‘With my palms pressed together, I offer this prayer.’ ~ Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Therefore, an Integral Yoga teacher and student learns a number of philosophical concepts, prayers, mantras and other meditations throughout their training and personal practice. Although reading the Gurmukhi script is not a prerequisite, comprehension and being able to recite many of the concepts and practices through the reading of the transliterations in the Roman alphabet is helpful.
A Very Brief History of Sikhism
Sikhism (ਸਿੱਖੀ) is a monotheistic religion that evolved in times of religious persecution. It originated in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent around the end of the 1500CE. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions and the world’s fifth largest organised religion, as well as being the world’s ninth largest overall religion. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the Sikh sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s life. Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru (1469–1539) and the nine Sikh gurus that succeeded him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, religious spiritual guide for Sikhs. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.
Punjabi Language in the Gurmukhi Script
Punjabi is the native language of the Punjabi people, an ethnolinguistic group of the cultural region called the Punjab, which encompasses northwest India and eastern Pakistan. Punjabi is written in one of three scripts (Shahmukhi, Gurmuhki or Devangari). Shahmukhi is used mainly by Punjabi Muslims, Gurmukhi by Punjabi Sikhs and Devanagari by Punjabi Hindus. Gurmukhi is used in the state of Punjab as the official script of the Punjabi language.
Sikhism daily prayers and scriptures are read in the Gurmukhi language and script. All practising Sikhs, regardless of origin, are thus required to learn Gurmukhi for this reason. The Gurmukhi script is identical to the Punjabi alphabet. Books offer invaluable guides to pronunciation and character recognition. This is vital for learning how to read the phonetic Gurmukhi script used in Sikh scripture and daily prayers. Gurmukhi was developed, modified, standardised and used by the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad (1504–1552).
The primary scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurmukhi, in various dialects often subsumed under the generic title Sant Bhasha, also known as the ‘saint language’. Modern Gurmukhi has thirty-five original letters plus six additional consonants, nine vowel diacritic marks/accents, two diacritic marks/accents for nasal sounds, one diacritic mark/accent that geminates (lengthens) consonants and three subscript characters (joined consonant sounds). An excellent highly recommended beginner’s book to the Gurmukhi script (including prayers and mantra meditations) and the modern practice of Kundalini Yoga is Original Light: The Morning Sadhana of Kundalini Yoga by Snatam Kaur. Alternatively, there are online dictionaries such as Learn Punjabi that provide translations into the Shahmukhi and Gurmuhki scripts as well as English.
Scriptures: Daily Prayers, Mantras and Other Meditations
The Sikh scripture opens with Ik Onkar, its Mul Mantar and fundamental prayer about One Supreme Being (God). Sikhism emphasises simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo (repeat God’s name) as a means to feel God’s presence. It teaches followers to transform the Five Thieves (lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego). Hand in hand, secular life is considered to be intertwined with the spiritual life. Guru Nanak taught that living an active, creative, and practical life of truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who establishes union with God, knows his own will, and carries out that will. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent.
Gurbani – see also Bani
Guru Granth Sahib