Sikhs For Change: Language - A Barrier For New Sikhs?

Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

Arvind said:
Baljeet veer is going to upload after Aman veer gives directions to him. I assume, this software is available on , which shud be freely downloadable.

My apologies for acting so dumb in this matter. I am presently preaccupied with software version updated as announced in annoucements section. Once the whole process is over, i will do as desired by sangat. Please bear with me till such delay.

Re: Language Barrier for new sikhs

Khalsa_starr said:
I again must stress the inportance of learning punjabi/gurmakhi, however, if you dont want to, then you dont. If you want to take the SGGS and prayers to the next level, it is recommended that you learn punjabi.
The punjabi language is no more supreme than any other language. Again I want to put my point across that Guru Granth Sahib's teachings transcend all language barriers and Gurumukhi/Punjabi is just the portal that s/he has decided to use. The meaning is the Guru NOT the language.
Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

Sat Nam, CaramelChocolate Ji;

(What a lovely name!)

I beg to differ with you.
Are you not remembering the sound current?
I am no expert on this although I have direct experience with the transformative power of the sound current and I have read everything I can find on the subject.
Most of what has been written comes from Harbhajan Singh Khalsa aka "Yogi Bhajan." While his teachings are about 10% of all of what I read and study and I am not a "devotee" of Yogi Bhajan, nonetheless he has revealed a great deal to us.

The sound current is said to have the capacity to perform transformations of the material world - including human consciousness and "brain functioning." Consider this quote from the Guru:

As long as the mortal does not come to understand the mystery
of the Shabad — Transcendendal Vibratory Sound — he will
continue to be tormented by the fear of death (sggs 1126).
But rare is that person, who, by becoming a Spiritual Being
(Gurmukh), understands this mystery (sggs 1139).

Taken from:

Some of the basic notions are these: that all of the material manifestations of the creation consist of sets of vibrations that were created by God. Sanskrit is said to be the earliest or one of the earliest languages of humankind and consists of syllables which create some of the same vibrations that are manifest throughout the material world.
Gurbani is said to be very close to Sanskrit. Buddhists have many mantras that are in Sanskrit for these same reasons - the power of the vibrations to change the way the material world is manifesting.

Here is the first paragraph of a lengthy treatise on this subject by Yogi Bhajan:

Naad means "the essence of all sounds". All languages contain sounds which relate to one or more of the five elements of air, fire, water, earth or ether. Gurbani is a perfect combination and permutation of sounds relating to all the five elements in complete balance. When Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru Nanak, compiled the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, in 1604, he put in only those Banis which were in Naad. These compositions are called Gurbani.

There are eighty-four meridian points on the upper palate of a human’s mouth. One can feel that upper palate with the tongue and experience its different surfaces. There are two rows of meridian points on the upper palate and on the gum behind the upper teeth. The tongue stimulates those meridian points, and they in turn stimulate the hypothalamus which makes the pineal gland radiate. When the pineal gland radiates, it creates an impulsation in the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland gives impulsation, the entire glandular system secretes and a human being obtains bliss.

...One who knows the Naad knows the Aad, the Primal Creativity....

The whole language of Gurbani has the power to make a person divine, just in its recitation, if done correctly. One need not be concerned with the meaning for a change in consciousness. Bani has to be understood by the heart, not by the head.

Taken from:!OpenDocument

For me, from the beginning, which was a scant 16 months ago - March 2004 - listening to Gurbani had profound effects on my body and consciousness. The same Hukhams read in English immediately afterwards had little impact on me. I can truthfully testify that simply hearing Gurbani changed my life completely. I began a life of worship first by attending morning Sadhana with increasing frequency. I had many visions while listening to Gurbani, the most important of which was one which was auditory rather than visual and "suggested" that I say goodbye to life as I had known it and go with God. At the time I thought this meant that I was going to die. Although I did not want to die or leave this life, being 55 I had enough experience with saying "no" to God to know that I did not want to live without the Grace of God Blessing my life. I fell to my knees saying "I do not want to go, just take me." Tears were streaming down my face and I repeated this over and over.

Then two months later after many visits to the ashram to hear kirtan and Hukhams, I quit my job, retiring three years earlier than expected, because "circumstances" made this both reasonable and possible and most of all this came after saying during that vision that I would give my life to God. My way of seeing this was and is that the Guru arranged for me to say goodbye to my career so that I could fully attend to my life of devotion.

Since that time, over the next 14 months most of each day is occupied with first doing JapJi and Kundalinii yoga and an hour of chanting followed by Ardas and a Hukham. The rest of the day I am either doing seva - counseling others for free in spiritual and personal growth matters - or else I am studying Sikhism. (The career I retired from was teaching Physics at a junior college). I really have almost no secular life at this time. I have complete freedom to do what I want but I never go to the coast to walk the beach or go to films or engage in "entertainment." Such things seem to have lost most of their pull on me. The desires that used to torment me -desires to fall in love and have a partner - have vanished completely. Events which used to make me happy or bring me down only bring a smile or a frown but have little deep impact on me. My greatest Bliss - anand - is to meditate at the Ashram while Gurbani is chanted or chanting along with the Sanghat. My entire body vibrates to the Naad and my mental consciousness sometimes begins to vanish.

I have most recently taught myself to read Gurmukhi, though still at the level of a 4 year old, sounding out each syllable first before pronouncing the whole word. I have done this so that eventually I can read from the Guru and experience Naad directly myself.

All of these changes came about as a result of hearing Gurbani that I did not have any understanding of whatsoever.

I will end by saying that my most transformative experience, the one described above happened while listening to a chant of the 28th pauri of JapJi by Snatam Kaur. Many months later, really a full year after it happened, I found that the following is said of the 28th pauri:

"The 28th pauri is the strongest permutation and combinations of words in the world. It unites you with God."

When I read this a few months ago, I gasped, for that is exactly what it did to me.
"Nanak Nadaree karamee daat" is the story of these changes in my life; By the merciful glance of God, I have been given gifts and Blessings.

nwnk ndrI krmI dWiq

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa,
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!

Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene Oregon.
Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

Nam Hari Kaur ji,

You are a great inspiration to us. Thanks for your presence here. *Waheguru*

Warm Regards, Arvind.
Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

Nam Hari Kaur... Glad you like the name... I kinda agree with a lot you have to say and I do agree that it gives some affect on the person for some reason but I still think that no language can ever be considered no holier than another... so I guess we'll have to disagree.
And kinda moving slightly off topic, Yogi Bhajan... A lot of those who became Sikh due to him were because they wanted to be like him, converted then started learning [I am not saying ALL are insincere], and a lot of converts have realise that what he teaches is kinda a bit distant from the true teachings of Sikhi. I don't know that much about him to comment, but he has kinda done something to Sikhi... I can't put my finger on it, but there seems to be a removal of the khalsa warrior element... Take Snatam Kaur for example... she does BEAUTIFUL keertan but she seems to approach her faith in the more Hindu 'floaty' way... [not floaty in the sense of lack of faith]... Let us NOT forget warrior khalsa aspect of Sikhi and what the Gurus did for humanity... Look at what Guru Teg Bahadur did... I recently learned about this and when I think about it I just think DHAN DHAN GURU TEG BAHADUR JEE! Amazing that he sacrificed himself for humanity...
Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

Sat Nam Arvind!
Guru Ji's Blessings to you this day.
If I knew how to say this by means of a Gurbani quote I would do so -
It gives me joy to hear when anyone is elevated by anything the Guru does through me.
I bow to the Formless One, Nirankar!

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa,
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh

Sat Nam CaramelChocolate;
Are we now in need of the warrior aspect of Khalsa? Are we being persecuted or attacked? Or do you mean something else by the warrior aspect?

I am not sure of the value of separtist thinking. It is divisive. Yes the 3HO sikhs have differences, as do we all from each other. And I see divisive thinking between Punjabi Sikhs that judge other Punjabi Sikhs for not following all Rehat. As I see it for each of us, everything is only between us and the Guru. Judging is not for us to do, and while we can not help it being human, a very useful lesson is to realize that almost anything we see outside ourselves that we do not appreciate - is a reflection of something within ourselves that we deny and do not appreciate.

I myself do not appreciate YogiJi's style of teaching at all but I have not found any contradictions of his teachings with anything else I have studied. I also agree that many 3HO sikhs appear to follow YogiJi almost more than the Guru - but I say that it seems that way - I can not claim that this is true.

As for Snatam Kaur, I know her personally - she lives here in Eugene and she is the greatest inspiration to me. She is very young, only 32, so she has things to learn about being tactful perhaps and perhaps how to better serve as an ambassador to those who are brought to the Guru through her chanting, but her own Sikh way of living is remarkably spiritual. I have not met anyone else that can keep haumai at bay as she can. Her humility and service to the Guru in my opinion are unquestiionable.

Please, I do not wish to debate anything with you. You and I must each do our best to understand and follow God's Will. That is all.
GuruJi's Blessings to you, CaramelChocolate.

Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene Oregon
Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

NamHariKaur said:
Are we now in need of the warrior aspect of Khalsa? Are we being persecuted or attacked? Or do you mean something else by the warrior aspect?
Yes we are or Guru Gobind Singh Ji wouldn't have created... the teachings of Sikhi are timeless therefore all aspects of khalsa are always going to be needed... Khalsa is about fighting oppression of innocents which is shown through the whole purpose of kirpaan.

NamHariKaur said:
Please, I do not wish to debate anything with you. You and I must each do our best to understand and follow God's Will. That is all.
The whole purpose of this forum is healthy debate which is what we are doing... and to be honest you started the debate [between us both] by replying to my comments... I am fine with that as I said before I understand and respect your view... please do not feel uncomfortable we are all here to learn from each other and respect each other... please forgive me if I have said anything out of line as it was not my intention.

NamHariKaur said:
GuruJi's Blessings to you, CaramelChocolate.
And to you... Bole so nihaal, Sat sri Akaal!
Re: Language Barrier for new sikhs

Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji ka Fateh

Hello, I am a student of Sikhism and attend my local Gurdwarra most Sundays. I have agree with you entirely that it is very difficult not understanding the teachings as a result of not having a grasp of Punjabi. Despite the fact that I still attain spiritual inspiration and peace when I attend the Gurdwarra I am aware that I am missing out on valuable teachings becuse I do not understand Punjabi.

I have a massive collection of Sikh related literature in English and I also have a full and complete translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which I read every day.

However I still feel that not understanding Punjabi is a great barrier to me moving further in my aims to totally embrace Sikhism and develop a deeper understanding Of the treasure of teachings handed down to us by the Ten Gurus. But like you I shall continue to attend the Gurdwarra and hope to develop my understanding through sourcing books and commentry by Sikh scholars in English whilst also trying to learn Punjabi as I progress.

Errol Harlin
Re: Youth and Language barrier?

Sat Nam Khalsa_starr Ji;

Somehow I missed seeing yours and Arvind's posts to me here until today (july 19). My apologies to both of you for not replying sooner.

I agree with you completely. You can not learn anything if everything is done in punjabi/Gurbani.

I have no idea how Sikhism is being taught, and I am curious about it. Are there schools for Sikh children or do they learn only from their families and from others at the Gurdwara - all informally? I would love to hear from different people in different countries. How is Sikhism being taught around the world?

In my community when I came along a year ago in April there was no formal education going on and no one was interested or had the time for doing any mentoring for individuals.

After several months I wrote an open letter to the community thanking those individuals who had taken a little time and taught me a chant or taken a short walk with me and answered a few questions. In that letter I also expressed my frustration at how difficult it had been for me to get help with my questions. Nearly everyone in this community has been in it for 20 years or was born into Sikh families. There are very few converts like me. So I guess they have not had to deal with education. They send their own children to the Miri-Piri Academy in India for the most part. And most of our community goes to the twice a year solstice events for various classes and workshops and for three days of white tantric yoga. That seems to be the way the adults get refreshed and re-invigorated. I can not afford to go to those events.

One response that the Community Council made to my letter was that a two-meetings-per-month class in Sikh Dharma was created. That was helpful, but by that time I had already learned most of what was presented in that class. I attended anyway to be gracious, and because there were only two others that were new to the area that were attending. A few sessions were really good - Snatam Kaur did a session on the sound current that moved me deeply. (She lives here in Eugene - though she may move away next year - she has gotten engaged). At the same time I have to say that those that put the class together partly in response to my concerns never asked me anything about what I might have wanted the class to include. As a retired teacher I found that to be rather lacking in foresight n their part. If you wish to meet someone's needs, it makes some sense to assess what those needs are. If it is a group you survey the group to determine what the needs are or conduct a focus group session with them. But oh well, I still learned some things.

I have learned 90% of what I know from the web and from a few books. But that is not at all the way I wanted it to be. And this is in an English speaking community - so the difficulties I have faced have to do with people not having time or ineterest in teaching/sharing what they know - it is not even an issue of them not speaking English.

I changed part of your quoted post to boldface and red below because I fully agree with what you said and wanted to emphasize it. So all I am adding to that is that language differences are not the only problem sometimes in people getting an education in Sikhism.

Khalsa_starr said:
Nam Hari Kaur ji...

I liked listening to kirtan and the granthi speaking in punjabi as well, however, i would get much more use out of it if i knew what they were talking about. .....
...I agree that every sikh should try to learn gurmakhi, and it should be encouraged for new sikhs if they want to take the SGGS and kirtan to the next level. For beginners like me though, i want to learn the fundementals and teachings of sikhi, it should be available at a gurdwara - not just the interent. The internet is not always the safest and best place to learn.

The gurdwara should be a place of learning, not confusing. And it should eb the first place to look for info, not the interent.


Thank you for posting your comments,
Khalsa_starr Ji.

Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene Oregon


Originally Posted by Khalsa_Starr
(some posts could not be ported over to new version, so had to be manually appended. accept our apologoes.)
Ouoted Post by NamHariKaur

I have no idea how Sikhism is being taught, and I am curious about it.

I have wondered about this myself. How can the average person who wants to learn about sikhi? This is another issue as well, many families teach their young on the basics of sikhi (more and more parents don't anymore). However, when an outside person wants to learn about sikhi, he/she has to learn through [URL=""]books[/URL] and internet (both can not always be right).

So perhaps, this is another area that can be worked on.

BTW, the other section of your post was good as well.


Originally Posted by Caramel Chocholate
(some posts could not be ported over to new version, so had to be manually appended. accept our apologoes.)

Guys... while on this topic, I complained to a Gurudwara by email... well when you read it and then the response it will make sense.

My email
Sat Sri Akaal,
Sir, sorry for sending this email to you but there are no other emails displayed on the website that I can express my concern on this issue. I am an English person who comes Gurudwara sahib now and then, and obviously I come with the knowledge that Guruji's teachings are not for [URL=""]Sikhs[/URL], but for humanity, borderless... Since the majority of this country speaks English, would it not be a good idea to translate everything that goes on in the Gurudwara? I know you have screens up but I have never seen them in use [I have only been during [URL=""]kirtan[/URL] time, as I have to travel to your Gurudwara by train]. I recently found out that there is a Singh Sabha Gurudwara near me [Barking]... I do know a little about this movement and from what I have seen Singh Sabha is definately the best type of Gurudwara to go to [no idols, no outside influences]... So my question is, to allow many more people to feel the glory of Gurubani, why not translate everything, including [URL=""]kirtan[/URL]? As much as I LOVE coming to Gurudwara I often do not spend much time in there as I get bored due to not understanding what is going on... I only obviously understand the basic words [such as ik ongkaar, sat naam, waheguru, akaal etc.]... I would be hugely grateful if you could forward this message onto the respective party and I am even willing to come and discuss the issue at the Gurudwara with whoever.

Thanks once again,


The response
Sat Sri Akaal John,
We at the Gurdwara totally agree with you! And have actually started a training program (we have currently had 18+ people go through it) where we teach them how to use the screens and how to do the translations, So far we have managed to usually get screen cover on Saturdays and Sundays and we are currently trying to train all the gianis on how to use the screens so that eventually any event at the gurdwara can be covered, please do try and come on a Sunday and you will see that even [URL=""]kirtan[/URL] gets translated on the screens……an important point here is that even when our gurus went on their journeys, they always tried to learn the local language so that the locals would be able to understand, and we need to do the same, also if you are interested in getting the training then please let me know and I will get you in touch with the guys doing the training, that way you can also help as any one who is certified by us ( note that we have to certify as we really need to protect all the equipment), can bring up the screens and start translating on them. Once again you have made some very valid points that are in our hearts too, with Waheguru’s kirpa we will be able to complete this mission of having every program translated to English for everyone.

Sat Sri Akaal


Originally Posted by Arvind
(some posts could not be ported over to new version, so had to be manually appended. accept our apologoes.)

Dear John,

I am very happy with ur initiative. On top of that, the response you got. Those people have acted very responisbly by providing examples of spreading message in local language. I am impressed by the expanding initiative addressing the concern.



Originally Posted by NamHariKaur
(some posts could not be ported over to new version, so had to be manually appended. accept our apologoes.)

Sat Nam, CaramelChocolate, (John);

It is wonderful that you spoke directly to the [URL=""]Sikhs[/URL] at the Gurdwara. Direct action is often the best approach. And you did it in a gracious way without being critical or negative. You have role-modelled for us all!
Their response is also very encouraging to read.
Wahe Guru!

Nam Hari Kaur


Originally Posted by Caramel Chocholate
(some posts could not be ported over to new version, so had to be manually appended. accept our apologoes.)

Arvind, NamHariKaur ji, I am over the moon about the response... I am tempted to take him up on his offer about learning how to use the equipment and since I am on my summer holidays I think I will do there at some point [have tot take the train you see]... and help out with the whole thing..! Will let you know of any progress... Waheguru Waheguru the message of Shri [URL=""]Guru Granth[/URL] Sahib Jee maybe extending further


Originally Posted by Khalsa_Starr
(some posts could not be ported over to new version, so had to be manually appended. accept our apologoes.)

CaramelChocolate, i loved your email and how you expressed your concerns in a serious, yet well said way. I will see if i can send an e-mail to the president (of the temple) over here. Provided, he is not "busy" So far, i am having little success in cathing his attention. When i do phone him up and talk to him, he doesnt keep his word on the dates he sets! Very annoying, but i will try other ways.

So were do i get the software for power point presentations? I have MS powerpoint? Will taht be a good start?
Gurbani / English Dictionary

Sat Nam;
I am seeking a Gurbani/English dictionary to purchase.
I would like something that can be taken around easily, although that is 2nd to having anything at all.
My interest in more in words used in SGGS than in modern Punjabi.

There are a few websites that translate one word at a time or that have a glossary but all those I have found are far too limited.

Thank you!
Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene Oregon

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Re: Youth and Language barrier?

Arvind said:
Somewhere on forums, I had read that a few gurudwaras have these kind of equipments, which facilitate reading in English on screens, of what is being said by Granthi ji. Anyone who has seen that kind of gurudwara may shed more information abt this.

Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji KI Fateh.

Almost ALL major Gurdwaras in MALAYSIA have Projection Screens with the SHABAD GURU Software running which screens the Shabad the raagis are singing, the Hukmanam being taken and so forth. The screen carries Original GURBANI...and the ENGLISH Translation...and transliteration.

This SHABAD GURU CD and two other CDs of MP3 Of entire Guru Granth Ji is available FREE OF COST from Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, Kartar AT ( Replace AT with @ and remove all spaces)

THis CD is so far the BEST as far as Translation goes. I have just sent 20 sets to Australian gurdwaras.

Jarnail Singh Gyani Arshi.


Re: Gurbani / English Dictionary

Khalsa_starr said:
:hmm: what happenbed to my posts? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
Nothing happend to your posts... i had to manually restore some of the posts due to upgradation process... no posts were lost... :) Just checkout above they are still there but under my username. ;)

Re: Language - A barrier for New Sikhs

I totally agree with you guys about the language barrier. But living here in the Greater Toronto Area I have realized that practicing Sikhi has to be a two way stream. We need to do something and so do the Gurudwaras. I personally learned to read and write punjabi four years ago. And I find that the Gurudwaras are working on the language barrier too! Now pretty much all the well established Gurudwaras (which have been around for quite some time) provide english translations for shabads and gurbani over a projector on a projector screens. This has happened recently but this has an effect. Now when I go to the gurudwara ... I actually sit there for more than 10 minutes bcoz I understand what they are saying.

Also can someone link me to the yahoo groups... I haven't gone through all the replies to see if someone has shared it before.

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