European traders travelled though the Middle East and Asia in search of herbs, spices, and fragrances. One of the most sought after commodities was Musk, and it was an essential complement to the trader’s inventory, one that established the trader’s reputation. Musk is the name originally given to a substance with a penetrating odor, obtained from glands of the male deer. In the sub-continent, it is known as kasturi, and used to illustrate vital spiritual aspects.
Fragrances capture the senses, and could start a chase to discover the source. While the chase is for fragrant kasturi, the seeker might be mistakenly lured to a false end.
Forgetting the original beginning of our Lord, O Nanak, people take birth and die, over and over again.
Mistaking it for fragrant musk, they have fall into the stinking pit of worldly desire.
The kasturi allegory is also used to illustrate the concept of God’s inner domain in us. As the male deer grows, kasturi is produced in the body. Grazing in the forest, some day the wind direction is just right, and the deer catches his own fragrance. From then on begins a frantic search for the source, and no corner of the forest is too far.
The search appears endless, but the deer cannot stop looking. One day, the exhausted deer falls down on the forest floor, and enters deep sleep. Curling his neck backwards, he assumes a near foetal position for deep sleep.
As the deer’s nose touches the navel, his own fragrance is discovered. Enjoying it in sleep, upon waking, he finally realises that the kasturi is inside him, and he need not search for it anymore.
The home within is filled with Lord’s Ambrosial Nectar, but the ego-filled being does not get to taste it.
Like the deer, who does not recognize its own musk-scent, it wanders around.