QUDRAT (spelled qudrati in gurbāṇī), a term adopted by Gurū Nānak from the Arabic and given a philosophical signification and connotation which, to some extent but with different shades of sense, had till then been conveyed by the milennia-old Indian words prākriti and māyā. Qudrat, in Arabic, literally means power, might. In the Turkish language, the word came to mean power, strength, omnipotence of God, as also Creation. The same term, in Persian, denotes power, potency, authority of God, the Creation, Universe, Nature. In Arabic, the term qudrat connotes "that which is under the power and authority of" its Master, God, who, in the Qurān, has been given the attributes of al qādir, al-qādīr (both standing for “mighty") and al-khāliq, Creator. Gurū Nānak has employed the term qudrat to include both these Qurānīc attributes of God, al-qādir and al-khāliq.

         Gurū Nānak employed the term qudrat to denote the idea of Divine might. There was presumably also the need to find a parallel for prakriti which in Indian thought was postulated as co-eternal with Puruṣa. Moreover, in Gurū Nānak's vocabulary, parallels from Perso-Arabic sources are freely used as these were current among the common mass of people. This was also in keeping with his spririt of tolerance. Many examples such as sāhib, pīr, mīr and khasam can be cited. Gurū Nānak's religious system, based on the One absolute Purakh as the matrix of the world, did not accept the dualism of puruṣa and prakriti of Sāṅkhya Kārikā which, broadly speaking, corresponds to the concepts of subject and object, or duality of mind and matter or life and nature. In his philosophical system, the world has a Creator, and Nature being what is created has no absolute basis independent of and apart from the Kartā Purakh. Nature as such is merely an extension of or an emanation from Purakh. Neither the Vedic Puruṣā nor the Puruṣa of Sāṅkhya is the Creator or Controller of the world. In Gurū Nānak's system, He is both the Creator and the Controller. Qudrat is the created object, the Creator's might. Here qudrat stands for the material phenomena as well as for power, might, strength, wonder working omnipotence, the authority of God. In Gurū Nānak's view, the potentiality and faculty of recreation as well as the varied forms and phenomena of the world are qudrat or māyā. The term māyā has been rendered as illusion, unreality, deception, material entanglements, etc. It is held to imply, so far as creation is concerned, the phantasmagoria or hallucination of appearances. In fact, in Indian philosophy, māyā signifies the process by which unity becomes multiplicity and homogeneity heterogeneity, in the unfolding of the cosmos. It is the answer to the enigma of the multiplicity of forms, in which the world appears to us. God instantly creates uncountable forms through His power of qudrat "anik rūp khin māhi qudrati dhāradā"(GG,519).

         In the compositions of Gurū Nānak, as also of his successors in the holy office of Gurūship, qudrat stands for what is meant in general by this term in India, Divine might. It had in that context a philosophical signification, but because of the term becoming common current coin, its philosophical reference was not called to mind, as also in the parallel case of māyā. In a few contexts, Gurū Nānak also used it in the extended sense of creation, of whatever is manifested by the operation of Divine might. In Vār Āsā in the line balihārī qudrati vasiā terā antu na jāī lakhiā (GG,469) qudrat obviously implies what the Divine might has created, in what it is pervasive. In Mājh kī Vār, line "āpe qudrati sāji kai āpe kare bīchāru" (GG,143), again qudrat is creation, phenomena, the manifest world. Apart from a few such contexts, qudrat generally in gurbāṇī stands for Divine might. That is also the sense in which the generality of people in India use it. That only indicates that the Gurū had adopted a term from common everyday usage that was familiar, and used it, without necessarily any thought of preferring it over māyā on any philosophical grounds. As a matter of fact, the world of reference, the context and background of the two terms are distinct. Māyā has always a clear or implied ethico-philosophical meaning in gurbāṇī. Wherever it stands for phenomena, qudrat is used as a neutral term, free from any pejorative suggestion. Hence the two terms cannot be studied as parallel beyond a certain point.

         Gurū Nānak says that for millions and trillions of aeons there was utter darkness and only the Infinite One, in its unmanifest form existed, (GG,1035). However, then the unmanifest Real One, who is self-existent, created qudrat āpīnai āpu sājio āpīnai rachio nāu, dūī qudrati sājīai kari āsaṇu ḍiṭho chāu (GG, 463). However, qudrat is intrinsically one with its Creator because the latter is manifest in it, though the two cannot be termed identical or co-eternal.

         Gurū Nānak also holds that qudrat, as power and might, acts as the regulator of the working of all the entities and forces of Nature. Fear or bhay controls all forces of Nature such as winds, waters, fires, the earth, clouds, sun, moon, the firmament, as also the siddhas, the buddhas and yogīs or heroes and brave warriors and ordinary people (GG, 461).

         In the Gurū Granth Sāhib, creation has been accepted as real, true, mighty, sublime, wonderful and law-abiding, yet there is no tendency towards animation, personification or deification of the forces and manifestations of Nature, as has been the case with the Vedic deities or in Greek mythology. Nature worship, in any form, is non-existent in the Sikh faith. In that stanza of unsurpassed beauty and conception, in the Sodar, all forces of Nature such as water, wind, and fire, all gods such as Śiva, Brahmā and Viṣṇu, such objects as the seas and mountains are shown as praising the Lord and working in unison, according to His will. However, it is not unoften that some instruction or inspiration has been drawn from certain relationships, existing or supposed to be existing, in nature and cosmos. But this tends towards poetic imagery and not towards philosophy or theology. No proofs have been set out in the Gurū Granth Sāhib for the existence of God, which has been accepted self evidently; but sometimes, cosmic reality and nature have been cited as proofs of the existence of the Supreme Consciousness working behind phenomena. The līlā, play, pasārā, expansion, rachanā, creation of qudrat, have come out of the sunn (Śūnya), the vacuum which is filled with Divine Reality (GG,1037).


  1. Pannū, Harpāl Siṅgh, Gurū Nānak dā Qudrat Sidhānt . Patiala, 1987
  2. Caveeshar, Sardūl Siṅgh, Sikh Dharam Darshan . Patiala, 1987
  3. Avtar Singh, Ethics of the Sikhs . Patiala, 1970
  4. Harbans Singh, ed., Perspectives on Guru Nanak .Patiala, 1975
  5. Pandey, R.R., Man and the Universe . Delhi, 1978
  6. Pritam Siṅgh, Trinity of Sikhism . Jalandhar, 1973
  7. Talib, Gurbachan Singh, Guru Nanak, His Personality and Vision . Delhi, 1969
  8. Wazir Singh, Philosophy of Sikh Religion. Delhi, 1981

Gurbachan Siṅgh Tālib