The term ANA'HATA figures variously in the Guru Granth Sahib as anahada-shabad, anahada-tura, anahada-jhunkara, anahada-bain, anahata-nada, anahada-bani and anahada-dhuni and in the Dasam Granth as anahada-bani and anahada-baja.
The word anahata is from the Sanskrit language. It occurs in Pali and Prakrit texts as well. In the Sanskrit original, it implies unstruck; it stands for pure or immaculate in Pali and for eternal in the Prakrit. The suffix words like sabad or shabda, tura, jhunkara, bani and dhuni stand for word, rhythm, sound or speech. Thus, anahata-shabad would mean the unstruck or pure eternal sound. In a theistic system, anahata-sabda would signify an eternal voice symbolizing the reality of God. Indeed, Kabir uses the word anahata as an epithet of God who is of the form of Light (joti sarupa anahata). This interpretation is paralleled in Guru Nanak’s Japji where he refers to God, the Creator, as the original, the pure, the beginningless and the eternal (adi anilu anadi anathati).
The Gurus have employed almost all the technical terms of Tantra and Hathayoga first used by the siddhas, nathas and yogis, but they have, at the same time, re-evaluated and reinterpreted these doctrines and practices. However, the former were neither theistic in outlook or bhaktik in practice: their path was chiefly that of ascetic yogis. On the other hand, Sikhism believes in the non-dual dynamic reality realizable through bhakti or loving devotion. Thus, the concept of anahata-sabda in Sikhism had to be understood in the light of the Sikh concept of Reality which cannot be realized through tantric or hathayoga methods, but through nam-simran, i.e. constant remembrance of His Name—hari ki katha anahad bani (GG, 483).
In the Sikh ontological view, this mystic sound (anahati-sabda) has no meaning if it does not relate to the glory of God. The use of tantric and hathayogic terminology has to be given a theistic and devotional content to understand it fully in the Sikh context. In Sikhism, the mystic sound in itself is not of much significance, but what matters is the source of this sound. Unlike the hathayogis who believed that the source of this sound (nada or sabda) is the kundalini passing through the susumna, the Sikh Scripture declares that he who strikes the instrument and produces the sound is no other than God. It is the constant mindfulness of God (Naam Simran) which has to be made the life-breath (prana-pavana) of the devotee; controlling his left and right nerves (ida and pingala), he cultivates the central nerve (susumna), and then starts the reverse process by turning the life-breath upwards.
When this life-breath made by nam-simran passes in the reverse order through the susumna, it pierces all the six plexuses on its upward march and it then settles in the void (ultat pavan chakra khatu bhede surati sunn anaragi—GG, 333). The Gurus are not concerned with the details of nadis, cakras, and kundalini; their central concern is to bear the eternal sound signalling the omnipresence of the Almighty. When this is achieved, by the grace of God (gurprasadi) the self realizes its innate nature spontaneously (sahaja-subhai), enjoys the innate bliss (sahaja-sukha), becomes free (nirmala) of all impurities, merges into the emptiness trance (sunna-samadhi) and attains supreme peace (nirban pada) which characterizes the fourth station (chautha pada). It is not necessary to stress that the anahata-sabda heard by the released sages is not a physical sound to be heard with the physical ears. One has to ‘kill’ one’s sinful existence and live an immaculate existence called jivan-mukti; then alone can one hear the anahada-bani.
1. Eliade, Mircea, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom. Princeton, 1969
2. Bhattacharya, Haridas, The Cultural History of India. Calcutta, 1969
3. Jodh Singh, The Religious Philosophy of Guru Nanak. Varanasi, 1983
4. Chaturvedi, Parasuram, Uttari Bharat Ki Sant Prampara, Allahabad, 1963
Above adapted from article by L. M. Joshi