On the ‘Sikh News Discussion’ yahoo group some members are discussing Nám and although the participants are meant to be ‘learned’ gentlemen, they all seem keen to narrow down Nám to either one word or to specific texts.
I am only a sixteen year old Singh and do not claim to fully understand God and his or her nature. I also do not have a handy exact definition of what Nám means, just like I am not arrogant enough to even try to define God.
But I will explain my understanding of Nám without entering in the dialogue of the deaf that goes on in the ‘Sikh News Discussion’ group.
Nám is introduced to us by Guru Nanak on page 1 of the Guru Granth Sahib and is the third word after the figure one, the word Ongkár and the word Sat. This opening line, which Bhai Gurdas named the Mul Mantr, contains nine words/ combinations of words that all point to God.
Seven of those highlight aspects of God, but I think that the first two are more comprehensive. Ongkar is often explained as highlighting God who is both All-pervading and Almighty, both Imminent and Transcendent (inside all and over and above all) or Nirgun and Sargun (no qualities and all qualities).
Sat Nám is an even more all compassing statement. Sat of course means true, but it has been explained to me that in this context it is as if you are saying with much emphasis: Nám IS. So What or Who IS ? There is of course only one possible answer in a spiritual context: God IS, God IS the Absolute Truth.
I think that Nám is something like the Godly essence, the Godly principle and/or the Godly constitution of the Universe. Nám is present in all Gurbaní and in all other truly spiritual writings. Like God Nám is infinite and all-pervading, present on and in the planet Earth, in our solar system, our milky way and other milky ways, in the entire universe.
You and I are part of that system and therefore are part of Nám, and equally words like Vahiguru, Nirankar. Saibhang, Mukande, Paramatma and other descriptions of qualities of God are part of Nám, but they are not Nám.
You can do Nám simran using such words, you then do what is also mentioned in Gurbani, you sing God’s qualities. As we are only humans it is highly unlikely that we would come to a full understanding of all that is contained in Nám, or of all the different qualities of God.
Instead of trying to restrict God to one word we should be happy to have in the Guru Granth Sahib a guide that shows us the awe inspiring greatness of The One ! In the Gita Krishan showed Arjun the image of God, but God has such radiance that Arjun could not see God, just like you cannot look straight at the sun.
Our highest authority is the Guru Granth. This article reflects my understanding of our Guru. I hope I have not made too many mistakes.