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Overview

The fifteenth pauri is accompanied by four saloks. There are seven lines in the first salok, six lines in the second salok, two lines in the third salok, and ten lines in the fourth salok. These saloks provide spiritual lessons with the ceremony of janeu (Hindu sacred thread) as a backdrop. Through narrative description, the first salok introduces the idea of a janeu of virtues, in contrast to the temporary janeu made merely of thread. The second salok conveys that wearing a physical janeu is useless if the individual wearing it continues to indulge in immoral acts and corrupt deeds. The third salok informs that only loving devotion is accepted at the IkOankar’s court, not religious symbols put on for show. The fourth salok points to the moral degeneration of the Brahmin who puts the janeu on others. The pauri concludes that one who lives by accepting the Command receives honor in IkOankar’s court.

According to the Janamsakhi tradition, the saloks recorded with this pauri were uttered by Guru Nanak Sahib while addressing Pandit Hardial, when his father, Kalu, called the Guru for the janeu ceremony. This narrative has been described as thus in the Miharbān Vālī Janamsākhī:

When the Guru reached the age of nine, the janeu ceremony (upanyan or janeu ceremony) was conducted; they started putting the janeu around the Guru’s neck. The Brahmin Pandit coated the cooking square [with cow dung] and shared the teaching. The ways of doing Sandhyā (a mandatory Hindu worship done during the transition period of day/night) in the morning and the evening, tarpan (offering made to divine entities), and the Gayatri Mantra, were explained. The Pandit started informing them about the customs of wearing and maintaining the sanctity of the tuft of hair (hair lock on the head as worn by the Brahmins), janeu, loin cloth, rosary, and the code of the Shastras and Vedas. He started telling them about the six practices (to read and teach, to conduct and cause another to conduct yagna, to give and accept charity). He started teaching about the service of the Sālgirām (an ammonite used in worship). Whatever the Vedas said in the Hindu dharma, all were taught. Then, the Pandit set up the cooking square, bathed the Guru, and started putting the janeu on the Guru. The Guru said, “O Pandit! Please explain the discipline of putting on this janeu?” The Pandit said, “O Nanak! This is the reason for putting this janeu. It is worn because it is a custom for Kshatriya and Brahmin to not eat food that is defiled [when it is prepared] without coating the cooking square [with cow dung]. The Kshatriya and Brahmin are bound by the discipline of janeu. Do not go near a foul thing while wearing the janeu, and stay away from a foul lifestyle. And do not go near the cooking square without bathing. When a janeu is put on someone, then one has truly followed the responsibility of a Kshatriya. One should observe Gayatri, Tarpan, Sandhya, and do service; live the right way. For this reason, janeu is put on the Kshatriya and Brahmin. Without a janeu, the discipline of Kshatriya and Brahmin cannot be preserved.” Then the Guru said, “O Pandit! Is the discipline of Kshatriya and Brahmin preserved through the janeu or through deeds?” When the Guru said this, everyone in the gathering was surprised, “O Supreme Being! He is a child, but what is he saying?” The Pandit said, “Please describe the conduct by which the discipline of a Kshatriya and Brahmin is preserved.” Guru Baba Nanak uttered Bani as instruction:
salok
daïā kapah santokhu sūtu jatu ganḍhī satu vaṭu. ehu janeū jīa kā haī ta pāḍe ghatu.
na ehu tuṭai n malu lagai nā ehu jalai na jāi. dhannu su māṇas nānakā jo gali cale pāï.1.

Its meaning:
Then Guru Baba Nanak said, “Listen O Swami Pandit! Its discipline cannot be simply preserved by twisting a thread out of the cotton. That [real] janeu is bringing compassion within; the cotton should be of compassion. When contentment entered, that cotton of compassion turned into yarn. In it, there is tied a knot of chastity and a twist of contentment. Such a janeu accompanies one. If there is such a janeu, then please put it on me; if not, why waste the yarn? When put in fire, the cotton yarn will burn.” He said, “The world says that the yarn has broken; then one may ask, O Swami! Put a janeu on me only if it does not break. Yarn is spun out of cotton, which in turn is twisted into the thread. But if it breaks, people say it has broken. What is lost by not wearing this thread; which the Brahmin repeatedly puts on by twisting? This thread is made of weak yarn, which breaks, O Swami! If this thread were strong, why would it break? This thread [of compassion, contentment, chastity, truth] is strong, and it has been put on me by the Supreme Being. [None can equal it], no matter how many more threads you may put.” The janeu was put on Guru Nanak. Then the Brahmin said, “Well this janeu that we have put, is twisted based on the worldly customs, but the one that you explained; which does not break, and reaches the court of the Divine, tell us about it.” Guru Baba Nanak uttered Bani:
Salok
nāi manniai pati ūpajai sālāhī sacu sūtu.
dargah andari pāīai tagu no tūṭasi pūt.4.1.

Its meaning:
Guru Nanak said, “Listen, O Swami! If one listens to and accepts the name of the Divine, then the Divine preserves one’s honor, and one also praises the Divine and lives truthfully. If one wears a janeu of truth, then it has the strength of truth. The yarn of that thread does not break. It stays intact both here and hereafter, O Swami! This is the essence of this janeu.” Then the Pandit and everyone else bowed to the Guru, “Hail Nanak! Great Nanak! True Nanak!”