Guru Nanak Sahib compares the night’s quarters to a life divided into four parts: infancy, youth, adulthood, and old age. These stages explain how beings come to visit this world, only metaphorical traders. Thus, instead of wasting life, individuals are advised to try to make life successful by remembering IkOankar (the Divine). This Sabad encourages seekers to develop the lifestyle to receive the honor at the court of IkOankar.
ikoaṅkār  satigur  prasādi.  
sirīrāgu   mahalā  1   pahare   gharu  1.  
pahilai  paharai    raiṇi  kai    vaṇjāriā  mitrā   hukami  païā  garbhāsi.  
uradh  tapu  antari  kare  vaṇjāriā  mitrā   khasam  setī  ardāsi.  
khasam  setī  ardāsi  vakhāṇai   uradh  dhiāni  liv  lāgā.  
nāmarjādu  āiā  kali  bhītari   bāhuṛi  jāsī  nāgā.  
jaisī  kalam  vuṛī  hai  mastaki   taisī  jīaṛe  pāsi.  
kahu  nānak    prāṇī  pahilai  paharai   hukami  païā  garbhāsi.1.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  74-75  
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Rag Srirag is an ancient musical mode that is sung at dusk. Its mood is majestic, introspective, and meditative.

Who is a trader? One who exchanges goods or services and their skills for a price. The choice of trade might vary as the reasons for their trade, but ultimately, these factors will influence the return on their investment. In this Pahare composition, Guru Nanak refers to human beings as ‘Vanjara Mitra,’ a trader-friend, busy trading or exchanging in the four quarters of the night. Pahare is a 3-hour period, a quarter, where each quarter is a phase of life. The night is the life on this earth. Just like time passes daily and transitions from nightfall to the early hours of the morning, so will the stages of life. The trader-friend travels through the four phases of life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. At each stage, there is time to reflect on the types of things human beings will trade their attention for and invest their time and energy to consider what purpose this will ultimately serve in the long run?

O trader-friend, in the first quarter of the night, your first stage of life began in your mother’s womb. In Cosmic law, the Creator-Provider was the impetus for you to thrive by remaining connected to your mother’s placenta in the womb. In this first quarter of life, you longed for this connection; you were graced with it, lying in an upside-down meditative position in her womb. In this bare position, you were content and in connection to your Creator-Provider. When the time came for your birth, you arrived naked yet content and connected. Will you feel this content when it is time for you to leave lying naked? Especially when no assets from your lifelong trade (money, status, relationships) can accompany you? We reflect on the trades we make, on the exchanges we have. What kinds of things do we tend to hang on to or accumulate, and how will these things serve us when it is time to depart? What if we invested in trading and building connections that would nurture love, harmony, serenity, and contentment, making our interactions with others more fruitful? These virtues would most likely accompany us in all stages of our lives. Living in contentment involves being conscious of our communication with others, accepting differences, and responding with loving-kindness. Imagine how this could lead to harmonious relationships if we could invest in developing these qualities to trade-in. O trader-friend, remember how we arrived here in the Command, in perfect contentment, in connection with our Creator-Provider?