Anhad naad's mystery comes from its mysterious nature. You have to experience it yourself, not just hear about it from others. 

14th century Indian poet Kabir, whose writings bridge the divides between Sikhs, Hindus, and Sufis wrote.His words are revered by all religions alike.

“The more I search, the deeper within you are

In my awareness dwells your form. Kabir has lost his mind!”

Anhad Naad

Weaving its way through countless ancient Indian texts is the profound concept of anhad naad. Literally translated as "unstruck sound," it defies the notion of sound needing external vibration. This is the primordial hum of the universe, resonating within human consciousness itself. Transcending space and time, anhad naad is the ultimate Sound, an unending melody with no beginning or end. Sikh scholars and poets alike have described it as both a fundamental aspect of existence and yet something that goes beyond even the concept of being.

In Hindu belief, there's a fundamental sound, like a "constant hum," expressed as Aum or Om. It tries to capture the silent essence of the universe in a way people can understand.

In Sikhism, the Creator is in fact synonymous with this Sound. The first two words in the holy book – a revered figure containing hymns that describe the qualities of God – are ik onkar. “Ik”, literally, means “one”. Tracing the semantic footpath of the word “onkar” (pronounced oh-ANg-kaar) reveals that the word, which has come to simply mean “the Creator”, is derived from the sacred syllable “om”. “Ong” produces the same tonality of vibration as “om”. The Creator, then, is the Primordial Sound.

The Power of Music, or Struck Sound

While spirituality in Sikhism is rooted in notions of “soundless sound”, the devotion in SIkh religion is often expressed through anhad naad’s counterpoint: audible music.

Worship in Sikhism usually revolves around musical renderings of Guru Granth Sahib ji. It often includes community events where sangat (Sikh devotees) sing along with the kirtaniyas (musicians). The experiential worship through this music, called shabad kirtan, is an important part of Sikh lived experience.  Similar to Sufi music, Sikh music is a way to express love and devotion to their Beloved.

Many religions use sound to talk about the divine. They use different kinds of sounds, like singing or chanting, from the Gregorian chant to intonated readings of the Q'uran to the bellow of the shaman’s drum to the African American gospel tradition. These sounds help people feel connected to something greater.

But how does singing and chanting lead to the deepest kind of silence? Can you find silent sound by listening to audible sound?

“There is no end to seeing and hearing

There is no end in sight. ..

What Mantra lies within God’ s mind?

The structure of the universe is infinite.

Endless vibrating expansion.”

-Guru Nanak

Anhad naad, by its very nature, is a mystery. It's not something you can learn about from books or teachers – it has to be directly experienced. There's a curious twist here: many Sikhs chant the poetry of Guru Nanak and Kabir for their beautiful rhythm and calming effects, without necessarily focusing on the deeper meaning. But maybe that's not a bad thing! Some believe the combination of sounds and syllables itself can lead to a more profound connection with anhad naad, even surpassing intellectual analysis. As Guru Nanak himself wrote in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib…

“The sound of Your Name so subtle, that It goes unheard,

 Resounds endlessly. You have a thousand eyes, forms, feet, noses…And you have none…

I am charmed!”


*Based on an article posted by slant-of-light on on 28 August 2013 


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