Each of the 37 authors of Siri Guru Granth Sahib speaks with a unique voice to describe the One Creator Lord and the experience of the devotee in times of remembering and in times of forgetting. Each author’s voice can itself become many different voices, depending on the message it is delivering and to whom that message is addressed.
Sometimes the message is to the ordinary seeker, describing God and the spiritual experience with simple metaphors from daily life or illustrated with familiar stories of Krishna, Ram, Sita or Pralad. Sometimes the message is delivered to a more knowledgeable one, a wise one or a yogi. In these poems the language may be more complex or there may be philosophical references from various texts.
Depending on the intended recipient, the poem might paint a picture describing the experience of the seeker with beautiful images from nature, of birds, trees, flowers, and fish or the vast universe of planets and stars. The language may be emotional conveying the aching human heart, recognizing its small and sorry state. Or it may convey the joyful spirit, gratitude, awe, and wonder. The poem might be instructional, given as a lesson, advising the listener how to travel on the path. Sometimes the tone is scolding or even humorous, holding up the mirror so we can see our foolish human selves, our antics, entanglements and attachments.
The poems addressed to the mind itself are powerful, teaching, scolding, cajoling, pleading. Like an intervention, the poetry begs the mind to fall in line, to remember the Lord, to straighten it’s crooked ways, to renounce it’s futile attachments.
Then there are the poems addressed directly to God. Prayers offered in humility, I bow at your door, I am a sacrifice to you. Prayers offered in praise, You are almighty, You are merciful, You are everything. Prayers of begging, please be merciful, please grant me your name, please don’t desert me. Quiet prayers to the One who is near at hand, You are my mother, my father, my friend. Prayers that call out to the heavens.
The prayers in rāga sorath are the kind of prayers that call to the heavens. Stretching, reaching into the upper register, calling out, n S R M R S, then bowing down n p mpm–g–r. The beautiful prayers in rāga sorath, calling to the beloved, hear this prayer, my master, you support all the creatures, protect my honor, powerful master, your own name, cause of causes. I won’t break with you, don’t break with me! Mighty prayers for sweet conversation with the almighty.
I have spent a lot of time in the mandir saptak, the temple, the lower octave, the deep notes. This has been named the temple and the notes that resonate there are like going inside to pray. The higher octave is called the tār saptak and I am not sure if it is named from tārā, the stars, or tār, to carry across. Either way these notes take flight into the heavens. I haven’t had a very reliable vehicle for traveling in the tār saptak, but my voice is getting stronger and the prayers of rāga sorath are a compelling invitation to get ready to fly.