo.  
antari  āu  na  baisahu  kahīai   jiu  sunñai  ghari  kāo.  
jammaṇu  maraṇu  vaḍā  vechoṛā   binsai  jagu  sabāe.  
labi  dhandhai  māiā   jagatu  bhulāiā   kālu  khaṛā  rūāe.1.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  581  
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
In the first stanza, Guru Nanak begins by addressing us as wise ones, saying, O Baba! O wise ones! Whoever has come into this world will depart. This world is a false expanse. Again, we are reminded that this world is only a temporary place. None of us remain here, and this is not Reality with a capital ‘R.’ The Eternal, IkOankar (One Creative and Pervasive Force, 1Force, the One), is the only real and true and eternal One. That One is the embodiment of truth. If we contemplate that eternal Creator, we will find the eternal Abode. We get to that abode through serving the One. This is what makes us true and the embodiment of truth, too, because we are serving the truth rather than the worldly temporary and false things around us. The Guru says that if the being continues to engross in falsehood and greed, that being will not find a place ahead. If we continue to cling to the greed of the temporary, we will not be able to find steadiness in this world. We will not find a place ahead. We will not be asked to come in, sit, or be cared for. We will not be welcomed at the Court. We will not find honor there. The whole world is wandering in this cycle of birth and death, perpetually separated from the One, perishing. Due to our own greed and entanglement in Maya, or the allure of material things and relationships, we have forgotten the One. Death hovers over us, inevitable. We are frightened and tormented by it.

The Guru is urging us to think about what it means to become truthful and to be with the truth, with eternality, by serving the True One. We spend most of our lives engaged in and committed to greed, falsehood, and the temporary. How do we become true and enter the house of truth, the eternal Abode? If we go to that place having collected temporary things, we will go to it empty-handed, and it will seem empty to us. If we go to that place having collected the virtues of the One, having collected Nam or Identification with IkOankar, having cultivated devotion, that Abode will be warm and open and welcoming. How do we get there? We get there by serving the One, being devoted to the One, and becoming like the One. We serve the One through Remembrance, Identification, and praise, through inculcating the virtues, through transforming in word, thought, and action. The Guru gives us this as the balm for our pain and our grief. This is the remedy. 

We are invited to use the wisdom within us to reflect on what we are crying for—on what really ails us. When we understand that what ails us is separation, the question is whether we want it to keep ailing us. Do we want to resolve this for ourselves? Are we willing to make an effort toward leaving this world, not empty-handed, but full of the things that we have cultivated—love for the One, service, devotion, and the Divine virtues—that do come with us when we go?