Reflections on the Eighteenth Paurī from JapJī Sāhib by Gurū Nānak

“The eighteenth Paurī fights madness, deep feelings of inferiority, and self-destructive behavior.”

~from the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan (1)


“If you can understand these three Paurīs, you can understand all about life, God and self.  First the Gurū gave the positive state of mind, then the negative and then the solution. The positive state of mind is the seventeenth Paurī. The negative state of mind is in the eighteenth Paurī. The solution is in the nineteenth Paurī.” – Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan (2)

Reflections on the 18th Pauri from S.S. Snatam Kaur Khalsa:

What is the negative mind?  In the science of Kundalini Yoga we learn that the negative mind calculates risks, it looks at all the possible negative effects of a possible choice, and it is aware of all of the negative energies at play.  When does it become out of hand?  When we lose ourselves in the analysis and get bogged down to the point where we become paralyzed. In a state of mastery, we understand how to come into alignment with actions that are in total service to God and Gurū. In this way a negative mind, or negative analysis becomes quite helpful.

Here are some of the negative energies of the universe that we are recognizing in this Paurī.

mūrakh: fools

chor: thieves

harāmakhor: embezzlers

galavaḏh: cut-throats

kamāh(i): ruthless killers

kūṟi-ār: liars

Gurū Nānak gives us the most negative images imaginable! It is like an artist who creates a canvas painting and layers it with a thick dark background.  With this dark background, we can create contrast. He has created the environment for truth to prevail.

When I read this Paurī it has a couple of effects on me.  The first is a sense of relief that I am not doing so bad after all.  At least I am not a ruthless killer, a cut-throat or an embezzler!  Things are looking up!  And then there is the other side of it. There is a recognition of where I could use improvement.  Yes, there are moments of darkness and imperfect choices. It is in fact within this recognition and taking responsibility for our actions that we can define a new path for ourselves.

The key to balance in the midst of this energy is something that I have learned from Gurū Nānak’s writings. In this Paurī Gurū Nānak establishes his humility in relationship to the Divine.

This line appears in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Paurīs. In the midst of all of the positive and negative energies of the Universe Gurū Nānak has found the neutral path, that of total surrender of one’s being, my interpretation of the word “sacrifice” here.

In that task, he has shown us a place of humility.  This is a beautiful lesson. For me in my life, this means that I can recognize my weaknesses and be willing to grow. If I fall, I just have the great privilege to reach the bottom of who I am. I have discovered that the bottom is indeed as important as the top.

Like a lotus flower that starts out in the mucky mud, we grow up through the water, and bloom in the light of the sun as our higher energies reach the sky.  We are both.  Yet, so often we lose ourselves in the petals of the flower and the light of the sun, or get lost in the mud down below.

When we recognize the top and the bottom of who we are by being in a complete state of humility to the Divine as Gurū Nānak has shown us, we have the capacity to live in consciousness.



(1) Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, 80.

(2) The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, July 11, 1982.


*This article was originally shared in a 40-Day Japji Sadhana hosted by Sikh Dharma International in partnership with other legacy organizations.

Snatam Kaur 

Snatam Kaur is an American Kīrtan singer and peace activist raised in the Sikh and Kundalini Yoga tradition as taught by the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan. She is known internationally for her ability to transform traditional chants into a contemporary sound that appeals to the modern ear and awaken an ancient yearning in the soul. While traveling across the globe on tour, she also teaches the art and science of Shabad Guru the experience of transformation through sound from the Sikh tradition. For more information, please visit


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