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explanation of passage in Kirtan Sohila

asked 2012-11-13 17:48:00 -0600

MSJ gravatar image

updated 2012-11-14 11:11:38 -0600

Guruka Singh gravatar image

I am new to the Sikh faith and have begun listening to the three daily prayers everyday for the past 3 weeks. This has remarkably altered my outlook on life in a way I never thought possible and I am eager to learn more.

Anyways I would like some clarification on the following passage in Kirtan Sohila:

You have thousands of eyes, and yet You have no eyes. You have thousands of forms, and yet You do not have even one. You have thousands of Lotus Feet, and yet You do not have even one foot. You have no nose, but you have thousands of noses. This Play of Yours entrances me. ||2||

I'll tell you what I think and then the questions that I have. After reading this the first thought that comes to my mind is the idea that God is being described as having many forms but I am confused as to why this particular format was chosen? How come every line has a contradiction immediately after it: "You have thousands of eyes, and yet You have no eyes." Was this effect intended to emphasize that God is incomprehensible to us?

I'm sure any insight into this passage would help me understand it more. As I am new to Sikhism, I apologize if my interpretation has offended anyone, please feel free to correct any mistakes.

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answered 2012-11-14 10:50:47 -0600

Guruka Singh gravatar image

updated 2012-11-15 10:33:22 -0600

Kirtan Sohila is so beautiful! Sweetest bani of all, IMHO. Like a painting in words.

The passage you quote is a vision Guru Nanak is having during the aarti. God is 'nirgun' and God is 'sirgun.' i.e., nirgun = formless, unmanifested, beyond time and space; but God is also sirgun = manifested in all the forms we see in the creation.

These two states of being are simultaneous. Ek Ong Kar - the One exists in the unseen creative energy (Ong) and also within the creation (Kar.) They are not separate. They inter-depend. Behind the thousands of eyes that creatures have is the One Eye of God looking out through all of them... beyond the "I" - the sense of self, lies the watcher and the knower of all; within us and without us. As the Tao Te Ching says: "The ten thousand forms arise from the One and dissolve back into the One." This is a constant flow of creation and dissolution at every moment.

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Asked: 2012-11-13 17:48:00 -0600

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Last updated: Nov 15 '12