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Meditaton: Simran or otherwise?

Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Gur Fateh!

I post this article here, taken from the notorious IOSS site for the forum to consider. I use this article as for me it brings together the main strands of modern Sikh views on the broad term Meditation, commonly regarded to be the English rendering of terms Naam Jaap, Dhyan, Naam Abhyas, Gurmat Yog, Simran, Saas-Gras, Sehaj Yog...all terms utilised in a variety of ways by the main Sikh movements of the present day.

I do not at this stage wish to dive further into the matter of the varying views on what constitutes Simran, however I would like for this thread to be used to debate and discuss this matter, which essentially is the crux of any spiritual practice, and invite feedback on the article below.


Meditation in Sikhism

Meditation in Indian parlance is generally referred to as bhakti and ibadat. Meditation, according to the English dictionary, means deep religious thought over a particular subject, contemplation, devotional love of deity, religious observances and deep absorption. In the Encyclopaedia of Religions, meditation is defined as under:

"In religious usage the severest, intense and sustained contemplation of God of some religious theme or ideal. It is a strenuous spiritual exercise requiring composure of mind, internal quietitude, abstraction from sense and persistent concentration of attention. The aim is the strengthening and elevation of the moral life through communion with God. It is an important form of devotion in the higher religions and is specially emphasized and practised by the great mystics."

The ultimate purpose of meditation, variously stated, is:

a) The way by which we attain the kingdom of God and state of complete silence within.

B) Spending time with God.

c) To get strength to fight sin and evil forces.

d) Art of cleansing the mind of destructive and harmful thoughts.

e) To remove stress, anxiety and worry.

f) To experience spiritual bliss.

g) To fill our mind with the word and wonder of God.

h) To rekindle divine potential in a man.

The purpose of meditation in Sikhism is more definite and precise It is to 'Meet God".'

Meditation in Sikhism is not confined to spirituality alone. It embraces the entire gamut of life. Besides remembering God, a man has to do noble deeds as well. In the mundane field, a householder has to look after a his family, and help in the growth of social and economic wealth of the society a He has to strive for a Just and fair rule. Thus, a bhagat has to be a saint and. a Soldier.

Guru Nanak's way of meditation is through Sahnj Yog and not through self-mortification, austerities, renunciation, asceticism and penances. He has also denounced mendicancy and celibacy. Sahaj implies effortless, and Yoga means spiritual union. It is the spontaneous eternal union with the spiritual Verity in all situations, physical, mental and moral. It is also the state of spiritual calmness and equipoise in one's life lived wholly and contentedly. Pain or pleasure, poverty or richness, respect or insult are of no consetruence to a Sahaj yogi. His realm is beyond the three attributes of desire(rajas), passion (tamas), love, happiness and peace (satav).

Sikhism is an idealism of action. Its concern is for the whole life of , an individual and the society. That is why politics cannot be divorced from religion. This is the basis of the concept of miri-piri and sant-sipahi. Meditation is devoted service of God's creation without any distinction of caste, colour or creed. Guru Gobind Singh demonstrated this aspect when he appreciated Bhai Kanhaiya's service to treat wounded foes and friends alike in the batliefield.

Bhagat Tarlochan found his friend Bhagat Narn Dev always busy in his profession of calico printing. He objected to his laxity in bhakti. "Hands and feet to work, and mind to God" was Bhagat Nam Dev's reply. He further elaborated this by giving examples. A kite flyer, a girl carrying water on her head, and a gold-smith keep their mind fixed on the kite, the pitcher and smithy, respectively, whilst at the same time, merrily talking to their compatriots. Similarly, a woman is mentally engaged in the care of her baby whilst occupied in normal chores.

We cannot "Meet God" unless we know about our identity! "Know thy self" is a must.

The third Nanak, Guru Amar Das, in one of his compositions, says:

"My soul, thou art the embodiment (image)

Of Divine Light, so know thy source.

0' my soul, the revered Lord is with thee,

By the Guru's teaching enjoy His love."

"If in thy mind comes peace, and gladness resounds,

Then alone thou shalt be approved.

Thus says Nanak, 0' my soul, thou art

The image of the luminous Lord.

Realise thou the true origin of thy being."

Our soul is a spark of Him, only a thin wall of illusion or ego separates us from Him. This wall or ego can be removed by meditation.


Gurbani tells us that God has created the universe at His Will and Pleasure which cannot be humanly determined.6 Human life is rare and is the only opportunity to meet Him7 The late mystic. Prof. Puran Singh says:

"This little shrine of the human body!

This great opportunity of life!

The object is to meet the Beloved, thy Maker.'

Nothing else shall stand by thee, nothing else availeth!"

The superiority of human life is such that even heavenly gods and goddesses yearn for it for their salvation.s Man is the crown creation of the universe; his body is God's temple" as well as & rephca of the universe.'0 It should, therefore, be sustained and maintained properly, and not abused by intoxication or tortured by penances, and it should not be wasted in futile pursuib.'l


Naam mainly implies God, but has several other connotations such ''. as word (shabad). Guru, Gurbani, divine order and formulae to meditate upon the Reality. All these terms are one and the same.

Naam, liice God, is eternal, great, absolute and formless. Naam is panacea for all iUs and a touch-stone for the fulfilment of desires, whilst forgetting God is the source of all diseases and distress. Naam is the most potent detergent to cleanse the mind of its impurities.'" Naam is the key to salvation. The whole universe is sustained by Naam

God pervades everywhere and in everything. Man alone is blessed with this awareness which can be rekindled by recitation of Naam. Naam is the harbinger of peace and tranquillity. Naam inculcates in us all the godly qualities.

Naam according to the mystic Prof. Puran Singh "is the supernaturally natural function of a poetical genius, who, though in body, is at all times of day and night under the influence of the higher soul words of freedom." To be effective, Naam has to be recited and contemplated throughout one's hfe, with every morsel and breath. Life without remembrance of God is barren, I meaningless and sinful. Remembrance has to be with words, mind and action.

Naam is the off-shoot and essence of Gurbani, which is its mother. Naam will flourish in the lap of Gurbani and will wither without it. Gurbani should he read and sung preferably in sangat, the congregation of God-inspired souls. How great and meritorious is God's name, only few can realise.

The following verses further stress the value of Naam:

a) In it I live, out of it I die."

B) A breath without His remembrance goes waste.l6

c) Forgetting the Beloved's name even for a split second is like separation of million year of life.'17

d) He alone lives who loves God and no one else.

Mere mechanical muttering of Naam without the feeling of God's presence is of no avail.


There are four stages of spiritual progress:

I. JAAP -Recitation of Naam.

II. AJAPA JAAP- Contemplation of Naam, soundless and effortless recitation.

III. LIV - Longing to meet the Beloved Lord

IV. MILAP - Union, enlightenment and bliss,

The above stages form one continuous process without any clear cut dcinarcation between them. This paper deals only with Stage 1.

Guru Nanak's way of God-realisation, as already stated, is through Sahaj Yoga. Naam Sadhana is the interaction of gur-shabad and the soul consdousaess for which no intermediary is required as the gur-shabad is guru by itself.' All the ten Gurus, during their earthly life, have stressed that Gubani or shabad is the True Guru, and not their bodies. During his discourse with the sidhs, Guru Nanak said that God is his Guru." Guru Gobind Singh, the last living Nanak, also confirmed it"' when he enthroned Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru.

Sadhana is primarily co-ordination of the sense organs — tongue, ears and eyes, with the love and devotion provided by the heart (hirdey). Whilst the tongue reads or sings, the ears hear, and the eyes visualize the presence of God. Our soul-consciousness (surti or mind) absorbed in the sound of the words, gets in contact with the Greater Consciousness. Our mind is thus the disciple and the soul-sound of the word is the gur-shabad In this state, our attention remains absorbed to the presence and love of God

The most difficult part of Naam Sadhana is the control of mind. The mind is likened to a donkey who stops kicking only when burdened with a load. The mind's burden is Naam, the more we stress it with Naam, the quieter it becomes." Naam Sadhana is primarily intended to awaken the mind, God-realisation comes out from within and then widens out to embrace other spheres of human activity.

There is a school of thought and practice which prescribes focussing of attention on a picture of a guru, pir, saiat, an idol or any one of the energy points in the body such as the forehead, heart and navel during Naam Sadhana. This is a fruitless exercise as a lifeless entity cannot bestow any favour. Besides, the all-pervading God, whom we want to cultivate, is formless or Nirankar. Our firm belief in God's Reality should be the focus of concentration. The realisation of His existence is the essence of meditation." Guru Gobind Singh is said to have gone in samadhi for many days together uttering the word Tuhi Tuhi "Thou art Thou art", and to have written a number of lengthy pages just repeating Tuhi Tuhi without a pause.

Guru Ram Das, the fourth Nanak, in his shabad quoted below prescribes the routine of a Sikh"

"He who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru should rise early everyday, take bath and meditate on God's name, according to the Guru's instructions. This will remove his pain and even suffering of his past life. At sunrise, he should recite and sing Gurbani. During the rest of the day, he should remember God whilst doing his normal work and with every breath and morsel.

"Nanak, the servant, seeks the dust of the feet of that Sikh, who himself contemplates on God's name and makes others do so."

During the early morning meditation, it would greatly help if a devotee follows the instructions mentioned below:

After taking bath, he should sit in a secluded place, preferably in Sri Guru Granth Sahib's presence. He should begin his meditation with a short prayer (ardas) and appropriate shabads praying for concentration, humility and His grace. Naam Sadhana should be preceded by recitation of Mul Mantra to remind us of God's characteristics and then followed by the gur-mantra, all the time cherishing that the Wonderful Lord (Waheguru) is within, and with us, and that we are in His presence. During the meditation period, utmost love, devotion and dedication are needed. It is stressed again that our attention must not be focussed on any object or any one part of our body. Our sole adoration is the Formless (Nirankar) Beloved God.

Apart from normal duties, a devotee should keep his conscious mind in tune with God when not otherwise occupied. There are a number of gaps in one's routine which could be usefully utilized for reading Guibani or recitation of Naam. This will provide a continuous string of God's remembrance. Feeling of God's presence in and around us all the time is a prayer in itself.

A Sikh moulds his life, both in form and spirit, according to the tenets of Gurbani.Gurbani teaches us to keep the company of God-inspired souls, to seek spiritual guidance, and to take part in congregational prayers (Kirtan). This is the highest and the noblest deed. The other aspect of meditation is service (sewa), particularly of the poor, needy and invalids to cultivate ' humility.

The famous Sikh disciple, Bhai Gurdas has stated in his ode that when God asked Guru Nanak for a boon, he requested Him for Naam and humility. Guru Nanak in his Asa Di Var the morning chant, has stated that sweetness (of talk and behaviour) and humility are the essence of all godly qualities'

The Sikh mystic words for rememberance is Waheguru. Wah means wondrous, glorious and marvellous. When a devotee's soul enters the sphere of Truth (Sach khand), he is dazed and wonder-struck with the blissful atmosphere. He has no words to describe this experience except to utter Wah Wah. WaheGuru is the gur-mantra, recitation of it banishes our ego.

The last words of the Mul Mantra are Gur Prasad. Gur and guru are the same, which mean the divine enlightener, the dispeller of daricness or illusion. There is no difference between God and guru33" As already stated, no intercession of any saint or self-styled guru is needed, as Naam itself is guru and is as great as God Himself.

Prasad means grace, kirpa, nadar, mehar, or rehmat. God's Grace is always present in the atmosphere like the wireless waves. We have to tune in the receiver of our mind to catch it. The 'tuning in' gadget is Naam.

God's Grace is unlimited, but its showering is not arbitrary, as it is bound by the Cosmic Law — one reaps what one sows The doctrine of karma in Sikhism is modified by the principle of grace. It implies that the consequences of a devotee's evil- actions, and ordained suffering can be mitigated by His Grace. Divine Grace is necessary for spiritual attainment. We should, therefore, continuously pray for it.

There is a tendency amongst us to say that we will remember Him only when He wills. This is not so, as man has been bestowed with the freedom of action. If this wrong concept is conceded, then what was the need for the Almighty to send His prophets and Gurus to guide people? All religious books beckon us to tread the righteous path for salvation. Whosoever makes an effort towards this end, is rewarded and the one who neglects it is condemned.36

The universe is sustained and maintained by the Cosmic Law, hukam. One's birth, death, wealth, pain or pleasure, and position in society are largely, but not wholly, controlled by His hukam. Our gurus particularly Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur submitted to torture and death in order to honour His Will. Willing submission to His hukam is necessary for salvation."

Having discussed the basic requirements for Naam Sadhana, a few ancillary aspects are given below.

TIME AND DURATION: Initially two sessions a day of about 30 minutes each, early morning and before retiring at night. Thereafter, pray without cessation.

BREATHING: Breath normally during the Sadhana period. But during exercise and walking, it helps, if the gur-mantra is split into two parts - Wah and Guru, and uttered synchronised with inhalation and exhalation, respectively. While walking or moving about, this can be synchronised with steps as well. .

Visualizing God's presence in nature, as one exercises and does work, will further quicken the process of living in Him'.

ABSORPTION OF Naam: A vessel will only allow something in it if it is empty or its original contents are taken Out.38 Similarly, God will only enter into our self if it is clear of other impurities such as ill-feeling and animosity. Ego is the main hurdle which separates us from the Prime Soul. This can only be erased by willing submission to His Will.39

" RHYTHM: The co-ordination of recitation of Naam with the rhythmic beat of musical instruments, tick-tick of clocks, running of trains and automobiles, moving of fans or any other such machinery and even the sound of rain, rivulet or water-fall contribute towards concentration of mind.

DO'S: Guru Nanak maintains that unless we cultivate the godly qualities in us, meditation will not be fruitful." Here are a few do's:

1. Eat less, sleep less and talk less.

2. Be merciful, contented, truthful, calm, cool and collected.

3. Be humble and sweet.

4. Avoid calumny and extra-marital connections.

5. Be in ever ascending spirit (Charhdi kala).

6. Be honest, benevolent and generous.

As we spiritually progress and get nearer to Him, our fouled and perverted mind will be cleansed and filled with godly qualities. Human effort will still be required as "God helps those who help themselves."

We should not be disheartened, if in the initial stage, progress is slow. I The spirit of discipleship is subtle; it is like licking a tasteless rock with the I tongue. Lot of perseverance is needed to accomplish our goal of life — to meet Him.


The higliliglit of the Sikh system of meditation, briefly explains above, is that it is creative and not a dead concept of mere absorption into the infinite. A Sikh has to live holistidally, with inner awareness of God and outwardly serving His creation by noble deeds.

Meditation is ceaseless remembrance and visualisation of His presence in everything and everywhere. It is a game of dedication, devotion and love. Its basic rules are, a) surrendering of everything we possess including our body and mind and, B) willing acceptance of His Cosmic Law -hukam. The sure indication that we are abiding by these rules is that our ego has been harnessed and that we are in ever ascending spirit — Charhdi kala under all conditions and circumstances,

Meditation is much more spiritual than what is stated in this pape It cannot be fullv described or taught.

1. Bhei prapat maukh dehuria; Gobind milan ki eh teri baria.

2. Harko Naam jap, nirmal karam.

3. Nama kahe Tilochana mukh te Ram smal, Hath paon karkam sub, cheet Niranjan nal.

4. Anile kagad katile gudi, akas madhe bharmiale....

5. Man toon jot saroop hai apna mool pachhan.

6. Ras mandal kino akhara....Kahen na jae khel tuhara

7. Bhei prapat manukh dehuria, Govind milan ki eh teri baria.

8. Es dehi ko simre dev, so dehi bhaj har ki sev

9.Jo brahmande, soi pinde.

10. Jo brahmande, soi pinde.

11. Manas janam amolak paio, birtha kahe gavavo.

12. Bharie mut papan ke sung, oh dhope nawan ke rung.

13. Naam ke dhare khand brahmund.

14. Sain Naam amol, keem na koi jando.

15. Akha jiva, bisre mar jao.

16. Jo dum chit na avei, so dum wtha jae.

17. Ek khtn piara bisre, jano kot dins lakh baria.

18 So jivia jis man vasiya soye, Nanak awar na jive koye.

19.Surat shabad bhav sagar tarie.

20.Apram parbrahm parmeshar, Nanak gur milya soi jio.

21 Ad ant eko avtara, soi guru samjio hamara.

22 Guru Granth ji manyo, pargat guran ki deh.

23. Antar Guru aradhana, jehva jap gur nao. Netri satgur pekhna, sarvani sunna gur nao.

24. Shabad guru, surat dhun chela.

25. Jin prem kio, tinhi parabh paeo

26. Khar ka pekhar tau chhute,ja upar lada

27. Janke rideh viswas prabh aya, tut gian tis man paragtaya.

28 Gur-Satgur ka jo sikh akhaye, so bhalke uth har Naam dhiaye.

29. Harkirtan sadh sangat hai sir karman ke karma.

30. Nau-bidh Naam garibi pai.

31. Mithat nivi Nanaka, gun changiaian tut.

32. Waheguru gur mantar hai, jap haumain khoi.

33. Parbrahm gur nahin bhed.

34. Wada sahib ucha thaon, ache upar ucha nao.

35. a) Jeho beeje so lune.

B) Ape beej, ape he khah.

36. Karmi apo apni ke nere ke door.

37. Hukum razai chalna.

38. Vastu ander vast samave, duji hove pas.

39. Haumen nave nal virodh hai, doe na vase ik thaen.

40. Bin gun keete bhagat na hoe.


Because practising Sikhism is so simple — no complexities of rituals and ceremonies, fasts and austerities, renunciations and reclusions, or heavens and hells. I have no conchshells to blow, no bells to ring, no deities to appease, no pilgrimages to undertake. I preserve my long hair and beard as nature gives them to me and keep a comb to cleanse them every day. To look decent and civilized I keep my loins covered with a kachhehra an underwear. I wear a sword to meet unforeseen enemies, and an iron bracelet — an emblem to remind me of the bondage (discipline) of my Guru. I eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, wear when naked, and enjoy as I will. The only criterion with me is to preserve a clear conscience and rear a sound body. This simplicity of faith and freedom of joy are the greatest inducements for me to be a Sikh.

Because I need no priestly order to redeem my sins. I am priest to myself. I can stand alone and pray to God for my redemption. He listens to my prayers. I also have full faith in a congregation of my people - devotees of my Guru. We sit together in the presence of our Guru — Holy Granth, sing in chorus hymns from the Granth, till we are all one and pray with folded hands for redemption of our sins, for proper guidance in life, and for His blessings for the entire mankind and the universe. There I feel one with the universe, a member of the common brotherhood and lie prostrate at His feet with all humbleness ',' praying for the common good of all — friends or foes-What a wonderful prayer! Hence. I am a Sikh . — Narain Sineh


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