Note: the month of Jayt’h typically takes place mid-May through mid-June on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
In the month of Jayt’h, the bride longs to meet with the Lord. All bow in humility before Him.
One who has grasped the hem of the robe of the Lord, the True Friend-no one can keep him in bondage.
God’s Name is the Jewel, the Pearl. It cannot be stolen or taken away.
In the Lord are all pleasures which please the mind.
As the Lord wishes, so He acts, and so His creatures act.
They alone are called blessed, whom God has made His Own.
If people could meet the Lord by their own efforts, why would they be crying out in the pain of separation?
Meeting Him in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, O Nanak, celestial bliss is enjoyed.
In the month of Jayt’h, the playful Husband Lord meets her, upon whose forehead such good destiny is recorded. || 4 ||
The month of Jayt’h is so sublime. How could I forget my Beloved?
The earth burns like a furnace, and the soul-bride offers her prayer.
The bride offers her prayer, and sings His Glorious Praises; singing His Praises, she becomes pleasing to God.
The Unattached Lord dwells in His true mansion. If He allows me, then I will come to Him.
The bride is dishonored and powerless; how will she find peace without her Lord?
O Nanak, in Jayt’h, she who knows her Lord becomes just like Him; grasping virtue, she meets with the Merciful Lord. || 7 ||
Listen to the Month of Jayt’h 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: