There is only One. Truth by name.
Creator Purakhu, without fear, without hate,
timeless in form, unborn, self-existent,
recognised by the guru’s grace.

True in the beginning, true across the ages,
true in the now,
Nanak: true forever.

One thought cannot think, nor can a million thoughts,
Silence cannot silence, nor can unbroken adoration.
The hunger of the hungry does not go away,
not by the wealth of the whole world.
A thousand clever tricks can become a million,
but not even one goes with us at the end.
How then to be truthful?
How to break the wall of lies?
Follow the will, says Nanak, written down for us.

By the will all forms are created,
what the will is no one can say.
By that will all life is formed, all are made great.

The will determines the high and the low,
the will writes out joy and suffering.
The will blesses some, others wander endlessly.
All exist within the will, nothing stands apart.
Nanak: who knows the will won’t say I or me.

Those filled with might sing of its might,
those seeing its signs sing of its bounty,
the virtuous sing of its glory,
deep thinkers sing of its knowledge.
Some sing of the One who molds the body and turns it to dust,
some sing of its giving and taking life,
some sing of how far it seems in the distance,
some sing of how closely it watches all, ever present.
Stories upon stories, no end to the stories,
told and retold by millions and millions.
The giver gives, receivers tire of receiving,
age upon age they devour the gifts.
The leader leads by way of the will,
free from care, is ever joyful, says Nanak.

The true Sahib, true by name,
speaks the language of infinite love.
They speak and ask, “Give us, please give,”
and the giver keeps giving.
What can we offer so we behold the divine court?
What words can we speak to be held dear?
In the timeless dawn praise the true name. Dwell on it.

Our actions give us this garment, the body.
The gaze of love leads to the gate of liberation.
Nanak: know it for what it is, all this is truth itself.

The One can’t be moulded or made,
pure, absolute, only itself.
Serve and be honoured.
Nanak: sing of that treasure of virtues,
sing, listen, and hold love in your heart,
for sorrow is banished and joy enters.
Through the guru comes the numinous sound,
through the guru comes knowledge of the Vedas,
through the guru the One is experienced in all.
The guru is Shiva, the guru is Vishnu, the guru is Brahma,
the guru is Parvati, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati.
Were I to grasp it I’d still fail to explain
the One beyond all telling.
The guru granted me one insight –
all living beings have the one giver,
I must never forget.

I would bathe at a pilgrimage ford if it pleased the One,
why bathe otherwise?
This entire span of creation I see
couldn’t exist without good deeds.
Hear a single teaching from the guru,
and the mind shines with jewels, rubies, and pearls.
The guru gave me one insight –
all living beings have the one giver,
I must never forget.

Were we to live through the four ages, or even ten times four,
were we known in the nine realms, hailed as leaders by all,
winning good name, glory, and fame across the world,
but were denied the gaze of love, we’d be cast out,
we’d be the lowest of worms, accused as the worst criminals.
Nanak: the One gives virtues to those who lack them, and to the virtuous gives even more.
That one of us could give virtue to the One is beyond thought.

Excerpted with permission from Poems from the Sikh Sacred Tradition, Guru Nanak, translated from the Punjabi by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, Murty Classical Library of India and Harvard University Press.