(Recd. with thanks from Dr. Pushpinder Singh Ludhiana)
Naam Simran – Meditation
The philosophy of Naam Simran (Meditation) and Jaap (repetition of a Mantra) is very old and is in vogue in all religions. Of course, the point of concentration, words used, methods followed, postures adopted, etc., differ in different cultures. In India Yogis and Rishis are known to leave their homes and go to calm quiet places in forests, hills, snowy mountains, lakes etc., for this purpose.
Purpose of Naam Simran
The most important and common purpose, a sacred one, is to realize the Reality, the Truth, the Almighty and thereby achieve Moksh, freedom from the cycle of birth and death. This is preached as a mission of life by the majority of the Indian faiths. This means the soul secures a permanent place in Heaven and is saved from the problems and pains of repeated births and deaths; at the same time, one enjoys peace during his life here in the world. Another objective, which is mostly preached by the Tantrics is getting fulfilled some worldly wishes, removing the influence of some bad, unsuitable star combinations, recovering from diseases, personal success in life, protection from the enemies, and sometimes to do harm to them, etc. According to a Sikh scholar , Prof Teja Singh the purpose of human life is to practice dharma, an ideal and proper way of living this life. It is possible by reciting Gurbani, understanding it and living accordingly and at the same time doing Naam Simran. The mission of Sikh Dharm is not Moksh or Mukti which entitles one to Swarg, Heaven (a mythical place somewhere in the cosmos) but to develop in us which is God
ਦਰ ਦਰਸਨ ਕਾ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੈ ਕਰੈ ਕਿਆ ॥ (SGGS Page 360)
Regarding Simran (reflecting on God), the Sikh Reht Maryada published by the S.G.P .C., Amritsar, states (Page 8):- A Sikh should get up in ambrosial hours (Amrit Velaa) approximately 3 hours before sunrise, take bath and concentrating his/her thoughts on one Immortal Being, Akal Purkh, repeat the name of Waheguru (Wondrous Destroyer of ignorance) Importance of Naam Simran. The most important mission of human life, as preached by Gurbani, is to keep one’s mind always tuned to Him, His virtues. God is Nirankar without any physical features; therefore, whenever Gurbani tells to remember him, it means to tune one’s mind to his virtues. These instructions are given in a Nitnem (Rehraas) hymn.
ਭਈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹੁਰੀਆ ॥ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਣ ਕੀ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਰੀਆ ॥
ਅਵਰਿ ਕਾਜ ਤੇਰੈ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਕਾਮ ॥ ਮਿਲੁ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਭਜੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ ॥ (SGGS page 12)
In simple words, it means that to bring peace to the soul, the life of a Sikh (while earning his living and performing other chores of life) is to be lived with his mind always tuned to the virtues of the Lord, our benevolent Father; the hymn also tells that other activities are of little use for providing peace; (they help only to maintain and entertain our physical body , which, anyway, we are going to leave here to become dust again). This is being written to discuss Gurmat Naam Simran without any influence of the practice of such Hindu rituals which have entered the Sikh psyche. It is based according to the teachings and directions given in Gurbani, not according to what is preached by so-called Sants and Gianis because of the influence of old tradition.
Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, in his book Gurmat Martand, published by the S.G.P .C., Amritsar, explains Gurmat Naam Simran, and Jaap. He specifically states that it is different from the traditional Simran, both in philosophy and method of Simran. He states the word Mantar means advice, guidance, suggestion, instruction, etc. The word Mantri, therefore, means one who gives advice, guidance, etc. to the king, the ruler for keeping peace in the kingdom.
It is a holy advice, guidance (instructions), given by a Guru to his disciple for achieving peace and the spiritual mission of human life. His advice helps the disciples to live successfully according to the proper way of life instead of going off the track and suffering from pain and problems. However, Tantrics have a different meaning of the word Mantar; for them it is a secret and magical word given by the Guru (Tantric) to his disciple and it is not to be revealed to any one, otherwise it loses its magical power (charms). Such a word is told to a disciple when he wants to get something done for his mundane benefit, advantage. This may mean getting rid of any pending danger, a problem or some other adverse situation. This may also be done to fulfill a worldly desire to earn more money, success in life, family problem etc. Sometimes a Mantar is given with the purpose of hurting the enemies, making them sick, blind or go mad. The scholar states that in Gurmat this whole Mantar philosophy is prohibited. Gur-Mantar is guidance given by the Guru to a Sikh for leading one’s life, the way it is expected to help a devotee for realizing the Lord.
Gurbani mentions the message in the following words:
The purpose of understanding and practicing this Gur-Mantar (not just repeating some word) in one’s life is to treat the ‘disease’, the vice of Haumey. This ‘disease’ ruins the lives of many people and results in many un-treatable sufferings. Gurbani states that though, ‘Haumey’ is a very serious and damaging ‘disease’ but it can be treated. The medicine prescribed for this malady is ‘Shabad’. By the grace of the Guru, if one understands Shabad, Naam, Gurbani and practices its message to lead his life; he surely can get rid of the disease because Haumey cannot go into a mind which is occupied by love of Naam, virtues
ਹਉਮੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਵਿਰੋਧੁ ਹੈ ਦੁਇ ਨ ਵਸਹਿ ਇਕ ਠਾਇ ॥ (SGGS Page 560)
ਹਉਮੈ ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਭੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰੇ ਜੇ ਆਪਣੀ ਤਾ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥ (SGGS Page 466)
Those scholars who study Gurbani and interpret it without reference to the traditional views or the Yoga teachings, they find that Gurmat Naam Simran is to love and reflect on Akal Purkh, His virtues, all the time. This simple way of loving His virtues and convincing one’s mind to respect and practice those virtues in one’s daily life and to get rid of vices, has been confused with the rejected traditional Yoga rituals. The only difference taught is that Yogic Mantra is replaced with the Waheguru word, whereas Gurbani rejects the whole Yoga philosophy lock, stock and barrel. ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ (SGGS Page 662)
NAAM SIMRAN EXPLAINED
The Famous Sikh scholar , Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, has written Gurmat Martand, published by the S.G.P .C., Amritsar, in two volumes. In it he has given the Gurmat meaning of different words in alphabetical order and the philosophy involved there in. Under the title Naam Simran, he states (Page 620) Waheguru is the most sacred word and a Sikh should do its Simran, reflecting on His virtues with complete concentration of mind. He cautioned that unless one understood, ‘What is Naam?’ repetition of the word Waheguru, has little utility to that person. To explain that the true concept of Naam Simran in Gurmat is different from the old concept of Naam Simran, he gives examples of some words which have their different meanings in Gurbani than their traditional meanings. He points out that the meaning and connotation of words changes in different cultures and even in the same culture over a period of time. Therefore, while describing Gurmat notion of Naam Simran, we must clearly know its concept in Gurmat philosophy (Gurbani). The two words, Naam and Simran, have a different meaning than those which were popular earlier in Yoga or Hindu religion. To explain it, the author refers to some common words whose old meanings were different than those for which they have been used in Gurbani. A few of them are given below:
Narain (ਨਾਰਾਇਣ) Old Scripture – The God which resides in water:
Gurbani – The Almighty Being, God, who prevails everywhere.
Similarly we know that Allah, Ram, Bhagwan – have different meanings in Gurbani than those meanings these words have in the old scriptures. Similarly, the traditional words Maya, Daan, Punn, Naam, Simran etc. have been used in Gurbani with new meanings to fit in the Gurmat philosophy . The scholar cautions us that if we adopt old concept of these words, there is great likelihood of our misinterpreting the message of Gurbani. A more often misunderstood example is of four Khanis (ਖਾਣੀਆਂ), sources of life. In Jap Ji (Pauree 27), it is stated ਗਾਵਹਿ ਜੋਧ ਮਹਾਬਲ ਸੂਰਾ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਖਾਣੀ ਚਾਰੇ ॥, four Khanies sing your virtues. Here it does not mean four sources of life only. This belief of four Khanies was rejected right there in Jap Ji itself, Pauree 32 ਕੇਤੀਆ ਖਾਣੀ ਕੇਤੀਆ ਬਾਣੀ ਕੇਤੇ ਪਾਤ ਨਰਿੰਦ ॥ ਕੇਤੀਆ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਸੇਵਕ ਕੇਤੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਅੰਤੁ ॥
It is stated that there are innumerable sources of life, and we cannot know their counts. Whenever the word four Khanis or 84 lakh kinds of lives are mentioned in Gurbani, they mean all living beings, and their numbers are beyond our comprehension. In old concept, Naam is a secret word (or a set of words) as mentioned earlier, it is usually a Mantra, therefore, a person is warned not to reveal it to any other person. It is to be repeated at a prescribed time and in specified counts while sitting in a specific posture. The person has a particular worldly purpose for doing that Simran. However, in Gurmat, it has a totally different and spiritual objective of remembering virtues of God as mentioned above. Also, Naam refers to (Gurmat Martand Page 23-28) that Entity which is the cause of whole creation who also takes care of this creation, it is not just a four letter word, Waheguru (ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ).
ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਖੰਡ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ ॥ (SGGS Page 284) Further Gurbani directs us to perform our duty (dharma) to understand and reflect on the virtues of God, it also means that we should adopt those virtues in our life to the extent possible, otherwise human life becomes meaningless. ਸਗਲ ਸਰੀਰ ਆਵਤ ਸਭ ਕਾਮ ॥ ਨਿਹਫਲ ਮਾਨੁਖੁ ਜਪੈ ਨਹੀ ਨਾਮ ॥੩॥ (SGGS Page 190)
ਕਣ ਬਿਨਾ ਜੈਸੇ ਥੋਥਰ ਤੁਖਾ ॥ਨਾਮ ਬਿਹੂਨ ਸੂਨੇ ਸੇ ਮੁਖਾ ॥੧॥ (SGGS Page 192)
ਜਾ ਮੈ ਭਜਨੁ ਰਾਮ ਕੋ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ਤਿਹ ਨਰ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਕਾਰਥੁ ਖੋਇਆ ਯਹ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀ ॥੧॥ (SGGS Page 831)
Not only Naam, but also Simran in Gurbani has a different connotation than that found in Hindi literature. Prof Teja Singh, a Sikh scholar, in his book Sikh Dharam (Punjabi) published by the S.G.P .C., Amritsar states: Some scholars mistakenly equated these words (Naam & Simran) with their old concepts, and they got wrong interpretations. Guru Nanak preached that God has no specific Name (Naam). Therefore, he used simply the word Naam to refer to Him and His virtues. Hindus believe authority of God is divided into three sub-Gods, – Vishnu, Brahma, Mahesh – or it is believed to be the whole nature. The Semitic faiths believe that God lives somewhere far away in the cosmos. However, Guru Nanak revealed a unique God. He is merely an embodiment of virtues (no physical feature ਨਿਰਗੁਣ); He is reflected in the whole universe but is independent of His creation. This means that he is both transcendent and immanent at the same time.
ਨਿਰਗੁਨੁ ਆਪਿ ਸਰਗੁਨੁ ਭੀ ਓਹੀ ॥ ਕਲਾ ਧਾਰਿ ਜਿਨਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਮੋਹੀ ॥ (SGGS Page 287)
ਘਟ ਘਟ ਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਜੂ ਬਸੈ ਸੰਤਨ ਕਹਿਓ ਪੁਕਾਰਿ ॥ (SGGS Page 1427)
Some examples, which show that Naam has wider concept than a four letter word ‘Waheguru’ (ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ) are given below .
ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਛਤੀਹ ਪਰਕਾਰ ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਇਐ ਹਮ ਕਉ ਤਿ੍ਰਪਤਿ ਭਈ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਪੈਨਣੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਨੰਗੇ ਨ ਹੋਵਹ ਹੋਰ ਪੈਨਣ ਕੀ ਹਮਾਰੀ ਸਰਧ ਗਈ ॥ (SGGS Page 593)
ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲੇ ਜੰਤ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਖੰਡ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ॥
ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸੁਨਨ ਗਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ॥ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਆਗਾਸ ਪਾਤਾਲ ॥ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਆਕਾਰ ॥ (SGGS Page 287)
Thus Gurbani uses Naam, as a synonym of the Almighty Creator and His Virtues; Naam does not mean a Name of four letters in Punjabi, (ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ) Waheguru, ਜੇਤਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਤੇਤਾ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋ ਥਾਉ ॥ (SGGS Page 4)
ਵਡੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਜਾ ਵਡਾ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਵਡੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਜਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਿਆਉ ॥ (SGGS Page 463)
Here ‘Naam’ means His virtues, by no stretch of imagination, it can mean the four letter word ‘Waheguru’ (ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ). ਸਾਚਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਾਚੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਾਨੈ ॥ (SGGS Page 833)
The hymn means that we can understand (ਨਾਮ), virtues of God, through Gurbani.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਵਸਾਈ ॥ ( SGGS Page 1239)
Again Gurbani has been equated with Naam, which is to be loved by a Sikh to understand and get influence of Naam soaked in one’s life. A very interesting hymn states that Naam & Gurbani are synonyms
ਹਉ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕਰਉ ॥ (SGGS Page 369) I sing His Naam (that means Gurbani) all the time.
In Sukhmani, the third Slok and the whole related Ashtpadi discuss uniqueness and greatness of Naam.
ਬਹੁ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਬਹੁ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤੀ ਪੇਖੇ ਸਰਬ ਢਢੋਲਿ ॥ ਪੂਜਸਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਹਰੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਅਮੋਲ ॥੧॥ (SGGS Page 265)
It means that Naam, virtues of God (obviously, in this hymn Slok also, it cannot be any word) are priceless; compared to it, the Simrities or the Shastras (the Hindu scriptures) have little value. In the Ashtpadi following the Slok, the hymn makes it clear that Naam refers to virtues of God.
ਨਿਰਧਨ ਕਉ ਧਨੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਨਿਥਾਵੇ ਕਉ ਨਾਉ ਤੇਰਾ ਥਾਉ ॥ (SGGS Page 266)
The above interpretation of Naam has been again emphatically endorsed in the following verse:
ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਊਚ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮਿ ਉਧਰੇ ਪਤਿਤ ਬਹੁ ਮੂਚ ॥੩॥ (SGGS Page 265)
In simple words it tells that innumerable individuals have been saved by virtues of Naam, which are of greatest value/significance. A Sikh should; everyday, tune his mind to Naam, His virtues. He elaborates it further that whatever abstract description of God is mentioned in the invocation:
ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ (SGGS page 1)
is expressed through one word Naam. The utility of repeating the “Waheguru” word lies in understanding and benefiting from those virtues, otherwise just repeating the word with millions of tongues and millions
of times is futile.
ਇਕ ਦੂ ਜੀਭੌ ਲਖ ਹੋਹਿ ਲਖ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਲਖ ਵੀਸ ॥ ਲਖੁ ਲਖੁ ਗੇੜਾ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਗਦੀਸ ॥
ਏਤੁ ਰਾਹਿ ਪਤਿ ਪਵੜੀਆ ਚੜੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਇਕੀਸ ॥ ਸੁਣਿ ਗਲਾ ਆਕਾਸ ਕੀ ਕੀਟਾ ਆਈ ਰੀਸ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਕੂੜੀ ਕੂੜੈ ਠੀਸ ॥ (SGGS page 7)
It is His grace alone which can grant His virtues to the a seeker so that one can realize the Lord. Also,
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰੇ ਤਾ ਨਾਮ ਧਨੁ ਪਲੈ ਪਾਇ ॥ ( SGGS Page 850)
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਪਾਏ ॥ ( SGGS Page 468)
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਏ ॥ ( SGGS Page 732)
We wrongly accept those meanings of the Gurbani words which were used in ancient literature but were rejected in Gurmat philosophy . Naam & Simran are two such words which have a high spiritual value and have different meanings than their old concepts. Guru Arjun Sahib Jee has used the word Naam in the concluding hymn of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to refer to the whole Gurbani in the scripture.
ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥ (SGGS Page 1429)
The Same thing has been said by Guru Amar Das Sahib Jee in different words:-
ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਰਤੀ ਜਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਇਸੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇਦਾ ॥ (SGGS Page 1066)
This hymn specifically tells that the true source of Naam (of course, not just a four letter word) ‘Waheguru’ (ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ) are the teaching of Gurbani, it means Gurbani is the source of Naam. Therefore, one cannot realize Naam without studying and understanding Gurbani (not with repetition of any word ad infinitum).
ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਜੇਤੇ ਸਭ ਊਪਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ (SGGS Page 401)
Love of Naam (virtues) is above all charity, good holy actions, meditation etc.
ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥ (SGGS Page 62)
Truth (Naam) is above all philosophies and truthful actions are superior to all religious rituals and activities.
To conclude his opinion, he quotes a hymn from Akal Ustat which specifically states the repetition of one word continuously for the whole life, like a bird (Pudna) which utters only the same sound all the time, will not let anyone to realize the Lord, because He is beyond it.
ਜਾਪ ਕੇ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਜਉ ਪੈ ਪਾਈਅਤ ਅਜਾਪ ਦੇਵ ਪੂਦਨਾ ਸਦੀਵ ਤੁਹੀ ਤੁਹੀ ਉਚਰਤਿ ਹੈ ॥
The word Simran means to remember; it does not exclusively mean to repeat (do Jaap of) any word. This we can do all the time like a mother thinks of her baby while doing house chores or the way parents think of their son deputed to fight a war with the enemy far away at the border . When a child, remembers his mom, he does not utter mom, mom, mom but he feels delighted and remembers her for the favors, help and service done to him by her . Similarly keeping virtues of God and His favors in mind all the time is His Simran. When we keep our mind tuned to the virtues of God, we will observe Him vibrating in the whole nature, keep His virtues in our mind, and feel that God is great and is beyond our imagination.
ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਵਸਿਆ ॥ ਤੇਰਾ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ਲਖਿਆ ॥ (SGGS page 469)
Therefore, Simran is not a job of an hour or a day; it is that our mind remains always aware of the virtues of God and His innumerable favors showered on us all the time and feels thankful to Him. This disconnects our mind from thinking ill of any person and hence it results in our peaceful life. It protects one from going astray from the path laid down for fruitful life of a devotee.
To draw conclusions from Gurbani, there is always a tendency to lean towards one or the other side under the influence of one’s self-thinking. Because of this, Sikhs are divided and have mistakenly taken one of the two extreme views to be correct, totally ignoring the other aspect.
(i) Gurbani tells that one should prefer intensive Naam Simran; it is not essential to read Gurbani again and again if one obeys its directions and does Naam Simran regularly . We find such Sikhs instead of singing a complete Shabad for the listener (permit him to understand the complete message of the hymn), halfway they start chanting ‘Waheguru’. This does not give due regard for the Gurbani Kirtan.
(ii) The other view taken by some Sikhs is that instead of uttering Waheguru, we should sing Kirtan, that is, recite Gurbani only . Its meaning should be understood and one should act according to the directions of Gurbani. One is judged only by his deeds in His court.
ਅਮਲ ਜਿ ਕੀਤਿਆ ਦੁਨੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇ ਦਰਗਹ ਓਗਾਹਾ ॥ (SGGS Page 1383)
ਵੇਖਹੁ ਬੰਦਾ ਚਲਿਆ ਚਹੁ ਜਣਿਆ ਦੈ ਕੰਨਿ ॥ ਫਰੀਦਾ ਅਮਲ ਜਿ ਕੀਤੇ ਦੁਨੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਦਰਗਹ ਆਏ ਕੰਮਿ ॥ (SGGS Page 1383)
Quite often comments of Guru Nanak made to the Mullahs at Mecca and quoted by Bhai Gurdas are mentioned to support this view.
ਪੁਛਨ ਗਲ ਈਮਾਨ ਦੀ ਕਾਜ਼ੀ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਵਡਾ ਸਾਂਗ ਵਰਤਾਇਆ ਲਖ ਨ ਸਕੇ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਕੋਈ ॥
ਪੁਛਣ ਖੋਲ ਕਿਤਾਬ ਨੂੰ ਵਡਾ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਕਿ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨੋਈ ॥ ਬਾਬਾ ਆਖੇ ਹਾਜੀਆਂ ਸ਼ੁਭ ਅਮਲਾਂ ਬਾਝੋ ਦੋਵੇਂ ਰੋਈ ॥ (Vaar 1: Pauree 33)
Therefore, they conclude that Naam Simran means to remember virtues of God at all times and accordingly doing good deeds as directed by Gurbani. They observe that Waheguru Jaap is not a Gurmat tradition and is not endorsed by Gurbani.
The balanced view of complete message of Gurbani is mentioned in Reht Maryada (Page- 8), the word Waheguru has been adopted by the Panth/Gurus for addressing Akal Purkh. We benefit by loving God as Waheguru and, of course, not by repeating this particular word without understanding its meaning.
Let me quote one worldly example to explain this. We use many names for our father; they include Dad, Daddy , Papa, Bhapa, Pita, Baap (Bapu), (the latter two are mentioned in Gurbani). Whichever name a child picks up, he/she continues to use that name because his/her love for the father is associated with it. Other names are not wrong but they do not touch the emotions of the person.
Similarly Sikhs adopted Waheguru name for Him and the emotional feeling and peace they enjoy by the use of this word, they do not get the same from the use of other words, Ram, Allah, Bhagwan, Niranjan etc., though all refer to the same entity , Akal Purkh.
The Gurmat directions for Naam Simran are that every day in the early morning, one must think of the virtues of God while uttering Waheguru word so that mind enjoys the love of His virtues. However, Reading/listening recitation of Gurbani, listening its Kirtan, and its Katha explain virtues of God; all such acts help one to keep one’s mind on his virtues and favors. They motivate one to be thankful to the Lord for His favors and thus keep Him in one’s mind and thoughts.
Realizing Naam – Gurbani Directions
- One may realize Naam by keeping his attention immersed in Gurbani while listening to hymns and directing one’s life accordingly.
ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਸੁਣਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਗਵਾਏ ॥ ਸਹਜੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੰਨਿ ਵਸਾਏ ॥ (SGGS Page 665)
ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੋ ਜੀਅਹੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਰਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ॥ (SGGS Page 797)
- O’ God, I am desirous to sing hymns day and night so that I am blessed with Naam. I pray , please, do not let my mind wander away from You (Your virtues).
ਵਿਸਰੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਦਾਤਾਰ ਆਪਣਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੇਹੁ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਾ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਚਾਉ ਏਹੁ ॥ (SGGS Page 762)
- One can achieve the supreme goal of human life, Jivan-Mukt, to become free from the vices and attachments while alive, by singing Gurbani and keeping away from ego.
ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਦੋਨੋ ਕਉ ਪਰਹਰਿ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕੇ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵੈ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥ (SGGS Page 831)
- One can get rid of ego and love Naam by imbibing the message of Gurbani, not just by the sight of
ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ (SGGS Page 594)
- Gurbani directs a seeker to join a Sangat (get into the company of the Sants, holy people) sing his virtues and achieve the mission of this valuable human life.
ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਅਨੰਦ ॥ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪਰਮਾਨੰਦ ॥ (SGGS Page 293)
- To end our birth-death cycle and to qualify to be admitted in his court, we should sing his virtues day and night (all the time) keeping Him in our mind.
ਹਰਿ ਦਿਨੁ ਰੈਨਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਈਐ ॥ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਨ ਜੋਨੀ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ (SGGS Page 623)
- To get merged with Him, one should sing His praises and delve in His virtues.
ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦਿ ਰਹਹਿ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤੀ ਗੁਣ ਕਹਿ ਗੁਣੀ ਸਮਾਵਣਿਆ ॥ (SGGS Page 122)
These above mentioned hymns explain that Naam Simran means to sing his virtues, understand them and to act accordingly. Thereby we should get rid of our ego to let our mind enjoy the love of Naam. Naam occupies a mind and enlightens it only when it is free from ego.
ਹਉਮੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਵਿਰੋਧੁ ਹੈ ਦੁਇ ਨ ਵਸਹਿ ਇਕ ਠਾਇ ॥ (SGGS Page 560)
Cautions Whereas Gurbani explains the philosophy of Naam Simran, it rejects the traditional actions done for the purpose. It makes it clear that the continuous repetition of a particular word gives little benefit to the mind. It tells that (i) instead of Jaap, Taap, Sanjam and other rituals, a devotee should sing Hari kirtan, Gods virtues.
ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਜਨਿ ਗਾਇਓ ॥ (SGGS Page 498)
(ii) Many persons repeat a word with their tongue but Naam is realized by listening to the message of Guru (Gurbani) and obeying it.
ਰਸਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ ਕਹੈ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੇ ਤਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਲਹੈ ॥ (SGGS Page 1262)
Some Sikhs, because of ignorance of this message of Gurbani, believe that Naam Simran is mere repetition of the word Waheguru. This belief is found not to be possible when we read some hymns relating to Naam Simran. Here are a few of them (i) Nanak lives because he does Jaap of His Charan, (feet).
ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਸਰਨ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਪਿ ਜਪਿ ਜੀਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਚਰਨ ॥ (SGGS Page 268)
(ii) The hymn says to do Jaap of Gian, knowledge.
ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥ ਹੋਵਹੁ ਚਾਕਰ ਸਾਚੇ ਕੇਰੇ ॥ (SGGS Page-728)
Here the directions of Gurbani for doing Jaap of Charan or Gian is not possible to be practiced because they are not words, which one can repeat with his tongue. Actually the message of the hymn is learning the virtues of God and practicing humility in mind. This is also endorsed in Gurbani by a different hymn.
ਕਾਂਇਆ ਸਾਧੈ ਉਰਧ ਤਪੁ ਕਰੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਅਧਿਆਤਮ ਕਰਮ ਜੇ ਕਰੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਕਬ ਹੀ ਪਾਇ ॥
ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜੀਵਤੁ ਮਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥ (SGGS Page 33)
Haumey, ego, cannot be got rid of by cleaning the body or doing extreme meditation. Religious rituals are of no use for realizing Naam. Naam enters the mind only when one becomes extremely humble. Gurbani also specifically tells that repeating a word with our tongue even if it refers to God, is of no utility.
ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਕਹਿਐ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ (SGGS Page 492)
Repeating a word for a particular number of times is not the Gurmat philosophy as explained also by Bhai Gurdas
ਅਮਲੀ ਖਾਸੇ ਮਜਲਸੀ ਪਿਰਮੁ ਪਿਆਲਾ ਅਲਖੁ ਲਖਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਾਲਾ ਤਸਬੀ ਤੋੜਿ ਕੈ ਜਿਉ ਸਉ ਤਿਵੈ ਅਠੋਤਰੁ ਲਾਇਆ ॥
ਮੇਰੁ ਇਮਾਮੁ ਰਲਾਇ ਕੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਹੀਮੁ ਨ ਨਾਉਂ ਗਣਾਇਆ ॥ (Vaar 39)
In the end, we can say that the directions of Gurbani for Naam Simran
ਨਾਮ ਜਪਣਾ, ਧਿਆਉਣਾ, ਸਿਮਰਨਾ, ਗੁਣ ਗਾਉਣਾ, ਉਸਤਤ ਕਰਨੀ ।
(meditating, devoted attention, repeating with full concentration appreciating Him, reflecting on his virtues etc.) all give the same message that one has to study Gurbani, understand its message, convince one’s mind to love God sincerely and lead one’s life according to those directions. This path, with the grace of God, helps one to get rid of one’s ego and keep his mind peaceful. Claiming any spiritual gain because one has repeated the word Waheguru a million times is meaningless because all acts of service done with ego have no value in His court.
ਹਉਮੈ ਵਡਾ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਬੁਝਿ ਨ ਸਕੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ (SGGS Page 560)
Dr . Gurbakhsh Singh — Sikh Culture & Social Values