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Katha is the verbal explanation/discourse of Gurbani (the utterings of the Guru's) and our great history. Katha has been an integral part of Sikh practice since the revealed inception of Sikhism by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee and great Sikhs of his era performed Katha and it was and is still through Katha that many people gain knowledge about Sikhism and become enlightened. Katha is both a spiritual and historical discourse, it endows the listener with spiritual and worldly knowledge, and helps Sikhs along the path of Sikhi.

Sri Guru Amar Das Jee enlightens us about Gurbani Katha in the following manner,

ਪਉੜੀ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਅੰਮ੝ਰਿਤ ਕਥਾ ਸਰੇਸਟ ਊਤਮ ਗ੝ਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਸਹਜੇ ਚਾਖੀ ॥

Through the Guru's Teachings, they intuitively taste the sublime, exquisite and ambrosial sermon of the Lord. (SGGS Ang 87)

Gurbani Katha is also a form of Amrit, as the teachings verbally expressed in Katha make us reach this sublime stage of immortality. In the same manner that Naam/Gurbani is Amrit the discourse of this Naam/Gurbani is also Amrit as Sri Guru Amar Das Jee taches us in the above quotation.

The filth of our bad actions is removed by listening and practising the teachings of Katha, as Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee explains to us

ਮਾਝ ਮਹਲਾ 5 ॥ ਕਥਾ ਸ੝ਣਤ ਮਲ੝ ਸਗਲੀ ਖੋਵੈ ॥

Hearing Your Sermon, all filth is removed. (SGGS Ang 104)

Katha is not just expressed on a stage in a Gurdwara, it can exist in conversation and discussion as well, so all the above quotations are relevant if we are promoting the idealogy of Gurbani when we are discussing things. This Katha is described as the most supreme discourse to enter,

ਸਭ ਤੇ ਊਤਮ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਕਥਾ ॥

Highest of all is the Lord's Discourse. (SGGS Ang 265)

Historical Katha

This Katha has an equally important place in Sikhi, as it helps to preserve our heritage as it reminds of our moral duties as Sikhs to live up to the high standards set by our forefathers. The majority of Historical Katha is done by translating the Suraj Parkash Granth written by the Great Kavi Bhai Santokh Singh. Written approximately a 100 years after the death of Sri Guru Gobind Singh the Suraj Parkah is still perhaps, the most extensive history of the Sikhs that has been written.

The majority of the written history has been written by non-Sikhs and even some of the history written by Sikhs has become distorted. However, we can only rely on historical references that are backed by the ideology of Gurbani, rather than stories that promote hypocrisy or non-Sikh practices.

As stated in the Guru Granth Sahib, Historical Katha still holds great importance in what it teaches us about our Gurus and other great Sikhs of the past.

ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੩ ॥
Shalok, Third Mehl:
ਬਾਬਾਣੀਆ ਕਹਾਣੀਆ ਪ੝ਤ ਸਪ੝ਤ ਕਰੇਨਿ ॥
The stories of one's ancestors make the children good children.
ਜਿ ਸਤਿਗ੝ਰ ਭਾਵੈ ਸ੝ ਮੰਨਿ ਲੈਨਿ ਸੇਈ ਕਰਮ ਕਰੇਨਿ ॥
They accept what is pleasing to the Will of the True Guru, and act accordingly.
ਜਾਇ ਪ੝ਛਹ੝ ਸਿਮ੝ਰਿਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ ਬਿਆਸ ਸ੝ਕ ਨਾਰਦ ਬਚਨ ਸਭ ਸ੝ਰਿਸਟਿ ਕਰੇਨਿ ॥
Consult the Simritees, the Shaastras, the writings of Vyaas, Suk Dayv, Naarad, and all those who preach to the world.
ਸਚੈ ਲਾਝ ਸਚਿ ਲਗੇ ਸਦਾ ਸਚ੝ ਸਮਾਲੇਨਿ ॥
Those, whom the True Lord attaches, are attached to the Truth; they contemplate the True Name forever.
ਨਾਨਕ ਆਝ ਸੇ ਪਰਵਾਣ੝ ਭਝ ਜਿ ਸਗਲੇ ਕ੝ਲ ਤਾਰੇਨਿ ॥੧॥
O Nanak, their coming into the world is approved; they redeem all their ancestors. ||1||
(page 951, Guru Granth Sahib)

For further information on Historical Katha, please see: http://www.damdamitaksal.com/proj_katha.htm)

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Glossary of Sikh Terms