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Shukrana: A Song of Gratitude

by JESSI KAUR

 

This poem was inspired by its author’s participation in a celebration known as a Seder (derived from the Hebrew word for “order”), a festive communal dinner, rich in symbolic meaning, that plays a central role in the commemoration of the Jewish holiday of Passover.  The meal is interleaved throughout with prayers and songs highlighting God’s bountiful blessings and remembering pivotal people and moments in Jewish history.

In this regard, these recitations share close thematic and structural parallels with Ardaas, the Sikh standard prayer, which not only praises and expresses gratitude to God, but also sequentially evokes the names of the Gurus and their precious legacies, as well as refers reverentially to personages, places and events of Sikh significance.
 

 

 

O Lord our God,

Gracious and kind Waheguru,

Today is the beginning of the month of Vaisakh.

We, your children, gather here to thank You

For bestowing so much upon us, on this day of Vaisakhi.

 

Blessed are You, O Lord our God,

Wondrous Waheguru

Father and Mother of the Universe

Who dwells in us,

And blessed are we, Your children

Chosen by You as the Khalsa,

The pure ones, Your very own - we thank You

On this day of Vaisakhi for bestowing so much upon us.

 

You have given us

This season of joy and festivity.

In Punjab, the land of our fathers,

The farmers are rejoicing for a bounteous harvest.

And wherever we, Your children, live

Across the five continents,

You have kept us in prosperity and chardi kalaa.

 

Blessed are You, O lord our God

Who has granted us life and sustenance

And helped us in our daily tasks.

O Father and Mother of the Universe

Who dwells in us,

We bow in gratitude to You

For sending us ten great Gurus

That blessed the earth

With the glorious examples of their lives

And taught us to live in grace and appreciation.

 

You sent us Guru Nanak,

Who sang of Your glory and

Through whom You delivered to us

The great hymn of Japji

So we may contemplate the wonder

Of Your Creation.

Your bard, our first great Guru

Stripped the veil of ignorance

So the Truth could be heard.

The Truth of Your existence,

Of the oneness of Your creation,

Of the universality of Your presence.

The truth that had been shrouded

Shone again through Your son, Guru Nanak.

 

You sent us Guru Angad,

Who exemplified humility and seva

And gave of himself so unreservedly

That we could learn to give

And give without expectation

And yet be humble.

O Lord, our Waheguru

We thank You for this lesson of life

And ask of You that we not forget

What You taught us through Guru Angad.

 

You sent us Guru Amardas,

Also dedicated to service

And humility, so we could yet again

Learn the hard lessons of selfless love and seva,

So difficult for humans, so freely flowing from You

Through yet another great Guru.

 

We thank You, O Waheguru,

O Lord our God, Father and Mother

Of the Universe

For the Great Guru Amardas

Who became the hope of the hopeless,

The home of the homeless,

The shelter of the shelterless!

Guru Amardas, who forbade the women

From hiding their light

And gave them their rightful place beside men.

 

You sent us Guru Ramdas,

Who gave us the Harmandar and Amritsar,

The temple of God and the pool of immortality,

So we keep our sight on our true destiny.

Guru Ramdas taught us

Birth and caste are of no avail;

It is good deeds that make us Godly.

 

You sent Guru Arjan Dev,

Who sang beauteous songs of love.

Who showed us

That the path to liberation

And to You is through love.

Love of You, our Waheguru

And the love of Your creation.

And furthermore taught us

To love ourselves enough;

For each one of us is Your child

And worthy of love, too.

We thank You for Guru Arjan Dev,

The fountainhead of Gurbani,

Your greatest gift to us!

Guru Arjan sang of Your glory

And of flowing with Your Hukam,

Even as he sat on hot griddles

Tortured by the tyrant Mughal.

 

You showed us, through his great sacrifice,

To face the pain and sorrow of life

With sweet grace and equanimity.

To live in gratitude

Even through times of difficulty and strife.

Help us, dear Waheguru, O Lord our God,

Father and Mother of the Universe,

To remember this tough lesson

As we go through our days.

 

You sent us Guru Har Gobind,

Who showed us how to live

In the eternal balance of spiritual

And temporal power - miri and piri.

Help us, dear Lord, to forever be just,

Not get swayed by the winds,

But be centered in everything we do.

 

You sent us Guru Har Rai,

The merciful one, who showed kindness

To the meek and the sick and

Taught us to be humane.

He took the wounded birds

Under his care and for the suffering

And ailing populace he, in his great generosity,

Offered free care and medicine.

He taught us to be kind, not just

To our fellow humans,

But extend our warmth and caring

To the birds and animals,

For they are part of Your kingdom, too.

And we, Your children, must be merciful

To Your entire creation.

 

You sent us Guru Harkrishan,

The great healer, who lived

And died serving the sick.

In his great example, You showed

That wisdom, service and spirituality

Have nothing to do with age.

 

You sent us Guru Tegh Bahadur,

Another chosen son,

Who made the supreme sacrifice of his life

For the great principle of freedom of worship.

You are infinite, O Father

And Mother of the universe.

And there are infinite ways

Your children worship You.

 

Through your chosen son, the great Tegh Bahadur,

You spoke loud and clear

For everyone's right to worship

The way they choose.

 

We thank You, O Lord our God Waheguru,

The Father and Mother of the Universe,

For giving us a large-hearted

Acceptance and respect for those

That choose different ways of worshipping You.

We thank You for the wisdom of

Tolerance in our thoughts and deeds.

 

As if this was not enough -

You sent us a King of Kings

A prophet par excellence,

A poet so supreme -

Our tenth great Guru, Gobind Singh!

He bestowed upon a downtrodden people

The spirit of joy,

To face adversity with courage

And to be fearless at all times.

He made the sparrows fight the hawks

And the meek take up swords

To crush tyranny.

 

On this great day of Vaisakhi,

Through the gift of Amrit

He brought about the reversal of our fortune,

Turning us into human lions

Who are compassionate at heart.

He created the Khalsa

As part of Your Will,

And proclaimed each one shall be

The supreme man or woman -

Unfailing in courage,

High in integrity,

Steeped in divinity,

Unparalleled in valor,

Undaunted by challenges -

A being so supreme

That he or she is unique -

God's Own -

The Khalsa.

 

He asked for five heads

And he got them one by one:

Bhai Daya Singh,

Bhai Dharam Singh,

Bhai Himmat Singh,

Bhai Mohkam Singh,

Bhai Sahib Singh.

It was no coincidence

That each of their names

Exemplified a trait that

The Khalsa must embody:

Compassion, principle-centered living,

Courage, dignity and princeliness.

O Lord our God, Waheguru,

Father and Mother of the Universe,

We are eternally grateful to You

For giving us our tenth great Guru

And his five beloved ones,

So we may forever remember

The virtues we must inculcate.

 

As if this was not enough -

You gave us a nurturing Mother

In Mata Sahib Kaur,

Who bade us to maintain

Sweetness in our life.

We thank You, O Lord our God Waheguru

For the great sons of Guru Gobind Singh:

Sahib Ajit Singh, Sahib Jujhar Singh,

Sahib Zorawar Singh, Sahib Fateh Singh,

Who lived as princes

And died like kings.

 

Let us not forget the bravery, dignity

And valor of ones so young and tender.

And the magnanimity of the father,

The tenth Guru himself,

Who let them be sacrificed

For a righteous cause.

Let not their sacrifice be in vain.

Let us never shirk our duties as parents.

 

And finally, the gift of all gifts -

Through Guru Gobind Singh,

You gave us Guru Granth Sahib.

Our living Guru,

The voice of Waheguru,

To guide us and to nurture us,

To sustain us at all times,

To give us hope,

To be our guiding light,

The beacon of our life!

 

Need we ask for more?

Can we ask for more?

You have blessed us,

Our fathers and mothers

And our future generations.

For how can we want more

When we have a living Guru,

Our Guru, the center of all bliss and blessings?

 

So let us thank and praise,

Extol and adore,

Applaud and honor You,

The Lord our God Waheguru,

Father and Mother of the universe,

For the multitudinous blessings

You have showered upon us.

 

We thank You on this Vaisakhi Day

For rebirth and chardi kalaa,

For our Gurus and our gifts,

For Gurbani and for music,

For our food and our arms,

For self-sufficiency in every realm.

For joy in every heart

Through the practice of Simran.

And, most of all, for being

Our Father and our Mother -  

So gracious and kind,

So giving and sublime.

We thank You today

And always, dear Lord Waheguru!

 

[Image, this page: detail from a painting, The Nishaan Sahib, by Kanwar Singh Dhillon.]

Conversation about this article

1: Kirpal Singh (Daytona Beach, Florida), June 07, 2007, 9:58 AM.

Your poem is marvellous and worth re-reading frequently to inspire us all. A suggestion: we should henceforth refer to Punjab as the land of not only our fathers but also of our mothers! It is "the Land of our Fathers and Mothers".

2: Kulbir Singh Malhotra (Sydney, Australia (In India on holidays)), December 24, 2007, 8:44 AM.

A beautiful expression of inner feeling coming from the core of the heart.

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