Kirtan Sohila - Seeing the Divine in the Natural World

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it is easy to get out of tune with our environments....

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it is easy to get out of tune with our environments. We almost always have tasks at hand – working, reading, or watching TV. Sometimes we have a longing to go camping or go to the beach – just to get away from our daily routine and be in a “new” environment where we can focus on tuning in to nature.  Over 500 years ago Nanak and his companion Mardana always chose to travel on foot over many thousands of miles.  For most of us, that kind of travel is not practical.  But Nanak liked to walk because when he walked, he always felt merged with nature and with all his surroundings.  Being at one with the Creation brought incredible poetic imagery into his songs.


One of my favorite banis is Kirtan Sohila. All over the world, Hindus perform a night time ceremony of the “light in the darkness” and with the lighting of oil lamps and burning of incense, they honor God with this ceremony called “Aarti.”  Guru Nanak understood that all of the Creation was always constantly in a state of worship.  We can experience that state too.  It’s the constant feeling of childlike delight at each tree, each flower and each cloud – the recognition of God within all things. In order to live in this way, we have to sensitize ourselves to everything in our environments and pay attention.  It requires love, gratitude and the ability to see things clearly, beyond the coloration of our own thoughts and beliefs.

Here are some excerpts translated from Kirtan Sohila ~ a song of praise.

“I Know that I am One with God.  This Wisdom is a Gift Beyond Measure. God takes care of all His creatures twenty-four hours a day. The Giver of all watches over all of them. God’s Gifts are priceless. No one can give the way God gives. There are six paths, six teachers, and six teachings. But the Teacher of all teachers is the One who appears as many.  The seconds, minutes and hours; the four watches of each day; the weeks the months and the four seasons of the year all come from our single sun.  In the same way, all the ten thousand forms spring from the One Creator, O Nanak. The offering plate is the evening sky, the sun and moon are the oil lamps. The stars and planets are the shining pearls. The fragrance of the sandalwood growing nearby is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. The night blooming Jasmine are the flowers laid upon the altar in offering to Thee, O Lord of Light.  The vibration of the Universe is the sound of the temple drums.  O, what a beautiful Aarti this is! This is Thy true Aarti, O Destroyer of Fear.  Everything is filled with Light — the Light is Thee. The Light that shines in all beings is Thee.   This world is caught up in corruption and skepticism. Only those who know each moment that they are One with God are free. Only those who are awake in God and drink the sweet nectar of their own divine awareness can tell that story which can never be told."

"Tum gaavhu mayray nirbha-o kaa Sohilaa." Who is singing? You are singing. Who is telling you? Your Guru is telling you. Some people say, how is the Siri Guru Granth the Guru? Siri Guru Granth is saying this thing, "Tum gaavhu mayray nirbha-o kaa Sohilaa." Why is there a chance of salvation... for a Sikh and why is there a hassle for another person? ...It’s a very great secret, which people don’t know. When you say what Guru says, you hear and you practice it. Here you say, you hear and you practice. The highest meditation is that you are saying it to yourself.' - Yogi Bhajan (1977)

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