Guru Connect: New Tools

Bhai HARBANS LAL

Translation of Guru Granth with difference

The Sikhs consider the hymns enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) as their Guru and the source of ultimate wisdom. Because of the Guru’s universal approach to be imbibed in the message, the Granth is composed of hymns contributed by 36 enlightened souls. They expanded over centuries and employed  22 languages and over 200 dialects. Further, the authors applied the hymn format to guard against any potential alteration. Therefore, newer translations of the Guru Granth hymns remain a never-ending need. Of course, the English language continues to be the most suitable medium for the global readership.

Several translations of SGGS into English are available. A recent one is that of Daljit Singh Jawa. Jawa Sahib spent the better part of his life to complete this translation. Like other translations, he included the original text in the original language using Gurmukhi script, as well as the English transliteration in Roman script.

SGGS_Jawa

What is different in Jawa’s translation is that it extends the literal translation into the interpretation where he writes a central idea and continuity of thoughts within each hymn.

The translation was a love of his life for the mission, and Sirdar Jawa uploaded the volumes on his website (www.gurbaniwisdom.com) for the complementary downloading by anyone who wishes to do so. Any reader may download any of the seven volumes free of charge although there is a small price if you want to obtain the printed volumes.  The author receives only a small royalty, which he donates to charitable causes, as any profit is not his aim.

You may buy “It is the Same Light: The Enlightening Wisdom of Sri Guru Granth Sahib” Hard-cover, Paperback, or e-book by Diljit Singh Jawa, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Xlibris.com.  For any further help, you may contact the author at jawa222@gmail.com. You may also consider buying the volumes to donate to your local Gurdwara library. There are a total of seven volumes.

Voicing Gurbani Correctly: Two New Websites to Help

Our youth and many adults have long been looking for an intelligent tool to learn Gurbani, the verses of the Guru Granth, for two specific things. They wish to pronounce and read Gurbani correctly, and to listen to the Gurbani paath (sacred reading) on their own that is enjoyable and absorbing.

But before one even gets there, there is a critical rite required of every Sikh to connect to the Guru. It is known as “GurCharni Lago,” a time-honored ceremony of initiation. It consists of the first time recitation from the Guru Granth in a solemn public ceremony.  We have described this launch separately in our blog earlier. To be able to fulfill this commitment, the aspirant must learn how to read the script and the language of the Guru Granth.

In Punjab, and in the days before internet technology, our clergy and parents/grandparents take care of preparing the growing youth for accurate reading of the hymns.

Challenge in the West and Response

However, there is a more significant challenge for those of us who are in the diaspora. A considerable population of Sikhs are unable to read and therefore recite passages from the Guru Granth. The absence of this ability renders their relationship with their Guru meaningless or at least questionable.

What has been lacking to date, however, is a word by word audio of the Guru Granth recitation with the simultaneous pronunciation of each word and highlighting the same word at the same time. In such a combination of both, Sikhs can recite the hymns while reading it.

To my knowledge, this is the first time that modern technology has been thus employed, mercifully through numerous person hours donated by the designers. They produced an electronic teaching tool for reciting gurbani accurately.

Of course, one has to go beyond this stage to understand the message, which this software does not provide, but the translations and explanations are readily available elsewhere.

I know Sardar Satpal Singh Purewal through email communications and now through phone contacts. He lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, and is the creator of the much sought after software.

SS-GGS_Paath
Giani Jachak verbalizing the Guru Granth while every spoken word spontaneously being highlighted on the screen above him.

I learned from him what a demanding and tedious job it was to complete the project. It consumed several years of his selfless labor. It took him several years and a good chunk of money. He is not a wealthy person, but one who lives on a relatively meager income. He did go to the SGPC and sought help from at least three different presidents of SGPC over the course of time. Every one promised support and even offered to take over the project, but nothing materialized. He contacted a whole host of other Sikh organizations, but no one stood by him all the way.

To complete this project, not only did he had to teach himself and employ wisely the software technology but to also negotiate with software developers as well as their owners to use their tools and their platforms for wide distribution of the product. Towards procuring the artists needed, he had to find suitable persons who could appropriately read and pronounce the bani accurately, and who were willing to spend years on the project.

There were volunteers as well as technologists to hire who could fulfill one or the other component.

He found those who could recite with an attractive voice but did not possess the skills of correct pronunciation. Others could pronounce the words that were grammatically correct but lacked presentation skills.

Eventually, he found a well known Sikh scholar who was conversant with both, in addition to the zeal to serve the community. He could recite gurbani with a melodious voice and compose the pronunciation that appropriately followed the Guru Granth grammar.

It was our respected Gyani Jagtar Singh Jachak of New York. I admire Bhai Sahib’s devotion to this project. It took him several years towards this thankless task.

Yes, the website www.ektuhi.com  is ready and running.

There is more.

More recently, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Institute Melbourn Gurdwara Sahib, Tarneit Australia, enhanced the site in that Gyani Jagtar Singh Jachak is shown reciting the paath.

The new website is http://gurbanidarpan.org/santhiya/?action=video

These sites will assist you to read and pronounce gurbani correctly. Each word, when recited, is highlighted and pronounced. If you wish to stop at any word, you can readily do it. You can also go back and forth in the text. You can change the color of the text and its background. You can change the font and its size.

Besides a variety of Gurmukhi fonts, you may use Hindi and Urdu fonts as well. Thus, you can share the Guru Granth with your Indian and Pakistani friends.

With this software, you can select different hymns and chapters or pages of the Guru Granth you elect to recite. It will help you reciting your Nitnem or an open-ended recitation of the whole Guru Granth.

There are also some exegeses by Gyani Jagtar Singh on the website that you may take advantage. There is also an excellent search engine that will find a word and its pronunciation at the same time.

How about projecting the Guru Granth Sahib verses on the screen during the Akhand paath so that the attending sangat can get something more out of it?

The Next Version In Making

Sardar Satpal Singh is presently working on the next version where you may click on any word that you may read or pronounce to connect it to various dictionaries to instantly learn the meaning of the same word.

To me, it is a breakthrough, as well as a challenge to distribute it widely so that our new generation can take full advantage of it immediately.

Best for the last:

To download the software and the program, please go to the website given above and download various tools at no cost. It is all free courtesy of Sardar Satpal Singh and the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Institute.

Sikh Library in the Cloud

As I wrote before, www.Sikhbookclub.com is a unique initiative and an exceptional service, to make books and journals related to Sikhism available to you on your computer for you to read at your leisure and without any charge. My friends who are servicing this site are donating their time, dollars, and energies to manage the electronic library and grow it day by day. They need to be not only applauded but also supported with whatever you can.

It pleases the management when you log on the website and utilize it to enhancing your awareness about your faith and your rich heritage.

This thrills them also when you tell others about this Sikh library on the cloud.

sikhbookclub

Although we find the use of the electronic library services increasing day by day, it is not enough. Most of our friends and the community do not yet know about this service. Please spread the word and help your friends get to the site to take full advantage.

My friends will be pleased, and you will be rewarded. You may also send your appreciation to the management for this seva, make suggestions to improve the site, lend books that are not there yet, and contribute from you daswand funds the amounts you can spare.


Send all communications to:

Harbans Lal, Ph.D.; D.Litt (Hons)

Professor Emeritus & Chairman, Dept of Pharmacology & Neurosciences, University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Professor Emeritus, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India.
President, Academy of Guru Granth Studies.

web:     https://seekingwisdomblog.wordpress.com
email:   Japji2050@gmail.com


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5 thoughts on “Guru Connect: New Tools

  1. Dear Bhai sahib ji, thanks for sharing the grand work done by Satpal Singh Purewal ji, Jachak ji, and Australia gurdwara.
    These sewadars have put everything in our lap and it is upto us to learn and follow. You so wonderfully did all the research and brought it to us. May God give you very long healthy life so that we could keep benefitting from your wisdom. I am so happy that we have met few times and always enjoyed your company.
    Best regards – Harbhajan Singh Purewal, Rochester, NY

  2. Bhai Harbans Lal Ji,

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru JI Ki Fateh

    Thank you for sharing this information.

    You probably haven’t realized that, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is under attack by some forces right here in USA. This group is mis representing and twisting the meaning of the shabads from SGGS to prove their philosophy. They believe that shabad jaap of Waheguru like a parrot for hours and hours has been instructed by SGGS to listen to Anhad Naad. This yoga is very hot these days. Some of Yogi Bhajan’s Ji followers also do this type of yoga.

    These guys are totally on the wrong page, and against the Sikh phylosphy. I know a dera in Punjab just couple of miles away from my village who has amassed a lot of wealth. After it’s leader’s death all property was passed to his family leaving the trustees in cold. Some of them are his followers.

    You can see the activities of this group at mysimran.info

    Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj
    Chicago

    Sadhusingh101@gmail.com

  3. It gives me great satisfaction to learn that there are some who wish to learn and progress in Gurmat. I found Your sangat inspiring when I visited you. If I were getting younger, I would have traveled again to come to see you. Now I do not move much. My age is catching up with me.

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