Q: What is the meaning of the words: Sikh, Guru, Gurbani, Shabad, Gurdwara and Langar?
Ans: Sikh: A follower of Sikhism; a student.
Sikh is a word derived from Sanskrit. Literally translated, the word means disciple or student. In the Sikh faith, the word Sikh means someone who strives to learn about God, is a seeker of God and truth, and someone who follows Gurbani to achieve such goals.
Guru: A spiritual leader sent by God.
The word Guru is combination of two small words Gu and Ru. Gu means Darkness and Ru means Light. Literally translated, Guru means “The Light that dispels darkness”. The Guru is a highly spiritual teacher who has been sent to Earth by God to enlighten people. The Guru is in direct communion with God and it is through the Guru, that Sikhs come to know about God. There are a total of 10 living Sikh Gurus, who brought knowledge of God to the people. The Sikh Gurus provided guidance for about 240 years. They taught the basic values of freedom, brotherhood, charity, obedience, understanding, sympathy, patience, humility, simplicity, piety, and outlined the path to spirituality in life. The eternal Guruship (spiritual and temporal authority) in the Sikh faith lye in the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Scripture) and the Guru Panth (the commonwealth of Sikhs). It is from the Guru Granth Sahib that Sikhs receive guidance for life.
Gurbani: Sikh scripture; ordained by the Guru.
Gur means Guru and bani means speech. Therefore Gurbani means the speech of the Gurus. The Sikh Gurus wrote their teachings in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. This compilation of writing is called Gurbani. Gurbani must be treated with great respect.
Shabad: a hymn of the Guru Granth Sahib or other Sikh scriptures.
The word shabad is generally used to denote any single hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib or more abstractly the command of God. Shabads are sung in the Gurdwara and in holy congregations to praise God.
Gurdwara: Sikh place of worship; house of God.
The Gurdwara is a Sikh place of worship. Gurdwara is a compound word created by combining Gur for Guru and Dwara meaning door or house. Thus the word Gurdwara means the door or house of the Guru. The Guru Granth Sahib is always present at a Gurdwara as well as a Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag - orange in color with the Sikh insignia - the Khanda).
Langar: Free community kitchen in every Gurdwara.
Langar is a free food service provided in every Gurdwara Sahib. Begun by Guru Angad Dev Ji in the sixteenth century and given the synonym ‘pangat’, the traditional practice of langar is two-fold. The food is preparation by members of the sangat (congregation) and then consumed by them and those in need of a good meal. While eating, the sangat sits together on the ground and enjoys the prepared food. This act, of sitting together on the floor, is representative of pridelessness and an expression of human equality. With the original purpose of the langar being to both, help feed the hungry and eliminate the stigmas placed in peoples’ minds by the Hindu caste system, (ultimately looking upon all human race as equal), this practice created a new means of viewing society through a universal looking glass.