Monday, January 16, 2023

A beginner's guide to Japji Sahib: Mool Mantar, Salok & Pauri 1


ikk oh’ann-kaar,  sat,  naam,  kar-taa pu-rakh,   nir-bhau,  nir-vair,  a-kaal moorat,  a-joo-nee,sai-bhunn,  gur prasaad.  ||

There is only the One - the source of all, through whose Sound all creation unfolds and expands. The Truth. Manifested¨ in the Word. The Doer (Creative Power) (kartaa) within all. Without Fear. Without Hatred. Timeless Existence. Beyond the cycle of rebirths. Self-Existing Light. Known by the Grace (blessings) of the Word-Guru×.

The Oneness, Truth, Word, Creative Power, Fearlessness, Love, Timelessness, Freeness, and Light of Vaheguru is the root of our existence, which can be experienced within ourselves through the Power of God’s Infinite-Wisdom.


||   JAP.   ||

‘Jap’ò (‘name of the scriptural prayer’):

Just as the holy text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and a Sikh’s day begins with the scriptural prayer of ‘Jap,’ meaning ‘to chant’ or ‘to meditate,’ one’s spiritual journey begins with chanting and meditation.


aad  sach,  ju-gaad  sach.

The Eternal One (sach) is the origin (aad) that existed before the start of the Agesð (i.e. history) (jugaad).


hai  bhee  sach,  naa-nak,  ho-see  bhee  sach.  ||1||

The Eternal One (sach) exists now (hai bhee). (Guru) Nanak (Ji) says- the Eternal One (sach) will exist forever (hosee bhee). ||1||


so-chai,·  soch  na  ho-vayee,  jey  so-chee(n)  lakh  vaar.

One cannot understand Vaheguru through one’s own understanding (thoughts), even if one thinks a hundred thousand times.

One cannot experience the Ultimate Truth (Sach) through just thinking or worrying.


chu-pai,  chup  na  ho-vayee,  jey  laa-e  r-haa  liv  taar.

The mind does not become silent (i.e. attain inner peace) by outwardly staying quiet, even if one remains sitting in a meditative prayer pose.

One cannot experience the Ultimate Truth (Sach) by running away from the noise of the world around us (i.e. family life and living around others).

bhukh-yaa,  bhukh  na  ut-ree,  jey  ban-naa  pu-ree-yaa  bhaar.

The mind’s hunger for desires does not go away by staying outwardly hungry (i.e. total abstinence), or even by collecting loads of worldly goods.

One cannot experience the Ultimate Truth (Sach) through either depriving oneself of the essentials of life or by over-indulgence.


s-hass  si-yaaN-paa  lakh  ho-eh, ta  ikk  na  chal-lai  naal.

One may posess a hundred thousand worldly wisdoms and intellect but a single one will not accompany you in the end (and be help of in the Court of Vaheguru).

One cannot experience the Ultimate Truth (Sach) through just knowing what to say and remembering facts and verses.


kiv,  sach-yaaraa ho-ee-yai,  kiv,  koo-Rai  tu-ttai  paal.

So how can one become the living Truth? How can the screen of untruth (within us) be torn away?

How can we overcome the inner wall or barrier of ego that we have created around us and prevents us from experiencing the Ultimate Truth (Sach)?


hukam  razaa-ee  chal-Naa,  naa-nak,  likh-yaa  naal.  ||1||

(Guru) Nanak (Ji) says- happily walk the Path of Hukam (the Universal Divine Law) that has been written down for you.ò ||1||

The answer is to walk the walk of the Ultimate Truth (Sach), to let go and embrace the Will and Way of Vaheguru that has been assigned to each individual.

Some religious groups held that there is only one God, but that God is not present in the creation. Other religious systems regarded every aspect of creation as a god because they held that God is present in everything. However, Guru Nanak Dev Ji paints a complete picture that there is only one God, yet the One's Light is present within every aspect of creation.

¨ Manifested means present.

× Guru is made of two words – Gu meaning darkness, and Roo meaning light. Guru is therefore the Power that takes one from darkness (ignorance) to light (enlightenment or wisdom). Here, Guru refers to God in the form of Divine-Enlightener or Spiritual Guide. Guru is the Eternal Light of God, the Living Voice of God, and Infinite Wisdom of God. 

ò Jap means ‘to repeat’ or ‘to meditate.’ However, in the original Gurmukhi script, the word is grammatically written with a symbol that indicates that here the word ‘Jap’ is a noun, i.e. the name of the Bani (scriptural prayer).

ð Early traditions divided the timeline of creation into four Yugs, ages, or periods.

· In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the word ‘soch’ has been used in two different ways: (1) thinking, and (2) bathing or cleansing. Similarly, ‘sochai’ can mean (1) by thinking, or (2) by bathing or by outwardly cleansing oneself.

ò One perspective is that following the Path of Hukam has been written by Vaheguru in our destiny, i.e. this is the higher purpose to which we were assigned. Another perspective is that as a Sikh, the Hukam (Universal Divine-Law) has been outwardly written down for us in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to make it easier for us to understand and follow the Way of Vaheguru.

Monday, January 09, 2023

A beginner's guide to Japji Sahib: Introduction

A humble simplified contextual translation of the Sikh scriptural prayer called ‘Jap’, more often referred to as ‘Jap Ji Sahib’ has been attempted with Grace of Vaheguru Ji (God). This prayer is the foundation of the Sikh faith and is the beginning prayer written in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. These divine words were revealed through Guru Nanak Sahib Ji. The original sacred words as recited and written in scripture by Guru Nanak Sahib Ji cannot be changed, but the sacred words have the ability to change an individual’s consciousness and life.

Jap Ji Sahib can be summarised as being about (i) the Ultimate Truth, God (Vaheguru); (ii) the beauty and endlessness of Their creation; and (iii) filling one’s mind with true joy and happiness. Reading about the vastness, countlessness, and endlessness of the creation creates a feeling of awe and wonder that helps one to open up one’s heart and drown in the wonder of Vaheguru. In this way, one falls in love with the Power behind this wonder.

Jap Ji Sahib can also be interpreted as the story of the soul’s journey to enlightenment and beyond. Each verse is referred to as ‘pauree’ which translates as meaning ‘step’ or ‘ladder’. Steps are intended to be climbed. As you climb each step, the individual should get higher and higher. Similarly, as the spiritual seeker recites and experiences each verse of the scripture, the soul and mind have the opportunity to rise above worldly consciousness to divine consciousness.

The Mool Mantar, which translates as the ‘root teaching’, is the name of the opening verse of Jap Ji Sahib. It begins with that stating God is the "One," the origin of all that exists, and that the creation is an outgrowth of the One, continuously growing and expanding as a result of the divine Sound (Vibration) that emanates from the One. The opening verse ends with Gur Prasaad (‘Grace of the Guru’), which urges us to maintain our humility in the knowledge that we cannot reach God via spiritual effort alone. Everything we can achieve in this life is bound by our effort and time. However, Grace or Prasaad of God, is such that it does not consider our effort or time. It is a gift of God’s kindness. Spiritual enlightenment is based on this. The Holy-Word is God in the form of a guru, an enlightener, a spiritual teacher, and a guide. It is the embodiment of God's infinite wisdom, which speaks to our mind and soul.

Following on from this, a question is posed. If the One who made us, sustains us, and destroys us is the Truth (sat), then to experience and meet the Truth, one must be truthful (sach-yaar). So, the question is posed, “how can I become truthful (sach-yaar)?” In other words, how can I be enlightened with the Truth so I can be united back with the Ultimate Truth – the divine-Creator and source of all that exists?

The rest of Jap Ji Sahib is a journey from enlightenment (i.e. becoming sach-yaar or immersed in the Truth) to reaching the Eternal Home of Vaheguru – Sach Khand. The journey begins with understanding the Divine-Order (Hukam). From there one learns to sing of the Lord, tune into listening to the Wisdom of God, and how to faithfully obey the Wisdom of God. The creation of the Creator is described and one is made to feel humbled that although the Creator is immense, we have no capability to describe the One who has made all of this and continues to make the creation. All one can do is accept whatever Vaheguru does, is good.

One’s attention is drawn to the countless holy people, meditators, angels, gods, demons, and personalities revered in different religious traditions that speak of God. The fact they speak of God means that they acknowledge there is a power beyond them and that they are limited. In this way, the soul is reminded to not attach itself or worship anyone else, other than God.

When reflecting on what Vaheguru’s House is like from where They sit and care for all, Jap Ji Sahib tells us that the world is a doorway or opportunity to meet the Creator. Infinite beautiful music vibrates and flows from the Creator, which mystics throughout history have expressed through music. The whole creation is singing of Vaheguru in its own mysterious way. From the spirit world to the physical world, and beyond, the whole creation is signing and in tune with the Almighty. Therefore, the soul is reminded to live in the Will of the Lord and thus sing the tune of the Almighty rather than sing the tune of one’s ego.

Near the end of Jap Ji Sahib, five spiritual realms (Khands) are described. These spiritual realms are where souls go in the world beyond. These realms are not only the journey of the soul in the world beyond but also indicates the soul’s spiritual development in this world. The souls in the different spiritual realms reflect the individual’s stages of consciousness whilst alive.


Spiritual-stage of progression


Spiritual-realm or region

(in the world beyond)

Dharam Khand

Desire to live Dharam (righteousness) and do religious actions.


·  Dharam-Raaj, the appointed judge of the next world, is there.

·  Good and bad actions are judged there.

·  There, souls are sent to the next destination, i.e. reincarnated in hells, heavens, or earth.

·  The blessed souls who have a mark of the Lord’s Grace are given respect and look beautiful there.

Giaan Khand

Becoming enlightened with wisdom (Giaan) about spirituality.


·  Where heavens of various religious traditions exist.

·  There is spiritual-joy and enjoyment there.

·  Buddhas, deities belonging to different traditions reside there.

Saram Khand

Shaping one’s inner beauty through spiritual effort (Saram).


·  A place where the minds of angelic beings are beautified.

·  A place where one is spiritually beautified

Karam Khand

Becoming spiritually strong through receiving the Almighty’s Grace (Karam).


·  Leads onto Sach-Khand

·  Spiritual warriors reside there who become joined to the Lord’s Presence.

·  The beauty of this place cannot be described.

Sach Khand

Living the Truth (Sach), where then the Almighty comes to reside within them and reflects every single part of who they are.


·  The Almighty’s House

·  From where the Almighty watches the whole creation and becomes happy

·  Where fully enlightened souls live with the Lord.

The 38th verse of Jap Ji Sahib, uses the analogy of the process of minting (shaping) a gold coin to explain the seven virtues that the spiritual seeker needs in their life for reaching the House of God, Sach Khand. These virtues are (i) jat = exercising self-restraint over one’s senses/organs (i.e. moral discipline), (ii) dheeraj = patience, (iii) mat = understanding, (iv) vey’d = spiritual wisdom, (v) bhau = Godly fear (respect), (vi) tap = enduring devotion/spiritual effort, (vii) bhaa’o = love.

The epilogue or ending verse of Jap Ji Sahib, known as the Salok, sums up the message of Jap Ji Sahib. It explains how life is a game in which God has given us extraordinary gifts – namely air to breathe, the wisdom of God in the form of the Guru to guide us, water to stay physically alive, a mother and father to give birth to us, and the earth as a place to live, learn, spiritually grow, and play this game of life. The night and day were made by the Almighty in which the world sleeps and acts. Then we are informed that the rule of this game of life is that every good and bad thought and action we have done will be recorded and judged, which determines the future of our soul. We have the potential to get closer to God, or further away from Them by entering the reincarnation cycle. The last lines tell us that those who live a life of tireless meditation on the Lord’s Name win this game of life. Such people not only make their life worthwhile and glow with glory, but they also help to free others from falsehood by inspiring others by example to connect with God, the Ultimate Truth.