Sikh Mysticism and Sensuous Reproductions

Part of the Comparative Philosophy of Religion book series (COPR, volume 1)


Guru Nanak’s mystical experience of the singular infinite reality is the nub that holds together 25 million Sikh adherents worldwide. His Japji, the inaugural hymn in Sikh scripture, delineates an ever-widening voyage through the five spheres of dharam (morality), gyan (knowledge), saram (aesthetics), and karam (action), culminating in sach (truth). These five have a metaphysical quality, and are regarded as the quintessential illustration of the Sikh mystical journey. However, the penultimate stanza of Nanak’s Japji (#38) morphs these five into a rather practical training manual. This short stanza (studied here in seven lines), which is often neglected in the study of Sikh mysticism, not only renders the mystical experience but also offers an intriguing allegory of a goldsmith working patiently and creatively in the smithy. We get a picture of what Guru Nanak profoundly experienced but could not quite express in his preceding verse. This chapter closely analyses Japji 38 in order to retrieve the fullness of the Sikh mystical experience. How does it synthesize the sonic, semantic, and existential aspects to create a sensuous quartet that is Sikh mysticism?


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colby CollegeWatervilleUSA

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