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Talking Stick

The Discipline & Practice of Naam
The Talking Stick Colloquium #45




The Dialogue - Last Week

It was gratifying to see that some of you seized the opportunity to weigh in on "Seizing the Opportunity" - the subject of our discussion last week. The impetus to put the topic out for discussion was to dwell on the relationship between opportunity as time as well as possibility, as exemplified in the shabad we chose: ihee tayraa a-osar ih tayree baar ('This is your chance, and this is your time ...').

There are, of course, numerous passages in gurbani where we notice a similar sense of urgency, of trying to sound the alarm bell (as it were) about missed opportunities. Time, in its chronological sense, seems to be our psychological enemy. The sense that it is fleeting or running out rushes us causing us to tense up, to become impatient. Yet, time as opportunity is a gift to experience nadar.

Because gurbani deals with the ineffable, it is itself, by design, open to ongoing interpretation. By casting gurbani in poetry and setting it to music, our Gurus are clearly telling us that a final answer always remains elusive.

Final answers are not even the purpose on this forum.

We are focused instead, on the process of questing which necessarily involves questioning. Isn't that part of being a Sikh, being on a developmental process? It seems to me that questing (and repeated questioning) is necessary for that vital breakthrough - the recognition that there are no final answers and that we live within an insolvable mystery.

This arouses (I hope) in us that most elemental of all emotions: Vismad, or a sense of awe and wonderment at our existence. It is to learn to become child like again.

We must recognize, however, that there are practical applications that stem from vismad. For one thing, it teaches us to be able to live daily with a certain degree of uncertainty, making for a stress free existence!

A reader suggested that the opportunity to seize is to know the Creator. That raised the obvious question of "how?" to which another reader suggested, "By becoming naam-conscious," which begged the same question.

My sense is that to "know the creator" is to tap into the creator's creativity and living creatively. Tapping into this creativity is being naam conscious.

How do we become naam conscious? It is to pursue this question that we will turn our attention this week.

I remain very mindful that the question is beyond our ken (it is certainly beyond me) but I raise it nevertheless, in the hope of advancing our learning and, who knows, kindling that connection!

The Message - This Week

Because the word naam appears in the Guru Granth Sahib so repeatedly, I have not picked on any specific shabad - they are just too numerous to isolate one or two for this discussion.

Instead, let us together dwell on this fundamental of Sikh doctrine. The fact that it appears over five thousand times in the Guru Granth Sahib attests to its centrality, but Guru Arjan's testimony that "In Guru Nanak's house there is only naam," [GGS:1136] puts the seal on it.

The term naam has various connotations in the Guru Granth Sahib: as a noun denoting God's name, who remains, paradoxically enough, nameless (anaam); as the process that creates and sustains all existence; as a synonym for the creator itself.

Ultimately, naam is both the summum bonum of Sikh life as well as its praxis (methodology and practice). Hidden in the cause of creation is the means, the method itself. The gur is hidden in the guru.

Naam juppna essentially means practice (abhyaas), through recitation/ repetition. Viewed thus, naam juppna refers to the practice of naam - the discipline that forms the basis of an individual Sikh's life. This discipline is also referred to as the recitation or practice of the Word (shabad abhyaas).

Interestingly enough, while naam and shabad have been used interchangeably in gurbani, only shabad has been referred to as Guru (eEnlightener), whereas naam is the revelation of the Guru as enlightener (shabad). Shabad, which is also expressed as speech and represented by words in the Guru Granth Sahib, becomes the vehicle of communicating with naam.

Note, however, that the expression of shabad as speech and words (as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib) are only pointers to a higher Truth which is available to a receptive mind. It is the cultivation of this receptivity that we call naam juppna.

Naam juppna remains, at bottom, an individual activity spanning meditation, critical introspection and self-examination so as to broaden the mind to become receptive to SatNaam by freeing itself from parochial conditioning and realizing - and recognizing - one's authentic self.

Thoughts to Ponder

It is only appropriate that we revisit this very central concept. An article on the benefits of simran was recently being discussed here on And the practice of naam holds the key to seizing the opportunity that we discussed last week. This week, let's consider:

Two schools of thought are discernable around what naam juppna or naam simran or abhyaas means. One very specifically states that naam abhyaas involves arising early (the last wake of the night), bathing (ishnaan) followed by abhyaas which begins with mechanical repetition of the so-called gurmantar (Waheguru) and leads gradually, over time, to a state of ajaap jaap.

The other mode of thinking is that there is no specific technique for God realization. It is all in nadar and we need only pray for grace. 

Are both viewpoints right?  


February 7, 2011


Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 07, 2011, 3:31 PM.

So long as we remain childlike, He will take care of us. "Dhanna sayvi-aa baal budh" [GGS:1192.8] - 'Dhanna served the Lord with the innocence of a child!" The child's prayers are answered unasked.

2: Prakash.Singh Bagga (India), February 08, 2011, 11:22 AM.

Gurbani is all about Naam. This is the ultimate in gurbani. We generally refer this Naam as related to God whereas we do not clarify what we refer to as God in gurbani. Without knowing this reference, it is just impossible to talk about naam which is so important for us to know. To begin with, we need to understand the meaning of the word 'naam'. We generally take this as 'name'. But we would find that the word for 'name' in gurbani is 'naau'. So what does naam to? Gurbani is absolutely clear as to what is naam and how it is to be adopted and practiced. For proper understanding of this, we will have to give proper consideration to the grammar of the words used in gurbani.

3: Saime (Milton Keynes, United Kingdom), February 08, 2011, 12:48 PM.

Prakash Singh ji: I was curious to find the real meaning of 'naam' but you stopped short of the answer. Please elaborate a bit more ...

4: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), February 08, 2011, 2:27 PM.

Prakash Singh ji - you have emphasized the need to understand the underlying grammatical framework of gurbani. Could you share your understanding of this issue around the topic of Naam, with a little more elaboration? Thanks.

5: Prakash.Singh Bagga (India), February 08, 2011, 9:41 PM.

For sharing gramatical understanding of gurbaani words, I would request readers to always refer to Guru Granth Sahib in Gurmukhi script only. If we carefully go through gurbani in the Gurmukhi script, we would find that all the adjectives and nouns used for the Creator have a definite pattern of grammar ... [EDITOR: S. Prakash Singh ji, can you please give specifics by applying your knowledge of this grammar to the usage of the word 'naam' and assist the readers in interpreting the word. Thank you.]

6: Prakash.Singh Bagga (India), February 09, 2011, 10:41 AM.

In Guru Granth Sahib we observe that the adjectives and nouns have a definite pattern, indicating singular or plural use of the word. This relates to the single or double lines (indicated certain vowels) under the last letter of a particular word. Also, the same words also appear without a line under it. It is the role of this under-line that needs to be understood. Thus, if we consider the word 'naam', with a single line under its last letter, the application is singular. But without a line under last letter, the usage indicated a plural meaning. Thus, if we denote (for the purpose of this exercise) the vowel represented by double lines with a "U", and the single line vowel with "u", we have "NAAMu" as singular and a simple "NAAN" as plural. This is important because the use of the word appears in gurbani as follows: Ram NAAMu, HARi NAAMu, HARi Ram NAAMu or GURMATi Ram NAAMu. In these words, RAM and HARi are plural and NAAMu is singular.

7: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 09, 2011, 10:49 AM.

Naam is Prabh, God, the formless natural force, referred to by countless imaginary and loving names given by prophets and worshipers of different faiths and religions, and as such is one of the key words of gurbani. Naam is all-pervading: "There is no place without Naam", as stated in Japji. Various names are used for Guru-God in gurbani, such as Hari, Kartaar, Prabh, Nirankar, Allah, Jagdish, Khuda, Murar, Gopal, Raghunath, Niranjan, Waheguru, etc. Clearly, Naam is the expression of God, and is within us and can be reached. Guru Arjun: 'With my tongue I chant the various Names given to You' [GGS:1083]. It was the goal of our Gurus to make people aware of this truth so that they might be filled with Naam. Kirtam naam means countless names given to God. In Gurbani 'naau', 'naae' and 'naaei' also stand for naam, meaning 'name'. Naam also has three different spellings in Gurumukhi. Meanings of all of them are available in Mahan Kosh (Encyclopaedia) by Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha. Link to a lecture on Naam Abhyaas by Maskeen ji:

8: Prakash.Singh Bagga (India), February 09, 2011, 2:46 PM.

It is true that in gurbani there are several names ascribed to the Creator. But there is very specfic naam by which every jeev is said to be connected in the mother's womb.

9: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 09, 2011, 3:38 PM.

Thank you, Mohan Singh ji, for your erudite posts and those of others that don't seem to produce a dent on the grammarian's ears. There is an oft repeated Punjabi saying whereby, to dismiss any argument, just say "Mein na manu" - "I don't agree!" Such a simple thing has become tiresome. Why not just listen to Kabir and get down to business of "Naam Juppna" of Waheguru. "Taj bharam karm bidh nikhaydh raamnaam layhee" [GGS:692.15] - "Abandon your doubts about do's and don'ts, just take to the Lord's Name." The first time I visited Japan the restaurants had illustrations of all the dishes available for the benefit of non-Japanese visitors. However, just doing a darshan of the displays or of the menus would not satiate one's hunger. We need something more than a Barmecide's Feast.

10: Bishen Kaur (Birmingham, United Kingdom), February 09, 2011, 3:58 PM.

I find S. Prakash Singh's answer in comment #6 above most unsatisfactory. It's neither here nor there; it throws no light whatsoever on the meaning of "naam". I wonder if it is because of lack of fluency in English. It would be wonderful if Dr. Pashaura Singh would jump into this dialogue and sort things out, please.

11: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), February 09, 2011, 6:16 PM.

Readers, please note that we are not debating Naam but the discipline (practice/abhyaas) around it. I think I have offered in my introductory note that Naam is the highest goal of a Sikh life, that it is used as a consonant and a synonym for the Creator - or the Creative process. Most of what has been said so far supports that. The question I posed, however, was, "Is there a specific discipline (practice) around Naam?" In Punjabi, we refer to it as Naam abhyaas. What is Naam Abhyaas and is it a requirement for a Sikh? That is the real question.

12: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas. U.S.A.), February 09, 2011, 7:12 PM.

Our task to examine "The discipline and practice of Naam" appears simple. I wish it was, because then nearly all 30 million Sikhs would be the best "naamees" one could find. In reality, our approach to "Naam Juppna" is way off base in our understanding and in the meaning it stands for. Naam denotes Him, but "Naam Juppna" is not recitation of His name, but a complete way of Sikh life. It is the most encumbered Word in Sikh thought. Interestingly, most of its elements are there in Guru Granth Sahib, but escape our scrutiny. For example, in Mool Mantar, Guru Nanak dives into the word Jap which is the beginning of all aspects associated with Naam Juppna. It means adopting an approach where He is in our thoughts, speech, habits, actions, character ... all the way to our destiny. Japji deals with several of these aspects by highlighting many examples of prevailing poor practices and approaches. How to practice Naam Jupppa is spelled out: "naam japo jia aisai aisai/ dhru parhlad jupp-eo har jaisai". Gurbani includes incentives to convince our mind the purpose and benefits associated with the practice; ranging from "sukh" emotional control, mental balance, peace up to "gobind milan ke vela". Naam Jupppna means truthfulness, commitment, dedication, good acts, humility, respect, equality and other aspects of our character and approach to life. It requires honesty, earnings by honest labor, sharing, compassion, helping the down-trodden. I hope this brief outline clarifies the correct approach to Naam Juppna. There are no short-cuts.

13: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), February 09, 2011, 8:13 PM.

Gurbani says: "suaas suaas juppeo gurmant". For me, it is a clear and complete answer. We do not need a special time, place, method, abhyaas or any particular approach. Naam Juppna in Sikhi includes our thoughts, actions, practices, work, entertainment, pleasures, i.e., any and every thing we do. It is set to poetry in musical meters for our enjoyment, alone and in the congregation. It is an easy-to-understand and complete package with clear instructions. Naam Juppna requires complete surrender and acceptance of our Creator in every aspect that touches or impacts Sikh life.

14: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), February 10, 2011, 3:09 AM.

In gurbani, there is no specific discipline or practice around Naam. It is all through Grace.

15: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), February 10, 2011, 5:14 PM.

If a specific name were important and essential, Guru Granth would not have used so many that were specific to both the Hindu and Islamic cultural context, and nor would Guru Gobind Singh have spent time on an endless list of names and attributes of God in the Jaap Sahib. What is important? The state of mind - universal connectivity. What name or words you use matter not.

16: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 10, 2011, 9:15 PM.

"Sir naanak lokaa paav hai/ balihaaari jaa-o jaytay tayray naav hai" [GGS:1168.14] - 'Nanak places his head on the feet of such people/ I am sacriice to your Names as many as there are, O Lord". A child learning to speak babbles 'tha tha', 'ma ma' or just makes noise, or merely cries. His father, mother run to embrace the baby, regardless of whether or not the child's 'speech' is understandable or makes any sense.

17: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), February 10, 2011, 11:43 PM.

Here are two quotes from gurbani: 1) 'merai meet gurdev mo-ko ram naam pargaas'. 2) jun apney ko deyho badey gurmatram naam pargaas sadaa rahon sarnaa-i'. Ram Naam - the Name of God. ['Ram' here stands for God, and is not to be confused with the mythological son of Dashrath, king of Ayodhya, that Hindus worship.]

18: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), February 11, 2011, 10:17 AM.

S.Sangat Singh jio - The example of the father and child is a good one.

19: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 11, 2011, 11:14 AM.

Naam abhyaas is not compulsory, but to engross in Naam, to remain attached to God, abhyaas is the beginning stage of naam simran. As said earlier, Naam literally means 'name', identity, Divine Presence, God Consciousness, sacred vibration and connection between the Creator and the creation, to merge with through knowledge and wisdom of Shabad Guru. The nature of the soul is unselfish; realizing this through naam constitutes the life of this relationship. It is the maintenance of the spiritual attitude by physical effort, while living in this physical universe of incessant struggle. Meditating and contemplating the shabad, basically listening to the gurmantar and contemplating it at the same time, this can only be achieved through dedication and a lot of commitment and discipline. When we contemplate the shabad we think about how beautiful Akal Purakh is, as well as His beautiful creation. This is how simran continues through the aatth pehar (24 hours) without others knowing what is going on inside. The concentration reaches an amazing stage because life becomes very easy and meditation carries on by itself in sehaj (equipoise). We just accept hukam or bhaana as sweet; our mind is not affected by any negative thoughts or actions, just joy and total contentment, including compassion, humility, patience and discipline. In rare cases, concentration reaches this high stage and there is no coming back. This stage comes with the grace and blessings of Waheguru and past karam (deeds) plus plenty of initial abhyaas. In this state, the feeling of "All belong to the Guru; all is His, nothing is mine" makes one feel joyful, it brings tears of joy. When the rhythm of the shabad generates vibration within, originating from the bottom of one's heart, it makes one feel connected to God, it makes one feel secure for the rest of life. Thank you S. Sangat Singh ji, I wish I could describe more the feelings of Naam. For more, please listen to lectures of Maskeen ji "Punj Khanda(n) da Vichaar", available online.

20: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 11, 2011, 4:17 PM.

S. Mohan Singh jio: I feel uneasy that such a simple, pleasurable thing - something as easy as breathing in of fresh-scented mountain air - has generally turned into a smoky academic exercise. Yes, I have listened to Maskeen ji quite extensively and had the honour to know him personally when, in Kuala Lumpur, he would spend at least a day with us at the Plantation's beautiful surroundings. Only yesterday I was listening to him on ETC Punjabi Channel talking about Simran. He quoted from Bhai Vir Singh ji's "Pyaare da Pyaara", an episode from Guru Nanak Chamatkar. The first time I listened to it was when my elder sister, Bhenji Man Kaur, read it out to me. I was 17 then and we both couldn't stop the tears from flowing. It had such an impact on me that since then, I have read and re-read it at least 20-30 times. Every time I found something profound that had eluded me previously. I wanted this episode turned into an audio version and was searching for someone who would help. There is a Punjabi saying: 'Bharaay ko bharaa melay kar kar lambay hath'. More seriously translated: You get to meet the company you desire! I found such a wonderful person in S. Guldeep Singh Sethi of New Jersey, U.S.A. who undertook this pleasurable task and finally completed the recording of 'Pyaare da Pyaara'. He wrote to me: "Uncle ji, it is done!" and I found it on the following site: The recording is excellent and the narrator, Giani Jatinder Singh Dardi did a superb job. I have already pirated 10 copies and am going to distribute them at our weekly satsang. The aforementioned site has Maskeen ji's discourses, but more importantly, has Bhai Vir Singh ji's 'Gurmukh Sikhia', '7 Aukkiaa)n) Raata(n)' and other episodes from Guru Nanak Chatmakar. This is really a reverent biography of Bhai Sahib ji and would put to rest any question about how to Naam Juppna by producing such an insatiable hunger that Wahegur's Naam would hopefully come as His gift: "Ghaal na mill-o sayv na mili-o mili-o aa-ay achintaa" [GGS:672.12] - 'We cannot meet the Lord by our own efforts, nor can we meet Him through service; He comes and meets us spontaneously." My apologies for this longish comment.

21: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), February 13, 2011, 10:06 AM.

A reader has lamented that what should be a simple, pleasurable thing - something as easy as breathing in of fresh-scented mountain air - has generally turned into a smoky academic exercise. The intent is to add to the pleasure. Added clarity that comes through dialogue, especially around something so fundamental as Naam, can only add to the swaad of living. Similarly, others have stressed that, 'we do not need a special time, place, method, abhyaas or any particular approach' or 'in gurbani, there is no specific discipline or practice around Naam. It is all through Grace.' Indeed, it is all through grace or nadar - but that leaves open the question of the role of human choice and effort. Is grace predetermined? Do some lucky souls get grace and others don't? Is the question that was posed, namely, is there is a specific discipline and practice, known as Naam Abhyaas, misplaced, because, 'Naam denotes Him, but Naam Juppna is not recitation of His name, but a complete way of Sikh life.' Yet, we have also heard readers say, 'Naam abhyaas is not compulsory, but to engross in Naam, to remain attached to God, abhyaas is the beginning stage of naam simran,' which suggests a choice. More later.

22: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), February 13, 2011, 2:46 PM.

To echo certain shared opinions, our common approach to Naam and its description does appear structured and segmented, to render it an academic exercise. In a discussion, we tend to follow a class-room text approach rather than allowing a natural flow of true emotions, on Him. With due respect, it may be important to those who want to; but Naam does not require phonetics, adjectives, or grammar concerns in understanding the meaning of words in the Guru Granth Sahib. It is simply our remembrance, devotion, practice and acceptance of Him in life, which constitute the basics outlined in the Guru Granth. It should be done not because Sikh faith requires it, but also because of His role and the benefits that accrue from the practice. Our choice and efforts are wide open, abhyaas is not compulsory but is loaded with benefits. Let us realize that the word Naam is significant in the Sikh faith, but is only 540 years old. He is Eternal. We all being different, some variations are normal and expected, we should not overwhelm the approach with our own self-imposed multiplicity over His singular reality, which is so clearly spelled out in Sikh thought.

23: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), February 15, 2011, 10:30 AM.

I am not sure if the scholar participants are going to provide direction in this topic. Guru Nanak has said, tons of paper would be not sufficient to write everything about Naam [GGS:15.1]. In contrast, the discussion of this most important topic, Naaam and the practice (the thinking and lifestyle) of those who have it, particularly for the benefit of English speaking participants, has been quite anemic so far. We also tend to gravitate towards the notions that bolster our own views and thus we often completely miss something important. I am not any better. The less we know, the more we can write. We even write books on Naam, living our life inspired by some exalting epiphany, but decades later, if we are lucky, we see that we missed the mark.

24: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), February 15, 2011, 10:31 AM.

A complete description of Naam will continue to elude us just as a taste cannot be described. Is there any hope for us mortals, then? There is, but besides understanding what gurbani is pointing at, we need to be able to receive Guru's unique message into our heart. Verse and song are better at it. I liked the way Ravinder Singh ji has succinctly put it, 'Note, however, that the expression of shabad as speech and words (as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib) are only pointers to a higher Truth which is available to a receptive mind. It is the cultivation of this receptivity that we call naam juppna.'

25: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), February 15, 2011, 10:36 AM.

I do not want to post too much at one time but before we can understand the 'discipline of naam' (in my opinion neither view above is entirely correct), we must attempt to be clear on what Naam is, and what it is not. So, let us get a few negatives out of the way. 'True Naam' (Sacch Naam or Satnam) is not something we do, just as love is not something we do. We feel (reciprocate) it. Food is not something we do. We eat it. We do not practice our spouse. We get married. Thus, the term 'Naam Abhyaas' is a misnomer in this respect and it adds to our confusion. This is why we call those who practice Naam as 'Naam Rasiye' or connoisseurs of Naam. Some people preach that we need to cultivate in us Naam and the qualities associated with Naam. I agree, but Naam is a gift, it is a virtue ('gun' in Punjabi) that we do not have. As soon as we think we have it, we lose it. Guru gives it to the Sikh. Cultivation comes only afterwards, if God so desires. Naam is the fruit of Guru's mercy. Even that is not from Guru's own volition but a spontaneous outflow of something higher, to which the Guru submits. Sorry if this does not sound pragmatic enough at this point.

26: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), February 15, 2011, 10:39 AM.

No human, not even the 'punj pyaare' can give Naam to anyone, but this is also an extremely common misconception. I hope it is already clear that Naam is not a name or a word. Why then, we ask, did Guru choose the word 'Naam' and also alluded to repeating it with our tongue? We read the verses such as, 'If one had several thousand tongues, multiplied them by twenty, and then repeated the One Naam thousands of times, one could be accepted (patt=honor) and then ascend the steps to perfection' [GGS:7.6], and thus we say that we must repeat it, like a parrot. This is because we confuse gurmantar with Naam. It is true that Naam and gurmantar are intertwined but we repeat the gurmantar, not Naam (more on this later, if I have the opportunity). Various names used for God have been also used as the gurmantar. This creates further confusion. We should attempt to find the meaning of gurbani through the bani, particularly the bani written afterwards. Subsequent shabads make it clear that this verse in Japji emphasizes worship of Naam, not some repetition like a parrot. 'Naam juppna' means worship, seeking, dwelling upon, fanning the fire, or cherishing Naam, not just verbal repetition. For example, 'Raam, O my beloved, give me thousands of tongues so that my mouth worships Har (you)' [GGS:780.18]. Of course, we are supposed to engage the body also [GGS:72.18] but we do so by uttering (and cultivating) the gurmantar, not Naam.

27: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), February 15, 2011, 10:42 AM.

I like the editing done here for consistency and decor of the forum but the word is 'gurmantra', not gurmantar. 'Gurmantar' is the Punjabi version. Because of some similarities with Punjabi, we mispronounce gurbani. We need to avoid this practice because gurbani is not written in Punjabi. Gurbani is an expression of Naam. It should be read as it is. Each shabad, each word, is a nugget of Naam. Thus, we see that this shabad above [GGS:71-72] also summarizes the state of Naam. If we understood each statement in it, we could understand what Guru meant from this word. Then we could discuss what we must do.

28: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 15, 2011, 4:37 PM.

We have now all the recipes, the table is set with the finest cutlery. Just, we forgot to cook the meal. All we have is 'Barmecide's Banquet' when all we needed was 'Guru ka Langar'. No questions asked - "Raj raj bhojan kaavahu mayray bhaa-ee" [GGS:807.8] - "Eat to your fill, O my siblings."

29: Gurnam Singh Gill (Michigan, U.S.A.), February 15, 2011, 11:13 PM.

I would like to look at Naam and Naam Juppna from a different angle. To me, Naam denotes summation of all the attributes that constitute God, the God that is simultaneously transcendant or unmanifest and immanent or manifest. The manifest is the universe that is relentlessly acted upon by the unmanifest through Hukam, i.e., the laws governing the natural forces like the gravitational, electromagnetic or nuclear, etc. All the efforts to understand these laws can be termed Naam Juppna. A physicist or a biologist spending 12 hours a day researching some aspect of hukam underlying a particular phenomenon is doing a lot of Naam Juppna. These efforts, as we know, are continuing to dispel our ignorance. As for Naam Abhyaas in the traditional sense, repetition of a word or words may have some beneficial effect in terms of relieving stress by calming one's mind. The extent of the benefit will vary with each individual as each brain is wired differently. I would also like to comment on a question posed by Ravinder Singh Taneja as to whether 'nadr' was random or preordained. I think it is purely probabilistic or random, for the following reason: each brain has billions of neurons and these connect to each other in trillions of ways and no two individuals have the same connections. Superimposed on these connections is the plasticity, that is, the connections can change. Thus the receptivity to any stimuli will vary over a vast range. After all, whatever we experience, be it temporal or spiritual, has to be interpreted by the brain that gives rise to the mind. Finally, there are the important societal and altruistic aspects of Naam Juppna to which others have already alluded to.

30: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 16, 2011, 12:57 PM.

According to the Guru Granth Gurmukhi-English Dictionary, and The Sikh Encyclopedia by Bhai Kahn Singh, the meaning of 'simran' is to remember, but there is another word in gurbani, and the meaning of that in both the above books are many and they are love, adoration, devotion, absorption, mediation, focus, concentration, contemplation, engrossment, attune, enshrine, etc. May be there is no proper word for that in English, but to attain this state, maybe 'naam abhyaas' for some time is beneficial, though it is not compulsory.

31: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), February 16, 2011, 3:19 PM.

Glad to see Yuktanand Singh ji and Gurnam Singh ji lend some valuable insight into the subject of Naam or Naam Abhiyas. We can quibble over whether Naam Abhyaas is a misnomer (and perhaps it is) but that need not detain us here except to note that term is conventionally and widely used. We all seem to agree that Naam (for all our attempts) will elude description, but remains a Sikh's cherished goal. The rub is that Naam is also a gift through grace and cannot be procured through mere effort. And, as Gurnam Singh ji states, grace (nadar) is random. Or is it? Can't we open ourselves to grace? Please chime in.

32: Prakash.Singh.Bagga (India), February 17, 2011, 9:35 AM.

When gurbaani tells clearly: "mat garabh apan simran de teh tum rakhanhare" [GGS:613-614], then where is the scope for any abhyaas?

33: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 17, 2011, 11:48 AM.

Once out of mat garabh, we need support to learn to walk; that is abhyaas.

34: Aryeh Leib (Israel), February 20, 2011, 8:14 AM.

It would seem to me - and, I'm the first one to welcome constructive criticism/ advice - that the practice of "Naam Juppna" is, along with cheerful acceptance of Hukam, the means to the end of acquiring Naam; yet, our success in achieving that end depends exclusively on the Guru's Nadar. We have to make the effort. Sometimes that effort consists of pushing through, sometimes it requires the absence of effort - getting out of the way; two opposing techniques (that are actually one) of dealing with the Haumai that prevents us from becoming fitting receptacles for the the Guru's Naam. I don't believe that it can be something random - that would negate the entire concept of a Higher Power both immanent and transcendant. This is my understanding. I'd be happy to learn more.

35: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), February 20, 2011, 11:18 AM.

Aryeh Leib ji: I find myself in complete agreement with you. I find the notion of Nadar being random quite unsatisfactory. A line from gurbani (and I ca'nt recall the exact quote off-hand) says: "sabhna the hai nadir terry/ kisse throe kisse ghaneri" - meaning that the spark of nadar is available to everyone - some have less of it, some more; the difference is effort. One could take a spark and using intelligence and wisdom fan it into a blaze. Conversely, through stupidity and a lack of knowledge, one could snuff out the spark. Discipline and practice is what gives us the wisdom and knowledge, or - put another way - makes us receptive.

36: Autar Singh (Subang Jaya, Malaysia), March 19, 2011, 11:32 AM.

Naam Abhyasee or Sachiaaraa? If sachiaaraa, then the 'how' is living in the hukam. All of creation is living in the hukam, and in that state is said to be singing the praises of Waheguru. Creation is the embodiment of Naam, and by living in the hukam, it is 'practicing Naam'. That, IMHO, is what we should do: live our lives as per the hukam written for us, that will be our practice of naam and the way to become sachiaaraas.

Comment on "The Discipline & Practice of Naam
The Talking Stick Colloquium #45"

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