In India at the time of Guru Nanak, there were many yogis. They lived alone, they did not marry, nor did they work for their living. They lived in meditation caves, wore coats made from many rags patched together (to indicate poverty) large earrings (to indicate that they heard only the Word of God) and they carried a begging bowl, a cow horn, a purse, a deerskin (for meditation) and a walking staff. With their unwashed and uncombed matted hair and their bodies covered with gray funeral ashes (to remind themselves of the constant presence of death) they practiced their yogic disciplines and lived apart from the villagers and common householders. They begged for their food, and ate only what they were given.
Guru Nanak’s meeting with the yogis is recorded in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as the "Siddha Gosht". There are many shabds in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib where the yogis are addressed. The main purport of all these verses is that many who lived the lifestyle described above, were not true yogis at all (that is, one who is united with God… one who lives in a state of Union) but simply people caught up in their own rituals, self-righteousness, and pride.
The following poem was written at the request of Yogi Bhajan. It was written right after I completed the translation of the Furmaan Khalsa in which he signs himself as “the Yogi” in most of the poems.
He asked me to do a complete Sahaj Paath and extract every reference to a yogi, yogis or yoga and then to create an ‘epic’ poem describing all of these qualities.
I found exactly 108 references to yoga and yogis in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Here then is the epic poem “Yogi." It incorporates all of the 108 qualities of a Yogi as described in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and so describes the identity of the Raj Yogi, what Bhai Gur Dass described as "the Gurumukh Yogi."
My suggestion to you is to read it aloud.
– Guruka Singh Khalsa
The Yogi fights the only battle worth fighting
He kills the five demons and sends them to hell.
By winning this battle he saves his whole family,
And he saves everyone in the world as well.
Night and day he lives awake,
He lives in a trance of pure delight.
In love with the One, he lives without fear,
And prays to serve only the One great Light.
He has the most priceless gift of all…
He’s satisfied – he lives at peace.
Deeply content in God’s meditation,
He sits detached, in sweet release.
He is the master of his mind.
While others feel themselves apart,
While others are wishing and hoping,
He contemplates God within his heart.
He lives in the house of unspeakable bliss
And is ever happy with the gift of God’s love.
He treats all people just the same.
No one below, no one above.
How can the Yogi do this?
Everything he sees is God,
He sees the Truth in everything.
In everyone, in every place,
In every sound he hears it ring.
He enters through the open door,
He makes the home of God his own,
He hears the music of the spheres,
His mind is pleased, his Way is known.
He wears the pure white robe of Nam.
He lives a life that’s filled with Truth.
He lives in wedded bliss with God.
He lives a life of self-control.
He lives aware of all that flows
In and out of all nine holes.
He walks the path of righteousness.
His mind is shining like the sun.
He feels at home in all three worlds,
And is a friend to everyone.
He travels deep within himself.
He cleans himself from inside out.
And bowing at his inner shrine,
He worships God within his mind.
His mind is steady, clear and true,
No need to fight, no need to argue.
What he says and what he means are one and the same.
He’s the master of his mind. He remembers the Name.
He is modest and kind, truthful and sweet.
He shares his virtues with all whom he meets.
He understands God’s Inner Command,
And sees the actions of God’s own hand.
With his mind immersed deep in the One,
Free from doubt… natural, pure,
He takes his seat in God’s true home,
And makes the will of God his own.
With a gentle touch, he controls his thoughts.
He is ever alert in body and mind.
He forgets himself, yet lives alone.
He knows this world is not his home.
He calls no single thing his own.
Moving easily through all the spaces
He gains True knowledge, sees many faces.
He lets go of his wanting, anger and conceit.
He needs little sleep and little to eat.
He eats just simple, natural fare.
Lives in balance, at ease, content.
His heart lotus is open wide.
He understands the Guru’s Word,
And merges with the God inside.
He is filled with God.
He holds fast to the root,
Sips nectar from the breast of life,
And lives in peace, beyond all strife.
Close to the core,
The Yogi knows the way of the heart.
Wearing earrings of silence, he hears it all.
He follows the royal path of Raj Yog.
He ever serves the True Guru,
And easily sees what’s false and True.
The whole world is his wallet
Filled with kindness for all.
His walking staff is the One God’s Name.
His bowl is full of God’s meditation,
And he sees all places and beings the same.
He sits on the deerskin of the five elements
And the whole world comes to his door.
He roams freely through the city of his body,
His vision awakened, his heart at home.
While storms are raging all around,
The winds of desire just leave him alone.
He lives at peace through all the four ages.
A brother and friend to all saints and sages.
He is master of the earth, air, water and fire,
He roams through the ethers, lower and higher.
The Yogi is master of the cosmic sound
Wherever he sits there is music around.
He finds his horn in the star flung realms.
The unstruck sound is ever new.
He sings the glories of God and Guru.
Music always fills his mind.
For the yogi’s horn is God Himself,
God is the sound … God plays the tune.
His heart-sun enters the house of the moon.
He plays upon the untouched strings,
Vibrating… music of the spheres,
All tones merging into one,
The voice of God is what he hears.
His mind and breath are the gourds of his veena,
His fingerboard is the One True Lord,
On the strings of his heart, He plays clear and sweet.
He lives forever free from joy and sorrow,
And uses today to create tomorrow.
His mind is ever steady, though the winds of change blow strong.
His mind is ever clear, filled with music of the spheres.
He doesn’t praise or slander anyone.
He knows that "good" and "bad" are just a game.
To him pure gold and common iron are both spirit, just the same.
God is his personality. God is his form.
He’s beyond separation, death, and sorrow.
He keeps his lower self restrained.
In him, all virtues are contained.
He wears the earrings of the Word.
His coat is woven of forgiveness.
His bowl is full of universe and star.
Awareness is his walking stick.
He knows that God is never far.
To live in the constant presence of God
Is the ashes on his body.
His job is to ever praise the One.
His religion is the Guru’s Way.
He longs for God all night and day.
He kindles the fire of Divine vision,
With the fuel of his body and the bellows of love.
He burns all his doubt and smears the ashes on his body.
He lives in the warmth of that Divine flame
And ever begs for the One Lord’s Name.
In Divine knowledge, concentration, and Sangat
He is ever awake, with love in his heart.
With the needle of meditation and the thread of God’s Word
He lives to practice his most divine art.
He remembers the bright Lord and merges his Soul.
Union with God is his only goal.
He slays the five demons, keeps God clasped to his heart,
Remains fixed in God’s love, and is never apart.
He sees the One Lord in the moon and the sun.
He sees God’s light within everyone.
He sees God in the forest. He sees God in his home.
Full of awe … full of wonder … he is never alone.
All his rituals are drowned in singing God’s praises.
He dwells on the Name and begs for none else.
By Guru’s grace he is blessed with the highest respect.
God removes all his doubts, and unites him with Him.
God lives in his every fiber and limb.
His trance is true freedom and release from the world.
Beyond sloth and desire, anger and pain.
His body and his senses serve him,
And his Way of life is the love of the Name.
Indescribable joy is the food which he eats.
He ever leans on the staff of Truth.
His mood is one of contemplation.
He practices the yoga of God’s meditation.
He stills his ego and sings the Lord’s praise.
He reflects on the essence of All … night and day.
He sits in the fearless, timeless place,
And loves to gaze on the playful Lord’s face.