Simran – What it means and its Uses

Communion with the Word – the Eternal Music – is possible with a life of Simran, or the constant remembrance of the Lord. It does not mean mere mechanical muttering, which is discarded by the Master.

Kabir affirmed:

While the rosary moves in the hand and the tongue wags in the mouth, the mind is concentrated on external effects. This is no Simran.


Once the rosary quarrelled with me, saying: Why, o man, dost thou moveth me round and round? Just turn the bead of the mind, and I will introduce thee to the all-pervading God.

Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain, but take it with some purpose in view. The constant remembrance of the Lord is but another form of Love. Whom you love dearly – you think of always. This constant thought of the Lord is what the Master exhorts all to do, for as you think so you become.

Simran is the remembrance of the Lord done mentally – with the tongue of thought, with the heart filled with devoted Love, concentrating on a particular centre in the body. It is an act of centring the self and occupying the mind with the constant idea of the Lord, casting out all ideas of the objective world. The constant dwelling on our environments, has so taken hold of the mind that we cannot even for a single moment drive away the thoughts of external objects. From infancy onwards, this practice has been going on in full swing, and it has now grown into a regular habit of our lives.

Habit is said to be the second nature of man. It is at this stage rather difficult to extricate the mind from external objects. The more you try to do so, the more it becomes restive and the more it runs out into the mundane affairs of life. It has formed a strong alliance with all that is external. It is always thinking of what is foreign and exotic and is carried away by the glamour and fascination of the world. Whatever habit we have formed, we can unmake it as well. The thoughts of the world and of all that is worldly is the source of bondage to outside things. The Master too uses the same means inwardly as does Dame Nature to bind us to the external world, and makes the mind purely one-pointed. The constant thought of the Lord, by mentally dwelling on the Holy Naam, brings the mind back from the world and holds it to one place. At the outset it is difficult to concentrate as it takes time to bring the mind under control. But there is nothing to be disheartened about. Failures are stepping stones to success. Where there is a will, there is a way. We must stick to the process until the mind is channelled. The Glory of Naam always reminds one of the highest ideal of human life. It soothes the mind and prevents it from going astray.

The constant remembrance of Naam withdraws the mind from the outer objects and concentrates it on the Divine and the supernatural. It makes the mind self-centred so that desires fail to draw it out and the siren songs of the world lose all their magic attraction. This part of the practice is technically termed by Guru Nanak as Simran. It further helps in the withdrawal of the spirit-current from the body to its seat, situated at the ganglion between and behind the two eyes called Aggya Chakra. Unless the soul-current is withdrawn completely at one focus, further ascent of the soul is not possible. This process of withdrawal from the body is the on thing that is absolutely necessary, in Spiritual Advancement. It is achieved through the simple preliminary method of Simran. With the help of a Gurumukh Master, the process of inversion and self-analysis becomes quite easy and natural to practise.

In Simran lie the seeds that help in the development of the soul. Nanak reveals this secret in the concluding portions of stanzas 5, 6 and 23, and at full length in stanza 33 of the Jap Ji. Fortunate indeed is the man who always revels in the blessings of his Master.

Attachment to the outer world is the outcome of constant remembrance which makes man adhere to his environments, through the law of cause and effect. All impressions ingrained in one’s mind must bear fruit in due course. None can escape the result. It is these impressions that we have to nullify by constant remembrance of the Lord, and by making this the ruling principle of our life. In transmigration, man is led to environments to which he has been mostly attached. When you think of the Lord all the time, nothing can bind you to matter; hence you do not have any rebirths, for it is said:

Through Simran of the Lord, you do not pass through the womb.

Guru Arjan, Gauri Sukhmani M5

Simran makes man introspective and concentrative. Extraordinary powers inevitably follow as a result of the concentration of mind in the inner planes, for

[...] Ridhis and Sidhis (extraordinary powers) are the slaves of Naam.

Guru Arjan, Gauri M5

The Master, however, warns the probationer against the use of them, for these lead him to the outer pursuits and estrange him from the goal he has set up before him. Simran procures true knowledge, high meditation and unerring intellect. It causes one to lose all sense of individuality, which fades away into the Boundless Being, creating a sort of waking trance. This state is utterly beyond words but is a sure reality beyond the ken of death. The hold of the ego is loosened, the spirit currents are withdrawn and one rises into a halo of Light. The body appears as something not of oneself. One’s life, as compared to higher life, may be likened as a spark to the sun.

Simran washes away the dirt of sins from off the mind.

Guru Arjan, Gauri M5

Simran befits a person for receiving and enjoying the sweet nectar of the Holy Naam.

Guru Nanak explains this in detail by giving illustrations in stanza 20 of the Jap Ji.

Lastly, through Simran one hears the sweet music of the unending Song of the Universe (the Word) and has experiences ineffable.

Guru Arjan, Gauri M5

Tennyson, in his poem 'The Ancient Sage', gives a description of what can be achieved by repetition even of one’s own name. In a letter he also refers to the grander life achieved by him, by meditating on his own name.

He says:

A kind of waking trance I have frequently had quite up from childhood. This has generally come upon me through repeating my own name two or three times to myself, silently, till all at once, as it were, out of the intensity of consciousness of individuality, the individual itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into Boundless Being, and this not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, the wisest of the wisest, utterly beyond words, where death were an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming but the only true life. [...] I am ashamed of my feeble description.

Memoirs by Hallivor Tennyson

Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, was also accustomed to this practice of concentration. He lost all his consciousness of personality by concentrating upon his own name. The Master, however, enjoins the Simran of the Lord and not of one’s won name. Meditation on one’s name leads to a dip into one’s own consciousness which is small, as compared to the Higher Consciousness of God.

There are several ways of performing Simran. When it is done

  1. with the help of tongue, it is called Baikhri
  2. when done in the gullet by touching the tip of the tongue with the palate, it is known as Madhama
  3. when done in rhythm with the beat of the heart, it is described as Pashhanti and 
  4. with the flow of one’s breath, it is called Para.

The last method is practised by Yogins.

Masters, however, do not recommend this. The first three methods also do not give complete concentration, as the mind more often than not skips about while repetition is being done mechanically. The Master, therefore, advises mental Simran – done with the tongue of thought – termed Zikre-i-Ruhi.

The practice of Simran begins with the repetition of the Lord’s objective names slowly with a mental poise. At first the process is objective, but in course of time it becomes subjective. Then the constant thought of the Lord continues without cessation. 

The Master refers to this when He says:

O Nanak, a Gurumukh starts the repetition of Naam only once.

Guru Arjan, Gauri Sukhmani M5

Once this starts, the remembrance becomes automatic, continuous and constant and one never forgets the Lord.

O Kabir, there is a great mystery in the repetition of the Lord’s name and one must try to discover the same: For many repeat that name, without any fruit. But others with wondrous results.

Kabir, Shalok Kabir

Again, the Master says:

All repeat the name of God, but none can fathom the mystery of It. If through the favour of a Godman it gets ingrained in the mind, only then one reaps the fruit thereof.

Guru Amar Das, Gauri M3

Let us pause, and summarize what has been said before we proceed further. According to the Master, the purpose of human life is to achieve complete oneness with the Lord. Aye, we must reunite with the Source from whence we once emanated. But how can we reach this Goal?

Complete at-one-ment with the Lord comes through knowing His Will, and His Will is revealed through communion with the Holy Naam. This, in turn, is helped by a life of Simran.

Non-assertion of egoism or humility is the way that helps in knowing His Will through Simran. It has already been mentioned that Simran helps in the withdrawal of spirit-currents from the body. After complete withdrawal is achieved, only then the ascent of the soul into higher spiritual planes becomes possible. To understand this and the mystery of self and the universe, requires a brief explanation.