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!

In short, the Gurbani tells all Sikhs (seekers or learners-ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ):

  • Use the Gurbani to understand the Gurbani (i.e. 1430 pages of the SGGS).
  • Use the Gurbani to explain the Gurbani.
  • The Gurbani is the sole indicator of original intent of the Gurus.
  • The Guru’s intent lies in the Gurbani.
  • Answers lie within the Gurbani.
  • The Gurbani is universal, unique, timeless, wholesome etc. What it means is that the Gurbani is never specific to location, occasion, person, incident, Pujaaree’s concocted stories (or Sakhi-ਸਾਖੀ) etc.
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਜਾਤੀ ਜਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਰਤੇ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਪਵਿਤੁ ਪਾਵਨ ਸੇ ਜਨ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੮॥: The Gurbani is understood from the Gurbani itself by those who with love remain imbued with the Gur-Shabad (Vichaar, Upadesh, Naam, Giaan or Wisdom…). Such people are of clean conduct and pure consciousness for they live by Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam...). ||8|| (sggs 1346).
  • ਮੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਆਧਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਲਾਗਿ ਰਹਾਉ ॥੮॥: The Gurbani (i.e. the Gurbani’s Wisdom) is my life-support. I can live only by joining in the Gurbani (i.e. to live with the Gur-Wisdom as a life-support is to live in Association with the One Rabb, Hukam, god, Universal Energy…). ||8|| (sggs 759).
  • ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ ॥: (Guru’s) Bani is the Guru (of Sikhs i.e. Shabad-Guru or Wisdom or Giaan-Guru) and the Guru is present (as Giaan or Wisdom) in the Bani. The Amrit (of the Guru’s Giaan or Wisdom…) is contained in the whole of Bani. (sggs 982).

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

  • ਵਾਹੁ ਵਾਹੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਹੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਜੇਵਡੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Marvelous is the Bani (hymns of SGGS/Enlightening Message of the Shabad), nothing equals it as it is the voice of the Formless One. (sggs 515).
  • ਵਾਹੁ ਵਾਹੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਸਚਿ ਮਿਲਾਵਾ ਹੋਇ ॥: Marvelous is the Bani (hymns of SGGS/Enlightening Message of the Shabad) of Truth that brings about Union with Truth. (sggs 514).

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 the distorted and corrupted spirituality that existed before the Gurus and Bhagats. All that has been decisively rejected by them.

Further more, the ENTIRE Gurbani (SGGS) is the Guru given Upadesh — Enlightening Message, Spiritual Advice, Guidance, Direction, Counsel or Instruction.

  • ਸਚੁ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਤੁਮਾਰਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਣੀ ॥: Your Amrit Baanee is the True or godlyMantra’ (i.e. Mantra = Spiritual Advice or Guidance of the Baanee). (sggs 562).
  • ਗੁਰਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚੁ ਦੀਤਾ ਰਾਮ ॥: The Guru provided Shabad — ‘Mantra’ (i.e. Mantra = Spiritual Advice or Guidance of the Baanee) — that lead me to Realization of Raam within. (sggs
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨ ॥: O my mind! Accept the ‘Mantra’ (i.e. Mantra = Spiritual Advice or Guidance of the Baanee) which is contained in the Guru’s Shabad (ਮੰਨ ਕਰਕੇ ਮੰਨਣਾਂ). (sggs 864).
  • ਬਾਣੀ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖਨ ਕੀ ਮਨਹਿ ਉਤਾਰਨ ਮਾਂਨ ਕਉ ॥: Baanee is the ‘Mantra’ (i.e. Mantra = Spiritual Advice or Guidance of the Baanee) of the Enlightened ones (those with Elevated mindset), which has the ability to remove the mind’s pride. (sggs 1208).
  • ਬੀਜ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਸਰਬ ਕੋ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: The basic ‘Mantra’ (i.e. Mantra = Spiritual Advice or Guidance of the Baanee) brings us to the omniscient knowledge of god. (sggs 207).

In a nutshell, the Spiritual Advice or Guidance of the Gurbani (SGGS) is for Internal or Self-Change by accepting and applying the understanding of the Guru’s Shabad. With this one loses himself/herself and BECOME One with the Shabad (SGGS), ONE with the Hukam, ONE with the Naam.

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਬਣੀਐ ॥: The Satgur’s Bani (the God-Connecting Shabad-Guru) is the embodiment of the Creator; (therefore) BECOME THE GURBANI (to Realize the Creator). (sggs 304).
  • ਇਕਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: One Bani alone is authentic Guru; (so just consider or) reflect on One Shabad. (sggs 646).
  • ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥: As long as false ego-sense remains inside us beings, then You (within us) do not appear, but when you appear then our ‘I’ (Haumai or false egotism) disappears. (sggs 657).

Hence the Gurbani is not meant for chanting or ritual reading as propagated by the paid Pujaaree (clergy), Deraa-Vaad etc.

  • ਖਾਂਡ ਖਾਂਡ ਕਹੈ ਜਿਹਬਾ ਨ ਸ੍ਵਾਦੁ ਮੀਠੋ ਆਵੈ ॥ ਅਗਨਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਕਹੈ ਸੀਤ ਨ ਬਿਨਾਸ ਹੈ ॥ ਬੈਦ ਬੈਦ ਕਹੈ ਰੋਗ ਮਿਟਤ ਨ ਕਾਹੂ ਕੋ॥ ਦਰਬ ਦਰਬ ਕਹੈ ਕੋਊ ਦਰਬਹਿ ਨ ਬਿਲਾਸ ਹੈ ॥ ਚੰਦਨ ਚੰਦਨ ਕਹਤ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੈ ਨ ਸੁਬਾਸੁ ਬਾਸੁ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਗੋਸਟਿ ਕਹਤ ਨ ਰਹਤ ਪਾਵੈ॥ ਕਰਨੀ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਭਾਨ ਉਦਤਿ ਅਕਾਸ ਹੈ ॥: By mere saying (repeating, chanting or uttering again and again) the word ‘sugar, sugar’ one cannot taste the sweetness of sugar. By mere saying the word ‘fire, fire’ one cannot drive the cold away. By merely uttering the word ‘doctor, doctor’ one cannot cure the illness. By mere saying the word ‘money, money’ one cannot have money (or enjoy it). By mere chanting the word ‘Chandan, Chandan‘ one cannot make its fragrance appear (i.e., cannot manifest or experience sandalwood’s fragrance). Similarly, by mere saying the word ‘Knowledge’ one cannot live it. ‘Karanee‘ is supreme (implementation, practice, putting the spiritual Wisdom or Advice of the Gurbani to work, live it, walk it, do it, ਅਮਲ, ਕਮਾਈ etc. — walk the talk!), like the rising sun in the sky (Kabit Savaiye, Bhai Gurdaas).
  • ਜੈਸੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਗਿਆਨ ਕਹੈ ਗਿਆਨ ਹੂੰ ਨ ਹੋਤ ਕਛੁ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ । ਤੈਸੇ ਗੁਰ ਧਿਆਨ ਕਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਧਿਆਨ ਹੂ ਨ ਪਾਵਤ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਗੁਰ ਦਰਸ ਜਾਇ ਨ ਸਮਾਈਐ ॥੫੪੨॥: Just by saying (repeating, chanting or uttering again and again) Giaan (spiritual Knowledge) again and again, knowledge cannot be obtained. It can only be acquired by lodging it within the mind. Similarly just repeatedly asking for a glimpse of the Guru, one cannot acquire contemplation of the Guru. This is possible only when one engrosses or merges oneself in the Guru’s Message (i.e. BECOMING ONE with Guru’s Upadesh, Advice, Giaan). ॥542॥ (Kabit Savaiye, Bhai Gurdaas).

After staying with the Gurus and learning the Gurmat, Bhatt Mathuraa concluded in his Baanee:

  • ਤਤੁ ਬਿਚਾਰੁ ਯਹੈ ਮਥੁਰਾ ਜਗ ਤਾਰਨ ਕਉ ਅਵਤਾਰੁ ਬਨਾਯਉ ॥ ਜਪ੍ਯ੍ਯਉ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਅਰਜੁਨ ਦੇਵ ਗੁਰੂ ਫਿਰਿ ਸੰਕਟ ਜੋਨਿ ਗਰਭ ਨ ਆਯਉ ॥੬॥: Says Mathuraa – (listen all Sikhs) this is the Essence or gist of all I have discovered coming to Guru Arjan who is set down to give Spiritual Guidance to the world. Whosoever has Realized the Guru Arjan’s (
  • Divine Virtues, Spiritual Guidance etc.
  • ), that person will not even come to the point of conceptualizing obstacles within his Spiritual mind. ||6|| (sggs 1409).

Clearly, according to the Gurbani (SGGS):

  • Sikhi is NOT chanting — chanting a word (e.g. Waheguru) or a verse or a Shabad from the Gurbani.
  • Sikhi is for the mind to Realize the Spiritual Message of the Gurbani (SGGS) and Emulate it (i.e. apply or live it in daily life) — BECOME the Gurbani (‘Gurbani Baneeai-ਗੁਰ ਬਾਣੀ ਬਣੀਐ’).

Gurbani is ‘Light’ of Spiritual Wisdom in the world

First off, the Gurbani defines itself as the ‘Light’ in this world — it’s spiritual advice or Guidance provides Enlightenment in spiritual life!

  • ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਇਸੁ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਕਰਮਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਏ ॥੧॥: the Gurbani is the Enlightenment in my spiritual life or spiritual world. It comes to abide within the mind through my Acceptance and Internalization of it. ||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 ॥: the one who has applied to his (Inner or spiritual) eyes the ointment of the Guru’s Wisdom; Inner Enlightenment has dawned within him and his darkness of ignorance has been dispelled. (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’ (meaning no matter how much accomplishments or knowledge we may obtain from other sources, without the Guru’s Wisdom we can not get the true Enlightenment in life). ||2|| (sggs 463).

Although this ‘Light’ shines within, we are still unable to realize it. Because this Inner Light remains covered with the cloud of doubt (Bharam), false ego-sense (Haumai), and the thunderstorms 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!

  • 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 a 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 Universal

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

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

So it is wrong to say the Bani we Sikhs have inherited 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 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 Counsel of Gurbani is COMMON and SHARED (‘Saanhaa’) for the ENTIRETY of MANKIND (as represented by the all-encompassing four so called classes or ‘Varna‘ of mankind) – Brahman, Khatri, Soodar and Vais. (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 is the Inner Voice (ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਆਵਾਜ਼) that came from within the Gurus, Bhagats…

  • ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਆਈ ॥ ਤਿਨਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਚਿੰਤ ਮਿਟਾਈ ॥: The Baanee has come to me from within (i.e. from the deepest recessions of Consciousness, same principle Baabaa Nanak promulgated his Baanee). That Baanee has eradicated all my anxiety (applying its Wisdom / Virtues to daily life). (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.

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. * = required fields. Comment Policy.