'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

'Alakh Niranjan!'

Very recently, while struggling up Mount Girnar in Gujarat (the last post here), I heard a high pitched devotional song being played from a road side stall. The refrain went:
"Alakh Niranjan Alakh Niranjan
Alakh Niranjan Girnari!"
That reminded me: not very long back, I read the tragic story of Heer and Ranjha in Wikipedia; and there I had first encountered the Mantra: 'Alakh Niranjan'.

Wikipedia gave the meaning of this Mantra as: "Alakh means "that which is not seen" and niranjan means "without any stains.". It is implied that 'alakh' is a derivative of the Sanskrit word 'alakshya', the opposite of 'lakshya'. 'lakshya' is taken to mean 'target' or 'goal' but literally it could perhaps mean 'an object being seen'. 'Anjana' is a black stone (guess, with a high antimony content) and could also mean 'black spot' or 'stain'. So 'niranjana' could mean 'stainless', 'pure' that is.

So, the mantra could just be the join of two attributes of the divine: 'invisible' ('subtle'?) and 'pure'.

But there is another possible analysis: 'Alakh' could well be derived from 'Allah'. so, 'Alakh Niranjan' could mean the full declaration: "God is Pure(Purity)". And this derivation actually seems likelier than the earlier one - the Mantra is popular in and probably originated in Punjab and Sindh and the popular religion of both regions has been a remarkably syncretic cocktail of Hinduism and Islam for well over a Millennium (Sikhism is of course, the most remarkable of the many - often overlapping - movements which crystallized from this mix of faiths and beliefs). And phonetically, the sounds 'ha' and 'kha' are close and interchangeable, so 'Allah' could very naturally have gone to 'Alakh'.

The connection between 'Alakh Niranjan' and 'Girnari' is not difficult to piece together. One of the peaks of Mount Girnar has a shrine dedicated to Gorakhnath, a near mythical saint, whose legends have an all-North India (and well beyond) presence. And the 'Alakh Niranjan' mantra is believed to have been created by him. It is widely believed that Jhulelal, the patron saint (difficult to classify him as either Hindu or Sufi) turned presiding deity of Sindh, was initiated to the mysteries of this mantra by Gorakhnath himself. And love-lorn Ranjha, the Muslim hero of the Heer-Ranjha epic turns a fakir/jogi, meets this same Master and finds solace in this same mantra. The word 'Girnari' could mean 'the lord of Girnar' and could refer to Gorakhnath.

Dattatreya, who 'owns' another peak of Girnar, also has very similar syncretic credentials - over a wide region of India, several saints and Sufi masters (especially of the 'Mast Qalandar' type) are believed to be incarnations of this sage of mythology (who in turn was the incarnation/amalgamation of all the 'Trimurtis'!). This impressive list contains the Swami of Akkalkot, the Sufi saint Baba Budan (who is credited with bringing coffee cultivation to Chikmagalur, Karnataka) and more recently, and most famously, the Sai Baba of Shirdi.

At least one guide book says Girnar contains the Dargah of a sufi saint. I could find no tomb there; it may well lie hidden beneath one of the temples; and the saint himself might have merged into Datta or Gorakhnath (or both).


  • At 3:28 AM, Blogger kevin hill said…

    Gujrat always reminds me of the gujrat riots which took place some years ago.

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  • At 2:59 AM, Blogger nikhil said…

    well alakh means allah, i dont think so coz gorakhnath predates allah

  • At 3:40 AM, Blogger sangamesh said…

    In south India also we do use Alakh Niranjan in ..alakh niranjana Gurumallesha mahaprabhu.....

    By the by, Gurumallesha is the name of the guru who lived 100 years ago physically (?!) and was the one who spread who pratically introduced DASOHA(feeding food to people) to the world.

  • At 11:21 AM, Blogger upendra said…

    Alakh has not been derived from Allah. Gorakhnath predated Allah and the word Alakh was already in currency in India before the emergence of Islam in Arabia.

    Yes, the word Allah must have been derived from the word Alakh, which is apbhransha of Sanskrit Alaksha.


  • At 4:46 AM, Blogger ravi dhurandhar said…

  • At 2:12 AM, Blogger rahul said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 6:19 AM, Blogger brenda said…

    Took a lot of time to read but I really found this very interesting and informative, thank you buddy for sharing.

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  • At 5:09 AM, Blogger bhairava said…

    ALAKH NIRANJAN: The thing here is you have to find out who Niranjana is?? and this can only be done by getting in touch with a potent Yogi, thence only you will understand. It is NOT so easily mentioned in the Hindu shastras, that all that here is written in a hint. Dont stress on defining the meaning, discover who or what is Niranjan.

  • At 5:14 AM, Blogger bhairava said…

    this guy here

    makes an almost valid attempt to describe Niranjan, but has NOT revealed so. By way of thesis he is very close. Check out his description

  • At 5:19 AM, Blogger bhairava said…

    and this dude is getting you to the point ... ;))

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