The Sikh Religion/Volume 6/Parmanand

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PARMANAND

Parmanand resided at Barsi, north of Pandharpur. His era and history are not known. It is said that he had the same love and affection for God as the milkmaids had for Krishan. In his riper years he used to sing the praises of God with the zest of a boy of twelve or fourteen years of age, and he thus largely contributed to the magnification of God's name. The beauty and deeds of Krishan's external and internal body were ever present to him, so it is no wonder that he sang the graces, the splendour, the loveliness, and the pastoral and sylvan sports of that great king with all the enthusiasm of earnest faith and devotion.

Parmanand used to be so absorbed in the love and contemplation of God that tears, it is said, flowed continually from his eyes, and times without number he experienced an alteration and stoppage of his voice during his paroxysms of ecstasy. He used to make seven hundred protestations to God daily, often on the muddy road. A merchant once offered him a silken cloth to protect his knees. He declined the offer and told him to give it to a more needy person, as he himself would be satisfied with an old cloth instead. This the merchant granted him.

Parmanand defended the utterance of God's name as a devotional exercise by saying that prayers are often not felt, because while repeating them men's minds are apt to wander; but the continual utterance of God's name must ever result in heartfelt devotion.

In his hymns Parmanand called himself Sarang, by which he meant that he longed for God as the sarang or chatrik longs for its yearly raindrops.

Parmanand's writings are believed to excessively increase men's love for God. It is said to be impossible for one to read them without contemplating God or bearing an image of Him in the mind. A list of Parmanand's works is given in the Asht Chhap or the Eight Marks of the followers of Vishnu.

The following hymn of Parmanand's composition is found in the Granth Sahib.


Sarang

O man, what hast thou done by hearing the Purans?
Thou hast performed no steady worship, and not given alms to the hungry.
Lust hast thou not forgotten, wrath hast thou not for gotten, covetousness hath not left thee;
Slander hath not left thy lips, and fruitless hath been all thy devotion.
O sinful man, by highway robbery and house-breaking hast thou filled thy belly.
Thou hast committed the folly from which on thy departure to the next world infamy will result.
The desire for the destruction of life did not leave thy heart, and thou didst not cherish mercy for living things.
Parmanand, thou hast not in the company of holy men made current God's pure word.[1]

 
  1. The first duty inculcated in this hymn is, it will be noted, almsgiving. Lust, wrath, covetousness, and slander are to be avoided. Highway robbery and house-breaking, which still prevail in India, are duly reprobated. The life of no living thing is to be taken. This doctrine is accepted by countless Hindus. It has descended to them from the earliest ages. The hymn concludes by showing the value of good example. The good name suggested as an object is not the good name of this world, but the good name which is equivalent to the good will of heaven.