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Summary of Question:Is it right to do prayers i barely understand?
Date Posted:Thursday, 4/22/1999 9:19 AM MDT

I'm always told that it's the right thing to do my jap ji, Rehraas saahib, anand Sahib, kirtan Sohila, shabads etc... my problems lies in the fact that although i can speak punjabi fairly well, I don't understand most of the paaths. I've been born and raised in America and the only people i really speak punjabi with would be my grandparents so i'm not all that good at it. Not to mention the fact that the guru's techings use words that are not so common. When i do the jap ji and all, I don't know what i'm saying, and paath has become a ritual to me now. Rituals--something we never believed in. So my question to you is, Is it right for me to do the prayers, as i'm supposed to, when i usually don't even understand what I'm saying?

I go to Sikh Youth in Michigan...and i find that it helps me learn the meanings of our Gurus' teachings, but camp only lasts a week...and there's not much i can learn within such a short amount of time.
What would your advice be to me???

In direct answer to your question, ?Does it do any good to read the Banis without understanding them??, please consider the following:

?Guru Har Rai was once asked whether there was any benefit gained by reading the Guru's Bani without understanding it. "Yes," he replied, "as grease sticks to the pot even when it is emptied, so does the Guru's Word stick to the heart. Whether you understand it or not, the Word bears the Seed of Salvation. Perfume persists in the broken pieces even after the vase that contained it has been shattered."
This quote from a short article on Japji Sahib, at

But you can also read well translated versions of the Banis in English language in order to learn better what they mean. And, you can also create a goal for yourself that, one day in your life, you will learn Gurmukhi. Everything comes and happens in its own due time. Be patient, continue reciting your Banis as you do now, and expand by learning more. It is all important.

To find Japji Sahib in a beautiful English Translation:

Here, also, is a clear explanation of the effects on the inner mind that each separate Pauri of Japji Sahib has:

See also a poem by Siri Singh Sahib ji, explaining the deep, inner meaning of each of the daily Banis.

The young life you have is a beautiful opportunity, after millions of lifetimes, to learn the sacred Dharma. There are more resources and tools available today (in books, over the internet, and from other Sikhs) than ever before, to master the path of living with our Guru. Sikh means disciple, or student. As students we study. That?s how it works. You are on the path, so learn, celebrate the Guru?s gifts to us, and become great.

Krishna Singh Khalsa

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