Sacred Literature & Sikh Studies

Give the substance of the Japji.

The Japji contains the whole basis of the Sikh religion and philosophy. The theme – the evolution of spiritual life – is developed systematically.

As a first step, Guru Nanak defines God and sums up His attributes. The goal of human life is for a union with the Divine Being, often called salvation or Nirvana. This is achievable through self-surrender and a submission to God’s Hukam. God is manifest in His creation. Nature obeys His law; like-wise we too, must obey Divine law.

How can a devotee merge with Divinity? Guru Nanak suggests that in the early hours of the morning the devotee should meditate on “His Name” and praise His Greatness. The disciple must follow the Guru’s word.

The first step is to listen for the Name. By careful listening, the devotee becomes free from sorrow and sin. The second step is true and firm belief in “The Name”. Those who have firm faith in “The Name” not only free themselves from the cycle of birth and death but also liberate others. Creation is in the play of God. Some people are busy in good works, while others are busy in crime and sin. Action is followed by reaction. As a man sows, so shall he reap.

The sovereign remedy is the remembrance of “God’s Name” (The invocation of the air of the “Holy Spirit”). Just as dirty clothes are cleaned by soap, in the same way, man’s evil is washed away by “The Name”. God is vast and so is His universe. No Religious leaders can ever fathom His greatness. He has created millions of worlds and stars. No one can visualize His infinity. He alone knows Himself. He guides and controls the universe and all things are under His law. The conquest of one’s Ego under the control of the ‘self’, is the only way to merge the individual soul into the Universal soul.

There are five stages of spiritual life: Dharm Khand, Gian Khand, Saram Khand, Karam Khand and Sach Khand. To progress through these the disciple has to follow a strict discipline, namely to control the mind and body, fearlessness, steady perseverance and a constant remembrance of “The Name”, in order to reach the goal. True devotees have radiant faces, beaming with Divine Light and they bring peace and happiness to countless other people – all who come in contact with them.

The Technology of the Shabd Guru

In the Sikh tradition, the sound current of the songs in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib are known as the Shabd Guru. Sikhs understand the Shabd Guru not just as a collection of uplifting, inspiring words written by enlightened saints, but as the vessel of the sound current – the living Guru. By listening and experiencing this sound current one understands that those who wrote these words transcended individual identity and ego. Their words came from their unlimited exalted state of consciousness. Whenever people read, sing, chant, or listen to these songs, they connect with their own excellence and their own infinity. There is no need to confront any human external personality in this process. There is only a direct relationship with the Infinite. The Shabd Guru is a powerful technology which is universally available to anyone in any walk of life to use to uplift and transform themselves and others.

Japji—The Song of the Soul
Jap means to repeat and Ji means soul. The repetition of Japji gives you a consistent projection and allows you to access your own infinite source of inspiration and depth. Japji is one of the five daily prayers of the Sikhs. It was written by Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru who, with his companion, Mardana, traveled thousands of miles on foot teaching and inspiring people to live exalted and simple lives through his divine songs. Stated very clearly, “Guru Nanak spoke Japji as a way to guide and enlighten other human beings about the reality of the Divine within the visible and invisible Creation. Japji is a teacher for anyone seeking truth. The sound current of Japji and the meaning of its words, when meditated upon with openness and love, awakens a soul to its destiny. Step by step, Japji gives you the comprehensive power to know yourself as you are, and to be with God’s Creation in a spirit of joyful surrender.” Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa

The power of Japji comes from the combination of its sounds. This is called naad Sounds have profound effects on the psyche, and when they are produced using the science of naad, they have very specific transformative power. In past Shabd Guru articles ( Aquarian Times), we have explored and discussed this transformative power and the specific practical effects of reciting different stanzas—or pauris—of Japji.

Yogi Bhajan has taught that by reciting any one of these pauris eleven times a day, one can produce very specific effects. Reciting the Mool Mantra, for example, gives an experience of the depth of your soul and can change your destiny and grant prosperity. Similarly, it is said that the total knowledge of God and ecstasy is contained in the first pauri. Recitation of this pauri eleven times a day will lift you from the deepest depression, insecurity, nightmares and loss. Meditation on each of the remaining 38 verses offers an equally unique, rich, and powerful pathway of healing, self-discovery, and revelation. With the complete recitation of Japji, it is said that every problem can be solved and dissolved.

The structure of Japji is beautifully technical and precise. There are 40 pauris. The word pauri means ‘step.’ Japji is actually a spiritual staircase. Yogi Bhajan has stated that Japji starts from God and comes to earth. There are five elements or tattvas of which all matter is composed—earth, air, fire, water, and ether. Additionally, there are eight chakras (including the aura.) Mathematically, five times eight equals forty—the number of pauris in Japji. When you take the first ‘step’ of reciting the Mool Mantra, this is associated with the eighth chakra at the frequency of ether. As you continue to recite, you work progressively through the chakras and the tattvas until you end at the 40th step with the first chakra at the frequency of earth. In this way, reading the entire Japji completely adjusts “all the elements in all of the chakras as well as your subtle and physical bodies.”

– Dev Soroop Kaur Khalsa Aquarian Times 2003