|by Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji|
|First published in||Adi Granth, 1604|
|Followed by||So Dar Aasa ( ? ? ?)|
Jap ji is believed to be the first composition of Guru Nanak, and is now considered the comprehensive essence of sikh faith. It is regarded amongst the most important Bani or 'set of verses' by the Sikhs, as it is the first Bani in Nitnem.
Notable is Nanak's discourse on 'what is true worship' and what is the nature of God'. In Jap ji it is stated that God is indescribable; the only true form of worship is worship of Nam (inner Word, Sound, Power), realization of God, and to remain always in the Holy Will of that loving God, accomplished with the grace of the True Guru.
Following are some accepted meanings of Jap:
The Japji Sahib opens with hymn that 'one cannot clean the mind just by cleaning the body, by silence alone one cannot find peace, by food alone one cannot satisfy one's hunger, to be purified one must abide in love of the divine'. Hymn 2 asserts that by God's command the ups and downs in life happen, it is He who causes suffering and happiness, it is He whose command brings release from rebirth, and it is His command by which one lives in perpetual cycles of rebirth from karma.
With good karmas in past life and His grace is the gate of mukti (liberation) is found; in Him is everything, states Hymn 4. The Hymn 5 states that He has endless virtues, so one must sing His name, listen, and keep the love for Him in one's heart. The Guru's shabda (word) is the protecting sound and wisdom of the Vedas, the Guru is Shiva, Vishnu (Gorakh) and Brahma, and the Guru is mother Parvati and Lakshmi. All living beings abide in Him. Hymns 6 to 15 describe the value of listening to the word and having faith, for it is the faith that liberates. God is formless and indescribable, state Hymns 16 to 19. It is remembering His name that cleanses, liberates states Hymn 20. Hymns 21 through 27 revere the nature and name of God, stating that man's life is like a river that does not know the vastness of ocean it journeys to join, that all literature from Vedas to Puranas speak of Him, Brahma speaks, Siddhas speak, Yogi speaks, Shiva speaks, the silent sages speak, the Buddha speaks, the Krishna speaks, the humble Sewadars speak, yet one cannot describe Him completely with all the words in the world.
Hymn 30 states that He watches all, but none can see Him. God is the primal one, the pure light, without beginning, without end, the never changing constant, states Hymn 31.
The Guru Granth Sahib starts with Japji Sahib, while Dasam Granth starts with Jaap Sahib. Guru Nanak is credited with the former, while Guru Gobind Singh is credited with the latter.Jaap Sahib is structured as a stotra that are commonly found in 1st millennium CE Hindu literature. The Jaap Sahib, unlike Japji Sahib, is composed predominantly in Braj-Hindi and Sanskrit language, with a few Arabic words, and with 199 stanzas is longer than Japji Sahib. The Japu Sahib is, like Japji Sahib, a praise of God as the unchanging, loving, unborn, ultimate power and includes within it 950 names of God, starting with Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu and moving on to over 900 names and avatars of gods and goddesses found in Hindu traditions, with the assertion that these are all manifestations of the One, the limitless eternal creator. This is similar to Sahasranama texts of India, and for this reason this part is also called as Akal Sahasranama. The text includes names for God taken from primarily Islamic theology, such as Khud? (Persian) and All?h (Arabic). The Japu Sahib includes a mention of God as wielder of weapons, consistent with the martial spirit of Dasam Granth.
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