Chapter XV

Jap-Tap – Repetition of Names and Austerities

Human birth is obtained only through great good fortune. On getting it we should follow the spiritual path and the teachings that are preached by the Saints. Human birth is rare. It cannot be had again and again. If we miss this opportunity we would regret it very much later on.

Kabir says:

Oh Kabir, human birth is rare and cannot be had again and again; just as fruit which ripens, falls to the ground and cannot be restored to the branch.

Kabir, Salok, 1366

The rung of the ladder from which the hand has slipped cannot be caught again; even so is the human life wasted.

Belawal M3, 796

He who misses the rung has to undergo the torture of coming and going.

Mam M5, 1075

Shamas-i-Tabrez also says to the same effect:

Thousands of eons pass before this wealth (human body) is gained. How can I get it again if I let it go this time?

Man is engrossed, body and soul, in this world. He does not think of that other abode where he will some day go and live.

To the abode, he is to leave, he is attached; for the abode where he has to go and live for ever, he cares not.

Sri Rag M5, 43

It is therefore, necessary that before leaving this world man should make some provision for the hereafter.

A journey to a strange land lies ahead of all; o ignorant one, beware, for death is near!

Human birth is the top of creation. It is obtained only by great good fortune. Human birth provides us with an opportunity to meet the Lord.

Guru Arjan Sahib says:

For many births was I a moth or insect, for many births was I an elephant, a fish, or a deer, for many births was I a serpent or a bird, for many births was I grass and trees. Now there is an opportunity to meet the Lord, this body of glory has been obtained after long ages.

Gauri M5, 176

The human body has been gained as a means of meeting the Lord.

Asa M5, 379

Nothing is gotten free in this world. Of course, those in whose heart the fire of love is raging, need not do anything. Until such time as one obtains this wealth he should make an effort and hold out his palms to receive.

Shamas-i-Tabrez says that if you have not developed yearning for the Lord, you should remain busy in remembering Him, for the Lord does not withhold wages from the labourer.

Since you have no love, worship Him, for He would not hold back the wages of the laborers. The Lord knows how to sustain and support his creatures. In the court of the Lord there is no dearth of anything. If there is anything wanting, it is our own service. It is because of this that we do not get His Grace.

Kabir Sahib

In the court of the Lord nothing is lacking; man does not receive Grace because of his lack of service.

Kabir Sahib

Shamas-i-Tabrez says that the ferment becomes wine only after it has matured for a long time in the vat. If you wish to be intoxicated with divine love, you should engage yourself in spiritual practice.

The ferment does not become wine until after it matures in the vat for a long time. If you wish your heart to be illuminated, you should practice for a long time.

Offer your mind at the altar of His beauty and become desireless. The Lord Himself will then find some means of redeeming you. In order to offer their minds, people perform many repetitions of names (Japs) and austerities (Tap), practice self discipline, fasts, pilgrimages and so forth, so as to generate love for the Lord. If one offers his heart sincerely to the Lord, He who is the source of mercy becomes kind and creates means for redeeming the offering.

The nature of repetition of names and austerities is considered in detail below.