Q56. What is the Name (Naam)?
The word 'Nam' is derived from the Sanskrit Naman which means the practice of remembrance. It is a word used to describe the spiritual manifestations of God i.e. His Holy spirit. So the remembrance of God - Nam Marg is the essence of Sikhism. The repetition of the Sikh mantra "Waheguru" is an invocation of this Holy Spirit. Life without "The Name" or "The Word", or nam simran(The remembrance of "The Name", invoking the Holy Spirit) is barren and meaningless. "The Name" alone brings true peace of mind. The obstacles to "The Name" are worldy thoughts, sleep and occult powers.
"The Name" is inside every individual. The Guru reveals it to the devotee. The devotee does his normal duties with hands and feet, but he keeps his conscious mind in tune with His Lord. Some men practise "The Name" with the regulation of breath; they utter 'Wah' with inhalation and 'Guru' with exhalation. But this reflects individual convenience.
"The Name" performs three functions - it is purgative for the removal of evil; it is illuminative, because it gives us knowledge of "The Truth", Beauty and Goodness; it is unitive since it may bring one in tune with God. The remembrance is three-fold: with words, with the mind and with action. The repetition of Gurbani helps the mind to concentrate on God. It is food for the soul.
The technique of "The Name" follows certain phases - first the repetition of "The Nam": Wahguru by mouth; secondly, the percolation of "The Name" into the mind, (mental remembrance); thirdly, the longing for God like a lover waiting for his beloved; fourthly the awareness of God every-where; then finally, the ulimate union with Him.
Sikhism recommends the following plan as the easiest way to practice "Nam marg". Get up early morning and meditate during the ambrosial hours of the dawn. Avoid idleness and the five great vices. Seek the company of holy men, this is a great help to meditation. Try to maintain strict moral conduct, this too, helps you to a spiritual plan. Even then Divine Grace is necessary for the practice in humility of Nam Simran.
"The Name", apart from meditative aspect also means the "All pervading Spirit". The entire world depends on "The Name" - God's own Holy Spirit. Therefore, to meditate on 'Nam', is to practise the presence of God by keeping Him ever in one's mind as also by singing His praises or dwelling on His excellances. From this may come the feelings of wonder and bliss