The armour of God. The three ‘Kavachs’ of the Guru

The term ‘Kavach’ often denotes an iron covering, worn on the upper body to protect the respiratory organs from fatal blows in battle. The Sikh Gurus applied the same term to entitle their compositions, and subsequently gave it dual meanings in a highly varied context. In agreement with their spiritual-temporal perspective of creation, they provided both the saint and the warrior with compositions which would not only heighten their spirituality but also provide protection in battle. The three such compositions, entitled ‘Kavach’ are broadly ranged over the three different Granths of the panth. ‘Ram-Kavach’ is found in Guru Granth Sahib Ji, ‘Brahm Kavach’ rests in Dasam Granth; whereas ‘Sarbloh Kavach’ is located in Sri Sarbloh Granth. The Akali Nihungs recite all three for the spiritual, mental and physical protection they provide.

The first and foremost of the ‘Kavachs’, in terms of composition, is Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s ‘Ram Kavach.’ Titled in a similar fashion to the Hindu ‘Ram Kavach’ it essentially differs in one fact. It does not pay any obeisance to the divine king Ram Chandar, but to his master the true ‘Ram.’

ਗੋਂਡ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ 

Gond, Fifth Mehl:

ਜਾ ਕਉ ਰਾਖੈ ਰਾਖਣਹਾਰੁ 

One who is protected by the Protector Lord –

ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਅੰਗੁ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ 

the Formless Lord is on his side. ||1||Pause||

ਮਾਤ ਗਰਭ ਮਹਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਨ ਜੋਹੈ 

In the mother’s womb, the fire does not touch him.

ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਨ ਪੋਹੈ 

Sexual desire, anger, greed and emotional attachment do not affect him.

ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਜਪੈ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ 

In the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, he meditates on the Formless Lord.

ਨਿੰਦਕ ਕੈ ਮੁਹਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਛਾਰੁ 

Dust is thrown into the faces of the slanderers. ||1||

ਰਾਮ ਕਵਚੁ ਦਾਸ ਕਾ ਸੰਨਾਹੁ 

The Lord’s protective spell is the armor of His slave.

ਦੂਤ ਦੁਸਟ ਤਿਸੁ ਪੋਹਤ ਨਾਹਿ 

The wicked, evil demons cannot even touch him.

ਜੋ ਜੋ ਗਰਬੁ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਜਾਇ 

Whoever indulges in egotistical pride, shall waste away to ruin.

ਗਰੀਬ ਦਾਸ ਕੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸਰਣਾਇ 

God is the Sanctuary of His humble slave. ||2||

ਜੋ ਜੋ ਸਰਣਿ ਪਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇ 

Whoever enters the Sanctuary of the Sovereign Lord –

ਸੋ ਦਾਸੁ ਰਖਿਆ ਅਪਣੈ ਕੰਠਿ ਲਾਇ 

He saves that slave, hugging him close in His embrace.

ਜੇ ਕੋ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਕਰੇ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ 

Whoever takes great pride in himself,

ਓਹੁ ਖਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਰੁਲਤਾ ਖਾਕੂ ਨਾਲਿ 

in an instant, shall be like dust mixing with dust. ||3||

ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਾਚਾ ਹੋਵਣਹਾਰੁ 

The True Lord is, and shall always be.

ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਜਾਈ ਬਲਿਹਾਰ 

Forever and ever, I am a sacrifice to Him.

ਅਪਣੇ ਦਾਸ ਰਖੇ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਧਾਰਿ 

Granting His Mercy, He saves His slaves.

ਨਾਨਕ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪ੍ਰਾਣ ਅਧਾਰ ੧੮੨੦

God is the Support of Nanak’s breath of life. ||4||18||20||

-Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

A rare manuscript depicting Guru Nanak Dev Ji with enlightened scholars.

The second ‘Kavach’, aptly entitled ‘Brahm Kavach’, is the sole composition of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and is located in the 32 hand-written manuscripts of Dasam Granth. The Guru, being a warrior, composed it to boost and enliven his warriors in the midst of battle, who faithfully memorized it and kept it alive until the time of the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

ਖੜਗ ਖੰਡਾ ਅਸੀ ਅਰਿਗਰ ਧਰਮ ਰੱਚ ਤੱਗ ਛਤ੍ਰੀ 

(You are the) Kharag (twelve fist long double edge sword), Khanda (ten fist long khanda representing Mahakal), Asi (double handed sword), Arighar (Enemy of the Throat), Dharam Rash ( guardian of Dharam), Tag Shatri (caste string of a Kshatriya, meaning sword belt).

ਬਿਸ਼੍ਵ ਪਾਲ ਭੂਪਾਲ ਪੱਛ ਪਲ ਭੱਛ ਰਣ ਕੱਛ ਅੱਤ੍ਰੀ 

(You are the) Bishvapaal (Nurturer of the world), Bhupaal (Devour of Kings), Pal Pacch (Devour of time), Ran Kacch (Preserver of honour on the battlefield), Atrri (weapon adorning warrior).

ਰਾਜ ਮੰਡਾ ਅਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡਾ ਈਸ੍ਵਰੀ ਕਰਵਾਰ ਹੈ 

(You are the) Raj Manda (adorner of kingdoms), Att Parchanda (Extremely fierce), Isvari Karvar (Sword of Shiv Ji)

ਸ਼ਕਤਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਿਮੀ ਬੈਸ਼ਨਵੀ ਭਵਾਨੀ ਤੂੰ ਤਰਵਾਰ ਹੈ 

(You are) Shakt (Parbati, the wife of Shivji), Brahmani (Saraswati, wife of Barhma), Baishnavi (Laxmi, wife of Vishnu), Bhavani (fierce form of Parbati), You are the Tarvaar (sword)

ਨਿਤ ਜਿਯੋਤੀ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਦਾਇਕ ਧਾਰਾਧਾਰ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਨ ਹੈ 

(You are the) Nit Jejoti (the eternal flame), Mukht Daeik (granter of salvation), Dharadhaar (Sharp edged sword), Kirpan (the merciless sword)

ਚੰਡਕਾ ਮੰਡਕਾ ਮ੍ਰਿਤਕਾ ਜਗਤ ਜਨਨੀ ਕਾਲਕਾ ਗੁਨਖਾਨਿ ਹੈ 

(You are) Chandka (angry eight armed warrior goddess Chandi), Mandkaa (beautifully adorned Chandi), Mritkaa (mother of the Earth), Jagat Janni (mother of the world), Kalika (dark form of chandi), Gunkhaan (treasure mine of virtue)

ਭਵ ਮਾਨਕਾ ਖਲ ਹਾਂਨ ਕਾ ਰੱਤ ਪਾਲਕਾ ਜਗ ਮਾਨ ਹੈ 

(You are the) Bhav Mankaa (good virtue to the world), Khal Hankaa (defeater of evil ones), Ratt Pankaa (drinker of blood), Jag Man (pride of the world)

ਇਹ ਕਵਚਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਕੋ ਬਤੀਸਾ ਪਢੈ ਜੋ ਨਿਤ ਛੱਤ੍ਰੀ 

That Kshaytria (warrior) who reads this Kavach of Brahma of 32 (praises) daily

ਰਣ ਜੀਤ ਲੈਹ ਨਿਰਭੀਤ ਰਹਿ ਰਿਧਿ ਸਿਧਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਅੱਤ੍ਰੀ 

(He) will attain victory on the battlefield, remain fearless, and attain Ridhi Sidhi (yogic spiritual powers)

ਲਹਿ ਬੇਦ ਭੇਦ ਜੋ ਪਢੈ ਬਿਪ੍ਰਬੈਸਯ ਧੰਨ ਸੁਖ ਸੰਪਤਾ 

A Brahmin who reads this will know the secret of the Vedas, and a Vaish who reads with will attain comfort of wealth and family.

ਧਨ ਧਾਮ ਤਨ ਅਰੋਗ ਸੂਦਰ ਪਾਇ ਸੁਖ ਅਕੰਪਤਾ 

Wealth, home, and a body without ailments [all] of beautiful unswerving comfort [is attained through contemplating this mantra].

ਇਹ ਬੋਲਾ ਹਰਿਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕਾ ਸੁਣੋ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਬੀਰ 

This ‘Bola’ is of Guru Hargobind, listen Khalsa warriors!

ਫਤਿਹ ਪਾੳ ਮੈਦਾਨ ਮੈ ਪਕੜ ਹਾਥ ਸ਼ਮਸ਼ੀਰ 

Attain victory on the battlefield holding a Shamshir (scimitar).

-Dasam Granth.

‘Hand me the sword for it is time to answer tyranny now!’

Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s most famous quote.

The ‘Sarbloh Kavach’ is obviously located in it’s namesake, Sri Sarbloh Granth. The composition of the legendary poet-warrior Guru Gobind Singh Ji it truly is an all-encompassing metal and spiritual armour.

ਸਕਲਾਨਿ ਭੂਧਰਾਨਿ ਭਵੰਤਿ ਕੱਜਲ, ਪਾਤ੍ਰੰ ਭਵੰਤਿ ਸਾਗਰਾ 

ਬ੍ਰਿਖਛਾਨ ਸਕਲਾਨਿ ਲੇਖਨਾ, ਉਰਬੀਯੰ ਭਵੰਤਿ ਕਾਗਰਾ ੨੦੮

If all the mountains are the ink, if all the oceans were to hold the ink, if all the trees are pens and all the land is the paper

ਸਾਰਸ੍ਵਤੀ ਆਦਿ ਭਵੰਤਿ ਬਕਤਾ, ਲੇਖਕੰ ਭਵੰਤਿ ਗਜਾਨਨਹ 

ਤਦਯਪਿ ਮਹਾਤਮ ਨ ਜਾਨੰਤਿ ਰੋਮੰ, ਤ੍ਵ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਬਿਅੰਤ ਨਾਥੰ ੨੦੯

If Saraswati and other Gods and Goddess are the narrators, if Ganesh is the writer, then still not even one hair/even a little bit of his greatness they would not be able to comprehend, because Sri Sarbloh Ji your praise is without end/infinite

ਬਿਧਿ ਭਵ ਸੇਸ ਨਾਰਦਾਦਿ ਸਾਰਦ ਕਥੰਤਿ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਨ ਪਾਵੰਤਿ ਪਾਰੰ

ਨੇਤਿ ਨੇਤਿ ਬਦੰਤਿ ਨਿਤਯੰ ਨ ਲਹੰਤਿ ਅੰਤਿ ਅਨੰਤ ਸਾਰੰ ੨੧੦

Brahma, Shiv, Sheshnaag, Saraswati and Naarad all say the greatness of Sri Sarbloh Ji, but they cannot comprehend His limit. For this they always call him infinite ! infinite ! yet still they cannot find Sri Sarbloh’s limit

ਰਿਸ਼ਿਗਨਾ ਮੁਨਿਵਰਾਦਿ ਪੁੰਗਵ ਸ੍ਰੁਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰਾਦਿ ਨਿਗਮੰ ਪੁਰਾਨੰ 

ਸ੍ਵਛੰਦ ਛੰਦ ਗਾਥਾ ਕਬਿ ਜਨਾਨਿ ਕੋਵਿਦ ਗਾਯੰਤਿ ਨਿਤਯਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਨ ਲਭੰਤਿ ਮਰਮੰ ੨੧੧

All the Rikhis, great Munis, the complicated teachings like the Vedas, Shastars, Puraan, etc, and through Kathas (discourses), poets, and Pandits, always sing (your glory) but cannot find your secret

ਏਕ ਜੀਹ ਤ੍ਵ ਦਾਸ ਨਾਥੰ ਕਿਮ੍ ਪਾਰੰਤੀ ਕਥੰਤਿ ਨਾਮੰ 

ਪਾਹ ਪਾਹ ਛਮੋ ਪਰਾਧੰ ਸਰਨਯ ਸਰਨਯ ਸਰਨਯ ਨਮਾਮੀਸੰ ੨੧੨

Oh Master, your servant (I) only have one tongue, saying your names how can I reach your limits? For this reason I am in your protection (sharan) ! I am in your protection (sharan) forgive my faults !

-Sarbloh Granth.

 

ref: http://tisarpanth.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-armour-of-god-three-kavachs-of-guru.html

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