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In Sikhism, Naam Aukhad has been practiced by the community for years now. Let’s understand the meaning and essence of the term to gain in-depth knowledge. Aukhad means medicine. Naam means to know yourself as the same as the Creator. Naam is a shift in conscious awareness. You keep feeling one with HIM. Naam is an Aukhad (medicine). It enables one to achieve prosperity, peace, and health in this life. It also leads to spiritual upliftment. Shree Guru Granth Sahib ji has Shabads (Hymns) recited by Sikh Gurus and other saints. It has been bestowed Guruship for spiritual guidance to all humanity.

Japji Sahib is the Sikh thesis, found at the beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib. Primarily composed by Guru Nanak, it was organized by Guru Angad. The composition begins with the Mool Mantra and is followed by 38 paudis (stanzas), concluding with a final Salok by Guru Angad. These 38 stanzas employ different poetic meters, reflecting the diversity of expression within the text.Japji Sahib encapsulates the core essence of Sikhism. The entire Guru Granth Sahib further develops and elaborates on its teachings. Notably, Japji Sahib holds the esteemed position of being the first Bani in Nitnem.

In Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak Devji describes five khands. Khand means a part.These Khands are like five steps or stages in a Sikh's spiritual journey to reach a state of full spiritual fulfillment called 'panch parvan'. The five stages are of Dutifulness, Knowledge, Toil or Effort, Grace and finally the Truth.They guide Sikhs toward spiritual growth. Understanding these khands is crucial for spiritual awareness. For Sikhs, reflecting on Gurbani is part of Simran. Also, simran means remembering with the goal of knowing, then getting closer, and finally becoming one with Waheguruji. Reflecting on the five Khands described by Guru Nanak Devji in Japji Sahib provides clarity about the spiritual path.

 

Let us see how Guruji describes these Khands

1. Dharam Khand :

In the concept of Khand, Guru ji reflects  daily encounters of beings with Karma on earth. Guru ji refers to earth as a Dharamshal, a place of Dharma. Here, day, night, dates, and elements like air, water, fire, and sky exist. Earth hosts a vast variety of living beings, each with their own deeds and actions. The law of Karma governs their life circumstances. Though karma's results may seem unfair, they reflect corrective justice. In the true court of the divine, only truth prevails. The karma done on earth attracts Nadar (Grace), indicating readiness for the next khand. Sikhs experience the outcomes of their thoughts and actions, progressing through Jap and Simran. Such is the essence of Dharma in the Dharam Khand.

 

The first two lines of the 35th Pauri indicate the two stages-

ਧਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕਾ ਏਹੋ ਧਰਮੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਖੰਡ ਕਾ ਆਖਹੁ ਕਰਮੁ

 

The earth is a place where day, night, day and date have been created along with Air , water ,fire and the Sky. There is so much variety of living beings on earth. As are their deeds and actions, so is their result. The law of Karma thus is behind their life circumstances. The result of karma may look unjustified outwardly but is a corrective justice of the law as in HIS true court only truth prevails.  It is also the karma done while living on earth that attracts the Nadar (Grace), which is the sign that the person is now open to dwell in next khand. The Sikh receives the fruit of his thought and action and goes ahead through Jap and Simran. Such is the Dharma in the Dharam Khand." 

2. Gyan Khand : 

The Gurbani, though using simple words, holds profound meanings within. Every word carries significance. When we reflect on it, the Gurbani reveals countless doors to knowledge and wisdom. Let's begin by exploring Guruji's description of the Gyan Khand.

“To speak of is the Karma of Gyan Khand.. So many winds, waters and fires; so many Krishnas and Shivas. So many Brahmas, fashioning forms of great beauty, adorned and dressed in many colors. So many worlds and lands for working out karma. So very many lessons to be learned! So many Indras, so many moons and suns, so many worlds and lands. So many Siddhas and Buddhas, so many Yogic masters. So many goddesses of various kinds. So many demi-gods and demons, so many silent sages. So many oceans of jewels. So many ways of life, so many languages. So many dynasties of rulers. So many aware people, so many devotees , says O Nanak, His limit has no limit! || 35 || In the realm of wisdom, spiritual wisdom reigns supreme. The Sound-current of the Naad vibrates, amidst the sounds and the sights of bliss. ”

It's often said that the spiritual journey is to be traversed alone. A true seeker must resist the urge to follow the crowd and stay focused on their path. At first, they may find companionship with like-minded individuals(satsangis), but eventually, they must continue alone with only their Guru as a companion. The mind should be fixed on the formless God, who is present in all forms. When the mind worships only forms, it limits the devotee's understanding. Guruji teaches that the purpose of spiritual knowledge is not just understanding, but also transformation. This transformation brings the Sikh closer to Waheguru. The word "Waheguru" itself reminds the Sikh to recognize the divine order, the vastness of creation, and the unseen aspects within it. Love and humility grow through this understanding, leading to access to the realms of sound(Naad) and bliss(Anand).

 

3. Saram khand : 

This is how Guruji describes the Saram khand in the 36th Pauri:

 

ਸਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਰੂਪੁ ਤਿਥੈ ਘਾੜਤਿ ਘੜੀਐ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਨੂਪੁ

ਤਾ ਕੀਆ ਗਲਾ ਕਥੀਆ ਨਾ ਜਾਹਿ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਪਿਛੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਇ

ਤਿਥੈ ਘੜੀਐ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਮਤਿ ਮਨਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਤਿਥੈ ਘੜੀਐ ਸੁਰਾ ਸਿਧਾ ਕੀ ਸੁਧਿ ੩੬

“In the realm of humility, the Word is form. These are fashioned with incomparable distinctness here. These things cannot be described. One who tries to speak of these regrets the past. The surt (awareness), intellect and understanding of the mind are shaped here. The consciousness of the spiritual warriors of spiritual perfection, are shaped there.”

This is the essence of humility. Within each of us, our sense of self (haume) is what brings about our existence. The entire creation hinges on individuals having their own identities. As a result, the creator stands apart and distinct. Haume also offers a pathway for transcendence. Through the practice of Waheguru Simran, the mind learns to embrace haume, the awareness of separateness versus oneness, where one's inner light merges with the divine light. Explaining this process fully is challenging; one must engage with it to truly understand. This dynamic is the interplay of shabad (divine word) and surt (awareness). The awareness of Sikhs undergoes a transformation. They begin to grasp meanings intuitively, and their minds are reshaped. 

 

4. Karam Khand :

This is how Guruji has described Karam Khand in the first part of Pauri 37:

 

ਕਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੋਰੁ ਤਿਥੈ ਹੋਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਰੁ

ਤਿਥੈ ਜੋਧ ਮਹਾਬਲ ਸੂਰ ਤਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਰਪੂਰ

ਤਿਥੈ ਸੀਤੋ ਸੀਤਾ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਮਾਹਿ ਤਾ ਕੇ ਰੂਪ ਨ ਕਥਨੇ ਜਾਹਿ

ਨਾ ਓਹਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਨ ਠਾਗੇ ਜਾਹਿ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ

ਤਿਥੈ ਭਗਤ ਵਸਹਿ ਕੇ ਲੋਅ ਕਰਹਿ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਸਚਾ ਮਨਿ ਸੋਇ

 

“In the realm of karma, the Word is Effort. No one else dwells there, except the great spiritual heroes. They are totally imbued with the oneness consciousness. They are sewn together with the creator filled with awe of HIS glory. Their form (mind) cannot be described. They do not die ( do not reincarnate) and so neither are deceived (by maya) when within whose minds the Lord abides. Here (in Karam Khand) devotees of many worlds dwell. They are in anand (spiritual joy) as the True lord abides in their mind.”

In Karam Khand, we see the fruit of our efforts. It's like teaching by showing the goal of our hard work.The devotees in Karam Khand see Waheguru in everything—when they see, walk, talk, or hear. In this state, the illusion of separateness fades away. We live in a world where we have free will, but ultimately, everything is Waheguru's will. Devotees work hard to live in unity with Waheguru, both within and outside themselves. This effort connects their awareness with the creator, making them feel inner harmony.

5. Sach Khand : 

This is how Guruji has described Sach Khand in the second part of the 37th Pauri:

 

ਸਚ ਖੰਡਿ ਵਸੈ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਨਿਹਾਲ

ਤਿਥੈ ਖੰਡ ਮੰਡਲ ਵਰਭੰਡ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਕਥੈ ਤ ਅੰਤ ਨ ਅੰਤ

ਤਿਥੈ ਲੋਅ ਲੋਅ ਆਕਾਰ ਜਿਵ ਜਿਵ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਤਿਵੈ ਤਿਵ ਕਾਰ

ਵੇਖੈ ਵਿਗਸੈ ਕਰਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਥਨਾ ਕਰੜਾ ਸਾਰੁ ੩੭॥੧ ੮

 

“In the realm of Truth, the Formless Lord abides. Having created the creation, HE watches over it and HIS Nadar ( Glance of Grace), bestows happiness( to the devotee) . There are planets, solar systems and galaxies. If one speaks of them, there is no limit, no end. There are worlds upon worlds of His Creation. As are HIS commands, so they operate. Says Nanak, observe (this play of Hukam) and do Vichar . The effort is a hard path.”

The dwelling place of the Creator is Sach Khand, named so because everything else is impermanent. Created things are always changing within the cycle of life and death, a manifestation of Maya's play. Time itself is just an illusion.  Therefore, the Creator is Sach (truth) compared to the vast but seemingly real creation. The entire creation's play operates under HIS Hukam (command), as Guruji describes in the opening pauris of Japji Sahib. To discover the formless, one must observe and live in accordance with HIS Hukam raza. To break free from Maya's illusion, one must seek and live according to the Creator's command.

Thus, the five khands represent the ultimate stages of the journeyIt starts with knowing through Guru's Grace, then living according to Hukam, and finally, receiving Divine Grace to become one with the Creator.

*Based on an article published in Naam Aukhad blogs on 26th July 2016

 

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