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Sabad and Naam (Word and Name)

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Kookar Guru da, Oct 6, 2009.

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  1. Kookar Guru da

    Kookar Guru da
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    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Ke Fateh !

    I would be grateful for learned members' thoughts on the distinction in Gurbani between Sabad/Word and Naam/Name.

    Many thanks,
    Jitinder Singh

    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !
     

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  3. spnadmin

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    Jitender ji

    Here is a link on the topic from a very good web site. From gurbani.org
    Shabad, Gurbani, Naam - What Is It?

    From the blog on the same site, these thoughts:
    • ਭਗਤ ਜਨਾ ਕੀ ਊਤਮ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੁਗਿ ਜੁਗਿ ਰਹੀ ਸਮਾਈ ॥੨੦॥: Bhagat janaa kee ootam baanee jug jug rahee samaaee ||20||: The Bani, the Word of the humble devotees is the most sublime and exalted; it prevails throughout the ages (i.e., it is valid for all times). ||20|| (sggs 909).
    • ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਇਸੁ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ...: Gurbani is jagg mahi chaanan...: The Gurbani is the Light (Infinite Wisdom, Giaan, etc.,) to illuminate this world ( that shows one the right path or way in the life - ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇ ਰਸਤੇ ਵਿਚ ਚਾਨਣ ਕਰਦੀ ਹੈ)...(sggs 67).
    • ਤੇਰੇ ਬਚਨ ਅਨੂਪ ਅਪਾਰ ਸੰਤਨ ਆਧਾਰ ਬਾਣੀ ਬੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਜੀਉ ॥: Terae bachan anoop apaar santan aadhaar baanee beechaareeai jeeou ||: (O Lord) Your Bani is Incomparable and Infinite. It is the Support of the Saints, therefore, they keep contemplating (ਵਿਚਾਰ - Vichaar) it (sggs 80).
    • ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਦਾ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਹਿ ॥: Gur sabad nihachal sadaa sach samaahi ||: The Gur-Shabad is eternal and unchanging. Through it, one merges in the Truth (ਸਦਾ ਕਾਇਮ ਰਹਿਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਪਰਮਾਤਮਾ ਵਿਚ) (sggs 842).
    Enjoy your search. :)
     
  4. spnadmin

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  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    From our respected forum member Soul_Jyot ji there is this selection of Gurbani. Please see the attachment.
     

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  6. Kookar Guru da

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    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !

    I am grateful to Narayan Kaur Jee for kindly supplying information on Sabad and Naam.

    However, I have read many such articles and explanations before and they do not quite hit the mark for me. Can it really be that Sabad and Naam mean the same thing? Some people go so far as to say that Bani also means the same, i.e. Sabad=Naam=Bani. I don't see how this can be the case, or how the Guru would would permit such ambiguity for words that are clearly different in their meaning.

    The fact is that Sabad=Word, Naam=Name, Bani=Hymn. Let us take an example from panna 687 of the Guru:

    DnwsrI mhlw 1 CMq
    dhhanaasaree mehalaa 1 shha(n)tha
    Dhanaasaree, First Mehla, Chhant:

    <> siqgur pRswid ]
    ik oa(n)kaar sathigur prasaadh ||
    One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

    qIriQ nwvx jwau qIrQu nwmu hY ]
    theerathh naavan jaao theerathh naam hai ||
    Why should I bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage? The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage.

    qIrQu sbd bIcwru AMqir igAwnu hY ]
    theerathh sabadh beechaar a(n)thar giaan hai ||
    My sacred shrine of pilgrimage is spiritual wisdom within, and contemplation on the Word of the Shabad.


    In two consecutive lines we see Sabad and Naam and the Guru is clear on the distinction (although the Bhai Sant Singh translation is clumsy - to be the subject of a separate post). Naam is the thing that a Sikh must be immersed in (like immersing in a teerath), whereas Sabad is the thing that a Sikh must contemplate in order to attain understanding and thereby Naam.

    I believe this deeper understanding of the distinction between Sabad and Naam is crucial. Sabad and Naam are not the same thing. When first introduced to the word "vahiguru" it is a sabad, a word. Your only knowledge of this Sabad is that it means "wonderful Guru", i.e. it causes you to praise the Guru. But further beechar/contemplation of this Sabad - carefully reading the Guru, understanding the meaning, thinking on it, acting on it - gives you more familiarity with the Sabad. You like the Sabad more and more, you come to love the Sabad, to adore the Sabad. No longer is it a Sabad alone, but a Naam. Your increased closeness and familiarity with the Sabad now fills you with deep feeling so that you now refer to it as Naam. Just as the name of your child is not just a word to you, when you hear his/her name it triggers the love you feel for them.

    Sabad is therefore most precious, for it opens the door to The One; continual beechar on Sabad makes it Naam, for we are now filled with deep feeling for The One.

    - Jitinder Singh

    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    Actually jitinder ji

    I agree with you. And I disagree with you. In my own humble opinion there are distinctions however subtle. Naam and Shabad are synonymous, but is that the same as "equal in meaning?" Does not Naam mean more than name, but identity as well? Naam, the Identity of Truth, the Almighty Power, the timeless and eternal Truth, the indestructible and formless, all pervading Truth, the Truth that is self-existent. It could be that Naam embraces everything including Bani and Shabad. Shabad is what is spoken, read and heard of Truth speaking the Truth. Then, in that way they are also the same. Let's think about it, think out loud.

    I have added since last posting this. The translation of the tuk adds to what is actually there. It is the theory of the translator that Naam is Name, when in fact it can/may go beyond the meaning, Name.

    qIriQ nwvx jwau qIrQu nwmu hY ]
    theerathh naavan jaao theerathh naam hai ||
    Why should I bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage? The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage

    With the translation creating the equation between Naam and Name of the Lord. Thanks for your input.
     
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  8. arshi

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    This is a very interesting observation. One problem we create for ourselves is the desire to seek a rigid meaning when looking at spiritual terminology. We forget that as mere humans, there are constraints on both our knowledge and vocabulary. Even on known terminology we extract different meanings depending upon our culture, faith, background, values, social and political inclinations and beliefs. What chance do we have to conclude on abstract and spiritual matters? The interpretation sometimes is as good as the knowledge and kamai (spiritual status) of the individual concerned.

    Sabad (or shabad) and Naam in wider contexts can be synonyms but the following tuk might help in drawing a distinction.

    ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ {ਪੰਨਾ 943}
    Saba guru suraḏẖun celaa.
    Sbd gurU hY, myrI suriq dI Dun Bwv itkwau, ies Sbd gurU dw is`K hY [

    Sabad is my Guru and, my spiritual consciousness when attuned to the Sabad brings about equipoise (tikau - sehaj avastha) in the realm of my mind and soul. Thus, my consciousness becomes the disciple of the Sabad Guru. The attuned mind (consciousness) as prepared (trained) by the Sabad Guru immerses the soul into the Ocean of Naam.

    We may also say the Sabad is the ‘ship’ which enables to keep us afloat (by burning our ego and other negative traits) in the bhav sagar of maya and this ship powered by the fuel of Naam will carry us across to our destination ‘the Ocean of Truth’.

    The reference given by Jitinder ji is also excellent and helps in distinguishing between the two:

    theerathh naavan jaao theerathh naam hai; theerathh sabadh beechaar a(n)thar giaan hai (687)

    Whilst Naam is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage, sabad is the ‘tool’ that reveals the wisdom within the inner self (ocean of our of soul) which guides us towards this shrine.

    I also concur with Narayanjot Kaur ji’s observation that “It is the theory of the translator that Naam is Name, when in fact it can/may go beyond the meaning, Name.”

    I am sure other similar distinctions may be made.

    Humbly

    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    arshi ji

    I am glad you posted this:

    ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ{ਪੰਨਾ 943}
    Saba guru suraḏẖun celaa.
    Sbd gurU hY, myrI suriq dI Dun Bwv itkwau, ies Sbd gurU dw is`K hY [

    Sabad is my Guru and, my spiritual consciousness when attuned to the Sabad brings about equipoise (tikau - sehaj avastha) in the realm of my mind and soul. Thus, my consciousness becomes the disciple of the Sabad Guru. The attuned mind (consciousness) as prepared (trained) by the Sabad Guru immerses the soul into the Ocean of Naam.

    I was trying to think of a line of Gurbani to make this point. Sat Nam !

     
  10. Kookar Guru da

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    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !

    Thank you kindly to Narayanjot Kaur Jee and Rajinder Singh 'Arshi' Jee for your replies. Most enlightening.

    I agree that we end up hitting the outer limits of how mere human vocabulary can cope with explaining experiences with Akal Purkh. Still, it is remarkable to what lengths the Guru has gone to try anyway. Guru knows that human words are crude implements for conveying spiritual matters, yet Guru wrote in poetic form and set this to beautiful raags so that the mood/tone/timbre/feeling would be understood. And Guru takes extreme care to be precise with the words through the use of laga-matraan (grammar using Gurmukhi notations - siharee etc.).

    You will not find a more beautiful form of words than poetry, and you will not find anything better to accompany poetry than music. With Guru having taken such extreme care and effort to convey precise meaning of words, to be understood in the mood dictated by the prescribed music, it behoves us to take the time to understand correctly.

    And therein lies the danger with translations. Absolutely necessary though translations are, we can see the pitfalls that lie when due care is not taken. I will post separately about translations.

    Finally, may I humbly encourage us all to start and end any posts with the full Fateh proclomation. Let us not rob ourselves of the chance to say Vahiguru four times.

    - Jitinder Singh

    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !
     
  11. Tejwant Singh

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    Jitinder ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Let me start by saying that you have an interesting user's name what we call in the Hip Hop music that you are a good Dawg- of Ik Ong Kaar, as most of us try to be.

    Allow me to pitch in on the verses you have mentioned above. I agree with you that it is important and a must rather to distinguish between Shabad and Naam and you have given a great Shabad to discuss about it.

    First a bit of back ground about Tirath, Pilgrimages.

    As a student of Gurbani you must be aware that Pilgrimages are the cornerstone of two main religions of that time which were prevalent in India and still are Hinduism and Islam.

    As a matter of fact Pilgrimage is also as important in other 2 Semitic religions including Islam that are Judaism and Christianity, especially in Catholicism. For the Catholics, visiting Rome is a kind of must.

    All Jews from all around the world have the desire to go to Jerusalem in Israel and visit the Wailing Wall and leave a prayer there hoping that their God would read it and hence, fulfill what they asked for in a piece of paper.

    Hindus have multiple places to go and "wash" their sins. Muslims must go at least once in their lifetime to Mecca for the same and stone the "Devil".

    So, these mechanical rituals were created by the honchos of these dogmatic religions which are based on subjective truths like Hell and Heaven for only one purpose and that purpose is to have a feel good aura about oneself when one becomes a mechanical pilgrim to these places.

    In other words, a great recipe for Me-ism. Nothing more.

    Guru Nanak taught us that feeling good is OK, but it is a waste of time if one does not generate good actions after feeling good in a kinetic manner so that goodness can be generated within and then shared with others- which is the cornerstone of Sikhi.

    So, pilgrimage is a personal experience that all the pilgrims go through. Some claim more miracles than the others on these voyages of theirs.

    Now let us get back to the verses you have posted.

    qIriQ nwvx jwau qIrQu nwmu hY ]
    theerathh naavan jaao theerathh naam hai ||
    Why should I bathe at sacred shrines of pilgrimage? The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the sacred shrine of pilgrimage.

    Naam is the experience that I go through, Guru Sahib is saying.

    Now the question arises, how can one have this experience of Naam?

    The next verse explains it beautifully how this experience of Naam is attained.

    qIrQu sbd bIcwru AMqir igAwnu hY ]
    theerathh sabadh beechaar a(n)thar giaan hai ||
    My sacred shrine of pilgrimage is spiritual wisdom within, and contemplation on the Word of the Shabad.

    Only by doing Shabad Vichaar one can cultivate the wisdom about IK Ong Kaar within.

    So, how do we do Shabad Vichaar to attain the experience of Naam which is the true pilgrimage?

    By breeding goodness with in.

    What is the modus operandi for that?

    By understanding Gurbani and putting its tools into practice we can breed goodness within and then we as Sikhs morph into the flowers of the garden of Ik Ong kaar which emit their scent in all directions sans bias.

    This person becomes the true pilgrim and experiences the pilgrimage 24-7.

    Give me a few days and then I will be able to share with you the whole Shabad the way it comes to me from the within.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  12. arshi

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    Jitinder ji (Kookar Guru da) wrote:

    “Guru knows that human words are crude implements for conveying spiritual matters, yet Guru wrote in poetic form and set this to beautiful raags so that the mood/tone/timbre/feeling would be understood. And Guru takes extreme care to be precise with the words through the use of laga-matraan (grammar using Gurmukhi notations - siharee etc.).”

    Indeed.

    This issue came up on a thread on another site. Some conclusions that were drawn were that the Sikh Gurus chose not to write in prose since the rigidity of prose would not have done full justice to the ideas they wished to express. The verse form lends to both ambiguity and flexibility to allow the reader, to extract the meaning to match his or her understanding. This is why we must always translate with great caution and at the same time keep an open mind that there may be another equally good or better interpretation or there may be more than one plausible translation.

    However, the bottom line is that the interpretation must be spiritually positive, i.e. without a deliberate distortion to suit one’s personal life style or agenda.

    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
     
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  13. Tejwant Singh

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    Arshi ji,

    Guru fateh.

    Allow me to add to what you mentioned above. Sikhi has a universal message and our visionary Gurus knew how to share that with the humanity.

    All other religions stopped in time except Sikhi because they are based on Subjective Truths whereas Sikhi is based on the Objective Reality. The first pauri of Jap shows us that.

    Our visionary Gurus did not want our thought process to stop in the past but to evolve itself with the evolution of humanity.

    This is more the reason in my opinion not to write the prose to this beautiful visionary poetry- the road map of humanity -which they could have easily done.

    Gurbani is like a prism. Each one of us sees it from our own angle and the more we delve into Gurbani, with time, the better we are exposed to different angles of the same prism which make our understanding of the same Shabad deeper and wider with time and perseverance.

    One can also put it in this way that Gurbani is like a perfect camera which has both lenses in one. The zoom and the wide one.

    This is the reason that our understanding of Gurbani will grow with our own evolution. The only stamp it has on it is the stamp of TIMELESSNESS.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    Exactly
     
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