MĀRŪ VĀR MAHALLĀ III, by Gurū Amar Dās, Nānak III, in the musical measure Mārū is a poetical composition in the style of a vār included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. There are totally twenty-two such vārs in the Gurū Granth Sāhib in various musical moulds. A vār is essentially a folk form of poetry. It is a song of chivalry, a heroic tale of battle, sacrifice, love or romance. In the Gurū Granth Sāhib, these poems have been adapted to spiritual themes, but built around the basic motif of conflict. Here the conflict is between good and evil, between the powers of benevolence and grace on the one hand and obscurity and obliquity on the other. The Mārū vār comprises twenty-two pauṛīs, all of the composition of Gurū Amar Dās. The ślokas, generally two-line preludes to the stanzas, however, are of varied authorship. These were added to the text by Gurū Arjan at the time of the compilation of the Holy Text. Of a total of forty-seven ślokas, twenty-three are from the pen of Gurū Amar Dās, the author of the vār, eighteen of the ślokas are of the composition of Gurū Nānak, one of Gurū Aṅgad, three of Gurū Rām Dās and two of Gurū Arjan's.

         The central theme of the Vār is the conquering of ego leading up to the realization of Truth. The hero of the ballad is a warrior defined in terms of his moral valour and referred to by the Gurū as gurmukh. Appropriation of nām, the Divine Name, has been declared to be the best means for the warrior to realize his ideal, and the Gurū, the spiritual preceptor, is his guide. Such warriors (gurmukhs) are highly praised (8) as against manmukhs, i.e. those who fight, their egos untamed, and who proclaim their victories in a spirit of vanity. They are strongly denounced in the poem(9).

         In the metaphor of trade, the Vār declares that as the seeker comes close to realization , he accumulates divine attributes. He acquires the discipline of nām-simran. He feels and realizes the divine presence in everything, in everybody. When he arrives in the Divine court, these favours are showered upon him in ample measure. Having received the ‘merchandise' in abundance, he is in a position to share it with others. Such a person, qualifies for the epithet of gurmukh. He himself is gurmukh, i.e. one looking Gurū-ward, and cherishes in his heart God's name and leads others to do so as well. He ‘deals in' Truth, in God Himself. The Gurū helps him on this path . Apart from the positive factors there are some negative ones too and they hinder man's spiritual progress. Among them could be counted falsehood, ego, duality, formalism which impede man's progress.

         Early in his spiritual journey, the seeker will pass through the realm dominated by his deeds. This is the realm of law. It is only the good deeds, the righteous karma, which will earn him divine grace. The justice of God is always true. He accepts in His treasury only the genuine coin: what is counterfeit will be rejected (18).

         Popularly, the idea of heavenly justice is linked closely to death. Common people envisage divine judgement to operate after death. On the other hand, men are exhorted equally strongly to remember death as they are urged to remember God. The fear of death is terrifying only for those who are caught up in duality (12). The fear of God terminates the fear of death. The Gurū is a perfect oarsman who successfully rows the boat of the devotee through the ocean of the world to the house of God saving it from the tidal waves which threaten it (2). However, the fear of God is only the other side of His love. The spiritual aspirant fears God only as long as he is unable to purify his man of all duality, egoity, but he experiences the love of God once he overcomes these. The seeker experiences Divine fear and love successively. The Divine love has been portrayed in the image of love between man and woman. Just as a faithful and virtuous woman presents herself to her husband and enjoys the bliss of conjugal union, the spiritual seeker, first, endeavours to make himself virtuous and worthy of the love, and then seeks unity with Him (1-2.6).

         The ultimate union with the Supreme Lord, which is the highest stage of spiritual advancement, is attended with intense bliss or anand. The seeker submits to the Divine Will, but this submission is not passive, rather it implies the identification of the individual will with the Divine Will. The Vār lays stress on the cultivation of moral values and denounces the futility of formalism and ritualism. The poem contains a strong denunciation of mendicants and ascetics. The Gurū eulogizes those who are constantly absorbed in His name (4). Unto them he is a permanent sacrifice (6).


  1. Bishan Siṅgh, Giānī, Bāī Vārāṅ Saṭīk. Amritsar, n.d.
  2. Kohli, Surindar Singh, A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961

Rām Siṅgh