Word Of The Day: pakhaavaj

ਪਖਾਵਜੁ (pakhaavaj)
Meaning: noun: drum, tambourine, a percussion instrument.

ਵਾਜਾ ਮਤਿ ਪਖਾਵਜੁ ਭਾਉ॥ ਹੋਇ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਸਦਾ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ॥
vaajaa mat pakhaavaj bhaau. hoi anaňd sadaa man chaau.Make wisdom your music instrument and divine love your tambourine; thus bliss and lasting pleasure is produced in the mind.
– Guru Nanak Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib, Page 350

Message: With music of the tambourine and wisdom the intent, the Guru promises that bliss and endless peace and pleasure will be produced in the mind of the devotee. This will happen when wisdom is used together with the divine love for God and humanity in general as well as the environment and other beings. With wisdom from the Guru to sharpen our minds, we can practice good discernment in our everyday thoughts, feelings and actions. There is an equal emphasis on the heart and mind so that we can look at life and live life with a balanced perspective. Such an attitude of using both aspects will lead us to be in rhythm with God’s Will and divine message as this will produce permanent peace internally and externally.

There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience. – Paul Hindemith, a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher and conductor, 1895 – 1963

Keen to Explore Further?
Etymology: From Sanskrit pakshaatodya (side drum) → Prakrit  pakkhaaujj (drum) → Punjabi/Hindi pakhaauj/pakhaawaj (drum).

Other forms of the word found in the Guru Granth Sahib:
1. ਪਖਾਵਜ: same as above.

Summary of the Week:

The message of the Guru Granth Sahib has always emphasized internal cleansing rather than outward shows of spirituality. The references to music and dance are merely ways in which the Guru makes the message vibrant. The emphasis on dance, beat, rhythm as well as to musical instruments and their sounds is to invigorate devotees in their quest of being receptive to the divine messages.

Such a devotee is alert in mind and body. The enemies are not external. The enemies of the mind are negative thoughts such as anger, greed, lack of love, etc. They are to be transformed into good and divine qualities. Such a devotee wakes up from the slumber of duality, ignorance and selfishness.

The self cannot be silenced by the external actions of the mind or body. It can only be tamed and disciplined when the mind sings and dances in tune with divine love and divine messages. When this is done (which is a soft and subtle way of controlling the mind), the devotee triumphs over his negative thoughts and becomes more open to positive change in his or her life. Doing so brings the music, the dance and the harmonious beat of peace and serenity upon the mind of such a devotee who then unconsciously spreads this love and peace to others and thus ushers in peace into other peoples’ lives.

There’s music in the sighing of a reed;
There’s music in the gushing of a rill;
There’s music in all things, if men had ears:
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.
~Lord Byron, an English poet, 1788 – 1824

Pakhawaj and Instruments


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