Japji Sahib ‘Way to God in Sikhism’

Item Code: IHL491
Author: Maneshwar S. Chahal
Publisher: Prakash Books
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 8172341547
Pages: 336
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
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Book Description

The sublime spiritual beauty of the Gurbani is well recognized by all those who have been lucky enough to be exposed to it. Sadly, however, there are many, even among the twenty plus million Sikhs who find the ‘Gurmukhi’ script a barrier; or more often find the message difficult to understand because the language differs so much from present day Punjabi. As Prof. WH. McLeod said, "The world is poorer for its ignorance of the Sikh Scriptures." Also, to quote Macauliffe, The Granth Sahib thus becomes the most difficult work, sacred or profane, that exists, and hence the general ignorance of its contents." He was of course referring to the fact that this sacred Writing had employed such a large variety of languages and dialects, and it was hard for any one man to be a scholar in all of those.

‘Efforts to bring the message to the world in simpler, easier to understand language have often been made. Some European translations exist, especially noteworthy among them being Macauliffe’s six volumes: The Sikh Religion, Its Guru’s Sacred Writings and Authors. There are then detailed commentaries in Punjabi, notably by Prof. Sahib Singh and Bhai Vir Singh. There are dictionaries such as Bhai Sahib Bhai Kahan Singh’s Gurshabad Ratnakar, more commonly known as the Mahan Kosh. Finally, there are verse renderings in English, Prof. G.S. Talib’s being notable. All these learned men have tried to make clear the meaning of the Gurbam. Our subject here being the Japji Sahib we may note that all these have naturally also included their perceptions inter alia, on this, the foremost of the Guru’s compositions. Commentaries specifically on the Japji in the English language have been few Generally we find verse translations figuring either as a part of an overall commentary on the Sikh scriptures, or the Japji being rendered into poetry in English with a few explanatory footnotes. The Punjabi commentary in greater detail exists but is not accessible to those who do not have an understanding of the ‘Gurmukhi’ script.

There is therefore a large audience, which is aware of the grandeur of this scripture but cannot access it, this being true of the Sikh diaspora with even greater poignancy There are also many, not necessarily adherents of the Sikh religion but keen seekers of spiritual growth who would like a detailed explanation of the terms used and the thoughts which possibly lay behind those words. It is for all of them that this humble presentation is made. It has been three years in the preparation and the writing, and is based on half a century’s personal pursuit of the Guru’s Path, however imperfect and lacking in true merit that effort may have been. It owes also a great deal to the many learned commentaries and translations, in Punjabi and in English. A special debt is owed to Prof. Sahib Singh’s 10—volume Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan where he has in Vol. 1 annotated the Japji Sahib. Vol. l of Bhai Vir Singh’s commentary has also been a constant source and guide. Giani Sant Singh Maskin’s twenty-cassette audio—commentary on the Japji has also been relied on. Osho’s twenty-cassette commentary in Hindi and his very readable commentary ‘The True Name’, on the Japji Sahib have also been of help in formulating and shaping these thoughts.

Apart from the above, many other translations, and commentaries, mostly in English and Narain Singh’s erudite commentary in Punjabi have also been of great help. This offering refers to all the learned commentaries and then seeks to offer conclusions on how the message of the Guru in the Japji Sahib is to be construed. In offering these conclusions effort has been made to steer as close as possible, to the extent the limitations of intellect and knowledge would permit, to the Central message of the scripture. Individual words used in the composition have been explained and a line-by-line commentary attempted. This book should therefore be useful to those who would at one single place like the meaning explained and clarified, to help them read and recite this first prayer of the ‘Nitnem’ with better understanding. It should also help direct scholars to the other very much more learned commentaries that are available, some of which we have touched upon above.

May this effort be of some avail, to at least a few in reaching I better understanding of the message of the Sikh faith. May the learned reader also forgive your humble interlocutor for We many shortcomings that will no doubt be noted here. Be assured that this is placed before you in full awareness of the Vastness of the subject, and of the many highly evolved souls in whose hands it will fall.

Back of the Book

Sikhism is the youngest of the major world religions, and is the most modern and egalitarian in its practice. The scriptural authority for its followers is the ‘Gurbani’ in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Japji Sahib is the quintessential ‘bani’, and is the key to the philosophy expounded by the Gurus. Composed by the founder of the Sikh faith, Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, the Japji Sahib spells out the basic roadmap prescribed for a Sikh to undertake the great journey from the mundane to the Divine. As the very epitome of the Sikh doctrine, it finds pride of place among the set of daily prayers recited by Sikhs in the early morning hours.

Guru Nanak’s Jipji Sahib-Way to God in Sikhism by Maneshwar S. Chahal is a unique presentation in that before offering well reasoned conclusions it puts forth many a point of view and not just any single interpretation of the verses. It will help the lay reader to easily understand the Guru’s message, while the scholar will find ready material for deeper study of this vast subject.

At the beginning of the book has been added the text of the verses of Japji in Roman scripture as also in ‘Gurumukhi’ for those who would want to also experience the joy of chanting the ‘bani’.


Foreword ix
Acknowledgements xii
Preface xiii
Running text of Japji Sahib 1
1 Man and the Infinite 19
2 The Advent of the Master 27
3 The Milieu 35
4 Mool Mantra 44
5 The First Glimpse of the Lord 54
6 The First Steps towards Him 57
7 The Divine Ordinance 64
8 Seeking the Unknowable 69
9 By His Grace Alone 76
10 The Lord of All 86
11 The Jewels Within 93
12 Seek to Please only Him 98
13 Hear with the Heart 103
14 The True Believer 118
15 Beyond the Reach of Death 123
16 Nothing Shall Bar your Path 129
17 Onwards to Salvation 134
18 The Enlightened Ones 141
19 Seeking His Benediction 154
20 Even then His Children 159
21 Words Cannot Describe Him 165
22His Name Cleanses All 170
23 The Hidden Teerath Within 174
24 The Lord has No Bounds 183
25 The Stream and the Ocean 189
26 Beyond All Reckoning 192
27 The Highest of the High 198
28 Priceless Is His Name 207
29 The Court Divine 217
30 Lessons for the Jogis 232
31 With Compassion in Heart 240
32 By His Writ Alone 245
33 The Divine Provider 249
34 His Name, the True Mantra 253
35 In Total Obedience 259
36 The Testing Grounds 264
37 Realm of Righteousness 271
38 Realm of Spiritual Endeavour 279
39 Realm of Grace: One with the Lord 285
40 Forging the True Word 294
41 Salvation through His Name 302
Appendix A 308
Appendix B 317
Selected Bibliography 319
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