n this article, we will discuss whether it's helpful to read Gurbani, even if you don't understand it yet.

The Broken Pot

Once, Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji was riding a horse with the Sangat on a hilltop. There was a broken pot used to store clarified butter (ghio). As Guru Sahib Ji was about to leave for horse riding, the Sangat asked, “Maharaj, we have a question. We don't understand Gurbani. Should we still read it?” Guru Sahib Ji replied, "I will answer your question soon."

During the stroll, Guru Sahib Ji noticed the broken pot and stopped to address the Sangat. They said, "Reading Gurbani without understanding it is like this broken pot that once held Ghio. Despite being broken, the sun still shines upon it. Vaheguru’s blessings continue to shower on it, even if its understanding is not complete. Similarly, when we read Gurbani, even if we don’t understand it, its essence still impacts us, providing mental strength and peace.”


Contemplation is Key 

However, to multiply these effects, it becomes important for us to make an effort to try to understand Gurbani. Until we contemplate and implement the meaning of the Guru’s Shabad in our lives, the possibility for change will remain limited.

ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥

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

At the same time, there are various Gursikhs who have seen their lives transform just by sitting in the Saadh Sangat (holy company) and attending Kirtan programs. Even if you don’t understand Gurbani fully, you can still allow yourself to feel its essence. Gurbani emanates from our roots and reconnects us with our origin, i.e., Vaheguru. Its nature is similar to a technology beyond our comprehension, yet it alleviates all our anxieties by permeating our hearts.

ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਆਈ ॥

The Bani of His Word emanated from the Primal Lord.

ਤਿਨਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਚਿੰਤ ਮਿਟਾਈ ॥

It eradicates all anxiety.

Make the Effort 

Therefore, while it is important to take practical steps to understand Gurbani, don’t wait for the perfect day. Continue reading Gurbani and attending Sangat as you progress in your learning journey.

Gurbani Santhiya (learning to pronounce Gurbani correctly) is also extremely essential. A Gursikh seeks an Ustaad (teacher) who can help them read Gurbani correctly and also seeks the meanings of Gurbani by discussing them with fellow Gursikhs or reading Shabad Arth Teeke (compilations written by scholars that consist of meanings of Gurbani).

As a beginner, one can even use apps such as iGurbani and watch Basics of Sikhi videos, which include various Gurbani Katha playlists covering the meanings of Japji Sahib, Asa Di Vaar, and many more Baanis. For those who understand Punjabi, they can also listen to Gurbani Katha by Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji or Giani Thakur Singh Ji, which is widely available on YouTube. 

Connect and Feel the Bliss!

Understanding and learning from different Parchariks, Mahapurakhs (Great beings), and Saints who have experienced the magic of Gurbani in their lives broadens our perspective and makes us more curious learners. It ignites the spark within us to know more about Guru Sahib Ji and to unite with the inner light of Vaheguru.

By reading Gurbani, we are sometimes blessed with Anbhavi Arth (meanings based on our experiences and intuition that come from within). These meanings can be so personal and profound to us that it is difficult to express them in words. Therefore, the experience of learning and connecting with Gurbani is beautiful and profound.

We all have unique journeys, but what is important is that we continue to make progress, regardless of where we are right now. Progress can take the form of understanding the meanings of Gurbani by listening to Katha, memorising Gurbani, or singing Gurbani Keertan.

The important part is that we never stop building that connection with Gurbani because Gurbani is the form of our Guru.

ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ ॥

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

This article is a transcribed version of the video Can I read Gurbani without understanding it? by Bibi Gurprit Kaur Ji.

You can help spread the message of Sikhi to people around you by using the leaflet created by the Basics of Sikhi team.
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