“Come on girlfriends, let’s make virtues our charms”: This bāni from Guru Rām Dās comes in gauri mājh, a rāga with all twelve notes. The teentāl rhythm sets a joyful pace.
The mystical poetry in Siri Guru Granth Sahib often uses the metaphor of the spiritual seeker as a bride, the congregation of seekers as girlfriends and the Formless One as the beloved spouse. What if the girlfriends got together to join the saints, be peaceful and loving, cultivate virtue, and fill their minds with thoughts of the Infinite? It would be so different from the girlfriends who bicker and fight about one thing or another, holding each other down, instead of helping each other up. Women who support each other are a powerful force. What would happen if the congregation of seekers (both male and female) behaved more like supportive girlfriends and sisters, bringing out the best in each other?
This weekend I received in the mail a book I had ordered several months ago. It is a history of Amritsar and the Golden Temple, a collection of historic primary source writings and images from foreigners who had visited there in previous centuries. Many of the visitors remarked on the kirtan, something they felt, a mood that prevailed, a mystic presence.
It is something I have felt too, visiting these shabds, hearing the masters sing, trying to sing along. This kirtan heritage is such a rich treasury but yet the girlfriends and sisters sometimes seem so busy disagreeing, judging each other, caught up in proving themselves right, that the family jewels are at risk of being left unattended, slipping away unnoticed.
I’m reminded of something I wrote a few years ago in response to some faction reaction that was happening at the time:
Come let’s sing together
The praises of our beloved Lord.
We’ve been brought from different families and homes
To live in harmony under the same roof.
The songs of praise will heal our wounds and troubled minds
With the ointment of His love.
Our Husband Lord is the Only Doer.
He made each one of us and intimately knows each heart.
It is He who invited us to come,
And set our feet on the path we now walk.
He leads us on the journey to His door
And Himself is the Only Judge.
The brides in waiting don’t need to spend their time
Gossiping and squabbling
About the merits and demerits of each other.
Let’s remember to be the brides and servants
That will draw our Master near to us
Not drive Him far away.
We have a great home to care for,
Many household tasks to perform,
And our own weddings to prepare for.
We can serve together the One we love,
Tell each other what we know of Him,
Sing together His Beautiful Song.