Sacred Literature & Sikh Studies

Give the substance of the Sukhmani Sahib.

The Sukhmani Sahib is the simplest and the most popular of all the Banis in the Guru Granth Sahib. Literally, “Sukhmani” means some thing which gives peace of mind or the touchstones for happiness. Guru Arjan’s aim in writing the Sukhmani – The Psalm of Peace – was that the reader may feel composure of mind and a sense of inner bliss. Any person who is fed up with life or depressed by anxiety or otherwise afflicted will derive real consolation from it.

There is a gradual development of thought in the twenty-four cantos of the Sukhmani. In the first three cantos, Guru Arjan mentions the advantages of the practice “Nam”, the remembrance of “The Name” Simran is the linking up with the divine, in a spirit of surrender, devotion and love. “The Name” helps in the normal business of life, and paves the way to spiritual progress. In cantos four to eleven, Guru Arjan gives his views on the God-man. Man’s potentialities can be strengthened by divine grace. Man gets a vision of God through the company of holy men. The God-man is not the vaishnavite, or the salvationist or the touch-nothing mystic. He is one who fulfills the duties of a normal life: “The God-enlightened man lives like the lotus, pure amidst the impurities of the world”. All the seekers, at one stage or another, seek God’s help and turn to Him for strength and guidance. Cantos twelve to twenty mention the process by which God’s grace can be merited. Self-conceit and the slander of saints bringh their own punishment. Only by self-surrender, can one earn God’s favour. God is “The Truth” and the Guru guides the lives of the disciples in righteous living. The Guru also inspires the devotees with a love of “The Name”.

The last four contos contain Guru Arjan’s exposition of “The Name”. The Name covers both the personal and impersonal aspect of God. God transcends and unifies all creation. The singing to “The Name” gives man spiritual solace and inner peace. In the end, the Guru enumerates the rewards which the reading of the Sukhmani Sahib may bring to the reader. They are beauty, humility, wisdom, equanimity and God-realization.

The Sukhmani Sahib is also regarded as the second expansion of “The Mul Mantra” (the basic Sikh belief), the first expansion being Japji Sahib and the third the entire Guru Granth Sahib.