Naam in Other Faith Systems
Naam is not unique to the Sikh way of life. Naam is ancient and eternal and it is an underlying belief in all
the major world religions. Some examples of Naam in other faith beliefs are given below.
Hindus believe that the whole of creation was made through Naad (Naam). They also refer to Naam as Akash Bani. The Amritbind Upanishad reads, “Like the butter hidden in milk, the Pure Consciousness resides in every being. That ought to be constantly churned out by the churning rod of the mind.”
An extract from the Tibetan Book of the Dead reads “…vibrating and dazzling like coloured threads,
flashing, radiant, transparent, glorious and awe inspiring…will strike against thy heart, so bright that the
eye can not bear to look upon them…Be not afraid of that brilliant radiance of five colours, nor terrified; but
know that Wisdom to be thine own.”
An extract of the bible states, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
Name of Gods: The Concept of
Naam, Shabad, or Word, is the quintessence of Sikh spirituality and is mentioned 2546 times in the Sikh
Holy Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, literally meaning the Name of Gods or God. But what exactly is Naam and why is it so important?
What is Naam?
Naam as a Controlling Force
Naam is the great creative and controlling power of God. Naam has no beginning and no end. It is unchanging, ancient and eternal and it is the life current which pervades the entire creation. The withdrawal
of Naam from creation would lead to its decay and destruction.
Attributes of Naam
Naam is characterised by sweet strains and melodious tunes and powerful light which can be seen and
witnessed. This sound current is active in the whole of creation. This is one of the ways humans experience this phenomenon within themselves.
Why is Naam Inaudible?
Our mind is always in a state of oscillation and all the time our mental faculties are always flowing outward
into the world. Never for a moment have they known any rest. Until we internalise our focus and allow the
mind to become purified and stilled, one cannot listen to the reverberations of the sound current.
The 5 Shabads (Melodies)
Naam, the primal sound current is in fact only one continuous vibration. However as it steps down through 5
different planes of existence, with their varying degrees of density, the frequency of Naam changes and this
creates the ‘Panj Shabad’, the five distinct melodies, which are contained within the mantra Sat Naam and
are S, T, N, M and A. These five melodies come from God and become the means of re-uniting us back with
God. It is this internal experience of the 5 shabads that inspired the Sikh Gurus and Yogis to create
instruments like the Dilruba, Saranda, Taus, Sitar and Rabab which re-created the sounds of Naam to enable
common people to experience these sounds.
Bhai Gurdas Ji, the great Sikh philosopher, tells us that it is only after one transcends body-consciousness
that one gets contact with the five primal sounds.