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Gurbani Puzzles And Translations


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
This thread is an experiment, suggested by SPN Admin. The translation of Gurbani is a complicated matter, made at times more difficult, not easier, by the use of search engines. Why is translation fraught with difficulties?

Search engines require exact matches of transliteration equivalents from Gurmukhi to English-- or finding the translation of a tuk from Gurmukhi to English will be impossible. More about this problem later.

Translations can also be complicated for individual translators when they try to find a grammatical equivalent in English that captures the original meaning of a line in Gurbani. This is not easy for the translators, and their decisions often lead to intense controversy.

Then there is the problem of what a tuk really means in the context of an entire Shabad, beyond a simple matching word by word.

Variations of the Punjabi language including old forms of Punjabi are much more bound by what a word implies in context than is true for English and most modern European languages. A single word can have 20 different meanings. These different meanings may not be synonymous. Changes in meaning can depend on how the word is used in a Shabad. So one will often read a translation and wonder how the translator came up with the translation. Where did he get that, you will ask?

You are invited to take this thread in hand. Bring puzzles and questions about translations. Share resources. Add your own linguistic talents.

Let's keep this thread in Chardi Kala -- we are all learners.

To begin, I am asking forum members to take a look at this line. This puzzle falls in the category of ?Where Did He Get That? The translator is Dr. Sant Singh and my source is searchgurbani.com. How did Dr. Sant Singh ji come up with the translation involving password?

ਪਤਿ ਮਤਿ ਪੂਰੀ ਪੂਰਾ ਪਰਵਾਨਾ ਨਾ ਆਵੈ ਨਾ ਜਾਸੀ ॥
path math pooree pooraa paravaanaa naa aavai naa jaasee ||
Perfect is my honor, perfect is my intellect and password. I shall not have to come or go.

ਨੀਸਾਣੁ Neesan is the more typical English equivalent for password. But you will not find it in the verse above. Does neesan really mean password? Did they use the word password in the 15th Century?

Your thoughts are honored.