All sacred hymns in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji are termed as Gurbani.

They are laid out in accordance with Guru Nanak’s description of Shabad (Word) as Guru.

(SGGS 943 Rag Ramkalee M : 1 Sidh Gosht)

ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥

Sabadh Guroo Surath Dhhun Chaelaa ||

The Shabad is the Guru, upon whom I lovingly focus my consciousness;


I am only the disciple.

And here Guru Amardas ji clearly says that it is the Shabad that is the Guru and not the human body.

(SGGS 594 Salok M: 3)

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਨੋ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਵੇਖਦਾ ਜੇਤਾ ਜਗਤੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥

Sathigur No Sabh Ko Vaekhadhaa Jaethaa Jagath Sansaar ||

Ddithai Mukath N Hovee Jichar Sabadh N Karae Veechaar ||

All the living beings of the world behold the True Guru.

One is not liberated by merely seeing Him, unless one contemplates the Word of His Shabad.

All Gurbani is poetry. Hence all is meant to be sung as Kirtan – Japji till Mundavanee is all for singing. 

(SGGS 1219 Rag Sarang M :5)

ਆਇਓ ਸੁਨਨ ਪੜਨ ਕਉ ਬਾਣੀ ॥

Aaeiou Sunan Parran Ko Baanee ||

The mortal came to hear and chant the Word of the Guru’s Bani.

When the authors (Gurus / bhagats) composed it – it was poetry and they sung it in raags (melody) of their choice. The names of the raags are thus mentioned.  In some cases the tunes (folk) that were used are mentioned and in some cases even the taals (beats).

But when Gurbani is not being sung – and only read – for purposes such as Nitnem, research, deeper understanding or memorization etc then the raag, taal and dhun (tune) does not matter. ‬

(SGGS 1300 Rag Kaanraa M : 5)

ਜੋ ਜੋ ਕਥੈ ਸੁਨੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਾਸ ॥

Jo Jo Kathhai Sunai Har Keerathan Thaa Kee Dhuramath Naas ||

Whoever speaks and listens to the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises is rid of evil-mindedness.

The most important fact is that whether Gurbani is sung or read – understanding must be the underlying objective. Guru Nanak emphasizes

the importance of listening, understanding and practising the philosophy embodied in the bani in Stanzas 8-15 of Jup.

(SGGS 2 Jup)

ਸੁਣਿਐ ਦੂਖ ਪਾਪ ਕਾ ਨਾਸੁ ॥੮॥

Suniai Dhookh Paap Kaa Naas ||8||

By listening, pain and sin are erased. ||8||

(SGGS 3 Jup)

ਜੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਨਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਮਨਿ ਕੋਇ ॥੧੨॥

Jae Ko Mann Jaanai Man Koe ||12||

Only one who has faith comes to know such a state of mind. ||12||


Without understanding, the bani-related activity – be it reading, listening, Nitnem, Akhand or Sehej Paath and even Kirtan – becomes no more than a ritual or obligation.

Sikhs are advised to read from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to effectively understand the guru’s message. No time limit is imposed and each individual will embark on this journey at his or her own pace. The word Paath is used to describe this reading.

(SGGS 1032 Rag Maroo M :1)

ਪੜਹਿ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਪਰੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਨਾ ॥

Parrehi Manamukh Par Bidhh Nehee Jaanaa ||

The self-willed manmukhs read and study, but they do not know the way.

The language and grammar used within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji may initially be an obstacle in the reader’s attempt to fathom the essence of the poetic composition but with perseverance and faith, a concentration of mind and intellect, the spiritual messages will emerge.

When one is doing Paath slowly, you are enjoying the way Gurbani is recited, and at times you feel like you aren’t only going through it, but going along within it.

(SGGS 791 Salok M :1)

ਦੀਵਾ ਬਲੈ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਬੇਦ ਪਾਠ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਖਾਇ ॥

Dheevaa Balai Andhhaeraa Jaae || Baedh Paath Math Paapaa Khaae ||

When the lamp is lit, the darkness is dispelled; Reading the scriptures, sinful intellect is destroyed.

ਉਗਵੈ ਸੂਰੁ ਨ ਜਾਪੈ ਚੰਦੁ ॥ ਜਹ ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਮਿਟੰਤੁ ॥

Ougavai Soor N Jaapai Chandh || Jeh Giaan Pragaas Agiaan Mittanth When the sun rises, the moon is not visible. Wherever spiritual wisdom appears, ignorance is dispelled.

Savour the Shabad Guru as you read the verses. Stop, listen and reflect. Enjoy the glorious Shabad Guru. Every day will bring you closer to the living Guru because you’ll be living the Shabad Guru.

(SGGS 833 Rag Bilaval M : 4)

ਸੁਨਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਆਤਮ ਦੇਵ ਹੈ ਭੀਨੇ ਰਸਿ ਰਸਿ ਰਾਮ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਰਵਈਆ ॥੬॥

Sun Sun Aatham Dhaev Hai Bheenae Ras Ras Raam Gopaal Raveeaa ||6||

Listening, listening, my soul is softened, delighted by His subtle essence, chanting the Name of the Lord of the Universe. ||6||

Finally, some understanding of each verse, each line, and each word will surface till the message becomes clear.

(SGGS 148 Salok M : 1)

ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥

Parheeai naahee bhayd bhujheeai paavnaa

Not by studying, but through understanding, is the Lord’s Mystery revealed.

All of us should endeavour to do/read/ listen to Paath. Let 48 hours be 48 weeks. Do 30 pages per week, 5 pages per day, 15 minutes per day, 6 days a week and within 1 year celebrate with Kirtan and thanksgiving. Or take 2 years, 3 years or a lifetime.

(SGGS 398 Asa M : 5)

ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਆਧਾਰੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਏਹੁ ਧਨ ॥੨॥

Har Keerathan Aadhhaar Nihachal Eaehu Dhhanuo ||2||

The Kirtan of the Lord’s Praise is my Support; this wealth is everlasting. ||2|| (SGGS 398 Asa M 5)

Our gurus had long ago recognised singing of hymns as a spiritual act that binds the yogi (soul) to the Almighty.

(SGGS 385 Rag Asa M : 5)

ਜੋਗੁ ਬਨਿਆ ਤੇਰਾ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਈ ॥੧॥

Jog Baniaa Thaeraa Keerathan Gaaee ||1||

I attain Yoga, singing the Kirtan of Your Praises. ||1||

Gurbani says that Kirtan in itself is the best melody so it is not necessary to be an expert in various musical instruments or knowledge of music.

Devotion, not musical ability, is the most important aspect of kirtan.

(SGGS 281 Rag Gauri Sukhmani M: 5 Ast 14)

ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਬਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ॥

Anadhin Keerathan Kaeval Bakhyaan ||

Night and day, sing the Kirtan, the Praises of the One Lord.

The effectiveness of Kirtan depends on the sincere participation and the intent, not vocal talent. Kirtan is not a physical exercise; it is the complete devotion of the body, mind, and soul. In fact Kirtan is the constant rememberance of God.

(SGGS 1200 Rag Sarang M : 4)

ਸ੍ਰਵਣੀ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਸੁਨਉ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤੀ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਨੀ ॥੩॥

Sravanee Keerathan Suno Dhin Raathee Hiradhai Har Har Bhaanee ||3||

With my ears, I listen to the Kirtan of His Praises, day and night. I love the Lord, Har, Har, with all my heart. ||3||

When we gather to sing Shabads (sacred songs), the song and the act of singing together strengthens our spiritual community by bolstering our sense of fellowship. The beauty and power of the Shabad is enhanced by the act of singing together.

(SGGS 237 Rag Gauri M : 5)

ਭਗਤ ਵਸਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਆਧਾਰੇ ॥੭॥

Bhagath Vasehi Keerathan Aadhhaarae ||7||

The devotees dwell there, with the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises as their support. ||7||

Kirtan and Paath must be internal so as to understand, comprehend and realize the Shabad (Divine Word) and then act upon it. The mystery of the Gur-Shabad is grasped only through its true understanding.

(SGGS 930 Raag Ramkalee M : 1)

ਸਮਝੈ ਸੂਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ॥:

Samjhai soojhai parh parh boojhai ant nirantar saachaa:

If one understands, realizes and comprehends what he reads and studies, in the end he shall realize that the True Lord dwells deep within his nucleus.

Paath and Kirtan are vehicles with a vital role in unity with the Creator. The gian (knowledge) from the guru transforms us into Gurmukhs. Via

the Shabad we clean our mind, be rid of vices and attain the gunns (virtues) and the Treasure of the Naam inside each of us.

(SGGS 982 Rag Natt M : 4)

ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ ॥ ਗੁਰੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਕਹੈ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਜਨੁ ਮਾਨੈ ਪਰਤਖਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਿਸਤਾਰੇ ॥੫॥

Baanee Guroo Guroo Hai Baanee Vich Baanee Anmrith Saarae ||

Gur Baanee Kehai Saevak Jan Maanai Parathakh Guroo Nisathaarae ||5||

The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani. Within the Bani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained.

If His humble servant believes, and acts according to the Words of the Guru’s Bani, then the Guru, in person, emancipates him. ||5||