Question from a satsanggi:

Gurfateh Veer, what is the meaning of kagar in this verse below? Body of paper ? If so, why paper ?

Sarīrām rang apār pūran nah nimakẖ man mėh vūṯẖi▫ā.

ਸ੍ਰੀਰਾਮ ਰੰਗ ਅਪਾਰ ਪੂਰਨ ਨਹ ਨਿਮਖ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਵੂਠਿਆ
(Love for the infinite, Perfect Lord does not abide in his mind, even for an instant)

Binvanṯ Nānak kot kāgar binas bār na jẖūṯẖi▫ā. ||3||

ਬਿਨਵੰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਾਗਰ ਬਿਨਸ ਬਾਰ ਨ ਝੂਠਿਆ
Prays Nanak, the fort of paper is false – it is destroyed in an instant. ||3|

(SGGS Ang 705)”

Bhai Manjeet’s response:

This is a quote from the final Shantt in Raag Jaitsri. Jaitsri Ki Vaar Mehla 5 appears immediately after this Shantt.

The Shantt speaks of man’s stay in this world as a “padanu” (musafir khana or temporary way station). Despite it’s temporary nature, man is however full of pride/ego. Thus Guru Jii says..

Padanu sansar garab ateaya

ਪਾਧਾਣੂ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਗਾਰਬਿ ਅਟਿਆ

(The world is like a temporary way-station, but it is filled with pride. (SGGS Ang 705)

The Shantt has 4 padas. In the first three padas Guru Ji speaks of man’s foolishness/pride which makes him so engrossed in worldliness that

Kirat karam na mitey Nanak Har Naam dhan nahi khateya – (1st pada)

ਕਿਰਤ ਕਰਮ ਨ ਮਿਟੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਧਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਖਟਿਆ

(The karma of their past deeds cannot be erased, O Nanak, if they have not earned the wealth of the Lord’s Name).

The 2nd pada takes the human journey further. Although more experienced, man is never at rest. He wastes his life chasing after maya. The result:-

rattan janam harant juvay prabhu aap na bhaavehee.

ਰਤਨ ਜਨਮੁ ਹਾਰੰਤ ਜੂਐ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਆਪਿ ਨ ਭਾਵਹੀ

(He wastes the jewel of human life and his conduct is not pleasing to the Lord).

In the 3rd pada

joban geya bateet jarh mal bethiya

ਜੋਬਨੁ ਗਇਆ ਬਿਤੀਤਿ ਜਰੁ ਮਲਿ ਬੈਠੀਆ

(youth has ebbed away and old age now rules over the body).

Even at this stage where death is looming

sri raam rang apaar puran neh nimakh man me voothiya

ਸ੍ਰੀਰਾਮ ਰੰਗ ਅਪਾਰ ਪੂਰਨ ਨਹ ਨਿਮਖ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਵੂਠਿਆ

(Love for the infinte Lord does not abide in his mind even for an instant).

The final line of pada 3 says

binvant Nanak kot kaagar binas baar na jhuthiya

ਬਿਨਵੰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਾਗਰ ਬਿਨਸ ਬਾਰ ਨ ਝੂਠਿਆ

(Nanak says the fort of paper is false – it is destroyed in an instant).

Guru Ji says we treat the body like an impregnable fortress. In reality, it is fragile like a fortress made of paper. Paper is easily crumpled or burnt. This line speaks of the fraility of the human body and it’s easily perishable nature.

Gurbani is always full of optimism. Despite man’s nature to forget God, Guru Ji ends the Shantt on a note of hope. This hope of salvation will come if one takes the sharan of a Satguru.

Charan kamal sarnaiye Nanak aaiya

ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਸਰਣਾਇ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਇਆ

(Nanak has come to the Sanctuary of the Lord’s lotus feet.)

When Naam is consumed and digested by the Sikh the final line says:

Binvant Nanak sada triptay Har Naam bhojan khaaya

ਬਿਨਵੰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਸਦਾ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਖਾਇਆ

(Prays Nanak, I am satisfied forever; I have eaten the food of the Lord’s Name).

The imagery of a paper fortress is used elsewhere too in SGGS Ji. At Ang 1273 Raag Malaar, Guru Nanak Dev Ji says the entire world is like a fragile fortress made of paper and it can be destroyed in an instant.

The central theme of that Shabad has the same thrust as the Shantt we just discussed. The rahao says:

Is dhan tan ka kehahu garab kaisa.

ਇਸੁ ਤਨ ਧਨ ਕਾ ਕਹਹੁ ਗਰਬੁ ਕੈਸਾ

(Tell me – how can you ever harbour any pride over your body and wealth?).

Binsat baar na laagay bavrey haumai garab khapay jag aisa

ਬਿਨਸਤ ਬਾਰ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਬਵਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਗਰਬਿ ਖਪੈ ਜਗੁ ਐਸਾ

(They shall vanish in an instant O fool ; the world wastes itself away in egotism and pride).

In the 4th pada Guru Ji says:

Kaagadh kot eh jag hai bapro rangan chihan chaturai..

ਕਾਗਦ ਕੋਟੁ ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਹੈ ਬਪੁਰੋ ਰੰਗਨਿ ਚਿਹਨ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ

(This wretched world is a fortress of paper full of colour, form and clever tricks.(SGGS Ang 1274)

Nani si boond pavan pat khovai janam marai khin taee.

ਨਾਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਸੀ ਬੂੰਦ ਪਵਨੁ ਪਤਿ ਖੋਵੈ ਜਨਮਿ ਮਰੈ ਖਿਨੁ ਤਾਈਬ਼

(A tiny drop of water or a little puff of wind destroys it’s glory ; in an instant it’s life is ended).

Life is indeed very fragile. Good care must be taken of the fragile body as it is a precious vehicle which allows us to attach to Naam. However, pride in the perishable body is misplaced.

Manjeet Singh
February 16, 2018