Note: the month of Chayt typically takes place mid-March through mid-April on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
In the month of Chayt, by meditating on the Lord of the Universe, a deep and profound joy arises.
Meeting with the humble Saints, the Lord is found, as we chant His Name with our tongues.
Those who have found God – blessed is their coming into this world.
Those who live without Him, for even an instant-their lives are rendered useless.
The Lord is totally pervading the water, the land, and all space. He is contained in the forests as well.
Those who do not remember God – how much pain must they suffer!
Those who dwell upon their God have great good fortune.
My mind yearns for the Blessed Vision of the Lord’s Darshan. O Nanak, my mind is so thirsty!
I touch the feet of one who unites me with God in the month of Chayt. || 2 ||
In the month of Chayt, the lovely spring has come, and the bumble bees hum with joy.
The forest is blossoming in front of my door; if only my Beloved would return to my home!
If her Husband Lord does not return home, how can the soul-bride find peace? Her body is wasting away with the sorrow of separation.
The beautiful song-bird sings, perched on the mango tree; but how can I endure the pain in the depths of my being?
The bumble bee is buzzing around the flowering branches; but how can I survive? I am dying, O my mother!
O Nanak, in Chayt, peace is easily obtained, if the soul-bride obtains the Lord as her Husband, within the home of her own heart. || 5 ||
Listen to the Month of Chayt in English by Don Cooper (Bara Maha Musical English Translation)
About the Bara Maha
“The twelve months, the seasons, the weeks, the days, the hours, the minutes and the seconds are all sublime, when the True Lord comes and meets her with natural ease.
God, my Beloved, has met me, and my affairs are all resolved. The Creator Lord knows all ways and means.”
Bara Maha is a form of folk poetry in which the emotions and yearnings of the human heart are expressed in terms of the changing moods of nature over the twelve months of the year. In this form of poetry, the mood of nature in each particular month (of the Indian calendar) depicts the inner agony of the human heart which in most cases is described as a woman separated from her spouse or lover. In other words, the separated woman finds her own agony reflected in the different faces of nature.
The tradition of Bara Maha poetry is traceable to classical epochs. In Sanskrit, the Bara Maha had the form of “shad ritu varnan,” i.e. description of the six seasons (shad = six; ritu = season; varnan = description), the most well known example being Kalidasa’s Ritu Sanhar.
The mode was commonly employed to depict the moods of the love stricken woman in separation, and it became an established vogue in medieval Indian poetry. Modern languages of northern India claim several distinguished models.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Barah Maha in the measure Tukhari is not only the oldest composition belonging to this genre but also the first in which the theme of love poetry has been transformed into that of spiritual import. He made the human soul the protagonist which suffers in the cesspool of transmigration as a result of its separation from the Supreme Soul. This is followed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s Barah Maha.
Guru Nanak’s Bara Maha or “twelve months” composition in Raga Tukhari in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (pages 1107 to 1110,) stands out in Sikh literature for its poetic splendor and philosophical import . . . Herein, time and space universal as well as particular have been richly fused in the person of a young bride ardently searching for her Divine Bridegroom through the cameos of the changing reality of the twelve months.
It is Guru Arjan’s calendar poem in the measure Majh included in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (pages 133 to 136). The bani was composed at the behest of Sikh Sangat when they approached Guru Arjan and requested that Guru Nanak Sahib’s composition mentioned below in Tukhri raag is very difficult for them to understand. The opening verse of the composition presents the binary theme of the poem: the factual situation of the human soul’s separation from the Divine Soul and its quest for union with Him.
Later some Sufi poets such as Ali Haider, Bulleh Shah, Hasham, and Shah Murad also wrote bara mahas.
Listen to the Bara Maha
Bara Maha – Professor Satnam Singh Sethi: