Guru Nanak Sahib invokes the mother figure, expresses the praise of IkOankar (the Divine), and honors the eternal Nam (Identification with IkOankar). Those beings who establish a loving connection with the Nam cannot live without it. They eternally savor the essence of Nam to satiate their thirst. Thus, the approaching sorrows of life do not affect them.
āsā  mahalā  1.  
ākhā  jīvā   visrai  mari  jāu.  
ākhaṇi  aükhā  sācā  nāu.  
sāce  nām    lāgai  bhūkh.  
utu  bhūkhai    khāi  calīahi  dūkh.1.  
so  kiu  visrai  merī  māi.  
sācā  sāhibu    sācai  nāi.1.  rahāu.  
sāce  nām    tilu  vaḍiāī.  
ākhi  thake    kīmati  nahī  pāī.  
je  sabhi  mili  kai  ākhaṇ  pāhi.  
vaḍā  na  hovai    ghāṭi  na  jāi.2.  
 ohu  marai    na  hovai  sogu.  
dedā  rahai    na  cūkai  bhogu.  
guṇu  eho    horu  nāhī  koi.  
 ko  hoā      ko  hoi.3.  
jevaḍu  āpi    tevaḍ  terī  dāti.  
jini  dinu  kari  kai  kītī  rāti.  
khasamu  visārahi  te  kamjāti.  
nānak    nāvai  bājhu  sanāti.4.3.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  9-10
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
Sabad 3

In the third Sabad, Guru Nanak invokes the mother figure and shares the human struggle. When mother is invoked, the conversation is candid and personal. We have a biological mother, an ecological mother, and a spiritual mother. Through mother, we share in the human condition with all human beings in the world. Imagine Guru Nanak sharing with us about IkOankar, 1Force, his Sovereign via his mother Tripta, mother Earth, and mother Wisdom. We hear: O my mother, why do I forget? Forget what? Forget whom? Forget that it is his Sovereign behind That Door? Why is it that I forget my Sovereign, who is eternal? Why is it that I forget my Sovereign, whose identity is also eternal? We pause. We are awed by the level of comfort and trust in this relationship. The vulnerability is humbling. Is there someone in our lives with whom we are this comfortable, where we admit that we know certain truths yet forget to adhere to them? Who are we ready to share struggles about the forgetfulness of the Sovereign?

O my mother, why do I forget my eternal Sovereign? I live when I utter Nam, when I identify with my Sovereign. I die when I forget Nam, forget to identify with my Sovereign. It is hard to utter Nam, live in Identification with the 1Force because it is hard to utter Nam without being in Love. I know that the hunger for Nam will eat up all other pains. Silence descends. We are pulled into the conversation. The pain of separation in Love is intense. It is hard to remember the 1Force and recognize one’s divinity. It is hard to live in that identification and awareness continuously. It is reassuring that our struggle is acknowledged. This acceptance somehow cushions us. It allows us to ask ourselves, what do we hunger for? What do we thirst for? What do we crave? Perennial questions enter, and we begin the exploration recognizing that this is the human condition. Accepting this human condition, if we can identify with the eternal Sovereign, our pains will dissipate. For we are part of that eternality, and we get absorbed in that eternality. For, there is no separation between the Creator and the creation. And when Nam becomes a part of us, then the hunger is satiated, then the thirst is quenched, and then the craving dies. Are we willing to ask the perennial questions?

O my mother, why do I forget my eternal Sovereign? How can I tell you about my Sovereign’s greatness? Many have tried to describe the greatness, but they could not assess the greatness. They got tired, yet they were not able to assess even an iota of it. Even if they all gathered to utter my Sovereign’s greatness, it would not increase or diminish. That is why my Sovereign is eternal. As we continue to listen in, a smidgen of understanding enters. We ponder on the greatness of the Great One remaining unaffected. What would it take for our egos not to be affected by someone’s wordings of praise or slander? After all, the ego’s volatility prevents us from being a part of that eternality. It hinders us from experiencing the vastness and greatness. Can we work on our egos? Is there a desire to be a part of eternality?

O my mother, why do I forget my eternal Sovereign? My Sovereign does not die, and lovers do not feel sad because of it. My Sovereign gives incessantly, and the gifts we receive never run out. The biggest virtue of my Sovereign is that there is no one parallel to my Sovereign; there never was nor will be. We ask ourselves, why then do we fear for our sustenance? It is this fear that takes us away from experiencing our eternality. The Giver is the same; the takers are many. The Giver’s giving is continuous, endless, and limitless. Why are we so separated that we are unable to believe and trust this endless flow of gifts?

O my mother, why do I forget my eternal Sovereign? The level of Your greatness is equal to Your level of the gift of Nam. Nam is the gift closest to the Sovereign; all other gifts are something less than Nam of the Sovereign. Here, Nam and Sovereign to us mortals are indifferentiable. You made the night after making the day. If there was no night, how would our daily tiredness be removed after consuming Your gifts throughout the day? Caught up in the gifts, we have forgotten to enjoy the eternal gift of Nam. Those who forget You are inferior. Those without Nam are the outcasts. Inferior and outcastes are not those we label based on their genealogical births or societal positions. The conversation with the mother is now with the world at large. We are reminded of the greatness and the generosity of the Giver. We are reminded that absorbed in the gifts, we have forgotten to enjoy and cherish the greatest gift of Nam - the gift of eternality. The gift that enables us to become vast, great, and experience our divinity. Instead, we have degraded ourselves and made ourselves inferior by living in a state of forgetfulness. This is not living; it is existing. This state of existence has made us barren, impotent, and undesirable. Harsh words that are hard to hear. Yet, we need to be naked with ourselves and weigh ourselves; where are we on this spectrum?

Guru Nanak has taken us on a journey explaining the ramifications when we forget the eternal Sovereign and eternal Identification with the Sovereign. When we are caught up in the gifts of the Giver and do not remember the Beloved, we become lowly. When we are caught up in the gifts and do not live in Identification, we become the outcasts. There are no fingers pointed towards anyone. This is a personal journey about going within. Are we willing to take that inward journey?