Gurmat Meditation

Arrogance and ignorance rots the mind and mislead it! As a result the mind becomes blind to facts and immune to rational thought and logic (Bibek).

It is easy to be confused by loaded words and concepts such as meditation, religion, prayer etc. specifically when they are tossed around in a casual or uninformed way.

Something similar has happened with the term ‘meditation’ (and many other terms for that matter).

As a result, many businesslike schools of meditation have sprung up in the world, each following its own methods and systems. These businesslike schools of meditation claim if you practice these methods and systems, you will achieve a certain form of enlightenment and you can experience or realize an exceptional state of existence.

This businesslike Pakhand came from Jogmat (ਜੋਗਮੱਤ) which is rejected in the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS.

Please note the rejection of Jogmat (ਜੋਗਮੱਤ) or Yogic practices has been done through many Shabad. For example consider the following Shabad:

  • ਙੰਙਾ ਖਟੁ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਹੋਇ ਙਿਆਤਾ ॥ ਪੂਰਕੁ ਕੁੰਭਕ ਰੇਚਕ ਕਰਮਾਤਾ ॥ ਙਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ਤੀਰਥ ਇਸਨਾਨੀ ॥ ਸੋਮਪਾਕ ਅਪਰਸ ਉਦਿਆਨੀ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਸੰਗਿ ਮਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਹੇਤਾ ॥ ਜੋ ਕਛੁ ਕੀਨੋ ਸੋਊ ਅਨੇਤਾ ॥ ਉਆ ਤੇ ਊਤਮੁ ਗਨਉ ਚੰਡਾਲਾ ॥
    ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਹ ਮਨਿ ਬਸਹਿ ਗੁਪਾਲਾ ॥੧੬॥: Through the letter ‘ਙੰਙਾ’, the SGGS gives us the lesson that one may have the knowledge of six Shastras (i.e. Saankh, Niyaaye, Visheshik, Mimaasa, JOG or Yoga and Vedant); one may practice Pranayaam actions of breathing in (‘ਪੂਰਕੁ’), holding the breath in (‘ਕੁੰਭਕ’), and breathing out (‘ਰੇਚਕ’); one may be engaging in religious debates, practicing meditations and bathing at many Teerath or pilgrimage places; (for the sake of external purity) who cooks his own food (‘ਸੋਮਪਾਕ’), doesn’t let anyone touch him nor touches anyone or anything (‘ਅਪਰਸ’) and may live in jungles (‘ਉਦਿਆਨੀ’) as hermit; but if such person does not have Love for RaamNaam in his mind; then consider all his religious actions (described before) as useless or worthless. Even (a so called untouchable pariah or) lower caste person is better than that person. (253 sggs).

Apparently on account of selfishness, greed and ignorance many Sikhs have totally ignored this lesson of the SGGS.

Gurmat meditation and practical life

Meditation as envisaged by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS is all about practical life based on Bibek, responsibilities (ਫਰਜ਼) Virtues (ਗੁਣ), truthfulness etc.

It’s to be mindful of one’s own thoughts, problems, situations etc. Hence meditation is constant observation or an acute Awareness of what is happening around and also within oneself.

In other words, meditation is the emptying of the mind’s doubts, problems (ਖੁਦ ਦੀ ਸਮਸਿਆਵਾਂ ਦਾ ਸਮਾਧਾਨ), faults or Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachments, pride…) etc. Only then can one begins to know his / her true self (i.e. Jot Saroop – True Nature)

One’s mind can NOT experience peace so long it is disturbed by unresolved problems, adverse situations, Dubidhaa, Bikaar etc. In short, the mind cannot be at peace without dealing with the cause of its Dubidhaa-delusion-restlessness-anxiety-worry-agitation-instability-imbalance etc.

Hence whatever upsets mind has to be decisively faced and dealt with. Short of that, nothing else will do the trick.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਸਰੁ ਸਬਲੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਜੀਉ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਦੁਤਰੁ ਤਰਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ : The ocean of Maya (Bhav Saagar) is mightily (i.e. agitated, turbulent, choppy etc.), it is very difficult to swim out of it. (sggs 245).
  • ਚਲ ਚਿਤ ਜੋਗੀ ਆਸਣੁ ਤੇਰਾ ॥ ਸਿੰਙੀ ਵਾਜੈ ਨਿਤ ਉਦਾਸੇਰਾ ॥ : O restless-minded Yogi! The practice of your sitting posture or Aasan (is meaningless). (To show people – Pakhand) You blow horn, but your mind is always wandering. (sggs 886).
  • ਪੰਚ ਚੋਰ ਚੰਚਲ ਚਿਤੁ ਚਾਲਹਿ ॥ : The five thieves (i.e. Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride) captivate the mind and make it restless. (sggs 1021).

In nutshell, solution of problems or situations that agitate the mind = stable-calm-peaceful-balanced-pointed-happy-joyful mind.

  • ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਧਾਤੁ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਕੈਸੇ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥: (With the blessing of Shabad or Naam – Upadesh, Wisdom), a person’s mind annihilates (the negative impact of Haumai, Bikaar), its turbulent wanderings cease to be. Unless the mind remains unaffected (by the negative impact of Haumai, Bikaar), one cannot attain union with ‘Hari’ (Mool, Source, Jot Saroop etc.). Rare is the one who knows the medicine which, by using it, he annihilates the mind (does not accept the negative impact of Haumai, Bikaar). (A person who is attuned to the Guru’s Shabad – Giaan or Wisdom) understands that the mind attached to the Guru’s Shabad is untouched by the negative impact of Haumai, Bikaar), this is known to ‘Janu’ (Gurmukh, Daas, Bhagat…). ||1|| (sggs 665).

Thus, meditation should not be understood as mere siting down in a peculiar posture staring at the sky with half closed eyes, praying, submission to some scriptural or human authority, chanting and mere repetition of some words etc.

Such a system or a method implies a mechanical repetition, and such a robotic repetition can only dull the mind. Therefore, it cannot be called meditation.

Gurmat urges not to follow the crowd

Since a crowd does not rationally think, the Gurmat Wisdom of the the SGGS urges us not to follow the crowd. Because if you follow the crowd, you will have to blindly agree with every nonsense of that crowd.

However the Pujaaree-Vaad in Sikhi have turned Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS upside down!

For example, the SGGS frequently uses the term ‘Simran‘ (‘ਸਿਮਰਨ’…), which is often seen translated in English Teekaas of the SGGS as ‘meditation’ or ‘chanting’.

Similarly, the term ‘Jap’ (‘ਜਪ’, ‘ਜਪੁ’ …) is also often seen translated in English Teekaas as ‘meditation’ or ‘chanting’ etc.

There are some other words that are often seen translated in English Teekaas as ‘meditation’ (e.g., ‘ਧਿਆਨ’ – Dhiaan or Dhiyan, ‘ਆਰਾਧਣਾ’ – Aaraadhanaa etc.).

In short, as envisaged by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, meditation is not to sit in particular postures with half-closed eyes, staring in the sky!

Also, meditation is not to go sit at particular secluded place or at mountain-tops, or sit in caves, or jungles or basements etc.

Further, it is not as silent or loud repetition of some Mantra, phrase, word etc. Because that sort of Pakhand is not the real Bhagti as taught by the SGGS!

  • ਅਖੀ ਤ ਮੀਟਹਿ ਨਾਕ ਪਕੜਹਿ ਠਗਣ ਕਉ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (Cheats, ਪਖੰਡੀ) Close their eyes and hold their nostrils (they do such trickery only) to dupe the world. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 662).
  • ਉਦਕ ਮਾਹਿ ਜੈਸੇ ਬਗੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਮਾਡੈ ॥੧॥ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਕੀਜੈ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਜਪੰਨਾ ॥ ਜਬ ਤੇ ਸੁਧੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਅਪਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The heron (standing in the water) appears to be meditating, but it is concentrating on the water (to catch a fish). ||1|| Why do you practice Japa, when your mind is not pure? ||1||Pause|| (sggs 485).

Thus, the Gurbani’s ‘Simran’, ‘Jap’, ‘Dhiaan’ are NOT to be understood in tradition prescribed by the Yogmat (ਜੋਗਮਤ) or the scheming clergy (ਪੁਜਾਰੀ ਲਾਣਾਂ) of all organized religions (Mazhab). Why? Because:

  • What’s the use of such meditation if it does not bring about shift or change in one’s thinking (Soch – ਸੋਚ), conduct, actions…?
  • What’s the use of such meditation if it does not bring about clear understanding of the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…)?
  • What’s the use of such meditation if the Gurmat does not become part of one’s very being in daily life (i.e., live by the Wisdom or Virtues of the Gurbani – Gurmukh Lifestyle – ‘ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ’)?
  • What’s the use of such meditation if it does not bring about a transmutation of the deluded mind, or if one’s whole being does not get transmuted into Gurmukh-hood? After all, it’s the mind that needs become the Sikh!
  • What’s the use of such meditation if it does not free one from doubts, or Maya, or Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) without the division between thinker, thought, and thinking, or without the division between meditator, meditation, and the object of meditation?
  • What’s the use of such meditation if a genuine spiritual tingle is not produced? In other words, what is the use of such meditation if the Gurbani’s Upadesh (Teaching, Truth, Giaan or Wisdom…) does not get assimilated in the consciousness; or if an uninterrupted flow of the Gurbani’s Wisdom does not get directed towards Higher Awareness or one’s Mool (Source, Gobind, Hari, Raam, Allah, Jot Saroop or Pure Nature etc.), without the open expression through the extrovert senses?

The Gurbani provides us a clear and straight forward description of many terms, including Dhiaan Simran, Jap, Tap, Aaraadhanaa, Naam, and so on.

Briefly, ‘Dhiaan‘ is essentially to heed the Gur-Shabad within, uninterruptedly (Persistant Bhagti) – to pay attention, to reflect, to contemplate, to live daily life by the Wisdom, Virtues, Truth etc.

  • ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: (I) heed to the Gur-Shabad, within. (sggs 1154).

Simran‘ as envisaged by the Gurbani is to constantly remember the Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam etc in daily life with each breath (Saas Saas) and then live life accordingly, habitually and unalterably – keep the mind and intellect uninterruptedly linked to it’s Mool or Jot Saroop within. This is in nutshell being Awake and Aware (ਜਾਗਰਤ ਅਵਸਥਾ – Gurmukh Lifestyle).

  • ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ॥ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਉਤਰੈ ਚਿੰਦ ॥: With (each) breath, remember ‘Gobind‘ (Mool…). (So that) worry within (your) mind be erased (sggs 295).

Jap‘ as envisaged by the Gurbani is to understand the Gurbani (to realize Wisdom, ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡ ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤ ਕਰਨਾ, ਸਮਝ…), and then maintain constant remembrance of that understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ…) when transacting with the outside world of objects, emotions, and thoughts (ਫੁਰਨੇ, desires…).

  • ਜਪੁ ਤਪੁ ਸਭੁ ਇਹੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਾਰੁ ॥੫॥੨॥੪॥: This Shabad is the essence of all Japp and Tapp. ||5||2||4|| (sggs 661).

With this understanding comes the detachment. With this understanding (ਆਂਤਰਿਕ ਸੋਝੀ) the mind transcend Maya and Awakens to its Mool or Jot Saroop within. With such ‘Jap‘, the mind becomes stable (ਮਨ ਦਾ ਟਿਕਾ).

In nutshell, through the Shabad-Vichaar, the Gurbani urges to remember the Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam with each breath so it will become a part of one’s very being in daily life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle).

When the Divine Wisdom (Brahm-Giaan, ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ…) of the Gurbani becomes the part of one’s very being, the mind becomes stabilized within (ਅਡੋਲ). When the mind so established in inner silence engages in Shabad-Vichaar and live accordingly, it becomes ‘Simran‘.

Such ‘Simran‘ is the true Bhagti. Spiritual Knowledge and Mool is realized through such ‘Simran‘ or meditation. Apparently, the Gurbani is asking the mind to remember its Jot Saroop, each and every breath (‘ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ॥’)!

To sum up in simple Punjabi: ਮਨ ਬੁਧੀ ਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਅਪਨੇ ਮੂਲ ਨਾਲ ਜੁੜਿਆ ਰਹਿਣਾਂ ਹੀ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਹੈ ।

Also, as envisaged by the Gurbani, the purpose of meditation is not to become somebody, but to become humble, to know onself etc. For, according to the Gurbani, humility is the Essence of all Virtues (‘ਮਿਠਤੁ ਨੀਵੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਗੁਣ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਤਤੁ ॥’).

To put it otherwise, the meditation as envisaged by the Gurbani needs to be practiced unbrokenly (Saas Saas). That is, one’s daily life has to become a meditation (the Gurmukh Lifestyle – Wise or ਗਿਆਨਵਾਨ)!

  • ਆਰਾਧਉ ਤੁਝਹਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਅਪਨੇ ॥ ਊਠਤ ਬੈਠਤ ਸੋਵਤ ਜਾਗਤ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਨੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: O my Suaamee (Mool, Hari, Gobind, Raam, Allah…)! I only engage in Your Aaraadhanaa. Standing up and sitting down, while sleeping and awake (i.e., continually – ਸਦਾ), with each and every breath, I remain engaged in Hari’s Jap. ||1||Pause|| sggs 1298).

Clearly, the connection of each breath is with the mind! For example, when the mind is linked to its Jot Saroop (True Nature…), it will invariably be in the mode of positive thinking, positive energy, positive actions, etc. However, to the contrary, if the mind is disconnected from its Jot Saroop, it will certainly be in the mode of negative thinking, negative energy, negative actions laced with lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride, etc.).

To confirm this, one can conduct a simple experiment on oneself. For example, watch your breathing pattern when you are frightened, or when you are engaged in sensuous activity, or when you are angry! To see the difference, compare it with the breathing pattern when in touch with your Jot Saroop!

Understandably, the Gurbani reminds us to retain only the Tatt Budhi or Tatt Giaan (‘ਤਤੁ ਬੁਧਿ’, ‘ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ’ – Essence of the Wisdom of the Gurbani…), and burn away all other intellect (Mayaic or worldly intellect, ਸਾਰੀਆਂ ਸਿਆਣਪਾਂ…).

Sikhi is Way of the Gurmat Wisdom

The Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is that people without the Divine Knowledge are plundered!

  • ਸਭ ਬੁਧੀ ਜਾਲੀਅਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਰਹੈ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: All (Mayaic) intellect (ਸਾਰੀਆਂ ਹੀ ਸਿਆਣਪਾਂ) are unavailing (useless, futile…); only the Essence of Spiritual Wisdom lasts (remains…). ||4|| (sggs 1413).

Clearly, Sikhi is Giaan Maarag (Way of the Wisdom) — living the Wisdom of the Gurbani each breadth.

  • ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਹੁ ਸਚਾ ਇਹੈ ਸੁਆਉ ॥: O GurSikhs! Listen to the Upadesh (Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad). This alone is the true purpose of life. (sggs 963).

In nutshell, the Gurbani speaks at the level of the mind (ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਦਰ ਦੀਆਂ ਗੱਲਾਂ ਕਰਦੀ ਹੈ — ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਵਿਚਾਰ…), therefore, one becomes Sikh at the level of the mind, NOT at the level of body-consciousness (i.e. Maya).

In short, as emphasized by the Gurbani, Sikhi is the inner game of the Shabad-Surt (Naam-consciousness, Gurmukh-hood…).

Simply put: Shabad-Surti or Shabad-Consciousness is to constantly live by the Wisdom (Giaan) or Bibek-Budhi of the Gur-Shabad. It is to burn Haumai (false ego-sense) and die in the Shabad.

Hence, as asserted in the following Shabad, we are urged to practice Giaan-Jap (‘ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ’).

  • ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥ ਹੋਵਹੁ ਚਾਕਰ ਸਾਚੇ ਕੇਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ ਰਵੈ ॥ ਬਾਂਧਨਿ ਬਾਂਧਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਭਵੈ ॥੨॥: O my mind! Understand such Giaan or Wisdom, (on account of which you) become the ‘Chaakar’ or attendant of Truth (i.e. walk on the way of Truth – ਸਚ ਦੇ ਮਾਰਗ ਤੇ ਚਲੋ…). ||1||Pause|| Verbally everyone talks about Wisdom and meditation. But (it is seen that) the whole world is wandering in the noose of attachment to Maya (i.e., by mere talks one cannot become a ‘Chaakar’ of Truth). (sggs 728).

Hence, Giaan (Wisdom) is the subject of the Budhi, not the gross external body-frame.

In this way, the Jap envisaged by the Gurbani is ‘Ajapaa Jaap‘ – the letter ‘A’ in ‘Ajapaa‘ indicates without the external senses (i.e., tongue, etc.). That is, constant or unbroken Awareness of one’s Mool (ਮੂਲ or Jot Saroop)!

  • ਅਜਪਾ ਜਾਪੁ ਨ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਆਦਿ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥: (The mind which has become stable) becomes immersed in the Primal (Lord such a way that it) does not forget ‘Ajapaa Jaapu’. (sggs 1291).

Thus the Jap taught by the Gurbani is performed within (Nij Ghar-ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ…) — with the support of the Budhi — to realize Brahm Giaan (Wisdom).

In Other words — for meditation — one should sit within (Nij Ghar-ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ, Mool, Jot Saroop…) and confirm ‘I-am-not-the-body‘. Not mere words, but with conviction that the mind is Jot Saroop. So the Gurbani asks to hold tight to Naam Sevaa, and give up all clever tricks (‘ਚਤੁਰਾਈ’).

The revolutionary Siddhaant of Guru Sahib has clearly rejected all other means but Naam!

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੪॥੪॥: There is only Naam (Giaan or Wisdom…) in Nanak’s Home (i.e., mind or Heart). ||4||4|| (sggs 1136).

However, the Pujaaree has reduced the Guru Sahib’s Unique Way to empty rituals (Karamkaand), fake stories (ਗੱਪ ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ), religious paraphernalia, Pakhand etc. from which we were freed by the Guru Sahib.

  • ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਿਕਾ ਜਗਤ੍ਰਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਪੰਥ ਚਲਾਇਆ ।: In the world, (Baabaa) Nanak established and started a Unique Way (of life – ‘Nirmal‘: devoid of any impurity, etc.). (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar1, Pauree 45).


  1. You said jap is to adopt Gurbani in one’s life. In other words no need to get up early morning and to do nam japna on Gurmantra?

  2. SiMaran comes from “Si-Mar”. Si-mar means to die.
    The term simaran is derived from the Sanskrit “simrana”- which means to be in an act of one-pointed remembrance.
    My understanding is that one aims to die in the shabad by keeping one-pointed focus on the One. To die in the shabad is achieved by constant “Ik-Man Ik-Chit” to a point where the sevak’s consciousness gets completely absorbed in the one Nirankaar. Following this, the highest state can then be achieved when the sevak’s EGO is also completely dissolved. The sevak becomes ONE with the primal lord and no more “I” or identity remains. Gurbani describes this “dying in the shabad”, which is death of ego.

  3. Thank you J Ji for taking the time to respond.

    Sim- to remember
    Maran – death
    Is this true?

    I don’t know. Although the Gurbani does emphasize on NOT to forget death, but I haven’t heard this analysis of the word “Simran”.

  4. Nice post T Singh Ji

    I remember one person told me Simran means ‘to remember death’, this would be then crystallise the importance of life.

    Sim- to remember
    Maran – death

    Is this true?

  5. Thank you Mukesh Ji for taking the time to respond.

    My previous reply was a little too long.

    So, to reduce confusion, I’m going to summarize it in few words:

    In nutshell, according to the Gurbani (as well other ancient scriptures of India), there is the subtle body (inner which is invisible, hidden – “ਦੇਹੀ ਗੁਪਤ”- Dehee Gupat”); and there is gross body (external which is visible – “Bidehee Deesai – ਬਿਦੇਹੀ ਦੀਸੈ”
    • ਦੇਹੀ ਗੁਪਤ ਬਿਦੇਹੀ ਦੀਸੈ ॥ (sggs 900).

    • ਮਨੁ ਰਤਾ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਚੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਜੋੜੇ ॥ (sggs 323).
    • ਭੁਗਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ (879).
    • ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਨ ਪ੍ਰਬੋਧੇ ॥ (sggs 913).
    • ਬਨਸਪਤਿ ਮਉਲੀ ਚੜਿਆ ਬਸੰਤੁ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮਉਲਿਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੰਗਿ ॥੧॥ (sggs 1176).

  6. Thanks ji it was a great explanation given and with my limited intellect I was able to understand liitle bit wht u hv explained, correct me if I m wrong the dehee on SGGS 900 is gross body and bidehee is subtle body, it is written reversed to explain that guru patshah ji can do anything, everything is in their hands.

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