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Summary of Question:Can the essence of Gurbani be translated
Date Posted:Wednesday, 8/18/1999 12:00 PM MDT

If I do my Rehra Sahib and Japji Sahib in english does it count the same as if I were to read the Gurmukhi text?

First of all, in response to your question, <who> do you think is <counting>? The only fact of importance is, <Is your own mind completely present and engaged in elevating itself toward the awareness of Wahe Guru, and how the hand of Wahe Guru engages the world we live in?>. No one else is keeping score. If a parrot reads Japji Sahib in Gurmukhi, and then a parrot reads Japji Sahib in english, both would <count> the same, which would be for nothing.

The second consideration would be concerned with what your own level of comprehension is in Gurmukhi. Do you clearly understand the meaning of the banis in Gurmukhi? If so, then it would be much better to read them in Gurmukhi. If you don?t understand the meaning of what you read in Gurmukhi (and you do understand English), then it would be very beneficial to read the banis in a clear and reliable translation so that your mind can begin to comprehend, pauri by pauri, just what the Guru is talking about. Then, when you have that understanding, your readings in Gurmukhi will mean much more to you. Moreover, you?ll be able to begin to correlate the Gurmukhi words, phrases, and passages with the language in which your mind ordinarily thinks and functions.

Finally, are you able to read and pronounce the Gurmukhi text at all? If so, then simply reading the pure naad or sound of Gurmukhi (even if you don?t understand it) has a deeply beneficial affect on the mind, because it is the direct speech of the Gurus themselvs. The naad of Gurbani is impressed with the blessing and nectar of the Gurus, it is written in raag meter, rhythm and tone, all of which carry a spiritual impact to the mind, even if the intellectual mind doesn?t understand. It is a direct link between your tongue, your upper palate, your heart center and your mind, with the tongue, palate, heart and mind of the Guru. It is one of the most sacred channels the Sikh has for merging with the mindstream of the Guru. That is why Gurmukhi and Gurbani are so sacred within Sikh Dharma.

On the other hand, if you are not fluent in speaking, reading, and thinking in punjabi, Gurmukhi and Gurbani, then it is extremely important to call upon all the present language skills, in your common daily language, to support learning the Guru?s way and the Guru?s naad. You must use every means at your disposal to achieve and master the connection with the Guru?s word as the Gurus spoke it. However, this doesn?t mean that one must only use Gurmukhi, or that only Gurmukhi/punjabi can be spoken among Sikhs, or in Gurdwaras. Every person will experience the essence of Gurbani to the extent they are able. A native speaker of english, who becomes a Sikh, who learns to read, chant, and meditate upon and within Gurbani will probably have a somewhat different individual experience than someone whose native tongue is punjabi. Both are experiencing the Guru and both experiences are valid and authentic. And ultimately, truth is <Nameless> (Nirnamey), as Guru Gobind Singh tells us in Jaap Sahib. Therefore, in e
ntering the formless, infinite experience of Wahe Guru, all languages will be transcended at some point. Gurbani is our pure and sacred pathway for reaching that point.

So, the question remains, why do you want to read the banis in english. Is it to increase and expand your comprehension? Is it that you currently cannot read or cannot understand Gurmukhi? Or is it that you are unwilling to put forward the effort to grow in relationship with the Guru?s Word? This is a question you must anwer for yourself, and need only answer for yourself in relation to the Guru. No one is going to track you down and assess demerits for doing the wrong thing.

Krishna Singh Khalsa

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