Barah Mah – Twelve seasons described by Guru Nanak Dev ji

Guru Nank Dev ji described nature and human moods, moralizing at the same time, in verses he wrote about the seasons. Him as the observer in tune with the nature, he saw the glory of Lord in play all around him. The twelve months of the year, in Barah Mah, beautiful verses in Punjabi language written by him, describe the feelings during each month and the season they bring, evoking various emotions as weather patterns and the moods changed from one month to the next. He saw the work of the Lord throughout the year, as an observer during the twelve months of the year in his land of Punjab. The months thus namely in Punjabi verses by Guru Nanak Dev ji are translated by Khushwant Singh, renowned writer and columnist of India in his book (The Best of Khushwant Singh, Not a nice Man to Know):

Chet (March – April) Chet basant bhala bhavar suhave;

It is the month of Chet, It is spring. All is seemly. The beauteous bumble-bees; The woodlands in Flower. But there is a sorrow in my soul. For away is the lord my Master….

Vaisakh (April – May) Vaisakh bhala sakhaves kare;

Beauteous Vaisakh, when the bough adorns itself anew; The wife awaits the coming of her Lord; Her eyes fixed on the door ‘My love, who alone can help me cross; The turbulent waters of life…

Jeth (May-June) Mah jeth bhala pritam kiu bisrai;

Why forget the beloved Lord in the good month of Jeth? The earth simmers in the summer’s heat; The wife makes obeisance and prays; Let me find favour in Thine eyes O Lord, Thou are great and good…

Asadh (June-July) Asadh bhala suraj gagan tapai;

In Asadh the sun scorches; Skies are hot. The earth burns like an oven. Waters give up their vapours…My life and its ending depend on the will of the Lord. To Him says Nanak, I surrendered my soul!

Savan (July – August) Savan saras mana ghan varsai rut de;

O, my heart, rejoice! it’s Savan; The season of nimbus cloud and rain, My body and soul yearn for my Lord. But my Lord has gone to foreign lands. If He return not, I shall die pining for Him.

The lightning strikes terror in my heart. I stand all alone in my courtyard, in solitude and in sorrow. O Mother of mine, I stand on the brink of death. Without the Lord I have neither hunger nor sleep. I cannot suffer the clothes on my body.

Nanak says, she alone is the true wife; who loses herself in the Lord.

Bhadon (August – September) Bhadon bharam bhuli bhar joban pachtani;

In the month of Bhadon, I lose myself in a maze of of falsehood. I waste my wanton youth. River and land are one endless expanse of water. For it is the mansoon, the season of merry-making. It rains, The nights are dark…

Says Nanak, ask the guru the way. He knoweth the path which leads to the Lord.

Asan (September – October) Asan au pira sadhan jhur mui;

It’s the month of Asan, O Master come to me. I waste and shall die. If the Master wills, I shall meet Him…

Katak (October – November) Katak kirat paiya jo prabh bhaiya;

In the month of Katak, Will I get my due. What pleases the Lord; Is all I merit…

Maghar (November – December) Magar mah bhala hari gun ank samave;

In the month of Maghar is bliss, For her who is lost in the Lord. She singeth songs of joy and fulfilment. Why not love the Lord who is eternal?

Pokh (December – January) Pokh tukhar pade van trin raps sokhai;

As in the month of Pokh. Winter’s frost doth freeze. The sap in tree and bush, so does. The absence of the Lord; Kill the body and the mind. O Lord, why earnest not Thou?

I praise through the guru’s Word, Him that gives life to all the world, His light shines in all life born. Of egg or womb or sweat or seed. Merciful God and master! Thy vision grant. And grant me salvation.

Nanak says, only she mingles with Him. Who loves the Lord, the giver of life.

Magh (January – February) Magh punit bhai tirath antar ja nia;

In the month of Magh. I made my ablution, The Lord entered my being. I made pilgrimage within myself and was purified. I met Him. He found me good. And let me lose myself in Him.

Phalgun (February – March) Phalgun man rahsi pretn subha ea

In the month of Phagun. She whose heart is full of love. Is ever in full bloom. Day and night she is in bliss because she hath no love of self. Only those that love Thee, Conquer love of self. Be kind to me And make my home Thy abode. Many a lovely garment did I wear. The Master willed not and, His palace doors were barred to me. When he wanted me I went; With garlands and strings of jewels and raiments of finery.

O Nanak, a bride welcomed in the Master’s mansion. Hath found her true Lord and Love.

Beautiful verses written above by Guru Nanak Dev ji, immersed totally in meditation on the Dear Lord, Nanak surrenders himself to the Lord, as he cherishes each month that brings forth different emotions with their different seasonal changes. Climate change has happened all over the world. In this part of the world the months and season are quite the opposite yet they evoke similar mood patterns, we must realise how life has totally changed with Covid, the disturbed extreme weather patterns, one must look for and find peace of mind in the memory of Lord.

The article uses excerpts from the book: (The Best of Khushwant Singh, Not a nice Man to Know, Penguin Books)

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