What Is the Meaning of Sikh Term Shabad?

Sacred Song

Shabad of Ancient Guru Granth Sahib
Shabad of Ancient Guru Granth Sahib. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Shabad is a word meaning hymn, sacred song, sound, verse, voice, or word.

In Sikhism, a shabad is a sacred song selected from Sikhism's scripture ​Guru Granth Sahib, everlasting Guru of the Sikhs. It is not the book, paper, ink, binding or cover which is considered as the Guru, rather it is the shabad, the sacred songs of Gurbani, and the enlightening emanating brilliance which is present when the shabad is seen, spoken, or sung, and its meaning reflected on, which is the actual Guru of the Sikhs.

The shabads or hymns of Guru Granth Sahib are known as Gurbani or the Guru's word and are written in the Gurmukhi script and composed in raag, a musical score. The main focus of any Sikh worship service is kirtan, or singing the sacred shabads of Gurbani. Shabads may be sung by kirtanis, (individual singers,) or ragis, (professional singers versed in Gurbani) accompanied by sangat (members of the Sikh congregation).

Pronunciation: A has the sound of u as in shut or bud and may be pronounced as sabd or shabd.

Alternate Spellings: Sabad, sabd, and shabd.


  • "Pir reesaaloo taa milai jaa gur kaa sabad sunee ||2||
    With the beloved we meet when the sacred hymns are heard." SGGS||17
  • "Eka bani ek gur eko sabd vichar||
    Only the word of the One Enlightener alone is the one hymn to be reflected upon." SGGS||646
  • "Roorri bani har paiaa gur sabdi bichar||
    Beauteous is the word, the Divine Lord is obtained when the Enlightener's hymns are contemplated." SGGS||936
  • "Gur sabdi man bedhia prabh miliaa aap hadoor ||2||
    The Gurus hymns pierce the mind and the soul is ushered into the divine presence by God himself." SGGS||37
  • "Anhat bani nirmal sabd vajaae gur sabdi sach samavania ||4||
    The unstruck word resounds in the immaculate hymn through the Enlightener's instruction is one absorbed in truth." SGGS||115
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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "What Is the Meaning of Sikh Term Shabad?" Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, learnreligions.com/meaning-of-sikhism-term-shabad-2993079. Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2020, August 26). What Is the Meaning of Sikh Term Shabad? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/meaning-of-sikhism-term-shabad-2993079 Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "What Is the Meaning of Sikh Term Shabad?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/meaning-of-sikhism-term-shabad-2993079 (accessed June 5, 2023).