“Sat Nam” as a Greeting to Someone?

“Sat Nam” as a Greeting to Someone?

I often get the question from other Sikhs asking why many Sikhs from non-Punjabi background greet each other with a simple "Sat Nam!" rather then the Khalsa greeting of "Vahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!" or more common greeting of "Sat Siri Akal".  Typically Sikhs that have taken Amrit greet each other with the longer greeting of "Vahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!" and most everyone else uses the shorter greeting of "Sat Siri Akal."  Well, to understand this you have to know a little bit more of the history of the Sikhs who "sprouted" in the western part of the world.  Back in the early days (1960’s and 1970’s) when SSS Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi ji came to America/Canada and started teaching, there were no western Sikhs, let alone western Sikhs who had taken Amrit.  He used to make fun of our usual American greeting of  "Hello".  He pronounced it, "HELL – oh." and encouraged a more universal and conscious way of greeting each other which served as a reminder to each other; "SAT NAM". This greeting has stuck since then and is used by many thousands of people (sikhs and non-sikhs alike) since it is a beautiful, simple and universal greeting that anyone can understand and relate to. It didn’t matter if you considered yourself a Sikh or not you could relate to and feel inspired by the simple "Sat Nam" reminding you of your "True Identity".

Comments by Shakti Parwha Kaur (who was one of the first Sikhs from western background): "Sat Nam" means: "Truth is God’s Name and/or Truth is Our Identity."  By saying this, I establish, however briefly, instant rapport, a common ground acknowledging our shared divine identity – certainly the best basis for any conversation! Following that initial respectful greeting we are free to disagree about any topic: politics, religion, movie preferences, or the best restaurants.  I say SAT NAM to my accountant, my banker and my non-Sikh relatives! I’ve programmed my answering machine greeting so that it always begins with SAT NAM.  It’s just the most universal and simple greeting to which everyone can relate."

I personally vary which greeting I use depending on who I am meeting or talking to. Sometimes I say "Sat Nam", Sometimes I greet with full "Vahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh", and sometimes I even say "Hell-Oh" (yeah…can’t help it sometimes). Ultimately these are just tools to remind and uplift each other, and I don’t think it is right or wrong to use one thing over the other. So, any greeting that inspires or reminds us of God and our higher self I think would be preferred and best.

 ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ
Ik Ong Kaar Sat Nam
God and We are One, This is our True Identity

–  Guru Nanak Dev Ji

8 Responses to ““Sat Nam” as a Greeting to Someone?”

  1. Gurumustuk says:

    Sat Nam! :) This topic reminds me of something that and older friend would say as a result of some Sikhs chopping up the Sikh greeting up "Vahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh". Some Sikhs might say something like "Vaiy Khalsaaaa Vaiy Fateeeh". His saying mocking that chopped version was… "Vaiy Khalsaaaa Vaiy Fateeeh…Why Bother". In other words…if you are going to use this greeting say the full greeting properly otherwise don't bother saying it at all.

  2. Lah Mor says:

    Satnam,
    Whew…shouldn't be too much controversy with this topic… actually in this temporal material focused world it is more like… Hell owe…the world of debt… this planet has become a creditless people and a debiting hoard….

    Of course the true credit is not temporal nor material. True Credit is of the spirit and by the Grace of God and Guru, is without greed, infinite in nature and beyond time and space…

    SGGS Page 1412

    ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੨੦॥
    सिरु दीजै काणि न कीजै ॥२०॥
    Sir ḏījai kāṇ na kījai. ||20||
    give Me your head, and do not pay any attention to public opinion. ||20||

    ਨਾਲਿ ਕਿਰਾੜਾ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਕੂੜੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਪਾਇ ॥
    नालि किराड़ा दोसती कूड़ै कूड़ी पाइ ॥
    Nāl kirāṛā ḏosṯī kūrhai kūṛī pā▫e.
    False is friendship with the false and greedy. False is its foundation.

    ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਜਾਪੈ ਮੂਲਿਆ ਆਵੈ ਕਿਤੈ ਥਾਇ ॥੨੧॥
    मरणु न जापै मूलिआ आवै कितै थाइ ॥२१॥
    Maraṇ na jāpai mūli▫ā āvai kiṯai thā▫e. ||21||
    O Moollah, no one knows where death shall strike. ||21||

    ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥
    गिआन हीणं अगिआन पूजा ॥
    Gi▫ān hīṇaʼn agi▫ān pūjā.
    Without spiritual wisdom, the people worship ignorance.

    ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥੨੨॥
    अंध वरतावा भाउ दूजा ॥२२॥
    Anḏẖ varṯāvā bẖā▫o ḏūjā. ||22||
    They grope in the darkness, in the love of duality. ||22||

    ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਰਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥
    गुर बिनु गिआनु धरम बिनु धिआनु ॥
    Gur bin gi▫ān ḏẖaram bin ḏẖi▫ān.
    Without the Guru, there is no spiritual wisdom; without Dharma, there is no meditation.

    ਸਚ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਾਖੀ ਮੂਲੋ ਨ ਬਾਕੀ ॥੨੩॥
    सच बिनु साखी मूलो न बाकी ॥२३॥
    Sacẖ bin sākẖī mūlo na bākī. ||23||
    Without Truth, there is no credit; without capital, there is no balance. ||23||

    ਮਾਣੂ ਘਲੈ ਉਠੀ ਚਲੈ ॥
    माणू घलै उठी चलै ॥
    Māṇū gẖalai uṯẖī cẖalai.
    The mortals are sent into the world; then, they arise and depart.

    ਸਾਦੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਇਵੇਹੀ ਗਲੈ ॥੨੪॥
    सादु नाही इवेही गलै ॥२४॥
    Sāḏ nāhī ivehī galai. ||24||
    There is no joy in this. ||24||
    ~Guru Nanak Dev ~

  3. Guest says:

    just wondering what does "SatSriAkal " means?

  4. Sat Mittar Kaur says:

    Lately it has been occurring to me that I wonder if our 'Western Mind' is yet again looking for a short cut by borrowing the words of another culture…. Don't get me wrong, I love the sounds of Gurmukhi, and the instant connection to Grace it provides… and in the great scheme of things, lines like different cultures and language dissappear…. However, I can't help but wonder what the effect would be on our western psyche if we actually took the time to express to eachother, in our own language the meaning that Sat Nam conveys…. What if when we greeted eachother we took a moment to breathe and look within and say "Greetings! I recognize you from the great oneness that flows thru each of us" . In english it often seems cumbersome and time-taking to express what Gurmukhi conveys so directly and poetically. I was,however,this time around, born into an english speaking culture and I think part of the healing that needs to occur is for us to find ways to take our language (that has more than a million terms for hatred, separation, domination, exploitation etc) and consciously use it to turn toward The Grace That Is All That Is. Just some thoughts…
    Sat Nam

  5. Prabhleen Singh says:

    I actually used to think the greeting "Sat Nam" , (which i don't do very often), that it is sourced as per by the shabad..
    "ਜਪਿ ਮਨ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਦਾ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ॥"
    Chant, O my mind, the True Name, Sat Naam, the True Name.

    Which is composed by Guru Ram Das ji in SGGS. And just love to chant it though…

  6. I heard that in Guru Nanak's time, the Sikhs used to say "Sat Kartar" as a greeting and a reminder of God at the same time. I think that puts it in perspective that before there was "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh". i also wonder how many people actually sat the proper Khalsa Fateh. I mean most people kind of say it but not properly. i don't really see any point to that. like "why khalsa, why fateh". i don't see any points in taking short cuts with the Khalsa greeting, they might as well say something else like Sat Siri Akal, Sat Nam, or Sat Kartar.

  7. Jasbeer Singh says:

    1. When Gursikhs meets they should greet each other with "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh" as per Rehat Maryada ("….Rehat bina neh Sikh kahavey" ..Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji)

    2. "Bole So Nihal , Sat Siri Akal" is our War Cry. Which can't be used when greeting each other, however, sikhs use it in short form "Sat Siri Akal".

    3. There is one Kabir Panthi, those who believe in Karbir ji only and when they meet each other they greet as "Satnam". they are also known as "Satnami".