What’s in a name

What’s in a name?

The number ‘thirteen’ in Punjabi is pronounced Tayraa, rhymes with the word ‘tera’, and means ‘Yours’. Whereas, ‘thirteen’ is considered to be an unlucky number in the western world, it is considered to be auspicious in the Sikh religion as Sikhs believe that ultimately, everything belongs to God. 

This belief is highlighted in Guru ji’s words:

Mera Muj Main Kish Nahin Jo Kish Hai So Tera. 
Nothing in me is mine, whatever there is, is Yours.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Sikh Guru, went to live in Sultanpur with his sister, Bebe Nanki and brother-in-law, Jairam.  Nanak found work as a warehouse chargehand where he happily and diligently carried out his duties. Customers liked Nanak and the sales in the warehouse increased tremendously.  Every morning and evening, Nanak would hold prayer meetings at his house teaching others about the three important rules in life:

  • Earn an honest living and lead a moral life
  • Share your food, money and time by supporting the poor and the needy
  • Always remember God

One day, when Nanak was carrying out his duties selling flour, he behaved in a strange way. As he was counting a number of small measures and emptying the flour into a customer’s sack, at the thirteenth count, he went into an inexplicable state of mind. He continued adding more flour into the sack whilst repeating ‘Tayraa, Tayraa, Tayraa’ meaning: “Yours Yours Yours”.  Nanak continued to do this with all the customers that day and refused to charge any money for what he was giving away for free. His assistant complained to the owner that Nanak was freely distributing rations and thereby depleting the stock. The owner reprimanded Nanak and asked for a count of the stock. Nanak justified his actions by answering that he had done nothing wrong and was only distributing what he believed belonged to God.  When the stock was taken, to everyone’s surprise, it not only resulted in profit but was well above the target. The owner apologised and felt that Nanak was not an ordinary person but a man of God. After this, Nanak decided to resign from his work and pursue his spiritual journey.

Today, Sikhs relate to the above incident and consider ‘thirteen’ to be a good omen as it reminds them of belonging to God.  Sikhs are taught not to believe in superstitions but to pursue anything that will bring them closer to God and Godly thoughts.

Nanak Naam Chardi Klaa, Teray Bahnay Sarbat Da Bhalaa. 
By the name of Nanak, may you remain optimistic and may everyone prosper in the will of God.