Listening to the Guru’s Shabad

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) further elaborates on a person of Wisdom and Virtues — the real Simran of the Gurmat!

  • ਖੇਮ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਰਿਧਿ ਨਵ ਨਿਧਿ ॥ ਬੁਧਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਰਬ ਤਹ ਸਿਧਿ ॥
    ਬਿਦਿਆ ਤਪੁ ਜੋਗੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਊਤਮ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਚਾਰਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਕਮਲ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸ ॥ ਸਭ ਕੈ ਮਧਿ ਸਗਲ ਤੇ ਉਦਾਸ ॥ ਸੁੰਦਰੁ ਚਤੁਰੁ ਤਤ ਕਾ ਬੇਤਾ ॥ ਸਮਦਰਸੀ ਏਕ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟੇਤਾ ॥ ਇਹ ਫਲ ਤਿਸੁ ਜਨ ਕੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਭਨੇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਬਚਨ ਮਨਿ ਸੁਨੇ ॥੬॥: (O brother, a person who does Naam Simran – listening/remembering Naam – Wisdom, Virtues...) is forgiving and of calm disposition; these are the Qualities that make his ‘Ridhi Sidhi’. He is intelligent and Wise (ਗਿਆਨਵਾਨ), these are all his ‘Sidhi’. He gets education, instead of ‘Tapa’ and ‘Yoga‘ practice he abides in Rabb. By acquiring Giaan or Wisdom of the highest degree, he bathes his mind in it (i.e., instead of visiting Teerath he thus washes the filth of Bikaar from his mind). ‘Four Padaarath’ (1. Giaan Padaarath / Prem Padaarath, 2. Mukti Padaarath, 3. Naam Padaarath, and 4. Janam Padaarath) blossoms in his Heart-Lotus. Remains in the midst of all, and yet detached from all. He is beautiful (inner beauty), wise and knower who has understood this Reality. He knows all the same and sees all with one eye. All these Qualities Come and dwell within that man who has listened to (or read) the Gurbani attentively, accepted it an applied it to his daily life (this is the real Simran). (sggs 295-296).
  • ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਨ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੇ ਕਿਨੇਹਿਆ ॥ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਹੁ ਮੂਲਿ ਸਾਂਈ ਜੇਹਿਆ ॥੧॥: (O brother!) Those human beings who never forget Naam (do you know what) they are like? They are like Rabb (Prabh, Raam, Hari, Gobind, Allah, etc.), there is absolutely NO difference between the two. (sggs 397).

The process of Shabad-Realization (Spiritual Realization, and so on) starts with diligent listening (or reading).

The Gurbani stresses the importance of listening for the spiritual student (Learner or Sikh) – listening to the Gur-Shabad and contemplating on what is heard and learnt resulting in living it in daily life.

This, in turn, helps us look inwards (within) and assimilate the Truth contained in It. The ultimate goal is to detach oneself from worldly attractions (Maya) and cultivate Bhagti.

Listening to what? As stressed in the Gurbani, it is listening (reading) to the Guru’s Giaan or Wisdom.

Diligent listening (or reading) helps in cultivating Spiritual Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan). The Gurbani asserts that the listening (or reading) process should be coupled with deep attention, concentration, singular mindedness, full faith, willingness, earnestness, right vision, etc.

Thus, listening (or reading) to the Gur-Shabad is an art that will take the learner (i.e., Sikh) to the Supreme Goal. This is the reason some seekers seem to make better spiritual progress than others, because, they know how to listen (or read)! Thus, we all can transform our lives by properly listening, reading and living by the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad. Listening to Divine Truth is so important that Baabaa Nanak devoted four stanzas of Japji Sahib to this process (stanzas 8 through 11).

  • ਸੁਣਿਐ ਸਿਧ ਪੀਰ ਸੁਰਿ ਨਾਥ ॥: By listening the Naam mortal becomes a perfect person, religious guide, spiritual hero and a great yogi (sggs 2).
  • ਸੁਣਿਐ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: By listening the Naam truth, contentment and Divine knowledge are obtained (sggs 3).
  • ਸੁਣਿ ਸੁਣਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੁਮਾਰਾ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪੇਖਨ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥: Listening continually to Your Naam O Beloved Prabhu, I yearn to behold You (sggs 405).
  • ਪਿਰੁ ਰੀਸਾਲੂ ਤਾ ਮਿਲੈ ਜਾ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਸੁਣੀ ॥੨॥: We meet our Beloved, the Source of Joy, when we listen to the Gur-Shabad ||2|| (sggs 17).
  • ਕੰਨੀ ਸੁਣਿ ਸੁਣਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਲਾਹੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਵਸਾਈ ॥: With my ears, I continually listen to the Shabad and praise it (i.e., live it); His Amrit Naam abides within my Heart (sggs 596).

What prevents us from properly listening (and reading) to the Gur-Shabad with one-pointedness is the stony core of ignorance-born false ego-sense (Haumai), our love for the Maya etc.

Any reading or listening of the Gurbani without gaining Intuitive Understanding is totally unavailing. The purpose of listening to (or reading) the Gur-Shabad is to develop Divine Understanding and then act upon it. If that does not happen, then, the Gurbani thunders there is no difference between a human being engaged in reading or listening to scriptures and a beast engaged in filling his belly.

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Despite listening to the Gurmati (Shabad-Giaan, Divine Teaching of the Gur-Shabad, etc.), (if) no spiritual wisdom (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਕੁਝ ਭੀ ਸੂਝ) wells up within (me); (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).
  • ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ਅਤਿ ਅੰਨਾ ਬੋਲਾ ॥ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਸੁਣਈ ਬਹੁ ਰੋਲ ਘਚੋਲਾ ॥: One who is attached to Maya is (spiritually) very much blind and deaf (to the Gur-Shabad…). (In such conditioned state), he is unable to listen (i.e., don’t pay attention…) to the Shabad; (but, in love or hunger of Maya) he makes much uproar and tumult (ਰੌਲਾ-ਗੌਲਾ, noise, chatter, etc.).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).
  • ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਨੀਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਸੁਨੀਐ ਅਨਭਉ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਦਰਸੈ: The Naam is read, pondered and heard (meaning, all beings read the Naam, think, listen, but because of Bikaar the knot of fear remains in the mind, consequently) the divine love does not arise in them, the divine vision does not appear (i.e., understanding, Soojh-Boojh). (sggs 973).

By joining the Awareness with the Gur-Shabad, our Consciousness becomes purified as well as strong. This intensity of Divine Strength, in turn, helps us burn the seeds of our deep-rooted spiritual ignorance and Vaasnaas.


  1. Sir, how to make the mind listen? For the mind to listen, it is necessary for the mind to stop talking and wandering. Is it through sitting in sadh sangat, shabad vichar and contemplating on the mool that the mind begins to listen?
    By contemplating on the Gurus shabad and acting on its instruction does the mind become still? Your assistance is most appreciated. Please forgive my ignorance.

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