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Meaning and power of Waheguru Mantar


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This article is taken from Sikhsangat.com but thought it would be useful on this site due to skeptical views on the waheguru mantar lately. Here is the article


The meaning and power of Vahiguru (Article by Daljit Singh).

Date: 08/22/2007

A very devoted Sikh boy in the langar hall asked me the meaning of Vahiguru and I had to conjure my thoughts up for an explanation. I recollected what was written in the book written by the prolific well known writer, Khushwant Singh in A History of Sikhs, Volume 1, and page 40 at the footnote the meaning of Vahiguru. My curiosity did not stop there but intended to delve into the subject further. Vahiguru is about adoration of God. At a later stage in the evolution of Sikhism, Vahiguru became the Sikh name for God. Vahiguru literally means, " Hail Guru" and is very close to the Muslim Subhan Allah. It has been suggested that the word is a combination of different Hindu names in God: Vasudev, Hari, Govinda and Rama and none of the Sikh commentators support this view. Vahiguru, is also spelt as Waheguru and is the distinctive name of the Supreme Being. This term occurs in the hymns of Bhatt Gayand, the bard contemporary with Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji used Vahiguru in the beginning of some of his compositions as well as in the Sikh salutation ( Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa vahiguru ji ki Fateh).

Vahiguru is a compound of two words, one from Persian and the other from Sanskrit, joined in a symbiotic relationship to define the Indefinable Indescribable Ultimate Reality. Vah in Persian is an an interjection of wonder and admiration, and guru (Sanskrit meaning heavy, weighty, great, venerable; a spiritual parent or preceptor) has been frequently used by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his successors for Satiguru (True Guru) or God. Bhai Santokh Singh, another renowned writer in Sri Guru Nanak Prakash (pp 1249-51), reporting Guru Nanak's testament to the Sikhs has thus explicated Vahiguru: Vah is wonder at the Divine might; Gu is spiritual darkness while ru is illumination brought to eliminate this darkness; cumulatively, the name implies wonder at the Divine Light eliminating spiritual darkness. Considering the two constituents of vahiguru(vahi+guru) implying the state of wondrous ecstasy and offering of homage to the Lord, the first one was brought distinctly and prominently into the devotional system by Guru Nanak Dev Ji as evidenced in the hymn in Dhanasari Mahalla 1: Gagan mai thalu ravi chandu dipak bane tarioka mandal janak moti(SGGS 663); in measure Suhi: Kaun raaji kavanu tula tera kavanu saraphu bulava(SGGS 730) and in Jap Ji Sahib: Kete pavan pani vaisantar kete kan mahes, kete barame gharati ghariahi rup rang ke ves. (SGGS 7).

Wonder and ecstasy are expressed at cosmic order and its mystery full of contradictions, yet all comprehended in the Divinely-appointed system. In Asa Ki Var(SGGS 462-475), the opening sloka to pauri 3 is woven round vismad-visamadu nad vismadu ved, wondrous is the sound, wondrous the wisdom. This sloka concludes with: "Ever present to our gaze is wonder. At the sight of this mystery are we wonderstruck. Only the Supreme good fortune is it unravel led." In the opening of sloka to pauri 4-bhai vichi pavanu vahai sadvau, in the Lord's fear bloweth the wind with its myriad breezes-is expressed wonder at the cosmic "fear" under which the universe operates in obedience to the Divine Law, the Lord alone being exempt from such fear.

In Japji Sahib, besides other themes, one that stands out prominent is wonder at the cosmic order, its infinitude and the mystery of its moral elan. As a matter of fact, the theme of Jap Ji Sahib may be said to be what occurs in the course of stanza 4: Vadiai vicaharu (contemplation of the Divine infinity) In stanza 16, is the expression of wonder at the limitlessness of space, Stanza 17-19, each beginning with asankh(infinite) are uttered in the same mood. In order to get the feel of the infinite and its magnitude, to hear and follow the Jap Ji Sahib, will give one the depth of the prayers. In stanza 22- patal patal lak agasa agas, countless the worlds beneath, countless the worlds above- is a vision of the limitlessness of the universe. So flows the subsequent stanzas 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 34, 35 and 35, it is in response to this overwhelming vision of Guru Nanak Dev Ji that the unique Name of the Supreme Being, Vahiguru, originated as a response in the human self –attuned to devotion and ecstasy.

Guru Amar Das Ji has also used the term and the interjection of vahu-vahu is used as many as 96 times. It also occurs in Guru Ram Das Ji in conjunction with Satiguru. In Guru Arjan Dev Ji by whose time the formulation Vahiguru appears to have become current and acquired distinctiveness as the Name Divine, the phrase Guru Vahu figures in Asa measure (SGGS 376). This is the only as inverted form of Vahiguru and has the same force and significance. Kavi Santokh Singh in Sri Guru Pratap Suraj Granth uses the term as synonymous: simrahu vahiguru guru vahi, or contemplate ye Vahiguru, the Lord all Hail.

The earliest use of Vahiguru is traceable back to Varan by Bhai Gurdas Ji and to Gayand hymns as I mentioned earlier. In both it may be said to have occurred contemporaneously, for while no date can be assigned to Bhai Gurdas Ji's Varan, the work may be assumed to have appeared soon after the compilation of the SGGS by Guru Arjan Dev Ji in 1604, being so much alive with its spirit and phraseology. Gayand made use of Vahiguru as the Supreme Name Divine and in Savaiyya 11, the term occurs twice as Vahiguru and it is repeated thrice as Vahiguru in the opening line, expressing fervour of devotion. In Savaiyya 12, Vahu vahu(Wonder personifying the Lord) signifies the Supreme marvel, embracing the infinitude of the universe.

Some relevant lines from Bhai Gurdas, Varan has been produced putting faith in Vahiguru, the Masters teaching, the seeker drains peace and tranquility the cup of devotion. In his book, he cites in his book and vahiguru is ubiquitous in his book indicating its essence and the power of Vahiguru.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the temple at Kartapur established the realm Eternal as the Holy congregation, and imparted to it the Divine Vahiguru; Sati namu karta purakhu vahiguru vichi ridai samae, let the seeker lodge in his heart the Holy name, the Creator immanent, Vahiguru. In these verses, vahiguru signifies the supreme Name Divine, to which devotion is offered. It is transcendent and annular of sin and evil, thus combining in itself the attributed and the unattributed aspects in the consonance with the Sikh doctrine voiced in the Scripture. The main point is that by the Guru Arjan Dev's time and thereafter, this name with others was established as the objects of devotion. The term received the final seal in the time of the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Vahiguru is for the Sikhs the gurmantra (invocatory formula received from the Guru) or naam for repetition (silently or aloud with or without a rosary) and meditation upon the Supreme Reality. Bhai Gurdas Ji in his Varan refers to it variously as japu mantra (invocation for repetition), guru sabadu (the Guru's Word), sacha mantra (true mantra) and gurmantra. It is also called naam or the Name and is sometimes compounded as Satnam Vahiguru to be chanted aloud in the congregations at Sikh camps, Darbar Sahib or sadhsangat to connect with the Lord. The power of uttering Vahiguru in the congregations simultaneously with kirtan, is the most relaxing and congenial form of connecting with the Vaheguru.

Naam Japna (repeated utterances of God's name, that is Vahiguru)) which gradually wipes out anything wrong, sinful or evil, is one of the cardinal moral principles of Sikhism, the other two being kirat karni or honest labour and vand chhakna or sharing one's victuals with the needy. Since the manifestation of the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Anandpur Sahib, Vahiguru has been part of the Sikh salutation: Vahiguru ji ka khalsa, vahiguru ji ki fateh (Hail the Khalsa who belongs to the Lord God! Hail the Lord God to whom belongs the victory!) It has since become also the gurmantra imparted formally at initiation ceremony (taking Amrit) by the leader of the Panj Piyares carrying out the entire religious rites as exemplified by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Daljit Singh



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