English Katha & Simran by Harjinder Singh – Man in Blue

Recorded on Friday 14 2014 in the Sangat TV studio, Southall, shown on Sangat TV Sunday 16 2014


English Katha & Simran by Harjinder Singh, Man in Blue

Harjinder SinghMan in Blue

Published in: on February 17, 2014 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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463.The Man in Blue – Har, Rám and Yahweh

‘Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har, Har’

The other morning Bhagat Kabir, one of the most brilliant spiritual poets ever, told me to say the two letters. There was a note underneath the text explaining that this means that we should say Rám.

Why Rám and not Har, and anyway both words have three letters, don’t they ?  

I do not know why Manmohan Singh, the man who did the SGPC translation of the Guru Granth Sahib, thinks that Kabir wanted us to repeat Rám rather than Har. Both words mean God, both words are often used in the Guru Granth Sahib and both words seem to have three letters but in reality have only two.

Old ‘alphabets’ often only provide us with consonants and either have no vowel symbols or have symbols for vowels that are not recognised as letters. The Gurmukhí ‘alphabet’ (from alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet) begins with three vowels, but even the sounds that these vowels represent are often indicated by symbols that do not count as letters, like lines underneath or above consonants.

 The Gurmukhí spelling of Har is ‘haha, sihari, rara’ or hir, whereby the sihari is pronounced after the consonant that it precedes. But if the consonant that the sihari precedes is the last letter of the word, the sihari is not pronounced at all, unless (there always is one) the last consonant is a haha or h. The sihari represents the sound found in words like ‘in’ or ‘is’.

There are deluded souls who pronounce Har as Harí. They have it wrong on two counts. The sihari should not be pronounced, and when the sihari is pronounced it is not an í or ‘ee’. Panjabi has much in common with Hindi, but is not the same.         

Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám, Rám’

The case of Rám is much simpler. The ‘a’ in the middle is not the Panjabi letter èra but a small vertical line ‘hanging’ in between the ‘rara’ and the ‘mama’. This little line also does not count as a letter, so Rám, just like Har qualifies as a word of two letters that should be repeated. Har is a generic word for God, Rám stands for God’s All-Pervading aspect.

 ‘Jah is my Keeper’

Jews are not supposed to write the name of God in full. I do not know whether the original Hebrew alphabet had vowel sounds, but all we have for the old-testament name of God are the consonants. Jehovah, Yahweh and the Jah of the Rastafarians are based on those consonants. ‘Jah is my keeper’ is a Rasta song based on a biblical text by the late Peter Tosh, that I love listening to.

392.Man in Blue – First Hounslow Youth Kirtan Darbar (YKD) Evening Programme

Friday October 30 was the first time that the YKD team was in charge of the early evening programme of Rahiras, Ardas, Kirtan & Katha. This will take place from 18.00 till 20.00 every last Friday of the month for the coming year. On every first Sunday of the month from 11.00 till 12.00 there is a further katha in English and kirtan programme.

This first time the Rahiras was read by Jaswinder Kaur and me, the ardás by me and the Vák by Jaswinder Kaur. This was followed by about 30 minutes of kirtan by the young kirtanis studying with Santokh Kaur Bhain-Ji and after that I did half an hour of simran and katha in English.

I did simran on Vahiguru, on the ‘Mul Mantr’ and on Gobinde, Mukande from Jáp Sahib. In my katha in English the main theme was the definition of a Sikh as found in the Rehat Maryada, followed by the leadership of the Sikhs by the Guru Granth Sahib.

Pritpal Singh looked after the projection of the shabads and Ardas on the screen, and Gurkamal Singh was in attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib.

We demonstrated that we are able to deliver the programme. Our challenge is to involve more and more young members of the sangat. We do have sufficient kirtan contacts, with the students of the kirtan class and older kirtanis who do kirtan in rág.

It should be easy to involve youngsters in the reciting of Rahiras, first sitting with us and later taking the lead. We are not worried about mistakes, but I do not want the sort of superfast recitation that you hear too often. Same goes for the ardás. There is no need to know the ardás by heart, we can read from my prepared sheets or from multi-lingual or Panjabi gutké.

For the vák we use the shabad that came up first thing in the morning, which makes it possible to become familiar with the text to be recited.

Finding people who are confident to do katha in English will be more difficult. I had a chance to ‘practice’ in the smaller Gurdwaré in Belgium and the Netherlands. I am gaining confidence in doing this, but it takes a lot of preparation to come to full understanding of any shabad.

In all this we try to stick to letter and spirit of the Rehat Maryada, which means that Rahiras starts with So Dar, as it does in the Guru Granth Sahib, and ends with Mundavani and the final slok.

This is a good chance for young Singhs and Kaurs to learn Sikh skills. We should be less dependent on granthis, ragis and kathakars, I think the Gurdwara should be run by the sangat under the guidance of the granthi.


Cháchrí Chhand Tav Prasád

GubindéMukandé Udáré Apáré (94)

Haríang Karíang Nirnámé Akámé (95)


Many Sikhs think that they are the followers of a God called Vahiguru. In reality our eternal Guru teaches that God has no name and that the many names of God are given by humans who speak different languages and who are of different faith and cultural traditions.


The God of the Jews (Jhvh) is the same as the God called Allah by the Muslims, or by the 99 names of God discussed in Al Qur’an. The names of God mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib, in the Hindu tradition or in any other religion or language are all names for The One.


In the Guru Granth Sahib God is often called Har or Rám but also Aláh and every possible other name you can think of from the South Asian tradition. God, Aláh and Jehovah (or Yahweh) are generic words for God without a specific meaning. In our tradition, in the tradition of the Guru Granth, most of the ‘Names’ used are descriptions of aspects of God.


Vahiguru is the Wonderful Bringer of Light into Darkness, Har the One who makes things bloom, and if we look at verse 94 and 95 of Jáp Sahib (see above) Gubindé is the World Nourisher, Mukandé the Liberator, Udáré the Biggest Giver, Apáré the Limitless One, Haríang the Destroyer, Karíang the Creator, Nirnámé the One without Name, Akámé the One without Lust.


All these are names for God, all are valid and all try to describe God.


Nám as in Nám Simran is what confuses especially many AKJ followers most. As the Jáp Sahib says, God is Nirnámé, without a name, so what is it that we are meditating on ?


As a theological concept Nám is similar to the ancient Greek concept of ‘Word’ (Logos) which is also used in the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible and by the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza who calls it ‘Substance’. What I think it stands for is the essence of God, or possibly all the qualities of God put together.


And that links it to the sort of Nám that you find in the ‘Gurmantr’, the ‘Mulmantr’ or in Jáp Sahib. All these manmade Names trying to describe aspects of God, qualities (guné) of God, put together might just get near the essence of God.


That makes Nám simran the thinking about aspects of God, and through the simran understanding the multi-faceted and indescribable nature of God, understanding that God is the cause of all and present in all. 

Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 9:31 am  Comments (1)  
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