Part of the daily prayers prescribed for Sikhs, the poem Tav-Prasad Savaiye by Guru Gobind Singh is usually read after
Japji and Jap in the mornings. In it Guru Gobind Singh expounds the
uselessness of rituals and blind faith without sincere worship of God.
It is found in the Dasam Granth, the collection of the writings of Guru
and hosts of Siddhs, ascetic yogis - I have seen them all.
Warriors and demons,
gods who drink amrit, devout believers in a multitude of doctrines.
All these have
I witnessed as I traveled the world, yet never a true follower of the
Without the love
and grace of God their devotion is trivial, worthless, lost. (1)
in gorgeous array, magnificently decked with gold;
Thousands of horses
nimbler than deer, their speed even swifter than the wind;
Though their masters
be powerful emperors, potentates before whom countless bow.
In the end such
greatness crumbles to nothing as barefoot they go on their way. (2)
They march victorious
across the world, beating their drums in triumph.
elephants vibrantly trumpeting, their legion of thoroughbreds proudly
Kings of the past,
of the present, the future, their numbers beyond comprehending,
Neglectful of worship,
unmindful of God, they go to their ultimate home. (3)
Pious bathing and
acts of charity, disciplined lives and endless rites;
Searching the scriptures,
Hindu and Muslim; scanning the earth and the heavens above;
Men who abstain
from all food or from sex - ascetics unnumbered I have seen and I know.
That though they
be kings all their deeds are in vain if their lives have no place for
the praises of God. (4)
in coats of mail, fearsome warriors with the strength to kill;
they stand their ground, steadfast in courage though mountains take
enemies, crushing their foes, humbling the pride of their elephant hosts;
They too must finally
rise and depart, deprived of the grace of the Lord. (5)
Boundless in courage
and matchless in strength, men who unflinching will parry a sword;
Despoiling a country,
slaying its people, its elephant armies brought down to the dust;
by the might of their arms, the world subdued by the fear of their threats;
Yet all are humbled
by the Creator's power, beggars all in the presence of the Lord. (6)
Deities and demons,
the divine, the uncouth, repeating God's Name in the future as the past.
All the creatures
of the earth and sea resigned to his will in instant obedience;
Praise for their
virtue resounds afar, their evil deeds erased.
The devout go forth
with joy in the world as their enemies cry in helpless rage. (7)
Masters of men,
commanders of elephants, powerful rulers who bestride the world;
prodigious in charity, sitting bedecked as their marriages are made.
All is futile,
for even the gods, however exalted, must end in death.
Only the humble
who touch God's feet shall finally sunder the cycle of rebirth. (8)
What benefit comes
from endless meditation, from sitting like cranes with both eyes closed?
One may piously
bathe in all seven oceans and yet lose everything here and hereafter.
Some spend their
lives deep in the jungle, wasting their years in useless endeavor.
Let all pay heed
for I speak the truth: only they who love God can find him. (9)
Some worship stones,
borne on their heads; some hang lingams from their necks.
Some claim that
God dwells in the south, whilst other bow to the West.
Some worship idols,
foolishly ignorant; others put trust in the tombs of the dead.
All are astray,
seduced by false ritual; none knows the secret of God. (10)