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Title : Salok Mahala Nova (ਸਲੋਕ ਮਹਲਾ 9)
Description : Salok Mahala 9 are the saloks by the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur which form the concluding portion of the Guru Granth Sahib. They precede Guru Arjan's Mundavani and appear from page 1426 to 1429 of the Sikh holy Granth. This composition consists of 57 (fifty seven) saloks and span just 4 pages of Gurbani.

Each salok is a couplet consisting of 2 lines. This Bani was incorporated into the Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh, the last human Guru of the Sikhs. As is commonly believed, they were composed by Guru Teg Bahadur while in the 'Kotwali' (prison) at Chandni Chowk, Delhi, before he achieved martyrdom.

These saloks form an important part of the epilogue when bringing to a close the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib (Bhog) on a religious or social occasion and should thus be the most familiar fragment of it, after the Japji Sahib, the Sikhs' morning prayer.

Salok, in Sanskrit, signifies a verse of laudation or praise. In Hindi and Punjabi, it has come to imply a couplet with a moral or devotional content. Its metrical form is the same as that of a doha or dohira, a rhymed couplet.

Whether the slokas were written during the days just before Guru Tegh Bahadur`s execution or earlier in his career as some say, their mood is certainly in consonance with the crisis of that time, when the Guru confronted the imperial might of the last great Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, to defend the freedom of religion and worship in India and gave his life for a cause which to him meant true commitment to God.The message of the slokas is fundamentally the same as that of the rest of the Sikh Scripture. Here, as everywhere else in the Guru Granth Sahib, the stress is on remembrance and contemplation of God and recitation of naam, i.e. God`s Name.

To quote the opening salok: "To the praise of God you have not lent yourself, Your life you have thus wasted away. Says Nanak cherish God`s nam in your heart, As the fish cherishes water".

The same message is repeated almost in every page. The underlying assumption is that God, referred to by various names such as Gobind, Ram, Hari, Bhagvan, is the only true reality and the source of all existence. Everything except God is a passing phenomenon.

Apart from God nothing is permanentSince all things of the world, no matter how much sustenance and satisfaction they may appear to give, must pass, there is nothing permanently valuable in them. Their value as well as their existence is ultimately derived from the eternal source of Being, God.

It is, therefore, short-sightedness to seek lasting happiness in worldly things as such, without realizing that the happiness we associate with them does not proceed from them but from God.

On the other hand, since prayer and contemplation on the Naam are the means to God realization, the enjoyment of the ephemeral things of the world, accompanied by these, becomes an enjoyment of the perennial Divine Reality. Without constant remembrance of the Divine Nam such enjoyment remains absorption in merely short-lived things and is, therefore, bound to end in grief. While advocating devotion to God, the slokas also preach detachment from worldly pleasures.The need for detachment is the theme here as important and as closely intertwined with the importance of prayer as it is in other parts of the Guru Granth Sahib. The argument for detachment is the unreliability of the world. The saloks depict unremittingly the fickleness and inconstancy of all that most of us ordinarily seek and cherish in life material possessions, power and authority, love and loyalty of friends and relations, strength of limbs and faculties.

The focus is on the short-livedness and transience of human life. Life passes all too soon, youth being quickly replaced by decrepitude and senility. But blind to reality and overconfident of our strength, most of us continue to spend ourselves in mundane pursuits and remain oblivious of God. A life completely devoted to worldly pursuits is a life spent in delusion, unreality taken for Reality.The vanity of worldly things and the attitude of renunciation seem to be much more pronounced in the siokas than anywhere else in the Guru Granth Sahib. Yet in keeping with the spirit of entire Gurbani this feature of the slokas does not imply a rejection of life. On the contrary, the message is one of a strong affirmation of human life.

The advice is not to renounce living, only to give up wrong living. That life should be lived right and not wasted in wrong pursuits clearly indicates a belief in its intrinsic worth.

The essence of the teaching here is that one should not cling to life indiscriminately without regard to right or wrong. It is such loss of discrimination that robs life of its meaning and makes it worthless, even evil. Lived right, life is meaningful and precious.
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