Shabad Langar

There are two types of ‘Langar’ in in the House of Baabaa Nanak:

  1. Langar for the mind – Shabad Langar (Langar of Upadesh, GiaanWisdom, Spiritual Teachings or Counsel, Virtues …).
  2. Langar for the body – Food Langar for the body (free kitchen, ਭੋਜਨ ਸ਼ਾਲਾ …).

implication is, if I have not consumed the ‘Shabad Langar‘, then my Sikhi is limited ONLY to the ‘Food-Langar‘! In other words, if I have not internalized the ‘Shabad Langar‘, then I am a Sikh ONLY of ‘Food-Langar‘!

(1). Langar for the body – Food Langar

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

In English, ‘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 or a religious ceremony etc.

(2) Langar for the mind – Shabad Langar

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

However, the MIND’s need is different. It needs Spiritual nourishment or Ruhani Food — Naam, spiritual GiaanWisdom, Godly Virtues!

It is the ‘Shabad Langar’ that provides Spiritual nourishment for the MIND.

  • ਧਾਵਤੁ ਥੰਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਿਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਦਸਵਾ ਦੁਆਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਤਿਥੈ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਸਹਜ ਧੁਨਿ ਉਪਜੈ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਗਤੁ ਥੰਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਰਹਾਇਆ ॥ : Upon realizing the Satgur (True Giaan-Wisdom: ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) within, the wandering mind is held steady and it realizes Tenth Gate (Shabad-Surti, Sahaj Avasthaa, Highest Spiritual State, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ etc.). In that Highest Spiritual State, Sahaj Avasthaa (natural State of Being, State of Wisdom etc.) is experienced which is the Ambrosial Food for the mind; through the Guru’s Shabad the mind remains unaffected by the worldly temptations and their corrupting influences. (sggs 441).
  • ਨਾਮੁ ਨਾਵਣੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਰਸ ਖਾਣੁ ਅਰੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਨਾਮ ਰਸੁ ਸਦਾ ਚਾਯ ਮੁਖਿ ਮਿਸ੍ਟ ਬਾਣੀ ॥ : (For Guru Amar Daas) Divine Naam is the ablution, Divine Naam is like partaking the dainty Food, the delight of Divine Naam is always his inspiration and he always utters sweet Bani from his mouth. (sggs 1393).

To take care of this need of the mind, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) recommends Shabad Langar (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ Ruhani food) – Shabad Vichaar or inculcation of the Enlightening Spiritual Message of the Guru’s Shabad.

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

  • ਲੰਗਰੁ ਚਲੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਆਵੀ ਖਟੀਐ ॥: (In Baabaa Nanak’s House) the Spiritual Langar through the Gur-Shabad (Upadesh, Naam, Wisdom, Virtues etc.) is being served to all, and its supplies never run short and no loss is noticed in the Guru’s Spiritual Wealth or Earnings. (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. । (Kabit, Bhai Gurdas Ji).

Thus, if we seek the Guidance of the SGGS, there is a clear reference to this Shabad LanagarRuhani 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 in SGGS asserts Shabad to be the Sacramental Food (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ) which is equally important if not more!

  • ਭੁਗਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਕੰਧੁ ਜਪੈ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੀ ॥੩॥: Through the Gur-Shabad abide in the Naam – make this your Spiritual Food (i.e. make it the food of your mind). By realizing the Formless Creator, the senses will be in control and would not be strayed by 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 teaches the Shabad Langar must ceaselessly be distributed freely and open to all seekers of Truth without any discrimination of gender, race, nationality, status, rich, poor, education, ethnicity, casteism ( i.e. madness of Jaat Paat), 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, emphasis in Gurdwaras is on food for the body, NOT serving people with Spiritual or Ruhani food for the mind. 

The result is hardly anyone getting any spiritual nourishment — hardly anyone is serving/consuming/digesting it.

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

Gurdwara committees in concert with the self-serving clergy (Pujaaree) undertake worthless rituals (Karamkaand) that have been critiqued and debunked in the SGGS recitations of Paths (e.g. Akhand Path, Sehej Path, Sukhmani Path), Kirtan in a concertlike manner, Ardas, eating elaborate Food-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 and feasts instead of the Spiritual food! In short, we have been consuming (‘ਖਾਵੈ-Khaavia) rituals and feasts and digesting (‘ਭੁੰਚੈ Bhunchai‘) them.

  • 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 any food – they just remain empty of the real taste!

The Gurbani’s this ‘ladle’ analogy fits the self-serving clergy (Pujaaree), reciters (Pathis), Ragis, 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).


  1. Anyone who want to have Shabad Langar for his/her soul must visit site daily.
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