3. Satnaam and Waheguru

There are several traditional interpretations of the words ‘Satnaam’ and ‘Waheguru’ amongst common beings. The true meaning and the very significance of these words is widely missing. The purpose of this write-up is to bring forward the true meanings and the importance of these in the light of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji (Dhur ki Bani). The intent is also there to understand the role of these in our everyday life.

PART 1  OF 3


Waheguru –The praise of Guru
Sikhs have been commonly referring to the Lord through a word ‘Waheguru’. However, SGGS ji (Dhur ki Bani) does not quote it anywhere in this context. The ‘Waheguru’ signifies the praise of the Guru and basically implies – “O’ Guru, You are Great” or as we commonly say Dhan-Guru.  We should praise and serve the Guru, as he is the one to take us across the Sea of Maya (Bhav-Sagar) to the very Khand where the Lord resides.

SGGS ji quotes –

gur charnee laag tari-o bhav saagar jap naanak har har naamaa
Grasping hold of the Guru`s feet, Nanak has crossed over the terrifying world-ocean, chanting the Name of the Lord.
SGGS 630 – Guru Arjun Dev

gur kay bachan karan sun Dhi-aavai bhav saagar paar paraio
One who listens to the Guru’s Teachings and meditates on them, is carried across the terrifying world-ocean. ||1||Pause||
SGGS 456 – Guru Arjun Dev

saagar sansaar bhav utaar naam simrat baho taray
So many are saved; they cross over the terrifying world-ocean, contemplating the Naam, the Name of the Lord.
SGGS 456 – Guru Arjun Dev
Guru is absorbed in the Almighty. He is holding the feet of the Lord with one hand and with his other hand he helps common beings to make the connection with the Lord.  Or we can say this in another way – Guru is holding the Lord’s feet (in Sach-khand) with his hands and his feet are on the earth to help the sufferers (in the cycle of birth & death).

Now one need to be very careful not to attach to the physical body of the Guru or worship the Guru. This is a body-worship or dehdhari-pooja and is forbidden per SGGS ji.   When we bow in front of the Guru or Sant or Brahmgyani, we do so to the ‘Naam” or ‘Puran-Jyote’ enlightened in the Guru. This is definitely not to the physical body. It is crucial to understand this.  


Akalpurakh is beyond the cycle of death & birth and has obviously no face, eyes or tongue to communicate. Yet he does communicate through His Saints or Brahmgyanis.  We have to worship the Lord only and at the same time serve the Guru just like Bhai Lehna ji served Guru Nanak. Bhai Lehna ji pleased the Guru with his total commitment to the ‘Naam’ and being a ‘Puran Sachiara’.  With his puran faith & truthful deeds (puran-sachiari rehit) he got blessed with the Guru ‘Padvi’ and became Guru Angad.


gur angad dee-a-o niDhaan akath kathaa gi-aan panch bhoot bas keenay jamat na taraas
He blessed Guru Angad with the treasure of spiritual wisdom, and the Unspoken Speech; He overcame the five demons and the fear of the Messenger of Death.
SGGS 1399 – Bhagat Naalh

Guru Nanak was Bhai Lehna’s Guru and Guru Angad’s Guru was the Lord Himself. Same was true for other Gurus as well. SGGS ji quotes –

naanak kul nimmal avtar-yi-o angad lahnay sang hu-a
Lehnaa, who became Guru Angad, and Guru Amar Daas, have been reincarnated into the pure house of Guru Nanak.
SGGS 1395 – Bhagat Keerat

naanak parsaad angad sumat gur amar amar vartaa-i-o
By the Grace of Guru Nanak, and the sublime teachings of Guru Angad, Guru Amar Daas broadcast the Lord’s Command.

SGGS 1397 – Bhagat Kaalh

The bhagats serve their Guru with the complete surrender of their own wisdom (man-mat). They often praise their Guru and the Lord, as was done by the respectable Bhatts in SGGS ji. The respectable Bhatt Ga-yand ji quoted ‘Waheguru’ in Guru Ram Daas Ji’s praise as we find in the following shabad:
satgur gur sayv alakh gat jaa kee saree raamdaas taaran tarnan
So serve the Guru, the True Guru; His ways and means are inscrutable. The Great Guru Raam Daas is the Boat to carry us across.


(1, Sava-yay (praise) of Guru Ram Das, Ga-yand)

partaap sadaa gur kaa ghat ghat pargaas bha-yaa jas jan kai.
The Glorious Greatness of the Guru is manifest forever in each and every heart. His humble servants sing His Praises.


(5, Sava-yay (praise) of Guru Ram Das, Ga-yand)


Waahay Guru, Waahay Guru, Waahay Guru, Waahay Jee-o.
O Great-Guru, Great-Guru, Great-Guru, you are Great.


(11, Sava-yay (praise) of Guru Ram Das, Ga-yand)



kaval nain madhur bain kot sain sang sobh kahat maa jasod jisahi dahee bhaat khaahi jee-o.
You are lotus-eyed, with sweet speech, exalted and embellished with millions of companions. Mother Yashoda invited You as Krishna to eat the sweet rice.


(12, Sava-yay (praise) of Guru Ram Das, Ga-yand)


daykh roop at anoop moh mahaa mag bha-ee kinknee sabad jhanatkaar khayl paahi jee-o.
Gazing upon Your supremely beautiful form,
and hearing the musical sounds of Your silver bells tinkling, she was intoxicated with delight.


(13, Sava-yay (praise) of Guru Ram Das, Ga-yand)


Based on the above Shabad from SGGS Ji, it is very obvious that Bhatt Ga-yand Ji quoted this in praise of the Guru. As Guru Ram Daas ji was his Guru eventually, he did quote what he felt and observed.  It is just like we typically say – Dhan Guru Nanak or Dhan-Dhan Das Patshahian. The word ‘Waheguru’ praises the “Puran-Jyote’ in the Saints & Brahmgyanis or the Lord Himself.

Satnaam – The True name of the Lord


”ik-oNkaar satnaam kartaa purakh nirbha-o nirvair akaal moorat ajoonee saibhaN gur parsaad”


There is but one God – Satnaam, creative His personality and immortal His form. He is without fear sans enmity, unborn and self-illumined. By the Guru’s grace He is obtained.

Embrace His meditation.
”aad sach jugaad sach”
True in the prime, True in the beginning of ages,

”hai bhee sach naanak hosee bhee sach”
True He is even now and True He verily, shall be, O Nanak


This is the very beginning of SGGS ji. The Mool-Manter captures the central idea of ‘Japuji Sahib’ very precisely. It is stated here that one should embrace the meditation of his ‘Naam’ –“Satnaam”.  The ‘Naam’ is Gurparsadi, means one gets blessed with it through a Puran Guru.


The 5th Guru Arjun Patshah reiterated the true name of the Lord further in SGGS ji:



kirtam naam kathay tayray jihbaa, sat naam tayraa paraa poorbalaa.
With the tongue the Bhagats chant the several names given to You.
`Satnaam` is Your perfect, primal Name.

SGGS 1083 – Guru Arjun Dev



The explanation:  His worshippers remember him with several countless names (like Dasam Patshah has stated in Jaap Sahib) but Satnaam is his Aad-Jugaadi or original (from the very origin) name.


Who named the Lord as “SATNAAM”?


Let us ask SGGS ji again. Guru Nanak Patshah quoted in Asa ji ki Vaar,



aapeenHai aap saaji-o aapeenHai rachi-o naa-o,
duyee kudrat saajee-ai kar aasan ditho chaa-o

He Himself created Himself; He Himself assumed His Name.
Secondly, He fashioned the creation; seated within the creation,
He beholds it with delight.

SGGS 463 – Guru Nanak Dev


Furthermore, Gurbani urges us to chant the Lord’s name ‘SATNAAM” all the time
Per the following quotes:
jap man sat naam sadaa sat naam, halat palat mukh oojal ho-ee hai
nit Dhi-aa-ee-ai har purakh niranjanaa. rahaa-o.
Chant, O my mind, the True Name, Satnaam, the True Name.
In this world, and in the world beyond, your face shall be radiant,
by meditating continually on the immaculate Lord God. ||Pause||
SGGS 670 –  Guru Ram Daas
When the Lord is pleased He showers one with his true name or ‘Naam’. Very rarely, with the Purble Janam ke Ankur (or treasures of worship from the past lives) one gets blessed directly by the Lord like Guru Nanak Dev ji or Bhagat Rama Nand ji.
More commonly, one is blessed with the Naam – ‘Satnaam’ through a ‘Pargatyo-Jyote’ (a Puran Brahmgyani or a Puran Saint) as it happened in the case of Bhai Lehna ji. The nine sikh Gurus and several Bhagats (Bhagat Sein, Bhagat Pipa, Bhagat Kabeer..) got blessed with ‘Naam’ from their Gurus – Guru Nanak and Bhagat Rama Nand ji respectively.   Clearly Guru Nanak & Bhagat Rama Nand ji were human Gurus or ‘Pargatyo Jyotes’. 
SGGS ji quotes –

naam amolak ratan hai pooray satgur paas
The Naam is a Priceless Jewel; it is with the Perfect True Guru.
SGGS 40 Guru Ram Daas

naam amolak gur parsaadee paa-i-aa
The Priceless Naam is obtained by Guru`s Grace.
SGGS 124 – Guru Amar Daas

The Naam – ‘Satnaam’ takes one to the Sach-Khand. This state occurs to the Bhagat when he commits to it with total faith and truthful living like Bhai Lehna did. The Lord Himself resides in Sach-Khand. SGGS ji quotes –

sach khand vasai nirankaar
tithai khand mandal varbhand
jay ko kathai taa ant naa ant

In the realm of Truth abides the Formless Lord.
In that realm there are continents, worlds and solar systems.
if some one tries to describe them, he should know that there are no limits or bounds of them.
SGGS 8 – Guru Nanak Dev

This Khand is beyond any territories or a description. So is the Naam –‘Satnaam’. This is where the Bhagats or Brahmgyanis (beyond the boundaries of religion) are constantly in the company of the

jin ka-o nadar karam tin kaar
naanak nadree nadar nihaal
Such is the karma of those upon whom He has cast His Glance of Grace.
O Nanak, the Merciful Lord, by His Grace, uplifts and exalts them.
SGGS 8 – Guru Nanak Dev


Clearly, SGGS ji describes it for us that Waheguru is used in praise of the Lord or in praise of His Pargatyo-Jyote – Puran Brahmgyani.
Or Waheguru praises the Naam – ‘Satnaam’. Once we are blessed with His Gurparsadi Naam – ‘Satnaam’, we should chant ‘Satnaam’ all the time – with our tongue, breath, mind and then Hirda. One progresses through these modes of Simran typically over the time and the benefit of Naam-Simran progresses by 1000 folds everytime you switch over from one to the next mode.
If one stays the course of Naam along with Puran Sachiarai Rehat, ultimately Satnaam resides in Bhagat’s Hirda and Naam-Simran goes on here by itself. 
This continueous Naam-Simran – ‘Ajjap-a-jaap’ happens only in Hirda and it happens so only with Guru-kirpa and Lord’s blessing.

jaa kai hirdai dee-o gur naamaa
Those whose hearts are filled with the Lord’s Name by the Guru

SGGS 186 – Guru Arjun Dev

hirdai naam nit har ras bhog
The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is constantly within the heart,
and one enjoys the sublime essence of the Lord.


SGGS 132 – Guru Amar Daas


ahinis hirdai rav rahai nirbha-o naam nirankaar
Day and night, the Name of the One Lord, the Fearless and Formless One, dwells within the heart.

SGGS 32 – Guru Amar Daas


PART 2  


Here is a little more elaboration of "Satnaam" and "Waheguru".
"Waheguru" reflects upon the praise of the Guru as Wah-Guru or O’Guru – you are great. This was clearly implied in "Savaiyees" of various respectable Bhatts in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In the beginning, Bhatts were very much proud of their own writings, and as such were grossly unaware of the state of the Gurus.
They came to the fifth Guru Arjun Dev Ji to bring forward their writings in SGGS Ji, and were declined. The Guru did not want egoistic creations as a part of the holy brahmgyan. Guru kirpa occurred on them and they were enlightened. They felt the Lord’s presence in the fifth Guru and as such did realize the same for other Gurus.
The Lord appeared through them and so happened their "Savaiyees". These truthful writings now were depicting exactly what these respectable Bhatts saw and felt. They reflected upon the praise of Gurus in large volume.
SGGS ji quotes `Waheguru’ in this context.  In Bhai Gurdaas’s vars `Waheguru’ is implied as a `Gur-Manter’. One gains humility by praising the Guru or chanting `Waheguru’ as was clearly quoted by Bhai Gurdaas Ji. We all are indebted to the Gurus and Bhagats of Lord, and as such praise them often such as Dhan-Gur Nanak, Dhan-Dhan Kalgidhar Pita, Dhan-Dhan Bhagat Kabeer and so on.
We should do this as it helps to clean ourselves up, and connects us to the Lord. When you think of Guru with your true heart, Guru is there for you. In fact, it is the Lord in the Guru that you are praising for. If you please the Guru, the Lord will be pleased as well. Gur Manter takes one through various khands through Karam Khand. Your honest prayers to the Guru or the Lord, will now help you further (if destined so) and you will come across a Puran Brahmgyani.
A Puran Brahmgyani is a custodian of the Param-Manter: Satnaam. It is a Gurparsadi khed, as clearly quoted in the very beginning of SGGS Ji, in the Mool-Manter. It is reiterated several times in the SGGS Ji.
Satnaam will take you further to the Fifth Khand – Sach khand. This is Lord’s House as clarified in `Japuji Sahib’.

"Sach khand Vasse Nirankaar"


All other manters or kirtam naams end up before `Sach khand" and only Satnaam (True Name) prevails in the Sach khand. The Sach khand is the common destination place for Puran Brahmgyanis, where all the religions merge in, and there are no boundaries here. 


"Sach me sach samiya"


This is perhaps why Guru Nanak Patshah recited `Satnaam’- the Param-Manter of the Truth itself. This is what he blessed the other Gurus with as well.   The Sach khand is where you truly understand the ‘Mool-Manter’, and its significance. The first Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj did a great service to the humanity with the "Japuji Sahib", and as such the Mool-Manter represents the essence of it all. 
"So jaane jin chaakhia har naam amola"


SGGS Ji is the puran brahmgyan, and it is truly understood in complete by a puran brahmgyani. For the humble devotees on the path of truth (across various khands), the meanings of SGGS Ji change as your spiritual state moves up.  The Sach khand is a vast khand, and here Brahmgyani comes across various forms of the Truth. In the end, the puran brahmgyani is totally embodied in the Lord and the `Satnaam’ is totally merged here. The Lord and Saint serve each other here.



barahm meh jan jan meh paarbarahm. aykeh aap nahee kachh bharam
The servant is in God, and God is in the servant. He Himself is One
-there is no doubt about this.


SGGS 287 – Guru Arjun Dev


This state is beyond what words can capture. 


"Milvei ke mehma varn na sakoon"


One has to walk through the total journey to taste the true sublime essence.

A Humble Servant



Bhai Gurdas has spent the first Var explaining, there is One God who createed many forms and many holy people dear to him. Some found the right way, others didnt.  


Bhai Gurdas explains what the people of the 4 Ages were like and now in Kaljug there was not one saintleft and Guru Nanak Dev Ji did performed so much loving devotion to God that he reached Sach Khand and was given naam and humilty and went out to the crying world. 


Then Guru Nanak Dev ji transformed himself into the following Gurus.   Having said all that, the final verse about Waheguru sums it all up and gives a practical proven way of merging with the Creator. 


Bhai Gurdas Ji is saying that there is now no need to recite the mantrs of previous ages RAM RAM, etc, because the benefit of all these is in Waheguru.  Just recite Waheguru mantr and your soul will merge into God, the Wondrous Guru. Which is absolutely true.


Bhai gurdas also writes in the first verse that Guru nanak spoke the "Satnam" mantr. So it means we have two very powerful Names mentioned in the very first VAR, GurMantr = Waheguru,   Naam = "SatNaam"



namasakaar guradhaev ko sathanaam jis ma(n)thr sunaayaa||
I bow before the Guru (Guru Nanak Dev) who recited the satinam mantra(for the world).


Bhai Gurdaas Ji
Vaars Bhai Gurdaas


GurMantr gets us to the Personal form of God, i.e. God as Guru, Wondrous Guru, Guru Nanak’s SatGuru.  And many sants and brahmgianis have been blessed with this.


But later on the journey, God also takes your soul beyond his personal form to His Supreme Form, the Absolute Form, (PARbrahm PARmesar) and that’s where SatNaam Mantr takes you.


Dust Of Your Feet