Gurbani Word Of The Day: Neeshaaṇ

ਨੀਸਾਣੁ (neeshaaṇ)
Meaning: noun: Sign, mark, insignia (of approval).

ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਸੋਢੀ ਤਲਿਕੁ ਦੀਆ   ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚੁ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ ਜੀਉ॥
raamdaas soḍhee tilak deeaa   gur sabad sach neesaaṇ jeeu
(Guru Amar Das) blessed Sodhi Ram Das with the true insignia of the Guru’s Word as the mark of anointment or guruship
Baba Sundar, Guru Granth Sahib, 923

Image by Sukhdeep Singh (Flickr)

Message: Guru Angad passed on the collection of compositions with him to Guru Amar Das, the third Guru. After adding his own collections, Guru Amar Das passed it on to his successor, Guru Ram Das.

The verse above from Baba Sundar, the great-grandson of Guru Amar Das, affirms this. All collected treasure troves of compositions, including of his predecessors, were handed over to Guru Ram Das.

The verse also points that the word tilak or saffron mark made on the forehead was a symbolic representation of anointment and did not involve physical application of the saffron mark on the forehead.

Instead, the real sign was the Guru’s collection of compositions being handed down. So this is the mark that we need to apply daily on our ‘foreheads’ and cherish its essence in our minds and hearts. Imbuing ourselves with the wisdom of these compositions will be the symbolic mark on us.  

Notes: Some people believe that whenever a successor Guru was anointed, a saffron mark (tilak) was applied on his forehead.  It is also mentioned in some sources that this was done from the second to the sixth Gurus by an elderly Sikh, Baba Buddha ji.

If the tilak was considered a sign of guruship then the Gurus would have always had it on their forehead, which was not the case. Application of the mark is something that is not very compatible with the Gurus’ teachings as it is merely another new, unnecessary ritual and the Gurus rejected such practices.

This confusion is resolved by the verse above or below by a scholarly and devout Sikh of the Guru-period, Bhai Gurdas ji:

ਬਾਰਹ ਤਿਲਕ ਮਿਟਾਏ ਕੇ   ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਿਲਕ ਨੀਸਾਣ ਚੜ੍ਹਾਏ॥
Effacing the twelve types of marks on his forehead, a Guru-oriented person puts on his forehead the mark of the Guru’s wisdom. (22/40)

Etymology: From Persian nishaan (sign, mark).



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