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Faith

Pronouncing Gurbani Correctly:
A New Website Which Helps You Do Exactly That

Dr HARBANS LAL

 

 

 

Our youth and many adults have long been looking for two specific things: a catalogue of the vocabulary used in the Guru Granth Sahib, and a grammar textbook on the language of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The latter would provide a system of rules which allow for the combination of those textual words into meaningful sentences or verses.

But before one even gets there, there is an important rite required of every Sikh to be connected to the Guru. It is known as “GurCharni Lago,” a time honoured ceremony of initiation.

It consists of the first time recitation from the Guru Granth in public in a solemn public ceremony. 

All rites of commitment have a rational basis: in this case, it is that every adherent avails the opportunity to publicly commit himself / herself to the spiritual mentor and set the life goals consistent with that commitment. Furthermore, the aspirant prepares for the day of commitment with a forward outlook and the community buys into it by investing in its preparation.

To be able to fulfill this commitment, the aspirant must learn how to read the script and the language of the Guru Granth.

In Punjab, our clergy and/or parents/grandparents take care of preparing the growing youth for accurate reading of the hymns. 

However, there is a greater challenge for those of us who are in the diaspora. A significant population of Sikhs are unable to read and therefore recite passages from the Guru Granth. The absence of this ability renders their relationship with their Guru meaningless or at least questionable.

www.SriGranth.org provides a complete list of words in Gurmukhi in the Guru Granth, but the list comes short in failing to provide a correct pronunciation of the words. Our children, our youth and many adults who are illiterate as far as reading correct Punjabi, to date, have therefore been handicapped. They could not read or recite gurbani.

Yes, sometime ago, our technologists produced electronic versions of Guru Granth Sahib; one example being the website, www.srigranth.org. Others, more recently, have produced an audio version where you can catch the shabads actually sung. 

What has been lacking to date, however, is a word by word audio of the Guru Granth recitation with simultaneous pronunciation of each word that is highlighted. In such a combination of both, Sikhs can recite the bani while reading it.

To my knowledge this is the first time that modern technology has been thus  employed, mercifully through numerous man hours donated by the designer. He has successfully produced an electronic teaching tool of reciting gurbani accurately. It is also well suited for gurbani dissemination that may be used to bring others in the fold of gursikhi.

Of course, one has to go beyond this stage to understand the message, which this software does not provide, but the translations and exegeses are readily available elsewhere.

I know Sardar Satpal Singh Purewal through email communications and now through phone contact. He lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, and is the creator of this much sought after software.

I learnt from him what a demanding and tedious job it was to complete the project. It consumed several years of his selfless labor. It took him several years and a good chunk of money. He is not a rich person, but one who lives on a relatively meager income. He did go to the SGPC and sought help from at least three different presidents of SGPC over a course of time. Every one promised help and even offered to take over the project but nothing materialized. He contacted a whole host of other Sikh organizations, but no one stood by him all the way.

To complete his project, not only did he had to teach himself and employ wisely the software technology but to also negotiate with software developers as well as their owners to use their tools and their platforms for wide distribution of the product. Towards procuring the artists needed, he had to find suitable persons who could appropriately read and pronounce the bani accurately, and who were willing to spend years on the project.

There were volunteers as well as technologists to hire who could fulfill one or the other component.

He found those who could recite with an attractive voice but did not possess the skills of correct pronunciation. Others could pronounce the words that were grammatically correct, but lacked presentation skills.

Eventually he found a Sikh scholar who was conversant with both, in addition to the zeal to serve the community. He could recite gurbani with a melodious voice and compose the pronunciation that appropriately followed the Guru Granth grammar.

It was our respected Gyani Jagtar Singh Jachak of New York. I really admire Bhai Sahib’s devotion to this project.

Yes, the software is now ready to download and use. It will assist you to read and pronounce gurbani correctly. Each word, when read, is highlighted and pronounced. If you wish to stop at any word, you can readily do it. You can also go back and forth on the text. You can change the color of the text and its background. You can change the font and its size.

Besides a variety of Gurmukhi fonts, you may use Hindi and Urdu fonts as well. Thus, you can share the Guru Granth with your Indian and Pakistani friends.

With this software, you can select different banis and pages of Guru Granth you like to recite. It will help you reciting your Nitnem.

There are also some exegeses by Gyani Jagtar Singh on the web site that you may take advantage of. There is also an excellent search engine that will find a word and its pronunciation at the same time.

How about projecting the Guru Granth Sahib verses on the screen during the akhand paath so that the attending sangat can get something more out of it?

Sardar Satpal Singh is presently working on the next version where you may click on any word that is read and pronounced to connect it to various dictionaries to instantly learn the meaning of the same word.

To me it is a breakthrough, as well as a challenge to distribute it widely so that our new generation can take full advantage of it immediately.

Best for the last:

To download the software and the program please go the web site http://www.ektuhi.com and download various tools at no cost. It is all free courtesy of Sardar Satpal Singh.


Please CLICK here to access the new website.


September 16, 2014
 

Conversation about this article

1: Sanjit Kaur Rehal (Ontario, Canada), September 17, 2014, 9:14 AM.

I humbly thank you for this much needed tool to help many like me pronounce our gurbani appropriately.

2: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, USA), September 17, 2014, 10:01 AM.

S. Satpal Singh ji, the community will salute you and remember you from the depth of their heart for this priceless gift. We eagerly await your next version.

3: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), September 17, 2014, 11:03 AM.

It is indeed such a joy and delight to listen to the voice of Gyani Jagtar Singh ji recite gurbani on this site. There is an inherent beauty in it, making it very difficult to switch it off once you begin listening to it. As well, the enunciation, the pauses and breaks, the oral punctuation throughout, are crystal clear, making the very meaning bounce off the pages.

4: Manbir Banwait (Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada), September 17, 2014, 12:30 PM.

I look forward to flying home to Vancouver and downloading this software produced by Sardar Satpal Singh. Can't wait to enjoy it! Thank you for your extraordinary service to the community!

5: Harman Singh (California, USA), September 17, 2014, 12:40 PM.

Thank you for your seva, Satpal Singh ji. Hopefully this will inspire many of us to develop a more personal relationship with our Guru. Gyani Jagtar Singh's voice is mystical.

6: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), September 17, 2014, 4:23 PM.

Satpal Singh ji, what an absolutely priceless gift Satguru has made you the instrument to bestow. You have brought the most profound seminary into each home. There is no room left for any excuse. Satpal Singh ji, you will be in the prayers of all lovers of gurbani. Just imagine the quantum of blessings you will receive, yet "kaho Naanak sabh tayree vadyaa-ee ko-ee naa-o na jannai mayraa" [GGS:383.12] -- "Says Nanak, this is all Your greatness, no one even knows my name." Thanks to Bhai Harbans Lal ji for this post.

7: Ranjeet Kaur (Melaka, Malaysia), September 18, 2014, 1:09 AM.

I would like to read the Guru Granth Sahib with the correct pronunciation. I am also a beginner ...

8: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), September 18, 2014, 3:29 AM.

When I wrote my earlier comment, I was completely bowled over with the expanse of this outstanding project. "Koe na janai tera keta kevad chira" [GGS:9.10] -- "No one knows the extent of your expanse." I had then not listened to BhaiJagtar Singh ji's perfect recitation, devoid of any regional accent. This delightfully stands out in this respect. Will wait until we reach the Sanskrit and Saraiki sloks. We must remember that the Guru Granth is an encyclopaedia of languages ... I'm sure Gyani ji will come out with flying colours.

9: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), September 22, 2014, 12:11 PM.

In order to pronounce gurbani correctly, I generally use the book written by the Sikh Missionary College, Ludhiana, Punjab. The book is known as "Gurbani da Shudh Uchaaran". In this book, grammar is also included in great detail, because grammar and pronunciation go together in Gurmukhi/Punjabi.

10: Ranjit Singh (Singapore), October 24, 2014, 9:46 PM.

I would like to learn how to pronounce Gurbani correctly.

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