Sacred Literature & Sikh Studies

Give the substance of Anand Sahib.

The Anand Sahib – or “The Song of Bliss” – is the spiritual and musical masterpiece of Guru Amardas. Some biographers have tried to make it a historical piece by stating that it was composed in 1554, after the birth of his grand-son called Sidh-yogi, to whom he gave the new name of Anand. This story is improbable, because the composition contains no references to any event or the birth of any child. Its theme is of man’s spiritual goal, namely the merger into the Divine Essence.

There is a development of thought in the Anand. The first stanzas state clearly that bliss can be obtained through the Guru. The Guru stands for the Revelation, the Shabad, or those utterances which include his teaching on the stages of the spiritual path. Are there no short cuts to the attainment of bliss? The Guru mentions the hurdles that stand in the way of the disciple. These are: human cleverness, family attachment, taboos, rituals, conformity to tradition and convention, the opportunism of leadership and the compromise with principles. Stanzas six to twenty all deal with these obstructions.

What then are sources of bliss? These are the true submission to the commands of the Guru, the performance of acts of charity and selfless service, the association with holy people and the rememberance of the Holy Name. Stanzas twenty-one to twenty five tell us about the God-oriented person – the Sunmukh – who is radically different from the egoistic worldly person – the Bemukh. The disciple follows in the foot-steps of the Guru and sings of the Lord’s praise in the company of saints or holy congregation.

Stanzas twenty-six to thirty four deal with the temptations of Maya, these grip man from his birth. Attachment to his near and dear ones, immersion in the satisfaction of his desires and in meeting the demands of his relatives. How his thirst for such mundane things remains unquenched. The more he gets, the more he wants.

Stanzas thirty five to thirty nine deal specifically with the functions of the human body and its sense-organs. A body becomes blessed if it is devoted to God. That fulfils the purpose of man’s coming into the world. The eyes are blessed if they see the Lord pervading the whole universe. The ears are meant to hear the Truth and the song of God’s glory. If man dedicates his senses to the attainment of spiritual goals, God opens to him, the door to His treasures. He can then sing the “Song of Bliss” in the home of his own soul. He who remembers God is loved by Him. The last stanza, number forty, enumerates the benefits of Anand. It banishes all tension and sorrow. Those who sing it or listen to it with devotion, become purified and liberated. The Unstruck Music of Cosmic Melody is then recognized by them with great joy. Such noble souls may ultimately merge with the Lord.

The Anand has to be sung in the Ramkali Raga to make its full impact on the mind. The intellectual appreciation of these philosophical concepts is intensified by an aesthetic delight in its musical rendering. As the five kinds of musical hymns – Panch Shabad – mentioned, echo in one’s memory, the vital truths and higher values of the Anand transport one to the mental realms of beauty and bliss.