Hold up.. what should you do while reading Gurbani?

Vaheguroo Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguroo Ji Ki Fateh

Today, I’d like to take a moment to pause and reflect on an important topic: Pausing.

In Gurbani, we don’t have any commas. However, that doesn’t mean that every line is just read continuously. On the contrary, there are inherent pauses in each line and we ourselves have to know when to pause while reading. Correct bisraams (pauses) help to convey the right meaning, while an incorrect bisraam can completely change the meaning of the tuk(line). Most of the time the pause is intuitive and we can naturally tell where it is as we read. Other times we have to make a conscious effort to figure it out and understand. This is important because a slight difference in bisraam can convey a message completely opposite to a line’s actual meaning.

For the sake of getting this point across – Here are some examples where incorrect placement/pronunciation of a comma can completely change the intended meaning.

English example:

  1. “Woman, without her, man is worthless.”
  2. “Woman, without her man, is worthless.”

Two entirely different meanings conveyed just by changing the comma placement (Bisraam)!

Punjabi example:

  1. ਰੋਕੋ ਨਾ, ਜਾਣ ਦਿਓ। “Roko na, Jaan deo”  – Don’t stop them, let them go.
  2. ਰੋਕੋ, ਨਾ ਜਾਣ ਦਿਓ. “Roko, na Jaan deo” – Stop them, don’t let them go.

Example from Gurbani (commas added for illustration):

ਗੁਰੁ ਅਰਜੁਨੁ, ਘਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ, ਭਗਤ ਉਤਰਿ ਆਯਉ ||੧|| ( ਅੰਗ ੧੪੦੭)
In the House of Guru Raam Daas, the devotee of the Lord, Guru Arjun was born. ||1||
If we put the bisraam after ghar and say “Gur Arjun Ghar, Gur Raam Daas..” it would mean that Guru Raam Daas ji was born into the house of Guru Arjun Dev Ji, which doesn’t make any sense!

So how do we know where the bisraam is? Usually our doubts can be cleared by stopping and doing vichar on the meanings of the lines or reading some steeks/meanings. Sometimes it is not clear or there are conflicting translations. We can rely on research and translations of previous Gursikhs and the context of the shabad to try our best to understand where the pause is. Typically there we can tell if the meaning is contrary to Gurmat and therefore not likely. We may not always be correct, because our understanding is limited and Gurbani is above and beyond our intellect. However, we should still make our best effort.

This is especially important for Keertanis – they should create and adjust their tunes based on the Shabad, rather than fit the Shabad to the tune. Unfortunately most of us do the latter, often without realizing it. Even if it doesn’t make a huge difference to the meaning, it is still important because we are supposed to be using music as a tool to bring out the mood and meaning of a particular pangti (line). Some times we sing a line for the first time on stage, without knowing the correct pauses and just separate it according to the tune or taal. Ideally we should have read and understood the shabad before singing it. Fortunately, knowledgeable Gursikhs will often correct us so that we can sing it properly.

The following is a list of some common bisraam mistakes that people usually make because they aren’t often discussed or are easily overlooked. Some of these I have observed during kirtan or paath, while others I have learnt from my father or other Gursikhs. I have added spaces in the lines to signify where a pause “should” be.


ਗਾਵੈ ਕੋ      ਜੀਅ ਲੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਦੇਹ || (ਅੰਗ ੧)
Some sing that He takes life away, and then again restores it.
If we put the bisraam after jeea, or the third word in every line of this pauri, as is commonly done, we would say “some sing of life, takes then gives.” Clearly “take” goes with “life”, so they should be together as one phrase. It should be “Gaavai Ko, Jee Lai Phir De”. Most of the lines in this pauri have the bisraam after “Ko”. (ex: Gavai Ko, Gun Vadiaayeea Char. Gaavai Ko, Vidhia Vikham Veechar)


ਚਰਨ ਸਤਿ      ਸਤਿ ਪਰਸਨਹਾਰ || (ਅੰਗ ੨੮੫)
His Lotus Feet are True, and True are those who touch Them.
Many people read these together as one word, like “Charan SatSat Parsanhar”. But one sat is for charan, the other is for parsanhar. The pause in between makes that clear. This is the same for all of the other lines in this padhaa of Sukhmani Sahib.


ਹਰਿ      ਜੀਉ ਗੁਫਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਰਖਿ ਕੈ    ਵਾਜਾ ਪਵਣੁ ਵਜਾਇਆ || (ਅੰਗ ੯੨੨)
The Lord placed the soul to the cave of the body, and blew the breath of life into the musical instrument of the body.
For most of my life I had been reading this all together and thought “Har Jeeo” meant “Respected Lord”. It actually means that Vaheguru places the soul(jeeo) into this body cave. There is a bisraam after “har”, as in “hari (ne), jee guffa (de) andar rakh ke..”.


ਸੁਣਿ ਕੈ    ਜਮ ਕੇ ਦੂਤ    ਨਾਇ ਤੇਰੈ     ਛਡਿ ਜਾਹਿ ||  ਅੰਗ ੯੬੨
Hearing Your Name, the Messenger of Death runs away.
We often read this all together, or split it in the middle. However because Guru sahib put the words in an unconventional order (almost backwards), with the common pause style the meaning would be wrong. To me, when you say “naae terai chhad jaae” it sounds like it would mean “they left your Name”. But the meaning is “by listening to your name, the jamdoots (pause) leave you”.  So in my opinion there should be a bisraam before chhad jaae  – “Sun Kai (Jam Ke Doot) Nae Terai, Chhad Jaae”.


ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਈਐ     ਮੇਰੇ ਠਾਕੁਰ   ਜਿਉ ਅਮਲੀ ਅਮਲਿ ਲੁਭਾਨਾ ||੨||  ਅੰਗ ੬੯੭
Without the Name, I would die; the Name of my Lord and Master is to me like the drug to the addict. ||2||
This is another  one that always bothered me, because most tunes separate this as “Bin Naavai Mar Jaeeyai Mere Thakur”, Which almost sounds like “my thaakur dies without naam”. But it is not my thaakur who is dying, it’s me! So to make that clear I would have a short pause before mere thakur: “Bin Naavai Mar Jaeeyai, Mere Thakur, Jio Amli Amal Lubhana”.

ਸੰਤ ਕਾ ਦੋਖੀ   ਭੂਖਾ     ਨਹੀ ਰਾਜੈ || ਅੰਗ ੨੮੦
The slanderer of the Saint is hungry and is never satisfied.
If we put the bisraam  after nahi, the whole meaning changes. “Sant Ka Dokhi Bhooka Nahi, Raaje” means the saint’s slanderer is not hungry, he is satisfied. If you put it after “bhooka”, it means he is hungry, not satisfied.


ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ   ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ      ਆਵੈ ਜਾਵੈ ॥ Panna 1040
Without the Guru, no one is liberated; coming and going in reincarnation continue.
Very similar to the previous example, if you put the bisraam in the middle, one might say “Bin Gur Mukat, Na Aavai Jaavai”. That would mean “without the guru we are liberated, we don’t come and go in reincarnation”. But according to gurmat we know that is not true. So it must be “Bin Gur, Mukat Naa (pause), Aavai Jaavai. “Without the guru, you are not liberated. You come and go..”


ਕਰਮਿ ਮਿਲੈ      ਨਾਹੀ ਠਾਕਿ ਰਹਾਈਆ ||੩||
They are received only by Your Grace. No one can block them or stop their flow. ||3||
One more very similar example. If the bisraam is after naahi, the meaning becomes “spiritual powers do not come through your grace, and they can be stopped. The correct pronunciation would be “Karam Milai, (pause) Naahi Thaak Rahaaeeya”.


ਨਾਨਕ      ਪਾਪ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਨ ਕਾਰਣਿ   ਜਾਸੀ ਜਮਪੁਰਿ ਬਾਧਾਤਾ ||੪||੨||੧੪||
O Nanak, she commits sins for their sake; she shall go, bound and gagged, to the City of Death. ||4||2||14||
I recently heard this line being sung as “Nanak Paap Kare, Tin Kaaran.. Jaasee Jampur Baadhata”. Which is basically saying “Nanak commits sins, for them..” But Nanak is not the one committing sins, the sinner who is being referred to was actually mentioned in the previous line. The actual bisraam is after Nanak – “Nanak (pause), Paap Kare Tin Kaaran..” In Gurbani, most pangtees that start with Nanak have a pause right after Nanak because it means “Nanak is saying”. By attaching the word Nanak to the phrase following it, we risk (unknowingly) disrespecting Guru Sahib!

I hope this was helpful to some of you. If you would like to learn more about Gurbani pronunciation and viakran, check out the video below by Giani Kulwinder Singh from UK. He talks about pausing as well as the poetic weight/balance and grammar used in Gurbani.

Please forgive me for any mistakes. If you have any additional points, comments, or examples, please post them in the comments below!

-Vikram Singh

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Top 6 Gurbani Apps for Android

Screenshot_2013-10-15-06-31-06_FMmnexus420131019_100844Although they cannot provide the same experience as using an actual Gutka or doing paath from a physical saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, smartphones and modern devices allow us to read Baani or sing shabads anytime, anywhere. They come in handy for kirtan when a projector system is not available, both for the kirtanee and sangat. There have been some great apps developed for iOS, and with the increasing popularity of the Android platform, many more Gurbani apps are becoming available – each with its own share of unique features. In this article I will be reviewing the 6 best Gurbani Search apps available on the Google Play Store. Each app is described along with a basic run down of its features, pros/cons, and screenshots. The Play Store links are included, so you can read the official descriptions and download them directly.

Being an Android user myself, I’m so glad that these apps are available and I want other users to be aware of them too. Most of them have been developed individually or by small groups, and they are all free. So a huge thanks to all of the developers who did this great seva and provided the sangat with a wide range of resources – I’m sure everyone can find something that fits their needs.

6. Sikhitothemax

By: Singh
Size: 153 kb (App downloads database separately)

Android users may often download this app because of its well established name. However, there is nothing which says this app was developed by the same team that created the desktop software and website SikhiToTheMax. Rather, it seems that this was a private effort. When opening the app, it takes you straight to the search screen which has a Gurmukhi keyboard with nice large buttons that are clearly readable. The “first letters” search function works well, but it only searches Baani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji; there are no results from Dasam Granth Sahib or Bhai Gurdas Ji’s Vaars. In shabad view, the app lets you go to the previous and next shabads. This is handy, although I wish the buttons at the top weren’t so big as they take up a lot of space from the screen. The layout is clean and clear. Settings are accessible from both the search page and Shabad view (by pressing your phone’s menu button), and include some great features such as light/dark backgrounds, different font options, and the ability to toggle the English translations. Overall this is a solid app that gets the job done, but lacks many of the advanced features that are available in other android apps.

Pros: Gurmukhi keyboard, adjustable font size, light/dark themes, hide/enable english, in-shabad menu access
Cons: delete button clears all letters – have to start again, no Dasam Bani or Bhai Gurdas, no favorites, no Baani or Granth view

5. Dhur Ki Baani

By Khalsa
Size: 6.24 mb

This app has been available for a long time, and it provides a solid set of features. Upon opening the app, users are greeted with a simple home screen that has 3 options: Sikh Prayers, Search By Ang, and Search By Shabad. This app features a basic Nitnem Gutka built in, with the 7 daily Baania and Ardaas. The cool thing is that everything has English transliteration as well, so if you can’t read Gurmukhi you can still do paath. All the font sizes are adjustable as well. The search by ang feature is great too, if you know the ang number in SGGS you can just go right to it. The Search by Shabad option works well, with the usual first letters mechanism. However, you must type with your standard English keyboard and the letters appear in English. The other annoying thing is that you have to put spaces between the letters, unlike most other apps. The app only searches SGGS and does not include other sources such as Bhai Gurdas Ji or Dasam Bani.  You can save a Shabad as a bookmark and view it later, and you can also conveniently take a screenshot with a special button right in the app. The app lets you navigate to the previous and next Shabads. There is a settings menu that you can access from the home screen, but if you are viewing a Shabad, you have to go back to the home page to change settings and then search for the Shabad again. Although the design looks a little bit outdated, this app is a great effort and works well.

Pros: Adjustable font size, toggle-able transliteration and translations, bookmarks, sreenshot, Nitnem Guttka, Search by Ang
Cons: No Dasam Baani or Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Menu only accessible from home, need spaces in search, English keyboard, English letters

4. iGranth

By: Richipal Singh
Size: 11.88mb.

This was my favorite Gurbani search application for a really long time, and I still recommend it. The interface is clean, simple, and right to the point. Opening the app takes you right to the search screen, which has a Gurmukhi keyboard. The keys are big but the letters are very small, and people often have trouble reading them. But the ‘first letters anywhere’ search works pretty well. There is no menu or settings page – however, pressing the menu button in shabad view gives you the option to turn English translations on or off, or go straight to the corresponding SGGS page. The SGGS page viewer lets you navigate to any ang. You can also favorite the Shabads and access them later on. You can zoom in and out from the shabad view, which is very convenient. Some shabads have Punjabi viakhia but not all, for some reason. This app also includes a simple Nitnem Gutka that has the basic daily Baanis. The best thing about this app is that it also searches Dasam Baani, Bhai Gurdas Ji’s Vaaraa and even Bhai Nand Lal Ji and other compositions that are in Amrit Kirtan (Bhai Gurdaas Gingh, Rehitnamas, etc).  All in all, a great app and usually my go-to choice.

Pros: Ability to zoom in shabad pages, turn off translations from page, favorites, share feature, Nitnem Gutka, go to ang, Gurmukhi keyboard, many compositions
Cons: Small Keyboard, no transliteration, can’t rearrange favorites, can’t change background or font color, punjabi translations incomplete

3. Gurbani Nirvaan

By: Vayu Waves
Size: 315 kb (App downloads database separately)
I don’t use this app very often, but it actually has a lot of features, many of which are not available in other apps. The app’s home screen greets you with a random Shabad every time, which is great. If you look around you won’t find anything – you have to press the menu key in order to get some options (an older design style).  You can read the full text from SGGS, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Dasam Granth, and a few specific Baania, and navigate within them by swiping left or right to change pages or go directly to a specific ang. The app also remembers the last place you left off so you can continue reading from there. There is a basic Nitnem Gutka that includes the standard daily Baanis. Whats great about the search function in this app is that you can search from first letters in Gurmukhi or English, and you can search for Gurmukhi words/phrases AND you can search for words in the English translation! It can search from SGGS, Dasam Bani, or Vaaran Bhai Gurdaas – but you have to select which source to search in. The most powerful feature of this app, in my opinion, is bookmark management. You can create different groups to put the bookmarks into, and change the order in which they appear. You can even edit the name of each bookmark to make it easier to find later on. Another unique and super cool feature about this app is that you can “pin” a Shabad to your home screen. So basically you can have a shortcut on your home screen that takes you directly to the Shabad you want, instead of trying to find it later – making it great for Kirtanis! This app may not be for everyone, but it has much to offer!

Pros: Dasam Granth & Bhai Gurdaas, Nitnem Gutka, word/english search, organized bookmarks, pin to homescreen, share
Cons: English keyboard, aged UI, need to select source when searching.

2. iSearch Gurbani

By: Gatway to Sikhism foundation
Size: 4.7mb (App downloads database separately)

This app is strikingly similar to Gurbani Nirvaan. The home page once again shows a random shabad, and although the design is a little more aesthetically pleasing, it still uses the older menu paradigm. You won’t see any options until you press the menu button. You can read SGGS, navigate to any ang, swipe left and right to move forward or back, and you can zoom from within the shabad, so you don’t need to go into the menu. The Sundar Gutka/Baani list is very extensive and includes a lot more options than most of the other apps, including most of the Baanis in SGGS and some from Dasam Baani. This app also has Hindi and Romanization in addition to Gurmukhi and English translations. All the fonts sizes are adjustable and you can even pick some fancy Gurmukhi fonts, as well as change the background style. The search feature searches SGGS, Bhai Gurdaas, Dasam Bani and more all at once. But you have to remember to put spaces between the letters otherwise it won’t work. This apps lets you search using first letters or full words in english or in the transliteration. You can also save the shabads as favorites. The app also installs a gurmukhi keyboard in your phone that you can switch to make it easier for typing searches, but its annoying having to switch keyboards every time you use the app. Overall a very functional app that is also beautiful.

Pros: Hindi, English Transliteration, Sundar Gutka, go to ang, swipe and zoom from page view, adjustable font options, favorites, light/dark themes, searches all sources, includes gurmukhi keyboard, help menu

Cons: Need to put spaces between letters, separate Gurmukhi keyboard – need to switch input methods.

1. Gurbani Searcher

By: Surinder Pal Singh Bindra
Size: 21.99 mb.

I have to admit, this is my favorite Gurbani App. I think its unmatched in the amount of features and the developer keeps updating it and making it better! As soon as you open the app there is a message saying Fateh and reminding users to cover their head to respect Gurbani. You can search with first letters anywhere or by individual words.  The search is live, so the results start showing up as you type. There is a little icon that tells you what source the result is from. Unfrotunately the app doesn’t have a Gurmukhi keyboard built in, but the developer has one available to download separately. One of the best features of this app that others lack is pinch to zoom, the most intuitive way to change your text size. The author recently added a great menu that you can access by sliding from the left in shabad view, which lets you toggle English and Gurmukhi translations, as well as Hindi.  An awesome unique feature is the auto-scroll, which scrolls the shabad down on its own. You can even adjust the speed, making it handy for following along Akhand Paath without the need to constantly touch your phone and scroll. You can save shabads to favorites, and then sort the favorites by raag, author, or even custom tags that you set . This can be very useful for kirtanees to organize their shabads into groups. You can also read SGGS, Bhai Nand Lal Ji, Bhai Gurdaas, Dasam Granth, and other compositions. The included Sundar Gutka has a wide selection of Baanis. You can view the Baani in scroll view or page view, which lets you turn pages in 3d. Other great features include live kirtan streaming, calendar, and exporting favorites. I think this is the most feature rich Gurbani App and it is designed well too.

Pros: Pinch to zoom, slide out menu, punjabi teeka & translation, hindi, recent history,  sortable favorites, customize fonts and colors, hindi, live search, sundar gutka, page turning, auto scroll, bhai nand lal ji/rehit nama/compositions, calendar, kirtan, Larivar
Cons: no English transliteration, large app size, need to download Gurmukhi Keyboard separately


Well, those are the best Gurbani Search Apps I’ve found, seen, and used on Android devices. Thanks once again to all the developers and I hope readers found this article helpful. Go ahead and try a new app, you may end up liking it. There are a few great apps I left off of this list because they don’t fit the criteria for comparison (but they may be mentioned in a later article). Whats your favorite Sikhi app? If you have any other ideas, suggestions, or something I missed, please let me know in the comments below. Lets try to use these valuable resources and technology to connect more with our Guru!

Not using Android?

For iOS gurbani apps, check out this great post by Maneetpaul Singh:




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Qualities of a Keertani


Almost anyone can learn how to play and sing a shabad with a harmonium – but there is a lot more than that to doing keertan. Once I was at a divaan listening to Bhai Kultar Singh Ji doing keertan and vichaar. Bhai Kultar Singh is the son of well known raagi Bhai Avtar Singh, who did keertan in the puratan Gurmat Sangeet style. Bhai Sahib and his family have preserved musical traditions, compositions, raags and taals since the time of Guru Sahib and passed them down from generation to generation. At this divaan, Bhai Sahib shared some bits of wisdom with us that he learned from his father before he passed away. I have shared his points below, along with some of my own personal experiences and ideas. Keep in mind these aren’t official requirements written anywhere, they are just ideal guidelines that every keertani should follow.

1. A keertani should memorize the shabad they are going to do.
Although modern technology has been very helpful, I feel like it has also increased our dependence on external sources and caused our memories to become weaker. If our phone’s battery dies all of the sudden, we don’t know the next line of our shabad! If we have the shabad memorized, we won’t be dependent on a notebook, Amrit Kirtan Pothi, iPad, or other aid to help us. This means that we can sing or recite the shabad anytime, anywhere – and we wouldn’t be limited to having a source on us in order to do it. It may even help us focus because we wouldn’t have to keep opening our eyes and looking for the next line. Another point I realized was that  in order to learn a shabad by heart, we would have to read it many times over and over again. This abhyaas (practice) and jaap will help the shabad ‘settle’ inside us. We get the added benefit of reading more bani and we are more likely to understand it this way too.

2. A keertani should know the meanings of the shabad.
We may think this is implied, or obvious; but you might be surprised how many of us don’t know the meanings of the shabads we are doing. Usually when young children are doing kirtan they don’t know what the shabad means, but it happens with adults too. It is our responsibility to teach and explain the meanings to kids and to learn them ourselves as well. Understanding the meanings of a shabad will also help us with correct pronunciation and bisraams (pauses). These can be very important, as incorrect ucharan and bisraams can totally change the meaning of a line. If we don’t try to understand the shabad before hand, we may assume some incorrect definitions, and make mistakes like doing Waheguru Simran where it does not apply or is completely irrelevant.

Once I was sitting in a large kirtan divaan, and a prominent keertani was singing the shabad ਹਮ ਵਣਜਾਰੇ ਰਾਮ ਕੇ ||(I am the merchant/trader of the Lord). When he got to the first half of the line  ਹੋਰੁ ਵਣਜੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਵਾਪਾਰੀਏ ਅਨੰਤ ਤਰੰਗੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਮਾਇਆ ||, he started doing Waheguru Simran loudly and quickly. Apparently at a glance he took it to mean “Oh Traders – trade more! (in the Name of the Lord) ”  However, the actual meaning of the complete line is “Those traders who trade in other merchandise, are caught up in the endless waves of the pain of Maya.” As you can see, this is a huge mistake and it also misleads the sangat.. and this was a professional Raagi. Therefore, it is very important to understand the meanings of what you’re going to sing. If you don’t, how can you express the message and pass it on?

3. A keertani should know about raag/sur/taal.

Although the most important thing is singing Gurbani from your heart, musical understanding is also quite significant. When you are doing keertan alone it may not really matter, but in sangat it can make a difference. It is important for a keertani to understand taal, otherwise there can be miscommunication and mistakes between them and the tabla. The disruption of the beat and tabla can be distracting for the listeners. Singing off-key can also be distracting and can detract from the delivery of the message. Knowing about raags is definitely important as Guru Sahib wrote shabads in raag for a reason. In the most ideal scenario, a shabad would be sung in the prescribed raag, at the right time to help create the proper mood for maximum effect.

4. A keertani should be able to express the emotion of the shabad.

This follows from the above point. I don’t think this can be taught, but the most genuine way to express the shabad would be to 1) Know and understand the meanings, 2) Know about the raag/time and use that to create the mood  3) Actually feel the  meaning and apply it to yourself and the world around you. If we do keertan and sing something because we genuinely mean it, the message will be effectively passed to the sangat too.

We used to have a keertan night every other week when I was studying at UC Davis. I remember once I was really stressed because there was too much going at once and I didn’t know how to deal with it all. I had homework, labs, midterms, a flight with no ride to the airport, and it seemed like everything was going to go wrong. I decided to do the shabad:

ਅਬ ਹਮ ਚਲੀ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਪਹਿ ਹਾਰਿ ||
ab ham chalee thhaakur paih haar ||
Now, I have come, exhausted, to my Lord and Master.

ਜਬ ਹਮ ਸਰਣਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਕੀ ਆਈ ਰਾਖੁ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਭਾਵੈ ਮਾਰਿ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
jab ham saran prabhoo kee aaee raakh prabhoo bhaavai maar ||1|| rehaao ||
Now that I have come seeking Your Sanctuary, God, please, either save me, or kill me.

That night I did the shabad because I really meant it. I had actually given up and surrendered, and was asking Waheguru to save me Himself, as He wished. Although I was just asking from a wordy perspective, it was still effective. I was so amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude when everything fell into place right after the Kirtan. One after another all my problems were resolved! I have no knowledge or understanding, but Guru Sahib blessed me with His mercy and I experienced firsthand the power of Gurbani when read and sung with true conviction and genuine feeling.

5. A keertani should be a Nitnemi.

Bhai Sahib further elaborated on this by saying the person should be a Gursikh – “For example, they shouldn’t be drinking the night before and then doing kirtan the next day.” A Nitnemi Gursikh means someone who follows their daily routine, does their paath regularly and follows rehat. Obviously our keertan would be more effective if we follow a high spiritual jeevan (lifestyle). A non-gursikh could possibly do wonderful kirtan too, but it wouldn’t be the same. I’ve been told by many Gursikhs that those who do kirtan seva should make sure they are following the ideal lifestyle  (doing simran, seva, regular amritvela, etc).

A respected elder Gursikh  once told me that when we are leading Naam Simran and keertan in sangat, we are distributing the wealth of Naam Simran from our own personal account. He said we don’t really have the right to be “giving out” Simran, or leading it, if we don’t do any Simran of our own, because we would almost be deceiving the sangat.  He was basically saying that our actions in public should reflect our daily private behavior. If we are going to lead the sangat in Simran, we should at least do that much simran on our own time at home before.

In my opinion this last point is the most important of them all. The others can surely improve our keertan, but they aren’t enough by themselves if we don’t follow a Gursikh lifestyle. However, if we have rehat and ucha jeevan, it has the potential make up for whatever we lack in the other qualities.


There are many more qualities a Keertani should have, but I think these are some good goals and guidelines for all of us. I can’t say that I follow all of these yet myself, but I am going to try my best to implement them one by one. Once again, please forgive me if I have hurt or offended anyone, I just wanted to share what I learned with everyone else. Comments and input are appreciated, as always. Lets try to learn from one another and improve ourselves!

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ਠਾਢਾ (Thaada) vs ਠਾਂਢਾ (Thaanda)

I’d like to share something I just recently learned about the Gurbani Ucharan (pronunciation) of a specific word. I’ve heard this mistake in a lot of paath recordings and I made the same mistake myself for years. The word ਠਾਢਾ (and its variations) appear in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji many times, but we often confuse it with ਠਾਂਢਾ –  which also appears in Gurbani, but not nearly as much as ਠਾਢਾ . So, what is the difference?

 ਠਾਢਾ is pronounced ” taada” (with the t making the same sound as in talk”and d making the same sound as in dog.) 
 ਠਾਂਢਾ is the same but it has a bindi, which makes its pronunciation “taanda” – with a nasal sound.

The common mistake is to pronounce ਠਾਢਾ with a nasal sound, as if it had a bindi. This is probably because we’re more familiar with the word thandaa ( meaning cold) from Punjabi.   Sadly, we usually don’t know the meanings of the baani we read, so we may not actually be aware of when to pronounce a word with a bindi and when not to. Sometimes we just stick it wherever it sounds right. And if 1 person does it wrong, everyone who listens to him or learns from him could also start doing it wrong, and the mistake gets passed on. The difference in pronunciation represents a difference in meaning.

ਠਾਢਾ  means standing, to stand, still etc..


 ਠਾਂਢਾ means cold, cool, soothing, peace etc.. as in:

ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਗਤਿ ਠਾਂਢੀ ||
har kae naam kee gath t(h)aa(n)dtee ||
The Name of the Lord is cooling and soothing.

Switching the two words can totally change the meaning of the line being read.  It should be easy for us to be aware of the difference because ਠਾਂਢਾ  usually appears with a bindi when it means cool, and without when it means to stand. Sukhmani Sahib written by Guru Arjun Dev Ji contains both words:

ਕਲਿ ਤਾਤੀ ਠਾਂਢਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਉ ||
kal thaathee t(h)aandaa har naao ||
The Dark Age of Kali Yuga is so hot; the Lord’s Name is soothing and cool.

ਸਿਰ ਊਪਰਿ ਠਾਢਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਸੂਰਾ ||
sir oopar t(h)aadaa gur sooraa ||
The Brave and Powerful Guru stands over his head.

Another variation is ਠਾਢਿ, with a siharee, which appears both with and without a bindee.

ਤਪਤਿ ਮਾਹਿ ਠਾਢਿ ਵਰਤਾਈ ||
thapath maahi t(h)aadt varathaaee ||
In the burning heat, a soothing coolness prevails.

In this case one should pronounce it with a bindi, because it is being used to mean “cool/sooth”. Usually the context can help tell the meaning. If there is a word such as ਤਾਪੁ, or  ਤਪਤਿ, meaning heat/burning/fever, then thaand is referring to cool.

Here are some other lines where this mistake is commonly made:

Bhagat Kabir Ji (Aarti):

ਠਾਢਾ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਨਿਗਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ਅਲਖੁ ਨ ਲਖਿਆ ਜਾਈ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
t(h)aadaa brehamaa nigam beechaarai alakh na lakhiaa jaaee ||1|| rehaao ||
Standing at His Door, Brahma studies the Vedas, but he cannot see the Unseen Lord. ||1||Pause||

Bhagat Kabir Ji:

ਦਰਮਾਦੇ ਠਾਢੇ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ ||
dharamaadhae t(h)aadae darbaar ||
I stand humbly at Your Court.

Guru Raam Daas Ji:

ਮੰਗਤ ਜਨ ਦੀਨ ਖਰੇ ਦਰਿ ਠਾਢੇ ਅਤਿ ਤਰਸਨ ਕਉ ਦਾਨੁ ਦੀਜੈ ||
ma(n)gath jan deen kharae dar t(h)aadae ath tharasan ko daan deejai ||
The meek and humble beggars stand begging at Your Door. Please be generous and give to those who are yearning.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji (Dasam Granth Sahib):

ਠਾਢ ਭਯੋ ਮੈ ਜੋਰਿ ਕਰ ਬਚਨ ਕਹਾ ਸਿਰ ਨਿਆਇ ||
t(h)aad bhayo mai jor kar bachan kehaa sir niaae ||
I stood up with folded hands and bowing down my head, I said,

ਪੰਥ ਚਲੈ ਤਬ ਜਗਤ ਮੈ ਜਬ ਤੁਮ ਕਰਹੁ ਸਹਾਇ || ੩੦||
pa(n)thh chalai thab jagath mai jab thum karahu sahaae
“The Panth (the religious order of righteousness) will be established provided You support me.”


In the above shabads, the word is  thaada –  meaning stand, and should be pronounced without a bindi, just as it is written. If we make an active effort to understand the meanings of Gurbani, hopefully we can avoid other mistakes like this. As always, I appreciate any input/comments/discussion.

Bhul Chuk Muaf



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