Mera Mujh Mein Kichh Nahi
15 May 2013

Year: 1972
Singer: Bhai Gopal Singh Ragi and chorus

'Mera Mujh Mein Kichh Nahi' is a wonderful hymn on the theme of letting go. A popular recording is from 1972 by Bhai Gopal Singh Ragi, a blind singer with a mellifluous voice. When I was growing up, I heard his recordings on a gramophone player at home.

The hymn encourages us to let go by having faith in a personified higher power. Repeatedly, it says that there is no I, it is all You. How is such belief helpful to me in my day to day life? It helps me let go of attachments, making me feel relaxed.

Attachments

What kind of attachments do I have to let go? All sorts. The list is embarrassingly long :) Here are two examples:

Control

The fundamental issue with attachments is that of control. Feelings of loss of control are concomitant with feelings of helplessness, frustration and anxiety. With such feelings, I lose my peace of mind. When I lose my peace of mind, how can I soothe myself and restore my peace of mind? By letting go!

The struggle between control and letting go manifests itself in many forms. For example, a friend posted this article on FaceBook last week: 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. Item number 2 is 'give up your need for control' and item number 14 is 'give up attachment'. Many other items in the article are essentially about control and letting go.

Letting go

How do hymns like 'Mera Mujh Mein' weave their magic? How do they dispel my anxieties arising from attachments listed above?

1) The hymn instils faith in a personified higher power who shall take care of my loved ones. For example, after I have done my best, I invoke the following thoughts: "I am limited in my abilities and my efforts. The ultimate guardian of me and my loved ones is You. May my loved ones be safe, peaceful and joyful." With these thoughts firmly in my mind, I smile and I become relaxed :)

2) When the desire to possess beautiful forms arises, I invoke the following sentiments: "These beautiful forms belong to You. Who am I to possess them? These include material objects, people, my body, my breath, my mental prowesses. Everything is Yours." With these thoughts firmly in my mind, I smile and I become peaceful and joyful :)

A story from Guru Nanak's life comes to mind. In his youth, he was working as a storekeeper. One day, he was counting provisions verbally, 'One, two, three, ..., eleven, twelve, thirteen'. When he reached thirteen, he started saying that number repeatedly. In Punjabi, the number thirteen is 'Tera', which also means 'Yours'.

Letting go is the same as 'submission of the ego' and 'acceptance'. How?

Submission of Ego and Acceptance

Here is an attempt to explain the term 'submission of ego' in somewhat mathematical terms: If the reality is X but I wish the reality were Y, where X and Y are different, that reflects a separation of the universe into 'I' and the 'complement of I'. Well, the Universe has not physically separated; such separation is entirely a matter of our perception. By accepting X, 'I' and the 'complement of I' become aligned. They fuse or unite to become one. In this sense, 'letting go', 'submission of the ego' and 'acceptance' are the same concept. Some examples of X and Y are described in the section 'Acceptance of Loss' below.

Sufi compositions, Bhakti poems and various devotional texts mention separation and union repeatedly. What separation and what union are they talking about? My understanding is that they are referring to the separation into 'I' and the 'complement of I', as explained above. Through submission of the ego, which means that we accept reality as it is, union is obtained.

To explain the concepts of separation and union, Sufi poetry uses the example of separation and union with one's physical beloved. That is just an analogy. Truly, the terms separation and union refer to acceptance or non-acceptance of situations that we face in our daily lives. Some of these situations may involve our physical beloved. Many do not.

There is a good reason why Sufi poets adopt the example of one's physical beloved. Our state of mind during separation from our beloved is characterized by negative emotions like anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness. The same state of mind arises by non-acceptance of our daily life situations. Our state of mind during union with our beloved is characterized by positive emotions like peace and joy. The same state of mind arises by acceptance of our daily life situations.

Acceptance of Loss

Grief is an inevitable part of human experience. For example, the discovery that my child is autistic triggers grief. The discovery that the person I love so dearly does not reciprocate my feelings triggers grief. The discovery that I no longer have my job triggers grief. The discovery that I can never bear a child triggers grief. The list is endless.

In modern psychology, the Kübler-Ross Model for the grieving process is quite popular. It was developed in 1969 by a Swiss psychiatrist Kübler-Ross who spent many decades working with the terminally ill. The model has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The first four stages reflect non-acceptance. Note the words used for describing non-acceptance: 'denial', 'anger', 'bargaining' and 'depression'.

How does one reach 'acceptance' when faced with grief? Many techniques and ideas are found in psychology and spiritual books. There is no single technique or algorithm that works for everybody. For those with a devotional bent of mind, hymns like 'Mera Mujh Mein' are helpful. They shorten the time period that we would otherwise have spent in denial, anger and depression. They also lessen the impact of these negative states of mind, quickly bringing us back on track, with smiles adorning our faces :)

Translation

The verses of 'Mera Mujh Mein', as sung by Bhai Gopal Singh Ragi, are drawn from four different compositions by Kabir (1440 - 1518), Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539) and Guru Arjan (1563 - 1606). The website SriGranth.org hosts famous translations of these compositions, which I have cut-and-paste below. My personal understanding is under 'Interpretation' in each section.

Other compositions

  1. Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dheer Dhare (1964, Chitralekha)
  2. Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhaata Chala Gaya (1961, Hum Dono)
  3. Put On Your Dancing Shoes (1963, Cliff Richard)
  4. Que Sera Sera (1956, Doris Day)
  5. Dhoondhoge Mulkon Mulkon (Shaad Azeemabadi, sung by Abida Parveen)
  6. Ji Chahe To Sheesha Ban JA (Hazrat Zaheen Shah Taji, sung by Abida Parveen)

Roman Script

(Kabīr) Merā mujẖ mėh kicẖẖ nahī jo kicẖẖ hai so ṯerā.
Ŧerā ṯujẖ ka▫o sa▫upaṯe ki▫ā lāgai merā. ||203||

Hindi

(ਕਬੀਰ) ਮੇਰਾ ਮੁਝ ਮਹਿ ਕਿਛੁ ਨਹੀ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਹੈ ਸੋ ਤੇਰਾ ॥
ਤੇਰਾ ਤੁਝ ਕਉ ਸਉਪਤੇ ਕਿਆ ਲਾਗੈ ਮੇਰਾ ॥੨੦੩॥

(कबीर) मेरा मुझ महि किछु नही जो किछु है सो तेरा ॥
तेरा तुझ कउ सउपते किआ लागै मेरा ॥२०३॥

Translation

(Kabeer) Nothing within myself is mine. Whatever there is, is Yours.
If I surrender to You what is already Yours, what does it cost me? ||203||

Interpretation

The above couplets are by Kabir — link. There is a striking similarity with the lines below which appear in the song Lagan Lagi Tumse Man Ki Lagan (4:36) (year: 2003, movie: Paap) by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Tera Tujhako Saunpte, Kya Laagat Hai Mor?
Mera Mujh Mein Kuchh Naahee, Jo Hovat So Tor.

In returning what belongs to You, what does it cost me?
Nothing inside me is mine, it is all Yours.

Roman Script

Mai nāhī parabẖ sabẖ kicẖẖ ṯerā.
Īgẖai nirgun ūgẖai sargun kel karaṯ bicẖ su▫āmī merā. ||1|| rahā▫o.

Hindi

ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਤੇਰਾ ॥
ਈਘੈ ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਊਘੈ ਸਰਗੁਨ ਕੇਲ ਕਰਤ ਬਿਚਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮੇਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

मै नाही प्रभ सभु किछु तेरा ॥
ईघै निरगुन ऊघै सरगुन केल करत बिचि सुआमी मेरा ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥

Translation

I am nothing, God; everything is Yours.
In this world, You are the absolute, formless Lord; in the world hereafter, You are the related Lord of form. You play it both ways, O my Lord and Master. ||1||Pause||

Interpretation

The delightful lines above are by Guru Arjan — link.

My understanding of the second line is different from the translation above. For me, the word ईघै means 'here' ("at one hand") and the word ऊघै means 'there' ("on the other hand"). A key phrase is केल करत बिचि which means 'plays in between'. My understanding of the second line is that even the dichotomy between nirgun (without form and without attributes and without qualities) and sagun (with form or with attributes or with qualities) is a dichotomy! Any dichotomy divides oneness, just like the two halves of the yin yang diagram.

Roman Script

Ŧūʼn jīvan ṯūʼn parān aḏẖārā.
Ŧujẖ hī pekẖ pekẖ man sāḏẖārā. ||1||
Ŧūʼn sājan ṯūʼn parīṯam merā.
Cẖiṯėh na bisrahi kāhū berā. ||1|| rahā▫o.

Hindi

ਤੂੰ ਜੀਵਨੁ ਤੂੰ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਅਧਾਰਾ ॥
ਤੁਝ ਹੀ ਪੇਖਿ ਪੇਖਿ ਮਨੁ ਸਾਧਾਰਾ ॥੧॥
ਤੂੰ ਸਾਜਨੁ ਤੂੰ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮੁ ਮੇਰਾ ॥
ਚਿਤਹਿ ਨ ਬਿਸਰਹਿ ਕਾਹੂ ਬੇਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

तूं जीवनु तूं प्रान अधारा ॥
तुझ ही पेखि पेखि मनु साधारा ॥१॥
तूं साजनु तूं प्रीतमु मेरा ॥
चितहि न बिसरहि काहू बेरा ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥

Translation

You are my Life, the very Support of my breath of life.
Gazing upon You, beholding You, my mind is soothed and comforted. ||1||
You are my Friend, You are my Beloved.
I shall never forget You. ||1||Pause||

Interpretation

The above lines are by Guru Nanak — link.

Roman Script

Ha▫o kicẖẖ nāhī sabẖ kicẖẖ ṯerā.
Oṯ poṯ Nānak sang baserā. ||4||5||11||

Hindi

ਹਉ ਕਿਛੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਤੇਰਾ ॥
ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੰਗਿ ਬਸੇਰਾ ॥੪॥੫॥੧੧॥

हउ किछु नाही सभु किछु तेरा ॥
ओति पोति नानक संगि बसेरा ॥४॥५॥११॥

Translation

I am nothing; everything is Yours.
Through and through, You abide with Nanak. ||4||5||11||

Interpretation

The above lines are by Guru Nanak — link.

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