In the thirteenth pauri
, the thirteenth step of the ladder, Guru Amardas revealed that he had received the immortal nectar of Nam
, Identification with the One—which gods, goddesses, and sages seek—from the Wisdom-Guru. Moving on to the fourteenth pauri, the fourteenth step of the ladder, Guru Amardas says the stride of the devotees is distinct.
We pause. Who are the devotees, the bhagats
? Who embodies such devotion? The answer: Those who have felt and received the grace as explained in the preceding step of the ladder. Why is their walk distinctive, separate, and noticeable? The devotees’ way of navigating the world contrasts with prevailing culture, popular norms, and elite conventions. Irrespective of the world’s modus operandi, the devotees stand apart from that paradigm. Their journey is unique because it diverges from the world’s path. We ponder: In what way is it different? The answer: Their relinquishment of greed, ego, and desires has reduced their need for words. The path they tread is sharper than a double-edged sword and finer than a strand of hair. Its an arduous path, demanding rigorous effort, yet their journey sets them apart. Through the grace of the Wisdom-Guru, self-annihilation occurs, and the self vanishes, and the Self appears. Their identity, the ‘I,’ dissolves. By sensing, receiving, and embracing grace, the essence, the fragrance of Hari
—the All-Pervasive, the 1-Light—descends and saturates them. The devotees’ walk remains distinctive across eras, regardless of how time, dimensions, epochs, and eons are measured. Guru Amardas concludes this ladder step by saying the stride of devotees is distinct through the ages.
We reflect. A compelling indication emerges that feeling and receiving grace is profoundly real and tangible—an achievable reality. Devoted beings embody this possibility. The devotees remain unconcerned about public opinions, photo opportunities, press releases, or the limelight. They’ve relinquished their selves—not merely certain things or behaviors. They’ve invested effort and undertaken strenuous work. They’re enamored by the One, yearning to touch the One, exuding the fragrance of the One. A fragrance that dispels fear, that alleviates suffering, that’s enduring. This fragrance permeates when permanence enters, and the Eternal takes root. Our conventional fragrances are fleeting. No fancy sprays, no specific behaviors, and no deeds can imbue us with that lasting fragrance as long as ego and pride persist. Irrespective of how noble or virtuous a deed might seem, it’s still an entanglement. Even if we delve into and expound upon mythological tales of deities and saints, it remains an entanglement. We could become accomplished scholars, experts, yogis
, philanthropists, and possessors of profound knowledge—yet, it’s an entanglement, for ego and pride still exert their influence. In the devotee, the fragrance of the One prevails. This is the distinctiveness of the devotee’s path. We acknowledge the rarity of these devoted beings. We might perceive them as simple or become intrigued by them; after all, their words are few, and their journey stands apart. It defies the world’s paradigm.
We may ask ourselves: Are we avoiding the challenging route? The easier path entails accommodation, compromise, and adjustment. Do we not aspire to become devotees? What aspects of our current lifestyles, practices, anxieties, and pursuits are we ready to introspect and reflect upon? Will we allow the Wisdom-Guru to sculpt us into the devoted ones? Will we transform our “I” to “1”?