The word ਸਰਮ or ਸ੍ਰਮੁ comes in many meanings in Gurbani. Basically, this word comes from two different backgrounds - Sanskrit and Farsi. This word when assumed from Farsi background, comes in the meanings of honour, shame, regrets and renounciation (Vairaag). When this word is assumed from Sanskrit background, it means to get tired, to work hard. This word is sometimes also traced to another word from Sanskrit - Shraman - which means Anand, bliss, happiness.
One point to note is that whenever this word is assumed from Farsi, the Raara of this word is never in the foot of Sassa but it always appears as ਸਰਮ. On the other hand, when this word is assumed from Sanskrit it can appear either as ਸਰਮ or ਸ੍ਰਮੁ.
The pronounciation of the first Sassa in all cases is same i.e. with Vishesh Dhuni - Sharam. As you can see below the three sources of this Shabad all begin with the sound "Sh":
1. Farsi - شرم ( ਸ਼ਰਮ) - Sharam
2. Sanskrit - श्रम ( ਸ਼੍ਰਮ) - Shram
3. Sanskrit - शर्मन ( ਸ਼੍ਰਮਨ) - Shraman
Therefore, this shabad should always be pronounced as Sharam or Shram depending on whether Raara is in the foot of Sassa or not.
Presented below is an analysis of this word as it appears in Gurbani. Hopefully, understanding this word better, will enable us to understand Gurbani more profoundly.
1) ਲੱਜਾ, ਲਾਜ, Honour
This is one of the most common use of this word. When this word comes in this meaning, it is always a feminine gender noun. The Farsi word is شرم
ਸਰਣਿ ਪਰੇ ਕੀ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਸਰਮਾ ॥2॥29॥
(Keep the honour of one who is in your refuge i.e. Sharan)
ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਸਰਮ ਅਸਾੜੀ ਜੀਉ ॥4॥30॥37॥ 105
(Have mercy so that Nanak (Guru Nanak) may praise your qualities; keep my honour, O Waheguru)
ਸਰਮ ਪਈ ਨਾਰਾਇਣੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਰਿ ਪਈਆਹੁ ॥ 135
(Narayan Waheguru has to keep the honour of the one who is lying at his doorstep)
ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਰਮ ਕਾ ਕਪੜਾ ਮਾਂਗਉ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਵਤੁ ਰਹੈ ॥4॥7॥ 1329
(I beg for the robe of honour which is Sifat (praising Him), may I always sing qualities of Waheguru)
2) ਹਯਾ, Shame
ਸਰਮ also means shame as is evident from the Pankitis below: Notice that all words are of masculine gender, even though in contemperory Punjabi this word is a noun of feminine gender. The Farsi word is شرم.
ਸਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਕਾ ਡੇਰਾ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ 471
(The residence of Shame and Dharma is far i.e. people in general don't have shame or dharma)
ਸਰਮੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦੁਇ ਛਪਿ ਖਲੋਏ ਕੂੜੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ 722
(Shame and Dharma have both hidden and Falsehood is roaming around as the leader, O Lalo)
ਸਰਮੁ ਗਇਆ ਘਰਿ ਆਪਣੈ ਪਤਿ ਉਠਿ ਚਲੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥
(Shame has gone away to its house and self-respect too has left along with it i.e. Shame and Self respect are absent from hearts of people today)
3) ਵੈਰਾਗ, Renounciation
To be shy of committing sins and to be shy of Maya brings the feeling of sadness towards the world i.e. renouncing the world. This word is still from Farsi (شرم) but it seems like it has been used in the meanings of being shy of Maya i.e. to have Vairaag. ਬਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਵਲੋਂ ਸ਼ਰਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਭਾਵ ਸੰਕੋਚ ਕਰਨਾ।
ਸਰਮੈ ਦੀਆ ਮੁੰਦ੍ਰਾ ਕੰਨੀ ਪਾਇ ਜੋਗੀ ਖਿੰਥਾ ਕਰਿ ਤੂ ਦਇਆ ॥ 908
(O Yogi, wear the earrings of Bairaag, and let the bag that you carry be of compassion)
ਸਰਮ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਸਸੁਰ ਭਏ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਲਏ ॥੨॥
(Let Bairaag and higher Surat i.e. concentration be your parents-in-law and let good doing be your wife, O Mind)
ਸਰਮ ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਸੀਲੁ ਰੋਜਾ ਹੋਹੁ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ॥ 140
(Let Bairaag from Maya be the Sunnat, good character your fasting in Ramzan; this way you will become a real Muslim)
4) ਦੁਖ, ਸੰਤਾਪ, Sorrow
This meaning of sorrow or Dukh is actually derived from the same root where the meaning of fatigue or tiredness is derived. Here this word is assumed to be from the Sanskrit word - श्रम.
ਦਿਨਹਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ਕਰਤ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਪਾਇਓ ॥
(During the day he stay engrossed in sins, this resulted in him getting sorrow.
ਫਿਰਤ ਫਿਰਤ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਪਾਇਓ ਸੰਤ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਆਇਓ ॥ 531
(Wandering around, he got great sorrow; then he came to the doorstep of the Sant Guru)
ਮਾਨੁਖ ਕਉ ਜਾਚਤ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੈ ਸਿਮਰਨਿ ਮੋਖ ॥1॥ 682
(By begging from a person, one has to regret and through remembering Waheguru one get salvation)
5) ਥੱਕਣਾ, Get Tired, Fatigued
Here this word is assumed to be from the Sanskrit word - श्रम.- and the meaning is to get tired or fatigued.
ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਮਿਟਿਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਹਤੀ ਬਲਾਇ ॥1॥ 189
(Fatigue was destroyed and my problem was pulled away)
ਖਾਤ ਪੀਤ ਅਨੇਕ ਬਿੰਜਨ ਜੈਸੇ ਭਾਰ ਬਾਹਕ ਖੋਤ ॥ ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਮਹਾ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜੈਸੇ ਬਿਰਖ ਜੰਤੀ ਜੋਤ ॥੧॥
(He eats and drinks many foods like the weight-carrying donkey. The result was that all day he was made to work around the Kohloo, and got great tiredness or fatigue)
6) ਮੁਸ਼ੱਕਤ, ਮਿਹਨਤ, Hardwork, Effort
Here again this word is assumed to be from the Sanskrit word - श्रम. - but the meaning is hardwork or effort.
ਕਈ ਕੋਟਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸ੍ਰਮ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ 275
(many millions are involved in making effort for Maya)
ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਕਰਤੇ ਦਮ ਆਢ ਕਉ ਤੇ ਗਨੀ ਧਨੀਤਾ ॥3॥ 810
(The ones who were doing hardwork for just half paisa, are not considered to be very rich)
ਥੈਲੀ ਸੰਚਹੁ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਥਾਕਿ ਪਰਹੁ ਗਾਵਾਰ ॥ ਮਨ ਕੈ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਵਈ ਅੰਤੇ ਅਉਸਰ ਬਾਰ ॥ 257
(You do hardwork to collect money and then you get very tired, All this does not come useful in the end)
ਛੋਡਿ ਜਾਇ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਹਾਈ ਤਿਸੁ ਪਰਹਰੈ ॥
(That what you are going to leave and go, you work hard for it but that which is going to be with you, you eschew it)
ਮਨੁ ਹਾਲੀ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੀ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਤਨੁ ਖੇਤੁ ॥ 595
(Let the mind be the farmer, good deeds be farming, divine effort be water, and this body be the field)
ਮੁੰਦਾ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਤੁ ਝੋਲੀ ਧਿਆਨ ਕੀ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਿਭੂਤਿ ॥ 6
(Let contentment be the earrings, divine effort (of Naam) be your bag and bowl; focus on Naam be the ash (you apply on your body))
7) ਆਨੰਦ, ਖੁਸ਼ੀ, Bliss, Happiness
The Sanskrit word from where this word has been derived is शर्मन which means Anand or Bliss. What is Anand for a Gursikh? The True Naam, of course. So sometimes this word comes in the meanings of Naam as is evident from the pankiti below:
ਸਚੈ ਸਰਮੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਅਗੈ ਲਹਹਿ ਨ ਦਾਦਿ ॥ 1245
(Without the true Anand of Naam, they don't get praised in the next world. This above pankiti has also been intepreted as "without the true effort, they don't get praised in the next world." Guru Sahib knows the truth. )
The above has been written based on the meagre intelligence of this Daas. Daas urges Sangat to point out any mistakes or misinterpretations. Gurbani is Agam Agaadh Bodh. Who can get to the other side of Gurbani i.e. who can find the end of it? May Guru Sahib forgive our mistakes while interpreting Gurbani.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
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