WHO WE ARE
Our mission is to preserve and spread the authentic teachings of Gurbani, through the platform of Gurbani Santhia. Currently, we have face-to-face classes proceeding across East London, West London and Coventry, and offer online Santhia for Sangath that are unable to attend those classes. This allows us to reach Sangath all over the world and make Gurbani Santhia as inclusive as possible.
It is a common trait in Gurmat that when an Ustaad (teacher) takes on a Vidhiarthee (student), they teach them under the agreement, that the Vidhiarthee will in future go on and teach what they have learnt to someone else. At Nihung Santhia, we have adopted this method and created it into a formal system. Students are progressively trained to become established tutors, and are then required to go forward and teach Gurbani Santhia to a new learner. Through this system, we hope to spread the study of Gurbani all over the world through our online and one-to-one service.
The lessons are not designed to simply teach people how to read and understand Gurbani correctly, it runs much deeper than this. Sikhi focusses on the relationship between Guru Maharaj and their Sikh, it is about developing this relationship through love and devotion. The lessons are designed for our students to let go of their ego (ni-hung -without ego), and build up their relationship and understanding of their Guru through Santhia.
An official Gurbani Santhia Syllabus has been formulated that will present the structure of the Santhia Course. It will be split into various stages and modules and each student will have their progression reviewed, enabling them progress on to the next stage. Although this ‘syllabus’ (I.e. the traditional structure of taking Santhia) has been present since the time of our Gurus, we at Nihung Santhia believe it is important to visually present this in the form of an official Syllabus to ensure that this priceless knowledge will get the recognition it deserves.
As Sikhs (Students), it is our principle duty in life to be spiritually educated and enlightened through the teachings of Gurbani Santhia. Santhia is the path to eradicating spiritual ignorance and bridging the gap between us and our Guru/Akaal Purakh Waheguru.
Giani Amarjeet Singh Ji introducing the Nihung Santhia Project
WHAT IS GURBANI SANTHIA?
Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha describes the meaning of Santhia as ‘Obtaining Vidhya (knowledge) after quieting the Man (mind) and Indria (bodily and sensory organs).’ Santhia is learning the correct pronunciation of Gurbani, along with the usage of punctuation and pauses (vishram). Santhia not only enables us to read Gurbani but also empowers us to begin understanding what Gurbani is saying to us. If we do not pause at the appropriate places in Gurbani, or pronounce the vowels correctly, the meanings of Gurbani can change. For example, one verse in Gurbani is written as follows:
ਉਦਾਹਰਣ ਜਿਵੇਂ ਕਿ:- “ਗੁਰੁ ਅਰਜੁਨੁ ਘਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਭਗਤ ਉਤਰਿ ਆਯਉ ||
”ਜੇ ਇਸ ਪੰਗਤੀ ਦਾ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮ ‘ਘਰਿ’ ਉਤੇ ਕਰੀਏ ਤਾ ਅਰਥ ਬਣੇਗਾ ਕਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਅਰਜਨ ਦੇਵ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਘਰ, ਗੁਰੂ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਭਗਤ ਉਤਰ ਕੇ ਆਏ| ਤਾਂ ਕੀ ਪੁੱਤਰ ਦੇ ਘਰ ਪਿਤਾ ਨੇ ਅਵਤਾਰ ਲਇਆ? ਕਿਤਨਾ ਫਰਕ ਪੈ ਗਿਆ ਅਰਥ ਵਿਚ | ਇਸ ਪੰਗਤੀ ਦਾ ਸ਼ੁਧ ਉਚਾਰਣ ਇਸ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਹੈ:
“ਗੁਰੁ ਅਰਜੁਨੁ, ਘਰਿ ਗੁਰ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ; ਭਗਤ ਉਤਰਿ ਆਯਉ ||”
If we apply the vishram in the above verse at “ghar”, the meaning will be, “In Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s house, Guru Ramdas ji has been born.” However this meaning is flawed as everyone knows that Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the son of Guru Ramdas Ji, and the actual meaning should be “In the house of Guru Ramdas ji, Guru Arjan has been born.”
Hence, the verse should be read with a pause at “Arjan”, and the meaning will correctly unfold – “Guru Arjan, was born in the house of Guru Ramdas ji”. This is a key example of why Santhia is crucial to read and understand Gurbani.
IMPORTANCE OF PASSING ON VIDHIA
‘Samparda’ is the word traditionally used to describe the institutions where Vidhya can be obtained, for example, the Taksaal. Delving deeper into this word gives us the ethos and philosophy of learning Santhia – that this is not something to keep and obtain for one person, this Vidhya is something to pass on to others. The word ‘Samprada’ is a Sanskrit word, meaning “gift, grant, bestowing; or handing down by tradition.” Samparda is thus a system passed on throughout history by verbal transmission — it is the lineage or living tradition of spiritual knowledge. A traditional school of religious teaching, transmitted from one teacher to their student, who further passes the Vidhya on to their students. It is in this way that the Santhia we learn can be traced back to Dasam Patshah, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji themselves. Learning Santhia and then teaching it to others is what keeps this ancient institution of ‘Taksaal’ alive and is one of the greatest services we can do to join the Sangat to Gurbani.
WHY THE NAME ‘NIHUNG SANTHIA’?
In order to understand what we are trying to achieve and what we stand for, it is important that we know the meaning behind choosing the name ‘Nihung Santhia’. We did not choose this particular name because we belong to any specific Jathebandi. Nor because we are promoting any kind of Maryada, or accepting a certain ‘category’ of student. It is merely a play with words that appeals to ones thinking.
‘Nihung’ is made up of two words, ‘ni’ meaning without and ‘Hung’ referring to the ego.
3 KEY COMPONENTS THAT ARE VITAL TO UNDERSTANDING THIS INITIATIVE:
1) Before receiving Gurbani Santhia, it is imperative that one leaves their ego behind to bear the full fruit of reading Gurbani.
In life, ego is a major obstacle, preventing us from receiving the true blessings of Guru Maharaj. There are millions of Ardas performed every day, but when our Ardas does not bear fruit, instead of reflecting on our mindset when we performed the Ardas (our ego), we begin to lose faith in Guru Sahib and question their power. Consequently, some result to placing their faith elsewhere, typically in a self-proclaimed ‘Baba’, or so-called ‘Sadhu’.
The problem is not our Guru, Sadh Sangat ji, we are the ones performing the Ardas, meaning we are the ones in need. We teach our children to ask nicely, but with us being children of Guru Sahib, we also need to learn how to ask nicely. Any blessing from Guru Sahib is received the same way, be it through Ardas, or Gurbani Santhia, so we encourage that one comes onto the path with full humility.
2) Receiving Gurbani Santhia to rid oneself of their ego.
Coming into a situation with the right mindset is imperative in determining what you will receive from it. If we are conscious of our ego from the start, as well as the need to discard it, then there is no better cure than Gurbani Santhia.
Gurbani is the cure for all physical and mental diseases, and Guru ji is the only Doctor with this medicine. (‘Satguru Baajjhu, Vaaid N Koee’ – Understand, there is no other Doctor than SatGuru).
In the confines of receiving Gurbani Santhia from an Ustaad, Gurbani can be seen as the medicine being prescribed tactically in particular doses and methods. Correspondingly, the Ustaad can be seen as the doctor, carefully nurturing and prescribing the remedy.
3) Wearing the internal Bana, as well as the external Bana.
Today we have many Gursikh brothers and sisters who are blessed to be wearing Guru Sahibs Bana, and Shastar, but when it comes to reading Gurbani, their internal traits do not always balance with the unblemished sight of Guru ji. The external form is a focus point for all societies, regardless of the race or ‘group’ one belongs to. We choose to dress a certain way to conform to society, or sometime even to stand out, and it is commonly viewed as a means of one to express themselves. Similarly, where the Bana is symbolic of who we are, it does not necessarily determine our actions. As Gursikhs, we are weighed on our actions, so it is imperative to have complete focus on our internal image.
It is very easy to take on the outer form of the Khalsa through the Bana, but without Gurbani, the inner qualities of a Khalsa cannot be obtained. Both work together hand in hand, as quoted in old writings such as the Rehatnamas:
ਬਾਣੀ ਬਾਣਾ ਪੰਖ ਪਛਾਣੋ, ਸਿੰਘ ਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ ਪੰਛੀ ਜਾਣੋ ||
Bana (outer appearance) and Bani are the two wings,
which allow the Sikh of the Guru to fly (i.e. progress on the spiritual path).
A true Nihung is one who rids themselves of ego, which can only happen through the power of Gurbani. Therefore Santhia (learning the correct pronunciation and meanings of Gurbani) is one of the first steps to be able to get closer to this state of ‘Nihangta’ (freeness from ego).
It is every Gursikh’s responsibility to not only be Shastar-dhaaree externally, but also internally. We must wear our internal Shastar (Gurbani) with care, be responsible with them and know how to use them to battle our inner demons. This is the true path of a Gursikh and ‘Nihung Santhia’ aims to Spread Gurbani Santhia, so our Panth is internally armed and trained to fight the internal battle of life!