Mul Mantar

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The Mūl Mantar (Punjabi: ਮੂਲ ਮੰਤਰ, IPA: [muːlᵊ mən̪t̪əɾᵊ]) is the first composition in the Sikh holy text, the Adi Granth, which would become the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, written in Punjabi. It is a series of affirmations and is the basis of Sikh theology, as well as the fundamental prayer.[1] The Mul Mantar is the first composition of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji begins with the Mul Mantar and it occurs more than one hundred times throughout the text[2] where it is placed at the beginning of the particular Shabad, or hymn. In one of the Janamsakhis, the martyr Bhai Mani Singh explains that the reason for placing the Mul Mantar at the beginning of a Shabad is that a Gursikh, or full devotee of the Guru, is reminded that everything else will fade, and only the Satnam, the all-pervading supreme reality, will remain.[3]


A Mantar or Mantra is "an empowering formula for repetition," and mūl holds the meaning of "root, "origin," or "fundamental." The Mul Mantar is thus the root statement of Sikhism.[1]


Some Sikh institutions, like the SGPC, consider the Mūl Mantar proper to end at "Gur prasad," arguing that what follows is the name of the Bani composition "Jap", and the first line of the Jap Bani. Such groups claim this can be corroborated by the number of times that the mantar appears at the beginning of every Raag ending in "Gur prasad." On the other hand, other historic institutions, like taksals, or traditional Sikh religious educational institutions, and some Gurmat schools tracing back to the time of the Sikh gurus, hold the Mūl Mantar to be the full following verse, arguing that traditionally the Mūl Mantar in its full Naad goes from Ik Oankar until "Nanak Hosi bhi sach," and that the Mūl Mantar in the full Naad is given in the Amrit Sanchar baptizing ceremony since 1699.

The included grave accent illustrates tones found in the Punjabi language, and are meant to reflect the verbal pronunciation of the verse. The small letters in the following transliteration, denoting short vowels, are not etymologically part of the word they are added to, but are included in the Guru Granth Sahib for vocalization purposes.

Gurmukhi Transliteration Translation
ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ
ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ
ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ
ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ
ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ
ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

॥ ਜਪੁ ॥

ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ
ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ॥
ਹੈ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ
ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ॥੧॥

ikk ōankār sat(i)-nām(u)
kartā purakh(u)
nirpà'u nirver(u)
akāl mūrat(i)
ajūnī sepàŋ

॥ jap(u)

ād(i) sach(u)
jugād(i) sach(u)
he pì sach(u)
nānak hōsī pì sach(u) ॥1॥

One creator, name is truth,
agentive (doer) being,
without fear, without hatred,
timeless form,
unbegotten, self-existent,
known by the Guru's grace.


True at the beginning,
true through the ages,
is yet true,
O Nanak, and will be true.
Illuminated Adi Granth folio with Mul Mantar of Guru Gobind Singh

The Mul Mantar is a widely known part of Sikh scripture, but it has posed a challenge to translators.[1] The first affirmation, for example, Ik Onkar has been rendered multiple ways. It has been translated as "'There is one god', as ‘One reality is’, and ‘This being is one’" and the varying capitalization of "God", "Reality", or "Being" affects the meaning in English.[1] A number of translations erroneously change the Mul Mantar from a list of qualities to a statement of facts and possessive adjectives. For example, they may change Satnam from "truth by name" to "His name is truth", which adds a masculine quality to God which does not appear in the original Gurmukhi.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Nesbitt, Eleanor M. (15 November 2005). Sikhism: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 22–24. ISBN 978-0-19-280601-7. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  2. ^ Kalsi, Sewa Singh; Marty, Martin E. (March 2005). Sikhism. Chelsea House Publishers. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7910-8356-7. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  3. ^ Singh, Bhai Mani (1712). Janam Sakhi. p. 11.

Further reading[edit]

  • Macauliffe, M.A (1909). The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus Sacred Writings and Authors. Low Price Publications. ISBN 81-7536-132-8.
  • Shackle, C (1981). A Guru Nanak Glossary. School of Oriental and African Studies. ISBN 0-7286-0243-1.
  • Singh, Dalip (1999). Sikhism in the Words of the Guru. Lok Sahit Prakashan. ASIN B0000CPD3S.
  • Singh, Dr. Gopal (1962). Guru-Granth Sahib Vol.1. Taplinger Publishing Co.
  • Singh, Dr. Santokh (1990). English Transliteration and Interpretation of Nitnaym Baanees, Sikh Prayers for English Speaking Sikh Youth. Sikh Resource Centre. ISBN 1-895471-08-7.
  • Osho (1994). The True Name, Vol.1 : Discourses on Japji Sahib of Guru Nanak Dev. New Age International(P) Ltd. ISBN 81-224-0606-8.
  • Dr Sahib Singh, D Lit (January 1972). Shiri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan. Raj Publishers (Regd), Adda Husharpur Jallundhar.

External links[edit]