GHOṚĪĀṄ, hymns by Gurū Rām Dās in measure Vaḍahaṅs in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. The word 'ghoṛīāṅ' in Punjabi is the plural form of ghoṛī, a mare. In Punjabi folk poetry, a type of lyrical songs which are sung on the occasion of marriage are called ghoṛīāṅ.
A Punjabi marriage comprises a series of ceremonies performed at different stages. In one of these ceremonies the bridegroom mounts a handsomely caparisoned mare to go to the house of the bride where a reception awaits. The sisters of the bridegroom feed the mare with crushed gram from a plate, embellish the bridle strings and sing the songs of ghoṛī, other girls and women joining them in chorus, as the bridegroom climbs up on the back of the mare. These eulogize the bridegroom and his ancestry and wish him a happy marriage. In the songs, the word ghoṛī (mare) occurs frequently, almost once in every verse.
Rāga Vaḍahaṅs in the Gurū Granth Sāhib incorporates hymns cast in the moulds of folk songs commonly sung at the time of birth, marraige and death. Gurū Nānak has composed poems, in this rāgā, called alāhaṇīāṅ or dirges, songs of mourning. Gurū Amar Dās has also contributed to these hymns in the same style. Gurū Rām Dās, the Fourth Gurū, has composed two ghoṛīāṅ hymns, reminiscent of ghoṛīāṅ of folk poetry. The folk forms meant for mundane occasions have been utilized by the Gurūs to compose verses of spiritual reference and meaning.
The ghoṛīāṅ hymns, composed by Gurū Rām Dās, are lyrics of exquisite beauty, woven round images and symbols appropriate to the occasion of marriage, more particularly, to the ceremony of ghoṛī or mare-riding. These hymns hold that human life is a precious opportunity to get united to God as marriage is the opportunity to get united with the bride. The human body is the mare, riding which the seeker of God could successfully and victoriously reach his goal. The mind is to be harnessed, conquered and controlled, just as the mare is controlled by the saddle and bridle. In the hymns, the mare (ghoṛī) has been called tejāṇī, turī and tukhāī, all synonyms of ghoṛī. The holy men or saints form the marriage procession; God Himself lays out the feast for them. Thus is the spouse found and begotten. The sustained metaphor, in the ghoṛīān hymns, unfolds itself in eight parts, as follows:
1. This mare, i.e. the human body, has been created by God. It is most valuable and precious, a marvellous specimen of the craftsmanship of the Creator. It is obtained by good fortune only. It is of immense value in the spiritual journey, for through the faculties and potentialities it is endowed with, man gets an opportunity to obtain union with God.
2. The saddle refers to the subjugation of the mind through the guidance of the Gurū. Divine knowledge is the harness that controls the mind. Meditation on the Name enriches the mind and gives it poise. This is the conquest of the mind. A mind so saddled or controlled is of vital aid in the journey of the soul towards its spouse, the Lord.
3. Bridle is the jñāna or divine knowledge. True realization leads to the control of the mind. This directs and guides one on the path of spiritual journey.
4. Love of God is the whip used to urge the mare on its spiritual path . Love cultivates, chisels and fashions the mind. A cultivated mind remains in perfect balance and poise, and is not swayed by worldly desires and lusts. The nectar of nām (Name) transforms the human personality or mind completely.
5. The journey that the soul has to cover riding this mare is the saṅsār. This is an arduous journey with worldly desires and attractions obstructing one at every step.
6. The holy men and saints form the marriage procession. It is the holy company which inspires and aids man to cross the obstacles. Thus the bridegroom, the seeker, successfully completes the journey, repeating constantly the Name, receiving inspiration from the saints.
7. The experience of bliss is the marriage feast. The marriage procession reaches its destination and crosses into the house of Hari, the Supreme Being. There they enjoy and relish the ambrosial food, the nectar of the Name. This is the first taste of bliss, the supreme state of anand.
8. Union with God is the solemnization of the marriage. The bridegroom finds the spouse within himself. It is his own real self. He realizes himself. This union is eternal and the joy so attained is unending.
This is the spiritual meaning of the hymns composed by Guru Rām Dās in the style of the popular Punjabi folk form of ghoṛīāṅ.