The Guru says: “The Supreme has unleashed the rain clouds. Over sea and land, over earth’s surface, in all directions, He has brought the rain. Peace has come, and the thirst of all has been quenched; there is joy and ecstasy everywhere.”
Sawan and Bhadon, the rainy season, the fifth and sixth months of the Nanakshahi calendar, symbolizes the ushering of happiness, greenery and abundance. In Sikhism, the tradition is to welcome the joyful rainy season in gurdwaras by singing shabads in Raga Megh Malhaar and in a way, unfolding the vastness and fullness of Nature.
Guru Nanak regards Nature as the manifestation and abode of the Almighty and says, “In Nature we see the Lord, in Nature we hear His speech, Nature inspires divine awe, in Nature is the essence of joy and peace”. Truly, the season mirrors our moods and feelings as well.
Why does rain make us sing, dance and indulge in life? The outer landscape influences our inner state of mind. The hills, valleys, flowers and fruits with their blossoms and fragrance fill us with wonder and joy, says Guru Nanak.
Sawan is an occasion for celebration for those who are adorned with the jewel of Nam Waheguru and are united with the Guru.
At the same time, Sawan fills the heart with yearning. Viraha, separation, intensifies the longing to be with the Divine Beloved. ‘Hanging low, low and thick in the sky, the clouds come, and pure water rains down. O Nanak, that soul-bride suffers in pain, whose mind is torn away from her Lord’.
The blazing heat of Asar month is over and the months of Sawan Bhadon bring rain and cool weather. But the soul bride, separated from Akal Purakh, stands alone in the courtyard, engulfed in pain, solitude, sorrow and fear. She is terrified, full of doubt. Raindrops and dancing Nature are no solace. The phase of separation is like living a life akin to death and she bursts out crying, “O mother, it is death for me”.
As time passes, only with the mehar, Guru’s grace, the soul-bride is blessed with Nam and realization of her real Self. Her sorrow and fear vanish when she becomes a part of the Sangat, holy congregation, and listens to Gurbani. All duality gone, she experiences divine bliss. Guru Nanak says, “Just as the earth looks beautiful when the rain falls, so does the Sikh blossom forth meeting the Guru’.
Love poetry, in the form of a relationship between lovers or husband and wife is transformed into a spiritual path of realization, a true merger of soul with the Almighty. This juxtaposition of worldly and spiritual feeling is well expressed in a Sufi folk-song in the Punjab, “Aya sond (Sawan) da maheena aa, tun menu rab lagda naleh naleh Makka te Madina aa” — Here comes the month of the Sawan, O my love, you appear as God to me and Makka-Madina too!
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