Satgur ki baani Sat Swaroop hai Gurbani buneay (SGGS Page 304 Guru Ram Das)
Satguru’s Bani is the embodiment of the Truth
The concept of Gurbani emanating from the Creator is quintessential to Sikhi. We revere and venerate Gurbani because it is Guru’s word or the Shabad Guru.
What follows next is intriguing:
Become Gurbani (A rather literal translation)
Another possible interpretation of Gurbani buneay is that buneay refers to Sat Swaroop underscoring that Gurbani enables an individual to become the embodiment of Truth.
Gurbani uses metaphors to explain mystical concepts. The usage of the word buneay is fascinating. Whether it alludes to a synthesis with the teachings or transformation into the essence of the Truth (Sat Swaroop), it is essentially the same message: imbibe the teaching so completely that there is no difference between the teacher (Gurbani) and the learner (Student, Sikh).
The metaphor of fusion or blending with the object of love or worship is not uncommon in Sri Guru Granth Sahib:
Tohi mohi mohi tohi antar kaisa Kanak katik jaltarang jaisa (SGGS P93 Bhagat Beni Ji)
You are me, and I am You, what is the difference?
We are like gold and bracelet, or water and waves
Such references are also prevalent in Sufi poetry. Bulleh Shah, the famous 17th century poet, speaks of the love Heer has for Ranjha that makes her blend with her beloved:
Ranjha Ranjha kardi hun main aape Ranjha hoyee
Saddo mainu Dheedo Ranjha Heer na aakho koyee
Immersed in my love for Ranjha, I have become Ranjha
Call me Dheedo Ranjha for I am Heer no more
The Guru wants us to be immersed in Gurbani so deeply and completely that we are transformed into its very essence. It is not enough to listen to Gurbani with rapt attention, or be moved to tears by its beauty and expansiveness, or sing it joyfully with our heart and soul immersed in it, or attempt to understand it in all its depth. We have to live the essence of Gurbani. Discussions and dialogues are great tools to stimulate our interest but they are not enough. We have to walk the razor sharp course Gurbani lays out, give wings to our aspirations, stay constantly tuned to its powerful guidance and practice its teachings with dedication.
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher said; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The synchronicity that trained soldiers display during a formal march-past is amazing. It probably takes hours of daily practice over several years to create the image of oneness. Similarly, a dancer melts into the dance and becomes poetry in motion after many years of consistent practice. To train the mind to live in perfect accord with Gurbani is an undertaking that is far greater than mastering the movement of the body. It requires perseverance, commitment, and a single-mindedness of purpose that is beyond any physical discipline.
Here is a clue to success. The human mind is highly impressionable. It becomes what it constantly engages with:
Eh mun jaisa seway taisa hovey tehe karam kamaee (SGGS Page 755 Guru Amar Das)
O mind, as you serve, so do you become, and so are the deeds you perform
We have to engage with Gurbani in the most personal and profound manner, awaken to its insights and let our choices be guided by its principles. When Gurbani permeates our very breath, and becomes the pulse of our life, our thoughts and actions shall mirror its beauty and purity. This is a monumental task and requires constant vigilance.
Ultimately though, it is only through the Grace of Waheguru that such a transformation takes place. There are temptations and pitfalls along the way. The false glitter of the world ensnares us. Egos create walls. Resolutions weaken. Good intentions break down. Through the peaks and valleys of our life Gurbani illumines our way. Its guidance saves us from temptations, teaches us humility and surrender. Like the beam of a laser, Gurbani cuts through our outer surface. The true essence is revealed.
It is the work of a lifetime, rather several lifetimes to “become” Gurbani or “Sat Swaroop.