Guru Nanak Sahib describes how loving devotion to IkOankar (the Divine) expressed with complete faith is the blissful path for human life. This awareness is attained through eternal Wisdom (Guru). This Sabad encourages seekers to receive the grace of IkOankar and emulate IkOankar.
ikoaṅkār  sati  nāmu  kartā  purakhu  nirbhaü  nirvairu  akāl  mūrati  ajūnī  saibhaṅ  gur  prasādi.  
salok  sahaskritī  mahalā  1.  
par̖i  pustak  sandhiā  bādaṅ.  sil  pūjasi  bagul  samādhaṅ.  
mukhi  jhūṭhu  bibhūkhan  sāraṅ.  traipāl  tihāl  bicāraṅ.  
gali  mālā  tilak  lilāṭaṅ.  dui  dhotī  bastra  kapāṭaṅ.    
jo  jānasi  brahmaṅ  karmaṅ.  sabh  phokaṭ  niscai  karmaṅ.  
kahu  nānak    niscau  dhiyāvai.  binu  satigur  bāṭ  na  pāvai.1.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  1353
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
This is a conversation most likely in the context of a conversation Guru Nanak had with pandits or religious experts in Benares (also known as Kashi or Varanasi), the most popular Hindu holy city. The Guru is approaching a conversation with religious experts, speaking in their language and their tone, knowing that people who come to these conversations are typically looking to score or win an intellectual debate. There is no rag (musical mode) to this composition.

In the first salok, Guru Nanak describes the behavior of the Brahmins and the Pandits — those with power and influence in society due to their religious status. They read religious books, offer prayer, and engage in arguments. They worship stone idols and sit idle in meditation. They tell lies and present those lies as truth. They reflect on mantras that ask for increased intellect. They wear the garbs of holy people — rosaries around their necks, marks on their foreheads, loincloths, and cloth on their heads — to skirt around actually living out the virtues. They go through the motions of performing religiosity and piety to justify their power and influence, but they are caught up in only the garb and only the performance, only the knowledge, and only the intellect.

All those other things are useless without living the religious practice of realizing IkOankar (One Universal Integrative Force, 1Force, the One). It is when we begin to foster a relationship with IkOankar that we come to hold this deep conviction: that all these rituals are useless. When we change our behavior and become aware of the futility of performing religiosity and arguing over religious texts to prove the superiority of intellect, we begin to meditate on IkOankar with conviction. We begin to find the path. Without living the knowledge, all these knowledges are worthless. The Pandits and Brahmins ought to understand that they need to inculcate devotion in addition to their knowledge. It is in devotion that we begin to speak the truth. Without it, we lie for our benefit, cherry-pick, and manipulate to our own ends. If we do not bring the virtues within, we will never become truth-oriented beings. Without the eternal Wisdom, there are no insights. There is no divine meeting.

We see versions of these Pandits and Brahmins in our own contexts — those with power due to a performance they put on, of intellect, knowledge, religiosity, and piety. We see people who assume the garbs that denote certain behaviors without actually living out those behaviors. We see people who intellectualize and spend their time arguing for entertainment and clout. We see people selling us lifestyles they do not follow themselves. As the Guru reminds the Pandits and Brahmins, there is no way other than the way of the eternal Wisdom, and they have not even attempted to explore it yet. We have not even attempted to explore this way yet, either. We have not even got to the question of how to become devoted because we are still stuck on the question of how to gain and display intellect. Will we change the question? Will we seek a lifestyle of devotion rather than a lifestyle of power and intellectual one-upmanship?