DIVINE INTIMATIONS - NITNEM  by Dr. J.S.Neki

Translation of Nitnem Banis in Verse published by Hemkunt Publishers, New Delhi, 2006. 320 pages. ISBN: 81-7010-357-6


This book represents a uniquely inspired translation of the Banis Japji Sahib, Jap Sahib, Sawayyas, Rehras Sahib, Sohila Sahib and Ardas in verse form. Translation of verse into prose may be a shade easier, but if one chooses to translate verse into verse, it becomes a much more difficult task. Still more challenging, if the style of the original work is aphoristic (sutrik).

To preserve the brevity of the original is most often impossible. The task becomes even more daunting if the original verse has been set to music and is to be chanted or sung. That, precisely is the situation in most of the Gurbani. Not withstanding the challenges, dozens of inspired individuals have attempted translation of one or more of the various texts that constitutes the Nitnem. This is one of the most recent works in this field.

In author's own words:

I can claim neither scholarship nor poetic prowess that translation of Gurbani demands. All I can vouch for is the intense inspiration that the profound mystical sensibility of the contents of Nitnem stirred in my soul and drove me to undertake this venture. The result, whatever its worth, is in your discerning hands.




These have been translated into rhymed English verse with brief introduction to all the five texts. This translation of Nit Nem has been considered better than most previous ones. Late Prof Pritam Singh, reviewing this book said, 'This translation is not only beautifully rhymed but also "captures the lilt and cadence of the original". Khushwant Singh appreciated it and added that "Dr Neki is at his best in translating the works of Guru Gobind Singh"..

Summary:
Nit Nem (nit: daily; nem: regimen) is the term that denotes the practice of reciting the five holy texts that constitute the daily liturgical services prescribed for the individual Sikh devotees. These services are split into three different timings:

1. The pre-dawn service consists of recitation of the following three texts:
i. Jap ji, a composition of Guru Nank Dev.
ii. Jap Sahib, a composition of Guru Gobind Singh.
iii. Sawayyas, also a composition of Guru Gobind Singh.

2. The service shortly after sunset:
It is called Sodar Rehras and consists of nine hymns, four out of which are by Guru Nanak Dev, the first of which opens with the word sodar from which the complete text derives its name. Of the remaining five, three hymns are by Guru Ram Das and two by Guru Arjan Dev.

To it, later, came to be appended the following:

i Benati Chaupai, a sawayya, and a dohira, all three by Guru Gobind Singh,
ii Anand Sahib (only its first five and the final stanzas) composed by Guru Amar Das, and
iii Mundavani and the final shloka by Guru Arjan Dev.

3. The service at bed-time:
Sohila is the name of this service and it consists of five hymns three by Guru Nanak Dev and one each by the Gurus Ram Das and Arjan Dev.
All these services individually are followed by recitation of Ardas or the prayer of supplication. These have been translated into rhymed English verse with brief introduction to all the five texts. This translation of Nit Nem has been considered better than most previous ones. Late Prof Pritam Singh, reviewing this book said, 'This translation is not only beautifully rhymed but also "captures the lilt and cadence of the original". Khushwant Singh appreciated it and added that "Dr Neki is at his best in translating the works of Guru Gobind Singh"..

Mool Mantar (Pg 37):

The One:
Primal Being,
Existence cum Essence,
Creator Immanent,
Beyond any Fear,
Without any rancour,
Entity Immortal,
Un-begotten,
Self-effulgent,
Dispels who darkness
Through His Grace!


Jap Ji Sahib Pauri 38 (Jat Pahara....) pg 121:

Patience as goldsmith, chastity as forge,
Mind as anvil, and tools of lore.
Bellows of Awe-Divine there blow,
Whereby cinders of suffering glow.
There, in loving devotion's mould,
Melts the sovereign Nectarine gold.
Thus is coined the Word forsooth
In the Master Mint of Truth.
Those who live their lives like this,
Them He blesses with lasting bliss.
Over them, from His Glance descend
Graces beatific, without an end. 38