This Post is Based on Translation from SikhitotheMax and Information on the Bara Maha from SikhiWiki.
Note: the month of Maghar typically takes place mid-November through mid-December on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
In the month of Maghar, those who sit with their Beloved Husband Lord are beautiful.
How can their glory be measured? Their Lord and Master blends them with Himself.
Their bodies and minds blossom forth in the Lord; they have the companionship of the Holy Saints.
Those who lack the Company of the Holy, remain all alone.
Their pain never departs, and they fall into the grip of the Messenger of Death.
Those who have ravished and enjoyed their God, are seen to be continually exalted and uplifted.
They wear the Necklace of the jewels, emeralds and rubies of the Lord’s Name.
Nanak seeks the dust of the feet of those who take to the Sanctuary of the Lord’s Door.
Those who worship and adore God in Maghar, do not suffer the cycle of reincarnation ever again. || 10 ||
– Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang 135)
The month of Maghar is good, for those who sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and merge in His Being.
The virtuous wife utters His Glorious Praises; my Beloved Husband Lord is Eternal and Unchanging.
The Primal Lord is Unmoving and Unchanging, Clever and Wise; all the world is fickle.
By virtue of spiritual wisdom and meditation, she merges in His Being; she is pleasing to God, and He is pleasing to her.
I have heard the songs and the music, and the poems of the poets; but only the Name of the Lord takes away my pain.
O Nanak, that soul-bride is pleasing to her Husband Lord, who performs loving devotional worship before her Beloved. || 13 ||
– Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang 1109)
Listen to the Month of Maghar 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.”
– Excerpt from Bara Maha by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang 1109)
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:
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