As we read from the Guru many of us wonder what the Gurbani is referring to or what its deeper meaning might be. So where do we go to learn the meaning of each word in English? There are resources for translating the
Gurbani words into modern day Punjabi vernacular but almost nothing
out there for learning meanings in English.
I am an American born white Sikh myself, so I don't know Punjabi, not to mention the fact that many Western born Punjabi Sikhs aren't fluent. After scouring the internet I found very few resources that were helpful. The first was this list of the 330 most common words in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, which was actually the foundation of our current project: www.chardikalaa.com
The other one that comes to mind is the srigranth.org Gurbani search engine. It has many words and their meanings. It is geared towards Punjabi speakers, so some definitions are not listed in English, you can't search in English, and you have to know how to spell the word correctly in Gurmukhi. So while it is a very good resource I was always left wanting a simple list of words that I can simply search to find the one I want.
Up until now we haven't had a dictionary style resource in English. With the leadership of Hari Singh (England), Sikhiwiki has just launched a Gurmukhi to English glossary style dictionary! This is very exciting to me because, since it uses a wiki, it is user driven (anyone can help edit it and add to it.) Instead of waiting for one person to write a complete dictionary we have empowered the whole army of the Khalsa Panth to participate. I invite you to add words and expand on the deeper meanings of existing words.
It is organized according to the English alphabet so you can jump to any letter. The idea is that we can now provide deeper meanings of Gurbani words, below is an example.
Original definition: In tune with the Guru
Sikhiwiki definition: In tune with the Guru, (Gur-Guru, Mukh-mouth, face, word) one whose face, demeanor, and wisdom reflects the the presence of the Guru
Original definition: sin
Sikhiwiki definition: (paa-to put, aap-ones-self) an action against ones-self, action that creates negative karma, negative action that creates separation with the being from universality, misdeed
Original definition: Word, Naam
Sikhiwiki definition: (sha-ego, bad-breaker) sacred verse, celestial sound vibration, science of uplifting consciousness through sacred primal sounds, similar to Naam; a single word; an entire hymn which can be put to music
To provide a fuller understanding of these words we can include the breakdown of any word into its component syllables (aakri) and a more complete explanation. Most of the time, a one-word definition isn't enough for Gurbani words. It is also good to break away from Judeo-Christian concepts in western religion like 'sin' which are not concepts that we have in Gurbani. Many things need cultural context in order to be understood fully.
Hopefully, the end result of this new project will be that anyone, even someone who is not a Sikh, will be able to read Gurbani and understand all of the cultural or mythological references. In the grammer comments column we can add things like 'noun, verb' etc. but also other things like "number of instances in SGGS," etc.
Anyone can add to and/or edit this dictionary so please come and participate! Instructions for editing are at the bottom of the dictionary page.
I invite you to join us at the SikhiWiki Gurmukhi_to_English Dictionary Project