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Japji Translation Questions


Mar 4, 2013
Hey, i'm just starting to read Jap Ji Sahib and i'm using the website SriGranth.org which i'm sure you are no doubt familiar with, I am not relying on the textual translations given beneath each line, instead i'm trying to make a list of individual words on the website which have been translated, (you can do this by hovering the words over the gurmukhi text), i then write that words and the translation in order to create my own personal vocabulary list, however recently i have become slightly worried that this effort is in vein, as i am starting to get the feeling that perhaps SriGranth.org's translation of individual words is perhaps not so reliable. I was wondering if anyone would vouch for the relibility of this method that I am using and could perhaps propose a different method for getting a good understanding of the Gurmukhi words in the JapJi Sahib.



Aug 18, 2010
World citizen!
Anon ji,
I use the word approach in Shabad of the week in order to encourage more participation. However, this approach will only ever take you so far. Gurbani is poetry, so the meaning is much more than the sum of the words. You need to bear this in mind. Also if you get stuck, referring to another shabad/passage can help you understand better. It is good to look at the words and grammar, but also don't forget context or the bigger picture, especially when understanding metaphors. Feel free to share your learning to we can all learn together :icecreamkaur:


May 9, 2006
Gurfateh ji

Yes, www.srigranth.org is a great site for learning about Gurbani! Good choice to start there.

I commend your determination for the project. I'm not sure how much you know about the Gurmukhi (script Gurbani is written in). The language in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (classical Punjabi with a mix of many other languages) is highly inflected and has many different cases for words.

For example in English it gets about as complicated as:

I'd speculate that in English our most highly inflected words are verbs, and in the above list there are 4 examples, unless I've missed any.

If you had no knowledge of English, and Japji were composed in English, and you were hovering your mouse over swim, swims, swimming, swam they'd either come up with nothing, or point you to 'swim', which might not make much sense if you don't understand what the different words mean (to swim.. he swam.. they swam... I am swimming... etc). I believe this accounts for why a lot of the time the srigranth dictionary comes up with nada-nothing-zilch-zero on hover sometimes.

In Gurbani inflection and case are even more complicated than English. Nouns change form depending if they are 'male' or 'female' sounding-words. Adjectives change form depending on the gender and number of the word they are describing. There are so many verb endings according to the tense and if it's singular, plural, a vowel-ending verb or a consonant-enging verb. Example:

The word 'kar' (do) in Gurmukhi has these present tense forms:

1st person singular
kara (I do)
karee (I do)
karo (I do)

2nd person singular
Karh(i) (you do)

3rd person singular
karai (he does)
kare (he does)

1st person plural
karh (we do)

2nd person plural
karh(u) (you do)

3rd person plural
karnhee (they do)
karh(i) (they do)

And unlike adjectives, in this tense there is no distinction of gender!

I wanted to try a similar approach as you in the beginning before I realised there is presently no shortcut to learning Japji in the native language, you really need to spend some time learning the actual lanaguage.

The good news!

For all it's perceived complexities, the rules for the language of Gurbani are actually really quite logical and relatively easy to pick up (for a language!). The script is an absolutely work of art which makes identifying the different words quick and easy.

If you'd like to take the project to the next level (come on you know you want to!) then I recommend downloading a copy of An Introduction to the Sacred Language of the Sikhs are having a read - it teaches you the script and the language (it's where I got the above example from). Download free here (you just have to register first): http://www.academicroom.com/book/introduction-sacred-language-sikhs [cudos to spnadmin for finding this for us!]

I've been working my way through the book (hit a wall recently and stopped but I intend to come back to it soon) and putting my answers in the forum here for other members to mark so if you want to compare your answers please do: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/learn-punjabi/40814-request-for-assistance-with-marking-tests.html

Also look around the forum for other posts about the language and grammar. And ask questions. :)

My dream is to learn enough of Gurmukhi and the language to be able to create a 'learn nitnem in it's own language' sort of resource which will explain the language just in the context of Japji first and then hopefully other banis. I want to get it to a stage where someone can pick up the resourse and it will explain word-for-word the language so people can read the Gurmukhi and understand it, even if it's only in Japji and not the rest of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Because learning a whole language is quite a task and is time-consuming, when most newcomers want to get straight into the Sikh lifestyle and want to do nitnem (which let's face it is stunningly beautiful in the original) but feel a barrier due to the language.

I may never get there and it might not even be a feasable project but hey, I can aim for it anyway.

Good luck and happy reading!

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Well The other side of story That it is also an art used by very clever persons.They show their one face to society ,but there other personality is quite different

That is why Guru Ji tells us...AAKLEEAN sahib seveyeah...USE THE BRAINS He gifted us to search for the TRUTH..the REAL FACE...hiding behind the Mask of Divinity...but sadly many just take the mask for reality..too bad..they get cheated.

swarn bains

Apr 9, 2012
my translation
ਸੋਚੈਸੋਚਿਨਹੋਵਈਜੇ ਸੋਚੀਲਖਵਾਰ॥

No one can realize God by thinking, one may think millions of times and forever


Divinity cannot be achieved by being quiet, even if you never speak


A greedy person is never content; he may have the wealth of the whole world. Contentment is a must to realize God.


The intelligence does not count for attaining divinity.


How to find the truth? How to lift the veil of falsehood?


Nanak says everything happens by God’s grace. It is pre-ordained.


Jan 22, 2005

How to find the truth? How to lift the veil of falsehood?


Nanak says everything happens by God’s grace. It is pre-ordained.
Swarn Jee In first line guru sahib asked then how to be truthful or as you have translated how to find the truth and how to lift the veil of falsehood but your interpretation of second line does not make sense to me atleast. If everything is pre-ordained or happens by God's grace then why should we take efforts.

To know how to be truthful, Guru sahib while dismissing hollow rituals being practiced during his times, have asked us to first offer your confession that I am not perfect and there comes burning desire to mend. Strange when unlike indic mythology and semitic schools and pre-destined puni paapi philosophy, gurmat God has already bestowed His divine treasure (the divine weapon) to each individual 'nanak likhiya naal'. If you explore this treasure it will shine bright God concept is how to be a person a being of full of humanity how to be a loving being.


Mar 11, 2009
Brisbane Australia
Gurfateh all

It has been long since I last visited SPN, just got an update for Swarn Bains ji's message.

Over this time, I have come across few new thoughts around translation of Japji.

I would like to share it here so that we all can ponder over it and discuss it further.

Problem with current translation is that it uses term "GOD" but term GOD itself is not defined by the translator, So the readers go out and take the literal meaning of "GOD" as widely accepted which is in short "A higher being above all". So the whole connection goes some where else.

Here is my version of translation of Mool mantar, which is basically identification of GOD as per Gurbani,

I am knowingly ommitting "Ik Onkaar" in start and "Gur Parsad" in the end which I will cover after I make middle part clear, hope that is ok.

So Partly MoolMantar is as follows:

krta prukh
Akal Moorat


Satnaam ------"Truth" is the name
Krta Purakh ----is the doer, or is the reason of everything--Only Truth that is
NIrbhau ---------is Fearless --Only Truth Can be fearless
Nirvair -----------is impartial---Only Truth can be impartial
Akal Moorat-----does not change with time---Only Truth is time independent
Ajooni -----------is formless, cant be confined to a particular form, Truth is omnipresent, (through its order(hukam))
Saibhan(g)-----exists by itself, does not have any dependencies

So In a Nut Shell, Gurbani has clearly defined that "TRUTH" is the GOD, we all should seek.

Kiv Sachyara hoiyai---meaning how to be truthful.

Hukum Rajai Chlna, Nanak Lkhiya nal-- meaning to follow the ORDER(Hukam) of Truth and by following it, We would become truthful too.

I request all the members to please reflect on above translation and see if it fits in with rest of the gurbani and how it changes direction of our thoughts from a fictitious higher being to "TRUTH".

Now I would like to elaborate on Gurparsad:

Gur parsad-- two words, GUr + Parsad(i)
--- Gur -- meaning Knowledge
--- Parsad(i)-- meaning kirpa,
-- Combined meaning ---Gyan di Kirpa naal, ie Through knwoledge and Understanding.

If we go by above translation of Gurparsad, it looks like incomplete, cos, it is pointing to some achievement through "Gurparsaad", but in actual the moolmantar(partial) did not give us any goal to achieve.

Now we turn to "Ik Onkaar" the very first word in Guru Granth Sahib, Let us assume for sake of understanding that it is "Ekankaar",

Literal meaning of "Ekankaar" is being one with something.

So here in Mool Mantar we are given the Goal in very first stanza "Ekankaar" to be one with something,

That Something is defined in the middle part of mool mantar, which is "TRUTH"

And in the last part of Mool mantar (ie Gurparsad(i)), it is advised how to be "Ekankaar", ie by acquiring knowledge of "TRUTH"

Above Thought is also elaborated in following Pankti

ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਪਾਈਐ, ਹਉ ਬਲਿ ਬਲਿ ਗੁਰ ਦਰਸਾਇਣਾ ॥੮॥

first part essentially means " ekankaar satgur parsad(i)", which is short version of Mool Mantar.

Above are some of my observations in raw, I might be wrong, but I leave it on my fellow SPNs to please scrutinize and provide the feedback.


Rupinder Singh

swarn bains

Apr 9, 2012
truth is part of human code of conduct which we are born with and lost it due to worldly winds. satnam is not truth, satnam is satnam or ....


Nov 5, 2010
Sat Sri Akaal,
Mentoring Lives

Jap Study
38 steps pauri

Step 1

Soche By Thinking
Such: Cleaning
Na Hovai Will not happen
Ja Sochey Lakh Waar
Even by thinking many a times

How to erase stored information, ie analogy how to clean our genetic hard disk, to receive Gurus Bani. If hard disk is full.

How one
can read and store.
Or Listen and store.
When there is no space in system.

The way is SUCH.
Cleaning making space in mind to receive Gurus Bani.

Indicators of no space.
Problems and Desires

We make step 1 in Gurudwara

Not with Such but with problems and desires.

With problem:.
Chupey chup na hovai jai lai raha liv taar.

Inner silence is not there, one might be sitting in samadhi, problems are appearing in thoughts.

Bukhyan bukh na uttree ja baniya puria bhar.

Desires are on high, there is no time space mind space but still to achieve more.

Sahas syanpa lakh hovi Ek na chaly naal.
One may gain artificial intelligence,
but gained artificial intelligence is not inherited, will die after death,
the next reproductive kin has to work again.

Doctors Engineers CA made of stored information, can not inherit artificial intelligence. Next one has to learn one self.

Kive How
Sachyara Truth
Hoi One can gain.
Kiv. How
Kurrey Ignorance
Tutey Break
Pal veil

Than what is way to break veil of ignorance of MIND ie OWN SELF.

Hukam. Natures Law Will
Razai. Acceptance
Chalna. Followance

Above own mind and body beyond SELF.

Likhya One has to follow genetic information

Naal Transmitted by RE PRODUCTION.

PAUSE AND THINK Step 1 is over.

Hukam By Natures Will or Command

Huvan Akaar One takes form (Word Form/ Physical Form Etc)

Hukam Na Keha Jai

What Command within will executed can not be fore said

Hukami hovam Ji

The human will is bound to command

Hukam Miley Vadiayai

With commands withing one get appraised

Hukami Uttam Niche

With eternal commands one gets up or down feel

Hukami Mil Dook Sookh Pai

With eternal command on gets negative(dookh) and positive(sookh) feeling.

Ikna Hookmi Bakshish

Commands comes as blessing

Ik Hukami Sada Bhavaia

What commands generate feelings

Hukame Ander Sabko
Bahar Hukam Na Koi.


Above own mind and body beyond SELF.

HUKAM Internal Natural Process
Ja Bhuje If one understands
Ta Haume Kahe Na KOI
One will not talk "I"
as this is information system of self, which may alter.

STEP 2 Pause and Think

Waheguru ji.ka khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
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