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Understanding ੴ - Designed By Guru Nanak to Represent Eternal Entity (GOD); by Dr. D. S. Chahal, Canada


Aug 17, 2020


Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD

Institute for Understanding Sikhism
Laval, Quebec, H7W 5L9
Email: sikhism@iuscanada.com

This short research paper discusses how the logo, ੴ , designed by Guru Nanak was mispronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) and now some of the writers are refusing this pronunciation and trying to find the real one. The Khanda, ☬, was not designed by any Guru. It appeared around the 19th century and now Khanda, ☬, is being steadily converted into Trishul of Shiva.

The ੴ is a logo, designed by Guru Nanak to represent the Eternal Entity (commonly called God) in Sikhi (philosophy) founded by him. It appears at the top of the ਅਰੰਭਿਕ ਵਾਕ (arambic vaak) termed as ‘Commencing Verse’ as shown in the Adi Granth of Kartarpuri Bir in Fig. 1.

Figure 1. Commencing Verse in Kartarpuri Bir

But the Commencing Verse which appears in the AGGS printed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, (SGPC), Amritsar joins with its attributes shown as follows:[1]
ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik▫oaʼnkār saṯ nām karṯā purakẖ nirbẖa▫o nirvair akāl mūraṯ ajūnī saibẖaʼn gur parsāḏ.​

Thus ੴ loses its identity as an original and unique logo to represents the Eternal Entity (God) in Sikhi (philosophy).
The logo, ੴ, is generally pronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) as is written in transliteration in Roman alphabet above. However, ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Aumkaar) represents AUM or OM in Upanishads. OM further represents Trinity of God: Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, for preservation; and Shiva, for destruction.

Is ੴ a ‘Logo’?

Many Sikh scientists, theologians, and the Sikhs at large feel it is disgrace to call a logo being unaware that every company and religion have their own logo.

Logo is defined as:
Also called logotype. A graphic representation or symbol of a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc., often uniquely designed for ready recognition.
Examples of some Logos:
1. Northwest Airline:
This logo reflects a clever way of presenting the ‘Northwest’. North is represented by letter “N” and West with an “arrow” pointing towards West in the upper left corner. [2]

2. ZIP Logo Designer – Mike Erickson Zip – The “I” has been replaced with a zipper to connect the Z & P. [2] The ‘logo’ should not be confused with ‘symbol’ or ‘emblem’.

Some logos of different religions are depicted in Fig. 2.

Figure 2. httpswww.dreamstime.comstock-image-world-religion-symbols-image8129331

It is very strange that none of the religions is showing any weapon in their logo whereas the Sikhs are showing Khanda, ☬, with all types of weapons. This logo, ☬, was not created by Guru Nanak or any other Sikh Guru not even by Guru Gobind Singh. Most probably it was designed during the British Rule in India when the Sikhs formed a major portion of the army. Now this Khanda, ☬, is being steadily converted to Trishul of Shiva as follows:

Khanda Changing to Trishul Like

The commonly used Khanda has been misconstrued to look like Trishul – the first stage in making it a complete Trishul of Lord Shiva:


The first picture is of a Khanda, which is usually in and around almost all Gurdwaras and also on the turbans of Sikhs and letterheads of Sikh organizations.

The second picture is of a misconstrued Khanda showing a crescent, a double-edged Khanda in the center, and two pointers downward at the bottom of the crescent.
(Credit to this picture: http.www.sikhmuseum.comnishanmistakencrescent.html#shiva9)
This appears to be the first stage to change original Khanda into a complete Trishul of Lord Shiva as shown in the third picture. Now this misconstrued Khanda that looks like Trishul is adorned on the turbans of not only Nihang Singhs but of many other Sants/Babas, the Sikhs, young and old.

It is not known who designed or misconstrued the first symbol that looks like Trishul. Nevertheless, the misconstrued Khanda in the second picture is being popularized by some organizations. The misconstrued Khanda is becoming popular, and the first symbol is disappearing. (Reproduced from Ref. [3])

This khanda appeared out of the blue during the 19th century and now during 20th century is being misconstrued systematically into the first stage of Trishul of Shiva.

Who is doing so?
I have been unable to discover.


The logo, ੴ, is generally pronounced by many Sikh theologians and scholars as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Aumkaar). The survey of the available literature indicates that the early Sikh theologians under the heavy influence of ancient philosophy have pronounced it as such because the writing of 'Oankaar' or 'Aumkaar' or ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ on the top of every writing was very common in ancient literature. Giani Harbans Singh [4] says that it is not known who first started to pronounce ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Aumkaar). However, I have noticed that Bhai Gurdas might be the first Sikh scholar trained at Banaras (Varanasi) who has pronounced ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) as is evident from his Pauri 15 of Vaar 3. Thereafter, other Sikh scholars followed Bhai Gurdas’ pronunciation of ੴ. [5]

I am glad to notice that S Gulbarg Singh Basi [6] has refused to accept ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) or ਏਕੁ ਓਮਕਾਰੁ (Ek Aumkaar) instead pronounces it as ‘EKKO’. His further says:

ੴ - wherever I have heard, has always been pronounced as ਇੱਕ ਓਅੰਕਾਰ (Ikk Oankaar) and in English, spelt as Ikk Oangkar. It was during a TV show that I saw it being spelt as Ikk Omkar. It appeared as if someone was trying to give Sikhi a Vedic twist. This raised two questions in my mind pertaining to ੴ. First, what was the correct pronunciation; and second what was the message behind this Symbol / word, ੴ as intended by Guru Nanak.

In the meantime, I came across an article by Professor Dr. Devinder Singh Chahal of the Institute of Understanding Sikhi, Montreal in Canada who asserted that its pronunciation was ਇੱਕ ਓਹ ਬੇਅੰਤ Ikk Oh Beant (The Infinite One).[
7] I subsequently heard a presentation from S. Gurbans Singh of Ludhiana, Punjab, where he asserted that the proper pronunciation of ੴ was ਏਕੰਕਾਰ (Ekenkaar), as per Gurbani enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib. S. Manmohan Singh Scout of Mohali, Punjab also subscribes to the view that ਏਕੰਕਾਰ (Ekenkaar) was indeed the proper pronunciation for ੴ.

It appears S. Gulbarg Singh Basi did not do proper research about the pronunciation of ੴ. In fact, it was Bhai Gurdas, the most respectable Sikh scholar, who declared as ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) as is evident from his Pauri 15 of Vaar 3. Thereafter, other Sikh scholars followed Bhai Gurdas’ pronunciation of . Let us discuss Bhai Gurdas’ Pauri 15 of Vaar 3 [5]:

ਮੂਲ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਦਾ ਗੁਹਝ ਭੇਦ

Mool mantar da guhjh Baed.
The Deep Secret of Mool Mantra

ਏਕਾ1 ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ2 ਲਿਖਿ3 ਦੇਖਾਲਿਆ4।
Aykaa Aykankaaru Likhi Daykhaaliaa.

ਊੜਾ5 ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ6 ਪਾਸਿ7 ਬਹਾਲਿਆ8। 15। ਵਾਰ।3।
Oorhaa Aoankaaru Paasi Bahaaliaa.

Bhai Gurdas has pronounced ਏਕਾ1 (one) as ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ2 (Ekankaar) and ਊੜਾ5 (Oora5) as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ6 (Oankaar6). Therefore, ੴ should be pronounced as ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ekankaar Oankaar) according to Bhai Gurdas’ interpretation. In spite of that fact, ੴ is being pronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) in general by the Sikhs at large.

It also appears that Bhai Gurdas was the first who declared the Commencing Verse as Mool Mantra and as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) which leads the Sikhs to Vedas and Vedanta philosophies since Mantra system is from Vedas and Oankar/Aumkar/Omkar represents Aum/Om which further represents Trinity of God. On the other hand, neither the Mantra system nor the Trinity of God is accepted by Guru Nanak.

Basi Ji is also unaware that S Nirmal Singh Kalsi of Surrey, BC [8] was first to refuse to accept ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) and called it Ekoooo…. I told Kalsi Ji that ‘Ekoooo…’ represents only ‘One’ of ੴ and he has ignored to pronounce open oora ਓ and its extended end (
). On the other hand, S. Manmohan Singh and S. Gurbans Singh are calling ‘One’ in ੴ as ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ (One and Only) also by ignoring to pronounce both the open oora ਓ and its extended end (

Basi Ji is replacing open oora ਓ with ‘O’ in ੴ to make it ‘EKKO’ but still ignores to spell the extended end (
) of open oora ਓ.

While the other writers have just ignored to pronounce the extended end (
) of open oora ਓ, Basi Ji has gone further very strongly to reject it as a merely long extension of the extended end as calligraphy in some of the Hukamnamas.

Now there is a serious question:
If extended end (
) of open oora ਓ is merely a calligraphic representation then why would Guru Nanak do so?

Guru Nanak has a great vision in designing the logo, ੴ, to represent the God in Sikhi (philosophy), founded by him. I have been explaining this logo in my various articles for the last 20 years [7, 9-11]. Consequently, I have been improving with every objection raised by my critics. Now I am explaining very briefly with special justification for the extended end (
) of open oora ਓ as follows:

ੴ is composed of three parts:
One (੧) from the numeral, open oora (ਓ ) from Punjabi alphabet; and its extend end (
) from geometry.

Geometry is the branch of mathematics that deals measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, and figures.

੧ (One): Although ‘One’ is a numeral but it stands for ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ (ekankaar) as indicated by Bhai Gurdas which means 'One and Only'. Therefore, the ‘One’ is different from the numerical ‘one’. This ‘One’ in Physics is equivalent to ‘Singularity’ in today’s science where energy-matter and space-time occur in highly concentrate form to look like ‘one point’ which becomes invisible where even light is absorbed in it. This state is also called ‘Nothingness’ in science but Guru Nanak calls it ਸੁੰਨੁ (sunn) state or ਨਿਰਗੁਨ (nirgun) state.

ਓ (0pen Oora): It stands for 'Oh' (‘That’) in various dictionaries. [6]
SGGS Gurmukhi-Gurmukhi Dictionary
O. ਉਹ
: that. ਉਦਾਹਰਨ: ਧਨਿ ਧੰਨਿ ਓ ਰਾਮ ਬੇਨੁ ਬਾਜੈ ॥ Raga Maalee Ga-orhaa, ʼnaamdev, 1, 1:1 (P: 988).

Mahan Kosh Encyclopedia
ਵ੍ਯ- ਸੰਬੋਧਨ. ਹੇ! ਰੇ! ਓ! ਛੋਟੇ ਦਰਜੇ ਦੇ ਆਦਮੀ ਨੂੰ ਓ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਨਾਲ ਬੁਲਾਈਦਾ ਹੈ। (2) ਔਰ ਦਾ ਸੰਖੇਪ. ਦੋ ਪਦਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਜੋੜਨ ਵਾਲਾ ਸ਼ਬਦ. "ਝੜ ਝਖੜ ਓ ਹਾੜ". (ਸਵਾ ਮਃ ੧) ਬੱਦਲਾਂ ਦਾ ਸੰਘੱਟ, ਝੱਖੜ ਅਤੇ ਪਾਣੀ ਦੇ ਹੜ੍ਹ। (3) ਸ਼ੋਕ ਅਤੇ ਅਚਰਜ ਬੋਧਕ. ਓਹ! ੪. ਸਰਵ. ਓਹ ਦਾ ਸੰਖੇਪ। (5) ਸੰ. ओ. (ਸੰਗ੍ਯਾ). ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ। (6) ਫ਼ਾ __ ਸਰਵ. ਉਹ. ਵਹ. ਓ ਊ. ਸਰਵ. ਊ ਅਵ੍ਯਯ ਸਹਿਤ ਓਹ ਦਾ ਰੂਪ. ਵਹੀ. ਓਹੀ.

English Translation: The open oora (‘ਓ’) means ‘Oh’ and ‘And’. The ‘ਓ’ (Oh) is also used to address a person belonging to a lower status.

Extended end of ਓ (
It stands for 'Infinite' meaning (ਬੇਅੰਤ). At the time of Guru Nanak, there was no specific way or word to express ‘infinite’ in any symbol except an open line that can be extended at both ends to any unlimited length.

Therefore, can be pronounced as ਇਕੁ ਓ ਬੇਅੰਤ (Ek Oh Beant) in Punjabi and as 'The One and Only, That is Infinite' in English. For details please go to eBook, JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy. [11]

Besides ignoring the interpretation of extended end (
of open oora (ਓ ) as infinite (beant) the majority of the Sikh scientists, theologians and the Sikh at large still insist to pronounce ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar). They insist to pronounce as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) because Guru Nanak has used ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) several times in the first stanza of ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) Bani. They consider ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankaar) as Creator (God). Nevertheless, ੴ cannot be considered as ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankar) since it represents OM according to the Upanishads which represents Trinity of God: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In fact, Guru Nanak is explaining about the delusion of ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankar) being taught by the Pundit of Omkareshwar temple to his students. The first stanza of ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankar) Bani is not the philosophy of Guru Nanak as is understood by many theologians. It is about the delusion of Pundit about ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankar) being taught to his students in the first stanza of Oankar Bani as explained by Chahal. [12]. This paper of Chahal is also being reproduced in this issue of the Sikh Bulletin. However, Guru Nanak explains about his concept of God in the rest of the ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankar) Bani. Thereafter, it becomes evident that ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Oankar) has nothing to do with the logo, ੴ, which can be pronounced as ਇਕੁ ਓ ਬੇਅੰਤ (Ek Oh Beant) in Punjabi and as 'The One and Only, That is Infinite' in English.


It is becoming evident that some writers are refusing to pronounce ੴ as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) introduced by Bhai Gurdas and replacing it with new pronunciation as ‘Ekoooo’, ‘Ekko’, or ਏਕੰਕਾਰੁ (Ekankaar) which means ‘One and Only’. However, It will take some time for them to accept the importance of extended end (
of open oora (ਓ ) as infinite (beant) since it is difficult to shed the traditional interpretation or prejudice as mentioned by Einstein:

“It is harder to crack prejudice than an atom.”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

It is also evident that khanda (☬) was neither designed by Guru Nanak nor by any other Guru. Now, this is also being represented as Trishul of Shiva as ੴ was pronounced as ਏਕੁ ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ (Ek Oankaar) leading the Sikhs into Vedas and Vedanta philosophies.

1. AGGS (1983) Aad Guru Granth Sahib (Amritsar, Punjab, India, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee). (M = Mahla, i.e., succession number of the Sikh Gurus to the House of Nanak, M is replaced with the name of Bhagat/ Bhatt for their Bani, p = Page of the AGGS).

2. Logo. http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/hidden-logos-in-graphic-designing/

3. Chahal, D. S. (2018) Where does Sikhi stand 550 years after Guru Nanak, Understanding Sikhism Res, J, 20 (1), p 3. http://iuscanada.com/journal/archives/2018/j2001p03.pdf

4. Singh, H. (1988) Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi). Vols. 14 (Patiala, India, Gurmat Seva Prakashan).

5. Singh, V. (1984) Vaaran Bhai Gurdas Steek (Punjabi) (Hall Bazar, Amritsar, Khalsa Samachar).

6. Basi, G. S. (2020) ੴ IKKO as Its Proper Pronunciation, Sikh Bulletin, 22 (2), p 9. www.sikhbulletin.com

7. Chahal, D. S. (2011) ੴ: The Unique Logo Understanding Sikhism Res. J., p. 18. http://www.iuscanada.com/journal/archives/2011/j1312p18.pdf

8. Kalsi, N. S. (1996) Beej Mantar Darshan (Punjabi) (Surrey, BC, Canada, Kalsi Technologies, # 15, 7711 - 128th Street).

9. Chahal, D. S. (2003) JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy (Laval, Quebec, Canada Institute for Understanding Sikhism, Distributors: Singh Brothers, Amritsar).

10. Chahal, D. S. (2005) Oankaar or Omkaar: The Misunderstood Word - Annotation by Guru Nanak, Understanding Sikhism Res. J., 7 (2), p 17.

11. Chahal, D. S. (2018 (Revised Version)) JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy (a scientific and Logical Interpretation) http://iuscanada.com/books/2018/JAP-2018- Final-filtered.html

12. Chahal, D. S. (2020) UNDERSTANDING OF THE FIRST STANZA OF OANKAR (ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ) BANI: Further Research on ੴ, Understanding Sikhism Res, J, 22 (1), p 21. http://www.iuscanada.com/journal/archives/2020/j2201p21.pdf


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Nov 5, 2010
Sat Sri Akaal,

Thought on symbols, may be accepted, rejected and contradicted as.an opinion.

All the symbols have relation to origins and ways os nature.

ਗਾਵੈ ਕੋ ਤਾਣੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਕਿਸੈ ਤਾਣੁ॥
ਗਾਵੈ ਕੋ ਦਾਤਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ॥

With blessing the symbols are realised.

Atoms as origin as Trinity Solid Liquid and Gas

Cell as Origin of Cell with totipotency.
ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਆਕਾਰ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਕਹਿਆ ਜਾਈ॥
With universal order a cell is formed, and the appeared cell cannot be expressed

ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਜੀਅ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਵਡਿਆਈ॥
With Universal Order Totipotency is there as union to all potent.

As root form on energies existing in universe always perpendicular to each other, as magnetic and charge fields.

Yin Yang
As cyclic positive and negative aspects. And in extreme negativity and positivity the unit has both.

Wheel as cyclic form of various forms.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Last edited:


Nov 5, 2010
Sat Sri Akaal,

Disillusion in form of ritual and disconnection from source information, which is pivot of all lives, bring easy disintegration of society, and easy politics of exploitation.

Once mind connects to source information, veil of Man Made is breaks and merges in Universal Order

Gavey Repitition of expression

Dat Blessing

Janey Awareness

Nisan Signs

Repeat of expression which is happening in all lives is blessed awareness of Signs

All lives comes with signs with no exception.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh



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