The Sacred Thread of the Soul (Daya Kapah Santokh Sukh)
संयम को (इंद्रियको) गाँठ
र सत्य (वचन र कर्मलाई) बटार्नु ।
यहीँ नै जनै (जनेउ) हो!
सृष्टिको पवित्र धागो!
यदि तिमीसँग छ भने,
हे पण्डित, मलाई लगाइदेऊ।
यो (पवित्र धागो),
न फोहोर हुन्छ,
तिम्रो तो धागो केवल चुडिने डोरी हो !
जब मानिस को मृत्यु हुन्छ,
तो धागो नै खसेको हुन्छ,
तब अस्तित्व बिना नै जान्छ।
के तिमि सङ त्यस्तो धागो छ जो सदा रहन्छ मिर्तु पस्चात पनि?
हे पण्डित! मलाई लगाइदेऊ!
The Shabda/Sabad above is a Nepali translation and below is my English translation of a Punjabi Shabad, or sacred verse, from the Indian Punjabi-language film “Nanak Shah Fakir.” This film, released in 2015, is a biographical depiction of the life of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
Compassion, the cotton for the thread,
Satisfaction, the thread itself,
Restraint, the knot that holds it steady,
Truth, the twist that makes it real.
This is the Janai (Janeu), the sacred thread
That adorns the being’s neck,
It never breaks, nor gets soiled,
Nor burns, nor can it be lost.
Blessed are those who wear it,
For it guides them on their way,
They buy it for a few shells,
And learn the teachings to obey.
The Brahmin becomes a Guru,
Whispering wisdom in their ear,
But when the thread is lost in death,
The soul departs without it dear.
The title I found appropriate to give “The Sacred Thread of Being” is a reflection on the true meaning of the Janai (In India they call it Janeu), or sacred thread worn by many followers of the Sikh faith. The poem suggests that the truly sacred thread is not the physical thread that is worn on the body, but rather the thread of compassion, satisfaction, restraint, and truth that is woven within the individual.
The first stanza of the poem states that compassion should be the cotton, satisfaction the thread, restraint the knot, and truth the twist. This line emphasizes the idea that the truly sacred thread is not a physical object, but rather a set of values and principles that one holds within themselves. Compassion, satisfaction, restraint, and truth are all essential components of an individual’s moral and ethical code and are the foundation of the sacred thread of being.
The second stanza of the poem states that this is the Janai (Janeu) of the being, and if one has it, one should put it on. This line suggests that the truly sacred thread is not something that can be bestowed upon an individual by another person or institution, but rather something that each person must embody within themselves. It is an internal state of being that one must work to achieve and maintain.
The third stanza of the poem states that the truly sacred thread neither breaks, gets dirty, nor is burnt, or lost. This line emphasizes the idea that the truly sacred thread is eternal and indestructible. It is not a physical object that can be damaged or destroyed, but rather a set of values and principles that are ingrained within an individual’s soul.
The fourth stanza of the poem states that blessed are the mortals who go wearing such a thread on their neck. This line suggests that those who embody the truly sacred thread within themselves are truly blessed and will find peace and fulfilment in their lives.
The fifth stanza of the poem states that one can buy thread for four shells and seated in an enclosure, one can put it on. This line highlights the superficiality of the physical sacred thread. It is something that can be purchased and put on like any other material object, but it holds no true value or significance.
The final stanza of the poem states that when an individual dies, the sacred thread falls away, and the being departs without it. This line suggests that the truly sacred thread is not something that can be taken with us when we die. It is something that we must embody within ourselves while we are alive, and it is through living a virtuous and moral life that we truly achieve the sacred thread of being.
The poem “The Sacred Thread of Being” is a powerful reminder that true spiritual fulfilment and enlightenment cannot be achieved through external material objects or societal constructs, but rather through the cultivation of inner values and principles. The Janai (Janeu) is not a physical thread but is a state of being that one should try to achieve in their lifetime.
Or in the Simplified version:
A sacred thread upon the neck
A symbol of compassion, truth, and respect
It guides us through life’s journey
A reminder to be kind and to reflect
The cotton of compassion,
Threaded with satisfaction,
A knot of restraint,
And a twist of truth, this is the foundation
This thread, the Janai (Janeu) of the being,
Is a gift to be cherished and worn with pride,
It never breaks, nor dirties, nor burns,
Eternally by our side.
Blessed are the mortals, O Nanak,
Who wears this thread with honour and grace,
For it guides them through life’s trials,
And leads them to a higher place.
But as we pass from this world,
And our thread falls away,
We depart without it,
And our soul begins to stray.
So let us cherish this symbol,
And wear it with care and love,
For it guides us on our journey,
To the heavens above.
This Shabad/Shabda speaks about the importance of the spiritual journey and the significance of the sacred thread in the Sikh religion. The metaphor of the sacred thread made of compassion, satisfaction, restraint, and truth is used to represent the qualities one should possess in order to reach spiritual enlightenment. It also highlights the idea that while outward appearances may be important, true spiritual growth comes from within and that the sacred thread is not just a physical object, but a representation of one’s inner spiritual journey. Additionally, the last stanza talks about the reality that no matter how much effort one put into their spiritual journey, one day we all have to leave this physical world and the only thing that will matter is the inner growth and enlightenment one has achieved.
“Wearing the Janai symbolizes the spiritual connection to one’s inner self, reminding us to keep our thoughts pure and our hearts open, leading the way to true peace and happiness.” – Rabins Sharma Lamichhane