This Post is Based on Translation from SikhitotheMax and Information on the Bara Maha from SikhiWiki.
Note: the month of Poh typically takes place mid-December through mid-January on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
In the month of Poh, the cold does not touch those, whom the Husband Lord hugs close in His Embrace.
Their minds are transfixed by His Lotus Feet. They are attached to the Blessed Vision of the Lord’s Darshan.
Seek the Protection of the Lord of the Universe; His service is truly profitable.
Corruption shall not touch you, when you join the Holy Saints and sing the Lord’s Praises.
From where it originated, there the soul is blended again. It is absorbed in the Love of the True Lord.
When the Supreme Lord God grasps someone’s hand, he shall never again suffer separation from Him.
I am a sacrifice, 100,000 times, to the Lord, my Friend, the Unapproachable and Unfathomable.
Please preserve my honor, Lord; Nanak begs at Your Door.
Poh is beautiful, and all comforts come to that one, whom the Carefree Lord has forgiven. || 11 ||
– Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang 135)
In Poh, the snow falls, and the sap of the trees and the fields dries up.
Why have You not come? I keep You in my mind, body and mouth.
He is permeating and pervading my mind and body; He is the Life of the World. Through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad, I enjoy His Love.
His Light fills all those born of eggs, born from the womb, born of sweat and born of the earth, each and every heart.
Grant me the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan, O Lord of Mercy and Compassion. O Great Giver, grant me understanding, that I might find salvation.
O Nanak, the Lord enjoys, savors and ravishes the bride who is in love with Him. || 14 ||
– Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang 1109)
Listen to the Month of Poh 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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