The Essence of

Nanakian Philosophy

(a scientific and logical interpretation)






Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD


4418 Rue Martin-Plouffe

Laval, Québec, H7W 5L9





Copyright © 2018 Devinder Singh Chahal

All rights reserved.  This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission



The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy

(a scientific and logical interpretation)


Key words:

Jap, Jap Ji, Sikhism, Gurbani, Nanakian Philosophy


ISBN 9 780 973 429 169

First Electronic Edition: 2018 (Revised from the hard copy)



Published by:


4418 Rue Martin-Plouffe,

LAVAL, Québec, Canada, H7W5L9


Phone: +1 450-681-1254

Email: Sikhism@iusCanada.com

Website: www.iuscanada.com









Dedicated To


The Inquisitive Minds to explore the

Philosophy of Nanak,

the founder of Sikhism.






ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  (Revised Edition). 1


FOREWORD 1:  (First Edition). 3

FOREWORD 2:  (For First Edition). 7

FOREWORD 3:  (For English Version). 13













Use of Etymology. 32

Use of Ontology. 32


























PART 1: ... 46






PART 2:  ਸਤਿ to ਸੈਭੰ. 86

PART 3: ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ.. 95

(a) ਗੁਰ (Gur) 96

(b) ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (parsad) 101






Misconstruing the Abridged Form.. 112



CHAPTER 4. 114

JAP... 114


Jap Means Recitation/Repetition. 116

Recitation/Repetition is not Recommended. 117

Other Meanings of Jap in gurbani 120

STRUCTURE OF ਜਪੁ(Jap) 122





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Mr Jesse Schell. 283

Dr Sheena Sidhu. 284

Miss Komal Sidhu. 284





(Revised Edition)

The author is highly grateful to Mr Jesse Schell, New Zealand, for carefully looking into manuscript from all angles including religious and scientific, and for editing it to enhance its understanding by English speaking people. Second editing was done by Dr Sheena Sidhu, and Miss Komal Sidhu, California, USA. I am also very thankful to Dr Kulbir Singh Thind to allow me to reproduce gurbani and its transliteration in Roman alphabet from his website, www.srigranth.org. However, the interpretation of gurbani is by the author. Finally, the author is highly indebted to Dr Parminder Singh Chahal for putting the whole book online.


Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD

Laval, Québec, Canada

28th February 2018






(First Edition)

Guru Nanak was the first guide of what later would become Sikhism. In this role, he would set out his theology and principles for living life effectively. 


There is little credible information about Guru Nanak’s life; almost everything purported to be about him comes from suspect hagiographical accounts. We have to depend on a scant amount of historically verifiable information. The most important things to know about Nanak are to be found in the Aad Granth (Adi Granth) the scripture which contains his compositions. Here we find what Guru Nanak thought, believed and taught.


Did Guru Nanak set out to found yet another religion or sect? I seriously doubt it, given the fact that he adamantly preached against religion and religious practices. He spent much of his life travelling, preaching his philosophy to those who would listen.  He mixed with the followers of the many different religions of the time, debating, exchanging ideas and refining his own thinking. Later, he founded the Kartapur commune, which operated according to his teachings.


Because of Nanak’s preeminent status, the Aad Granth begins with his works, first with the Commencing Verse and then with Jap. These are like the chief jewels in the Aad Granth crown. All that follows in the scripture is often said to be nothing more than an elaboration on, and exposition of, the Commencing Verse and the Jap bani.*

* ‘bani’ (verse) has been used as singular and plural form throughout the book.


In the Commencing Verse, the Guru outlines a radically new way of looking at what then was known as “God” (having different names in the different religions). Under Guru Nanak’s hand, this God is transitioned from the anthropomorphic deity of the Semitic and Hindu religions to a transcendent/immanent Primal Reality. Guru Nanak’s new description of this deity changes the entire relationship between Creator and creation.


In Jap bani, Guru Nanak presents two messages. The first is a description of the nature of the Primal Entity, elaborating on the adjectives used in the Commencing Verses. The second message is the explanation of the purpose of life and how to live to achieve it. 


The Jap bani is considered by scholars to be a much later composition of Nanak. The theology he expresses in Jap is sophisticated and well thought-out. Such a work as this could only have come from the Guru’s own personal experiences gained over his lifetime and not from any supposed divine revelation. The importance of Jap cannot be overlooked because it contains the summation of Nanak’s philosophy. From the early days of the Sikh movement, it appears that Jap held a prominent place in the daily liturgical life of the community (see the Aad Granth, pages 1- 8).


It continues to hold this same place in the life of devout Sikhs, being recited daily in the morning. It is often memorized and repeated during the day and night. Without a doubt, in this bani Guru Nanak teaches the futility of religion and religious practices.  Yet, today, there are many Sikhs, who believe that merely chanting Jap can bring about miracles, and cause other amazing things to happen. In fact, it is said that one doesn’t even need to know what the original words in Punjabi and Sanskrit mean; just chanting the original language is enough to work magic. Other Sikhs hold the opinion that just chanting Jap will bring about enlightenment and the release from the rounds of rebirth. Some of this comes from a misunderstanding of the original meaning of Jap; other comes from the Vedic and Semitic religious influences which have overtaken and corrupted Sikhi. If you don’t believe me about this, just have a look through the many Sikh Internet sites to prove my point.


There are many, many translations and commentaries on Jap in many different languages. Into this muddle, Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD, has jumped, feet first, in a whole-hearted attempt to bring Sikhi back to the intentions of its first Guru.  Relying on his long life as a Sikh, his training as a scientist and his love of the Guru, Prof Chahal has dedicated an enormous amount of energy trying to reform Sikhi by demonstrating the incorrect interpretations of the Aad Granth, and in this case, the Jap of Guru Nanak. Using a sound scholarly approach, he offers both a modern translation, devoid of myth and superstition as well as a short commentary on each section. His dedication to this cause of ridding Sikhi of its false and corrupting parts has put Devinder Chahal on the firing line, but still he soldiers on.


I am proud to have made a contribution – albeit a very small one – to this work.  For my part, I think that the corruption of the original message is so deeply imbedded in the current form of Sikhism that there is no hope for a reformation of the current membership. It is my sincerest wish that this humble work will be a welcoming beacon of modern spirituality to the English speaking people in the West, who will then restore the pristine humanistic philosophy of Guru Nanak to its rightful place in the sunlight of today’s world. 


Jesse Schell

20th October 2015

New Zealand




(For First Edition)

JAP: A Scientific and Logical Interpretation by Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD is a welcome addition to more than 200 commentaries on JAP written in various languages by different authors. Professor Chahal retired as Professor from the Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec, Laval, Québec, Canada and engaged himself in Sikh studies after retirement. Due to his professional training as a research scientist, he brings to bear the testimony of an analytical mind in interpretation of Gurbani. The title of the book justifies the approach of the author. The author has mentioned five major categories of interpretation in the Preface as follows:

1.        School of Meharbaan: Interpretations of this school are based on Vedas and Puranas.

2.       School of Udasis: These interpretations are also based on Vedas and Puranas.

3.       School of Nirmalas: Interpretations are based on Vedas. This school has introduced customs of Sanatana Dharma. One sentence is interpreted with more than one different meaning.

4.      School of Gianis: Interpretations of Bhai Mani Singh and of Giani Badan Singh (known as Faridkot Wala Teeka) are important ones.

5.       School of Modern Scholars: Interpretation by Bhai Vir Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh, Prof Sahib Singh, Principal Teja Singh, Dr Mohan Singh and many more contemporary scholars are included in this school. Although these interpretations are much better, still there is a lot of influence of Vedas and Puranas.

I may add that Professor Chahal’s interpretation falls into the sixth category, which may be categorized as School of Scientists. His interpretation is unique in some respects and may create reactions in orthodox circles not familiar with scientific approach.


JAP is the essence of Nanakian Philosophy and is recited by Gursikhs (Sikhs of the Guru) as a morning prayer. Even before the compilation of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS), the text of JAP (Gutka - booklet) was written by Guru Ramdas. It may be anticipated that written text of JAP was available to the Sikh Sangat (congregation) established by Guru Nanak and his followers as mentioned by Bhai Gurdas, the great Sikh exponent, in his Vaars (odes).


Professor Chahal has given a long introduction in the book to explain the meaning of term JAP. The author implies that JAP is not mere recitation or repetition like a ‘mantra’ but it means to imbibe or understand after deliberation on the message of the Guru. In fact, Nanakian Philosophy lays more stress on creating liberated role models (Gurmukh – Guru-oriented persons) rather than stereotypes. Nanakian Philosophy demolishes the concept of personal Guru-ship and establishes the ‘Sabd’ as ‘Guru’. The import of this concept is noteworthy and had not been propagated properly by Sikh preachers and intellectuals until today. The book of Professor Chahal will promote the ideal of ‘Sabd Guru’ and his scientific approach will be appreciated by the youth educated in modern Science Age. The author claims (on page 14): “I have attempted to interpret JAP scientifically and logically so that the readers could understand the originality and uniqueness of the philosophy of Guru Nanak for uplifting their morality, spirituality, and to create a society of righteousness.”


During the Fifth Centenary Celebration (1968-69) of Guru Nanak in the Punjabi University, Patiala, I was invited to deliver a lecture on cosmological concepts in Guru Nanak’s Bani. I was wonder struck to find echo of modern scientific theories in JAP, Sidh Goshit and Maru Solhe Bani of Guru Nanak. My interest in the study of Gurbani was kindled by Professor D S Kotharia (Chairman University Grant Commission, New Delhi, India) and Professor Abdus Salam (Nobel Laureate, Director, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy) encouraged me to delve deep into scientific aspects of Nanakian Philosophy. Professor Chahal has rendered a yeoman’s service to the Sikh community by writing a scientific commentary on JAP for further exploration. I was surprised that many established scholars of Sikh lore, viz. Dr Mohan Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh, Principal Teja Singh, et al. are on slippery ground as discovered by Professor Chahal. For example, the opening verse of the first stanza of JAP (ਸੋਚੈ ਸੋਚਿ ਹੋਵਈ ਜੇ ਸੋਚੀ ਲਖ ਵਾਰ Socẖai socẖ na hovaī je socẖī lakẖ vār.) has been wrongly interpreted by these worthies, translating ਸੋਚਿ (soch) as thought process. I fully agree with Professor Chahal’s interpretation of ਸੋਚਿ (soch) as physical cleansing of body. In Gauri Sukhmani (AGGS, M 5, p 265), Guru Arjun used the same term and it implies what Professor Chahal interprets:


ਸੋਚ ਕਰੈ ਦਿਨਸੁ ਅਰੁ ਰਾਤਿ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਮੈਲੁ ਤਨ ਤੇ ਜਾਤਿ

Socẖ karai ḏinas ar rāṯ. Man kī mail na ṯan ṯe jāṯ.

By physical cleansing day and night, pollution of mind and body is not removed.


It is my privilege as reviewer to impress upon the readers of this book the salient features and shortcomings, if any, in Professor Chahal’s interpretation. I fully appreciate the scientific and logical approach, the style of rendering Gurbani into English using linguistic techniques and rules of grammar, reviewing works of other authors and providing references of all relevant texts. Some unique features of interpretation are too obvious to be ignored. Professor Chahal opines that is a unique word introduced by Guru Nanak and it should not be pronounced as Ikonkaar or Ekankaar. He advocates a new pronunciation as ‘Ik + Oh + Beant’ for  to express both the Oneness and Infinite characteristics of the Supreme Reality (God). He has properly acknowledged the original work of Nirmal Singh Kalsi, who first of all propounded this new hypothesis in his book, ‘ਬੀਜ ਮਾੰਰ ਦਰਸ਼ਨ that   should be pronounced as “Ikooooo” whereas Professor Chahal has gone a step further to make it more clear to pronounce   as is written originally by Guru Nanak: + +    

(Extended end of open Oora) as  ‘Ik + Oh + Beant or Anant’ (One and Only That is Infinite).


It is a well-known fact that science and mysticism are two different modes of experiencing the Reality. While science lays stress on empirical facts and experimentation, mysticism relies more on intuition and transcendental experience. Guru bani belongs to the realm of mysticism as Guru Nanak proclaims that he preaches what he experiences in his mystic reveries (ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ Jaisī mai āvai kẖasam kī baṇī ṯaisṛā karī giān ve lālo.) We should not drive Laws of Physics/Biochemistry from Gurbani. Professor Chahal has precisely tried to do that. He has tried to interpret ਸੰਤੋਖ (santokh) into ‘Gravitational Attraction’ (page 87); ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ (kita pasao eko kawao) into ‘Big Bang’ theory (page 94); and ਸੰਜੋਗ ਵਿਜੋਗ (sanjog vijog) into ‘fusion and fission’ page 120). Analogies are acceptable within certain limits but the purpose should not be to confuse the lay readers.


Some terms have gained currency in the Sikh literature; for example, ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ (amrit vela) is the ambrosial hour (generally 3 hours before the sunrise). Professor Chahal renders ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ (amrit vela) into ‘anytime of tranquility’, which may not be acceptable to Sikh Sangat (congregation) as there are references to ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ (amrit vela) in the AGGS. Nevertheless, he has tried to justify his interpretation by quoting Guru Amardas’s verse as follows that for devotion anytime is an ambrosial time:

ਜੇ ਵੇਲਾ1 ਵਖਤੁ2 ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਤਾ ਕਿਤੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਭਗਤਿ3 ਹੋਇ

ਅਨਦਿਨੁ4 ਨਾਮੇ5 ਰਤਿਆ6 ਸਚੇ7 ਸਚੀ8 ਸੋਇ9

Je velā vakẖaṯ vīcẖārīai ṯā kiṯ velā bẖagaṯ hoe.

Anḏin nāme raṯiā sacẖe sacẖī soe.

AGGS, M 3, p 35.

If we go on considering which period1 and time2 of the day will be suitable for devotion3 then we will not be able to perform any devotion. We have to remain imbibed6 in God5 all the time (day and nigh)t4 that is the true8 praise9 (devotion) of the Ever-Existing Entity7.

(Means: To be aware of the God all the time.)


Professor Chahal has obviously deviated from the beaten track of rendering the Gurmukhi text of JAP into English. To make the rendering forceful, he has given theme headings on each Pauri (stanza) and provided its explanatory notes at the end. The driving force behind his interpretation of JAP seems to be his conviction that Nanakian Philosophy is unique and original and borrows nothing from decadent Hindu philosophy. He is not the first and the last author to propagate this hypothesis. It was Professor Puran Singh, a great mystic poet and scientist of Punjab, who expounded the unique features of Nanakian Philosophy in his writings during 1920’s. Professor Puran Singh lamented that due to Brahmanical environment, the Guru’s message has been misinterpreted: 

“It is to be regretted that Sikh and Hindu scholars are interpreting Guru Nanak in the futile terms and dissecting texts to find the Guru’s meaning to be same as of the Vedas and Upanishads. This indicates enslavement to the power of Brahmanical traditions.” (Spirit of the Sikh, Part II Vol. 2 p 271. Punjabi University, Patiala, India).


I am pleased to note that Professor Chahal is in resonance (working on the same wavelength) with Professor Puran Singh. I also wish, like the author, that more scientific interpretations of JAP would appear in the future to propagate the Nanakian Philosophy of Sikh religion for the benefit of emerging global society of the twenty-first century.    


Dr Hardev Singh Virk, Dr es Sc

Formerly Professor and Head, Department of Physics,

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar; Now at

360 Sector 71, SAS Nagar (Mohali) – 160 071, India

30th June 2003.


Note: The transliteration in Roman alphabet of Gurbani phrases and words have been added in this Edition by the author, DS Chahal, for the English-speaking people.






(For English Version)

Jap is the most translated bani (words). There are some 150 translations of this bani in mostly Indian languages and English. Why then do we need yet another translation? Because despite being the most translated, Jap remains the least understood bani.


Many reasons can be advanced for such a lament, but the primary cause is that the Sikh masses themselves have shrugged their spiritual duty to understand bani. Sikhs have by and large mistranslated “Jap” to mean “chant.” They have thus reduced spirituality to meaningless chanting of bani while waiting for miracles to happen, for Guru Nanak to appear in person or for liberation from the cycles of births and deaths – three outcomes that are ironically alien to the divine wisdom of Gurbani.


Sikh academics, theologians and preachers share the rest of the blame. Their contributions notwithstanding, they have generally been unable to free themselves of the powerful hold and lure of Vedic thought in their translations and discourses. There can be no greater disservice to our Gurus than to see Gurbani as being a stamp of approval for Vedic philosophy, concepts, beliefs and rituals.


This is where Prof Devinder Singh Chahal’s work stands out. This book is yet another of his intellectually courageous and spiritually authentic attempts to interpret the bani of Guru Nanak scientifically and logically in order to create an accurate understanding of the Guru’s messages. It is refreshing in that the reader is spared even the slightest whiff of Vedic or other puratan thought influence throughout the pages of this book.


Professor Chahal applies the rigor of logic, reason and argument as the basis of his interpretation of Jap. His own scientific background and professional life as a scientist have undoubtedly influenced his choice of paradigm and perspective. And in doing so, Professor Chahal makes what I think is the biggest contribution to our understanding of Jap – that this bani is a convincing and sound argument (for the human being to link with the Creator) that is presented within the highest precincts of logic and reason.


In his choice of paradigm, Prof Chahal sees and presents Guru Nanak as a philosopher-scientist, a man of Godly wisdom who is in possession of, and applies the full faculties of logic and reason, and one who believes in winning over the hearts and minds of fellow humans through sound, scholarly and convincing discourse. Herein lies, what I think is Prof Chahal’s second biggest contribution: he is telling us that Guru Nanak, his philosophy, his Sikhi,  his bani and the Guru Granth Sahib as a whole is substance that makes for spirituality befitting the 21st century.


For readers who may find it difficult to accept the basic paradigms of this book because they contradict their mystical and magical beliefs about Guru Nanak and Jap that remain deeply embedded in their spiritual psyches, I ask them to muster their spiritual courage, to open their minds and read this book. While such a reader may suffer the shattering of many a long held and belief, such would constitute no real loss, for they would undoubtedly be replaced by intellectually refreshing, spiritually elevating, sacredly sound and believable beliefs about our Guru and Jap. The ultimate result would be an understanding of Guru Nanak and his Jap bani that a modern human mind can relate to, identify with, appreciate, accept and follow in one’s daily life.


Jesse Schell, in the Introduction chapter of this book, opines that the corruption of the original message of bani is so deeply imbedded in the current form of Sikhism that there is no hope for reformation.


I tend to disagree. Three reasons can be advanced for such optimism. The first has to do with the collective personas of Generation Y and Z particularly those living outside Punjab whose spiritualties are generally uncorrupted by Vedic influences in the way such influences were intertwined within the DNA of Sikhs of earlier generations. These new generation Sikhs are ready to accept, and indeed demand scientific, rational and logical discourse of Gurbani and one that is devoid of Vedic/puratan stuff.


The second has to do with the advent of the internet and the slow but sure replacement of Punjabi with English as the lingua franca of Sikh spiritual discourse. A great deal of Gurbani translations that are Vedic-based are in Punjabi and will become increasingly unread. The internet allows for the spread of modern spiritual discourse. It also allows for widespread critique of the mystical and un-relatable stuff that is presented as the core of Sikhi.


The third is the advent and growing convictions of scholars like Prof Chahal who recognize such trends and have strived to fill the gap admirably and commendably. And with courage, one must add.


Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston)

Head of Expertise Development

National Institute of Public Administration



6th December 2015

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.










Guru Nanak (1469-1539) laid the foundation of a universally acceptable philosophy for humanity, called “Sikhi(anglicized as “Sikhism”). Today, Sikhism is considered as the fifth-largest faith in the world but it is continuously being misrepresented under the influence of Vedanta and ancient philosophy. Guru Nanak is usually described as a mystic and a miracle worker, who had a mystical experience at the age of 29 when he came out of Vayein rivulet after being missing for three days. Emerging from the water, he proclaimed, “There is no Hindu; there is no Muslim”. Chahal et al [1] have refuted such stories in the book, Nanak: The Guru – Founder of Sikhism. In this book they emphasize that Guru Nanak was a very keen observer of Nature and human behavior and right from an early age he had started to formulate his philosophy. They also recommend that if someone wants to know about Nanak and his philosophy then one should look for it in his bani (hymns/verses).


Today, Sikhi (Sikhism) has become an esoteric, mystic and ritualistic religion. Because of the misrepresentation of Guru Nanak and his philosophy, Sikhism is either rarely mentioned in discussions of world religions, or, if discussed, it is grouped with Hinduism as one of its sects.


Ishar Singh [2] noticed that the philosophy of Guru Nanak had not been presented to the world prior to 1969, the time of the celebration of his 500th birthday anniversary. He further says that the responsibility perhaps lies on the shoulders of Sikh scholars themselves who have failed to make adequate efforts to understand his philosophy. If one looks into the efforts of the Sikh scholars during the celebration of the 500th birthday of Guru Nanak one would hardly find any literature propagating the philosophy of Guru Nanak in its true perspective. Chahal [3] was the first who tried to interpret the bani of Guru Nanak logically and scientifically in order to bring out his authentic philosophy. He also gave an academic term, Nanakian Philosophy, to the philosophy of Guru Nanak embodied in his bani incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) [4].


The Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS) has initiated a series of books to present Nanakian Philosophy. In this series, the first book, Nanak: The Guru – Founder of Sikhism, provides a short life-sketch of Guru Nanak and some of the basic principles of his philosophy [1].


The second in this series is the current work on the summary of Nanakian Philosophy described in Jap of Guru Nanak. Jap is such an important part of the verse (bani) of Guru Nanak which has been placed at the beginning of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) [4] by Guru Arjun in 1604. Due to its importance in the lives of the Sikhs, Jap has been interpreted and translated into many languages by many scholars of various faiths. It is estimated that there are hundreds of such translations since its expression by Guru Nanak sometime during the 15th or 16th century. The irony is that none of these works have convinced the English-speaking people of the world, unfamiliar with the Punjabi language and culture, of the universal acceptability of his philosophy. Therefore, the first version of Jap bani in English only is online:


JAP: The Verses of Guru Nanak



The current version of Jap bani is detailed explanation with Gurmukhi script along with its transliteration in Roman alphabet.


Joginder Singh [5] has listed over 150 such translations mostly in Punjabi and some in Hindi, Urdu, and also in English about 34 years ago. Joginder Singh has divided early interpretations into five major categories:

1.        School of Meharbaan: The main writer is Sodhi Mehrbaan. First interpretation started around 1650-1652. The available interpretation is by Har Ji. First copy appeared in 1707 during Guru Har Rai’s time and then second copy appeared in 1827. Interpretations of this school are based on Vedas and Puranas.

2.       School of Odasis: The main writer is Swami Anand Ghan, the successor of Baba Sri Chand, son of Guru Nanak. They never taught anything other than the bani of Guru Nanak. The interpretation of bani of Guru Nanak started around 1795. His interpretations are also based on Vedas and Puranas. Gurmantra is “Sat Naam”.

3.       School of Nirmalas: Kavi Santokh Singh and Pundit Tara Singh Narotum are the main authors. Interpretations are based on Vedas. This school has introduced customs of Sanatana Dharma. One sentence is interpreted with more than one different meaning. Rama and Krishna are accepted as Avtars (incarnation of God). Burning of incense and lighting of ghee (butter) lamps are considered important in worship.

4.      School of Gianis: Interpretations of Bhai Mani Singh and Giani Badan Singh (known as Faridkot Vala Teeka) are important ones. Which is fully interpreted according to Vedanta and nothing goes against Vedas in their interpretations.

5.       School of Modern Scholars: Interpretation by Bhai Vir Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh, Prof Sahib Singh, Principal Teja Singh, Dr Mohan Singh and many more contemporary scholars are included in this school. Although these interpretations are much better, still there is a lot of influence of Vedas and Puranas. 

6.      School of Scientists: Dr Hardev Singh Virk, himself a famous scientist, wrote in the FOREWORD for Professor Devinder Singh Chahal’s book about this new category of Sikh scientists as follows:

“I may add that Professor Chahal’s interpretation falls into the sixth category which may be categorized as: School of Scientists. His interpretation is unique in some respects and may create reactions in orthodox circles not familiar with scientific approach.” [6]


Now, some Sikh scientists are writing about Sikhi (Sikhism) logically and scientifically for the people of the 21st century. However, Virk is right to say that such work is not easily accepted by those unfamiliar with the scientific approach. Consequently, many scientists hesitate to interpret the bani of Guru Nanak with the application of logic and use of scientific information because the draconian sword of excommunication is always hanging over the heads of Sikh scholars.


Macauliffe [7] was the first Englishman to translate Jap and other selected verses from the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) into English for those unfamiliar with Punjabi language and culture.  He described Guru Nanak’s contributions as follows:

 “Now there is here presented a religion totally unaffected by Semitic or Christian influence. Based on the concept of unity of God, it rejected Hindu formularies and adopted an independent ethical system, ritual, and standards which were totally opposed to the theological beliefs of Guru Nanak’s age and country.” ([8] p- LIV )


Macauliffe took the help of the following professional scholars to interpret selected verses of the AGGS: Bhai Kahn Singh of Nabha as the Chief along with Bhai Nihal Singh and Sant Singh of Sialkot; Bhai Ditt Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Rajinder Singh and Nihal Singh of Lahore; Bhai Sardul Singh Giani, Prem Singh, Fateh Singh and Darbara Singh of Amritsar; Bhai Sant Singh of Kapurthala, Bhai Bhagwan Singh of Patiala and Dasaudha Singh of Ferozpur (14 in number). The proofs of his final work were read by Bhai Kahn Singh, Diwan Lila Ram, Bhai Shankar Dayal, Bhai Hazara Singh, Bhai Sardul Singh, Bhai Ditt Singh, Bhai Bhagvan Singh and others from 1901-1903. [9]


Although he accepted the help from all expert theologians of that time, still he noticed that their opinions were often widely at odds with one another. At times this situation provoked him to annoyance, anxiety, irritability, or distress. Macauliffe’s opinion regarding the differing opinions among Sikh theologians was further confirmed when his work was widely acclaimed by the general Sikh community but there were other gianis who called the whole thing into question: “I have met so-called gianis who could perform tours de force with their sacred work, and give different interpretations of almost every line of it.” [9]


As one can see from the example of Macauliffe, no matter how competent an interpretation and translation of the Gurbani may be, there are always some gianis who will find objections to it.


Since there are already many interpretations/translations of Jap in Punjabi as well as in English and other languages, the question may be raised: What is the need of another interpretation of Jap? Critical analyses of most of the current interpretations of Jap indicate that they are heavily dominated by ancient and Vedic philosophies and mythology to the point that the authentic Nanakian Philosophy [3] has been lost altogether. Even the recent interpretations are based on the old interpretations from the above first five categories. In a couple of interpretations some scientific information and logic have been used to interpret Jap, however, we feel that full justification has not been done to represent its originality and uniqueness.


Our first attempt, Jap: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy, published by the Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS) in 2003, was based on logical and  scientific interpretation, turned out to be a great success [3]. The current version is being published by keeping in view the increased interest of Punjabi and English speaking people who want to know Guru Nanak and his philosophy.


In 1969, it was the idea of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to bring the philosophy of the Adi Granth (Aad Granth) to the notice of English speaking peoples during the celebration of the 500th birthday of Guru Nanak. Thus, UNESCO entrusted this task of translation of selections of the sacred writings of the Sikhs to the Sahitya Akademi (Indian Academy of Letters). Dr Trilochan Singh was the convener of the translators - Trilochan Singh himself, Jodh Singh, Kapur Singh, Bawa Harkrishan Singh and Khushwant Singh. The English translation was revised from the point of view of English style by G. S. Fraser. ([10] - Preface UNESCO Sahitya Akademi).


The resulting book, Selections from the Sacred Writings of the Sikhs, is the part of the Indian Series of the Translations Collection of the UNESCO [10]. Arnold Toynbee, historian and philosopher of history, said that this publication is an important event in the history of the now rapidly increasing contact between different peoples and civilizations in the field of literature, religion, and other provinces of the spiritual life. He further emphasized that it is important that it should be brought within the direct reach of as many people as possible. ([10] Foreword)


If we look into the book of Macauliffe and that of UNESCO, specially designed for the English speaking people of the world, it would appear that both books are also based on Vedantic and ancient philosophies and failed to portray the universal acceptability of Nanakian Philosophy to world philosophers and religious leaders.


We have adopted the same system of presentation of Jap bani of Guru Nanak in a style used by Macauliffe [8] and UNESCO [10] but our interpretation is based upon the specific methodology (explained later) including the application of logic and use of scientific information.


It is envisaged that some researchers, scholars and general readers may find it difficult to accept certain interpretations because these contradict the well-established concepts, which are strongly imprinted on their minds. This is due to the inherent human weakness to react strongly when accepted concepts and interpretations are challenged. People will defend such concepts at all costs even when proven wrong by testing with logic and scientific information – the touchstones of truth.


This occurs because, in general, people easily accept that to be true which is false, do something that is wrong, and follow the path that is crooked due to lack of genuine and proper information. 

ਖੋਟੇ ਕਉ ਖਰਾ ਕਹੈ ਖਰੇ ਸਾਰ ਜਾਣੈ

Kote kao karā kahai kare sār na jāai.

ਅੰਧੇ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਪਾਰਖੂ ਕਲੀ ਕਾਲ ਵਿਡਾਣੈ

Anḏẖe kā nāo pārkū kalī kāl vidāai. ||3|| 

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 229.

In general, people are unable to distinguish between wrong and right.

They call the ignorant person as the appraiser, who determines the authenticity. This is a practice of this time.

AGGS, M 1, p 229.


Similarly, Guru Arjun explains same human behaviour as observed by Guru Nanak:

ਝੂਠੁ ਬਾਤ ਸਾ ਸਚੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਤੀ

Jūṯẖ sā sac kar jāī. 

ਸਤਿ ਹੋਵਨੁ ਮਨਿ ਲਗੈ ਰਾਤੀ

Sa hovan man lagai na rāī. ||2||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 185.

What is false, one takes it to be true. What is truth is not imbibed in one's mind. 

AGGS, M 5, p 185.


Due to the above-explained inherent human weakness, Sikhs largely accept the information given in the old writings of the Sikh theologians and historians as true. Moreover, discontented people in general are more inclined to believe in mythical works coated with various allurements for a quick remedy of their problems. There was no dearth of such people then and even now. Now the information given in such writings have been imprinted permanently in their minds. If any tradition, belief, or code, given in such writings, is challenged by some researchers then many devout Sikhs, Sants, Babas, Raagis, traditional preachers, Sikh theologians, and the Sikh authorities - the so-called custodians of Sikhism, declare such action as a blasphemy of Gurbani and Sikhism.


Here, Jap bani has been interpreted logically and scientifically for humanity especially for both Punjabi and English speaking people who are not familiar with Punjabi language and culture. We also admit here that this is not an ultimate interpretation. The author takes the responsibility if there is anything which goes against the basic principles of Nanakian Philosophy. Nevertheless, we hope someday, someone or some group of scholars in various fields: physical and natural sciences; philosophy, psychology, medicine, astronomy, biology, language, history, law, etc., will bring out better interpretations than this one.


Prof. Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD

28th February, 2018

Laval, Québec, Canada



1.     Chahal, D. S., Thind, K. S, Dhailwal, A. .S. and Schell, J (2014) Nanak: The Guru - The Founder of Sikhism (Laval, Quebec, Canada, Institute fro Understanding Sikhism http://www.iuscanada.com/books/2015/ebook_Nanak_The%20Guru_The_Founder_of_Sikhism.pdf). http://www.iuscanada.com/books/2015/ebook_Nanak_The%20Guru_The_Founder_of_Sikhism.pdf

2.     Singh, I. (1969 (1988)) The Philosophy of Guru Nanak (New Delhi, Anubhav Art Press).

3.     Chahal, D. S. (2008) Nanakian Philosophy Basics for Humanity (Laval, QC, Canada, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).

4.     AGGS (1983) Aad Guru Granth Sahib (Amritsar, Punjab, India, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee).  (M = Mahla, i.e., succession number of the Sikh Gurus to the House of Nanak, M is replaced with the name of Bhagat/ Bhatt for their Bani, p = Page of the AGGS).

5.     Singh, J. (1981) Japji de Teeke: Smikhyatmak Adhyan (In Punjabi) (Patiala, India, 24 Green View).

6.     Chahal, D. S. (2003) JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy (Laval, Quebec, Canada Institute for Understanding Sikhism, Distributors: Singh Brothers, Amritsar).

7.     Chahal, D. S. (2013) Ketnote Address: International Conference Formuating Methodology for Interpreting Gurbani. Anniversary of Max Arthur Macauliffe (1841-1913) Understanding Sikhism Res, J, p. 1 (Laval, Quebec, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).

8.     Macauliffe, M. A. (1978) The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors (New Delhi, S. Chand & Company Ltd).

9.     Dawe, D. G. (1997) Macauliffe, Max Arthur (1841-1913), in: Singh, H. (Ed.) The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, p. 1 (Patiala, Punjabi University).

10.  Singh, T. S., Bhai Jodh; Singh, Kapur; Singh, Bawa Harkrishan; Singh, Khushwant. (1973) The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs (New York, Samuel Weiser, Inc).






For a proper understanding of Jap – the first verse (bani) of Guru Nanak – it is necessary to study the methodology he used to compose his verses to represent his philosophy. The various methods used by Guru Nanak are described briefly as follows:


Guru Nanak has extensively used allegories, metaphors, and similes from ancient epics and mythical works in his verses. Therefore, understanding these terms is important for correctly interpreting his verses:


Allegory: the expression, by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions, of truths or generalizations about human existence; an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression; a symbolic representation.

Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.

Simile: a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as (as in cheeks like roses).

In many scholarly interpretations of Gurbani, allegories, metaphors and similes have been considered literally rather than as figures of speech. Such interpretations take away its real perspective. Thus, the allegoric and metaphoric expressions and similes used by Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus were considered very carefully while interpreting Jap bani in this book.


Daljit Singh and Kharak Singh [1] also expressed almost the same view on this aspect, when I asked about the bani of Bhagat and the bani of the Sikh Gurus through the Editor, S. Saran Singh, of the Sikh Review, Calcutta:

“The third question is about the myths and stories which find mention in the Guru Granth Sahib. Without meaning any disrespect to anyone, it is known that Ramayana and Mahabharata are among the great epics of the world in which most mythical stories have hardly any historicity. And, yet, these stories being current have their values for the purpose of clarifying religious propositions and making them linguistically understandable to the people who are conversant with them and the concerned idiom. Their reference is mostly symbolic, idiomatic or allegoric, and involves no acceptance of their historical reality.”


For example in the following phrase, the use of allegories and metaphors have been accepted as the fact:

ਗੁਰੁ ਦਰੀਆਉ ਸਦਾ ਜਲੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਹਰੈ

Gur arīāo saā jal nirmal miliā urma mail harai. 

ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਪਾਇਐ ਪੂਰਾ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤਹੁ ਦੇਵ ਕਰੈ

Sagur pāiai pūrā nāva pasū pareahu ev karai. ||2|| 

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1329.


If one does not keep in view the metaphoric and symbolic expressions in the above phrase, the interpretation would be different from its real theme. Interpretation of the above phrase is the best example, where many interpreters did not consider the use of allegories and metaphors used by Guru Nanak, properly. For example, it has been interpreted by Sant Singh Khalsa [2] as follows:

The Guru is the River, from which the Pure Water is obtained forever; it washes away the filth and pollution of evil-mindedness. 

Finding the True Guru, the perfect cleansing bath is obtained, which transforms even beasts and ghosts into gods. ||2||

 AGGS, M 1, p 1329.


Such interpretations are almost word-by-word literal translations. Therefore, the real message of the verse is lost. Now let us see what would be the interpretation of the same phrase if allegories, metaphors, and similes used by Guru Nanak were considered properly.


ਦਰੀਆਉ (dariao),  literally means a  ‘river’, is a metaphor for wisdom/philosophy of the Guru (Nanak).

ਨਾਵਣੁ (navan), literally means ‘bathing’ is a metaphor for ‘using the above wisdom/philosophy’.

ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤਹੁ ਦੇਵ (Pasu, praet, dev) are the allegoric/symbolic expressions for persons having instincts of animal, demons, and nobility, respectively.


Now this phrase is interpreted as follows:

The Guru’s wisdom/philosophy when adopted/practiced removes evil thoughts.

The Guru’s wisdom/philosophy when adopted/practiced completely converts the person, having animal and demon instincts, into the noblest person of all.

AGGS, M 1, p 1329.


Guru Nanak often poses a question or a question posed by somebody else in first phrase and then an answer is given in the second phrase. Sometimes the question is in the first part of the verse and then answer is given in the second part of the same verse. However, much of the time it is difficult to distinguish whether a phrase is a question or a normal phrase since such questioning phrase/verse is in poetical form. If this questioning-answering system were not understood properly then it would be difficult to interpret the Gurbani correctly. For example:



ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਐ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ

Kiv saciārā hoīai kiv kūrhai utai pāl.


Then, how can one achieve purification (peace) of mind?

And how can one break the vicious circle of lies (building falsehood over falsehood).


ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ

Hukam rajāī calā Nānak likiā nāl. ||1||

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪ 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1.

Nanak says:

One can achieve purification of mind or peace of mind by breaking the vicious circle of lies and by understanding and abiding the established Laws of Nature/Universe.

AGGS, Jap 1, p 1.

Note: ਹੁਕਮਿ = Laws of Nature/Universe.

Dr Thind [3] has shown this questioning-answering system in Jap bani, and Dr Prarminderjit Singh [4] has shown that this system has been used throughout the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS). 


Many times very simple methods used almost every day are quoted to explain the philosophy. For example,

ਭਰੀਐ ਹਥੁ ਪੈਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸੁ ਖੇਹ

ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜੁ ਹੋਇ ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣੁ ਲਈਐ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਇ

ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ*

Barīai hath pair an eh.Pāī ḏẖoai uras keh.

palīī kapa hoe. e sābū laīai oh ḏẖoe.

Barīai ma pāpā kai sang. Oh ḏẖopai nāvai kai rang.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪ 20, ਪੰਨਾ 4.

In this stanza various practical methods have been explained to cleanse the pollution according to the nature of the objects:


If the hands are soiled with dust, then the cleansing method is the use of simple water.

If clothes are soiled with urine, then the cleansing method is the use of soap.

If the mind is polluted with sin, then the cleansing method is imbibing Naam*.

AGGS, Jap 20, p 4.

*ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ (nāvai kai rang):  It is usually interpreted as ‘imbibing in God’ by many authors. However, here it means practicing righteousness.


There is another method, in which Guru Nanak uses pre-established old concepts or notions or ancient philosophy in the beginning of the verse and then at the end of the verse he explains his own philosophy.  For example,

ਪਾਤਾਲਾ ਪਾਤਾਲ ਲਖ ਆਗਾਸਾ ਆਗਾਸ

ਓੜਕ ਓੜਕ ਭਾਲਿ ਥਕੇ ਵੇਦ ਕਹਨਿ ਇਕ ਵਾਤ

ਸਹਸ ਅਠਾਰਹ ਕਹਨਿ ਕਤੇਬਾ ਅਸੁਲੂ ਇਕੁ ਧਾਤੁ

ਲੇਖਾ ਹੋਇ ਲਿਖੀਐ ਲੇਖੈ ਹੋਇ ਵਿਣਾਸੁ

ਨਾਨਕ ਵਡਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਆਪੇ ਜਾਣੈ ਆਪੁ ੨੨

ālā pāāl lak āgāsā āgās.

Oak oak bāl thake ve kahan ik vā.

Sahas aṯẖārah kahan kaebā asulū ik ḏẖā.

Lekā hoe a likīai lekai hoe viās.

Nānak vadā ākīai āpe jāai āp. ||22||

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪ 22, ਪੰਨਾ 5.

There are hundreds of thousands of netherworlds, and hundreds of thousands of skies.

After great research, the Vedas have said it definitely!

The Semitic books say that there are eighteen thousand worlds and that is the fact.

However, Nanak says:

It cannot be possible to count (the number of the celestial bodies in the Universe) because the accounting person may reach the end of his life during counting, it will still be incomplete.

He further says that (Eternal Entity) is the Great who knows the account (of the celestial bodies in the universe). 22.

AGGS, Jap 22, p 5.


ਪਾਤਾਲਾ ਪਾਤਾਲ ਲਖ ਆਗਾਸਾ ਆਗਾਸ (Pāālā pāāl lak āgāsā āgās.)

The above phrase has been literally translated as is understood in Vedas. ਪਾਤਾਲ (pata) has been translated as ‘nether worlds’, i.e. the mythical worlds of dead persons. However, scientifically, there is no such world of the dead in our solar system or anywhere else. Logically there is also no need for hundreds of thousands (lacs) of nether worlds to hold the dead people of this tiny planet, the Earth. The ਆਗਾਸ’ (agas) has been translated as ‘sky’. Scientifically there is no sky. What is called sky is an upper atmosphere of the Earth appearing as blue in sunlight. One can divide this atmosphere into different strata but definitely not into hundreds of thousands (lacs) of skies around our planet.


In fact, what one sees out there is space. Scientifically space is the three-dimensional expanse in which all matter is located and all events take place, extending in all directions and variously described as extending indefinitely or as finite but immeasurably large [5]. Therefore, the literal translation of the above phrase does not lead us to the truth. Moreover, this is not the philosophy of Guru Nanak as is erroneously ascribed to him by some scholars. In fact, Guru Nanak is quoting the myth reported in the Vedas as is clear in the next phrase ਓੜਕ ਓੜਕ ਭਾਲਿ ਥਕੇ ਵੇਦ ਕਹਨਿ ਇਕ ਵਾਤ Oak oak bāl thake ve kahan ik vā.)


Similarly, Guru Nanak quotes the Semitic ideas about the worlds in the next phrase:

ਸਹਸ ਅਠਾਰਹ ਕਹਨਿ ਕਤੇਬਾ ਅਸੁਲੂ ਇਕੁ ਧਾਤੁ (Sahas aṯẖārah kahan kaebā asulū ik ḏẖā.) “Semitic books say that there are 18,000 worlds in the universe.”


After quoting the ancient concepts, notions, or myths available in the literature on the subject, Guru Nanak explains his own philosophy as follows:

ਲੇਖਾ ਹੋਇ ਲਿਖੀਐ ਲੇਖੈ ਹੋਇ ਵਿਣਾਸੁ

ਨਾਨਕ ਵਡਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਆਪੇ ਜਾਣੈ ਆਪੁ ੨੨

Lekā hoe a likīai lekai hoe viās.

Nānak vadā ākīai āpe jāai āp.

It cannot be possible to count (number of the celestial bodies in the Universe) because the accounting person may reach the end of his life during counting, it will still be incomplete.

He further says that (Eternal Entity) is the Great who knows the account (of the celestial bodies in the universe).

AGGS, Jap 22, p 5


Jap bani is in poetical form with the minimum number of words without any punctuation; therefore, it becomes difficult to interpret it in its real perspective. Sahib Singh [5] has tried to interpret gurbani keeping in view this fact and he usually adds extra words in a parenthesis to make the interpretation understandable. Thus, in this book, to make the interpretation easily understandable extra words have also been used many times and sometime have been put in parentheses.


Before interpreting any phrase, it is necessary to know the most appropriate meanings of the words that convey the theme or philosophy of the whole stanza or verse. The following sources were consulted to find out the most appropriate meanings of Gurmukhi words:

(i) Mahan Kosh by Kahn Singh [2]; dictionaries in Srigranth.org   [2]  (ii) Sri Guru Granth Kosh by Gurcharan Singh [6]; (iii) Sabd Arth (meanings of words) from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan of Sahib Singh [2]; and from Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib of Giani Harbans Singh [7] without being influenced by their interpretations.



Use of Etymology

Interpretation of ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ (Kīā pasāo eko kavāo.) ਤਿਸ ਤੇਹੋਏ ਲਖ ਦਰੀਆਉ (Ŧis e hoe lak arīāo.) ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ16, ਪੰਨਾ 3 is usually interpreted as follows:

You created the vast expanse of the Universe with one word! Hundreds of thousands of rivers began to flow. (Sant Singh Khalsa)

However, Chahal [8] reported that if we look into the etymological meanings of ਕਵਾਉ (kawao) as ਕਵਾ (Kawa) which means ‘energy’, or ‘power’ according to Bhai Kahn Singh; ਏਕੋ  (eko) as  ‘one source’; ਦਰੀਆਉ’ (Daryao) as a metaphor for ‘things’; and ਪਸਾਉ ( pasao) as ‘expension’ then the above phrase can be interpreted as follows:

The Universe exploded from one source of energy (Singularity) and started to expand. Thereafter, many things appeared.

One would notice that it is quite different from that usually accepted by many Sikh theologians.

Use of Ontology

Use of ‘ontology’ is another approach to interpret hymns/verses of Guru Nanak.


Ontology is defined as:

The study of existence - the most general branch of metaphysics, concerned with the nature of being. Encarta Dictionary

The branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such. Dictionary.com


The available literature indicates that no theologian or scientist has been able to prove the “ontology of God”. Almost all the prophets, including Guru Nanak, admit that it is difficult to describe God; however, some have conceptualized the essence of God in various forms of a personal God, which can only be experienced but cannot be described. On the other hand, many scientists and philosophers, plus many Buddhists and Jains, do not accept the existence of God. Guru Nanak is of the view since it is difficult to describe God, therefore, no specific /descriptive name (Kirtam Naam) could be assigned to God although he himself has used many such descriptive names as metaphors in his hymns.


According to the study of Chahal [9] Guru Nanak uses a logo to represent God, , which means ‘Singularity’ or as ਸੁੰਨ (Sunn) or ਨਿਰਗੁਨ (Nirgun), the state of God in a highly concentrated form of ENERGY which became ਸਰਗੁਨ (Sargun) – the Nature and/or Universe after the Big Bang. Chahal [9] further says that this leads us  to believe that   which represents God, is energy. This energy existed before space and time appeared, existed in the past, exists now and will exist in the future- forever (ਆਿਦ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਿਦ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ - Ā sac jugā sac. Hai bī sac Nānak hosī bī sac.). Einstein also made a similar statement about energy 400 years after Guru Nanak: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.” Therefore, ontologically Guru Nanak describes the nature of God as energy and its existence forever and everywhere. 


For Guru Nanak God is Transcendent Entity. That is ineffable (ਅਲਖ), incomprehensible / un-fathomable (ਅਗੋਚਰੁ), inaccessible (ਅਗਮ), formless (ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ), infinite (ਬੇਅੰਤ), without any fault (ਨਿਰੰਜਨ), etc. Due to these characteristics of God, Guru Nanak has not assigned any descriptive/specific name to God [10-12]. Therefore, in this book God has been represented as an Eternal Entity. Guru Nanak has omitted the use of any descriptive or specific name to address God in the majority of his verses wherein it is difficult to know whom is being addressed. This method of referencing to God is quite prominent especially in Jap bani and in the rest of his verses. For example, in first sloka of Jap bani no name has been used in describing ever-existing Entity as follows:

ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ 

Ā sac jugā sac.

ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ 

Hai bī sac Nānak hosī bī sac. ||1||

Was in existence before the beginning of time and space;

Was in existence in the past (throughout the various ages);

Is in existence in the present; and

Will remain in existence forever (in the future).

However, in many of verses Guru Nanak has used some ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ (kirtam Naam – descriptive or specific name) like, Allah, Gobind, Gopal, Rahim, Rama, Swami, etc. as metaphors for that Eternal Entity. Guru Nanak has further explained that ‘Rama’ used as metaphorically for that Eternal Entity in many of his verses is not that ‘Rama’, the king, who was son of Dasharatha in the ancient history (AGGS, M 1, p 464-465). This is the ‘Rama’, which means that ‘Eternal Entity’, which pervades everywhere. Therefore, all such ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ (descriptive or specific names) of God have been used metaphorically to denote that Eternal Entity thereby making his verses more easily understood. Here in this book, the God has been either represented without any name or as ‘Eternal Entity’ and adding (God) in parenthesis sometimes or by its pronouns ‘It’ or Íts’ or You (Tu) but not as ‘He’ or ‘She’ to avoid indicating any gender.


The Punjabi and other foreign words when used in the text are italicized. These words are spelled as they are spelled and pronounced in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib except other such words, e.g. Ram as Rama, Mantar as Mantra, Raag as Raga, Sabd as Sabda,  Slok as Sloka, etc. which have been accepted in classical scholarly transliteration system


All the stanzas of Jap bani have been interpreted after a critical analysis of the words to ascertain the most appropriate meanings in the context of the theme of the verse, while keeping in view the scientific information on that theme and the application of logic. Special precautions were taken not to cite mythical or inauthentic work to support a concept or to formulate a principle. Nevertheless, before interpreting the phrase or verse, the mythical work, and allegories, metaphors and similes quoted in the verses were studied very carefully to determine in which context these have been quoted.


Once the use of mythology and ancient concepts as allegories, metaphors, and similes in each stanza were understood properly, then it was easy to achieve a consistent and accurate interpretation. A very appropriate title has also been assigned to each stanza of Jap bani based upon the main theme. Some stanzas have been broken into more than one parts based upon their themes, thus such stanzas have more than one title.


Consequently, after following this Methodology, our interpretation may appear quite different from that of traditional interpretations of others. However, suggestions for further improvement in interpretation are welcome.



1.     Singh, D. & Singh, K. (1993) Guru and Bani: The basic message, The Sikh Review, Calcutta, 40 (January), p 11.

2.     Thind, K. S.  www.srigranth.org.

3.     Thind, K. S. (2004) Questioning-Answering System in Jap, Understanding Sikhism Res. J., 6 (1), p 29.

4.     Singh, P. (2003) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Vichlay Prashan-uttaran daa Kosh. (Punjabi) (Patiala, Prof Sahib Singh Trust (Reg.)).

5.     Singh, S. (1972) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan (Punjabi). Vols 10 (Jallandhar, India, Raj Publishers).

6.     Singh, G. (2000) Sri Guru Granth Kosh: Gurmukhi to Gurmukhi (In Punjabi) (Patiala, India, Prof Sahib Singh Trust).

7.     Singh, H. (1988) Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi). Vols. 14 (Patiala, India, Gurmat Seva Parkashan).

8.     Chahal, D. S. (2013) Application of Science and Logic in Interpreting Gurbani, Part I: Etymology, Understanding Sikhism Res. J., 15 (1&2).

9.     Chahal, D. S. (2013) Application of Science and in Interpreting Gurbani: Part II: Ontology, Understanding Sikhism Res. J. , 15 (1 & 2).

10.  Chahal, D. S. (2003) JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy (Laval, Quebec, Canada Institute for Understanding Sikhism, Distributors: Singh Brothers, Amritsar).

11.  Chahal, D. S. (2008) Nanakian Philosophy Basics for Humanity (Laval, QC, Canada, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).

12.  Chahal, D. S. (2010) Guru Nanak's Concept of God, J. Sikh Studies, 34 p 7.







Jap is the verse (ਬਾਣੀ - bani) of Guru Nanak which outlines in brief the basic principles of his philosophy embodied in his bani incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS). His philosophy has been termed “Nanakian Philosophy”.[1] Jap bani begins with the Commencing Verse (erroneously called the Mool Mantra or Manglachara). The Commencing Verse again is repeated in unabridged form or variously abridged forms in the beginning of major sections and the sub sections of the AGGS.


Jap has been divided into sections, depending upon the nature of subject matter discussed in various stanzas (commonly called pauris) as follows:


Jap starts with a sloka which proclaims the ever-existence of the Eternal Entity (God), which was represented in a logo,.


Jap, composed of 38 stanzas (pauris – steps of a ladder), is considered to be a summary of the philosophy of Guru Nanak. Some theologians consider it as a summary of the entire Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS), but this cannot be possible since Jap was written before the AGGS was compiled by Guru Arjun in 1604, about 65 years after passing away of Guru Nanak.



·         Stanza 1 describes the method of the purification of the mind to attain peace.

·         Stanza 2 explains that every action and reaction in the Universe and on this Earth is going on according the Laws of Nature (hukm); nothing can happen outside these laws.

·         Stanza 3 tells us that that Entity cannot be pleased with any type of praise.

·         Stanza 4 states that the Eternal Entity is pleased if we follow the Laws of Nature and perform good deeds.

·         Stanza 5 is divided into two parts. In first part Guru Nanak says that the Eternal Entity cannot be represented by any human form as is being done by many people. The second part explains that the Eternal Entity cannot be described and that is why it cannot be represented by any form.

·         Stanza 6 explains that bathing at holy places is of no avail.

·         Stanza 7 affirms that having long life and fame are also nothing without righteous and virtuous conduct.


·         Stanzas 8-11 are about “listening” (sunniai). Here Guru Nanak explains that by listening and comprehension of sabd (enlightening idea/philosophy/vision) as described in stanza 38 of Jap, one understands many things about humans and Nature.


·         Stanzas 12-15 explain that by “accepting” (manne) enlightened vision/philosophy, one can live a successful life.



·         Stanza 16-1 indicates that nobles (persons having high morality) are honored.

·         Stanza 16-2 represents the myth of bull carrying the Earth has been disproved by saying that the Earth stays in its orbit by mutual gravitational pull (santokh) between the Earth and the Sun.

·         Stanza 16-3 explains the existence of countless living beings.

·         Stanza 16-4 describes briefly the origin of the Universe, which is comparable to the theory of the Big Bang, although some refute this theory.


·         Stanza 17 describes that devotees are trying to describe the Eternal Entity and are repeating Its various names.

·         Stanza 18 lists the activities of countless fools, ignorant and wicked people. Certain people exploit others and force their will upon them.

·         Stanza 19 is divided into two parts. First part tells of the innumerable creations in the Universe. The second part explains the importance of the alphabet to write about one’s experience and to write songs.  Even the Eternal Entity writes the destiny of living beings with the alphabet on their DNA  (deoxyribonucleic acid)


·         Stanza 20 explains various methods of purification of the different types of pollutions and the purification of the mind polluted with various types of sins.

·         Stanza 21 is divided into two different parts. The first part explains that there is no reward for bathing at different places of pilgrimage. The second part tells us that the various sacred books (granths) are not aware of the exact date of origin of the Universe.

·         Stanza 22 exposes the fallacy of the various religious concepts about the vastness of the Universe. Guru Nanak says that its vastness cannot be explained since there is an infinite number of galaxies and each galaxy contains billions of Suns and their Planets.


This section discusses that Eternal Entity which is commonly called God in English and by various names in other religions.

·         Stanza 23 discusses that the Eternal Entity (God) is incomprehensible.

·         Stanza 24 explains the infiniteness of the Universe which appeared from that Eternal Entity. (This is an extension of Stanza 22.)

·         Stanza 25 tells us that the Eternal Entity is bounteous.


·         Stanza 26 is divided into three parts which discuss the virtues, and the bounteous nature of the Eternal Entity which are priceless. That Eternal Entity and Its greatness cannot be described.

·         Stanza 27-1. Guru Nanak questions about the dwelling place of the Eternal Entity where from It controls the whole Universe and its living beings.

·         Stanza 27-2. Guru Nanak does not tell us Its dwelling place but poses another question: Is that dwelling place where various musical instruments are playing and where various living beings are praising that Entity?

·         Stanza 27-3. Finally, Guru Nanak answers the first and second questions that the Eternal Entity lives forever and everywhere and in everything (living and non-living) in this Universe.


·         Stanza 28 and 29. Guru Nanak advises Yogis about the correct type of yoga and also accuses them that there is no such thing like miracles they claim to possess. Since every action and reaction in this Universe is going on according to the Laws of Nature, nobody can change these laws to perform any miracle. Guru Nanak further explains that there are two type of energy sources in this Universe, i.e. fusion and fission.



·         Stanza 30 discusses that the Eternal Entity (God) does not exist in Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).

·         Stanza 31 tells us the Eternal Entity exists everywhere.


·         Stanza 32 explains that the repetition of various descriptive/specific names (kirtam naam) of the Eternal Entity does not help anyone to reach/approach/comprehend It.

·         Stanza 33 emphasizes that no one has any power to change the Laws of Nature to perform any miracle.

·         In Stanza 34 Guru Nanak tells us that the Eternal Entity has provided all the natural resources and phenomena necessary for all living beings.


·         Stanza 35-37. Guru Nanak discussed different realms: 1. Realm of Righteousness, 2. Realm of Wisdom/Knowledge, 3. Realm of Initiative, 4. Realm of Deeds, and 5. Realm where one realizes the Eternal Entity, Its existence forever and the vastness of the Universe.


·         Stanza 38. Guru Nanak explains how to coin (construct/develop) Sabd (Enlightened idea/philosophy/vision) through self-control, patience, use of knowledge and wisdom.



·         In this Sloka Guru Nanak explains the respect for natural resources by metaphorically describing air as the Guru, water as the father, and Earth as the mother which provides all the resources needed by all living beings. Keeping in the view the respect given to these resources by Guru Nanak, we need to preserves these resources and environment around this Earth for the next generations of humanity.




1.     Chahal, D. S. (2008) Nanakian Philosophy Basics for Humanity (Laval, QC, Canada, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).







ਅਰੰਭਿਕ ਵਾਕ (arambic vaak)


The JAP is the first bani (words) of Guru Nanak, which has been placed first in the Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs, composed by Guru Arjun in 1604. Here the Institute for Understanding Sikhism  call it  Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) [1], which is  published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar. [1, 2] It has been placed first considering it as the essence of Nanakian Philosophy. Nanakian Philosophy is philosophy of Guru Nanak, which is embodied in his bani incorporated in the AGGS and taught by the Sikhs Gurus, who succeeded to the House of Nanak. [3]


Before the JAP there is a phrase, commonly called as Mool Mantra or Manglacharan by the Sikhs theologians, researchers and the Sikhs at large. Nevertheless, it is neither a Mool Mantra since there is no mantra system in Nanakian Philosophy nor Manglacharan since it means a song of joy according to Mahan Kosh. [4] In fact, this phrase is about the description of the Eternal Entity commonly called God in English. However, this phrase is placed in the beginning of the AGGS before the JAP bani and before the major sections of the AGGS as such or in some abbreviated form.


A searching look, into the first page of the AGGS and before the JAP bani, clearly indicates that it can most appropriately be called as ਅਰੰਭਿਕ ਵਾਕ (arambic vaak)  in Punjabi language [5] since the Punjabi word ਅਰੰਭ (aramb) means ‘to commence’ or ‘to begin’.  Its adjective is ਅਰੰਭਿਕ (arambik) means ‘commencing’ or ‘beginning’. The Punjabi word ਵਾਕ (vaak) means verse, sentence, utterance, speech or hymn. Consequently, ਅਰੰਭਿਕ ਵਾਕ (arambic vaak) has been translated as “Commencing Verse” in English language.


In general, many Sikhs chant repeatedly the commencing Verse + JAP + first Sloka of the JAP altogether as a mantra by the sangat (congregation) in Gurdwaras and by individuals at homes. In fact, the first phrase ਅਰੰਭਿਕ ਵਾਕ (arambic vaak) or Commencing Verse is an independent verse than the JAP bani, which is separated by two parallel lines on both sides and it is followed by its first sloka as shown in Fig. 1.


Moreover, the title of the first bani is JAP as is seen in Fig. 1 appears to be distinct bani from the Commencing Verse. However, many Sikh writers and the Sikhs in general call it as JAP JI SAHIB, although neither Guru Nanak, the author of this phrase, nor the compiler, Guru Arjun, of the AGGS has added Ji and SAHIB after JAP.

Figure 1. First page of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib.



1.     Chahal, D. S. (2004) Sabd Guru to Granth Guru - An in Depth Study (Laval, Quebec, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).

2.     AGGS (1983) Aad Guru Granth Sahib (Amritsar, Punjab, India, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee).  (M = Mahla, i.e., succession number of the Sikh Gurus to the House of Nanak, M is replaced with the name of Bhagat/ Bhatt for their Bani, p = Page of the AGGS).

3.     Chahal, D. S. (2008) Nanakian Philosophy Basics for Humanity (Laval, QC, Canada, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).

4.     Singh, K. (1981) Mahan Kosh (Patiala, India, Bhasha Vibagh Punjab).

5.     Joshi, S. S., Gill, Mukhtiar Singh (1994) Punjabi-English Dictionary (Patiala, India, Punjabi University)








Let us examine the Commencing Verse of the AGGS logically and scientifically to find out whether it is a Mool Mantra or a Mangalcharan or a simple definition of God. The Commencing Verse appears in two lines on the first page of the AGGS as shown in (Fig. 1). Nevertheless, in the Kartarpuri Bir the is written at the top of all its attributes as shown in Fig 2. It indicates that is the main title, followed by its various attributes.


Figure 2. Commencing Verse in Kartarpuri Bir


For better understanding, the Commencing Verse has been divided into three parts as follows for the sake of easy interpretation:



ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ 2

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ 3

1. The first part is .

2. The second part is from ਸਤਿ to ਸੈਭੰ

3.  ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ is the third part.


PART 1:  

In fact, the first part is a unique logo designed by Guru Nanak, which represents the Eternal Entity (commonly called God in English and by many other names in other religions and languages). The second and third parts are attributes of the Eternal Entity (logo), which distinguish it from the concept of God in other religions.  


The designed by Guru Nanak has been the most misunderstood part of the Commencing Verse by many Sikh theologians, scholars, and researchers for a long time. It is widely accepted as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Aumkaar) by Sikhs at large. Chahal has discussed   as an original logo designed by Guru Nanak that has nothing to do with ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ  (Ek Aumkaar) [1-5] .  Now some more documents have been used to re-affirm his previous findings that stands for ਏਕੁ ਓਹੁ ਬੇਅੰਤੁ  (Ek Oh Beant’ - One and Only, That is Infinite). represents the logo of SIKHI (Sikhism) founded by Guru Nanak. Let us understand what logo stands for.



Logo is defined as:

i)                    A design used by an organization on its letterhead, advertising material, and signs as an emblem by which the organization can easily be recognized. [6]

ii)                 It is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations, and even individuals to aid to promote instant public recognition. [7]


Examples of some Logos:


Northwest Airline

http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/images/logo-secrets/north_west_logo2.jpgThis logo reflects a clever way of presenting the ‘Northwest’. The North is represented by letter “N” and the West with an “arrow” pointing to West in the upper left corner. [7]


ZIP Logo

Designer – Mike Erickson Zip – The “I” has been replaced with a zipper to connect the Z & P to look like ZIP. [7].

The ‘logo’ should not be confused with ‘symbol’ or ‘emblem’.


The ‘symbol’ is something that stands for or represents something else, especially an object representing an abstraction. The ‘emblem’ and ‘symbol’ are interchangeable in many ways. For examples,


Indian Rupee

http://www.newstrack.outlookindia.com/images/Rupee_20100715.jpgThe Indian rupee is represented with a new symbol (₹), which is - a blend of the Devanagri 'Ra' and Roman 'R' - joining elite currencies like the US dollar ($), euro (€), British pound (£) and Japanese yen (¥) in having a distinct identity.  Earlier Indian Rupee was represented as ‘Rs’. [8]


The ‘Christian Cross’ is a symbol of the Crucifixion.  It is an emblem of sacrifice.

The ‘Red Cross’ is a symbol to humanitarian spirit.

The ‘Crescent shape’ is a symbol of the moon; it is an emblem of Islam.

The ‘Skull and Crossbones’ is a symbol identifying a poison or danger.

Let us come back to .  The is an original and unique ‘logo’ designed by Guru Nanak to represent his concept of the Eternal Entity (God) and it has been used at the very beginning of the AGGS and before every major section and subsection of the AGGS. It is also used by most Sikh organizations on their letterheads, on the title page of numerous books on Sikhi (Sikhism), and is used where easy recognition of its message is required.


The has been designated as a logo based on the following explanation by Guru Nanak:

ਏਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ1 ਸਚਾ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ2 

Ėko sabaḏ sacẖā nīsāṇ.

The One Word1, () is the true logo2.  

ਪੂਰੇ3 ਗੁਰ4 ਤੇ ਜਾਣੈ ਜਾਣੁ5 ੩॥

Pūre gur ṯe jāṇai jāṇ. ||3|

ਅਗਗਸ: 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1188.  

I realized5 the above fact from my perfect3 Guru4 (through enlightenment)*.

AGGS, M 1, p 1188.

*Enlightenment:  a philosophical movement of the 18th century, characterized by belief in the power of human reason and by innovations in political, religious, and educational doctrine


The extended end   (         ) of open Oora () in has been interpreted as ‘Infinite’ by Guru Nanak:

ਬੇਦ1 ਵਖਾਣਿ ਕਹਹਿ ਇਕੁ2 ਕਹੀਐ 

Beḏ vakẖāṇ kahėh ik kahīai. 

ਓਹੁ3 ਬੇਅੰਤੁ4 ਅੰਤੁ5 ਕਿਨਿ ਲਹੀਐ 

Oh beanṯ anṯ kin lahīai.  

ਏਕੋ6 ਕਰਤਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਗੁ7 ਕੀਆ 

Ėko karṯā jin jag kīā.  

ਬਾਝੁ8 ਕਲਾ ਧਰਿ ਗਗਨੁ9 ਧਰੀਆ ੨॥

Bājẖ kalā ḏẖar gagan ḏẖarīā. ||2||

ਅਗਗਸ: 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1188.  [9]

Wisdom1 tells us that there is One and Only (Entity)2  

That3 Entity (One and Only) is Infinite4 and no one has ever found Its limit5.

There is One and Only6 that gave rise to the Universe7.

That One and Only is holding celestial bodies of the Universe9 in their places without8 any pillars (support).

AGGS, M 1, p 1188. [9]


Since it is an important logo, it necessitates that Sikh theologians, scholars, and researchers should look into what it really stands for and what message is being given by it. If its real meaning were not understood, then a false message of Guru Nanak would be delivered to humanity.




The first part of the Commencing Verse, , is generally pronounced by many Sikh theologians and scholars as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Aumkaar). The survey of the available literature indicates that the early Sikh theologians under the heavy influence of Vedanta and ancient philosophy have pronounced it as such because writing of 'Oankaar' or 'Aumkaar' or ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ on the top of every writings was very common in ancient literature. Giani Harbans Singh [10] says that it is not known who first started to pronounce   as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar)  or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ  (Ek Aumkaar). However, I have noticed that Bhai Gurdas might be the first Sikh scholar who has pronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) as is evident from his Pauri 15 of Vaar 3. Thereafter, other Sikh scholars followed Bhai Gurdas’ pronunciation of . Let us discuss Bhai Gurdas’ Pauri 15 of Vaar 3 [11]:


 ਮੂਲ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਦਾ ਗੁਹਝ ਭੇਦ

Mool mantar da guhjh Baed.

The Deep Secret of Mool Mantra


ਏਕਾ1 ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ2 ਲਿਖਿ3 ਦੇਖਾਲਿਆ4

Aykaa Aykankaaru Likhi Daykhaaliaa.

ਊੜਾ5 ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ6 ਪਾਸਿ7 ਬਹਾਲਿਆ8 15 ਵਾਰ3

Oorhaa Aoankaaru Paasi Bahaaliaa.


The heading of this Pauri indicates that the ‘Commencing Verse’ has been declared as ‘Mool Mantra’ by Bhai Gurdas according Vedic philosophy. Parma Nand [12] has endorsed that the ‘Commencing Verse’ is called ‘Mool Mantra’ according to the rules of Vedas for declaring a word or sentence as Mantra, Beej Mantra, or Mool Mantra. Mantra, according to Vedas, is a word or sentence chanted repeatedly under certain conditions that forces the deity or deities to perform miraculous work to fulfill the desires of the performers (devotees). Under this influence, the ‘Commencing Verse’ is recommended by many Sikh preachers to be chanted repeatedly to fulfill their wishes.


Bhai Gurdas has pronounced ਏਕਾ1 (one) as ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ2 (Ekankaar) and ਊੜਾ5 (Oora5) as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ6 (Oankaar6).  Therefore, should be pronounced as ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ekankaar Oankaar) according to Bhai Gurdas’ interpretation. However, is being pronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) in general by the Sikhs at large. Nevertheless, it becomes clear that Bhai Gurdas was the first scholar, who declared open Oara5 () as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ6 (Oankaar6).


The exact date of writing of Vaaran by Bhai Gurdas is not known. However, it could be considerd as the first writing dealing with Gurbani in Sikh literature after the compilation of the AGGS in 1604. Bhai Gurdas is accepted as a great scholar of Gurbani and his Vaaran are considered next to the Gurbani by many Sikh theologians. Moreover, his Vaaran have also been declared as the KEY to the Gurbani by Guru Arjun as reported by Bhai (Dr) Veer Singh. [11] Critical analysis of Vaaran of Bhai Gurdas indicates that none of the Vaar interprets any Sabd of Gurbani. Rather he used Gurbani in his own way to discuss various topics.


Moreover, the fact is that the KEY to the bani of Guru Nanak is the bani of Guru Nanak itself and the bani of the Sikh Gurus, who succeeded to the ‘House of Nanak’, which is incorporated in the AGGS [13](p 23-25). This fact has been ignored by many Sikh theologians and researchers. Chahal [5] has further quoted a number of such examples indicating that bani of Guru Nanak has been explained by himself as well as by other Sikh Gurus, who succeeded to the ‘House of Nanak’, throughout his book, Nanakian Philosophy - Basics for Humanity. In fact, the researchers working on the interpretation of the bani of Guru Nanak should look for a KEY in the bani of Guru Nanak and that of other Sikh Gurus.


The truth is that no Teeka (exegesis) of AGGS (compiled in 1604 was written until 1883. The first formal Teeka in line with the traditional interpretation of Sikh scriptures was written by Sant Giani Badan Singh Ji of Dera Sekhwan at the request and encouragement of Maharaja Bikram Singh of Faridkot. It took him six and a half years to complete it. It was completed in 1883. This Teeka was further reviewed by a committee appointed by Mahant Bawa Shamer Singh of Patna. After incorporating the comments of this committee, the first edition of this Teeka was published by funds provided by the Maharaja Balvir Singh of Faridkot in 1906. It was printed by the Wazir Hind Press (started by Bhai Vir Singh) at Amritsar. The second edition of this Teeka was published by Maharaja Harinder Singh of Faridkot in 1928 [13] (pp 205-206]. Therefore, this formal Teeka became available in printed form only in 1928 (about 324 years after the compilation of the AGGS in 1604).


This Teeka is considered as a classical exegesis of the AGGS in ‘Braj Bhasha’ by a team of scholars of Nirmala Sect. This Teeka is known as the "Faridkoti Teeka" or “Faridkot Vala Teeka.” For all future attempts on interpretation of the AGGS, it became an ideal Prototype Teeka [6]. In this Teeka the Oora in has been equated with ਓਂ (Om / Aum), the Trinity of God, which is a compound word formed with A (Akaar), AU (Aukaar), and M (Makaar). It is mentioned in this Teeka that Bhai Gurdas has pronounced Open Oora () as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar), which means Aum or Om [14]. Nevertheless, Guru Nanak is against the concept of Trinity of God [2].


Nirakari [15], a retired Professor of Philosophy from the Punjabi University, Patiala is of the opinion that ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) is Om, which has been mentioned in almost all the Upanishads. The description of Om given by Nirakari is same as described in the Faridkot Vala Teeka [14] and by Parma Nanad [12].



Bhai Kahn Singh [16] describes as follows:

i)                    (Open Oora) with extended end,

ii)                  ਓਅੰ (Aum), and

iii)                ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ  (Oankaar).

He says that all the three forms of represent ਓਮੰ (Om / Aum). He based this presentation on Faridkot Vala Teeka and Bhai Gurdas, who pronounced it as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar). Bhai Kahn Singh follows Bhai Gurdas to interpret ਓਅੰ (Aum) as ‘Protector’. It is evident from the above information that Bhai Kahn Singh has reported exactly what is represented in Upanishads and which has been confirmed by Bhai Gurdas and by Faridkot Wala Teeka.


On the other hand, Bhai Kahn Singh [16] also explains that (Open Oora) is ਅਚਰਜ ਬੋਧਕ ਓਹਅਚਰਜ means astonishing, marvellous, or wondrous. For example,

ਅਚਰਜ ਰੂਪੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੋ ਗੁਰਿ ਮੇਲਾਇਆ ਮਾਇ

Acẖraj rūp niranjano gur melāiāe. ||1||

ਅਗਗਸ: 5, ਪੰਨਾ 46.  

Guru Arjun Says:

O my mother! I have found an astonishing Immaculate One through the Guru.

AGGS, M 5, p 46.


According to Bhai Kahn Singh (Open Oora) is also ਓਹ ਦਾ ਸੰਖੇਪ (abbreviation of ਓਹ (Oh - that)). The open Ooara () has been used as ‘ਓਹ (Oh meaning ‘that’) by Bhagat Naam Dev for the flute of Rama as follows:

ਧਨਿ ਧੰਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਬੇਨੁ ਬਾਜੈ

Ḏẖan ḏẖan o rām ben bājai.

ਮਧੁਰ ਮਧੁਰ ਧੁਨਿ ਅਨਹਤ ਗਾਜੈ ਰਹਾਉ

Maḏẖur maḏẖur ḏẖun anhaṯ gājai. ||1|| rahā▫o.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਨਾਮ ਦੇਵ, ਪੰਨਾ 988.

Blessed is that (- Oh) flute of Ram, which is played by him.

Then pleasant but unbeaten sound vibrates.

AGGS, Naam Dev, p 988. 


Moreover, according to Bhai Kahn Singh (Open Oora) also means ‘and’.  For example,

ਝੜ ਝਖੜ ਹਾੜ ਲਹਰੀ ਵਹਨਿ ਲਖੇਸਰੀ

Jẖaṛ jẖakẖaṛ ohāṛ lahrī vahan lakẖesarī

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1410.

Note: Bhai Kahn Singh keeps ‘Open Oora’ separate from ‘O Haarh’ ( ਹਾੜ) but in the AGGS ‘Open Oora’ is not separated (padshaed) from ‘Haarh’ as ‘Ohaarh’ (ਓਹਾੜ). 


Faridkot Vala Teeka interprets the above phrase as follows:

(ਝੜ) ਮੋਹਿ ਰੂਪੀ ਲੋਭ ਰੂਪੀ ਪਵਨ ਕਾ ਚਲਨਾ (ਝਖੜ) ਕਾਮ ਰੂਪੀ ਹੜ ਜਿਸਮੇਂ ਵਾਸ਼ਨਾ ਰੂਪੀ ਲਹਿਰਾਂ (ਲਖੇਸਰੀ) ਲਾਖੋਂ ਹੀ ਚਲਤੀਆਂ ਹੈਂ

Metaphorical rain, storm and flood, thousands of waves are arising and subsiding.

AGGS, M 1, p 1410.

Here open Oora () has been used as (Au) meaning as ‘,’ (comma) and as ‘and’ as is done in English punctuation. According to Mahan Kosh:  (Au) is an abbreviation of ਔਰ (Aur - and).

Nowhere else in the AGGS we could find that Open Oora () used to show that it is an abbreviation of ‘Oankaar’ or ‘Aumkaar’ except the above example where it has been used as ‘ਓਹ’ (Oh) meaning ‘that’, ‘astonishing’ , and ‘and’ or ‘,’ (comma).


We wonder why this explanation of ‘ (Open Oora) in representing ਓਹ (Oh) meaning ‘that’ and  ‘astonishing’ has not been used by Bhai Kahn Singh [16] to eliminate the influence of Vedantic philosophy introduced by Bhai Gurdas and by Nirmalas in Faridkot Vala Teeka?


I can imagine how difficult it is for some researchers to go against the well-established authorities in Sikhism, like Bhai Gurdas and the authors of Faridkot Vala Teeka because nobody likes to lose their prestigious status in Sikhism. Therefore, the Faridkot Vala Teeka remains Prototype Teeka (exegesis) for further translation of the AGGS in Punjabi, English, and other languages. Since the exegesis of Faridkot Vala Teeka has been done under the influence of Vedanta and ancient philosophies by Nirmalas, therefore, the Vedantic influence also became a permanent feature for future interpreters of Gurbani [5].


The irony is that Prof Sahib Singh [17] (pp 44-46, Vol 1) also followed Faridkot Vala Teeka that Open Oora () in  is Om (Aum) and further explains as ਇਕ + or ਓਅਂ or ਓਂ (Aum or Om)  +  ਕਾਰ (extended end of Oora) and pronounces as ਏਕ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ' (Ek Oankaar) or ਓਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Omkaar). Prof Sahib Singh [17](p 630, Vol 3) in ‘Asa Di Vaar’ says that Oankaar has been taken from the Sanskrit word, OM/AUM. This has been first used in Mandukia Upanishad that mean which has happened, is present now, and will remain, is known as OM/AUM. Later on, it is considered as the sum of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.


The ‘Extended End (         ) of Open Oora’ ( ) has been declared as ਕਾਰ (kaar) by Prof Sahib Singh [17]. He further takes the aid of Sanskrit to explain that ਕਾਰ (kaar) is a suffix of some Sanskrit words and it means ਈਕ-ਰਸ, ਜਿਸ ਵਿਚ ਤਬਦੀਲੀ ਨਾਹ ਆਵੇ (The One that is unchangeable). Then he quotes some words with 'Kaar' as suffix from Gurbani to indicate that ਕਾਰ (kaar) means ਇਕ-ਰਸ (ek-ras). For example, ਨੰਨਾਕਾਰ (nanakaara) which means who refuses; ਨਿਰਤਿਕਾਰ (naritkaar) which means dancer; and ਧੁਨਿਕਾਰ (dhunkaar) which means musician who makes the tune, melody. Nevertheless, none of these words indicate anything like, ਈਕ-ਰਸ, ਜਿਸ ਵਿਚ ਤਬਦੀਲੀ ਨਾਹ ਆਵੇ (The One that is unchangeable), because ਕਾਰ (kaar) in the Punjabi Dictionary [18] and according to Bhai Kahn Singh [16] means 'work':

ਕਾਰ1 ਕਮਾਵਹਿ2 ਸਿਰਿ ਧਣੀ ਲਾਹਾ3 ਪਲੈ ਪਾਇ

Kār kamāvėh sir ḏẖaṇī lāhā palai pāe.

ਅਗਗਸ, :1, ਪੰਨਾ 956.

One gets the reward3 from the Master for performing2 work1.

AGGS, M 1, p 936.


Even Prof Sahib Singh himself [17] has shown 'ਕਾਰ (kaar) means 'work/service' in the interpretation of the following phrases:

ਮਾਇਆ1 ਦਾਸੀ2 ਭਗਤਾ3 ਕੀ ਕਾਰ4 ਕਮਾਵੈ5 

iā ḏāsī bẖagṯā kī kār kamāvai.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 2, ਪੰਨਾ 231.

Money1 (Maya) is servant2, which performs5 work4 for devotees3.

AGGS. M 3, p 231.


ਕਾਰਿ (kaar) also means 'helpful' as in: 

ਗੁਰ1 ਕੀ ਮਤਿ2 ਜੀਇ3 ਆਈ ਕਾਰਿ4

Gur kī maṯ jīe āī kār. ||1||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 220..

Guru's1 philosophy2 became helpful4 for people3.

AGGS, M 1, p 220.


The word ਕਾਰ ਸੇਵਾ (Kaar Sewa) (means work performed for gurdwaras without any monetary benefit) also indicates that Kaar is work but not ਇਕ-ਰਸ (not unchangeable) as coined by Prof Sahib Singh [17]. According to Bhai Kahn Singh [16] it also means a 'line' based on the verse:  ਦੇ ਕੈ ਚਉਕਾ ਕਢੀ ਕਾਰ (Ḏe kai cẖaukā kadẖī kār.) which means “They draw a line around them after plastering the ground with cow-dung” (AGGS, M 1, p 472.).


If the meaning of 'ਕਾਰ (kaar) is taken as 'work' then it does not fit in the interpretation of Prof Sahib Singh [17]. Besides, if the meaning of 'ਕਾਰ (kaar) is taken as a ‘line’ as explained above then, it means a line is drawn to limit the area. Even then, it fails to convey 'openness' and 'infiniteness', attributes of 'Open Oora' shown graphically extended by Guru Nanak.


Some scholars intentionally try to invent new meanings to interpret gurbani under the influence of Vedantic philosophies or according to their own whims.


Furthermore, such interpretations are used by non-Sikh scholars to portray that there is no uniqueness or originality in the philosophy of Guru Nanak. According to Parma Nand [12] 'Ek Omkaar' (Om) means 'One God'. 'Om' is a descriptive name for God and 'ਕਾਰ (kaar) is grammatically a suffix added to denote the sound of 'Om'. Here it is hard to understand that how 'ਕਾਰ (kaar) can be considered as the sound of 'Om' by a Hindu scholar and on the other hand Prof Sahib Singh [17] interprets ਕਾਰ (Kaar) as: ਜੋ ਇਕ-ਰਸ ਹੈ; ਜੋ ਹਰ ਥਾਂ ਵਿਆਪਕ ਹੈ (One, Unchangeable, is prevalent everywhere). How strange it is that two theologians of two different religions are interpreting 'ਕਾਰ (kaar) according to their own whims rather than on any solid documentation.  Here again we wonder why Prof Sahib Singh is forcefully interpreting ਕਾਰ (Kaar) as ਇਕ-ਰਸ (‘Ek ras’) meaning unchangeable?


The point is that no abbreviation of any word has been used throughout the gurbani. Therefore, is not the abbreviation of + ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ.


Nevertheless, Bhagat Naam Dev has used Open Oora () which means ‘that’ as described above. Moreover, this Open Oora is not an abbreviation of Oankaar. The only abbreviation used by Guru Arjun is ‘:’ (M) for ਮਹਲਾ (Mahla). Mahla is not a part of gurbani, but was introduced by Guru Arjun. It is used to indicate the succession number to identify the Guru, who succeeded to the ‘House of Nanak’. For example, : 1 (M 1) is Guru Nanak; : 2 (M 2) is Guru Angad, and so on.



USE OF ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (OANKAAR)

Some Sikh theologians and researchers claim that should be pronounced as ਏਕ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) because ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ  (Oankaar) is found seven times in the bani of Guru Nanak called ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ ਬਾਣੀ (Oankaar Bani) at  pp 929-938 of AGGS. Similarly,  ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) has been used one more time by Guru Nanak at page 1285; by Guru Arjun two times at page 885 and 1003;  and by Guru Amardas and Guru Ramdas only once at page 1061 and 1310, respectively. Here the word ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) has been used as a ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ (kitam naam) (descriptive/specific name) for God, which means the 'Creator', but nowhere in the AGGS is it evident that (Open Oora) is an abbreviation of ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) or ਓੰਮਕਾਰੁ (Aumkaar).

On the other hand, the word ਏਕੰਕਾਰ (Ekankaar) has been used extensively in the same sense as a descriptive name meaning the 'the Creator – Who is ‘One and Only’. This word has been used 13 times by Guru Nanak; 19 times by Guru Arjun; one time by Guru Amardas; and two times by Guru Ramdas. Since the attribute of 'Creator' has been used as ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ (Karta Purkh) in the second part of the Commencing Verse, therefore, interpretation of as 'Creator' cannot be justified. Moreover, the ‘Commencing Verse’ is considered as a definition of the Eternal Entity (God), therefore, the same attribute, 'Creator', cannot be repeated two times in a definition. The irony is that even then many Sikh scholars now have started to interpret as ‘One Creator’ since ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ  (Oankaar)  means ‘Creator’ although the same attribute,  ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ' (Karta Purkh) as ‘Creator’, is already present in the same ‘Commencing Verse’.


To pronounce as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ or ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar or Ekankaar) cannot be justified because a bani at pages 929-938 in AGGS is entitled as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar). If Guru Nanak can use ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ in this bani then he would have used it also in the Commencing Verse in place of , or (Open Oora), , but it is not so. Therefore, (Open Oora) is entirely different from ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) or ਓੰਮਕਾਰੁ (Aumkaar) in meaning as well as in pronunciation. Besides, cannot be pronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ or ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar or Ekankaar) under any circumstances. ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) has been used as one of the many descriptive names as a metaphoric name for the Eternal Entity (God) only in the first stanza of this long bani, ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ. In the next 53 stanzas of the same bani other descriptive names, e.g. ਕਰਤੇ (Kartai), ਕਰਤਾਰ (Kartar), ਓਨਮ (Onum), ਰਾਮ (Ram), ਹਿਰ (Har), ਠਾਕੁਰੁ (Thakur), etc. have been used as metaphoric names (ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮkirtam naam) for the Eternal Entity (God). Moreover, in the Rahao (Pause) of the same bani, Guru Nanak has condemned the use of writing of  (Aum, Aumkaar or Oankaar) as a descriptive name before any writing:


ਸੁਣਿ ਪਾਡੇ ਕਿਆ ਲਿਖਹੁ ਜੰਜਾਲਾ 

Suṇ pāde kiā likẖahu janjālā.

ਲਿਖੁ1 ਰਾਮ2 ਨਾਮ2 ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ3 ਗੋਪਾਲਾ4  ਰਹਾਉ 

Likẖ rām nām gurmukẖ gopālā. ||1|| rahāo.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 930.

Hey Pundit! Listen! What is in writing the ritualistic confused word (Aum, Oankaar, or Aumkaar)?

O’ Gurmukh3!  Understand1 / comprehend1 the Eternal Entity (God) 2, 4.

AGGS, M 1, p 930.

Note: ਲਿਖੁ1 - Metaphor for understanding; ਰਾਮ2 ਨਾਮ2 - Metaphoric names for God; ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ3- One, who follows the philosophy of the Guru and/or enlightening philosophy.


In fact, Guru Nanak has not created any ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ (kitam naam - descriptive/specific name) for the Eternal Entity (God) because according to him It is ineffable, thus, no descriptive name can be assigned to It. Therefore, Guru Nanak prefers to use non-descriptive names, e.g. ਓਹੁ (oh – that), ਆਪਿ (aap – you), ਆਪੇ (aapai - you), ਈਕੁ aek - one), ਤੂ (tu - you), ਤੁ (tu - you), ਤੁਹੀ (tuhi - you), ਅਗਮ (agam – inaccessible), ਬੇਅੰਤੁ (beant- infinite), etc. in the same ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ ਬਾਣੀ (Oankar Bani). Actually, Guru Nanak does not even use a non-descriptive name in many of his verses. For example,

ਆਦਿ1 ਸਚੁ2 ਜੁਗਾਦਿ3 ਸਚੁ 

Āḏ sacẖ jugāḏ sacẖ.

ਹੈ ਭੀ4 ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ5 ਭੀ ਸਚੁ 

Hai bẖī sacẖ Nānak hosī bẖī sacẖ. ||1||

 ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ, ਪੰਨਾ 1.

Was in existence2 before the beginning of time and space1;

Was in existence in the past3; Is in existence in the present4;

Will remain in existence forever5 (in the future).

AGGS, Jap 1, p 1.

There is neither a descriptive, nor a specific name for God in the above phrase; importantly, it is without any indication to who it is being addressed.


Guru Arjun has emphatically rejected the use of ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ (Kitam Naam / descriptive/specific name) for the Eternal Entity (God) since there cannot be any name:

ਕਿਰਤਮ1 ਨਾਮ2 ਕਥੇ3 ਤੇਰੇ ਜਿਹਬਾ4 

Kirṯam nām kathe ṯere jihbā,

ਸਤਿ5 ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਪਰਾ6 ਪੂਰਬਲਾ7 

Saṯ nām ṯerā parā pūrbalā.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1083.

Your tongue4 recites3 the descriptive2 names1 of the Eternal Entity (God).

That Eternal Entity (God) existed5 even before6 the beginning of time and space7.

AGGS, M 5, p 1083.


This verse implies how one can assign any descriptive/specific name to that Eternal Entity (God) who existed even before the beginning of time and space. Nevertheless, people still like to create some descriptive/specific names for the Eternal Entity (God) for chanting repeatedly, for meditation, or to have a wish granted from God. Keeping in mind all characteristics that no specific name can be given to that Eternal Entity, commonly called God, therefore, in this book it will be addressed, as the Eternal Entity that exists forever, but has no descriptive /specific name.


I would like to mention here that Oosho [18] described   as follows:

"... ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ ਉਸ ਇਕ ਦਾ ਜੋ ਨਾਉਂ ਹੈ ਉਹੀ ਹੈ, ਹੋਰ ਸਾਰੇ ਨਾਮ ਤਾ ਆਦਮੀ ਦੇ ਦਿਤੇ ਹਨ। ਰਾਮ ਕਹੋ, ਕ੍ਰਸ਼ਨ ਕਹੋ, ਅਲਾਹ ਕਹੋ, ਇਹ ਨਾਮ ਆਦਮੀ ਦੇ ਦਿਤੇ ਹਨ ਇਹ ਅਸੀਂ ਬਣਾਏ ਹਨ ਪਰ ਇਕ ਉਸ ਦਾ ਨਾਉਂ ਹੈ ਜਿਹੜਾ ਅਸੀਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਦਿਤਾ ਉਹ  ਹੈ, ਉਹ ਓਮ ਹੈ।  

"… Nanak says that the name of that One is , all other names are given by man, whether one says Ram, Krishan, or Allah, are the names given by man. These are man-made descriptive (reference) (ਕਿਰਤਮ) names. However, there is one name that has not been given by man, which is . This is not a descriptive (ਕਿਰਤਮ) name…. "


In spite of the above fact explained by him, Oosho fell back to Vedantic philosophies and declared that  is  ਓਮ  (Om)” at the end of his statement. 'Om' is a descriptive name as the sum of Brahma – the Creator, Vishnu – the Sustainer, and Shiva – the destroyer, reported by many non-Sikh and Sikh scholars.


Dr Sher Singh [19] accepted that Guru Nanak did not believe in the philosophy of Vedas, nevertheless, he (Dr Sher Singh) still compared  with that of  ੳਅੰ (Om) that it is composed of , , representing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, respectively. He said that Guru Nanak added numeral '1' before 'Om' to confirm that Brahma is One. Parma Nand [12] also says that 'Om' is a compound word of letters 'A' (Vaishvanara), 'U' (Taijasa), and 'M' (Prajna) in Upanishads and are identified as Vishnu, Brahma, and Mahesh, respectively. Contrary to all the above description of , Guru Nanak does not accept the Trinity of God, i.e. Brahma - the Creator, Vishnu – the Sustainer, and Shiva – the Destroyer.




A seminar on ‘Mool Mantra’ was held at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, which was sponsored by the University Grant Commission (UGC), New Delhi, under Pritam Singh, Retired Professor and Head of Department of Guru Nanak Studies, in March 1973. The proceedings of the seminar were published in 1985 (after 12 years) under the title: Sikh Concept of the Divine [20]. The outcome of the seminar from the paper presented by Pritam Singh is summarized as follows [21]:


’O’ () (with open end extended) is believed to be the initial Gurmukhi character of the age-old mystic Indian term Om. It is pronounced as O, Om, Oankar (Omkar), according to the predilection and cultural affiliation of the speaker. Swami Harnam Das quotes Taittiriyopanishad to corroborate his view, but claims Vedic sanction for assigning the phonetic value of ‘O’ to ‘’. Some readers, especially, those belonging to Udasi and Nirmla denominations, generally pronounce ‘O’ as ‘Om’: while most of the Sikhs pronounce it as Onkar.  Normally, etymologists explain Onkar as the combination of Om + Kar or Oam + Kar (ਓਮ + ਕਾਰ ਜਾਂ ਓਅੰ + ਕਾਰ ) but Sohan Singh Galhotra [22] believes that kar should be read as ‘akar’. Says he:

Ikoankar = 1(Ik) + Oam + akar.


Oamkar:  The word has been explained in many different ways by many different writers. Nevertheless, as far as Sikh writings are concerned, the prefix Oam makes its meaning clear. Oam consists of three letters o, a, m – o stands for urdham, i.e. above; a for adham, i.e. below; and m for madham, i.e. between, i.e. the entire Universe. The word akar means the visible expanse or simply the expanse. Taking the three components of Ik Oamkar together, then, we can say that it means “One Universal Being.”



Pritam Singh [21] has also mentioned that:

1.         The members of Udasis and Nirmalas accept ‘O’ as ‘Om’(this was also reported by Joginder Singh [23]’).

2.        Bhai Santokh Singh expressed his view that Guru (Nanak) did not at all deviate from Vedas.

3.        Narottam believes that the text beginning with ‘O’ and ending with ‘Prasad’ is the original revelation granted by Lord Vishnu to Guru Nanak to represent mystic essence of Veda.


Parma Nand [12] also in that seminar defines Oamkar as follows:

Ek Oamkar means ‘One God’. ‘Om’ is the proper name of God and kar is grammatically a suffix added to it to denote the sound of ‘Om’. According to the following Vartika Sutra of Panini, this suffix kara is added in the sense of nirdesa (denotation: Varnatkarah: 2227). The examples are akara and Kakara that means the sound of ‘A’ and ‘K’, respectively. R. B. Prahlad C. Diwanjee explains the phrase Oamkara in his Critical Word Index to the Bhagavad Gita:

Oamkara: Om is the sound produced by the word (kar) while recited/pronounced during recitation. Again, he says; “the particular sound, produced by the pronunciation of the syllable OM”.


Thus, grammatically Oamkara means the sound Om. 


Teja Singh [24] says that ਓਅੰ (Oam) was already being used and Guru Nanak added 'kar' and a new word, 'ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ' (Omkar), was coined:

“Sade des vich sargun rup lai Om sabad age hi prachalit si. Guru ji de vele ih, wadha kita gia ki ‘Om’ di than ‘Oamkar’ sabad banaia gia ate is da bhav ih ki uh wahiguru jisda prakash lagatar hunda rahe.”


However, Parma Nand [12] refuted his claim by saying that it is partly wrong: “The word Oamkar has not been created or introduced during the time of our great Gurus. I have already given a number of quotations containing the word Om as well as Oamkar, used in the same sense.” He further mentioned that the only thing Guru Nanak did was to add numeral ‘1’ to confirm the ‘Oneness’ of God but this characteristic is also accepted in Vedas and Upanishads. Moreover, the historical fact about the existence of Oamkar Temple thousands of years before Guru Nanak’s visit to this temple in South India also supports that ‘Oamkar’ or ‘Oankar’ was not coined by Guru Nanak.

Bhai Vir Singh [from Ref. # [21] considers numeral '1' as an independent entity, not as an adjective for 'Open Oora'. Pritam Singh [21] emphasizes that in spite of the unmistakable figure ‘1’ which precedes 'O' in the Mool Mantra, the commentators, who possess even a smattering of Sanskrit, do not forget to refer to the Trinity of gods. The Trinity is represented by the sounds, of which 'Om' is believed to be constituted, namely, a, u, and m. Bawa Hari Prakash, for example, explains that: akar (a), ukar (u) and makar (m), with half matra added to them, make Oankaar. Akar (a) means Brahma (the Creator), ukar (u) stands for Vishnu (the Sustainer), and makar (m) represents Shiva (the Destroyer), while the half matra is to be understood as the Fourth State.


With this seminar held at the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar the pronunciation of logo, , has been permanently stamped as Om + Kar or Oam + Kar by the Sikhs and non-Sikh scholars. 


(Note: Different authors have used different spellings for ‘Om’ (‘Oam’ or Aum’) thus their spellings have been maintained in this paper.)


Now it has become an established fact in the Sikh psyche that is Ek Oankar, Ek Onkar, Ek Omkar, Ek Oamkar, or ‘Ek Aumkaar, which originated from OM.


The following observation of Parma Nand [12] about the addition of numeral '1’ is worth noting:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3563/3675268926_4a7c5b19ea.jpg"This figure '1' placed before 'Oankaar' serves another purpose also. In the common conception of the then current Hinduism, when Guru Nanak appeared on our soil, that there were many gods, and Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva formed the Trinity as creator, preserver and destroyer, respectively. It was also held that God took birth not only in human form but Himself comes into the world in various forms, such as, Matsya (shark), kurma (boar), nara-simha (partly human, partly tiger) and finally, in human forms. Twenty-four incarnations of God Vishnu were accepted, besides others, too many to be enumerated here. Some believed that Rama, the son of Dasharatha, was the incarnation of God, while others held Lord Krishna, the son of Vasudeva also to be so. Countless male and female divinities were also regarded as gods and goddesses. Even Lord Buddha who did not believe in Vedic religion was accepted as one of the main ten incarnations of God. Thus, the total number of gods came to 33 crores (330,000,000)."


However, ‘One and Only’ God of Guru Nanak does not represent any of the above gods mentioned by Perma Nand [12]. The God of Guru Nanak neither represents the Trinity as represented by Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in facing figure; nor comes into anthropomorphic form on this Earth.



From the above discussion, it becomes very clear that even the members of Dharam Parchar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar are also under the strong influence of ancient philosophy and mythology. A monthly magazine, Gurmat Gian, in Hindi is published by the Dharam Parchar Committee of SGPC. This committee is so much under the influence of Vedantic philosophies that it had structurally misconstrued into ‘Ek Aumkaar’ by adding a line coming out of Aum as is found in ‘Open Oora’ in on the title page of the July 2002 issue of Gurmat Gian. Fig. 3.


Soon the Dharam Parchar Committee realized their blunder and issued a notice in its next issue of ‘Gurmat Gian’ that should never be represented as  by any writer or scholar. Still they are not aware of the fact that (Open Oora) does not represent ‘Oankaar’ or ‘Aumkaar’. Nevertheless, I have noticed that  has already started to appear on some websites and in many writings in print form.


Figure 3: has been misconstrued as  on the title page of Gurmat Gian, Monthly Magazine in Hindi.


It is apparent from the above discussion:

That the Sikh theologians and scholars have encouraged some scholars like, Parma Nand [12] to declare that Guru Nanak had no originality in his philosophy of coining as a new term or word because it is already found in the form of 'Aum' (ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ) in Upanishads and in declaring the ‘Commencing Verse’ as Mool Mantra according to Vedic formula for declaring a word or phrase as mantra or Mool Mantra.


Moreover, they have encouraged other Hindus on the Internet to say so as reported by Prem Sanjeev, the member of two popular Sikh Internet Discussion Groups (Sikh Diaspora and Gurmat Learning Zone) as follows:

“Om is the essence of the Vedas. The Upanishads and the Geeta glorify it. With this one sacred syllable, all Vedic mangalaacharans are considered done. By remembering and invoking the Lord as Om, Shri Guru Nanak Dev dutifully maintains the Vedic paramparaa or 'tradition', for that new philosophy which disregards age-old wisdom can never bear fruit. When new thoughts or ideologies are based upon the wisdom of the ancient, they have not only the fragrance and freshness of the new but also the strength and tenacity of the old. Saints never come into this world to destroy the link with the ancient; rather, they come to fulfill the wisdom of the past. Shri Guru Nanakji did the same. The approach was new, but the knowledge was not. The language was different, but the essence the same.”


Many of the members of both the Internet Discussion Forums accepted as Ek Oankaar.   



I have been working with many scholars to understand what this logo, , stands for.   A casual look at the logo, , indicates that it is composed of three parts:

1.         The numeral one (1),

2.        The first letter of Gurmukhi script,  , (oora), and

3.        The open end of  (oora) has been extended as (             ). 

The numeral ‘1’ (One) should be pronounced as 'Ek' and the letter (Oora) with open end as 'Oh' (That) based on our further research that letter (Open Oora) means ਓਹ (Oh) in Punjabi-English Dictionary [18]. In addition, in Mahan Kosh of Bhai Kahn Singh [16] the letter (Open Oora) means ਓਹ (Oh). Besides, (Open Oora) also means ‘astonishing’, ‘marvellous’, or ‘wondrous’ in Mahan Kosh as discussed previously. 'Oh' in English means 'That' and strong emotional reaction such as surprise, shock, pain, extreme pleasure, or used to introduce short phrases that express a strong emotion, such as anger, shock, delight, or triumph [14]. Here the meaning of (Open Oora) has been accepted as ‘Oh’ in Punjabi and ‘That’ in English.


 The open end (         ) of  (Open Oora) has been further extended to characterize it as ਬੇਅੰਤ (Beant - Infinite) or ਅਨੰਤ (Anant – Infinite).

In some verses in Gurbani, the God has been addressed as One and Only, That is Infinite. These attributes are explained as follows: 


੧ (One)

The ‘One’ in this logo represents as ‘One and Only’ according to Guru Nanak: 

ਸਾਹਿਬੁ1 ਮੇਰਾ ਏਕੋ2 ਹੈ 

Sāhib merā eko hai.

ਏਕੋ3 ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਏਕੋ4 ਹੈ  ਰਹਾਉ 

Ėko hai bẖāī eko hai. ||1|| rahāo.

ਅਗਗਸ, : , ਪੰਨਾ 350.

My Eternal Entity (God)1 is One and Only2,3,4, Hey Brother!

AGGS, M 1, p 350.


ਏਕ1 ਮਹਿ ਸਰਬ2 ਸਰਬ2 ਮਹਿ ਏਕਾ3 ਏਹ ਸਤਿ4 ਗੁਰਿ5 ਦੇਖਿ6 ਦਿਖਾਈ7 

Ėk mėh sarab sarab mėh ekā eh saṯgur ḏekẖ ḏikẖāī. ||5

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 907.

The True4 Guru5 has shown7 (me) the vision6 that the One1 is in everything2 and everything2 is the One3.

 AGGS, M 1, p 907.


Guru Arjun has further explained this attribute as follows:

ਏਕੈ1 ਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਏਕੈ2 ਜਾਨ3 

Ėkai re har ekai jān.

ਏਕੈ4 ਰੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ5 ਜਾਨ6  ਰਹਾਉ 

Ėkai re gurmukẖ jān. ||1|| rahāo

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 535.

Hey Gurmukh!5 Comprehend3,6 the Eternal Entity (God) as One and Only1,2,4.

AGGS, M 5, p 535.


ਨਾਨਕ ਵਰਤੈ1 ਇਕੁ2 ਇਕੋ3 ਇਕੁ4 ਤੂੰ5 ੨੨ ਸੁਧੁ 

Nānak varṯai ik iko ik ṯūʼn. ||22||1||2|| suḏẖ.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 966.

"Nanak Says:

You5, the One and Only2,3,4, pervade1 everywhere.

AGGS, M 5, p 966.


I may add here that some scholars may quote the following verse of Guru Nanak to justify that he himself says that God is ‘One’ in Veda:

ਬੇਦ1 ਵਖਾਣਿ2 ਕਹਹਿ2 ਇਕੁ3 ਕਹੀਐ4 

Beḏ vakẖāṇ kahėh ik kahīai.

ਬੇਅੰਤੁ6 ਅੰਤੁ7 ਕਿਨਿ ਲਹੀਐ 

Oh beanṯ anṯ kin lahīai.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪਨਾ 1188.

However, critical study of the above phrase shows that here ਬੇਦ/ਵੇਦ (bed/ved) means intellect/wisdom according to Bhai Kahn Singh [16] and Dr Gurcharan Singh [25], although ਬੇਦ/ਵੇਦ (bed/ved) also means, sacred books in Hinduism. Therefore, the above phrase should be interpreted as follows:

Intellectual1 deliberation2 reveals4 that the Eternal Entity (God) is ‘One3.

The Oh5 (That) is Infinite6 and nobody8 has found9 its limit7.

AGGS, M 1, p 1188.


Another example ਬੇਦ/ਵੇਦ (bed/ved) means knowledge/wisdom to justify the above interpretation is found in JAP:

ਅਹਰਣਿ1 ਮਤਿ2 ਵੇਦੁ3 ਹਥੀਆਰੁ4 

Ahraṇ maṯ veḏ hathīār.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ 38, ਪੰਨਾ 8.

Wisdom2 should be anvil1 and knowledge3 be the tools4.

AGGS, Jap 38, p 8.

Therefore, it is wrong to say that Guru Nanak was following Vedic philosophy to address the Eternal Entity (God) as ‘One’.


The following verses of Guru Nanak further confirms that the Eternal Entity (God) to be ‘One and Only‘:

ਞੰਞੈ1 ਨਦਰਿ2 ਕਰੇ ਜਾ ਦੇਖਾ3 ਦੂਜਾ4 ਕੋਈ5 ਨਾਹੀ 

Ñañai naḏar kare jā ḏekẖā ḏūjā koī nāhī.

ਏਕੋ6 ਰਵਿ7 ਰਹਿਆ ਸਭ8 ਥਾਈ9 ਏਕੁ10 ਵਸਿਆ11 ਮਨ12 ਮਾਹੀ ੧੩

Ėko rav rahiā sabẖ thāī ek vasiā man māhī. ||13||

ਅਗਗਸ, :1, ਪੰਨਾ 433.

When visioned2, I saw3 that there is no5 second4 (other).

The One6 pervades7 everywhere8,9 and the One10 also pervades11 in my mind12.

AGGS, M 1, p 433.

Note: ਞੰਞੈ1 is a letter of Gurmukhi script used just to start the phrase, a style of writing poetry.


ਜਿਨਿ ਸਿਰਿ1 ਸਾਜੀ2 ਤਿਨਿ ਫੁਨਿ3 ਗੋਈ 

Jin sir sājī ṯin fun goī

ਤਿਸੁ4 ਬਿਨੁ ਦੂਜਾ5 ਅਵਰੁ6  ਕੋਈ7 

Ŧis bin ḏūjā avar na koī. ||1||

ਅਗਗਸ,  1, ਪੰਨਾ 355.

The One, Who has created2 the Universe1, the same One can destroy3.

For me there is no other6 (second5) than the One4.

AGGS, M 1, p 355.


I may further add here that the attribute ‘One’ to God means that God is ‘One and Only’ and there is no other like; and It (Eternal Entity - God) does not exist in Trinity and does not come into anthropomorphic form as is accepted in Vedic and Vedantic philosophies.   


ਓ (ਓਹੁ - Oh) (meaning ‘That’)


ਨਾ ਓਹੁ ਮਰੈ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੋਗੁ

Nā oh marai na hovai sog

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 9.

Oh (That) does not die; thus there is no reason to mourn.

AGGS, M 1, p 9.

Note: Here ‘That’ stands for the Eternal Entity – the God since Guru Nanak does not like to use any descriptive or specific name for the Eternal Entity.

ਓਹੁ1 ਬਿਧਾਤਾ2 ਮਨੁ3 ਤਨੁ4 ਦੇਇ5 

Oh biḏẖāṯā man ṯan ḏee.

ਅਗਗਸ, :1, ਪੰਨਾ 931.

Oh1, (That – Eternal Entity)2 blesses5 the mind3 and body4.

AGGS, M 1, p 931.


Extended End (         ) of Open Oora’ (ਓ ) represents the Infinity of God


ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ1 ਬੇਅੰਤੁ2 ਧਿਆਈਐ3 ਅੰਤੁ4  ਪਾਰਾਵਾਰੁ5੪੬

Gurmukẖ beanṯ ḏẖiāīai anṯ na pārāvār. ||46||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 936.

The Guru-oriented1 contemplates3 the Infinite2, Who has no limit4 or end5.

AGGS, M 1, p 936.


ਤਾ1 ਕੇ ਅੰਤ2  ਪਾਏ3 ਜਾਹਿ 

Ŧā ke anṯ na pāe jāhi.

ਏਹੁ ਅੰਤੁ4  ਜਾਣੈ5 ਕੋਇ6 

Ėhu anṯ na jāṇai koe.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ 24, ਪੰਨਾ 5.

The infiniteness2 of That1 cannot be comprehended3.

(In fact) Nobody6 knows5 its infiniteness4.

AGGS, Jap 24, p 5.


If we examine the above phrases, it is clear again that in Nanakian Philosophy, the Eternal Entity (God) has been addressed as :

(One) stands for 'One and Only'.

stands for 'Oh' (‘That’).  

Extended end (         ) stands for 'Infinite'.

Therefore, can be pronounced as ਇਕੁ ਬੇਅੰਤ (Ek Oh Beant) in Punjabi and as 'The One and Only, That is Infinite' in English.


Now let us consider if this (One) used in is ‘Singularity’ as understood by some scientists? [26]


And if this ‘Singularity’ is also called ‘Nothingness’ by other scientists? [27]




To comprehend (One) used in  , it is necessary to understand ‘Nothingness’ or ‘Singularity’. This understanding would further strengthen our thesis that is an original and unique logo designed by Guru Nanak to represent the Eternal Entity – commonly called God in English and with many other names in other religions.



According to the standard theory [26], our Universe sprang into existence from "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities." Our Universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity.



Nothingness has been defined by Kaup [27] as follows:

“Nothingness Theory defines nonexistence as being the absence of existence, the absence of nothingness, and the absence of absence. It is what is not being referred-to under any circumstances. Nonexistence by definition is that which cannot be referred-to, named, or defined. So referring to it in any way violates its strict definition. Nevertheless, this fundamental paradox is at the basis of Nothingness Theory and must be referred-to anyway. Despite it is not being absolute nonexistence exerts a detectable force. We have proven through simple logic that the Universe has and always will exist. Therefore, the Universe must have existed before the “Big Bang” and will exist forever. This also means that the state of nothingness from which the Universe burst into existence must have existed relative to absolute nonexistence given that absolute nonexistence is not achievable. So energy/matter and space/time can attain relative nonexistence by collapsing into infinite density, which is a uniform state of static equilibrium. Examples of this state of relative nonexistence can be seen throughout the Universe in the form of ‘black holes’.” A black hole is the pinnacle of perfectly symmetrical uniformity of energy, matter, space, and time.


Therefore, ‘Nothingness’ does not mean ‘without anything’. However, it is in such a small volume that it appears to be ‘Nothingness’. According to the ‘Big Bang Theory’, the energy was in such a small volume that has been termed as ‘Nothingness’ by some and as ‘Singularity’ by others. This ‘Nothingness’ is termed as ਸੁੰਨ (SUNN) by Guru Nanak. It is also termed as ‘Jyot’ (highly condensed energy) by Guru Nanak.

Is  (Ek – One) in   ‘Singularity’ in Gurbani?

Will it be out of place to call the ‘Singularity’, from which everything originated, the state of the Universe before Big Bang, as   (One) placed before ?

Still another question:

Is not this ‘One’ of Guru Nanak the ‘Singularity’ of scientists in which energy/matter - space/time has attained relative nonexistence by collapsing into infinite density, which is a uniform state of static equilibrium?


This equilibrium is represented by Guru Nanak in the form of a logo as follows:

  =    + +

  = Singularity + That + Infinite.

Could we now infer from the above dismantled that the ‘One’ (‘Singularity’ = energy/matter - space/time) is ‘That’ (Entity), which is ‘Infinite’ from which the whole Universe appeared after the Big Bang.


The "big bang" theory is equivalent to Guru Nanak's view that "the Universe exploded and started expanding with one sound:

ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ1 ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ2

Kīṯā pasāo eko kavāo.

ਤਿਸ ਤੇ ਹੋਏ ਲਖ ਦਰੀਆਉ3

Ŧis ṯe hoe lakẖ ḏarīāo.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ 16, ਪੰਨਾ 3.

It is literally translated my most of the writers as follows: [14]

You created the vast expanse of the Universe with One Word! 

Hundreds of thousands of rivers began to flow. 

AGGS, Jap 16, p 3.


Using present day science and the methodology of Guru Nanak, remembering that he would express his philosophy allegorically, metaphorically and symbolically, then my interpretation will be quite different from that of all other writers. My interpretation is as follows:

The Universe exploded with one source of energy (singularity)2 and started to expand1, hereafter appeared many3 things.



1.         ਪਸਾਉ1 (pasao) means to expand.

2.        ਕਵਾਉ2 (kavao) means sound, not word or note.

3.        ਦਰੀਆਉ3 (daryao) has been literally interpreted as rivers by many scholars. Keeping in view the methodology used by Guru Nanak, ‘ਦਰੀਆਉ3’ (daryao) has been used as a metaphor for the word, things. What are those things?


The word, ‘ਲਖ ਦਰੀਆਉ’ (lakh dariao), has been used to mean many things, because of the limited vocabulary available at that time. However, one must understand that no water was formed immediately after the Big Bang. It took billions of years to form water on the Earth. Therefore, ‘ਲਖ ਦਰੀਆਉ3’ (lakh dariao), is a metaphoric expression of many things (that means starting from elementary particles to protons, electrons, neutrons and neutrinos which formed various elements. The first element formed was Hydrogen with one proton encircled with one electron. Then Helium was formed joining two protons and two neutrons in nucleus encircled by two electrons. Thereafter, many more elements appeared to give rise to many galaxies contain many stars and planets.


The word, ਦਰੀਆਉ3’ (dariao), in the above phrase of Guru has been explained with a new word, ਸਭਿ (sabh - everything) by Guru Arjun:

ਏਕ1 ਕਵਾਵੈ2 ਤੇ ਸਭਿ3 ਹੋਆ4

Ėk kavāvai ṯe sabẖ hoā. ||1||

From one1 source of energy2 (singularilty) everything3 was created4.

AGGS, M 5, p 1003.

Note: ਏਕ1 ਕਵਾਵੈ2 (ek kavavai) in the above phrase is the same as ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ2 ‘(eko kavao) of Guru Nanak’s previous verse. ਕਵਾਵੈ2 ( kavavai) is  from ਕਵਾ (kava) which means energy according to Mahan Kosh.. 


Guru Nanak’s concept of origin of the Universe of 15th century is very similar to the most accepted theory of Big Bang of 20th century. Although similar teachings of the formation of the Universe with one ‘word’ of God can be found in other religious scriptures, Guru Nanak has given a more in-depth explanation of its origin from the   (Ek – One) in   as Singularity.

IS ਸੁੰਨ (SUNN) ‘Nothingness’ in Gurbani?

The (Ek – One) in is very much comparable to ‘Singularity’ as explained previously. This (Ek – One) in   is also called SUNN in Gurbani, which appears to be ‘Nothingness’ of scientists as follows:


The first three phrases are in the form of questions:

ਸੁੰਨੋ1 ਸੁੰਨੁ ਕਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ

Sunno sunn kahai sabẖ ko▫ī. 

ਅਨਹਤ2 ਸੁੰਨੁ3 ਕਹਾ ਤੇ ਹੋਈ4

Anhaṯ sunn kahā ṯe ho▫ī. 

ਅਨਹਤ5 ਸੁੰਨਿ6 ਰਤੇ7 ਸੇ ਕੈਸੇ8

Anhaṯ sunn raṯe se kaise.

Everyone speaks about the sunn1.

How did Infinite2 sunn3 originate4?

How8 can one understand7 the Infinite5 sunn6?


Then Guru Nanak answers it as follows:

ਜਿਸ9 ਤੇ ਉਪਜੇ10 ਤਿਸ11 ਹੀ ਜੈਸੇ12

Jis ṯe upje ṯis hī jaise. 

That (Nothingness)9 originated10from the Universe11, therefore, it is the same since it has everything of that Universe12 and it (sunn) will become same as the Universe again.


Now in the following phrase Guru Nanak is indicating that this Nothingness is Eternal Entity (sunn) that does not take birth or dies since sunn is always present in one form or other:

ਜਨਮਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਜਾਹਿ

Oe janam na marėh na āvahi jāhi.

ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਨੁ ਸਮਝਾਹਿ ੫੨

Nānak gurmukẖ man samjẖāhi. ||52||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 943.

This state of sunn to Universe and back to sunn cycle is a continuous system. Therefore, neither it is born nor dies.

Oh Guru-oriented! Orientate your mind so that you can understand the above fact. 52.

AGGS, M 1, p 943.


Guru Nanak is explaining that when Nothingness (sunn) or Singularity became the Universe after the Big Bang then it will go back to Nothingness (sunn) again.

Guru Arjun has explained the above philosophy of Guru Nanak that the Universe appeared from Nothingness (sunn) and goes back to Nothingness (sunn) as follows:

ਕਈ1 ਬਾਰ2 ਪਸਰਿਓ3 ਪਾਸਾਰ4 

Kaī bār pasrio pāsār.

ਸਦਾ5 ਸਦਾ5 ਇਕੁ6 ਏਕੰਕਾਰ7 

Saḏā saḏā ik ekankār.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 276.

The Universe4 came into existence3 many1 times2.

Nevertheless, the One6 (Sunn – Nothingness or Ekankaar - Singularity) remains One and Only7(Singularity) all the time5.

AGGS, M 5, p 276.


The above stanzas of Guru Nanak and Guru Arjun, respectively, had expressed the same theory about 500 years ago as formulated by Bergman now. Bergman says [29] if there is enough matter in the Universe, eventually gravitational forces will stop its expansion. When this happens, gravity will cause the Universe to reverse its direction and begin to collapse under its own weight. This phase of the Universe's life is known as the Big Crunch.  He further says that some theorize that the Universe could collapse into the same state that it began as and then blow up in another Big Bang. In this way, the Universe would last forever but would continually go through these phases of expansion and contraction, Big Bang and Big Crunch and so on.


I may add here that this state of Big Crunch is same as the state of Singularity as One () in or Nothingness (ਸੁੰਨ - sunn) described by Guru Nanak and thereafter by other scientists. [26, 27, 29] In other words, the phrase, (ਕਈ1 ਬਾਰ2 ਪਸਰਿਓ3 ਪਾਸਾਰ4 Kaī bār pasrio pāsār) indicates that energy/matter - space/time always existed in one form or other as observed above by Bergman, therefore,  there is no beginning and end of this Universe.


Guru Nanak says that panj tatt (five elements) originated from the Sunn (Nothingness or Singularity), which is comparable to the evolution of Universe from Singularity:

ਪੰਚ1 ਤਤੁ2 ਸੁੰਨਹੁ3 ਪਰਗਾਸਾ4 

Pancẖ ṯaṯ sunnahu pargāsā... 14

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1038.

The five1 elements2 have originated4 from Nothingness3 (sunn)…14.

AGGS, M 1, p 1038.


Guru Nanak further says that sunn (Nothingness or Singularity) gave rise to stars and planets and living and non-livings:

ਸੁੰਨਹੁ10 ਚੰਦੁ11 ਸੂਰਜੁ12 ਗੈਣਾਰੇ13 

Sunnahu cẖanḏ sūraj gaiṇāre. 

ਤਿਸ14 ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ15 ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣ16 ਸਾਰੇ 

Ŧis kī joṯ ṯaribẖavaṇ sāre.

ਸੁੰਨੇ17 ਅਲਖ18 ਅਪਾਰ19 ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ20 ਸੁੰਨੇ21 ਤਾੜੀ22 ਲਾਇਦਾ 

Sunne alakẖ apār nirālam sunne ṯāṛī lāiḏā. ||5||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1037.

Moons11 and Suns12 (planets and stars) have originated13 from Nothingness10 (sunn).

The Energy15 of That14 (sunn) pervades in the whole Universe16 (mythical three worlds).

Guru Nanak talking about the Eternal Entity (God) in the state of Nothingness (sunn) and Universe. 

The Ineffable18, Infinite19, without any flaw20 (the Universe) originated from the Nothingness (sunn)17 and goes back/imbibed22 in the same Nothingness(sunn)21(comparable to ‘Big Crunch’).5

AGGS, M 1, p 1037.


Guru Nanak continued to describe that human body was formed by five elements:

ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਕੀਆ  

Pancẖ ṯaṯ mil ih ṯan kīā. 

The human body is made of five elements.

AGGS, M 1, p 1039


ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੀਨੀ   

Pancẖ ṯaṯ mil kāiā kīnī. 

The human body is made of five elements 

AGGS, M 1, p 1030.


Bhagat Kabir  also says that the human was made by mixing five elements:

ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਤਤੁ ਕਹਾ ਤੇ ਕੀਨੁ ਰੇ  

Pancẖ ṯaṯ mil kāiā kīnĥī ṯaṯ kahā ṯe kīn re.

The human body was made by God by mixing five elements but questions where did these come from.

AGGS, Kabir, p 870.


Bhagat Kabir (1398 - 1448 or 1440 – 1518) appeared before Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539). He is mentioning five elements (earth, water, air, fire and sky) as accepted in Hinduism but does not know where did the five elements come from? However, Guru Nanak did explain that five elements came from ਸੁੰਨ (sunn - Nothingness / Singularity).

Nevertheless, Guru Ramdas follows ancient philosophy that the Eternal Entity (God) created the Universe with the panj tatt (five elements) and nobody can create the sixth element:

ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਕਰਿ ਤੁਧੁ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਸਭ ਸਾਜੀ ਕੋਈ ਛੇਵਾ ਕਰਿਉ ਜੇ ਕਿਛੁ ਕੀਤਾ ਹੋਵੈ  

Pancẖ ṯaṯ kar ṯuḏẖ sarisat sabẖ sājī koī cẖẖevā kario je kicẖẖ kīṯā hovai.

 ਅਗਗਸ, : 4, ਪੰਨਾ 736.

The Eternal Entity (God) has created the Universe with five elements; if anyone can create sixth one then let him show us.

AGGS, M 4, p736.


Logically and scientifically, these five elements (earth, water, air, fire, aether or sky) are not elements as discussed previously. However, these so-called elements are the parts of the Universe then how could they form the Universe?


Five Elements

During ancient times in classical thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire as proposed by Empedocles (490 – 430 BC)  frequently occur. Aristotle (384–322 BC) added a fifth element, aether; it has been called akasha (sky) in India and quintessence in Europe. [30, 31] Ancient cultures in Egypt, Babylonia, Japan, Tibet and India had similar lists.


This system of five elements is called “pancha mahabhuta” in Vedas, especially Ayurveda. They are bhumi (earth), ap or jala (water), tegas (fire), marut, vayu or pavan (air) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void). In Hinduism it is considered that all of creation, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements and that upon death, the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, thereby balancing the cycle of nature.  [31] Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus have referred these five elements in the same sense as considered in ancient philosophy and Vedas.


Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), together with Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau, Claude-Louis Berthollet and Antoine Francois de Fourcroy, developed Méthode de nomenclature chimique (Method of Chemical Nomenclature), in 1787. The ancient concept of five elements of earth, air, fire, and water to which the fifth, aether or sky, was added was discarded instead some 55 substances, which could not be decomposed into simpler substances by any known chemical means, were provisionally listed as elements. [32]


In fact, ancient panj tatt (five elements) are not at all elements they are either compounds or mixtures of elements. For example, water is a compound of Hydrogen and Oxygen, earth is mixture of various elements, similarly air is composed of various gases, however, not much is known about aether or sky. Is it just void or full of Dark Energy?              


Scientifically, these five elements (earth, water, air, fire, aether or sky) are not elements. However, these so-called elements are the parts of the Universe then how could they form the Universe. I prefer to call Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Phosphorus as panj tatt (five elements), which form the DNA necessary to create life and all organic matter instead of ancient panj tatt (earth, air, fire, water and aether or sky. Wesley [33] has explained the evolution of Universe from Singularity (Nothingness or ਸੁੰਨ (sunn) aa follows (Fig. 4):

After about 10-43 seconds: Planck Era???

After about 10-35 seconds: Elementary particles appeared.

 After about 0.001 second to 3 minutes: Electrons, neutrons, neutrinos and neutrons appeared.

After about 3 minutes to 300,000 years: The plasma of Hydrogen, Helium nuclei plus electrons gave rise to more elements.

After about 1 billion years: Galaxies, stars (suns) and planets started to form.

Today the Universe is 13.7 billion years old. Our Solar System including our Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago.


Figure 4.  Origin of Universe from Sunn (Nothingness or Singularity) according to the Big Bang Theory based on the above description. [33]. Picture Credit: Wesley, Addison



The above discussion of ਸੁੰਨ (sunn) leads us to accept that ’ (One) of Guru Nanak in    represents the ‘Singularity’ of scientists in which energy/matter - space/time has attained relative nonexistence (Nothingness) by collapsing into infinite density, which is a uniform state of static equilibrium.



Now it is the time to sum up the description of the logo, , designed by Guru Nanak, logically and scientifically. The logo, , has been disassembled for explanation as follows:

= + +  

represents ‘Oneness’ (Singularity) – the state of Eternal Entity (God).

(Open Oora) represents the Eternal Entity as ‘Oh’ since there is no descriptive/specific name for God.

‘         ’   (Extended end of Open Oora) represents infinity (ਬੇਅੰਤ - Beant) of (Oh).

Therefore    = Singularity + Oh (That) + Infinity.

If it is so then we may infer that the Eternal Entity (God) is OH (THAT) where energy/matter - space/time is in INFINITELY small ONE unite (SINGULARITY) which looks like ‘NOTHINGNESS’ but became the Universe after the Big Bang.


The above analysis clearly indicates that the logo, , designed by Guru Nanak can be pronounced as ਇਕ ਬੇਅੰਤ (Ek Oh Beant) in Punjabi.  And as 'The One and Only, Oh (That), the Infinite' in English.


Is this description of described above correct or that where the earlier theologians like Bhai Gurdas and Faridkot Vala Teeka) have declared as Ek Oankaar or Ek Onkaar or Ek Omkaar, which represents OM (AUM) – the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh) according to Vedantic philosophies?


Now I would like to pose the following question to the theologians, philosophers, and scientists of the world:

Are the modern scientists and the philosophers not thinking about the Eternal Entity (God) on the same line as conceptualized by Guru Nanak during 15th and 16th centuries?



Personal discussion with scholars of Sikhi indicated that they want to stick to their own conviction to pronounce as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) originating from AUM (OM). In that case, they are strengthening the view of scholars like Parma Nand [16] in denigrating the originality and uniqueness of Guru Nanak as follows:

is not a new word coined by Guru Nanak but he borrowed it from Upanishads because 'Oankaar' or 'Omkaar' has been used in various Upanishads. The only thing Guru Nanak did was to add numeral '1' to confirm the 'Oneness' of God, which is also found in the Upanishads [16].”



is being misunderstood since the time of Bhai Gurdas when he declared that (Open Oora) in   as Oankaar, thereafter, (Open Oora) was interpreted as Om or Aum by Faridkot Vala Teeka. Nevertheless, our present research confirms that:

1.         There is no evidence in Gurbani incorporated in the AGGS that (Open Oora) is an abbreviation of ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar).

2.        The (One) in is in fact space/time – energy/matter highly concentrated in a Single Point, ‘Singularity’, which looks like ‘Nothingness’ for some scientists and ‘sunn’ for Guru Nanak.

3.        cannot be represented as ‘Ek Oankaar’ or ‘Ek Aumkaar’ or ‘Ek Omkaar’ since these words are ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ  (Kitam Naam - descriptive/specific names) which represent AUM or OM (Trinity of God).

4.       In    stands for 'One and Only', ‘ stands for 'Oh' (‘That’), and Extended end (        ) of ‘’ (Open Oora) stands for 'Infinite'. Therefore, in Punjabi can be pronounced as ਇਕੁ ਬੇਅੰਤ (Ek Oh Beant) and in English can be pronounced as 'The One and Only, Oh (That), the Infinite'.  In other words, One () is
‘Singularity’ - means that (
) Energy, which is
(       ) Infinite. Guru Nanak is describing that that Entity in this Universe is the Energy, which existed before the time and space appeared, existed in the past, is existing now in the present, and will exist forever. That is the TRUTH.


Finally, it can be concluded that if we, the Sikh theologians and scholars, insist that is  ‘Ek Oankaar’ or ‘Ek Aumkaar’ or ‘Ek Omkaar’ then we are establishing that Guru Nanak has no originality and uniqueness in designing , the logo of his philosophy, rather he was preaching and teaching Vedantic philosophies.






1.     Chahal, D. S. (2000) Commencing Verse of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib, Understanding Sikhism Res. J., 2 (1), p 8.

2.     Chahal, D. S. (2002) A Unique Concept of God in Nanakian Philosophy, Understanding Sikhism Res. J., 4 (2), p 5.

3.     Chahal, D. S. (2003) JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy (Laval, Quebec, Canada Institute for Understanding Sikhism, Distributors: Singh Brothers, Amritsar).

4.     Chahal, D. S. (2005) Oankaar or Omkaar: The Misunderstood Word - Annotation by Guru Nanak, Understanding Sikhism Res. J., 7 (2), p 17.

5.     Chahal, D. S. (2008) Nanakian Philosophy Basics for Humanity (Laval, QC, Canada, Institute for Understanding Sikhism).

6.     Encarta Dictionary. http://www.freedictionarydefinitions.com/?r=5&kw=Encarta%20Dictionary%20Online&gclid=Cj0KCQjwxdPNBRDmARIsAAw-TUkIY7T4hqKuY8Qw15I2KImq6KO5O4N3nblOKuRdtyNcUbNlETS7bIwaAlwsEALw_wcB

7.     Logo. http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/hidden-logos-in-graphic-designing/

8.     Indian Rupee Sign. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_rupee_sign

9.     AGGS (1983) Aad Guru Granth Sahib (Amritsar, Punjab, India, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee).  (M = Mahla, i.e., succession number of the Sikh Gurus to the House of Nanak, M is replaced with the name of Bhagat/ Bhatt for their Bani, p = Page of the AGGS).

10.  Singh, H. (1988) Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi). Vols. 14 (Patiala, India, Gurmat Seva Parkashan).

11.  Singh, V. (1984) Vaaran Bhai Gurdas Steek (Punjabi) (Hall Bazar, Amritsar, Khalsa Samachar).

12.  Nand, P. (1985) Ek - Aumkar, in: Singh, P. (Ed.) Sikh Concept of Divine p. 32 (Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev University Press).

13.  Singh, T. (1997) Gurbani dian Viakhia Parnalian (Punjabi) (Patiala, Punjabi University).

14.  Thind, K. S.  www.srigranth.org.

15.  Nirankari, R. D. (2003) Upanishad - Vidya (Punjabi) (Chandigarh 110 022, Lookgeet Parkashan SCO 21-27 Sector 34A).

16.  Singh, K. (1981) Mahan Kosh (Patiala, India, Bhasha Vibagh Punjab).

17.  Singh, S. (1972) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan (Punjabi). Vols 10 (Jallandhar, India, Raj Publishers).

18.  Joshi, S. S., Gill, Mukhtiar Singh (1994) Punjabi-English Dictionary (Patiala, India, Punjabi University).

19.  Singh, S. (1966) Philosophy of Sikhism (Jallandhar, Punjab, Sterling Publishers (P) Ltd).

20.  Singh, P. e. (1985) Sikh Concept of Divine (Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev University Press).

21.  Singh, P. (1985) The Introduction of Mul Mantra, in: Singh, P. (Ed.) Sikh Concept of Divine (Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev University).

22.  Galhotra, S. S. Jap(U) Ji Sahib Sandhesh (Punjabi) (Amritsar, Sital Sahit Bhavan).

23.  Singh, J. (1981) Japji de Teeke: Smikhyatmak Adhyan (In Punjabi) (Patiala, India, 24 Green View).

24.  Singh, T. Japji Steek (Punjabi) (Amritsar, Dharam Parchar Committee (SGPC)).

25.  Singh, G. (2000) Sri Guru Granth Kosh: Gurmukhi to Gurmukhi (In Punjabi) (Patiala, India, Prof Sahib Singh Trust).

26.  Big Bang Theory - The Premise. http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

27.  Kaup, C. (1989-2004) General Nothingness Theory http://www.nothingnesstheory.com/General%20Nothingness%20Theory4.htm (Kaup Communication).

28.  The Big Crunch. https://www.windows2universe.org/?page=/the_universe/Crunch.html.

29.  Bergman, J. (2003) The Big Crunch, Windows to the Universe (2003). https://www.windows2universe.org/?page=/the_universe/Crunch.html

30.  Panj Tatt Ancient. https://www.google.ca/search?source=hp&q=ancient+five+elements&oq=ancient+five+elements&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i22i30k1l5.1931.7385.0.12141.

31.  Panj Tatt Modern. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_element

32.  Panj Tatt - Antoine Lavoisier. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Lavoisier#Chemical_nomenclature

33.  Wesley, A. Big Bang Piture. http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/photo.html?images/bigbang_timeline.jpg&Timeline%20and%20major%20events%20since%20the%20Big%20Bang.



PART 2:  ਸਤਿ to ਸੈਭੰ 

ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ 2

sa nām karṯā purak nirbao nirvair akāl mūra ajūnī saibaʼn

All the above attributes of are discussed as follows:

ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ (Sat Naam): It is necessary to know that ਸਤਿ (sat) and ਨਾਮੁ  (naam) are two separate words. ‘Naam’ indicates that there is no descriptive or specific name for the Eternal Entity (God) that is why It is addressed as ‘Naam’ by Guru Nanak at some places in his bani. Guru Arjun has explained this fact as follows:

ਕਿਰਤਮ1 ਨਾਮ2 ਕਥੇ3 ਤੇਰੇ ਜਿਹਬਾ4     

Kirṯam nām kathe ṯere jihbā.

ਸਤਿ5 ਨਾਮੁ6 ਤੇਰਾ ਪਰਾ7 ਪੂਰਬਲਾ8

Saṯ nām ṯerā parā pūrbalā.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1083.

Your tongue4 recites3 the descriptive1 names2 of That (the Eternal Entity).

That Naam6 (the Eternal Entity) existed5 even before7 the beginning of the space and time7,8

AGGS, M 5, p 1083.


This means there was no descriptive/specific name for the Eternal Entity (God) before the appearance of space and time; therefore, no one can name the Eternal Entity (God) today since there is no appropriate name. Even then, people have assigned some descriptive/specific (kirtam) names according to their level of thinking about the Eternal Entity (God). Neither Guru Nanak nor any Sikh Guru who succeeded to the ‘House of Nanak’ has assigned any name to the Eternal Entity (God) in their bani. In spite of that fact, the Sikhs scholars and the Sikh at large have accepted “Vaheguru” as the name of the Eternal Entity (God) as coined by Bhai Gurdas in Vaar 1, Pauri 49. [1]


Moreover, the words ਸਤਿ (sat) and ਸਚੁ (sach) are commonly used in the gurbani. Both mean ‘true’ or ‘truth’ and/or ‘exist’ or ‘existence’ depending on the context in which they are used. Here, the word ਸਤਿ (sat) means ‘exists’. Therefore, ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ (Sat Naam) means ‘The One, who has no descriptive/specific name but exists.’ This is explained in detail in the sloka following the title ਜਪੁ (JAP) on the first page and in Sukhmani on page 285 of the AGGS, with the spelling of ਭੀ changed to ਭਿ:

ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ2 ਜੁਗਾਦਿ3 ਸਚੁ

Āḏ sacẖ jugāḏ sacẖ.

ਹੈ4 ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ5 ਭੀ ਸਚੁ

Hai bẖī sacẖ Nānak hosī bẖī sacẖ. ||1||            

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ, ਪੰਨਾ 1, ਤੇ ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 285.

Was in existence2 before the beginning of the space and time1;

Was in existence in the past3;

Is in existence in the present4;

Will remain in existence forever5 (in the future).”

AGGS, Jap, p 1 & AGGS, M 5, p 285.


Prof Sahib Singh [2] also interpreted ਸਚੁ (sach) as ‘exists’. Jodh Singh [3] also agrees that the Eternal Entity (God) has no name and that is why we always call it by the name of ਸਤਿ (sat) - exists forever. (ਉਹਦਾ ਇਹ ਹੀ ਇਕ ਗੁਣ ਹੈ ਜੋ ਕਦੀ ਨਾਸ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਇਸ ਲਈ ਅਸੀਂ ਸਦਾ ਉਹਨੂੰਸਤਿਦੇ ਨਾਮ ਨਾਲ ਪੁਕਾਰਦੇ ਹਾਂ).


Therefore, it is evident that ਸਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ (sat naam) means the Eternal Entity or Ultimate Reality which has no name but does exist (ਸਤਿ). Therefore, here (ਨਾਮੁnaam) become redundant for interpretation. In Nanakian Philosophy, the Eternal Entity or Ultimate Reality (God) exists but has no descriptive/specific name. ਸਤਿ (sat) and ਸਚੁ (sach) are interchangeable words in gurbani.


ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖ (Karta Purkh): In general ਕਰਤਾ (Karta) is interpreted as ‘Creator’ and ਪੁਰਖ (Purkh) is used to represent the Eternal Entity (God), as used in Vedanta. Since the Eternal Entity cannot be represented by any descriptive/specific name, therefore, the word ਪੁਰਖ (Purkh) also becomes redundant here.  However, here ਕਰਤਾ (Kart) means “creative force”. ਪੁਰਖ (Purkh) is used as a metaphor for the Eternal Entity but is considered redundant in our interpretation:

ਤੂੰ ਕਰਤਾ1 ਪੁਰਖੁ ਅਗੰਮੁ2 ਹੈ ਆਪਿ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ3 ਉਪਾਤੀ4

Ŧūʼn karṯā purakẖ agamm hai āp sarisat upāṯī.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 138.

You, the source of creation1, is inaccessible2 but have created4 the Universe3.

AGGS, M 1, p 138.

ਤੂ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਅਲੇਖ1 ਅਗੰਮ2 ਨਿਰਾਲਾ3

Ŧū purakẖ alekẖ agamm nirālā.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1038.

You (the Eternal Entity) are ineffable1, inaccessible2, and unique3.

AGGS, M 1, p 1038.


Macauliffe [from Ref. #3] considers ‘Karta Purakh’ to be one word and ignores the translation of ‘Purakh’. His interpretation of ‘Karta Purakh’ is ‘Creator’.


ਨਿਰਭਉ (Nirbhau): Literally, ਨਿਰਭਉ (nirbhau) means without any fear. The one who is without any fear is not controlled by any other person. Therefore ‘Nirbhau’ means there is none who controls the Eternal Entity (God). Fearlessness of the Eternal Entity is confirmed in the following verses:

ਏਕੇ1 ਕਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਭਉ2 ਕੋਇ

Ėke kao nāhī bẖao koe.

ਕਰਤਾ3 ਕਰੇ4 ਕਰਾਵੈ5 ਸੋਇ6

Karṯā kare karāvai soe. ||3||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 796.

The One1 has no fear2 of anybody.

(The One does not take any order from any other)

The source of creation3 works4 by Itself 6,5.

AGGS, M 1, p 796.


ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਭਉ1 ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ2 ਹੋਰਿ ਕੇਤੇ3 ਰਾਮ4 ਰਵਾਲ5

Nānak nirbẖao nirankār hor keṯe rām ravāl.

ਅਗਗਸ,: 1, ਪੰਨਾ 464.

Nanak says:

The Formless2 (the Eternal Entity) alone is without any fear1 from anybody, other innumerable3 deities (who are called gods) like Rama4 are just like dust5 (nothing).

AGGS, M 1, p 464.

It becomes clear that ਨਿਰਭਉ1 means the Eternal Entity (God) is without any fear from anybody. It also means God is not under any law of Nature/Universe. ਭੈ (Bhae) is a word which is often interpreted as fear, but it has also been used to symbolize the Laws of Nature/Universe. In the following verse, Guru Nanak explains that everything (action and reaction) is under the Laws of Nature/Universe, but the Eternal Entity is not under any such law:

ਭੈ1 ਵਿਚਿ ਪਵਣੁ2 ਵਹੈ ਸਦਵਾਉ3 

Bẖai vicẖ pavaṇ vahai saḏvāo.  

ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਲਖ4 ਦਰੀਆਉ5 

Bẖai vicẖ cẖalėh lakẖ ḏarīāo.  

ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਅਗਨਿ6 ਕਢੈ7 ਵੇਗਾਰਿ8 

Bẖai vicẖ agan kadẖai vegār.  

ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਤੀ9 ਦਬੀ ਭਾਰਿ10 

Bẖai vicẖ ḏẖarṯī ḏabī bẖār.  

ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਇੰਦੁ11 ਫਿਰੈ ਸਿਰ ਭਾਰਿ 

Bẖai vicẖ inḏ firai sir bẖār.  

ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਾਜਾ ਧਰਮ ਦੁਆਰੁ12 

Bẖai vicẖ rājā ḏẖaram ḏuār.  

ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੂਰਜੁ13 ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਚੰਦੁ14 

Bẖai vicẖ sūraj bẖai vicẖ cẖanḏ.  

ਕੋਹ15 ਕਰੋੜੀ16 ਚਲਤ  ਅੰਤੁ17 ...

Koh karoṛī cẖalaṯ na anṯ...

ਸਗਲਿਆ18 ਭਉ19 ਲਿਖਿਆ20 ਸਿਰਿ21 ਲੇਖੁ 

Sagliā bẖao likẖiā sir lekẖ.  

ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਭਉ22 ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ23 ਸਚੁ24 ਏਕੁ25 ੧॥

Nānak nirbẖao nirankār sacẖ ek. ||1||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 464.   

The wind2 always3 blows under the Laws of Nature/Universe1.

Hundreds of thousands4 of rivers5 flow under the Laws of Nature/Universe.

Fire6 performs7 work8 under the Laws of Nature/Universe.

The Earth9 is holding together10 (in a compact form) under the Laws of Nature/Universe (because of gravitational attraction in the center).

The clouds11 move across the sky under the Laws of Nature/Universe.

The (mythical) righteous judge of dharma12 is also under the Laws of Nature/Universe.

The Sun13 and the Moon14 are moving millions16 of miles15 without any end17 under the Laws of Nature/Universe.


Nanak says:

Everything18 and everybody21 is under20 the Laws of Nature/Universe19.

However, the Ever-existing24 One and Only25, the Formless23, is not under any such laws22. ||1||

AGGS, M 1, p 464.

Note: ਅਗਨਿ6 ਕਢੈ7 ਵੇਗਾਰਿ8  (agan kadẖai vegār) = fire is used to create energy to perform various work.

ਨਿਰਭਉ (Nirbhau) means the ‘One and Only’ (God) has no fear of anybody nor is controlled by anybody. It also means that the ‘One and Only’ is not under any law.

ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ (Nirvaer): Many people believe that God could be vengeful, causing floods, earthquakes, deadly disease, famines, etc. to punish mankind. However, according to Guru Nanak, the Eternal Entity (God) cannot be vengeful. It is without enmity:

ਜੁਗਿ1 ਜੁਗਿ1 ਥਾਪਿ2 ਸਦਾ3 ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ4

Jug jug thāp saḏā nirvair.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 931.


The One (Eternal Entity) existing2 since the ages1 is always3 without enmity4.

AGGS, M 1, p 931.


Einstein realized this attribute of the Eternal Entity (God) described by Guru Nanak 450 years later when he remarked:

“Subtle is the Lord but malicious He is not.” [4]


ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ (akal murat): Here the word ਮੂਰਤਿ (murat) is representative of a body and is commonly ignored in interpretation. Many scholars interpret ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ (akal murat) as immortal, meaning God is neither born nor die. This cannot be its real meaning because this attribute is represented by the next attribute,ਅਜੂਨੀ (ajuni), in the Commencing Verse. Here, ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ (akal murat’ is interpreted as the metaphoric body (murat) of the Eternal Entity (God) on which there is no effect of time. It does not age or disintegrate with the effect of time since there is no specific body. For example,

ਤੂ1 ਅਕਾਲ2 ਪੁਰਖੁ3 ਨਾਹੀ ਸਿਰਿ4 ਕਾਲਾ5

Ŧū akāl purakẖ nāhī sir kālā

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1038.

You1 (the Eternal Entity3) are without any effect of time2, thus, there is no fear of death5 on You (your head)4.

AGGS, M 1, p 1038.

Here ਪੁਰਖੁ (Purkh) has been used metaphorically in place of ਮੂਰਤਿ (murat) to indicate the Eternal Entity. Therefore, both ਪੁਰਖੁ (Purkh) and ਮੂਰਤਿ (murat) are metaphors and should not be interpreted literally.


ਅਜੂਨੀ (Ajuni): Guru Nanak explains ਅਜੂਨੀ (Ajuni) as follows:

ਥਾਪਿਆ1 ਜਾਇ ਕੀਤਾ2 ਹੋਇ

Thāpiā na jāe kīṯā na hoe.

ਆਪੇ3 ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ4 ਸੋਇ

Āpe āp niranjan soe.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ 5, ਪੰਨਾ 2.


(It) can neither be structured1 nor created2.

The Pure One4 (without any taint) is created by Itself3.

AGGS, Jap 5, p 2.


ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਾਪੁ ਮਾਇ ਕਿਨਿ ਤੂ ਜਾਇਆ1

Nā ṯis bāp na māe kin ṯū jāiā.

ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਰੂਪੁ2 ਰੇਖ3 ਵਰਨ4 ਸਬਾਇਆ

Nā ṯis rūp na rekẖ varan sabāiā.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1279.

You have no father and no mother, who have given You birth1.

You are without any form2 and without any sign3 of any caste4.

AGGS, M 1, p 1279.


ਜਨਮਿ1 ਮਰਣਿ2 ਨਹੀ ਧੰਧਾ3 ਧੈਰੁ4

Janam maraṇ nahī ḏẖanḏẖā ḏẖair.

ਅਗਗਸ, :1, ਪੰਨਾ 931.

(It) is free from birth1 and death2 and is not involved in worldly affairs3,4.

AGGS, M 1, p 931.


The characteristic, ਅਜੂਨੀ (ajūnī) - ‘not coming into anthropomorphic form’, assigned by Guru Nanak to the Eternal Entity was further explained by Guru Arjun:

ਅਕਾਲ1 ਮੂਰਤਿ2 ਅਜੂਨੀ3 ਸੰਭਉ4 ਕਲਿ5 ਅੰਧਕਾਰ6 ਦੀਪਾਈ7 ੧੮

Akāl mūraṯ ajūnī sambẖao kal anḏẖkār ḏīpāī. ||18||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 916.

The One, (whose metaphoric body)2 is without any effect of time and space1 is free from the life-death cycle3, is created by Itself4 and gives light7 (wisdom) to disperse darkness6 (ignorance) in the world5.

AGGS, M 5, p 916.

Note: ਅੰਧਕਾਰ6 ਦੀਪਾਈ7 is equivalent to ਗੁਰੂ (Enlightener).


ਅਮੋਘ1 ਦਰਸਨ2 ਆਜੂਨੀ3 ਸੰਭਉ4

Amogẖ ḏarsan ājūnī sambẖao.

ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ5 ਜਿਸੁ ਕਦੇ ਨਾਹੀ ਖਉ6

Akāl mūraṯ jis kaḏe nāhī kẖao.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1082.

The inexhaustible1 bounteous2 is without the life-death cycle3 and is created by Itself4. There is no effect of time (on Its metaphoric body)5 and is never destroyed6.

AGGS, M 5, p 1082.

Note: ਦਰਸਨ2 is equivalent to ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ = bounteous.

ਤੂ1 ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ2 ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ3 ਜੋਨਿ4 ਆਵਹੀ

Ŧū pārbarahm parmesar jon na āvhī.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1095.

You1, the Infinite2 and greatest3 of all, do not come in the life-death cycle4.

AGGS, M 5, p 1095.


ਜਨਮ1 ਮਰਣ2 ਤੇ ਰਹਤ3 ਨਾਰਾਇਣ4 ਰਹਾਉ

Janam maraṇ ṯe rahaṯ nārāiṇ. ||1|| rahāo.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1136.

The Eternal Entity (God)4 is free3 from birth1 and death2.

AGGS, M 5, p 1136.


ਸੋ1 ਮੁਖੁ2 ਜਲਉ3 ਜਿਤੁ4 ਕਹਹਿ5 ਠਾਕੁਰੁ6 ਜੋਨੀ7

So mukẖ jalao jiṯ kahėh ṯẖākur jonī. ||3||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 1136.

That1 mouth2 be burnt3, which4 says5 that God6 comes in anthropomorphic form7 (takes birth in human body). 3.

AGGS, M 5, p 1136.


It is a well-established concept in the ancient philosophy of India that the Eternal Entity appears in the form of human repeatedly when cruelty on humanity is on the increase. Contrary to this, in Nanakian Philosophy the Eternal Entity (God) does not come into any human form. It neither takes birth nor dies. About 450 years after Guru Nanak, Einstein [4] realized this attribute:

“God does not take anthropomorphic forms.”

However in a recent nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive, it was reported that 48% of Americans think of God as a spirit or power that can take on the human form, 27% think of God as a spirit or power that does not take on the human form, and 10% do not believe in God (Shannon Reilly and Bob Laird, USA Today, October 24, 2003).


Had this survey been conducted in India, the percentage of people believing in God and God taking on the human form would have been over 80% (about 20% Muslims and others are excluded, who do not believe in this concept of God appearing inhuman form).


What could be the reason that Guru Nanak’s philosophy promulgated more than 550 years ago in India had no effect on the majority of the Indian population? Nevertheless, Einstein, a scientist and a Nobel Laureate, and 27% of Americans accept the attribute ਅਜੂਨੀ (ajuni) (God does not take anthropomorphic form) given to the Eternal Entity (God) by Guru Nanak.


It is not very difficult to figure out why Nanakian Philosophy has not been disseminated in its real perspective by the custodians of Sikhi (Sikhism). The irony is that many Sikh theologians and scholars are still trying to portray Sikhi as a mythical and ritualistic religion. Anyone who tried to disseminate Sikhi in its real perspective has been declared to be an atheist, Communist, anti-Sikh, a government agent, an RSS Agent, or have been excommunicated.


On the other hand, educated people in the United States who are searching for the truth have figured out that God does not take on the human form. Why is the truth discovered by intellectuals in the west is very similar to that already discovered by Guru Nanak? Had the Sikh theologians and scholars disseminated Nanakian Philosophy in its real perspective, Guru Nanak would have been their favorite philosopher!


Shouldn’t the scrupulous Sikh theologians and researchers get together and formulate an integrated and comprehensive philosophy of Sikhi? To achieve this objective, they first have to understand the Nanakian Philosophy embodied in the bani of Guru Nanak and incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib in its originality and uniqueness.


ਸੈਭੰ (sebhang) : Sebhang means the One that is created by Oneself. It has been said in gurbani many times:

ਥਾਪਿਆ1 ਜਾਇ ਕੀਤਾ2 ਹੋਇ

Thāpiā na jāe kīṯā na hoe.

ਆਪੇ3 ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ4 ਸੋਇ

Āpe āp niranjan soe.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਜਪੁ 5, ਪੰਨਾ 2.

(It) can be neither structured1 nor created2.

The Pure One (Eternal Entity)4 (without any taint) is created by Itself3.

AGGS, Jap 5, p 2.

PART 3: ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ

The interpretation of part 3, ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gur Parsad), is as controversial as part‑1,   (Ik Oh Beant). Pritam Singh [5] sums up views of scholars in his analysis as follows:

Bhai Vir Singh, Prof Sahib Singh, Parma Nand, and a number of earlier scholars such as Hari Ji and Anand Ghan interpret ‘Gur Parsad’ as “God is achievable through the Grace of the Guru.” Sohan Singh Galhotra chooses to join ਸੈਭੰ (saibang) with ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gur Parsad) and make this combination yield the following meanings: “….born itself, He is my Guru, through whose courtesy I have been able to say and am going to say or write more of it now.”  Principal Teja Singh [6] interpreted it as “With the Grace of the Guru.”


Dr Mann [7] expressed his disappointment that in the UNESCO Collection [8], theologians Trilochan Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh, Kapur Singh, Bawa Harkrishan Singh, and historian Khushwant Singh, have interpreted ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gur Parsad)’ as ‘by the grace of the Guru made known to man’. Dr Joginder Singh [3] reported that many early Sikh scholars gave the same interpretation. Principal Harbhajan Singh [9] interpreted similarly to other scholars. Harchand Singh of Calgary, Canada also interpreted in the same way (personal communication). Now almost every Sikh theologian and scholar accepts the following interpretations:

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gur Parsad)

i) God is achievable through the grace of the Guru.

ii) By the grace of the Guru made known to man.


The irony is that there is no word that could be interpreted as ‘God is achieved’ and ‘made known to man’.  It is simply ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gur Parsad) two different attributes (ਗੁਰ and ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ) of the Eternal Entity (God).


Dr. Mann [7] interpreted it as “Great and Bountiful”, while Dr Gopal Singh [10] and Baldev Singh [11] interpreted it as “Enlightener”. Let us take ‘Gur’ and ‘Prasad’ as two independent words, as with other attributes of the Eternal Entity (God) as discussed in part 2 of the Commencing Verse. 


(a) ਗੁਰ (Gur)

‘Gur’ is spelled in the following four forms in the gurbani:

i)   ਗੁਰ,

ii)  ਗੁਰੁ,

iii) ਗੁਰੂ

iv) ਗੁਰਿ.


According to Bhai Kahn Singh [12], all these forms are pronounced as ਗੁਰੂ (guru).  He explains that guru means “that devours and is enlightening/ enlightener”. Another scholar [13] also interprets it as follows:

ਗੁ (GU) = means darkness, and

ਰੂ (RU) = means light.

Thus, guru is light that dispels darkness (ignorance); it means ‘enlightener’.


Moreover, the word ‘guru’ has many meanings; therefore, it is important to interpret it within the context in which it has been used.

Before we interpret the meanings of ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Gur Parsad), it is necessary to discuss the meanings of lagan or mataran (vowels) attached to the last letter in certain words. If the last letter is mukta (i.e., without any lag or matar, with ounkar, with dolankar or with sihaari) these matran indicate singular or plural or denote different prepositions as explained by Principal Harbhajan Singh [9, 14, 15] and Prof. Sahib Singh [15]. For example,


ਆਹਰ1 ਸਭਿ2 ਕਰਦਾ3 ਫਿਰੈ ਆਹਰੁ4 ਇਕੁ ਹੋਇ

Āhar sabẖ karḏā firai āhar ik na hoe.

ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਤੁ5 ਆਹਰਿ6 ਜਗੁ7 ਉਧਰੈ8 ਵਿਰਲਾ9 ਬੂਝੈ10 ਕੋਇ

Nānak jiṯ āhar jag uḏẖrai virlā būjẖai koe. ||2||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 965. (AGGS, M 5, p 965.)

ਆਹਰ1 = Rara is mukta here. It is plural because it is followed by sab (all)2, and it means dhanday (works/methods). Therefore, if the last letter is mukta without any lag or matar, it is a plural word.


ਆਹਰੁ4 = Rara is with ounkar here. It is singular because it is followed by Ik (one), and it means dhanda (work). Therefore, if the last letter is with ounkar, it is a singular word.


ਆਹਰਿ6 = Rara is with sihaari here. It is a singular word, and it means ‘through this dhanda’. Therefore, if the last letter is with sihaari, it carries a preposition (e.g., with, through, from, to, of, etc.).


The word ‘ਗੁਰ’ (gur) used in gurbani with rara as mukta, with ounkar, with dolankar, or with sihaari, does not follow the above principles of grammar [9, 14, 15]. For example:


 i) ਗੁਰ (Gur or Guru) Rara without any lag and matar, means Rara as mukta, therefore, it should be plural but it means singular in the following phrases:

ਕੀ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ 

Gur kī mūraṯ man mėh ḏẖiān.  

Image (murat) of Guru.

ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨ 

Gur kai sabaḏ manṯar man mān. 

Sabd (Word) of Guru

ਗੁਰ ਕੇ ਚਰਨ ਰਿਦੈ ਲੈ ਧਾਰਉ 

Gur ke cẖaran riḏai lai ḏẖārao. 

Feet of Guru

ਗੁਰ1 ਪੂਰੇ2 ਕੀ ਬੇਅੰਤ ਵਡਾਈ

Gur pūre kī beanṯ vadāī. ||2||

The Guru1 that is Complete2 or Complete2 Guru1.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 864.

AGGS, M 5, p 864.

ii) ਗੁਰੁ (Gur or Guru): Here ਗੁਰੁ (gur) rara is with ounkar. In this case it is singular according to grammar rules propounded: [14, 15]

ਗੁਰੁ1 ਕਰਤਾ2 ਗੁਰੁ ਕਰਣੈ ਜੋਗੁ

Gur karṯā gur karṇai jog.

The Guru1 that is Creator2 or Creator2 Guru1.

ਗੁਰੁ1 ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ2 ਹੈ ਭੀ ਹੋਗੁ

Gur parmesar hai bẖī hog.

The Guru1 that is the God2 or God2 Guru1.

ਗੁਰੁ1 ਮੇਰਾ2 ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ3 ਗੁਰੁ ਭਗਵੰਤੁ4

My2 Guru1 is Parbrahm3 and Bhagwant4 or guru1 is my2 Parbrahm3 and Bhagwant4.


ਗੁਰੁ1 ਮੇਰਾ2 ਗਿਆਨੁ3 ਗੁਰੁ ਰਿਦੈ4 ਧਿਆਨੁ5

Gur merā giān gur riḏai ḏẖiān.

Guru1 is my2 wisdom3 and Guru is my attention/ meditation/ contemplation5 in my mind4.


ਗੁਰੁ1 ਮੇਰੀ2 ਪੂਜਾ3 ਗੁਰੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ4

Gur merī pūjā gur gobinḏ.


Here ਮੇਰੀ (meri) indicates that it is with ਪੂਜਾ (pūjā) not with ‘guru’; therefore, there could be only one interpretation:

Guru1 is my2 devotion3 and Guru is my Gobind4 (God).


ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ

Pārbarahm gur rahiā samāe.

Parbrahm Guru is always pervadedeverywhere.


ਗੁਰੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਣੁ

Gur parmesar eko jāṇ.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 864.

Understand that Guru and Parmeshar as one/same.

AGGS, M 5, 864.

iii) ਗੁਰੂ (Guru) having dolankar with rara is also in singular form:

ਗੁਰੂ ਬਿਨਾ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਹੋਰ

Gurū binā mai nāhī hor.

ਅਗਗਸ, ਮ:1, ਪੰਨਾ 864.

There is no other than guru for me.

AGGS, M 5, p 864.

Here it is clear that ਗੁਰੂ (guru) having dolankar with rara is also singular.


 iv) ਗੁਰਿ (gur or guru) having sihaari with rara:

ਭੂਲੇ1 ਕਉ ਗੁਰਿ2 ਮਾਰਗਿ3 ਪਾਇਆ4

Bẖūle kao gur mārag pāiā.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5,  ਪੰਨਾ 864.

Here ਗੁਰਿ (gur or guru) is singular. Here the sihaari with last letter rara of ਗੁਰਿ (gur or guru) and sihaari with the last letter Gaga of ਮਾਰਗਿ (maarg) indicates a preposition should be used in interpretation of both words, as suggested in the propounded grammar rules [9, 15] discussed earlier for ਆਹਰਿ (Ahhar). Accordingly, ਗੁਰਿ (gur) and ਮਾਰਗਿ (marg) should be interpreted as ‘through the Guru’ and ‘through the path’, respectively. Now the above stanza should be interpreted as:

‘The strayed1 found4 the path3 through the guru2 (ਗੁਰਿ)


The strayed1 found4 guru2 through the path3 (ਮਾਰਗਿ). 

Which interpretation is right?

Neither of them is right.


The right interpretation can only be obtained by ignoring the propounded grammar rule of sihaari [9, 15]:

The guru2 puts4 the strayed1 on the (right) path3.

AGGS, M 5, p 864.


Here is another example that violates the same grammar rule of the sihaari:

ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਭਾਈ

Bin gur mukaṯ na pāīai bẖāī. ||4||5||7||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, 864..

Here again rara in ਗੁਰ (gur) is mukta and tatta in ਮੁਕਤਿ (mukat) is with sihaari. If we follow the grammar rule for sihaari, then ਮੁਕਤਿ (mukat) should be interpreted as “through salvation”, but it will not make sense. The right interpretation requires ignoring the rule of sihaari:

Salvation cannot be attained without guru. 

AGGS, M 5, p 864.


The above discussion indicates that ਗੁਰ, ਗੁਰੁ, ਗੁਰੂ and ਗੁਰਿ (all are spelled as gur or guru) are the different forms of ਗੁਰੂ (guru), and all are in singular form and are pronounced as guru.  All of them, therefore, can be interpreted as, ‘enlightened’, ‘enlightenment’ or ‘enlightener’ – the one who enlightens as discussed earlier under subsection (a. gur).


This also indicates that the grammar rule of lagan and matran as propounded for ਆਹਰ (ahhar) by Prof. Sahib Singh [15] and by Principal Harbhajan Singh [9] are not applicable with any form of ਗੁਰ (gur/guru).


Similarly, sihaari with last letter of ਮਾਰਗਿ (marg) and ਮੁਕਤਿ (mukat) does not need a preposition for interpretation.


It is clear from the above discussion that the grammar rules propounded by Prof Sahib Singh [15] and Principal Harbhajan Singh [9] appear to be inapplicable in many places. It also indicates that there is a great need for further research to evolve a standardized grammar for interpretation of gurbani. 


(b) ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (parsad)

According to Bhai Kahn Singh [12], ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (parsad) means ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰਕੇ, ਕਿਪਾ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲਾ, ਕਰੀਮ (to give generously; one who gives freely and generously without restraint; bounteous/benevolent). In English the one, who gives freely and generously without restraint, and is generous, is called “bounteous”. The word, ਕਰੀਮ, used above by Bhai Kahn Singh is Arabic, which also means “bounteous”. However, many Sikh theologians translate it as “grace”, which in theology means the unmerited love and favor of God toward mankind; divine influence acting on a person to make the person pure, morally strong; the condition of a person brought to God‘s favor through this influence; a special virtue, gift, or help given to a person by God. In general, many Sikh theologians interpret ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (parsad) as “with the grace of”. On the other hand, the word, ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦ (parsad) without sihaari, means ‘’food, contentment” according to Bhai Kahn Singh [12].


Since the last letter dadda of ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ carries sihaari, therefore, a preposition ‘from’, ‘by’, ‘of‘ or ‘through’ is applicable according to propounded grammar rules [9, 14, 15]. Therefore, ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ is interpreted by the majority of the Sikh theologians and researchers as:

i)   God is achievable through the grace of the Guru.

ii) By the grace of the Guru made known to man.


Now the question is: where do “God is achievable” or “made known to man” come from?


There are only two words, ਗੁਰ (gur) and ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (parsad). There are no other words in the whole Commencing Verse that can be interpreted as “God is achievable” or “made known to man”. Therefore, both of the above interpretations are wrong, because these are two distinct attributes of the Eternal Entity (God) like others given in part 2 of the Commencing Verse. Here these words should be interpreted as two different attributes of God:

ਗੁਰ (gur) as ‘enlightener’ and ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (parasad)  as ‘bounteous’ without the use of a preposition. 

Dr. Gopal Singh has interpreted ‘ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ' (gur parasad) in the Commencing Verse as: enlightener.

Macauliffe [17] translates ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ  (Gur Parsad) as ‘by the favor of the guru’. However, he had explained in his footnote that he does so under a sort of duress. He says, “We have translated this word (gur parsad) in deference to the opinions of the majority of the Sikhs, but with several learned gianis, we have no doubt that they were intended as epithets of God - The Great and Bountiful.”

The word, ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ (gur parsāḏ) has been used many times in the AGGS. Let us discuss the meaning of ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ (gur parsāḏ) used by Guru Nanak in his bani:

ਪ੍ਰਣਵਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈਸਾ ਹੋਇ   

Paraṇvaṯ Nānak giānī kaisā hoe. 

Guru Nanak is questioning.

How can one become enlightened/intellectual?

ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋਇ   

Āp pacẖẖāṇai būjẖai soe. 

The one, who understand the ones self, can discover (what is enlightening/intellect/wisdom?)  

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਕਰੇ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ   

Gur parsāḏ kare bīcẖār. 

Here ਗੁਰ (gur) means “enlightened/intellect/wisdom) and ਪਰਸਾਦਿ (parsāḏ) means in bounteous/plentiful.

The one, who has bounteous/plentiful intellect/wisdom, can comprehend.

ਸੋ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਦਰਗਹ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ੪॥੩੦॥  

So giānī ḏargėh parvāṇ. ||4||30||  

AGGS, M 1, p 25.

That enlightened/ intellectual/wise is honored by the humanity.


ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਖੋਈ  

Gur parsādī ḏurmaṯ kẖoī. 

Here again ਗੁਰ (gur) means “intellect/wisdom) and ਪਰਸਾਦਿ (parsāḏ) means in bounteous/plentiful.

The evil thoughts can be eliminated if one has bounteous intellect (wisdom).

ਜਹ ਦੇਖਾ ਤਹ ਏਕੋ ਸੋਈ ੩॥ 

Jah ḏekẖā ṯah eko soī. ||3|| 

Thereafter, one finds the One, the Eternal Entity, everywhere.

ਕਹਤ ਨਾਨਕ ਐਸੀ ਮਤਿ ਆਵੈ  

Kahaṯ Nānak aisī maṯ āvai. 

ਤਾਂ ਕੋ ਸਚੇ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ੪॥੨੮॥ 

Ŧāʼn ko sacẖe sacẖ samāvai. ||4||28|| 

Nanak says: When one attains such intellect/wisdom can comprehend the ever-existing Eternal Entity.

AGGS, M 1, p 357.


In the above two phrases ਗੁਰ ((gur) means “enlightener, enlightened, intellect and wisdom” and   ਪਰਸਾਦਿ (parsāḏ) means “bounteous and plentiful”.

Bounteous attribute of the External Entity is further explained in STANZA #25-1 and STANZA #25-2 on pages 221  and  223, respectively.



1.     Singh, V. (1984) Vaaran Bhai Gurdas Steek (Punjabi) (Hall Bazar, Amritsar, Khalsa Samachar).

2.     Singh, S. (1972) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan (Punjabi). Vols 10 (Jallandhar, India, Raj Publishers).

3.     Singh, J. (1981) Japji de Teeke: Smikhyatmak Adhyan (In Punjabi) (Patiala, India, 24 Green View).

4.     Pais, A. (1982) "Subtle is the Lord..." The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

5.     Singh, P. (1985) The Introduction of Mul Mantra, in: Singh, P. (Ed.) Sikh Concept of Divine (Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev University).

6.     Singh, T. Japji Steek (Punjabi) (Amritsar, Dharam Parchar Committee (SGPC)).

7.     Mann, T. S. (1995) Problems of Decoding Gurbnai: The Revealed Word, Abstracts of Sikh Studies, Institute of Sikh Studies, Cahandigarh.

8.     Singh, T. S., Bhai Jodh; Singh, Kapur; Singh, Bawa Harkrishan; Singh, Khushwant. (1973) The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs (New York, Samuel Weiser, Inc).

9.     Singh, H. (1981) Gurbani Sampaadan Nirnayan (Punjabi) (Chandigarh, Satnam Prakashan, 1186 Sector 18 C).

10.  Singh, G. (1987) Sri Guru Granth Sahib (English Version). Vols 4 (New Delhi, London, New York, World Sikh Centre Inc).

11.  Singh, B. (1997) Correct Meaning of Gur Prasad, The Sikh Review, Calcutta, 45 ((May) 69), p 10.

12.  Singh, K. (1981) Mahan Kosh (Patiala, India, Bhasha Vibagh Punjab).

13.  Anonymous (1990) Sikh Religion (Detroit, Michigan, Sikh Missionary Center).

14.  Singh, H. (1997) Gurbani Bhasha te Vyakaran (Punjabi) (Patiala, Punjabi Univerity).

15.  Singh, S. (1939) Gurbani Vyakaran (Punjabi) (Amritsar, Singh Brothers).

16.  Thind, K. S.  www.srigranth.org.

17.  Macauliffe, M. A. (1978) The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors (New Delhi, S. Chand & Company Ltd).

18.  Chahal, D. S., Thind, K. S, Dhailwal, A. .S. and Schell, J (2014) Nanak: The Guru - The Founder of Sikhism (Laval, Quebec, Canada, Institute fro Understanding Sikhism http://www.iuscanada.com/books/2015/ebook_Nanak_The%20Guru_The_Founder_of_Sikhism.pdf). http://www.iuscanada.com/books/2015/ebook_Nanak_The%20Guru_The_Founder_of_Sikhism.pdf




If we put everything discussed above together, then a logical and scientific interpretation of the Commencing Verse of the AGGS could be as follows:



ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ 2

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ 3

Ek Oh Beant 1

saṯ nām karṯā purakẖ nirbẖao nirvair akāl mūraṯ ajūnī saibẖaʼn 2

gur parsāḏ. 3


The One and Only (Singularity) - That is infinite;1

Exists forever;

Source of every creation;

Without fear (not governed by any other);

Without enmity;

Timeless (without effect of time);

Takes neither birth nor dies; (never comes into an anthropomorphic form);

Originated by Itself;2

Enlightener; and Bounteous.3


The above logical and scientific study of the Commencing Verse of the AGGS clearly indicates that it is not a mantra or mool mantra in any respect, but a precise and concise definition of the Eternal Entity. All of these attributes of the Eternal Entity have been used by Guru Nanak to distinguish it from the concept of the Eternal Entity (God) in other religions. Despite all the attributes assigned by Guru Nanak, the Eternal Entity still remains ineffable. It is a unique Eternal Entity, and there is no other like it; therefore, it is designated as ਇਕੁ (ek - ‘1’ ; One and Only). Since there is no descriptive name for the Eternal Entity, it is addressed as ਇਕੁ, ਇਕੋ, ਓਹੁ, ਤੂ (‘One’, ‘It’, ‘That’, You) by Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus in their bani. Still, in gurbani, the Eternal Entity has also been called by well-known names (Har(i) (means Krishna), Gobind (also means Krishna), Rama, Allah, and other names of God found in Vedanta.


The above study also clearly indicates that the Commencing Verse is a precise and concise definition of the Eternal Entity. In general, the Commencing Verse is chanted repeatedly as a mantra; however, there is no place for any type of Mantra-system in Nanakian Philosophy:


ਤੰਤੁ1 ਮੰਤੁ2 ਪਾਖੰਡੁ3 ਜਾਣਾ ਰਾਮੁ4 ਰਿਦੈ5 ਮਨੁ6 ਮਾਨਿਆ

Ŧanṯ manṯ pakẖand na jāṇā rām riḏai man māniā.

ਅੰਜਨੁ7 ਨਾਮੁ8 ਤਿਸੈ ਤੇ ਸੂਝੈ9 ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ10 ਸਚੁ11 ਜਾਨਿਆ

Anjan nām ṯisai ṯe sūjẖai gur sabḏī sacẖ jāniā. ||4||    

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 766.

“I (Nanak) do not believe in magical formulae1, magical hymns2, (including diagrams of mystical characters - yantar-mantra) and religious hypocrisies3, because my mind6 is imbibed5 with the Eternal Entity (God)4. The collyrium7 is the teachings of the Guru8, that made (me) capable to understand9 the Ever-Existing11 (God) through the teachings of the guru10.”

AGGS, M 1, p 766.

Note: Prof Sahib Singh interpret ਅੰਜਨੁ (anjan) as surma in Punjabi.

ਸਚ1 ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤੁ2 ਸੰਤੋਖੁ3 ਪਾਵੈ

Sacẖ bin saṯ sanṯokẖ na pāvai.

ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਵੈ

Bin gur mukaṯ na āvai jāvai.

ਮੂਲ4 ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ5 ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਰਸਾਇਣੁ6 ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪੂਰਾ7 ਪਾਇਆ

Mūl manṯar har nām rasāiṇ kaho Nānak pūrā pāiā. ||5||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 1, ਪੰਨਾ 1040.

Without (realizing/understanding) Ever-Existing Entity1, one does not get the everlasting2 contentment3.

Without the guru, one does not get salvation.

Nanak says:

I have realized the Perfect One7 through the essence6 of the guru’s philosophy4, 5.

AGGS, M 1, p 1040.


Here ਮੂਲ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ has been used for “guru’s philosophy” but not for the Commencing Verse as it is usually considered by some theologians.


Guru Arjun has explained the above principle of Nanakian Philosophy as follows:

ਸਰਬ1 ਕਲਿਆਣ2 ਸੁਖ3 ਸਹਜ4 ਨਿਧਾਨ5

Sarab kaliāṇ sukẖ sahj niḏẖān.

ਜਾ ਕੈ ਰਿਦੈ6 ਵਸਹਿ ਭਗਵਾਨ7

Jā kai riḏai vasėh bẖagvān. ||2||

ਅਉਖਧ8 ਮੰਤ੍ਰ9 ਤੰਤ10 ਸਭਿ ਛਾਰੁ11

Aukẖaḏẖ manṯar ṯanṯ sabẖ cẖẖār.

ਕਰਣੈਹਾਰੁ12 ਰਿਦੇ13 ਮਹਿ ਧਾਰੁ14

Karṇaihār riḏe mėh ḏẖār. ||3||

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 185-196.

Those who have realized the Eternal Entity (God)7 in their minds6;

They have attained all1 the treasure5 of joys/pleasure2,3 and tranquility4.

All the magical medicines8, mantras9, and tantras10 (magical charms) are nothing11 (ash);

One must realize14 the creating source12 in one’s mind13.

AGGS, M 5, p 196.

ਬੀਜ1 ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ2 ਸਰਬ3 ਕੋ ਗਿਆਨੁ4

Bīj manṯar sarab ko giān

ਚਹੁ5 ਵਰਨਾ6 ਮਹਿ ਜਪੈ ਕੋਊ ਨਾਮੁ

Cẖahu varnā mėh japai koū nām.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਤ 274.

The basic1 philosophy2 is the wisdom4 for all3.

Any one from four5 castes6 can use/practice7 it.

AGGS, M 5, p 274.


ਅੰਧਕਾਰ1 ਮਹਿ ਗੁਰ2 ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ3 ਉਜਾਰਾ4

Anḏẖkār mėh gur manṯar ujārā.

ਅਗਗਸ, : 5, ਪੰਨਾ 864.

The teaching3 (philosophy) of the guru2 is the light4 to eliminate darkness1 (ignorance).

AGGS, M 5, p 864.


Wherever words, such as mool mantra, mantra, beej mantra, gur mantra, etc. have appeared in the gurbani, they mean teachings/philosophy of Guru Nanak with an emphasis on the realization of the Eternal Entity and its laws of nature.


The irony is that many Sikh theologians and researchers accept ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (Vaheguru) as ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ (gurmantra) as mentioned by Bhai Gurdas [1] in Vaar 1, Pauri 49. It is preached so by many sants/babas.


Therefore, ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (Vaheguru) is not ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ (gurmantra). The above phrases explain that mantra, bij mantra, gurmantra or mool mantra used in gurbani are not the mantras at all as mentioned in Vedas but that mean teachings/philology of Nanak since he has been accepted as the Guru by Guru Angad, Guru Amardas, Guru Ramdas, and by Guru Arjun himself. [18]


When Guru Arjun compiled the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS), he placed the Commencing Verse composed by Guru Nanak at the very beginning to highlight its importance in understanding gurbani.  He then re-emphasized its importance by repeating it at the beginning of every raga and every major section and sub-section of the AGGS either without abridgement or in abridged forms. By placing the Commencing Verse frequently throughout the AGGS before every section and subsection, the readers are reminded of the attributes of the Eternal Entity (God) while reading or studying that particular section of the AGGS.




ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ 2

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ 3

Ek Oh Beant 1

saṯ nām karṯā purakẖ nirbẖao nirvair akāl mūraṯ ajūnī saibẖaʼn 2

gur parsāḏ. 3


The One and Only (Singularity) - That is infinite;1

Exists forever;

Source of every creation;

Without fear (Not governed by any other);

Without enmity;

Timeless (Without effect of time);

Takes neither birth nor dies; (Never comes into an anthropomorphic form);

Originated by Itself;2

Enlightener; and bounteous.3


This is the complete form which appears 33 times in the AGGS.



Form One:



ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ 2

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ 3

Ek Oh Beant 1 saṯ nām karṯā purakẖ gur parsāḏ. 3

(ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ (nirbẖao nirvair akāl mūraṯ ajūnī saibẖaʼn 2) have been eliminated.)

The One and Only (Singularity) - that is Infinite1;

Exists forever; Source of every creation;2 

Enlightener; and bounteous3.

This abridged form appears 8 times in the AGGS.


Form Two:



ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ2

ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ 3

Ek Oh Beant 1 saṯ nām gur parsāḏ. 3

(ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ (karṯā purakh) has been eliminated.)

The One and Only (Singularity)  - that is infinite1;

Exists forever;2

Enlightener; and bounteous3.

This form appears 2 times in the AGGS.


Form Three:




ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ 3

Ek Oh Beant 1 saṯ2 gur parsāḏ. 3

ਨਾਮੁ used metaphorically has been eliminated.

The One and Only (Singularity) - that is infinite1;

Exists forever;2

Enlightener; and bounteous3

This abridged form appears 523 times in the AGGS.


Form Four:



Ek Oh Beant 1

The One and Only (Singularity) - that is infinite1.


This form is not found in the AGGS published by the SGPC but is very commonly used by Sikhs as a logo for Sikhi (Sikhism). Nevertheless, appears independently at the top of its attributes in the beginning of the Kartarpuri Bir as discussed earlier (Fig. 1 in Section 1). In fact, this logo represents the Eternal Entity (commonly called God in English and by many other names) of Guru Nanak, and the rest of the Commencing Verse is its attributes which distinguish the Eternal Entity described by Guru Nanak from the God of other religions.


Nirmal Singh Kalsi (1) claims that  is found at the bottom of page 497/2 of the Kartarpuri Bir as reported by Bhai Dr. Jodh Singh (2). However, according to Bhai Dr. Jodh Singh, there is a hartal (crossing line) on the bottom half of the page where this form appears. If it were not crossed, then this form would have been included in the present volume of the Granth, published by the SGPC. Nirmal Singh Kalsi again points out that it is also found on page 934/1 as reported by Dr Jodh Singh.


Principal Harbhajan Singh (3) also accepts that alone should have been printed on page 1353 of the AGGS published by SGPC before stanza #1 of Guru Nanak: ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਪੁਸ੍ਤਕ ਸੰਧਿਆ ਬਾਦੰ (Paṛĥ pusṯak sanḏẖiā bāḏaʼn. - You study the scriptures, say your prayers and argue) but not between this stanza and the following stanza ਨਿਹਫਲੰ ਤਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜਨਮਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜਾਵਦ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਿੰਦਤੇ (Nihfalaʼn ṯasy janmasy jāvaḏ barahm na binḏṯe - The mortal's life is fruitless, as long as he does not know God.) (English translation by Sant Singh Khalsa in Srigranth.org. (4))


It is difficult to accept the presence of between two stanzas of the same verse of Guru Nanak. According to Guru Nanak and Guru Arjun, a new raga, a new section of the bani, or a new subsection of bani should carry the Commencing Verse in either full or in an abridged form but should in no case appear between two phrases of the same verse. There is no such example in the present form of the AGGS. Now the question is why this is present between stanza number # 1 and stanza # 2 of a verse composed of four phrases. Thorough research is needed to solve this mystery. 


Misconstruing the Abridged Form

The most commonly used abridged form of the Commencing Verse in the AGGS is as follows:

  1  ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ3 (Ek Oh Beant 1 saṯ2 gur parsāḏ.3)

It occurs in the AGGS for 523 times.

In this form, 1 (Ek Oh Beant) from the first part, ਸਤਿ2 (sat) from the second part, and ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ3 (gur parsāḏ 3) from the third part of the Commencing Verse have been retained. It should be noted that ਸਤਿ is joined with ਗੁਰ (gur) to make ਸਤਿਗੁਰ (satgur) into one word in the AGGS published by the SGPC. It is likely the scholars who were responsible for padshaed (separation) of joined words, failed to notice the fact that ਸਤਿ is a separate and independent attribute in part 2 rather than as a prefix of ਗੁਰ which is the the third part of the Commencing Verse.


The words, ਸਤਿ, ਗੁਰ and ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (sat, gur, parsāḏ ) are three distinct independent attributes of   (The Eternal Entity). Therefore, the most commonly used (523 times) and shortest abridged form of the Commencing Verse in the AGGS is as follows:

  1  ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ3  (Ek Oh Beant 1 saṯ2 gur parsāḏ.3)

The irony is that many Sikhs do not use this form in their day-to-day lives or in their gurdwaras. Instead, the new form is used very commonly. The new form has been misconstrued/interpolated by re-introducing ਨਾਮ  (nām) with ਸਤਿ (sat) and by replacing ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (gur parsāḏ ) with a new word ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (vaheguru), which has neither been used by Guru Nanak nor by any Sikh Gurus in their bani incorporated in the AGGS. Now the new misconstrued/interpolated form is found written in almost every gurdwara of the world and at various places in the Darbar Sahib Complex (Golden Temple Complex), Amritsar. The newly misconstrued/interpolated form is as follows:


  ਸਤਿਨਾਮ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ

(Ek Oh Beant  saṯ nām nām nām vaheguru).

It is commonly chanted as Ek Oankaar satnam vaheguru.

I could not trace out from the available literature who misconstrued/interpolated the original form. Nevertheless, I wonder why the Sikhs at large like to follow things which are not found or recommended in any bani of any Sikh Guru in the AGGS. It is becoming common practice for Sikh scholars, preachers, sants, etc. to prefer to invent their own new terms, new phrases, new codes of conduct, new rituals, etc. that may be contrary to the gurbani incorporated in the AGGS. By and by, such new terms, codes, rituals, etc. have become part of today’s Sikhi and many Sikhs will marshal all of their forces to defend this misconstrued/interpolated form at all costs.


The Commencing Verse appears in the beginning of the AGGS and at the beginning of every new section, new raga, and new subsection throughout the AGGS, either in its full form or in an abridged form. The shortest abridged form is   ਸਤਿ  ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ (Ek Oh Beant 1 saṯ2 gur parsāḏ.3) which appears 523 times in the AGGS.

It is unfortunate that the misconstrued/interpolated form,   ਸਤਿਨਾਮ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ , (Ek Oankaar satnam Vaheguru) is now found in almost every gurdwara including the Darbar Sahib Complex, Amritsar and at the beginning of many publications by some scholars, sants, and organizations. Regrettably, the sangat (congregation) is persuaded by many sants, preachers, kathakaars (interpreters) to chant it repeatedly in the gurdwaras.

The use of this misconstrued/interpolated phrase should be discontinued immediately


 1.    Kalsi NS. 1996. Beej Mantar Darshan (Punjabi). Surrey, BC, Canada: Kalsi Technologies, # 15, 7711 - 128th Street

2.     Singh B, Dr) Jodh. 1968. Sri Kartarpuri Bir de Darshan (Punjabi). Patiala, India: Punjabi University

3.     Singh PH. 1981. Vishaesh Gurmat Laekh (Punjabi). 1186 Sector 18 C, Chandigarh: Satnam Prakashan Press

4.     Thind KS. In www.srigranth.org






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The Jap (ਜਪੁ) is the first bani (verse) in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) [1]. It has been titled JAP, but many scholars call it with various titles such as Jap Ji or Jap Ji Sahib out of respect. Here it will be called Jap, as written in the AGGS.


The Commencing Verse, commonly called Mool Mantra, appears before Jap. Actually, the Commencing Verse is a definition of the Eternal Entity (God) as conceptualized by Guru Nanak. It is placed before every major sections and sub-sections of the AGGS in full or in various abridged forms, as discussed earlier in SECTION 1 – Commencing Verse. Therefore, it is not a part of the Jap as is generally understood by many Sikhs and scholars.


There are two parallel lines () before and after the title Jap (ਜਪੁ) to differentiate it from the Commencing Verse. Two parallel lines in bani means complete vishram (period); therefore, Jap is an independent bani which starts with a sloka, ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ ("Aad such jugad such. . ." (discussed later in SLOKA EXISTENCE OF GOD at page 128). Jap is considered to be the summary or the essence of the whole philosophy of Guru Nanak (Nanakian Philosophy). According to Giani Harbans Singh [2], Jap is the title of the bani, which contains characteristics (praises) of God. According to Bhai Kahn Singh, Jap (ਜਪੁ) means ਜਪੁ ਨਾਮਕ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ, ਜੋ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਦੇ ਨਿੱਤਨੇਮ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ ਹੈ (Jap namak gurbani, jo Sikhan de nitname da mool hai). This means that Jap is the name of gurbani. However, it has been declared that reciting Jap should be a Sikh’s daily first ritual. [3]


Critical examination of the basic word ਜਪ (Jap) indicates that it has many meanings when used by Guru Nanak and other Gurus in their bani. ਜਪ (Jap) as a basic word is spelled as ਜਪ, ਜਾਪ, ਜਪੁ, ਜਪਿ (all are pronounced Jap), which are used as a noun as well as a verb. Its other verb forms are ਜਪਣਾ (japna), ਜਾਪਣਾ (jaapna), ਜਾਪਉ (japio), ਜਾਪੈ (jaapai), ਜਪਿਆ (japia), etc. ਜਪ (Jap) whether it is used as a noun or as a verb, has different meanings depending upon the theme and the context in which it has been used.


Principal Teja Singh [4] says that Jap is the bani to ponder upon to understand the philosophy therein. It is not to be sung, which is why no raga has been assigned to it. He further says that Jap means to ponder upon repeatedly but not to recite/chant repeatedly. He emphasized that it is spelled Jap  (ਜਪੁ) with ounkar so it is different from Jap (ਜਪਿ) spelled with siari. For example:

ਜਪੁ1 ਤਪੁ2 ਸੰਜਮੁ3 ਧਰਮੁ4 ਕਮਾਇਆ

Jap ap sanjam ḏẖaram na kamāiā.

I have neither practiced recitation1, nor austerity2, nor self-restraint3 nor righteousness4.

AGGS, M 1, p 12.


ਜਪਿ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ

Jap man mere govin kī baī.

Oh! My mind chants the bani of Gobind

AGGS, M 5, p 192.


Nevertheless, critical analysis of first phrase indicates that ਜਪੁ (Jap) is a noun, and the second phrase indicates that ਜਪਿ (Jap) is a verb. Whether the basic word ਜਪ (Jap) is with ounkar or siari, it does not support the meaning of ‘pondering upon again and again’ as explained by Teja Singh. 


Prof Sahib Singh [[5], p-39, I] has emphasized that ਜਪੁ (Jap) means ਸਿਮਰਨ (simran - reciting/chanting) and ਭਜਨ (bhajan - singing). However, it cannot be ਭਜਨ (bhajan) because no raga has been assigned to it. He [5] has also given another meaning as ਬੰਦਗੀ (bandgi), which means “meditation”; however, 'meditation' means devout contemplation or quiescent spiritual introspection.


The irony is that most of the Sikhs accept the former meanings of ਜਪੁ (Jap) as reciting/chanting. They consider it their duty to recite it every morning without any intention to ponder upon or contemplate the philosophy in the ਜਪੁ (Jap). In the literature as well as in verbal preaching by raagis (those who recite sabd) ਜਪੁ (Jap) is interpreted as ‘to recite again and again’ in spite of the fact that repetition of any bani, verse, or word is not recommended in the philosophy of Guru Nanak.

Jap Means Recitation/Repetition

At some places in the AGGS, Jap means recitation/repetition. For example:

ਜਪੁ1 ਤਪੁ2 ਸੰਜਮੁ3 ਧਰਮੁ4 ਕਮਾਇਆ

Jap ap sanjam ḏẖaram na kamāiā.

AGGS, M 1, p 12.

I have neither practiced recitation1, austerity2, self-restraint3 nor righteousness4.


ਜਪੁ1 ਤਪੁ2 ਸੰਜਮੁ3 ਸਾਧੀਐ4 ਤੀਰਥਿ5 ਕੀਚੈ ਵਾਸੁ6

Jap ap sanjam sāḏẖīai irath kīcai vās.

AGGS, M 1, p 56.

You practice4 recitation1, austerity2 and self-restraint3, and dwell6 at sacred shrines5 of pilgrimage.


ਅਸੰਖ1 ਜਪ2 ਅਸੰਖ3 ਭਾਉ4 ...

Asaʼnk jap asaʼnk bāo.

AGGS, Jap 17, p 3.

Countless number1,3 of people repeat2 the name of the Eternal Entity (God) and are afraid4 of the Eternal Entity (God).

ਜਪਿ1 ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ*2 ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ

Jap man mere govin kī baī.

AGGS, M 5, p 192.

Hey mind! Recite1 the bani of Gobind2 (the Eternal Entity).


Note: * ਗੋਵਿੰਦ or ਗੋਬਿੰਦ: God/ Protector of cows / God of the Earth in Vedanta it stands for Krishna. 

So far, we have studied that ਜਪ (Jap) means recitation or repetition at certain places in gurbani. It has other meanings also. The following stanza needs a critical analysis to find out if ਜਪ (Jap) means repetition or not:

ਇਕ ਦੂ ਜੀਭੌ ਲਖ ਹੋਹਿ ਲਖ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਲਖ ਵੀਸ 

Ik ū jībou lak hohi lak hovėh lak vīs.

ਲਖੁ ਲਖੁ ਗੇੜਾ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਗਦੀਸ 

Lak lak geā ākīahi ek nām jagīs.

AGGS, JAP # 32, p 7.


This part of this stanza of Jap bani has invariably been interpreted in terms of ancient philosophy by many scholars in which the emphasis is on repetition of ਨਾਮੁ (Naam) to reach the Eternal Entity (God). However, it is only Prof Sahib Singh [5] who says that the later part of this stanza does not support reciting any name of the Eternal Entity (God) to reach God. For detailed interpretation, consult 2, Stanza # 32 of Jap bani at page 251.

Recitation/Repetition is not Recommended

Although ਜਪੁ (Jap) has been used for recitation/repetition at many places in the AGGS, Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus also advise Sikhs that recitation/repetition of any word, name of the Eternal Entity (God), phrase, bani, or the whole AGGS is of no avail. For example:


In the following phrases, Guru Nanak has clearly mentioned that recitation/repetition of a word, phrase, or sabd are practices of no avail:

ਜਪੁ1 ਤਪੁ2 ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਸੰਜਮ3 ਥਾਕੀ4 ਹਠਿ5 ਨਿਗ੍ਰਹਿ6 ਨਹੀ ਪਾਈਐ 

Jap ap kar kar sanjam thākī haṯẖ nigrahi nahī pāīai.

AGGS, M 1, p 436.

By practicing recitation1, austerity2 and self-restraint3 people have grown weary4; even after stubbornly5 practicing these rituals, they still have not been able to control evil wishes6.


ਭਨਤਿ1 ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ2 

Bana Nānak kare vīcār.

ਸਾਚੀ3 ਬਾਣੀ4 ਸਿਉ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ5 

Sācī baī sio ḏẖare piār.

ਤਾ ਕੋ ਪਾਵੈ ਮੋਖ6 ਦੁਆਰੁ 

Ŧā ko pāvai mok uār.

ਜਪੁ7 ਤਪੁ8 ਸਭੁ ਇਹੁ ਸਬਦੁ9 ਹੈ ਸਾਰੁ10 

Jap ap sab ih saba hai sār. ||5||2||4||

AGGS, M 1, p 661.

Guru Nanak appeals1:

One gets salvation6 by contemplating/deliberating2 the true3 bani4 (enlightening words) with love5. (Therefore), the deliberation on sabd9 is equal10 to recitation7 and austerity8.


Other Sikh Gurus also advise like Guru Nanak. Guru Amaras says:

ਰਾਮ1 ਰਾਮ1 ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਕਹਿਐ ਰਾਮੁ2  ਹੋਇ 

Rām rām sab ko kahai kahiai rām na hoe

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਰਾਮੁ3 ਮਨਿ4 ਵਸੈ ਤਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ 

Gur parsādī rām man vasai ā fal pāvai koe. ||1|

AGGS, M 3, p 491.

Everybody recites Ram1 Ram1, but by reciting Ram1 Ram1 one cannot get peace of mind2.

It is when the Eternal Entity (God3) is imbibed (realized/understood) in the mind, then one gets peace of mind3,4.



ਰਾਮ1 is one of the ਕਿਰਤਮ ਨਾਮ (descriptive/specific name) of the Eternal Entity (God).

ਰਾਮੁ2 means when God is imbibed (realized) in the mind then one gets peace of mind.


ਮੁਖਹੁ ਹਰਿ1 ਹਰਿ1 ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਰੈ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸਾਇਆ2 

Mukahu har har sab ko karai virlai hirai vasāiā.

ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸਿਆ ਮੋਖ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪਾਇਆ ੮॥੨

Nānak jin kai hirai vasiā mok muka inĥ pāiā. ||8||2||

AGGS, M 3, p 565.

Everybody says Har1 Har1 with their mouth, but rare are those who have imbibed2 (realized) the Eternal Entity (God) in their mind.

(Only) Those who have imbibed (realized) the Eternal Entity (God) in their mind attain salvation.

Note: 1. ਹਰਿ (Har) is also one of the ਕਿਰਤਮ (descriptive/specific name). It stands for Krishna (considered as God in Hindu philosophy). 


The above philosophy has also been accepted by Guru Ramdas as follows:

ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ1 ਕਰਹਿ2 ਨਿਤ3 ਕਪਟੁ4 ਕਮਾਵਹਿ5 ਹਿਰਦਾ6 ਸੁਧੁ7  ਹੋਈ 

Har har karahi ni kapat kamāvėh hirā suḏẖ na hoī.

ਅਨਦਿਨੁ8 ਕਰਮ9 ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੇਰੇ10 ਸੁਪਨੈ11 ਸੁਖੁ12  ਹੋਈ 

An▫ḏin karam karahi bahuere supnai suk na hoī. ||1||

AGGS, M 4, p 732.

The mind6 cannot be purified7 just by repeating2 Har Har1 while deceiving4,5 others daily3 at the same time.

Similarly, even by practicing10 many types of rituals9 everyday8, one does not get salvation12 even in dreams11.


ਜਪੁ1 ਤਪ2 ਸੰਜਮ3 ਵਰਤ4 ਕਰੇ ਪੂਜਾ5 ਮਨਮੁਖ6 ਰੋਗੁ7  ਜਾਈ 

Jap ap sanjam vara kare pūjā manmuk rog na jāī.

AGGS, M 4, p 732.

The self-oriented6 (innocent) recites1 mantras or verses, practices austerity2 and self-restraint3, fast4, and performs worship5, but his sickness7 had not gone away.

Through this message, the Gurus are making people aware of the fact that some religious mentors (including some Sants/Babas or preachers) who recommend some word or phrase or verse for recitation to control certain diseases or to get certain wishes to be fulfilled, are misleading the people.  People should be beware of such religious mentors.


If Jap is not a recitation/repetition, then what does it mean when Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus have extensively used it in many verses?

Other Meanings of Jap in gurbani

Understanding ਨਾਮੁ (Naam) and ਸਬਦਿ (sabd) are equated to Jap:

ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮ ਕਰਮ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੇਰਾ  

Jap ap sanjam karam na jānā nām japī parab erā. 

I know nothing about recitations, austerity and self-control; however, I do understand that the Naam (Laws of Nature/Universe) of the Eternal Entity (God) is equivalent to recitation, austerity and self-control.

ਗੁਰੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭੇਟਿਓ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਿਬੇਰਾ  

Gur parmesar Nānak betio sācai saba niberā. ||3||6||

Nanak has realized the Guru, the Eternal Entity, through the true sabd (words) which has liberated him (from superstitions about recitations, austerity and self-control).  

AGGS, M 1, p 878. 


ਸੇਵਾ1 ਸੁਰਤਿ2 ਸਬਦਿ3 ਵੀਚਾਰਿ4 

Sevā sura saba vīcār.

ਜਪੁ5 ਤਪੁ6 ਸੰਜਮੁ7 ਹਉਮੈ8 ਮਾਰਿ9 

Jap ap sanjam haumai mār.


ਜੀਵਨ10 ਮੁਕਤੁ11 ਜਾ ਸਬਦੁ12 ਸੁਣਾਏ13 

Jīvan muka jā saba suāe.

ਸਚੀ14 ਰਹਤ15 ਸਚਾ16 ਸੁਖੁ17 ਪਾਏ 

Sacī raha sacā suke. ||7|

AGGS, M 1, p 1343.

By deliberation4 of sabd3 (philosophy), one can find the way of adopting conscience2 service1.

That means by subduing9 of recitation5, austerity6, self-restraint7, and ego8.

One gets real16 pleasure/peace of mind17 (freedom from problems) when philosophy of good14 conduct15 was received/understood after hearing13 the teachings/ philosophy12 of getting life free from problems11.


Jap means deliberation

ਰਾਮ1 ਨਾਮੁ*2 ਜਪਿ3 ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ4 

Rām nām jap anar pūjā.

ਗੁਰ5 ਸਬਦੁ6 ਵੀਚਾਰਿ7 ਅਵਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਦੂਜਾ8 

Gur saba vīcār avar nahī ūjā. ||1||

AGGS, M 1, p 1345.

Deliberation3 about the Laws of Nature/Universe*2 of the Eternal Entity (God)1 is worship4 from within because there is no other way (path)8 than deliberation/contemplation7 of the sabd (philosophy)6 of the Guru5.

* ਨਾਮੁ (Naam): Here Naam has been interpreted as ‘Laws of Nature/Universe’ on the basis of the theme in the following verse:

ਨਾਮ1 ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ2 ਸਗਲੇ3 ਜੰਤ4 

Nām ke ḏẖāre sagle jan.  

All3 living beings4 are under2 the Laws of Nature/Universe1.

ਨਾਮ1 ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ2 ਖੰਡ3 ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ4 

Nām ke ḏẖāre kand barahmand.  

All the galaxies4 and stars3 and planets3 are under2 the Laws of Nature/Universe1.

ਨਾਮ1 ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ2 ਆਗਾਸ3 ਪਾਤਾਲ4 

Nām ke ḏẖāre āgās pāāl.  

Space3 and the mythical underworlds4 are under2 the Laws of Nature/Universe1.

ਨਾਮ1 ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ2 ਸਗਲ3 ਆਕਾਰ4 

Nām ke ḏẖāre sagal ākār.  

AGGS, M 5, p 284.

All3 the celestial bodies4 are under2 the Laws of Nature/Universe1.


Finally, it can be easily concluded from the above discussion that ਜਪ, ਜਾਪ, ਜਪੁ, ਜਪਿ (all pronounced Jap) mean chanting/recitation according to ancient philosophy but chanting/recitation as well as deliberation and understanding according to Nanakian Philosophy, depending upon the context in which it has been used. ਜਪੁ (Jap) is the title of a complete and independent bani, which means deliberation and pondering upon to understand the essence of the bani of Guru Nanak.


Dr. Gopal Singh [6] and Principal Teja Singh[[4], p-3] also mentioned that philosophy in the AGGS teaches people to think in the right direction, but many of them have made it a religion to recite Jap bani plus other bani every day. Besides, many Sikhs consider it a most important and sacred duty to perform un-interrupted recitation of the AGGS (Akhand Paath) without any intention to ponder upon its philosophy. [7-9]


The ਜਪੁ (Jap) is an essence (summary) of the philosophy of Guru Nanak’s bani incorporated in the AGGS. It is an independent bani, which starts with its own heading, ਜਪੁ (Jap). It is followed by a sloka, ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥ ("Aad such jugad such. . ." and ends with another sloka, ਪਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ…  (Pavan Guru pani pita...) to make the Jap as an independent bani of the AGGS to convey the essence (summary) of the philosophy of Guru Nanak. Dr. Joginder Singh [10] also said that the first sloka in the beginning is the Manglacharan and the second sloka at the end of Jap is its Mundawani.  Similarly, Prof Sahib Singh [5] and Giani Harbans Singh [2] say that these slokas are as Manglacharan and Mundawani, respectively, for Jap.



The following different views about the time of conception (and composing) of Jap were reported by Prof Sahib Singh [5]:


According to one sakhi (story) when Guru Nanak in his early life went to Veyin (rivulet) for bathing, Eternal Entity (God) called him in his court and ordered him to recite the praises of the Eternal Entity (God). Thus, when he re-appeared from the rivulet he recited Jap.


According to Dr. Mohan Singh, when Guru Nanak was settled at Kartarpur, Eternal Entity (God)  called him in his court and when he came back he ordered Bhai Lehna Ji (Guru Angad) to write the summary of the whole bani written by Guru Nanak.


According to some writers, Jap was written as instructions to the Sikhs while others say that a Sikh is posing questions and Guru Nanak is giving answers.


However, Prof Sahib Singh [5] rejected all of the above views as being baseless. He is of the opinion that Jap was written by Guru Nanak in the later part of his life as an essence (summary) of his bani.


Principal Teja Singh [[4], p-5] is of the same view that Jap was written by Guru Nanak after the voyage to Arabian countries and visits to various places of Jogis, Siddhas, Pirs, and sacred places for pilgrimages.


If we analyze Jap critically, it will become clear that it is a summary or an essence of the bani of Guru Nanak enshrined in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib. This is the main reason that Guru Arjun has placed Jap as the first bani of the AGGS. Guru Arjun has also kept the bani of Guru Nanak first in every major section or raga in the AGGS which was followed by the bani of second, third, fourth, fifth and ninth Guru and then by that of Bhagats.



If we look into gurbani critically, we will find that the sloka, Aad such jugaad such . . . is of Guru Arjun, since it has been identified as M 5 in the Sukhmani at page 285 of the AGGS. Similarly, the sloka, Pawan Guru pani pita . . . is of Guru Angad, which has been identified as M 2 at page 146 of the AGGS.


Some scholars say that these slokas were written by Guru Nanak originally but have also been used by Guru Angad and Guru Arjun under their succession number to the House of Nanak, i.e. as M 2 and M 5, respectively.


Dr. Joginder Singh [10] says that the sloka Aad such jugad such…. is of Guru Nanak since in the Tatkra (Table of Contents) of Kartarpuri Bir, it is written that the Jap included here is the copy of the Jap signed by Guru Ramdas, therefore, this sloka cannot be of Guru Arjun. His above assumption cannot be accepted since they do not indicate whether this sloka was there in the original Jap of Guru Nanak, which is composed of 38 stanzas (pauris). It may be possible, the first sloka, Aad such jugad such . . . , of Guru Arjun was added in the beginning of Jap as Manglacharan and the second sloka, Pawan Guru pani pita…, of Guru Angad was added as Mundawani at the end of Jap by Guru Arjun at the time of compilation of Granth to give the Jap


Giani Harbans Singh [2] reported that the first and the last sloka in Jap belong to Guru Nanak. He further explains that if these were of Guru Arjun and Guru Angad, then M 5 and M 2 must have been written there. The irony is that Giani jee failed to notice that there is no M1 for any of the 38 stanzas (pauris) of the main section of Jap, although every Sikh scholar accepts that Jap was composed by Guru Nanak. Guru Arjun has not assigned M 1 to any of the 38 stanzas, even to stanza #27 So dar… of Jap, which also appears (with some additional words) at page 8 and 347 of the AGGS where it has been clearly identified with M 1.


There are a few examples of using a single sentence or certain wordings of Guru Nanak by the other Sikh Gurus. They did so since they were preaching and practicing the philosophy of Guru Nanak. For example, the following sentences of Guru Nanak at page 1353 have been repeated by M 2 at pages 148 and 469 of the AGGS to convey the same philosophy of Guru Nanak:

ਨਿਹਫਲੰ ਤਸ੍ ਜਨਮਸ੍ ਜਾਵਦ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ  ਬਿੰਦਤੇ ...

Nihfalaʼn asy janmasy jāva barahm na binḏṯe.

ਜੋਗ ਸਬਦੰ ਗਿਆਨ ਸਬਦੰ ਬੇਦ ਸਬਦੰ  ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣਹ ...

Jog sabaʼn giān sabaʼn be saba barahmaėh.

ਏਕ ਕ੍ਰਿਸ੍ਨੰ  ਸਰਬ ਦੇਵਾ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵਾ  ਆਤਮਹ ...

Ėk krisanʼn a sarab evā ev evā a āmah.

AGGS, M 1, p 1353.


The following sloka of M 1, ਸੋ ਬੂਝੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ  So būjai jis āp bujāe.  (AGGS, M 1, p 839), has been used word by word at page 364 by Guru Amardas. But he has changed the arrangements of words (meanings remain the same) at page 841 as follows:

ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ਸੋਈ ਬੂਝੈ  Āp bujāe soī būjai. (AGGS, M 3, 841).


Similarly, the following sloka of M 3 at page 86 has been repeated by M 4 at page 1424:

ਗੁਰਿ ਪੂਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦਿੜਾਇਆ ਤਿਨਿ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ 

Gur pūrai har nām iāiā jin vicahu baram cukāiā.

 (Except ਤਿਨਿ at page 86 has been changed to ਜਿਨਿ at page 1424.)

Keeping in view the above facts, the sentences of Guru Nanak have been used by other Gurus as such or with little spelling changes. Therefore, it is possible that Guru Arjun might have changed the spellings when the first sloka Aad such jugaad such… of Jap was used in Sukhmani at page 285 and in the second sloka Pawan Guru pani pitta… when used by Guru Angad at page 246.


The sloka Pawan Guru pani pita…. at the end of Jap and at page 246 is based on the philosophy of Guru Nanak given in the following stanza:

ਪਉਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤ ਜਾਤਾ 

Pau gurū pāī piā.

ਉਦਰ ਸੰਜੋਗੀ ਧਰਤੀ ਮਾਤਾ 

Uar sanjogī ḏẖarī māā.

ਰੈਣਿ ਦਿਨਸੁ ਦੁਇ ਦਾਈ ਦਾਇਆ ਜਗੁ ਖੇਲੈ ਖੇਲਾਈ ਹੇ ੧੦

Rai inas ue āī āiā jag kelai k