Anonymous: Gagan Mein Thaal - Sikh Aarti

'I believe in God, only I spell it nature,' says Frank Lloyd Wright

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Once thespian Balraj Sahni (who used to teach at Santiniketan then) asked the Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, "You have written the national anthem for India. Can you write an international anthem for the whole world?" Tagore replied, "It has already been written. Not just an international anthem, but an anthem for the entire universe. It is the aarti written by Guru Nanak in the 16th century." Tagore was referring to the Sikh Aarti (ceremony of light). Gurudev Tagore was so enamoured of this aarti that he personally translated it into Bengali. Here is the story behind it :

When Guru Nanak traveled to Puri at the Jagannath temple, the temple priests invited Guru Nanak to join them to join in the Aarti of the Lord. Guru Nanak agreed and went and sat inside the temple. The priests stood in front of the idol gods and started to wave platters with lights, incense and offerings placed on it. All the devotees who had gathered stood up and gazed at the Lord with great devotion. Guru Nanak filled with great pleasure, was transfixed and remained seated. So overwhelmed was he, that tears rolled down his eyes

At the end of the aarti, the priests complained to Guru Nanak, "You said you would join us to join us in the Aarti of God, but you remain seated on the floor with your eyes closed!" Guru Nanak then replied with this Shabad, saying “Dear brothers! Does our Jagannath exist only here and in this wooden image? Is he not dazzling in the aura of his own greatness, inside all creation? Cannot his Mahima be felt and experienced without the accompanying rituals?"

Gagan mein thaal rav chand deepak bane, Tarka mandal janak moti

Upon that cosmic plate of the sky, the sun and the moon are the lamps. The stars and their orbs are the studded pearls

Dhoop mal aanlo pawan chavaro kare, Sagal banrai phoolant jyoti​
The fragrance of sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. All the plants of the world are the altar flowers in offering to You,  O Luminous Lord

Kaisi aarti hove 

What a beautiful Aartee, lamp-lit worship service this is!

Bhavkhandna teri aarti

O Destroyer of this cycle of mortal existence, this is Your Ceremony of Light

Anahad shabd vajant bheri

The Unstruck Sound-current of the Shabad is the  vibration of the temple drums

Sahas tav nain nan, Nain hai tohe kau, Sahas murat nan na ek tohe

You have thousands of eyes and yet You have no eyes.  You have thousands of forms, and yet You do not have even one

Sahas pad bimal nan ek pad gandh bin Sahas tav gandh ev chalat mohi

You have thousands of Lotus Feet, and yet You do not have even one foot. You have no nose, but you have thousands of noses. This Play of Yours entrances me

Sab mein jot jot hai sohi

Amongst all is the Light-You are that Light

Tis ke chaanan sab mein chaanan hoi

By this Illumination, that Light is radiant within all

Gur sakhi jot pargat hoe

Through the Guru's Teachings, the Light shines forth

Jo tis bhave so aarti hoe

That which is pleasing to Him is the lamp-lit worship service

Har charan kamal makrand lobit mano, Aneno mohe aaee piyasa

My mind is enticed by the honey-sweet Lotus Feet of the Lord. Day and night, I thirst for them

Kirpa jal de nanak sarang ko, Hoe jate tere naam vasa
Hoe jate tere naam vasa

Bestow the Water of Your Mercy upon Nanak, the thirsty song-bird, so that he may come to dwell in Your Name

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