Sikhism - Glossary of the most commonly used Sikh words

Prepared By: Gurmukh Singh OBE (Ret'd Principal, UK Civil Service)

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Akhand Paatth Non stop reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji completed in about forty-eight hours; that is, on the third day from the day of the start of the Akhand Paatth.

Amrit The ambrosial water (water of immortality) prepared during the Khalsa initiation ceremony of Amrit Sanchaar. This is also called Khanday Baatay di Pahul. To "take Amrit" is to be initiated into the Order of the Khalsa, the Brother/Sister-hood of the Khalsa (with spiritual parenthood of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Mata Sahib Kaur Ji).

Amrit Parchaar Preaching Sikhi with stress on Sikh rehat (the need to keep both, the inner and outer disciplines which a Gursikh is required to keep). The Sikh rehat has been clarified in the code of Rehat Maryada. Amrit Parchaar leads to Amrit Sanchaar (see Amrit).

Amrit Sanchaar (see Amrit)

Amrit vela Early morning when Gursikhs should rise and start Naam simran. The time of the start of Amrit vela is given as one and a quarter pehar before morning (sunrise). There are three hours in a pehar and eight pehars make a day/night period i.e. 24 hours.

Anand karaj "Ceremony of bliss." The Sikh wedding ceremony. Ardaas Congregational prayer (supplication) during which the Sangat (the Holy congregation) stand up with folded hands.

Ardaas is said by one Gursikh while the others listen with intent and usually with closed eyes for concentration.

Avtaar In Hindu ideology an avtaar is an incarnation of the god Vishnu. In Sikhi, because God is not born, an avtaar would be interpreted as a person with the Divine Light. In that sense only the Ten Guru personalities (of Guru Nanak) may be regarded as Avtaars. Otherwise Guru Gobind Singh Ji says. "Only that Being is my Guru, who is but One Avtaar from the beginning to the end of time i.e. the Unborn Waheguru." (Aad antt ekai Avtara, so-ee Guru Samjheo hamara: Benti Chaupa-ee)


Bani Literal: word spoken by a divine person. Short for Gurbani i.e. Guru's Word. Gur-shabad means the same.

Bairag "Bairag" or "Vairag" means deep sorrow; and in the spiritual sense it is also the longing one feels at the separation of the lonely soul from the Ultimate Truth, the Waheguru, the Lord of Creation.

Bhagti Bhagti is the path of a loving relationship with the Lord. A bhagat is more a God- loving than a God-fearing person. Conversely, in a bhagat, God-fear is converted through bhagti (devotional and meditative contemplation of the God Being) into God-love. So bhagti is God- centred meditation, the main objective of which is union with the God-Being. Bhagti is a central theme of Gurbani. However, Sikhi, being a whole-life system is much more than a bhagti movement. It may be associated with but is not part of the bhagti movement of India.

Bhana Waheguru's Will. See Hukam.

Bhog (Bhog paona) Completion of a Diwaan (see below) or other Gurdwara proceedings in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. A fixed routine is followed for Bhog or Bhog paona. It will include the Paatth of Anand Sahib, Ardaas, Hukamnama from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and the distribution of the sweet, holy karah Prasaad. The word bhog sometimes also is used for prasaad, the sweet sacrament distributed at the end of the Bhog ceremony, following Ardaas and Hukamnama or Vaak

Braham-giani One who has attained complete harmony with The One. Ultimately, the Braham Giani is Waheguru Himself and no other (The 8th Astpadi of Sukhmani Sahib describes a Braham Giani).


Chanani Canopy over the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Charan Guru's Holy Feet. Reference to concentration in total humility on the Guru's Word i.e. Gur Shabad. To accept Guru's Charan in your mind (hirda) is to accept the Gur Shabad or Gur Mantar in your mind. Guru's darshan (spiritual and visual experience) also has a similar meaning.

Chardi Kalla Expression of the uplifting, victorious and positive spirit of Sikhi. For example Panth di chardi kalla means the ever positive and victorious disposition of the Order of the Khalsa Panth. Never to accept defeat under any circumstances (as symbolised by Guru Gobind Singh Ji) is another way of expressing the chardi kalla spirit of the Khalsa.

Chaur A special appliance with a wooden handle with long hair, for waving from side to side over Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In Panjab one can see beautiful Chaurs made of peacock feathers. A Chaur is a symbol of royalty when it is waved over the head of a king or some other royal personage. The Guru Personalities and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji personify The True King i.e. the Light Of Guru Nanak in this world. (The other purpose a Chaur serves, especially in India, is to keep the insects away but it is mainly the symbolic aspect which is important. It should not be called a fly-whisk!)

Chawrasi laakh jooni: Traditional Indian belief, originating from Vedic literature, in 8.4 million life forms. The human life is the most superior and is an opportunity for the soul to reach higher spiritual planes or to return to the cycle of the chawrasi laakh jooni. This message is also a constant theme of Gurbani.


Darbar (Guru's Darbar) The word means a royal court. The Darbar hall in the Gurdwara or elsewhere e.g. at a Gurmatt camp, is the Sangat hall where there is Prakaash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Historically, the Sikh Gurus, especially Guru Jis from Sri Guru Hargobind Ji to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji held courts (darbars) in the same way as the maharajas and kings of the time. At these darbars Guru Sahib heard petitions, settled disputes and also received visitors and dignitaries. Indeed these were in the nature of royal courts with judiciary, legislative and political functions, despite the underlying religious language and idiom. Like Akal Takhat, they were centres of miri-piri (see below).

Darshan Spiritual experience of seeing and being in the presence of Guru Ji.

Dasam duar The "tenth gate", located at the top of the brain. The mystical opening to the spiritual experiences and the world unseen by other senses. The human soul leaves the body through dasam duar.

Daswandh Sikh rehat guidance for donating of one tenth of one's net income for religious/charitable causes.

Deg Literally is a large cooking pot and is symbolic of (Guru's) Langar in the Sikh tradition (Deg Teg jag may do-oon chaalay = The community Langar and the (protective) sword (of the Khalsa) shall remain in the world.) The deg (institution of non-discriminatory community kitchen, the Langar) and the teg or kirpan (sword) are both symbols of charity in Sikhi. See also Prasaad.

Dhadi Darbar Usually held on any Shaheedi (martyrdom) Gurpurab at which martial ballad type of poetry is sung to the accompaniment of sarangi (string instrument played with a bow) and dhads (hand-held small drums).

Dharam Raaj In vedic lore, the judge who sits at the gate of the next world. He looks at the account of good or bad deeds of a soul and sentences the soul accordingly, to heaven or hell or some next life form. His bidding is done by the horrible spirit creatures called yams (see below).

Diwaan Sikh religious function in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji at which there is kirtan (Gurbani singing), and perhaps, katha (preaching of Gurbani), Naam simran and Gurmatt lectures. Diwaan is concluded with recitation of Anand Sahib (first five and the final stanzas), Ardaas, Hukamnama and distribution of holy Krah Prasaad. See also Bhog.

Duapar The third division of time in the Vedic tradition. (See also yug below.) Five Banis The Five Banis in the morning are: Japji Sahib; Jaap Sahib; Ten Swayyas; Chaupai; and Ananad Sahib (full). (Rehras or Rahiras and Kirtan Sohila are recited in the evening).


Granth Sahib (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) Sikh holy scriptures which have the status of Jagat Jot Guru: the living Guru, the Enlightener.

Granthi One who reads and does sewa of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Equivalent to a priest in other religions, although, there are no formally ordained priests in Sikhism.

Gurbani (Bani) The Guru's word. Gur-Shabad means the same. The hymns in Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Gurbani Kirtan (see Kirtan)

Gur Mantar Literally it means the mystical formula of the Guru. In Sikhi, the Gur-mantar is "Waheguru" and none other. Recitation of "Waheguru" Naam with total belief in Waheguru's Being (Holy Presence everywhere) and that everything seen and unseen is within His Will(Hukam), is more powerful than all other mystical, magical mantars, cult powers and superstitions, in which Sikhs do not believe. Shabads like Tati waao na lagaee Parbrahm sarnaaee....if read with full understanding, dispel all fears and superstitions. Waheguru Gur Mantar hai japp haomai kho-ee (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 13.2): Waheguru is the Gur Mantar (the Mystical Formula of the Guru) the recitation of which removes ego-centric thoughts and behaviour.

Gurmatt Literally the word means "Guru's teaching". Therefore, Gurmatt is the Guru's way; it is the Guru's teaching regarding all aspects of the life of a Gursikh. If an action, behaviour, custom or procedure is in accordance with the teachings of Gurbani, then that is Gurmatt. If not then it is manmatt i.e. in accordance with own, self-centred and conceited approach to life. Sikh rehat is the hub of Gurmatt around which a Gursikh's life should revolve in harmony and self discipline. Humility and sewa are the essential components of Gurmatt.

Gurmukh Literally, "One who faces the Guru". That is, one who follows the Guru's Word (Gurbani) in thought and action without reservation. Opposite of manmukh (see below).

Gurmukhi Script in which Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written. Also, the script in which the Panjabi language is most commonly written. Therefore, Panjabi is the language of Panjab, while Gurmukhi is a script. It had thirty-five letters to start with and the Gurmukhi alphabet is called Painty for that reason. However, five more modified letters have been added for the spelling of other (mostly non-Panjabi words).

Gur Shabad (also see Shabad) Guru's Word. A hymn in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Guru (in Sikhism) Is the Enlightener. The Guru in Sikhi is more than a guru (teacher) who imparts knowledge. The Guru also has the ability to change a person's nature and habits and put him or her on the path to salvation i.e. the union of the soul with the Lord, the Waheguru. Gurbani (Guru's Word) is the Guru, and ultimately, The Guru is Waheguru, the Ultimate Reality. For the Sikhs, the Ten Guru personalities of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, symbolised Gurbani Guru (Gur Murat Gur Shabad hai: The Guru's image is the Guru's Word - Bhai Gurdas). There was no distinction between the Guru and the Guru's Bani (Word). Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the compilation of the Sachi Bani (True Bani) as approved by the Guru. Passages in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji make it clear that any bani not approved by the True Guru Himself (and therefore not included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) is not Gurbani or Sachi Bani (Satguru bina hor kachi hai bani SGGS p. 920). Also by Guru Gobind Singh Ji's injunction, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Living Guru.

Guru Ghar Literally, Guru's House. Guru Ghar is the Guru's School or teachings i.e. the Guru's sphere of influence, the Sikh faith and way of life, as well as the Gurdwara.

Guru Granth Sahib Sikh Holy Scriptures. See Guru above.

Gutka Small booklet containing the daily Banis including Nit Nem Banis and special Shabads. Any small booklet of Bani. It is said that Bhai Mani Singh Ji, the great Gursikh martyr prepared the first Gutkas for ease of Gurbani reading. They must be treated with great respect and must not be handled without washing your hands and covering your head.


Haomai Self-centred pride in own cleverness and importance. Opposite of the God- centred quality of humility which accrues from sewa (selfless service). Haomai is a major human defect; such a disease (rog pronounced as row-g) of arrogance or conceit can only be cured through prayer (Ardaas) and Guru Ji's blessing. Haomai is lost if one understands Hukam (see below)

Hukam Hukam means "order". It also mean Waheguru's Will (Hukam Rajaaee). The Hukam Rajaaee) stress of Gurbani is on understanding the Hukam. Such understanding and acceptance of His Will gets rid of one's haomai (ego-centric behaviour) replacing it with humility.

Hukamnama The Guru's Order also called the Vaak. Random reading of a Shabad from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in a prescribed manner. The meaning of a Hukamnama should be clearly understood because it is the Guidance of the Guru in any situation. Hukamnama should be heard in complete silence in a meditative pose.


Ik Onkaar (or Oangkaar) "The Positive One and Only One Creator as described in the Mool Mantar" (see above). Guru Nanak Dev Ji's revelation of the God Being; the Ultimate Truth.

Ishnaan To take a bath. In Sikhi cleanliness of the body is not enough; cleanliness of the mind is equally important and this is achieved by "taking a bath" in Gur-shabad (Guru's Word or Gurbani) and in Naam simraan (see below).


Jaikara The war (or rallying) cry of the Khalsa. It may be raised by the Congregation in approval, in jubilation for the chardhi kalla (positive spirit) of the Khalsa Panth or in such similar event. A Jaikara follows the Ardaas (Supplication). One person leads with the words: Bolay so nihaal, whoever utters will be blessed; and the Congregation raise their voices collectively in a resounding response, Sat Sri Akal, True is the Timeless-Being). However, Sat Sri Akal is also used as a form of greeting when one person or group meets another. The other form of salutation is "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh". Each person or party meeting the other, says the same words.

Jatha A group of Sikhs, formed for a religious purpose. Not to be confused with Sangat or Saadh Sangat which is the Holy Congregation in the presence of Guru Ji (i.e. either one of the Ten Guru personalities or, these days, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji). During the Sikh freedom struggle of the Eighteenth Century, jathas led by jathedars were the Sikh fighting units. These united to form the famous Sikh misls under the great Sikh sardars (e.g. Sardar Charat Singh, grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) to establish control over large territories north of River Jumna (i.e. north of Delhi).

Jeevan mukti Salvation; the end purpose of all life represented in Sikhi by achieving complete harmony of the soul with the Ultimate Reality, Waheguru Ji.


Kachhera See Panj Kakkar. Kalyug The fourth and final division of time in Vedic literature. See also yug, for Gurbani translation of the yugs.

Kangha See Panj Kakkar.

Kara See Panj Kakkar.

Karah prasaad Sweet sacrament distributed at the end of the Bhog ceremony, following Ardaas and Hukamnama. See also Bhog above.

Kautak: Unusual event or experience caused by Guru Ji. Mysterious or unexplained spontaneous happening. Such kautaks by Guru Ji(s) must not be interpreted as performance of "magic" or "miracles". They did not perform miracles for the sake of it or to glorify themselves; in fact Guru Ji s were against the show of magic or miracles. However, a saintly person fully in harmony with the Ultimate Power and Reality (Waheguru Ji) sometimes becomes the medium for Waheguru's Hukam or Will in a spontaneous way. The Will is that of Waheguru but the credit sometimes goes to Waheguru's true devotee as indeed each Guru Ji (i.e. Guru personality of Guru Nanak Dev Ji) was.

Katha (th pronounced as in theme) Sermon on Sikhi covering interpretation of Gurbani, Sikh tradition and history. One who does katha is called a kathakar.

Kesh Unshorn hair which all Sikhs are required to keep. See Panj Kakkar.

Keski A small turban which is worn by men and also many Amritdhari women all the time. Men wear this on its own when at home or under the normal dastar (Sikh turban) when more formally dressed. See Panj Kakkar.

Khalsa Khalsa; Khalsa Panth. The word Khalsa may be used for an individual or the collective body of the Order of the Khalsa. It was almost certainly used by Guru Sahiban e.g. by Guru Har Gobind Ji in a proprietary sense as Guru's own Khalsa. The word was in use in the land law of India at the time to indicate "that land which belonged directly to the monarch" i.e. land which was not given by the monarch to some local chief to rule over. Thus Guru's Khalsa has direct link with the Guru with no other human intermediary. Therefore the Khalsa salutation: Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh: the Khalsa is of the Wonderful Enlightener; Who is always Victorious." The word also does mean "pure" in Arabic and would also apply to the Guru's Khalsa. However, one who allows human mediation between the Guru and himself or herself, cannot claim to be the Guru's Khalsa in Sikhi. Khalsa has been defined by Guru Gobind Singh Ji as follows "Jagat Jot japay nis basar........Meditating day and night on the Light Which is Awake. Having faith only in the One and none other. Absorbed in His Splendour, and His Love; Never believing in fasts and tombs, temples or idols. Not for penances nor bathing at holy places, nor for the Yogis' self-maceration; not recognising any other but the One. When one's inner self is thoroughly illuminated with the Celestial Light; Only then can one truly be considered as Khalsa." (Sarb Loh Granth).

Khanda Double edged sword. In paintings of Baba Deep Singh Ji, he can be seen wielding a khanda in his right hand while carrying his head on the palm of his left hand. It is also the Khanda in the centre of the Khalsa insignia called by the same name "Khanda". A shorter and broader version of the Khanda is used for stirring the Amrit water during the Amrit Sanchar ceremony. Khanda represents the Unity of Waheguru in the Sikh tradition with the two edges representing the worldly and the spiritual sovereignty of Waheguru.

Khanday Baatay di Pahul (see Amrit)

Kirpa Blessing or grace. Usually used as "With Waguru Ji's kirpa" or "Guru Ji's kirpa".

Kirpan Sikh sword. See Panj Kakkar.

Kirtan Sikh religious singing of Gurbani (hymns), usually with musical instruments like harmonium (waja) and tabla.

Kurehat Not keeping rehat (see below). Breaking the code of Sikh rehat.


Langar Langar, established as one of the main institutions of Sikhi by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, is the non-discriminatory community kitchen, usually attached to Gurdwaras. It may be run by the Sangat or individuals: some wealthy Sikh families have been known to run Langars from home, in the Name of the Guru. Indeed every Sikh is required to share his food with anyone who is in need of food, without distinction. Langar became one of the main institutions for fighting the evil, discriminatory caste system. Guru Amar Das Ji instructed that anyone coming for the Guru's darshan (holy sight) must first partake in the Guru's Langar. On one occasion Emperor Akbar did that with great humility. (It is due to this underlying Sikhi principle of non-discrimination, humility and sewa, that the issue of chairs in the Langar has become so sensitive in the Sikh community.)


Maaya (see maya below)

Manmukh An ego-centric person who, through arrogance rather than through research in humility, follows the cleverness of own vacillating mind. A manmukh mentality, devoid of any derived experience or wisdom, leads a person astray and away from higher human values or the spiritual goal in this life.

Maryada Tradition or the manner in which ceremonies and rites should be performed (see, for example Rehat Maryada). Sikhi maryada should not include useless rituals so roundly rejected by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. However, regrettably, many Sikhs these days, are misled by self proclaimed sants (saints) to follow anti-Sikhi rituals in the name of maryada. Gurmatt as determined by Panj Piaray,must guide Gur Maryada.

Matha tekna (or tekan) In Sikhi, paying respect to Guru Ji during the period of the Ten Gurus and these days to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji only. Matha tekan in the Gurdwara is performed as follows: Approach Guru Ji with folded hands, go down on the knees, balancing yourself on the palms of your hands, bow forward and touch your forehead on the ground. You then stand up, fold your hands, bow to the Guru Ji and move away. Today, this form of respect is strictly reserved for Sri Guru Granth Sahib only. (Just folding your hands and bowing your head slightly in respect for another Gursikh or an elderly or saintly person is a sign of respect and not matha tekan.)

Maya God's causatic power (shakti) of creation. In the Indian religious traditions, it is regarded as an illusion, a deception and therefore false. Depending upon the use of the word, it is mammon (false god), it is the evil influence of wealth and the man is caught in the web of maya. Like the word karma (destiny), maya is a very popular word in the Indian religious tradition. In Sikhi, only human ignorance and weaknesses allow maya to lead the mind astray from its true goal in this life. While accepting the need to be aware of the passing effect of maya which makes one forget the True Creator behind it, Sikhi does not subscribe to the view that creation is false, nor that the cycle of karma may not be broken through human effort and God's Grace (udham and Nadar). God's creation is not permanent but the opportunity and the experience it affords for the human soul to achieve salvation is real and true. "The Creator is True and so is His Creation" (This theme is repeated in Sukhmani Sahib and Asa Di Vaar).

Miri-piri Miri refers to mundane (worldly) participation and achievement, and piri to the spiritual goal of life. This is a unique feature of Sikhi which preaches full participation in worldly affairs (as a householder and a full member of society), and yet, combining that with spiritual detachment for successful pursuit of the spiritual goal of human life which is harmonious merging with the Ultimate Reality, Waheguru, during this life.


Naam Waheguru's Name. Waheguru's Being (Timeless Spirit), the attributes of which are described in the Mool Mantar, the Basic Precept at the beginning of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji).

Naam simran To do Naam simran is to recite God's Name (for the Sikhs the most frequently used Names are Waheguru (Wondrous Enlightener) and Sat Naam (True Name of the God-Being) so that the very Presence of the Ultimate Reality (the Ik Oangkar, Waheguru, Akal Purakh, Nirankar......and called by many other Names) is experienced deep in the mind or hirda. More than that, the whole mind and body should experience the God's Being in and around us. That is Naam simran with every breath for it becomes an inseparable part of one's own being. Naam simran is God experience.

Nagar Kirtan A local religious procession led by the Panj Piaray, in which Gurbani Kirtan is done while the Sangat moves along slowly singing Gurbani. Devotees come out from their houses, shops etc. to pay their respects to the Nagar Kirtan. There is great religious fervour and Panthic solidarity at the Nagar Kirtan.

Nishan Sahib Khalsa religious flagpole in front of every Gurdwara for the Khalsa flag. The Nishan Sahib (the pole itself), is usually covered with an orange cloth also and is tipped by a steel Khanda. This shining Khanda and the orange flag can be seen from some distance (in fact from miles away in the flat countryside of Punjab).

Nit-Nem Prescribed daily recitation of specified Banis (Gurbani compositions).


Paatth Reverential reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji or any other religious work like Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Dasam Granth. (See also Akhand Paatth)

Palki A specially constructed small bed-like palanquin on which Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is placed either in Sukh-aasan state (see below) or Prakaash state (see below).

Panj Banis See Nit Nem.

Panj Kakkar The five articles of faith which Amritdhari Khalsa (Singhs and Singhanis) must keep as part of the Khalsa rehat (discipline). According to Panth approved Sikh code (Sikh Reht Mayada these are: The Keshas (unshorm hair), the Kirpan (sword, "the compassionate protector of human dignity and honour", the length of which is not prescribed), the Kachhehra (drawers-like garment), the Kangha (wooden comb), the Karha (steel bracelet).

Panj Piaray The Five Beloved Ones. The first five Sikhs who, on the Vaisakhi day in 1699, responded to Guru Gobind Singh Ji's call and offered their heads. They were the first five Sikhs to be initiated into the Order of the Khalsa; and, at Guru Ji's request, collectively initiated Guru Ji Himself as a Khalsa. The institution of Panj Piaray started with that first Amrit Sanchar (see above) on Vaisakhi 1699, and five Amritdhari Singhs/Singhanis act as Panj Piaray for Amrit Sanchar and represent the highest authority for religious and other purposes regarding decisions affecting the Khalsa Panth. The Panj Piaray are always Amritdhari and volunteer for this sewa. They are never elected but, if need be, they are selected by the Sangat or by drawing lots after Ardaas before Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Panth See Khalsa.

Parshada shakauna A form of sewa, whereby Amritdhari (those who have undergone Amrit initiation) Singhs are invited for a meal at home. Partakh darshan Divine holy sight of a Guru-personality (i.e. one of the ten Guru Sahiban) or a saintly being, in reality i.e. not in a dream or imagination. Prachar Preaching. (See also Amrit Prachar)

Prakaash/ Prakaash Utsav Emergence of a Divine Light. Prakaash instead of birth is used to describe the birth of Guru Personality e.g. Prakaash of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Utsav means function. This is because the "Guru's Light" is outside the cycle of birth and death. This must be clearly understood when we equate Praakash Utsav to the "Birthday celebration" of any one of the Ten Guru Personalities from Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and the institution of Adi Granth Ji (later Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) at Sri Harmandar Sahib by Guru Arjan Dev Ji in 1604 CE. Vaisakhi is the Prakaash Utsav of Khalsa (see Vaisakhi). "Birthday" or Janam Din may be convenient but can be misleading, especially in connection with "Vaisakhi", the day the Khalsa of Guru Nanak reached maturity and finally emerged (Wah pragtio Khalsa!) as a religio- political Nation, the living image of the Guru personality. It was the day on which the first phase of Guru Nanak's mission was completed.

Prakaash karna Refers to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji when the Holy Scriptures is open for darshan and matha tekan. The term is also used generally, when Guru Ji is available for darshan in some Gursikh's house in a special room prepared for the purpose e.g., "He had Prakaash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in his house."

Prasaad (or parsaad) (also called Deg or Bhog). Sweet sacrament made of equal parts of flour, sugar, ghee (refined butter) and water (boiling water with sugar is poured on to flour which has been fried in ghee), which is distributed at the end all Sikh religious ceremonies and daily kirtan and prayers in a Gurdwara.

Prasaad must be received with great respect with both hands "cupped" together and bits of it must not be dropped on the ground. Depending upon the context and spelling in Gurmukhi, the word can also mean "through the grace of" or as an expression of approval or satisfaction.

Purab (Purb) Any major religious anniversary. Thus a Gurpurab is any anniversary relating to any of the Ten Guru Jis and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.


Raaen Subaaee All night non-stop Gurbani kirtan.

Raagi/raagi jatha Professional Gurbani singers.

Raagi jatha is a group (usually three these days) who do traditional Gurbani kirtan (see above). Accomplished Raagi jathas have been highly respected in the Sikh community. There also have been many Muslim raagis of Guru Ghar see above) e.g. Bhai Chaand, and these days Bhai Lal at Nanakana Sahib.

Rehat Physical and mental discipline which a Gursikh is required to keep. Too often Sikh rehat is associated with the physical appearance and rituals (keeping the Panj Kakkar) and doing Nit-nem only. Every Sikh should keep a copy of the Rehat Maryada and strive to practice both, the inner and physical disciplines.

Rehat Maryada See rehat. Rehatnama(s) Interpretation by ancient Sikh scholars of Guru Ji's guidance regarding rehat.

Rehatnamas are not authentic regarding Sikh rehat due to personal bias by the authors but have great historical significance e.g. that there was indeed a Sikh rehat preached by Guru Ji and that He encouraged the Khalsa to do continual research of Gurbani to interpret rehat (e.g. to cope with new situations). Based on the universal truths of Gurbani (the constant base), Sikh rehat has the capacity for continual application to new and changing social environment as the underlying principles are interpreted in terms of the changing circumstances.


Sach-khand The Plain of Truth or the Ultimate Reality where resides the Formless Waheguru outside time and space (Sach Khand vasay Nirankar).

Saka A sensational episode in Sikh history like the Saka of Nankana Sahib or the Saka of Jallianwala Baag. The sakas and many Guru or Sikh sakhis (see below) are the landmarks of the most eventful Sikh history to date.

Saakhi A historical, mythological or even fictitious story, usually with a religious moral. There are many saakhis (true episodes) relating to the lives of the Sikh Gurus and great Sikhs. However, there are also hundreds of teaching stories from the ancient scriptures and some of these are mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji because of their teaching content. Some saakhis of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji e.g. Guru Ji visit to Mecca, have become very popular and are recited daily by Sikh preachers and Sikh parents to their children. Most of these are historical as are the saakhis of great Sikh martyrs like Bhai Mani Singh Ji and great sewadars like Bhai Ghanaya. Sangat or Saadh

Sangat Holy congregation. A gathering for religious purpose. The word has been used in the singular case as well as in the plural.

Sant Literally, "saint", although, the word has a different meaning in Gurbani than the traditional Vedic concept of sants. These latter category are roundly condemned as hypocrites who mislead people (Oay Har ke sant na akhiay, Banaras ke tthag! SGGS p. 476: These are not the saints of God but the cheats of Banaras). Truly, those who go around wearing the garbs of sants, proclaiming themselves (in their haomai - ego-centricity) to be sants, are in fact no better than swindlers; Gurbani has not spared them. The qualities of sants (sant jans) may be found in, for example, Sukhmani Sahib, in the Aspadis relating to Saadh (Astpadi 7) and Braham-giani (Astpadi 8). These are God qualities, for only the perfect Lord can be called a perfect Saadh, Braham-giani, or Sant. The saintly people are those who reflect those qualities; the punishment for slandering such people is great indeed (Astpadi 13). However, there is a constant reminder in Gurbani that to place faith in any human being is useless. In fact such a reminder is placed in Astpadi 14, right next to the Astpadi (13) which warns against talking evil about the Sant. The sant jans are around us e.g. in the Saadh Sangat; they do not go around in fancy clothes or carrying or wearing maalas (rosaries - strings of beads for counting prayers).

Satguru The True Enlightener (sat= true; guru=giver of light i.e. knowledge).

Sat Naam The True Name.

Sat Sri Akal "The Timeless Lord is True". Often used as a Sikh form of greeting. However, this wording is used more appropriately as the main part of the Sikh Jaikara (holy cry - see above) as a collective response to the leading words by one person, "Bolay so nihal", Anyone who utters will be blessed." "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh" (see below) is a more appropriate form of Sikh greeting although used mostly by the Amritdhari Khalsa Singhs.

Satyug The Age of Truth. The first of the four divisions of time in Vedic parlance. See Yug.

Sehaj Patth Complete, but not continuous reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib over a period of time. See also Akhand Paatth.

Sewa Selfless service in total humility and without expectation of any reward.

Sewa is a central theme of Sikhi and it may take many forms from cleaning the footwear of the Sangat at a Gurdwara to community service in any form. Sewa must be done on a none- discriminatory basis as did Bhai Ghanaya during the siege of Anandpur when he offered water to friend and foe alike. In the Sikh tradition sewa may require extreme sacrifice, in such cases the person feels blessed by the Lord and offers his or her prayer of gratitude. The greater the sewa, the more blessed and humble a Sikh feels for being given the opportunity to do it. Such was the Ardaas (supplication) of gratitude by Guru Gobind Singh Ji after the return of His parents (Sri Guru Teg Bahadhur Ji and Mata Gujri Ji) and His four sons (Sahibzaadays - Princes) to Sachkhand, the Lord's Holy Presence.

Sewadar One who does sewa in any capacity, official or unofficial. It is also the proper Gurmatt word for any person managing a Sikh institution like a Gurdwara. For example, instead of saying President or Head Manager, the Gurmatt designation would be Mukh Sewadar. One hopes this practice would spread to bring some humility amongst those who crave for high positions in Sikh institutions.

Shaheed & Shaheed Singh The belief that Sikh martyres continue to guard the Sikh ideals and institutions through their spiritual presence. They help Gursikhs to attain their spiritual goals.

Shabad (also see Gur Shabad) Any hymn in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Guru's Word. Also used in a deep spiritual sense as The Word which puts the soul in touch with Universal Spirit. That Word or mystical formula in Gurmatt is "WAHEGURU". "Waheguru Gur Mantar hai".

Sikhi (Sikhism) The Sikh way of life. The word Sikhi is preferred to the more westernised word Sikhism which has a different connotation.

Simran Meditative recitation of God's Name-Being. Any Name of God is acceptable in Sikhi provided the meditation is on God's Being as described in the Mool Mantar, the Basic Precept. It must not be on any other deity or being. Also, see swas and swas- swas simran below. Waheguru, Sat-Naam and Ik Oangkaar are the most commonly used Sikh Names for the Supreme Being. Singh(s) and Singhani(s) Sikh men and women respectively.

Sukh-aasan When Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is placed in a resting position for the night. See also Prakash this Glossary.

Sukhmani means "peace of mind". This is a composition by the Fifth Master of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan Sahib, who compiled the Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib. It is written in the popular language of the people and its spiritual impact on the tormented human soul is immediate, soothing and healing. The main topic of Sukhmani is defined within the composition itself as, " The Name of the Lord (i.e. the Word which concentrates the mind on the God-Being or the Ultimate Reality) is the fount of all happiness. It resides in the hearts of saintly beings." (Sukhmani, the couplet of rahao after the first stanza.) Sukhmani further elaborates on the founding formula of Guru Nanak's thought contained in Japji. The interfaith appeal of this composition (in line with all the other Gurbani compositions in Guru Granth Sahib) brought the great Muslim saint, popularly known as Hazrat Mia Mir of Lahore, closer to Guru Arjan Sahib. Sukhmani is divided into twenty-four ashtpadis, each of which has eight stanzas of ten lines each.

Swas and swas-swas simran Swas is singular or plural depending upon the use of the word in a sentence. Literally, swas means a breath or the breathing process. However, the word means much more, for swas also carries the breath of life. So swas is the pulsation of life itself.

Swas-swas simran is the utterance of Waheguru's Name with each swas. The simran becomes automatic through regular practice. It becomes part of the swas. When one is in this state, then simran is completely harmonised with the breathing and life pulsation of an individual. At the more advanced stage, speech stops and the feeling is as if breathing is rising upwards. These are the life carrying swas,which when they reach the top of the nose between the two eye brows (position of the thrikuti), an individual's thoughts stop. The mind is then completely at peace. The feeling is as if something on the thrikuti is creeping upwards and it causes an itch. One keeps stroking that spot. The swas keep above this point. The ultimate stage is that the mystical Tenth Gate (Dasam Duar) which is supposed to be located at the top of the brain opens and the soul then becomes linked with Waheguru.


Treta See yug. The second division of time in the Vedic lore. Vaisakhi Prakash Utsav (Purab) of Khalsa. This was the day the Order of the Khalsa was proclaimed to the world. It may be regarded as the inauguration or institution of the Khalsa. However, "birthday" would be incorrect, because the foundation of the ideology of God- centred Khalsa was laid by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the Mool Mantar. On Vaisakhi day, 1699, Khalsa had reached maturity and Guru Ji Himself took Amrit from the Panj Piaray. "Khalsa" had been addressed as such from the days of Guru Har Gobind Ji.


Vaak (see Hukamnama)

Vaar Ballad sung to popular beat and rhythm. In addition to the famous Vaars of Bhai Gurdas, there are many Vaars in Sri Guru Granth sahib Ji with specific instruction that these are to be sung to certain popular beats e.g. Tunde Asraje ki dhunee; Malik Mureed tatha Chandra Sohian ki dhunee; Rai Kamal Maujdi ki vaar ki dhunee; Jodhe Vire Purbani ki dhunee; Rai Mehme Hasne ki dhunee; Lalla Behlima ki dhunee; and, Raaney Kailash tatha Maaldey ki dhunee. Unfortunately, either through neglect or through too narrow an interpretation of how Gurbani should be sung, most of these vaar dhunees have been lost to our traditional raagis.


Waheguru From "Wah! Hay Guru" meaning "O Wondrous Enlightener"; the most commonly used Sikh Name for the God Being.

Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh "The Khalsa belongs to the Wondrous Enlightener, Who is always victorious." Sikh form of greeting. The wording is said loudly and in a positive manner (i.e. in Chardhi Kalla). See also Sat Sri Akal above which is also used as an alternative form of greeting.


Yam (pronounced as jamm with soft "j") Dark messengers of death who clutch the soul in their claw like hands and take it away to the next world; also, beings who carry out the punishment in hell.

Yathra (th is pronounced as in thin) Literally the word means pilgrimage but not in the religious sense for Sikhi does not accept the need for holy pilgrimages common in other religions. Therefore, the alternative meaning of Sikh yathra would be "A journey undertaken for the exalted purpose of understanding and studying Sikhi and Sikh tradition."

Yug One of the traditional four ages into which Vedic literature divides time in the order Satyug (1728000 years), Treta(1296000 years), Duapar (864000 years) and Kalyug (432000 years) (Source: Asa di Vaar steek by Prof Sahib Singh, Singh Bros., Amrisar). In Satyug the driving force is dharam (desire to do one's duty and adherence to a code of conduct i.e. rehat see above) and the vehicle (i.e. human experience) is contentment (santokh); in Treta the driving force is chivalry (jor: strength signifying the quality of the saint warriors) and the vehicle is control over sensual desires (jatth); in Duapar the driving force is high conduct (satth) and the vehicle is meditation (tapp); and in Kalyug, the driving force is falsehood and deception (koor) and the vehicle is the fire (agan) of desire (for more and more). Thus, Gurbani, by using the idiom of the four yugs and their characteristics shows the relationship between good or bad driving forces and their impact on the human being (body and mind experience), which otherwise has been mentioned as the highest life form, nay, compared with God's house: Har Mandar (Har Mandar eh sarir hai gian ratan pragat ho-ay: This body is the Lord's mansion wherein is revealed the jewel of Divine comprehension SGGS p. 1346). The Gurmatt teaching is that the so called four yugs reside simultaneously in the human body and mind. However, there is acceptance that the characteristics of Kalyug are predominant in the modern materialistic age and Waheguru's kirtan (meditative singing of His Qualities) has been offered by the Guru as the medicine for the ailing human body and mind suffering from the fire of desire.