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Respect to Gurbani in Other Languages

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Ishna, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. Ishna

    Ishna
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    Sat Sri Akal

    I would like to know the sangat's opinion on the level of respect to accord to gurbani in various written forms.

    Do you feel translations should be shown the level of respect as gurmukhi? Would you cover your head if reading, for example, an article at www.gurbani.org, as opposed to sitting quietly reading from your gurmukhi/english nitnem gutka?

    Would you be offended if the mool mantar or japji sahib was presented in english as a devotional introduction to Sikhi, to be read by people who don't necessarily know much (if anything) about Sikhi, in an attempt to show them the beauty in a way they can relate to?

    Would you be more offended if the book contained gurmukhi script with the english translation and transliteration, or conversly less offended or not at all offended if it contained no gurmukhi script at all (not even 'ik onkar')?

    If it means educating and even inspiring english/german/swedish/chinese/whatever people to investigate Sikhi further, would that be acceptable to you personally?

    I know when I first came across Sikhi, I was ignorant about head covering and read from a digital english Sri Guru Granth Sahib .pdf feeling nothing but awe, amazement and rapture. Then I learned about head covering and now I a) feel guilty if I read without my head covered or b) feel self-conscious if I read with my head covered unless I'm home alone. I wish I was still innocent to the head-covering aspect! (Especially since I haven't come across any head-covering references in Guru Granth Sahib ji, get the impression from Guru Granth Sahib that it would be a useless ritual anyway - it's my frame of mind that really matters, and I figure that if the Divine Energy intended for me to cover my head to worship and reflect upon It then I would have been born with a piece of cloth over my noggin...)

    Most of the time I feel that the script itself is of no consequence, it's the attitude of the person reading. If I'm reading to learn the nuts-and-bolts, I won't cover my head, I don't feel the need to. If I'm meditating or consciously praying, I will cover my head. I'm interested to find out if others do the same!

    Your thoughts are most appreciated.

    Ishna

    Note 1: I also mean no disrespect to the tradition of head covering as a sign of respect as used in Indian culture for a very, very long time. I'm viewing this topic from a Western outsiders point-of-view.
     
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    #1 Ishna, Oct 11, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2010
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  3. spnadmin

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    Ishna ji

    I have a question. Where did you get the information that one must cover one's head when reading digital, .pdf, or even print copies of the shabad?

    Women cover their heads if/when reading digital, .pdf or print copies of the shabad when in gurdwara because in gurdwara they are in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib ji. The same would be for men who are nonkeshdhari Sikhs, and who wear head scarves for the same reason. Keshdhari males (including nonamritdhari) tie dastar as a matter of faith, in gurdwara or not.

    If one kept an authorized copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at home, then of course the same would apply. This would always be a bound copy written only in Gurmukhi, in Larevaar script, and published by publishing house authorized by SGPC.

    Every now and then I read about this on the Internet. Let's clear things up before anymore unnecessary guilt develops. FYI I do not wear a chunni when at home or in the office reading digital copies of the shabad. There are rehats (e.g., Damdami Taksal, AKJ) which have all sorts of extra rules for women. Let's check the Sikh Rehat Maryada on this subject.
     
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  4. spnadmin

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    (t) For a Sikh, there is no restriction or requirement as to dress except for he must wear Kachhera [A drawer type garment fastened by a fitted string round the waist, very often worn as an underwear] and turban. A Sikh woman may or may not tie turban.

    http://www.searchsikhism.com/sec4.html

    Gurdwara Protocol

    ... Before entering the hall, people take off their shoes, wash their hands, covers their head and think of the Guru. Non-Sikhs too must cover their head with a handkerchief or scarf. ...

    http://www.searchsikhism.com/temple.html
     
  5. Ishna

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    Thank you spnadmin for your reply.

    I guess I got the idea from a combination of things...

    I thought it was a sign of respect to the bani (whether Guru Granth Sahib or a gutka) to cover your head and wash your hands. My nitnem gutka with gurmukhi, english transliteration and translation says as a note on the inside cover to treat the book with respect and cover my head before reading it. I also have a couple of booklets with gurmukhi and english translation and extrapolation which says the same, although I don't even regard this as a gutka par-se as it also contains the authors interpretation in the same sentances as the translation.

    I also thought it was a sign of respect to God, so that when I pray or jap naam I cover my head as a sign of respect for the Energy I'm focussing on/communicating with.

    I have however thought that God is everywhere and since a Sikh should be remembeing God all the time then technically one's head should be covered 100% of the time, bringing me back to "I would have been born with a chunni".

    A friend a while back suggested it might also be a way of "protecting your crown chakra when engaged in spiritual acitvities" but I don't know much about that.

    If head covering is a sign of respect to Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji in the single-volume, gurmukhi version (the "real" one!) only, then technically no one has to cover their head when meditating or praying outside it's presence (except for males per Sikh Rehat Maryada). Is that because Guru Gobind Singh ji transferred his light to that version only? Should it be only the original version Guru Gobind Singh ji had at the time which should be shown that level of respect, or is the light present in every copy? Why then only the gurmukhi script version and not an english version? Is it the meaning of the words which requires respect, or the paper and symbols printed on the pages?

    My own thought about those questions would be that it's very difficult to translate to English the exact meaning encapsulated in the original, so an english version is probably going to be different, and if there is a chance of the meaning being different than the original due to the translator's misinterpretation, then technically it's not the Guru? I don't know. I over analyse!

    ...Does the same go for listening to kirtan? If I'm playing general kirtan music (take a Snatam Kaur CD for example) at work, I don't cover my head, but I'm also not "playing it for a reason" or "focussed on it". When I play japji sahib in the morning, I will cover my head.

    Is everyone starting to laugh at me now? cheerleader

    Ishna
     
  6. BazGrewal

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    I'm pretty sure you don't have to cover your head when your on the computer reading Gurbani or like listening to kirtan in the car, i think that it isn't absolutely necessary to cover your head unless your are in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib ji, so I don't think it matters like in online translations.
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    ishna ji

    I hope no one is laughing at you. If the are they have to answer to me :mad:

    Our crown chakras should be fine -- But I am wondering why they would need protection when reading Sri Guru Granth Sahib. How could they be in danger? I have heard about protecting the crown chakra when doing spiritual activities. That comes from Sikhs and non Sikhs alike who are tuning into some Age of Aquarius message that has its roots in exactly the kind of mystification that Guru Nanak warned us against.

    Some sects within Sikhi have made devotion 1000 times more complicated than originally intended, and often miss the point of the Shabad. That is THEIR choice.

    I have already posted from the Sikh Rehat Maryada on the subject of covering your head. If you chose to show your respect by covering your head at other times and in other ways than mentioned in SRM--- then that is YOUR choice.

    Their are wonderful pictures of Sikh soldiers during World War I carrying SGGS from one battlefield to another. They prayed and sang kirtan in filthy trenches, where they took hukam from Guru Granth Sahib ji, in spite of the dirt, vermin and obnoxious weather conditions. To me that is real bhagati.
     
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  8. findingmyway

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    Dear Ishna Ji,
    You raise some very good points and things that cause conflict among even the older generation. I have frequent debates about this topic with auntiji's!

    In an ideal world, all Sikhs would be wearing a dastar so this would be a moot point. However, we do not live in an ideal world. Sikhi is a journey and I myself have only recently started thinking about wearing a dastaar. So lets deal with the real world. The primary objective of Sikhi is to rediscover your connection with Akal Purakh and become a better person through your actions. Lets look at 2 scenarios:

    1) A person only does paath/kirtan at certain times as they can only access their chunni then and are afraid of insulting Waheguru. They don't listen to kirtan at other times and won't watch religious programmes on TV as the chunni might not be accessible or convenient to wear.

    2) A person wears a chunni when practical but other times does not cover head. As they feel no restriction they do kirtan/paath/simran as much as possible, eg walking down the street, in the car, on the bus. They read bani on internet, watch religious programming anytime, have kirtan on in the background when practical.

    Who do you think is achieving the objective of Sikhi more effectively? I would be inclined to say person 2 as they are more closely joined to Waheguru and therefore less likely to stray. Person 1 may show outward respect but person 2 has ultimate respect as they know they can turn to the Guru anytime and they do! Person 2 will learn more from the Guru and therefore has a better chance of applying the teachings to their life.

    The respect shown to all copies of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji should be the same as they all contain the same jyot, the same shabad guru so are all of equal standing. I'm pretty sure the SRM says to treat only bound copies of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Guru. Therefore, as stated above you must cover your head when in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I have 3 different digital copies of the entire Granth but I do not treat them in the same way as that would become ritualism. There is still respect there but it is more internal respect (and awe!) rather than external.

    Translating the Guru Granth Sahib ji into different languages is a fantastic idea as it opens the treasure trove of Gurbani up to so many more people. As far as I know there are several translations in English, a few in Panjabi and 1 in Spanish. However, much is lost in translation so I wouldn't be keen on not having the original Gurbani included. Having it there also gives people more of an incentive to learn Gurmukhi which will further their understanding even more.

    Jasleen Kaur
     
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  9. Ishna

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    Jasleen ji, I totally relate to your Person 1 and Person 2 scenario. I would probably consider myself to be Person 1.5 (not 1 and not 2!). I can't believe the comments I'm reading as I've spent years under the impression that I should have my head covered as much as possible so that when I'm singing mul mantar to myself while folding the mail, or feeling inspired and chanting Waheguru randomly I'm not being disrespectful. So many times I've stopped myself because I haven't wanted to disrespect (in my own mind) when logic is telling me that it's better to stay connected rather than turn away just because my bandana is at home.

    I have been on other forums where the consensus has been that everyone should be wearing dastaar because "if you're waiting in line at the post office and find yourself reciting Chaupai in your mind, you don't want to be caught bare headed".

    I'm still a bit confused why my books say "this book contains Gurbani - the word of God. Please treat it with the utmost respect, wash your hands and cover your head before reading!". Of course I take care of my books, they are wrapped in cloth because I don't want them to get dusty and it feels good to unwrap them and wrap them back up again with love. But if the state of mind is one of reverence, what does it really matter if your head is covered or not? (unless you're in presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, where it's wonderful to see everyone with their heads covered -- it makes for such a spiritual atmosphere!)

    Jasleen ji, it's so good to hear your contemplating wearing a dastaar. I don't think I'm likely to have the courage for a long time... I'm not sure my family would like that very much. But I'm always so inspired when I see Sikhs wearing dastaars! And the more women who wear them, the more accepted it will become, and the more women will wear them! You go sista! :thumbsuppp:

    Ishna
     
  10. findingmyway

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    A gutka is a part of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and is similar in form. It's good practice to treat with a gutka with respect as per the instructions as it is more than a book. As much as we say form is not important, as human beings we are creatures that are heavily reliant on our physical senses. Therefore it is important to have boundaries. As a gutka as similar form to the Guru, if we treat it as a mere book the mindset could potentially change towards the Guru Granth Sahib Ji too. I think this distinction is especially important for people who feel they need a real life Guru, as our behaviour will make it easier to accept the Granth as our one and only Guru.

    As for your other example with the post office queue I completely disagree. Surely its a good thing that the person is remembering Waheguru bareheaded or not. There are millions of Christians in the World. They do not cover their head when they pray. Do you think they are any less devoted to God? Judging from the passion from several conversations I've had with Christians I wouldn't say so.

    Covering the head is a sign of respect, not of devotion.


    p.s. for those of you who don't know the terminology-a gutka is a section of The Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This makes it easier to focus on a small section and keep it with you as it is obviously smaller and lighter. Gutkas contain the Gurmukhi but can also contain transliteration and/or translation into other languages. Common gutkas are those containing Nitnem Banis, sukhmani Sahib, Asa Ki Var.
     
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    #9 findingmyway, Oct 12, 2010
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  11. Ishna

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    Okay, so the key point here is that physical books similar in form to Guru Granth Sahib Ji (and the Guru itself) should be treated with respect.

    So, a book written in english, with some key gurmukhi symbols (like 'ik onkar') and a transliteration of a shabad, created with the purpose of being a devotional item for english-speaking people to use as a "comfortable introduction" to the spiritual element of Sikhi, would probably be best presented with a request that the reader simply "treat the book with respect - don't let it get dirty, don't put it on the floor", with perhaps a note expalining how respect is usually given to a Sikh "prayer book" containing the original script.

    If said english-speaking person was indeed inspired to investigate this strange and largely unknown religion called "Sikhi" further as they were impressed with the content of the little book they had come across, one would assume they would learn more about gurmukhi, gurdwara protocols, etc.

    So, now I can start reading anything that isn't a "proper" gutka guilt-free!

    And I guess that means I can print mul mantar in gurmukhi and stick it to my workspace wall at work without worrying that me and all my bareheaded co-workers will not be being disrespectful.

    I believe I'm now rather excited! And I love all these smilies, too! icecreamkudi

    Thank you all who have contributed thus far to this thread. If I've misunderstood, please correct me.

    Waheguruuu!

    Ishna

    PS. a funny but unrelated story for those who've read this far... I was in the shopping centre a few weeks ago and found the courage to say a meek "Sat Sri Akal" to a Sikh man who was working in the grocery store... he came back with a rather loud "Sat Sri Akaaaaal!" and I gave a small smile and walked briskly away. I was speaking to a Sikh lady a week ago, and learned that you gotta say "Akal" with an upwards inflection. I think the man at the grocery store was trying to correct me! Unfortunately you can't communicate upwards inflection over the internet!
     
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