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Why should we read Guru Granth Sahib, when we cannot understand a single word?

Discussion in 'Inspirational Stories' started by spnadmin, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Why Should We Read Guru Granth Sahib, Even if We Can't Understand A Single Word.


    An old American Sikh lived on a farm in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky with his Young Grandson.

    Each morning Grandpa was up early, sitting at the kitchen table,reading his Guru Granth Sahib.

    His grandson wanted to be Just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could.

    One day the grandson asked, "Grandpa! I try to read The Guru Granth Sahib just like you: but I don't understand it, and what I dounderstand, I forget as soon as I close The Granth Sahib.

    What good does reading the Granth Sahib do?"

    The grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied,

    "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water."

    The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house.

    The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time,"

    And sent him back to the river with the basket to try again

    This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home.

    Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead.

    The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water.

    You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

    At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house.

    The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather, the basket was again empty.

    Out of breath, he said, " See Grandpa, it's Useless!"

    "So you Think it is Useless?" The old man said, "Look at the Basket."

    "The boy looked at the BASKET and for the first time realized that the BASKET was different.

    It had been transformed from a Dirty Old Coal Basket and was now clean, inside and out.

    "Son, that's what happens when you read Guru Granth Sahib.

    You Might Not Understand or Remember Everything, But When You Read it, you Will Be Changed, inside and out.

    "That is the work of Waheguru in our lives"

    http://tuhitu.blogspot.com/2010/09/sakhi-series-159-fill-it-and-feel.html
     

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  3. eropa234

    eropa234
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    May be you could explain what's the point of having a clean bucket which can't quench thrust. If cleaning the bucket was the object the kid was quite capable of cleaning the bucket.

    Whats the use of a mind when its not capable of retaining water?

    It is the retention that effects
     
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  4. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Eropa234ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Before I can comment on your post, I would like to ask you a couple of questions so, I can understand where you are coming from.

    1. Do you or have you read Gurbani?
    2. If you have, are you/were you able to understand it in one go?
    We know it is all poetry, so it is not easy to put into prose.
    3.You commented on Kanwardeep ji's post:
    "Even though Hinduism is not part of my religion it is still part of my culture I still take pride in the history of my people that goes back ten thousand years in recorded history." What is your religion/faith now?

    Thanks & regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Just as an aside, I am fairly certain that the story posted as the thread starter will annoy some people. It was not posted to annoy, but to consider the story premise. Valid or not? Every now and then the question does cross my mind.

    Even Guru Arjan Dev ji admitted to lack of understanding of the shabad, at one time in his life, in of course another sense. The problem of ignorance takes on more than one form. But the saving grace seems to be the same.

    ਦੇਵਗੰਧਾਰੀ ੫ ॥
    dhaevagandhhaaree 5 ||
    Dayv-Gandhaaree, Fifth Mehl:


    ਮਨ ਕਹ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਅਫਾਰਾ ॥
    man keh ahankaar afaaraa ||
    O mind, why are you so puffed up with egotism?


    ਦੁਰਗੰਧ ਅਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਅਪਾਵਨ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਛਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    dhuragandhh apavithr apaavan bheethar jo dheesai so shhaaraa ||1|| rehaao ||
    Whatever is seen in this foul, impure and filthy world, is only ashes. ||1||Pause||


    ਜਿਨਿ ਕੀਆ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਪਰਾਨੀ ਜੀਉ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਜਿਨਿ ਧਾਰਾ ॥
    jin keeaa this simar paraanee jeeo praan jin dhhaaraa ||
    Remember the One who created you, O mortal; He is the Support of your soul, and the breath of life.



    ਤਿਸਹਿ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਅਵਰ ਲਪਟਾਵਹਿ ਮਰਿ ਜਨਮਹਿ ਮੁਗਧ ਗਵਾਰਾ ॥੧॥
    thisehi thiaag avar lapattaavehi mar janamehi mugadhh gavaaraa ||1||
    One who forsakes Him, and attaches himself to another, dies to be reborn; he is such an ignorant fool! ||1||


    ਅੰਧ ਗੁੰਗ ਪਿੰਗੁਲ ਮਤਿ ਹੀਨਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਰਾਖਨਹਾਰਾ ॥
    andhh gung pingul math heenaa prabh raakhahu raakhanehaaraa ||
    I am blind, mute, crippled and totally lacking in understanding; O God, Preserver of all, please preserve me!



    ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਵਨਹਾਰ ਸਮਰਥਾ ਕਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਜੰਤ ਬਿਚਾਰਾ ॥੨॥੧੧॥
    karan karaavanehaar samarathhaa kiaa naanak janth bichaaraa ||2||11||
    The Creator, the Cause of causes is all-powerful; O Nanak, how helpless are His beings! ||2||11||
     
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  6. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    Buckets have many uses, clean buckets especially. Now he has a perfectly useful clean bucket for carrying mangoes - or whatever. Gurbani is like that. Often what you get out of it has nothing to do with what you expected.
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    or a perfectly clean basket to carry fragant flowers
     
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  8. eropa234

    eropa234
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    I fully agree with your statement. The story above is in relation to a Basket, that has residue of coal in it, has a hole in it and the object is to fetch water with it. I am sure that basket had been used at least once to fetch coal despite the hole in it. If the kid had brought mangoes in it I would not have commented, but then the story would not make sense.Absence of coal residue was the unintended consequence.

    In essence what i am trying to say from my perspective when I read Guru Bani I have an object which include understanding, I may not understand what I am reading at the time I skip to next lines and so on. With each sitting I am able to accomplish my object it may be in form a tiny spec of understanding that will increases my comprehension and capability and eventually with patience I will be able to understand what I had skipped.I have never experienced unintended consequences if I have than at least I am not aware of them.

    An expanded mind helps in all aspects of life including relations with in the family, society and employment.

    Even as a kid if I was told to fetch water with a basket which has hole in it I will not leave unless my dad teaches me or explains to me as to how I could fetch water and bring it to him with such a basket. If my dad had asked me to clean the bucket I would have accomplished that objective.
     
  9. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    EROPA 234 ji,

    From experience, I can write about the usefulness of hearing Gurbani even if you don't understand the words. In a stroke in 2006, I completely lost my Punjabi, which - along with English and French - was a language I learned from birth. At first it was pure gibberish to me. Still it did have a very advantageous effect on me. I have continued listening, sometimes with transliteration/translation, sometimes without. I have begun to understand some.

    What more can I say? Listening without understanding is leading to understanding.

    Analogies can go only so far; I think I am done with that bucket. Please don't refer to the hole in my head!
     
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  10. eropa234

    eropa234
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    I read almost every day for the past 15 years and realy enjoy reading

    Thank you Tejwant Singh Ji.
     
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  11. skeptic.freethinker1

    skeptic.freethinker1 United States
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    Well said. Since we need to incorporate the teachings of GGS in our life, I don't think it serves any purpose to just go through the motions of reading it if you aren't able to understand it.
     
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  12. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Eropa 234 ji,

    Guru Fateh and thanks for the response.
    Thanks for sharing this treasure finder with us.

    I am glad you agree that retention is not instant or immediate. Gurbani acts like a Goldsmith rather than a Blacksmith upon our psyche. A goldsmith needs soft multiple hammerings to shape gold into a beautiful ornament where as a blacksmith does it in just a few of them to make what ever he is making.


    What you mentioned above is a true life of a Sikh and many of us, including myself would love to emulate you.

    Now coming back to the story. It sounds more a fictional parable from the old ages. The author used Kentucky because of its coal mines, nothing more in my opinion. As you may be aware that in the olden days the elders were respected and never questioned due to the patriarchal hierarchical system in the culture. Especially between a first generation and the third one because all the teachings of the young children were outsourced to the elders, so mothers could, cook, sow and perform other chores.

    So, this story/parable is between a granddad and his grandson where grandchildren due to the cultural values were not allowed to question their grandparents and had total faith in them which may have been derived from the gumbo of awe, love, respect and fear. In olden Indian culture the lessons were taught indirectly like in this case. Yes, if this had happened today, grandpa would have simply asked the grandson to clean the basket in the river water. But that is not the idea behind the parable.

    It shows that things take time to sink in especially Gurbani which is all poetic not in prose and with age and our persistence, we discover new things about ourselves daily. Sikhi is about learning, unlearning and relearning daily. That is why we do Nitnem everyday so that we can discover something new about ourselves otherwise we become mere parrots and make it a meaningless mechanical ritual.

    One can create water retention in one's body by eating salty things and drinking water. This can happen quite fast. But retention of something that molds are body, mind and spirit is a different affair.

    The beautiful thing about Gurbani is that it is a never ending ore, and we as miners keep on discovering new gems daily in it. It is a unique scripture. Most of the other scriptures are written in prose which is easy to interpret. There is not much difference in the Bible, or the Koran and the Torah which are translated into different languages, whereas poetic interpretation varies from person to person and also varies with time from the same person. That is why we call ourselves Sikhs.

    Thanks and regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  13. eropa234

    eropa234
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    This is so true. Surface reading alone is only a start one must dive deep to find the treasure. Understanding is utterly important. It is good for a young kid to go through the experience of reading Guru Bani. Understanding has a direct relationship with trial and turbulence of life as an adult. The knowledge does not lie in a book it lies in the mind Gurubani is a rope that connects senses to the Sat (the truth) that lies in the same body.

    " Aik Drist kar sum sar Janey, Jogi Kahiay soi" on the surface I can make a principle that all people are equal, and close the book, but I will never be able to put it into practice until I " See It" my self. I can make a powerful case that all are not the equal as many who read this stanza do. They claim that we/I are different than others based on religion, culture, nationality, color and gender. Ones who "see" do not not say that, they truly know who they are. There lies the difference between a "seer" and "believer".
     
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  14. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Eropa ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    What we "See" is very subjective whereas Sat is objective.
    Gurbani reminds of an old saying:
    " When we change the way we look at things, then the things we look at change".

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  15. Archived_member14

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    I may be able to add something to this discussion.

    Imagine we never get to hear about the good; is it not likely then that our lives would be dominated by evil? If we never hear about the Truth, would we not live in total ignorance?

    The self enlightened person is very rare, but even he would have heard much in previous lives. But also in that particular lifetime he would need some signs and support with regard to other levels of goodness. Indeed to become enlightened is said to be the result of “much hearing”.

    So there is no doubt about the importance of hearing and discussions with reference to all kinds of good. And we often take for granted this, but the fact is that more precious than anything else is this opportunity to hear and discuss the Truth and related to this, being born a human at a time where such teachings are available.

    However the truth being not in the books there is also this that the person who reads them, must have the capacity to understand. And also this capacity to understand is not the only determining factor, but also what is conveyed must suit the individual accumulations. One person may like poetic expressions and another not. One parable may work for one and not for another. For the same person, one moment there can be understanding of a certain phrase and another moment one feels too dense to understand anything. A child would need to be given examples which he at his age can relate or in terms of stories that are interesting.

    All this again, can’t be taken as a general rule applicable to all. There is another important factor to consider, which is that what we hear and when depends on karma and merit accumulated in the past. The meeting of the teacher, one who can guide or at least initially express just the right words for us, is a result of past good deeds and our accumulated tendency to understand. The continued interest, besides depending on our own capacity is also on the opportunity to associate with like minded people on a regular basis. None of these is within anyone’s ability to control and determine, and to think otherwise will only result in going off the path.

    In the same vein is this matter about reading texts. As skeptic.freethinker1 said:
    Quote:
    “ I don't think it serves any purpose to just go through the motions of reading it if you aren't able to understand it.” <end quote>

    Actually I think in fact that it can be very harmful if one is not lead to reading with wholesome interest. If we read out of attachment and fear, then clearly more of these will accumulate. What’s worse is that it can be encouraging of the inclination to rite and ritual, which comes down to a mistaken reading of cause and effect. So better that the interest in this be from a necessary minimal and allowed to grow naturally to what then may become a daily routine so to speak. In this case, although one may often be disheartened by the attachments, aversions and ignorance which must necessarily still be very much there, at least one does not end up encouraging the worse of all the evils, namely this blind following of “going through the motions of this or that activity”. After all, wasn’t the warning against these things the highlight of Guru Nanak’s teachings?

    It can be seen that coming out of such blindness of wrong understanding about cause and effect is mischief of all sorts. One wrong encourages wrong in other areas. Evil will be mistaken for good and one ends up like a man lost in the dark forest without any sense of direction, dying and being reborn again there over and over again.
     
  16. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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    What is the Guru Granth Sahib? It is a Guru or Teacher?

    How do we normally try and understand a teacher? Listen learn and put into practice (where possible as its a bit difficult with nuclear fission)

    The problem I have is with the one line or one word merchants. I mean in a Physics lesson you would not remember only one part of Hooks Law, you would try and learn all of it.

    Also when a teacher teaches, he/she usually gives examples for people to understand a concept. The examples are not meant to be taken literally. The same principle applies to Bani.
     
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