As the topic is of great significance a thread is started on Concept of Naaam wherein the opinions of various authors shall be posted. It shall provide a data base for reference. You are also requested to post to enrich the contents of thread. As I am a novice in Gurbani it shall be appropriate if some senior member of the forum may take up the questions that may eventually follow... Taranjeet singh Article-1
Concept of Naam
It is generally believed that the Sanskrit word naam, the English word 'name' and the Sikh term Naam as used in Gurbani are synonymous. A deeper study reveals that the word Naam as used in the Sikh scripture is of a somewhat different nature and has a more comprehensive spiritual and divine connotation.
The Sanskrit and the English words denote a person or a thing These also mean a designation, reputation, fame, family or clan. Their implication is almost wholly mundane. Whereas Naam has several ramifications. It implies God, the Reality, mystical word or formula to recite or meditate upon (shabad in Gurbani), divine order (hukam) and at places divine teacher (guru) and guru's instructions.
Naam, according to the late Professor Puran Singh, "is the supernaturally natural function of a poetical genius who though in body is at all times of day and night under the influence of the higher soul words of freedom. It is the pure subjectivity of love bursting up under the sole and invisible spirit guidance from below the crusts of earthiness, from under the hard conditions of earthly life."Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/38473-concept-of-naam.html
Naam, further, stands for the union with the Reality, to be attained by the devout repetition of his name. Naam is the sign, the symbol and song of God. It is the key to enter into the presence and the heart of God. By adoration and singing his praises, saintly hearts glow all the time. Naam brings in peace and tranquillity. It is described as the most potent "detergent" which frees the mind of its filth and afflictions and dyes it to prevent further erosion. The sub-conscious mind or the budhi is further sharpened and molded into instant insight or intuitiveness (sudhi). In this sphere, mystical experience occurs at the mere sway of thoughts. Indeed the universe is sustained and held together by Naam: "Naam ke dhare khand brahmand".
God's greatness is beyond human comprehension. But He can be approached through a ladder called Naam which can take us to His height. Naam, therefore, is greater than everything else "sabte ucha jaka nao" and "wada sahib uncha thaon, uche upar ucha nao." In the Sikh scripture God is called by various names such as Ram, Gobind, Mukand, Madhav, Prabhu, Rahim, Karim, Vithal, etc. All such epithet are known as "Karam-Naam" expressing quality and attribute of God. According to Guru Nanak, His eternal name is "Sat", i.e. Truth. He is true and so is His Naam - "Sacha sahib, sach nae." Sat Naam, an attribute given in the Mool Mantra has been His name even before the primal age - "sat naam tera para- purbala."
In Jap Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh has mentioned several hundred Karam-naams in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit and Punjabi. Before spelling these out, he has humbly submitted, in his prologue, that since God is beyond comprehension and description, full justice cannot be done to the subject matter. The appropriate word used by him is "Neti, Neti"; this is not all, this is not all as something more is yet to be said about Him.
A devotee absorbed in Naam is oblivious to sorrow and pain; he remains in ever ascending spirit (chardhi- kala), wishes everyone well (sarbat da bhala) and is always ready to protect the weak and saint (sant ubaran dusht uparan) and fight for righteous causes (shubh kiarman te kabhun na taron). His main demand or prayer is for Naam-Dan, the greatest gift and Grace one can aspire for.
In sum, it may be said that Naam is truth, and eternal, comprehensively symbolic of God's attributes, formless, immaculate and absolute. His adoration and meditation is the gateway to God's domain of Grace and bliss. http://www.sikhs.org/art2.htm Article No.2
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In Sikhism, Naam Simran is the main mode of worship which is synonymous with Naam Kirtana. Like Mahapurushiaism, there is no caste or ascetic austerity in Sikhism. It believes in one God, Ek Onkar. Singing His praise is the best way of devotion.
The glory of Naam has been explained and exemplified throughout the Guru Granth Sahib. Place of Naam in Sikhism:
In Sikhism, the principle of Naam (Shabad) includes meditation, contemplation and reflection and the principles of Shabda (Hymns) includes praising and glorifying God earnestly with focused and attentive mind. Naam is God’s name and Simran means remembering. There can be many names of God and He is to be remembered constantly through word, thought and deed. Although the word, ‘Waheguru’ is the most appropriate word according to Gurubani, the purpose behind this is to select a word comfortable to mind for perpetual remembrance of God. “Naam- Simran is at the center of Guru Nanak’s teachings. The whole message of Guru Nanak as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib revolves around Naam. The first chapter in the holy Granth is devoted to differentiation between the meaning of Naam Simran and Bhakti. Simran is beginning, Bhakti is the end. Simran is the seed, Bhakti is the fruit. (Kulwant Singh, 2002). This seed, when sown in the soil of mind, sprouts in the form of the live of God, to fructify.
“In Kaliyug, vice predominates, and as a result the human mind has lost much of its luster. Since Naam is the only detergent that can cleanse the mind, it alone has the capability to change the Yug. It functions at all levels, from micro to macro. There are two ways to live a human life – by treading the path of Bhakti (devotion to God) and by following the path of Maya (worldly attachments). The path of Bhakti leads to rewarding life, peace, happiness, bliss and union with God. The path of Maya ends in pain and suffering. (Sri Gurbax Singh, 1999). “Thus Naam – Simran is an inseparable part of a Sikh’s life. In fact, Sikhi is synonymous with Naam Simran.
” (Kulwant Singh, 2002).
Simran is a meditative prayer within; God’s name is respected lovingly in short phrases. “Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru Ji/Sat Naam, Sat Naam, Sat Naam Ji” is prelude to Naam-Simran, the recitation of God’s name. In Simran,
God is revered. God’s name is God’s praise. God’s name is a portal, a vessel, its repetition an act of humility.
The Guru Granth Sahib highlights the glory of Naam and its utility in human life. The dictum “Sarab rog ka aukhad Naam” heralds a great truth. It is a great truth, which when fully grasped has the power to overcome all physical and mental illness. It can be induced to harness the earthly resources for the benefit of mankind. Guru Granth Sahib rejects all ritualism, formalism and symbolis.The Guru Granth Sahib presents a balanced combination of action (Karma), devotion (Bhakti) and knowledge (Jnan). It is essentially a religion of devotion whereas the body has to work for the well-being of the family and society, the mind has to remain in tune with the Lord. Service is, thus, the motto of an adherent of Guru Granth Sahib. The best service towards the Guru and the Lord is the remembrance of the Naam. (Harkirat Singh, 2003). Spiritual meaning of Naam:
“According to Gurbani “Ek Onkar” denotes both Sagun (manifested) (it is written as Sargun in Guru Granth Sahib) and Nirgun (un-manifested) stages of ‘Akal Purakh’ Waheguru. In its pure form it is a musical sound – word, arising out of ‘Sunn’ (soundless state). It is pure knowledge giving rise to the energy and worldly order. The ‘Word’ is pervasive every where and is creator, protector and destroyer of all physical forms of life and lifeless. ‘He’ has countless attributes but all are ‘His’ manifested qualities. The real one is beyond comprehension, languages and words. One can get tuned to the ‘Word’ in the heart through the mind with ‘His’ grace through the words of a true ‘Guru’ and can actually listen and see its manifestation. For that he has to surrender to the Guru with full faith, carry out his commands in toto and recite ‘Guru mantra’ repeatedly all the time. ‘Guru mantra’ is one of the manifested names of ‘Ek Onkar’ which has the capacity to link the disciple (Sikh) with ‘Word’. (Dilbagh Singh, 2004).
“It is stated in the Guru Granth Sahib that as we start understanding the depths of the Guru’s word and chant ‘Guru mantra’ we start getting a kind of bliss after due course of time according to the purity / impurity / hardness /mellowness of our mind and heart, brought about by our deeds (Karma). This irrigates our mind and body (perhaps through the nervous system) cleaning them of our ego, five vices and illusionary ‘Maya’. Side by side, Godly virtues get cultivated in our heart. It is a life long process and while doing so one does not eye the fruit but awaits grace. It is ‘His’ grace, which finally tunes in the Gursikh to ‘EkOnkar’ where he actually sees and listens to the ‘Word’ i.e. Nirgun stage through a different eye. Here the Sikh, Guru and Waheguru are and the same. This stage may be attained while living or after leaving the body. This is the stage where Guru Nanak Ji and all other Gurus and Saints described ‘Ek Onkar’ through Gurbani.” (Dilbagh Singh, 2004).
After the 10th Guru Gobind Singh there is no loving Guru in Sikhism and Guru Gobind Singh asked the Sikhs to follow Guru Granth Sahib as the sole Guru and to follow its preaching as guide (Guru Granth Ji maneo, pargat gurah kee deh, jo prabh ko millvo chahai, khoj shabad mein leh,” - meaning – Guru Granth Sahib is one Guru and it represents philosophy (body) of all the Gurus, only Shabad will connect us with akaal purkh (Dasam Granth, p. 248). In Sikhism, the Khalsa panth was established by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and the last Guru before three hundred years ago. Khalsa – the family of pure ones, to which a Sikh may belong through receiving baptism or initiation (Amrit/Khande di pahul). Therefore, every Khalsa is a Sikh, but every Sikh is not a Khalsa, unless he/she receives baptism.
The basic definition of Naam is contained in the Sukhmani and some quotations from the Guru Granth Sahib are cited hereunder. (Daljeet Singh, 1998).
i) Naam sustains all religions and universes, all thought, knowledge and
consciousness, all skies and stars, all forces and substances, all continents and spheres. Naam emancipates those who accept it in their heart.
ii) Naam is the creator of everything. To be divorced from Naam is death. All is created by Naam. Naam gives form to everything and through Naam comes all wisdom or light.
iii) Naam extends to all creation.
iv) Naam, is the ‘Nine Treasures’ and nectar (Amrita). It permeates the body.
v) Naam, the immaculate, is unfathomable. How can it be known? Naam, is within us, how to get it? The perfect Guru awakens your heart to the vision of Naam. It is by the grace of God that one meets such an enlightener.
There are numerous verses in the Guru Granth where Naam and God have been described synonymously. Therefore, Naam is dynamic immanence of God, which is making and readily sustaining the manifest world of force and form. Guru Nanak on Naam:
“According to Guru Nanak everything in the universe is created by the power of Divine Name (Naam) and without the Divine Name there is no way (The Japji). He explains that all the visible forms are held by the Divine Name, everything takes its rise from the Divine Name and is again absorbed in it …. The Divine Name is synonymous with the Divine Word or Shabad.” (R. M. Chopra, 2000). Guru Nanak said,
Hearkening to the Name bestows Truth, divine wisdom, contentment, To bathe in the joy of the Name is to bathe in the holy places. (The Japji, Pauri, 10)
It is held by Guru Nanak that God is anaam (nameless), yet He is possessed of infinite names.
“Numberless, Thy Names and numberless Thy places” (The Japji, Pauri, 19). “
In fact, Guru Nanaka took many prevailing attributive names of God for One Absolute Reality such as Vishnu, Brahma, Govinda, Gopal, Hari, Keshava, Krishna, Narayana, Parameswara, Ram, etc. from Hindu pantheons and Muhammadan names like Allah, Haq, Rahim, Khaliq, Khuda, Rahim, Rabb, etc. from Muslim Holy books. All these Names stand for the same God. To these names more names have been added by the Sikh Gurus such as, Piara, Pritam, Mittar, Sajjan, Satguru, Waheguru, etc.” (R.M. Chopra, 2000).Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=38473 “Japu ta Eko Naam”:
Contemplate thou only the Naam. This expression is found in Guru Granth Sahib, Rag, Suhi Mahala I. References
1. Daljeet Singh, 1998, Essential of Sikhism, Singh Bros, Amritsar.
2. Kulwant Singh, 2002, Naam-Simran, in The Sikh Review, vol. 50, No. 10.
3. Sri Gurbux Singh, 1999, Naam-Simran and Bhakti in Sikhism.
4. Harkinat Singh, 2003, University of Guru Granth Sahib: A comparative study, in The Sikh Review,
vol. 51, No. 20.
5. Dilbagh Singh, 2004, Sublime significance of Ek Onkar, in The Sikh Review, Vol. 52, No. 5.
6. R.M. Chopra, 2000, Naam – The language of Divine Power, in The Sikh Review, vol. 50, No. 4.
7. Surinder Singh Kohli, 1996, Guru Granth Sahib – An Analytical study, Singh Bros., Amritsar.
8. Debabrata Das, 2002, The Meta Physics of Naam, in The Sikh Review, vol. 50, No. 11. http://www.sikhreview.org/pdf/septem.../Naamology.PDF