Reflections on the 21st Pauri of Japji Sahib by Guru Nanak

Guruka Singh

“The twenty-first Paurī will maintain your status, grace and position.” – from the Teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan (1)

Tirath tap da-i-aa dat daan.  Jay ko paavai til kaa maan.

Pilgrimages, austere discipline, compassion and charity. These, by themselves, bring only an iota of merit.

Suni-aa mani-aa man keetaa bhaa-o.  Antargat tirath mal naa-o.

By listening and believing bring humility in your mind; Within the sacred inner shrine, cleanse your mind.

Sabh gun tayray mai naahee ko-ay.  Vin gun keetay bhagat na ho-ay.

Lord, all virtues are Yours, none are mine. Without good deeds, there is no worship.

Su-asat aath banee barmaa-o.  Sat suhaan sadaa man chaa-o.

Forever vibrate the Bani of Brahma. O Mind, forever seek the Companionship of Truth.

Kavan so vaylaa vakhat kavan kavan thit kavan vaar.  Kavan se rutee maahu kavan jit ho-aa aakaar.

What is that time, that moment? What is that day, that date? What is that season, that month, when the Universe was created?

Vayl na paa-ee-aa pandtee je hovai laykh puraan.  Vakhat na paa-i-o kaadee-aa je likhan laykh kuraan.

The Pandits, who have the writings of the Puraans, cannot provide this time. The time is not known to the Qazis, who study the Koran.

Thit vaar naa jogee jaanai rut maahu naa ko-ee.  Jaa kartaa sirthee ka-o saajay aapay jaanai so-ee.

The day and date are not known to the Yogis, nor is the month or the season. The Creator who created this creation only He Himself knows.

Kiv kar aakhaa kiv saalaahee ki-o varnee kiv jaanaa.  Naanak aakhan sabh ko aakhai ik doo ik si-aanaa.

How does one describe or give an opinion of Him or praise or get to know Him? Nanak, everyone speaks of Him, one wiser than the next!

Vadaa saahib vadee naa-ee keetaa jaa kaa hovai.  Naanak jay ko aapou jaanai agai ga-i-aa na sohai.

The Great Master with a Great Name by His doing – everything happens. O Nanak, one who thinks he knows

This Paurī of JapJī Sāhib is the “it’s not what you think it is” Paurī.

The Guru’s underlying thought is that worship of the Divine is a continuous, internal state. It’s not about doing things or figuring things out. It’s a state of being.

GuruJī starts by saying that doing things you think are “spiritual,” or that others think are spiritual, are not the way to experience the One. Then he refers back to his earlier Paurīs 8 through 15 regarding deep listening (suṉi-ai) and surrender (manai) and reiterates that waking up to the ecstatic experience of that luminous secret within all things – through deep meditation and a life of complete surrender – paying attention to the constant guidance of the Divine – is the path that works. The daily inner cleansing of the mind (sādhanā) is required to maintain this state of awareness and surrender. Experiencing the presence of the Infinite in all things is the never ending wellspring of devotion and love.

Guru Jī makes the point that the One lies beyond the mind and cannot be known through the mind, and that even wise men and sages cannot do it. The Infinite is ineffable and, when the unknown becomes known, one’s life becomes a life of worship honoring the Divine.

He ends the Paurī with a thought that has been expressed in many ways in all spiritual paths: “one who claims to know everything shall not be decorated in the world hereafter.” The Tao de Ching states this as: The one who speaks does not know. The one who knows does not speak.” (2) There is no honor in spiritual ego. Honor lies only in the humblest of hearts.


  1. Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, 80.
  2. Tao Te Ching. Chapter 56, Verse 128.
  3. This was part of the 40 Day Global Sadhana hosted by Spirit Voyage in early 2016


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