Naam Sevaa

The Subject of this post is to understand ‘what’ and ‘how’ of Naam-Sevaa and Gur-Sevaa as understood by the Gurbani (NOT through the fool-o-sophy)! Before that, let’s consider the following verse of the Gurbani:

  • ਜਨੁ ਰਾਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ॥: ‘Janu‘ remains imbued in the service of ‘Hari Naam‘ (sggs 265).

Two terms — ‘Jan-ਜਨੁ’ and ‘Naam Kee Sevaa-ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ’ — are significant in the foregoing verse.

First, let’s consider the term ‘Jan-ਜਨੁ’. This term essentially indicates the State of the Mind that has become:

  • Gurmukh Mindset (ਗੁਰਮੁਖ)
  • Bhagat Mindset (ਭਗਤ)
  • Daas Mindset (ਦਾਸ)
  • Giaanee Mindset – Enlightened, ਆਤਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ, ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ,
  • Divine-oriented Mindset
  • Wise person, brave person, good person, virtuous person, fearless, blissful (Anand), pious person, Joyful, etc. (ਵਿਦਵਾਨ, ਬਹਾਦੁਰ, ਭਲਾ, ਨੇਕ, ਗੁਣੀ, ਖੁਸ਼ ਇਨਸਾਨ…).

For example, the Guru and Bhagat use the term ‘Jan – ਜਨੁ’ or ‘ਜਨ-Jan’ throughout the Gurbani.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਜਨ ਕੈ ਬਿਰਤਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੈ ॥੫॥: O Nanak! Discerning intellect is the subsistence of ‘Jan’ (Bhagat, Daas, Gurmukh…). ||5||
  • ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥੪॥੨॥੮॥੪੬॥: Jan(u) Nanaku hari kaa daas… (sggs 166).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋਈ ਜਨੁ ਪਾਏ ॥: Gurmukhi viralaa koee jan(u) paae (sggs 119).
  • ਸੇਵਕੁ ਦਾਸੁ ਭਗਤੁ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਈ ॥: Sevaku daasu bhagatu jan(u) koee (sggs 355).
  • ਆਤਮ ਰਸੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਚੀਨਾ ॥: Aatam ras(u) brahm giaanee cheenaa (sggs 272).

Now, let’s consider ‘Naam Kee Sevaa – ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ’. What is it? Essentially, it’s indicated in the Gurbani to be:

Furthermore, the Gurbani also indicates that only the ‘Jan – ਜਨੁ’ is imbued in ‘Naam Kee Sevaa-ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ’.

  • ਜਨੁ ਰਾਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ॥: Janu raataa Hari Naam Kee Sevaa (sggs 265).

According to the Gurbani, how does one get engaged in ‘Naam Kee Sevaa-ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ’?

According to the Gurbani:

Sevaa of the Gur/Satigur (‘ਗੁਰ ਸੇਵਾ’/’ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵਾ’) is = Engaging in Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…) and remembering and living it in daily life…

  • ਨਾਮੁ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥੧॥: Naam-Sevaa for me is the Gur-Sevaa (sggs 1145).

Now, how can we serve the Guru‘ or the ‘Satiguru‘?

The Gurbani tells us to serve the ‘Guru‘ or the ‘Satiguru’ through Shabad-Vichaar to Realize the Message of Shabad and then live it daily life accordingly:

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੇ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥੭॥: The Guru’s Sevaa or Service is Shabad Vichaar (Internalizing the Shabad – Enlightening oneself with the Upadesh or Message of the Shabad). Undertaking (this) essential Effort, control Haumai (i.e. false ego-sense and its faults – ‘Panch‘ i.e. Bikaar) ॥7॥. (sggs 223).
  • ਸਤਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਭਾਣਾ ਮੰਨਿ ਲਈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥ ਏਹਾ ਸੇਵਾ ਚਾਕਰੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥: By removing false ego-sense (Haumai), accept the True Wisdom (ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ). (To accept or live the True Wisdom) is such a service (with the blessing of which) Naam abides in the mind. (sggs 34).

Now perhaps we can appreciate as to why the Gurbani so boldly tells us — devoid of the Shabad or Naam everyone remains dead in this world (Spiritual death – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤੇ ਮਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ)!

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਓ ਮਿਰਤਕੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: (Those beings) who have not served the ‘Satguru‘ (through the Shabad-Vichaar), no Wisdom has Awakened within them, (they may appear as alive but they) are as dead in the world (spiritually dead-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 88).

In nutshell, without churning the Gurbani through Shabad-Vichaar, understanding of the Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam Giaan, Brahm Giaan …) cannot be obtained.

And, without the Shabad-Vichaar, mind cannot be controlled (conquered, annihilated …).

Also, Baabaa Nanak says that people without the Divine Wisdom (Aatam Giaan…) are plundered.

  • ਕੁੰਭੇ ਬਧਾ ਜਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੁੰਭੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: As the water remains confined in a pitcher, (just so) the mind is restrained by the Spiritual Wisdom. But (as) the pitcher cannot be shaped without the water, (just so) there can be no Spiritual Wisdom without the Guru. ||5|| (sggs 469).

Hence, as time and again indicated in the SGGS, each and every Sikh (learner, ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ) is duty-bound to Understand the Gurbani through the earnest Shabad-Vichaar, live it and and selflessly share it.

  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਲਿਹਾਰਣੈ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਏ ॥੨॥ : ‘Jan‘ Nanak adores that person who Realizes the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) himself, and inspires others in Realize it. ||2|| (sggs 140).
  • ਆਪਿ ਜਪਹੁ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵਹੁ ॥ ਸੁਨਤ ਕਹਤ ਰਹਤ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਵਹੁ ॥: Realize the Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) yourself and inspire others to Realize it. By learning, teaching and living it (practice-ਅਮਲ), one becomes Enlightened. (sggs 289).
  • ਲੰਗਰੁ ਚਲੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਆਵੀ ਖਟੀਐ ॥: (In the ‘Hattee’ of Baabaa Nanak) the Lanagar through the Gur Shabad (Upadesh, Naam, Wisdom..) is running, and its supplies never run short. (sggs 967).
  • ਸਿਖਹੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਪਿਆਰਿਹੋ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਨ ਕੀ ਟੇਕ ॥: Sikhahu sabadu piaariho janam maran kee tek (sggs 320).

However, the Gurbani reminds us that one can truly serve the Satgur only when the fever of his egotism (Haumai) is gone!

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸੋ ਕਰੇ ਜਿਸੁ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਤਾਪੁ ॥: One serves the Satguru only when the fever of (his) egotism has been eradicated (sggs 45).

Furthermore, the Gurbani tells us that the untainted Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad is must to perform the real Sevaa.

In addition to Divine Wisdom, one must truly be contented. Because, if we are discontented and have incomplete or little knowledge (or understanding) of the Gur-Shabad, then we will be serving Maya only!

  • ਮਤਿ ਥੋੜੀ ਸੇਵ ਗਵਾਈਐ ॥੧੦॥: Sevaa performed with little intellect or understanding is useless. (sggs 468).

Baabaa Nanak elaborates the state of the mind of those who perform true Sevaa. We daily hear this in the Baanee known as ‘Aasaa Dee Vaar‘:

  • ਸੇਵ ਕੀਤੀ ਸੰਤੋਖੀਈ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਸਚੋ ਸਚੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ॥ ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਮੰਦੈ ਪੈਰੁ ਨ ਰਖਿਓ ਕਰਿ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋੜੇ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਅੰਨੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਥੋੜਾ ਖਾਇਆ ॥: Only those do the real Sevaa who are contented. They contemplate the Truth. They do not walk on the path of
    corruption (wickedness, ill-doings…), but do good deeds and live by Dharma. They burn away the bonds of the world (Maya’s fetters…), and live on a little water and
    food (i.e., they do not eat for the sake of sense-gratification).

‘ਕਹਿਐ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ: Khiai Raam(u) na hoi

However, merely uttering or repeating some word by tongue is not the Gurbani’s Naam-Simran or Naam Japnaa. The Gurbani is very clear about it.

Also, merely reading and memorizing Gurbani without understanding and applying, or merely seeing and bowing down in front of SGGS will not do the trick. The Gurbani is also very clear about this.

In fact, the Gurbani tells us precisely as to how our wandering mind should remember Naam — by enshrining it in the Heart (‘ਅਜਪਾ ਜਾਪੁ-Ajapaa Jaap‘) or remembering and living it in daily life (the Enlightened or Gurmukh Mindset):

  • ਰਾਮ ਰਾਮ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਕਹਿਐ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਰਾਮੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਤਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥1॥: Everyone utters Raam Raam; but by such utterance (merely uttering by tounge-ਨਿਰਾ ਜੀਭ ਨਾਲ), Raam does not happen. By Gur-Grace (Grace of the Gur-Shabad-Giaan), Raam comes to dwell in the mind, and then, the fruit (of Aatam-Giaan…) is obtained. ||1|| (sggs 491).
  • ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਨਿਤ ਕਪਟੁ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਹਿਰਦਾ ਸੁਧੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥: One who utters ‘Hari Hari’, while constantly practicing deception, (his) Heart cannot become pure. (sggs 732).
  • ਮੁਖਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਕਰੈ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸਾਇਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਵਸਿਆ ਮੋਖ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੮॥੨॥: Everyone utters the Divine Naam with their mouths (ਬਾਹਰੋਂ ਬਾਹਰੋਂ – from outside, superficially), but only a few enshrine it within their Hearts (i.e., minds). (sggs 565).

‘ਅਜਪਾ ਜਾਪੁ ਜਪੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮ’: Ajapaa Jaapu Japai Mukhi Naam

Thus the ‘Jap’ indicated in the Gurbani is ‘Ajapaa Jaap‘ (‘ਮਨ ਮਹਿ’,’ਆਤਮ ਮਹਿ’…)

The letter ‘A’: in Ajapaa‘ indicates without the external senses (i.e., without external tongue, etc.). That is, constant or unbroken Shabad-Awareness — unbroken Shabad-Surat, the Gurmukh Lifestyle, the Divine-oriented Life…

  • ਉਲਟਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਭਰਿਆ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਕਤਹੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਅਜਪਾ ਜਾਪੁ ਨ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਆਦਿ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਸਖੀਆ ਪੰਚੇ ਮਿਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸੁ ॥ ਸਬਦੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਇਹੁ ਘਰੁ ਲਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੁ ॥੧॥ : Filled with Amrit (-Naam), the Heart-Lotus turns away (from Maya), then this mind does not go anywhere else. (The mind which has become stable) becomes immersed in the Universal Energy (Hukam…) in such a way that it does not forget ‘Ajapaa Jaapu‘ (without uttering from the mouth – always keeping in mind.). (In this way) a person who has become the Gurmukh stays in his ‘Nij Ghar‘ within, all his senses get blessed with five divine Virtues (i.e. Truth-ਸਤ, contentment-ਸੰਤੋਖ, mercy-ਦਯਾ, patience-ਧੀਰਜ, Dharam-ਧਰਮ). The human being who realizes this Home (Nij Ghar) within by understanding the Shabad, Nanak is his ‘Daas‘ (slave, servant etc.). ||1|| (sggs 1291).

Clearly, just repeating, for example, ‘Waheguru, Waheguru…’ is NOT the GURBANI’S Naam Japnaa or Naam Padaarath!

  • ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਤਮ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਧੈ ॥: (A true devotee) searches for the Raam Naam within his own soul (sggs 274).
  • ਉਸਤਤਿ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਕਰਿ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ॥: Praise the Formless Divine in your mind. (sggs 281).


  1. Thank you prince Ji for taking the time to share your Vichaar.
    Brother Prakash S. Bagga has summed up nicely. If I may add my two cents!

    With regard to “Chakra”, coiled “Kundilini” at the base Chakra, etc., the Gurbani differs with the Yogis. Many verses of the Gurbani address Yogis to remove doubts.
    The Gurbani indicates the Kundilini uncoils (disentangles, rises, awakens, enlightens, untied, etc.) in the Satsangat. Now, what’s Satsangat? Essentially, when the mind has linked with Sat (Truth), that is Satsangat. Obviously the hint here is toward the twisted Budhi (intellect), deluded Budhi, corrupted Budhi, coiled or entangled Budhi, ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਵਿਰਤੀ, ਸਾਕਤ ਵਿਰਤੀ, ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ਵਿਰਤੀ, the knot of egotism, or ignorance, twisted or doubt-ridden mind…

    The Gurbani indicates that such twisted or coiled Budhi becomes uncoiled or disentangled in the Satsangat. In other words, “Kundilini” (ਮਨ ਦੇ ਵੱਟ-mind’s twists or crookedness) becomes untangled when it links or associate with Sat (Truth – its Mool, Source, Joti-Svaroop…).
    • ਕੁੰਡਲਨੀ ਸੁਰਝੀ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਪਰਮਾਨੰਦ ਗੁਰੂ ਮੁਖਿ ਮਚਾ ॥: Kundilini surjhee satsangati… (sggs 1402).
    • ਖਟੁ ਮਟੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਧੁਨਿ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜਾਗੀ ॥ ਵਾਜੈ ਅਨਹਦੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਲੀਣਾ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਸਚਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਪਤੀਣਾ ॥੧॥: Khatu matu dehee manu bairaagee… (sggs 903).

  2. In Gurbanee we have been specifically directed to VIBRATING DIVINE SOUND and this DIVINE SOUND is to be recognized as SABADu HARiHARi………………………………………………………………….

  3. Deep love…..
    Name,naam,,word,,,akhar,,,the sound current, happening in no gunas realm….nirgun zone..the MAUN state, the epicenter which vibrates jivas anhanta, throat chakra and we create chatter.

    ਸਰਗੁਨ ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧੀ ਆਪਿ ॥ सरगुन निरगुन निरंकार सुंन समाधी आपि ॥ Sargun nirgun nirankār sunn samāḏẖī āp. He possesses all qualities; He transcends all qualities; He is the Formless Lord. He Himself is in Primal Samaadhi.

  4. Great biog clearing up a common misconception. As Gurbani reminds us ‘everything is within’ not external. The Guru also shows you this, for example, try any chant without love is tasteless but simply contemplating on the beloved with love makes the heart blossom forth !

  5. There is a close relationship between •ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ (Satiguru),ਨਾਮੁ (Naamu)
    and ਸਬਦੁ (sabadu).
    •ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ is THE ENTITY and ਨਾਮੁ its associated LATENT POWER and
    ਸਬਦੁ ascribing IDENTITY of ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ and THE LATENT POWER. of ਨਾਮੁ.
    Thus it is essential rather must to serve ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ for its grace for ਨਾਮੁ.

  6. A Quote from Gurbanee as
    ” ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਿ ਚਲਤੁ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ਮਨ ਮਧੇ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਵਨਾ ॥੮॥੨॥੫॥ {ਪੰਨਾ 1018}
    It is obvious that repeation of THE WORD as NAAMu has to be within MUN itself.
    It should be interesting to understand the reference meanings of the words NAAMu and NAAM.
    For this it would be worth knowing what is NAAMu?
    In fact from Gurbanee one can understand that NAAMu is being refered to ਸਬਦੁ i e A SINGLE WORD and NAAM is therefore reference for Infinite Number of ਸਬਦੁ .
    Therefore NAAM is infinetly existing all over and one can not have
    access to NAAM but one can have access to A Unit of NAAM as NAAMu .
    Moreover NAAMu can be obtained only thru SATiGuRu as one takes drops of any liquid medicine.
    A quote in this context as

  7. ਜਨੁ is a very very special reference

    Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio!

    Yes, as the Gurbani says, “ਜਨ – Jan” is Mool-realized:
    • ਮੂਲਿ ਲਾਗੇ ਸੇ ਜਨ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥: Mooli laage se jan parvaanu (sggs 365).
    • ਧਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਜਿਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਜਾਤਾ ॥: Dhanu dhanu hari jan jini hari prabhu jaataa (sggs 96).

  8. ਰਾਗੁ ਦੇਵਗੰਧਾਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੪ ਘਰੁ ੧ ॥

    ਸੇਵਕ ਜਨ ਬਨੇ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ ਜੋ ਤੁਮਰਾ ਜਸੁ ਕਹਤੇ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਤਿਨ ਮੁਖ ਭਾਗ ਸਭਾਗੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਟੂਟੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਬੰਧਨ ਫਾਹੇ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੇ ॥ ਹਮਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਮੋਹਿਓ ਗੁਰ ਮੋਹਨਿ ਹਮ ਬਿਸਮ ਭਈ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਗੇ ॥੧॥ ਸਗਲੀ ਰੈਣਿ ਸੋਈ ਅੰਧਿਆਰੀ ਗੁਰ ਕਿੰਚਤ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਜਾਗੇ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮੋਹਿ ਤੁਮ ਸਰਿ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੇ ॥੨॥੧॥ {ਪੰਨਾ 527}

    •ਜਨੁ is a very very special reference as should be clear from the above quote. Considering ਸੇਵਕ ਜਨ ਬਨੇ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੇ shows howਸੇਵਕ can beome ਜਨ.
    Here the reference for ਜਨ. is related to the status of “SPOUSE”
    which is the state of being in union with PRABHu.(EKANKAARu)

    How ਸੇਵਕ ਜਨ ਬਨੇ by ਠਾਕੁਰ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੇ . So only ਜਨ can praise the LORD in ਗੁਰਮਤਿ way and their ਲਿਵ is with ਹਰਿ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ .

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