Foundations of Gurbani Pronunciation

Should one pronounce every letter & symbol while reciting Gurbani?

Did Guru Hargobind Sahib become ready to give Guruship to a Sikh on hearing Shudh Jap Ji Sahib?

We welcome you to read the articles below for the answers!

Bhai Gurdas Ji's writings

Guru Arjun Dev Sahib Jee has given respect to Bhai Gurdaas Jee’s Banee calling it the key to opening the treasure of Guru Granth Sahib Jee. Bhai Gurdaas Jee’s Kabits (poems) give importance of Shudh Ucharan with each individual character. ਜੈਸੇ ਲਗ ਮਾਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਨ, ਪੜਤ ਅਉਰ ਕਉ ਅਉਰ, ਪਿਤਾ ਪੂਤ ਪੂਤ ਪਿਤਾ, ਸਮਸਰਿ ਜਾਨੀਐ || If all the characters (ਲਗ) in a word are not properly pronounced, the word loses its literal meaning. It’s like calling a father the son, or a son the father.

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Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji's immense happiness with 'Shudh Ucharan' (correct pronunciation)

Upon the victory of the Second Hargobindpur battle, Guru Hargobind Sahib Jee had set up a congregation for the sangat and the fallen Shaeeds. After the war Gurusahib’s state of mind was one of gratitude and calmness. GuruSahib looked to the sangat and did Benti to all his sikhs. He asked if there is any sikh who can recite Sri JapJi Sahib Jee correctly with all the characters and full focus. One of GuruSahib Jee’s sikhs, Bhai Gopala Jee obtained shudh santhya from Guru Arjun Dev Sahib Jee himself. Bhai Sahib gets up and does Benti to Guru Hargobind Sahib Maharaj to give him the strength and blessing to recite Sri Jap Ji Sahib.

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Linguistic Research about Gurbani pronunciation'

The debate surrounding correct pronunciation of Gurbani started around 1975. However, before this there had been written works on Gurbani language, such as by Bhai Randhir Singh Ji, Principal Teja Singh and Prof. Sahib Singh where the Gurbani pronunciation was commented. The issue of correct pronunciation of Gurbani was discussed at a Path-Bodh Samagam held in Amritsar. Giani Gurditt Singh, a famous Panthic scholar made the first lecture on this issue. This debate was also published in the ’Singh Sabha Patrika’, a monthly journal at that time edited by Giani ji.

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Gurbani and Grammar

Some people are of the view that the Sihari ( ਿ) and Aunkar ( ੁ) in Gurbani function as grammatical symbols and should not be pronounced. We look at this differently. Waheguru, is the wonderful Guru, in the form of 10 Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Gurbani). Gurbani is everyone's Guru. It is with the power of Gurbani that creation came into being 'ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ ||' It is with Gurbani that all creation is in balance and nourishing 'ਨਾਮ ਕੇ ਧਾਰੇ ਸਗਲੇ ਜੰਤ || There is nothing in the Universe that is greater than Gurbani 'ਵਾਹੁ ਵਾਹੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਹੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਜੇਵਡੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ||'

Hence, grammar is a subset of Gurbani and Gurbani is not under the rules of grammar. Sometimes, grammatical concepts do help to understand meanings of Gurbani but not at all times. At places, they become irrelevant. Hence, all vowels and consonants in Gurbani should be pronounced keeping in mind utmost respect for every letter of Gurbani.