by SS Mata Mandir Singh Khalsa, San Francisco CA
Simran is often translated as “remembrance,” which, to me, doesn’t explain the word. Other people say simran is repeating a mantra. I understand repeating a mantra as japa, which means “to repeat a mantra.”
Does repeating a mantra lead one in the direction of simran? Yes, scientifically so. Some people say that doing a meditation is simran. What we call “doing a meditation” to me is a practice called dhyaan or concentration.
Does dhyaan lead to simran and a state of meditation? Yes, unless it is done out of ego. I think Kabir said it best with this quote: “I used to chant ‘Ram Ram Ram.’ Now Ram is chanting ‘Kabir, Kabir Kabir.’”
In the words of the Siri Singh Sahib: “Simran is a continuous, meditative, longingly creative feeling. It’s a feeling, it’s a flow, it is a touch, it is a substance. ‘Ang Sang Wahe Guru’ (God is with me through every limb, every millimeter, every situation of mine.)”—The Siri Singh Sahib (Beads of Truth, Fall 1980, #5)
In my life, simran is everything. By profession I am a chef, a musician, and a teacher of Naad yoga. Often those professions attract praise or condemnation. “Oh, that song was so beautiful, your voice is this or that….” Yes, all is a gift of God. So I am God’s minstrel, as someone once called me.
I remember visiting Los Angeles when Yogi Ji was teaching and I walked into his class. He said something like, “Oh you are here. You have to sing.” I said, “I can’t, sir. I have bronchitis. I can hardly talk.” He said, “Get up here. It doesn’t matter. You still have to sing.”
I sang and I remember I sounded like a frog croaking. So when I am God’s minstrel or God’s croaking frog, I am still God’s. So be a thief, be a freak, but be God’s thief or freak! Be a giver or a hero, but be God’s giver or hero. In all situations, good or bad, God and we, we and God, are One.
The Divine Taste
If I am cooking langar and the food satisfied someone’s taste, I always feel like saying, “I didn’t create the olive oil; neither did I manufacture the eggplant or tomatoes or spices and herbs that give food its divine taste.” I had good teachers, and the very prana by which I live does not enter me by my own will. So all is the Grace of God. (I usually don’t say that when someone compliments my cooking because I don’t habitually like to lay numbers on people. Usually I just smile and say, “Thank you.”)
How can anyone take credit, even for the words one speaks when teaching? For they come from a place deep inside that we are barely aware of, let alone control. It is the flow of energies and resources organized through the tattvas, bound by the soul, and existing in the will of God, which gives us abilities.
What a wondrous creation we live in! In every instance the relation is with God, and remembering this takes the pain out of every situation. That is what simran means to me.
God Loves Us When We Sing
Recently a friend sent me a recording of a song that I wrote the lyrics to many years ago, when I was fairly new to Sikh Dharma. It was my own discourse about simran, although I didn’t know the meaning of the word at that time.
The song was called “I Hear You in the Wind” from a cassette album entitled “God Loves Us When We Sing.”
I hear you in the wind, whispering through the trees
I see you in the distance, in a far-off mountain scene
I feel your love when I’m singing your songs
And I pray that merging with you won’t take too long.
Sunlight dances on this singing, falling mountain stream
Forests bloom to nature’s tune – this world is like a dream
So why in my heart do I feel apart from you?
Lift this dust of illusion from my eyes
And see me through.
It is in Thy service that our hearts are made to shine
Only through Thy Holy Name our fears are left behind
It is through Thy saints that your wisdom can be shown
In singing Thy praises can your love
Ever be known.
Guru Nanak said it all in the first lines of Japji:
Ek – That vast quantum field of Oneness that existed before creation
Ong – That Word, that vibration or sound current that began the process of creation of the phenomenal universe
Kar – All that was created and is still being created from that
Sat Nam – That is our True Identity
Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, codified the Guru with his mastery and gave the greatest gift to mankind when he declared there would be no more human Gurus. He installed the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the “living Guru”, as the Guru of the Sikhs.
Anyone, by reading, reciting and singing it with one’s given prana, one’s own frequency, one’s own voice, one’s own listening ability, extends his awareness to the Infinite, and then the Guru is awakened within. Therefore it is known as a living Guru. Simran personified!
When we reach internally through the given disciplines, beyond the chattering mind, false identification of the ego and physical body, our frequency begins to match the subtle realms of the Infinite. We become aware of the Anahad, the unstruck melody; the Brahma Naad, which is our true essence, resounding in all of us, forever. That is a state of simran from which, by unfathomable intelligent design, there is no return.
About the Author
SS Mata Mandir Singh is an ordained Sikh Dharma Minister and an international teacher of Kundalini Yoga. He has dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of Naad Yoga, the yoga of sound. A heartfelt singer/songwriter and skillful musician (guitar, Rabab and cittern), he is a pioneer of the chant and mantra genre, having recorded around 30 CD and cassette titles since the 1970s.
Mata Mandir is a featured artist on the Invincible Records label, with many new albums in progress. He is also author of the forthcoming book, Naad Yoga: The Yoga of Sound. Mata Mandir continues to teach and play mantra concerts around North America, Europe and China, sharing his love for the sacred sound current, of which we are all a part.