The Jewels of Contentment – A Sikh Prayer for Meditation written by Guru Arjan
The Jewels of Contentment, or Sukhmani Sahib in the Punjabi language, can be translated as Jewels of Peace, or Jewels of Bliss. This prayer for meditation was written by Guru Arjan, fifth in the line of the Ten Sikh Gurus — the Ten Teachers.
The word Guru comes from the Sanskrit roots, “gu” and “ru” meaning one who transforms darkness (ignorance) into light (knowledge). The word Sikh means student, or seeker of Truth. The lineage of the Ten Teachers started with Guru Nanak in the fifteenth century. The Tenth Sikh Guru was Guru Gobind Singh.
The unique and exquisite Jewels of Contentment are a collection of hymns written to the notes of the classical Indian Raag, Gauri. There are twenty-four parts in this collection, each containing a preamble followed by eight verses. A simple translation of the preamble to the entire prayer, and summaries of the first three parts, is provided below. This brief preview of the sacred hymns of the Sukhmani Sahib, provides a glimpse of the priceless jewels contained in this prayer.
This is the prayer for meditation that DocSahib passed on to Pete Cameron’s grandfather, in If I Had Known. Decades later, Pete discovers this prayer as he searches for the purpose and meaning of his life. He learns how meditation and prayer can help him achieve the state of eternal bliss, or Nirvana — by uniting his individual spirit with the Universal Spirit.
This translation of the Jewels of Contentment was prepared by Prem Chopra from the original Sukhmani Sahib prayer in the Gurmukhi language. The English translation by Harbans Singh Doabia, Singh Brothers, India, 13th edition, 1994, was relied upon considerably. Prem Chopra is working on a modern translation of the Jewels of Contentment.
Preamble to the Jewels of Contentment: In Raag Gauri, by the Fifth Guru.
The True Guru vanquishes the darkness of ignorance and enlightens the mind with knowledge.
With the grace of the True Guru one meets saints who illuminate the mind, says Nanak.
Preamble to Part 1 of the Jewels of Contentment
I bow to the Primal Creator,
I bow to the Eternal Creator.
I bow to the True Teacher,
I bow to the Divine Teacher.
Summary of the Eight Verses of Part 1:
Meditate upon the Name and attain peace and contentment.
Preamble to Part 2 of the Jewels of Contentment
Oh destroyer of pain and suffering, dweller in the heart of the helpless,
I come seeking your shelter through Nanak
Summary of the Eight Verses of Part 2:
Seekers of maya, or material wealth, will drown in the river of desire. Meditation on the Name will quench the thirst for maya and, with the grace of the True Teacher, you will cross the river and merge with the Creator.
Preamble to Part 3 of the Jewels of Contentment
I have searched through many ancient scriptures, but found none that match the priceless Name, says Nanak.
Summary of the Eight Verses of Part 3:
Abandon rituals, fasts, penances and superstitions. Meditate on the incomparable Name of the Creator.
Preamble to Part 4 of the Jewels of Contentment
When the non-virtuous and unworthy meditate on the Giver, they too are carried across, says Nanak.
A Summary of the Eight Verses of Part 4
The Creator showers us with countless gifts and kindness. Be not ungrateful, but dwell on the True One with gratitude. Immersion in the play of maya wastes this lifetime and leads to the cycles of transmigration.
Preamble to Part 5 of the Jewels of Contentment
Those who forsake the Giver and pursue other pleasures will never be fulfilled and, without the Name, they will be dishonored, says Nanak.
A Summary of the Eight Verses of Part 5
Abide by the will of the Creator. Why fret the loss of a few gifts from the many provided by the Benefactor? Worldly goods are but mere shadows of reality, so gather the wealth of the Name.
Preamble to Part 6 of the Jewels of Contentment
Lust, anger, greed, attachment and arrogance are banished under the protection of the Name, which I pray for, says Nanak.
A Summary of the Eight Verses of Part 6
Ever remember the Creator and dwell on the Name. Be thankful for all you receive and know that all is in the power of the Creator.
Translator’s note: The Preamble to Part 6 of the Jewels of Contentment lays out the five negative core values of the Brook — lust, anger, greed, attachment and arrogance. In “The Path of Duty,” If I Had Know, Joe Sages teaches Pete Cameron the way to conquer these negative values.