Sunday, November 30, 2014

On Translating the Mool Mantra



The Mool Mantra is composed of nine adjectives that define the nameless.  There is no noun. It makes sense because what is being described is indescribable.

Further, there are no verbs, no pronouns, no predicates or subjects.  This is what makes the Mool Mantra especially mysterious.  It does not conform to any grammatical laws of the world. It is free from the bonds of language and grammar.

There is no apparent rhyme either; although I have found some beautifully syncopated hidden rhymes in the mantra. This enhances the mantar's mystery, and magnifies its magic and meaning. 

The magic and mystery is lost when we translate portions of the mantra by saying "God is one" or "He is the creator" or "His name is truth" or "His name is true." We are making a lot of assumptions in such translations.  Even "God" is an assumption.  "He" is a bigger assumption.  As soon as we say "is" we are interjecting our will on the ultimate doer. We are adding a finality that does not exist. 

In all such descriptive translations we are losing the vastness of the mantra.  Who are we to say that we are talking about "He" or "She" or whatever?  Who are we to ignore "You"?  Who are we to ignore "I." Who are we to put labels with affirmative is's? Who are we to ignore the universe of possibilities.  

The best translation for the mool mantra I can think of is the most minimalist translation. Here is another attempt after meditating on the mantra:

Ekonkaar
One Vibration (or One Force, or One Om)

Satnaam
True identity (True name)

Kartaa Purakh
Doer

Nirbhau
Fearless

Nirvair
Foeless

Akaal Murat
Timeless

Ajuni
Birthless Deathless

Saibhang
Self existent

Gur Prasaad
Guru's Gift


Updated in June 2017:

Ekonkaar
Oneness

Satnaam
Truth

Kartaa Purakh
The Doer

Nirbhau
Fearless

Nirvair
Foeless

Akaal Murat
The Timeless

Ajuni
Constant

Saibhang
Selfmade

Gur Prasaad
Guru's Gift