A Bath And A Cleansing - Sikh Research Institute

A Bath And A Cleansing

Like a trusted friend, it arrives in my inbox every morning. Do I open it immediately?

Sadly not …

But at some point of the day, I do open it. Honestly! Cross my heart!

And a-a-hh! It’s pure nourishment … truly consciousness raising.

Today’s ‘word’ from AWAT (“A Word A Thought“) is: “pooraa naavan” – two words, actually: complete bath, perfect bath.

I read the verse its taken from:

satgur paai-ai pooraa naavaṇ / pasoo paretahu dev karai.

Finding the true Guru, one is cleansed through and through … a bath that transforms beasts and ghosts into gods [Guru Nanak, GGS:1329]

The message:

In ancient subcontinental tradition … still embraced in current Hinduism — there is a belief that there are 68 places of pilgrimage that hold special significance.

In this verse however, the stress is on the Guru’s teachings which tell us that the cleansing we need is required for our souls, our minds and our hearts, instead of the physical body.

There is no pilgrimage more significant and beneficial than attaining the Guru’s knowledge. By assimilating the Guru’s teaching, one transforms one’s lower, baser nature into a god-like character. One rids oneself of evil and is enriched with the good.

This is how one attains a perfect bath and enjoys its bliss. Through a pilgrimage, yes … but only inwards.

I confess, I skip over the etymology part of the email.

Their weekly summary captures me, though.

“Our emphasis this week has been on naavaṇ or bathing as a traditional religious ritual of ablution, a practice which remains widespread amongst the Hindus in particular. Unfortunately, it can be noticed even in some gurduaras, the Harmandar Sahib being but one example.

“Gurbani, however, is quite clear on the subject. It advocates a different kind of bathing – at the inner shrine. The trouble with external rituals is that they miss the inner, deeper meaning and through mindless repetition become merely habitual and robotic; one loses one’s sense of why a certain practice is performed.

“Gurbani bathing involves a different mindset, namely that of a Sikh, a learner, a seeker. A Sikh is an apprentice to the Guru. It is in the transmission of knowledge (from the Guru to Sikh) that the cleansing takes place.

“What is implied is that it is our minds that are fogged up and soiled and require a bathing (naavaṇ). Divine knowledge is the true cleanser which nourishes human life.”

If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frogs, which are always bathing in water? As are those frogs, so are these men; they continue suffering in misery over and over again. [Bhagat Kabir, GGS:484]

Simply profound.

I am their devoted fan.

“A Word A Thought” is like a warm summer breeze that has nestled in my heart. I don’t know the forces behind the weekly mailings, yet I feel drawn to congratulate them on their first anniversary, and wish them every success.

Here is to the first of many, many more …

* * * * * AWAT: www.awordathought.com

Inni Kaur serves on the Board of The Sikh Research Institute. She is also the author of a children’s book series, “Journey with the Gurus” – www.journeywiththegurus.com
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