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Summary of Question:Understanding Gurbani ?
Date Posted:Saturday, 5/20/2000 9:34 PM MDT

Sat Sri Akal,

Currently I am living in United States. I know Punjabi very well. It is my first lanugage. But i never understand the gurbani, no matter how much i concentrate to understand. Mostly all of the words in gurbani are very difficult and they are rarely used nowdays in punjabi language. The reason that i am writing is that i can understand Gurbani more in English than in Punjabi. But somehow it doesn't make me that happy from inside of my mind. I rarely try to read the gurbani. Is that a reason that i am not practing or there is some other way to understand (such as read and learn more about ancient punjabi)?

I will be awaiting for the response.

Vicky singh


Dear Vicky Singh--
Sat Siri Akaal. Your problem is common amongst many Punjabis; imagine how it is for us who don't know Punjabi! But let me suggest that you continue to read in Gurmukhi and then study the English. The reason I recommend you do this is the sound current ('naad') of Siri Guru has an effect on the mind and spirit WHETHER OR NOT YOU UNDERSTAND THE MEANING. I don't speak Punjabi at all, but I love to read and listen to Siri Guru in Gurmukhi for this sound current, and find it elevating every time. So I recommend you work with the Gurbani as your practice, and use the English to reflect on what Guru is telling you.

There are many references in Gurbani that are based in old Indian culture. Many of the words are from old Punjabi, from Persian, Hindi, and Arabic as well! NO wonder you have difficulty!

But however you practice, the other key to understanding Gurbani is to listen with your heart. Japji pauris 8-11 discuss the concept of 'suni-ai' or "listening," but it is a listening of the heart, of the intuitive mind. This kind of listening comes with daily bani practice and meditation.

Perhaps you can find a gyani who can help you understand Gurbani, who you can study with. A source for books that might help you is this: This is a Web site with many books on Sikhi, in Punjabi and English. The fellow who runs this site is very dedicated. It may take a while for a reply, but you could ask him to suggest good books for understanding Gurbani.

FYI: The 8-volume set of Siri Guru Granth Sahib by Manmohan Singh has both English and Punjabi explanations of Gurbani. You can find this at the site above.

Guru bless you to understand His Bani.

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