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Aad Sach - is part of the Maha Mantar which appears at the beginning of the Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Aad is derived from Sanskrit means The first, primary, beginning and also beginning, origin, source, root and Sach means true, reality, right. So the combined phrase means True in the beginning.

Adharam - is the opposite of Dharam or righteousness, piety, religious observance, spirituality and morality. So this term refers to non-righteous actions or deeds or thoughts; it is anti-religious behaviour; it is behaviour displayed by self-willed Manmukhs or ego-driven people. Gurmukhs do not follow the path of adharam but instead follow the "Dharam marg" or the "path of Dharam".

Adi Granth - Adi means first, Adi Granth is the first edition of the Guru Granth Sahib as was compiled by Guru Arjan in 1604.

Akal Purukh - It means Timeless One, or The Being Beyond Time and is applied as a name of God.

Akhand Path - An uniterupted continous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. It is undertaken by a team of readers and takes approximately 48 hours.

Amrit - means nectar. It is sugar water which is used during the Khalsa initiation ceremony.

Amrit Bani - A term applied to the Sikh Scriptures, meaning the words are as sweet as nectar (amrit).

Amrit Vela - The early morning hours of dawn. This is considered an auspicious time for meditation and prayer as stressed by Sri Guru Nanak.

Amritdhari - A Sikh who has undergone the Khalsa initiation ceremony.

Amritsanskar - The rite of initiation into the Khalsa brotherhood.

Anand - A state of bliss which defies description. It is also the name of a composition by Guru Amar Das found on Ang 917 of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Anand Karaj - The Sikh wedding ceremony.

Anand Sahib - Composition by Guru Amar Das found on page 917 of the Guru Granth Sahib. Parts of it are used in a number of Sikh ceremonies.

Anbhav Prakash - The enlightened perception of reality which is enjoyed by a person who has become a gurmukh.

Antim Ardas - The last of the Sikh funeral rites.

Ardas - Main Sikh prayer.

Artha - Wealth, it is acceptable to acqure wealth, but it should not become an end to itself.

Asa Di Var - A collection of hymns ment to be sung at dawn.

Atma - The soul which is considered immortal.


Babur Bani - References to the invasion of India by the Mughal emperor Babur found in the Guru Granth Sahib. God is said to have sent Babur as the messenger of death.

Barahmaha - Compositions about the twelve months. By Guru Arjan in Raga Majh, by Guru Nanak in Raga Tukhari and by Guru Gobind Singh in Krishavtar.

Bandi Chor Divas - A festival celebrated by Sikhs which means the 'day of liberation'. Guru Hargobind was freed from Gwalior with 52 princes. From the time of Guru Amar Das onwards Sikhs annually gathered on this day. In 1577 the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib was also laid on this day.

Bani - An abbriviation of Gurbani, applied to any of the writings which appear in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Benati - An appeal for assistance made to Sikhs world wide.

Bhagat Bani - Any of the writings which appear in the Guru Granth Sahib which were not written by the Gurus.

Bhog - The ceremony marking the conclusion of a Path.

Bole So Nihal - Part of the Sikh salutation meaning "anyone who speaks will be happy."

Buddha Dal - The 'army of veterans' formed by Nawab Kapur Singh in 1733 to look after Sikh holy places, preach and initiate new converts to the Khalsa order.


Chandoa - The canopy which is placed over the Guru Granth Sahib.

Chanpada - A poetical composition consisting of four lines in a specified meter.

Charan Pahul - Baptism ceremony involving the drinking of water which the Guru or a member of the Gurus family had dipped their feet in.

Chaupai - A four line stanza form used by some of the Gurus.

Chaur(i) - Yak hair or manmade fiber embedded in a metal placed in a wooden handle. It is ceremonially waved over the Guru Granth Sahib as a symbol of respect.

Chela -A disciple of the guru, used in the Guru Granth Sahib to refer to Sikhs.

Chola - Clothing of the Gurus. Also applied to the coverings of the nishan sahib at a gurdwara.


Dal Khalsa - The Khalsa army set up on Baisakhi day 1748 and divided up into 11 misls.

Dasam Granth - The book of writings of Guru Gobind Singh compiled after his death by Bhai Mani Singh and finished in 1734.

Dastar - A crown that sikhs wear on their heads.

Daswandh - Giving of one-tenth of ones income to charity.

Deg Teg - The dual responsibility of the Panth to provide food and protection for the needy and oppressed.

Dhadi - One who sings the praises of God.

Dharam Yudh - War in the defence of righteousness.

Dharma - Religion - or teaching or lifestyle, as in Sikh Dharma.

Diwan - Congregational worship where Guru Granth Sahib is present.

Doha - Verse form used commonly by Guru Nanak and Kabir consisting of stanzas of two rhyming lines.




Gaddi - The seat or throne of guruship.

Gatka - (Gurmukhi: ਗਤਕਾ gatkā) is a weapon-based Indian martial art associated with the Panjab region. The word refers to the wooden training sticks which are intended to simulate swords in sparring matches.

Giani - A person of spiritual knowledge.

Granthi - One who performs the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib at religious occassions, it may be a man or women.

Gristhi - Sikh ideal is that of being married, having a family, earning ones living by honest socially useful employment, serving ones fellow human beings and worshipping God.

Gurbani - The writings of the Gurus.

Gurdwara - Name given to a Sikh temple. It means 'Gateway to the Guru'.

Gurmat - A general term for Sikhism, including the teachings of the Gurus, as well as the Rehat Maryada.

Gurmata - A resolution passed in a council presided over by the Guru or the advice of the Guru.

Gurmukh - Someone who has become God oriented and God filled instead of self centred (manmukh).

Gurmukhi - The written form of Punjabi used in the Sikh scriptures, propogated by Guru Nanak and Guru Angad.

Gursikh - Someone who is deeply and sincerely devoted to the service of the Guru.

Gurpurb - The celebration of the anniversary of the birth or death of a Guru. Also applied to the anniversary of the installation of the Guru Granth Sahib in 1604 or the deaths of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh.

Gutka - Book containing the daily prayers of the Sikhs.


Hankar - Pride, one of the weaknesses.

Hazare Shabad - The common name given to 7 Shabads from the Guru Granth Sahib and 10 from the Dasam Granth.

Haumai - Pride and self centeredness.

Hazur Sahib - One of the five takts.

Hola Mohalla - Annual spring gathering of Sikhs at Anandpur Sahib for sports contests, music and poetry compositions. The annual celebration was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh in 1680.

Hukam - The ordered will of God.

Hukamnama - Instructions issued by the Gurus, or other people in Sikh authority.


Ik Onkar - Found at the beginning of the Mool Mantar it means 'One God'.


Jalous - Outdoor procession led by the Guru Granth Sahib and five Khalsa Sikhs.

Janam Sakhi - A bibliographic account of the live of Guru Nanak, or other Gurus.

Jap - Devout repetition of the divine name of God, or a scripture.

Jaap Sahib - Jaap Sahib is the morning prayer of the Sikhs. The Prayer or Bani was composed by the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh.

Japji Sahib - Japji Sahib is a universal song about God composed by Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith. The Japji Sahib consists of the Mool Mantra as the beginning followed by 38 hymns and a final Salok at the end of this composition. The Japji appears at the very beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Book of the Sikhs. It is regarded as the most important Bani or 'set of verses' by the Sikhs and is recited every morning by all practising this faith.

Japu Sahib - A composition of Guru Gobind Singh read by Sikhs as part of their daily prayers.

Jathedar - The appointed head of one of the five Sikh Takhts.

Jivan Mukti - The Sikh belief that a person may achieve spiritual liberation during their lifetime and not necessarily only on their death.


Kachha - Drawers or briefs. One of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of self control.

Kalyug - An age in which righteousness and godliness is forgetten.

Kam - Lust, one of the weaknesses.

Kanga - Comb, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of hygiene and discipline.

Kara - Steel bracelet, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of restraint and rememberance of God.

Karah Parshad - A standard dish served at religious ceremonies in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and sanctified by prayers. It is a symbol of equality of all members of the congregation.

Karma - The reward or punishment of any action of man is given by Gods order according to merit, God may give it or withhold it.

Kaur - Middle or last name of a Sikh female. Mandatory last name for a Khalsa Sikh female which means 'princess'.

Kar Seva - Term used to describe any voluntary work carried out for religious purposes, especially the building of gurdwaras. Also used to refer to the removal of silt from the tank surrounding Harmandir Sahib every 50 years.

Karta Purukh - A name of God, the Creator of all.

Katha - A religious lecture on Sikhism.

Kesh - Uncut hair, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must have. It is a symbol of spirituality.

Kesdhari - A Sikh who does not cut their hair, they may or may not be amritdhari.

Keski - Head covering worn between the turban and hair by some Sikhs. Also worn by some boys before they begin wearing turbans.

Kirpan - Sword, one of the five physical symbols that a Khalsa Sikh must wear. It is a symbol of the Sikh fight against injustice and religious oppression.

Kirtan - Musical rendering of Sikh gurbani.

Kirtan Sohila - Collection of 3 hymns by Guru Nanak, 1 by Guru Ram Das and 1 by Guru Arjan. It is recited as part of Nitnem at bed time and also forms part of the funeral rites.

Krodh - Anger, one of the weaknesses.

Kurehats (Ku-rehats) - The vows of abstinece that one takes on becomming a Khalsa. Not to cut your hair, not to eat muslim halal meat, adultery, intoxicants.


Langar - Free community kitchen found in all Sikh Gurdwaras. A cornersone of the Sikh religion and a symbol of equality, it was instituted by Guru Nanak.

Laavan - Circumventing the Guru Granth Sahib during the Sikh marriage ceremony. Also the name of the four stanza composition by Guru Ram Das found on page 773 of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Lobh - Greed, one of the weaknesses.


Maghi - Sikh festival held annualy on January 14 to celebrate the memory of the martyrdom of the forty immortals in battle at Muktsar.

Mehala - Used in the Guru Granth Sahib to indicate the author of a composition by the Gurus. Each Guru used the name Nanak, for example Mehala 5 is Guru Arjan, Mehala 3 is Guru Amar Das.

Mahant - Corrupt officials who had control of the gurdwaras prior to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee gaining control in 1925.

Manji - The stool or string bed upon which the Guru Granth Sahib is placed on as a symbol of its sovregnity.

Mala - A wool cord with knots used as an aid to prayer or meditation.

Manmukh - A person who is self-centered and has forgotten God, the opposite of a Gurmukh.

Matha Tekna - Bowing down and touching the floor with your forehead in front of the Guru Granth Sahib as a sign of respect to the living Guru.

Maya - The dillusion of being wrapped up in the material world and attached to it.

Mela - Any Sikh religious festival other than the birth or death of a Guru.

Miri Piri - The concept of spiritual and worldly matters. Sikhs are expected to maintain the balance between the two, this idea was introduced by Guru Hargobind and represented by two swords.

Misl - A fighting unit of the Sikh armies of the eighteenth century.

Mool Mantar - Is the opening of the Japji Sahib by Guru Nanak and the beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib. It is considered to be the cornerstone of Sikhism.

Mukti - Spiritual liberation from the cycles of birth and death.

Mundavani - The word means seal and refers to the concluding poem by Guru Arjan in the Guru Granth Sahib which describes the spiritual qualites of reading and following the Guru Granth Sahib.


Nagara - A kettledrum found in some gurdwaras and introduced by Guru Hargobind to be beaten when langer was ready. It is also a symbol of royal authority.

Naam - Name, name of God. Sikhism places emphasis on the rememberance ofGod through meditation on Gods name.

Naam Japna, Kirt Karna, Vand Chakna - Meditation on Gods name, honest work and giving to charity. Three fundamental requirements for Sikhs.

Naam Simran - The rememberance of God through meditation.

Nanak Panthi - A follower of Guru Nanak.

Nihang - An order of Sikhs who follow the soldier lifestyle of the time of Guru Gobind Singh. They wear blue robes and reject household comforts.

Nirankar - A name of God meaning the one who has no physical form.

Nirbhau - No fear.

Nirguna - Applied to God meaning one without form or material attributes. God is considered beyond human knowledge and comprehension.

Nirvair - No hate.

Nitnem - The daily prayers that Sikhs are expected to read. Nitnem consists of reading Japji of Guru Nanak, Jap and Ten Swayyas of Guru Gobind Singh in the morning; Rahiras, a collection of nine hymns by Guru Nanak, Guru Amar Das and Guru Arjan at sunset and Kirtan Sohila, five hymns by the same three Gurus at bedtime.


Onkar - God as the Primal Being. Also refers to a compositon of Guru Nanak which appears of page 929 of the Guru Granth Sahib.


Pada - Division of a hymn in the Guru Granth Sahib, it varies in length from one to four verses.

Palki - The wooden, golden or marble palaquin in which the Guru Granth Sahib is ceremonially installed.

Panj Kakke - The five physical symbols which must be worn at all times by Khalsa Sikhs; kachha (briefs), kangha (comb), kara (steel bracelet), kes (unshorn hair) and kirpan (ceremonial sword).

Panj Piaras - The five beloved ones, referring to the first five Sikhs initiated into the Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh. Five Khalsa Sikhs are required for initiation of a new member.

Panth - The entire Sikh community.

Parkarma - The walkway around the sarovar (pool) found at many gurdwaras.

Patit - A Khalsa Sikh who has failed to live upto the vows of the Khalsa order.

Prakash Karna - The early morning ceremony when the Guru Granth Sahib is formally opened and the days worship begins.

Path - A reading of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Paudi - A stanza of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Pauri - Verses in the Guru Granth Sahib, their length and metre are both variable.

Phera - Circling of the Guru Granth Sahib during the wedding ceremony.

Pothi - A book or volume of religious hymns.



Raag - A tune or the series of five or more notes upon which it is based.

Raag Mala - The last composition in the Guru Granth Sahib. It is a listing of 84 rags used in Indian music in the early seventeenth century.

Raagi - A musician who sings the hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib in gurdwaras.

Rehras - A collection of 9 hymns, 4 by Guru Nanak, 3 by Guru Ram Das and 2 by Guru Arjan which are read at sunset as part of Nitnem.

Raj Karega Khalsa - The battle cry of the Sikhs during the rule of Banda Singh Bahadur meaning "The Khalsa shall rule". It is near the end of the daily Ardas, prayer.

Rehat Maryada - The Sikh Code of Conduct concieved by the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Rehat Nama - A manual of conduct for Khalsa Sikhs. There are a number of them by various Sikhs dating back to the eighteenth century.

Rumala - The cloth which is used ceremonially to cover the Guru Granth Sahib.


Sach Khand - The realm of truth, the final stage of spiritual ascent where the believer becomes one with God.

Sadh Sangat - The Sikh congregation or community.

Sahibzadas - The four sons of Guru Gobind Singh who all died as marytrs to the Sikh faith. Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh, Fateh Singh.

Sahib - Term of respect used for the Sikh Holy Book as well as applied to historical gurdwaras.

Sakhi - Story about a Guru.

Sangat - Holy congregation.

Sangrand - The first day of the month according to the indian calander. The reading of the relevant portion of the composition Barahmaha by Guru Nanak or Guru Arjan relating to each month is read out.

Sant - A holy person or saint.

Sarbat Khalsa - A representative meeting of all the Sikhs to consider important matters related to the panth.

Saropa - A gift of honour presented by the Sikh community. Usually a length of cloth for tying a turban or a scarf worn over the shoulders.

Sarovar - The pool for bathing found at many gurdwaras.

Sat Guru - The supreme Guru, God.

Sat Sri Akal - The Sikh greeting meaning "Immortal God is Truth".

Satyug - An era in which Truth prevails, the opposite of Kalyug.

Sehaj - The state of spiritual peace resulting from the attainment of union with God.

Sehaj Path - A non continuos reading of the entire Guru Granth Sahib over any period of time.

Seli - A woolen cord worn by Guru Nanak around his turban. It was worn as a symbol of living in the world but not in worldly matters. It was passed on to each successive Guru upto Guru Hargobind who chose to wear the symbol of two swords of miri piri instead.

Seva - Service to ones fellow beings, a cornerstone of Sikhism.

Seva Panthi - A Sikh whose life is devoted to the service of the Sikh community.

Shabad - The religious hymns contained in Sikh scriptures.

Shaheed - Title used before the name of someone who has died for the Sikh faith as a martyr.

Slok - Couplet found in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.) - Committee which overseas the administration of many Gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh as well as involved in publication and education related to Sikhism.

Sikhi - Sikh teachings.

Singh - Lion, the common last or middle name of male Sikhs. It is a compulsory last name for male Khalsa Sikhs.

Sodar - A composition of Guru Nanaks which is read by Sikhs at sunset as part of Rehras.

Sukh Asan - The ceremony that takes place at the end of the day when the Guru Granth Sahib is formally closed for the night.

Sukhmani Sahib - A major composition of Guru Arjan found on page 262 of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Swayya - A group of hymns composed by Guru Gobind Singh and found in the Dasam Granth.


Takht - A seat of Sikh authority, there are five gurdwaras which are designated as takhts.

Thambh Sahib - A pole or tower associated with a Guru.

Tankhaiya - A person who has committed a religious offence meriting punishment.



Vaisakhi - The celebration which takes place every April 13th/ 14th. Guru Amar Das initiated the annual gathering of Sikhs at Goindwal in 1567. Originally, in 1699 Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa order on 30th March.


Waheguru - Literally the wonderful Lord the Gurmantar given to Sikhs by Guru Sahib, meant to be recited while meditating.




Zafarnama - The Letter of Victory written by Guru Gobind Singh.

Guide To Discover Sikhism |   Guide To Becoming A Pure Sikh|   Guide To Carrying Out Nitnem