Note: the month of Phalgun typically takes place mid-February through mid-March on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
In the month of Phalgun, bliss comes to those, unto whom the Lord, the Friend, has been revealed.
The Saints, the Lord’s helpers, in their mercy, have united me with Him.
My bed is beautiful, and I have all comforts. I feel no sadness at all.
My desires have been fulfilled-by great good fortune, I have obtained the Sovereign Lord as my Husband.
Join with me, my sisters, and sing the songs of rejoicing and the Hymns of the Lord of the Universe.
There is no other like the Lord-there is no equal to Him.
He embellishes this world and the world hereafter, and He gives us our permanent home there.
He rescues us from the world-ocean; never again do we have to run the cycle of reincarnation.
I have only one tongue, but Your Glorious Virtues are beyond counting. Nanak is saved, falling at Your Feet.
In Phalgun, praise Him continually; He has not even an iota of greed. || 13 ||
In Phalgun, her mind is enraptured, pleased by the Love of her Beloved.
Night and day, she is enraptured, and her selfishness is gone.
Emotional attachment is eradicated from her mind, when it pleases Him; in His Mercy, He comes to my home.
I dress in various clothes, but without my Beloved, I shall not find a place in the Mansion of His Presence.
I have adorned myself with garlands of flowers, pearl necklaces, scented oils and silk robes.
O Nanak, the Guru has united me with Him. The soul-bride has found her Husband Lord, within the home of her own heart. || 16 ||
Listen to the Month of Phalgun 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: