|Saturday, October 7, 2000||
Japji sAHIB, the Sikhs’ morning prayer, has been translated into English by scholars, Indian and foreign, scores of times. Among translators who also wrote lengthy commentaries on it were Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Ranjeesh (Osho). The latest to appear is by distinguished Punjabi writer Kartar Singh Duggal. Winner of innumerable literary awards, he is currently a nominated Member of the Rajya Sabha. His The Japuji: Sikh Morning Prayer(UBSPD) was released a few weeks ago.
The importance of Japuji, as Duggal spells it, cannot be overstated. Besides being the morning prayer to be recited at amritvela (pre-dawn ambrosial hour), it forms the opening statement of the Sikhs’ scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, and regarded as the essence of Sikh theology. We are not certain about the time when it was composed but inner evidence points to the conclusion that it was in the later years of the Guru’s life and he took several days to finalise it. It is the only piece in the Granth Sahib which can be read as one sustained piece where the Guru spelt out his vision of God as the ultimate, timeless truth and the path, a seeker must take in order to achieve salvation. He was evidently inspired by the Upanishads: many theologians subscribe to the view that Sikhism is the essence of Vedanta.
Japuji is the only part of the Granth Sahib which is meant to be recited, preferably in silent meditation, and not set to ragas of classical music like the other nearly 6,000 hymns of the Granth Sahib. The compiler, the fifth Guru Arjan Dev, gave it the first place as it contained everything that is cardinal to Sikhism.
There is but one God.
He was here in the
He will be here hereafter. (I)
If you were to meditate
By His grace
Not by thought alone,
Can He be known,
Taxed to death
The following letter appeared in an Iowa newspaper recently:
"Gentlemen: It is impossible for me to send you a cheque as per your request. My present financial condition is somewhat fragile due to the effects of federal laws, state laws, county laws, corporation laws, bylaws, brother-in-laws, mother-in-laws and outlaws that have been foisted upon an unsuspecting public. Through the various laws I have been held down, held up, walked on, sat on, flattened and squeezed until I don’t know where I am, what I am, why I am or if I am.
"These laws compel me to pay a merchants’ tax, capital stock tax, real estate tax, property tax, auto tax, water tax, gas tax, light tax, cigarette tax, street tax, road tax, school tax, sales tax, occupation tax, processing tax, state franchise tax, personal property tax, state income tax, state franchise tax, electricity tax, federal income tax, cotton tax, payroll tax, old age pension tax, and — I almost said carpet tax.
"I am suspected, inspected, disrespected, examined and re-examined until all I know is that I’m supplicated for money for every known need, desire or hope of the so-called human race. And because I refuse to go out and beg, borrow or steal, I am cussed, discussed, boycotted, talked to, talked about, lied to, lied about, held up, held down, and robbed until I am plum ruined. The only reason I am clinging to life is to see what the hell is coming next".