SHABAD, NAAM, BANI, GURBANI - WHAT IS IT?

ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਰਤੀ ਜਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਇਸੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇਦਾ ॥੩॥:
Gurbani vartee jag antari isu Bani te Hari Naamu paaidaa
||3|| (sggs 1066).

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The terms Shabad, Naam and Bani (pronounced Baanee) are essentially synonymous and refer to the Divine Essence Divine Word, Divine Name or Mantra. As indicated in the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), the Transcendental Spirit perpetually expresses through the Shabad (Naam or Bani). Therefore, the Shabad is God and God is the Shabad. The Guru and God are also indicated to be one and the same. Hence, the Shabad is the Guru and the Guru is the Shabad.

Therefore, in essence, the Shabad is of the Nature of God. As the Supreme Reality is Homogeneous Oneness, so is the Shabad. Just as the All-pervading Reality is woven in all His creation, so does His Shabad. Because of It's Eternal Nature, It has no beginning, middle, or end. To put it otherwise, It existed before the Creation, It exists now and It will exist in the future.

After reading this, a question may arise in the mind: If the Shabad existed before the creation, where was it? As indicated in the Gurbani, Before the creation comes into being, the Shabad resides within the Unmanifest Spirit in the form of "Profound Trance" (Sunn Samaadhi). Since the Divine Substance and the Shabad are one and the same, the Shabad ever remains full of all Divine Qualities or Virtues.

In this way, the entire creation (subtle and gross) comes into being from the Shabad, remains sustained in the Shabad, and merges back into the Shabad. The relationship between the Shabad and creation is the same as between the one ocean and countless waves, the one gold and many ornaments made of the gold, the one clay and numerous clay-pots, the one thread and many beads strung on that one thread, and the one sun and countless rays that emanate from it.

During "Sidh Gosati" (sggs 938), the Sidhas posed many questions to Baabaa Nanak. Three of these inquiries were: "Who is your Guru? How do you become a disciple (ਸਿੱਖ)? Where does this Shabad reside?" Baabaa Nanak responded as follows:

If the Divine Light is a coin, the Shabad and Naam (God's Name or Bani) are the two sides of the same coin. While the Shabad, as stated earlier, is the Essence of the Dynamic Truth; the Naam (Aatam-Giaan of the Gur-Shabad, Gur-Updesh or Teaching...) may be thought of as the dynamic activation of this Dynamic Truth. Therefore, in Divine-Essence, the Shabad is the Naam and Naam is the Shabad. The Gurbani affirms that everyplace, everything is subject to the Hukam (Divine Command, Divine Will, Eternal Law, Bhaanaa...), which none can escape. To be in His Hukam, in essence, is essentially the same as to be connected to His Shabad (Naam or Bani) within. In other words, understanding of the Divine Hukam is the Realization of His Shabad, Naam or Bani. Therefore, in essence, the Shabad is Hukam and the Hukam is Shabad (Naam or Bani).

When the Shabad expresses through the Realized Souls in poetic expressions of the inexpressible Infinite Truth, it becomes Gurbani (Word-Guru, Shabad-Guru, Celestial Song, Gurmat, Scripture, Granth...). Thus, the Gurbani is the manifestation of this very Eternal Shabad. Viewing it from an another angle, the Gurbani can be looked at as an interpreter between the man and the Divine Factor. It's the mighty river that directly links to the God-Ocean. Although the term "Bani" as appears in the SGGS is predominantly used to indicate "Shabad" or "Naam", but occasionally it may also appear to indicate Gurbani.

Thus, the Gurbani is a Transcendental Vibratory Sound. Each Sound is like a real hammer-stroke that nails God's Love, Infinite Wisdom (Agaadg Bodh) on to the vague comprehension of all early disciples who are genuinely serious in their pursuit of the Absolute Truth. It is a Song-celestial. The Divine Poet in all Masters and Bhagats is let loose in the 1430 pages of the SGGS. Each verse is sure and striking example, pregnant with the Highest Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) for the aspirants, capable of dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

The Gurbani is a living Word of God ("ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ"). It's also called Gurmat the Divine Teaching (Mat). It is Giaan-Kalaa, Gur-Giaan, Aatamic Giaan, Brahm-Giaan, and so on. It is given to the entire mankind to Reflect upon it; to feast upon it; and to drink in it! The Aatam-Giaan (Divine knowledge...) is boxed in it as fragrance is boxed in a flower. Any Bhagti without the Aatam-Giaan (Divine knowledge...) is empty as a married life to an eunuch!

Hence, the Gurbani is not an ordinary poem or song; it is the Divine Word, which has descended to the mankind from the Original Source ("ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ"). Therefore, the Gurbani contained in the SGGS is not a few hundred years old, but it is Timeless as the Akaal Purakh (Timeless Consciousness). It is as Eternal, Immortal, and Divine as the Supreme Being. It is the Channel, and the Essence of God. Accordingly, it's called "ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ" (Dhur Kee Baanee).

In fact, in the SGGS, the Baanee is called "Nirankaar" (i.e., Formless Lord), Truth, Amrit, and so on.

From the above verses of the Gurbani, it becomes clear that the Shabad, Guru, Satiguru, God, Akaal Purakh, Naam (Divine Name), Divine Light, Word, Anhad-Dhuni, Naad (Divine Sound), Hukam, Bani, etc., are virtually synonymous. It also becomes clear that the Shabad or Naam not only resides in the bosom of all beings, it also pervades the entire creation as butter in the milk, and as fire in the wood. It is the Unstruck Celestial Sound that vibrates, creates, guides, controls, directs, sustains, and animates every particle of the cosmos.

To put it in simple language, the Shabad or Naam is akin to a subtle bridge ("ਸੇਤੁ") between the Source (Mool, Nij Ghar...) and the Sansaar (the place of repeated suffering). By becoming the Gurmukhi (becoming one with the Gurmat-Giaan or Bibek-Bidhi of the Gurbani...), first, one must build this bridge (ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬਾਂਧਿਓ ਸੇਤੁ ਬਿਧਾਤੈ ॥: Gurmukh baandhio setu bidhaatai, sggs 946). Then one and can go across to his Real Home ("Mool, Nij Ghar"...) or True Nature (Joti-Svaroopa) within. This is to say that, without Realizing the Essence of the Shabad (Naam...) within, one can not link with his Mool within (Source, Origin...).

In nutshell, the Gurbani is the Aatam-Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom...). The purpose of Prema-Bhagti, Naam-Simran, etc. is to make the mind understand and digest this Aatam-Giaan through the unbroken Shabad-Vichaar; followed by a lifestyle that is strictly based on this Giaan (Hukam-Mannanaa, live the Gurmat..). Otherwise, what's the use of reasoning and intellectuality; or reading Gurbani and listening to its recitations (or any other scriptures for that matter); or talking about religion, Dharma, spirituality, Truth; etc.?

But, as the Gurbani asserts, "rare" is the one who becomes the Gurmukh and reflects on the True Shabad (Naam-Aatm Giaan...) within. Stumbling around in delusion, the rest of us just keep searching It in Maya - the gross objects of the mirage-like enchanting, perishable or changeful world...!

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org


Updated on Thursday, January 3, 2013 9:01 AM (PST)

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