Japji Sahib

Composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Sikh Guru, Japji Sahib is typically recited by Sikhs first thing in the morning, ideally soon waking during the Amrit Vela (Ambrosial Hours) of 4 a.m. – 6 a.m. It contains two “Sloks” (beginning and end) and 38 “Paurees” (verses) on the Creator and the Creation.

Japji Sahib is a profound meditation on the Infinite and our place in the universe.

Japji Sahib corresponds to the ether element (tattva).

Guru Nanak wrote Japji Sahib directly after his enlightenment in 1496. This Bani sings with this experience. Sikhs believe that reciting Japji Sahib jumpstarts our souls, attunes us with the ethers, boldly awakens our humility and our creativity, and bestows vast tracts of wisdom upon us. The entire wisdom of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is condensed within this one Bani.

Japji Sahib opens with Mul Mantra, literally “Root Mantra,” a foundational teaching of the Sikh way of life. This is an English translation of the Mul Mantra:

One Universal Creator God,

the Name is Truth,

Creative Being personified,

no fear, no hatred,

image of the Undying,

beyond birth, self-existent,

by Guru’s Grace.

Chant and meditate!

True in the primal beginning,

True throughout the ages,

True here and now,

O Nanak, forever and ever True.

Japji Sahib closes with the following slok (short verse) that is recited during Sikh worship services:

The breath of air is the Guru; water is the Father; And the earth is the Great Mother of all.

Day and night are the two nurses in whose lap all the world plays. Good deeds and bad deeds—The record is read in the Presence of the Lord of Dharma.

By our own actions, we are drawn closer or pushed farther away. Those who have meditated on the Name And departed after toiling by the sweat of the brow,

O Nanak, their faces shine, and many are liberated with them

In between Mul Mantra and the slok are 38 pauris of unequal length. A pauri is literally translated as a “rung of a ladder.” Sikhs use the word to mean a stanza in a longer poetic composition. Each pauri in Japji Sahib is a rung in the ladder leading to spiritual heights. And each pauri may be practiced, with different effects and benefits.

Many Sikhs practice the recitation of 11 consecutive complete repetitions of Japji Sahib, a practice which can offer a profound spiritual experience.

Japji Sahib begins the Aquarian Sadhana of Kundalini Yoga practitioners, and so this bani is widely often recited by yoga students as well as Sikhs.

Guru Nanak said that the thirty-eight Paurees of Japji would liberate humanity from the cycles of birth and death.

Click Here to Access Japji Sahib in the original Gurmukhi, Transliteration, and English Translation and to Listen to Japji Sahib 

Click Here to Learn More about the Effects of Each Pauri of Japji Sahib and Instructions for this Practice 

Click Here to Access “Mool Mantra – Meditation into the Cosmos” from Kundalini Research Institute (available with free KRI registration)

Click Here to View Japji Sahib Translated into 20 Languages

Video: Essence of Japji Sahib

In this video Guruka Singh Khalsa talks about the essence of Japji Sahib:


~Resources: Victory & Virtue: Ceremonies & Code of Conduct of Sikh Dharma (2001) by the Office of the Bhai Sahiba of Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere; Living Reality (1994) by Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa; “Japji Sahib – Mul Mantra” (Sikh Dharma International); Sikh Spiritual Practice: The Sound Way to God (2010) by Siri Kirpal Kaur.

Note: For those who would like to begin a personal practice of Sikh banis and prayers, our marketplace has a Gurmukhi-Roman Nitnem available that contains Japji Sahib and other Sikh banis for daily recitation, as well as the Peace Lagoon with English translation of Sikh prayers and banis.