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What does Ek Onkar Mean?

Posted By ServDharm


Posted on November 24 2022

The phrase Ek Onkar or Ik Onkar, as it is otherwise referred to, is a holy term of the Sikhs. This phrase can be considered partly similar to and derived from the Om mantra of the Hindus. Onkar is said to have originated from the Omkar mentioned in Upanishads and is a stretched form of Om.

Ek Onkar means God is One and is used to indicate that there is only one God or creator known as representing the supreme reality who has created the universe and everything in it. This God is known by different names such as Waheguru (wonderful teacher), Akal Purakh (Eternal One) or Sath Nam (Eternal Reality).

The Ik in Ik Onkar is not an actual word but a Punjabi symbol that denotes the number 1. Hence, the Ik is intended to indicate that there is one and only one supreme power and this power has no contrast or comparison with any other.

The word Onkar is represented by the Ura letter that is the first Gurmukhi letter in the Punjabi alphabet. Onkar is associated with the indefinable quality of the Almighty who is described by Sikhs as the eternal one, the one without form or even the person beyond time. The On in Onkar can be considered as a combination of O and An and means everything. Kar is used to denote creator.

Ek Onkar reinforces on the fact that all human beings are divinely connected with one another as they are all considered to be children of one supreme power. It also stresses on the point that all are equal and there is just one humanity with no differentiation on the basis of nationality, caste, race, religion or language as the lord worshipped by everyone is the same. When we consider everyone equal, Ek Onkar represents the acceptance and love showered to fellow human beings by the only one God. We must remain united to humanity just like how we are united to God. Similarly, we must love others alike without judging them just like God loves us the same way.

The Ek Onkar symbol is also regarded as a shield of protection. The symbol is believed to render protection against evil and harm. With utmost belief in the single God who is in control of the complete reality in the world, a person is blessed with success, harmony and peace in his/her life.

Ek Onkar focuses on the aspect that only the single god is worthy of worship. There is no point in indulging in any other worship. An individual can attain liberation or mukti only by his/her devotion to only God. This god is considered to be eternal and has a timeless form without a beginning or an ending. It also represents God as self-existent beyond birth and death and without hatred and/or enmity to anyone.

It is interesting to note that Ek Onkar was originally not a symbol but a phrase that denotes the Sikh faith. Over a period of time, the phrase began to be represented as a symbol to epitomise the same major fundamental belief of this religion. Many pictures of Guru Nanak portray the Sikh guru with the Ik Onkar symbol on his palm.

The Ek Onkar term or symbol is the foundation and central tenet of the Sikh religion and philosophy that believes in the oneness of God and humanity. The phrase or symbol must therefore be given due respect because of the religious importance associated to it by the Sikh community and not considered as a fashion statement.

The Ek Onkar illustration can be found at the start of the Sikh mool mantra Ik Onkar, Sat Naam, Karta Purakh, Nirbhau, Nirvair, Akaal Murat. Ajuni Saibhan, Gur Prasaadh formulated by Guru Nanak. This translates to One God, True Name, Creator Being, No Fear, No Hatred, Timeless Form, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent, By Guru's Grace. It is also highlighted as the opening line of the Guru Granth Sahib, the most revered Sikh scripture where it occurs over 100 times.

The phrase is additionally mentioned in other Sikh related holy scriptures and occurs at the start of the first paragraph of the Japji Sahib, the morning prayer recited by the Sikhs. Additionally, Ik Onkar can be seen in gurudwaras and other places of worship or homes of people of this faith.


Wrotten by - Deepthi K



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