Suhee Mahalla 4 : The Core Message of Guru Ramdass Ji addressed to every SIKH


All Sikh weddings are solemnized by the ‘lavan’ or circumambulation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji by the couple in synchronisation with the reading of Suhee M 4 from Ang 773 to 774. The term for this ceremony is Anand Karaj (Bliss).

The shabad Suhee M 4 expounds a deep desire for realization by the ‘Atma’ of our ‘Paramatma’.  It contains four approaches (sections) and each approach / section has a core message. 

The first lav (section) discourses the foundational and permanent Parvertee Karam (spiritual activities) that need to be undertaken by a Sikh to realize / attain union with God. 

The four Parvertee Karams are listed as 

1) Spirituality of banee. (BANEE BHRAMA VED DHARAM) 

ਬਾਣੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਵੇਦੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਹੁ ਪਾਪ ਤਜਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥

Baanee Brehamaa Vaedh Dhharam Dhrirrahu Paap Thajaaeiaa Bal Raam Jeeo ||

Instead of the hymns of the Vedas to Brahma, embrace the righteous conduct of Dharma, and renounce sinful actions.

B) Acquisition of Godly virtues. (HAR NAAM DHIAVO)

ਧਰਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥

Dhharam Dhrirrahu Har Naam Dhhiaavahu Simrith Naam Dhrirraaeiaa ||

Meditate on the Lord’s Name; embrace and enshrine the contemplative remembrance of the Naam.

C) Primacy of the complete Satguru. (SATGUR GUR POORA ARADHO)

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਆਰਾਧਹੁ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥

Sathigur Gur Pooraa Aaraadhhahu Sabh Kilavikh Paap Gavaaeiaa ||

Worship and adore the Guru, the Perfect True Guru, and all your sins shall be dispelled.

D) Use of Sehej as primary method towards spiritual bliss, as opposed to Hath or forced ways. (SEHEJ ANAND HOA BUD-BHAGEE)

ਸਹਜ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਹੋਆ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਮਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥

Sehaj Anandh Hoaa Vaddabhaagee Man Har Har Meethaa Laaeiaa ||

By great good fortune, celestial bliss is attained, and the Lord, Har, Har, seems sweet to the mind.

These Parvertee Karams are elaborated and built upon in subsequent paragraphs.  The second lav (approach/section) builds on spirituality of bani as being rooted in Nirmal Bhao and Har Gun Gaya. The method is to see God in all – Antar Bahar Har Prabh Eko

ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਭਉ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਹਦੂਰੇ ॥

Niramal Bho Paaeiaa Har Gun Gaaeiaa Har Vaekhai Raam Hadhoorae ||

In the Fear of God, the Immaculate Lord, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and behold the Lord’s Presence before you.

ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੋ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਮੰਗਲ ਗਾਏ ॥

Anthar Baahar Har Prabh Eaeko Mil Har Jan Mangal Gaaeae ||

Deep within, and outside as well, there is only the One Lord God. Meeting together, the humble servants of the Lord sing the songs of joy.

The third lav (approach/section) operationalizes the parvertee karam of “Primacy of the complete Satguru” through Chao (deep delight) and Bairaag (single focus love or love that is detached from all else except God). 

ਹਰਿ ਤੀਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ ਭਇਆ ਬੈਰਾਗੀਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥

Har Theejarree Laav Man Chaao Bhaeiaa Bairaageeaa Bal Raam Jeeo ||

In the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with Divine Love.

The fourth lav (approach/section) discourses the fourth Parvertee Karam of Sehej. Sehej is equated to Meetha Laiya – the acquisition of sweetness of Godly ways and to Naam Vigaas (an inner joy, Vigaas that comes through the realization of Godly virtues, Naam).

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੁਭਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥

Guramukh Miliaa Subhaae Har Man Than Meethaa Laaeiaa Bal Raam Jeeo ||

As Gurmukh, I have met Him, with intuitive ease; the Lord seems so sweet to my mind and body.

ਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਠਾਕੁਰਿ ਕਾਜੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ਧਨ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਿਗਾਸੀ ॥

Har Prabh Thaakur Kaaj Rachaaeiaa Dhhan Hiradhai Naam Vigaasee ||

The Lord God, my Lord and Master, blends with His bride, and her heart blossoms forth in the Naam.

Here it is pertinent for us to note that the shabad Suhee M 4 was selected for Anand Karaj by the Sikh Rehat Maryada. It was not written by our guru with that intent.  We can apply the messages of the shabad to Anand Karaj but never the other way around.

Errors in interpretation are caused by this primary confusion. So what are these errors?

1) Because we think in terms of Anand Karaj, we wrongly apply the meaning of the word lav (circumambulations for Anand Karaj) to the word lav in the shabad – which simply means ‘approach’. It makes no sense to translate lav in the shabad as ‘circling’. The Atman does not circle Paramatma. It only approaches with the intent to realise. That’s why the words approach /section / are being used here.

2) Because the laavan in Anand Karaj are sequential, (one after another), we wrongly assume that the four approaches or sections in the shabad are also sequential. The reality of the shabad is that the four approaches (lav) are happening simultaneously and not one after another. 

This means the Parvertee Karams are permanent and done all the time. They are undertaken during the process of acquiring Nirmal Bhao

in the second lav.  They are also undertaken during the process of acquiring Sehej in the fourth lav and Chao and Bairaag in the third lav. The Parvertee Karams are in practice throughout one’s spiritual journey of approaching realization. 

More than that, the processes of the second lav are in operation in the third lav and fourth lav and vice versa. The Parvertee Karam in lav one requires the values of lavs three and four, that is Chao and Sehej. So there is no real sequence. There cannot be. But there is plenty of simultaneity in the entire process. 

So when we read the four approaches carefully, we are never able to make out which comes first – Parvertee Karam, Chao, Nirmal Bhao, Sehej or Bairaag. That’s because they are complementary, happen together and support the inculcation of one another.

3) In Anand Karaj there is a start (arambh) and end (fourth circumambulation and we are done). But we cannot apply this to the process of spirituality and to the shabad wherein there is no such thing as a start and end. We are starting our spiritual journey all the time. We are also “ending” it each time we make a blunder. That’s why there’s a need to keep asking for His grace. 

There is also an irony in spirituality, which is that the moment we begin to think we have “completed” our journey and “reached God” we have actually fallen to the lowest rung because the thought that we “reached God” reeks in ultimate ego. 

So in this sense the fourth lav is neither the end of the process nor the end stage. It’s an approach towards realization.

4) In Anand Karaj the ultimate outcome is in finding, getting, obtaining and securing a partner. If we apply this to the fourth lav we will get the wrong message of having finally “got God” or “reached God” or “secured God” or “found God” and thus consider this as the end state. 

The truth is that God is always within us. He is not to be “found” because He was never “lost”. We were the ones who were lost so it is all about finding ourselves.  Hence the word mileya is to be translated as realizing and acknowledging His presence within us. 

Finding has a sequence and order in that there is a “start” and an “end”. Realization has no sequence. It has to happen all the time. Acknowledgement of God too has no sequence. It has to be experienced and felt at every instance from waking up till bedtime. 

If we understand this magnificent shabad Suhee M 4 in its deep and meaningful spiritual context, we can get closer to its intended messages. Limiting its interpretation to within the rather narrow confines of the order, sequence, characteristics and nature of an Anand Karaj will deny us the proximity to seek its real and original message.

In conclusion, Suhee M 4 is about approaching the realization of Paramatma within us by our Atman. It’s about acknowledging our loving and graceful God. Guru Ramdas ji, in his infinite grace for us Sikhs, has provided us the approach via this shabad

May we all be given the wisdom and capacity to take the approaches in our individual journey of spirituality.