Jup is not chanting: Karminder

Karminder Singh | Opinion |  9 April 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Dr Karminder Singh on common mistakes when translating Naam and Jup in a Vaiskahi-related talk series at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya - PHOTO / ASIA SAMACHAR
Dr Karminder Singh on common mistakes when translating Naam and Jup in a Vaiskahi-related talk series at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya – PHOTO / ASIA SAMACHAR

Nam japnaa? What did Guru Nanak say about this process? Dr Karminder Singh, a Malaysian lay preacher, says it is a mistake to equate Jup as chanting (ratnaa).

Sikhs today have, generally, misunderstood the actual meaning of Nam Jupna, reducing it simply to chanting or continuous repetition of selected words, he argues. Jup is also spelt as Jap.

“Jup is not chanting. That has to be cleared out of our minds. We have reduced, relegated, downtrodden, trampled upon, stepped on….the process of naam jupnaa to chanting.

“Guru Nanak came all the way, for 70 years, through 10 Gurus, to tell us to chant? I’m having trouble with that.

“We were already chanting before Guru Nanak came. That’s all it was, chanting. Guru Nanak took chanting out of our spiritual processes. Chanting gets us nowhere,” he argued in his Vaisakhi-related talk series at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya yesterday (8 April 2016). His daily evening sessions, from 8.30pm-9.15pm, continues until Monday (11 April).

Generally, most Gurbani translations, including those commonly found on the internet, translates the word Jup as chant.

Dr Karminder points out this as one of the two common errors when it comes to translating Gurbani. The other one involves the word Naam.

“One, Naam is wrongly translated as God’s Proper Name. Two, Jup is wrongly translated as chanting,” he said.

Naam is not Name.

“Naam is not Name, again as usually translated. God has no Proper Name,” he argues.

“The original name of the bani is Jup. We call it Jup Ji Sahib, out of respect.  That’s fine. But Guru Nanak named it Jup. You cannot chant the Baani, you cannot chant the Guru Granth Sahib,” he says.

God’s Name

There is constant debate and confusion on what is the proper name for God. Many have staked the claim for it to be so and so. In the following clip [to be uploaded later], Dr Karminder sheds some light on the issue seen from the Sikh perspective.

“The issue is still alive with us today. Guru Nanak had resolved it for the Sikhs by declaring that all perceived virtues are acceptable.

“All his names are ‘Kirtem’ – descriptions of his perceived virtues (adjectives). All such perceived virtues are acceptable. One virtue cannot be superior than the other. Hence, one Name cannot be superior than the other,” he said.

In fact, he goes on to say that Guru Granth Sahib has rejected the ‘One Name’  concept and accepted ‘ALL’ names.

“All the Names used by all the faiths are contained within the Guru Granth Sahib. This describes how open and large is Guru Nanak’s mind and heart, that he can accommodate all within. We, then, should not be narrow and claim that only this is the Name and that’s not the Name. We will then be going against the tenets of the Guru Granth Sahib which accepts all names,” he argues.

He then made reference to a shabad by Bhagat NamDev Ji:

mein andhley kee teik naam khundkara,

mein gareen mein maskeen tera naam hai adhara,

kareema raheema allah rtu ganee,

hazra hazoor dar pesh tu mnee.

ਮੈ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਕੀ ਟੇਕ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਖੁੰਦਕਾਰਾ ॥

ਮੈ ਗਰੀਬ ਮੈ ਮਸਕੀਨ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਅਧਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਕਰੀਮਾਂ ਰਹੀਮਾਂ ਅਲਾਹ ਤੂ ਗਨੀ ॥

ਹਾਜਰਾ ਹਜੂਰਿ ਦਰਿ ਪੇਸਿ ਤੂੰ ਮਨੀ ॥੧॥


Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? The Root Causes  (Asia Samachar, 26 Jan 2015)

Sikh Nishan Sahib demystified (Asia Samachar, 2 Oct 2015)



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  1. What would you all say if we agreed with all of the above. Once Naam is realized one has accepted what is asked of us by GGSJ. Jap or Jup is the name of the prayer Japji Sahib. In Japji Sahib we are asked for our heart and soul to accept Waheguru wholeheartedly and become dust of All. This is what 99 % of us have a problem with. Until we can, we should keep trying. Even the number 13, Tehraan, tehraan, tuhi, tuhi , yours, yours can get us imbued in his Love. Alot of rituals have crept into Sikhi, let GGSJ lead us and give us our own meanings. It is a different stage for all so no one is wrong, keep trying in your own way and we will be blessed one step at a time. Waheguru ji

  2. Jap means to rescite and /or to meditate . When you constantly repeat the Bani and internelise it in your mind and soul , you become one with the bani and one with the creater . Kabeer, repeating, “You, You”, I have become like You. Page 1375 Sri Guru Granth Sahib .
    At page 865 Sri Guru Granth Sahib “Repeating the Lord’s Name, one crosses over the terrifying world-ocean.”

    Thus meditation , rescite , repeat, chant comes from the same gene and are used interchangeably but means the same ie repeat naam and Bani at every breath . (at page 869 Sri Guru Granth Sahib “With each and every breath, the Lord’s humble slaves praise Him” .)

  3. A note of “Jap” is to Meditate. “Meditate” alone is not the real concoction of the word “Jap” it is kind of experience beyond explanation and is a state of “absolute” and “stillness”. It starts from a “word” Shabad in the form of a sound; that evolves through “sound”- Anhad Dhoo; that transforms into a “state” – Avastha; moves the mind into “absolute”, “solitude”, aloneness, -State of “Sun”; and then bliss -“Anand”; – this is the “State of Constant Meditation” within oneself and then to FORMs an amalgamation of ecstasy, contentment and an acme of consistent climax of joy.

    We can talk, explain, refer to Baani and claim to have this state: I can bet the last penny, that the one who attains this speaks no more, that, there would be one in millions among us.

  4. Lt-Col (Rtd) Mohan Singh, a Kuala Lumpur based trainer and active volunteer in Sikh activities, shared his views on the five-day lectures by Dr Karminder Singh at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya. It was first shared in a closed discussion group. We share it here with his permission. When called at 10.30am today, Colonel Sahib, as many refer to him, was preparing to give a presentation at Gurdwara Sahib Selayang for a proposed youth development programme.


    Sikh Brothers, I just completed the 5th session of Dr Karminder Lecture. I am now an awakened soul. I now know what I need to do to myself to realise my jouney as a Sikh. He has done a great job in putting my concept of Sikhi on the right path. Some of the things he has said jive so well with what my father thought me. I will like you too to share my experience. Just like the shabad Guru Nanak took birth and the mist of darkness was lifted. I would say for me Dr Karminder spoke for 5 days amd the mist of my false concepts of Sikhism were lifited. I know some of my brothets will not agree with me but sincerely my wife and I found the 5 days our best investment of our life. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

  5. I attended all five of Dr Karminder’s talks, including the one shown here (his second talk). All five of his talks are recorded and available in audio and video.

    A two minute video taken out of context of a one hour lecture cannot do justice to anyone – speaker and readers of AS included.

    The 2 minute video and report above says what Dr Karminder Singh Jup was NOT about, and that God does NOT have a PROPER name. Putting up a video about this part is sensational reporting. It may draw more people to AS website. I hope that is not the intention.

    But he spent a long time explaining what Jup WAS about and that all of God’s names are descriptive and in the form of VIRTUES. Naam therefore meant Godly Virtues. Reporting about this part of the lecture would have been educational and beneficial to AS readers.

    He explained, by using verses from GGS that all of God’s names in Sikhi were Virtues. As such merely chanting VIRTUES was futile. He quoted Bhai Gurdas who says that SWEETNESS was a VIRTUE of sugar, and one could not obtain sweetness by chanting ‘sugar, sugar, or sweet, sweet”

    Virtues are meant to be understood, internalized, acquired and practiced. For all these processes, he used the word “REALIZE”.

    His conclusion was that NAAM refers collectively to Godly VIRTUES. And JUPNA – coming from the punjabi word “Jaap-na” – means REALIZATION of these virtues. So Naam Japna was translated as the spiritual process of REALIZATION of Godly VIRTUES.

    I came out of his lectures enlightened and determined to stop chanting and start realizing.

  6. Makes perfect sense to me, and I suppose to the crowds that packed the gurdwara on all four days to hear his entire series of truly enlightening talks. In Dr Karminder we have a parcharak who presents Gurbani the way it ought to be to our educated, logic demanding and critical youth. In my view his strength is that he quotes Gurbani verses for every single point he makes, as opposed to our sakhi telling folks. I for one have resolved to focus the rest of my spirituality on understanding and connecting with 1430 pages of Gurbani and to leave chanting to others.