Welcome to SPN

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

Sign Up Now!

Literal Translations, Word-by-Word Translations of Gurbani: What do we mean?

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Tejwant Singh, Oct 1, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    4,560
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    Re: Who was the Mother of Christ Jesus?

    Narayanjot ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Well put. Allow me to elaborate this a bit more on the wonderful thought that you have shared about the verse:

    Ėk akẖar jo gurmukẖ jāpai ṯis kī nirmal so▫ī. ||3||
    One who, as Gurmukh, chants the One Word, acquires a spotlessly pure reputation. ||3||


    As mentioned several times before and it is worth repeating that literal translation of this beautiful Shabad does not do any justice to the Shabad. I have no idea what" acquires a spotlessly pure reputation" mean. Is the reputation well starched as well? j/k.:)

    Japai does not mean just chanting. It means much more than that. It means understanding and practicing what one has learnt from SGGS, our ONLY GURU.

    Guru Sahib explains this beautifully in the latter part of the verse:

    jāpai ṯis kī nirmal so▫ī. ||3||

    Here JAP acts like oxyclean plus detergent that we use to make our clothes spotlessly clean. If we wash them by hand, we have to rub the dirty parts vigorously so they can become spotless. Just putting the detergent on the dirty clothes, ( our Munn) is like chanting and chanting like a parrot and it would not do. If we put those dirty clothes in the washing machine, then the same process is done mechanically.

    Fortunately, there is no washing machine to wash our munn. It needs our effort and vigorous rubbing ( training which can only happen by studying Gurbani, not by mere chanting).

    Chanting is like crawling and after that we must learn how to stand up and walk. One can not crawl for the rest of his/her life unless one is invalid or opts to remain as such.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Loading...


  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Who was the Mother of Christ Jesus?

    Tejwant ji

    You are welcome. Indeed the translation from the Khalsa Consensus Translation by Dr. Sant Singh ji is over the top with respect to its translation of "nirmal" as well. It is rather melodramatic. For our purposes global meaning does suffice.

    I am still working on a better translation for "akhar" -- translated as "Word of the Lord " - and this is systematic throughout most accepted translations (Sant Singh and Manmohan Singh). However, that cannot be as close as we might like. There is no Sanskrit equivalent for "akhar, having the meaning of "word." The closest I get in Sanskrit is "aakhaara" which means "form." Possibly then the deeper meaning refers to Divine Presence (i.e., form) and not "Word of the Lord". The problem with this theory is that aa+khaara has a different morphological root when compared to a+khar.

    A second possibility from Sanskirt is the word that means, the base or root of a word. It is अङ्ग aGga -- so maybe this is the deeper sense of akhar.

    "Word of the Lord" is found constantly throughout Christian readings of the New Testament. So, the translation may be giving a christianized slant in the translation that is not really true to Gurbani.

    There is a modern Punjabi equivalent for "word " which is "akhan," but not "akhar." Perhaps the word "akhar" is a Persian or Urdu derivative. What do you think?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    4,560
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    Re: Who was the Mother of Christ Jesus?

    Narayanjot ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    You write:

    I beg to differ with you. Dr. Sant Singh's literal translation is full of distortions, misleading and does disservice to the beautiful Gurbani. I have no idea what you mean by melodramatic. Can you please elaborate that for the better understanding because that kind of term is used for soap operas not to understand and put Gurbani into practice?


    I have no idea what you mean by the " Global meaning does suffice". What is the global meaning of what? Are you talking about the whole Shabad or the said verse or the word " Nirmal"?


    Narayanjot ji,

    The way I try to understand Gurbani, one can not take one word, in this case the word " Akhar" and find the literal translation and sees how it fits the best. The message that our Gurus want us to understand is in the RAHAO of each Shabad. If we understand the RAHAO part which is like the nectar of flower, then all petals falls into their respective places.

    I will just post the RAHAO part of this beautiful Shabad from our 5th Guru and in a couple of days I will share with the cyber Sadh Sangat the way I understand the whole Shabad.

    ਸੰਤਹੁ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਰੀਐ
    संतहु सागरु पारि उतरीऐ ॥
    Sanṯahu sāgar pār uṯrī▫ai.
    O Saints, cross over the world-ocean.
    Page 747.

    Here, Guru Sahib is calling all of us Saints. What an honour and privilege and a way to motivate all of us who are down trodden! He is telling us to confront all odds, negative things, obstacles, pot holes in order to lead a saintly life.

    Now the question arises, what tools do we need/ have in order to live this life of Miri- Piri?

    The next line explains that:

    ਜੇ ਕੋ ਬਚਨੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਸੰਤਨ ਕਾ ਸੋ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਤਰੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ
    जे को बचनु कमावै संतन का सो गुर परसादी तरीऐ ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥
    Je ko bacẖan kamāvai sanṯan kā so gur parsādī ṯarī▫ai. ||1|| rahā▫o.
    One who practices the Teachings of the Saints, by Guru's Grace, is carried across. ||1||Pause||


    Kamavai literally means to earn something. In other words to make a living.

    How can we make our spiritual living?

    Let's not forget that Guru Sahib has already called us Saints in the first verse, So once again the English litertal translation is distorted because we as Saints have no teachings of our own as the translation would suggest.

    We are Saints because we have Ik Ong Kaar with us as our Tillerman who can steer us across this ocean of Maya with His grace.

    And how do we have this connection with Ik Ong Kaar?

    It is by practicing the teachings given to us in the SGGS, our ONLY GURU.

    Now, keeping this central idea of RAHAO in mind, let me get back to the verse which has the word "AKHAR" in it.

    Ėk akẖar jo gurmukẖ jāpai ṯis kī nirmal so▫ī. ||3||
    One who, as Gurmukh, chants the One Word, acquires a spotlessly pure reputation. ||3||

    One who starts practicing even a single message ( Ek Akhar) of Gurbani, starts being on the Gurmat path and is called a Gurmukh which is neither a title, nor a destination but a start of the Gurmat journey because we all know that Sikhi path is a journey. Once this journey begins then he/she, the Gurmukh, finds the tools with the grace of Ik Ong Kaar to keep his/her spiritual collar clean.

    The fact of the matter is that we as humans get dirty often around our collars.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Who was the Mother of Christ Jesus?

    Tejwant ji

    You raise some juicy questions and I am highly motivated to respond. It might take me a while longer because I just got home from work. I am really tired. Let's aim for tomorrow. And I might have to address your questions a few at a time. And because our personal dialog will be getting longer and is coming in the middle of another topic, it may have to be moved to a different thread. Sat Nam.
     
    #4 spnadmin, Oct 1, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Who was the Mother of Christ Jesus?

    Tejwant I have just completed a first round of forum checks and want to spend some time responding, but will have to split my answer into two parts. I hope that is satisfactory to you.


    One final thought -- how on earth did Dr. Sant Singh's translation become termed the Khalsa Consensus translation -- unless it was not dirty collars but politics that brought that outcome. So far I have not observed a consensus. I am aware that the SGPC so designated the translation as the Khalsa Consensus Translation?

    So tomorrow I will do my best to explore 2 ideas: 1) My understanding of "literal translation" and why we may possibly disagree; and also 2) how I think "akhar" should be interpreted.

    Regards to you as well,
    Narayanjot Kaur
     
    • Like Like x 2
    #5 spnadmin, Oct 1, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Who was the Mother of Christ Jesus?

    Tejwant ji

    This is not the reply as promised, but I have found the derivation of "akhar" and it makes a difference. And a moment of Eureka for me!

    Ėk akẖar jo gurmukẖ jāpai ṯis kī nirmal so▫ī. ||3||
    One who, as Gurmukh, chants the One Word, acquires a spotlessly pure reputation. ||3||

    "akhar" does derive from a Sanskirt word "Akshara" and means letter, syllable or teaching as a noun; and imperishable, unalterable as an adjective. This changes the way that I understand/interpret ek akhar jo gurmukh japai.


    My reference: Dictionary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib by Professor Surindar Singh Kohli

    "akhar" by the Dr. Sant Sahib translation now seems even more forced than before into a western/Christian concept of the Word, Logos, or the Word of the Lord. Instead "akhar" can be understood as an imperishable, eternal, unchanging, unalterable, unbreakable sense of that which represents the Sat.

    Perhaps this may seem obvious to someone who has native expertise in reading Punjabi or long exposure to the sacred language of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. But I do think the meanings of words in translation need to be challenged and tested for primal meanings, especially as a beginner.

    So putting it all back together. This is what I think it says,

    The one who chants/recites (or even as you suggest understands and lives) that One imperishable and unchanging ( Sat ) becomes immaculate.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    This thread is temporarily closed. It was designed to continue a discussion from a connected thread. We have experienced delays. The thread will be re-opened in a few days when member Tejwant Singh Malik ji and Narayanjot Kaur are poised to continue their conversation.

    Connected thread is http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/interfaith-dialogues/26833-who-was-the-mother-christ-jesus.html

    Do not post in this thread until further notice. Thank you, Narayanjot Kaur
    :admin4:
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page