Sunday, July 31, 2016

Explanation of the Laavan (Anand Karaj)

As always, my goal is to help support and encourage people who have chosen to learn more about Sikhi, as well as increase awareness about important issues and share my experiences. I think we all learn a lot from each other's experiences and it helps to know that you are not alone when you face challenges. I also hope to share the knowledge that I am learning with others. I don't like it when we go to listen to something and they are speaking to the wrong audience. I was trying to listen to an online katha for example, and for 15-20 minutes the person speaking was talking about how people should have an interest in gurbani, which I felt was really just preaching to the choir. All the people who are going to be watching this katha, or at sitting at the gurdwara listening to it have already invested their time, they already have the interest because they are sitting their with their attention on the person speaking or they would not hear his message anyways. Rather than delivering the message that I came to listen to, I had to listen to 20 minutes of why I should be interested in that message. I know that everyone who is reading this blog has an interest in learning more about Sikhi, and I hope that I give you something to think about, learn about, and share with others. 

This last week has been really up and down for me. I wanted to balance having to do work with spending time for simran. It was a lot easier being away from home where I was free of all stress and were surrounded by people who made God the focus of their life. Back home the pull of maya is stronger. There’s work to be done, people to see, and before you know it a storm of thoughts has been created. It takes practice not to go back to the old way of doing things. I used to fill up my day with a lot of things. There’s nothing wrong with doing work, after all Guru Nanak Dev Ji told us all to live the life of a householder rather than renunciation. He was married and had children. But there is a difference between working and drowning yourself in work. There’s a difference in being with other people and making them your life. The imbalance just creates exhaustion.

Let me ask you, who will listen to your every thought without judgment and forgives your every mistake? Who will listen to your fears, desires, insecurities, and never walk away? Who will love you more than you love yourself, and if you take just one small effort, they will make a thousand efforts to help you? Who will love you endlessly even if you don’t love them back, you rarely remember them, and you are never appreciative of what they give you? Waheguru. I keep reminding you because I need to remind myself too. Each day we need to remember and prioritize our purpose to meet Waheguru. Those of you who are already doing this, it's really great and please keep it up! 

One of the kathas I heard during my trip mentioned the laavaan which are read during the Anand Karaj (wedding). I decided to share the translations of the laavan here because the deeper meaning is that of describing the marriage of the soul to her husband, God. “The hymns outline the progressive stages of the awakening soul-bride as she advances spiritually to ultimately blend with the divine groom in the dawning realization of her divine destiny” (1).

The following is the description from the book Anand Karaj, the Sikh Marriage Ceremony. The book describes, “During each Lav the bride and bridegroom go round the Sri Guru Granth Sahib symbolizing that God will be the center of their marriage and their support in life” (2).

FIRST LAAV
“In the first round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord sets out His Instructions for performing the daily duties of married life. Instead of the hymns of the Vedas to Brahma, embrace the righteous conduct of Dharma, and renounce sinful actions, Mediate on the Lords Name; embrace and enshrine the contemplative remembrance of the Nam. Worship and Adore the Guru, the perfect True Guru, and all your sins shall be dispelled. By great good fortune, celestial bliss is attained and the Lord, Har, Har, seems sweet to the mind. Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the first round of the marriage ceremony, the marriage ceremony has begun” (2).

SECOND LAAV
“In the second round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord leads you to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being. With the Fear of God, the Fearless Lord in the mind, the filth of egotism is eradicated. In the Fear of God, the Immaculate Lord, Sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and behold the Lord’s presence before you. The Lord, the Supreme Soul, is the Lord and Master of the Universe. He is pervading and permeating everywhere fully filling all spaces. Deep within, and outside, as well, there is only the One Lord God. Meeting together, the humble servants of the Lord sing the songs of joy. Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the second round of the marriage ceremony, the unstruck sound current of the Shabad resounds” (2).

THIRD LAAV
“In the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with Divine Love. Meeting with the humble Saints of the Lord, I have found the Lord, by great good fortune. I have found the Immaculate Lord, and I sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. I speak the Word of the Lord’s Bani. By great good fortune, I have found the humble Saints, and I speak the Unspoken Speech of the Lord. The Name of the Lord, Har, Har, Har, vibrates and resounds within my heart. Mediating on the Lord, I have realized the destiny inscribed upon my forehead. Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with divine Love for the Lord” (2).

FOURTH LAAV
“In the fourth round of the marriage ceremony, my mind has become peaceful; I have found the Lord. As Gurmukh, I have met Him, with intuitive ease; the Lord seems so sweet to my mind and body. The Lord seems so sweet; I am pleasing to my God. Night and day, I lovingly focus my consciousness on the Lord. I have obtained my Lord and Master, the fruit of my mind’s desires. The Lord’s Name resounds and resonates. The Lord god, my Lord and Master, blends with His bride, and her heart blossoms forth in the Na. Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the fourth round of the marriage ceremony, we have found the Eternal Lord God” (2)

Lastly, the shabads Viya Hoa Mere Babula is read
“My marriage has been performed, O my father. As Gurmukh, I have found the Lord. The darkness of ignorance has been dispelled. The Guru has revealed the blazing light of spiritual wisdom. This spiritual wisdom given by the Guru shines fort hand the darkness has been dispelled. I have found the Priceless Jewel of the Lord The sickness of my ego has been dispelled. I have found the Priceless Jewel of the Lord. The sickness from ego has been dispelled, and my pain is over and done. Through the guru’s teachings, my identity has consumed my identical identity. I have obtained my Husband Lord, the Akahl Murat, the Undying Form. He is Imperishable; He shall never die. And He shall never ever leave. My marriage has been performed, O my father. As Gurmukh, I have found the Lord” (2).

Notice that Guru Ji tells us to meditate on the Lord and we will surely meet Him! 

References

2 Anand Karaj: The Sikh Marriage Ceremony. New Delhi: Sikh Foundation. Print.

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