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Questions from non-Sikhs to Sikhs

Discussion in 'New to Sikhism' started by curious seeker, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. curious seeker

    curious seeker
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    Connected thread http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/new-t...here-different-types-of-sikhs.html#post122538

    Hello and Blessings to ALL

    It has occurred to me that there must be quite a few persons in this board, that might have the same problems that I am having understanding Sikhi terminology and words and just plain Punjabi terms.

    You see I, and probably many others here, do not know Punjabi. I, for example, did not know one word of Punjabi, well I knew Guru, a few weeks ago. So here is my dilemma. from what I can understand the religion is GREAT, the Doctrine is deep and soul touching in ways that I have never experienced, the practices seem just as beautiful and faith and commitment reinforcing. BUT as strive to fully grasp what the religion through its scripture and community is saying, I am always running into words that I do not understand in Punjabi and this is very confusing and in fact distracting.

    So I have decided to ask for help. Actually I am about ready to SHOUT an SOS AND MAYDAY For even the most simple meanings scape me too often . Therefore I seek people with incredible patience, to answer questions of Sikh terminology and the meaning of Punjabi expressions, to some one who is at the level of 3 or 4 year old, even though he actually is 62.

    So I will post questions and perhaps some one will graciously answer them and then I will be able to actually read and understand passages in the SGGS that I find puzzling, because I do not know the meaning Punjabi word in the passage. Or I will post some questions on common terms that I still do not quite get. Let me start:

    What is the difference between Bani, Kirtan and Shaba? According to one glossary Bani is the words of the Gurus. Shabad is the religious hymns contained in Sikh scriptures and Kirtan is the musical rendering of Sikh gurbani ( which also make Kirtan into a hymn as well) However, others call both Shabad and Gurbani the word of God or of Gurus, some call the Gurbani hymns as well. Could some one tell me what each means, by themselves?

    I finally deciphered what fateh means so now I think that Gurfateh is, Victory is for the Guru, or the Guru is Victorious? Ji is dear? Khalsa is both the pure, the Saint Soldiers, and the community of the pure or the congregation of the pure? Panth means the Sikh Community? And the Gurdwara congregation is called ... ?

    Well this is just a beginning, and if others are also in the same predicament with being almost totally ignorant of Punjabi, PLEASE do ask questions as well
    I thank all my Sikhi friends before hand, because I know that their heart is of gold and they will answer my questions!

    May we all learn and walk the Path of Wahe Guru's Hukam !

    Curious
     
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    curious seekerji

    I know that this is problematic because we have discussed it before.

    Everything depends on context of use. One thing that is going to complicate matters is that the meanings of shabad and bani change according to the context in which they are used.

    This is unavoidable in any language. Meaning comes from context. I can see that you have been consulting glossaries, making that suggestion moot in your case.

    So to start this conversation, think of words that envelop other words, whose meanings overlap.

    "A Shabad" in it specific context of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj refers to hymns or passages in the Guru Granth. The Guru Granth being a collection of shabads.

    However "the Shabad" refers to all the spiritual wisdom contained with the Guru Granth.

    On a more spiritual level "the Shabad" or "the Shabad Guru" is the complete message of Akaal Purakh revealed through His Grace to Guru Nanak and our other Gurus.

    The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is now the Guru through which the Shabad Guru is revealed to us.

    "Bani" in its more specific and literal sense refers to "word" and as Gurbani it refers to the Guru's word.

    Gurbani - Definition of Gurbani - Guru's Word

    So the Bani of the Guru is found, yes, in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. And in that sense Gurbani and Shabad Guru are the same thing.

    In the large, the more mystical sense, Shabad Guru is something more abstract, and the source for the particular shabads.

    Now the link that I posted above you will find some very helpful insights into Sikhism that are clear cut -- but in some cases they are too clear cut.
     
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  4. curious seeker

    curious seeker
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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    Ushta Narayanjot

    I do realize, that there are deeper meanings, but first one must dominate the 'clear´more self eminent meanings, before one can even hope top delve into the deeper ones. Its like learning a language., for example English, one does not start with Shakespeare, one starts with John is a boy, Mary is a girl Neither one does start learning math by trying to do calculus, one learns to addition and the multiplication tables first.

    I truly thank you for your kindness and patience and, of course, for this link.:D

    Blessings,
    Curious
     
  5. spnadmin

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    curious seeker ji

    I actually must disagree with you -- but we can do that without enmity. In Sikhism, there are many instances where the simple answer is grossly misleading.

    Let me give you an example from just a quick scan of some comments on a facebook page.

    A quotation from Sri Guru Granth Sahib included the word "isanaan" (pronounced isha-naan)

    This literally means "a purifying bath" and in translation that is the ordinary meaning. To some this word suggests that early in the morning, every morning, a Sikh should make it a spiritual practice to take a purifying bath or shower, as a kind of religious ritual. Yet we know from the Sikh Rehat Maryada that ritual practices are not encouraged and in some cases forbidden. Another meaning of isnaan is that we should purify our minds, through simran and prayers called Nitnem. The idea being to achieve a state of inner poise so that we can face the day with equanimity.

    Those are two different understandings for a single word - isanaan - and you were asking about word meanings originally.

    Now someone is likely to come online and say - Narayanjot Kaur ji you are wrong. A Sikh must take a purifying bath each morning! But then the discussion that ensues will be about the layers of comprehension that are very real. Another person will say - Narayanjot Kaur ji you are wrong. The purifying bath does not come from simran and prayer but through living in the Guru's word through thought and deed.

    Then one can go directly to SGGS and find that in context ishanaan rarely refers to taking a "bath." And there is even one example where the word "simran" is used to mean purifying bath.

    Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji :page :SearchGurbani.com

    There is no easy way out. It is possible to go to a web site that gives a very basic understanding of what a word means, and the given meaning can be seriously off -base. I think it is very important to have good educational resources, but clearly one must make the main resource the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Read it each day, struggle with its layer upon layer of meaning, communicate with others about it.
     
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  6. curious seeker

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    Ushta Narayanjot

    OOH I think we are not disagreeing at all. In fact not only the SGGS should be studied for layered meanings to arrive at the one that fits best a particular context, and maybe the overall context as well, but all scriptures ought to be studied that way.

    But that is not what w are talking about! If i do not understand Punjabo hoiw can i understand constant re¡¡M unexplained , mentions of terms in Punjabi: As I struggle to grasp the meaning of the SGGS, I have to stop every few sentences to find out what a word MIGHT mean.

    In other words the way things face a Non-Punjabi speaker who wants to learn about the SGGS, if you are not even allowed to get at some kind of meaning to these Punjab words you have almost to stop reading the SGGS and learn Gurmukki and Punjabi! Now learning this is very useful, BUT at a point when you are just looking to grasp at something a little more deeper than the basics, is a little demanding, to put it mildly.

    Have Sikhs, at least, considered an expanded translation on the format of the Amplified Bible where several of the main meanings of important terms are given in () in the text?

    Blessings
    Curious
     
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  7. Tejwant Singh

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    Narayanjot ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Thanks for explaining the above in such a nitid manner. No one could have done it better.

    Thanks & regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    curious seeker ji

    You are asking about the meanings of words.

    In other words the way things face a Non-Punjabi speaker who wants to learn about the SGGS, if you are not even allowed to get at some kind of meaning to these Punjab words you have almost to stop reading the SGGS and learn Gurmukki and Punjabi! Now learning this is very useful, BUT at a point when you are just looking to grasp at something a little more deeper than the basics, is a little demanding, to put it mildly. (by curious seeker ji)

    You have your work cut out for you! Here is what I ended up doing. I bought a dictionary "Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib by Professor Surindar Singh Kohli. This was just the beginning of another chapter of having to learn ' yet even more.' The book is very good. Professor limits himself to defining words in the Guru Granth. But as you would suspect, one word can mean 8 things. Does that help -- NOT!

    This problem was complicated by three other issues.

    The dictionary is organized by transliterated words with Gurmukhi in parentheses. There are at least 4 commonly used transliteration systems, and you have to know how they work. Or to put it another way, how a word you read in one system maps on to the system Professor is using.

    For example, there is no section for "f" because in Punjabi "f" is a "ph." Therefore, one has to search for a word beginning with "f/ph" in the "ph" section. LOL I said to myself. The dictionary skips from "e" to "g!" And that is a simple problem.

    The second issue. How do you know when a word like "karama" means "deed" and when it means "gift" or "fortune?" And what do you do when a forum member says, Not "fortune" because it means "blessing." Are we splitting hairs on that one? Or when "sharf" means "letter" "syllable" "word" or "countenance?"

    To complicate matters, Karama as a noun means deed or blessing, but Karama as an adjective means "liberal." And they are not even the same word. The middle "a" for the adjective is pronounced; in the noun the middle "a" is muffled.

    The third issue. How do you know what a word means when Professor says, "Gamdo" from "Gada?" LOL - you have to be a detective.

    It is what American educators call a "spiral curriculum." Learning keeps spiraling from one level to the next. There is a good book by Charles Shackle called, "The Sacred Language of the Sikhs." It takes about a year to get through phonics, vocabulary and grammar. I am not there yet.
     
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  9. Bmandur

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    Gurfateh Narayanjot Kaur JI:

    You have explained each word very well.
    eyko sbdu vIcwrIAY Avr iqAwgY Aws
    eaek sabadh beechaareeai jaa thoo thaa kiaa hor ||1|| rehaao ||
    I dwell upon the One Word of the Shabad. You are mine-what else do I need?

    gurmuKw ky muK aujly gur sbdI bIcwir
    guramukhaa kae mukh oujalae gur sabadhee beechaar ||
    The faces of the Gurmukhs are radiant and bright; they reflect on the Word of the Guru's Shabad.

    gurbwxI iesu jg mih cwnxu krim vsY min Awey ]1]
    gurabaanee eis jag mehi chaanan karam vasai man aaeae ||1||
    Gurbani is the Light to illuminate this world; by His Grace, it comes to abide within the mind. ||1||

    I hope this will help to the seaker to Understand
    Gurfateh

     
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  10. Rupinder.Singh

    Rupinder.Singh Australia
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    Gurfateh...

    Born in a punjabi speaking family, I had to learn English from school. and I learnt it from "A=apple, B=Boy, c=cat"

    but today I know "A=Awesome, Aware, Agree,....."

    I have also come to know that "Being cool" does not mean being at a freezing temperature.

    I would have not come to know all these amazing things in english without knowing its alphabets, practising english in my day to day speaking, interacting with english speaking individuals, and exposure to english media.

    ...add more or remove some......This is the drill for learning any language.

    Gurmukhi being the major language of SGGS, any one willing to learn it will have to go through this process.

    So please don't get discouraged if anyone finds more than one meaning to same word. It is with every language.

    In the end, it all depends upon how we actually reflect on the meaning of these words. Right reflections come with experience, faith and love for learning.

    Take my case..being punjabi speaking..I myself most of the times misunderstand the right context of words in SGGS... but then SPN and other online resources help me to answer my curious misinterpretations.


    So start from Alphabets of Gurmukhi...start from simple meanings...once started...never loose heart.....you will eventually get there....then you would know..what is what and when....


    Just to add:
    Gurudwara Congregation is called "SANGAT" in Gurmukhi/punjabi.

    My inspiration for learning any language:
    "Translation can never reflect authors' thought, it reflects translator's thoughts in most of the cases"
    "Anything in form of hymns, can be reflected in countless forms in its own language, translating it into other language restricts it to only one form"


    I hope this helps..

    Rupinder Singh
     
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  11. Archived_member13

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    SAT SRI AKAL,

    Well SGGS is written in GURMUKHI language meaning spoken from the mouth of the
    Guru but let me clarify one thing that even god is mentioned as GURU in SGGS so don't
    get confused at all because Guru and Waheguru has a close relation in SGGS in japji Sahib Waheguru mentions Guru Nanak meaning that Waheguru has given his status to Guru Nanak so it becomes clear that Waheguru ( God) send Guru Nanak Sahib as SATGURU and Waheguru was much impressed with his devotion and which leads to
    Jyot means supreme soul in the form of human body not as god as hindus claims but as
    Devotee of Waheguru as Guru Nanak Sahib came in this world. I hope it clarify some
    doubts Sikhs and Non-Sikhs. If some has any question feel free to ask.

    REGARDS

    GURVEEN SINGH
     
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  12. curious seeker

    curious seeker
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    Hello Gurveen1 and all my Sikh friends and helpers!

    So then, Gumukhi I must learn! Where? Links please!

    Thanks to all for blessing me with your kindness
    Curious
     
  13. Archived_member13

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    SAT SRI AKAL,

    It's a good thing u have shown interest. Now if u want to learn Gurmukhi start with Nitnem and try to recite Mool Mantar then u can surely build from their and if u really having problem reciting Gurbani then u can go to nearby Gurdwara Sahib and ask Saints they will definitely help you out in reciting Gurbani is best way learn to learn Gurmukhi language. You also buy Gutka Sahib which also have english translations side by side while reciting you'll get to now the meaning but just remember always keep Gutka Sahib rapped in a clean cloth. I hope it answer you're queries.

    Regards

    Gurveen Singh
     
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  14. dalvinder grewal

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    I agree with you.entirely.


    Guru Gobind Singh Study circle is publishing a book in english and also in punjabi where all terminologies about Sikhism ar e provided. I am just reviewing it and it will go to press by next week. This may help out those who want the basic knowledge of both English and Punjabi terminologies. We will also put on net so that it is freely avcailabler for all those who want to use it.

    With regards

    Dalvinder Singh Grewal
     
  15. Anu Preet

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    Waheguruji ka Khalsa ,

    In reference to your mail, i think this is an exellent idea.....lot of us even at age of 40 are unfamiliar with the lot of punjabi erms.

    Honestly , You have done an excellent job of maintaining this website......in a few words......thanks ....and keep up teh god wor.....


    I would like to offer my servies in the regard of clarification of terms in punjabi. Please let me know ow i can help in this regard.

    Sat Sri Akal
    Anupreet Kaur
     
  16. Tejwant Singh1

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    Dear Aman Singhji,

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji Ki Fateh!

    My advice is that you get a copy of Mahan Kosh which is a 1247 page encyclopedia of Sikh literature in Gurmukhi. It was compiled by Bhai Kahan Singh around 1920s. It would be a good ready reckoner for you.

    However, if you cannot read Gurmukhi or you cannot get a copy of Mahan Kosh, then I will certainly help you in whatever way I can. I grew up in a village and I understand typical Punjabi words many of which are beginning to fall out of use now due to the influence of English and Hindi through TV.

    With regards and good wishes,

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji Ki Fateh!

    Tejwant Singh
    Group Captain (retired)
     
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  17. Bmandur

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    You explained it very well. There are so many words (Shabads) Like Ram in SGGS that is name of GOD But in Hindu Religion Ram is King Dashrath son. so do not mistake where ever you read or hear Ram in SGGS it's hindu name no it's different name of GOD same as Khudah is also GOD name

    Gurfateh
     
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  18. otilia

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    Dear Narayanjot Kaur Ji,
    very clear explanation.. there is a difference between translation and interpretation... I´ve studied both inglish-spanish translating/interpreting... and sometimes.... more in spiritual issues... faith, heart.... I´m afraid there will be no .. or may be yes??? spiritual interpreting dictionary... just because relationship with God... is personal and unique...a question of faith...
    best regards...
    Otilia:wah:
     
  19. spnadmin

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    otilia ji

    I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU ON THAT POINT! The fact of the matter is that a translation can only be accomplished with the words and phrases as given. What does a passage say? That is a different matter entirely from What does a passage mean?

    If I seem silent or nonchalant on that point it is because I have given up that argument. But appreciate that you are pitching in.

    But to add. After one has before one all the possible translations of a word in Gurbani, the next problem is to decide what it means in context. So one issue cannot be divorced from the other. And that is why definitions alone are unhelpful. That was the point I was attempting to make when I used several examples from the dictionary by Professor Surindar Singh Kohli. One can have 8 translations of a word in Gurbani, and still have even more work to do to understand the meaning that it conveys.

    BTW I belong to the school of thought that second and third languages should be learning through communication and in context and not using orthodox approaches typically used in high schools and colleges. Language is learned by using language.
     
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  20. otilia

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    Re: Questions from non-Sikhis to Sikhis

    DearNarayanjot Kaur Ji,
    that´exactly what I meant... word by word itself, can have .. more than 8 manings.. but in the complete context you can be more precise... but not with specific words like Gurdwara or some other but with prayers... I still belive there is not one only meaning regarding spiritual issues.. :doh:
    Otilia
     
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  21. Archived_member13

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    SAT SRI AKAL,

    Has anybody even thought when we read Banis is called Nitnem simply means every
    human being living on this face of this planet is NAMDHARI refreeing everyone is
    attatched by name they might different regarding countries, boundaries. NIT MEANS
    someone who is sublime bliss and Nem who is in touch with Waheguru's rasna. So that's
    what Nitnem actually means and Sikh is been ever so prevading time since immorial even before Adam and Eve now others might rebuke but that's the TRUTH because
    nobody likes to hear the TRUTH that's why everyone try to supress this religion and that's what happened in Sikh religion the kind of great sacrifices our forefathers made.
    and regarding reading Gurmukhi lanugauge requires little bit of grit and determaniation
    and everything is possible. I hope this infor is fruitfull for Sikhs and non-sikhs as well.

    WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA
    WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH

    Regards

    Gurveen Singh
     
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