Significance of Parkarma or Lawan

Significance of Parkarma or Lawan

Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba, editor ‘Sant Sipahi’

Lawan literally means circumambulation or taking rounds around another venerated object. This act of orbiting is the principle of nature and adopted universally from time immemorial.  In Sikh theology this has been adapted as a duty to do the routine Parkarma of Guru Granth Saheb or Gurdwaras and also at the time of Anand Karaj. The terms for this are ਵਾਰਨੇ ਜਾਣਾ, ਘੋਲ ਘੁਮਾਈ etc. and have been used in abundance in Guru Granth Saheb:

ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਘੁੰਮਾ ਜਾਵਦਾ ॥ ਇਕ ਸਾਹਾ ਤੁਧੁ ਧਿਆਇਦਾ ॥
ਉਜੜੁ ਥੇਹੁ ਵਸਾਇਓ ਹਉ ਤੁਧ ਵਿਟਹੁ ਕੁਰਬਾਣੁ ਜੀਉ ॥
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 73)

ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ਹਉ ਵਾਰਣੈ ਭਾਈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਉ ਸਦ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੈ ਜਾਉ ॥
ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਜਿਨਿ  ਦਿਤਾ ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਉ ॥ 4 ॥
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 639)

ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਜਾਗਤ ਰਹੈ ਦਿਨੁ  ਰਾਤੀ ਅਪਨੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਪਿਆਰੀ ॥ 26 ॥
ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਵਾਰੀ ਵਾਰਿ ਘੁਮਾਈ ਅਪਨੇ ਗੁਰ ਵਿਟਹੁ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 911)

ਤ੍ਰਿਖਾ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ  ਬਿਨੁ ਦਰਸਨ ਸੰਤ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਜੀਉ ॥ 1 ॥
ਹਉ ਘੋਲੀ ਜੀਉ ਘੋਲਿ ਘੁਮਾਈ ਗੁਰ ਦਰਸਨ ਸੰਤ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਜੀੳ
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 96)

ਹਰਿ  ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਹਮ ਲਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ
ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਜਪੇ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਜਪੇ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪਉ ਜਗਦੀਸ ॥
ਤੁਮਰੇ  ਜਨ ਰਾਮੁ ਜਪਹਿ ਤੇ ਊਤਮ
ਤਿਨ ਕਉ ਹਉ ਘੁਮਿ ਘੁਮੇ ਘੁਮਿ ਘੁਮਿ ਜੀਸ ॥ 1 ॥
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 1297)

In Hinduism the circumambulation known as Pradaksina of the deity, shrine, Homa (holy fire), holy city or rivers is done from East and goes towards South. The 58 Kilometre Pardaksina of the holy city of Varanasi or even the Ganges which takes about seven years is taken.  The circling of the holy fire, Homa is also done at the time of the performance of the marriage. Generally the Circling  is done emulating the path taken by the Sun, i.e. clockwise. However in funeral ceremonies the circling is done counterclockwise.

Buddhists also do the circling. Rather the Buddhists rotate the  prayer wheels of different sizes of cylinders containing rolls of papers on which the message, Budham Sharnam Gachhami, Dhammam Sharnam Gachhami, Sangham Sharnam GachhamiU is inscribed.

The Jews also have to recite the word Hoshana (save us) and do the seven circumambulation of their synagogue dais.

 In Islam also the Hajis while performing pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia  walk seven time around the sacred shrine known as Ka’bah and kiss or touch the Black Stone known as Sang-al-Aswad. This circling is known as Tawaf. On the completion of the ceremonies of Hajj the Hajis do the Tawaf once again. The Tawaf was done by the Arabs even in pre-Islamic era.

There is tradition authenticated by Bhai Gurdas that when Guru Nanak Dev ji went to Mecca with the Hajis, the  Ka’bah  did the Tawaf of Guruji. As per the details given in the Gurdwara Gazette,  the official organ of the SGPC,  that being  inspired by this incident, one Arabian Haji Muhammad Maskin came to Sri Harimandir Saheb on 31 December, 1925 accompanied by Ragi Hira Singh ji and presented a Sandalwood  fly-whisk (Chaur) which he had made from nine and a half  quintal  of sandal wood in more than five years. This Chaur is preserved in the toashakhana, the treasure house  of Sri Harimandirji at Amritsar.  Haji Saheb, tears rolling down his cheeks, narrated that he had presented one similar Chaur at Madina-e-Munawara and he had heard from the elders that Mecca did three Tawafs of Hazarat Baba Nanak from Hindustan. So he visited Nankana Saheb and has now come to the House of Nanak which is House of God. The SGPC presented him with a shawl and eleven gold pounds.

Thus the Tawaf, Circumambulation, Orbiting, Pardaksina, lawan or Parkarma is universal.  It is universal in this sense also that each and every planet is also continuously orbiting around its bigger planet.  Not only this but even the galaxies are also orbiting around the bigger galaxies.  And now  to take a look at the other side of the story, the smallest and indestructible part of  any matter is known as atom.  But again atom is not a solid mass, rather it has its nucleus having neutron and proton.  This is being circled continuously by the electrons. This Kal Chakra is a perpetual process and  continues uninterruptedly. Whenever the Parkarma of the nucleus by electrons is interrupted there is so much explosion and  destruction that the power can annihilate the mankind.

Guru Nanak Dev ji has also elaborated this point in Asa di Var that each and every object of the world is circling on its axis as well as orbiting on a set path.

ਕੋਲੂ ਚਰਖਾ ਚਕੀ ਚਕੁ ॥
ਥਲ ਵਾਰੋਲੇ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਨੰਤੁ ॥
ਲਾਟੂ ਮਾਧਾਣੀਆ ਅਨਗਾਹ ॥
ਪੰਖੀ ਭਉਦੀਆ ਲੈਨਿ ਨ ਸਾਹ ॥
ਸੂਐ ਚਾੜਿ ਭਵਾਈਅਹਿ ਜੰਤ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ  ਭਉਦਿਆ ਗਣਤ ਨ ਅੰਤ ॥……..
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੂਰਜੁ ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਚੰਦੁ ॥
ਕੋਹ ਕਰੋੜੀ ਚਲਤ ਨ ਅੰਤੁ ॥  (ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 464) 

And it is a fact that even when we are not moving in realty we are rotating on the axis of the earth and simultaneously orbiting the sun.  Guru Nanak Dev ji tells us that everything is moving but the God. Only He is stationary.

ਨ ਰਿਜਕੁ ਦਸਤ ਆ ਕਸੇ ॥ ਹਮਾ ਰਾ  ਏਕੁ ਆਸ ਵਸੇ ॥
ਅਸਤਿ ਏਕੁ ਦਿਗਰ ਕੁਈ ॥ ਏਕ ਤੁਈ ਏਕੁ ਤੁਈ ॥
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 144)

Waheguru is the only entity which is stationary, says Guru Gobind Singh ji,

ਅਚਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਨਭਊ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ ਅਮਿਤੋਜਿ ਕਹਿੱਜੇ॥  (ਸ੍ਰੀ ਦਸਮ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ)

This celestial principle  has been  adopted by the Guruji to do the Parkarma of the supreme power and  authority i.e. Guru Shabad or Guru Granth Saheb.  There is nothing Hindu, Muslim or Christian in it. Bhai Gurdas in Var 11 Pauri 3 also mentions about this principle by saying prdKnw fMfauq kr……… Thus when a person takes rounds around the venerated object it simply makes a  practical declaration that I am your slave,  your satellite, your subordinate.  You are everything to me.  If at all this process of circumambulation is disrupted or obstructed there is complete devastation and ruination.  So every Sikh while doing the Parkarma must keep this basic thing  in mind that after losing the track of the Guru, he will lose his entity and identity.

Another principle of science ought to be understood here.  The Work is measured by multiplying Force with Displacement.  The formula thus is,


The Force is measured in the unit of power of a horse and is termed as Horse Power.  Similarly blue colour symbolises  the universality and the depth of the sea or height of the sky. It is the colour of the UNO.   Hence Guru Gobind Singh ji had a blue horse, the power which is for mankind.

Now anything multiplied by zero the result will be zero.  As such if the displacement towards the God is zero whatever force is applied the work will be nil. Explaining this Guru Gobind Singh ji in 33 Swayiyes has said,

ਸਾਰੇ ਹੀ ਦੇਸ ਕੋ ਦੇਖ ਰਹਿਊ ਮਤ ਕੋਊ ਨਾ ਦੇਖਿਅਤ ਪ੍ਰਾਨਪਤੀ ਕੇ। (ਸ੍ਰੀ ਦਸਮ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ)

There is a story that on one fine moning  in a market place an ox came and started circling a Shiva Linga.  This brought devotees to the place in great numbers they started making offering at the feet of the ox and then came the group of religious singers also.  By the evening it become a full fledged religious function and the pujaris were telling the people that this is no ordinary ox but  it is Nandi, the mythological bull of Lord Shiva. All of a sudden a man came running and said I am a Teli and this is the ox of my Kolhu which ran away from my place I am look for it since morning.

As such mere circling of any object will not be enough unless the nucleus is His Nam.  Only His Nam  can displace a person towards Him.  Otherwise it will become just the circling ox of the rotary oil expeller.

ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਸਿਉ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਕੀਨੋ ਨਹ ਸਤ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਨਾਇਓ ॥
ਧਾਵਤ ਕਉ ਧਾਵਹਿ ਬਹੁ ਭਾਤੀ ਜਿਉ ਤੇਲੀ ਬਲਦੁ ਭ੍ਰਮਾਇਓ ॥
(ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 715)

But one thing has to be understood very clearly that the Parkarma of Guru or the Gurdwara is done but not of the Takhat , the temporal seat.  Reason for this is that before the temporal authority one is obliged to appear and one has no right to look behind the Takhat.  Hence there is no Parkarma for Sri Akal Takhat Saheb.

The term Parikarma or Lawan though a verb signifies the Path of Parikarma also.  Thus the Parkarma of any historic Gurdwara and more especially of Sri Harimandir Saheb, Amritsar  acquires special significance.  Puran Singh, one of the most revered philosophers of our time who had once astrayed the orbit of the Guru and was brought back to its path by Bhai Vir Singh ji, while writing about Sri Harimandir Saheb reminds us that when we are walking on the Parkarma we should be extra careful, we should keep our  feet slowly and  walk with due respect as each and ever tile of the Parkarma is preserving in its laps  heads of hundreds of martyrs.  It is no exaggeration too and the history is replete with instances that to protect the sanctity of Harimandir Saheb hundreds of thousands of Sikhs, young and old, ladies and men have laid down their life.

But one thing is also to be noted that the Parikarma of Sri Akal Takhat Saheb or for that matter of any other Takhat is not done for the reason that while the Harimandir Saheb or a Gurdwara is the  Darbar the Takhat is a Court. One is to present himself before the Takhat. One is not supposed to look behind the Takhat or throne. He is to simply present himself before the Takhat.

At the time of the Anand Karaj four Lawns are taken around Guru Granth Saheb to signify that while two  bodies are getting married,  simultaneously two souls are also being wedded to the Shabad Guru.  Henceforth to be blessed with the eternal bliss the pre-condition is that one is not to go out of the orbit of Guru Granth Saheb.

With this background about Parkarma or taking Lawan it is ludicrous to suggest that at the time of Anand Karaj the couple should listen to Lawan sitting in front of Guru Granth Saheb.

Now the Lawan in Suhi Rag given by Guru Ram Das ji has four stanzas.  The essence and central idea for eternal  bliss as has been given in each stanza can be enumerated briefly  as follows: First Lawn  ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਕਰਮ Second Lawn  ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਭਉ ਪਾਇਆ Third Lawn ਉਪਜੈ ਮਨਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਜੀਉ Fourth Lawn ਪਾਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਵਿਨਾਸੀ

Unlike the philosophy of  Shastras dividing the life span into different Ashrams the Gurmat does not put it  to different compartments.  If one is to get wedded to Him the, life  has to be treated as one composite unit.  In this the person has to get himself involved in the affairs of the family in a such a manner that being in the family life he has to become a monk.  This is the art of life which has been preached in the Lawans.

The  first lawn tells us that the person has to get himself involved actively in the affairs of the world.  He is not to abdicate the social and moral responsibilities by renouncing the world. To attain this the the person is to adhere to Dharma.  This can be done only by avoiding sin. Crime is physically outraging or harming some person or property whereas the same thing is done vicariously without actually perpetuating it is called sin.  Thus murdering, outraging the modesty of someone or looting a person  is a crime but enjoying these in day dreams is sin.  The first stage of committing a crime is sin.  A person who is not a sinner cannot be a criminal.  The State is neither capable nor committed to eradicate the sin. This can be done only be teachings of Moral Values or Dharma.  Thus for achieving the crime free society it has to be made a sinless society.

The second lawn tell us that the Satguru has been so benevolent that He had  helped us meet the Lord. Herein the relationship of the Guru and Waheguru with Sikh has been explained. The daughter, the Sikh  prays to her father, Guru  that bless me with such deeds and manners that I should be accepted by my groom the God. ਬਾਬਾ ਮੈ ਵਰੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਵਰੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ॥ (ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੰਨਾ: 773) This has ushered in the pious fear.  It is the pious fear not the awful fear.  Because we are scared and feared from a bull or even a snake. But the fear which has affection and love is a pious fear, like the fear of the father, the mutual fear of husband and wife or the fear of a good teacher. The clergy gives the fear but the Guru gives us the pious fear.

The third lawn tells us that though the blessings of the blessed ones I have acquired the Bairag or renunciation  in my heart and mind.  Here the Bairag, renunciation or detatchment  is not of a Sanyasi or Sufi.  The Sanyasi when he renounces the world, he even renounces the love.  This makes him so aloof from the world that he becomes a burden on the society.  Likewise the Sufi gets himself so much involved in the love that he sees even the love stories of the society ਇਸ਼ਕਿ ਮਜਾਜੀ as a means to understand and emulate the love for God ਇਸ਼ਕਿ ਹਕੀਕੀ. But here he also abdicates his primary duty towards the family or the society.  The Gurmat wants a balanced life with Sahaj  as the binding force.

 The Fourth Lawn tells us that we have found the eternal Lord Gurmukh as the groom.  The whole process has been completed with His grace and desire and that He  has found a place in my heart.

This is the essence of the Lawans, Parkarma and should be understood in this sense.

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