We asked Sikh Dharma Ministers to reflect on the question: “What does it mean to bow to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib?” Here are a few thoughtful replies:
SS Sada Sat Simran Singh Khalsa, Santa Fe NM
Bowing one’s head isn’t just symbolic. It is an act of devotion. It is a reminder. It is a practice of maintaining a relationship to one’s teacher and the source of our path. We give our head so that all intellect can be guided by the Guru. We live through our heart because compassion is the foundation of all Dharma. We give our head to the Guru and serve through our heart, giving up the evil intellect and allowing God to come through. In bowing we are acknowledging and practicing the Guru as our touchstone. Any answers we need. Any guidance. And any command comes from there for us.
Living in Higher Consciousness
SS Sat Tara Kaur Khalsa, Boulder CO
The Siri Guru Granth Sahib recounts verbatim the poetic renditions from the higher consciousness of saints from Sikh Dharma, as well as from Hinduism and Islam. The capacity for this consciousness is within each of us. When I bow to the Guru, I am bowing to my own higher consciousness, as well as those of saints.
The perspective of higher consciousness is distinct from emotion, desire, attachment, and personal perspective. As the Siri Singh Sahib says, “Once you live in the real Self, you are God.” I believe that this is an ongoing daily choice, rather than a static state. At every junction, in every decision, at every moment, with each breath, we are faced with a choice of acting out of our higher consciousness, or not. Being on the spiritual path, and especially being a minister of Sikh Dharma, means to make the choice to comfortably act from my higher consciousness as consistently as possible. I say “comfortably” because as we evolve, the choice becomes clearer and we are more congruent with it, with fewer cross currents or ambivalence.
by SS Mata Mandir Kaur Khalsa, Herndon VA
Bowing means that I am truly surrendering. I am offering my situations, my emotions, my prejudices, my desires, my dilemmas, and my prayers into the heart and guidance of the Guru. I am also recognizing that the Guru knows me better than I know myself. The more I can open myself to the healing vibration, the wisdom and the power of the Guru, the more my real needs will be met and the better I can deliver.
Honestly, I feel that the Guru is the only one who can be truly present with what is in my heart, with no agenda. I can offer all I feel, all I desire, all my worries, and all my dreams. I can offer my gratitude to the Guru and offer my life in service.
I become one with the Naad of my Guru the more I recite and vibrate it, and the more I listen, as it washes through me and takes root in my body and soul. I can live according to the guidance of the Guru as I sing, read and listen with an open mind and heart. Thus I “become” the Guru, infused with that infinite energy and light. In bowing to Guru, I become the Guru. “Your hand on my head, my heart up to you. Through Your Love, now I become You. With my head in my hand through the light and the dark, O my Love, take my heart.” (English translation of Samarath Guru on Nirinjan Kaur’s recording).
Changing Our Destiny
by MSS Hari Dharam Kaur Khalsa, Espanola NM
Once Guru Gobind Singh was invited to a king’s court. The Vizier of the king noticed that many people came and bowed to Guru Gobind Singh, asking for his help to change their lives for the better. The Vizier then cynically stated that everyone’s lives are all pre-determined and that no one can do anything differently from what was destined for himself/herself before even being born.
So the Vizier wondered, why do Sikhs pray and bow to the Guru, since one’s destiny is already set and cannot be altered? Guru Gobind Singh explained that bowing to the Guru is like the king’s seal recorded in wax to bear the mark of the king. Destiny is recorded on the forehead, but at that moment when one bows before the Guru, the destiny is “soft” like wax, and the Guru can correct it.
At the time of his passing, Guru Gobind Singh placed the energy of all the Gurus into the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and the Siri Guru Granth Sahib became the Guru for us all, beyond the physical form of a person. When you bow before the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, you can touch your forehead to the ground consciously. Your own Arc Line then connects with the Guru in this way, and if something in your destiny seems wrong it can be rewritten. The Siri Singh Sahib explained that this was a gift given to all of us by Guru Nanak; we have the power to rewrite our own destiny at any time when we bow before the Guru and connect in this way.
SS Gurutej Kaur Khalsa, Los Angeles CA
Truly I can sum this up in one word—Grace. I get to become humble to embrace humility and to know that I belong to something bigger than “just me”; that our Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, had the foresight to return the power of the Guru to the power of the Word, out of the personal realm. Guru Nanak started out with the Sound Current and Guru Gobind Singh placed the power right back there. So that I may pay more attention to all that comes through and out of me. So that my Sound Current can match my Guru’s. Wahe Guru.
Bigger than Life
SS Hari Nam Singh Khalsa, Mazatlan Mexico
[Bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib] means that there is something in this world that I consider bigger than me and bigger than life itself. It is a recognition that at the end of the day, this is what is at the center of my life and what I hold most sacred.