Priceless are His qualities, and His trading, too;
Priceless are His salesmen, and His storehouses;
Priceless is he who comes to take, and what he takes;
Priceless His feelings, and His samadhi, too;
Priceless His divine justice, and His courts;
Priceless the weights and balance to judge man’s actions;
Priceless His bounty, and the symbols which distinguish it;
Priceless His grace and His order, too;
He is the priceless of the priceless; He cannot be described.
Many fall, lost in meditation, even while reciting His attributes.
The Vedas talk of Him, and puranas study Him;
And learned ones describe Him; so also Indra and Brahma;
The gopis and Krishna speak of Him, and Vishnu and the siddhas;
And many, many buddhas; and demons and deities too.
Men and sages and those who serve, they all sing His praise.
Many there are who can express it, and many die before completing the task.
He will bring even more to this existence.
No one can predict His actions.
Whatever He feels – so it happens.
Whoever knows this, he himself is truth.
If someone boasts of knowing Him, then he is the fool of fools.
Nanak speaks in praise of God not as a pundit, but as if inebriated. His words aren’t those of a scholar, but rather they express a person completely steeped in the wine of love; therefore the repetitions. They are words spoken in a state of ecstasy, just as you see a drunkard going along the road repeating himself over and over and over again. Nanak is completely inebriated with some profound intoxicant, so he also indulges in repetition.
Babar, the Moghul, invaded India. Taking Nanak to be of doubtful character, he had him imprisoned along with others. But gradually the news began to reach Babar that there was a unique prisoner who created around him a strange atmosphere, a spirit of intoxication, and he kept singing happily all day. Babar thought such a man cannot be imprisoned who has an internal freedom that cannot be put in chains, so he sent Nanak a message to come and see him. Nanak replied, “You will have to come and visit, O king, for Nanak is in that realm from which visiting people is out of the question.”
So Babar himself went to the prison to see. He was very impressed by Nanak’s personality. He brought him to the palace and offered him the choicest wine. Nanak laughed and sang a song in which he told the king that Nanak has already tasted the wine of God, now no other wine can affect him. The king would do well to drink from Nanak’s wine instead of the ordinary wine.
These are songs of a drunkard. Nanak sings away like a small child or like a drunkard. He is not guided by any rule or conditions, nor has he tried to beautify his language. His poems are like uncut stones. When a poet writes, he writes and rewrites and makes a thousand changes. He worries about the grammar, he worries about the rhythm, the meter, the words. He makes many changes. Even a poet the caliber of Rabindranath Tagore used to do this. His diaries are full of cuts and rewrites.
Nanak’s words are different. They are not changed and arranged. They are just as Nanak uttered them. These are words that were spoken and not written; therefore no account is kept of the rhythm or the cadence or even the language. If it has a meter, it is the meter of the soul; if there is any grammar, it is not of man, but of God. If you find any rhythm in it, it is the rhythm of the ecstasy and intoxication within. This is why whenever anyone asked Nanak a question he would say, “Listen!” then Mardana, his close disciple, would pick up his instrument and Nanak would sing.