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Essays on Sikh Values
Essays on Sikh Values

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: Essays on Sikh Values:

Name of My Lord

Name of My Lord

Ik Onkar

Recitation of the Name of God


Jaap means �recitation.� It is repeating the name of God. It may be verbal or mental. We start with verbal Jaap and develop it into the mental one. Verbal Jaap is the starting or gross stage of Jaap. In it, there is so called a perceptible Naam (perceptible name of God - you know you are reciting it).

Ajapaa-Jaap is a Jaap (recitation) without doing Jaap. In this, recitation of the name of God (Jaap) becomes a habit. It is a Jaap without effort - an effortless Jaap. The Jaap of the Name (Naam - name of God) keeps going on verbally, or silently in the mind. Whatever might one be doing, the act of Jaap is there. The constant Jaap leads to Ajapaa-Jaap. This is the middle i.e. subtle stage of Jaap - imperceptible Naam: the recitation becomes automatic like a habit.

Simran is remembrance. The mind gets filled with the constant remembrance of God, and there is no more recitation of His name (Waheguru). Only the remembrance of God is left - an unbroken thought of Him. God is always in the mind regardless of what one might be busy with. It is an advanced stage of the seeker - practitioner (one reciting the Naam). It is the third i.e. transcendental stage of the Jaap. This is the Naam beyond perception (recitation without knowing it - Just the thought).

Dheaan is meditation - contemplation on God. It is thinking about God and is different from Jaap - recitation of His name. Dhean is the process of thinking about Him may be with changing thoughts.

In the Naam-Jaap, there is recitation of the name of God, and it stays the same without any change. The mind keeps set on God. The mind is set on the Name as it is, without its modification - no changing thoughts about Him, no thinking about various aspects of the Name.

From time to time and depending on the level of advancement, all these stages (starting, middle, advanced) keep overlapping each other, to lesser or greater extent, when doing the practice of Naam - Naam-Jaap. In whatever form - gross, subtle, or transcendental, all is the play and flow of Naam (vibrating or active Naam), may be it is in its perceptible, imperceptible, or so-called �beyond even imperception� form. We may or may not be able to comprehend it, but there always is manifestation of Naam.

Naam- Waheguru
Naam is the Gurmantar - formula given by the Guru (Prophet) and for the Sikhs, it is the word �Waheguru.� It means, �the wonderful one who removes ignorance� i.e. the giver of the light of God - His knowledge. It is also called �Shabad� or �Word.� The word �Waheguru� not combined with any other word is for the Sikhs to recite - to do Jaap. Only the word �Waheguru� is the Naam. The pure Naam-Jaap is recitation only of the word �Waheguru.�  In the Sikh world, �Naam-Jaap� pertains to recitation of the word �Waheguru.�

It is another story that some, even the advanced practitioners like established saints, combine �Waheguru� with �Satte-Naamu� (True Name) etc. for their recitation i.e. �Satte-Naamu - Waheguru,� and advise their followers to do the same.  �Satte-Naamu� qualifies �Waheguru.�  It is the question of one�s faith, and practically is okay with whatever word Waheguru is combined. The central word is �Waheguru� and it has to be there.  In the Sikh faith, without the word �Waheguru,� it is not the �Naam-Jaap,� or Jaap of Naam. For the pure Naam-Jaap, nothing should be added to the word �Waheguru.�

Mool Mantar
Mool-Mantar is the basic, or fundamental formula and reads -

Ikk-O-Ankaar Satte-Naamu Kartaa Purukhu Nir-Bhaao Nir-Vaaeru Akaal Moorat-e Ajoonee Saae-bhann Gur-parsaad.e
God is all pervading, the truth (immortal), the doer, fears none, without animosity, unbound by the time (above the birth and death), above reincarnation or transmigration, is self-created, and is realized by His grace.
We have to be careful; the word is �Bhann� and not �Bhang.�  �Saae bhann� means �Created by His own Self.� �Bhang� is Indian-hemp i.e.  marjuana, a drug - a habit forming intoxicant.

�Reincarnation,� is a man or woman getting reborn as a man or woman after his or her death. Transmigration is when a man or woman gets reborn as some other animal after his or her death.

Some believe, the Mool-Mantar is -

Ikk-O-Ankaar Satte-Naamu Kartaa Purukhu Nir-Bhaao Nir-Vaaeru Akaal Moorat-e Ajoonee Saae-bhannn Gur-parsaade� Jappu. Aade Sachu Jugaad Sachu. haaebhee Sachu.Naanak hosee bhee Sachu.
God is all pervading, the Truth (immortal), the doer, fears none, without animosity, unbound by the time (above birth and death), above reincarnation or transmigration, self-created, and is realized by His grace. �Jappu� - (Recite it). He is primordial (from before the beginning of the world), the Truth, from the time immemorial. He is the Truth (immortal). Nanak, He shall ever be the Truth!
According to the Sikh philosophy, God does not incarnate - born in the form of a man. As well, He never transmigrates - does not change His form into different species.

Mool-Mantar is also for Jaap. Its Jaap is the �Jaap of Mool-Mantar,� and not �Jaap of the Naam.� Mool-Mantar is the description of the word �Waheguru� (God). In general, the people call �Naam� to every Mantar.

Shabad - The Holy Hymn
The Jaap of a Shabad, Slok, Paurree, or a Tukk - will go after the name of that i.e. �the Jaap of Shabad (Hymn),� the Jaap of Paurree (a type of verse),� �the Jaap of Slok (a sort of poetry),� or �the Jaap of Tukk (a line)� etc. Although not approved, the self- oriented Jaap of a Shabad is very common. Mostly, a suitable Shabad is recited for the fulfillment of some desire. Selfless Jaap of a Shabad is also widely practiced.

Amrit-Velaa - Early Morning Hours
Ambrosial hours - the divine time. It is the last 3 hours of the night i.e.  very early in the morning - 3 A.M. to 6 A.M.; before the sunrise. Many practitioners, or saints get up at 2 A.M., or even soon after the mid-night. This is soothing and calm time, and most suitable for the Naam-Jaap - recitation of the name of God. Commonly, the people practice Naam at the junction of different times -

  1. Union of the night with the day - Amritvela, ambrosial hours, 3 A.M. to 6 A.M. It ends with the sunrise.
  2. Noon - Union of the forenoon with the noon. Rising day meets the falling day.
  3. Evening - Union of the day with the night. The sunset time.
  4. Midnight - The times of union of the rising night with the falling night.
Many people consider the union-times auspicious, or more effective for the Naam-Jaap. The early morning is understandable, more calm and peaceful, but what with the other times! Sikhs do not get bound down by the time.

Mala - Rosary
Mala - a rosary is a string of beads. It is usually used to keep a count of the Jaap. Generally, keeping the count of a Jaap is not considered great.

Keeping a count of Jaap helps to organize the Jaap session according to the available time, and the time-length (duration) fixed for doing it. Though, the self-oriented Jaap (selfish, to fulfill a wish) is not approved, many do the Jaap of a Shabad - Hymn etc., keeping a count of it with an aim to get some boon.
Others keep the count even though they have no motive. A Mala keeps the mind engaged, reminds for the Naam-Jaap, and is a sign for the others not to gossip with the person.

A regular mala has 108 beads (following the tradition of astrology, 12 stars - planetary houses, and their 9 time-positions: 12 X 9 = 108. The Sikhs do not believe in such things).

Simarna is a wrist size band of 36 beads, 1/3 of the regular size of mala. Mostly, it is not used to keep any count of Jaap, and is easy to work when one is active i.e. walking, traveling etc.

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It is right (correct) in any way you recite the name of God, because there is no set or a single method of doing it. Although, basics are the same in general, almost every instructor has a personal technique of practicing the Naam-Jaap, or will modify it according to his own experience or some motive, may be selfish - to put his or her own stamp on it. The only thing is to take a start, and the help comes from the Almighty in one or the other way. If there is a problem, consult any practitioner of the Naam.

In pursuing a good cause, there can never be any wrong (error), and so no one ever needs to worry about committing a blunder or a sin when doing Jaap without instructions from any adept. The Gurbani is the instructor of the Sikhs. When doing its Jaap, Naam takes away sins, and does not add to them, one may do it in any way. Guru ji bestows on everyone the right to do the Naam-Jaap. By practicing it, the Guru�s orders get followed. The Jaap should be done with concentration, and all other things should be ignored.  Anybody fixing conditions for doing it commits a blunder and a gross wrong.

Important is concentration, not the methods, and this is the fundamental must for resorting to the Jaap of His name. We should go slow but steady, and need to be regular in our practice of the Naam Jaap. The time allotted for each session should be increased gradually so that the mind and body are without strain. We have to go on in sehj - a relaxed way (equipoise, tension-free), and need not be stubborn (obstinate) for our any goal or practice. In doing Jaap, we should move to the next step when we are well versed at the level we are.

According to the occasion and need, instructions are modified. The sequence of different steps and their contents may as well get affected to simplify the subject in an effort to make it easily understandable and applicable.

Every technique of the Naam Jaap is nothing but an effort to achieve concentration on recitation of the Naam - �Waheguru.� There are a few preliminaries for practicing the Naam -

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Practice of the Naam

Anyone professing another faith may replace the prophet, place of worship, mantra for Jaap, and the symbol to focus on, with the one of his or her own choice. The basic essence of the method of recitation will remain the same for everyone. One may make selections and modifications as per one�s own personal discipline, need and demand of the faith.

There are so many ways to do the Jaap of the Naam, and here  is the one commonly practiced.
Fold your both hands, bow to the Guru or Guru Granth Sahib, and pray, �Lord, bless me with the Naam and concentration on it� etc. Constantly feel that you are in the presence of the Guru. Some may have their own choice of the Guru - Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh etc. When imagining the Guru, feel that he is there before you. You may bow to the Guru Granth Sahib in a Gurdwara you visit, but this is your choice. Perceive the presence of God at all the times.

Stage I
You may start with vocally reciting �Waheguru, Waheguru,� without any restraint or inhibition. It may be with or without a Mala - rosary, or a musical instrument. Gradually, recitation will become without any Mala, or instrument, and ultimately it will become mental, without making any sound. The musical instruments will enhance the atmosphere of the Naam. The Naam-Jaap in a company (with the Sangat) gives incentive for reciting the name of God. All such things help to bring together the scattered thoughts. The recorded music, especially instrumental, may be played. Music helps to relax and concentrate the mind. The soft and subtle music is elevating.

Stage II

  1. Sit down properly, as per your convenience. Do the Jaap of �Waheguru,� speaking out the Word (loudly), hearing the voice, and concentrating on it. In the background, God is always there in the mind. When well practiced, go to the next step.
  2. Sit down properly. Do Jaap of �Waheguru� in a whisper, lightly focusing both eyes at the tip of the nose. When practiced, close your eyes when focusing. Try to hear your whisper, concentrate on the whispered word �Waheguru,� and keep God in the mind. When well practiced, move to the next step.

  3. Whenever focusing eyes at any point, do so free from stress and strain on them, and turn them in very lightly. Turning eyes in too much, and with strain, will lead to headache.
  4. Sit down properly. Do the silent Jaap of the Naam �Waheguru� at the level of your throat (in the throat).

  5. If you can, concentrate on the imaginary sound of the word �Waheguru.�
    Focus your closed eyes at the bridge of your nose (where the bridge of glasses stays normally). When well practiced, move to the next step.
Stage III
Silent Jaap of �Waheguru.� Recite �Waheguru� in your heart (mentally), without making any sound.
Concentrate on the Shabad (Word) �Waheguru,� and its imaginary sound.
Focus your closed eyes on the space between your two eyebrows, and slightly higher up - Mid-Brow Point, where the women put on Bindi - a small colored disc or color-mark.

Link the Jaap to breathing -
When inhaling - breathing in, mentally say �Wahe.�
When exhaling - breathing out, mentally say �Guru.�

When well practiced, move to the next step.
Place Ik-Onkar, as written in Gurmukhi <> at the mid-brow point - a little higher to the inner ends of the both eyebrows.
Focus both the eyes on it.
Do silent Jaap of �Waheguru� linked to breathing -

Inhale �Wahe,�
Exhale �Guru.�
Concentrate on <>  Ik-Oankar, on �Wahe� plus �Guru�� and on their imaginary sound (if you can imagine).

Completion of the Jaap
Continue the Jaap for your fixed (allotted) time-period. Increase the time of your sittings very gradually.  Do not let your legs to tingle or sleep.

Bow at the feet of the Guru, Guru Granth Sahib, and thank, � Thanks my Lord for blessing me with the Naam, and for concentration on it.�

Do five malas: rosaries, of the �Waheguru� recitation, saying it mentally or verbally once at each bead.

Do one mala of Mool-Mantar.

Bow to the Guru, Guru Granth Sahib, once again, and thank for the boon of Naam, and ability to do its Jaap.
This session of your Jaap is over.

Jaap with Sangat - Congregation
Company of the other practitioners of the Naam, boosts morale and creates eagerness to do the Jaap. It is usually done in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. It may be -

  1. Verbal Jaap - Doing the Jaap loudly, mostly by singing together. Gradually, gusto and tempo of singing fast and with force is reached, and after that they slow down equally gradually. Such ebbs and tides of singing continue in the form of Naam-Jaap with Kirtan (devotional singing) of the selected Hymns. Mostly, the word �Waheguru,� is mixed with �Satte-Naamu - Waheguru,� the suitable Shabads, Gurbani quotes, and stanzas from the Gurbani. It is accompanied by the forceful musical instruments, especially drums, chhaenae (bronze discs) - cymbals, chimtaae (long iron calipers - tongs), khartaals - wooden strikers, etc. Harmonium is a common instrument for Kirtan - devotional singing. The lead may be given in turn by different individuals or groups, and session may continue for one to several hours, or even overnight called Raaen-Sabaaee Keertan - Keertan for whole of the night (night vigil).

  2. Loud singing of Gurbani - the Scriptures, immediately lifts the mind to the level of leentaa - attachment to the Naam. For reaching precise concentration, mental (silent) Jaap has its own significance and value.
  3. Mental Jaap - In the Sangat, the Jaap after it becomes soft, becomes a silent Jaap. After ending the silent Jaap, it goes into gusto once again, and is tapered down to stop.
Material for Study -
Works by the same author:
Wahu Wahu - in Punjabi-Gurmukhi.
Anhad Ki Dhun - in Punjabi-Gurmukhi.
Way of the Saffron Cloud - English with Gurmukhi, and Roman.
Beginner�s Nam Jap - English.
To clarify any point regarding the Naam Jaap, it is best to consult some local Naam practicing Gurmukh - God-oriented person. The study of any advanced material, if available, is also suggested.
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