The Mool Mantra

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. This means that Sikhs believe there is one God. One of the most important names for God in Sikhism is Waheguru (Wonderful God or Lord).

Sikhs learn about God through the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine Sikh Gurus who came after him.

The tenth Guru was Guru Gobind Singh. He said that, from his time onwards, the holy book would be the ‘Living Guru’ for Sikhs, guiding them on what to believe and how to live. This book is called the Guru Granth Sahib. The opening words of the book explain what God is like.

Mool Mantra

The opening section of the Guru Granth Sahib is called the Mool Mantra. This means ‘essential teaching’. The fact that it is the opening of the holy book shows that it is very important to Sikhs.

The Mool Mantra was written by Guru Nanak and gives a short description of what God is like (also known as God’s nature). It is written in the Punjabi language, using a script (written characters) called Gurmukhi. The whole of the Guru Granth Sahib is written in this script.

The lines of the Mool Mantra are as follows:

PunjabiEnglishMeaning
Ik OnkarThere is only one GodGod is One, though there are different paths to experiencing the one God.
Sat NaamTruth is his nameGod’s name is Truth. God is True. Naam can be compared to a jewel or treasure.
Karta PurkhHe is the CreatorGod caused the universe and everything in it to exist. God keeps the universe going, sustaining it.
Nir BhauHe is without fearGod has no rivals. God is sovereign. Nothing can harm or threaten God.
Nir VairHe is without hateGod loves creation and judges fairly.
Akaal MooratHe is immortal, without formGod is not tied down by time. God is beyond time. Time is God’s servant, not God’s master. God is neither male nor female.
AjooniHe is beyond birth and deathGod was not born (unborn) and will not die.
SaibhangHe is self-illuminated (self-existent)God is not dependent upon anything. God just is.
Gur ParsaadHe is realised (made known) by the kindness of the true GuruA person cannot get to God by their own efforts. God has to open their eyes first. God offers this knowledge freely, by grace, so that someone who dedicates their life to learning and understanding God through the teachings of the Gurus can come to know God.

The importance of the Mool Mantra

The first line of the Mool Mantra is Ik Onkar. This is written in Gurmukhi as shown in this image:

The Ik Onkar symbol is seen in many gurdwaras and Sikh homes – it helps Sikhs to focus when praying and meditating

The Ik Onkar is an important symbol for Sikhs, reminding them of the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity (the belief that everyone is equal). It helps Sikhs to focus on Waheguru when praying and meditating.

Sikhs frequently recite the Mool Mantra in public and private worship, including their morning prayers. This makes it easier for them to keep the name of God (Sat Naam) in mind, to help them to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

Translation of the Mool Mantra

Sikhs believe that Waheguru is without gender or form. The language of the Mool Mantra reflects this by not saying ‘he’ or ‘his’. However, traditional English translations often refer to Waheguru as ‘he’, even if the Punjabi version does not.

Question

Where do Sikhs find the most important beliefs about God?

Sikhs find the most important beliefs about God in the Mool Mantra, which is the first chapter of the Guru Granth Sahib.