Frequently Asked Questions
What is the overall purpose of this curriculum?
While there is no one overall purpose for this curriculum and course, there are several important purposes that must be mentioned: (1) To teach students the meanings of JapjiSahib from a multitude of perspectives including line-by-line and from an overallconceptual point of view; (2) To introduce students to basic Gurbani principles andconcepts; (3) To demonstrate how relevant, practical, and helpful Gurbani is in dealingwith the pressures and stresses of students’ modern-day lives; (4) To apply Gurbani tosolve students’ current issues and stresses; (5) To provide students with a likeminded andsupportive sangat (community) encouraging each other to become closer to Gurbani; (6) To encourage students to form a closer relationship with the Guru and form a strongerbond with their faith.
Why was this curriculum made?
This curriculum was designed to provide Sikh college students with a better framework and understanding of Gurbani. The majority of Sikhs born and raised here in the United States do not possess a solid understanding of core Gurbani concepts or principles. Often times, this lack of knowledge is not due to the individuals themselves, but due to circumstances and environment. There is currently no organized curriculum or course available to Sikh college students on campus that can provide Gurbani Veechar (learning) sessions. While Christian students are blessed with various Bible study classes on campus, Sikh students do not have any such opportunity to study Gurbani. United Sikh Movement (USM) has taken the first step to fill the void through creating this course. We are providing this course on various college campuses in order for the college Sikh community to benefit, learn, and grow. This course is the first of its kind in the Sikh community, and we hope it provides students with a better understanding of Gurbani.
Who wrote this curriculum?
This course and curriculum was created by a handful of passionate USM sevadaars. All of the sevadaars involved in this project possess an understanding of basic Gurbani principles and concepts, and many also have experience teaching Gurbani on college campuses and in other environments as well. Nevertheless, the sevadaars involved in creating this curriculum did not rely on their own knowledge or insert their own interpretation of Baani into the course, but rather, the sevadaars relied on the superior knowledge and interpretation contained in our sources (see below).
What sources were used in drafting this curriculum?
Numerous sources were used in creating this curriculum, including the following:
"Santhiya" by Bhai Vir Singh Ji
“Gurmat Martaand” by Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha Ji
“Mahan Kosh” by Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha Ji
“Japji Sahib Teeka” by Bhai Jodh Singh Ji
“Japji Sahib Teeka” by Principal Teja Singh
“Garab Ganjani Teeka” by Kavi Santokh Singh
“Faridkot Vaala Teeka” by Giani Hazara Singh and other authors
“Sampradhaee Japji Teeka” by Giani Kripal Singh
“Shabadarth” by Principal Teja Singh
“Guru Granth Prakash” by Piara Singh Padham
“Gurmat Nirneh” by Bhai Jodh Singh Ji
“Teeka Akal Ustat” by Pandit Narayan Singh
“Teeka Dasam Granth” by Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi
“Sri Dasam Granth: Text and Translation” by Dr. Jodh Singh and Dr. Dharam Singh
"Naveen Gurbani Nitnem Steek" by Bhai Harbans Singh Ji
“The Encyclopedia of Sikhism” by Giani Harbans Singh Ji
“Guru Granth Sahib Darpan” Prof. Sahib Singh Ji
"Nitnem Steek" by Giani Avtar Singh Ji Khalsa (Damdami Taksal)
“Sri Dasam Granth Sahib” by Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi and Dr. Gurdarshan Kaur Jaggi
“Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji Steek” by Bhai Javahar Singh and Bhai Kirpal Singh
“Dasam Granth Darshan” by Pyara Singh Padam
“Shabdarth Dasam Granth Sahib” by Bhai Randhir Singh
“Akal Ustat Steek” by Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Academy
Does this curriculum have some sort of point-of-view or "agenda" it is trying to promote?
No, this curriculum does not have a point of view or “agenda” to promote. The only “agenda” that we have is to provide students with a better understanding of Gurbani and attempt to create a greater sense of love for the Guru. We do not subscribe to one particular school of thought, but instead try to incorporate multiple opinions (when necessary) in order to provide students with diversity of thought and interpretation. However, all opinions discussed are well-accepted in the Sikh community and are not controversial in any way.
How many university SSAs are hosting this course on their campus?
Approximately 30 university SSAs across North America are hosting this course on their campus.
What is United Sikh Movement (USM) and what is its purpose?
United Sikh Movement overlooks college Sikh Student Associations and helps student members further their Sikhi through naam and seva, while also helping develop crucial leadership skills through various Sikhi-oriented conferences, events, and trainings.
How should I use this workbook? What is the format?
The booklet is the workbook for the course, and students must bring it with them during every session. Students should use the empty space after each line of Gurbani to write in the translation and other notes provided by the facilitator. There are 18 lessons for the entire course spread out evenly over three quarters (or two semesters). Each lesson will last for approximately an hour, but some may be shorter or longer than the prescribed hour.
Why are there corresponding Youtube videos?
The YouTube videos provide a deeper explanation of relevant concepts discussed in the Gurbani lines assigned to that particular lesson. We encourage you to take notes during the videos, but the videos will be available for viewing online as well.
What is the purpose of the activities in each lesson?
We understand that students attend several hours of lecture every day. We do not want this course to also be a lecture for the entire hour. As a result, the activities provide an opportunity for students to engage with each other (as well as themselves) in order to discuss and think about the lesson’s Gurbani lines on a deeper level. The activities also help students connect the Gurbani lines to their daily lives, and help provide more clarity.
What is the purpose of the "Additional Baani"?
Due to the complexity and depth of the Mool Mantr, it is necessary to understand additional Baani that helps explains certain words of the Mool Mantr. The facilitators and videos will help explain the additional Baani and connect it back to the Mool Mantr.
Do I need to have any prior knowledge of Gurbani?
No, you do not need to have any prior knowledge of Gurbani. The curriculum is written for beginners with no background knowledge.
Do I need to know how to speak Punjabi?
No, you do not need to how to speak Punjabi. Every session will be conducted in English.
Do I need to know how to read Gurmukhi?
No, you do not need to know how to read Gurmukhi, as we have transliterated the Baani into the English alphabet. However, we encourage you to learn Gurmukhi because reading the transliterated Baani normally leads to wrong pronunciation.
How are facilitators at each university chosen?
Facilitators are chosen based on the following elements:
Interest and passion for Gurbani
Willingness to learn during intensive mandatory summer training sessions
Background knowledge in Gurbani
Availability during the quarter/semester
Good communication and public speaking skills
Do I need to attend every Gurbani Study class?
While we cannot force anyone to attend, we strongly encourage students to attend as many sessions as possible. The more lessons students attend, the more they will learn and gain from the course. However, students that miss a session can still easily attend the next one and not feel like they have fallen behind. We have also taken into account students’ busy schedule during finals and midterms. We only require six weekly sessions out of the ten-week quarter (or nine weekly sessions per semester). As a result, there will be no Gurbani Study sessions scheduled the week before finals and during midterm season. Each SSA is free to schedule sessions on any day that works for the majority of its members, as long as six sessions are scheduled by the end of the quarter.
What if I have a question on the Baani that my facilitator cannot answer?
While we have thoroughly trained each facilitator, we understand that questions may arise that she or he may not be able to answer. If this occurs, please email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will respond to the message as soon as possible.
What if I don't like my facilitator or I feel my facilitator is not doing a good job?
If a problem with the facilitator occurs, please email us at email@example.com, and we will respond to the message as soon as possible.
How can I contact USM to give my feedback on the course?
We would absolutely love to receive feedback (both negative and positive). Feedback allows us to modify the course to better serve the need of the Sikh college sangat (community). Considering this is the first year of the curriculum, we are anticipating that many changes will be made for the following year. However, these changes can only be made if we receive detailed feedback from students. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will respond to the message as soon as possible. We will also be sending evaluation forms periodically during the year.
How can I get more involved with this course and USM as a whole?
Thank you for your support! We have various volunteer opportunities for both this course and other aspects of USM as well. Please email us at email@example.com, and we will respond to the message as soon as possible.
Can I financially contribute to the Gurbani Study program?
Yes, you can! USM and its Gurbani Study program both run on donations from our Sangat. If you would like to financially support us, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.