Mool Mantra is the fountainhead of spiritual wisdom of Sikh philosophy.
Ek Ongkar. Sat Nam. Karta Purakh. Nirbhau. Nirvair. Akal Moorath. Ajooni Saibhang. Gurparsad. – Guru Nanak Devji
One Eternal Light. Word is Truth. Creator Of All. Without Fear. Non-Vindictive. Timeless Image. Without Beginning and Breaks. Guru’s Grace.
It is said that these were one of the first words spoken by Guru Nanak Devji, the first Sikh Guru, when he realized the oneness with the Divine Light. Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book and Japji Sahib, the morning prayer begin with the Mool Mantra. Most Sikh scriptures are poems but there are a few intense nuggets of wisdom or mantras that can be easily remembered. All Sikhs are first taught to learn, understand and live the Mool Mantra. This photograph taken at Gurudwara Nanakana Sahib, birth place of Guru Nanak Devji, talks about a very practical and temporal interpretation of the Mool Mantra on how we can live our lives.
These are some thoughts on the spiritual and temporal understanding of the mantra as the per understanding that the Guru has allowed me. The spiritual, metaphysical and scientific interpretation is in the first paragraphs followed by the temporal interpretations based on the image above.
Ek Ongkar, One Eternal Light.
There is only One Divine Light and we are all part and creation of the same primal being. There is no difference between any being or matter as there can’t be anything outside that light, it being all-encompassing. Similar to Einstein’s equation, the entire matter and light when put together is equal to the same energy. It is as though the colors in the light spectrum might each have their own hue but the energy enabling the existence of each atom is the same.
The repetition of of Ek Ongkar reinforces the idea of oneness in us, that we are all created equal by the creator and the differences are just products of our own minds. We are created equal, there is only one divine light which is the source of all spiritual traditions and I should never think one path is greater or lesser than the other.
Sat Nam, Word is Truth
The Word I think refers to the primordial sound, the unstruck melody, the Anhad Naad. The Word or Nam is the Truth and is the only Reality. Even though other things in existence can be interpreted in varied ways, the Nam or Word is the first truth. This is conjecture, but would The Bible is trying to refer to same thing in the beginning of Gospel of Saint John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”?
Sikhs put a very high emphasis on being Truthful for saying anything false is going against our Dharma, our religion. One must always try to speak the truth, but also remember to be humble and loving. This is not just for the big questions where it is easier to make a decision on saying the truths but also the little things in life.
Karta Purakh, Creator of All
All existence has been created from the same being. It is the creator and the sustainer of all matter. To me this brings to mind the Big Bang Theory in Physics which defines the entire Universe and everything within began from the same source which is infinitely moving forward.
We believe that whatever received is by divine grace and we own nothing in this world. The Giver is also to the sustainer who looks after its children and this is our attitude towards life. Attempt to always remember that whatever is given is fine and try to lead a life of contentment and peace.
Nirbhau, Without Fear
It can’t be attributed to the grosser level of human emotions like fear. Since each atom in existence is the same down to the quantum level there is no question of one being different from the other and thus have a dualistic relationship of a feared and one that is afraid.
We believe in fearless living and moving forward in all our tasks without fear of abuse or reprimand. Any action performed out of societal fear is from one’s own insecurity and if one stands for the principles laid down by the Gurus then they need not be fearful of anyone or anything.
Nirvair, Non Vindictive
Similar to Nirbhau, the idea is to signify non separation, that the entire creation and the creator are interlinked in tight matrices where each link is interdependent and sustainer of the other. So the question of emotions of enmity or antagonism can’t arise out of this interconnectedness.
We don’t believe in name calling, needless enmity and vindictiveness towards anyone. Even if someone wrongs us we believe in forgiveness and are taught not be be mad at, or irritated with the other person. Try to inculcate a sweeter attitude in my thought and speech and even if one has to make a point, try to do it with selflessness and love.
Akal Moorth, Timeless Image.
The Divine Light is imagined to be timeless as time can be relative to an observer. It exists beyond not only the three physical dimensions but even beyond the fourth dimension of Time as defined by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Time can move slower and light can bend in the presence of a massive gravitation field like a black hole. However, the Divine is considered beyond these limitations.
All our creativity and positive thoughts, words and philosophies are geared towards understanding the Divine that is abstract and time less. A lot of religious thought has personified the Akal Purakh or the Timeless Creator to the point to the point that it is hard to grasp the original concepts. Try to always remember that everything around us – humans, animals, plants and all the elements, the very existence itself is IT. From this vantage point the understanding of Divine becomes a profound enigma, a journey on a sailboat through the Universe that is to be enjoyed to the fullest.
Ajooni Saibhang, Without Beginning and Breaks
The creation can have an exact beginning and depending on the scope of definition of Universe/Nature it can start or end and repeat the cycle all over again. However, the creator, sustainer and destroyer of it all can’t be defined in terms of progression on a time scale.
As part of our economic philosophy, we believe in non dependence on others and living by and within our own means. Have patience and try to remember that life is not short, in fact it is eternal, we have been here before and will come again and there is a time and place for everything.
Gurparsad, By the grace of Guru.
The Guru or literally defined as someone who moves us from darkness towards the light, is the guide to help understand Divine Wisdom. The Guru may or may not be a person, book, thought or philosophy. It is just something that moves one from ignorance to understanding.
We believe that our Gurus both the one in human form and Sri Guru Granth Sahib our current Guru and Holy Book are our eternal guides. Try to listen each word intently and meditate over the Shabad. This will increase the realization of the guidance and permeate completely into the inner being.
Updated on Aug 13, 2020:
One realization that I’ve been experiencing recently is that typically most interpretations of Mool Mantra in public are from an outward perspective – that it is an explanation of the nature of that Universal Energy Flow. While that is true, the limited understanding that IT is allowing me is that it relates to the Inner Self as well. Its is the Soul – The Inner Guru – that is
Created of the One
Untouched of Fear
Untouched of Enmity
Understood Through Its Own Grace