Gurbani Defines Itself

Since the Gurbani defines itself, the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) asserts that the Gurbani can ONLY be understood or realized FROM the Gurbani itself!

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਤੀ ਜਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਰਤੇ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਇ ॥: Gurbani is understood from the Gurbani by those who are lovingly imbued with the Shabad (-Vichaar, Upadesh, Naam, Giaan or Wisdom…). (sggs 1346).

Beauty of the Gurbani is that it distinctly defines itself in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

In other words, NO need to go anywhere to find the proof; for the spirit of the entire Gurbani is the biggest proof itself! In other words, the Gurbani is not meant to regurgitate what existed before the Gurus and Bhagats.

Gurbani is ‘Light’ of Wisdom in the world

First off, the Gurbani defines itself as the ‘Light’ in this world!

  • ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਇਸੁ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਕਰਮਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਏ ॥੧॥: The Gurbani is the Light (of Wisdom or Brahm-Giaan…) in this world (it shows people the right Way of life); by the grace (self-efforts, keen interest, Uddam, Shabad Vichaar etc) it comes to abide within the mind. ||1|| (sggs 67).

‘Light’ mentioned in the Gurbani must be understood in the metaphorical sense.

The term ‘Light‘ symbolizes the Wisdom (Brahm-Giaan, Aatam-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi…) that dispels man’s ignorance of his own Mool (Source, Jot Saroop…). Being formless in nature, this ‘Light’ can not be perceived by the material senses — our eyes blinded by the cataract of Maya, for example.

  • ਮੰਦਰਿ ਮੇਰੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਉਜਾਰਾ ॥: In the temple of my Heart, shines the Light of the Shabad (i.e., the Divine Knowledge of the Shabad…). (sggs 384).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀਪਕ ਉਜਿਆਰੀਆ ॥੧॥: The Gur-Wisdom is the Lamp that Enlightens (the mind). ||1|| (sggs 210).
  • ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਚਰਾਗੁ ॥: The Gur-Wisdom is (akin to) the kindled lamp that dispels darkness of ignorance (from within) (sggs 849).

The Gurbani leads us from darkness to Light! darkness (spiritual ignorance, ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਲੋਂ ਬੇ-ਸਮਝੀ ਦਾ ਹਨੇਰਾ…) is the opposite of the Light (Wisdom). Just as the tree exists in the seed, heat in the fire, liquidity in the water, butter in the milk, and pungency in capsicum, everything exists in Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature…). However, in the darkness of ignorance it appears to be different and independent of the Hukam. Hence, ‘darkness’ mentioned in the Gurbani is none other than the ignorance of this Truth. To the contrary, the Light is the Divine Knowledge or Awareness of this Truth.

  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਜਨੁ ਸਚੁ ਨੇਤ੍ਰੀ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥: Gur giaan anjanu sachu netree paaiaa. Antari chaananu agiaanu andheru gavaaiaa (sggs 124).

Defining itself further, the Gurbani tells us that realization of the Giaan or Wisdom within is essential to remove the veil of ignorance of Mool (Jot Saroop).

In essence, the Gurbani is telling us that without understanding and living the Divine Wisdom, there can be no transformation in our thinking (ਸੋਚ). Consequently, there can be no Mool-Abidance, Bliss, Inner Peace, Joy (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ, ਖੇੜਾ…)!

  • ਜੇ ਸਉ ਚੰਦਾ ਉਗਵਹਿ ਸੂਰਜ ਚੜਹਿ ਹਜਾਰ ॥ ਏਤੇ ਚਾਨਣ ਹੋਦਿਆਂ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਘੋਰ ਅੰਧਾਰ ॥੨॥: If hundred moons were to rise, and thousand suns were to rise, even with such light, there would still be pitch darkness (i.e., ignorance) without the ‘Gur’ (the Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani…). ||2|| (sggs 463).

Although this ‘Light’ shines within, we are still unable to realize it. Why? Because this Inner Light remains covered with the cloud of doubt (Bharam), false ego-sense (Haumai), and the thunderstorm of sense cravings and fear. Consequently, we search it in the external objects of the world (Maya). It is like the deer who searches for the musk in the bushes — the deer does not know the secret that the musk is within its own body! But due to ignorance, it searches for it outside.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਤਿਮਰ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅਧੇਰੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ ॥: O Nanak! The Divine Wisdom is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh, and the pitch darkness of ignorance is dispelled (sggs 512).

In short, the Gurbani wants us to become like the Gurbani itself (the Gurmukh…) — assimilate the Gurbani’s Wisdom, imbibe in Virtues and then apply it to daily life.

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਬਣੀਐ ॥: The Satgur’s Bani is the embodiment of Truth; through the Gurbani, become (the embodiment of Truth). (sggs 304).

In nutshell, after listening or reading the Gurbani if the ‘Light’ of Wisdom does not well up within then the Gurbani declares:

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Listening to the Gurmat (Shabad-Giaan, Teaching of the Gurbani, etc.), (if) no Spiritual Wisdom (understanding of the Spiritual Life…) wells up within; (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).

Gurbani’s Wisdom is for everybody in the world

The Gurbani defines its Wisdom is for all in the world (ਸਮੁੱਚੀ ਲੋਕਾਈ) – warriors, clergy, working people, farmers or the business people.

In short, the Gurbani is disclosed to the entire ‘world’ (‘ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਰਤੀ ਜਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ’), NOT to a particular country; NOT a particular group of people, and so on. But, the Wisdom (Upadesh or Aatam Giaan) of the Gurbani is for everybody in this world.

So it is wrong to say that the Bani that we Sikhs have inherited from belongs only to us Sikhs. But, this Bani is free of time and space and is the eternal beacon of Light for the whole world.

That said, everybody in the world can read it and benefit from it. No particular person or a group owns it. Those who claim in the Gurdwaras that only a particular person or a particular group can read the Gurbani are utterly ignorant of the Gurbani’s Wisdom!

  • ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਸੂਦ ਵੈਸ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਚਹੁ ਵਰਨਾ ਕਉ ਸਾਝਾ ॥: The four Varna – the Kshatriya, Brahmins, Soodras and Vaishyas – are equal in respect to the Teaching (of the Gurbani…). (sggs 747).

‘Dhur Kee Baanee-ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ’

The Gurbani also defines itself as ‘Dhur Kee Baanee’. It simply means the ‘Baanee’ that came from within. It the Inner Voice (ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਆਵਾਜ਼) that came from within the Gurus, Bhagats…

  • ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਆਈ ॥ ਤਿਨਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਚਿੰਤ ਮਿਟਾਈ ॥: The Baanee (of Truth, Wisdom, Virtues…) has come from within (ਅੰਦਰੋਂ); by applying (its Wisdom and Virtues to daily life), all anxiety is eradicated. (sggs 627).


  1. Yes.
    Since the Gurbani is “Brahm Beechaar” (“ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ”), it essential means Brahm-Giaan, Divine Wisdom, Divine Virtues, Divine Hukam…
    • ਲੋਗੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਇਹੁ ਗੀਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥ (sggs 335).
    • ਗੁਰ ਦੀਪਕੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਦਾ ਮਨਿ ਬਲੀਆ ਜੀਉ ॥ (sggs 173)
    • ਅਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਦੀਪਾਇਓ ॥੨॥
    • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀਪਕ ਉਜਿਆਰੀਆ ॥੧॥: (sggs 210).
    • ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਚਰਾਗੁ ॥: (sggs 849).

    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for sharing Shabad-Vichaar. Also, welcome to the Gurbani Blog Jio.

  2. In my observations it is equally important to understand the meanings of
    1…………..GuRu Baanee {ਗੁਰ with matra of Aukad under R} and

    2…………..GuR Baanee {•ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ}

  3. Baanee is GuRu as is clear from a quote as
    “GuRu Baanee Kahe Sewak jun maane pratakh GuROO Nistaare”
    Here relationship between GuRu and GuROO is worth knowing for
    further clarity in knowing the correct reference meaning of GuRu
    in SGGS ji.

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