What is the Shabd?

The Shabd, Sound Current, Word or Holy Spirit is not a subject matter for speech or writing. In order to make it understand, we can only say this much, namely that it is the quintessence of the Lord and that it sustains millions of universes and regions. 

It is the soul-current of consciousness. It is the Celestial Melody. It is the life-current which originates from the Lord and pervades everything. The Lord creates and sustains the entire universe through this great Current of Power. It gives life to the whole of the creation and can take every living being back to his Original Home or the Lord. The currents of the Lord pervade everywhere, like radio-waves. His divine music fills all space. 

Unless our radios are correctly tuned to it we cannot hear this music. As we grow more and more subtle, we begin to hear clearly its melodies. Shabd is a string which connects everyone and everything with the Lord.

The Shabd is the basis of all true religions, for religion means 'that which connects us with the Lord.' All the forces of nature are sustained by the Shabd. The life force is also its manifestation, even though it is working in the regions of Maya. Like electricity, Shabd, whether manifest or unmanifest, pervades everywhere. It is all-powerful and is the Creator of all. 

Guru Nanak describes it as Hukam (Command or Law) in the Jap Ji. He says that it cannot be adequately expressed or explained. However, he describes in the Second Stanza of Jap Ji whatever is happening within its compass:

All things are manifestations of His Will; but His Will is beyond description. By His Will is matter quickened into life; by His Will is greatness obtained; by His Will some are born high and others low. By His Will are men's joys and sorrows ordained;  by His Will (the pious) obtain Salvation; by His Will (the impious) wander in endless transmigration. All exist under His Will, And nothing stands outside. One attuned with His Will, oh Nanak, is wholly freed from ego.

Jap Ji, Stanza II

Shabd is of two kinds:

  1. manifest, and
  2. inner.

The manifest Shabd is called Varnatmik and the inner Shabd is called as Dhunatmik. Knowing the Varn-atmak Shabd, it is possible to know to a certain extent the Dhun-atmak Shabd.

On hearing words of love every pore of our being is thrilled with delight. On hearing words that speak of detachment and self-effacement, we begin to entertain feelings of detachment and surrender. On hearing harsh words, we become angry. Sweet words produce happiness and bitter words, pain. Words of sympathy give hope and unsympathetic words depress. 

All these powers are inherent in Shabd:

Shabd killed them and they died, kings lost their kingdoms because of Shabd. Those who always remembered Shabd, succeeded in their mission. Shabd is the cause of happiness; Shabd is the cause of pain; Shabd is the cause of hope; Shabd is the cause of despair.


The greatness of Shabd is unfathomable and limitless. If this is true of the manifest Shabd, it can well be imagined how powerful the inner Shabd is. On listening to the melody of a violin, one gets peace. It attracts our attention and makes us become absorbed in it. 

When a gross outer sound can produce such a condition, how powerful would the inner Shabd be?