We have heard the story many times of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s time in the river, merging his existence with his Divine Beloved. After three days of searching for him had passed, everybody believed Guru Nanak was most certainly dead. Then on the third evening, defying imagination, Guru Nanak emerged from the river. But he was different. The first words he spoke were Jaapji. The first three words of Jaapji, Ek Ong Kaar, God is One, became his first proclamation after merging with the Divine. These are the words he spoke directly following his divine awakening. When Guru Nanak achieved this consciousness of supreme truth, he realized that he had to return and deliver this truth to the world. Jaapji was the first offering of gurparshad, the purity and truth which was infused in him. We often see Guru Nanak depicted holding up one finger, which symbolizes his proclamation that God is One, and there is only One true existence throughout all creation.
When we contemplate the very beginning of Guru Nanak’s message to us, we know that he chose the most precise and essential core of that true understanding he had received, which is vital for humanity to recognize.
In English, and for that matter in the translations of other languages, his first utterances are written as three words: Ek Ong Kaar. However, in the Gurmukhi script the first word is written as the integer 1, followed by ong-kaar. (ੴ) Guru Nanak purposely placed the integer ‘1’ before ong-kaar.
He could certainly have expressed the unity of creation by a word, but he expressly choose not to do so. Mathematics has been described as the universal language, recognized and understood across the barriers of culture, time and distance. The integer ‘1’ is the number upon which all other numbers are based, and they exist only as an expansion of it. Using the symbol ‘1’ thus serves as an unmistakable method to conclusively describe the unity of all existence. The interpretation and conceptual meaning of words often change over time, but a number always remains the same and unchangeable. The number 1 emphasizes the unity of the Creator and the creation in unmistakable terms. The whole universe emanated from the One and not from a void or zero. In his later teachings, Guru Nanak states that before the beginning of the creation, there was nothing but chaos and chaos for millions of years, but even during that time the One Supreme Being was there, rapt in meditation on eternity, in absolute trance, alone and detached with no rival. Sitting in judgment over Self, only Divine will (Hukum) prevailed, and the Universe was created out of the One. (Siri Guru Granth Sahib, Rag Maru, Pages 1023 – 1038)
In many places in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, it is stated that everything in existence is nothing but an atomic vibration, a sound, a frequency. A vibrational frequency can be expressed mathematically. The mathematical root of all numbers being 1, is a powerful force. Ek Ong Kaar, the beginning of the Mul Mantra or the root mantra, describes this powerful force as that One spirit that runs throughout the entire creation—all that is known to us and all that is not known—and yet exists from the 1 source or the root sound:‘Ek’. From that one sound, comes the vibrations of different frequencies, which are ‘Ong’—the Creator in the manifestation of the creation—through ‘Kaar,’ the process of taking physical form. Ek Ong Kaar. We all are creations of the One, and we are not different or separated from the One at all. We are all a part of that supreme 1. The Creator is not something outside, not somewhere far away or somewhere unreachable. The Creator is 1, within all. Guru Nanak experienced the 1 Creator by singing (vibrating) constantly in praise of the Divine 1. He sang with complete abandon, to experience that supreme 1 existing within and igniting that pure Divine spirit that exists within everyone. That is why Guru Nanak told us to sing together in praise of the One. In the company of the holy we vibrate the 1 and we create a spark that will spread the light and ignite the divine awakening of everyone.
In our next newsletter we will discuss the second statement of the Mul Mantra, Sat Nam, the beautiful opening and closing that the Siri Singh Sahib taught us to use in all of our communications. Sat Nam!
This article was originally written by Bhai Sahiba Bibiji Inderjit Kaur and published by Sikh Dharma International
Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, PhD, holds the distinguished position of Bhai Sahiba or Chief Religious Minister of Sikh Dharma, and she was the wife of Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji for 52 years. To Sikhs around the globe, she is a revered “mother” and honored as an ambassador of good will and a harbinger of interfaith dialogue among religious leaders. In 2006 she was named the New Mexico Ambassador of Peace by Senator Shannon Robinson. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appointed Bibiji as his Representative to India in 2007.
In 2005, Bibiji received the honorific ‘Panth Rattan,’ from Singh Sahib Iqbal Singh of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib. In Sikhism, we honor those people with title of Panth Rattan meaning “The Jewel of the Nation,” for outstanding service given to the Sikh panth. It is a title seldom granted, and then only after serious consideration. In November of 2004, Bibiji was recognized by the Akal Takhat as the Bhai Sahiba of Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere, a position she has held in the West since 1975. The Bhai Sahiba is responsible to advise Sikh Dharma on religious matters and promote good relations with the global community.
Bibiji serves as the head of the 3HO delegation to the Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) body of the United Nations. She is the Founder and Program Director of Create Inner Peace, a program to manage critical incident stress for first responders, utilizing yoga and meditation technology. She is also a Level 3 certified Kundalini Yoga teacher.
Bibiji has authored a number of books on Sikh educational principals that are used throughout the world, including Living Reality, a question and answer book for Sikh youth, and the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Darshan, an intricate and esoteric description of the rags (musical scales), poetry, and architectural design of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred body of Sikh scripture, hymns, and holy verse. she is also the author of the newly published Mantra book, Create Inner Peace, Taste of India Volume 1&2, Stories to Win the World, Psyche of the Soul, Psyche of the Golden Shield) and co-author of Victory and Virtue. Bibiji is sought as a public speaker, lecturer and teacher at many seminars worldwide.
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Sat Inder Kaur Khalsa says:
We are blessed by the wisdom and insight of Bibi-ji. May she live long and prosper with us.
Sat inder Kaur, Kansas City, MO
Dana Tosta says:
Beautiful story ;) knowing very little about the Sikhs this is a sweet introduction and article!