Japji Sahib

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Japji sahib 
by Guru Nanak
Original title Japji
First published in Adi Granth, 1604
Country India
Language Gurmukhi
Genre(s) Religion
Lines 38 Stanzas
Pages 1-8
Followed by So Dar Aasa (ਸੋ ਦਰੁ ਰਾਗੁ ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ ੧)

Japji Sahib is a Sikh prayer, that appears at the beginning of the holy scripture of the Sikhs, the living Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. It was composed by Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. It is headed by Mool Mantra and followed by 38 paudis (stanzas) and completed with a final Salok at the end of this composition.[1]

Japji Sahib is believed to be the first composition of Guru Nanak, and considered in Sikhism as the faith's most comprehensive essence.[1] It is regarded amongst the most important Bani or 'set of verses' by the Sikhs, as it is first Bani in Nitnem. It is notable for its discourse on what is true worship and the nature of God. It states that God is indescribable, the only true form of worship is acceptance of God, and to remain one with loving God, always.[2][3]

Related to Japji Sahib is Jaapu (Punjabi: :ਜਾਪੁ), the latter is found at the start of Dasam Granth and was composed by Guru Gobind Singh.[1][4]

Japji is used in the Sikh tradition at the initiation ceremony and during the cremation ritual.[1]

Meaning of Japu[edit]

Following are some accepted meanings of Jap:

  • The popular meanings of Japu is to recite, to repeat, or to chant.[2]
  • Jap also means to understand. Gurbani cites Aisa Giaan Japo Man Mere, Hovo Chakar Sache Kere, where Jap word means to understand wisdom.[5]

Content[edit]

The Japji Sahib opens hymn one cannot clean the mind just by cleaning the body, by silence alone one cannot find peace, by food alone one cannot satisfy one's hunger, to be purified one must abide in love of the divine.[6] Hymn 2 asserts that by God's command the ups and downs in life happen, it is He who causes suffering and happiness, it is He whose command brings release from rebirth, and it is His command by which one lives in perpetual cycles of rebirth from karma.[6][7]

With good karmas in past life and His grace is the gate of mukti (liberation) is found; in Him is everything, states Hymn 4.[6] The Hymn 5 states that He has endless virtues, so one must sing His name, listen, and keep the love for Him in one's heart.[6][8] The Guru’s shabda (word) is the protecting sound and wisdom of the Vedas, the Guru is Shiva, Vishnu (Gorakh) and Brahma, and the Guru is mother Parvati and Lakshmi.[9][10] All living beings abide in Him. Hymns 6 to 15 describe the value of listening to the word and having faith, for it is the faith that liberates.[7] God is formless and indescribable, state Hymns 16 to 19.[10] It is remembering His name that cleanses, liberates states Hymn 20. Hymns 21 through 27 revere the nature and name of God, stating that man's life is like a river that does not know the vastness of ocean it journeys to join, that all literature from Vedas to Puranas speak of Him, Brahma speaks, Siddhas speak, Yogi speaks, Shiva speaks, the silent sages speak, the Buddha speaks, the Krishna speaks, the humble Sewadars speak, yet one cannot describe Him completely with all the words in the world.[11][7]

Hymn 30 states that He watches all, but none can see Him. God is the primal one, the pure light, without beginning, without end, the never changing constant, states Hymn 31.[12]

Japji Sahib and Japu Sahib[edit]

The Guru Granth Sahib starts with Japji Sahib, while Dasam Granth starts with Japu Sahib.[1] Guru Nanak is credited with the former, while Guru Gobind Singh is credited with the latter.[1] Japu Sahib is structured as a stotra that are commonly found in 1st millennium CE Hindu literature. The Japu Sahib, unlike Japji Sahib, is composed predominantly in Braj-Hindi and Sanskrit language, with a few Arabic words, and with 199 stanzas is longer than Japji Sahib.[1] The Japu Sahib is, like Japji Sahib, a praise of God as the unchanging, loving, unborn, ultimate power and includes within it 950 names of God,[1] starting with Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu and moving on to over 900 names and avatars of gods and goddesses found in Hindu traditions, with the assertion that these are all manifestations of the One, the limitless eternal creator.[4] This is similar to Sahasranama texts of India, and for this reason this part is also called as Akal Sahasranama.[4] The text includes Arabic words for God such as Khuda and Allah. The Japu Sahib includes a mention of God as wielder of weapons, consistent with the martial spirit of Dasam Granth.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i HS Singha (2009), The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Hemkunt Press, ISBN 978-8170103011, page 110
  2. ^ a b S Deol (1998), Japji: The Path of Devotional Meditation, ISBN 978-0966102703, page 11
  3. ^ B Singh and GP Singh (2007), Japji, Hemkunt Press, ISBN 8-170101824, pages 17-42
  4. ^ a b c Amarjit Singh (1985), Concept of God in Jap Sahib, Studies in Sikhism and Comparative Religion, Volume 4, pages 84-102
  5. ^ Nihang, Dharam Singh. Naad Ved Vichar (Exegesis) (in Punjabi). India. p. 20. ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ।। ਹੋਵਹੁ ਚਾਕਰ ਸਾਚੇ ਕੇਰੇ (ਪੰਨਾ ੭੨੮) 
  6. ^ a b c d S Deol (1998), Japji: The Path of Devotional Meditation, ISBN 978-0966102703, page 29-32
  7. ^ a b c Kamaljeet Singh Dogra (2006), Prayer at Dawn, Trafford, ISBN 978-1425102371, pages 17-61
  8. ^ B Singh and GP Singh (2007), Japji, Hemkunt Press, ISBN 8-170101824, pages 26-29
  9. ^ Pashaura Singh (2000), The Guru Granth Sahib: Canon, Meaning and Authority, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195648942, pages 249-250
  10. ^ a b S Deol (1998), Japji: The Path of Devotional Meditation, ISBN 978-0966102703, pages 32-39
  11. ^ S Deol (1998), Japji: The Path of Devotional Meditation, ISBN 978-0966102703, pages 38-53
  12. ^ Kamaljeet Singh Dogra (2006), Prayer at Dawn, Trafford, ISBN 978-1425102371, pages 67-93

External links[edit]