Ik Onkar

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For the monotheistic religion founded in the United States and named after an alternative transliteration of the "Ik Onkār" phrase, see Eckankar.
Ik Onkār,[1] a Sikh symbol (encoded as a single character in Unicode at U+0A74, )

Ik Onkar (Gurmukhi: , ਇੱਕ ਓਅੰਕਾਰ; Ikk Ōankār Punjabi pronunciation: [ɪkː oəŋkaɾ]) is the symbol that represents the One Supreme Reality[2] and is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy.[1] Ik (ਇੱਕ) means one and only one who cannot be compared or contrasted with any other,[3] (ਓਅੰਕਾਰ) is the one universal ever flowing divine melody and existential unending sound of God. The word is Oang and Kar is the unending continuation of Oang. This sound manifests in billions of galaxies and universes (consistent with the big bang theory which led to the creation of all galaxies) and its melody also leads to protect and preserve them as everything gets merged back into this sound, which has happened countless times before.

It is a symbol of the unity of God in Sikhism, and is found in all religious scriptures and places such as Gurdwaras. Derived from Punjabi, Ik Onkār is the first phrase in the Mul Mantar referring to the existence of "one constant divine melody" which is proved by Gurbani itself in: "Oang aad saroopay Oang Gurmukh kiyo pasaara"ll "EKANGKAR ek dhunn ekay ekay raag alaapay॥ Eka desi ek dikhawe eko raheya byaapay"॥, "Eko kwao kita pasao"॥ "Dhunn mei dhayn dhyan mei janeya gurmukh akath kahani"॥ "Thakur hamara sad bolanta"॥[4] It is found in the Gurmukhi script[5] and is consequently also part of the Sikh morning prayer, Japji Sahib. It is a combination of two characters, the numeral ੧, Ikk (one) and the first letter of the word Onkar (Constant taken to mean God) - which also happens to be the first letter of the Gurmukhī script - an ūṛā, ੳ, coupled with a specially adapted vowel symbol hōṛā, yielding ਓ.

In Mul Mantra[edit]

Main article: Mul Mantar
Mul Mantra written by Guru Har Rai, showing the Ik Onkar at top.

It is also the opening phrase of the Mul Mantar, present as opening phrase in the Guru Granth Sahib, and the first composition of Guru Nanak. Further, the Mul Mantar is also at the beginning of the Japji Sahib, followed by 38 hymns and a final Salok at the end of this composition.

Punjabi: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Simplified transliteration: ikk ōnkār satināmu karatā puraku nirapǎ'u niraver akāl mūrat ajūnī sepàng gurprasād
English: One true existential divine melody, Truth by Name, Creative Power, Without Fear, Without Enmity, Timeless Form, Unborn, Self-Existent, By the Guru's Grace.[6]

Discussion[edit]

Ik Onkar is the statement of singularity in Sikhism, that is 'there is one God'.[7][8]

The phrase is a compound of the numeral one (ik) and onkar, states Doniger, canonically understood in Sikhism to refer to "absolute monotheistic unity of God".[9] Ik Onkar has a prominent position at the head of the Mul Mantar and the opening words of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.[9]

The Onkar of Sikhism is related to Om in Hinduism.[9] Some Sikhs disagree that Ik Onkar is same as Om.[9] Onkar is, states Wazir Singh, a "variation of Om (Aum) of the ancient Indian scriptures (with a slight change in its orthography), implying the seed-force that evolves as the universe".[10] Guru Nanak wrote a poem entitled Oankar in which, states Doniger, he "attributed the origin and sense of speech to the Divinity, who is thus the Om-maker".[9]

Oankar ('the Primal Sound') created Brahma, Oankar fashioned the consciousness,
From Oankar came mountains and ages, Oankar produced the Vedas,
By the grace of Oankar, people were saved through the divine word,
By the grace of Oankar, they were liberated through the teachings of the Guru.

— Ramakali Dakkhani, Adi Granth 929-930, Translated by Pashaura Singh[11]

Ik Aumkara appears at the start of Mul Mantra, states Kohli, and it occurs as "Aum" in the Upanishads and in Gurbani.[12] Ek Onkar is part of the "Mul Mantra" in Sikh teachings and represents "One God", explains Gulati, where "Ek" means One, and Onkar is "equivalent of the Hindu "Om" (Aum)".[13] However, the meaning of Oankar in the Sikh tradition, states Pashaura Singh, is quite different in certain respects than those in other Indian philosophical traditions.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sikhism photpack. Fu Ltd. 2012. p. 10. ISBN 1-85276-769-3.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ "Basic Articles". SGPC. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "ਇੱਕ - meaning in English". Shabdkosh. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Mayled, John (2002). Sikhism. Heinemann. p. 16. ISBN 0-435-33627-4. 
  5. ^ David Rose, Gill Rose (2003). Sacred Texts photopack. Folens Limited. p. 12. ISBN 1-84303-443-3. 
  6. ^ Arvind Mandair (2008), Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia (Editor: Kelly Pemberton), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415958288, page 61
  7. ^ Singh, Wazir (1969). Aspects of Guru Nanak's philosophy. Lahore Book Shop. p. 20. Retrieved 2015-09-17. the 'a,' 'u,' and 'm' of aum have also been explained as signifying the three principles of creation, sustenance and annihilation. ... aumkār in relation to existence implies plurality, ... but its substitute Ekonkar definitely implies singularity in spite of the seeming multiplicity of existence. ... 
  8. ^ Singh, Khushwant (2002). "The Sikhs". In Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo. The religious traditions of Asia: religion, history, and culture. London: RoutledgeCurzon. p. 114. ISBN 0-7007-1762-5. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Doniger, Wendy (1999). Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions. Merriam-Webster. p. 500. ISBN 978-0-87779-044-0. Retrieved 2015-09-23. 
  10. ^ Wazir Singh (1969), Guru Nanak's philosophy, Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1, page 56
  11. ^ a b Pashaura Singh (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, page 227
  12. ^ SS Kohli (1993), The Sikh and Sikhism, Atlantic, ISBN 81-71563368, page 35, Quote: "Ik Aumkara is a significant name in Guru Granth Sahib and appears in the very beginning of Mul Mantra. It occurs as Aum in the Upanishads and in Gurbani, the Onam Akshara (the letter Aum) has been considered as the abstract of three worlds (p. 930). According to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad "Aum" connotes both the transcendent and immanent Brahman.
  13. ^ Mahinder Gulati (2008), Comparative Religious And Philosophies : Anthropomorphlsm And Divinity, Atlantic, ISBN 978-8126909025, pages 284-285; Quote: "While Ek literally means One, Onkar is the equivalent of the Hindu "Om" (Aum), the one syllable sound representing the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - the God in His entirety."

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