Jaap is the bani (set of hymns) uttered by Guru Gobind Singh ji, the Tenth Sikh Guru, the Tenth Nanak. It is one of the Five Banis recited by most practising Sikhs each morning and bani that the Panj Pyare recite while preparing Amrit on the occasion of Amrit Sanchaar (Sikh Initiation), a ceremony held to admit initiates into the Khalsa Brotherhood. It is the second bani of the five in the daily morning prayers routine of a Sikh.

This bani has the same place in Dasam Granth as Japji Sahib in Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh was a worshipper of one God (Akal) this is proved by the first stanza of Jaap sahib. Guru Gobind Singh ji completed this bani before 1699, because this bani was recited during the installation of khalsa. Professor Sahib Singh says, " That Guru Gobind SIngh went to Nahan in 1684 and lived there for approximately 3 years. During these three years guru Sahib may have composed Jaap Sahib, Swaiyey & Akal Ustat.


Jaap Sahib is made up of 199 verses and is the first Bani of the Dasam Granth (p.1-10). The Jaap Sahib begins with "Sri Mukhwakh Patshahi Dasvee," "By the holy mouth of the Tenth King." This appears to be a specific saying to authenticate the writings of Guru Gobind Singh himself.

Macauliffe says, "The Hindus have a work enitled Vishnu Sahasar Nam, 'Vishnu's Thousand Names.' The Jaapji was composed to supply the Sikhs with a similar number of epithets of the Creator." Jap is a Sanskrit word which means "to utter in a low voice, whisper, mutter (especially prayers or incantations); to invoke or call upon in a low voice." The form of the word here is Japu, which makes it a noun, meaning "meditation on nothing but TRUTH 'god'."



The language of Jaap, is close to classical with words and compounds drawn from Sanskrit, Brij Bhasha, Arabic and Persian. The contents of Jaap Sahib, are divided into various Chhands bearing the name of the related meter according to the then prevalent system of prosody in India.

Most of the verses point to the fact that one can only describe God by describing what God is not. As all these verses are in the form of rhymed couplets, the vocabularly and ingenuity of the poet are superb. The opening verse is typical:

"Thou hast no form or feature,
No caste or lineage;
None can describe Thy appearance,
Colour, mark or garb."

There is an all inclusiveness and universalism that keeps coming to the surface. "All" seems to be the key word as the poet breaks through praising God positively:

"Thou art the source of all light,
And the object of all praise;
Thou art the supreme Lord of all,
And the moon of the Universe."
Verse 119

"Perfect is Thy discernment.
All turn to Thee for refuge.
Thou art the Great Companion;
Thou art the sure Providence."
Verse 123

The fervour of the true Bhakta comes out in hailing the immortal as man's companion. Something of the devoutness of the Guru's nature comes to a climax in the concluding verse:

"Thou fillest and feedest the whole universe,
Thyself self-existent, auspicious and united with all.
Thou art the embodiment of mercy;
Thou art the deliverer from birth and death.
Thou art man's constant Companion.
Everlasting is Thy glory!"

Among the thousand names there are seventy-five names used by Muslim. Only a few of these, such as Rahim and Karim, Razakai (Nourisher), Aruv (Pardoner), and Salamai (Peaceful) are among the Muslim's ninety-nine names of Allah: but all the names used would be familiar to Punjabi Muslims. The Mohammadan ear would surely delight in Allah and Nirsharik; Karimur Rahim; Husnul Chirag, Garibun Niwaz; Kamal Karim; Rajak Rahim; Bahistun Niwas; and many such others.


The immortal One is for Guru Gobind Singh sometimes the 'wholly Other,' far beyond human comprehension, before whom man can but bow again and again. As the Guru keeps saying what God is not, we may well wander how there can be any communication with that which is so undefinable. The answer is, of course, that God's grace has offered companionship to man, so that man does not have to understand, but only to accept and adore.

Sikhism offers a new path of salvation in addition to the traditional paths of knowledge, work and devotion - the path of the Name, Naam. Meditation on Name produces Wismad, wonder; and the object of such poetry as the Japp Sahib is the creation of the mood of asthetic ecstasy: Sher Singh in the Philosophy of Sikhism writes:

"It is the poetry and the music of the contents of the Granth, revealing simple and direct truths, which charm a reader of Gurbani...and can bring peace to the soul." "It is the aesthetical insight leading man through appearence to reality." Meditation on the Name is fundamental to Sikhism, and so in this opening hymn of the Dasam Granth, men are given a thousand names on which to meditate.



Jaap Sahib is a rhythmic hymn composed like a necklace with pearls and gems beauteously arranged around a string: the string is the Supreme God; the pearls and gems are His attributes, excellences, and glories. The glories sung by Guru Sahib revolve around the following attributes of God:

  • God is metaphysical , beyond time, Eternal, Unborn, Uncreated, Self-existant, and withour form, feature, colour or contour. Therefore, neither can God be described or depicted, nor can anyone make an image or idols of that which is undefinable.
  • God's manifestations are universally pervasive. God cannot be confined to any particular place, land, country, religion, race, garb, body or name.
  • God is the Creator of the Universe and the laws governing it. Never can anyone outside the ambit of these laws nor can anyone have the power to oppose them. God's Law and Justice is Righteous and Ultimate.
  • God's Creation is pervasive and also extends beyond it; God is thus Immanent in His Creation and at the same time Transcends it.
  • God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient; nothing, whether good or evil, can happen outside of the Creator's Will; God is the Creator-Sustainer-Annuller of His Creation. God is the Life of life, the Death of death, the Darkness of darkness, the Light of light.

See also

Audio Links



External Links


  • Singh, Dr.Santokh (1990). English Transliteration and Interpretation of Nitnaym Baanees, Sikh Prayers for English Speaking Sikh Youth. Sikh Resource Centre. ISBN 1895471087.
These are the Popular Banis of Sikhism

Mool Mantar | Japji | Jaap | Anand | Rehras | Benti Chaupai | Tav-Prasad Savaiye | Kirtan Sohila | Shabad Hazaray | Sukhmani | Asa di Var | Ardas

Dasam Granth

Jaap | Akal Ustat | Bachitar Natak | Chandi Charitar | Chandi di Var | Gian Prabodh | Chobis Avatar | Brahm Avtar | Rudar Avtar | Shabad Hazare | Swayyae | Khalsa Mahima | Shastar Nam Mala | Charitropakhyan | Zafarnama | Hikayats

These are the Popular Banis of Sikhism

Mool Mantar | Japji | Jaap | Anand | Rehras | Benti Chaupai | Tav-Prasad Savaiye | Kirtan Sohila | Shabad Hazaray | Sukhmani | Asa di Var | Ardas

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