Shabd: What It is
Excerpt from the Book ‘Naam or Word’
The subject of Shabd is such that we cannot do justice to it by discursive reasoning. All that can be said is that Shabd implies the Power of God that has created and is sustaining the various grand divisions, divisions and subdivisions of the vast creation of God. It is a current from the Ocean of Consciousness and is characterised by Sound-vibration, or in other words, It is a live and active principle which, emanating from God, is enlivening all creation. It is the instrument with which God creates, controls and sustains His vast universe. It acts as a life-line between the Creator and His creation and serves as a golden bridge between the two. The divine currents, like the ethereal waves of a radio, are spread out in the atmosphere in all the directions of the compass, giving out delectable strains of music. We, however, cannot catch the ethereal vibrations and listen to the divine melody until we get in tune with the Infinite by adjusting our mental apparatus. Therefore we become etherealized more and more as we come in tune with the heavenly music. Shabd is the connecting link between God and man. In brief, Shabd alone is the true religion – a binding force that rebinds us to our Source. All the powers of Nature depend on and work through this Shabd or the Sound Principle. The Pranas or the vital airs, that are the source of all energy – electrical, mechanical, magnetic or atomic – and are the most active agents in the physical material plane, are but an outer manifested form of the Shabd. Like the electric waves with which the whole atmosphere is charged, Shabd in Its most subtle form pervades everywhere in Its fullness and is thus the Creator.
Guru Nanak, in the Jap Ji, has called It Hukam and describes Its working:
All things are manifestations of His Will, but His Will is beyond description. By His Will is matter quickened into life, by His Will is greatness obtained. By His Will some are born high and others low, by His Will (the impious) wander in endless transmigration. All exists under His Will, And nothing stands outside. One attuned with His Will, oh Nanak, is wholly free from ego.
Jap Ji, Stanza 2
Shabd is of two kinds: outer and inner or Varn-Atmak and Dhun-Atmak, respectively. The Varn-Atmak to a certain extent gives a clue to the Dhun-Atmak Shabd. It is a matter of common experience how martial music stirs up men to arms, sad dirges bring tears to the eyes, loving strains bewitch the mind, doleful songs strike the spirit, solemn notes inspire awe and reverence. Again, the words of the wise act as a soothing balm for lacerated minds and smarting taunts cut us to the quick.
Words there be that cut the very heart-strings, and words may lead to profound renunciation, words may work as soothing balm or may strike misery, some of them inspire hope and others engender helplessness.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell.
When there is so much magic in Varn-Atmak Shabd, one cannot possibly imagine the Power that lies hidden in the Dhun Atmak Shabd, which is very subtle and ethereal in nature. The inner Shabd is sublime and pure, with an irresistible magnetic pull which a freed soul cannot but plunge into.