Joti Bigâs (Farsi)

The Joti Bigâs is written in classical Persian but also employs extensive Arabic vocabulary at times. The composition has 175 verses in total. Like the Ganjnamâ it was written after the creation of the Khalsa in 1699. Joti Bigâs means “The manifestation of Light’ and the theme of the composition is praise of the earthly manifestation of the heavenly Light that was manifested in the historical body of Guru Nanak. The whole of the composition is in actual fact an eulogy of Guru Nanak switching between his two forms of the nirgun (invisible) and sargun (visible – see the article on Prashanuttar for more on the Guru threefold nature of the nirgun, sargun and gurshabad).

The composition opens dramatically with the poet’s firm declaration that the Guru is the very form and manifestation of God. The Guru is created by the Light of God and he is the highest of all creation. He is the Spiritual Master of all worlds and a mercy to all creation (Murshid-ul-âlamîn, Rehmat-ul-muznabîn).

In the Joti Bigâs we meet a narrative of the Guru who is raised from an earthly historical figure to a pre-eminent celestial being of high providence. The Guru transcends time, existed before creation and was the first of all spiritual masters in the world. There is a much greater focus on his eternal form than his historical manifested form. For the poet, Guru Nanak possesses abundant virtues of God and his form in the manifested universe is praised by all creation including celestial and mythological beings from the earliest of times. These prolific and dramatic praises are then attributed to Guru Nanak’s nine successors. As in most other compositions of the poet, the internal unity of all Gurus is emphasized by associating Guru Nanak with Guru Gobind Singh. However, in this composition the line of Gurus go from Guru Nanak to the Shabad Guru which might indicate that it was written after 1708. After having established the unity of all Gurus (and hereby implying that all 175 verses of the composition apply to all ten Gurus) the poet shifts to a praise of the Nirgun (unmanifested) aspect of the Eternal Satguru. The poet gives many examples of the global worship of the unmanifested Guru closely echoing verses from the Bhatta dî Savayê in the Guru Granth and the Akâl Ustat in the Dasam Granth. Employing figures from puranic and Islamic narratives, as well as the Persian epic Shahname, the poet seeks to describe his own mystical experience and view of the eminent form of the Guru. At times, the composition switches between the Guru’s unmanifested form and his temporal historical manifestation in time. One example is the description of the Guru’s personality in a switching Arabic and Persian vocabulary:

By nature, Guru Nanak is generous and comeliness in character. He is known for his generosities and is remembered for his unlimited gifts bestowed on mankind... He is great in his nobility and is most appreciated for his qualities. He is respected for his customs and is praiseworthy for his form and shape. Verily, His elegance and radiance is the circumference of Divine grandeur.

In many parts the composition seems to go beyond simple praise of the historical Guru to actual descriptions of the poet’s mystical experiences in meditation. This is particularly evident in the sections where the poet envisions the Guru as transcendent and immanent. The poet finishes his composition by placing his head at the lotus feet of the Guru to whom he offers his soul and heart (Sir lâl bâda bapaysh fidâ, azo bâd jâno dilash râ navâ).

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