He Hari Sundara, He Guru Sundara

A Bhajan by Guru Nanak

Sung by Viju Kulkarni in Shree Muktananda Ashram.

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Thumaka Calata Ramacandra

Introduction by Julian Elfer

This beautiful—sundara!bhajan is attributed to Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. It gives exalted, loving expression to his central teaching—that one God, who is the supreme Guru, dwells in all things, without distinction.

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 to a Hindu family in India’s Punjab State. He was an ecstatic and enlightened being who became a householder, fathered two sons, and worked for a time as an accountant until recognizing he had to honor a spiritual calling. He was driven to awaken the hearts of seekers to the presence of the one Supreme Being who transcends the narrow religious, social, and sectarian divisions that were prevalent in his time.

Accompanied by his childhood friend, Mardana, a Muslim who played the rabab, a kind of lute, Nanak traveled extensively throughout India and beyond, composing songs in worship of the all-pervasive Guru, whose divine living presence he perceived wherever he looked. This bhajanHe Hari Sundara, He Guru Sundara—is such a song.

Hari is an ancient name dating as far back as the Vedas. It represents the Absolute, the all-pervasive Consciousness that exists in every particle of the universe. He Hari Sundara invites us to the recognition of the one Lord who manifests in the wonders of nature and dwells fully in all hearts without distinction. While the imagery of this hymn is majestic, the final verse guides us to the recognition of something intimate and familiar—the direct experience that takes place within our own heart.

The melody we hear sung by Siddha Yoga musician Viju Kulkarni has been composed in the Yaman raga, which evokes qualities of devotion, peace, and compassion. By listening, singing along, or meditating on this bhajan’s meaning, we open ourselves to the illuminating experience that this sacred song conveys.

After sitting with this exquisite rendition by Viju tai, I am left with the lilting refrain “He Hari Sundara, He Guru Sundara,” repeating itself inside. It weaves throughout the song, proclaiming the joyful, loving, and grateful recognition: “All this is You!” We have an opportunity to revel in this refrain and to let it resound throughout our daily life: “O beautiful Lord Hari, O glorious Guru!”