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Akhand Paath : Significance Of Reading SGGS

Discussion in 'Gurmat Vichaar' started by luv4u, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. luv4u

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    May 17, 2007
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    The objective of this paper is to describe the actual meaning of the paath in Sikh tradition. For this paper the Aad Guru Granth (AGGS) [1] is considered consisting of Sabd-Parmaan which means a written testimony from the Guru used as a means of valid knowledge cognate. It is complementary with reason and perception but has a scope that exceeds beyond both of them on account of the sacredness of its subject matter. Paath of the Guru Granth is described not as a ritual but, rather, a process of recitation to seek wisdom and enlightenment. To pursue the reading process, intellectual deliberation is required to seek wisdom while keeping faith in the process. Whereas considering the knowledge contained in the Sabd-Parmaan as dogmas will be dupe, extreme skepticism will be a mental affliction. The seeker of the Sabd-Parmaan would do well in pursuing a middle way; to place one's faith and trust in the divinity and propheticity of the Guru, and yet to continue to question one's own understanding of the Guru's teachings in order to take full benefit of the process.


    The reading of the Guru Granth is not like a reading of any book or even any scripture. Traditionally the term paath is used to distinguish this reading, which is somewhat akin to another term recitation. The later term still does not describe the real process of paath, but for lack of a more suitable alternate in English language we will continue to use the term Guru Granth reading to describe the spiritual Sikh practice of the Guru Granth recitation. Actually, the Guru reading is more of a personal experience with the Guru in the form of Gurubani verses.

    Guru Granth reading requires an appropriate motivation and a proper skill to be the Guru-oriented. Both of these are beyond a mechanical reading or doing ritualistic paath. To receive any benefit one has to know why to read and how to read. The Guru censures those as the self oriented who read without knowing the skill of reading.

    "pVih mnmuK pru ibiD nhI jwnw ]" A GGS, M 1, P. 1032 [1].

    The self-oriented people recite the scriptures, but they do not have the proper skill to do so.

    The objective of this paper is to describe the real meaning of the paath in Sikh tradition.


    A seeker reads the Guru Granth for more than one reasons. Some of those are discussed below.

    A. Paath As Code of Conduct

    Traditionally, every Sikh or seeker is urged to engage in formal reading of the Guru Granth at least once a day as a pre-breakfast routine. It is so documented by Sikh theologian, Bhai Gurdas, and so formalized in the Sikh Code of Conduct that was accepted by the Sikhs? premier organization, the Shromani Gurdawara Parbhandhak Committee. Bhai Gurdas said:

    gurisK Blky auT kir AimRq vyly sru nHwvMdw] guru kY bcn aucwir kY Drmswl dI suriq krMdw] Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 40, Pauri 11 [3].

    "Bhai Gurdas reported that the Sikhs of the Guru woke up early in the morning, took bath and read the verses of the Guru before proceeding towards the house of congregation."

    Similarly, it is suggested in the Sikh Code of Conduct that:

    hr iek isK AMimRq vyly pRSwid Ckx qoN pihlwN sRI guru grMQ swihb jI dw hukm lvy [ jy ies vyly aukwrI ho jwvy qwN idn ivc iksy n iksy vyly pwT kry jwN suxy]

    "Every Sikh should read a passage from Sri Guru Granth Sahib daily before breakfast. Should this be missed on any day, the sacred reading or listening to a passage from the Granth may be done any other time of the day."

    There should be hardly any one who is serious about Gurmat or the Guru?s path and still should find this routine too difficult to follow. Everybody goes to bed at night and everybody gets up in the morning. So, everybody can spare a few extra minutes for the Guru Granth reading in the morning and, then, possibly at night, from the twenty-four hours we are given every day. For more serious seekers, there will always be another interval sometime during the day to seek the Guru?s vision through reciting from the Guru Granth. Once we begin on this path, gradually, the reading periods begin to become a regular feature of our existence, and, if we are fortunate, we are silently contemplating on the Guru?s verses at any or every hour of the day. This way we learn to open consciousness, if it is but for a moment, and find ourselves in a state of receptivity to the Guru?s vision. This state is considered worthy of praise:

    kurbwxI iqnW gurisKW gurbwxI inq gwie suxMdy ] Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 12, Pauri 2 [3].

    "Bhai Gurdas says that he is sacrifice to those seekers who engage in singing and listening to the Guru?s verses at all the time."

    According to Bhai Gurdas, besides the Sikhs, the recitation of the Guru Granth was also employed to propagate the Guru?s views to all others in the world:

    kir pwT gRMQ jgq sB qirE] Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 41, Pauri 21 [3].

    "The whole world may undertake the sacred reading of the Guru Granth to sail through the sea of temptations in the human existence."

    Formally, the Gurbani reading is done privately as well as in an environment of a congregation or any other public or private place especially furnished for this purpose. We will limit ourselves to discussion of a situation in which an individual seeker wishes to engage in one to one conversation with the Guru Granth Sahib.

    B. Paath is Not a Ritual

    Both, a mere ritual of reading and, in contrast, a mental gymnastics of scholars are considered worthless in the Sikh traditions. Rather, the Guru Granth reading is a discourse with consciousness where concentration of mind and intellect are spent to the spiritual understanding. Through this reading, the theology and its life applications are understood in the light of the Guru?s teaching. This is illustrated in the following description of ritualistic and scholastic reading by Bhai Gurdas.

    byd pwT kir bRhmwidk n jwny hY ] Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 21, Pauri 2 [3].

    "By mere reading of the scriptures, scholars have not been able to comprehend the God."

    Further, Bhai Gurdas says:

    byd pwT piV piV pMfq prboDY jgu ] sky n smoD mn iqRsnw n hwrI hY [ pUrn bRhm gurdyv syv swDsMg [ sbd suriq ilv bRhm bIcwrI hY ] Bhai Gurdas, Kabit 457 [2].

    "By repeated reading of the scriptures scholars win others, but they neither can bring their mind to any control nor can they satisfy their greed. Only through serving the Guru (following the Guru?s teachings) in the company of holy men, one may dwell the Word of the Guru in the consciousness and contemplate on the Timeless."

    One may mention here that to "experience" the verses is different from a comprehension of the philosophy imbibed in the verses. This difference forms the real backbone of the seeker?s religious practices. In the seeker?s case, as opposed to a scholar or a philosopher, the experiences influence philosophical and religious theories. It is also true that "philosophical beliefs? shape our religious modus operandi, provide specific expectations, and thus have a formative influence on the kinds of experience that are actually produced.

    C. Reading as Spiritual Witnessing

    As has been discussed in the section on the Gurbani reading as a faith practice, through this practice, a stage of mental concentration must be reached when one is able to witness the Guru in the consciousness. This stage is beyond the realm of intellectual understanding. As Guru Says:

    buiD pwiT n pweIAY bhu cqurweIAY Bwie imlY min Bwxy ] AGGS, M 1, P. 436.

    "One does not obtain the essence through intellectual recitations or immense shrewdness; the essence is obtained through faith and adoration."

    Before this stage reaches, one has been intellectually convinced earlier in the process that there is a theoretical character of the experience as a step in the direction of evoking the Guru within oneself. Intellectual acceptance is necessary and in-escapable prerequisite for this experience as is the faith in the person of the Guru. Then the testimony of the sabad parman leads to an affirmation of an otherwise un-affirmable relationship between one?s consciousness and the Word of the Guru. This state may be termed as the witness consciousness. At this stage, one witnesses the Guru reflected in the consciousness in stages like the reflection of moon on the lake water; first on a wave, then on ripples, and finally on a quiet and unruffled expanse of water.

    For example, Guru Ram Das says,

    AMimRq bwxI gur kI mITI ] gurmuiK ivrlY iknY ciK fITI ] AMqir prgwsu mhw rsu pIvY dir scY sbdu vjwvixAw] AGGS, M 3, P. 113.

    "The life-giving word of the Guru is very sweet. Rarely some Guru-oriented seekers may witness and taste it. If they do, then the Divine Nectar would shine within their heart and they will drink the supreme essence. Then they are at the gate of the Truth, which vibrates to them like a musical instrument."

    hir gux gwvY sdw idnu rwqI mY hir jsu khqy AMqu n lhIAw ] gurmuiK mnUAw iekqu Gir AwvY imlau guopwl nIswnu bjeIAw ] nYnI dyiK drsu mnu iqRpqY sRvn bwxI gur sbdu suxeIAw ] suin suin Awqm dyv hY BIny ris ris rwm gopwl rveIAw ] qRY gux mwieAw moih ivAwpy qurIAw guxu hY gurmuiK lhIAw ] eyk idRsit sB sm kir jwxY ndrI AwvY sBu bRhmu psreIAw ] AGGS, M 4, P. 833.

    "I continuously sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, day and night; singing the Lord's Praises, I cannot find the limits. The mind of the Guru-oriented returns to its own home; it meets the Lord of the Universe, to the beat of the celestial drum. I see the Divine with my eyes, then my mind is satisfied; with my ears, I listen to the Guru's Bani, and the Word of His Sabd. By listening, my soul is softened, delighted by the realization of subtle essence, chanting the Name of the Lord of the Universe. In the grip of the three qualities, they are engrossed in love and attachment to Maya; only as Guru oriented do they find the absolute quality, absorption in bliss. With a single, impartial eye, look upon all alike, and witness God pervading all."

    This stage is essential to derive full benefit of the reading practice. It is to actually witness the truths of the Guru?s teachings within the consciousness. To repeat, what it means is that during the practice of the Gurbani reading when one achieves the mindfulness with the truths of spirituality, one is able to readily employ a deep introspection to experience the divinity. Then the darkness of ignorance disappears.

    dIvw blY AMDyrw jwie ] byd pwT miq pwpw Kwie ] augvY sUru n jwpY cMdu ] jh igAwn pRgwsu AigAwnu imtMqu ] AGGS, M 1, P. 791.

    "When the lamp is lit, the darkness is dispelled; through reading the scriptures, sinful intellect is destroyed. It is like when the sun rises, the moon is not visible. Wherever spiritual wisdom appears, ignorance is dispelled."

    Within the context of witnessing the verses of the sacred writings, you must be able to bring into mind a clear image of the sacred verses. Until one learns the real sense of the achievement of visualizing this imagery many methods must be employed to acquire the skill of promoting the achievement. Although it is difficult to describe something, which is a prerogative of the practitioners only, it is sufficient to say that the skill comes from the company of the enlightened co-seekers or the enlightened clergy. The main difficulty in the way of achieving this state is mental obscurations, lack of faith, and actual motivation.

    Through the practice one learns that one?s own mind is in reality none other than the embodiment of the message. To cut through the ordinary and deceptive appearances stemming from ignorance, one practices a mental merger in the verse. One assumes the "divine role" of being a doer and the witness, and regards all visions as pure expressions of the Guru?s teachings. This includes imagining one's own body in an idealized enlightened form, the embodiment of enlightened wisdom, or the embodiment of enlightened compassion. Before one is able to employ such extensive spiritual imagination, it is essential that one recognize the conceptually contrived nature of one's experience of reality. One will learn to experience this through one?s identification through one's body, mind, and the environment. Bhagat Kabir expresses the witness experience as:

    Apuny hir pRB kI hau golI ] jb hm hir syqI mnu mwinAw kir dIno jgqu sBu gol AmolI ]rhwau] krhu ibbyku sMq jn BweI Koij ihrdY dyiK FMFolI ] hir hir rUpu sB joiq sbweI hir inkit vsY hir kolI ] AGGS, M4, P. 168.

    "I am the maid-servant of my Lord God. When my mind was convinced and submitted to the Lord, it brought everything in my control. Be wise and consider this well, O Saints, O Siblings of Destiny - search your own hearts, seek and find. The Beauty and the Light of the Lord, Har, Har, is present in all. In all places, the Lord dwells near by, close at hand."

    A. Discursive Reading

    Many seekers of spirituality when begin to read the Guru Granth may often find themselves in a situation where they are incapable of resuming (or ever adopting) a critical outlook on some verses. Therefore, they feel incapable of obtaining understanding and making it available to others. This is often not a question of ignorance of Gurbani grammar or otherwise its transliterate meaning. But, rather it is confronting an aspect of theology, which, if accepted, would unsettle the inherited thoughts of the reader. The scholarship is irrelevant here. One would learn later on the path of the Guru that the doubts that we entertain with respect to very unfamiliar theology are largely the outcome of prejudices shaped by our experiences with more familiar theology. Although one will be forced to not be objective here, one must realize that it is always due to our dogmatic biases on the relevance of religion, philosophy, and ethics to the mystical experiences. The Guru says,

    pMifq pVih swdu n pwvih ] dUjY Bwie mwieAw mnu Brmwvih ] mwieAw moih sB suiD gvweI kir Avgx pCoqwvixAw ] AGGS, M 3, P 116.

    "The Pandits, the religious scholars, read but they cannot taste the essence. They are attracted by the theology of duality and Maya, their minds are unfocused and wander in doubts. The attachment to Maya has displaced all their understanding; making mistakes, they live in regret."

    In such a case, these seekers may often continue to proceed with their reading to seek spirituality from the Guru by initially accepting the sabad parmaan contained in the verses uncritically. They should be aware that there is a strong tendency not to wait and make a big issue of what transiently does not conform to human reasoning. These tendencies push you to act on the most probable hypothesis in order to explain situations that we do not comprehend. We, inadvertently, trust that our animal intellect would prove us wise. The fact is that only a faith on our Guru will satisfy the heart in our quest for salvation or enlightenment. We should not let the faith weaken because only faith is considered a wellspring of insight into the Divine mysteries. Guru Arjan states it this way.

    bIs ibsvy gur kw mnu mwnY ] so syvku prmysur kI giq jwnY ] AGGS, M 5, 287

    "One who obeys the Guru's Teachings one hundred per cent - that selfless attendant comes to comprehend the nature of the Transcendent Lord."

    Too much doubt at the outset will hold us back and prevent us from entering the spiritual domain. It is the task of the Guru-oriented seeker to distinguish between valid instructions and put them into a practice. The mystical and spiritual knowledge can hardly be learned in any other way. The religious or philosophical superstructure, which is often added on the transcendent knowledge, sometime is not equally meaningful to a seeker. They are just religious and moral paraphernalia, which are more important only to a scholar or a fundamentalist, rather than to a seeker. On account of these and other consideration, it is best to suspend doubt for the time being if we wish to continue learning from the Guru. At this stage one must be conscious of the fact that such an early stage will not last forever if we persevere in our search. At a later and more advanced stage, we will be able to resort to analysis and critical evaluation, and not stay into the domain of continuing to sleepwalk without gaining any signific
    ant knowledge or understanding.

    guru bwxI khY syvku jn mwnY prqiK guru insqwry ] AGGS, M 4, P 982

    "When the humble servant accepts and acts according to the Words of the Guru, then the Guru emancipates this seeker in person."

    Another phase of this training in discursive reading is designed to cast light on the unsatisfactory nature of any state of existence. Regardless of the nature of one's existence, as long as it is conditioned by one's mental afflictions, one remains vulnerable to all manner of pain and grief. By focusing on the pervasiveness of suffering on account of separation from the Creator, one's disillusionment becomes complete, leaving only one priority: to attain nirvana, in which there is a total and irreversible freedom from all suffering.

    gwvIAY suxIAY min rKIAY Bwau ] duKu prhir suKu Gir lY jwie ] AGGS, Jap 5, p 2.

    "Recite and listen, with keeping faith in your mind. Your afflictions shall be sent far away, and peace shall come home."

    The shift in understanding occurs directly as a result of one's sustained experience with apparent contradictory understanding of the sabad parmaan and the benefits of attaining enlightenment. Each of us gains by diverse ways of attending to things on account of the sort of a universe we believe to inhabit. With our emphasis on the vanity of mundane things, a sense of sin, or a fear of being stupid, as beginners in seeking, we seem to be aiming at inducing the state of the "sick soul" eloquently discussed in James's (1902/1982) The Varieties of Religious Experience. Far from condemning the confuse soul, James claims that this mind-state images over a wider scale of experience than that of those who avert their attention from confusion or evil and live simply in the light of good. The "healthy-minded" attitude of the latter, he says, is splendid as long as it will work; but it breaks down impotently as soon as frustration and melancholy arises. Moreover, the evil facts that the "healthy-minded" individual refu
    ses to acknowledge are a genuine part of reality, which, he suggests, may after all be the best key to life's significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth.

    E. Paath is Conceptual Analysis

    There is a difference between a reading of the verses as a traditional meditation and a study of the verses to learn spiritual concepts. Today?s seeker would know the degree of difference that separates meditation from concept analysis just as the religion differs from the scientific mentality. Sikh theologian, Bhai Gurdas describes the encounter between a Sikh and the Guru as:

    sRIgur drs iDAwn sRIgur sbd igAwn [ ssqR snwh pMc dUq bis Awey hY [ Bhai Gurdas, Kabit 135 [2].

    "To focus on the Guru?s portrayal is to dwell on the comprehension of Guru?s sabad. This comprehension of the knowledge becomes a weapon to conquer the five evils."

    Further, Bhai Gurdas accepts only that person as worth of the Guru?s religion that is Guru oriented and who obeys the Guru?s will in accordance with the deep deliberation of the Guru?s verses.

    gurmuK mwrg AwKIAY gurmiq ihqkwrI] hukm rjweI clxw gur Sbd vIcwrI] Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 9, Pauri 2 [3].

    "The Way of Guru-oriented is defined as adoption to the wisdom of the Guru; also to live in the way of the Lord and to contemplate upon the Word of the Guru."

    Formation of conceptual constructs must be an aim of reading of the verses from the Guru Granth. It corresponds roughly to the modern philosophical notion of conceptual construct. Such conceptual identification often, but not invariably, entails a reification of the spiritual entity, such that it is apprehended as existing independently of the conceptual designation of it to form a belief.

    Although a conceptual analysis of belief is far too vast a topic to treat adequately in the present context, it may be worthwhile to note James's perspective on this matter. In his essay entitled "Faith, and the Right to Believe?, James [4] identifies two kinds of intellectuals. Rational intellectuals "lay stress on deductive and 'dialectic' arguments, making large use of abstract concepts and pure logic. Empiricist intellectuals "are more 'scientific,' and think that the order must be sought in our sensible experiences which are found in hypotheses based exclusively thereon." In this light, a seeker more inclined to mysticism would seem to bear the earmarks of an empiricist intellectual, while more traditional seeker would appear to be a rational intellectual. Both are accepted in the Sikh tradition. Intellectualism alone is inadequate when it thinks that one can gain knowledge best only by a mind becoming receptive passively. The faithful admirer seeks qualities of the objective of the faith with a sense of
    appreciation or even adoration. For a seeker, such a faith is especially focused on the qualities of enlightenment, and adoration is felt towards the Guru who embodies the enlightenment. Further, the faith of yearning entails a conviction that it is possible to realize in oneself the divine qualities that one admires, and with such faith one aspires to do so. As some one put it, ? Uncritical grasping of dogmas is dupe, while extreme skepticism is simply a mental afflic-tion?. There is a middle way that is advocated for a reader of the Guru Granth. It is to place one's faith and trust in the enlightenment of the Guru, and yet to continue to question one's own understanding of the Guru's teachings. Without faith, there would be no inspiration to enter the path to enlightenment; but without using one?s critical faculties: it would be impossible to progress along that path. One must keep in mind that, while the enlightenment from the historical Guru took place in the past, one's own enlightenment lies in the fut

    The above sketch of the paath in our tradition certainly bears some traits in common with religion as it is conceived in the modern West, and yet in some important respects it profoundly diverges from a classical model of religion. Certain elements of this approach appear to be scientific; and yet it differs from modern natural science. While the empirical element is largely contemplative and introspective, scientific approach is dominantly scholastic and extrospective. The Guru leads the following way.

    ijin kihAw iqin khnu vKwinAw ] ijin bUiJAw iqin shij pCwinAw ] dyiK bIcwir myrw mnu mwinAw ] AGGS, M. 1, P. 229.

    One, who speaks, merely describes speech. But one, who understands, intuitively realizes. Both, by first inspecting and then reflecting upon it, convince my mind. || 6 ||

    F. Belief Acquisition and Stabilization

    There is a great deal of emphasis in Sikh religion on first forming a belief system and then its inculcation into the consciousness. For example, Guru says that none of the rituals are of any avail until one comes to believe in the teachings that promote cleansing of mind and insight into the self.

    qIrQu qpu dieAw dqu dwnu ] jy ko pwvY iql kw mwnu ] suixAw mMinAw min kIqw Bwau ] AMqrgiq qIriQ mil nwau ] AGGS, Jap 6, P4.

    Pilgrimages, austere discipline, compassion and charity -these, by themselves, bring only an iota of merit. First listening and then forming a belief system in the mind that gives insight into the Self while bathing at the sacred shrine deep within.

    A belief is acquired from knowledge that is gained from reading of the scripture. It corresponds roughly to the modern philosophical notion of conceptual construct. Such conceptual identification often, but not invariably, entails a reification of the entity, such that it is apprehended as existing independently of the conceptual designation of it. Sabad Parmaan may be addressed often to an individual or to a situation in order to best illustrate a point, but, it applies to countless.

    prQwie swKI mhw purK boldy swJI sgl jhwnY ] gurmuiK hoie su Bau kry Awpxw Awpu pCwxY ] gur prswdI jIvqu mrY qw mn hI qy mnu mwnY ] ijn kau mn kI prqIiq nwhI nwnk sy ikAw kQih igAwnY ] AGGS, M 3, p 647.

    "Great men speak the teachings by relating them to individual situations, but the whole world shares their thought. One who becomes Guru Oriented Gurmukh knows the Fear of God, and realizes his own self. Should, by Guru's Grace, one may die from the material world, but yet remains alive, because the mind becomes content in itself. Those who have no familiariety with with their own minds, O Nanak - how can they speak of spiritual wisdom?"

    kyqy khih vKwx kih kih jwvxw ] vyd khih viKAwx AÍqu n pwvxw ] piVAY nwhI Bydu buiJAY pwvxw ] Ktu drsn kY ByiK iksY sic smwvxw ] scw purKu AlKu sbid suhwvxw ] AGGS, M 1, P 148.

    "Some speak and expound, and while speaking and lecturing, they pass away. The scriptures speak and expound on the Lord, but they do not know His limits. Not by reading for studying, but through understanding, is the Lord's Mystery revealed. There are six pathways described in the Shaastras, but how rare are those who merge in the True Lord through them. The True Lord is Unknowable; through the Word of His Shabad, we are embellished."

    They look at the reading as only the scholarly activity of the self -oriented people.

    pNifq vwcih poQIAw nw bUJih vIcwru ] An kau mqI dy clih mwieAw kw vwpwru ] kQnI JUTI jgu BvY rhxI sbdu su swru ] AGGS, M1, P 56.

    "The Pandits, the religious scholars, read their books, but they do not understand the real meaning. They give instructions to others, and then walk away, but they deal in Maya themselves. Speaking falsehood, they wander around the world, while those who remain true to the Sabd are excellent and exalted."

    The objective of a seeker of the Word of the Guru is to persevere and continue the practice of reading the Guru Granth . Their aim would be to merge their knowledge of sabd-parmaan into their belief system. When this is achieved the belief system of the seeker will be stabilized. Further pursuit of the continuous acquisition of additional knowledge would further strengthen the belief system and its stabilization. Those who aspire for stabilization continue to investigate the limitless types of specific beliefs; a few reach the level of realization.

    Anhd bwxI gurmuiK jwxI ibrlo ko ArQwvY ] AGGS, M 1, P 945.

    "The Gurmukh knows the unstruck sound current of the Bani; how rare are those who understand."

    By continuous practice of concepts in the Guru?s verses, one?s belief system is formed and stabilized, and doubts are minimized. One?s state of mind is engaged with quiescence that leads to divine insights. The brave seekers should then explore further means to cultivate the insight. Although thousands of different kinds of insights are taught in the Granth, they are contained within the twofold classification, first to consist of quiescence of mind and consciousness which are followed by the second as the insight into the Divine. So, an aspiring reader of the Guru Granth is advised to explore both of these disciplines, for they provide the key to the vast array of beliefs and insights taught in Sikhism. During every reading, a seeker entails conceptual analysis or reflection in order to bring forth a specific insight or other virtue such as love or kinship of humankind, etc. After convincing oneself of the validity of a certain aspect of the teaching by means of reading, discursive meditation, concept formation and belief stabilization, one brings the reality in question to consciousness repeatedly and from various angels so that one may strengthening of the merger of that belief with the consciousness.

    As a review of the point made above, stabilizing of belief during reading of the Guru Granth involves the simple placement of the attention on a chosen subject and concept derived from the reading. In order for the mind to be radically transformed by insight into some aspect of reality, the attention must be repeatedly stabilized in that concept. Let us take an example of one such object of attention. The concept is that I can of mine own self do nothing; the creative soul (krqw purK) of my creator within me is the doer. The meaning of the first part is immediately apparent; but what does the statement mean that the Creator within me does the works? What is the Creator within me? We know that when Gurbani makes that statement it refers to Karta Purakh, Divine God or Waheguru all referring to God. It must mean, then, that God within me reflects all the works. There is a something of the God- power within us is revealed. God?s reflections become the life, intelligence, and wisdom within us.

    gur AMimRq iBMnI dyhurI AMimRqu burky rwm rwjy ] ijnw gurbwxI min BweIAw AMimRiq Cik Cky ] AGGS, M 3, P 449.

    "The Guru's body is drenched with Ambrosial Nectar; He sprinkles it upon me, O Lord King. Those whose minds are pleased with the Word of the Guru's Bani, drink in the Ambrosial Nectar again and again."

    hau vwrI jIau vwrI sbid suhwvixAw ] AGGS, M 1, P 109.

    "I am a sacrifice; my soul is a sacrifice, to those who are adorned with the Word of the Sabd".


    When you begin to read you may either set a number of pages to read or go on reading the Guru Granth for as long as you wish to. If I have opportunity, I like to read until I feel that I obtained some thing that I would like to dwell on within my heart for a period of time. There is no fixed ritual as to how much should one read. You may read only one paragraph, or you may read several pages before some particular thought attracts your attention. When this occurs, you may close your eyes and take that thought into your contemplation. Think about it; hold it right in front of you; repeat it to yourself. Ask yourself: Why did this particular verse come to me? Does it have an inner meaning for me? What is its significance to me at this time and how will it touch my life in near future?

    As you continue contemplating and brooding on a verse another thought may come to your attention. Consider both of these thoughts: Is there any relationship between them? Is there any coherence? Why did this quotation follow the first one? By this time probably a third idea and then a fourth will have come, and all these thoughts will have come out of your awareness, out of your consciousness. In this short period of the reading meditation that may have been of only a few minutes' duration, you have experienced spirituality revealing itself; you have opened yourself to divine Intelligence and Love. This is the Word of God, which is quick and sharp and powerful. You now realize that, for a seeker, the Guru Granth reading is just not an ordinary reading but something much more; something that only ritualistic reading cannot accomplish. Bhai Gurdas describes this process of reading the Guru Granth as:

    ruKhuM Gr Cwvwie QMm QMmHwieAw] isr krvq Drwie dyV GVwieAw] lohy nwl jVwie pUr qrwieAw] lK lihr drIAwie pwr lµGwieAw] gur isKW BY Bwie Sbd kmwieAw] ieks ipCY lwie lK CfwieAw ] (Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 14, Pauri 9) [3].

    " Trees serve as pillars and roofs for the houses. They are sawed and nailed to make boats for people to cross the rivers and myriads of other waves. Likewise, the Sikhs of the Guru, in love and discipline of the Lord, practice the Words of the Guru. They exhort their own thoughts and those of numerous others to follow the unique by doing the same and be liberated from bondage."

    Another point is that paath once undertaken and grasped in the consciousness will continue to affect behaviors during rest of the time. Only a visionless person would read without meaning it to incorporate its knowledge in all other aspects of life. Their lips and their minds will not bluff again.

    pwTu pVY muiK JUTo bolY ingury kI miq EhY ] AGGS, M. 1, P. 1013.

    "One reads the scriptures, but still tells lies; such is the intellect of one who has no guru or vision."

    This is a test of success in sacred reading that it stays with all the times and prevents one from performing undesirable acts during the post reading time.

    1. AGGS = Aad Guru Granth Sahib, 1983 (reprint). Publisher: Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. (M = Mahla, i.e., succession number of the Sikh gurus to the house of Nanak, P = Page of AGGS).
    2. For Kabits of Bhai Gurdas, see Bhai Gurdas, In: Onkar Singh, Kabit Sawayye Bhai Gurdas, p. 36, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1993;
    3. For Varaan of Bhai Gurdas, see Vaaran Bhai Gurdas, Shromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee, Amritsar, taken from Gurbani CD
    4. James, William, Faith and the Right to Believe, in Some Problems of Philosophy, New York, Longman?s Green, 1948, p. 735. as quoted by B. Alan Wallace, The Bridge of Quiescence, Carus Publishing Co. 1998. Also see, William James, "Faith and the Right to Believe," in Some Problems of Philosophy (New York: Longman's, Green, 1948 (1911). Posthumous, ed. by Henry James, Jr., pp. 221-231. Also in The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition, pp.735-740.
    5. James, William (1902/1982). The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. New York: Penguin.
    Source Document Sikhism - " Concept of Paath "

    [1]Dr. (Bhai) Harbans Lal, PhD, D. Litt (Hons),Professor and Chairman,Department of Pharmacology,University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth
    Fort Worth, Texas 76016, USA
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  3. roopk

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    May 27, 2007
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    A nice compilation effort.:advocate:

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