Shabad Langar

There are two types of Lanagar:

  1. Langar of food (Free Kitchen, ਭੋਜਨ ਸ਼ਾਲਾ …)
  2.  Shabad Langar (Langar of Upadesh, Giaan, Wisdom…)

(1). Lanagr of food

We are familiar with the dinning tradition of Langar (ਲੰਗਰ) in Gurdawaras.

In English, a Langar is also seen referred as ‘common kitchen’, ‘open kitchen’, ‘free mess’, ‘Sikh community meal’, ‘free communal kitchen of the Gurdawara’, Guru Kaa Langar, and so on.

The Langar symbolizes Sikh belief in the community spirit, sharing, inclusiveness, oneness, sameness, the duty to selflessly serving others (particularly those who are less fortunate such as poor, destitute, hungry, etc.), the equality of all people of diverse backgrounds sitting as equals in the Langer (regardless of family of birth, color of one’s skin, caste (Jaat Paat), creed, gender, religion, rich or poor, king or pauper, etc.).

Some Gurdwaras offer Langar 24 hours (every day of the year) to every visitor, traveler, etc. No one is turned away; for we all are the children of the same One Father (Rabb).

It is also served in homes, etc., following recitation of the Gurbani, a religious ceremony, etc.

(2) Shabad Langar

The Langar of daily meals takes care of the need of the gross body.

However, food does not provide nourishment for the MIND!

The MIND’s need is different. It needs Spiritual or Ruhani Food — spiritual GiaanWisdom, Godly Virtues.

It is the Shabad Langar that provides nourishment for the MIND.

Therefore, to take care of this need of the mind, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) recommends Shabad Langar (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ Ruhani food) in the form of Shabad Vichaar or  in the form of inculcation of the Message of the Guru’s Shabd.

This Shabad Langar provides the needed Spiritual nourishment to the MIND – the Ruhani Food.

  • 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).
  • ਜੈਸੇ ਸਤ ਮੰਦਰ ਕੰਚਨ ਕੇ ਉਸਾਰ ਦੀਨੇ ਤੈਸਾ ਪੁੰਨ ਸਿਖ ਕਉ ਇਕ ਸਬਦ ਸਿਖਾਏ ਕਾ ।: Just as a hundred temples are built with gold and then donated, so is the teaching of a Shabad to a GurSikh. (Bhai Gurdas Ji).

Thus, if we seek the Guidance of the SGGS, there is a clear reference to this Shabad Lanagar (Ruhani Food of Guru’s GiaanWisdom – ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਭੋਜਨ).

  • ਖਾਣਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਸਦਾ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਪੈਨਣੁ ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਨਾਇ ਹੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਓਹੁ ਊਜਲਾ ਮੈਲਾ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: (O brothers!) Eat the Food of the Shabad (Naam, Upadesh, Wisdom…) and the divine Virtues, eating which (the mind) always remains satisfied. Make the divine Naam (Wisdom, Virtues… your) garment, that garment remains ever clean and never gets dirty. (sggs 1092).

Hence the Gurbani asserts Shabad to be the Sacramental Food (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ) that is equally important (if not more!).

  • ਭੁਗਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਕੰਧੁ ਜਪੈ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੀ ॥੩॥: By engaging in the Gur-Shabad, abide in the Naam – make this your food (i.e. make it the food of your soul). Understanding the Naam of the Formless (Universal Energy, Rabb..), the senses will be saved from swaying towards Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, etc.). ||3|| (sggs 879).
  • ਸਚਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਆਇਆ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਖਾਧਾ ਰਜਿ ਤਿਨਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: The everlasting spiritual life-giving Amrit-Naam has become my food. Those who follow the Gurmat (Wisdom, upadesh or Way of the SGGS), who eat this sublime food are satisfied and obtain bliss. (sggs 150).

Shabad Lanagar nearly non-existent in Gurdwaras

In short, the SGGS indicates that the Shabad Langar (Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom, Divine Knowledge, Naam…) must ceaselessly be distributed freely and open to all seekers (of Truth) without any discrimination of gender, race, nationality, status (rich, poor etc.), education, ethnicity, and so on.

  • ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੇਦੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਸੋਹੈ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਿ ॥: As long as (one’s mind) has NOT Realized the Enlightenment of the Shabad, (until then one does NOT) look Beauteous (Inner Beauty: state of Bliss, abidance in one’s Jot Saroop) in the Pathway of the Guru (there will be NO Realization of the Creator in Conscience, Within). (sggs 19).
  • ਏਕੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਨਾਸਤਿ ਕੰਦ ਮੂਲਿ ਮਨੁ ਲਾਵਸਿਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: If you focus your mind on that one Shabad (i.e. Naam, Upadesh, Wisdom… without which) no one else (is able to show the Way of life). You (instead) go around concentrating on eating roots, tubers etc. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 155).

In reality, Gurdwaras are not preparing this Spiritual or Ruhani food. 

The result is no one is getting any spiritual nourishment — no one is serving it; no one is consuming it; and no one is digesting it.

Yes, everyone in Gurdwaras go through the futility of rituals (Karamkaand), formalities, pretending, Pakhand or motion of preparing, serving and consuming this Spiritual (Ruhani) food.

Gurdwara committees in concert with the self-serving paid clergy (Pujaaree) undertake futile rituals (Karamkaand) such as recitations of Paths (e.g. Akhand Path, Sehej Path, Sukhmani Path), Kirtan, Ardas, eating Langar meal, and so on. The list of pre-1469 rituals rejected in the SGGS goes on and on, causing severe SPIRITUAL INDIGESTION!

That being said, We are being served rituals instead of the spiritual foog! In short, we have been consuming (‘ਖਾਵੈ-Khaavia) rituals and digesting (‘ਭੁੰਚੈ Bhunchai‘ rituals.

  • ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥: In the human (Conscience), three things remain —  the truth, Contentment and thoughtful Reflection or Insight (into spiritual Life); in which has manifested the Amrit Naam (Giaan-Wisdom, Virtues…), the support of all. The benefit (Laahaa) is to he who consumes (‘ਖਾਵੈ-Khaavia), and he who digests it (‘ਭੁੰਚੈ Bhunchai‘. (sggs 1429).

In short, the Gurbani is meant to be ‘DIGESTED’ — Understood, Believed, Accepted, Internalized (i.e. BECOMING the Gurbani), emulated or applied in daily life when transacting with the outside world of objects, emotions and thoughts.

One of the examples used in the Gurbani (SGGS) is that of ‘ladles‘ (ਕੜਛੀਆ). Although ladles (ਕੜਛੀਆ) cruise through all sorts of food, but they do not know the relish of food – they just remain empty of the real taste!

The Gurbani’s this ‘ladle’ analogy fits the paid and professional clergy (Pujaaree), reciters (Pathis), and the rest of us.

  • ਕੜਛੀਆ ਫਿਰੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਸੁਆਉ ਨ ਜਾਣਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਸੁਞੀਆ ॥ ਸੇਈ ਮੁਖ ਦਿਸੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਤੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਰਸਿ ॥੧॥: Ladles cruise through food, (but) they do not know the taste of the food. (Similarly, Nanak, only they enjoyed the (Ruhani or spiritual taste) who are tinged with the taste of the Divine Love (rest of us remain like ‘ladles’). ||1|| (sggs 521).


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