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Japji Sahib - "Suniai" is "Listening" - but much more than that

Discussion in 'Jap Ji Sahib' started by NamHariKaur, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. NamHariKaur

    NamHariKaur
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    The first word of most of the lines of the 8th through the 11th Paurees of japji is "SUNIAI" - which is translated as "listening" in some places.

    From the rest of the content of those same lines, it is clear that suniai is far more than an English speaking person would call "listening" - or even "good listening."

    In my Nitnem book, published in Amritsar India 24th Edition 2004, suniai is translated as "hearing the name of God."

    In The Aquarian Times Magazine MSS Guruka Singh Khalsa writes:

    "Suni-ai- Listening. Listening is a state of being. It is a state in which we are fully awake and tuned into the myriad of sensory input so that we spontaneously act in harmony with the very flow of life in each moment."

    That is a beautiful exposition of the sort of listening that might lead to what is described in JapJi. Perhaps nothing more needs to be said about it. But I am curious, does this exposition emerge from the meaning of suniai to a native Punjabi speaker or would a scholar of the language of the Guru's times give that description of the word sunia?

    It is amazing to me that one word could exist that has such a deeply profound meaning. It is often said that Guru Nanak made every effort to write in language which the common people could understand. Does this suggest that people of India in the times of Guru Nanak commonly "listened" with all their being in the way described above by Guruka Singh?

    I would love to hear what a native Punjabi speaking person or one who has studied the older version of the language as used in the time of Guru Nanak might be able to tell me about all this.

    Thanks!
    Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene Oregon
     
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    #1 NamHariKaur, Jul 26, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2005
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  3. Arvind

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Additional frequently occuring words, but perhaps not correctly translated:

    Naam, Amrit, Kirpan, Purakh...
     
  4. truthseeker

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh!!!

    I am currently reading this book that was written by Sant Naranjan Singh Ji. And in his book he says that the explanation of Suniai is beyond words to descibe. He then later in this book tries to defineSuniai as "listening with a one pointed mind" meaning.. listening to the Words of the Guru with out any other other thoughts flowing through your mind.

    It is almost like a state of mind i guess... or at least that is what i understood from it. If we can control our mind... then we can finally understand the Paurres of Suniai in Jap Ji Sahib
    Correct me if im wrong.
    Bhull Cuk Maaf
    Waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh!!!!
     
  5. CaramelChocolate

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Yeah I do have issues with some translations, someone sent me English mool mantar kirtan and it went like this:

    We are one with God
    this is out true identity
    doer of everything
    beyond fear
    beyond revenge
    beyond death
    image of the infinite
    unborn
    full of life
    the goodest gives
    meditate
    primal truth
    true for all time
    true at this instant
    o nanak
    forever true

    While it is very beautiful there is no mention of the naam, the first two lines are way off! Why do they translate so wrongly? Even as a non-sikh with knowledge I can tell that naam means name, why are they saying 'this is our true identity'??
     
  6. Lee

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Hello Cyber Sangat,

    Hey CC,

    I know what you mean, but I don't think there is any malicious intent in this translation. Do you not think that if God is 1, then we are also God?

    Just a quick question but how would you translate 'Ikonkar sat naam'

    Myself I have always thought: '1 God, whose name is true/truth'

    Yet what does this mean? That there is only one God, yeah I can go with that, is Gods actual name True/truth though? Perhaps not, but if there is only one God, and God is also 1, then does this not mean that God is the whole, that the truth is that all is God, and God is all.

    This is the idea I go with, so if that is the case then God is surley our true identity for God is all, and all is God, including us.

    This makes the point of religion, not to find God or reach God, but to realise that we are already a part of God.

    So although perhaps not a direct translation, the idea is still sound and true.

    Cheers,

    lee.
     
  7. CaramelChocolate

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Sat sri akaal Lee I agree with you I do not think there is a malicious intent, but they have to be careful as they maybe changing Gurubani without knowing it.
    Yes, I am not saying that their interpretation of japji sahib is wrong but I am saying it is not accurate as per Gurubani in my opinion.
    I do prefer literal interpretation for example:
    Ik ongkaar sat naam - 'One God true name' rather than "there is one universal God whose name is true".
    Or jaap sahib where the translations say "salutations to the formless" etc etc... why not just say 'salutations formless'? It seems to me that this would me much more accurate.
    This is why it takes MUCH longer to read paath in English...
     
  8. truthseeker

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh!!

    U have to remember that when translating from Panjabi to english.... the sentence may not make sense without adding those extra words. Such as ur example "salutations to the formless" this means that we show respect to the formless God... but if we were to just say " salutations formless" one could misinterpret what that means... to me personally if i were to just read that.. i would think it meant something totally different than what we are actually trying to convey. Like i said b4.. when translating from one language to another... u may need to add those extra words in soo that u can convey the correct message. As for accuracy, yes those extra words do not HAVE to be there.. but then again u have to remember that everyone is at a different level...and maybe they dont even kno what "NAAM' is and need as much help as possible when reading gurbani.

    The only thing that does bother me is that.. there are soo many different translations for the same thing. They should have one English translating of all of Gurbani... soo that one does not get confused as to which translation is the most correct of accurate.

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh!!!
     
  9. CaramelChocolate

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    TruthSeeker I see your point but even in Punjabi you could say there is a problem of misinterpretation as that is literally what is being said.. why make allowances for English translation? Sure there can be articles written on the meaning but for paath format they should be kept in the translation form not interpretation form otherwise they will take double the time to perform and also it is up to the individual to find the meaning not look at what others think this may mean... Which leads me onto another question, are there any websites online with this type of translation?
     
  10. NamHariKaur

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Sat Nam Ji;

    I wish I knew the source of the copy of JapJi that I have. It is a pamphlet given out at our Gurdwara but has no credits given. I like it for the very reason you mention. It has a word for word translation. It also has a sentence-like version with the "extra" words below that. It might take me some weeks to find out where this version came from. I too would like to see jaap sahib and even the SGGS with word-for-word translations included.
    I have not seen anything online with word-for-word translations. Nothing at Sikhnet that I have seen is done that way.

    Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene, Oregon

     
    #9 NamHariKaur, Jul 28, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2005
  11. Lee

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Sat sri akkal!

    Cc and Namhari Kaur,

    Yes you are both correct. I understand the problems with changing Gurbani, but as Namhari Kaur says direct translations between two languages does not take into account differing gramatical rules, and so it is not only possible but probable that the meaning of the text will not properly understood.

    Even when we as non Punjabi speakers translate Gurbani for ourselves we have to mix around, add words etc.. for it to make gramtical sense to us.

    This is not wrong, it would be more wrong for us to misunderstand, and misinterpret Gurbani. Which is why we do need the definitive translation; This I see as job for the Sanagt as a whole.

    Cheers,

    lee.
     
  12. NamHariKaur

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Sat Nam!
    Thank you for your description. That was exactly what I was looking for and hoping/expecting maybe to find. I find that what you have written is much the same as what is called Dhyana in the yoga sutras translated by Patanjali.
    Wahe Guru!
    Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene, Oregon.
     
  13. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji KI fateh.

    The reason for thsoe "extra words" that you refer to...are necessary not only becasue it is translating from Punjabi to English...MAINLY thta is because GURBANI IS POETRY...and we translate poetry to ESSAY Form WAARTAK...that means we need a lot more words.

    Poetry writers have something called POETIC LICENSE... they can Shorten words even ideas to express in a LIMITED number of words, plus they have to see that it all RHYMES..and an additional burden on Gurbani is that it is POETRY in RAAG...Raag measures put a further restrain on MEASURED WORDS....and when we transalte it all into English...there is no need for the restrictions of "poetry", raag is out as well and we can use as many as words we like... ITS A CASE OF "TRANSLATING APPLES TO ORANGES....
    Jarnail Singh gyani
     
  14. jagmeet

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Could it mean '1 God,true is his 'NAAM'---rather than say His name is truth?

    I have used 'NAAM' in place of name because I'm not sure if name is an equivalent of 'NAAM'--as far as I know there are books written describing what 'NAAM' is,so it's not easy to translate or even understand it.

    Bhul chuk maaf,
    Jagmeet
     
  15. Lee

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Sat sri akaal!

    Jagmeet Ji, Cyber Sangat,

    I understand Jagmeet, much has been written about Naam, yet still we are told that name is a correct translation, if not a full one.

    I think though when it comes to understanding God and Gods plan, then we have to try to communicate our ideas in a way that is not straight forward.

    For example, when you say '1God true is his naam' What exactly does this mean in this context? What is Gods naam?

    I would suggest that if we take that naam means name, then Gods name is truth?

    Now what sort of sense does that make? Not that much until you get to thinking about the rest of the sentance.

    Iknokar, satnaam.

    1 God who is truth. I.E. The 1 God, the creator, is truth, all else is false.

    So in this case, naam is being used both as Gods name, and as a discriptive label for what God is. Remember the way we learn about things is to label them.

    God is not only true, but Gods truth is the only truth, because as we are told ikonkar 1 God = 1 truth. So could we say that naam has multiple meanings, and that the direct translation of name, is but touching upon the surface?

    Cheers,

    Lee.
     
  16. CaramelChocolate

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Lee I agree, essentially Waheguru is nameless, Waheguru is simply used for praise and from what I understand satnaam actually means that the name Waheguru is true, true meaning the most true praise, the meaning behind it is true [wow enlightener or wonderful Lord]. I know in Sikhism God is nameless as it is written in Jaap Sahib.
    So Waheguru is essentially a praise, also to allow Sikhs so discuss God... if we took this literally and we treated God as nameless it would be hard to ever discuss him right??? It also helps give Sikhism a disctinct culture and image as Muslims have Allah Hindus have Raam etc. etc.
     
  17. Lee

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Hey CC,

    Yes I agree, as I say we as humans need to label things to enable us to learn about them, and also as you point out to communicate our ideas.

    What you say about Satnaam meaning the name Waheguru is true is interesting, I have not thought about it that way before.
    If we then conbine this with my previous thoughts, then we get the idea that not only is God true, but that wonderous enlightener is also true, and also that waheguru is the true enlightnener, so God is true, and is our truth, and our way to truth.

    Heh Supperb!

    Cheers,

    lee.
     
  18. Arvind

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    This sounds so concise and right. :thumbup:
     
  19. jagmeet

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    Could I say the following:-
    Since 'Satnaam' appears after the kaar,it probably means that God is in the form of 'naam'(which is 'sat' or true) in this universe.This 'naam' is some subtle vibration that pervades the whole universe.I don't remember where I read the analogy with vibration.
    Also see the following article in Gurmat Prakash:-
    http://www.sgpc.net/gurmat_parkash/gurmatparkash.asp?id=385

    Bhul chuk maaf.
    Jagmeet
     
  20. Lee

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    I'm afraid I don't know what kaar means?

    That naam can be equated as vibration is also very interesting in light of string theory.

    Cheers,

    lee.
     
  21. jagmeet

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    Re: Japji Sahib - Suniai "Listening" - but much more than that

    If you look at the shape of 'oankaar' carefully,it is modified from gurmukhi's first alphabet 'uuda'--the modification is the addition of 'kaar' to it.'kaar' (as far as I know) means creation---so the God is in his creation as well(as independent of it).Or perhaps one could say that when God created this universe,he transformed himself to be present in his creation.

    May be some learned person in these forums can correct me if I am wrong(which I probably am) and throw more light on this.

    Bhul chuk maaf,
    Jagmeet
     
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