Selections from the sacred writings of the sikhs


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, I, 22, page 1396


(Sixteenth Century)

jam guru hoe val gyan ar dyanan par

When the Guru is on one’s side,
Riches do not add to his greatness.
When the Guru is on one’s side,
Millions of arms cannot harm him.
When the Guru is on one’s side,
The Divine word illuminates the soul,
Thy servant bard, supplicates thus!
He who meditates on the Name day and night,
He who contemplates the Name in the heart,
He is released from the bondage of birth and death.
Swaiya Guru IV, 3, 7, page 1399


(Sixteenth Century)

sansar agam sagar tutah

This in my heart have I realized
Unfathomable Ocean is the world;
The Lord’s Name is the boat
Which I acquired from the Supreme Guru;
The cycle of birth and death has ceased for me.
Whosoever attains this realization
The highest spiritual state they attain,
They discard avarice, greed and attachment to worldly wealth.
The torments of lust and wrath are no more for them;
They attain the Vision of God.
All delusions disappear
In a flock they see the cause of all causes.
Serve ye the True Guru Ramdas the Saviour,
Inscrutable are his ways.
Swaiya Guru IV, 3, page 1402


(Sixteenth Century)

jih satgur simrant

Contemplating the Guru
All darkness is dispelled.
Contemplating the Guru
The Name of God fills the heart day after day.
Contemplating the Guru
Desires now burning are assuaged.
Contemplating the Guru
Occult powers, nine treasures and prosperity is attained;
Says poet Bal that Gum is Ramdas.
Meeting in the holy congregation.
Let all say: Hail, all hail to the Guru,
Contemplate, O mortals, the time Guru,

In whose association God is realized

Swaiya Guru IV, 5, 54, page 1405


(Sixteenth Century)

jab lau nahi bhag lilar udai

As long as providence did not favour me,
So long I wandered restlessly;
In the dreadful ocean of the dark age
My helpless soul was sinking,
Sorrow and remorse never left me.
Arjan has come as the Saviour of the world.
My search for the True Guru Arjan has ended.
He who contemplates the divine Guru Arjan
Never is a victim of the. tribulations of rebirth.
Swaiya Guru V, 6, 8, page 1409


(Sixteenth Century)

ham avgun bhare ek gun nahi

Sins abound in me,

No virtues have I;
Forsaking the nectar
I drink poison,
I lost in error and delusion am,
Deeply attached to wife and children;
I heard of a lofty way
In the company of the Guru.
Meeting him the fear of death
Has ceased to exist.
Bard Kirat hath but one prayer,
Keep me under your protection, O Guru Ramdas.
Swaiya Guru IV, 4. 58, page 1406


(Sixteenth Century)

ajai gang jal atal

Like the holy, the ever-flowing waters of the sacred Ganges,
Flow the sermons of the Guru.
In it bathe the congregations of the Sikhs.
The scriptures are explained and recited,
As if Brahma himself chanted the Vedas,
Over the Guru’s head waves the royal umbrella.
From his lips Divine Name as nectar rains;
In the company of Guru Nanak,
Angad became the Guru,
Then after him Amardas;
And now Guru Ramdas has gone to the Lord;
O Harbans, his glory fills the whole world.
Who says the Guru is dead?

Swaiya Guru, V, I, 20, page 1409





Guru Gobind Singh was born at Patna (Bihar) and was brought to the Punjab at the age of five. He took over Guruship at the age of nine when his father was executed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He spent his youth in study of Sanskrit and Persian and the Indian scriptures. He was a great patron of letters and was himself a prolific writer.

On the Indian New Year’s Day of 1699 he started the militant order of the Khalsa and thereafter his life betame one long series of battles in which he lost his four sons (two were killed fighting; the other two aged eight and ten were executed). Despite these reverses he remained defiant to the last and left behind a powerful fighting force which later occupied most of the Punjab.

Guru Gobind Singh compiled the final version of the Adi Granth. His own writings, which do not form a part of the Sacred book, were collected by his disciple Mani Singh thirty years after the Guru’s death. The compilation, which has over 2,000 hymns, is known as the Dasm Granth — the Granth of the tenth Guru.

cakra cehan ar barn jat ar pat nahinjai

God hath no marks or symbols,

He is of no colour, of no caste,
He is not even of any lineage.
His form, hue, shape and garb
Cannot be described by anyone.
He is immovable, He is self existent;
He shines out in His own splendour;
There is no one who can measure His Might.
He is the King of Kings, the lordly Indra
Of countless Indras, the supreme Sovereign
Of the three worlds of gods, men, and demons;
Nay, even the meadows and the woodlands
Cry in praise of Him: ‘Infinite, Infinite!’
O Lord, who can tell the count of Thy Names?
According to Thy deeds will I
Endeavour to relate Thy Names.

Jap, I


nam tham nti jat jakar rup rang na rekh

He has no name, no dwelling-place, no caste;
He has no shape, or colour, or outer limits.
He is the Primal Being, Gracious and Benign,
Unborn, ever Perfect, and Eternal.
He is of no nation, and wears no distinguishing garb;
He has no outer likeness; He is free from desire.
To the east or to the west,
Look where you may,
He pervades and prevails
As Love and Affection.

Jap, 80

kahan bheo dou locan mund ke
What does it profit you To close both eyes And to sit like a crane In false meditation: For you who go about Bathing in the seven seas To show your holiness, This world is lost, And the next world also! You have passed your Jives vainly In the company of sinners! Hear me, ye people! Hear the Truth! They that truly Love God They alone shall meet Him.
Akal Ustat, 9, 29

kou bheo mundia sanyasi

One man by shaving his head
Hopes to became a holy monk,

Another sets up as a Yogi

Or some other kind of ascetic.
Some call themselves Hindus:
Others call themselves Musulmans.
Among these there are the Shiahs,
There are the Sunis also,
And yet man is of one race in all the world;
God as Creator and God as Good,
God in His Bounty and God in His Mercy,
Is all one God. Even in our errors,
We should not separate God from God!
Worship the One God,
For all men the One Divine Teacher.
All men have the same form,
All men have the same soul.

Akal Ustat, 85, 15

dehra masit soi, puja au namaz oi

He is in the temple as He is in the mosque:
He is in the Hindu worship as He is in the Muslim prayer;
Men are one though they appear different,
Gods and demons who guard the treasures
Of the god of riches, the musicians celestial
The Hindus and the Muslims are all one,
Have each the habits of a different environments,
But all men have the same eyes, the same body,
The same form compounded of the same four elements,
Earth, air, fire, and water.
Thus the Abhekh of the Hindus and the Allah of Muslims are

one, The Koran and the Purans praise the same Lord. They are all of one form, The One Lord made them all.

Akal Ustat, 86, 16

jaise ek ag te kanuka kot ag uthai

As out of a single fire Millions of sparks arise; Arise in separation But come together again When they fall back in the fire. As from a heap of dust Grains of dust swept up Fill the air, and filling it Fall in a heap of dust. As out of a single stream Countless waves rise up And, being water, fall Back in water again. So from God’s form emerge Alive and inanimate things And since they arise from Him They shall fall in Him again.

Akal Ustat, 87

khag khand bihandan khal dal khandan

Sword, that smiteth in a flash,
That scatters the annies of the wicked
In the great battlefield;
O thou symbol of the brave.
Thine arm is irresistible, thy brightness shineth forth
The blaze of the splendour dazzling like the sun.
Sword, thou art the protector of saints,
Thou art the scourge of the wicked;
Scatterer of sinners I take refuge in Thee.
Hail to the Creator, Saviour and Sustainer,
Hail to Thee: Sword supreme.

Bachiter Natak, I

mai apna sut toh nivaja

Thus spake God unto me:
I have cherished thee as My son
And ordained thee to spread the Faith.
Go and extend true religion throughout the world
And divert the people from the evil paths.
I made obeisance with folded hands,
I bowed my head, and I spake thus meekly:
‘Thy religion, O Lord, shall prevail in the world
When Thou vouchsafest Thine help in its prevailing!’
For this mission God sent me into the world,
And on the earth I was born as a mortal.
As He spoke to me, I must speak unto men:
Fearlessly I will declare His Truth,
But without enmity to any man.
Those who call me God
Shall fall into the depths of Hell.
Greet me as God’s humble servant only:

Do not have any doubts that this is true.

I am the slave of the Supreme Lord.
I have come to behold the wonders of His Play here.
That message that God has entrusted me with
That I will deliver;
And will not remain silent, through fear of men.
Whatever the Lord spake unto me,
That I shall surely speak unto men;
I will pay no regard to anyone but God,
I will not adopt the habit of any creed
But will sow the seeds of the pure love of God.

I will not bow down to worship sticks and stones,

Nor be influenced by outward piety;
I shall meditate on the Word of the Lord
And attain to the Presence of God.

Bachiter Natak (Autobiography), Chapter 6, Verses 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35


re man aiso kar sanyasa

O man, practise asceticism after the following manner:
Think no more of thy house in the city
Than as if it were a forest abode;
And remain always a hermit in thine heartl
Instead of matted hair, cultivate continence;
Wash thyself daily in unity of will with God;
Let thy daily religious duties be thy long growing nails!
Let divine wisdom be thy Guru and enlighten your soul
As with ashes, smear thy body with the love of God!
Eat little, sleep little; be compassionate and forgiving;
Be calm and contented;
Then will you pass beyond the Three States.
Hold not close in your heart
Lust, anger, greed, obstinate selfhood or love of worldly things.
Then shalt thou behold that which is real
And attain to the One Lord.

Hazare Sabad


mitar pyare nu hat muridan da kehna
Go tell the Beloved Lord
The condition of His yearning disciples;
Without Thee, rich coverings are an agony to us,
And to live in the comforts of our households
Is like living with snakes! Our water pots
Have become like pikes on which men are impaled.
The cup we drink from has an edge like a dagger!
Beloved, Thy turning away from us
Is like what a beast endures from the slaughterer!
With the Beloved, a mattress of straw would please us;
Without Him, in rich houses, we are burned alive!’

Hazare Sabad

jo kich lekh likhio bidhna soi payat misar ju sok nivaro

All the battles I have won, .against tyranny

I have fought with the devoted backing of these people;

Through them only have I been able to bestow gifts,
Through their help I have escaped from harm;
The love and the generosity of these Sikhs
Have enriched my heart and my home,
Through their grace I have attained all learning;
Through their help, in battle, I have slain all my enemies,
I was born to serve them, through them I reached eminence.
What would I have been without their kind and ready help?
There are millions of insignificant people like me?
True service is the service of these people:
I am not inclined to serve others of higher castes;
Charity will bear fruit, in this and the next world,
If given to such worthy people as these.
All other sacrifices and charities are profitless.
From top to toe, whatever I call my own,
All I possess or carry, I dedicate to these people!

Hearing this the learned Brahmm was ablaze. Malice boiled in him and anger Burnt as briskly as straw burns in flame. He could not bear the thought That by such levelling of castes The Brahmins might lose their livelihood. The Pundit wept and wailed At the plight of his neglected order.

Hazare Sabad

jagat jot japai nis basar

Inspired by devotion
And awake to the Light,
Singing perpetually
The Name of the Lord,
Having no faith in any
Except the One Lord,
Absorbed in His splendour,
Absorbed in His Love,
Even amid error
Never believing
In fasts’ and tombs,
Temples and idols,
Or in anything but
Devotion to the One:
Caring not even for
Compassion or charity
If God’s life
Be not in them;
Not for penances,
Not for bathings
In the holy places,
Not for the yogi’s
Such a child of Light,
Such a paragon,

Such a complete man,

Fully enlightened In heart and soul To be of the Khalsa Is worthily deemed!

Teti Sweyas, I


deh siva bar moh ehai subh karman te kabhwn na taron

Grant me this boon O God, from Thy Greatness, May I never refrain From righteous acts; May I fight without fear All foes in life’s battle, With confident courage Claiming the victory! May my highest ambition be Singing Thy praises, And may Thy Glory be Grained in my mind! When this mortal life Reaches its limits, May I die fighting With limitless courage!

Epilogue to Chandi Chariter, I


dhan jio teh ko jag mai

Glory to noble souls Who on their earthly way Carry upon their lips The Name of the Lord, And ever contemplate Deep within their hearts The good fight’s spirit.

Knowing that the body Is a fleeting vesture They make the Lord’s Song, They make the Lord’s Name, A boat to carry them Over life’s rough ocean. They wear as a garment That is as a fortress Serene detachment; Divine knowledge Is the light of their minds; Their cleaner’s broom In their wise hands Is the broom of wisdom. With it they sweep All cowardice And all falsehood.

Epilogue to Krishna Avtar


pae gaha jab te tumra tab te kou ankh tare nahi anio

Ever since, O Lord, I took refuge at Thy Feet
I have not worshipped any other God!
Ram and Rahim: the Purans and the Koran call Thee,
The Vedas, the Simiritis and also the Shastras
Have multifarious names for Thee who art One!
But, O Lord, I have faith in none besides Thee!
O glorious wielder of the Sword of Justice,
Through Thy Grace, I have written this epic of Rama!

After leaving all other doors, Lord, I have come to Thy Door! O make me Thine, Since once Thou didst call me Thine Own: I, Gobind, who am but Thy humblest servant!

Ram Avtar; Epilogue, 863, 864 275


ACAR custom; practice; external observance of established rules and laws. ADI primal; first; the beginning; origin.

ADI GRANTH Holy Book of Sikhs. It was compiled by Guru Arjan in A.D. 1604 and finally completed and edited by Guru Gobind Singh in A.D. 1705. Just before his death in 1708, he crowned the Holy Book as Guru, and the Adi Granth was thereafter to be known as Guru Granth. It is considered to be the mystic personality of the Gurus, the voice of the immortal living Teacher.

AGYAN ignorance; spiritual blindness.

AKAL immortal; beyond death.


AMRIT (AMYA) the elixir of immortality; nectar; ambrosial drink.

ANAND Spiritual delight; bliss of the spirit. Name of a composition of Guru Amardas.

ANHAD SABAD Unstruck music; music of the spheres; celestial symphony; divine music heard within the soul by the mystics. ARTI a form of worship in which lamps placed in a salver are waved before the object of worship.

ARTH material interest; one of the four objects of life in Hindu philosophy, the other three being kama (interest) dharma (ethical being) and mokh (liberation).

ASAK a passionately devoted lover.

ATMA the self; the spirit; the inner being; the soul.

AVDHUT (AUDHUT) mendicant; hermit; yogi of Gorakh School.

AVTAR birth; descent of a deity; incarnation; rebirth.

AVIDYA ignorance.

AYI PANTH a sect of yogis.

BABIHA same as chatrik.

BAGLA crane; heron; an aquatic bird symbolic of hypocrisy.


BIRHA pain; agony; suffering.

BRAHM, BRAHMA (1) Supreme Reality; God. (2) the first member of the Hindu triad, the Creator. BRAHMAN the first of the four castes of the Hindu social order. BRAHMAND (VARBHAND) (lit. infinite egg or orb) the Universe BRAHM-GYANI one who has perfect knowledge and experience of God; God illumined soul, who has attained highest spiritual state.

BUDHI intellect; faculty which reasons and understands.

CHAKOR the red-legged bartavelle or Greek partridge said to subsist on moonbeams.

CHAKVI a ruddy sheldrake, the bird eagerly waits for sunrise all night as it cannot see her mate in the darkness. This has given rise to the legend that in the pairs of sheldrake are enshrined the souls of erring lovers.

CARN-KAMAL (lit. lotus feet) symbolically meaning the first spiritual experience of Divine light.

CHATRIK, or SARANG or BABIHA or PAPEEHA hawk-cuckoo, or the brain-fever bird, found mostly in hilly tracts where there is water. It is said to remain thirsty as long as it does not get the raindrops from the clouds. Its repeated cry for the raindrops is symbolically used in the hymns of the Gurus as a heart intensely yearning for the love of God.

CRE GHAR six systems of the Hindus; see khat darsan.

CIT mind-stuff, that which contains and retains all the individualized mind; heart.

DAN charity.

DARBAR royal court; the Presence of God.

DARGAH the presence of God.

DARSAN (1) vision; a glimpse of divine light.

(2) philosophy; system.DASM GRANTH it is a collection of the religious and secular works of Guru Gobind Singh, collected and compiled by his disciples and martyr saint Bhai Mani Singh, twenty years after his death. Although a number of works were lost and some of the works in this collection like Akal Ustat and Gyan Prabodh are incomplete

yet it is a monumental collection in itself.

DAYA mercy, compassion.

DHARAM (lit. that which holds together) righteousness; the spirit of

truth; moral law; religion; duty; justice; the inmost constitution of nothing which determines man’s conduct and his sense of right or wrong.

DHARAM RAJ or YAMA, AZRAEL the King of justice; regent of death.

DHRUVA Dhruva was the son of Utanpada who had two wives. Like his step-brother he one day tried to take a seat in the lap of his father, but he was contemptuously treated by the King and his favourite wife. The poor child went sobbing to his mother, who told him in consolatory terms that fortune and favour were not attainable without spiritual efforts. At those words the lad left paternal roof and in a forest retreat performed rigorous austerities. The great sage Narad, author of Bhakti Sutra, became his spiritual preceptor.

DHYAN concentration, meditation.

DOSI sinner.

GAGAN sky; firmament.

GANIKA prostitute; generally refers to a particular prostitute gave up her sinful life under the influence of a Saint and became an enlightened woman.

GUNAS attributes; constituent elements; the three mod psychic status:

(1) tamo: stupidity, laziness, inertia.

(2) rajo: passion, restlessness, aggressive activity.

(3) sato: tranquillity, purity, and calmness. GORAKH a great prophet of the Yogis who flourished in the tenth century. He was a follower of Dattatreya and Machhinder and started a sect of his own called the Kanpatta Yogis. Many of his followers also took up the name of Gorakh. GURBANI, GURVANI (lit. the utterances of the Guru) the hymns of the Adi Granth, the voice of the Teacher.

GURMAT philosophy or faith of the Gurus.

GURMUKH (1) saint; enlightened seer, inspired with the Guru-given light; (2) Guru (3) God.

GURDEV Guru, the Lord, spiritual father.

GYAN ANJAN collyrium or the salver of Divine knowledge. GYAN KHAND the realm of divine knowledge.

HAJ to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

HARI an attributive name of God.

HARI-NAM Divine Name.

HUKAM (lit. command) in Sikh theology it means the Will of God. ISK love; intensive devotion.

JUG (YUGA) cycle or age – there are four ages:

(1) Satya Yug: Age of truth. Duration: 1,728,000 years.

(2) Treta Yug: Age in which three parts belong to the truth and one to untruth: 1, 296, 000 years.

(3) Dvapar Yug: The age in which truth and untruth are equal: 864,000 years.

(4) Kali Yug: The age of ignorance and spiritual darkness. The present age is considered to be kaliyuga: 432,000 years. This Yuga began in February 3102 B.C.
KARM KAND conventional religious practices.
KARM KHAND realm of grace; the fourth realm out of the five realms of spiritual ascent explained in Japji. KAVAO utterance; primal creative utterance of God.

KHALAS, KHALSA pure; noble; enlightened; saint.

KHAT DARSHAN six systems of Brahmanical philosophy:

(1) Nyaya (2) Vaishishika; (3) Sailkhya; (4) Yoga; (5) purva Mimamsa (6) Vedanta.

HANI sources of earthly life, considered to be four; egg, womb sweat and seed. Lakh one hundred thousand. ANVAN marriage hymns.

LIV deep concentration, contemplative absorption, spiritual attitude of mind; opposite of live in this sense is dhat which means material attitude of mind.

LOBH greed; avarice.

MANMAT to follow one’s own bigoted views.

MANMUKH self-willed; irreligious; unspiritual; he who turns away from divine path; antonym, gurmukh.

MANT, MANTAR (I) mystic word; divine name of God; (2) magical


MAI (1) mother; (2) maya.

MANlAIN (lit. believing) reflection; an experience of an intuitionally manifest faith and an unshakeable confidence in God.

MAYA world stuff; material wealth, the veil covering reality; appearance or phenomena.

MOH attachment; craving desire.

MUKTI (MOKSA) liberation, salvation.

NADAM sound; the inner music.

NAM Divine Name; the Word; logos; the spirit of God.

NAMAZ Muslim prayer.

NARADA an Indian sage known for his devotion to God and for

his cunning. Supposed to be author of Bhakti Sutra.

ONKAR the primal being; the Eternal source of life.

PANC (I) five; (2) elect; (3) the chosen ones.

PANC TAT five elements; air, fire, water, earth and ether.

PANTH the way; path of life, a community of common faith.

PAP sins.

PARAS the philosopher’s stone by the touch of which the eight metals

like iron, copper, turn to gold; used figuratively in Adi Granth

for the Divine Name.

PHIRANGI Europeans.


QAZI judge, adept in Islamic law. RAG an Indian musical motif or fundamental air, feminine form ragni, personified lyric divinities. The Adi Granth has been classified according to the ragas in the following order: Sirirag; Majh; Gauri; Asa; Gujri; Devgandhari; Bihagra; Vadhans; Sorath; Dhansari; Jaitsiri; Todi; Bairadi; Tilang; Suhi; Bilawal; Gond;

Ramkali; Nat Narayan; Mali Gauda; Maru; Tukhari; Kedara; Bhairon; Basant; Sarang; Malar, Kanada; Kalyan; Prabhati; Jaijavanti.

RAMDASPUR the holy city of Amritsar which was founded by Guru Ramdas.

RAJ-YOGA a life of spiritual union lived in full worldly glory.

RIDHI occult powers.

SAHAJ mental and spiritual equipoise without the least intrusion of ego; unshaken natural and effortless serenity attained through spiritual perfection.

SAKTI cosmic energy; force; nature; manifest creation is said to be made of Siv and Sakti, or spirit and material energy.

SANYASA asceticism; fourth stage in the Hindu four-fold way of life.

SARAM, SRAM (1) shame; humility; modesty; (2) effort; labour struggle.

SARAM KHAND (I) realm of modesty (2) realm of spiritual efforts.

SATSANG (SADHSANGAT) communion with holy men; association with truth congregation.

SIDH hermit; adept in spiritual powers; a sect of yogis of Gorakh School. SIDDHIS occult pawers.

SIDH-GHOST a composition .of Guru Nanak; meaning a dialogue with the sidhas.

SIMRIN contemplation; sempiternal remembrance .of the Divine Name.

SIMRITI traditional and man-made Hindu laws; moral code as distinguished from sruti or revealed laws.

SINGH lion.

SIVA (I) Name .of the third gad .of Hindu Trinity; (2) eternal being; impersonal goodness; spiritual essence.

SUD, SUDRA parhia; law caste.

SUNIAI (lit. hearing .or hearkening) primary state of receiving the inspiration from the Guru or what is otherwise called the implanting of the ward of Gad in the soul; communion with the ward or inspiration of the ward.

SUNYA vaid; the state when creation ceases and nothing but God exists.

TURYA beyond three states .of mind; the fourth state, transcendent or highest spiritual state.

VAIRAG distaste far the world and life, cessation of attraction to the objects of the mind’s attachments.

VART fasting.

VED, VEDA (lit. that which makes known the hidden high truths) the four sacred scriptures of Hindus; a holy book or scripture of highest order; the word in this poetic sense is used in Adi Granth also.

VIDYA knowledge; learning.

VIS poison.
VISNU preserver aspect of the Hindu Trinity; that which permeates pervades, binds, and holds together all individual souls and all things.

VAH wonderful.

VANJARA trader.

YOGA (JOG) union; occult practices; Sahaj Yoga, Integral Yoga, aiming at spiritual union without discarding worldly life.

YUGA See jug.

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