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The Belief of Oneness in Sikhism, Savayye: An Excerpt from ‘Hymns of the Sikh Gurus’

The vision of Guru Nanak, the fifteenth-century founder of the Sikh faith, celebrated the oneness of the Divine that both dwells within and transcends the endless diversity of life. Guru Nanak’s immaculate vision inspired the rich and inclusive philosophy of Sikhism, which is reflected in this exquisite and highly acclaimed translation of poems,Hymns of the Sikh Gurus, from the religion’s most sacred texts: the Guru Granth Sahib, the principal sacred text of the Sikh religion, which consists of poems and hymns by Guru Nanak, his successors and Hindu and Islamic saints; and the Dasam Granth, a collection of devotional verses composed by the tenth Sikh Guru.

Read an excerpt from this book this Gurpurab:



SAVAYYE means quatrains. The ten Savayye that have been included in the Sikhs’ morning prayers are from Guru Gobind Singh’s Dasam Granth (see p. 1). They underscore devotion as the essence of religion. They reject all forms of external worship and cast Guru Nanak’s message of internal love in beautiful undulating rhythm. These Savayye are also recited during the administration of amrita, the initiation ceremony of the Khalsa (the Sikh order).

There is One Being. Victory to the wonderful Guru.

The composition of the Tenth Guru.

My wonderful Guru, I recite the Savayye by Your grace.

I have seen hosts of purists and ascetics,
I have visited the homes of yogis and celibates.
Heroes and demons, practitioners of purity
and drinkers of ambrosia, hosts of saints
from countless religions, I have seen them all.
I have seen religions from all countries,
but I have yet to see followers of the Creator.
Without love for the Almighty,
without grace from the Almighty,
all practices are without a grain of worth.


Drunken elephants draped in gold,
first among giants in blazing colours,
Herds of horses, sprinting like gazelles,
swifter than the wind,
The people bow their heads to strong-armed rulers,
But what if they be such mighty owners;
at the last, they depart barefoot from the world.


Conquerors of the world march triumphant
to the beat of kettledrums.
Their herds of handsome elephants trumpet,
their royal steeds lustily neigh.

These rulers of past, future and present
can never be counted.
Without worshipping the supreme Sovereign,
all end in the house of death.

Pilgrimage, ablutions and charities, self-restraint
and countless rituals,
Study of Vedas, Puranas, Kateb and Qur’an,
of all scriptures from all times and places,
Ascetics subsisting on air, practising celibacy;
countless such have I seen and considered.
Without remembering the One, without love for the One,
all rulers and actions go to naught.


Inured and invincible warriors in shining armour,
determined to crush the enemy,
Proudly think, mountains may grow wings and fly away,
but never us.
They can shatter their enemy, they can wring their foe,
they can crush legions of drunken elephants,
But without the grace of the One,
they too must depart this world.


Countless heroes and doughty warriors
who stand fast against the blows of iron,
Who conquer lands and enemies,
who crush the pride of drunken elephants,
Who raze sturdy castles, who gain the world by words,
They are all beggars at the divine Portal,
the almighty Ruler is the only Giver.


Gods, demons, serpents, and ghosts contemplate
Your Name in all time—past, present, and future.

All creatures of land and sea,
You instantly create and destroy.
Their virtuous deeds are heartily celebrated,
their piles of misdeeds utterly eradicated.
The devout go happily in this world,
their enemies sink in shame.

Rulers of mortals and mighty elephants,
leaders of the three worlds,
Performers of endless rituals and charities,
winners of brides in countless swayamvara rites,
Like Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu and Sachi’s husband,
they all end at last in death.
They who touch the feet of the Transcendent One,
they alone are freed from the cycle of birth and death.


How futile to sit in contemplation,
like a stork with both eyes closed.
While trying to bathe in the seven seas,
we lose this world and the next.
How futile to sink in misdeeds,
we only waste away our life.
I tell the truth, do listen to me,
they alone who love, find the Beloved.


Some worship stones, some bear them on their heads;
some wear phalluses around their necks.
Some claim to see the One in the south;
some bow their heads to the west.
Some worship idols, some images of animals;
some run to worship the dead and their graves.
The entire world is lost in false ritual;
none knows the mystery of the Almighty One.

Poetry from these highly revered texts is heard daily and at rites of passage and celebration in Sikh homes and gurudwaras, carrying forward the Sikh belief in the oneness and equality of all humanity.Read Hymns of the Sikh Gurus to know more about these.

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