Gurbani Word Of The Day: daas

Theme for the Week:
What is the Divine to you, your master, your friend, your father or your beloved? Are you able to seamlessly see the Divine in different forms or relationships?

Gurbani mentions some very Interesting Ways of Connecting with the Divine. A devotee might adopt and practise different relationships depending upon his or her personal temperament or state of mind to express the level of love or devotion to the Divine.

What are these relationships or connections? This week’s verses will shed light on them.

ਦਾਸੁ (daas)
Meaning: noun: Slave, servant.

ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੁ ਹੈ   ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ॥
jan naanak hari kaa daas hai   hari kee vaḍiaaee
Servant Nanak is the slave of the Divine; this also is the greatness of the Divine
– Guru Ram Das Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib, 166

Message: The words such as servant, slave, devotee, etc., in Gurbani refer to a relationship or connection where a devotee sees himself or herself as a servant of the Divine. They visualise the Divine as the all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent Master of the universe. They believe the Master takes care of His creation Himself. 

There is no self-centeredness in this form of devotion. The devotees feel closer to the Master by surrendering, by overriding their own egoism or pride. They are grateful to the Divine for graciously giving them the honour of being His servants or devotees.

There is a sense of total surrender and submission to the will of the Master, whatever the circumstances, whether good or bad. This humble attitude also manifests towards the people that they come across and interact with in life. Having utter humility towards everyone is the way of living for such devotees.

ਅਪਨੇ ਦਾਸ ਕਉ ਦੇ ਰਾਖੈ ਹਾਥ॥ ਨਿਮਖ ਨ ਛੋਡੈ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਸਾਥ॥
The Master protects His devotee with His hand. He does not abandon him or her, even for an instant. He is always with them. -Guru Arjan Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib, 1151

Note: The use of ‘daas’ in no way encourages slavery as we understand it. In times past, the servant or slave was expected to have total loyalty to and faith in one’s master. It is this concept of total loyalty and faith that is intended by the use of ‘daas’. It is a sign of humility and submission.

Etymology: From Sanskrit daas (a non-Aryan; slave; servant) → Pali → Prakrit → Gurbani.



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