Reflections on the Mul Mantra from Japji Sahib by Guru Nanak

Reflections on the Mūl Mantra by Snatam Kaur Khalsa

“The Mūl Mantra is a fate killer.  It removes the fate and changes the destiny to prosperity.” ~Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan (1)

In the fifteenth Century in a town called Sultanpur in Northern India, a young man named Nānak loved to bathe in a cold river before meditating every morning. It is said that one morning he submerged into the water, and did not come up for three days. It was called Jal Samādhī, or merger with the One in the water. After this experience, he became known as Gurū Nānak. In this underwater meditation there was a process of self election, where Gurū Nānak chose to sit in that deep space of meditation to merge with God, but then God also chose Gurū Nānak to sit there. In the 16th Paurī of JapJī Gurū Nānak  calls this mutual election process between God and the human being Panch Paravāṉ the chosen ones.  In that deep state of meditation he came to the place of  Sach Khanḏ or the “True Home,” as he tells us in the 37th Paurī. That true home became firmly established not only within the heart and physical presence of Gurū Nānak but then through the sacred recitations that he gave us, the first of which is the Mūl Mantra—which begins Jap Jī.

Many sacred recitations were to follow, beautiful poems of union with the Divine as Gurū Nanāk traversed much of India and other surrounding lands, teaching people through these poems, and through his divine wisdom and presence. Even after he left a village, there was an energy that seemed to live on through these poems, and this was the birth of Shabad Gurū, where the sacred sound current became the teacher.  After Gurū Nānak left his body the Gurūship was passed on to nine living Masters, each of them contributing unique and powerful teachings for humanity, covering the full spectrum of the saint to the warrior.  The consciousness of these teachings would be honored, sanctified and preserved in the sacred poetry that came from many of the Sikh Gurūs.  The fifth Gurū compiled many of these writings along with enlightened Masters of the Sufi, Hindu and Muslim faiths in what became known as the Adī Granth, or the original sacred text.  As the tenth Gurū prepared to leave his body, instead of appointing a human successor he put the Gurūship into these sacred writings which then became known as the Sirī Gurū Granth Sāhib. This body of writing is a living, breathing entity.  Sikhs across the globe look to this energy for daily guidance.  It does not contain doctrines, or religious laws.  In fact the only command within it, as I remember the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan stating, exists within the Mūl Mantra, and that command is, Jap.  Meditate!  To understand how the Sirī Gurū Granth Sāhib works as a flow of consciousness we must be willing to experience it in our own self election process, in our own capacity to feel its vibration.  In fact, I remember the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan teaching us that if you want to understand all 1430 pages of the Sirī Gurū Granth Sāhib, understand Jap Jī, and if you want to understand Jap Jī, understand the Mūl Mantra, and if you want to understand the Mūl Mantra, understand the first word in the Mūl Mantra, and that is Ek Ong Kār.  So let’s begin there and let’s do it from a place of self experience and self-initiation in the spirit of Gurū Nānak.

Allow Ek Ong Kār to bring you into the awareness that God, who is One, exists within all beings (including you.) Perhaps as human beings the greatest challenge we face is the capacity to have self-acceptance, self love.  Know that God is fully within you, that God is fully you, and that you are fully God.  Can you feel Divine?  Then let’s take that a step further and feel that Divinity within all beings.  That is the gift of Gurū Nānak.

Satinām: Truth is God’s Name. Gurū Nānak tells us that all creation emanates from the vibration of God’s Name. So as God’s Name vibrates, we come into existence; the sound creates the noun—the “I am,” the Nām. When we chant Sat we vibrate the energy of truth. When we chant Satinām, we are chanting “Truth I am,” or “Truth is my identity.” We affirm that truth prevails within us and within all beings.

Karatā purakh: God is the Doer. Let’s really believe it, let’s really feel it.  Let’s let God be the Doer. Let’s take a step back from our lives, our worries, and cares and all that is happening in this world and see it as God’s play. Wow, for me that is such a wonderful feeling.  Yes, I have to be present, yes I have to be real, yes I have to be true… but with God as the doer there is a lightness of being that prevails.

Nirbha-u: To live without fear;

Nirvair: to live without anger. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with fear and anger. It is only when we allow these energies to guide our consciousness that we get in trouble.  Instead these energies are simply there to show us where we need to grow within ourselves. As we recite these sacred words we loosen the grip of fear and anger within, so that we can see those energies for what they are, and instead of getting caught in them, find the way to healing.

Akāl mūrat: the undying form. We received this incredible gift of the human body which has the privilege to carry the soul.  Each soul is connected to all souls, and is in union with the Great Cosmic Soul.  Within each of us is that essence! When we dress with grace, elegance, in acknowledgement of this sacred identity within, we are experiencing the power of the akāl mūrat, or the undying form.

Ajūnī: We live beyond the constraints of birth and death and tap into the timeless energy within, so that we can live for legacy and serve the future.

Saibhang: Known as the self-illumined will of your spirit. This is the twinkle in your eye and the inner smile that brings hope to your day. We each have this capacity, and when we exercise it at will, we find the way to our personal freedom and joy.

Gur prasād: This is the Gurū’s grace, the hand of the Divine that brings us liberation. There is a touch and a grace that we receive.  We are blessed.  We did not get here on our own, by the will of our own egos.  A sacred energy guided us here, and we acknowledge that it exists and will continue to guide us along the way.

Jap: meditate! Let us follow this singular command of Gurū Nānak, to meditate with focus, purity and intention so that we can shift our inner cellular structures from a state of disconnection and chaos to an experience of Divine resonance.

Ad sach, jugād sach, haibhī sach, nānak hosī bhī sach.” God is true. Spirit is true. That truth is totally within you! As the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan says, “That’s what you are. You are true in the beginning, true through time, true now, and you shall be true, if you remain so, but you don’t remain so. You want to be something else. Be what God made you to be.” (2)


1. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, 80.
2. Yogi Bhajan, The Master’s Touch (Santa Cruz, NM: Kundalini Research Institute, 1997), 97.

Snatam Kaur is an American Kīrtan singer and peace activist raised in the Sikh and Kundalini Yoga tradition as taught by the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan. She is known internationally for her ability to transform traditional chants into a contemporary sound that appeals to the modern ear and awaken an ancient yearning in the soul. While traveling across the globe on tour, she also teaches the art and science of Shabad Guru the experience of transformation through sound from the Sikh tradition. For more information, please visit


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