Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

How Should We Refer To "God"?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Inderjeet Kaur, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Messages:
    774
    Likes Received:
    1,712
    :confusedmunda::confusedkudi: Words are powerful. The words we use and how we use them affects us and those who hear or read our words. What is the clearest, most accurate way to refer to the Supreme Being. This is something I have been wrestling with for years. Let me start withe the noun and then the pronoun.

    flare2 3-2.png

    I do not like to use the word "God." That word carries a lot of baggage with it. On one end of the spectrum, "God" is any of the myriad deities worshiped by the Hindus, and may include Brahma and all that crew, as well as cows and snakes and even - I have been told - Indira Gandhi. On the other end, we have the one God, Jehovah/Yahweh or Allah, pointing an accusing finger at us and condemning us to eternal damnation for our sins.

    There are many other words that can be used. I like Deity, but that seems kind of distant to me. Sikhs often use Waheguru, which is fine amongst ourselves, but is likely to be very off-putting in mixed groups. I have narrowed my own personal choices down to two: The Creator and The One. They are accurate and, I believe, unambiguous and would be understood in any group.

    Then, what pronouns can we use? The first person masculine, "He/Him," is the most common. The feminine, "She/Her," always draws raised eyebrows and often a few smirks. The neutral "It" is the most accurate, but is cold and too impersonal. I favour the gender-neutral pronouns, "Hse/Hir," but until they become more accepted, I fear they are more disruptive than enlightening. I really haven't totally worked this out and will continue to use whatever pronoun strikes my fancy at the moment.

    Please share your own thoughts and opinions on this. I am really curious how others approach the subject.
    :confusedmunda::confusedkudi:
     
    • Like Like x 7
  2. Loading...


  3. aristotle

    aristotle
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    2,654
    The problem with minority groups is that they have to mould their religious terminology to a certain extent according to the prevailing linguistic culture. For the general public, Allah, God (or G_d), Rama etc is fairly recognisable, while it is true that Waheguru or Akal Purakh in secular literature may put people off.

    In my personal view too, epithets like The Creator or The Supreme Being will be very appropriate.

    As far as Pronouns go, I don't see any easy way. I would rather use the specific names or shorter expressions like The One than the gender or neuter pronouns. However, for Urdu and Indic languages, expressions like ﺍﹸﺱ/उस, ﻭﻩ/वह etc can be easily used without the attribution of gender.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  4. Brother Onam

    Brother Onam United States
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    636
    Good subject!
    For my money, I've never been comfortable using the term 'God'. If we have a personal, loving connection with the Most High, it seems a shame to use an odd, impersonal title like 'God'. This is really a title from ancient northern Europe, used among Vikings, which has come to us through circumstances of history and European global influence.
    In my meditations I have found 'Har' or 'Har Har' to be most intimate, but, no doubt, this does take a little explaining to others. 'Creator' is alright, but it's a little dry, and also it seems to limit the One somewhat, when we consider that creating is really just one of the many potencies of the Most High. This is probably what led to the pantheon of other faiths where Waheguru is separately represented as Creator, as Sustainer, as Destructor, as Beautiful, as Opulent, as Rivers or Rain...
    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!:blueturban:
     
    • Like Like x 6
  5. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
    Expand Collapse

    Moderator

    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Messages:
    5,118
    Likes Received:
    7,945
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekr05T9Iaio

    the company that is behind this is a phone company called everything everywhere
    and thats how I see God, everything everywhere

    Actually, I am wrong, this is for three not EE, but the song and the images would have been better for EE!
     
    • Like Like x 4
  6. Ishna

    Ishna
    Expand Collapse
    On hiatus
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,942
    Likes Received:
    5,002
    Harry ji, that's the most random thing I've seen so far this year, bro... :) At least you didn't post one of the older ads for 3, their theme song used to be "3, the magic number, somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity" teehee.

    When it comes to pronouns, a capitalised 'It' is the most accurate and yes, it is suggestive of an impersonal Being, but that's part of what makes it accurate for me. It comes with in-built anti-personalisation protection. He or She automatically has a personality, is gendered, is mortal. It is not. It is open to other ways of thinking.

    I'm now quite fond of Onam Ji's 'Most High'. He also makes an interesting mention of the name 'Har'. Considering that Guru Sahiban used 'Har' so many times in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, yet 'Waheguru' is only mentioned a few times, it's a bit odd to me that 'Waheguru' would stick as the name of choice when 'Har' seems to be more favoured? But Har could have more meanings in Hindu culture than I understand.
     
    • Like Like x 5
    #5 Ishna, Jan 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  7. Taranjeet singh

    Taranjeet singh India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    895
    To me 'waheguru' appears to be more appropriate as per our customs. It is a special name , says, Sher Singh. Sikhs have a peculiar attachment to this word. Just as Allah is for the Muslims , Ishwar or Ram for the hindus and Jahweh for Jews, 'waheguru' is taken for the sikhs. It has become as Sectarian as Allah or Ram.
    The blow to sectarian concept comes when the Guru denies all names to Him.He is Name less: Anam.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  8. aristotle

    aristotle
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    2,654
    But the question remains, is Waheguru recognisable enough for the target audience to comprehend? We always have the convenience of footnotes and explanations, but that does break the momentum of lay reading. For an Islamic pamphlet published in, say Chicago, Allah can be used and easily understood by a secular reader there, but can we have the same confidence on Sikh theological terms?
     
    • Like Like x 4
  9. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Messages:
    774
    Likes Received:
    1,712
    An interesting bit of information: Jews never pronounce the Name Jahweh, they only see it in print. It is considered too holy to be spoken by a human being. They substitute "Adonai (My Lord). Orthodox Jews do not even write the word God because that is holy, instead they write G-d because any paper with the word God on it becomes sacred and must be treated as such. This is not unlike our reverential treatment of written Gurbani. Written i Hebrew, the Name looks like this: [​IMG]

    Waheguru is probably the best term to use amongst ourselves, but really confuses non-Sikhs.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  10. Ishna

    Ishna
    Expand Collapse
    On hiatus
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,942
    Likes Received:
    5,002
    Regular use builds familiarity. For our next trick, explaining what the word Waheguru means without using the word "God". :)
     
    • Like Like x 5
  11. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Messages:
    774
    Likes Received:
    1,712
    And also avoiding confusing non-Sikhs about the difference between human Gurus and Waheguru.

    :icecreamkudi:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Taranjeet singh

    Taranjeet singh India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    895
    I understand your view point and conclude that theologian will always have problem in naming the God. Having said so, it shall be of some use if we refer to some extrinsic sources and intrinsic sources for this purpose.

    Aagya bhae akal ki tab hi chaloya panth
    sab sikhan ko hukam hey Guru manio Granth.{Possible Name..Akaal]

    [With the command of the nameless Lord, the Panth has been established.
    All the Sikhs are directed to recognise the Granth as Guru.

    There appears to be some problem with Translaton in the First Pankti..
    We have a reference in in Guru Granth sahib ji at ang 1083

    ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਪਰਾ ਪੂਰਬਲਾ ॥
    'Sat Naam' is Your perfect, primal Name.
    [Possible name….Satnaam /satinam]

    Once again at ang 1083 we have,Even if we invent new names[kirtam] we cannot describe the Lord.

    ਨਵਤਨ ਨਾਮ ਜਪੈ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਹਿ ਸੰਗਾ ॥੧੬॥
    One may chant new names for You day and night, but even so, O God, no one can describe even one of Your Glorious Virtues. ||16||

    We have in Jaap sahib in the opening Para:

    tav sarb nam kathai kavan karm nam barnt sumati. (1)
    None can utter all of Your names. Wise men who realise Your virtues, call You in the same way [Jaap sahib]

    Then possible allusion is to be made in Ardas:
    Wahe Guru ji Ka Khalsa wahe guru ji ke Fateh…[ possible Name…Waheguru]

    There are other panktis in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that state that we cannot describe His virtues and hence we cannot Name you. In case of such a situation we are to be guided by the customs and practices.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  13. Brother Onam

    Brother Onam United States
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    636
    Waheguru

    I believe the reason the Gurus didn't put much emphasis on the actual name of the Lord is because a name that can be uttered with flesh-and-blood tongue is less important than the Naam, as it be revealed through inner communion with the Divine.
    This would explain why in scripture we find various names, even echoing Hindu or Islamic names sometimes; it seems to be indicating: these are just tools to refer to the ineffable (unpronounceable) "True Name" which we may attain in inner simran.
    By that measure, our chosen Name seems to be fine, so long as we are willing to get beyond the carnal, mundane reality, and connect with the Sat Naam.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  14. SaintSoldier1699

    SaintSoldier1699
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    453
    I think as a community of Sikh's, recently more than before our congregations are filled with Waheguru chanting, be it fast, slow, loud, whispering, it has also, gained much baggage.

    We have become attached to a name and that name has expectations i.e. if we recite it lots we will get naam? Even though Gurbani tells us the state of naam exists 24/7. Yet our recitations last from 10 minutes to 24 hours or don't stop till your tabla pop's in a kind of drug which our minds thinks is bliss and we need it more and more and can only achieve it by being in "that" environment only.

    Personally I like Eckhart Tolle's view of using "Being", its not masculine, not feminine and it kind of resonates a state of oneness with all. No doubt the feeling is beyond names and is the true state of being which is ever lasting, the rest are just tools we can use and must not get attached to, because as soon as we do we lose the essence.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  15. linzer

    linzer Mexico
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2010
    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    598
    Yet our recitations last from 10 minutes to 24 hours or don't stop till your tabla pop's
    I think my hand's will fall off before my tablas pop.


    I personally use Wahe Guru, but for descriptive purposes I use the creative force, particulaly with secular friends. For me, The Creator is a Little anthopomorphic. I don't like using GOD , it evokes that bearded guy in the sky image, but some times it's expedient.
    Not to be outdone by the evangelical with their fish symbol or the diehard Catholics with their Virgin stickers, I have a Wahe Guru bumper sticker in Gurumukhi and romanized.
    It invites people ask questions.:mundakhalsaflag:
     
    • Like Like x 7
  16. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
    Expand Collapse
    ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
    Writer SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    5,657
    spners very intriguing and interesting topic indeed initiated by Inderjeet Kaur. I have read through the posts to date and have some comments and thoughts.

    My understanding is that the greatest emphasis one finds in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on this subject is provided through a correct recognition of the first composite word in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. That is,
    Now my comments on members salient points and I stand corrected as to misunderstanding or mis-interpretation of posts. My comments are italicized,

    Now we review Inderjeet Kaur ji:
    Now we review Aristotle ji:

    Now we review harry haller j:

    Now we review Taranjeet singh ji:

    Now Let us review Ishna ji:
    Let us review Taranjeet singh ji’s second contribution:
    Let us review Brother Onam ji’s contribution:

    Let us review Saint Soldier1699 ji’s contribution:
    Let us review linzer ji’s contribution:
    Fellow spners I have made these comments to explain my understanding while citing contributions of others. I may be fundamentally or otherwise wrong versus any of the contributors. So no offense.

    Sat Sri Akal.

    PS: An interesting exercise in significance of one or oneness can be crudely visualized by searching ਇਕ at the following wonderful resource,

    Sri Granth: Search Results

    You get hits in the search like,

    ਪੰਨਾ 2, ਸਤਰ 10
    ਗੁਰਾ ਇਕ ਦੇਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਈ ॥

    गुरा इक देहि बुझाई ॥
    Gurā ik ḏehi bujẖā▫ī.
    The Guru has given me this one understanding:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    ਪੰਨਾ 2, ਸਤਰ 10
    ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਇਕੁ ਦਾਤਾ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਵਿਸਰਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੫॥

    सभना जीआ का इकु दाता सो मै विसरि न जाई ॥५॥
    Sabẖnā jī▫ā kā ik ḏāṯā so mai visar na jā▫ī. ||5||
    there is only the One, the Giver of all souls. May I never forget Him! ||5||

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ਪੰਨਾ 5, ਸਤਰ 3
    ਸਹਸ ਅਠਾਰਹ ਕਹਨਿ ਕਤੇਬਾ ਅਸੁਲੂ ਇਕੁ ਧਾਤੁ ॥

    सहस अठारह कहनि कतेबा असुलू इकु धातु ॥
    Sahas aṯẖārah kahan kaṯebā asulū ik ḏẖāṯ.
    The scriptures say that there are 18,000 worlds, but in reality, there is only One Universe.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ਪੰਨਾ 36, ਸਤਰ 5
    ਹਰਿ ਇਕੋ ਦਾਤਾ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਦੂਜਾ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥

    हरि इको दाता वरतदा दूजा अवरु न कोइ ॥
    Har iko ḏāṯā varaṯḏā ḏūjā avar na ko▫e.
    The One Lord alone is the Giver, pervading everywhere. There is no other at all.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    ਪੰਨਾ 37, ਸਤਰ 9
    ਸਭ ਏਕੋ ਇਕੁ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਅਲਖੁ ਨ ਲਖਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥

    सभ एको इकु वरतदा अलखु न लखिआ जाइ ॥
    Sabẖ eko ik varaṯḏā alakẖ na lakẖi▫ā jā▫e.
    The One and Only Lord is pervading and permeating all. The Unseen cannot be seen.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    ਪੰਨਾ 38, ਸਤਰ 14
    ਜਿਨੀ ਇਕੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਚੁਕਾਇ ॥

    जिनी इकु पछाणिआ दूजा भाउ चुकाइ ॥
    Jinī ik pacẖẖāṇi▫ā ḏūjā bẖā▫o cẖukā▫e.
    Those who recognize the One renounce the love of duality.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Many and many more beautiful references in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji about ONE and ONENESS. Let the joy come to you, it is not all deep or complicated :singhbhangra::mundabhangra:
     
    • Like Like x 8
  17. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    4,560
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    Ambarsaria ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Thanks for your very descriptive thoughts. I agree with you. IK can not be substituted.
    I use The Source to the non-Sikhs.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove United Kingdom
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    68
    Too much worldly logic. God is beyond language, language is limited.

    It doesn't matter what you call him, He's All anyway, but we refer to him with respect in limited language terms.

    Call him Maharaj, King of Kings, Emporer, Parbrahm, Satnaam- as long as you know that you're referring to the Master of All, you're good.

    He is the first Truth Knower- and he's given us the opportunity to discover the same, to realise that we are Truth- the same as Him, he flows through us and is All we see and All we don't.
     
  19. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
    Expand Collapse

    Moderator

    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Messages:
    5,118
    Likes Received:
    7,945
    If god is beyond language, how have you already defined him as a he, or as a person, a personality
     
  20. Inderjeet Kaur

    Inderjeet Kaur
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Messages:
    774
    Likes Received:
    1,712
    Words are poor things, never really communicating what we want to say. Conveying TRUTH in words cannot be. It is utter and complete frustration to try...yet we try. Give us a break! We're doing the best we can with what we have to work with. "It's only words and words are all I have..."
     
    • Like Like x 1
  21. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
    Expand Collapse

    Moderator

    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Messages:
    5,118
    Likes Received:
    7,945
    I will now describe god through the medium of dance......
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page