Note: the month of Maagh typically takes place mid-January through mid-February on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
In the month of Maagh, let your cleansing bath be the dust of the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy.
Meditate and listen to the Name of the Lord, and give it to everyone.
In this way, the filth of lifetimes of karma shall be removed, and egotistical pride shall vanish from your mind.
Sexual desire and anger shall not seduce you, and the dog of greed shall depart.
Those who walk on the Path of Truth shall be praised throughout the world.
Be kind to all beings-this is more meritorious than bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage and the giving of charity.
That person, upon whom the Lord bestows His Mercy, is a wise person.
Nanak is a sacrifice to those who have merged with God.
In Maagh, they alone are known as true, unto whom the Perfect Guru is Merciful. || 12 ||
In Maagh, I become pure; I know that the sacred shrine of pilgrimage is within me.
I have met my Friend with intuitive ease; I grasp His Glorious Virtues, and merge in His Being.
O my Beloved, Beauteous Lord God, please listen: I sing Your Glories, and merge in Your Being. If it is pleasing to Your Will, I bathe in the sacred pool within.
The Ganges, Jamunaa, the sacred meeting place of the three rivers, the seven seas, charity, donations, adoration and worship all rest in the Transcendent Lord God; throughout the ages, I realize the One.
O Nanak, in Maagh, the most sublime essence is meditation on the Lord; this is the cleansing bath of the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage. || 15 ||
Listen to the Month of Maagh 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: