Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak in the form of ten Gurus
(1469 - 1708) in India. The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh ended
the personal Guruship and proclaimed Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scripture)
as the last Guru for ever.
Granth Sahib was written and compiled by the Gurus themselves and
hence it is authentic. No body is allowed to change even a comma
or a period in it (1430 pages).
Granth Sahib does not narrate the life story of the Gurus, but it
is wholly dedicated to the glory of the Almighty God only. Sikhism
is not a blend or a reproduction of earlier religions but it is
a new revelation altogether. The teachings that the Gurus gave to
this world, came DIRECT to them from God, which the Gurus confirm:
Word comes from Him, Who hath created the world.' (Guru Nanak)
attain salvation, Sikhism rejects all fasts, rites and rituals.
It rejects the claims of Yoga, mortification of body, self-torture,
penances and renunciation. Sikhism does not believe in the worship
of gods and goddesses, stones, statues, idols, pictures, tombs or
crematoriums. Only One God, the Formless, is to be Glorified.
Gurus preached Sikh religion strictly as monotheistic- requiring
belief in none other than One Supreme Being only.
idealistic approach of Sikhism is that it recognizes the existence
of the same heavenly Light in every human being, rich or poor, high
or low irrespective of caste, creed, color, race, sex, religion
or nationality. Therefore the doors of the Sikh temple called Gurdwara
(House of the Guru) are open for all in this world without any prejudice
or social discrimination. Every person in this world has equal right
to enter and join the services in the Gurdwara.
institution of Langar (Guru's free Kitchen) was started by the first
Guru and strengthened further by the later Gurus. The rules of the
Langar require that all should sit in the same row and partake of
the same food without any discrimination of being high or low, rich
or poor, and prince or the peasant. The institution of Langar, thus,
translates the principle of equality into practice. It was the injunction
of the third Guru that none would have his audience unless one had
eaten in the Langar. Even Akbar, the Emperor of India, had to sit
with common people and dine before he could see the Guru.
we proceed translating Gurbani (Divine Word) to English, we confess
to our limitations since there is no authentic English version of
our holy scripture to guide us. This is so because each translation
would reflect the translator's ability to understand both the languages.
His dedication and involvement with religion would be evident in
his work. This will result in diverse translations leaving no standardized
version. In the case of our scripture there are numerous difficulties
encountered by a translator. For example, "Sidh Gosht"
- Guru Nanak's dialogue with the Sidhas, the concept of "NAM",
the exhortation "Nam Japo", concept of "Sehaj Anand"
and "Onkar", are highly difficult to translate. The English
word 'name' is not at all synonymous for 'NAM'. This is a Herculean
task since the English speaking people know no such thing as the
'True Name' nor can they comprehend the practice of 'Nam Japna'.
There is no existing vocabulary to help translate these and a lot
more abstract thoughts listed in Guru Granth Sahib.
reading this book it should be remembered that it is completely
impossible to justly translate any one language to another. Translation
is not an exact science and therefore, literal interpretation of
Gurbani is unachievable- there can be no accurate and definitive
translation of our scripture. We, the authors, have endeavored to
translate Gurbani to English, while preserving the quintessence
of its message as ordained by the Guru. All quotations are from
Guru Granth Sahib unless otherwise noted. The English translation
of the original verses has been taken from the various authors whichever
was found most befitting, and Sikh Missionary Center is most grateful
to all those authors.
purpose of this book is to spread the doctrine of Sikhism as laid
down by the Gurus. There is no limit to the praise of the Almighty,
but the authors have attempted to express Guru's Divine Message
and the Glory of His Kingdom in few and simple terms.
is the central theme in the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib. Power of
Nam is glorified and admired in Sikh Scripture. It is the cure of
all sufferings. In Guru Granth Sahib, Nam is another name for God.
It is Nam that sustains all beings and the universe. He is not a
mental abstraction. He is the source of all life-physical as well
as spiritual. Nothing is so perfect that it could or would exist
apart from and independent of Nam(HIM).
in descending order is a punishment and curse for one's deeds. The
soul passes through animal lives suffering untold agonies. Human
life is a blessing. Human being is the crown of His Creation. Man
has the capacity of being conscious of his own being. He has the
capability to attain the highest pinnacle of spiritual advancement.
Human form is the opportunity for the spiritual and moral progress.
No religion and no philosophy can exist without man. Sikh Gurus
sing the nobility of human being because he has the awareness of
the Divine and it is only through human body that one can get salvation
by meditating on Nam. Man cannot find his way to salvation through
intellectual acrobatics and speculative ventures or ceaseless trance.
It is achieved only through meditation on Nam. When the Gurus and
the Bhaktas(saints) sing the Praises of the Lord, they sing them
to man. They encourage man to advance to the loftiest peaks of spiritual
glory. The exhortation "Nam Japo" by the Gurus is directed
towards man because the highest spiritual goal is within the reach
of man only. "Nam Japo" aims at spiritual evolution which
is the ultimate goal of Guru's Sikh.
there any one Thy equal, O God, I'd praise Thee before him. (Since
Thou hast neither equal nor rival) Therefore I will praise Thee
before Thyself. Thy Name giveth sight to me, the blind." (Guru
complete dedication and full humility, we extend our salute to our
Lord, the Supreme Monarch.
1990. Sikh Missionary Center