Names of God

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In Sikhism God is One Universal Entity, the creator, self-illuminated, perpetual and gender-less. He is referred to in the Sikh Scriptures by many hundreds of names. The holy scripture of the Sikhs called the Sri Guru Granth Sahib or SGGS begins with the following passage called the Mool Mantar or the "Main Mantra":

Original Text -Punjabi: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮ੝ ਕਰਤਾ ਪ੝ਰਖ੝ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰ੝ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗ੝ਰ ਪ੝ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ISO 15919 transliteration: Ika ŝaṅkĝra sati nĝmu karatĝ purakhu nirabha'u niravairu akĝla mūrati ajūnī saibhaṃ gura prasĝdi
Simplified transliteration: Ik ŝaṅkĝr sat nĝm kartĝ purkh nirbha'u nirvair akĝl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṃ gur prasĝd ||
English: One God. Truth is His name. Creative Being Personified. No Fear. No Malice. Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru's Grace ~

The English translation uses 'His' or 'He' when referring to God. Sikhism does not recognise God as being of either sex and the original Punjabi version reflects this by being gender neutral.

The SGGS says the following about God: "You have so many Names, Lord, I do not know their limit. There is no other equal to You." (SGGS page 877).

A testament to the above, is the the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji's hymn, the Jaap Sahib, which is a list of many names of God, comprised 199 verses.

Waheguru is the main and true name used for God in Sikhism

The Sikhs believe that Allah - The name of God used by Muslim is a valid name to use. Similarly, the name Raam, Paarbrahm, Krishan which are names of God used by Hindus are frequently mentioned in the Sikh holy scriptures. The same God of the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc is the Akal Purakh, the primal being of the Sikhs.

You fashioned all these men and women, Lord. All these are Your Forms. Kabeer is the child of God, Allah, Raam. All the Gurus and prophets are mine. (5) Says Kabeer, listen, O men and women: seek the Sanctuary of the One. Chant the Naam, the Name of the Lord, O mortals, and you shall surely be carried across. ((6)(2))

- Sri Guru Granth Sahib page 1349

Sikh names for God

However, some of the popular names for God are:

  • Akal Purakh meaning Timeless Primal Being. "Akal" stands for 'Primal, timeless' and "Purakh" stands for 'Being'
  • Ek Onkar meaning One Creator. "Ek" means "One"; "Onkar" means "Creator".
  • Satnam meaning True Name, some are of the opinion that this is a name for God in itself, others believe that this is an adjective used to describe the 'Gurmantar', Waheguru (See below)
  • Waheguru, meaning Wonderful Teacher, this name is considered the greatest among Sikhs, and it is known as 'Gurmantar', the Guru's Word.
  • Bhao Khandan meaning Destroyer of Fear
  • Dukh Bhanjno meaning Dispeller of Pain
  • Bhagat Vachhal meaning Lover of His Saints
  • Hari meaning Glowing, Shining, Vitalising - Absolute Name of God
  • Govinda meaning Preserver of the World
  • Bhagavan meaning Lord or Supreme being
  • Rabh
  • Allah word commonly used by Muslims to refer to God.
  • Uppar Valah
  • Malik

God according to Guru Nanak is beyond full comprehension by humans; has endless number of virtues; takes on innumerable forms; and can be called by an infinite number of names thus "Your Names are so many, and Your Forms are endless. No one can tell how many Glorious Virtues You have." (SGGS page 358)