Five vs. One

Baba Nanak

Image: Oil on canvas (36 in. x 24 in.) by Sajjad Ahmad

They are five. I am one.
How do I save my house,
                       O my mind?

They beat and plunder
over and over.
Who should I look to
for rescue?

Be mindful
of the One,
                       O my mind.
Yama’s alarming army,
dense as dense can be,
is coming for you.

As the edifice rose,
so did its doors.
Inside sits
a damsel.

Thinking herself immortal,
she keeps cavorting
while the five go about
their business of looting.

At last, razing the edifice,
they sack the shrine
and seize the bride.

But as soon as Yama’s rod
clubs the head
and the noose
tightens around the throat,
the five vamoose.

The bride yearns
for gold and silver,
and friends
for things to consume.

Nanak says, it’s for them
that one lapses,
unmindful of being dragged
straight to the city of death.

translated from the Gurmukhi (the Guru Granth Sahib, p. 155) by Sarabjeet Garcha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *