Explanation In English
"Your Name is my adoration and cleansing bath."
Gurbani here mentions Artee service with a lit oil lamp, which is an ancient Hindu ritual of praise and adoration to God. Bhagat Ravidaas opens the hymn with "You Name", instead of "My adoration," because he is showing humbleness. The emphasis not on what he is doing, but on who he is worshipping. He is worshipping God's name. Name is a label that we place on something as a verbal identification. When a name is mentioned, one processes his thoughts towards the holder of the name. The first thing a person thinks about when a name is mentioned is his appearance, reputation, and character. When a Gursikh remembers God's name, he contemplates on God's hukam of grace which operates the entire universe.
"Without the Name of the Lord, all ostentatious displays are useless. ||1||Pause||"
It would be senseless to praise and thank someone who you never heard about and who never did anything worthy of acknowledgement. Likewise, it is ridiculous to have rituals or verbal thanksgiving before someone without truly meaning it or even understanding why you are even doing so. Why sponsor a lavish Akhanda Paath (Noone listens or understands), or robotically read banees daily to show off or bribe God. People waste lots of money on one-day use of expensive ramaalas, and don't help the poor. Many people bow in front of Guru Granth Sahib but never take any time at all to learn what Guru Ji teaches, yet they are too much concerned about scrupulous rituals of cleanliness before sitting near Guru Ji, touching gutkas, or reciting shabbads.
"To Your Name is my meditation sitting posture on the mat, and Your Name is the stone to grind the sandalwood. Your Name is the saffron which I take and sprinkle in offering to You."
The sitting lotus position of meditation on the floor is practiced in order to tune out distractions. The entire body is relaxed. The back and head are in an straight, up-right position to prevent sleep and back strain, and the legs are folded crosswise for comfortable balance. When we contemplate on God, experiencing Naam is overwhelming, and the body must be still in order to control one's reaction to awe of God's presence. The grinding represents labor of love, dedication. The burning, sweet smelling sandalwood and precious, sprinkled saffron stand for how we should always praise and thank God the best way we can throughout our daily conduct.
"Your Name is the water, and Your Name is the sandalwood. The chanting of Your Name is the grinding of the sandalwood. I take it and offer all this to You. ||1||"
The sprinkling of water keeps the dust from flying around. This maintains cleanliness. We likewise should protect ourselves from contamination of our 5 vices.
"Your Name is the lamp, and Your Name is the wick. Your Name is the oil I pour into it."
Without a container to hold the oil, the fire will not kindle. The purpose of the oil is to keep the flame burning for a long time. When we learn of truth, we must continually reinforce ourselves and continue to learn, in order to stay kindled with joy, always prepared to battle our ego. Our weapon is the sword of Gur Gyan Shabad.
"Your Name is the light applied to this lamp, which enlightens and illuminates the entire world. ||2||"
Understanding and accepting Naam kindles the light. When we learn, understand, and live Gurbani, people learn from our examples and words about truth. The power in God's name which sustains the whole world is also causing our lives to be transformed. We become enlightened from the darkness of our gumaan ego, as we are lead by Guru Ji.
"Your Name is the thread, and Your Name is the garland of flowers. The eighteen loads of vegetation are all too impure to offer to You."
Oil without a wick would cause the oil to burn away too quickly or not burn at all. The wick regulates the flame to consume the oil little by little. If we try to digest too much knowledge at once, we will forget what we learn or learn nothing at all. The flowers symbolize productivity, life, gentleness, beauty, and purity. Nothing is completely pure in the universe. All molecules cannot be completed separated from those near it. There will always be a few that cling to the other. Only God is pure. A pure flower could have a tiny spec of dust, which would render it impure. God is complete, there is nothing that contaminates Him.
"Why should I offer to You, that which You Yourself created? Your Name is the fan, which I wave over You. ||3||"
This fan "chaur," was made of peacock feathers tied together and used to chase flies and mosquitoes away and to cool the air. Fanning is a traditional gesture of respect. When someone fans Guru Granth Saheb, he is imitating what God is constantly doing for us. God is waving the grace of His presence around us.
"The whole world is engrossed in the eighteen Puraanas, the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, and the four sources of creation."
People get tied up in fundamentalism and miss the whole point of what sainthood is. People tend to pretend to love God by practicing rituals with no sincerity. Bathing or visiting a shrine does not improve one's character; rather he should understand the meaning of truth and living truthfully.
"Says Ravi Daas, Your Name is my Aartee, my lamp-lit worship-service. The True Name, Sat Naam, is the food, which I offer to You. ||4||3||"
Bhagat Ravidaas is the first person to use the term Sat Naam, stable basis of creation. Since God is so holy and perfect, nothing can sufficiently praise Him. He Himself only is able to praise Himself. When we blend in with Shabad, then only with shabad can we worship God. It is not the words or pronunciation that matters. The meaning of the eternal Guru Giyan Shabad is deeper than concept, sound, and measure. Understanding Guru Shabad brings the relish of Amrit which causes us to improve our character, as this is all God's doings. This is what Bhagat Ravidaas calls the true Artee.
By Bibi Harsimirit Kaur Khalsa.